Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all women. Big hugs to women who are dealing with infertility, and especially to those who've lost children. 

“Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.” Erma Bombeck

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Due Date!

Since today is my official due date, it seemed like a good time to FINALLY check in. As usual, apologies for the silence.

I'll post a birth story soon, but the twins (Eleanor and Nicholas) arrived, as scheduled, almost six weeks ago. And similar to Kate's birth, it was fast and med-free. Well, I had Pitocin for the induction, but I didn't have any meds for pain relief. Long, err, short, story.

Eleanor was born crying, and I was able to spend a few minutes with her before they took her to the NICU. Nobody could predict what condition Nicholas would be in, and he surprised us all. I was able to hold him, have him baptized, and then, say goodbye.

After almost two weeks in the NICU, Eleanor is home. Unfortunately she had to come home on an apnea monitor, but overall she's doing really well. Big sister Kate is adjusting beautifully, likely because Nana is still here, so she has plenty of love and attention. My husband was also here for three weeks, yet another reason for my blog absence.

Oh, and then there was the plague (flu) that took over just two days after I brought Eleanor home. I honestly don't think I've ever been that sick in my entire life. And yes, I had the flu shot last fall. Fever of 104, body aches, chills, sore throat, can't get out of bed, flu. Oh, except I had to get out of bed because I had a newborn to take care of, needed to pump every 2 1/2 hours, and all the usual fun. Despite the increase in our already OCD hand-washing routine, my mom and Kate also came down with the flu. As a 'Welcome to America' gift, we gave it to my husband when he arrived the following week. Everyone has since recovered.

It's time to feed my sweet baby girl, so goodnight. I'll post the birth story soon. Thank you very much for the continued thoughts, prayers, and emails!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

quick Guinness update

Guinness is a mystery. There is no explanation for his symptoms, and the vets in Bratislava have said the same thing as the vets in Dublin, they've never seen anything like this. Guinness had a VERY tough week. At one point, I didn't think he'd make it through the night. In true Guinness form, he'd made a bit of a comeback by the following morning.

My husband visits him twice a day, as Guinness is still in the kitty ICU. He's also had several meetings with the vets. They've tried various medications, and have done a lot of tests. His liver function tests have been all over the place, and the leukocytes continue to be high. My husband requested that Guinness start a round of high-dose antibiotics, similar to what we did for him in Dublin.

The staff seem to like Guinness. It sounds like he's a popular boy around the clinic. One woman told my husband that she has black cats at home, so she always takes time to play with Guinness at the clinic. He's being well cared for, but I can't wait for him to return home. I know my husband and Bella miss him terribly.

Continued good thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

33.6 today! 7 weeks 1 day of hospital bed rest

Wow, time has flown by. On one hand, I feel like I’ve been here F.O.R.E.V.E.R. And yet, it seems like just yesterday that I ruptured, and was faced with the very real possibility of delivering at 26.5. Thank you Magnesium Sulfate, antibiotics, and brilliant medical staff for not allowing that to happen.

The BIG news is that this week (as of Tuesday night) I’m now allowed to walk. It feels amazing to be upright and out of bed. I compliantly did the PT bed rest exercises, but it’s just not the same as walking by myself, stretching my legs. I’ve been doing laps around L&D, and the staff reactions have been so encouraging. People seem genuinely surprised, and happy, that I’m up and about.

The induction countdown has officially begun, and in some ways, is really bittersweet. I’m beyond sad that Baby B has to come early, that she will go to the NICU, and won’t be going home with me. Yet I also know that I made it so much further than expected. Just last night one of the doctors said that she’s never had a ruptured patient make it this long, so yeah, I guess we surpassed everyone’s expectations. Saying goodbye to Baby A is going to be really, really hard. This will be the last time my babies will ever be together, the last time I’ll be physically close to my baby boy. There is no way to express that level of sadness, of utter devastation. Yet, I’m excited to meet Baby B, and I have all of the normal, positive emotions associated with a very planned and wanted little girl. My sweet girl Kate is going to have a sister. WOW.

I’m going to miss the hospital staff, A LOT. Many people have stated that they want to keep in touch, which will be lovely. It will be strange to not see the same people day after day. I feel like I finally understand how things work around here, even down to the staffing patterns, where supplies are stored, and good grief, why did it take six weeks to find out that there are curly fries in the cafĂ©, hmm, probably better that I didn’t know that ;)

One of the big boss, administration types stopped by the other day, just to see how things are going. I told him how impressed I am with the hospital, the way things are done, and most importantly, the employees. I offered to write a letter, but really, how do you put into words the quality of care, the encouragement, and the friendship, displayed on a daily basis. There are no words to express my gratitude for the experience I’ve had over the past 7 weeks. Simple words on a page will never be enough.

I’ve previously blogged about some of the kind things people have done, but in addition to the tangible items, the amount of support and kind words, haven’t gone unnoticed, or unappreciated. Whether privately in my room, during wheelchair rides, now walks, around the hospital with the nurses, people have been encouraging and kind. There’s been a constant flow of “Wow. You look great. Wonderful to see you out.” Now, “Wonderful to see you UP.” Smiles, greeting of hello, and hugs. This hospital is truly unique.

Oh why not, here are some of the recent fun things.

The unit secretary found out I like Mexican food. Hello HOMEMADE enchiladas, and a few days later, breakfast burritos. YUM. Oh my goodness. YUM.

More treats

The March of Dimes/ NICU coordinator brought me lunch

Flowers. Or as Kate calls them, “owers.”

A slice of cake from a going away party

Lip gloss

The NICU nurses are sending cookies to my room. They said they want a 5lb baby :) Please notice the grapes; I was trying to have a healthy bedtime snack.

This morning I opened the door and found a banner across it, spelling my name with bright colors (sorry, no pic)

Yep, ALL of this from staff.

As for what’s happening medically, not much. I’m as stable as can be, perfect labs, and not contracting regularly. We continue to have BPPs twice a week. Yesterday Baby B was measuring at 4lbs (I think she’ll be a little over 5.) The plan is to discontinue the heparin tomorrow morning, and start low-dose Pitocin tomorrow night. Eek.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

33 weeks= 6 weeks 2 days of hospital bed rest

So, um, yeah, I had promised to update more frequently, and then, last week kind of fell apart. I waited, hoping it would get better, settle down, but alas….

On Monday, my high risk OB stopped by to tell me that she’d spoken to my perinatologist. He was out of the country on vacation when I ruptured, and my OB had consulted with both of his partners. Even though delivery was on the books for 34 weeks, and the literature states 34 weeks, and EVERYONE (including the two perinatologists) agreed that 34 weeks was the best option, my perinatologist suggested that we might try to get closer to term. My OB said that she planned to talk to him again, after he’d had a chance to talk to his partners, etc…

While we were talking, I found out that she hadn’t received the final report from U of M (NOT happy about that), which stated that they couldn’t rule out a small VSD on Baby B, and that a repeat echo should be preformed after delivery. She wanted to get it done right away.

On Tuesday, one of the other high risk OBs in the practice stopped by. She said that in her opinion, we need to deliver at 34 weeks. It’s clearly in the literature, and what if we keep pushing, and then something bad happens, which it likely will. She said, “At this point, there are too many cooks in the kitchen” and there are already so many people working on this case, we need to draw the line somewhere, versus continuing to ask people for their opinions. She said we can ask 100 doctors, and we will continue to get different answers. There are too many variables in my case.

On Wednesday, this hospital’s pediatric cardiologist and his team arrived in my room to do another fetal echocardiogram. After an hour of scanning, much of which the cardiologist did himself, it was determined that Baby B has multiple small VSDs (ventricular septal defects) and a possible bicuspid aortic valve. He said it’s not clinically significant and probably wouldn’t require treatment. After they left, nurse after nurse came in, teary-eyed, and offering hugs. Hmm, okay, now I was upset. Then my doctor came in, same thing. When she left, she said she was on her way to speak with the cardiologist, as he hadn’t entered his report yet. She promised to return in the evening.

Sure enough, she later came waltzing in the door. She said that she’s spoken to the cardiologist and he felt terrible for upsetting me. I told her that he hadn’t upset me; he basically told me it wasn’t a big deal. It was everyone else that seemed so concerned, which in turn, made me worry. So, as it stands, this is not a big deal and they will repeat the echo after delivery.

And then there was delivery. I asked her the dreaded question, “If you were going through this, what would you do?” Answer, “I’d be done at 34.” Yep, signed, sealed delivered. That is all I needed to hear; I completely trust her. She was going to speak with a few of her partners, but in her opinion, 34 is it. We talked on the phone a bit later, and sure enough, two of her partners (both have super impressive backgrounds, and I’ve worked with both) said 34 weeks. My nurse overheard part of the conversation, which included one of the doctors saying that this case has too many unique circumstances, and that we shouldn’t push our luck. Going further is “begging for complications” and “setting ourselves up for disaster.”

One of the doctors who was consulted on the 34 week delivery plan stopped by the following day. She offered lots of hugs, and then I thanked her for her involvement in my case. Her background is very impressive (training at two world-renowned university hospitals on the east coast.) She has done a lot of research on my case, even though she’s not my primary, and I’m technically only her responsibility when she’s on call. In her opinion, delivery needs to happen at 34 weeks. This is “uncharted territory” in her words, and there is nothing in the literature about a demised twin, PPROM, and continuing to stay pregnant this long. Therefore, we need to play it safe and be done at 34 weeks.

34.1 it is!

Guinness is in kitty ICU (yes, really)

Continuing on with the week, on Friday I received a call from my husband. He’s still in Slovakia and had come home from work to find that Guinness was sick, very sick. It appeared that he’d had another episode (history in the cat file on the right.) When he hadn’t recovered by Saturday morning, my husband took him to a recommended vet. They didn’t have the facilities to keep him overnight, so they suggested another veterinary hospital. Guinness is now in the kitty ICU, receiving IV fluids and going through more testing.

The clinic has visiting hours, so my husband was there to see him earlier today. He’s still not eating or drinking, but doesn’t appear to be as weak as he was previously. So far his leukocytes, AST, and urea have come back abnormal. They plan to keep him for more testing. My husband and Bella miss him so much. I'm so sad that I can't be there.

We’d appreciate some good kitty thoughts. I think we’ve had our share of bad news this year.

This week has to be better, right? right?

(poor quality iPad pictures of the brave boy)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ladies who lunch

My high risk OB, bless her, decided that I was stable enough to go downstairs to the cafeteria for lunch. Again, bless the woman. For the past two days, one of the nurses and an assistant, have wheeled me downstairs, at which time we’ve enjoyed a delightful lunch. The cafeteria is always full of hospital staff; it’s been a bit strange to see that many people in one place, a first in over 30 days. Yesterday the assistant commented that it was like sitting at the popular kid’s table in school, since so many people were coming over to say hello, and how nice it was to see me out. I saw people from every hospital department I’ve dealt with, including one of the OBs who was a bit surprised to see me downstairs. Dr. L, I promise, we had permission. Now, if I can just get permission to go down the street to Starbucks!

In other news, they doubled my heparin. I was at 5,000IU twice a day, now it's 10,000IU twice a day. It’s not a big deal aside from the fact that it stings, and now takes twice as long to inject. Unfortunately, this will also mean more frequent blood draws.

And as of today, we’re at 19 on the 19th. My nurse has been marking off each day on the calendar, and today she decided to do a countdown. So, as of January 19th I have 19 days left. I can’t believe I’m almost done!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1 month, 34 days, but who’s counting

I’ve now been in the hospital for a little over a month, 34 days to be exact. Surprisingly, particularly to me, I haven’t lost my mind, yet. It stays unbelievably busy here. I remember when Kate was born, my husband arrived the following day. Within the first hour of being at the hospital, he looked at me and asked, “Is it always like this?” Meaning, is it always so busy in your room. I don’t know what it’s like to have a normal, low risk birth, or a normal pregnancy, but as a high risk patient, there is a constant flow of activity in my room. To be honest, since everyone is so wonderful, the company has been nice. However, it also leaves very little time for things like blogging. It seems that as soon as I open the laptop, someone is walking through the door.


Today I’m 31 weeks 3 days. I continue to have BioPhysical Profiles twice a week, always scoring 8/8. During the most recent ultrasound (yesterday), Baby B was estimated at 3lbs 6oz. I’m on the monitor for an hour, twice a day. Baby B’s heart rate and activity are great, contractions are minimal. Blood work continues to be perfect,and even better, has now dropped down to two pokes a week. I’m also down to vitals every four hours instead of every two. Hooray, I’m actually getting a bit of sleep at night.

For the first few weeks, every morning when the doctors rounded, I would ask about the possibility of going home; the answer was always the same. I had to accept that I’m here for the duration, and they are continuing to make it as pleasant as possible.

A celebratory 30 week balloon and flowers, from my mom and Kate! Plus the constant flow of lattes from Starbucks and necessities from home.

Surprise, and very appreciated, lattes sometimes make an appearance from the staff. Always decaf from the night nurses ;)

One of the nurses paints my toes.

The cards and letters mean so much.

Fruit and treats from Harry & David, thanks D!

Something for Kate. One of the nurses commented that Kate shouldn’t have to play on the cold, hard floor. She and her children brought in a rug for her to keep in her play corner. Kate adores it, and tries to pick up the “owers” (flowers) and “balls” (polka dots).

The mother of one of my favorite nurses (M) makes hats for the NICU. M is sneaky and had asked me about nursery colours one day. I told her that we plan to use white and light pink, again. A few days later, she brought me this white hat with pink bunnies, made especially for Baby B…. (next to a pen for size comparison)

The first week I was here, one of the nurses asked me what my favorite local restaurant is, and what I like to order. For my 31 week anniversary, the nurses surprised me with my favorite salad.

Thank you to everyone for the continued emails, texts, thoughts, and prayers. It all means so, so much!

As for delivery, we are still looking at a 34-week induction. Not ideal, but so much better than what could have happened/ what they thought might happen.

I really am going to make a concerted effort to update more often. I don’t have a journal, so this is the best place to keep track of the good, and the bad. As hard as it is to be away from normal life, and especially from Kate, there really has been a lot of good, and memories for a lifetime.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

17th day of hospital bed rest, and 29 WEEKS!

Today I’m 29 weeks pregnant. I’m still 5 weeks from the goal of 34 weeks (they won’t let me go past 34), but 29 is A LOT better than where I was on admission, 26 weeks 5 days. EVERY day helps.

Speaking of the NICU, I finally did the tour. The NICU team and neonatologist had been in to speak with me a few times, but I’d been avoiding the actual tour. A few nights ago when my nurse stopped by to take me for my coveted daily wheelchair ride, she announced that we were going to stop in the NICU before going anywhere else. I’ve always been very eye-rolly (is that a word) when women talk about wanting to be induced (for non-medical reasons) or whined about how uncomfortable they are toward the end (hey, that’s part of being pregnant), but spending time in the NICU only confirms the belief I’ve always had, that babies are meant to be born at 39-40 weeks, and wishing for anything earlier is selfish, plain and simple, selfish. Okay, I’ll save that rant for another post.

Moving right along, we’re continuing to pass our Tuesday and Friday BPPs (Bio Physical Profiles) with perfectscores 8/8. On Friday, Baby B was estimated at 2lbs 10oz, 40th percentile. We also have twice daily 1-hour non-stress tests. Everything looks great. The monitor occasionally picks up a few contractions, but I’ve only felt one.

I also had the Glucose Tolerance Test on Friday, and passed. Yay.

Most hospitals have rules regarding how often IVs have to be changed; the standard being every 72 hours. I’m not going to do the math, but I’ve had a lot of IVs during the past 17 days. I started with several, those were changed after 72 hours, then I was able to drop one, I’ve had one blow, a few that needed to be moved due to redness, etc. Between the almost daily blood draws and IVs, it’s getting harder and harder to start them and find good placement sites. On Thursday, the nurses started talking about a PICC line. On one hand, yeah, it makes total sense. On the other hand, ack. When the doctor on- call rounded yesterday, she decided to give me a break for the weekend. She said she’s not entirely comfortable with not having access (an IV), but we’ll wait until Tuesday and revisit the idea of a PICC. For now, I’m free….

That same doctor is probably the youngest, smallest, sweetest OB ever, and no, I don’t feel this way just because she offered to bring me a latte from Starbucks ;) She’s just very nice, and since I’m the most stable antepartum patient ever (at least that’s how I feel), we really don’t have much to chat about when she visits. So instead we talk about online shopping and the fact that I desperately need a haircut. My mom said she would ask her guy if he could make a house, err, hospital call, but if that doesn’t work out, Dr. Glorious said she could recommend someone. Sweet!

Did I mention that the fabulous nurse, M, who was with me when I delivered Kate, still works here? She’s been my nurse several times and it was so much fun to reminisce about Kate’s delivery. After Kate was born, M was the person who told me I was very polite, as I hadn’t screamed, called her names, used bad language, and always said please and thank you, and did it drug-free. A few nights ago, M was taking me for my wheelchair ride. She’d decided to take me to look at Christmas lights on the bridge on the backside of the hospital, used by the doctors to go back and forth between the clinic. L&D is a locked unit, and you have to be quick to get through the doors, or the alarm sounds. It seems that every time we pass through a door in the wheelchair, we set it off. M left me on the bridge, and stepped just inside the door to turn the alarm off. Of course, my high-risk OB came walking out of the other side, as I’m just sitting there in the wheelchair on the bridge. Many jokes about me trying to escape.

We finally have some snow. I’ve never been in the Midwest during the winter before, and was starting to question the rumors I’d heard about harsh winters and blizzards (not really.) Well, winter is officially here, and we have snow.

Last night, the nurses had a potluck to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and imagine my delight when this was delivered to me. What a nice break from hospital food.

Once again, they’ve surprised me with their kindness. I’m so lucky to be here.

Next goal, 30 weeks!