Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BLISS...

Giant, deep, cleansing breath........Ahhhhhhhh!!!!! Our baby is home with us!

On Monday, the nurse on duty for Elijah told me that since he had been stable without any oxygen supplement for more than 24 hours, that he would probably be going home Tuesday. I was afraid to get my hopes up, but she offered me the opportunity to room in with Elijah on Monday night and I jumped at the chance. I imagined time to snuggle and nurse and just be close to him that night...but it wasn't exactly how it turned out. I was offered the fully reclining chair that is available in the hospital rooms and we were set up in the negative pressure room in the NICU (usually used for babies who end up having to come back to the hospital after being discharged.) The chair/bed was worse than the worst college futon. I started out feeling great and ended up feeling like my back was going to go out. And it's strange to me that that could happen, considering that I only slept about an hour and a half all night. I did get to snuggle a little, but Elijah was still hooked up to 3 different sensors with cords running to the monitor, so it wasn't exactly easy. Also, there was NO nursing... The day he got the hang of the bottle and was making the doctors and nurses happy, was the day he started refusing the breast. Great. Every time I would start to doze off the monitor would start going off saying his oxygen was low...but I learned that these were all false alarms caused by active feet or a funny sleep position. So, all night I would have the huge rushes of adrenaline with every monitor bleep and it was making me an exhausted wreck. I finally told the nurse at 6:30am that I was going to go home for a nap and a shower and would be back that afternoon to pick up Elijah if we got the go ahead. So, I went home to my toddler (I'm sure you can guess what happened to my nap option) and held my breath until I heard the doctor say that he was discharging Elijah.

At 12:30pm I got a call from the social worker at the hospital and she said, "So, I hear Elijah is coming home today!" I said, "Well, that's what I hear but I'm not sure if it's official or not yet." She said, "It's official, because they called me to follow up with you and see if you had any questions!" (Insert happy dance break here.) Charles and I took Christian over to a friends house for a playdate and headed to the hospital around 3pm. There was one last question I had before bringing Eli home, so I put in a call to the Lactation Consultant at the hospital.

I will state for the record that Lactation Consultants are a blessing from above and I'm not sure how anyone can hang in with long term nursing without having one. I told the consultant, Bridget, about Elijah's nipple confusion (sometimes called bottle preference), and that it was my intention to get him back to nursing right away. She suggested transitioning with a nipple shield and said for me to get one and she'd meet me at the hospital to show me how to use it. The nipple shield works like nursing, but with a silicone shield that gives the baby a little bit more to latch onto, with a texture more similar to a bottle. We discovered that he was also frustrated with the slower flow of the breast, and so Bridget pulled another magic trick out of her hat and showed me how to supplement the initial feed with some breast milk in a syringe and some french tubing (a very fine, thin type of tubing.) Within 10 minutes, we had him nursing like a champion again!!!!! AND, by the time I got home, Eli was latching onto the nipple shield and nursing without the help of the tubing and milk-filled syringe! Genius. This alone was making me a happier girl.

As we left the hospital, I was told that it was policy that I be wheeled out in a wheelchair with the baby in his car seat, on my lap. I was more than happy to oblige. When I was discharged from the hospital and Eli had to stay, there was no wheelchair and no baby. I walked out to the car with just myself, my bags and my hospital bracelets. It struck me how different this was than when I got to leave the hospital with Christian as a baby. That was when I started to lose it. But, now I got a "Do-Over". Whew! Thank God for Do-Overs...every once in a while I guess life gives you one- just like when you're a kid and you don't like the outcome of something and you yell, "No fair...Do-Over!!!" I got my Do-Over. :)

Once we were at home and I got settled in with Elijah to nurse and snuggle and Breathe, Charles left to go pick up Christian. I loved just that little bit of time for me and Eli- it was a nice moment. Charles and Christian got home and Christian came looking for me. I emerged holding Elijah and Christian's eyes got wide, "What's that, Mommy?" I yearn to know what he thought his baby brother would be like (a full grown toddler maybe??) I said, "This is your baby brother, Elijah." Christian wanted to get really close and said, "He's sleeping." I told him that Elijah had gotten him a present and asked if he would like to open it. He said yes and tore through the tissue paper in the gift bag to get to his present. It is one of those non-breakable, digital, toddler cameras. He was thrilled and said, "Thank you Elijah!" He proceeded to take picture after blurry, close-up picture of his own face and the walls (He was holding it backwards.) Charles joked that it was like an Austin Powers move, because he would hold out the camera every which way and... FLASH! (Insert Austin Powers' voice: "See? I'm so groovy I don't even have to look at what I'm shooting!") I couldn't stop smiling and I think the dark circles and drawn look to my face that had accumulated over the past week started disappearing right that very moment.

I am Home. And all of my boys (minus our furry boy Buddy, who will always be here in our hearts) are here with me. Our house seems so quiet and peaceful when compared to the constant bustle, bleep-bleeping monitors and harsh overhead florescent lights of the NICU. Our first night and day together have been blissful. I even got a chunk of sleep last night- a stretch of 4 hours, then a 3 hour stretch and an extra hour at the end. Nursing is taking a long time because Elijah keeps falling asleep- about an hour- but, I really don't mind it when I don't have to be anywhere. ...And it's really nice to not have to be anywhere... Hopefully, he'll wake up more in the next couple for weeks and that nursing time will shrink. We will see. This experience has forced me into living for just Right Now.

Right Now, I am loving being home with all of my babies- one big, one medium and one Peanut.

...And it is BLISS...


(Right Now)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finding the words...

(4 days postpartum)

It's been hard to even know where to begin, or what to write... Elijah's Birth...maybe I should go in order:

When I saw Dr. Kim on Monday morning, she checked me and I was 3 cm dilated and 70-80% effaced. She said, "Well, I think today's the day. Are you going to have an epidural?" I said, "No. No epidural." "Then go shopping. Walk around and call me when your contractions are 7-8 minutes apart." So, we went home and frantically began trying to finish our to do list, and the contractions got stronger. We went to Trader Joe's and stocked up on a few fresh food items as snacks for during labor and for the eventual hospital trip. The contractions got stronger and closer together. We got a lot done.

Around 7:30pm the contractions were timing at almost exactly 7 minutes apart with a few only 5 minutes apart just to let me know it was really time. We headed to the hospital and I had to really focus. I didn't think about anything except the contraction at hand. I had a little mantra: You can do this. You are doing this. You are already doing this. The contraction pain was tough, and the back labor was probably the worst part about it, but in between contractions I got a break. And that was enough of a relief.

We pulled up in front of the hospital, left the car in front with the hazards on, grabbed our bags and went straight up to the 3rd floor Labor and Delivery. As I was about to buzz in to enter the doors, I started having a contraction right as a nurse was pushing a woman out of the doors in a wheelchair. She shouted, "There's a woman in labor here, she's in pain." I didn't know that this tiny woman, all of 4' nothing, was to be my labor nurse...Mariam. The angel. I don't know who directed me or how I got to my labor room, but I somehow ended up there and Mariam came in a couple of minutes later. She had already been expecting me. Dr. Kim had called the hospital to tell them I would be coming in at some point, and everyone was briefed on the Down Syndrome diagnosis- which was nice, because I didn't have to tell each and every person myself. Mariam asked if I was going to have an epidural, and again I said no. She was thrilled- she is also a midwife and feels it's an honor to be able to assist someone going through with a completely natural childbirth. I couldn't have been paired up with a better person. She knew exactly what to say and how to encourage me. While the contractions got closer together I had quite a group forming in the room: My Mom, my Dad, My sister Tricia, my best friend Denise and, of course, Charles. I don't know if I was a difficult person to be around, but I did need complete silence when I went into a contraction so that I could focus on breathing and not on my Dad's conversation about the Laker's score, or whatever they were talking about. I do know I was snippy and asked for no talking. I let Mariam be the "bad guy" and kick everyone out as it got really close- I was 7-8 cm dilated, 100% effaced and Dr. Kim was on her way. My good friend, Bryna, was also on her way. I asked her to help coach me through it all since 2 years ago she had a natural, home birth with her daughter Lily. Her labor was 36 hours long and Lily was just over 9 lbs. I was in awe and knew that she would know what to say, and knew that she had been there and would understand. Bryna got there as the contractions were timing about 3 minutes apart, so she was able to help coach me through the most intense part. Dr. Kim arrived just as I was starting to feel the urge to push.

All of a sudden I got freaked out about pushing Elijah out. I suddenly thought, "Oh no! Now I have to get him out! How am I going to get him out?!" A few back and forth thoughts in my mind were battling it out to see if there was any way around it. ...of course, there wasn't. He was coming whether I was ready or not. Dr. Kim said, "Jennifer, if you feel like you want to push, go ahead and push." I'd say, "Ok, I'm gonna push...noooo...nevermind, not going to push!!" This went on about 2 or 3 times and then the urge to push outweighed the fear of doing it. Unlike my experience with a worn-off epidural when I gave birth to Christian, the pushing was much different and much easier. My body literally took over... like when you have diarrhea and your body just takes over and gets rid of it. (Sorry for the visual image, but it's the most similar feeling I can think of.) After the first push, I felt it: The Burning. Bryna had warned me about it, and I thought maybe I had some of that when I had Christian. (insert small giggle here, because what I felt with Christian was no where near this.) I just looked at Bryna and said, "The Burning." She looked at me back and said, "I know, Jen. I know. Just push into it." I don't know how many pushes I did...not many...maybe 7 or 8? But, before I knew it, he was out!! And there was this enormous relief of pain and rush of euphoria that hit me. I did it. He is here! And he's not sedated in any way, which is what I really wanted. I wanted to feel like I could do something for him that would be selfless and that might, just might, be slightly better for him than another path. But, I was wrong: It wasn't completely selfless, because I felt like a ROCK STAR!!!!!!! Elijah was whisked away by the nurses off into the corner to be checked thoroughly. There was a lot of whispering. I couldn't see him from where I was lying on the bed. They didn't put him on my chest to wipe him down first. They just took him. Thank God for the Rock Star feeling, because it was 45 minutes before I got to see my son and hold him. My family and friends came in and oohed and awwed and commented on how cute he is. I finally got to hold him for about 2 minutes and then it was explained that his oxygen saturation levels were a little low and they were taking him to the NICU. I was a little shocked, honestly. I guess despite all of my concerns about medical issues, the thought of being separated from him right away had never fully occurred to me. My family and friends began excusing themselves for the night, as it was after 1am, and Charles started moving our stuff to the recovery room. Mariam suggested a shower, and I will say that if I could only pick one reason to recommend a natural birth, it might be all about that heavenly first shower...

Once in my room, Charles and I dug into our Trader Joe snacks and made a meal out of cheese and crackers, strawberries and oranges, raw trail mix and potato chips with hummus. It's a good thing we brought that stuff, because I don't know if we would have had any other options. I was still in shock that my baby wasn't with me. I was wheeled over to see Elijah, who had an oxygen tube in his nose. The neonatologist, Dr. Mah was there along with the cardiologist, Dr. Leon. They did the ultrasound on his heart with us sitting there to watch. It was everything I had been seeing on my ultrasounds with Dr. Ballet, but bigger and clearer now that he was born. Everything on the ultrasound seemed to be looking good, but the doctors told us they would finish up and meet us back in our room to talk. When they got there, Dr. Leon confirmed that there are no heart defects- the #1 most common problem in babies with Down Syndrome! (Huge sigh of relief.) He was clearly happy to be giving this report. Dr. Mah explained that Eli's oxygen saturation levels were still low and that he really believed it was just a transitional respiratory issue, but that Elijah would probably have to be in the NICU for a couple of days, and that he would check back in tomorrow. My heart sank.

I couldn't sleep much that night. I was still on a high from the birth and from meeting Elijah for the first time and I was concerned about why he was in the NICU. I slowly walked myself over to see him while Charles was sleeping. He was lying on a warming table with an oxygen tube taped in his nose, two different IV's (one for fluid, one for food) laced into his umbilical cord and sensors stuck all over his little body. The two nurses on staff were like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum- the monitor was going off like crazy and they couldn't seem to figure out which wire went where. I couldn't take the monitor alarms anymore and walked slowly back to my room.


On Wednesday, I had a day full of visitors and by that night got the devastating news that I would be discharged on Thursday, but Eli would be staying in the NICU. It was a bad, bad night for me.

Early Thursday morning I lifted the shade on my hospital room to let in some light in hopes that a little sun and perspective could get me back to my optimistic place. But the tears came hard... The hormones are a lot...The hormones are ENOUGH...but there is more. I'm getting a crash course in how to be an advocate for my baby. Everything about what's happening to Elijah is confusing. Some things make sense and some things don't. He just doesn't seem sick. Physically he looks great. In fact, every nurse has commented on how minor his physical characteristics of Down Syndrome are...Well, actually, they don't SAY Down Syndrome at first. They tiptoe around saying it by saying things like, "Babies like this," "babies with this condition," "because of his diagnosis"- but never the words Down Syndrome until I've said them first. Once they hear how open I am, I see them relax a little. But, every shift there are new nurses, so we go through the dance again while the nurses speak in virtual code and are almost impossible to understand- all for the fear of saying two little words.


Flash forward. It's 4 days post partum and I was discharged on Thursday, but Eli is still in the NICU. There seem to be a whole lot of protocols that will need to be met before he can get out of there. The facts I know now, are that Eli has a condition called Pulmonary Hypertension, but the doctors say they think it is just transitional in his case. Apparently all babies have this necessary condition in the womb, but that immediately upon birth the transition takes place. With Eli, the transition is taking longer. If their diagnosis is correct, then we should be relieved. But, as his Mom, I just want him 100% and at home with us. My mental and emotional state right now is pretty fragile. I was on a constant roller coaster between euphoria and depression: I would see and spend some time with Eli and feel like everything was going to be alright and that I couldn't be more in love with any little living thing in the world. But then I'd find out he'd have to stay in the NICU a little longer, and depression would strike. Now, I'm feeling less of the euphoria and more of the depression. I feel so empty. Five days ago, I had a baby inside of me and now he is out, I am back home, my body is recovering and I only get to see him 2-3 times a day. The doctors only want me to nurse him 2 times a day, so he can reserve his energy and weight for getting better. He has surprised me and latched on right away and seems to like breastfeeding. Today when I saw him for the second time, he wouldn't nurse though. I started feeling pressure to bottle feed him, so that the nurses charts continue to look good. I'm pumping like crazy and trying to keep it all together, but not succeeding very well. The doctor says he thinks we're looking at Eli being in the NICU for another week and that he is doing well, although he is on a slow track. I'm afraid to get my hopes up as to when he'll come home.

Christian doesn't understand any of what's going on and I haven't even bothered to try to tell him anything. He's too young. What he does know is that Mommy is sad. He says, "Mommy- you not sad. You happy, right?" (Insert more guilt and crying here.) I'm trying so hard to give him a ton of love and have special time with him now that I'm not working. When I'm not at the hospital with Eli, I'm home trying to do something fun with Christian, but my heart is having a hard time with fun right now. The NICU is cold and depressing, pumping is a drag and some of the nurses that I have to spend time with just seem to want to be unfriendly. Well, I guess there is just one like that... Mary. I REALLY don't like Mary. Nothing takes her out of her frigid, chip-on-her-shoulder demeanor. I'm helpless to do anything for my son, so I direct my frustration at Mary. Mary: I do not like you.

I'm trying to keep it all in perspective, but I don't think the Hormones know what perspective IS. My funny and lovely friend, Carrie, had her beautiful baby boy, River, on Thursday and she texted me to say that she "Forgot how emotional the whole giving birth thing is." I'm with you, Carrie. I didn't know how my heart would grow enough for two children, but it immediately and geometrically did just that. And in it all, I have found both indescribable joy and desperate fear for these little lives I'm responsible for now.

So...it isn't pretty and it isn't perfect, but it is what I am going through right now. And, so, when I wonder how I can take any more, I think of my mantra: You can do this. You are doing this. You are already doing this.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elijah Patrick Currier

We welcomed Elijah Patrick Currier at 12:17am April 20, 2010 weighing in at 7 lbs 15 ounces and 20 and 1/2 inches long! I surprised even myself and went the distance with a complete natural birth- no drugs- and have lived to tell about it. When I'm more rested, less hormonal and remotely clear headed, I will write about it. For now, here's our 1st meeting:



And here's the first picture of Dad and baby Elijah:


Monday, April 19, 2010

Is this it???

(37 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and ready to pop?)

So, I'm having contractions...I've been having contractions since last night! I don't know how much time I have- if it is just pre-labor, false labor or true labor. I have been passing the mucus plug it seems. I won't describe it in detail for fear of entering TMI land, but it seems quite unmistakeable. Charles and I looked at each other last night when the contractions hadn't gone away in a couple of hours and were like, "Oh S**t! We are not ready- the house is a mess, we can't bring a baby back to this!" Well...actually it went more like this: I was like, "(See comment above)" and he was watching TV and not seeming to be taking anything too seriously, until I said, "This could really be it- I'm not sure, but the contractions are definitely getting stronger." Then, he sort of looked around like 'What do I do first?' ...I know what you're feeling baby!!...

Pause for contraction...

Luckily I see Dr. Kim this morning, and I know she'll be able to tell me more. So, my parents are coming in a little while to pick up Christian so Charles can take me to the doctor and see what's up. Auugh! I'm excited, but nervous, and definitely far from feeling ready...well, actually, we're only about 2 full days away from being ready, which is both good and frustrating! :) If Dr. Kim says this is it, then we'll make it work- a call out to the housecleaners and a little laundry done by Mom should mostly get us there. I'm having a little bit of 'second time Mom' guilt, though: At this time when I was pregnant with Christian, I had a pristine, decorated, well-planned and beautiful nursery. And while the boys room is coming along nicely, it's not quite there yet...Eli will never know the difference, but it was one of the things I hoped to be able to finish. That's okay- I'll take him anytime I can get him! The car seat is installed, the blackout drapes are in our bedroom and once a little cleaning and laundry gets handled we'll be good to go.

Okay- I'm off to get ready for the doctor. I hope to update later. In my perfect world, this is the beginning stages where I'm dilating and progressing but still a few days away from actual birth-giving...but, in my perfect world, the dryer doesn't break on the morning you think you might be having a baby (which mine did!) So go figure...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Maternity Leave

I am eating a bon bon. True story. ...And my feet are up. I'm also doing laundry, but I won't completely kill the moment. I am eating bon bons and my feet are up. Big sigh of relief. I managed to finish my last event before Elijah is born, and it went well and I DIDN'T drop the ball. This is a really good feeling and I am cherishing it. I'm still kind of a whirlwind of activity since this is the big get-ready-for-baby weekend, where we try to tackle our to do list. But, I feel mostly energized for it- well, as energized as a 37 and a half week pregnant woman can feel.

Maternity Leave. It has such a good ring to it. I like calling my break to have the baby "maternity leave", because it feels official and people who work regularly salaried jobs get it as a benefit. Because I am self-employed, this is not a perk I get with paid time off. But, I'm looking on the bright side because it is time off that is much needed. The word maternity relates to many feelings. As a noun, it means "the state of being a mother; motherhood. The feelings or characteristics associated with being a mother: motherliness." As an adjective, it means "relating to or effective during pregnancy, childbirth, or the first months of motherhood." All I can think of is Matenity Clothes...yuck...and I can't wait to be done with them!! Don't get me wrong, I have gotten some cute stuff passed on from friends and have collected some myself in moments of "I-cannot-stand-what-I'm-wearing-for-one-more-second.". But, I'm done. As I was folding laundry tonight, I was coming across clothes that I haven't worn (or even seen) since prior to pregnancy, and it's actually kind of fun. These clothes have a shiny, new appeal. Some I look at and think, "This will be great for the belly flab." Some are, "I wonder when I'll ever be able to wear this again?...was it always this small?.." and some are, "I should just throw this away now, because, let's face it, this is never going to look the same on me ever again." Ahhh...the joys of motherhood! I'd trade it all in again because being a Mom has been the single most rewarding thing I've ever done, but I still hope to get the bod back...eventually...

Well, I'm winding down, and Charles is a busy bee in the other room, re-painting. (Yay!!) So, even though I'm looking at a night on the pull out couch to avoid paint fumes, I am going to bed a happy girl tonight. Content. Things are not perfect, but life is good. ...And it's birthday party season!!! (Yup, when you have kids and then make friends who have kids the same age, there is a whole "season" of birthday parties.) Christian has come to expect that there will be a party of some sort, so he asks everyday, "We go to a birthday party today, Mommy?" "No, not today sweetie...but it's Tyler's birthday party on Saturday, and Sara's birthday party on Sunday, and..." :) And I love it just as much as he does!!!!

(P.S. Thanks Kelle for the song suggestion!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Name!!!!

(37 weeks pregnant today)

We FINALLY have a name! After a little doubt as to whether my husband would actually commit to a name, we have agreed. Peanut will be now known as...
Elijah Patrick Currier

I like it. I even like the shortened version of it: Eli. I hated any shortened version of Christian's name, but in this case, Peanut kinda feels like an "Eli". I guess that can be our final decision when we meet him for the first time...is he an Elijah or an Eli...

I'm getting really excited today. Butterflies in my stomach, excited. I taught my last ballet class until mid-June and work is winding to a close (Thank the Lord!) There is still a lot to do, and I know I'm being kind of anal about it all, but I just want to be able to enjoy Elijah as much as possible, without worrying that we have to clean this, move that, and set-up the other thing...We'll make it. I'm doing a huge push to finish the bulk of all of the "to do's" this weekend, then next week can be about relaxing, time with friends, and enjoying my last days as a "Mom-of-one"...oh... I just welled up at that. It's hard to imagine how your heart grows room to love two babies, when your heart feels as full as possible with just the one!

Christian seems to be settling into the idea of a baby brother coming soon. He talked about "baby brother" a lot today. He cleared a shelf in the bath for "baby brother" and said "Don't touch the Mobile (on the crib)- it's for baby brother." He also said a handful of times, how baby brother is coming soon and then he'll go with Davin (his cousin) and Aunt Tricia...and Mommy too. I explained that when his baby brother comes, I'll be at the hospital, but he'll have fun with Davin and Aunt Tricia (and Uncle Jake, and older cousins Garrett & Ciara) and then he'll come to visit us at the hospital. I am going to miss him so much during that hospital visit!!!!

My new friend, Kindred, had her baby boy!!!!! He is absolutely beautiful- extra chromosome and all! (Actually, it's pretty hard to tell physically that there is an extra chromosome!) I can't wait to meet them all in person! Unfortunately, there was a complication not related to the Ds, and he had to be transferred to a NICU unit for surgery. Kindred- if you get a chance to check in, please know that I'm praying for you and I just can't wait to meet your little Bunny! For any of you who believe in the power of prayer...and if you read my blog and have counted the number of answered prayers, how could you not?...please add Kindred, her hubby and her little guy to your list!

Well, I'm off to start packing that bag I never started yesterday, and to check a few things off my list before bed. Nighty-Night!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Stretch

"This baby is perfectly healthy. We don't need to see you back here unless you haven't had the baby by next Friday...and I think you'll have the baby by then." These are the words that struck reality into my heart today during my last visit with Dr. Ballet. Oh, God. I'm not ready. ...But, I'm also so excited...nervous...happy...terrified. I think it's only parenthood that introduces you to that range of all-at-once conflicting, yet totally harmonious set of feelings.

I've already been in a near manic state of trying to get everything done. I did succeed in having the 5 ballet parties this weekend, and they were amazing! I don't exactly know how it all got pulled off, but the end result was a fun, bonding time had by all. Christian was in heaven the whole weekend- a constant flow of doting, adoring ballet girls- who could blame him? I'm not sure I've ever seen him have so much fun, and he followed whatever they did: he played Twister, Limbo and Musical Chairs as though he'd been doing it his whole life. He sat with the girls around the fire at night and roasted marshmallows (assisted) to make s'mores (even though he only got to eat the graham cracker.) It was truly adorable and I had a little break from the need for full Mommy attention. A true highlight was mid-way through the weekend, during a party with my Ballet 3 girls (aged approximately 8-11,) a blue and white parakeet flew into our yard and came to say hi. It even landed on Christian's head!! He didn't react to the bird landing, but then the girls started screaming, "Christian!!!" and he got freaked and shook it off. Even though it's sad that someone's pet was loose, it was a very cool thing to have that little bird visit. I've really never been a fan of birds as pets (call it childhood parakeet trauma) but this little bird actually seemed so smart and sweet.





Monday brought me back to reality. I went into final event crunch, and got a surprising amount done. I also had to handle one really unhappy task on Monday. I had to pick up Buddy's ashes. They presented "him" to me in a little cedar box, locked, with "Buddy" engraved on a gold plaque on the top. It was a little bit of a relief because I really wasn't sure what to expect. Half of me thought they were just going to hand him to me in a ziplock bag. I cried carrying him out to the car and for a long time afterward. We are trying to figure out what feels right to honor the place he had in our life- a backyard burial? Some words said? We'll figure it out in time, when it feels right.

So, I'm in the home stretch of pregnancy and it's really sinking in. My new friend, Kindred, who is also due with a baby boy who has an extra chromosome, and was due just 5 days before me, may have even had her baby boy by now. I haven't heard a follow up yet, but she was having contractions and was considering a visit to the hospital if they kept getting closer together. She's been on my mind a lot and I'm praying that her birth experience was (or is, if it hasn't happened yet) smooth. And I'm praying for myself to stay strong against all of the hospital nonsense that seems to come along with having a baby these days. My own OB even brought up the word "induce". Uh...no...certainly not something I'm willing to even consider before my due date arrives. Especially, if I'm gonna do this drug free. I'll be cramming as if for a final exam to learn any breathing and position tools that can to help me with this. In the end, I know it's going to suck and it will be really, really painful. But, I won't die and it is just pain...which always has an end.

Now, I'm off to pack a bag for the hospital and to get some sleep- much more to do tomorrow! :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Party Crunch

I've planned FIVE parties in ONE weekend, at MY house. Seriously. This is not a joke. It started with an incentive program with my ballet students...they could earn "points" through hard work, listening, being a good example and overall improvement. If they achieved a certain number of points then they would qualify for a party. It seemed simple enough in the beginning. Then, the girls (whom Christian calls "The Baa-yay Girls") started getting excited: "Can we have the party at your house?" (Twist arm) "Can each class have their own class party, instead of one big party?" (Apply pressure to twisting arm.) When I think about what they talked me into, I become very glad that I am not raising girls! :) So, this weekend is THE weekend. The weekend of Baa-yay parties. Christian has been SO excited! He loves the ballet girls...big surprise here, they adore him and run around and play with him every time he sees them. The last time we were at the dance studio, we were leaving and he said, "There are a lot of friends at baa-yay, right Mama?" Yes, sweetie. There are a lot of friends at Ballet. Sooooo cute! I could eat him!

I'm packing a lot into each day these days and really hoping that a) I can get it all done, and 2) that Peanut stays put for a couple to (ideally) 3 or 4 more weeks. Just this week, I've ordered the curtains and blackout curtains for our bedroom (where Peanut will sleep for the first 3 to 4 months.) Thanks to the HGTV backyard make-over show we did, we have french doors in the bedroom and have been enjoying a beautiful view onto the garden. However, a newborn is going to need a dark room in the beginning, so this became a priority. I'm also trying to create some organization for the room my boys will share. The closets are nicely sized, but are just big, open spaces, so closet organization stuff became necessary. It was harder than I anticipated to choose what we need, but I've finally decided and now just need to put in my order. Last on my to-do list for this week, was catching up on laundry. I had gotten so behind that I was staring down about 8 large loads of laundry that seemed insurmountable with my one washing machine and dryer. So, I packed up the laundry, my best friend, and some junk food and headed over to a near-by laundromat. Eight loads, 3 hours, and about 5000 calories later, we had clean clothes! Brilliant!
P.S. When you're pregnant, perfect strangers feel free to converse, discuss the size of your belly and sometimes even touch you. I got the gamut of these that night. It's just such an interesting dynamic.

On my short list of grievances, I am still desperately missing my dog Buddy. I think of him all of the time. I had nightmares about him all night last night, but had one good dream early this morning. It was simple: I dreamt that I came home, walked in the front door and he was standing there with one of his doggy friends, Lucy, and they both had perky ears and big grins for me. I cried, "Buddy!!!!", then woke up. I decided it was a good note to wake up on and quickly got out of bed. The vet called today, and didn't say why...but, I know why...they have his ashes ready for me. I didn't call back. Baa-yay parties first, dealing with grief and ashes next. I'm also dealing with horrible allergies, which I can only assume are worsened by my pregnant state. I deal with minimal to no allergies normally, so this is really throwing my for a loop. I've been doing saline rinses for the congestion (works amazingly) and eye drops for my red, itchy eyes. I still kinda want to scratch my eyes out, but I think I'm starting to get used to it a little. I read that acupuncture can really help allergy symptoms and that it is very good for pregnant women. So, I got a referral from a friend and am doing my first-ever acupuncture appointment on Monday. I hope it works! I'll let you know...

Well, I've got 2 parties of my own tomorrow, plus a birthday party I'm taking Christian to in the morning, so I better wind down asap. And thanks....to whoever is reading. I always feel like I'm getting just a little bit of therapy by writing all of this down. And to think that some people are actually reading it is so cool. I feel supported. And I appreciate it. Truly.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Everything's gonna be alright


(36 weeks pregnant!)

Despite feeling like a bad country song lately, I've had some moments of optimistic clarity today. I have one event left to wrap up with my design and coordination company before I get an official break before Peanut arrives, and as it draws nearer, I think that I might just pull it off. I have SO much to do to finish work and prepare for the baby, but I am actually ticking through my list, and if Peanut can hang in there for a few more weeks (three would be ideal!!)then maybe I will have a chance to feel like I can breathe for a second. And minus the horrible heartbreak of losing my furry companion, things have been going alright...work is wrapping up somewhat smoothly (Please God, do not let me jinx myself here), thanks to the generosity of our friends and family we have most everything we need to bring a baby home with us in a few weeks, and Peanut is doing GREAT! Peanut is a big boy. (Insert joy and simultaneous fear here.) Dr. Ballet wanted me to take another gestational diabetes test because he just wants to make absolutely sure that the size of the baby isn't due to a high glucose level in the womb (even though I had a normal result a few weeks ago AND got a normal result on a finger prick test.) So, I went in on Monday and drank the awful orange sugar drink and sat for an hour at the lab before having them take my blood. I got my results today- NORMAL!! So, after all of the precautionary measures, Dr. Ballet did admit that having a large baby (between the 75th and 95th percentile) is actually a good thing, and that generally they have less complications in their first year of life (fingers crossed, breath held and prayers said.) So, things are okay. Things are really okay. And I'm truly starting to believe that everything really is going to be alright.

Where my little man, Christian, in involved, I think we've turned a corner...even if only temporarily. He still throws tantrums, as most almost-3-year-olds do, but we're not seeing anymore cursing and his behavior has been pretty amenable lately. We've had some really fun times together in the last couple of weeks. I also think he may be starting to somewhat grasp the idea of a baby brother coming. Today he pointed to the infant car seat (still in the box, but in the car at least) and asked, "That my baby brother's seat?" I love that. He's also been a fiend for coloring lately, and we go through pages after pages of art paper. He even drew an airplane. It actually looks like an airplane. He said, "Mommy, I draw an airplane." I looked over and nearly fell off my seat, because it really IS an airplane. Wow. It's amazing how much they learn and grow, and you go along for awhile thinking they don't know their colors or they can't draw a true resemblance of an object, and then one day, there it is...all colors identified and real objects being drawn. It's amazing to get to be a part of that learning journey.

My other "Boy", not so much a boy, is my sweetie Charles. I'll admit that he gets the brunt of annoyed looks and irritated responses from me because sometimes him just being him pushes my buttons. But, I have been feeling a lot of love for him. I feel like he's really coming into his own as a Dad. He doesn't do everything like I do, but he's got his own rhythm now, and he's learning to use play and humor to get Christian to do things. It warms my heart to see Charles just take over without me having to ask. Often, first thing in the morning, I hear the two of them chatting away. It's nice because Charles is naturally a morning person, where I am not, so it's nice to get an extra 15-20 minutes in bed and know that they are just fine without me. They have fun together and they do special Dad and Son things together, like go and look at trains or go to see the old bomber planes at the local airport. And, Christian and I have our Mom and Son things- dancing is a big one for us (no surprise there). It's adorable to see him want to dance, whether it is to the Mexican folk music blaring from our neighbor's yard or rockin out to Lady Gaga, as I caught him doing in the car this morning. (Yep, no toddler music happening in my car...yet...because I know one day I'll have no choice. So, for now we listen to "my" music. ...Not that I'm actually claiming Lady Gaga as my music. It just happened to be on...Really!)

I'm in relatively good spirits even though I am fighting awful allergies (which make the day to day a little tougher) and Buddy is still weighing heavily on my heart, but at the end of the day, I feel blessed and that I have SO much to be grateful for!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

An Empty House

My house feels so empty. Buddy, my loyal, faithful, loving dog died on Saturday and I can't relive the details right now to even begin to share. My eyes literally hurt from crying so long. I look like I've been punched in the face a few times. It's not a good look for me. I think I may have relapsed with Pink Eye again, my throat is sore and I'm not sure if it is from all the crying, allergies or an actual infection. One of the hardest parts, is that when you're a Mom you can't just break down and lose it. I have to try not to cry ALL of the time, because it would totally freak Christian out. He's young enough that he doesn't really understand. He asks "Where's Buddy?" and I just say, "Well, we're very sad because we miss him, but he won't be coming home. He went to Heaven with God." Then we had to reassure his further questions: "Is Mommy coming home?" "Is Daddy coming home?" "Is Christian coming home?" Poor little guy has been watching us cry all weekend, and we just explain when he sees it that "We're sad." I just feel so, so tired now.

I'm trying to focus on all of the good things. Buddy was a true blessing to me and despite all of the grief, the overwhelming feeling I have is one of gratitude. I am so grateful that he was put into my life. Even to his dying moment, he was making sure I was okay. He literally died with one eye focused on me. Not everyone gets to have a companion experience like I did...But, there are those who have, and their words bring me a little comfort. I am going to go to sleep now, and the only thing I dread is the waking up in the morning and remembering that my house is a little emptier than it was 2 days ago.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

(35 weeks pregnant)

I'm starting to get REALLY nervous. Because he's coming. Peanut, who doesn't even have a name yet, is coming! I saw Dr. Kim on Tuesday, and she "checked me"- I'm a "fingertip dialated". I don't know exactly what that means, but it means he's really coming. And I desperately want to be done working. I joke about having "pregnancy brain" because I feel so forgetful, but I think it's less about some concrete hormonal change and more about the fact that I have way too much to do and only a human brain to contain the details within. Two more weeks. Two more weeks of making sure I don't drop the ball. Then, I can focus on me and my expanding family. Please God, let me have a little time to focus on that before Peanut arrives! So, until then I am buckling down. I just have to get through a small event this weekend, 5 ballet parties at my house next weekend, then a giant bar mitzvah event the following weekend, plus responsibly turn over all of my ballet classes with appropriate notes and CDs in check. Oh yeah, and find a sub for my Stroller Strides classes, continue to be Mom to Christian, keep up with my house, stay in tune with my dying dog to know whether or not we should put him to sleep, and prepare for a new baby living in our home in a few weeks time. That's all. Do you have a headache yet? ...Cuz I think I just got one writing all of that.

Christian was born two weeks early. Charles and I had been working on the house and he, in particular, had been pulling crazy hours trying to get it all done when we threw our last party, called "Cinco de Mayo/ Last bash Before Baby!" All Charles kept saying was, "I can catch up on a little sleep after the party and then we'll take a week to finish things up and then be ready for the baby a week early!" I have never seen a person turn so green when, upon saying goodbye to our final guests, my water broke. We headed to the hospital from there and I'm not quite sure if Charles has caught up on his sleep since! :) The story of Charles' exhaustion kind of haunts me, because I keep hearing myself say, "Just get through the next two weeks and THEN..."

I got a card today from someone I really needed to hear from. It was someone who I haven't really heard from since we broke the news about Peanut's diagnosis. It was just a simple card to say that everything is going to be alright and to try to enjoy the last few weeks of being a Mother of one. Wise words from a wise Mother-of-two. I cried to hear from her...somehow I just needed that. Despite the fact that I am a huge fan of modern technology: internet, cell phones, email, Googling, and now blogs, there is something so powerful about a handwritten card. Nothing quite beats it.

Well, I'm off to snuggle some more with my pup while I still can, get some rest, and then focus, focus, focus...(And, please, no one call me "SuperMom". I am truly beginning to hate that expression. I am not SuperMom. I do not want to be SuperMom. That title is up for grabs!!)
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