My journey through pregnancy and childbirth

Motherhood taught me the meaning of loneliness, fear, and love.
  
 

I did not have any fears before I became  mother. I’ve faced serious illness. I’ve lived through physical abuse. I wasn’t afraid of very much in this world. The maliciousness of a person’s words hurt me more than anything else. I was afraid of losing something I cared about but I wasn’t fearful. I wasn’t lonely. I liked being alone most of the time. I needed it to recharge; it is an accepted part of my personality as introvert.

A high risk pregnancy taught me a lot about myself and my inner strength.

Throughout my whole pregnancy I couldn’t wait to have my sweet bundle of joy. My little handsome man. I wanted delayed cord cutting, immediate breast feeding, I wanted to be as drug free as possible. I wanted to push life through my body and feel the wonder pass through. I wanted the whole experience. I wanted privacy. I wanted joy.I wanted to use my essential oils. I wanted to hold my precious little blessing immediately. No one else, just him and me.

None of that happened like I had expected. In my second trimester by 26 weeks I was going to a maternal fetal medicine specialist twice a week. Non stress test, level II ultrasound, traveling 100 miles round trip. By 36 weeks I had been in labor and delivery evaluation 4 times. 37 weeks and 1 day later my bundle of joy arrived. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t expected. I didn’t have a bag packed. I was in denial that he would come early. I could do this, mind over matter. As a woman, my body was created to give life. God blessed me with an unexpected miracle.

My Monday 37 week appointment, I felt miserable. My blood pressure had increasingly been getting higher. I was tired. I kept migraines. I started running a low grade fever. I was seeing spots and floaters. I was miserable. I looked miserable. First the medical assistant that checked me in was concerned, then the nurse that took me back, then the nurse that hooked up the NST. That’s when I waited for the doctor. He had already told me that if it kept going the way it was he wouldn’t hesitate to induce. BUT that wouldn’t happen to me. My baby was progressing well. I could keep it together two more weeks until my induction date.

Wrong.

I was wheeled for the fifth time to labor and delivery. I was put in a room, I saw a ton of residents and finally the attending. They checked me, I was completely closed. Next came the IV, magnesium, NST, catheter, and induction gel. All of it sucked. It felt unnatural.

I was afraid. This wasn’t what I had planned, it wasn’t what I wanted, it didn’t feel right. I felt even worse. They said that’s normal. I was unable to get up or move around. I could not eat or drink. I was hooked up to so many different monitors I felt strapped to the bed. I felt like every ounce of control was taken from me.

30 hours later and I was still zero. I’ll never forget the feeling of dread, disappointment, and fear. The contractions and back labor that hasn’t let to any progress. The pain of being in bed with fibromyalgia unable to move, eat, or drink. The depression that was setting in and the fear. What’s next? What are the other options? I had wanted a natural delivery. I was already upset that the probability of a NICU stay was in the future for at least a check up due to my diabetes. But I wanted to hold my baby and nurse. Skin to skin; that hour of bonding and delay cord cutting.

The next thing I know it was shift change and I met my worst nightmare. The attending on the night shift was rude, unsupportive, and had a chip on her shoulders. She was the last to introduce herself to me following her group of residents. She told me that there was no progress with my dilation and that I had two options, Bamboo type thing to force open my cervix or c section. She was clear that I had approximately 40 minutes to decide because, “I am not doing a surgery at 2 am”. It was 7:30 pm over 24 hours after the induction was started. I told her I was leaning toward c section, she told me that I was, “a big girl with diabetes and my risk of injection was high”. She did not support my decision. But I felt drained, defeated, and out of control. I kept feeling more miserable and ill as the night progressed. 8 pm I told her I wanted a c section. I met with the team and waited for my epidural.

The surgery was horrible. One resident was late and cut too close to my navel, I heard her tell the resident that, “that’s why you should never be late for surgery, now fix it.” I ended up with sutures around my navel to fix the hernia that the resident caused. Finally, my little boy was born at 10:31 pm. He was rushed to the NICU for breathing issues and I had an intra amniotic infection. He was put on IV antibiotics and had his breathing monitored. He was not able to nurse or feed for the first 3 days.

My surgery took 2.5 hours and it felt like forever. My mother followed Ethan to the NICU and I was left alone with the attending and residents. they said the surgery was very complicated and there was a lot of inflammation. It was the longest two and half hours of my life. I was scared, alone, and talked about like an object, an after thought to their conversation about what they had for dinner or where they went over the weekend.

That’s when reality set in for me.

First there is the fear of losing the baby inside, then there was the fear of never holding my son (see transition from “baby” to “son”). I didn’t know what his face looked like, I could barely remember the sound of his cry that took forever to get out of him. Then, the loneliness set in when apart of me was physically missing. I did not feel the kicks, jabs, hiccups, constant movement of a little tiny human growing inside me.

I would wake up every hour in a panic ridden with fever scared to death. I didn’t FEEL my baby. I missed his presence. The four days I spent without seeing my son was the longest and worst four days of my entire life. I had IVs, monitors, grouchy nurses, I was overwhelmed with hormonal changes. I was up trying to pump breast milk and will my milk to come in even though I had not had any skin to skin contact with my son. My mom would take pictures, nurses would send me
Pictures. The NICU finally learned the sound of my voice and new that I was baby Hall’s mother. I didn’t have to identify myself.

Then, something amazing happened to me that will forever be grateful for.. I had the most amazing crazy nurse. She talked to herself, she acknowledged her uniqueness and when she found out that I had not seen my baby she started giving me ibuprofen against doctors orders and we continued that trend until the next morning when I had passed every temp check for 24 hours I demanded to my son. The resident said, “I might get to see him later it depends on my condition.” You do not mess with a woman 4 days postpartum that has not even felt her baby, smelled her baby, heard her baby cry, touched her baby outside her body. The mama bear in me came out and I calmly told her that either she was releasing me or I was signing out. Either way I was seeing MY SON. I felt like It had been an eternity. I was going crazy literally filled with despair, anguish, depression, anxiety, anger. Words cannot express the emotional range I went through because I felt like he had been ripped from and kept away from against my will.

He wasn’t eating properly. He has a little trouble breathing. He wouldn’t stay awake. He needed me and I needed him.

The first time I seen him my mom wheeled me down to the NICU and I remember thinking how tiny he was, he looked bigger in pictures. My 7lb baby had dropped to 6lbs 5 oz.. He was so little with so many wires attached to him. It was bitter sweet. I was heavily medicated, I was in severe pain, but when I looked at him I had to hold him. It didn’t matter that I hurt, it didn’t matter that I could barley function. I had my baby and he has the most angelic little face and I just couldn’t believe I finally was able to feel him, love on him. At the same time I was terrified that he wouldn’t remember me, he hadn’t seen me. He hadn’t heard me or smelled me in days. But he knew I was there, the NICU is LOUD and he was dreaming, I laughed and he woke up immediately. He knew the sound of my laughter. It was the most amazing moment to know in my heart that he was mine and I was his .. A miraculous thing happened after having my baby on me, smelling him, loving on him, feeding him through a feeding tube: my milk came in and I pumped my little heart out. I sent bottles and bottles to the NICU. Ethan got stronger the more time we spent with him. The more love he was given the stronger he became. He almost got to come but then there was a setback and it was heart breaking.

Then the next disaster happened, at 9 days postpartum I had my c section opened up due to infection. I once again ended up in labor and delivery evaluation for the sixth time. I knew the nurses and doctor over the prior two months of endless hospital trips. I was scared and it was painful but the only thing I could about was my son.

My first question to the doctor that evening was, can I ride in a car? Is there any physical limitations. I explained I have a baby in the NICU. She told me that as long as it covered I was okay. I was packed, sent home with dressings, and medicated. It hurt. I had over an hour ride to my destination and it was brutal. I kept pumping. I kept going to the NICU until the next weekend and I finally had to take a rest. That’s when I met another angel. The night nurse that Ethan had sent me pictures and would text me updates through out the night. She went the extra mile and I will never forget her and I thank
God for people like her every day. That Monday when I returned to the NICU we were able to take our baby home. It was seemingly the most amazing and terrifying experience as of yet. I say that over and over but our journey has been one that has reached the highest peaks and the lowest valleys.

I learned to pray harder, rely on faith, the Lord, family, church family, and most importantly trust myself. I am so grateful for all the prayers, support, and meals that were brought to my family during the most difficult time of my adult life.

It has been seven months since I was wheeled into that operating room now, although, some days it still feels like it was just a few weeks ago. Time goes by so fast when you something so precious that it means more than life itself. Unconditional love is a beautiful thing and one that I truly understand that I am a parent.

The adventures of Chase 

last year I posted a blog about love from an experience with my nephew. He was three at the time and shows amazing capacity for kindness. It happened again recently in the car after picking him up from pre school.

Back story: I am now a single mom trying to co-parent long distance. I have an eight week old little boy that stole my heart in ways I could never even imagine until it happened.

It was the sweetest thing. His sense of family is so overwhelming. My heart was so full of love for the little boys in my life.

Chase: I  love Ethan.

Me: I know you do, he loves you too. 

Chase:  Does Ethan have a dad? I have a dad. 

Me: Ethan has me.

Chase: Well, he has paw, my daddy, and me too. We are his family.

Blessed

Tonight, instead of complaining or whining about how miserable I feel, I want to take a moment to thank God for allowing me to be here one more day. I am so blessed and thankful for everyone in my life. I am blessed with parents would move mountains for me, and always reminded me not to forget the road home despite where my travels have taken me. I am blessed with cousins and friends that check on me even if we have not spoke for days. I am blessed with a church family that prays for me and loves me. I am blessed with my love, we have our moments but always find forgiveness in our hearts and minds to love unconditionally. I am so blessed with a rambunctious loving Rhea, in her own special way she understands me more than most humans.

I am grateful for the opportunity to suffer in sickness and rejoice in health. I am blessed to know the difference between a good day and a great day. I pray that no matter what happens, I will always be thankful for suffering. As long as there is suffering, there is hope. Where there is hope, there is faith.

Even though I feel miserable, I am so happy to be a live each day and able to endure and preserve. I am blessed. I am loved.

IMG_4249.JPG

High on baby

High on baby

I came across a woman the other day, an acquaintance, who was high on baby. You know the type, she came running up to the group of women I was with and started giving us the details of her niece being born. She told us about how she held her sister’s leg and watched the miracle of life take place. We listened to each detail no matter how in depth she spoke about the encounter. She teared up as she finished the story by telling us how she changed the first diaper.
Before you know it, everyone is high on baby. We are oohing and awwing and cooing over every picture of this frog like angel. It was a miracle, a natural high. Seven pounds of angel and cute chunky cheeks!
As I retold the story as it was relayed to me I began to smile and it happened again. I was high on baby. It awakes the maternal aspect of us women and it releases chemicals. There is nothing like the smell of a newborn, that moment tiny hands grasp your finger. For me, it is an instant and natural connection. I love children, especially babies. The cute yawns and smiles. The innocence and hope for a better tomorrow.

It is such a lovely thing to be high on the joy of life.

IMG_4286.JPG

Love is work.

Love is work. I have been been evaluating lately how much effort someone has to put into relationships of all kinds. Love is work. Love is unconditional. Love is exhausting. Love is rewarding. Those are some of the aspects of love that I have been discovering over the last year. Work is required even in friendships, especially long distance friendships. You have to force yourself to maintain connection either via social media or in person with your click. It requires communication and effort. Romantic love, however, is the most exhausting to me. But it is also the most rewarding. It requires work, sacrifice, and commitment to serve, love, and accept every side of someone twenty four seven. However, it is the most rewarding feeling and emotion to love someone so much you are devoted to their well being. It gives you a confidence and security that can move mountains. This can also apply to friendships, relationship with your pet, family, or some thing else you believe in that means something to you.

Love is amazingly disastrous and equally rewarding as it is work.

Ever wonder what love is?

Do you ever wonder what love is?

Sometimes I find myself wondering endlessly about whether or not I really know what love is, if I have ever loved, or been loved. I’m here to tell you that you find love in the most random and insignificant acts of kindness from the most unusual sources.

Yesterday, I was babysitting my three year old nephew. We had a good afternoon. I take HRT the first ten days every month and it makes me cry easily. I was upset by something. I couldn’t hold back my tears. My eyes were “leaking” and he didn’t understand why I was crying.

Naturally, he went through his three hear old rolodex. When he first spotted my tears, he says, “you crying Ducky! What’s wrong?” I explained to him that I was okay. He insist that my eyes were “leaking” and I needed to fix them. Then, he tells me he can fix a tractor like his daddy. At this point, I’m sitting there trying to calm down and he walks in after disappearing with a wet wash cloth that I used twenty minutes before to wash him. He wipes my face.
This three foot four inch fifty pound three year old in his short years on earth showed me more compassion and empathy than most grown people ever would. He wiped my face and have me a hug and kiss. He told me, “it will be okay Ducky!l”

Right then, at that moment, I knew that I was loved. I knew that no one would ever take that away from me. It reminded me that love comes in all shapes and sizes and in the smallest forms from the most minuscule places. There is charity, kindness, and empathy in unexpected places. It might be your child, nephew, dog, or a stranger that held an elevator. If you don’t notice any small action, create one. Always pass along the kindness and compassion that someone has shared with you. You never know who out there just needs a little kindness.

[my nephew calls me, “Aunt Ducky” aka Ducky”]

5 lessons I learned growing up with chronic illness

I have grown up with chronic illness and chronic pain. It has some disadvantages but I firmly believe that I am lucky to have the extra character builders. I try to live life wholly and humorously. Here’s five lessons I’ve picked up in my short twenty three years:

1) Always wear clean underwear. Preferably cute ones. You never know when you will get sick and end up at urgent care or the Emergency room and have to put on a gown.

2) Timing is everything. Try to plan your most strenuous activities during your most productive time of the day. Eleven to one is my most productive time of the day. Mainly, I think because I prefer to sleep until ten a.m. Then, it takes me at least an hour to get motivated and able to move.

3) Self acceptance – it’s okay to have limits. You aren’t perfect and neither is the Barbie standing beside you in the elevator. Do not become a recluse. You have a chronic condition not a death sentence. That is no way to live your life. Just limit your productiveness and your rest. It’s a balancing act. Be flexible. You can either let it challenge you to be more or let it define you. I always love a good challenge.

4) Strength. You never know how strong you are until strong is the only option. That is a cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason. It’s true. When your body protest any and all movement but your furbaby keeps whining to go out side and even comes to lick your cheek – you get your butt out of bed no matter how hard it is and let the damn dog out. If you are lucky, like me, she will gladly assist you in getting up from any position. My chow has taught herself how to be my therapy dog. However, I’m pretty sure it’s just a survival thing on her part. I love it regardless.

5) You will find out who your real friends are, who is fake,or ones that simply can’t handle what it entails to be your friend. Either way, it helps with the filtration system. Being chronically ill or in chronic pain really puts a damper on your social life and it is inevitable that you will cancel, probably multiple times, or have to reschedule for the fourth time this month. They will either wait patiently or come to you. I love my friends, you guys rock!

I am grateful for the challenges and the curve balls life has thrown me. There is never a dull moment. Keep your head up!!

20140624-235002-85802934.jpg

It’s not what you deal with it, it is how you deal with it

As wise woman told me, “It’s not what you deal with, it’s how you deal with it.” That statement gave me a lot of food for thought. I’ve come to realize that everyone has things in their life that they deal with and no one can ever know exactly what you are going through; that at times you have to be your own best friend. You must stick up for yourself, for your body, mind, and spirit. You have to do what is best for you and you alone.

If you don’t take care of yourself then who will take care of you? You have to treasure your body. It is immensely important for you to respect your morals and stand by your values. . At times life will let you down and fail you; you can’t take it out on anyone. You just have to deal with it and move on. Above all else you must accept it. Even though all of that is easier said than done,it is possible. I realized the most important and sometimes the hardest yet simplest thing that we can do is love our self.

That a lot of things in my life are changing and the unknown is getting closer and closer. I’ve come to evaluate recently what kind of person I want to be and what kind of person that I am — Do I like the person I am? I’m okay with it. Is there things I want to change? Yes, there are a lot of changes that I want to make in my life. I’m probably one of the most indecisive people you will ever come across.

 It is because I want to do so many things and I’m just trying to figure out which of these goals has to come first. I’m sure a lot of twenty somethings have this issue. I’m here to say that it is OKAY to not know what you want to do with your life. It’s okay to take that semester off and discover yourself. Be free, be alive, enjoy life!

Take every chance you can get to embrace life and discover more about yourself and the world around you. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Just take it day by day and live every second for what it is worth.