Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Here at last

Noah Michael arrived on Friday, March 25 at 3:07pm after 11 hours of labour.  He was a very big boy at 9 lbs even. I'll post the full story soon, until then, here's a few pictures of my sweet little man!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Remembering a special little boy

On March 10, 2011, a special little boy named Zack passed away at three years old.  To read his story, please visit:  http://tjzmommy.blogspot.com/

Zack's parents are working with with York Central Hospital Foundation to build Zack's Dream Room.  To get involved and support this very worthy effort, please click on the link below:

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Waiting impatiently

I am 39 weeks and three days pregnant.  I've been on maternity leave for nine days, which is starting to feel like an eternity.  While I've been off, I've tried to stay busy and get all the "little things" done around the house.  I finished the nursery, created tags for the bins in the baby's closet, set up and tested the baby monitor, brought in cleaners to wash the floors and clean the bathrooms, went grocery shopping (several times) and stocked the fridge and freezer, and finished a huge scrapbooking project I've been working on for three years.

Now that everything is "ready", I'm starting to get impatient.  While I love being able to move around at my own pace and tackle the projects that I've been pulled away from for months, I can only take so much down time!!

At my doctor's appointment on Monday, my OB did a procedure called the "Stretch and Sweep" which she felt would get labour going.  Obviously it didn't work, because it's three days later and baby is still happily cuddled up in my belly.

I've been getting pretty uncomfortable this week, the baby is dropping and putting a lot of pressure on my hips and pelvis.  As for sleeping, I have a few power naps during the day, but sleeping at night is becoming impossible.  Between my snoring (which hubby says sounds like a plane landing) and my inability to roll over gracefully (picture a beached whale flopping around from side to side) and the frequent washroom trips, there isn't a lot of sound sleep happening right now.

I'm very excited and anxious to meet this little one.  40 weeks is a very long time to wait, and after being pregnant for nearly 20 months straight (with a three month break), I am VERY ready to have my body back again. 

Any day now....I hope!  Come on baby, prove my mom wrong (she said I would have a baby that's just as stubborn as me....uh oh!).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remembering Olivia

A year ago today, I was waking up and trying to decipher if it was all just a bad dream.  Then I put my hand on my belly and realized that it was not.

After 36 hours in the hospital on the mild induction meds, the doctors finally decided to give me oxy, a much more powerful drug.  They also gave me an IV painkiller pump, so I could self-administer drugs when I needed them, with a limit of once every two minutes.  The contractions came fast and hard and, at first, the drugs worked.  After a few hours, I was in agony and they weren't doing anything.  I was insistent that I didn't want an epidural, particularly after the doctor explained all the risks.  After 6 hours, I could barely focus I was in so much pain.  The doctor said that they were ready to break my water but wouldn't do anything until they got my pain under control.  So I relented and went with the epidural.  I was surprised at how little it hurt.  The most uncomfortable part was being hunched over the side of the bed with my face pressed against the nurse's chest (which made it hard to breathe) during contractions (which made it almost impossible to stay still).  I felt a small poke from the anaesthesia and then it was in.  Within minutes, I was numb from the waist down and feeling good.

I remember lying in bed, enjoying the sudden calm, and all of a sudden I felt a sensation like a water balloon breaking between my legs.  It was...you guessed it...my water breaking.  And it was just like the movies, a huge gush across the bed.  I said out loud "I think my water just broke" and no one took me seriously at first, until I said "my feet are wet" and the nurse lifted the blanket and discovered I was telling the truth.

They got me cleaned up and ready for pushing.  I will never forget that moment.

The room was in almost darkness, and I don't know if it was because of the time (just after 6am) or the situation, and they thought it would be easier if the mood was quiet and calm.  The doctor told me to start pushing, and after less than 10 minutes she told me to stop.  I could feel her guiding Olivia out of my pelvis, and despite the epidural, I could still feel the pressure of her shoulders.  And then there was silence.

The doctors warned us that there were two possible scenarios: Olivia could be born alive and live for a very short time, or she could be stillborn.  Deep down I was hoping she would be born alive so I'd have a chance to hear her and interact with her, even if it was for a short time.  Perhaps god thought it would be easier on us if she were born still and peacefully.

We asked the doctor to clean her up before we saw her, because they also warned us that her head and face would have severe deformities and it could be very disturbing.  They brought her over wrapped in a blanked with a tiny pink hat (which looked massive) over her tiny head and face.  I could see the severe cleft peeking out the bottom and couldn't bring myself to look at hear head.  Instead I focused on her little body, her perfect hands and feet.  I held her for quite some time, it was all very surreal.  The doctors expressed their condolences and left us alone for a bit.  Hubby didn't hold her, I think it was all too much for him.  I don't blame him, I felt like I was in the middle of a dream the entire time.

The nurses returned and I passed her back, so they could place her in the nearby examining area for a closer look.  All I remember is falling asleep, because we'd been up for most of the night.  A few hours later, the geneticist and his team knocked on the door and wanted to know if they could see Olivia.  They had been following our case and were very interested to see her.  They were very kind and respectful, and didn't stick around for too long.  They gave us their cards and asked that we book a follow-up appointment with them in a few months, once the genetic testing was done, to better understand what had happened.

The final visitor was the hospital spiritual consultant.  We had asked that there be a blessing ceremony after her birth.  While we sat on the bed, she collected Olivia's body from the bassinet.  When she placed her in my arms, I realized her hat had come off and for the first time I saw her face and head.  It was so hard to see something so horrible.  She looked like something out of a sci fi movie.  She noticed my reaction and immediately helped me to get the hat back on.  After a few prayers, and a short candle lighting ceremony, she left us with some literature and left us.

Once the nurses were confident I was recovering properly, they transferred us to a recovery room to rest and clean up.  We were only there for about two hours, which gave me a chance to sleep some more, clean up and get dressed.  At that point all I wanted to do was get out of there and go home.  By that point we'd been at the hospital for over 48 hours, and it was feeling more and more like a prison every moment.

Finally we were released.  I remember walking down the street to our car, and thinking how unfair it was that, after everything we'd been through, we were leaving the hospital empty handed. I made it to the car before I broke down, all the emotions that had been bottled up for the past two days came rushing out at once.  I never knew heartache could hurt so bad.

I eventually fell asleep for the rest of the hour-long drive home, and once we made it home, I immediately went to bed and slept for about six hours.  When I woke up, we looked through the pretty white fabric pouch they gave us when we left, which contained a certificate of her birth, her hand a foot prints, and several pictures of Olivia on the blanked I bought her in Chicago.  It was a very emotional moment, but I also remember feeling a sense of peace looking at her pictures, and knowing that she was in a better place.

The days ahead were a complete emotional roller coaster, filled with tears, frustration, anger and moments of calm.  Thanks to our family and friends, we had an amazing support network of people who were ready to help us at a moment's notice.  And without them, and without my amazing husband, I wouldn't have survived this real-life nightmare.

And now it's a year later, and the whole thing feels so surreal.  I'm a week away from delivering a healthy baby, but I haven't forgotten Olivia for one moment.  We didn't do anything special to mark the day yesterday, but she was in my thoughts and heart all day long.  It didn't feel right to only remember her yesterday, when she's become a big part of my soul each and every day.

With that, I dedicate this song:

Olivia Morgan
Born still on March 19, 2010
6:35am
30 cm long, 1 pound 6oz

Rest in peace little angel



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Open wounds...

A year ago today we were registering at Mt. Sinai for our induction.  We returned from a 5 day trip to Chicago the night before (distraction for me, work for hubby).  Going with him was the best decision I ever made.  After finding out the news, I knew I couldn't be separated from him for that long.  I spent 5 days wandering around the city, walking the magnificent mile, visiting the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo, and basically doing everything I could to take my mind off our baby's dark fate.

It was an extremely difficult 5 days.  People would stop and ask me about the baby (I was very visibly pregnant at this point) and I told them I was having a girl.  They were so nice and I tried to smile and say thanks, when deep down my heart was aching.  Shopping was impossible...I couldn't buy maternity clothes because in a week I wouldn't be pregnant anymore, and I couldn't buy "normal" clothes because I knew they wouldn't fit for a while.  The one thing I did buy was a beautiful pink blanket for Olivia.  I remember taking it to the cash and the woman asked if I wanted a matching outfit, and I choked back the tears and said no, knowing there was no point because nothing would be tiny enough to fit her.  But I wanted her to have a cozy blanket to keep her safe and warm after she left us.

The trip home wasn't exactly pleasant.  Somehow our bags didn't make it onto the plane, and they wouldn't arrive until sometime the next day.  We decided to stay in Toronto instead of coming home, particularly because our flight arrived at midnight.  I clearly remember yelling at the baggage claim clerk, explaining to her that I was being induced the next day and now had NOTHING.  She must've thought I was crazy, and when hubby noticed what was happening (he was off searching the other carousels for our bags), he rushed over and intervened.  I was so upset.  Not only were we facing a horrible day, but I now had to face it with no personal belongings.

Thank goodness the hotel people were helpful, they provided enough toiletries so we could at least get cleaned up and go to bed.  But I didn't sleep.  I spent most of the night lying in bed with my hand on my belly, feeling her move and kick.  Every kick made my heart ache more and more, and made me feel awful about the decision we had made.  I watched the clock, begging the time to move faster so we could just get it over with, while at the same time trying to treasure our last few moments with her.

We woke up early and went to the hospital.  After several hours of paperwork and waiting, we were finally taken to the induction room...which became a prison to me over the next two days.  Unfortunately due to a lot of emergency deliveries, we were low on the priority list and spent most of the day waiting for updates.  It was almost 8 hours before I got the first dose of the induction drug, and the waiting was making us both crazy.  The nurse cautioned us that we would likely be at the hospital for another 24-48 hours, because this process was often very slow.  My heart and spirits sank, and B did everything he could to keep me sane during the long process ahead.

And so the wait began....waiting for the drugs to push my body into labour, waiting for the inevitable loss of our little angel. 

38 weeks and counting!

Baby is coming....it's all starting to feel very real!  We have 12 days until our due date, and baby is more active than ever.  Our bags are packed, the nursery is done, the bassinet is set up in our bedroom, playpen is set up in the living room, and the swing and bouncy seats eagerly await a squirmy little body.  It's only a matter of time!

Here's a couple of my favourite photos from my recent maternity shoot.  My belly has grown considerably since then (and started to drop over the last week)...hard to believe it was almost two months ago!



Thursday, March 10, 2011

On the home stretch...and remembering the day everything fell apart

I am 37 weeks and 2 days today.  I had my weekly OB appointment this afternoon and the doctor said that baby has dropped a cm.  I swear it feels like more than that, as my pelvis, hips and lower back are starting to ache!  My belly is itching like crazy and the heartburn has gotten a little out of control.  I feel very blessed to have this baby inside me, but I'm SO ready to meet baby and have my body back!!

I have two days left of work and I can hardly wait.  Every day that passes makes all of this much more real.  A friend of mine who was due two weeks before me had her baby today via c-section.  He is absolutely adorable!  I can't wait to finally meet our baby!  It feels like we've waited so long!

Every so often my thoughts drift back to a year ago, and the anxiety we were feeling today.  On this day, we had our appointment at Mount Sinai.  I remember sitting in the waiting room, and thinking "everyone that's here is having some sort of problem with their pregnancy".  But then we'd hear occasional chatter and laughter from the ultrasound room and our hopes would rise with the sense of optimism in the air. 

When it was finally our turn, we were escorted into the ultrasound room.  Hubby was able to stay with me the entire time, and there was a giant LCD screen where we could watch the ultrasound.  The doctor was polite but not overly friendly.  We figured she was just trying to focus on her work.  I remember watching the screen and trying to make out parts of Olivia's body.  It wasn't easy and occasionally I would ask a question, and she would give me single word answers.  The ultrasound took nearly an hour, which felt like a lifetime!

She left the room to consult with the head doctor, and came back approx 15 minutes later with two people in tow.  One of them was a Dr and the other was a med student.  The head Dr was very friendly and said he wanted to take a look.  He ran the scanner over my belly again, and then told me to get dressed and meet them in a room down the hall.  It was very difficult to read their reactions and what was happening.  All I knew was that I was quietly praying that everything was ok (and hubby told me later that he had his fingers crossed through the entire ultrasound).

We went down to the room to wait, for what felt like an eternity.  Finally the two doctors and student returned, and i noticed he had a box of tissues in his hand.  Immediately my heart fell.  We could tell by the look in their eyes that the news was not good.

He explained that Olivia had exencephaly, essentially her skull hadn't formed properly and her brain was exposed, protected only by a thin layer of tissue.  She also had a severe cleft palate.  He explained that she couldn't survive outside my body.  He said that we had two options: early termination, or wait for her to pass away, which could happen anytime between that day and the end of my pregnancy.  Either way he made it very clear, she would not live.

I remember the pain in my heart, it hit me like nothing I've ever experienced.  Hubby held my hand and put his arm around me, which was good because otherwise I might have fallen over.  It felt like our world was crashing down around us. 

The doctors said we could leave and consider our options.  We decided that there really wasn't a good option, and we didn't want to delay the inevitable.  Carrying a baby that we knew would eventually die would be much too painful.  We decided to proceed with the early induction and asked for the paperwork.  We had to wait about 20 minutes, and I remember all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there.  It felt like the walls were closing in, and I just wanted to get the paperwork over with and go home.

I remember leaving the hospital and walking to our car, almost in a trance.  I was so stunned by the news, I never imagined it would be something like that.  We both admitted later that we thought it was cleft palate or Down Syndrome, and both conditions were things we were filling to deal with.  We never imagined the diagnosis would be so extreme.

As soon as we were in the car, I fell apart.  I never knew my heart could ache so badly.  It felt like a cruel joke.  Then i had to call my family.  They knew we had the appointment and kept emailing and calling for an update.  I remember telling my sister, and she started to sob.  She put my dad on, and he fell apart too.  I could barely talk I was so upset.  And there was nothing anyone could say to make it better.

We got home and did everything we could do support each other.  The hardest part was feeling her move and kick, like everything was ok.  Every kick was a cruel reminder that we were about to lose the baby we never had a chance to meet.  All I wanted was it over with, so the hurt would stop and we could move on.  But it wouldn't be that easy...

We now had to wait for the hospital ethics board to approve the procedure, since I was past 20 weeks.  After that the appointment would be scheduled.

We heard back the next day, and the induction was scheduled for March 17 - just over a week later.  I couldn't believe they were going to make us wait so long!  Hubby was headed to Chicago for a convention, and the thought of him leaving was too much to bear.  So I booked a flight and decided to go with him.  I figured it would be easier to pass the time in another city as a tourist, than sit at home and wallow in my sadness.

And so began one of the most painful weeks of my life...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ambushed!

Yesterday we went to my inlaws for my hubby's "birthday celebration" and it turned out to be another surprise baby shower!  It was a joint shower between both families and there were about 30 family and friends there.  WOW!  Talk about making a girl feel special!

We were very blessed with a LOT of generous gifts.  My worry about not having everything we needed has now faded.  With the exception of a handfull of small items, we are SET!

But now the reality of baby's impending arrival is truly setting in (and so is the fear).  Hubby and I were chatting in the car the other night and we both admitted we're pretty scared about the unknown ahead of us.  Don't get me wrong, we've read the books, we have our last prenatal class tonight, and after what we went through last year, we know what to expect from the labour and birth.  It's the "after" part that's a little intimidating!

I just keep reminding myself, if those foolish girls on Teen Mom can do it, we certainly can!

A friend shared this story this morning and, while it's funny, it feels like a very real depiction of what's in store for us!

Awake Training for Parents: (http://www.babysleepsite.com/awake-training-for-parents/)
Dear Fellow Babies,

OK, here’s my situation. My Mommy has had me for almost 5 months. The first few months were great – I cried, she picked me up and fed me, anytime, around the clock. Then something happened. Over the last few weeks, she has been trying to STTN (sleep thru the night). At first, I thought it was just a phase, but it is only getting worse.

I’ve talked to other babies, and it seems like its pretty common after Mommies have had us for around 5-6 months. Here’s the thing: these Mommies don’t really need to sleep. It’s just a habit. Many of them have had some 30 years to sleep – they just don’t need it anymore. So I am implementing a plan. I call it the Crybaby Shuffle.

It goes like this:

Night 1 – cry every 3 hours until you get fed. I know, it’s hard. It’s hard to see your Mommy upset over your crying. Just keep reminding yourself, it’s for her own good.

Night 2 – cry every 2 hours until you get fed.

Night 3 – every hour.

Most Mommies will start to respond more quickly after about 3 nights. Some Mommies are more alert, and may resist the change longer. These Mommies may stand in your doorway for hours, shhhh-ing. Don’t give in. I cannot stress this enough: CONSISTENCY IS KEY!! If you let her STTN (sleep through the night), just once, she will expect it every night. I know it’s hard! But she really does not need the sleep; she is just resisting the change.. If you have an especially alert Mommy, you can stop crying for about 10 minutes, just long enough for her to go back to bed and start to fall asleep. Then cry again. It WILL eventually work. My Mommy once stayed awake for 10 hours straight, so I know she can do it.

The other night, I cried every hour. You just have to decide to stick to it and just go for it. BE CONSISTENT! I cried for any reason I could come up with:

-My sleep sack tickled my foot.
-I felt a wrinkle under the sheet.
-My mobile made a shadow on the wall.
-I burped, and it tasted like rice cereal. I hadn’t eaten rice cereal since breakfast, what’s up with that?
-The dog said “ruff”. I should know. My Mommy reminds me of this about 20 times a day. LOL.
-Once I cried just because I liked how it sounded when it echoed on the monitor in the other room.
-Too hot, too cold, just right – doesn’t matter! Keep crying!!
-I had drooled so much my sheets were damp and I didn’t like it touching me.
-I decided I was sick of all the pink in my room so I cried.

It took awhile, but it worked. She fed me at 4am. Tomorrow night, my goal is 3:30am. You need to slowly shorten the interval between feedings in order to reset your Mommies’ internal clocks.

Sometimes my Mommy will call for reinforcements by sending in Daddy. Don’t worry Daddies are not set up for not needing sleep the way Mommies are. They can only handle a few pats and shhing before they declare defeat and send in the Mommy.

Also, be wary of the sleep sheep with rain noises. I like to give Mommy false hope that listening to the rain puts me to sleep sometimes I pretend to close my eyes and be asleep and then wait until I know Mommy is settling back to sleep to spring a surprise cry attack. If she doesn’t get to me fast enough I follow up with my fake cough and gag noise that always has her running to the crib. At some point I am positive she will start to realize that she really doesn’t really need sleep.

P.S. Don’t let those rubber things fool you, no matter how long you suck on them, no milk will come out.

Trust me.

Sincerely,
Baby J

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A nice surprise

I feel like I've neglected my blog lately, but I've been totally consumed by last-minute baby details and training my maternity leave replacement.  She started a week ago and I think she'll be great!  I have two more weeks to unload seven years of knowledge onto her.  Hopefully she'll retain at least some of it (and not run from our offices screaming before I go!).

I had a meeting with my boss today and when we went into the boardroom, it turned out it was a surprise baby shower.  What a great way to start a day!  They were VERY generous and we received a number of items from our Babies R Us registry (Baby Einstein Crib Soother and Play Mat, a few toys and feeding accessories, a bathing gift set, car accessories, a tummy time mat and a number of gift cards).  We're so spoiled!  It was my first shower and we had a lot of fun.

I'm 36 weeks today, and have 9 days left at work....holy cow!  I can't believe how fast time has flown.  I'm really hoping baby takes it easy on me and doesn't arrive TOO early.  I could really use a few days to decompress and get pampered once I'm done work.  Everyone keeps telling me to sleep, and all I can really do well these days is nap.  I woke up at 2am to pee and baby decided to have a party in my belly, so we went downstairs to watch TV until 3am when baby settled down.  I think my body is starting to get used to less and less sleep.  I know, I know, it's good training!