What We've Been Up To

We all do our part.

Keeping busy while I give a riding lesson.

Every Monday. 
37 weeks
I swear didn't tell them what c-section means, but here they are acting it out during pretend play.
Emily. All from Daddy. 
Planting the winter garden.

Complete with swollen joints and a trip to urgent care.

Iron infusions for me.
Colorblind and "weak focusing muscles".
New glasses for Lexi.
More hives.
Despite being on medication.
38 weeks, 2 days. 
We didn't know it then, but this would also be Delivery Day!
And we were totally prepared!


Baby #4 Update

With this whole VBA2C thing on the table, my doctor decided an ultrasound at 37 weeks would help us decide which way to go.

Baby under 9 lbs. = good to try for VBAC
Baby over 9 lbs = C-section

My ultrasound was on Tuesday, the 12th.

The estimated weight of the baby at 37 weeks is 9 lbs. 9 oz. 

Babies gain about 1/2 lb. a week the last month. With three weeks to grow, she should gain 1.5 additional pounds. That puts her at 10 1/2 lbs. or so at birth if we wait.

Now the ultrasound can be off by 1/2 a lb. or so - big or small. But, chances are very high that she will be well over 9 lbs. by my due date of March 4th.

My doctor subtly recommended I schedule a section, but still gave me the option to wait it out and try for a VBAC.

The three factors that contribute most to rupture are:

1. Use of labor inducing drugs (I've had no less than 30 hours of pitocin with every labor - and I labored with all 3 - two of which ended in c-sections)
2. Babies over 9 lbs. (see above)
3. Going overdue (?)

Knowing my history and the likelihood that she'll be well over the 9 lbs., I chose to go the "medically safe" route and schedule a c-section.

Baby girl will be here February 26th.

I'm dreading the surgery and recovery. I'm nervous about hemorrhaging since I've already done that and the chance increases with each c-section.

But, I've recovered from 2 c-sections before and lived to tell the tale. I survived the hemorrhage even thought it was scary.

If I did rupture, and the baby didn't get oxygen for 10-15 minutes, we'd be looking at a lifetime of possible consequences including brain damage and other issues that last a lot longer than the recovery from surgery for me.

In other pregnancy news, it's been 3 weeks and I still have this nasty cough, sore throat, and stuffed head. My sleep has suffered a lot because I can't take anything that really helps to stop the cough and let me breathe. Stuffy head is pretty common with pregnancy, and I expect it will clear up as soon as I have this kid. The cough bothers me more, simply because the thought of having a bad cough, and recovering from abdominal surgery sounds like pure torture. I have just over a week to drop this cough, and I'm hoping for a miracle.

I've gone for two iron infusions. I go to the oncology unit and sit with the folks who get chemotherapy. I feel like a big jerk sitting there, looking full of life and healthy with this head full of hair, impatient because I have things to do back home, while these folks fight for their lives. They are all very upbeat, bantering back and forth with the nurses, spending hours upon hours of their lives in those dumb chairs hoping to beat the odds.

But, my energy level has improved. And, the threat of blood loss isn't quite so scary because I'll be pumped full of iron right before I go under the knife.

All in all, I'm still pretty comfortable. Don't get me wrong, my back gets tired. My hips are sore. I get winded sometimes - but I attribute that to the fact that I can't breathe through my nose anymore because of the dumb stuffiness rather than just the baby. My maternity shirts don't quite reach as far as they need to anymore either. But, I'm the least miserable I've ever been at this stage. I'm so grateful for that as I'm the busiest I've ever been, and getting least amount of rest, too. I'm not so miserable I want to die or anything and that is a real blessing.

And NO, we still don't have a name. I'm not feeling worried about it; she'll get one eventually.

Here's the view at 37 weeks:


We Were There for Five Weeks

Each day in the NICU is a like riding a roller coaster. I'd arrive in the morning and ask for a report of how she'd done overnight. Sometimes, she'd have made some progress and after morning rounds, the doctor would order her oxygen reduced so she'd be breathing more on her own. Or, she would have kept her feeds down so they would try to increase the amount she was eating - 1 cc at a time (5 cc are in a teaspoon so it was slow going). Other days, we'd go backwards with an increase in oxygen or no change in feeds.

She was still on the ventilator and on a feeding tube at the end of week one.  She was able to maintain her body temperature, her heart had healed up, and they were slowly weaning her off of her pain meds. However, when they would get her too lucid, she would start ripping out her tubes.

On day 10, Allen and I were together. I walked in and heard a strange cry. The nurse looked over and said, "They just told me to take out the vent! You can hold your baby today!!" For ten days, we'd been cupping her, and reading to her from her bedside. We'd been sponge bathing her, and gingerly working around her breathing tube. She would try to cry, but she with the vent in, her mouth would open and close like a fish on dry land - without sound. I have to admit, it was a heart breaking sight. We didn't know what her little voice would sound like.

Her first audible cries.
My first time holding her - 10 days old.
 Lexi made very slow progress. They had no answers for us. At 35 weeks, no one knew why she was so sick. She often threw up her feeds - as many as 8 times a day - so every feed, essentially.

 Allen's mom flew in and stayed for 3 solid weeks. She ferried me to and from the hospital. She sat beside me while I held the baby. She'd hold Lexi and talk to her when I stepped out to pump or get lunch. Then, she'd drive me home, clean the house, and make us dinner.

Lexi and Gma
Allen would go to work and come to the hospital at the end of his day. Shift change occurred shortly after he would arrive, so he'd get about 1/2 an hour with Lexi. He would come home, and I'd give him the day's updates. Often, his frustration and sadness would erupt as doubt in our doctors. He had no place to vent his worries. As time wore on, it became clear that telling Allen all of the details wasn't helping him. It was hard on our marriage; we were grieving and coping differently - completely wrapped up in our own suffering.

Marti would come to the hospital after Allen would leave to take the "night shift". The nurses often allowed her to stay even though visiting hours were supposed to be on hold at that time. Marti would read to Lexi. Sometimes, she would talk to her. I'm sure they had conversations that I'll never know about; talks that will bind them for life.

We called this crib "baby jail".
 Our home teacher would come by the hospital on his way home from work. He commuted 2 hours each way, leaving at 4 a.m. and getting home after 7 at night. But, he took time away from his own family to visit her. He'd go with Allen (only certain people had access; if not, they had to be accompanied by people who did) and just listen to our story. Or, he'd offer to give her a blessing. His wife brought us food. Or just called and listened to me talk. They still hold a very special place in our hearts.

Our place in the "big kid" side of things.
About 3 weeks into our stay, the occupational therapist came to our bedside. She did some tests on Lexi to see how her development was coming along. The news was not good. She had some delays that were significant. The words "may not ever be normal" crossed her lips. I was devastated, but determined to do what I could to ensure she was wrong. Allen was pissed. He wanted to choke the therapist, and take Lexi home that day.

The middle of April, Aunt Laura and Uncle Brent flew out for a quick trip to meet Lexi and lend their support. Laura's sister and friend of mine, Christie, was driving through the area a week later, and even took the time to stop and visit Lexi in the hospital. 

At week 4, they let us do a trial run with Lexi. They gave us a room to stay in, and let us take all of her feeds for one night. At this point, her biggest challenge was eating. She hated eating. She was still on a feeding tube. She threw up almost all of her feeds. But, they wanted to let us take her. We wanted to take her. The safest thing was to try it out there at the hospital. We got set up and settled in for the night. I was stressed and scared. Allen was asleep. I was happy to wake up in the night and finally take care of her on my own. When they came in the morning to see how we'd done, the news was bad. Lexi had lost 13 oz. over night. Clearly, she wasn't ready to come off of the feeding tube. We sent her back to the NICU, heartbroken.

Week 5, my mom flew in to visit. We were in the big kid NICU. I was totally used to the environment. I knew no other way to have a baby. I was comfrotable with the routine, sounds, sterility of the place. Mom, however, wasn't. She quietly held Lexi while tears rolled down her cheeks.

Nana with Lexi.
 One afternoon, Mom and I left to run an errand. While we were out, Allen called us. He was at the hospital and they were releasing us. WHAT? They'd just took her off the feeding tube 24 hours ago. They'd said nothing that morning while were were there. We sped to the hospital; was this really true? It was. In a fog of excitement and disbelief, we packed up our things. We put her in the carseat and with very little to-do, we were on our way.

I slept the best when she slept on me. I didn't worry about her breathing. I didn't worry about  her crying. She never work early when we were this way. We slept sound and warm. We'd been apart for too long, in my mind, and I didn't care if we slept this way for months.
 The first night was complete chaos. We'd come home with an excel spreadsheet of medications. We were panicked that if she didn't take her feeds, we'd end up in the NICU again. Each feeding was accompanied by intense stress, conflict, and pressure. And, each feed she threw up. The entire feed. She projectile vomited, to be honest. But, somehow, she managed to thrive. She gained her 5 oz. minimum per week. We saw a gastroenterologist who got her on some meds. We changed formulas. But, she still barfed. And barfed. She barfed almost every meal for 18 months.

In the mean time, we went to the therapists to make sure she was developing properly. By 4 months old, she had surpassed her goals, and was actually doing things a 6 month old would do. Lexi walked at 9 months. She been giving a blessing after birth that promised her to have "all of her faculties". And she did.

We are stronger for having experienced the trial. I personally feel like I'm a much better mom because of our time in the NICU. I was "raised" by the nurses there. I learned to look for and see things many people aren't aware of because I was surrounded by good doctors, nurses, and therapists. Allen and I learned a lot about how each of us respond under duress. We saw our strengths and weaknesses magnified in those first years as parents. In all honesty, when we do talk about those weeks, we cry. We can't look over the pictures without some sniffles. Not because we feel sad for ourselves or that our experience was just so awful we can't bear even the thought of it, no it's not that, but that the love for a child is so strong that even 7 years removed from it all, the feelings come rushing to the surface like it was yesterday.

At nearly 7 years old, Lexi is a bright, loving, intelligent, compassionate, and very capable child. Sometimes, we talk to her about her story. We show her the pictures. She struggled for the first couple of years with the side effects of being born early, but has outgrown all of them. Thankfully, it was all temporary. We now have ourselves a very healthy little girl who will go on to do great things in this life.

Lexi - fall 2012


And Then She Was Here

I remember the overwhelming relief that swept over my body once the choice had been made to do a c-section. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in days.

They unplugged the pitocin, gave me some ice chips, and let me rest for a few minutes. I remember my body shaking uncontrollably, and the fatigue settling in as I waited to go to the operating room.

The hallway lights were bright as they wheeled me down to prep. They got the spinal going and told me to lay down.

I was asleep in seconds.

They nudged me awake so I could see the baby, I told Allen, "You stay with the baby!", and then I passed out.

The next few days are a blur to me. I know Allen was with me for a time; he remembers watching me come out of recovery and being very worried as the normal effects of the drugs caused me to have the shakes. I remember him telling me the baby had done ok at first, but then her breathing had declined, and they'd whisked her away. He then told me she'd gotten really bad, and was on a ventilator; that we couldn't hold her. Her heart wasn't working right and they were giving it time to "grow up" for a few days before they did surgery. That he'd spent every minute he could with her, would run to check on me, and would run back to the NICU. 

Here she is at 6 hours old. She was still holding her own with just a little oxygen at this point.
 Twenty-four hours later, he asked me if I wanted to see the baby. As he wheeled me down to the NICU floor, he tried to prepare me for what it would be like. She was on a lot of drugs. She would be asleep. She had tubes coming out everywhere. Her heart still wasn't working right and they were doing tests to find out if she would need surgery. We shouldn't touch her much because her nerve endings weren't fully developed, but we could cup her elbow or arm, for example. He showed me how to call the front desk area, give them our code, and enter the exterior hallway. Then, he showed me how to properly scrub in so that we woudln't introduce germs to the babies.

We rounded the corner and the various beeping sounds of the monitors became louder. Into the door we went. Allen pointed to the second station. There she was with her own little name tag on a bright yellow star, Alexis.

My first time meeting Lexi.
 The nurses were reverently busy. Time stopped. They came over and welcomed me. Our nurse, Joan, told me about Lexi. How she'd responded to the drugs. How she would "levitate" if they tried to lower her dose. How shocked they were that a 35-weeker was as sick as she was. I remember so clearly feeling cheated out of my time with her.  And sad that someone else had been caring for her. Someone else had been getting to know her. Someone else had learned more about her than I had.

I tried to open my mouth to say, "Hi baby", but nothing would come out. I choked back sobs, trying to maintain some sense of composure.

At the "baby beach".

They let me stay a full 5 days at the hospital, rather than kicking me out at the normal 3 day mark for c-sections. Words hardly describe the feeling of leaving a child behind as you drive away from the hospital. The whole event is very surreal. You know you've birthed this person. You know your heart is with them because the void is so big in your chest you can barely breathe. But, you're getting onto the freeway and everyone around you is acting normal. Like nothing has changed. And you get home and the news is on, the water still runs, the horses need fed, and the world is still turning. All the while, you're bubble has come to a screeching halt and everything you know to be true and tilted just a little in your mind.

Allen went to work. He wanted to save up time off for when Lexi would eventually get released. I couldn't drive because I was on pain meds from surgery. Our ward family stepped in and would give me a ride up to the hospital. Allen would come after work, and we would go home together.

Our Angel of a nurse, Joan.
They told us to "move in" and get comfortable. We brought our own blankets, books to read to Lexi, clothes, and boppy to help us feel more normal about the situation.
Lexi in the "little baby" side of the NICU.
This is us together on March 27th. She was four days old.
 One thing you'll never get anyone in the NICU to tell you is the exact day your baby will go home. They tiptoe around the answer saying things like, "Well, it just depends." or "Girls usually do better than boys, but Lexi has surprised us a bit. It might be a while." or "The safest thing to do is assume you'll be here until your original due date."

We tried to accept that we would be there for a while.


A Little Nostalgia

Every time I near the 34-35 week mark in my pregnancies, I spend some time thinking about my pregnancy with Lexi. As I've thought about the experience, I realized I'd  never documented the tale.

At 34 weeks, 4 days, Allen and I attended a baptism in our ward. He was the ward mission leader so we made it a point to be present at every baptism that took place. We enjoyed the evening, chatted with the sister missionaries, the new member, and the family. We cleaned up the chairs, drained the font, and went out the doors.

As I made my way down the stairs, I counted wrong. And I fell.

I actually took a big, old dive. I ended up flying beyond the last step, over the sidewalk, and into the parking lot. I landed face down, right on my tummy.

I yelled out, "My underwear!" I was in a dress, after all. And it had come up.

Allen yelled, "Who cares about your underwear! Are you ok?"

I was really embarrassed, but felt fine.

When we got home, I decided to take it easy and climbed into bed.

Then, I felt a little bitty pop. And a little bitty gush.

I called the nurse; she asked me if I had, perhaps, just peed my pants. Um, yeah. Pretty sure I would know if I'd just pissed myself, thankyouverymuch. So, she told me to go in "just to be safe." I grabbed my purse, and we went to the hospital.

When we got there, they did an ultrasound. The amniotic fluid was low. And, they confirmed, my water had broken.

I asked, "So, um, do I make an appointment to see my doctor?"

They replied, "Honey, you aren't leaving here until you have a baby."

Did I mention all I had was my purse?

They talked to the neonatalogist about the best course of action. The team decided my best bet was to wait 2-3 days to see if I went into labor. They put my in a room, and told me to get comfy.

Home away from home.
Allen, in the mean time, went home (a hours drive round trip) to pack my things. My sister, who happened to be living near us at the time, volunteered to stay at our house to care for our animals. (She also came to the hospital after work and gave me a pedicure one night. Then, she came again every night and rubbed my feet. She brought me more trashy magazines to read, and some hydrangeas to lift my spirits.)

I hung out there for a couple of days. Allen kept going to work. He would come visit for a bit after work and then go home to try and prepare a place for the baby. Some days, he would call me first, go home (45 minutes from work), get me more things I'd realized I would need, come back to the hospital and then drive home again around 11 p.m.

Then, late one evening, the doctor came in. He explained that because I hadn't gone into labor, the safest thing would be to induce me and get the baby out. At almost 35 weeks, she was big enough to be healthy. The risk of infection was increasing, and getting her out was almost an emergency. They would start pitocin first thing in the morning.

On Monday morning 6 a.m., they moved me into a delivery room and started the drug. Twelve hours later, at shift change, they checked me (no progress) and took me off of the drug. They gave me chicken broth for dinner and wished me a good night.

On Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., they started the pitocin again. Twelve hours later, they checked me again (still no progress), gave me my broth, and promised to come back the next day.

On Wednesday, they told me that "today would be the day". They got my pitocin going and even had the anesthesiologist come in early that morning to put in an epidural.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, they checked me again. I was at a 1. I started to cry. The doctor looked at me with disdain and said, "Why are you crying?"

I'd been in the hospital for almost a week. I was scared. I'd been on pitocin for 36 hours and only made 1 cm of progress. Every few hours, a NICU representative would come in and explain what would happen when our baby was born. How she should be fine (they even chose not to give me steroids to help the baby's lungs because at 35 weeks, she should be good-to-go), but they would have the whole team there to help "just in case". Allen had been with me this whole time, and had no days off from work left. When the baby did come, I would be pretty much alone. I felt like it was time for a few tears to drop.

Rather than take me off of the drug at shift change that night, they kept me on it. And, they broke my water.

Wait? What? Wasn't I there because my water had broken almost a week earlier? Wasn't the baby in grave danger?

As it turns out, I'd probably had a very small leak at the very top and my water had, in fact, filled right back up. No infection. No risk to the baby. You heard me right. Yet here we were, 3 days into induction.

As time marched on that evening, I started to make progress. Despite the epidural I'd been given, I was in a lot of pain. Around 11 p.m., I'd had it. I was so tired. The pain was awful; I had complete back labor. I could feel the baby kicking the catheter as she moved around. I could feel every contraction. I was rigid and tense because of the pain, and that wasn't helping my progress.

The nurse came in, moved some tubes around, poked my leg, and said, "What did you expect, you're in labor?" And, she left.

The doctor came in at midnight and checked me again. I was a 9, almsot a 10. She told me if I wanted to try and push, I could.

So, I did. For over an hour. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed.

And at 2:30 a.m., she got a call to do an emergency c-section. She said they would take me off the pitocin, let me rest, and then try it again.

I completely broke down. I didn't have anything left. I was weary, and my resolve was broken. I'd been on pitocin for 42 hours. I been pushing for hours. How was I going to do this any longer?

In walks a woman I'd never seen before (and I'd seen everyone who worked there having been in the hospital for so long). They called her, "the interceptor". She took my hand and, for the first time since I'd been admitted, asked me, "What do YOU want to do?"

I just wanted to get that baby out.

An hour later, at 3:23 a.m., Thursday morning, I had a c-section.

Allen took this picture of me the morning after surgery.

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.