Here’s the gratuitous picture post that I promised…Here’s how AJ looks now and how he’s changed since birth (at the bottom). Already so much growing has taken place! There’s one in here of us on our first night out without him too. I know, no one wants to see us…just keep scrolling 😉
I never thought it would take me almost 2 months to get some time to blog again. It’s 4am and I’m up nursing but finally have a moment so please excuse me if my train of thought is not smooth but here’s the updates. Unfortunately, we’ve had somewhat of a rough start with our little guy but it looks like things are starting to iron themselves out. AJ is 2 months old today…and will go for his 2 month checkup and some shots later today (yikes!).
We’ve been to the doctor a lot. Sorting out AJ’s eating situation over the past 2 months has been very stressful for us as new Mamas. First we realized that he had some rash on his bottom and THOUGHT is was his diapers…only to find out it was a food allergy presenting itself. After some trial and error, we zeroed in on dairy and gluten. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as our donor has food sensitivities to both but I honestly never really thought we’d be dealing with it so early. I eliminated both allergens from my diet when he was about 3 weeks old, but unfortunately it takes 2-4 weeks for them to really get out of your system (and your breastmilk). The first time we went to the doctor, I was actually mortified at how fast they suggested I throw in the towel on breastfeeding and just switch him to formula. So sad. There needs to be so much better support for breastfeeding Mamas, especially in the medical environment…but I digress.
So while we waited for those allergens to clear, we had a VERY colicky baby for several weeks It was very hard. Sometimes he would just cry all day and for hours on end. Nothing could soothe him. He would eat and begin to thrash, then scream and we’d burp and burp and burp and try to get the gas out and he would just continue screaming until he got exhausted and passed out. We spent about 2 weeks that way. He’d only sleep in our arms and in a baby carrier or with one of us wearing him in a sling. Some people said we spoiled him, but our baby was hurting and we spent every waking hour trying to comfort him so that he didn’t have to be. We tried every gripe water, gas drop and homeopathic colic remedy that we could find…and we just waited for it to pass and eventually it did.
At about 5 weeks old, we all got a little relief and started resting a bit easier because of it. It was soon apparent that something was still very wrong though and we hadn’t completely cracked the code. Breastfeeding was going okay, but I suspected that we had something going on that was making it painful for me and difficult for him to get enough to eat. He had always had a very shallow latch since he was born, which I corrected constantly, but it wasn’t unmanageable. But then after the allergies corrected himself, AJ started trying to get more milk because it wasn’t bothering his stomach so much. I was parked on the couch nursing constantly. He couldn’t get enough and we were both sore and tired. It just wasn’t making sense that he couldn’t seem to be satisfied unless I pumped my milk and fed it to him in a bottle. When he could drink it that way (much faster and easier) from a bottle, he was happy, would get full and would sleep for a few hours. Again, I was told to just give up breastfeeding. I saw three lactation consultants and they all told me that something different was going on. We tried lots of things, but ultimately the last one said he had a tongue AND lip tie and it was clearly affecting his latch and both of our comfort. A tie just means that the small piece of flesh connecting your front lip and gums and under your tongue are connected further than they should be. They affect how the lip flips upward and how far the tongue can be stuck out. It seems insignificant but it’s huge for nursing. Also, we found out that his lip tie would likely have affected how his front teeth came in too. We had them both cut a week ago now and so nursing has started to get better too.
Everyone always asks how you are sleeping when you have a baby. Well, our answer has always been “not much”. After the first 2 weeks, AJ hasn’t slept for much more than 3 or 4 hours at a shot, and much of that was when we were holding him so it hasn’t always been very restful sleep for us. Now that the eating seems to have fallen into place, we are working on the sleeping and trying to get him to be able to sleep in his own bassinet and crib instead of just with us.
Having a new baby has definitely been the biggest adjustment of our lives and despite all the issues, we are so in love with him and thank our lucky stars everyday for bringing him to us. We just enjoy being a little family together so much! Developmentally, he’s doing great. He loves to look at lights and ceiling fans, and stare at high contrast items. He’s started to smile and laugh and reach for people and a few toys. He changes so frequently and so fast that every day we notice little changes. I have 3 more weeks of maternity leave left with him and then I start transitioning back to work part time. I can’t wait to see what he’s doing by the time we get to that point. I know I’m going to miss him like crazy and I don’t look forward to it AT ALL!
The home visit for our adoption is also taking place tonight. I’m a little nervous about how that will go. Letting a social worker into your home and life to ask questions and evaluate if you are fit to be legal parents to a baby that is already here feels quite intimidating, albeit necessary in our state. It sucks that we have to go through it but I’m glad it’s a fairly painless (although still expensive) process and hope we can put it all behind us soon. If all goes well, we should have a court date next month and the adoption will be final then soon after that. We’ll get a new birth certificate for AJ that will list us both as his Mother. Hooray!
My wife is just the sweetest thing with AJ. Seeing them together melts me. After many a trying day she comes home and takes him out of my arms and they are just so happy to see each other. He makes us feel so fulfilled and complete. Even on those days when I haven’t had time to wash my hair or finish shaving my legs, I look into those little eyes and tell him how very much his Mamas wanted him in our lives, how grateful we are and how much we love him.
The past weeks have been filled with so much love and it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. A constant stream of family and friends have and continue to come see him and fall in love with him. The months are already flying! I have so many pictures that I want to share too, but my iPad is being dumb about letting me do so at the moment and I want to go get some more shut eye. I’ll try to make a post in the next day or so that is nothing but a gratuitous baby show to make up for it and information about how the home visit went. I know a lot of others thinking about adopting are as curious about it as I currently am.
As always, thanks for keeping us with us and for the support.
Our son is finally here. The moment we lived for for so long has finally come and we have met this precious little being that we will love until the end of time…He’s actually one week old already. How time flies! We’ve been working on getting the hang of new mommyhood and I’ve been trying to write here and there when I’ve had any time.
First a little follow up from the last post about my wife and her health conditions. A sigh of relief came over us (finally) when her oncology results came back and the doctor confirmed that they were able to clear all margins of her tumors. They got it all with the surgery and we don’t have to worry about chemo. She will continue to get checked for the next few years on a very regular basis but overall we have have come into calm waters and things appear to be smooth sailing.
We got to spend a few weeks after that news focusing on the impending arrival of our son. We worked on his room, we made a belly cast of my tummy, we got some maternity photos taken, all very good things for us. We reconnected with each other and tried to focus on the positive and how our lives were going to change…and then they did.
At 2am on March 6th, I woke up and realized I was having contractions that were “different” than the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling. I was only 38 weeks and a few days pregnant so I decided to try to go back to sleep and see if they passed. It wasn’t uncommon to have some sessions of contractions that would stop leading toward my due date. I noticed that they were timeable. Only about every 10-12 minutes apart, but they did keep coming. I woke my wife up just to let her know that I may be in labor but that I was going to go back to sleep. We were expecting a big snow storm in the morning so I also texted my doula and our midwife just to give them a heads up that I could need them to be able to get to our house later. For those of you just tuning in, we have been planning a home birth.
I did fall back asleep but woke more frequently and by about 9am things had really picked up and my contractions were about every 3 minutes apart. I was using meditation techniques, a warm shower and lots of breathing to manage them myself as best I could. My wife was busy around the house preparing for the birth and making sure that I had what I needed to stay comfortable. Our midwife arrived and checked on me to find that I was already about 7cm dialated. She started inflating her birth tub immediately and said she didn’t think it would be very long until this little man joined the world. I was so happy with our progress! Our doula took lots of beautiful photos that I will treasure forever and I’ll share some so you can see what it was like along the way. I can’t say I look good in them at all, but I’m going to hope I get brave points for doing it because they are so intimate and honest.
I got in the birth tub when it was ready and it felt SOOOOO good. I knew I would be soothed by the warm water but didn’t realize just how amazingly calming it would be. I spent a lot of time with my eyes closed, focused on progressing through labor and working hard. Even though I felt so much weightlessness, I felt that I wanted more support, so my wife got in the birth tub with me and was able to help me move and hold me up at times when I could not do it for myself. Our doula and our midwife’s intern had arrived and we found our groove in our “sacred space” around the tub. We had candles burning, music playing, I was being massaged and nurtured and it was all the peaceful things that I wanted. Our birth team was an amazing support to me and I truly felt safe in that space even in the face of so much discomfort.
Somewhere in the afternoon hours, my midwife checked me and realized that there was a roadblock. I had a polyp on my cervix, possibly resulting from scar tissue caused by my endometriosis. It was causing me to dilate asymmetrically and we were hoping that it would just resolve itself as I continued. While in the tub,I started to feel the urge to push and they directed me to go with my instinct, so I did however I did so mildly and cautiously so we could keep an eye on the polyp. Well, once I started pushing it was hard to stop. The urge to push at the end of labor is like no other urge I’ve ever experienced. Once you feel it it’s nearly impossible not to bear down. There was a problem though…the pushing had started to cause swelling and instead of continuing to dilate, I actually began to swell more closed. We also realized around this point that the baby’s head was acynclitic, meaning that he had his head tilted to the side, making it a little more difficult to make the descent through the birth canal.
As evening hours approached I got out of the tub and tried to labor in our bedroom on a birth stool so my midwife could monitor the polyp more closely. It wasn’t good. I tried not to push but the swelling continued. We also realized that I was not able to urinate anymore, which is a big deal in labor. On top of the swelling, I had a full bladder adding more pressure and pain to the mix of my contractions. I wasn’t getting many breaks in between at this point and I feel like there were a few hours of contractions every minute or so apart. I really wasn’t getting much rest at all. We tried different techniques, inversions, things to move the baby (rebozo), I laid in bed laboring on my side for a few hours with just my doula while she massaged me and tried to get me to “blow through” the contractions instead of pushing when I felt the urge. That may have been the single hardest 2 hours of my entire life. Little did I know that my wife, midwife and the intern were downstairs starting to discuss a transfer to the hospital. The polyp had gotten bigger and more swollen and she was very concerned that now with my bladder complication, if I pushed the baby past it that it could rupture and result in a hemorrage We didn’t want to have an emergency on our hands so they came upstairs and started presenting me with their plan.
I was not happy in the least, but I was also very tired. It was about 11pm and I had been laboring at home for nearly 20 hours, over half of which was near transition and trying to get past issues. Otherwise, my birth had been great. I hadn’t had anything unnatural to help me through. At one point, they called my cousin and asked her to run to the natural foods store and pick up some Arnica for me (an herb used for pain relief) and I was getting massaged with lots of essential oils but as far as aids went, that’s all we used and I was very happy about it. But I knew that was all about to change. They started cleaning up the house to get ready to transfer to the hospital and I labored in the bathroom with one person always attending me until we were ready to go. That’s the point when I started to get very aggravated. I knew there would be a resolution when we got to the hospital and I was just ready to go and get it started. Somehow, I got dressed, walked down the stairs and got in our doula’s van with my wife while she drove us to the hospital. That car ride was the hardest of my life. I was 8cm dilated, barely conscious feeling so sick, exhausted and beside myself that our plan hadn’t panned out. I’m not sure how I didn’t cry the entire way there. My midwife had called ahead and luckily it was late and they were not very busy so they pretty much met us at the door with a wheelchair and took me directly to a labor and delivery room.
The assessment was done quickly and the decision was that I would have to get an epidural (to overcome the pushing urge), rest and continue to try to give my body a chance for the swelling to come down and dilate fully. I hated it, but at that point I was all in. My only other hope for me and my baby was a c-section and I hated that even more. I also needed a catheter, but they thought it would be incredibly painful for me at this point with the placement of the polyp and the baby’s head (he was +2 station already. Really low.) They wanted me to get the epidural first but the caveat was that I had to take a full bag of IV fluids before I could get it…on top of an already very full bladder. I felt like this was some kind of cruel joke but I had already come so far, I knew this would only bring me closer to rest and us closer to our son’s arrival.
I got the fluids and then luckily the anesthesiologist showed up quickly to administer my epidural. It took about 20 minutes to get it in and unfortunately, you have to be very still (NOT easy with 8cm contractions!) and the hospital policy was so that my wife could not even stay in the room while I got it. I clung to a nurse that I barely knew and within 20 more minutes started to finally feel some relief. I was also able to get the catheter then and for a few blissful hours, we turned the lights out and I tried to rest and let my body heal and progress. I must say, I have heard horror stories about epidurals and although I really didn’t want one, mine was wonderful. If I had to do it again, I would still try to avoid one but for our purposes this one probably saved mine and my son’s life.
By 9am the few people in our lives that knew I was in labor were kind of freaking out…My Mom included. She came to the hospital to see us and bring my birth team and wife some food because she knew that I was in the final stage of resting and it wouldn’t be long. It did feel really nice to see her once things were under control. I do not think I could have handled her when things were scary at home and it would have just been added stress but now it was comforting. Moments after she arrived, a hospital midwife came in to check my progress and stated that I had dilated fully, swelling had really gone down, the baby’s head had already come down past the polyp on it’s own and that it was now time to have a baby. I was elated and a little scared at the news. It was finally time to meet our son! She pulled up a cart and a few nurses rushed around the room hurriedly preparing. My wife held one of my legs and my midwife and doula were at the other. My Mom hung back in the doorway to the bathroom but she was still very much there and I remember being moved just having such an amazing group of women gathered in my line of sight for what was about to happen.
At 9:32am, I started pushing….and I think I only pushed about 6 times. My wife and I both felt his head as he crowned and she started to cry. At 9:40am, our son was finally born and they laid him on my chest. His first wailing cry was the best sound I had ever heard in my life. He was here and he was perfect. We had about 10 minutes to stare at him in awe before they took him to the other side of the room for weighing and measuring. He was 7lbs on the dot and 20 1/2 inches long . He breastfed successfully about 20 minutes after he was born and has been going strong ever since. I hate that we had to be in a hospital for those moments, but ultimately am just so very glad that we were all safe.
Best day of our lives
We named him Anderson Jamescott. Anderson because it was a name that we both fell in love with and also the name of the town where my wife’s Mom was from in Indiana (She passed away about 5 years ago and we wanted some way to incorporate her into his name). Jamescott was something we cooked up a while ago inspired by great men in our lives. James was my Grandfather’s middle name, I’ve stated before how much he meant to me. Anderson also has a very pronounced chin dimple for an infant, which is a strong physical characteristic I have always associated with my Grandpa. I think he has it for a reason. Scott is a very near and dear friend of ours and so we combined the two names to make a new one. We like how distinguished it sounds, but also plan on calling him “AJ” for short. We gave him my wife’s last name and later I plan to change mine too so that we will all have the same.
We only stayed at the hospital for about 24 hours after he was born. I would have liked to go home even sooner but I still had some bladder issues after the birth and I had to keep a catheter in overnight. We came home last Friday afternoon and have been trying to settle in and get the hang of things. We really couldn’t ask for a better baby. Sure, he has his moments but he’s been very laid back and patient with his new Mommies as they try to figure out how to take care of him.
We are cherishing every moment and it’s hard to believe that we’ve already had a week of them. Life goes so fast. And on that note, I’m heading off to scoop up my beautiful baby boy stare into his eyes and remind myself again what a blessing he is (instead of proofing this post, so please excuse the errors). Thank you to everyone for reading along and following our journey so far. It really is just beginning.
Preface: This post got very long and kinda dark and I’m not going to apologize for that. I needed to write it all out. You should get cookies if you actually read it all. Thanks.
I always thought that when I got pregnant, life would be blissful and I’d be walking on air. Not that pregnancy itself doesn’t come with it’s share of swollen feet, nausea, backaches and the like but I always thought I’d be able to deal with those things a little better because of how badly we wanted this baby and how happy I was to actually get pregnant. But sometimes life throws you curve balls…I haven’t been writing much because honestly, most days it just felt too raw to write about. I’ve decided that I need a little bit of an outlet so I guess now is as good a time as any. Here’s a more clear picture of what has been going on.
Back in September my Wife’s Uncle started to decline more steadily from a form of Leukemia that he had been battling on and off for 15 years. He was in his 80’s and although he was under excellent care, it became apparent to us that he had relapsed and had grown pretty tired of fighting. We are very close with him and his wife and we tried to remain positive because he’s always been very strong through it. When Mrs. E was 20 years old, her parents and siblings moved to Florida and she decided to stay here where her school and girlfriend were, and since that time her Aunt and Uncle became more like parents to her. Sometime in mid-November we got a phone call that he had been taken to the hospital and that things weren’t looking good. His body was just not responding to treatment anymore and the family had decided to reduce his care to “comfort only” measures and bring him home (he hated hospitals after all he’d been through). We went to see him and held his hand, talked to him, hugged him told him that we were having a boy (we hadn’t announced the gender of the baby yet) and wished him peace. He passed away the next day.
At about the same time that that was going on, my own grandfather had started to show signs that his dementia was becoming more severe. Caring for him had started to take a physical and emotional toll on my grandmother. He was often confused, hallucinating and getting very aggravated on a more regular basis. He started having “accidents” and would fall when trying to walk and she couldn’t help him up anymore. My family started taking turns sleeping overnight at my grandparents house to help her care for him. I learned a lot of things about about Alzheimers/advanced dementia in those months and he was definitely a textbook case. Most people think that the disease is merely mental but the most heartbreaking thing about it is that that’s not true. Over time with it, the body literally “forgets” how to do some of it’s most basic functions. Incontinence becomes and issue, walking and muscle control can become foreign, eventually even swallowing and breathing become challenges. He was already having trouble with the first two. One night, he got very aggravated and my grandmother woke up to find him standing over her side of the bed screaming at her. She wasn’t able to calm him down and she feared for her safety so she called the police. Eventually, they helped settle him but they sent a social worker out the next day to help her start the process to place him in a long-term care facility. He had become too severe for her to care for him at home anymore and we reluctantly moved him into a nursing home a few days later.
In the mean time, we had our gender reveal party, we were spending most evenings running over to the nursing home to visit Grandpa and tried to get through our childbirth classes and prepare for the baby when we had spare time. Right before Thanksgiving, we became worried about my grandfather’s eating and he was losing a lot of weight and running a high fever. He had pneumonia and was coughing a lot so the doctor wanted to send him for a swallowing evaluation. It showed that he had been aspirating a lot of his food (half of it was essentially going into his lungs) and his swallowing reflex just wasn’t working properly. The pneumonia got worse and he was admitted to the hospital to recover while he waited for a feeding tube to be put in. He was very weak and I thought we were going to lose him in those few days. His confusion was at it’s height because he didn’t adjust well to new surroundings and he’d already gone from home to the nursing home to the hospital. It was hard to watch but kind of a blessing because he didn’t know he was missing Thanksgiving at home with our family. I was literally holding back tears sitting around that table without him last year. Only one time in my life, when I’d gone to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. E’s family, had I spent a holiday away from home with him. I should probably explain that my deep attachment to him was because he essentially had become my father. My parents split up when I was 2 years old and my Mom and I moved into my grandparent’s house with them. He became my father figure and my grandparents took on a lot of the responsibility of raising me.
He recovered from that bout of pneumonia, got the feeding tube and was moved back into the nursing home (another hellacious adjustment period) and seemed to be recovering well. He had one nurse that was very blunt with our family and told us that he would probably continue this cycle of getting pneumonia and going to the hospital, receiving antibiotics and being sent back to the nursing home indefinitely. That eventually his body would become resistant to the antibiotics and his body would shut down. It was sobering to hear someone lay it out like that ahead of us, especially when he seemed like he was recovering. Over the next month he did make another trip to the hospital for a few days and back, again for pneumonia. Mentally, he had his good days and bad. He stopped asking when he could go home and started saying “I love you” and “I have a really good family” all the time. Someone was with him in the evening every night and took my grandmother over to spend time with him every day. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary just before Christmas and he had an amazingly clear day that day. He was joyful and asked his wife for kisses and to sit on his bed with him continuously. Out of all the confusion, he never forgot who we were and he ALWAYS remembered that I was pregnant and asked about the baby constantly. He was so excited for the baby to come and that it was a boy. He also hated to be “scruffy” or unkempt and in the last few months I had taken on the responsibility of cutting his hair and shaving him every other day or so at the nursing home. It was really more about being fawned over than anything else, but he always reminded me that that was my job and was never bashful to ask when he needed to be “spiffed up” for my Grandma.
On Christmas Eve, I had my own breakdown about it. I felt wrong celebrating the holiday with the rest of my family when he was “in there” all the time. It felt like a prison for his illnesses. Even though we visited frequently and at length, it never felt like enough. I knew that he was slowly slipping away and I cried about it hard. When you are on the verge of becoming a parent, it can feel like a very scary push into adulthood with no turning back. I felt as though I had a little girl inside that was very upset that things weren’t the way that they were supposed to be anymore. Those holiday weeks I struggled and felt very much “in limbo” between those two worlds. The rational adult in me would focus on doing what needed to be done, and could handle dealing with his declining condition in stride, however the girl that hated watching what was happening to her Grandpa was having a hard time keeping it together.
As much as I hated to leave town, we had planned our final vacation before the baby for just after New Year’s. We were escaping for a week to Florida to enjoy some warmer weather and time with Mrs. E’s family. As soon as our flight landed, I came down with a bad cold/flu and I was miserably sick most of that trip and wasn’t able to take much to curb the symptoms. My wife wasn’t feeling well either and ended up having to go to Urgent Care on our 2nd day to get checked out because there was blood in her urine. Everyone else in her family has a history of kidney stones, so they dismissed it as that, gave her some meds and sent her on her way. As much as we were trying to make the best of things, it turned out to be a pretty pathetic vacation. I was grateful to be able to lay in the sun and float in the pool though! It took some pressure off my weight and back which felt good cause…Oh yeah, I was 7+ months pregnant! Unfortunately, there were days that I had to stop and remind myself of that with everything else going on.
We returned home but I wasn’t allowed to go see Grandpa because the flu was rampant, I was still quite ill and therefore the nursing home had a quarantine in effect. Can’t say I blame them. In those days while I recovered, we readjusted to life a bit and we had an appointment with a family doctor. We were joining the practice so that when the baby comes we could all go to the same place. She also referred Mrs. E to get an x-ray and go see a Urologist and get her kidney stone thing figured out. She got that all setup and in the mean time Grandpa was having lots of “bad days” and was barely communicative. He frequently had high fevers and was on more antibiotics and slept 20+ hours per day. I got a call at work one day from my Mom at work. She was crying and simply told me to come to the hospital, they had just taken him there by ambulance and that the doctor had advised her to “call the family in”.
When I got there, they were telling us that his prognosis was not good and that he had possibly hours to live. His fever was high, his blood pressures and oxygen levels were dangerously low and they told us that he was in septic shock. They placed him on a breathing machine that was forcing pressurized oxygen into his lungs and they gave him fluids and antibiotics. The doctor advised my grandmother to call a priest to come in and have his last rites read to him. We were beside ourselves. They admitted him and moved him up to a private room and the doctor told us she would be very surprised if he lived through the night. So we called all of the rest of our family and stayed by his side, holding his hand and talking to him all night. From about the time he came in, he was not very responsive. His eyes would scan around the room briefly in response to certain noise or touch, but the most we saw from him was when he was being re-positioned in bed. His eyes would stare open with a look of pain on his face. We tried to make sure that a family member was always there to comfort him and be in his view but it was so hard. He was on some morphine to keep him comfortable but all we could do was sit there while he slept. And wait.
That first night was excruciating but he lived through it. And the next day, and the next. I took off work and my Mom, my cousin and I took “shifts” in his hospital room. There were never less than 2 of us with him at a time and someone was always awake, watching and making sure that we noticed any big signs of decline or discomfort. The nurses were so nice. I don’t know how we would have done it without them. They brought us food, came in and talked to us, laughed with us, some even cried with us. Mrs E even took a shift when she could. We told stories and held his hand, until that even seemed to cause him some pain and we had to quit doing that too. The doctors informed us that his vitals were still so weak and he was in kidney failure now. His body would continue to shut down and it was only a matter of time. Our vigil continued.
Four days after he was admitted, there was nothing more that we could do for him. All of my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins had flown in from out of town to come and sit by his side. We made the decision to take him off the breathing machine, stop antibiotics and give him a morphine drip. Again, we were told that he wouldn’t live through the night. And we waited. I had never seen some members of my family so stripped down like that. Some just couldn’t do it. They made excuses to leave the room every 10 minutes, or cracked a lot of jokes. It became frustrating at times to see how we all dealt with things differently. My body was tired from sitting and sleeping in hospital chairs every day and night but I couldn’t leave him. It made me too anxious. We thought when he was switched to a regular oxygen cannula that he probably wouldn’t be able to sustain himself for very long, but he proved us wrong again. We watched him day and night for three more days and could not believe that he had now outlived his original prognosis of hours, by an entire week. My grandmother made the decision to formally put him on Hospice care.
That day I sat with him all day. I talked to him, told him what the weather was like outside and about the baby. I noticed that his color looked a lot more drained and the nurse said his heart rate was a bit slower but we had all learned in the past week not to count him out just yet. So we watched Ellen in the afternoon (he loved Ellen Degeneres, it really was adorable) and I even caught a nap beside him while the sun was setting. His breathing seemed slow and steady as I had always remembered from his catnaps. I used to climb into his recliner and catch a snooze with him all the time when I was growing up and this felt sort of reminiscent. A nurse came in to clean him up and I helped a bit. We shaved him and although he didn’t seem responsive to anything else, he stretched his top lip in response when I shaved under his nose. It made me smile because I used to ask him to “go like this” and do that for me when I would shave him at the nursing home. I said bye to him for a while and left to get some dinner. Mrs E. had been busy at work and hadn’t been to see him for two days so she was coming over after we ate to see him that night.
We got there at about 8pm and he seemed to be resting comfortably, but I soon noticed that his breathing was much more shallow. My aunt and uncle were also there and we didn’t want to call the family and cause unnecessary alarm but after about 10 minutes of watching him, it was apparent that this was a big change and we started calling the rest of the family and warn them that he may pass away that night. His breathing got slower and I asked Mrs. E to go get a nurse to listen to his heart rate for any big changes. I stood by his side and rubbed his head, told him that we loved him and that everything would be okay and in the next two minutes, he took his last breaths. By the time the nurse got there to check him there was no detectable pulse and he was gone. All of a sudden after an entire week, there was nothing but heavy silence and we cried. He died around 9pm that night and and in the next hour, the rest of my family arrived and said their goodbyes. Watching my grandmother enter the room, rest her head beside his and weep was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever witnessed. It didn’t even feel real. We all knew that he was finally at peace and that we had done all we could do while showing him immense love and respect, but it still felt like he had been ripped away from us.
Over the next week, we all grieved but I found it harder to escape the images that kept replaying in my head. I tried to rebound from the exhaustion of only getting 2-ish hours of sleep per day and living in a hospital room. I had lost 14 pounds and felt guilty that I hadn’t been protecting my baby as well as I should (later our midwife confirmed that he’s just fine though). The funeral was a blur. I only remember some of the details and that I cried an awful lot. I did feel relieved that we had all found some peace, and as difficult as it was to watch, that his decline only took months and not years but I was still feeling anxious, like I was waiting for him to die. I ended up having to contact his Hospice service and inquire about their counseling services for family members. I was dealing with a lot of post-traumatic stress from re-living his last days over and over again. I talked to someone and it helped a little but the dreams and flashes still haven’t stopped. I went back to work and have been trying to pull things back together, but another week has gone by and I still don’t feel like I am “my old self” most days. I’m sure the pregnancy hormones don’t help but I’m not using them as an excuse. I don’t think that emotionally much of this would be different if I weren’t pregnant but people treat me as though it should make a difference.
We decided to go ahead with our baby shower even though it was the weekend between my grandfather’s passing and his funeral. Part of me just didn’t want the hassle of rescheduling, part of me felt like we needed a happy occasion and part of me didn’t want to celebrate at all. It was nice to see everyone, but difficult to put on a happy face. I was OK but barely and when one person hugged me and told me that she lost her grandfather when she was 8 months pregnant and she knew how I felt, I lost it. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SUCH A HAPPY TIME! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!? We are both so excited for this baby, but if I could pause this pregnancy and take a break I would do it in a heartbeat. I never thought I’d feel like that.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, we got Mrs. E’s x-ray results back. It looked like she had some kidney stones and possibly a blood clot in her bladder. We didn’t know what the ramifications of that were but she was told that she would find out more at her Urologist appointment…which was yesterday. When I got home from work we sat down so that she could tell me what they found at her appointment. I knew it couldn’t be good because she waited to tell me in person instead of over the phone. As it turns out, the doctor wanted to do more testing to be sure what he was looking at because he didn’t think it was a blood clot. He used a scope to look inside her bladder and confirmed that what they had found were actually two tumors. He explained that bladder tumors are pretty much always malignant and that they’d have to schedule her for a procedure to have them removed ASAP and do a CAT scan to make sure nothing had spread to other organs. After they take the tumors out and evaluate the tissue, he’d be able to give us more information about the type of cancer she is dealing with and if she will require chemotherapy as a follow-up. Her prognosis is pretty good because they are small tumors and they can hopefully be removed pretty easily. Unfortunately, there’s also a tumor on one of her kidneys. It’s more likely though that that is benign and may even go away on it’s own. I’m assuming that we monitor that and figure out how to deal with it after we get past the bladder issues. Her CAT scan was scheduled for this morning and we’ll probably get those results tomorrow.
She had had a few hours to deal with this, but I was reeling from what I had just heard. I thought we were going to sit down and talk about kidney stones and blood clots and medication, not tumors and surgery and chemotherapy. I couldn’t find words and “bladder cancer” kept echoing through my head. What the fuck was going on? We’re supposed to be having a baby in less than 6 weeks, not dealing with this shit. I got scared. CANCER. I had flashes of struggling through years of treatment as her uncle and aunt had and thoughts of possibly having to raise this kid on my own. She was able to remain calm. She always does. I think she was more worried about me than she is about herself. She’s so selfless.
Her procedure is scheduled for Tuesday. She called and told her sister, brother and dad what is going on, but other than that we’re really not saying much yet until we know more about what we are dealing with. She knows I’m writing about it here and thinks that’s okay because she wants me to have some space to cope. If you know us in other outlets that converge with family and friends, please be discreet about this until we are ready. There’s just only so much that we can take on at once and for now this feels easier if we keep it close. This is not at all what I thought my 3rd trimester of pregnancy would feel like. I just want to be happy. I just want to buy baby things and organize his room and decorate and focus on how our life will be changing for the better. Not this. Not now.
One of the hardest things about the past several months is that I’ve started to get upset with how people respond to me. I am not fragile. I am an optimist but when people go on and on about how everything will be okay or tell me to look at the bright side, I want to slap them. I’m not an idiot. I realize it’s the conventional nice thing to say, but it’s not like I don’t already tell myself those things and I’m tired hearing it. I don’t want to hear most people’s comparison stories and how they experienced this or that and know what I’m going through. Or how this stress and sleep deprivation are preparing me for “life with baby”. Quite frankly, I wish I ONLY had the stress and sleep deprivation of a newborn to deal with right now. Some of my friends that I thought would be there for me more have been starkly absent and that hurts too. I don’t always need to be consoled, but it is nice to feel like people think of you, or ask or care at all. I just need to feel how I feel when I feel it. I’m not depressed, I’m sad and scared and a little bit angry. And that’s OK for now and it’s all I can do. It’s how I’m processing.
I can’t wait until we have enough focus again to spend more of it on preparing for the baby. We all could use a little happy right now…We’ll get there. We have to. And then I’ll write about that.
This post is basically just a show and tell. Lots of pictures! Thanks to everyone who voted in the little poll that I posted asking if you thought Sprout was a boy or a girl and for name suggestions. We found out at our 21 week ultrasound and kept it a secret for almost 2 weeks, but now the cat is officially out of the bag. We’re having a BOY!
Here’s some highlights from the party and a short clip of the moment of truth. We had a webcam setup in the living room so that family and friends who could not be with us could share in the excitement. It turned out to be a really fun way to do it.
The online poll results were displayed on the fridge. Lots of you guys thought it was going to be a girl!
Everything was pink and blue.
Including the punch.
Friends helped me make some little decorations to spruce the place up. (I’m actually thinking about keeping these blue ones to use in the nursery.)
We hung ultrasound pictures so that everyone could see. We didn’t include “the goods” that might spoil the surprise though. We showed that one after the reveal though.
Pink and blue kisses and M&Ms
I even colored these little chocolate bars in for the party. Lots of work but they went over really well.
I made little mustaches and lips to take pictures with.
…and made this one to keep them all guessing! We dressed according to what our original guesses were before the ultrasound.
The blue team!
The pink team!
Loved my Mom’s nails. Very festive.
Finally it was time to bring out the cake! It said “He or She what will it be?” on the cake board.
Finally time to cut it open and the result was….BLUE! Sprout is a boy!
Here’s video of the moment of truth from the web broadcast. We had about 20 people tuned in watching from different parts of the world:
One of my friends joked that I must be having a smurf…but no really. The cake was very tasty.
We had a blast doing the reveal this way surrounded by our family and friends. It was great encouragement and support. We felt so loved!
Us posing with our blue cake! Proud Mamas-to-be!
We put a pretty good dent in it and had enough left over to take some to other neighbors, friends and coworkers.
This party was really a blast and I’m so glad that we did it this way. We had some time to have our little secret for a while and then it was great to see the overwhelming acceptance and excitement that Sprout is generating within our community. The question we’ve been getting nonstop since the reveal has been “So…names?” Well, that one is going to have to be another surprise, even to us. We’ve decided to wait until we meet the little guy in order to name him. The name “Sprout” is going to stick until he decides to come out!
Thanks for following along on our journey so far and if you celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, we hope you have a happy holiday with loved ones.
E, Mrs. E & Sprout
Photos 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, and 17 were generously provided by Photography By Dara. Thank you!!!
I honestly can’t believe how fast this pregnancy is flying. Two weeks ago we passed the halfway mark and it just blows my mind that this baby is half baked already! I am really starting to feel as though the pace has picked up and there are a lot more changes and decisions to start talking about so I really hope I can get my butt in gear and blog more to talk about them.
I started taking bump “progress” at 14 weeks. I never thought I’d be one of those women who felt fat instead of pregnant, but it happened. I’ve kind of gotten over that. So, here’s the roundup:
14-15 weeks: The baby is about the size of a lemon…
How I’m Changing:
I had definitely begun to notice my changing belly and those that knew me definitely could too but to strangers, I still felt like I just appeared to have a gut. My tummy seemed to be smaller at the beginning of the day than it was by the end.
What I’m Eating:
MILK! I became just fine with leaving out the chocolate syrup and started downing at least a gallon of milk a week. Crazy part is that I had never liked milk. Realized that sugar was a big proponent of my acid reflux and so I tried to cut down on it as much as possible…with Halloween right around the corner. Great.
How I’m Feeling:
Waking up regularly between 2 and 3am began to lessen, which was good because even though I had started gaining my energy back, I really needed my sleep. Regular bed time became 9-9:30pm and I wouldn’t wake til 7am.
16-17 weeks: The baby is about the size of a avocado…
How I’m Changing:
Total weight gain was at 10 pounds so far. I felt like I was starting to look pregnant and rounded out a good bit more those two weeks. Had to start shopping for a lot more clothes during these weeks because my regular work attire were really starting to become uncomfortable. Maternity pants are a godsend!
What I’m Eating:
Anything and everything! It seemed like I was always hungry and it meant the baby probably had a little growth spurt. I wanted more meat and protein and I woke up ravenous just about every morning.
How I’m Feeling:
I don’t cry easily but a few things had me wiping some tears away. I chalked it up to hormones…Sciatica kicked in and made me a little uncomfortable. I’ve been working with a chiropractor to keep me properly aligned and out of pain. I’ve noticed that when I exercise or do anything a little more strenuous than daily activity for more than an hour, I am not rebounding as quickly. Takes me about 2 days to not feel wiped out by it anymore. Felt some intermittent abdominal pain probably from my uterus stretching out and moving upward. The best part of these two weeks was feeling the flutters of the baby’s movement turn into kicks!
18-19 weeks: The baby is about the size of a sweet potato…
How I’m Changing:
Starting to feel like there’s more weight to my belly. When I work out, I notice that it kind of feels like there’s a bag of water sloshing around in there and it’s not always so comfy. My hips and back were definitely shifting and continuing to see the chiropractor helped a lot. I had to start sleeping with a pregnancy pillow or I would wake up in a lot of hip pain. Energy levels are still up though and I’m feeling VERY motivated to get things done around the house and be productive.
What I’m Eating:
My appetite returned a bit more back to normal and I had to be careful to avoid anything that would trigger my acid reflux. Still on the milk kick though and a big glass of that really seemed to help tame the beast.
How I’m Feeling:
Our childbirth classes started and I really like the instructor. It was so helpful talking to other couples and starting to work on our birth plan. Most of the couples in our class are also planning home births so that gave me a confidence boost and I felt a sense of renewal about our decision to take that path.
20-21 weeks: The baby is the size of a pomegranate…
How I’m Changing:
The belly is rounding out and protruding a little more. *Gasp* I’ve started to get a few stretch marks on the sides of my back, but none on my belly. My favorite part of the day is when Mrs. E lovingly rubs “belly butter” on me while she talks to the baby. Makes the stretch marks all worth it.
What I’m Eating:
Same stuff as the past few weeks only that I actually started to want a little more sugar, but it still doesn’t agree with me and triggers my reflux. Began trying to drink even more water throughout the day but it’s hard cause I feel like I have to run to the bathroom every 30 minutes.
How I’m Feeling:
Started experiencing some abdominal cramping and wasn’t sure if I might have gotten a bladder infection but I started pumping myself full of cranberry juice and vitamin C just in case. My general practitioner seemed to think that it might be Braxton Hicks contractions starting already. Yikes!
Overall, I feel pretty lucky and as though I’ve had a pretty smooth pregnancy so far. I feel good and pretty much any problem I’ve had has an easy remedy. I continued to be adjusted by the chiropractor to keep my sciatica at bay and I have added in some massage too. That actually really hurts but my muscles are forming some pretty fierce knots as my body adjusts. I’m fine with the “upkeep” of all these things and hope it keeps me ahead of any severe discomfort for a while longer.
The awesome thing about our 20th week was that we had the anatomy scan and found out the gender of Sprout. It was so awesome to be able to see that little baby moving around on the monitor and be able to SEE what I’m feeling inside. Mrs E and my mom were there too and they were pretty shocked to see just how active the baby was. We didn’t have the tech tell us at the appointment (because we wanted to keep it a surprise for a while) and instead she wrote it in a card which we opened later in private to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. That day was probably my happiest since finding out that I was pregnant. We really don’t actually care what gender the baby is, as long as he or she is healthy but just knowing has really helped to feel even more connected to that little being growing inside me. I was walking on air!
Unfortunately, our 21st week brought an onslaught of crap with it though and I definitely felt a difference in how I reacted to those things emotionally with all these ramped up hormones. The fact that we had been on such a high beforehand also brought us to a screeching halt. Mrs E’s Uncle passed away and we were close to him. He was sick and it was anticipated, but it still felt sudden. When we got the news, I could NOT STOP CRYING. It happened to me again at his funeral. Once I get going, it just feels impossible to shut off. The fact that I feel like I didn’t have control of it, made it significantly worse. My grandfather is also having increasing issues with dementia and we had to move him to a nursing home and then our guinea pig died (he was 7). All of this in the same week really just felt like a lot. Mrs E’s family came into town and my family was also running around trying to secure my grandfather’s arrangements. It was just exhausting and I still feel as though we’re still recouping.
We had planned on having a gender reveal party last weekend to get everyone together and generate some excitement over Sprout, but we decided to delay it a week because there was just too much going on and we really wanted to relax and enjoy the celebration. So that’s where we are now. The gender reveal party is tomorrow and we have been delighted in seeing the excitement it has generated. We ordered a cake from an awesome local bakery and instructed them to color the cake pink or blue. The highlight of the party will be cutting into it and unveiling the gender of Sprout. We’ve known for almost two weeks now, so although we’ve gotten really good at playing the pronoun games we are more than ready to share. I’ve worked so hard to get ready for the party and will make a post on the reveal itself in a few days. If you follow me on twitter (@elyima), I plan to spill the news there right after we cut the cake too. I hope we get lots of good pictures and video though so I am hoping that will all make for a really cute next post alllllll about the details of the party.
In the midst of all the craziness, my parents bought the crib that we wanted and hopefully soon we can assemble that and get back to making progress on the baby’s room and the house. I promise some pictures of all of that when we get around to it too. Our nursery is painted and we have a rocker but otherwise, it’s looking pretty sad. Hopefully, not for long!
I can’t believe that today is the last day of my first trimester already! Tomorrow I will be 14 weeks pregnant and even though some of the sicker days felt achingly slow, those weeks overall seemed to fly past. We are past the greatest risk of losing the baby now and I have pretty much told everyone in our lives that we are going to be able to tell in person about our exciting news. I’m going to have to “come out” about the baby at work next week though, as I’m starting to feel like it’s getting too difficult to hide my bump for much longer. I only have so many baggy work clothes!
In the past few weeks we have taken time out to try to visit just about all of our family and close friends to announce the baby. Some knew we were trying, some didn’t and that made for a lot of shock and some lackluster reactions. My grandparents actually thought I was kidding when I told them, and (with the help of my Mom) it took about a week for it to “sink in” that we’re really having a baby. We announced to my step-father’s family at a labor day picnic to a table of 12 and only my aunt had a verbal reaction of “Oh, wow”. Otherwise, the news got less attention than a “please pass the potato salad”. You win some, you lose some I guess. Disappointment was our initial reaction to them, but we are not getting hung up on it and know that things will be different A) when I’m showing more and B) when the baby actually gets here. Our closest friends and family are really happy for us and that’s what we’re focusing on.
In the midst of all this, our house has been just buzzing with projects and preparations. No actual progress has been made on the baby’s room yet, but we have a lot of things we’d like to do to other areas of the house to get ready for Sprout’s arrival. We started in the kitchen a few weeks ago and repainted, hung a ceiling fan, new light over the sink and installed new counter tops….all in one weekend. We had the help of our donor and his boyfriend for some of it, but I am so grateful that Mrs. E is super handy around the house. She’s being very careful about what she will let me help with though. Thankfully, due to purchasing NO VOC paint I was able to still take on quite a bit. We have many more projects on the horizon so I’m sure we will continue to stay busy. This weekend we plan to paint the baby’s room and next week, we’re getting new carpeting installed on the 2nd floor of our house. All this and we haven’t even really started shopping for the baby yet. I imagine that fun will start soon 🙂
So here’s a recap about the pregnancy since my last update:
8-10 weeks: The baby was about the size of a grape…
How I’m Changing:
Holy BOOBS, Batman! I didn’t expect them to start growing so much so fast. They were pretty sore and I had to go buy new bras a cup size bigger already.
What I’m Eating:
I started having a very hard time eating salad. This was a problem because I love salad and eat at least one just about every day. It just didn’t feel appetizing at all. I did eat a lot of apples and watermelon. Lemon sorbet was a big hit and those things along with saltines were about all I could keep down. Acid reflux was strong and constant no matter what I ate.
How I’m Feeling:
Morning sickness hit me hard! I had some pretty severe bouts of nausea and vomiting and driving became and especially difficult task. I never got motion sick in the car but I certainly started to around week 8. I was also very tired and even with a nap after work, I was going to bed by 9pm every night. It’s pretty common for women to lose weight in their first trimester, and I was no exception. I lost about 4 pounds those 2 weeks. My sense of smell was also out of control. Scents that I didn’t care for became 100 times worse and I could stiff them out blocks away! We saw the Midwife and an OB in the 8th week and both totally fell in love with our Midwife and became set on a home birth…and have faced a lot of adversity for that decision. I actually stopped talking about it or answering questions regarding it with friends and family because I got tired of hearing “You’re nuts!”, “You must be kidding”, “Aren’t you scared?” or “Ok, we’ll see how that goes…”. It’s quite discerning to me that people aren’t trying to realize what a personal decision this is and how much time we’ve spent researching it. We remain confident in our choice.
11-12 weeks: The baby was about the size of a lime…
How I’m Changing:
I’m starting to notice a small bump, but it doesn’t quite seem noticeable to others yet…Unless I’ve just eaten, then it’s much more apparent. Pants are tight. By the end of the 12th week I wasn’t able to wear my normal jeans anymore without a belly band. My coworker had given me some of her maternity clothes but they were for summer months. I started wearing a few pieces here or there just to be more comfortable.
What I’m Eating:
Foods became palatable again as the morning sickness eased a bit more over these two weeks and I was able to enjoy a lot more variety again. Acid reflux is a regular pain in the ass. Still really into that lemon sorbet though. I started really wanting chocolate milk (and I don’t even like milk!). I wouldn’t call it a craving, I could have gone without but it just sounded good. Started drinking a huge glass of that every morning and before we knew it, I was easily downing a gallon of it a week. It couldn’t be the premixed stuff either, I had to mix the milk and chocolate syrup for myself. YUM!
How I’m Feeling:
Started to get my energy back in week 12 and stopped taking naps after work. I was still going to bed earlyish, but I was grateful to be able to make it a few more hours without feeling like a zombie. Mrs E seemed kind of glad for that too, I think she was starting to miss me when I had been needing 12+ hours a day. Emotionally, I was on the verge of tears a lot more frequently. I didn’t cry a lot, but a lot more things made me feel like I wanted to or could have if I hadn’t exercised some restraint. 3am also became a very popular time of day in our house. It seems no matter what I do, I wake up at almost 3am on the dot every night and have a hard time getting back to sleep. I also started being able to feel Sprout move when I would lay very still in week 12. The midwife confirmed that’s definitely what it was when I described it at my appointment. Best feeling in the world!
13 weeks: The baby is about the size of a peach…
How I’m Changing:
The bump is getting bigger! I’m starting to round out a little more and my belly is getting a little harder. I feel better about it because I’m starting to look more pregnant than just pudgy. I’ve even gotten a few belly rubs and pats this week from a few excited loved ones.
What I’m Eating:
I’m pretty much back to anything goes with foods this week. Nausea isn’t a normal occurrence anymore, but I definitely can’t eat as much at one sitting as I am used to. We went on vacation and I enjoyed a LOT of good food that I would not have been able to tolerate a few weeks ago. Spicy food has always been something I love but unfortunately, it causes some rockin’ acid reflux a little too easily so I avoid it. Until this week, I haven’t wanted anything that I couldn’t have, but now sushi and beer are starting to sound really good every day. I’ve had a few sips of Mrs. E’s beer to curb my taste for it and cooked sushi instead of anything raw.
How I’m Feeling:
My energy level is definitely starting to return to pre-pregnancy level. I still like going to bed early because the 3am curse hasn’t quit and some nights I lose up to 2 hours in the middle of the night. Since I got my appetite back and we went on vacation and indulged, I have gained 5 pounds. I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym a little more now that I have the energy and being “out of the woods” and into my 2nd trimester.
I realize that all these updates are a little sucky without “bump pics” but I have been taking them and I will add them as soon as I get a chance to take all the pics off my camera from our vacation. We listen to Sprout’s heartbeat on our doppler about once a week and it’s definitely one of our favorite things to do right now. I’ll try to be better about the updates now that I’m spending more time awake 🙂 If you have questions for us about anything you’d like more information about, please tweet me or drop them in the comments. If we get enough, maybe we’ll do another short little video and I can get Mrs. E in on it. Those are always fun.