Thursday, August 29, 2013

Update: Preschool

Zach started preschool today. He's amazing and funny and smart. He has an expressive language delay that qualified him for public preschool. Just when I start to worry about it, he does things on his own. He learns new words or a word he once pronounced funky becomes clear. For example, Lightening McQueen used to be "AhBaba", which we figured out were place markers for the syllables of "Lightening". "Yaya" was Evan. Now both of these are crystal-clear. I remind myself daily that the fact that he is here, that he is healthy and thriving is a miracle. We'll get the language part down in due time. His old speech therapist from early intervention went out on a limb to guess that this issue he has will be resolved by the time he starts kindergarten. Other than this, he is very bright.

Growth-wise, he is in the 98th percentile for height and the 96th for weight. This is no longer adjusted for prematurity,as he is beyond his third birthday. He's a big boy, but proportionate. Of course when a 33-weeker comes out at over 7 lbs, we knew this would be the case.

I love him so much. I have gotten to a point where I am at peace with the whole pregnancy, where it no longer matters how he came into the world, only that he did. That he is here and well. It has taken years.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Onward


Zach now.

He'll be three in 4 months. He receives speech once a week for an expressive language delay. Not bad. He outgrows it a little more each day. But his speech therapist was talking about him starting preschool in the fall.

I swear, my heart caught in my throat. He's my baby. How can that be? And then I thought of this little blog. Remember my intention to have it turned into a book? I never did that. Maybe this will be the year I finally do it.

I don't know what else to say here. I could try to sum up how it feels to be Zachy's mom. How much he means to me. There are no words. He and his brother are everything. Still. Long after the dream of medical school was surrendered, long after I decided to move up and get a business degree. And then when I said that wasn't enough and I wanted an MBA, and now here I am about 11 months from finishing that. And if I were in the same position again, I would do it all again. Every contraction. Every needle. Every tear. Because  he is here. You would have to hear his laugh, see his smile in person to understand.

I love that I kept this blog. I love that I can rewind and see this. I thought, at first, that it would be more primal, more raw. That seeing the blog, reading it, would bring pain. Instead, somewhere along the road, has morphed into something we survived. This is the story of Zach and I. Just like there is a story of Evan and I. This is just as much his story as it is mine.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Zachary Today

Zachary, 16 months.
A picture of health, he has only had one ear infection at 14 months. That's it. No colds, no stomach bugs.
He is so, so beautiful. So, so worth every single bit of this journey I took.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Update, a Correction, and the Aftermath


I lied. Zach's birth story was not my last post.

First, the correction:
I later discovered that my due date was off by several days. Zach was not born at 36 wks, 3 days like we thought. Instead, he was born at 33 wks, 5 days. Which means everything I blogged was off, too. Sorry. I have since gone back and tried to adjust the dates, but some of it will still be off. We didn't know this until I went for my postpartum check-up.

The Update:
Zach is now 3 months old--13 weeks chronologically, 8 weeks old with the adjustment for his prematurity. And he is absolutely perfect. Our angel. The easiest baby ever! He ended up having a few issues from his prematurity, such as an abnormal newborn thyroid screen. He also had a few feeding issues where he would mix up the suck-swallow-breathe routine and sputter and choke while eating. And difficulties latching on. We are continuing to work through all of it. Developmentally speaking, he is just a couple of weeks behind on his milestones, but that is to be expected.

He lights up our world with his beautiful smiles, loves to be "worn", and is the apple of his big brother's eye. We cannot even remember what life was like before he came into our lives.

The Aftermath:
It turns out that my relief I felt at the end of the pregnancy would be false. Instead, I find myself having difficulties with coping with the pregnancy. I feel like I am a failure as a woman as a result of the whole experience and have a bitterness I did not expect to feel once I held my baby in my arms. This is not something that has interfered with my ability to mother my children or carry on with my life, but rather serves as a sort of hang-up. Not really postpartum depression and not a simple case of the baby blues, it has no label. About the closest thing I can find is "Traumatic Birth Experience", in that the pregnancy and birth served as a sort of emotional trauma. I find myself resentful toward other pregnant women who get to have a positive experience, which in turn makes me feel guilty for feeling the way I do. And I simply have not been able to let it go. And despite all of the pain I felt in the last months leading to Zach's birth, I wish I could go back and do it all over again. Only this second time, things would go as they are supposed to. I would get to leisurely shop for the baby, not be in the hospital over and over. Maybe even have a baby shower. I would be able to spend more quality time with E before Zach's arrival instead of having such physical limitations or being submerged in the fuzziness of painkillers to get me through. I would be able to bond with my baby through a more natural childbirth instead of the cold and calculated world that is a scheduled c-section. And it would all be perfect.
As for the mathematical aftermath: My pregnancy cost my insurance company over $484,000. Thank God for Humana. My family's share? $15,000. By the time I delivered, I had exhausted every resource I had to compensate me for maternity leave. My FMLA job protection had long-since run out, and the only reason I had a job to which to return was because my supervisor likes me. I ended up returning to work at 5 weeks postpartum, just 3 days after my due date, simply because I was worried for my job and also because I needed the financial compensation of my full salary. We were scraping the bottom of the barrel. That in itself was a source of emotional difficulty: I simply was not ready to leave my baby yet. We still needed each other.

I have been back to work about 2 months now. I still run into people in the halls of the hospital who ask me where I have been. I was off of work for 21 weeks, from start to finish, and when I tell people this, they always reply the same way: "That must've been nice!" And then I want to scream. No. There was nothing nice about it. Not the needles, the pain, the hospitalizations, the tests, the bills, the fear, the tears. I honestly cannot think of one positive thing other than the gift I was given when Zach was finally born on May 13th. Not one thing. I don't tell these people the details. They don't want to know. The details are my burden to carry. Instead, I just smile the fakest smile in the world, and hope that they never have to endure what I did.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Battle Won, Fight Over

You know, today I would have been 34 weeks, 3 days pregnant. Instead, I am awaiting FedEx to come and pick up the large box of medical equipment used to sustain my pregnancy for months while my newborn son snoozes quietly beside me. I've been wanting to write this for days and have been procrastinating because I know some tears will be involved.

There was nothing spectacular about the way May 13th started out. A normal, run-of-the-mill Thursday morning. My phone rang and it was my OB's nurse, calling to tell me that the earlier I could get to the hospital, the earlier they could start, and that my pre-op appointment was really more of a suggestion. With that in mind, J packed my bags in the car and we left. We waved goodbye to our neighbors as they headed to work. J stopped to get a drink at a gas station. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I walked to the Women's Outpatient Center at the hospital to check in, and was told to wait in the waiting room until they were ready for me. It was so bizarre. Having a baby by schedule. Bringing a life into the world in nice little schedule blocks.

Of course J's mom arrived sometime after anesthesia came to see me, my belly was shaved, and my IV was placed. She knew of the trouble we were having, but hasn't seen me since Christmas. I wondered if she could see on my face the months of struggle and hardship, etched into me like the tiny crinkle of crows' feet that are beginning to emerge. I think she could. She and J, along with E, were buzzing with excitement awaiting Zachary's arrival. But me? I was terrified. I was waiting there, staring at a clock, knowing that they were just waiting for the surgery case in one OR to be completed, and that was all. All of this time, all of the pain, the suffering, the tears...It all boiled down to that. What if he wasn't ready? What if the tests were wrong? What if something went wrong and I did not emerge on the other side to watch my boys grow? I could hold on. I could do it just a little longer. Maybe we should wait. We could wind backward the hands of the clock and I could survive one more day, one more week of monitoring and brethine boluses and contractions. Stop! Just. Wait.

But we weren't waiting. Before I knew it, I was watching J's and E's smiling faces disappear behind double doors that separate the cold sterile world of the OR. And I was sitting hunched over, leaning on a nurse I did not know as the anesthesiologist did my spinal. And I felt the tingle of numbness spreading up from my toes as a team of hands lay me down on the table. This was it. We joked as we waited for the doctors to come in. I remarked that the entire OB practice was going to have a party now that I would no longer be pregnant. And I felt the anesthetic working. How strange to be able to breathe, yet feel as if you are suffocating because you cannot feel your muscles in action. To need to cough and not be able to generate enough force. To only want J, and count down the seconds until they would let him back to the OR, to perch on a stool by my head. They asked if he would pass out, and I told them he would not, that we had done this before, to just keep him from taking pictures of my guts.

And then J was there. And I felt the tugging and pulling. I smelled the burn of my own flesh as they cauterized the bleeding parts of me. With E, I didn't recognize that smell. This time, my experience in medicine told me what it was. And the doctor was commenting on how big the uterus was. And J was saying "there he is". And the doctor said "Hello, Little Guy!".

And I heard it.

The cry that was more like a whimper than the rage that was E's first cry. Already so different from his brother. And my attention was directed to the place over the curtain where his little face appeared. Masses of black brown hair, wet and clumped. Face scrunched up. Mouth agape in a perfect O-shape, showing toothless gums and a quivering tongue as he tried to cry out the fluid that had sustained him all of this time. Zachary. 7 pounds, 4 ounces. 19.5 inches long.

J left my side to go and take pictures. I kept hearing the word "NICU" and "breathe". J was with him. This I knew. But I am the respiratory therapist. What was going on? The doctors were still working on me. So I asked the anesthesiologist to tell me what was going on with the baby. He just kept assuring me it would all be okay. Then Zachary's nurse came to me. She knows I am an RT there. And she tells me that he is acting like a 34-weeker. Nothing more than that. She knows that I know exactly what that means. It means he is sluggish. That, although his lungs are mature, his body isn't telling him to breathe often enough. He isn't maintaining his oxygen satuaration like we want. And I say the words that I never wanted to have to say.

"Don't wait for him to completely wear out on us. Send him before he needs to be intubated." And that was it. They finished me up. They took me to recovery. J kept showing up to show me pictures of my baby and give me updates. "Go!", I would tell him. "Be with Zachary. I'm fine."

Those pictures and the tiny glimpse of him in the OR were the only images I got of him for 5 hours. I went to recovery with empty arms. I was taken to my hospital room without him. The bassinet in the room remained empty. And my arms ached for him. The entire time, I thought to myself that it was my fault. If I would've held on...
But just like that, he was returned to me, free of the goo and mess of childbirth. Emerging from the burrito-like bundle of flannel blanket, the most beautiful sight I have seen since September 1, 2001. Shocks of chocolate-brown hair covering his tiny head that can fit in the palm of my hand. Tiny rosebud mouth. Smooth, flawless skin like velvet. He weighed more than E, but must be solid, because he is tiny in stature. He has the smallest hands and feet, the shortest legs, the most petite features. And he is perfect. Absoutely perfect.
Since then, I cannot put him down. The nurses in the hospital teased me the entire time, because each time one would come in my room, Zach would be in my arms. He stays there. How ironic that my body spent months trying to get rid of him, and now that I am free, I will not let him go. I spend every waking minute wanting to take care of his every need.

So it's over. The long, hard fight was won. This is the blog's 100th post, and it is the last. My Zachary is here. My family is complete. We are whole. I will re-emerge in the Blog World here, if you are interested.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

35 Wks, 3 Days: Zachary's Birthday

How ironic that last night, the night I thought I would not be able to sleep,. I was actually sleeping like a baby. That was until my pump started beeping and vibrating to let me know it was out of brethine. They don't want me to stop it until I get to the hospital this morning.

Of course this is also the day my stomach is turning inside out. I never want breakfast! But this morning, I woke up so hungry that I am nauseous and cannot eat. Not even sips of water. So I keep dry-heaving, which has to be the worst feeling ever. (Aside from these contractions, of course.) I can endure it, no doubt, but my mind keeps telling me that they will not allow me to eat later today, either. Oh well. I don't care. Because today I AM HAVING MY BABY! I have to report to the hospital in 4 hours, to be exact.

Of course Baby Zachary must be asleep in there--he is being very still, and I cannot wake him up with sugary snacks and drinks right now like I usually would do. I know from yesterday that he is head down, in the business position, and the little appendages I have been feeling in my ribs, on the side of my body, are indeed tiny feet. I want to feel him kick. This is my last chance to feel that, the true confirmation that there is a little person in there.

With them changing the plan on me, it was a toss-up as to which doctor from the practice will get to do the honors. Ironically, it is Dr. Nice, whom I have spoken to many times, but never met in person. Usually they get a resident to assist them, but for some unknown reason, 2 of the docs from the practice are coming to deliver me. I have speculated on this all night. Do they expect complications? Is it a bragging thing? That they get to say they were there when the pregnancy from Hell, of the woman with the uterus that is stuff medical mysteries are made of, was finally brought to a close? I know this hasn't been a cake-walk for them, either. They were at the receiving end of all of those phone calls about my dysfunctional uterus. Whatever the reason, I feel blessed to be getting the A-Team of the obstetrical world to deliver my baby. 2 high-risk OB's for the price of one.

With that, I am going to try to go back to sleep. I feel like I should get all that I can right now. Of course later, I will be on some heavy painkillers and will be sleeping like a rock in between nursing Zachary.

I'll catch you on the flip-side.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Amnio And the End

I went for my amnio, and which perinatologist should walk in the room but Dr. Big Shot. Dr. Big Shot is the head of obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine at OB Mecca. He is also the doctor who took care of me when I was pregnant with E. Talk about a blast from the past. They did the amnio, and I didn't look. I had my requisite monitoring afterwards and waited the 2 hours for the result. Hospital employees can take their badge and get the results. So I tried to, but they wouldn't let me. They said we could only do that after 48 hours. But the ultrasound tech had told me that they would do the entire test in-house unless the lungs were immature, and then they would send those to OB Mecca for further analysis and testing to determine how immature. So I didn't have my results, but I did know that the test was completed, which meant lungs were mature.

I called my doctor when I got home to make sure, just in case, so I could give J's mom the go-ahead to start her trip here tomorrow. The high risk nurse told me what I wanted to hear, and when I asked for a ballpark time for Friday, she couldn't tell me. As it turns out, they never put me on the schedule officially for Friday, and have since booked up. She told me to be ready and just not eat anything after midnight tonight, but she would try to get me an answer tonight. About 30 minutes later, she called to tell me to be at the hospital at 10:30 tomorrow morning for delivery.

I cannot quit crying for some reason. It is all over: the pain, the misery, the anticipation, the worry, the paralyzing fear. I cannot believe I have survived this. I cannot believe it has gone on this long, that I have carried him to almost full-term. That this is my last night of pregnancy...ever.

I will hold my baby boy tomorrow and it will all be okay. I will never forget this. The time in my life where the bottom almost dropped out. The time in my life where career, education, and everything else I held dear was put on hold while I prayed and suffered and worried for someone I have yet to meet. One day Zachary may read what I have written about this pregnancy, and I hope that instead of seeing the negative this has brought to my life, he will see just how much I love him. I did it all for him. My precious gift of a child I never even knew I wanted or needed until he was here. A child I have given my life over to, even though I may have griped and complained through it.

I may post something in the wee hours of the morning like usual. I doubt I will sleep much tonight. But regardless, I will be absent for a few days. I will return with the story of his birth and, I am sure, some pictures. With that, this journey will end and a new one will begin as I go on with my life with my beautiful and amazing miracles.