Monday, January 24, 2011

Mommy to a Miracle - An Essay

I recently wrote an essay for a contest.  Nothing major, not great monetary prize or anything, but I wanted to share our story.  The category was Women's Issues, subcategory was Family. 
Enjoy.  (Please note, this is an original work...I don't mind sharing, but don't steal!)

Mommy to a Miracle

Every little girl has a dream. Some little girls want to be teachers, some doctors, some ballerinas. I was not different. I had the dream of my perfect life when I grew up. I wanted to be a mommy, and being the traditionalist I always was, that meant being a wife too.

From day one, I was ready to start a family. But we knew it was in our best interest to wait. So we did. Finally when we had been married a little over 2 years we decided to go for it! However, God had other plans.

In April we stopped birth control and waited a couple of months before we really started trying to conceive. A couple of months passed, we did our part, and excitedly my period was late! However, the pregnancy tests came back negative. We went to our general practitioner and he said it was probably just my body adjusting and to give it some time and wait. Two months went by and still no period. Our general practitioner then referred us to an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She assured me that we would get me pregnant soon. She was an awesome lady, who I learned was struggling with infertility herself.

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). After four unsuccessful months of taking Metformin (a diabetes drug that helps treat PCOS) and Clomid (a fertility medication). Following some other tests, we decided to continue the Metformin but to forego the Clomid and take a break. I was ready to give up, I was done. I was depressed, exhausted, and resigning myself to the fact I would never fulfill my dream and be someone's mommy.

But once again, God had other plans. My period was late. Here we go again, I thought. However, two lines showed up on that test that morning. And two lines that afternoon. And the next morning. And at the doctors office the next afternoon. Needless to say it took a little convincing for me to believe it. I was indeed pregnant.

My pregnancy was like a dream. Not one stitch of morning sickness. Very few symptoms at all. I worked on his nursery, made all his crib bedding and accessories myself. I hand quilted a quilt I'd made just for him. I was living my dream. Everything was perfect. Then one Saturday, shortly before my 28 week mark, I had a feeling. A feeling my son would be tiny and a bit early. This feeling was so nagging I went into his room and pulled out the tiniest sleeper we had been given in our hand-me-downs, a preemie size, and laid it on his bed.

That Monday morning I woke up with a backache. I was assured by my friends and family that during pregnancy your back would hurt and to drink some water and rest. That night we had the first installment in our childbirth class. The instructor mentioned that if any pain is timeable and regular to get checked out. Following class I asked her about my back ache. She again, like everyone else, told me to go home, drink some water, and put my feet up. I did as instructed, but the pain did not let up, in fact it got worse. I felt nauseated and ill. I couldn't sleep. Around midnight, I couldn't take it any more, we packed up and headed to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital. Everyone initially was very calm. I anticipated getting some kind of shot to stop the pain and then we'd go home. I had no idea my life was about to change forever. The nurse came in and checked me and quickly hurried out of the room. Within moments the entire staff in Labor and Delivery were in my room. I was finally able to get a word in edgewise and ask what was going on. The informed me I was having a baby tonight and was fully dilated. I was 28 weeks pregnant. I asked if my baby was going to be ok, and I was told “We'll do the best we can.” Not what any mother wants to hear. My doctor arrived shortly thereafter on her cell phone trying to get a helicopter to take him to Arkansas Children's Hospital. None was available. She then called all the other hospitals with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in search of a helicopter, again, none were available. She then resumed the same calls asking for an ambulance, finally Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock said they had an ambulance and got a transport team in route.

During this time, I was told I was not allowed any pain medication since it would run the risk of slowing baby's heart rate. I was fine with that, I had desired a natural birth anyway. However, what I did not anticipate was being told that I couldn't deliver until the transport team arrived. Since we were at a small rural hospital, they were not equipped for such tiny babies. That moment, in my mind, is when I became a mother. I became determined to do, what they whispered amongst themselves, was impossible for me to do. Why? Because it was what my son needed in order to survive. So I prayed with all my might and made it through. Three hours later, I was nearing my limit when we were informed the transport team had arrived. Waiting for them to walk down the hall was the most excruciating wait of my life. Then I was finally given the go ahead. Five minutes later my son was born. This was not how I had envisioned his birth. I'd heard stories of the first moment of you saw your child and him being placed on your chest. I was not granted that pleasure. Instead my son was immediately rushed out of the room.

So there I sat, finally a mommy. However, I had still not seen my child. Roughly an hour later he was wheeled in. He was hooked up to countless monitors and tubes, laying quietly in the transport isolette. I was allowed to reach in and touch his hand briefly. I was then given instructions about what to expect and how they would call me when he was stabilized at the NICU. Then my long awaited son, my 2lb 14 oz miracle, my little Isaac, was gone. I sat alone, in labor and delivery, while my child was 100 miles away fighting for his life. I could hear the hustle and bustle in the halls of mommies and babies having visitors. The oohing and ahhing. No one visits a mommy without a baby. I was finally released shortly after lunch. I was wheeled through the hall, not with my child in my lap while I proudly beamed, but alone and somber and clutching my cell phone in case I got a call.

We finally made it to Little Rock to see our son. Again there he lay, helpless and tiny and all alone. After our brief visit we left our child and went home, the next day we returned and spent the following week in a hotel in Little Rock, just in case we were needed quickly.

On the way home that first night we stopped and purchased a breast pump. I had always envisioned nursing my child at the breast. I never imagined beginning this journey with an electric pump sitting in a hotel room one hundred miles from home.

While most new parents are learning about their baby's coos, smiles, and personalities. We were learning terms such as Intraventicular Hemorrhage, Retinopathy of Prematurity, Patent Ductus Arteriosis, Bradycardia, Apnea, Hemocrit, Picc Line, Pulse Ox, etc. While most new parents are waking up to a crying baby, I was waking up to an alarm and a breast pump and making a late night phone call to the NICU to check on my son.

Two weeks into his stay, we were informed he needed minor heart surgery. The night before the surgery, I was granted the opportunity to finally hold my son. It was, and still is, one of the best moments in my entire life. Finally, things felt right. I sat there in the rocking chair, my teeny tiny personal miracle asleep on my chest. The world around me stopped. Life was fantastic for a brief moment.

On October 1, sixty-three days after my life changed, we were greeted by the doctor, “Are ya'll ready to go home today?” I couldn't believe I was hearing those words. Home. All three of us. “Yes, please!” Following lunch that day, we walked out of the NICU for the last time. I held my breath for fear it was a dream or a mistake. That the doctor would come out and say he couldn't leave yet. Finally I was the one walking through the lobby and out the door with a baby. As we loaded him in the car, I was still holding my breath. Was it real? Was he coming home to stay?

It was true, our son was home. Though our journey wasn't over yet. We still had things to deal with that most parents don't. A heart monitor, medications, nursing issues, occupational therapy. But we held our heads high and with prayer and God's grace, made it through. Our hard work paid off. Two months later we were allowed to return the monitor and finally, for the first time had a cordless baby. Medications were ceased. He finally got the strength to nurse, and I was finally able to sit and rock with my baby at my breast, like things should be. At his first birthday, we was released from all therapy and declared normal.

Today our tiny miracle is two years old. He is a rambunctious totally normal toddler boy. The only indication of his prematurity are the scars on his hands and feet from every needle prick and IV. And just like those scars on his hands, I bear scars on my heart.

Today, as I write this, we are just one day away from the two year anniversary of our homecoming. In some ways it feels like yesterday, in others it feels like it was a lifetime ago. It has made me a different person. A stronger person. A better person. I am eternally grateful that I was chosen to be a mommy to a miracle.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Sleep

Ok...I'm going to blog some today on baby sleep.  Let me start out by saying I mean this in no way to be offensive to any mom who has used CIO, Controlled Crying, Sleep Training, etc.  I'm just trying to offer our view and what worked for us. 

The reason, yes, I am against those methods (doesnt mean I am not dear friends with those who chose them, its an agree to disagree kinda thing and I personally refrain from discussions regarding it to spare our friendship and hurt feelings, they know my views, I know theirs). 

Secondly, I get endlessly tired of new moms posting about having trouble getting their baby to sleep (we are talking newborns) and being told stuff like "Oh you HAVE to let them cry"  "Just shut the door and go put on headphones" "Its really hard but its worth it, you dont want them spoiled" "Don't EVER let them sleep in your bed, they'll never leave."  "You don't want to always have to rock them to sleep" and anytime anyone mentions something like co-sleeping, rocking/nursing to sleep, and the like, they are aghast at how ruined and spoiled my child will be and how I've "really messed up" and will "regret that later."

Well guess what?  It's later and no regrets.  Here is how our sleep situation has progressed.

First sleep situation...sedation. [sarcasm] Really the best method if you want your newborn to sleep all night and not interrupt you.  A little bit of a pricey are looking at a few thousand a day for the NICU stay, but look what you are getting...24/7 child care, etc.  But for mom and dad, totally stress free, lots of sleep at night.  [/sarcasm]

But eventually the NICU will send you home.  Then you'll have to figure it out for yourself.  They train baby to sleep on tummy then tell you that sleeping on tummy is bad...gee thanks for that.  At that point what we did was we had him in a bassinet beside the bed.  We had no qualms with the idea of co-sleeping in our bed but he was on a monitor and was very small so we were a bit nervous.  So he was in the bassinet until he was about 6 months old.  When we woke up and he had his legs slung over the bottom. 
Then I said, "Yay, he's all grown up and can move to his bed".  Then nighttime came.  I didnt WANT him to leave.  The next room was way too far away.  And we were still nursing and well..I didnt want to walk that far in the middle of the night.  Oh and it was cold..yeah...he might get cold.  He needed to stay in OUR bed.  So...thats what he did!

This continued for about a year.  We tried his baby bed a time or two.  He was never a fan.  We'd put him in there asleep and when he woke up to nurse or whatnot I just brought and kept in him our bed.  Worked quiet well, I could go back to sleep while he was eating.  We all got more sleep and no one was stressed out.  (I do believe that crying it out unnecessarily stressed babies..I just do.)

At around 18 months we decided that since Isaac obviously hated the baby bed we'd try a toddler bed.  At least then he could get up and come to our room on his own, saving us from having to go get him.  (Wow, we sound like such lazy parents).  That worked a little better, still not great.  Of course we felt the mattress was uncomfy so no wonder, we have a pillow top!

But we kept working with the toddler bed.  We'd rock to sleep and lay him in it.  Then around 2 I decided he needed to go to sleep in his bed.  I tried laying with him..took an HOUR out of my night.  Then I tried being tough...that lasted maybe one night.  Just didn't work.  He just wasn't ready.  And again, he still didn't like the bed much.  So this year for Christmas he got a twin bed.  A "big boy" bed.  With a real (nice) mattress.  And sheets with choo choos and trucks.  And comfy room for mom and dad to lay with!    We did our standard lay with him some, but he was just getting more wound up, laying with him was defeating the purpose.  Then one night I said, "Go to bed".  And guess what...he did.  Then it happened again.  I finally found  a bedtime that suited his needs (9:30).  At that time he willingly goes to bed, gives everyone kisses, grabs his stuffed dog and climbs in bed.  Oh sure, he'll poke his head out a few times, to which I tell him to go back to bed and he does.  He asks for a cup.  Sometimes he'll cry a bit, just a tantrum, but I tell him to go and make him go back.  He'll call out for me in a singsongy whiney voice, to which I'll respond "go to sleep Isaac".  Then I'll hear talking, singing, muttering....then all will grow quiet.  I'll tip toe back and what do I see?

I think I am ready to call this a success.  Its been several weeks now and he is in his bed all night much more than he is in our bed.  Sure some nights he'll join us, but an occasion is okay, it was the every night expectation that needed to cease.  But I truly feel it is because I let him be a baby when he was one.  I let him grow up when he was ready.  I followed his cues.

I say all this not to put down one method over another.  But to point out, that letting a baby be a baby, rocking, coddling, co-sleeping, does not "ruin" or "spoil" a child.  Nor make them poorly adjusted.  Or create a child that has no independence.  (all things I have been told.)  It IS possible for your child to one day sleep on their own without massive tear shed.     

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Musings

Had a productive weekend, though to look at my house you'd never know! 

Saturday I went to DAR then hit up Hobby Lobby and came home to work on the house so I could sew on Sunday.  I did a TON of laundry, seriously, I'd say roughly 10 loads.  All folded and put away, except for the sock basket...I hate socks.

Oh, ate out Saturday, didnt break the diet!  GO me!  At at Long John Silvers, got one of their grilled fish thingies, skipped the rice!  As of Saturday night I'm down 3.5lbs...oh and I made hubby and Isaac cookies and did not!  3 more days and I can add back whole grains.

Sunday following church I got to work.  Let Isaac run wild...hence the reason my house looks as it logs, trio blocks, train sets, flash cards...all over the living room....:-S  Got one sewing project finished.  One half way finished, waiting on embroidery to get done on it (I commission that out!).  And will start the other project tonight.  I feel pretty productive.

I have some other musings to ramble about but I have work to is slipping away much too quickly. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday...Weekend Agenda

Yay its Friday!  Just a few more hours.  Have a pretty full agenda this weekend....

  • DAR Meeting Saturday
  • Followed by a Hobby Lobby stop
  • Then I have to sew!!!
    • Baby Gift #1
    • Baby Gift #2
    • Purse for a "client"
    • Wallet for a "client"
    • Robe for me
  • Laundry...Lots of laundry
Baby gift recipients are a secret...but I'm so excited to make their stuff!!  And no one will have any idea who they are for because nearly every woman I know of child bearing age/capability is pregnant...oh except me that is...yeah...I'm okay with'll be talk about something else.

My diet...I'm on Day 8 of Phase 1 of South Beach.  That means just 6 more days of the "cleanse" to stabilize blood sugars and stuff (no bread, fruit, or starchy veggies).  Only one minor cheat when my friend unknowingly ordered sweet tea for me before I got there...didn't have the heart to send it back, felt like that would be kind rude.  So I didn't drink much, only what I needed to eat my meal (less than 1/2 glass) then a big chef salad.  My carb/starch/sugar cravings have lessened.  Lost about 1 1/2 lbs.  I feel better, less achey like I normally feel.  Energy level is pretty good.  Mood is pretty good.  Really ready to add back whole grains since I got a wheat grinder, 2 whole wheat bread making books, and a tortilla press for Christmas...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It Snowed

It snowed. In Arkansas.  I got a snow day!  That doesn't happen often so you Northerners don't make fun of my 1 1/2 inches! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

March for Babies

We are doing the March of Dimes March for Babies for the third year this year.  Been working on getting stuff all set up and beginning spamming people begging for donations.

But seriously, its a great cause and a great family day, well morning, it's usually done by noon.  If you are local to us we'd love you to come with us.  We'd also appreciate support far and wide.  You can donate securely and quickly online.  Would you consider it?  Would you also consider giving us a plug on your blog.  You can link the to this post or this blog or to our team page...  March for Babies Isaac's Team

You don't realize, until you've been there or known someone who has been through it how terrifying and serious a pre-term birth can be.  If you've had a baby, imagine all the great things about a newborn and your new take them away...that is what a preemie means.  Imagine that moment when your child was placed on your chest, the wonder and love you felt...take that away and add in feelings of fear about whether or not your child would live.  Take the waking up every few hours for late night feedings...keep the waking up several hours, but take away the snuggles with baby and add in a breast pump and phone calls to the NICU.

So please support us...lets work together so maybe some day no one will have to endure this.  Lets work together for technology to shorten the physical and emotional pain felt by parents and babies.  Lets work together to shorten NICU stays.   

Thoughts for Today

These thoughts are random...I'm random today.

  • Shooting of Arizona Congresswoman.  Okay, why is everyone out to make this look like the conservatives fault?  The dude was a psycho who was an anarchist.  NOT a conservative.  And b/c the cross-hairs on Sarah Palin's map, targeting her district, looked like gun sights so therefore she is to blame.  Because, yes, I am SURE that dude was just worshiping Palin.  (Oh and I want to add....I'm not saying any of this to praise or put down Palin, quiet honestly I haven't made my mind up about her...I think she has some good ideas politically but I also think she is flakey...I think she COULD become something someday, but I think she is pushing it and getting the big head.)   
  • This makes me glad we don't have much TV any more...I'm getting my fill of the political spin with just the local channels.  Which we watched more than normal to keep up with our major "Winter Storm".
  •  I'm on Day 5 of my diet...I haven't cheated either.  Very proud of myself, hope to see some weight loss and improvement in my health.  Brother in Law comment on my "refusing" of bread when we were out to eat and how I was dieting...he said the "eat less exercise more diet is usually successful"  I bit my tongue but it made me mad really...yes, he's right...I just sit around eating candy and chocolate all day long.  I really should stop doing that.  And maybe when I get home rather than putting my feet up while my family waits on me I should exercise..I really should.  I mean its not like there are any medical reasons why I gain insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, etc.  None whatsoever.  I am perfectly healthy in that regard..I mean..taking 18 months to get pregnant then miscarrying is all normal, right?  (Not to mention going into labor at 28 weeks...NORMAL!?)
  • We bought Isaac a new movie this weekend.  He loves trains and since we have bought into the whole "licensed" stuff and got him Thomas trains I thought he should see a movie.  And I must say I am impressed.  In a world of kid's shows where all you have is random flashing bright colors and screaming and/or Spanglish, Thomas is a refreshing change.  Its calm, yet still entertaining.  And has themes like be useful, work hard, be proud of your work, help others, etc.  We will be purchasing more.
  •   We got our fish tank ready this weekend, really excited.  Buying goldfish on Thursday (Thursday is new fish day!).  
  • Adding more critters to our funny farm next weekend....GOATS! I am so excited!  I have been really wanting goats for a while and finally won out! 
  • Uumm...okay..thats all for now.  Carry on with your day.  I'll blog our SNOW DAY later!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

South Beach Diet

Thinking of trying out the South Beach diet.  It sounds like a good one and it sounds do-able.  Anyone have any thoughts? 

I don't have the book (yet) but am reading the food lists online.  Was thinking about diving in head first and starting but talked myself into not being a big dummy and actually reading up on it and going grocery shopping FIRST. week Jilllian Michaels comes back too...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Knitting Goals

I also have some knitting goals for the new year.

I just ordered me some circular needles (in the right length this time...I made an "oopsie" and got the super long ones, but thats okay, I can now make baby blankets and stuff!) is my 2011 knitting list!

  1. Make a hat.  More specifically make ISAAC a hat!  Hopefully successfully then I can make Isaac and Kayla* hats!  Nothing fancy really, I just want to knit a classic kids toboggan with a poofball on top!
  2. Make Isaac and Kayla a scarf for Christmas (to match their hats!)
  3. Make something with a cable thingy on THIS (not my original photo)
  4. I want to make a market THIS (again not my photo).  I've got everything for this except the DPNs...trying to decide which ones!

Okay, thats my list.  Yeah its short, but thats okay.  I can add to it.  Thats the stuff I really want to tackle.  They are all pretty easy sounding, well the market bag seems kind of daunting to get started but the actual bag part doesnt seem so hard.  The hats should be just knit in a circle...maybe.  I may be in over my head but I'm a hands on person.  I wont know if I can or can't until I try and it won't make sense until I'm in the middle of it.

* havent met Kayla?  She is my only niece.  She is two weeks younger than Isaac. 



I've been thinking about my goals for the new year.  I think I have came up with pretty good acheiveable goals. 

  1. Do at least one "No Spend" Month. I "stole" this idea from Jen .  I've been reading about her No Spend Adventures for a while now and when we were forced to do it a few months ago due to cash flow issues, I decided I wanted to do it regularly.  I think though, I'd like to try it in February because its a short month!  And well...we've already KILLED January.  I can't help the fact that Thomas the Train stuff was on 50% off at our Walmart...not my fault.  Also not my fault that rearranging our living room meant we HAD to have an my defense...we used Isaac's Christmas money since he wanted it.  He did...really!
  2. Exercise more.  Ok, yes this is cliche.  But I am not talking going all hardcore and joining a gym or running a marathon.  By "more" I just mean that...more.  And thats easy...more than none is some!  Maybe a couple times a week.  This hasnt started yet...still in the rearranging the house mode and can't find the floor.
  3. Be less wasteful.  That means actually eat our leftovers.  Use up things completely.  
  4. Eat more "whole" foods.  Make more recipes, just less boxed stuff.  Eat out less.  Take our lunch.  This is for money saving, being healthier, and being self sufficient (usually whole foods can be produced at home.)
  5. Become more self sufficient.  Meaning buying more things like grains in bulk.  Growing a bigger better garden and canning the things we use regularly.  Basically make my grocery store trips less frequent.  
  6. Keep the house in better order.  Yes, I know there will be things like toys in the floor and dirty dishes.  I am not a great housekeeper, BUT if I went through and did a quick pick up after Isaac is in bed and I am still up it would make a HUGE difference.  If I at least picked up and stacked the dishes after supper, it'd make life much less stressful.
  7. Organization.  This is ongoing right now.  I'm buying totes.  Labeling things.  Purging things.  Recently got our living room looking good, so far NO piles!  Isaac's room is next.  RIght now its bad, but I am letting it go until I tackle the big project.  Totes stacked in the hall shelves for stuff like playdough, coloring, flashcards.  Large tote for Lincoln Logs, Wooden Train set, Trio Blocks, Thomas the Train stuff, animals, etc.  "Baby" toys going into storage. Finally moving out the baby bed and infant stuff.  
  8. Build friendships.  I've been neglecting my friendships with my local friends, mainly because of mere laziness on my part.  I'd rather sit at home on my down days than do something with a friend.  Not because I dont love my friends but because I am lazy and have no energy.  
  9. Get back into a Bible Study.  I finally got myself back to getting to Sunday morning with some regularity.  (Being force to get there for my class helped!)  But I need to get back to Sunday night Bible Study.  But...can I start that in the Spring?  I just couldnt bring myself to drag me and Isaac out in the 30 degree weather last night, not when I was warm and toasty!
  10. Number ten is personal.  I chose not to disclose it.! :-)