31 May 2011

Updates on Phase Newborn

We compromised. Little Bits can sleep on the Boppy pillow while it's around my waist. I finally get my hands back now; I was getting tired of typing one-handed. On a side-note, it's 90 degrees outside and the a/c is broken. It has been down for a week now, the power company keeps putting us off because it wasn't too hot a few days ago. We're desperate now; they promise that it will be fixed by sundown tonight, but they've promised that before. I'm still sweating off the pregnancy fluids, and combined with holding Little Bits 24/7, I'm overheating just a tad.

We went to meet with the surgeon today and Little Bits had an ekg, an echo, and an x-ray (an x-ray on an infant is very traumatic, for both the infant and the mother). We're still forming a surgery game plan and are due back in one month for follow up tests, unless she exhibits breathing problems between now and then. Because of her Down's, they want to do the surgery sooner rather than later, so it looks like it might occur this summer. If it doesn't happen until the fall, Matt and I have decided that we want the surgery in Michigan. We aren't sure how that will work (separation? deferment? who knows), so we are waiting until next month's appointments to make decisions. On a side note, she finally gained back her birth weight. They wanted it back on by the time she was two weeks old, so she made it + 1oz with 1 day to spare.

In the meantime, Matt starts work tomorrow! We never firmed up the van lines (the driver never called him back after 3 calls. He has a call in to the admin office). We are hoping to get that taken care of by the end of this week, as by next week I should be able to drive again and Little Bits has a pediatrician's appointment. We are all a bit nervous, but I really think that he will be fine. Matt has a way with words and a way with people, so I'm sure he'll get along just fine. I am going to try to take over primary night time care so that he can get as much sleep as possible in hopes of his staying focused during the day.

My mom is coming to visit during the day tomorrow through Friday, so I won't be totally alone until next week. I am hoping by then to be pain-free. Right now I am pretty good unless I walk or stand for too long. I am also planning to start The Diet tomorrow too. I'll be back on the calorie counting bandwagon for starters, with some very, very gentle c-section approved exercises (pelvic tilts, anyone?), and very short walks with Little Bits twice a day. I'm really going to try to stay away from the scale this summer and just focus on healthy habits. Once we get situated back in Florida, I'll get more hardcore. I want to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight by the end of the year, and then loose an additional 20lbs by graduation in May. We would like to take a celebratory Caribbean cruise when he graduates and I would like to look amazing. We discovered that most of the cost of a cruise is in the flight to the departure; cruises themselves aren't much more money than a hotel room. Since we live so close to so many cruise lines' docking ports, we don't think it will be unreasonable. Anyway, a lot of weight stands between me and that cruise, so I am going to be working my butt off!

So, I guess that's all for now. We have the condo to ourselves for another week and a half, or so. It will be difficult to transition back, I think, so I'm going to try to enjoy these last days by ourselves. I feel like the newborn phase of summer is coming to an end and we are beginning the next phase: the work phase.

30 May 2011

New Daddy

"Well, Daddy, do you want to announce the gender?"
He peered over the curtain, "It's a...girl?"
"Yup, it's a girl!"
I think it was at about that moment that Abigail first had her Daddy wrapped around her little finger. Ever since that instant, he's a changed man. He is very loving and protecting of her, from fixing her food when I am in too much pain to walk, to making sure that everyone who touches her has clean hands. It absolutely warms my heart to see how much of a father he became. Though he is nervous to feed and change her, he doesn't hesitate when asked; he does the dishes, the laundry, grocery shops. This morning he took the car up to the police station to make sure that the car seat was properly installed and got some pointers about "Baby on Board" accessories. He is absolutely amazing and has stepped up in uncountable ways. When we found out about her Down's, he felt an even more overwhelming desire to defend and protect her. I can't go on enough about how there he is for me. People say that after the birth of a child, they feel a stress on their marriage. Studies show that people are less satisfied after a birth, but I can attest to the minorities in that study. I feel closer to him and more in love with him, not only for the care and devotion that he is showing me, but also when I watch him interact with his daughter.

My husband has completely 100% been my rock. He advocates for my rest and relaxation, he doesn't get short or angry with me when I ask him to pick up my pen from the floor. He brings me my meds, he makes my lunch, everything. You know the game where one person stands in front of another and falls backward? The trust-building game? Well, I totally feel like I am free-falling backward into Matt. He has caught me every time. Sometimes I want to cry with how grateful I feel toward him.

29 May 2011

New Mommy

Matt tells me that my New Baby post is littered with typos, repetitive phrasing, and just plain doesn't sound like me. Well, I do apologize for my sloppiness. I am, however, going to leave it be as a testament to a mother's mindset during the first week of a newborn's life. Since the last post was an overview update on baby, I'll give you an overview update on me this time around.

So, I am recovering from emergency major surgery, adjusting to having my first baby, learning about her specials needs, and living in someone else's house. Needless to say, I've had more than one mental breakdown since we came home one week ago today. It has been a huge relief for us for my grandmother to be away in rehab, giving us some privacy as we figure out how to make sense of our new lives and establish a new routine.

When we first got home, we had so much running around to do to get situated with a new baby. We didn't have everything we needed since we were expecting to be able to breastfeed, plus we have so many doctor's appointments that I don't know why they discharged us. With all the moving around on my part, I wasn't giving myself proper time to heal. I spent the first few days in so much pain, I was often in tears. At times I could barely walk. I mean, things are so rough after abdominal surgery that I couldn't stand at the sink long enough to wash the breast pump equipment. After yet another emotional breakdown on Tuesday, we finally decided that I wasn't allowed to do anything. If I drop anything, need anything from another room, forget something when I move from the kitchen to the dining room, I call Matt. If I get settled in on the chair and I need something off the coffee table, I call Matt. I move as little as possible. My reward: no pain! Time has passed as well, giving my body some space to heal, but I am feeling far better on days when I don't go anywhere or do anything. Tomorrow morning is Abigial's baptism, but afterward, we are coming straight home. Other than that, we should be good until next Tuesday, at which point we will be meeting with the surgeon to schedule a surgery plan. Someone will be with me every day until June 6, at which point, I'm on my own. Hopefully I'll be healed enough by then.

I can't believe how much my priorities have changed in life. How much less time I care about celebrity gossip, or tv, or even how much less I am online. I can't believe that I became one of those people who thinks every little face their baby makes is the *cutest* thing ever, or how much more I care about her health than my ideal birth plan. All the difficulty I had in bonding prenatally completely vanished the first time I ever got to hold her. Can you believe that she recognized my voice? I was the only one who could calm her down when she was in the NICU. I still am the only one who can calm her down, but it completely amazes me that even though we didn't get to bond right away, she still knew exactly who I was. On May 17th, I wasn't a baby person. On May 18th, I was head-over-heels in love. It really, really hurt to put her down and go back to my room when we were still in the hospital. I have separation anxiety now : )

Having a baby is absolutely the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I would never in a million years give her back.

28 May 2011

Walking the Fine Line

There is a very fine line between keeping things a secret and broadcasting them to the world. I am speaking in particular about my baby's health issues. I am not ashamed of the fact that she has Down's and Tetralogy (D/T). I am not hiding anything. But at the same time, I don't declare through my Facebook status that my little girl has some additional challenges. D/T isn't something that comes up naturally in conversation, so I do send select emails to select people when we meet with a major specialist and discuss major courses of action. I don't necessarily want the long-lost cousins in Nevada reading that same email! But some people seem to think that her every update should be public knowledge, and that is very frustrating to me because I feel like people are looking at her and only seeing the D/T. I've got relatives who act like her D/T is no big deal (um, yes, it is!). I've also got relatives who act like her D/T equals a life of sorrow (there is no law saying she can't live a full, happy life!). She is first and foremost OUR LITTLE GIRL. Her health issues are much farther down the list. If you want to talk about them, then let's talk, but mass email updates should be the decision of solely Matt and I.

26 May 2011

New Baby

Well, I certainly have much to post about! I'll try to do it slowly over the course of the next few days because, first, I don't have time for a long post, and second, it would be a bit overwhelming for readers. So first, I'll update you on Abigail.

She was born on Wednesday 18 May 2011 at 5:43pm. I realized at about 5am that morning that my water had broken, but they told us to take our time getting to the hospital. At about noon, they started me on Pitocin as my contractions weren't very strong. By 4:30pm, I had progressed to 4cm and was asking for an epidural. A half an hour after I received the epidural, the baby's heart rate dropped and stayed dangerously low (the heart rate was not related to the epidural or the heart condition, they don't know why it happened). Because of the inherent dangers of a low heart rate and also her heart condition, the doctors rushed me back for an emergency c-section. She was born with excellent color and muscle tone. They rushed her back for testing, to which Matt could accompany, but I had to stay in the OR to be stitched up and then spend a few hours in recovery. I only saw her for a brief glimpse after she was born until 9pm, three hours later, when the numbness finally wore off and I could visit her in the NICU, where she stayed for several days. Her heart rate and respiratory system needed to be monitored for several days, so I went down to the NICU every few hours throughout the nights and spent almost the entire day in there with her. We could still hold her and I did attempt to breastfeed her. We got some clearer pictures of her heart and now there are no questions as to the extent of her condition. We also found out that she has another condition: Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down Syndrome. Although the news was very hard to take at first, we are taking in stride along with all of her other health issues. On Friday, they finally let her room with us and we were discharged together on Saturday. Since we have been home, things have been wonderful. She is a great sleeper. Because of her various conditions, she can't breastfeed, so I have been working to pump and bottlefeed her the breast milk, but I am having trouble getting enough milk to come in, so I do have to supplement with formula. I am working with a lactation consultant to establish a solid supply. None of this was in my birth plan, but every second I spend with her is so amazing that I don't even have time to regret the loss of the ideal.

She is the perfect baby for attachment parenting, she loves cuddling and being held. When I put her down, I can't be in the room because she knows I'm there and she'll fuss until I pick her back up. It is amazing to me how much I love her. I love her with a deep, instinctual love; I never knew I could feel this way about another person. I have changed and matured so much in the past eight days that I don't even recognize myself.

She is a very calm and patient baby, which is good because we have had so many doctors appointments that I'm not sure why they even bothered to discharge us from the hospital. But she always takes everything so well, usually even sleeping through it. My mother and sister-in-law/Abigail's Godmother showed up at the hospital in the days following her birth, each bearing presents. They brought me tons of pink clothing (Adios, gender neutral baby items!), all in her size. She is so tiny (6lbs 5oz at birth, 5lbs 14oz on Tuesday), that she doesn't fit most newborn sizes.

She is so wonderful; she was worth every bit of nausea, stretch-mark, contraction, even all the pain I am having now, recovering from the c-section. I love her so much that I'll take her completely, Tetralogy, Down Syndrome, and all.

19 May 2011

It's A Girl!

Abigail Claire was born via emergency c-section on May 18, 2011 at 5:43pm. She is 6 lbs 5oz and 20 inches long. Labor began naturally, but her heart rate dropped dangerously low during labor and they rushed me into the OR. She is stable now, but due to the heart condition, she is staying in the NICU. Anyway, I will post more details later.

18 May 2011

In Labor

Yup, I'm in labor. I'm blogging and in labor. What a crazy world we live in, huh? So my water broke this morning, thus we headed into the hospital, but the contractions are barely noticeable, hence how I'm blogging while in labor. I am technically 2 weeks and 1 day early, but the baby is full term. Since the water has been broken for almost 12 hours now, they are going to start me on some pitocin, but they said not to expect a baby until tonight or tomorrow morning. So I guess that is all the exciting news that I have for now. I'm in labor.

16 May 2011

Settled In

Phew, it has been a busy week! Matt did arrive safely Wednesday late afternoon, we unpacked and put things away, bought a bunch more baby stuff, re-arranged the bedroom to find more space, and now we are finally settled in. Matt starts work on Thursday, we still have to figure a few things out with transportation. We got together with our families yesterday, which was a lot of fun, seeing people we haven't seen in forever.

The cats are having a very hard time adjusting. Seizure cat has been having daily seizures. On Saturday morning, she had a very long one that caused us to skip our lamaze class to rush her to the animal hospital. The vet recommended that we not medicate her due to the fact that her seizures are petit mal seizures and probably brought on by the stress of the move. I was glad to hear that they didn't want to hospitalize her, because not only is that too expensive, but also because of her deafness, it often cause more seizures. So we're back home now, trying to keep her calm. She has been refusing to eat most everything, including the food in which we mix her medicine.

The doctors think I will probably have the baby before my due date since I'm already starting to show prep-signs. I don't really like being at a teaching hospital. Without going into too much detail, third year medical students aren't the greatest with a speculum. I am definitely leaning toward getting an epidural. I'm going to try to YouTube a Lamaze class since there isn't time to reschedule one.

My Grandmother is going in for surgery to get her knee replaced tomorrow. She'll go straight from the hospital to a rehab center where she'll stay for three weeks. Matt, the kitties, and I will have the place to ourselves for a few weeks then. It rather works out: she gets a house-sitter, I get some alone time once I have the baby.

Well, I think that's all the details for now. I am making a to-do list of things to accomplish this week and today is looking pretty busy.

10 May 2011

Pre-baby Blues?

Matt is finally on the road, about 2 hours south of the FL/GA border. A late start last night delayed them significantly, so they won't be up until Wednesday afternoon. His phone is running low on battery, but he promised to text me as they cross state lines (when he is not driving, of course). I really miss him, but it has been so busy for me lately that it hasn't been too hard to fill the time. I think today may be the slowest day, but seeing as I'm sick (and 36 weeks pregnant!), I don't mind so much. I do have some chores to do as well (I don't even have a pediatrician yet). The cats are having a really hard time with the drive. I think in part because I'm not there, I think they think I'm gone for good. Especially the older one, whom I've had since college, is behaving in ways she never has and getting herself more worked up than she ever has before.

Life over here is going okay. Like I said, I'm sick, which is making me pretty miserable, but I am in the process of getting over it now. I still have a few baby things to get, which we'll do together when Matt gets here. I am adjusting to living with my Grandma. We get along very well, but it is an adjustment for both of us to figure out how to live with one another. She will be heading to the hospital next week for knee replacement surgery and will spend 3 weeks following surgery in a rehab center getting intensive physical therapy. We'll have the entire place to ourselves at that point and she'll come back in less pain.

The biggest change that is occurring in Michigan is my getting more excited about having a baby. I spent so much time not getting baby stuff in Florida so we wouldn't have to ship it to Michigan that it still feels wrong to buy baby stuff. Plus with all the medical problems, I have been holding back, thinking that I wouldn't get to bond with my baby, even worrying in the beginning that the baby wouldn't live. I have spent so much time rejecting normal pre-baby behaviors that I am having a hard time realizing that I am allowed to be excited about this. Lastly, I really don't want to be overprotective of my baby when he gets older, constantly telling him that he can't do things because of his heart. I don't want to squish his dreams or his potential with worry. I was so paranoid of acting this way, that I felt like I couldn't be overprotective of my baby when he is still a baby. However, with the encouragement of friends, family, and even doctors, (though they usually didn't even know they were being encouraging), I came to the realization that you can't over-baby a baby; there is no such thing as being overprotective of a 2 week old, especially one with a hole in his heart. It was like I got permission from the world: "you only have to do what you feel comfortable doing this summer." It was such a huge, gigantic sense of relief that has been pouring in for the last few days as I pieced this together. The realization has helped me to feel more connected to my baby, happier about being a mother, and even made me feel closer to God. Life is starting to feel happy again: this is my baby and I am in charge of keeping him safe. I know that it will be a struggle for me, because I normally try so hard not to make people angry at me (I hate confrontation), but with Matt functioning as my enforcer, I know I will have the guts to tell him when I am feeling overwhelmed and we'll tackle this summer together. It's our first family adventure : )

06 May 2011

Baby Heart Saga - Plan A

Now that we have met with the U of M doctors (which I did today), we have some more details about the course of action regarding the baby's heart.

So, the doctors at U of M are in full agreement with the diagnosis of the Florida doctors (Recap: A very mild form of Tetralogy of Fallot - fyi, don't Google it, but if you do, most of what you read will not apply to our situation due to the "a la carte" nature of the condition). At today’s various appointments, we set a course of action (Plan A, if you will) based on what the situation appears to be.

Until the cutting of the cord, the baby is not using his/her own heart so much as relying on me, so in terms of the birthing process, the OBGYN and the cardiatric surgeons agree that we should be able to follow any birth plan that we like (ie, letting labor begin naturally, having a vaginal birth, etc). Post-birth, the Michigan doctors do not believe that the baby will need to stay in the hospital any longer than normal for observation after birth. (We previously thought there would be some delay in bringing the baby home, but we have since gotten a better image of some of the heart valves, which helps clarify the type of Tetralogy that our baby has). During the standard 48 hours that insurance covers for delivery, the baby will have several tests done to further clarify the extent of the defects and create a schedule for a corrective surgery, which will likely occur between 3-6 months of age. Just as was the case before, there will be an initial open-heart corrective surgery, then several follow-up surgeries (also open-heart) throughout the baby’s life (Recap: the Florida doctors said to expect about 3 open-heart surgeries by the time the baby is 60-years-old). They expect that recovery time in the hospital after the surgery will be shorter than expected, 5-10 days, but at this point, we are looking awfully far forward into the future for a baby who has yet to be born.

Of course, all of this is just the Plan A. Anything could change at any moment once the postpartum tests are run. That being said, the doctors are certainly experts in their field and their professional opinions are definitely more than rough estimates.

Lastly, this is not a genetic condition, but a strictly environmental one that occurred randomly when the baby’s heart was developing in utero, we don't know the baby's gender, and the due date is June 2nd.

Baby Heart Saga – Emotional Fallout

I am an emotional wreck. Maybe I shouldn't even be blogging in the thick of such raw emotion. The evening of doctors appointments, however, are always emotional for me. Even if we get good news, as we did today, it is so emotionally draining to talk about the hole in your baby's heart. I am physically exhausted from being at the hospital from 9am until 3pm meeting with various people. I am emotionally exhausted from discussing open heart surgery. I am emotionally exhausted from being pregnant. I am mentally exhausted because I come back from the doctor to someone else's house. I really miss my husband. And I am one of those people who falls apart when they are tired. If I just slept, I would feel a thousand times better, but part of me wants to blog when I am so completely drained. This is real life. I feel like my whole world is falling apart, and I feel like I am barely holding myself together. Today I do not feel strong. I need a really good night's sleep; I am not setting my alarm for the morning; I will get up when I get up.

Anyway, now that I have spilled my guts to you, the next post will be an excerpt from the email that I sent around to family earlier today outlining the specifics of the most recent doctors visits. I am placing it in a separate post because I am going to post a link to that post on my Facebook page so that friends and extended family can get an update.

05 May 2011

Settling In

I have arrived, moved in, and unpacked. Mostly.

Monday was difficult, to say the least. I'll spare you all the details, but my suitcase was 3 lbs too heavy, the plane left 40 minutes late due to mechanical errors, and then the flight down was very turbulent-y. But all-in-all, I got here in one piece, albeit without 3 lbs worth of stuff.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday unpacking and shopping for extra supplies. My parents generously lent us a dresser that they use in their spare bedroom and we bought a new mattress (no one had a queen size to lend us), which were already in the room when we arrived. I have since purchased a 3 shelf bookshelf ($20 - Target) and a wire cube-thing ($20 - Bed Bath and Beyond) that holds baskets, etc. I'm using it for baby stuff. I also bought a rocking chair at the Salvation Army. We have a generous walk-in closet that is pretty much saving us in terms of space. We do still have some space for additional belongings, which is good because I have a baby shower coming up on Saturday and will need it. There will also be a sizable amount of unpacking and organizing to do when Matt gets here (late Tuesday or early Wednesday), though, and I am wondering how much more will fit.

I am super sore from all the shopping and unpacking these last two days. Thankfully I have nothing today, so I plan to spend it rebuilding the energy lost. There is almost no humidity down here and the air has had quite a chill to it, but I don't mind it so much because the swelling in my hands went down considerably.

It is super hard being away from Matt and from my kitties and I can't wait until they all get here. Matt has already taken two finals so far. He has a paper due on Friday (tomorrow) and another exam on Monday, then we are free of 2L year.

Tomorrow will be a pretty busy day for both of us. The movers will be arriving bright and early in Florida, Matt's paper is due, plus I have a whole host of doctor's appointments. I am planning to spend Friday night pretty much incognito. I'll reappear on Saturday to let people know what the doctor's said and for my Michigan baby shower. It's another friends-only shower, which my sister-in-laws are throwing. That may sound confusing to most people, but my sister-in-laws are two of my best friends, so it actually makes perfect sense that they host it. I can't wait to see them after sooooo long of being away. I doubt I'll want to leave at the end of the night.

Well, I guess that's it for now. I spent the morning doing some pregnancy stretches and deep breathing exercises (feeling wwwaaayyy better now too), so I think I'm ready to hit the showers, then spend the day pampering myself. I'm rrreeeaaalllyyy looking forward to some down time.

PS, as of today, I am nine months/36 weeks pregnant.

03 May 2011

Summer Plans

This post was actually written at 8:11am on Sunday 1 May. I am pre-blogging this to appear on Tuesday. I won't have the Internet until Wednesday, so I thought I'd spread in a little filler on a topic I realized I forgot to talk about. Hence that is why this post makes no mention of the flight, or getting settled in, or anything.

As we all know by now, summers in law school are not for relaxing or vacationing. Our plans for 2L summer? Well, first a little detail on the internship. Since Matt is working for a judge and the courts are closed on holidays, he won't have to work on any federal holidays. Because he has yet to procure his JD, he won't be taking any work home with him (apparently it's a liability for him to work unsupervised). Also, the judge is super flexible in terms of Matt's hours, and he also keeps odd hours himself. We are hoping, but have yet to confirm, that Matt will be able to take a van line service that runs from the town we'll be living into Detroit (a 1 hour drive). The van line would get him to work at 7am and pick him up at 4:30pm. (Save gas money, gets me the car). In sum, the internship appears pretty flexible in terms of allowing him to have evenings and weekends.

Because we want to be in Michigan after graduation, Matt plans to spend ample time this summer networking. I am not sure exactly how he and his remaining 250 business cards plans to accomplish this goal, but I do know that he will be hoping to attend various meetings (Maybe some ABA meetings? Not sure) and conferences that allow law students.

Career Services advised him to start job hunting for a post-graduation job this summer. So that will also be appearing on the to-do list this summer. I am hoping that we can dedicate some specific time each weekend for Matt to solely job hunt. This way if something comes up, we can reschedule the job hunt time and it won't get pushed off until July.

Lastly, remember back when I posted that Matt was elected the #1 guy of a student organization, the Knights of Columbus (K of C)? Well, 2L summer obligations include preparing the calendar of activities for the upcoming year.

In terms of our personal life, we are hoping to go for a walks at least once each weekend. We LOVE to hike and we will be living near a huge state rec area in Michigan. I am hoping that we will be able to take some easy little 2 mile hike or something once each weekend. This will help us to shed the baby weight (yes, Matt also has some baby weight to shed), bond as a family, and enjoy the outdoors in a state that isn't full of alligators and swamp. We'll see what the doctors say about the baby's heart and what our prospects are for the summer since the corrective surgery will have yet to have occurred.

We also (obviously) would really like to catch up with our friends and families. We haven't seen most of our family for nearly a year, so we are definitely hoping for a few visits over the summer.

I don't know how having a baby will change our summer plans, but hopefully between interning and job hunting, we'll still be able to network, prep K of C, go on mini-hikes, and visit with family and friends. We've got 3 months, right?

01 May 2011

5 days, 8 hours...

Well, World, tomorrow morning I leave  for Michigan. The apartment is packed and has been for several days now and I received word yesterday that the boxes I shipped to Michigan arrived. Until the movers come on Friday, Matt has nothing to worry about except his finals.

Speaking of the devil, it's pretty frustrating having to share our last weekend together for a while with the books. Yesterday I sat at the kitchen table, which is next to his desk, and made some pretty amazing progress in this online game I found to bide my time since all my books and crafts are packed. We plan to go out on a lunch date today, but then it's back to studying/gaming. Matt is sick of studying and desperately wishes he could game with me. It's the end of a long year, we're all ready for summer break.

When I remind myself that we're separating in the best interest of our baby, it makes me feel a lot better, but it's hard to remember that fact when I realize that I'm going to be without my husband or even my kitties for a week. I am super looking forward to the time when he arrives though, and we get to be a married couple and have guilt-free fun  since there won't be any classes to worry about! We'll at least get a few days of summer vacation before the job starts up. In the meantime, you'd better believe I have a countdown going. 5 days, 8 hours, and 22 minutes until he gets out of his last final exam of 2L year and hits the road.

PS, we have also been married for exactly 1100 days today!