Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Hardest Day of My Life

September 21, 2013

It’s been one week since I placed my daughter in the arms of a nurse and watched her leave me forever.

I don’t want to hear about how I’ll have the memory of holding her. I don’t want to hear about how her spirit will stay with me. Or how I’ll see her in the afterlife. Platitudes will not fill my empty arms.

It was time to give her up. I know that. But as soon as Tonya took her away, I wanted her back. I wanted to hold her once more. I wanted to snuggle her for one more night. I want to snuggle her for one more night. I want to hold her once more. I want her back.

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La Mia Fragolina Perfetta

September 20, 2013

It’s been one week since my Sofia died. They tried to revive her for twenty minutes. They were preparing to transfer her to the Bronson Children’s Hospital. But there was nothing they could do.

My mom had declared that she didn’t want to watch me labor, but she really did want to be there for the delivery. I said that was fine. The plan was that Heather and Nicki would text her now and then, and my parents would come to the hospital when I was dilated to eight or nine or ten. After all, they only live ten minutes away. Okay, maybe fifteen… if traffic is really bad… and they can’t find a parking space. But when the time came, she couldn’t stay away. According to my dad, it was around 2 or 2:15 (at the latest) that they got to the hospital. My dad waited downstairs in the atrium lounge while my mom came up to join me. I told her that I thought she didn’t want to watch me labor. She said she changed her mind.

When Sofia was finally born, when she finally slipped out and the cord was cut so that the nursery staff could tend to the meconium she’d inhaled and revive her, my mom held me. All I kept thinking, and saying, was that she had to be okay. She just had to.

When things were not getting better, my mom called and told my dad to come upstairs. I know my sense of time was lacking anything related to precision because I swear it took him less than a minute to walk through the door.

And then someone turned to the midwife and said, “We’ve been trying for twenty minutes. We’re going to call it.”

I know I screamed, “NO!” How could my baby girl, who only earlier that day had been kicking me, whose heartbeat the nurse was able to track throughout my labor and delivery, be dead?

I’d torn during the delivery. The midwife hadn’t finished my stitches when Sofia was pronounced dead. She offered to give me a few minutes, but I said to just finish. It wouldn’t make any difference at this stage.

They placed my baby girl on my chest. And she was so beautiful. And perfect. Five perfect little toes on each foot. Five perfect little fingers on each hand. A perfect little nose. A perfect little mouth. And perfect little ears. (My mom was especially pleased with how perfect her ears were.) And hair. A full head of curly hair. My mom got a cloth and washed part of Sofia’s head. As the sun caught her hair, it glinted with red. La mia fragolina, my little strawberry, with red hair and blue eyes.

And even though we all knew I would have to give her up eventually, I was not given a timetable. I could hold her for as long as I wanted. It would never be long enough. It will never be long enough. But at least I was given some time with her.

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The Return of the Dates

September 19, 2013

The dates have returned to the blog. I originally was trying to post with a one-trimester distance from you. Most miscarriages occur in the first three months of a pregnancy, and while I was prepared to share that journey with you, I wasn’t prepared to share it in real time. It never really, truly occurred to me that I would find myself in even greater grief at the end of my pregnancy. That’s something that happens to other people. And yet, here I am.

I’m not sure what the lag will be between writing and posting. I haven’t figured that out yet. There are moments that I think I can bear to share as soon as I write, and there are moments when I don’t think I can bear it. I’ve written before about being in that state where people’s kindness makes one cry. Unlike those instances when I was trying to get pregnant that the last thing I wanted was to be around people being nice to me, I am truly appreciative of the kindness people have shown over the past week. But it still makes me cry. I’ve managed to check Facebook with some regularity. But I’m not sure I’m quite ready for my blog posts to be posts and not just journal entries. They will all be posted eventually. I just can’t say exactly when.

It’s been one week since I went into very active labor. Once it started, it was fast and furious. Brad wasn’t home from work yet when I called Nicki, so it took about an hour for her to get to my place. But that’s okay. While I’d gathered just about everything for the hospital, I hadn’t actually packed my bag yet. I packed in between contractions. And I used my handy iPad app to track those contractions. And they were about three minutes apart. And there was no good position in which to have them. I used to get menstrual cramps that radiated to my back, and I remember commenting to my mom that I could foresee that I would be one of those women who would have back labor. And it turned out I was right. Except all of the recommended positions for coping with back labor? Yeah, they only made it worse.

When Nicki finally arrived, she took one look at the app and announced that it was time for us to go to the hospital. I had another contraction and then agreed with her. She called Heather while I called the hospital. I didn’t have the number for labor and delivery, so I called the main line and was automatically put on hold. Nicki took my phone from me and hung up. With her phone, she called a friend to get the direct line to L&D, and with my phone, she called to let them know we were coming. She said she’d bring the car around to the front, took my bags and ran out while I, between contractions, locked the door and walked very slowly out of the building. She wasn’t there. And then I saw her running around the building. She’d parked at the back, thinking it was the front. (I share this because it took my mom and I a long time to get on the same page as to which side of the building was the front and which was the back.) Nicki told me to stay where I was while she ran back to bring the car around to the actual front of the building. I rested against a carport for that next contraction.

We did not obey the speed limit as we drove to the hospital. In fact, we were pretty sure that if we did get pulled over, we’d be getting a police escort the rest of the way. (Okay, in all honesty, we were kind of looking forward to the drive turning into a sitcom.) Nicki gleefully ignored a no-right-on-red sign at the last turn before the hospital. If the police had decided to stop us at that point, they were just going to have to wait until we’d reached the patient drop-off point at the hospital.

Heather was waiting. She ran inside for a wheelchair while I got out of the car. A very kind gentleman saw that Heather needed an extra hand and offered to take her bag. He rode with us all the way up to the sixth floor. By the time I had signed the paperwork and the charge nurse was ready to take us to a room, Nicki had arrived with my bags and hers. We were taken to room 675, all the way at the end of the hall. The charge nurse apologized that we had to walk so far to get to the room.

I’m not sure if the nurse was surprised at how willingly I stripped off my clothes to put on the hospital gown or not. Ballet dancers aren’t known for being modest… At any rate, I was hooked up to the machine to measure my contractions and the baby’s heart rate. And I really don’t remember much about what else was going on at that point. Blood pressure, pulse ox… I was kind of focused on the contractions. I was dilated to about six, six-and-a-half. They wanted to put in a heplock. I said I have a needle phobia. The midwife, Sue, came in and told me that her one concern was that redheads, especially those of us with lots of freckles on our fair skin, tend to bleed more than others. She wanted to be prepared should I need a transfusion. I asked how much I would feel it once it was in. (I remember my dad’s last pacemaker surgery. He had to have his hand propped on a pillow in a specific way to not feel the IV needle.) They promised that it would be out of the way, and I relented. Nicki later told me that this process took an hour.

Once I was all IV’d, they released me from the monitors. I happily doffed the hospital gown and got in the tub. (Aside: What is up with having telemetry gowns? Wouldn’t a gynecology gown make a little more sense for L&D? Sure, have telemetry gowns available if women want to walk the floor and will be hooked to a telemetry unit, but it just seems like a front-closing gown would make more sense for vaginal checks. And, yes, I do know exactly what type of gown was in the room. I should mention that I once worked at the medical laundry plant that services Kalamazoo.) I tried kneeling/hands-and-knees again when I was getting into the tub. Nope, still made my back hurt more to position that way. I sat cross-legged and sideways, pushing my back against the side of the tub during each contraction. There are handles in the sides of the tub to make sitting up easier. One of them was digging into my upper back. Yes, I did see that it was there when I got into this position. And, no, I didn’t feel it. The pain in my lower back superseded it. You’ll have to ask Nicki and Heather how long I was in the tub. I really have no clue. I do know that I was well into transition by the time I got out.

The positions that were the best were on my side or on my other side. At one point, we tried raising the back of the bed so that I was in a half-kneeling, half-on-my-stomach position. It did not last long because, surprise surprise, it made my back hurt even more. But it did help move things because my water broke shortly thereafter. At another point, I did have to go to the bathroom, and the nurse was out of the room. I ripped the sensors off pretty quickly to get to the bathroom. I contemplated laboring for a bit on the toilet. Yeah, no, sitting up was not my friend.

At some point, I upped my pain level from the seven I’d declared with first asked to a full ten. Nicki told the nurse that me saying I was at ten was a normal person saying they were at 14. If I was at ten, I was really in pain.

It was around 3 am that I started pushing. I wasn’t quite dilated to ten. There was a small bit of cervix that refused to budge. So I pushed. And I pushed. And I pushed. I don’t know how long it took me to push through transition, to finally get the baby’s head past that point. I pushed on my right side. I pushed on my left side. I pushed on my back. Of all of the ridiculous positions, I did best on my back! And the hours (yes, hours) passed, and I pushed. And I was exhausted. And they kept telling me to hold my legs and pull them towards me. And I couldn’t. There were too many things for me to try and do. The baby crowned. And I pushed and pushed and pushed and just couldn’t quite get the head the rest of the way out. Finally I had a nurse holding each leg. Once I just had to focus on pushing and not on positioning, I could do it.

And at 8:21 am, my beautiful baby girl was born.

P.S. And, yes, I threw up during this process. Multiple times.

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In Which I Let Hemingway Speak For Me

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

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Sorry About That

I know. You got all excited about mucus plugs and bloody shows. But I’m still pregnant. Every day this week, my boss has gotten to work, walked into my office, given me a disappointed look, and said, “You’re here.” (Today I told a colleague about this; she proposes it’s because the sooner I go on leave, the sooner I’ll be back from it. He just wants to get my being gone over with.)

Today when he came into my office, he asked how my appointment went. I told him that it was today. But I’ll get to that shortly.

One of the great things about the Affordable Care Act is that breast pumps are now covered by insurance. So today, I called BCBS to find out exactly what type of pump is covered and what I need to do to get one. I spoke with a charming rep. They’ll cover 100% of a dual, hospital-grade, electric pump, purchased from a durable medical supply company, prescription required. Oh, and one more thing. She’d heard from other patients in my area that there was a shortage of breast pumps. Like a five-month backlog. So I may want to start looking soon.

Needless to say, I immediately pulled up the list of durable medical supply companies in my area and started calling to find one who A) actually carries breast pumps and B) has them available. Honestly, once I found one, I stopped calling around. Yes, Access Medical’s preferred Medela breast pumps have been on back order. Since February. But they’ve done a lot of research and have found Ameda to be a comparable pump, and it meets all of BCBS’s requirements. They have three in stock right now. And, no, they haven’t had any insurance issues with women purchasing the pump before the baby is born. I added getting a prescription to my list for today’s appointment with Lori.

Since I’ve been in early labor all week, my mom and I decided it might be a good idea for us to meet at my apartment and her to drive. You know, just in case I got sent straight from the clinic to labor & delivery. Not that we were really expecting that to happen. We were just keeping our fingers crossed that I was dilated to one.

Well… I’m dilated to one… and two… and three… and four. Lori said she thought it was closer to 4.5, but she marked it as four. I’ll repeat that for you. I’m dilated to 4. And I’m effaced to about 70%. And she was really pleased to hear that I’d lost the mucus plug without any interference. And she’d really like this baby to hold on until Tuesday so that she can deliver it, but she’s pretty sure that by the end of the weekend, I’ll have a baby.

So I’ve had three due dates over the course of this pregnancy. Due date #1, based on my period, is tomorrow. Due date #2, based on my 7-week-thank-god-there’s-only-one ultrasound, is today. Due date #3, based on my 9-week-discharged-from-the-fertility-clinic ultrasound, was Tuesday. Looks like this baby is coming almost as on-time as one can expect.

And right now? I’m pretty crampy right now. Lori kind of swept away the remaining membranes while she was in there. It does make it hard to tell what’s just cramping and what’s a contraction. But I’ll take my doula’s advice. Go to bed and wait for the contractions to wake me up. But I am thinking a hot shower is called for first. And maybe a little something resembling dinner.

And all I can keep thinking now is that this is real. This is suddenly real. I’m actually going to have a baby!

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And So It Begins

Warning: This post will contain Too Much Information. Seriously, you may not want to read it. Or at least consider yourself warned. If I remember to, I’ll put a TMI Alert before those parts. But I am pregnant, so I may not remember. Not to mention the fact that a TMI Alert won’t let you know when to start reading again…

TMI Alert! At around 4:30 yesterday morning, I lost the mucus plug. Two big globs of thick, sticky rubber cement. No blood. Just two gobs of mucus. And it turned out that I was wrong. I’d only lost part of the mucus plug. Several more gobs of mucus came out later in the day. And they just kept coming. (You can’t say I didn’t warn you.)

I also started having some proper contractions. So I got out my app and started timing them. They were about an hour apart and only 20-30 seconds long. Enough to be noticeable, but clearly not enough to merit a call to Nicki. Needless to say, there was no falling back asleep at that point. I did, however, call my mom and ask her to drive me to my appointment. We figured that between the mucus plug and the contractions that someone would be able to see me even though I was only scheduled to see the nurse for a blood pressure check.

Borgess was having a Monday yesterday. They were fully booked, so they weren’t sure if someone could do a vaginal exam. (I would like to point out that I haven’t had one since my intake appointment. I’ve been told that as long as I wasn’t having any labor symptoms that we might as well put it off. But I was also told that if I was having labor symptoms… Yeah. Like I said. They were having a Monday.) So I figured I would say something to the nurse. I saw Sr Rose. My blood pressure was perfectly normal. (No surprise there; I hadn’t been to work yet.) I asked her about seeing something. She said it wouldn’t make a difference. Well, of course it won’t make a difference in what’s happening, but it will at least tell me where I am in the labor process. Clearly, Sr Rose was having a Monday, too.

What I’d not realized was scheduled was a non-stress test. That’s when they make you lie down and strap two monitors around your belly, one to measure contractions and one to measure the baby’s heart rate and then keep you there for twenty minutes. It may technically be “non-stress”, but it is stressful and horribly uncomfortable. Especially when you didn’t realize your mother should have come back to hang out with you because you thought you were going to only be five minutes. And when the room can accommodate two patients. And the other patient has her husband/boyfriend/significant other/baby daddy with her. (Sidebar: He had a Borgess namebadge on. I looked at him and thought, he totally works in IT. One of the nurses asked where he worked. You guessed it. IT. He just looked like an IT guy.) And the nurses only close the privacy curtain while they’re getting you hooked up to the machine and then open it a little farther every time they come back. (Is that HIPAA compliant? Seems to me like it wouldn’t be…) And then your machine starts make this weird alert noise. And it turns out that it’s because it ran out of paper. But Sr Rose has never replaced the paper in this machine, so she doesn’t know how to do it. And so you have to wait for someone else to replace the paper. And since the machine didn’t record twenty minutes of data, you have to stay strapped in even longer. (Not as bad as the other patient, though. They didn’t press the right button to start recording for hers. I want to say it was at least ten minutes before someone noticed. Like I said. They were having a Monday.) And then you have to lie there and wait while the nurse takes the printout to get read. (Test was done. I don’t see why I couldn’t sit up.)

Results? Everything looked fine. My contractions were “pretty weak.” But notice the plural. That means I had more than one in the twenty minutes or so that I was lying there. Which is good. I felt like I had more than one contraction. They weren’t terrible; I’m pretty sure the only reason they were as uncomfortable as they were is because I was on my back. If I’d been in another position, I probably would have shrugged them off. The point being that I’m not going crazy, and I really am having regular contractions.

As far as seeing someone… Well, Lydia could try to squeeze me in, but I’d have to wait until she had time because she was fully booked. Or, you know, I could go up to labor & delivery. Yeah, right, like I was going to pay for that! So I still have no clue how dilated or effaced I am because I still haven’t had a vaginal exam. I have one of those scheduled with Lori on Thursday. If I’m still pregnant.

Like I said, the whole thing was pretty stressful. And I was tired and didn’t feel well. And my mommy suggested I take a nap and that she sit and read her book and knit while I do that. I don’t know if I slept or dozed or just had my eyes closed for a while, but it really was necessary. And then I went in to work for a few hours. I’d given Courtney the heads up, and I’ve told everyone in my area that if I’m not there, they should ask Courtney because she’ll have seen on Facebook if I had the baby. But they apparently forgot for a while because they were all sure that I wasn’t there because I was in labor. Someone finally did think to call Courtney, and she set them straight. She also said that Dr Z kept going downstairs to ask her in person if there was any news.

So my plan for the rest of the week is this. I’m not turning my alarm on. If there’s no baby and no active labor, I’ll go into work when I get up. And I’ll leave work when I feel like it. Today that meant I slept in until 6:45 and got to work around 7:20 and left at 2:30. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

There is, of course, nothing like your boss getting into work and being disappointed to see you. It’s a good thing he doesn’t work at the hospital at which I’ll be delivering!

TMI Alert! And when I went to the bathroom just before leaving work today, not only was there another gigantic glob of the mucus plug, but this time it was streaked with blood. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a bloody show. Methinks we’re having a baby this week!

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Belly Casts and Blood Pressure

Centering was on Wednesday this week. And the reason I didn’t write about it on Wednesday is because there was knitting afterwards. And I didn’t write about it on Thursday because I had to work late (more on that later). And I didn’t write about it on Friday because it was family dinner. And I didn’t write about it yesterday because I didn’t feel like it. No good excuse for yesterday.

So Centering… We made belly casts. It is pretty cool to be able to see what size your belly actually is. I have no clue what I’m going to actually do now that I have a belly cast. For the moment, it’s sitting on top of the bookcase in the nursery. And then we watched a video that I love: The Happiest Baby on the Block. I highly recommend this. I’m looking forward to his latest, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, as we’re approaching those years. Have a crying baby? These techniques work. We used them on my nieces. At times, they are absolute magic. And while we didn’t have enough time to watch the part about the fourth trimester, it was nice to have a refresher of the five S’s. (Get used to the concept of the fourth trimester because I’ll probably be bringing it up after the baby is born.)

The medical part of Centering, on the other hand… Let me take you back to four years ago. Four years ago September, we were working on our accreditation self-study and I went in for my annual. And you know what? My diastolic blood pressure was elevated. The nurse’s exact words were that it was “kind of high”. The midwife wasn’t terribly concerned when I told her that work was pretty stressful at the moment, and she also said that some people do show elevated blood pressure at the doctor’s office because it can be a stressful place to be. She suggested I check it at Meijer while I was doing my grocery shopping one day. (Right, ’cause that’s less stressful than the midwife’s office.) I opted, instead, to wait until the next time I was at a doctor’s office. I had never had high blood pressure before, so I knew it was because of the stress at work. No point in worrying over it. And you know what? I was right. The next time I was at the doctor, accreditation was taken care of, and my blood pressure was back to normal.

Well, my diastolic blood pressure was elevated at Centering this week. Just the diastolic. The systolic was high for me, but not high enough to be considered “elevated”. I had Andrea take it, and she got pretty much the same measurement. Lori looked closely at my ankles and fingers and checked my reflexes. I really should have remembered to explain that I have really wide feet, so even when my feet aren’t swollen, to the layperson, they may appear that way. And by layperson, I of course mean “person not familiar with the fact that I have short and wide feet”. And then summer comes along, and they do swell by the end of the day. Anyway, she didn’t see anything physical that screamed pre-eclampsia, and I haven’t had any headaches, so she had me schedule a BP check for Monday morning while I was scheduling an appointment with her for Thursday. (That would be the 12th, not the day after Centering.) And as Centering was winding down, she had Andrea take my BP again, but there was no change. So Lori wrote up a lab order from some blood work and urinalysis.

Fortunately, the main lab opens at 7, so I decided to go in before going to work on Thursday. And despite that fact that I was there by 6:45, there was still a line. Mostly octogenarians. I swear there were only four people of working age waiting. And we had to wait for the old people who weren’t trying to get their labs done before heading in to work. But I digress. My mom graciously came to hang out with me while I waited. And I wound up being only an hour later for work than I’d planned. (Yes, that does mean that I was there before 7 and didn’t get my blood drawn until almost 7:30. That would be why I got there before the lab opened. Imagine how much later it would have been otherwise!) And when I got to work, everyone was surprised to see me. They figured I wasn’t there because I had a baby. I said I was late because I had blood work. I ended the explanation with a loud “because someone is stressing me out!” for Dr Z’s benefit. He was the only person who didn’t laugh at that remark… At any rate, Lori called to say that my labs were fine, and she’d see me next week, unless, of course, I have a baby before then. She asked once more about headaches. (Well, yeah, now that you keep asking about them, I’m paranoid about every twinge I sense above my cervical vertebrae.)

And that’s why I had to stay late at work. I wanted to make up the time I’d spent at the lab. Plus I was almost done with our performance-in-practice files, and I wanted to get those finished before I left. And if I’d gone straight home, I might have written about everything from Wednesday and Thursday then. But I didn’t go straight home. I went to check out a daycare that’s fairly close to where I live. It seems like it will be a good fit, and the location definitely can’t be beat. They aren’t completely positive they’ll have room for me starting the middle of March when I will start needing full-time daycare, so I don’t know for certain yet. And I do still want to check out other options. Or more specifically, the YWCA. I know the Y would be more affordable, and I like the diversity it offers. I’m just not sure if single mother or middle class will win in their assessment of whether or not I really need the Y. Nicki tells me that her daughter is still on the wait list after two years. But Nicki is married, so that might be a factor that keeps moving her daughter down. But it was too much like work to deal with more than one daycare this week.

I was hoping to get a pedicure on Friday (thanks, Amber!), but there were no appointments available. I briefly had one scheduled for early Saturday afternoon, but the spa called back to say that the nail tech couldn’t be in that early, so how did I feel about the end of next week? I explained that I’m 39 weeks pregnant, so I really didn’t want to make any appointments that far in advance. But I have an awesome mommy. She cut my nails and repainted them for me yesterday. And, using my dad’s electric razor, she shaved my legs. I could wear a skirt to work tomorrow if I wanted to!

One thing about working up until you deliver is that everyone has a comment of some form. Mostly this week they were just “when’s your due date again?”, but several of the older women gave me a very concerned, uber-maternal “how are you feeling?” The former question got a response of the number of days left. The latter? Fine. I feel great, except for the morning sickness, and as long as I take my pills, even that’s not terrible. Sure, I’ve had some random contractions, but I really do feel fine.

But Wednesday, after everything with my blood pressure, I did look down at the bump and tell it that I really don’t care anymore. If it wanted to be born on Thursday, I was fine with that. Yes, I did want to get more of accreditation taken care of first, but whatever. It could wait until after I got back from maternity leave. If I remember correctly, the bump gave me a few friendly kicks in response. And since I’m still pregnant, it obviously opted to let me get more of accreditation taken care of instead of being born. I know I won’t ever be ready-ready, but whenever the bump decides to stop being the bump and start being a baby is fine by me.

Except for one thing. If we make it to work on Wednesday, then people will ask, “When’s your due date again?” And I’ll be able to say, “Yesterday.”

P.S. Opened the fridge this week and realized that my milk’s fresh date is my due date.

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