I have always kind of thought NICU PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, was… well, maybe not a real thing. When we were back in the NICU with Nadia, so the second time there for an extended period of time, it was difficult of course, but I wouldn’t call it traumatic. I didn’t freak out every time I walked into the NICU by any means…

My niece has been in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) at the same hospital where both my girls were born for the past 11 days. I’ve been to see her twice now, and thankfully I think she is being released today! She was quite the sick little lady with that started as the flu and progressed to pneumonia.

I didn’t realize until I arrived at the hospital, that the PICU is set up very much like the NICU…

I’m not sure how to accurately describe how I felt while visiting my niece. And these feelings certainly weren’t 100% of the time I was visiting. I did have moments though where I wanted to panic, where I felt like I needed to leave, although obviously did not. The feelings were more like flashbacks… strange remembrances that would all the sudden pop into my head, if that even makes any sense. It started as soon as we got off the elevator on the PICU floor. There was a main desk, just like the NICU, we had to check in, I had to fill out the form regarding my recent medical symptoms, we were given name tags… We were sent to the hand-washing station. I smelled the soap, and then the hand sanitizer… I felt like I was back in time going to see my little girls. We were buzzed in and walked down the hall past several rooms until we reached my niece. I could see some toddlers in beds as we walked down the hall, some older children. My niece’s room was set up similar to the NICU, lots of IVs, her PIC line, she was on oxygen, that little pulse ox was wrapped around one toe… The distinct noises, the one when heart rates drop or climb too high, the different beep when the IV antibiotic is complete, her feeding tube, even the scale where we used to weight diapers for urine output… So many memories. Even looking at the clock on the wall, the same clock I spent months and months starting at as I pumped milk and wished my girls well.

I don’t know if surrogacy is the right route for us. It feels almost too overwhelming. Too much I can’t control. But could I do another NICU stay? What if this baby was born much, much earlier? I feel like we were so lucky twice already, our girls are doing so, so well! What if that isn’t the case next time…?

Health Updates

I haven’t updated much about the girl’s health lately, although we continue to have follow-up appointments at the University related to their prematurity.

Nora’s last appointment with immunology was good, I think… Her IgG level was normal, which is amazing, as that was her issue since birth they have been monitoring. Blood flow cytometry was abnormal though, again. At her previous appointment we were told not to worry and it would be rechecked. Well, the recheck was abnormal. Do I worry? I’m guessing I shouldn’t since the results were technically back several weeks ago and we still haven’t been called. Maybe Nora’s chart was overlooked? I emailed her doctor today and asked for an update. I googled abnormal blood flow cytometry and got scared…

Nadia’s last appointment with cardiology was awesome! Her holter monitor results were normal and thus they released her from their care. One more specialty clinic off the list for follow-ups!

Nadia was due for a NICU High Risk Follow-up Clinic visit around 24 months of age, which was August. I emailed them today to schedule an appointment. As important as those visits seem, to me anyway, as they check overall development, I feel like the woman in charge of scheduling is an airhead. They never seem to be at regular six-month intervals. I do actually have a few concerns about Nadia’s speech. I can understand pretty much everything she says, which is surprisingly a lot, but I doubt anyone else can. I’m not sure how to describe her issue, so I was hoping the high-risk team could listen to her talk. I don’t think she has a lisp per say, but it’s almost like she skips certain sounds in words. Maybe normal, I don’t know, but with looking back and knowing she had a brain injury (lack of oxygen) at birth, I fear every little thing. And I don’t remember Nora ever going through such a speech issue when learning to talk. But yes, I know every child is different. We’ll see…

I think I’ve mentioned that Kona, our dog, has been super annoying lately with waking me to go outside several times a night. Then this past Monday morning she started shaking her head, which was a clear sign to me of an ear infection. We took her in and sure enough, so got an ointment. As for her wanting to pee all the time, the vet ran lots of tests on her blood and only found high triglycerides, which she wasn’t even worried about. So… next step, testing her pee for a bladder infection. The vet wanted to use an ultrasound with a needle to extract some urine directly from her bladder. Eric laughed and said he would handle gathering the pee. So we need to get some and take it in for testing. Eric laughed and said it would be cheaper and easier just to treat as though she has an infection…

And me… I have an appointment coming up with a new general practitioner, just to establish with one in this city. And then I need a new OB/GYN too. I’ve been avoiding even beginning the search as my issues are overwhelming to me. Maybe the new general can give me some recommendations, or maybe she will even be willing to refer me to Iowa City so my insurance will pay for the OB/GYN I used to see there and who knows my entire history. No updates on our frozen embryo… I probably need an OB/GYN before we even get into thinking about that and our options.

Eric comes home today!

It’s been a long week with Eric away. I keep thinking I’ll get better at this parenting alone thing. Who knows. I did get a ton of laundry done yesterday, but of course there are more piles today. It’s like the most unforgiving task ever, the gift that keeps on giving, usually in the form of poop streaks compliments of Nora. I’m treating myself with a very pretty mocha at my favorite downtown cafe before I pick up groceries.

I’m working on MOMS Club stuff, like the agenda for our next business meeting, planning our next board meeting, and finding committee leaders for holiday gatherings. I like this part of my role as president, the managing, organizing, leading part. With almost 50 members though, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of everyone’s demands wishes.

A friend of mine is getting ready to have her fourth baby. And I seriously can’t imagine. I’m still finding two a challenge, ever single day! One minute I’m thinking, I have these two perfect little ladies who complete our family. And then the next I think of our tiny embryo… just waiting for its chance to grow. Can I handle three? What if it splits and we get twins, as this is more common with IVF transfers? I can’t handle four alone so much… I’d have to hire help at home, which would completely change our family dynamic. So the question, how does one know when they are finished having children? My case isn’t typical though. I probably shouldn’t carry our embryo, as we know my chances of carrying to term are extremely small. A gestational carrier is a completely different ballgame. One we can afford financially, but what about emotionally? I was just reading about how traumatic experiences change our brain structure, possible forever. This could explain my anxiety and heightened depression since birthing two preemies. Will I ever find calm again? (Am I getting too deep for a Friday?)

A mom friend posted on Facebook how the day her babies were born were the happiest of her life. That is a completely foreign idea to me. Those days, and the weeks that followed each of my girl’s births were not happy or special. They were sad and terrifying and stressful, full of tears and longing to hold my alien-like babies. I was sent away from Nora’s NICU suite on an almost daily basis so they could gather more spinal fluid to see if her meningitis was improving. I left the hospital every night to sleep, waking to pump every three hours. Hardly exciting, happy times. It’s still hard for me to see new moms with their babies… Is that why I want another? Another chance at all the things I feel I missed out on with Nora and Nadia? The baby shower pictures with the big belly, the kicks, the visitors in the hospital…

Or am I just dreaming any of this is possible?

Keep Writing…?

I’m not sure the point of this blog anymore… It used to be therapy for me. Now it feels like one more thing I’m supposed to make time for, time I don’t have. I enjoy writing though. And please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not sure what I’m getting back from this blog. I soooo appreciate your comments and advice, I honestly do. But don’t we all need to feel like what we do is worthwhile? I used to get a sense of calm by writing down my feelings, especially when we were going through IVF and our NICU stays. Now I’m not sure though. I know some people have made their blogs into a business, but I’m not sure that’s where I want to take this, or even how I would. Write a book maybe? Who would read it?? What would I write about, that thousands of SAHMs haven’t already written? A NICU survival guide? Am I qualified to write such a thing? I feel like my preemies weren’t born early enough or tiny enough to really know what it’s like to have to survive the NICU. Or maybe feeling that way is a huge problem in itself. It was traumatic for me, but who wants to keep hearing that again and again and again? Start a non-profit to raise money? We need no more money. I should just donate more to worthy causes.

This morning I made a comment to Eric that it must be nice to wake up, shower, and think only of oneself. I meant, not to have to think about getting our girls up and ready, feed them, get them off to school, etc. It probably came out the wrong way, as he was instantly a bit defensive, stating how he wasn’t heading off to a vacation, and reminding me he has to drive 60 miles before he can even begin his day. Still, to me, those things seem somehow easier than trying to get a two and three year-old to eat breakfast and go potty…

I realize there are parts of Eric’s job he doesn’t love. He loves operating, he doesn’t love clinic as much as he loves operating. Today is a clinic day for him. But… he chose his career. Did I choose to be a SAHM? I don’t recall making that choice. I recall the NICU telling us, with both our girls, to keep them out of daycare for the first year of life…

I’m at a point in my life where I know my strengths and weaknesses from a professional standpoint. I’m afraid to say though, that if I saw an advertisement showing the duties of a SAHM, I probably wouldn’t apply…

For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos of Nora… she discovered the selfie!

I’m not a crier 

I’m usually not a crier. But I was watching a recorded episode of Nashville last night, and a particular scene really got to me…

Now I know I didn’t purposely do anything to cause Nora and Nadia’s premature births and ongoing related issues… But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel quite guilty. I mean, my God, Nora had bacterial meningitis and sepsis as a preemie, two separate episodes. When they told us they said, I’m so sorry, as if she was already dead! I’m honestly shocked she’s doing so well. We still have many follow-up appointments, which reminds me, we need another hearing test for her, as she’s at-risk for hearing loss for several more years yet, I think until she’s five maybe. And Nadia, every time I look at her and will her to crawl or make a babbling noise I’m reminded of her brain bleed.

There is the rational side of it all… But then there is the side who wishes she could go back. To beg for the cerclage, or do more research on my own, or rest more during both my pregnancies. I don’t know, anything to change a 29 and 30 week delivery. And then I think of our frozen embryo. How do we give that little boy or girl a chance? Is it irresponsible for me to attempt another pregnancy? What if I delivered at 24 weeks next time? How would I live with the guilt of raising a possible special-needs child knowing my body was the cause?

I think back to the month we started our first round of IVF, how scared I was of the process… And here now, with two beautiful girls… The situation may be different, but the fear remains.

Nadia’s Birth – Part 3

I’m really hoping this is the last part of Nadia’s birth story!  I’m in the middle of scalding milk, washing pump parts and dishes, and dreaming of the 50 million other things I should be doing though, so hopefully I can focus long enough to write the rest of this… We did get Nadia’s crib and dresser up and into her room today.  Although the room in general is still a disaster and nowhere near ready to be called complete.  I still need to order a rocker and a small table too.  And crib bedding.  And most everything else.  So basically I just have a crib, dresser, and area rug ;). You know, the important stuff! I’m still feeling so overwhelmed with everything there is to do.  How long are my hormones all messed up?  Eric told me a couple of weeks, and then added, it’s been a couple of weeks, as if I should be all ‘normal’ now.  I don’t feel normal…

So I’m in the ambulance, the sirens are on, but surprisingly, it’s not all that loud inside, believe it or not.  One of the nurses was timing my contractions, which were about three minutes apart at that point.  I was still receiving the IV magnesium, but they don’t take the baby monitors along, which I thought was odd…

The critical care nurse with the ambulance team was really, really sweet.  I wish I could remember her name and somehow send her a thank you.  She talked to me throughout the entire ride, told me all about her SIX children, two sets of twins, how one set came early, etc.  The nurse who came from Allen Hospital with me wasn’t nearly that sweet!  I mean, she was polite, but certainly was just doing her job. The conversation on the ride was nice, took my mind off the contractions somewhat.  Wait, no, that’s not really true.  I know I stopped talking during the contractions.  It was so difficult not being able to really move on the stretcher.

We arrived in record time at the University.  I remember feeling embarrassed as I was wheeled out of the ambulance and up the elevators to labor and delivery on the 6th floor.  There were a lot of people just hanging out around the labor and delivery entrance, and for some reason, I feel really silly all strapped to the stretcher… Eric wasn’t with me yet as he followed in our vehicle. As soon as we got to L&D I was wheeled to a room and the ambulance team helped move me off the stretcher and onto a bed.  All my IV tubing was removed, as apparently hospitals have different tubing, so my IV was left in, but my meds were stopped.  (And I swear this is why my contractions progressed, but thus, I am not a doctor, so what do I know.) The very sweet critical care nurse gave me a hug before she left and wished me all good things for my delivery.

I remember two nurses specifically asking me a ton of questions, all the same I had been asked this morning.  I really wanted to scream, it’s all in my chart, just open it! I tried to be nice, but I was in pain and moody, of course.

I think it was around 5:45pm when I arrived at the University, but I could be a little off, my mind wasn’t really with me. As the nurses were starting fluids and magnesium a familiar face popped in, the head of the NICU, Dr. Bell, who is also the father of Eric’s best friend.  I think I mentioned him before, as we’ve gotten to know him well over the years through Eric’s friend and also because of our NICU stay with Nora.  He asked where the heck Eric was and if I wanted him to hold my hand until he arrived.  I did, and I didn’t.  I mean, I know him, and a familiar face was nice, but I wasn’t sure I felt all that comfortable with him in the room.  So I politely told him I was okay…

Clearly I was not okay though… I asked the nurses again for pain meds, and they said they would see if I could have something after the doctor checked me. I was like, okay, where the hell is this doctor, as I know there are at least 30 OB/GYNs plus residents here at the hospital right now.  No idea how long I waited, several painful contractions, I know that, and finally a doctor, I’m pretty sure a resident, came in and introduced herself. I don’t remember her name, but she was super nice, I have to admit.  She checked me, I was 6 cm, so at that point their plan was still to stop my contractions, and thus they said I could have a little of something in my IV for pain.  But they had to order it, and wait for it to arrive from the pharmacy.  Like seriously people??

So lots of people were in and out of my room at this point, the resident who checked me was setting set up a table at the end of my bed with lots of scary looking tools, which she swore were not for torture.  Yes, I asked her that. There were maybe five or six people around what looked like a NICU incubator in the corner of the room, the two original nurses were still there, plus a few more, and I also remember a random old guy, who I was later told was the actual OB on my case.  Funny how he didn’t actually do anything!

Eric finally arrived…

One of my original nurses walked in carrying my pain meds!  I was so happy.  For all of about 5 seconds.  She said they had to check me again before I could have it.  What???  I was at 7 cm, and they decided at that point they couldn’t stop my labor and I was having the baby.  And therefore I couldn’t have the pain meds.  I shit you not people, I begged her to give it to me.  And she very sweetly put her arm around me and explained how it would harm the baby’s respiratory system, and since my baby was a preemie, I just couldn’t have it.  I think she was trying to make me understand it was best for baby, and I know that now, but at the time, I certainly wasn’t thinking clearly!  I’m fairly certain I told her I’d pay extra for the pain meds…

I asked what else I could have, and they said an epidural…  Great, wonderful, that sounds wonderful.  They went to get anesthesia.  Several more contractions.  Eric was asking me how he could make me feel better.  I think I said to knock me out.  All the sudden I tell Eric I feel like I need to throw up. He grabbed me a random container, I tried to throw up, but since I hadn’t eaten all day, well, I was throwing up nothing but spit really, which I think is actually worse than really throwing up.  Then, I felt a strange sort of gush.  My water broke.  Not sure if it would have on its own, or if it was somehow the pressure of me throwing up…

The resident checked me again and I was at 10 cm, no time for an epidural.  I. WANTED. TO. CRY.  No way was I having another baby without pain meds.  I am weak, I’ll be the first to admit that!

Oh, did I forget to mention they did a quick bedside ultrasound when I arrived at the University and confirmed baby was head-down.  Otherwise I think they would have been prepping me for a c-section.

So the very sweet resident tells me I can push whenever I feel the need.  Okay…  I really only pushed twice with Nora, so this part of the birth process was somewhat new to me.  But surprisingly, pushing was a relief from the pain of the contractions.  I’m sure many of you understand, and for those of you who don’t, I’m not sure how to explain it.  I mean, it was still painful, but somewhat better.  I think I pushed for maybe 30 minutes, and I’m quite certain between each contraction I told Eric and the entire team that I was giving up and couldn’t do it.  Of course they were all very sweet and encouraging and told me what an awesome job I was doing.

Finally, at 7:13pm, so not all that long after arriving at the University, Nadia Louise was born, all 3 lbs. 13 oz. of her, 16.75 inches long. She was taken by the NICU team immediately for them to access. The very sweet resident did let Eric cut the cord this time though!

I remember instant relief once Nadia was out.  They did give me pitocin to help get the placenta out… Do they give that to everyone?? There must have been several students in the room at that point as well, as I remember the resident who delivered Nadia explaining about how you never pull on the cord for the placenta, or something like that.

The neonatologist very quickly brought Nadia over so we could see her, we snapped one picture, and then they took her to the NICU.

I remember telling the resident this was the second baby I delivered without cute toenails!  Next time I will be prepared.  Well, if there is a next time.

I needed some stitches, and I tell you, it seemed like they stitched FOREVER.  The resident was really funny though, she said she was making everything ‘pretty’ so I kept telling her to carry on and take her time!

Once me, and the room were all cleaned up the nurse brought me some food, I think a sandwich, potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie.  Doesn’t sound all that interesting, but I was starving, and I hadn’t had real food, because of the gestational diabetes, in weeks.  So yes, it tasted amazing!  I ate while I texted a few family members and friends, Eric was calling some family I think.  About an hour later Nadia was stable in the NICU and Eric and I were allowed to see her.

I don’t think it had hit me yet at that point, that we had another baby in the NICU.  Walking in there, again, felt surreal.  Maybe I was in shock, or denial, I don’t know…  I hadn’t been to bay 1 since Nora was very sick the second time during her stay.  Even the smell of the place brought back (bad) memories.  Even washing our hands upon entering gave me flashbacks of our days there with Nora.

When we walked into Nadia’s room I could have sworn it was Nora.  Maybe it was just the setting, all the same cords, the familiar sounds, etc.  Or maybe they really do look a lot alike.  Nadia was almost a pound more than Nora at birth, but I swear she looked just as tiny in her warmer bed.  Her eyes were closed, greasy with whatever it is they apply at birth, she was intubated, although breathing over it for the most part, had several lines into her umbilical cord, and I think an IV in one of her hands, although I can’t remember now.  She looked very sweet and as I placed my finger in her hand she tightened her tiny fist, just as I remember Nora doing the first time we met.

Nadia’s nurse gave us an update on her, basically that she was doing awesome.  Which scared the heck out of both Eric and me.  That’s exactly what they told us with Nora, and then a week later Nora was diagnosed with meningitis.  Neither Eric nor I really wanted to get too excited about Nadia doing so well, really for fear we’d be disappointed later…  And like all NICU stays, we’ve had our ups and downs so far, and still aren’t out of the water.

I’ll share more later, details of my stay before being discharged, and also more on my feelings regarding the NICU and bonding with Nadia.  I need to pump soon and finish the dishes, and the million other things on my list 🙂

Day of Life 17

I wrote this yesterday, but just getting around to posting now, on Saturday morning while Nora is napping 🙂

It’s Friday, our regular sitter is with Nora so Eric and I ventured back to Iowa City for more snuggles with Nadia. She’s up to 4 lbs 6 oz which is great, although they had to increase her oxygen from 21% to 30%. I suppose I shouldn’t worry, her lungs are obviously not developed yet, but every setback seems to terrify me these days. I panic every time my phone rings, fearing it’s the nicu with bad news.

Nadia did have her eyes open a bit more today than I’ve seen, and I was able to grab a quick picture!


She looks pretty sleepy still, but she made the effort!

It sounds like the scare we had last week, when she had the bad night with fussiness and higher oxygen needs, it was just a UTI. The antibiotics she’s been on should clear it up, in fact I think tomorrow is the last day for those. She will need a few more tests though, a VCUG for one, to rule out reflux of urine into her kidneys, and probably a renal ultrasound, but Eric’s telling me not to worry. He said if it was anything serious, we’d most likely have seen it on one of her prenatal ultrasounds.  And honestly, I’m not sure how much more worrying I can do for Miss Nadia.

I know this is going to sound really weird, but going to see Nadia actually seems to make me sad. It’s like when I’m home I miss her terribly, but I’m so busy with Nora that I don’t have as much time to worry. When I’m at the hospital with Nadia, all I do is sit there and think of all the terrible things that could be wrong with her. I over analyze every tick, jerk, and odd eye movement, even though I know these are normal for preemies. She had hiccups and I panicked, thinking it was a seizure. How do I not keep thinking the worst? I feel like I can’t possibly keep wondering how she’s going to develop. I so badly want more information from the doctors, but even Eric says we just have to wait and see.  One of her doctors stopped in earlier and again said that they don’t have a lot of data to compare MRI results with actual outcomes.  Meaning, an MRI could look very bad, but the child could develop fine, or an MRI could look fairly good and yet the child will have some delays in development.  So we wait.  They keep saying that the good news is that she is acting normal for a preemie her age.

I posted some of my concerns on a Facebook nicu group I’ve been a part of since Nora was born…  And while the women were full of great information and very supportive, I felt worse after reading their comments. They were all so very positive regarding their children with issues ranging all over the board. Most common mentioned was Cerebral Palsy (CP), which is a concern for Nadia… They all said how wonderful their children are, and how they learn from them daily. And I don’t doubt all that. But another part of me is not ready to believe I have a child with disabilities. I’m just not there yet. I still want to think Nadia will be completely normal. And she might be. But then I feel guilty for wanting life with a ‘normal’ child. Why should I be so lucky?

28 Week Check-up

I guess overall today’s check-up went well.  For the past week I’ve had such a strange feeling that this baby is going to be born as early as Nora.  I hope I’m wrong!

Highlights from the visit

  • This isn’t really a highlight, more a pain in the behind…  Since Eric’s work changed a bit on August 1st, so did our health insurance.  We shouldn’t have a gap in coverage, but since I don’t have the information for our new insurance, and our old expired at the end of July, it’s making things difficult.  Apparently Eric’s new HR department is not exactly, with it.  Yesterday morning I got three phone calls, one from the specialty pharmacy who supplies me with my Makena injections telling me that the refill claim was rejected, one from my doctor’s office alerting me that I had an appointment tomorrow (today) and my coverage was expired, and another from the nurse at my doctor’s office who worked seriously three weeks to get our previous insurance to pay for Makena saying she was asked to start the approval process over…  Ugh.  And of course I had to tell each of them I was pretty much clueless, that we have retroactive coverage, but I have no idea who it’s through or what it covers.  The approval process for the Makena is just more than I really want to deal with again, and I even considered just paying cash for it, but it’s $3,000.00 per injection, so per week, and that will add up quickly.  I had my doctor’s office give me an injection today so that I could save the two doses I still have at home, hoping the insurance mess would be resolved before I run out.  I’m not holding my breath.
  • Right when I arrived the nurse had me drink the orange glucose ‘beverage’, for lack of a better term.  I honestly don’t think it’s bad, but then again I love Starbuck’s flavored lattes which I assume have about as much sugar.  They told me I didn’t have to fast this morning, but to limit sugars…  I had a piece of peanut butter toast and a banana.  No clue if that was a good or bad choice.  I just received my results online, 163, which I’m pretty sure means I have to do the three hour fasting test.  Does anyone know for sure?  With Nora my result was 137 and I remember them telling me I just passed.  Great.  One more thing to worry about.  I’ll wait to hear what my doctor has to say…
  • The nurse also told me that it’s at your 28 week check that they like to give a tdap booster, so of course I was willing.  Already my arm is killing me though!  Picking up Nora tomorrow should be fun!
  • My doctor came in next and we chatted for quite a while about all my symptoms.  Even tonight I’m still experiencing all the same, lots of pressure very low in my abdomen, off and on tightening of my belly, very low, some mild cramping, etc.  I basically feel like baby is just way too low already, sitting is uncomfortable, how can that be at only 28 weeks tomorrow?  And forget bending over!  My belly just aches all the time.  Is that how others feel when they’re pregnant?  I didn’t have this until last week… around the same time I started having these feelings with Nora’s pregnancy.  I just can’t imagine feeling this crappy for another 12 weeks.  I mean, I know women go through worse, but… this isn’t fun.  Although neither is having a baby in the NICU for months…  And I wouldn’t say the tightening is painful, more uncomfortable, like I find myself moving to try to get the feeling to stop.
  • My doctor listened to baby girl’s heartbeat, which was in the 140s I think, which she said was good.  Then she measured my belly with the tape measure, and it measured 30cm, so two weeks ahead of where I should be.  She said she wasn’t concerned, that measuring bellies is more an estimate.  My doctor doubts whether this baby is actually the size of the average 30 week baby… probably more just how she is laying currently.  Oh, which is feet down right now.  So perfect if she’s born in the next week, maybe we can have a repeat breech delivery!  Kidding, let’s hope not.  Does anyone reading have experience with not measuring to the week you actually are?  Just curious how common this is and what it means.  With Nora they never measured my belly, I guess we never got far enough!
  • Next my doctor checked my cervix (which I thought they weren’t supposed to do, but she’s the doctor) and she was happy to report that the length is still around 2cm and I’m dilated to just a fingertip, which she said is okay with her, given my history.  She said usually the cervix will completely shorten (efface) before it truly starts to dilate, so being it’s still 2cm long is great.  I mean, it’s shorter than it should be by about 50%, but at least I still have some length!  The fact that I’m not dilated further than a tiny bit tells my doctor that my tightening is not true labor, not yet anyway.
  • Given all my symptoms, and the fact that I am dilated just a tiny bit, my doctor wants to start seeing me weekly.  Ugh.  That’s a lot of driving, but probably a good idea.  Her main concern is, if I am going to have this baby early, the more notice we have for steroids the better.  She said that steroids are most effective the later and closer they are given to delivery, preferably 48 and 24 hours before delivery.  Giving too early can waste their effectiveness so to speak…  Nora’s were given almost exactly at 48 and 24 hours as I was given magnesium to stop labor until we completed those doses, and thankfully, breathing was never her primary issue.

So all in all, I guess okay for now, except for hopefully I pass the three-hour glucose, if that’s where I’m headed next.  I know this sounds selfish, that I should put baby girl’s needs first, but honestly, I just don’t feel right and can’t picture feeling this way for 12 more weeks.  I know inside is better than a NICU though, just trying to wrap my head about feeling this way for an extended period of time.  I remember in the hospital, when I was in active labor with Nora, the nurse kept telling me that this was my new normal, that I wasn’t in labor, and I wanted to punch her.  I was actually relieved when she was born, that all that awful pain was over.  I guess a part of me feels that way now.  So again, lots of guilt.  I don’t wish this baby early, but just this feeling in the back of my mind that my body isn’t acting as it should…

I think I had more I wanted to write about, but I only slept two hours last night, thanks to my pregnancy insomnia.  So I’m off to bed now that Nora is sleeping.  Good night!

More catching up

I realized last night why I’ve felt overly stressed the past few weeks…  All my regular babysitters went home for Christmas break.  Meaning, I’ve had Nora 24/7.  I know what you’re thinking, you don’t even work…  And you’re right there.  But for some reason it’s still quite taxing on me, feeling like the sole caretaker for Nora, being Eric’s hours are crazy.  Even when he does get home early, which is not often, he usually heads directly to the basement to dictate notes, update charts, call back patients…  So him being home does not equal him caring for Nora.  Yes, he makes time to change a few diapers, read her some books, but ultimately her care is on me.  And I’m not complaining.  There is just something about caring for her 24/7 and not having a lot else in my life right now that gets me down from time to time.  Is this normal?

So being it’s a new year I’m trying to make a few changes.  I know the day goes smoother if I get up and shower before Nora wakes, but that means way less sleep for me.  Last night I got 5h 22m of sleep according to my beddit, but 50m of that was restless.  Overall, not nearly enough!  (If you’re not familiar with beddit, check it out, it’s quite insightful!)  So tonight, I will attempt to go to bed earlier.  Nora usually is sleeping by 7:30, so that should still give me some time at night to clean the house, do laundry, and whatever else it is moms do after their kids go to bed.

Mondays and Fridays are still Kona’s days for daycare at Happy Dogs.  We’re still doing half days which annoys me, as I’m pretty sure we are paying for full days, and the dropping off and picking up across town for only 4 hours, with Nora, is a hassle.  But it’s good for Kona, so for now we will continue it.  So this morning I dragged myself out of bed around 6:30, showered, dried my hair, attempted foundation, but no other make-up, dressed in workout clothes, but who are we kidding, I won’t be working out, and had to wake Nora at 8 to feed her to get out the door by 8:20 to get Kona to Happy Dogs by 8:35ish.  After we dropped Kona off, Nora and I filled the green tank (my vehicle, which eats gas) with fuel, stopped at Starbucks, and dropped a return to Amazon at the UPS Store.  Starbucks is no longer exciting for me as I’m limiting myself to fun drinks on Fridays only.  Today being Monday I was forced to order a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte.  It takes like coffee, and we all know I don’t actually like coffee.

I manged to get Nora down for a nap around 10am, but darn it, my cell phone rang with some recorded message about winning a cruise and now she is awake already, at only 10:41.  From the looks of the video monitor, she appears to be playing in her crib…  Leave her there?  Amber would normally be here from 1-5pm to watch Nora on Mondays, but that schedule won’t resume until next week.  Which reminds me, I need to contact the other sitters and see if their class schedules have changed much.  Ideally I would like one full day with a sitter so I could perhaps go out-of-town each week, I assume to Iowa City or Cedar Rapids, to see old friends, lunches perhaps, but I’m not sure any of my sitters have any full days free.  We shall see…  I miss my old friends dearly though, so perhaps taking Nora with me out-of-town each week one day could be a possibility.  Just seems like a lot for me.  I actually have a hair appointment in Cedar Rapids tomorrow at noon and I meant to see if anyone wanted to meet up after, but of course I didn’t get around to actually contacting anyone.  The story of my life!  Maybe there is still time…

Did I mention I’m completely done pumping for Nora??  It’s so amazing to have more time in my days.  And nights.  But there was something sad about packing up my pump.  It was the one thing that went everywhere with me for 9 months.  As much as I hated pumping, it kept me busy in the NICU all those days.  There was something comforting and familiar about it.  Hard to explain…  I find that each new stage in this story of motherhood gets harder, and looking back on the past stages makes me feel comforted.  Like when Nora was in the NICU I was so, so worried about her health and if/when she’d be released for home.  My days consisted of going to the NICU, pumping, meeting coworkers for lunch or coffee, and then back to the NICU to pump more all afternoon.  It’s like I had a purpose I guess, is the best way I can explain it.  I’m not sure my purpose now.  I mean obviously to care for Nora, but it’s not as clear-cut.  I don’t have a schedule each day, I don’t even always feel like I’ve accomplished something each day.  Some days I find myself longing for nap time so I can nap myself, or clean, or switch out the laundry.  But then I feel an incredible sense of guilt, that I’m wishing my time with Nora away.  I certainly don’t want her to grow up so fast, everyone tells me to cherish these times.  But how I sometimes wonder…

Random Thoughts & Updates

  • Nora is getting faster and faster at crawling…  Time to actually close the baby gate at the top of our stairs I suppose!  And last night she sat from a crawling position!  So fun to watch her learn and change!  I still find myself behind on her weekly pictures, I haven’t taken this weeks yet…
  • I finally counted my frozen milk storage, and I’m pleasantly surprised that I have about 7,000 oz.  I’m so so so sick of pumping, so yesterday I started trying to stop.  I had been going up to 8 hours between sessions, so I’m going to try to be consistent and not pump more often than every 8-10 hours.  And currently I pump for around 15 mins each session, but I’m going to try to cut that down as well, this morning I pumped for 12.5 mins.  Hopefully I don’t end up with mastitis on something more awful from quitting too quickly.  Anyone have any advice on how to stop?
  • We are back to fortifying my milk for Nora as she’s gaining very, very slowly.  I weighed her a couple days ago and she was only up to 13 lbs 13.5 oz.  The high risk NICU followup team in Iowa City would like to see her gaining a bit faster, so hopefully fortifying helps.
  • Every now and again we try solid food with Nora, but so far she doesn’t seem much of a fan.  She happily opens her mouth to be spoon-fed or will feed herself whatever is on her tray, but as soon as it’s in her mouth her tongue pushes it out.  I guess you could say we are doing a combination of baby-led weaning and baby food.  And maybe she is just still too young, as she is just over 6 months adjusted now, but I’ve heard that preemies often have more issues with solids, so I’m a little worried.  For now I’m just going to keep trying solids with her every few days and ask her pediatrician about it at our next visit in a week or so.
  • Kona has been acting super jealous the past few weeks so I finally made an effort to get her more exercise and socialization.  I really miss Just Dogs Playcare in Coralville where Kona used to spend a few days a week, and I’ve been searching and searching for a place here…  And I found one, Happy Dogs Daycare.  First I must admit that the people are really amazing.  I was super impressed with both the owner and manager.  Their focus on safety really put me at ease.  The location though, and the facility, well, they leave a bit to be desired.  The building looks like it should be condemned.  And there is no parking lot other than a mud area behind the building where apparently the guests park.  Would it be rude to inquire about investing in a new facility for their business?  No seriously…
  • I went Christmas shopping yesterday and finally purchased a few gifts.  I have no idea what is wrong with me this year, but for the life of me I can’t seem to find suitable gifts for those on my list.  You’d think I have more time this year than any other year to search for the perfect gifts, but no, somehow the days are still flying by.  I think my problem is I’m finally realizing that Christmas is more than gifts, and thus I’d rather give something meaningful, but what that meaningful gift should be is difficult to find.  I wish my family would eliminate gifts for adults and just focus on being together and perhaps a few gifts for the kids.
  • Speaking of Christmas, I haven’t even purchased any gifts for Nora.  I think we’ve decided no visits to Santa this year, being the mall Santas are germ infested.  But what does one get their daughter for her first Christmas?  Again, I’d like something heartfelt, something I can look back on and remember that it was Nora’s first Christmas gift from her parents.
  • The tree is finally up, well, almost.  I purchased a larger artificial tree this year, along with ornaments that coordinate with the colors in our living room.  But apparently I had no idea just how large this tree is, as I ran out of decorations halfway through.  I’m still waiting for the rest to be delivered.  I’ll post a pic when it’s complete!
  • I’m still really enjoying getting to know the girls at my MOPs table better.  Last night we got together at one of the mom’s houses for a little Christmas gathering.  It was fun, we just sat around and chatted while sipping punch and enjoying Christmas goodies.  I took a Cranberry Orange Cheesecake that was very tasty!  And then this morning I met one of the moms for coffee who couldn’t make it last night.  Just nice to get out of the house and chat with others.  I cancelled our sitter this afternoon, as Eric was finished with cases at noon…  But he arrived home about one and immediately got a call to come back to see a patient.  Ugh.  It really never ends.
  • This afternoon I need to get my Christmas cards in the mail as FedEx just dropped them off, and then I was considering making Christmas cookies.  I might run out of energy soon though, day 4 of no caffeine, an experiment to see if Nora will nap better…