Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pool Days and Sunscreen

I keep telling myself over this last month that Olive cannot be my last baby!  This is way too much fun to not do all over again!  

This summer has been the best summer of my life.  I am loving being a stay at home mom in such a wonderful family friendly city.  My life this year is such a starke contrast to how I was with Mimi at this same age.  Mimi was in full time daycare by the time she was 5 months old.  For financial reasons, I could only stay home with Mimi part time until she was 5 months, then she was at daycare 45 hours a week!  I look back on that now and I think about how much I missed!  I loved our daycare provider, she was a family friend who happen to run a at-home licensed daycare.  She was affordable and I knew her long before I was even married.  Mimi learned so much and always seemed happy.  I was the one that was unhappy.  The weekdays were a chaotic mess of alarm clocks and rushing here to there.  

Now I wake up with no alarm clock.  My kids are my built in alarm clocks.  My husband has the flexibility to start work whenever he wants before 10, so our mornings are pretty leisurely.  After we all wake up and have a home cooked (!!!) breakfast (something our fulltime working days never allowed), my husband leaves for work and I have this empty canvas day.  Errands can be run whenever we feel up to it.  The house gets cleaned and messed up throughout the day...most days I am in my pajamas drinking coffee until at least 9am.  

From May to August our days mostly look like this....

No joke, Mimi is a fish.  Mimi will be 4 this July and can swim with no floaties.  I am beyond proud of this kid.  Swimming takes it out of her like nothing else.  We go to the YMCA a lot and I will workout for an hour while the kids play with toys and color pictures in the childcare.  Then we have a picnic lunch outside and swim until Olive gives us the sign that she's had enough, which is usually about two hours.  We go through our favorite sunscreen like crazy!  Sunscreen is one thing I'm pretty picky about.  I am fair skinned and burn very easily. In my 7 years in FL working on the water in the hot FL summers, this was the one sunscreen I found that stays on, doesn't irritate my skin or eyes, and works amazing!  It was only natural to use this one for my kids too.

This fall we start homeschooling Mimi, which is shaping up to be another adventure!  For now I'll enjoy these carefree pool days...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Watching Mimi with Olive

Watching Mimi with Olive melts my heart daily.   When I as pregnant I worried about jealously and juggling.  Mimi being jealous of the time I spent with the baby or the attention she receives, and juggling the needs of both kids and not feeling like either is getting less than what they need from me.  These were my two concerns.  So far jealously had not been an issue.  Mimi had nothing but love for her baby sister.  Sometimes too much love lol....

Juggling the needs of both is hard sometimes.  Mimi is still young and can't always understand why Olive's needs come first.  I try really hard to balance the time I spend with both.  I make so many attempts to spend quality one on one time with Mimi.  I enjoy the quiet late night nursing sessions (or early mornings  when everyone else is asleep.  Everyday it gets easier more and more natural to divide my time between them, and enjoy them together.

The other side arrives

A few days after my mother and brother left, my husbands family arrived for New Years.  We had 8 people camped out in our tiny Austin house for a very cold TX New Year.

It as really nice to watch the entire family meet and snuggle Olive, and of course our big girl Mimi.  Our girls are the only grandkids on my husbands side and they are definitely the center of attention.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A full house for Christmas

After those last three depressing posts you need something positive right? Damn I do.

When I was pregnant with Olive, they scheduled an induction on December 17 if I had not had her yet.  My mom booked her plane tickets accordingly and arrived that day.  Little did we know when we booked them that little olive would be over a month old!  We spent that week before Christmas cuddling our new bundle and enjoying the first Christmas that my mother, brother, and I had been together for Christmas in 10 years!  My brother's baby was 6 months old at the time.  She is my only niece and she is such a puddin!  Watching him as a father is amazing.

Don't google it...

Over the next two weeks, Olive was doing really well.  She was down to 1/2 liter of oxygen and was nursing and bottle feeding well.   I drove to the NICU for as many of the "touch times" and feedings as I could manage with my husband being back at work.  On Thanksgiving morning the NICU called us to tell us they wanted us to bring in her carseat for her test and she may go home soon.   We were so excited.  We had to purchase a new carseat because Olive as too small to fit in the GRACO seat we saved from Mimi.  On the evening of black friday I waited in line for two hours at Toys R Us to buy a Chicco Keyfit that the NICU recommended.

I got to the hospital late Friday night and my heart sank when I walked in to find my baby back on oxygen and full of IVs again. I broke down and cried right there in my little visiter chair next to her isolet.  The nurse handed me some tissues and got the doctor to come and tell me what had happened.  They explained that they had found blood in Olive's diaper, along with a lot of vomit in her crib.  She also had a distended belly and was very lethargic.

Olive was diagnosed with Necrotizing Entercolitis.  The first thing the doctor told me was "don't go home and google it" which of course I did.  I wish I hadn't.  My browser screen was flooded with statistics like "only 40-60% of babies survive.."  Officially wished I hadn't googled it.  More tears over the next 10 days as they filled her body with hardcore antibiotics, had to move her IV every few days, attempt putting in a PIC line.   She was on a 10 day course of these drugs, with no food allowed.  She was sustained by IV sugars and electrolytes.  For the first few days I was not allowed to hold her.  Once her x-rays showed that the gas in her intestines was reducing, I was allowed to hold her every few hours if I could get to the NICU.  The poor thing would root and root for food and I wasn't allowed to feed her.

After 10 days, they slowly introduced food again and then nursing again.  I am still feeling so blessed that I had all the milk she needed.  She had to be weaned off oxygen again as her body healed.  In retrospect, Olive was so lucky.  Her doctors pinpointed the symtoms quickly enough to reduce the damage to her intestinal track and avoid surgery.

After she tolerated the volume of food that was required for her to maintain weight and was off oxygen for 48 hours, she took her 10 hour apnea test and her carseat test.  After anxiously waiting the doctors answer....On December 13th Olive came home.

Even though Olive is home safe in my arms and growing strong to this day, this whole experience has scarred me.  My heart will never be the same after experiencing the pain of leaving my baby in that hospital day after day for an entire month.  I missed so many firsts.  I will never forgive myself, because it was my body that couldn't make it to 40 weeks.  When they had done my c-section they discovered my placenta was in fact torn, and I my amniotic fluid was filled with blood.  My placenta was heavily calcified, as if I was past 40 weeks in my pregnancy, not at 34 weeks.  The doctor told me after that we had made the right decision to take her out when we did.

Olive was put through so much.  No mother should have to face this challenge and no baby should spend those first few precious weeks in a hospital and not in their mother's arms.  I pray if we have any more babies that this is not in our future again.

The Hardest Month of My Life

Olive's crazy pregnancy and birth story were only a sample of the challenges I would have to face.  The emotions that I went through the month Olive was in the NICU have been safely packaged up and tucked deep into my hard and far from my memory for a reason.  To this day I cry when I remember how if felt to be without her.  I cry now as I am typing this.  I want to remember though, so I am going to write it out.

Olive was born 6 weeks early, and although I received the steroid injections, her lungs were not ready to breath air yet.  She needed oxygen support soon after birth.  I wasn't allowed to hold her until she was three days old.  I could go down the NICU in a wheelchair during my stay at the hospital and sit with her as much as I was able.  My blood pressure was really messed up after the birth due to the toxemia, that I had these crippling headaches whenever I was upright.  I tried once a day to go see her if I could.  

My friend Emily came to see me in the hospital on the third day and took me down to the NICU to see Olive. The nurse let me hold her for all of a minute, but it as amazing.  I hate looking at these pictures because they make me cry to this day, but I am happy Emily took them for me.

I stayed 6 days at the hospital total, 4 after her birth. I pumped milk religiously every 3 hours night and day and they took it down to Olive and she received it through a tube.  Thank god for one thing going right! My boobs knew their job man and the nurse were blown away by my supply after only 2 days post partum.

Each day Olive grew stronger and eventually came off CPAP.  They were telling us she may be there only 1 or two weeks.

Being discharged from the hospital without your baby was heart wrenching.  I walked past the nurses station, my husband holding my hand tight, passing by all the moms with their babies nestled in their carseats ready to go home.  This heart wrenching feeling was the same each time I left the hospital over the next month....

Olive's Birth Story

I always knew in my heart my baby would come early.  Maybe it was all those warnings the fetal maternal doctor gave me about hypertensive mothers, or in my heart I just knew.  Our little baby swayed back and forth in utero from the 10th-25 Percentile over my last trimester.  My blood pressure slowly started climbing again, and the doctors would give me that side squinty eye look when they reviewed my bp levels I was recording. To add insult to injury, I developed gestational diabetes, and even with my paleo diet, my morning fasting numbers were super high.

On November 11th, I remember feeling really crampy all day in the top of my stomach.  I thought maybe I had been on my feet too long, and after dinner I had resolved myself to lay low.  As I was loading the dishwasher, at 33 weeks and 6 days pregnant, something happened.  Something inside me felt horrible.  I was in some of the worst pain, pain that would not subside.  I crawled to the couch and lay there screaming.  I remember gripping the couch with my fists and clenching the fabric waiting for it to pass.  My husband felt helpless and kept asking what he should do, but I couldn't speak. I got to the tub, hoping the warm water would relax me or something.  I called the OB office after hour call line and they told me someone would call me back.  An hour went by, still motionless in pain in my bathtub.  Finally my husband calls again and they tell us to come in.  We wake up poor Mimi, and we go to labor and delivery at 11pm.

An ultrasound confirms that I tore a 3 cm piece of my placenta, but the baby was stable.  They admitted me and began steroid shots to strengthen the babies lungs.  The doctor told me that the baby was stable, but the amount of pain I was in was concerning.  She felt that after 3 rounds of steroids they wanted to deliver the baby.  I sat for two days in the hospital under constant monitors.  After the first 24 hours, I was in so much pain it hurt to breath, the tear was near the top of my belly and the expanding of my lungs was excruciating.  I finally accepted some pain medication.  The next 24 hours my husband and I felt like we were on a plane stuck on the runway waiting to take off with the flight attendants and captain giving us different information.  It didn't help that the doctor who admitted us, now went off call and the new doctor had a different idea of what we should do.  New doctor decides that since the babies heart is stable, we should wait as long as possible (even weeks) and just be on constant standby for an emergency c section.  When she said this to me I broke into tears.  I was in this unimaginable pain, like flesh tearing apart inside me.  Every move of my body was becoming excruciating. I was not allowed any food or even water by mouth over the last 36 hours.  I looked at my husband eyes searching for him to make a decision so I didn't spend the rest of my life feeling guilty that I had my baby early because I couldn't' take this pain any longer.     The doctor left it up to us, have a csection now and the baby will surely go to the NICU for an indeterminate amount of time, or wait it out in this constant state of pain dampened by pain medication.  I hated the doctor for making me feel like I had to chose between me stopping the pain and the baby going to the NICU.  My husband could read my face, he saw my pain.  I think we both knew in our hearts something was wrong and it was time to have the baby.

We signed all the paperwork, they began to prep me for my surgery, and then the doctor knocks again. She tells me the NICU is full and that as soon as I have my baby, it will be transferred to another hospital and I will have to stay.  My husband was furious, I of course began to cry again.  Not only would my baby be in a NICU, but one across town.  How can this be happening?

I put my hands on my husband shoulders to calm him down and looked him straight in the face and for some reason at that moment, I was the strong one.  I told him that the important this is that the baby will be ok.  We can get through this, I told him.  He was so angry, I had never seen him that upset.  The charge nurse must have overheard our conversation.  She told us in this whisper that we don't have to sign the release forms for the baby to be transfered and that they will find a place for the baby.  She called the NICU and found out that private quarantine rooms were available which could technical house our infant.

Two amazing things happened next.  As I was prepped for surgery in the OR, the doctor came in and told us they found a place for our baby in the NICU, then minutes later, this amazing little girl came out screaming, which is music to a mothers ears....

5 lbs, 3 oz of love, 17 inches long at 34 weeks.

What I didn't realize was the hardest part was still ahead of me...