A party, cardiology, gestational carriers, and open houses

Our weekend was full! Saturday my mom watched the girls while Eric and I traveled back to Iowa City for an overnight. One of his partners hosted a party at his home Saturday evening. It was fun, nice to get away for a night! The party was primarily physicians, which always makes me feel a little out-of-place. Most of the couples are both physicians, most both surgeons. And yes, I know I had a great career before I quit to raise the girls, but no one else knows that… I have little to talk about when all of them are going on and on about their busy, prospering careers. Education is everything to these people, and while I do have an MBA, I think sometimes to them a masters is like a high school diploma.

Sunday we slept in, well, sort of, since I was awake most of the night listening to Eric snore… Something has to give with him disrupting my sleep! After brunch at his partner’s home we stopped at Costco to pick up a few household necessities and then toured two open houses in Cedar Rapids. I liked them both, but was certainly more drawn to the home on Wexford Way. Either are huge steps up from anything currently available in Cedar Falls. In fact, I’d move into either of these tomorrow if I could! Eric liked the one on Diamondback Road better, but mostly because it’s an easier, quicker drive to the hospital, as it’s closer to the interstate. Being so though means it’s also not as nicely situated in an established neighborhood, which is on my list if must-haves in a home.

Diamondback Road

Wexford Way

Obviously looking at these houses both excites and terrifies me. I’m so unhappy in Cedar Falls and have been since we moved here over two years ago now, but moving again, and being alone a lot more with the girls with Eric commuting feels a bit overwhelming. There is obviously no perfect solution, short of Eric working in a city that offers more for me and the girls. But since he loves his partners and the practice they have built, I don’t see him wanting to move anytime soon. I wish I knew the answer to all this…

This week Eric is on vacation again, part of his every third week off. He took Nadia to her cardiology appointment in Iowa City today so I could stay home and review everything with the new/old nanny who started today.

Nadia’s appointment went well, we can finally stop her heart medication and see how she does. And follow-up not for a few months! Closer to crossing another specialty group off our list!

The new/old sitter is a girl who watched Nora two years ago when we first moved here. I actually didn’t realize she was still in town, as she is now working on her masters in speech pathology. How perfect given Nadia’s issues. I think she’ll be good. And who knows how long we’ll even have her if we’re getting more serious about moving. But you know how I like to make plans and then not follow through.

Speaking of plans… Eric and I have been talking more and more about our frozen embryo. I think we’re both of the opinion that if we’re having a third child, we need to do it sooner rather than later. We’d prefer to have all the mess of littles now, and be done with diapers. I also know Eric really wants to travel more, and that’s so difficult with little ones. One of the physicians at the party is a reproductive endocrinologist in Davenport, her husband a Urologist there. I spoke to her quite a bit at the party about the process of using a gestational carrier. She made it sound so easy, but I know it isn’t. I guess I just need to seek out an agency to help us, or somehow find someone I know who would allow me to use their uterus for a bit! My other option is going back to my high risk OB at the University and discussing whether me carrying our embryo is an option. So much fear and risk. We’ll see, more on this topic to come.


High-Risk OB Appointment Tomorrow

My high-risk OB appointment in Iowa City is tomorrow.  Yeah, tomorrow.  Eric has a full day of surgeries scheduled, so of course he isn’t available.  He’s rarely available, and never on short notice.  Eric actually called to see if they could see me this Friday instead, as he has Friday off, but my regular OB called back and strongly encouraged me to make Monday’s appointment work.  She said the sooner we talk cerclage, the sooner it can be placed, preferably next week.  If I wait until Friday to be seen the procedure wouldn’t be scheduled until I was 17 or possibly closer to 18 weeks, which she isn’t comfortable with.

I feel like this whole situation is more serious than I originally thought.  I mean, if my regular OB wants me seen tomorrow, we aren’t wasting any time!  How do I not feel like a ticking time-bomb?  I was buying groceries a few days ago, with Nora, and I lifted her, in her infant car seat, into our vehicle, which is kind of high, and thought, this is like lifting 25 lbs almost above my head, this probably isn’t good for me!  But what do I know!  They technically didn’t give me any restrictions except no strenuous exercise.  So we’ll see.  Eric isn’t going tomorrow, so I’m nervous, not sure what questions to ask…

Off the subject, had to share a cute picture of Nora and me from yesterday 🙂


October 12, 2015 – 30 Weeks (19 Weeks Corrected)

So much to say, so little time! First though, 30 week picture, and of course, more smiles!

30 weeks

Nora isn’t sitting alone yet but she’s doing a lot better with a little help.  And she has started pulling her knees up during tummy time.  I feel like she might be crawling before she is sitting.  Next Thursday is her next high-risk appointment at the University.  I’m anxious to see if they think she’s on track developmentally.  Next Thursday we also meet with her immunology team and I have several questions for them.  I want to know more about Synagis, an injection for high risk children which aims to prevent RSV.  For some reason though, I think it’s live and therefore isn’t something she can have just yet due to her compromised immune system.  I’m so anxious for her doctors to clear her for live vaccines, as she still isn’t allowed the MMR vaccine either.  And damn those people who choose not to vaccinate their children.  Do they have any idea what I would give to make sure Nora never contracts such an illness??  Her immune team will also give Nora her second dose of the flu shot on Thursday, so at least she’ll have some protection this winter.

I was looking back at Nora’s pictures, some of the first ones taken shortly after her birth in March.  I’m still in aw of how far she has come.  I weighted Nora a few days ago and she was up to 12 lbs. 9 oz.  Crazy that she has gained 10 lbs. since she was born!  I feel so truly blessed to have such a happy, healthy daughter.

I feel like life is finally settling down, Cedar Falls is starting to feel like our home.  I have five different girls that I trust to watch Nora and they come here and there throughout the week so I can get out and feel like I have a life.  We’re trying to start limiting Nora’s time in public with it getting colder and flu season approaching.  We are taking her to a family wedding this weekend… I so hope we don’t regret it.  I’m still attending MOPs on Thursday morning and very much enjoying getting to know the other moms.  I can definitely picture a few of them becoming quite good friends.

Eric has asked me twice now when we are having another little Nora.  Shocking isn’t it, since he was the one who originally thought we had years and years before we needing to start thinking about kids!  He is so stinking cute with Nora though, it’s no wonder he wants another already!  We have one frozen embryo, but honestly, I’m fearful of transferring that one, scared that it won’t implant and thus we’ll be back to square one.  A huge part of me would rather do another egg retrieval first, as the quality of the eggs are influenced by the age of the woman at the time they are retrieved.  So basically the sooner the better, even if they aren’t transferred for several years yet.  The thought of starting all over is very overwhelming though.  And adding to that the worry the thought of having another premature baby.  My OB/GYN is 90% sure I’d deliver early again based on my history and the reason for Nora’s early birth.  I don’t know what precautions they would take this time, if any.  Maybe bed rest, although it’s not proven to work…  How would I survive bed rest with Nora?  How do families handle it with a baby in the NICU and others at home?  I can’t even imagine.  And maybe I’m getting completely ahead of myself.  I just know I want more children.  But how…  We have considered seeking out a gestational carrier, but that process seems more overwhelming than another round of IVF.  And probably even more expensive.

Alright, off to pick up some items for this weekend out-of-town.  Side note, I keep complaining to Eric that my car is too small being Nora’s stroller fills the trunk.  Maybe this weekend he will finally realize we do need a larger vehicle!


A year ago today

A year ago today my beautiful, precious, amazing Nora was conceived, as she was one of 12 eggs retrieved.  My post from a year ago, A Dozen, and some thoughts and feelings from a year ago tomorrow, Feeling Better.

It’s a bit surreal to me to read these two posts, to remember back to a year ago.  My life is so different now.  I’m so different.  I can hardly even remember back to the days before Nora, before I was pregnant, before I stopped working to spend my days in the NICU with Nora…  I used to think a year was an eternity, but now I know better.  Nora is almost 6 months old already, and while I wished away our NICU days, I’m trying to remind myself to cherish each day now, to relax, not rush so much, to enjoy the journey.

Looking back, the hardest part of IVF was the not knowing.  If I’d just had more faith in the process, if I’d just believed it could work for us, oh how much happier I could have been a year ago.  But as they say, hindsight is 20/20, live and learn…

August 3, 2015 – 20 Weeks (9 Weeks Corrected)

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I can’t believe it’s been 20 weeks since Nora’s birth.  And yet somehow she is still only around 10 pounds!  I’m a little biased, but I think she gets cuter every week!  She wouldn’t sit still for this week’s photo, notice the slight blur 🙂

I continue to wonder what the heck I’m supposed to do with Nora all day everyday.  Eric left Saturday for Cedar Falls as he started his ‘it gets better’ job, as it’s often referred to… the first job out of residency that is.  We’re tentatively scheduled to move Friday, August 14th, which means I’m here alone with Nora and Kona until then.  AHHHH!  So far so good, but it’s only been a few days.

The days really are flying… everyone tells me they do with a baby since life seems to repeat every three hours when Nora needs to eat again.  Speaking of eating, I’m still pumping and feeding Nora my milk with bottles.  (Oh, did I mention I stopped fortifying my milk altogether?  Yeah, long story, but to make it short, since her doctors agreed we could cut back on her calories, and I was kind of fed up with her gas and upset stomach, I decided to try straight, plain breast milk for a few days.  And then I just never went back to adding in the fortifier.  She actually poops now!)  Anyway, I tried last Saturday to strictly nurse her all day to see how we’d manage, using a nipple shield of course.  Since I’ve been pumping less I was fairly confident that Nora could consume all the milk, or very close to all the milk, I’m making.  That said, after a few hours of nursing her she was crying and my breasts were uncomfortable.  I know she gets some milk, she seemed satisfied after the first feeding, but after the second and third feedings she was fussy, wouldn’t go to sleep, and I had hard, sore spots, which I assumed were ducts that Nora wasn’t able to empty.  Funny that I was so looking forward to pumping after that experience!  Still feeling frustrated though, I broke down and called the pediatric dentist I was referred to for her upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie…  Well, actually, her and I emailed back and forth a few times and then I finally called to make an appointment, which is tomorrow morning at 8am.  And it’s at least 90 minutes from where we live.  Okay, I know this doesn’t sound all that difficult, but I’m really wondering how I’m going to get there on-time.  I might be showering at 3am after feeding Nora!  There is a part of me that still would have preferred the ENT perform the correction, but a larger part of me didn’t want to wait another month and a half for that appointment.  And this pediatric dentist comes very highly recommended.  I am terrified though.  I think I have PTSD from our NICU experience.  I just keep picturing Nora in pain, all the procedures she endured, all the spinal taps, all the IVs, the literally hundreds of blood draws, intubations, the tortuous eye exams…  Ugh, even just thinking about those days in the NICU, all the times they would ask me to step out, and I’d go for a walk while I knew she was screaming…  So hard.  I’m told they will numb her mouth tomorrow, and that the procedure is really quick, but it still breaks me heart.  Please think of us tomorrow morning and pray for success and a quick recovery.  I’ll update and let you all know how it goes.

In other news, Nora and I had a fantastic lunch today with the ladies I used to work with at the hospital.  It seriously was so good to see them!  I miss them so much!  You know that feeling when you break up with someone and then you see them with someone new and it’s like you feel left out?  Yeah, totally had that feeling at lunch.  As much as I disliked my job, the actual work, I really, really enjoyed some of the people.  Not N of course, but several girls became close friends.  I so miss the chit-chat, catching up on each others lives, giving and getting advice, venting about the not so awesome people at work…  I keep telling myself I’m going to do a better job of staying in touch with those I truly care about, but then another week passes and I can’t figure out where the time went…  Is that just life?  I truly hope those wonderful ladies know how important they are to me, even if we aren’t able to see each other as much as I’d like.  And with me moving soon, I fear even more for our friendships.  Thankfully I won’t live too far and should be able to come back to meet for lunches from time to time!  I’ll look forward to those days!

July 27, 2015 – 19 Weeks (8 Weeks Corrected)

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Lots to say and so little time, so I apologize ahead of time for the bullet points, and random order as well 😉

  • Eric and I have given a lot of thought to Nora’s (suspected) upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie, but yet no decisions have been made.  Well, other than to have it corrected if necessary.  We’re still at a loss for who should perform the correction.  I know the lactation consultants I met with recommend a pediatric dentist in my hometown, but I’ve yet to call that office.  Eric knows how recommendations work…  you recommend who is connected to you, who is in your network.  And I’m not saying that means the dentist isn’t amazing, in fact, I’ve been told by many she is great…  I guess with Eric being a surgeon, knowing the amount of training he’s been forced to endure, there is just something that makes me want Nora to see a surgeon for this correction, rather than a dentist.  That said, Nora has an appointment on September 17th for a hearing test at the University… so I called today so see if we could be seen by a Otolaryngologist, as long as we will be in that clinic anyway, and so they booked us a clinic visit.  But that is over a month away.  I was so hoping to have the procedure complete much sooner so we can get back to focusing on breastfeeding.  Eric has a friend who is a resident in the department… he is waiting to see if his friend can get us in sooner.  I hate to say it, but it really is who you know sometimes…
  • I’ve been mainly pumping and feeding my milk in bottles to Nora for the past several days.  I guess I’m just a wimp because I’d rather do without the pain nursing her causes me.  I have used a nipple shield a few times, and I will say it’s much more comfortable, not perfect, but much better than without.  I kind of wanted to pump a few days though to see what my supply was doing.  I had been pumping about every 4 hours and getting around 32 oz every 24 hours.  I dropped down to pumping every 5 hours and now I’m getting about 24 oz.  Seems like a lot less, but closer to what Nora can drink since we aren’t fortifying as many bottles lately.  I’ve very curious to see if she is still gaining well,
  • I received an email this morning that there have been a few delays with the construction of our new house.  Movers have been rescheduled for August 14th and 15th now.  Eric is planning to leave this Saturday and stay with a partner of his for the foreseeable future until our house is complete.  That means I’ll be completely alone 24/7 for at least two weeks with Nora and Kona.  Not ideal, but we’ll manage.  I should probably get used to it, as who knows how often I’ll see him even after we’re moved.
  • Nora gets more fun everyday!  I love seeing how much she is changing already, how alert she is now, how she has more awake periods, her spiked interest in her mobile…  She still goes from happy to meltdown in 30 seconds when hungry or tired, but honestly, she’s a super good baby.  The extent of her crying is truly only a few minutes a day, if that.  She is sleeping well, 4-5 hour stretches at night, and after she takes a bottle at night she goes right back to sleep.  She’s already in size 1 diapers, although they are still a bit big on her, and we’re moving out of newborn clothing in Carters, although I’ve been told by many that brand runs a bit small.  I honestly can’t believe that preemie diapers were huge on her when she was born, although I guess she has tripled her weight now.  Just crazy…  And packing up her preemie clothing was so very sad.  In fact, I was holding her today while she was sleeping on my chest and I just had to stop myself, take a minute, and realize that I’ll never get these days back, that I have to enjoy them now.  So often I feel like I have so much going on that I’m missing what really matters…
  • I miss my friends terribly.  I feel so out of touch with their lives…  Everyday I tell myself I’m going to email them, or text a few, but here it is, another evening, and neither of those things happened today.  And the longer I’m home with Nora, the more I fear this stay-at-home-mom thing isn’t for me.  I feel like I’m so busy all day, but then I look back on my week and I wonder what I accomplished.  I hate that some days I don’t shower until 6pm, other days I don’t leave the house!  There is a world out there happening without me!  I love being with Nora, and I already can’t imagine someone else caring for her, but gosh, I just feel like I need more, a balance of her and something for me.  Is that possibly though, to combine the two…?

Ugh, tired, need sleep.  Tomorrow I have an appointment with my cousin, a Realtor, to list some properties!

July 20, 2015 – 18 Weeks (7 Weeks Corrected)

 I feel a bit like a broken record, but I seriously don’t feel like I can get on top of my life right now.  (Nora is happy in her swing right now, but I feel guilty not interacting with her, not talking to her while I type this…)  The women who works for our builder is still constantly hounding me to make decisions, all last-minute, I need to start organizing and throwing junk out before the movers come, Nora is obviously a full-time job, and Eric left this morning for two days of orientation for his new job.  And that’s just the start of my to do list!  Case in point, Lowes called this morning, ten minutes before they were to arrive at our new house with appliances to install.  Um, the email confirmation I received said they would call 24 hours before to arrange.  Ugh.  I’m not even in the same city yet!  And our current house is a complete disaster, as I’ve given up on cleaning…  And poor Kona is not getting nearly enough attention.  She needs her nails clipped so badly I searched online yesterday for someone to come to the house, but came up with no options.  Apparently that isn’t a thing here.

In my quest to find more time in my days I’m still trying to focus more on nursing rather than pumping and bottle feeding.  Nora weighed 8 lbs 9 oz last week at her high risk appointment, therefore they recommended cutting back on some bottles with the fortifier and seeing if she continues to gain appropriately.  She is still only at 11% for weight on the preemie chart, but she’s sticking with her curve, so perhaps she is just going to be a petite girl.  Nursing continues to be a struggle though.  I have been trying more though, we can usually get in one feeding by breast, and then I try the next, but halfway through the second she is usually quite frustrated.  Maybe she just isn’t used to it and needs to practice more.  Or maybe it really is an upper lip tie issue.  Regardless, I made an appointment this coming Wednesday evening with a lactation consultant to see what help they can offer.  The nurse practitioner at her high risk appointment last week really discouraged me though, stating that if Nora hasn’t gotten it yet, she might never, and that lots of preemies never catch on.  This whole pumping and feeding thing is getting old though!  For the feedings I nurse her I’ve been skipping pumping, but that doesn’t seem to be working either, as then I’m way too full later, as I make way more milk than she drinks.  Will I always have to pump after feeding her?  If that’s the case what’s the point of focusing on nursing?

Besides the discouragement in regards to nursing, Nora’s high risk appointment was a success.  We’ll have these every few months for several years, and so far so good.  They basically ‘played’ with her, showed her toys to see if she would follow them with her eyes, made sounds to see if she would look in the correct direction, attempted to make her smile at them, checked her balance and head control, and about 100 other things.  She’s right on track for her corrected age which makes me feel great.  So far so good.  I know there is still a lot of risks for her development due to her meningitis, but for the time being I’m going to try to relax.

I have noticed that Nora is making more sounds, cooing I guess is what they call it.  And just a few days ago it seems she found her hands, as they are constantly in her mouth now.  Do babies put their hands in their mouths all the time, or is this a sign she is hungry?

Speaking of appointments, last week we also had Nora’s hip ultrasound, required since she was born breech.  Before we left that appointment the pediatric radiologist chatted with me regarding the results.  Apparently Nora’s hips are immature for her age, even for her corrected age, and are showing early signs of dysplasia.  His recommendation was to double diaper in an effort to hold her hips open and repeat the ultrasound in two months.  I wasn’t too concerned until her pediatrician called to follow-up and tell me that she wants us to see a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.  Ugh, like haven’t we already seen enough specialists???  Our appointment is this Wednesday and they want to rule out her needing a harness, which looks annoying, but not painful, from this video.  I realize we are so very very lucky with Nora so far.  She has been through so much and is doing amazing.  And I shouldn’t even think to complain, compared to what some preemies endure, but regardless, I so hope she doesn’t need this harness…

So my plan for the next two days until Eric gets home…  Chill at home with Nora, work on breastfeeding, and make a really good attempt at organizing for the movers.  Wish me luck!

July 13, 2015 – 17 Weeks (6 Weeks Corrected)

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The weeks are flying by!  How it is the middle of July already???

Nora is doing really well, I’m guessing around 8.5 lbs now.  We have her high risk infant follow-up appointment Thursday morning so I assume they will weigh her then also.  Today was her hip ultrasound, required since she was born breach.  I’m not sure exactly what they were looking for but the radiologist told me Nora’s hips are immature, even for her corrected age, and thus he wants to repeat the ultrasound when she is 3 months corrected.  I assume this has more to do with her pre-mature birth and not so much the fact that she was born breach.  For the time being her doctor recommended having her wear two diapers so the thickness keeps her hips open and prevents her knees from touching one another.

Saturday morning, in the mist of trying to do 17 things at once, I spilled the milk I was warming for Nora.  Oh, and breast milk is really sticky!  Anyway, I decided I was just going to stick my boob in her mouth and forget about thawing frozen breast milk.  Well, it went okay I guess.  Not great, not awful.  If she is really hungry she was find a way to latch and does quite well once all settled.  She still pops off often and thus we start the entire process all over though.  Two feedings in a row I nursed her, but I’ll admit, neither time did she seem satisfied.  Maybe I’m just so used to her fortifier filling her up for hours at a time.  The other thing… I swear there is something wrong with her latch and suck.  She seems to have a lot of space on the sides of her mouth.  She leaks milk out, and I assume takes air in these spaces, which could be the cause of all her gas.  I did a little research online and came across some pictures of upper lip ties, and call me crazy, but I seem to think Nora’s upper lip resembles some of the pictures I found.  Below is a picture of Nora if any of you have experience with this.  And also below is a list of symptoms, and we have almost all of them.  I could hardly stand the pain from her latch Saturday evening, after only two feedings!  It’s almost like she bites down, with her gums, when she stops sucking to breath, I assume to try to maintain her latch.  I’m all ears for suggestions.  I’m going to ask about all this at her appointment on Thursday.

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I’m sick of washing bottles so I bought some of the Playtex Drop-Ins.  Not sure what I think of these yet, as they seem better geared for formula.  With breast milk I either have to thaw it and then pour it into these, or warm in from the fridge already in these, either way some work.  I’m trying to cut down on steps and dirty parts but with pumping and storing and feeding, well, I’m not sure the drop-ins solve my problem.  Willing to try them though!

The house is coming along, check out these pictures which were taken this past weekend.

Kitchen – Range/Hood
Master – Closet & Bathroom
Master – Closet
I assume a bedroom…
Kitchen – um, where is the rest of my island??
Another bedroom perhaps…
Front Entry
Lower Level Family Room
Deck, that seems like a lot of stairs!
Where is Kona gonna poop???

I’m happy so far, but very anxious for another walk-thru tomorrow.  I have to say though, the individual who is supposed to help me pick everything out… sucks.  She emails me almost daily with a new task, each time acting like I was supposed to be working on the selection for weeks.  For example, Friday it was stone for the fireplace, yesterday it was tile for the kitchen back splash.  Her emails are always like, what did you decide for such and such, and I’m like, lady, those weren’t included on your instructions for me!  How am I supposed to know everything we need??  Isn’t that her job??  And then of course everything takes forever to order and then she acts like it’s my fault if I take two days to pick something out!  And it’s not like she gives me examples or any direction.  This builder does complete custom so she’s always like, oh, you can look anywhere, online, wherever, just tell me what you want me to order.  Ugh…  Thursday I have to pick lighting, and gosh, I’m seriously at a loss.  Tonight I attempted to order all my appliances, which I’ve picked out, but the website crashed three times and emptied my shopping cart with 11 items, and honestly I’m just too tired now to add them all again.  And the sale ends tonight.  I might have to go to Lowe’s tomorrow.

Movers have been arranged, although we still don’t have a firm date.  Tentatively we are planning on the movers for August 7th and 8th as they want two days to move up, one to pack and the next to unpack.  Maybe that is next week’s task, to organize before they arrive.  Ya know, in-between picking out stuff I have no clue about.  Oh, just got another email, they need to know what I want for the railing down to our lower level…  This house is seriously supposed to be finished in two weeks and she is just now asking what I want for the railing???  I might lose it on her!  Notice my backyard in these pictures…  I was told sod would be in by the time we closed so I could get the yard fenced ASAP for our dog.

I’m sure there is so much more to share with all of you, but I’m tired and tomorrow will be another long day with the walk-thru and picking out the kitchen back splash.  Thankfully my mom is joining me to help with Nora!