Friday, June 30, 2017

Dear Baby Pickle: How you got here

Dear Baby Pickle,

8 days before your arrival, we made the decision to pull you out of the womb early. There would be no Trial of Labor for mama, there would be no last minute ultrasound to check for your position, and there would be no more debating whether or not we'd go to 39 or 40 weeks. You were coming at 37 weeks exactly, and we honestly didn't know *precisely* why. All we knew was that the risks of you being stillborn and me fully developing preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome were rising quickly and everyone was getting uncomfortable. You started consistently failing NSTs (non stress tests) because your heart rate was inexplicably dropping and all the experts agreed that a decision needed to be made.

Our surgery was scheduled for 4:00 pm with a 2:00 pm check in. My prep started the night before with special soapy showers and a hard deadline for no more food after 8 am. The morning of, I ate breakfast, went to work, and actually worked all morning. I had meetings with the team, the vendor who would be covering me at work, and did a bunch of configuration items on the finance system before I left to head to the hospital. I walked out of work a little after noon and headed home with dad. I got home and my nesting urges forced me to finish the silk ring sling I was making for you prior to heading to the hospital. I spent an hour sewing and had the calmest, most relaxing pre-birth experience I could have imagined. At 1:25 we left for the hospital, knowing that we'd be coming home with you.

We walked into the waiting area, said who we were and then were whisked away to a room to prep for surgery. I was told that a repeat cesarean would be EASY compared to the labor and emergency surgery I experienced with your brother. However, the powers that be made sure that the experience wasn't actually easy. The very first task was placing my IV. The nurse completely ignored my request for a hand placement. A shot of lidocaine and 15 minutes later, and the placement on my right forearm was considered a failure. NO LIDOCAINE and less than 5 minutes later and the IV in my left wrist was a complete failure. I was also prepared to never let that nurse touch me again. Since third time's a charm, and all that jazz, the placement by a different nurse in my left hand was slow, but successful. (Spoiler alert, it's been 2 weeks and I still have pain in my hand and arm from that IV placement).

We went over my birth plan, asked for the doula to come with us, and took some photos in the room. The nurse shaved my belly to prep for surgery in the most haphazard manner and the anesthesiologist came in to chat about the plan for the Operating Room. Close to 4:00 pm, the team took me back to the operating room to get my spinal and prep the stage (aka, my belly) for surgery. Is it really a surprise that it took close to an hour and 3 attempts to place my spinal? No? I didn't think so. After the spinal was finally placed, things moved quickly. The catheter was placed, the drape and surgical area was prepped, and pretty soon everyone was introducing themselves. After a room full of introductions, the doctors got to work and all of the tugging and pressure began. Before long, my OB was basically on top of me trying to tug you out of my belly. Without even laboring, I managed to get a second baby stuck. You are the only baby I've ever heard of who needed a vacuum assisted c-section. But, before we knew it, the drape was dropped and I got to see you being born.

The brought you over to the baby warmer and let dad trim your cord and then brought you over and put you on my chest. I got to hold you there for a while, but you started to make weird grunting noises. The team took you back, stuck a tube down your throat and pulled a huge vial of sticky, clear, thick mucus from your throat. After that, you started to breathe much more easily. Daddy held you for a while and I hung out on the bed while the surgeons stitched me up. I kept having bouts of low blood pressure and lots of nausea. So, while I wanted to hold you, and never let go, I also just wanted to get the whole thing over and done.

Eventually, they finished putting me back together and we all headed to recovery where you were able to latch on (but couldn't transfer any milk) and I expressed milk for you. Your sugars stayed stable and your weight was perfect, both things I am awfully proud of because it meant that I controlled my glucose numbers very well while you were in utero. I hope that I can continue to provide you with awesome nutrition now that you're here.

So, that's it, the somewhat simple story of how you got here and why you came the way you did. The details about things that went wrong or turned sideways later aren't important to this story. More on that later. Just know, you're an incredible final addition to our family and I'm so glad you're here now.

Lots of love,

Mama

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dear Baby Pickle: The night before you were born

Your birthday is tomorrow, you will be here in the late afternoon or early evening and you will arrive via cesarean section. Your birth planning included the phrase "will tap out at the first sign of trouble" and I honestly thought that I would encounter that decision point during labor, not at 35 weeks.

Since 35 weeks the two of us have been falling apart. You started showing variable decelerations on your NSTs and I started showing symptoms of pre-eclampsia. I didn't realize it two weeks ago, but I am also showing signs of HELLP. Basically, my liver is failing and we don't know why your heart rate drops with your big gymnastics moves. What we do know is that we are balancing your safety and mine and trying to figure out if you are better off inside or out. We decided last week that out with a plan makes the most sense.

I am honestly terrified and anxious about this process. I have been riddled with fear at each NST, each ultrasound, and with every time we pull out the doppler to check on you. I have been mourning Ehren as an only child for the past two days and simultaneously crying and embracing each last in this chapter of our lives. Tonight, I celebrated by taking my final dose of insulin and FINALLY removing my obnoxious medical bracelet (gestational diabetes be gone!). I cried my way through bedtime where Ehren sang to you one last time in my belly and begged to hear your "heartbeep". I won't be able to lift Ehren for a few weeks and it will be a big challenge for the two of us.

I am both eager and scared to meet you. Currently, I fear that I haven't been a good enough incubator for you. I have honestly tried to do the best I could for you. There are no plans for more babies, so I am truly hoping that this will be a good experience and that all of my worry will be for naught. I will miss your kicks, but look forward to not vomiting any more.

We'll see you in just 14 hours and begin a whole new grand adventure. Ready or not, it's been planned.

Much love,

Mama

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dear Ehren: 22 Months

Dear Ehren,

I am not sure the words to describe how I feel about you even exist. You make me smile, laugh, and generally just feel amazing. You bring out instincts that I never knew I had. As your mother I have managed to find a way to look laid back even when I'm ready to jump out of my skin because you're screaming/tantruming/climbing all the scary stairs. And then there's the love. This feeling of hot tears building behind my eyes when I think of how much and how deeply, and how naturally, I love you. With all my being. That's how much I love you. They say that your heart grows to make room for the love in your life with a child, and I have to believe that's true. 

You're finally saying new words every day, I've been worried about your speech for a while now, but it seems as though you've caught on. Toddler-speak is difficult to interpret for daddy and I, so it means that we pay extra close attention when you talk. We want to understand you and want you to feel heard. Sometimes, you're just making noises, and honestly, I think sometimes you're just messing with us.

Currently, you're obsessed with Sam and his flat crackers. You get so excited to see Sam, dad's carpool buddy, every morning and it cracks us all up. He is just as excited to see you, and it's pretty great to see you trusting other adults. 

Basically, right now, you're the perfect mix of heart-burstingly awesome and horrendous toddler and it's an awesome phase. It's pretty cool to be your parent, thank you!

Love you forever, 

Mama

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dear Ehren: 16 months

Dear Ehren,

It is so awesome to watch your personality unfold and as we head into the hectic holiday weeks I want to pause to relish some of your currents and firsts.

Fresh Ink: Mom gave you your first tattoo. We are calling you baby bruiser because you look quite badass with a Burgerville tattoo.

Holiday Traditions: Mom and dad kind of failed on the tree front out of fear of Toddler vs Tree wars, so we opted for other traditions. It turns out that you are a chocolate addict and that an advent calendar at 16 months may not have been my brightest idea. You totally don't understand that there is a 1 piece per day limit and scream when it goes back on the wall. We are storing it 5 feet off the ground for obvious reasons. Maybe next year you'll get it. Or I'll do a book thing. Nah, you'll probably get the chocolate again. (Mom and dad get 1/3 of the chocolate, so let's not pretend like we don't have a stake in this!)

Babywearing: Absolutely necessary, even more so since you have started to learn how to run. Bumps and bruises are easily healed with lots of close baby time. I know one day you will not want to be worn anymore, but I am happy to live in this moment instead. It's a good, warm, snuggly moment. <3 p="">
Nursing: I never thought we'd make it this far in our nursing journey. The beginning was soooo hard, but we made it through. I guess this is the result of two stubborn people making a stubborn hybrid. I hope that your perseverance leads you to successful heights.

video videoFood: Yeah, you really only eat goldfish crackers and chocolate with any dependable regularity. We offer you a variety and so does daycare. If you grow up only liking 1 or 2 things, then I hope you enjoy some fantastic food adventures as an adult. In the meantime, I'll keep offering you my food since it seems to be more exciting when served to me instead of you.

Fun and games: You have your own ways of doing everything. From hugging the dog when I ask you to be gentle with her to playing hide and seek in plain sight with daddy. The happiest versions of you are always found when we let you be you, and drink your water with your hands.

It is a busy time of year, and I look forward to opening some Christmas presents with you, making a gingerbread tree, taking you to Montana, and exploring the snowy fields with you. You are my sunshine and I love you beyond compare.

Love always,

Mama

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dear Ehren: There is no shame

Dear Ehren,

For the past 23 years, I've been hiding a big dark secret. I've been ashamed. I've lived in fear of what other people would think of me. My entire adult life, I've held this secret close and rarely let a colleague know. My inlaws and extended family and 99% of my friends have no idea that I'm hiding something. So, here it goes:

For nearly 3 years I was raped in my own home repeatedly.

That it. That one statement has owned so much of my life. I have given it so much power over my existence. My life has been ruled by fear and shame of what others might think of me. So, dear son, I told you grandma and grandpa about this, and some other abuses, and this is how the conversation went.

Grandma G: You really seem upset with your mother about something
Me: Yes, I am. This isn't going away anytime soon.
Grandma G: It really can't be that bad.
Me. This is something I've hid for a long time in fear and shame.
Grandma G: (Gives puzzled look)
Me: For most of my childhood I was physically abused by my mother and her partners. And I was sexually abused by a live-in baby sitter for years.
Grandma G: Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that.
Me. Yeah.

And then, you know what happened? Nothing. There were no repercussions of telling these people about the abuse. They loved me for me. The horrendous response I always feared was all in my head. I realized something that day, I have nothing in my past to be ashamed of. I did nothing wrong. That's it. I. DID. NOTHING. WRONG.

What happened to me were the actions of an adult who wrongfully pursued a 6 year old for sexual pleasure. An adult man who violated parental trust and raped, molested, sodomized, and assaulted an elementary aged girl repeatedly in her own home, bed, living room, and parents' room. A man who knew I wasn't related to him and justified it because "it wasn't incest." This man had previously been accused of abusing another child. This man would have continued to abuse other children had a teacher not been bold enough to teach us about inappropriate touching.

I reported the violations of my innocence to my teacher. The resulting years of the trial and all of its accouterments were hard. They were miserable and demeaning, but the process allowed me to take someone who preyed on young girls out of my community. I was cheated out of the financial settlement of the trial (enough to pay for 1/2 of my tuition) and I was heckled and bullied by ignorant classmates. I did not have much of an understanding on how these incidences would impact my life at 12 years old. I just knew that present time was awful and that I was miserable.

Looking back, there were so many markers that should have told my family I was being abused. There were so many ways a more attentive set of parents could have helped me. There are so many things that could have been different, things that I would change if I could. However, I no longer regret standing up and defending myself. I recognize today that what I did was brave, that how I handled it was mature and adult-like, and how I responded in my own life has been remarkable.

I learned from this horrible time in my life. You will still have baby sitters, you will still get to visit other people's houses, but we won't have any secrets. You, son, will not be intentionally exposed to this abuse, nor will you be naiive to inappropriate touching. I will make sure that you know that your body is your own, that you control who can and cannot touch you and where. I will empower you to be bold enough to say no if in this awful situation and teach you to be resourceful enough to end the abuse before it can even start. Most importantly, I will show you so much love and respect that you will never fear telling me about anything. You will always know that you will be met with love, no matter the subject matter.

I am not the first generation in our family to be sexually assaulted as a child, but I will be the last. This is my promise to you.

With much love,

Mom