Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Charlie

I should have a huge mess to clean up. Wrapping paper all over the floor, tablecloths to wash, dishes to do, trash to take out, and me scrambling to make room in my freezer for leftover birthday cake that no one would take home because my friends don't let their kids eat sugar or food coloring, both of which I love to put in birthday cakes. 

It would have been chocolate with baby blue icing and dark blue trim- blue icing between each layer, so that when you cut the cake it was brown, baby blue blue, brown, baby blue blue on the dark blue plates. Three tiered, with the top layer removable so that he could have it in front of him to blow out his first birthday candle and put his hands all in the icing. I even had a glittery blue "1" that was leftover from Adaline's first birthday because I finally found a pink one for her cake and decided to save the blue candle for "one day when we had another baby." The room would be full of way too many red balloons that my dad would have made a whole production about blowing up, because he's famous for carrying his helium tank to all of our parties. And it wouldn't be a birthday party without him singing at least a couple of lines of "Happy Birthday" in the helium voice. 

Instead, today I walked out to my son's grave and remembered the day we buried him. I stood in the very same spot I stood at his burial, underneath a tree branch that is now home a wind chime made out of angels. I'm not sure where it came from, and even though we don't believe in angels, I cant bear to take it down. As David and I walked out to the graveside  we both remembered how frail and weak we felt as we walked out to lay him to rest. It all felt so unfair, and it still does. It still is. 

We should be celebrating, but instead we are remembering his very short life and thinking of all the things we will miss out on. All the birthdays, all the firsts, all the memories that we should be making with him- all these things that we expected to be doing that we can't do. We can only hold the memory if his incredibly short time with us and try to focus on what we do have, not what we have lost. We try to spend our days being grateful for our children and that we have made it through the past year with our relationship and our lives in tact. But not today. 

Today we grieve: not only the loss of our son, but for the loss of all the things that go along with having a child. For his first birthday and his 30th birthday, for his wedding day and his high school graduation day. For his first steps, his first soccer game, and his first date. We grieve the child that we lost because he was amazing and special and we fell in love with him, but we also grieve the life that we wanted so badly for him to live. And today is just one of the many birthdays he doesn't get to have. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Babies in a bucket

Charlie's birthday is on Saturday, so Im working on a letter to him. Thankfully, I have these girls to help me through the week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Callie and Wendy's Birth Story

*warning: contains detailed information*
If you are tagged and you don't want to read this, I promise it won't hurt my feelings. I just thought I'd share this story with some of my closest friends, other mom's, and ladies who may one day give birth. Also, due to the fact that there are two babies, and things in our lives were completely different this time, it is a long story.

The pregnancy
The circumstances of getting pregnant this time were much different from my previous two pregnancies. In the past, we were trying, but not with any real motivation. This time, we were really trying and extremely hopeful. I was very lucky to have gotten pregnant on the first attempt, after losing our son to SIDS and being in need of a great deal of hope in our lives to move forward. I was using ovulation strips, and I tested positive on a Friday, a negative on Saturday, and just for fun I took one on Sunday. It was also positive. I thought they were bunk, and just told myself I'd never use them again. Little did I know, I likely ovulated two times, which is fairly common during times of stress and after not menstruating for a long time.

During the aftermath of Charlie's death, David and I found ourselves looking up at a chunk of rainbow in between dark clouds in the sky on two separate occasions. Those two days were beautiful, and I'll never forget the little bits of color that brought smiles to our faces during such a tragic time. The look on David's face when Shondra, our longtime ultrasound tech, told us that we were having two babies is forever burned into my head. She said, "There's two!" and I thought, "Two what?" Shock, awe, excitement- all around disbelief. We were having not one, but two, rainbow babies. Rainbow babies are what babies are known as when they follow a pregnancy , birth, or child loss. While it was overwhelming and a little scary, it was incredibly exciting and a little perfect.

My pregnancy went swimmingly well. As we prepared our lives for a whole house full of girls, we tried to push back the thoughts of preterm labor or the idea of them being born too early. I made lists, restrictions for myself, and did everything I could to make sure that I was aware of the causes of preterm labor. When I made it to 35 weeks, and we were cleared to deliver at our regular hospital, there was such an incredible sense of relief that washed over the both of us. Perhaps that relief led to a relaxation that triggered labor, because at 35 weeks, 1 day I went into labor. 

The Birth
Most of my latter days of pregnancy were pretty slow. It was hard to move around, and I didn’t have a lot of energy. But, David and I had rearranged the whole kitchen on Thursday. Let me rephrase this: I pointed where I wanted things to go, and David moved stuff around. We had this idea that the inclusion of a kitchen table in our lives would minimize the mess that Adaline made and give us a place for family time each evening. So on Friday, David worked outside for most of the day and I had sat around and played with Ada and watched some horrible television programming. Finally, I got up and cooked dinner to be had around our kitchen table in our newly arranged kitchen. Roasted chicken, collard and kale greens, roasted root vegetables, and steamed mushrooms. We ate, laid around the house and fell asleep early.

I awoke to needing to go to the bathroom and felt very well rested. I assumed I'd been sleeping for several hours. It was 11:30- we had been asleep for an hour and a half. David was wide awake as well, and he laid in bed and read comic books on his newfound love, the Nexus 7. I was on the couch watching netflix, and as I was drifting off, and it felt like one of the babies kicked me in the cervix. I thought it felt mighty low, but turned over and attempted sleep. But then I felt a warm gush and stood up very quickly to realize that my water had broken. I called out to David, asking him to come and letting him know what happened. We immediately began packing, gathering things up to leave. My water was just leaking away, but I wasn't having any contractions. David called our family and Aundria, our longtime friend who is also a midwife. She had agreed to be with us for the birth. Since my previous labor had been only 3 hours, we were in a rush. I was not going to have these babies in the back of my minivan.  

I took the other half of the Dramamine that I'd taken last January on the way to the hospital to keep from being nauseous. We got on the road, and I began to have very mild contractions. Adaline was in the back of our minivan and had woken up. We told her that the twins were coming, and that she would get to meet them soon. When we arrived at the hospital, she was very excited. The nurses began strapping me in to the monitors to get the babies heart rates, and my contractions were picking up but still pretty mild.

The nurses told us that our family had arrived, so we sent Adaline with grandparents and Aundria joined us in the room- OB room 5. There are 6 rooms on the floor, and we have now birthed in 3 of them. I was anxious to get the typical hospital routines over with, so that we could get on to the birthing. Since I've had GBS twice and my test results had not yet come back I knew I had to have the antibiotics. The first nurse who came in to stick me stuck me in a weird nerve ending in my wrist that caused a sensation like an electric shock to go down my hand. The second nurse got the IV in quickly, and we started the antibiotics for the GBS. My contractions began to become a little more intense, more like my uterus was contracting across the bottom than just up and down. My legs began to shake, and I felt very cold. As the iv emptied, I was finding myself ready to get into the shower and feel the relief of the almost hot water. My OB arrived, and after a quick ultrasound confirmed that Baby B was still breech, and that we'd have to do a breech extraction after A was born.

As my contractions grew stronger, David and Aundria stayed closer to me. It seems like I went in and out of the shower several times, finding comfort in the water. As the contractions came on, I'd lean on David and get through them. Every now and then Aundria would let me know that it seemed like they were getting stronger, and I felt like I was getting close. As I stood in the shower, I could feel Baby A's head moving down through the birth canal and I began to feel the urge to push with each contraction. I sat on the toilet and I felt relieved that I was off my feet but that there was not additional pressure on my bottom. Two babies in my belly threw me off balance more than usual, and I was afraid to squat, for fear that I'd tip right over. I was ready. I knew I couldn't resist the urge to push any longer, so Aundria went to tell the staff and I climbed into the bed. A quick check put me at 8cm, so I got back out of the bed and my OB left the room, assuming it'd be an hour before I had a baby. Aundria caught Baby A in the shower just a few minutes later at 4:08am, and put her up to my chest.

She was white, covered in vernix, and so tiny. Fragile. And then loud. Her bottom lip trembled, and then she made the same kissy face that Adaline made when she was born. I handed her to Dave and moved to the bed as my OB made her way into the room. The moments after I got into the bed both all blur together and are something I can remember so clearly. I remember looking at my stomach and realizing I was going to have to do it again, that there really was a second baby coming out. I felt so torn between looking at and wanting to hold the sweet baby I'd just given birth to, and knowing it was time to move towards getting her sister out. I looked between my legs at my trusted OB, who I was quickly realizing was about to cause me a lot of pain. I was so tired, and I just didn’t want to do it. There were a lot of people in the room, all looking at my vulva. I wanted to take a nap.

As my OB inserted her hand inside of my body, I suddenly wished I had opted for some pain relief. For the first time in three labors, I wanted to scream about how badly I wanted drugs. Thankfully, the process went very quickly, and although I wanted medication in the 4-5 minutes it took to happen, I am glad I'd not chosen the epidural. Baby B had turned transverse, so my OB just flipped her into vertex position with the help of her partner, who simultaneously performed an external version. I felt the urge to push and I pushed through one contraction. The nurses standing around me we are being extremely verbally supportive. At the next contraction, I felt her head crown, and her body come out very quickly. Baby B was born at 4:28 am. She laid on my chest for a couple of minutes- white like her sister and just as tiny. Then, out of nowhere she was taken to the warming bed to have fluid suctioned out. I delivered the placenta, and my OB, Aundria, and I looked it over. It was very cool- and huge.

Afterbirth/NICU stay
I was feeling okay, and I was anxious to find out what was happening with Baby B. As always, I wanted a shower and to get up out of the hospital bed. I got up, got in the shower quickly, put some clothes on, and made my way out to the nursery to see Baby B and David as Aundria was kangarooing Baby A (hospital policy does not allow us to hold babies in the hallways). After a few minutes I realized that I wasn't okay- the after pains were going to be worse than the last labor. I was sure it would pass, so I slowly made my way back to my room and put Baby A to my chest to nurse. Within a few moments, my pants were soaked through, and I was bleeding a lot. The pains were growing increasingly stronger, and I just wanted it to quickly be over. Aundria was with me to let me know it wasn't abnormal- but everyone wanted to be pressing on my belly. And it hurt, and I was stressed out, and I was exhausted. I still wanted to just have everything be perfect and be holding my two babies and taking nap. I opted for a pitocin shot, hoping that it would speed things along and allow me to take control over my body and to be able to focus on our baby in the nursery.

David was really upset about Wendy's (baby b) condition, and when he came into the room it was clear that he'd found out that they intended to transfer her to Kosiar Children's Hospital NICU. Our new family would be separated. It's scary to have a kid in respiratory distress after losing a child. He laid with Calliope (baby a) as Wendy was being looked over by the Kosair transport staff. I was still having pains, and not really able to get up. I was really angry with my body for not cooperating because I wanted to be a part of what was going on with Wendy. The exhaustion was closing in on me, and I could see that my nap was far away. Finally, I began to pass clots. Each time, I'd feel a huge sense of relief. David left with Wendy, and things began to settle down. It was just Calliope, Aundria and me. I'd grown quite dizzy, and couldn't really get up and move around. After finally getting most of the clots out and changing my bedding, I finally got a nap. In hindsight, I should have let Aundria rub on my belly and get all the clots out much more quickly, but I was stressed out and it was hard to deal with the pain.

My hospital released me that evening on a day pass to see Wendy and Callie stayed with my Mom at the hospital where I gave birth. When I walked in, she was covered in tubes and cords, naked on her belly underneath a warmer. She had a ventilator, an ng tube (feeding tube), an IV, a heart monitor, respiration monitor, and an oxygen sensor all on her little 4 lb, 11 oz body. She was unable to be picked up. Over the next couple of days, as I was separated from her and David was with her, it became quite clear that she would stay an Eleanor Wendy and that the baby that was with me would stay Calliope Jane. We originally thought we'd see which name fit which baby, but we weren’t going to rename babies after the experience we were having.

When Callie and I were finally released on Monday, I took her to Louisville to my Mom's house so that David and I could switch off being with Wendy in the NICU. Between this and the three days I'd spent separated from Wendy, I was operating on very little sleep and having one baby in the hospital and one out was difficult. Callie spent one day out of the hospital and then her temperature dropped and she was unable to get it back up on her own so she was admitted into the NICU as well. Her billiruben levels were pretty high, and she had to be put under strong lights, but she was okay.

It was when Callie was admitted that I realized that my babies weren’t sick, there was nothing “wrong”- they were just preemies. Most preemie babies experience similar problems and each day closer to their due date brings them a step closer to being able to go home and able to physically function like a full term baby. We spent a total of 10 long days and nights at the NICU, which would have been impossible without so much support from our friends and family. It was really hard, but it was amazing to watch the progress that their little bodies made each day. The NICU staff was amazing, and we were able to bring them home yesterday knowing that they are both okay. Now we have all three of our girls at home, and we are all cozed in awaiting a winter storm. Ill make sure to get some more pictures posted soon :)

 Wendy with Daddy 
 Wendy in her gloworm blanket
 Callie, one day old
Their first time together