Quick update: Das Big Boy seems to have officially turned the corner. He only needed oxygen for about 30 minutes right after falling asleep last night. We haven’t spoken to the team yet, but I imagine he’ll probably go home today or tomorrow at the latest. Little Liebchen is another story. She doesn’t seem to be getting too much worse, but it’s hard to tell if she’s hit bottom yet. We’ll see how she does today. She’s still eating well, but she’s working hard to breathe at times (and still getting some, but less, o2). Her little coughs sound like gunshots in an early 1990s computer game (I’m thinking Gold Rush) and totally break my heart.
But I wanted to write a slightly different post. About my (failed, clearly) efforts to prevent an event like this one. We all know Das Big Boy is much less vulnerable than he used to be. But obviously, he’s still vulnerable. And his sister is young enough that she is, too. That’s why I’m annoying sometimes. I recognize that it’s annoying, and I feel somewhere between mildly awkward and horribly mortified being this way.
is why I:
1) Ask you not to visit if you’re sick, or have had symptoms in the previous 48 hours.
2) Ask you if your kids are sick or have recently been sick before setting up a play date.
3) Try to keep Das Big Boy from playing near kids with runny noses at the park.
4) Ask you to Purell or wash your hands before you come into my house.
5) Ask you to remove your shoes before you come in our house. (This one has the bonus feature of keeping my floors clean, and, according to A Green Slate, is a great way to reduce levels of lead and other toxins in the home).
6) Obsessively wash my hands, such that they look like they belong to a one-hundred year old woman (with all due respect to my Mimi, who turns a hundred on March first and has lovely hands!)
7) Wipe down shopping carts.
8) Inadvertently scowl at and deliberately run from people who cough without covering their mouths (and use your elbows, people!).
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a normal life. It certainly doesn’t mean I want to keep my kids in contact isolation; thankfully, Das Big Boy’s team has decided that even with this recent setback, we don’t need to go into full lockdown mode. It just means we have to be careful. I don’t enjoy it, and I hate that it makes us difficult, or makes people afraid to hang out with us. The best thing people can do is cheerfully acquiesce to my home hygiene demands, and just tell me honestly what’s going on with themselves and their kids so we can decide if it’s safe.
Most things are safe. Das Big Boy has weathered several colds like a champ. But RSV presents as a typical, if sometimes very bad, cold in an older child, but for newborns and kids with complex histories, it’s obviously very dangerous. Most kids DBB’s age have had RSV and thought it was just a normal cold. But DBB had synagis, which protected him in the winters before this one, making him more vulnerable this year.
I know how Das Big Boy got RSV and shared it with his sister. We were at his early intervention playgroup. Das Big Boy receives early intervention services in part because of his medical diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension (a debatable, possibly outdated diagnosis, but still). As of March, it seems likely that he might only qualify based on this diagnosis. This means I expect that early intervention will provide services that accommodate this needs, much as they do for children with developmental delays. I’m not asking for special treatment. But I do firmly believe they need to enforce their own sick policy, and the week before last, they didn’t. A little girl showed up with a cold on Tuesday, and a bad cold and cough on Thursday. I should have taken Das Big Boy home the moment I heard that cough in the hallway. But he had such a hard time transitioning to this new group while I was on bed rest, and we’d made real progress since I’d been able to accompany him after Little Liebchen’s birth. I didn’t want to confuse him by arriving and then leaving. So I told the teachers that I heard the little girl’s cough, and that DBB would have to stay far away from her. When one of the interns (who heard me say that, btw) motioned for DBB to sit between her and cough-girl, I intervened. I Purelled his hands constantly. I kept him as far from her as possible, and her therapist did the same. Really, though, when I said, “I hear her cough. DBB needs to stay far away from her. He can’t get a cough. It would be really bad,” I expected them to send her home, as their sick policy says they will. But they didn’t. At that point, I should have yanked him out, but I didn’t. It’s that constant battle between normalcy and protection. And this time, I lost. Big.
I’m not trying to blame EI, or the teachers. I’m not trying to blame myself. But I do expect them to enforce their sick policy in the future, and if they feel they can’t, then I’ll have to pull him out until cold and flu season ends. And the thing is he’ll eventually attend this group without me so it will be essential that I can trust his teachers to make appropriate decisions, as I won’t be there to ensure that the other kids are healthy.
So maybe, once DBB is healthy, we’ll just do my town moms playgroup for a while. The moms there are incredibly supportive (Thanks for ALL the love, guys. It means so much), and we keep our kids home when they’re sick (I won’t lambast the parents of cough-girl here, but they should have kept their daughter home so that neither the teachers nor I were put in the situation of deciding how to handle this sick kid).
Sorry for the not terribly interesting rantiness. But I needed to get that out. Everyone else is somehow still asleep here in hospital land, so a little blog-venting seemed like just the thing.
I am so grateful for all of the love and support you all have provided as usual. I feel like I’m turning into the blog (or, for most of you, real life) version of the sadsack friend who never has any good news. Soon enough, I hope to balance my woe-is-me moments with the blend of heart and snark you expect from me. And to my local buddies, I think mugs-o-wine are in order when this has all passed. Who’s in?
Little Liebchen (gracias a Lauda for this new name, which I am liking!), back to her pale little self, was discharged this morning at 11:00 and we returned home triumphantly! Actually, we returned home in a car with a crying newborn and a crying toddler, but it was a delicious taste of normal life with two kiddos.
Thanks to Nanny Sunshine’s help, we got to have a low-key day around the Husband Hausfrau Haus. Highlights included a tricycle ride for Das Big Boy with Herr Husband manning the trike bar and me wearing Little Liebchen (LL). It was a day of near constant nursing, and a much needed nap for me. Thanks, Herr Husband!
Life is good. Sleepy and hectic, but good.
Well, I got my take home baby! Huzzah! But my sense of victory was short-lived. After a blissful night at home (during which Wee Madchen decided that 10pm to 3 am was happy hour at the dairy bar known as my breasts), we have had to return to the hospital because someone decided she looked good in yellow. I’m all for avoiding overly gendered pink stuff, but wishing Wee Madchen had found a different way to express herself.
That’s right. She has jaundice. Not a scary case, but enough that she needs a dose of phototherapy, likely for 24-48 hours. So we are, as we call it, at the beach. Also known as under the blue lights at Newton Wellesley hospital, which is thankfully closer to home than Beth Israel, where I delivered.
As her loving mom (& food source) I’m here with her. They limit her nursing time to 20 minutes per session to maximize her under the lights time. Don’t worry, I’ve already told them that formula and even expressed breastmilk bottles are off the table should the nursing restrictions cause a problem. The med student to whom I said this was surprised, but I told her I’d dropper or syringe feed her if need be. No offense to the lovely med students in my life, but I did a NICU rotation with 114 consecutive 16 hour days. I know more about this shit than you do. And I will not disrupt my nursing relationship with my daughter over a treatable case of jaundice. So there! OK, down off my soapbox. I’m just REALLY tired of the medical establishment pretending to be all “breast is best” and then pushing formula at every turn–more on this later, as it was an issue after my delivery, too. Particularly surprising after they were way more supportive of natural childbirth than I’d expected.
So life is a bit bumpy. I had so looked forward to settling in as our family of four, and struggling with the mere mayhem of a new baby and a toddler. Das Big Boy is no great fan of his sister, by the way. When he woke up and she was still here, he was mad. And now he’ll be doubly confused when she is gone, then reappears. I think he keeps hoping I’ll put her back inside. But he is getting accustomed to her and will at least talk about her now.
She is a ball of teeny baby delight. Snuggly and feisty and a good little eater! And she totally rolled her eyes at the doctors today. It’s hard being here because I can’t hold her, but once we’re home it’s going to be a voracious mix of skin-to-skin, nursing, and baby-wearing.
Apologies for the format of the post and any typos. It’s coming from my phone.
Or, more precisely, gush.
Yup, my water just broke. On our way to the hospital as soon as La Gigi and El Papa arrive to tend to Das Big Boy.
Thanks for all of your love and support.
Let’s go have a baby!!!
Greetings! I’ve just returned from the OB’s office. First of all, my blood pressure was a downright sexy 120/80, my weight gain was deemed perfect (despite the fact that I am now up 36 lbs this pregnancy), and my pee protein free!
We started with a love fest about my being at 36.1. “What an amazing outcome,” she said. “You’ve come SO far.” I shared my birth plan with her, which made me a bit nervous, oddly enough. I don’t like to seem demanding. But my doctor was happy to see it and talk through it and thought it all seemed straightforward. The upshot of it is: I’m going see how it goes doing this drug free, so don’t tempt me by asking about drugs. I am very good at asking for them if I want them. (Dear reader: you can call me crazy and we can discuss my desire for a drug-free birth in another post). Also, docs, please give me my kid immediately so we can bond ‘n boob.
We went over labor stuff: call if your water breaks or you bleed a lot or the baby seems lazy. Come in when your contractions are five minutes apart. I told her about my birth story with Das Big Boy. “So maybe more like eight minutes apart.”
Then my doctor checked my cervix. “Oh,” she said, “huh.” Even though she looked smiley rather than concerned, these are not things you love hearing when someone’s hand is in your vagina. “Well,” she said. “You’re dilated to 3 centimeters, you’re 80% effaced, and the baby is at station -1.”
“Wow,” I said.
“I’m surprised. I don’t know why, given your history,” she said. “Well, this is really exciting! But let’s change that: come to the hospital when your contractions are even ten or twelve minutes apart. Just come in. Don’t wait. I think you’re going to go fast. Soon, and fast.” When I looked worried, she reassured me, “It’s fine for you to have this baby now.”
“I’m so excited for you!” she said again.
So, we might not make it to 37. Of course, we might. Some people walk around at a 3 or a 4 for weeks. But most of those people don’t have my cervix. We’ll just have to see! But my doc’s positive attitude and enthusiasm about it all have made the baby feel more real, and more imminent, than anything else. I left feeling a bit giddy, frankly.
Happy New Year!
Today marked the day on which our daughter could be born no more than one month early! I think that sounds like quite an accomplishment.
Even more exciting: given that even if I went into labor this second, I probably wouldn’t deliver until after midnight, I think we can safely say that this baby will be born in the right year and the right month! Not to compare my children, but Das Big Boy did not manage to do either. Of course, Wee Mädchen could be born in February–my official due date is 1/31–but after all this hoopla, that would amuse me greatly. Or maybe not. My many friends and relatives who’ve been overdue have been many things, but I’m not sure amused is one of them.
Today’s ultrasound results were available on my delightful Patientsite page (how I love BIDMC and the ease with which they share patients’ medical results with them). I have yet to speak to a doctor, but we all know I’m pretty comfortable interpreting data and reading reports. And the news there is good as well. The little lady is estimated to weigh five pounds, twelve ounces, which would get her over the low birth weight hurdle (babies born at less than 2500g, or 5lbs 8 oz, are low birth weight). She has also gotten proportionally thicker around the middle and her head growth has gone from astronomical to a mere robust, meaning that her growth is within normal range. I’m hoping this means the ultrasounds are done! I know a lot of people wish for more of them, but frankly, I associate them with opportunities for to obsess over minutiae, so at this point I’d rather have a don’t ask, don’t tell relationship with my abdomen and fetus. This is a big milestone for me, who loves to obsess and will do so at any given opportunity. Here’s to zenning and letting go. May it be a goal for 2013.
So I’m bidding a fond farewell to 2012. It was a year in which I managed to shepherd one baby into a happy and healthy toddlerhood, and during which I managed to achieve a personal best at keeping a baby in my uterus. It was a year in which so many people helped me and my family during a scary and trying time, and was thus a year of gratitude. And now I’m ready to welcome 2013, in which I’ll become a parent again, and, according to everyone, realize how easy I had it before! Woo hoo!
Happy 2013s to all of you!
That was bad, even for me.
So, Herr Husband and I are hiring a doula for my birth. It’s not something I was ready to think about until now, because preemie birth is going to be terrifying no matter what and a doula can do little to change that.
But now that I’m approaching the time of slightly less scary birth, it seems like I might want to think about having a positive birth experience. Now I know plenty of you are snickering into your hands–”Positive birth experience!? Sounds like something only a woman who birthed a 2lb 5oz baby could imagine…”
But what I mean is, I’m afraid of giving birth. Not of the pain (I’ve dilated to a ten before, and I know it’s excruciating). And I know about the ring of fire. But the thing is, none of that compares to the emotional pain of scary pregnancies and extremely sick kids. I’m afraid of not knowing what to do in a normal birth situation. You see, for me, pregnancy has always been about being failed by my body. My last birth went something like:
Hipster Hausfrau: Please don’t let me be in labor, please don’t let me be in labor, please don’t let me be in labor. Ow!
Doctors: You’re not in labor.
Hipster Hausfrau: Please don’t let me be in labor, please don’t let me be in labor, please don’t let me be in labor. Double ow!
Doctors: You’re not in labor.
Hipster Hausfrau: Super OW!
Passing nurse: Your contractions hurt that much? You’re in labor.
Doctors: Oops. Just kidding. We see hair. 8 centimeters.
But a key element here is resistance and denial. And I’m just not sure I can dispel all of that on my own (or with the magical Herr Husband’s amazing help; he’s a great pregnancy and birth partner, but he’s been traumatized, too.) I’ve actually made an analogy between my ability to have a normal birth and people who wait until they’re married to have sex. They spend their whole lives denying themselves sex and telling themselves it’s bad, and then they flip a switch and they’re supposed to enjoy it. But they still have those bad messages floating around in their brains. So they wind up having issues with sex (Sometimes. I’m sure sometimes they’re happy and fulfilled. I think I’ve met like two of these people in my life, so this is based on my psychological interpretation rather than data.)
But anyway, I think I need help shake off the medicalization that has happened to me throughout both pregnancies and my previous birth. I need to think of birth as something natural that I can do. And that’s why I’m enlisting a doula.
Lady Beejer (no relation to the chimpanzee puppet, except that he was purchased at her wedding weekend and was thus named) herself completed doula training and has recommended her doula to me. We met with Julie tonight and really liked her. She’s clearly going to be a very calming and knowledgeable presence during and before delivery. I especially think she’ll bring that natural energy that both Herr Husband and I need in order to shake off our birth-as-medical-terror-show viewfinders.
And then there’s this: