Monday, January 13, 2014

Photo dump (or, since it's been two years...)

Since I seem to have the blogging bug again, and since those of you who aren't my facebook friends don't have pictures of my babies thrown in front of you constantly, I thought I'd go ahead and show you a few dozen recent pictures :)

A bit after Charlie's third birthday I took her to a local park and promised her a tea party in exchange for some pictures.  I had two outfits, but one was immediately soaked in the wet grass, so most of the pictures ended up dressy.  (Also, there was a smudge on my camera lens I didn't notice until we got home.  Bummer.)

About Charlie:
 Three years old!  A little more than 30 pounds, and a little more than 3 feet tall.
 She makes up and performs her own songs on a daily basis - especially when she's supposed to be sleeping.
 Her favorite things are Minnie Mouse and Doc McStuffins.
 She suddenly loves to eat - anything and everything.  Including fruits and veggies, which she was never willing to touch before a few months ago.  Broccoli is a favorite. (What?)
 She won't go to bed if anything is out of place in her room.  She won't allow any toys in there after dark.  It will be interesting when Weston moves in.
 She doesn't have a true favorite toy, a security blanket, or anything she needs to have with her all the time.  What she does require is access to someone's (preferably mine) neck.  She has to stroke someone's neck in order to drink her milk.  Which she also has to have.  All day long.
 In her own words, robots are not her favorite.  In fact, the only thing that scared her in Monsters University was the robotic humans the monsters scared.  
 She has no concept of familial titles.  She thinks her dad is her granddaughter, and her uncle is her sister.
 She never stops talking.  Never.
 She loves to read.  Even if it is the same book over and over...
 Wearing jewelry and playing dress up makes her happy.  Today she put Weston's pants on her arms so she could be Weston.
 She is a hilarious, spunky, impatient, noisy, sweet, loving, priceless little girl.

Weston was given 1-12 month stickers made by the girls at one of my showers.  Here are some of the shots from month one, as well as some pictures I took to capture his tiny size.
 Weston's personality is taking its time to reveal itself, but one thing we know - the boy loves to eat.  Breast milk or formula, he doesn't care.  Just hand it over.  He's probably eat a cheese burger if I offered one.
 He fought jaundice for over a month, requiring several days under a bili bed, and TWELVE foot pricks to test his levels. 
 We're curious if he'll ever look like a baby, or if he'll just keep looking like a very small old man throughout his youth :)
 He will not sleep if he's moving (except in the car).  If you walk with him, push him in a stroller, or shift his Rock'N'Play, he's up.  And wants to eat.
 If he loses his pacifier, he goes into immediate Zombie mode.  I can tell you how many times I've woken up in the middle of the night to grunting, growling noises as he tries to get that thing back.
 His hands are his worst enemy.  The delight in pulling out his beloved pacifier, throwing themselves in his mouth when he's going for milk, and poking his eyes.
 His poor skin is so dry, the changing pad is covered with dandruff after a change.
 He doesn't enjoy laying flat.  As evidenced by the last two shots.
 His fists are barely bigger than quarters, although his fingers are incredibly long.

 His feet are long and skinny, just like his body.  (Look how big that pacifier is on his face)

Our little man has brought us so much joy already, we're excited to learn more about him as time goes on.
We are abundantly blessed by our sweet, adorable kiddos.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Oh, pregnancy (or, don't believe everything they tell ya)

This was my third pregnancy.  And it was different in every way from my previous ones. 

Charlie's was easy.  No sickness, no pain, just some aversions to food (chicken) and smells (everything).  We went straight to our 39 week schedules C (breech) without any problems, and not even a hint of a contraction, despite my working until the day before.

Isaiah's, if you know the story, was the same as Charlie's except I couldn't get enough spicy food, but he was heartbreakingly taken from us at 19 weeks, when I delivered him VBAC, stillborn, tiny and beautiful. 

Because of my loss, this pregnancy was under the microscope from day one.  Or, I should say, week three, because that's how early I found out.  We waited two full years for this to happen, and made a decision not to wait to tell people. 

We know first hand that the a pregnancy can end in a moment, and we'd waited until almost 17 weeks to tell people we were pregnant with Isaiah, and he was gone two weeks later.  Because of this, not everyone understood just how intense our loss was, thinking we were just barely pregnant (which, in and of itself is a big deal...), and we felt robbed of time celebrating with others.  So, as soon as I had an ultrasound to confirm, we told the world. 

Like my other pregnancies, I never got sick (Thank the Lord,) but I was constantly nauseous.  I had my food and smell sensitivities again, and anything spicy was intolerable.  I also wasn't big on sweets, which I was with Charlie.  Bland fast food, please!  What was really different about this pregnancy was:

1 - The fear.  I was crippled with anxiety that this baby would be snatched away.  As every week ticked by toward 19, I became more and more scared.  The day week 19 finally hit, I had a huge rush  of relief, still feeling the romping going on in my womb.

2 - The doctors.  I love my doctor.  I would recommend her to anyone.  But, because of Isaiah, she wasn't comfortable doing just the routine OB checks, she wanted me to see specialists.  By the time I was three months along, I'd had 10 ultrasounds and endless blood work, and was now heading to a Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic at least once a month to have intensive ultrasounds and lots of screenings done.  I wish we hadn't. 

First MFM ultrasound revealed a baby in one half of my uterus (I have a heart shaped uterus, basically confining the baby to one side.), and something unknown in the other.  Hmmm...the techs/doctors thought it was a twin that didn't thrive.  Great.  Then, they realized it's the Weston's hand.  Thanks for that.

Then there was the down's screening.  I had markers!  Cue ridiculously long ultrasound.  The ultrasound was clear, but in my blood the markers are low, but they're there, so they suggested we do an amnio.  (Side note, I'm way against amnio treatment for myself.  I've already had a one in 1000 miscarriage, I'm not going to do anything with those odds willingly.)  No.  Because I refused the amnio, I was offered the option of a Maternity21 test.  A blood test, just from me, no risk to the baby.  I agreed to that.  I scheduled that for the same day as the anatomy scan. 

Anatomy scan.  Two techs, two hours, regular and internal ultrasound reveals: Girl?  Girl.  we think it's a girl.  Probably.  80%.  Go ahead, tell everyone its a girl.  So, I told everyone it was a girl, had my blood drawn for more screenings, then waited a week for results.

(Now, about it being a girl - I knew in my bones that I was having a boy.  Tim thought it was a girl, was thrilled he was right, but even after the ultrasound I found myself referring to the baby as him and he.  I couldn't wrap my head around him being a girl - even though it would make preperations SO easy, since we already had everything we could ever need for a girl.)

A week later I got the call, the Maternity21 test came back clear for all forms of Trisomy, including Downs (the test checks for 21 different chromosomes, and is incredibly accurate, second to an amnio.  It also checks for X and Y chromosomes.)  But, hmm...they are seeing boy chromosomes in the blood work.  There is almost zero chance that this is wrong, so I need to schedule another ultrasound to confirm that it's a boy.

Next ultrasound:  Two hours, two techs, one doctor, one genetic counselor.  There was something between the baby's legs.  But, they had no idea what.  I saw what they were talking about, and I agree, it wasn't clearly a boy part, and it wasn't the lack of parts you look for with a girl.  It was an orb, just hanging out where something else should (or shouldn't) be.  This was when they started throwing horrifying suggestions at us.
Horrifying suggestion #1 - We have a baby with "ambiguous gender."  Externally, neither boy nor girl, we will have to wait and test to see if the reproductive system reveals what the baby is supposed to be, and if not, wait and see what the child identifies with waaaayyy down the road.  Either way, expect extensive surgery.
Horrifying suggestion #2 - Adrenal gland gone wild, causing girl parts to swell uncontrollably, resulting in much treatment and surgery down the road - possibly life threatening.
Horrifying suggestion #3 - Terminate the pregnancy.  Really?  Because this tiny human has a bit of mystique, we should end its life?  I look at my beautiful baby now, and am even more disgusted by the idea now than then.  How can someone do that over a perceived inconvenience?  Moving on.

Next ultrasound:  We found boy parts!  Measuring a little bit small, but we'll take it.*  But, wait, his heart was measuring too big.  So, naturally, the doctor jumped to the absolute worst possible conclusion - The baby might have Smith–Lemli–Opitz syndrome - basically extreme brain damage.  Again, an amnio was suggested, but since nothing could be done even if it confirmed it, we declined.  Instead, we got a fetal echo. 

Fetal echo:  His heart was measuring very slightly large, with nothing to cause it.  No visible holes, no structural issues, pumping exactly right.  Finally a doctor gave us good news, that the Smith-Lemli-Opitz suggestion was more than likely "much ado about nothing."  She had us schedule a follow up just to make sure it didn't grow more.

Next ultrasound:  Hmmm...One kidney is dilated.  Want to see a fetal urologist, or wait till he's born?  At this point, we're so over appointments we decided to wait.  (We had it done today.  Waiting for results, but not sweating it.) 

Fetal echo #2:  Same as the first.  She suggests we have an echo done after he's born. (We had it done yesterday, his heart is just right,)

I never had my last ultrasound, on account of the baby coming, and I'm so glad.  They probably would have "found" another "problem," and we were over it.  I think I'm even forgetting some of the things they warned us might be wrong with our son.  It was a non stop scare-fest.

I'm putting this here for a few reasons.  First, we're still frustrated by the emotional turmoil that was inflicted on an already emotional pregnancy.  Second, we discovered some doctors communicate the worst case scenario without telling you it's the worst case scenario.  There are a lot of reasons for a slightly enlarged heart.  SLO syndrome is insanely rare, and has a TON of other symptoms recognizable on ultrasound - none of which Weston showed.  This was the only thing he presented us with.  The only one.  It's ridiculous and angering that he put us under more stress than we were already under - then billed us for the "consultation."  If you're in a similar situation, get second opinions.  Ask questions.  We spoke with the genetic counselor after talking to the doctor, and she told us she didn't agree with him.  Ultrasounds are very open to interpretation.  It's not an exact science.

I'm not totally sure how to wrap up this post, but I felt that I needed to write it.  Carrying a baby within you is a wonderful thing.  I don't want anyone to have the joy of it stripped from them the way that Tim and I sometimes felt we did.  If we're blessed with another baby, we will not do  additional screenings.  Its too much strain for zero reward.

Despite All The Things doctors tried to stack against him, our tiny boy is very healthy.  And we are so grateful.

*There is a reason for the hard to read ultrasound, and its not ambiguous gender.  Weston has hypospadias, (the doctors never mentioned this as an option) which will require surgery, but its fairly common and routine.  And he is definitely a boy. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

And then my water broke...or, Weston's birth story

(Yes, I realize its been two years.  No, this isn't necessarily a return to blogging.  I just want to record Weston's birth story, and this seems like a good place to do it.  Maybe I'll blog more...we'll see.)

I was nearing full term in a ridiculously complicated high risk pregnancy.  35 weeks and 5 days, I had my routine OB appointment, the first of the every week appointments.  Everything was normal, and Charlie and I headed to Costco.  Two days before Thanksgiving...brilliant.

We got the few things we needed, ran into a friend, and got into the check out line.   When I was getting ready to pay, the Costco guy told me that something was leaking in my purse. I went to check and discovered my water bottle had opened and was pouring everywhere.  I closed the bottle, apologized, and turned to go back to the counter...and slipped in the water.  Naturally, I grabbed the first thing I saw, a little old lady.  Of course.  Amazingly she managed not to fall with me (thank goodness,) and I was suddenly surrounded by very concerned people.  I'd landed on my knee, my stomach spared all impact, so I assured everyone I was fine, apologized profusely and tried to make myself invisible as I paid.  I heard a Costco employee in the next line ask, "Um, what is that?" and realized it probably looked like my water had broken. "Ha ha," I thought, "Scheduled C-section, my water's not going to break."
We went home, put away the items we'd picked up for Thanksgiving, had lunch, and I considered packing a hospital bag.  This was quickly dismissed.  Maybe do laundry...nah.  The day proceeded normally, nap time, dinner, TV, bed.  For some reason, I decided to put a towel on the bed, just in case the impossible happened, but as soon as I laid down I realized it was uncomfortable, and threw it on the floor.

About an hour later, it happened.  An intense amount of water was pouring out of me.  I was immediately awake, and without thinking sunk to the floor where I knew the towel was and started yelling for Tim to wake up.  Eventually, he found me ( I was invisible from where he was, since I was huddled on the floor,) and we tried to figure out what needed to be done so we could leave.  He got my dad and set him up to take care of Charlie, I pulled dirty yoga pants from the hamper (why didn't I do laundry? why didn't I pack a bag?) then sat on the bed shaking for awhile.  The shock was overwhelming me, and I was terrified for the baby.  It hadn't occurred to me that he wouldn't follow Charlie's footsteps and go straight to 39 weeks without so much as a contraction.  We headed for the hospital around 11:30.

We entered the hospital through the ER - and no one was there. It was a ghost town.  I had to call the baby center to find out where to go.  We checked in, and went to triage, where the told me they had to confirm that the torrent of water still coming from me wasn't just pee.  In the meantime I was strapped to all sorts of monitors, an ultrasound was done to confirm the baby was still breach, and we were introduced to the doctor on call.  Now, let me just say, I'm sure this doctor is great.  I'm sure she's super experienced, and can do a c-section in her sleep.  But, we were tired, stressed, and scared.  So, Tim asked if my doctor could be called.  Well, this offended the doctor who was there so completely that I thought there was going to be a brawl.  She lectured, scolded, yelled...and finally agreed to call my doctor and see if she could do the surgery.  When she was unsuccessful and getting through to my doctor, it was clear she had washed her hands of us, so she told us we could just wait until the morning and try again.  We confirmed that there was no risk to the baby, and agreed.

We spent a long night monitoring the baby, my temperature, and waiting.  Around 9 am, a different doctor came in, and told us that my doctor wouldn't be able to be here until Friday, and would we like to wait?  It was Wednesday morning.  Obviously, waiting two days was not the best solution, so we told her we'd be happy to have her do the C-section.  We weren't trying to be unreasonable, we simply wanted to know if Dr. Brown could do it, and if not, get the party started.  We were going to have the baby that afternoon.  It was settled.  I was nervous, but we were happy with the situation.

A little bit later, my phone rang.  It was my doctor!  She'd rearranged her whole schedule, and would be there at noon to do my C-section.  Amazing!  We were more than thrilled, she'd done my C-section with Charlie, been there for most of my delivery with Isaiah, and I'd been seeing her for 4 years.  It meant a lot that she would do it.

We kept getting pushed back as emergency C-sections kept cropping up, but eventually we made it into the OR.  I was very anxious, remembering the last time I'd had this done.  Thankfully, this time around, I didn't react to the spinal block like I did before, and I didn't feel all the pressure and pulling that I did with Charlie.  And, at 1:41, on November 27th, Weston Peter was born.  A NICU doctor took him to the corner of the room to examine him, and Tim went with them, but it was positioned so that I could see him.  I stared, crying, and the tiny baby while they put me back together.  For some reason, I couldn't stop sobbing.  I was so relieved to hear him cry, see him wiggle, see that he was, indeed, a boy (something that had been up for debate at my later ultrasounds).
Weston tipped the scales at 4 pounds, 15 ounces, and they measured him at 17 inches, though we later found out it was closer to 19.  He had a lot of brown hair, dark blue-grey eyes, and the longest fingers you ever did see.

I was transferred to a hospital bed and wheeled back to my room.  I passed my pastor and his wife in the hall...since our C-section kept getting pushed back, they arrived before it was done, and as a result were sent away since I had yet to meet Weston, and the nurses were eager for me to start recovering.  Then my tiny boy was placed on my chest, we had our first feeding time, and he was whisked away to be evaluated.  His blood sugar was extremely low, so they started giving him formula, without my consent, which bummed me out, but I assumed it had to happen.  The rest of the hospital stay, I struggled to get him to latch, only succeeding about 4 times in three days, so I pumped and pumped and pumped, and we supplemented with formula as needed.
Charlie came to meet her brother, and received a special gift from him, and enormous Lambie doll from Doc McStuffins.  She got to hold him, and spend time with Tim and me, and was happy as a clam.
We left the hospital the day after Thanksgiving, despite Weston's low weight, and thankfully, as soon as we got home, Weston started latching again.

He's been here for about 5 weeks now, slowly putting on weight, slowly kicking jaundice, quickly stealing all our hearts.  We love our tiny tiny boy, and can't imagine life without him.

 Now, off the put the toddler down for a nap and feed the wee one again.