Monday, January 31, 2011

Post 75...Husband of the Year Award

I just had to sneak in a quick blog praising my husband once again! He has been beyond amazing! Not only did he take care of me and the whole apartment while I was on bed rest, but even still he has been my inspiration and support through all of this! Just this weekend, he spent the whole time cleaning up the house, making me dinner, and he still found time to hang out with me.

As he cleaned, he danced to his music, making silly faces at me as he went, kissing me each time he walked by. And later that night, after playing games for several hours together, he comforted me when I started to get hormonal and fussy. His patience and understanding has been amazingly resilient throughout all the pregnancy ups and downs, and for that I am extremely grateful! Too many times when my hormones have gotten the best of me, when I start to cry for no reason or I get abnormally frustrated with something, he will drop anything and come hold me.

The other day, after taking a shower, he lit a candle in the bedroom, turned on some relaxing music, and spent several minutes rubbing my tummy with lotion (to help with stretch marks), and rubbing my feet with lotion too! When he was finished, he kissed me softly and whispered what he's been saying to me since we first got together; "I love you. I've got you. I'm not going anywhere." It made my heart skip a beat!

So I nominate my husband for the Best Husband of the Year Award! Because every day, in everything that he does, he makes me fall more and more in love with him! How did I ever get so lucky?

Post 74...The Great Wall

On the 25th, I had my two week check up to see how the cerclage was healing. It was a short visit, but it was still fun to see the baby looking even bigger than last time. It was odd seeing how different my cervix looked this time around. Before the surgery, my cervix looked sorta like the end of a squished 'U' shape, but this time, there wasn't even the slightest gap in there! It looked like a thick wall between the opening of the vaginal canal and the uterus. I was actually quite happy to see the great wall protecting my baby from preterm delivery.

The doctor said everything was looking great, and that my recovery was going even better than most. I had had some spotting for a few days after the surgery, which was to be expected. But it stopped only after a couple of days. And I didn't even have to use the entire prescription of pain meds they gave me for the cramping that would occur after having the surgery. Again, I only needed it for a couple days and then I was fine without it. So all in all, my recovery was going really well. I had no signs of infection, and the ultrasound of my cervix looked great.

After checking off my clean bill of health, the doctor gave me the okay to return back to normal daily activity. Of course, I still couldn't do anything too strenuous. No heavy lifting, or long walks. But I could get up and about more, and even gradually work my way up to going on half-hour walks. So now, with the doctor's approval, I am able to get up and about! The first few days back on my feet left me feeling a little sore in the cervical area at the end of the day. And I still have to rest my body more than I used to. But all in all, it's nice to be out of bed!

Post 73...Observations

It's kinda weird noting the differences I feel now that the cerclage is in. For a few days after the stitch was put in, it was odd feeling the achiness in my cervix. It wasn't like menstrual pain like I expected it to be. In fact, it was a very unique pain, sort of a deep ache up in my girly parts. I never knew what my cervix felt like, but now that it was hurting, I was suddenly very much aware of it.

Another weird thing is, they had to leave a part of the stitch hanging down so they can locate it more easily when they go to remove it. The doctor gave me warning that I might be able to feel it, and from time to time, I do. It's nothing big or painful. It just feels like there is a little something in there every now and then.

Sometimes it can ache when I sneeze hard enough. And when I first sit down, it can feel kinda tight and stiff in's hard to describe.

It caught me by surprise when, at my last doctor's visit, the nurse asked me to "bare down" onto the ultrasound rod they had inserted in my you-know-what to get an ultrasound of my cervix to check on the stitches. Before the stitch, when they asked me to do that, I was able to squeeze down no problem. But this time, nothing happened! It felt like trying to blow up a balloon but no air would come out. I tried to push and squeeze, but nothing would budge. I guess that's a good sign that things are closed up tight down there!

And the weirdest change of all since the cerclage: it's not as relieving when I go pee. I told you it was weird! You know when you reeeeally have to go pee, and when you finally do, it feels like such a relief? Well, I don't get that anymore! I'll feel like I have to go, but once I do, I don't have that empty feeling anymore. I won't feel like I have to go anymore, but I don't get that satisfying "Aaaawwww" afterwards. But who knows, maybe that's not because of the cerclage. Maybe it's because of all my innards squishing upward more and more each day. I feel like I'm puffing up in the middle, making it harder to bend. I just plump back out like a tight little sausage any time I try to bend forward. But honestly, I'm anxious for my tummy to look more round and pregnant than this awkward middle stage where I can pass as someone just carrying around extra holiday pounds.

Oh the joys of pregnancy. Where was all this in my "What to Expect" books?...

Post 72...A moment of Sunshine

While I was on bed rest there was a day, just one, where the sun came out. As I sat in bed looking longingly out the window at the warm sunlight, my husband encouraged me to go sit out in the sun for a little while. After being cooped up inside for so many days, he thought it might help renew my spirits if I enjoyed a little fresh air. So I bundled up in my winter jacket and carefully pushed a chair out onto the patio.

It was beautiful! For nearly 20 minutes, I sat out in the cool crisp air looking up at the rich blue sky. The sun was so warm on my skin. It felt as if all my stress was melting away in it's soft golden light. And before I knew it, I found myself talking to Sunshine. As I rubbed my tummy, I began to describe what I was seeing, telling the baby about winter and how things will look very different when he/she comes in the summer. I talked about the things we would do together and the places we would go to. And for the first time in a long time, I started to make plans...I started to truly believe that the pregnancy is here to stay.

In that moment, as I sat out in the sun talking to little Sunshine, I realized that I was making plans. I was planning on the pregnancy going full term. Somewhere inside all that worry and past pain, I stumbled upon hope. And for the first time out loud, I looked down at my pregnant tummy and said through swollen tears, "I love you."

Post 71...Primping for Pillows

For the two weeks following the surgery, I was stuck in bed on modified bed rest. It wasn't full bed rest, thank goodness or I think I would've lost my mind, so I was still able to shower, go to the bathroom on my own, and walk from the bed to the couch. But that was about it. It was during those two weeks that I learned just how challenging bed rest really is. I have a new found respect for any woman who has ever had the misfortune of being on full bed rest! I know it's for a good cause, protecting the life of your baby, but my goodness it is not as relaxing as it may sound.

I read once before that women on bed rest should draw strength from fact that a woman goes on bed rest to protect her baby. "Focus on that little life inside you and take comfort in knowing that you are doing this for them." it said. Well, that sounds like it would be encouraging, so noble and all, but when I was actually in that situation, I had a hard time feeling like I was doing it for a good cause. For the first few days while I was still really sore and recovering, bed rest didn't feel so bad. It was easy to remember then that I was doing this for Sunshine, giving myself time to recover so the stitch would be in the best of shape to hold him/her in. But once the pain was gone, I felt like I was sitting in bed for no reason. And that sense of laziness was a hard thing to fight.

Being alone with my thoughts can often be a bad thing for me. It's too easy to beat myself up if I don't feel like I'm being productive enough. But being alone with my thoughts after having a surgery that made me think back on the last pregnancy, coupled with the frustration of feeling so lazy; my emotions were all over the place! There was a time, when I was working, that I wanted nothing more than to lay around all day in my pjs watching netflix and having meals brought to me. But the reality of it was not as glamorous as I thought. I started to feel really insecure about my looks, worrying about weight gain as I laid in bed all day. I was frustrated that I didn't even have the choice to go for a walk if I wanted to. I felt worried about whether or not the stitch would work or heal properly. I even started to guilt myself for focusing so much on my own wants and needs, rather than the baby's. According to the book, shouldn't I be focusing on protecting the little life inside me? Shouldn't I be grateful and more than willing to do what is needed for my baby? On an on my thoughts spiraled downward.

But a new day came. One morning, the bed lump I had become decided to slowly get up and open the curtains. It was raining outside, but the daylight still brought in a welcoming glow. Easing myself back into bed, I propped myself up with pillows and grabbed my nearby hand mirror. The woman in the mirror had a bad case of bed-head, puffy bags under her eyes, and a few angry looking blemishes that screamed of high school days. So with my hair brush and my box of make-up, I set to work on bringing some life back into my reflection. As I went, I started to perk up a little more. I spritzed on some fruit-smelling body spray, and even ventured so far as to change out of my pjs and into "real" clothes. When all was said and done, I was amazed at how much better I felt. I felt like a person again!

I realize now that it was okay for me to feel the way I did. I shouldn't feel guilty for feeling frustrated with the situation. It doesn't mean that I love my baby any less. In fact, it goes to show just how much I love Sunshine. Even though it was uncomfortable and frustrating, I still chose to stay in bed. I chose to take care of my baby. And besides, it's not like I had to do it alone either. My husband made the whole situation a million times better by helping me so much. Each morning he would bring me breakfast before work. He would then fill up the camel-pack for me so I could have water throughout the day. He also went so far as to pack me a big bag of snacks to last me throughout the day so I wouldn't have to get up every time I was hungry. I was so lucky to have him there to help me through it all! I couldn't do this without him. :) He has caught every tear that has fallen, chased away any worries in my mind, and he has kept me smiling through the impossible moments. No man could be a better father for our little Sunshine!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Post 70...Six hours to save a life

We sat awkwardly in the lobby making light conversation. Quietly I stroked my husband's hair, listening to the idle chatter between him and his father. His parents had come to sit in the waiting room with him so he would not be alone during the surgery. But the time had come for me to get set up for surgery. The nurse assured my husband that he could come back once I was set up and be with me until I was taken to the OR. I could see the panic in his eyes as I gave him a quick kiss before leaving with the nurse. "I'll see you in just a few minutes," I promised him.

In an open-backed gown, a cloth shower cap on my head, and an IV in my arm, I sat anxiously waiting for my husband to come back to the room before the operation. Impatiently I sat through all the nurses questions about the history of my health, trying hard to keep smiling and chatting politely as I strained to hear if my husband was coming down the hall. Finally the nurses brought him back to the room. The moment I saw his smiling face come through the doorway, I felt my strength renew. I could see tears welling up in his eyes as he came near. "Is it hard to see me in a hospital again?" I asked. All he could do was nod as the tears spilled over his cheeks. In his hand, I could see he was grasping a small wooden box about the size of a silver dollar. It was my dream box. The dream box was something I had bought years ago on a vacation when I was little. It is a small round box with swirly engravings on the lid. In the very center of the lid is a tiny little blue/green bead. When I first saw it in the store, the bead looked to me like the Earth, small and bright, sitting amongst all the swirling unknown. The idea behind the dream box is: on a small piece of paper, you right down your wish/dream, fold up the paper, and place it into the dream box. Each night before bed, you hold the box close to your heart and focus on the wish/dream, picturing it to be true, channelling good thoughts and love into the dream box. And in time, the wish/dream will come true. For the past month, my husband and I had been using the dream box to focus on our wish/dream that the cerclage would go well so that I could carry to full term. As my husband stood by my bedside with tears in his eyes and the dream box held tight in his hand, I cupped my hands around his and we focused on the dream box.

For close to an hour we sat in the pre-op room, talking, hugging, laughing, crying, and praying that the surgery would go well. But the time had finally arrived. The nurse came in and announced that it was time for my husband to go back to the waiting room. I'll never forget the look on his face as my husband turned back to look at me from the hall. It took every ounce of strength I had to stay put in that bed and not run after him. For the first time all morning, I suddenly felt afraid. I cried and wanted to call out for him, but before I could even say a word, he popped his head back around the corner. His face was red and wet with tears. He didn't want to leave either. Again, he mouthed the words "I love you" and blew me a kiss. When the nurse noticed, she smiled and told tried to reassure him that they would take good care of me and that he would see me soon. He reluctantly nodded and at last, went back to the waiting room. The nurse patted my leg as she returned to my bed side. "Tears are normal," she whispered to me as I tried to discretely wipe my eyes.

It was weird how much tv shows have accurately depicted OR rooms. Normally tv shows are just slightly off when they try to create a scene. Like when a show supposedly takes place in Seattle and yet the brown rolling hills, blue skies, and eucalyptus trees give away the true location of the set. But there it was, as seen on tv, the single bed standing in the middle of the cold metallic room, illuminated by the bright lights that hung from above. Nearby there was a table lined with sharp shiny tools, sterile white gauze, and other unfamiliar devices. I was more fascinated then scared, honestly, and I wish I could have watched the procedure as they did it. But I had to settle with watching the ceiling and the occasional masked figure bobbing past my line of view. It took them two tries to get the spinal to fully work. The first time the anesthesiologist ended up running into bone. Luckily the second time worked but it still took a good amount of time to take full affect. As I laid there fully exposed, my legs spread open wider than I ever knew possible, I kept my mind on my husband. Though I was in a cold OR feeling the pull and tug of the doctor stitching me up tight, in my mind I was picturing the night before when my husband and I were dancing in the living room. The doctor and nurses were very sweet, checking in on me every few minutes, talking to me about the stages of the surgery, and even taking time to come and rub my arm and encourage me to keep strong for just a few minutes longer. But I had only one goal in mind at that time: to get back to my husband.

In what felt like minutes (but was really an hour) the surgery was done and I was in the recovery room. It was only stage one of recovery where they had to check my heart rate as well as Sunshine's, both of which were strong and steady. But it wasn't until stage two of recovery that I would be moved to another room where my husband could come and be with me. Once again I laid there impatiently watching the clock, asking the nurse every five minutes if I could go to stage two yet. She laughed and told me I had to wait at least 20 more minutes. The doctor came by and told me that everything went beautifully and that he was off to update my husband. I wondered how my husband was doing, if he was scared that things had gone on a little long (since the spinal took longer than expected). I wondered how scared he would be to see the doctor and how much he would be relieved to hear that things were done and all was well.

At long last stage two recovery came! As the nurses wheeled me into the next recovery room, I was nearly bouncing....well, as much as I could bounce after just having my whoo-whoo stitched up and my body completely numbed from the waist down. Once I was in place, I was brought juice and crackers as I waited for the nurses to bring my husband back. I never knew I could be so excited for apple juice and peanut butter crackers. But since I wasn't allowed to eat anything 8 hours before being admitted to the hospital, I hadn't eaten anything since the night before. Now going on 2pm, I was more than ready to eat!

And there he was! My husband! As I saw his smiling face come into the room, everything seemed to get brighter. After showering me with kisses, he handed me my wedding rings (since I couldn't wear any jewelry into the OR), and placed my Joey necklace around my neck. I could see his Joey necklace flash under the collar of his shirt. It was another happy family moment. Following close behind my husband was his parents. They seemed far more relaxed then they had that morning and it was nice to see them smiling. For about another hour, we sat around talking, waiting for the spinal to wear off enough to discharge me.

We went in at 10am that morning, and by 4pm we were back at home eating Jimmy John's sub sandwiches and watching movies. It's weird to think that in just 6 hours, with that one little procedure, we may have secured the future of our baby's life. As the doctor said; this baby isn't going anywhere until we say it can.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Post 69...Now is Forever

Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I get the cerclage.

The procedure will be fairly simple with very minimal risk. But I still can't help but wonder, what if this is my last full day with Sunshine? What if something happens tomorrow that causes us to lose the pregnancy? It is possible, though not very probable.

The last week I carried Joey, I remember reading about his stage of development in the pregnancy. He had just started to be able to hear things for the first time. And to this day, I still feel bad that the first and last thing he had to hear was my husband and I crying. Because of that, I have tried to make great effort to read and sing to Sunshine as much as I can this week. I know he/she isn't yet to the point of being to hear anything, but it's my hope that maybe he/she can sense the love that comes from the music and stories. I go in to the hospital tomorrow not really knowing if it will be the end of the pregnancy or a new beginning. I am fairly certain that everything will go just fine, but if by chance these are the last few days I have with my baby, I want to make sure these moments are happy ones.

[[TMI warning: I made a promise to myself that I would log every part of this journey which includes some intimate things, so if you don't want to hear about this stuff, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph.]] Once the cerclage is in place, there are some things that I will not be able to do, one of which is have sex. Since vaginal intercourse (augh! I sound like high school Sex Ed. class!) can introduce bacteria into the vagina, it could run risk of infecting the stitches of the cerclage. Also, the pressure caused by the act of sex can cause "trauma" to the cervix which again, is not advised once you are diagnosed with a weak cervix. Orgasming can also cause the cervix to contract, which is not good for a weak cervix during pregnancy and could run risk of tearing the stitches. The bottom line is: no vaginal intercourse or even orgasming once the cerclage is in. Last week, my doctor said to "enjoy it while you can" before the cerclage is put in. So we've done just that. And since we don't want to cause any "trauma" to the cervix the night before the surgery, we marked last night as our official last time for the next 6-7 months. Sex is obviously not the only thing that defines a marriage, but it is certainly a part of it. So it will present some challenges suddenly going without it. But honestly, once the stitch is in, I think the fear alone of bothering the stitch and running risk of miscarriage will be enough to keep some frisky feelings at bay. But no release? No nothing?....It's gonna be a long 6-7 months!

Anyway, tomorrow morning I'll go in for the surgery and, with any luck, I'll be home tomorrow evening eating dinner in bed and watching Netflix on my laptop with my husband cuddled close. I really do think it'll go just fine. But it is kinda odd to think, my baby's life will literally be holding on by a thread...

One way or another, tomorrow is a new beginning.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Post 68...Preparing my heart, soul, and refrigerator

Today I spent the entire morning pre-cooking dinners to freeze for the two weeks I'll be on bed rest. I didn't want my husband to be stuck trying to figure out every night what to make for dinner after a long day of work, making everything from scratch. So I made a few complete dinners, ready to just pop into the oven, and I wrote up a dinner plan for each night for the next two weeks including side dishes. That way, he can look ahead to see what is planned for dinner the next day so he can take it out of the freezer the night before to have it defrosted in time for the following night. Hopefully it'll help make things a little easier on him while he takes over all the cooking and cleaning entirely for two weeks. He already does so much cleaning around the house already, making it easy for me to just rest and relax throughout the day. But I know it can be a big chore taking care of dinner on top of all that.

It's hard to believe the surgery is this Friday. For the past several nights, I have been crying really hard, thinking back on the last time I was in the hospital. It is so terrifying to go back. I know the situation is different, but it still makes me extremely emotional. I keep thinking back on the day we lost Joey, worrying and wondering: could I possibly go through that again if things went wrong? Do I really have the strength to go through that again? But I guess if someone were to ask me before if I thought I could ever have the strength to keep moving after losing Joey, I probably would have said no. It's one of those horrible things I had to live through, never really knowing how I kept getting up each morning but doing it anyway.

My husband keeps reminding me that we're catching things really early this time, that this is a preventative stitch, so things are not critical at this point. And it does help to remember that. The risks are really low and my cervix is, so far, in great shape. But we are quickly approaching the stage in the pregnancy when we lost Joey, and the realization of that leaves me petrified. I have faith in the doctors and in the cerclage that I will have in place. But when the life of my child is in balance, held together by a simple stitch, faith can be a hard thing to hold onto.

Whenever I've been in a hard situation, people always remind me to have faith. But what they forget to tell me is just how hard it can be to keep my faith strong when my whole world feels upside down. Some of the best guidance I ever got was years ago when my father told me it was okay to question my faith during hard times. Because in his experience, after faith has been challenged and examined from all angles, a true and deeper meaning comes from it. It is then that faith becomes even stronger than before because it held the test of time, even in face of all my anger and questioning.

I wish there was something more I could do than just lay back and let the doctors do their work. I've always been the type to take a proactive approach to things, needing to get my hands dirty to really feel like I've made a difference. It's very hard for me to just sit back and leave the life of my child in the hands of others, helping only by resting and staying off my feet. This is the biggest leap of faith I have ever had to take and it leaves me feeling uneasy. But I guess being brave and having faith doesn't mean not being afraid; it means doing what is right and staying the course even in the face of fear.

"The ability to forgive and to love are the weapons God has given us to enable us to live fully, bravely, and meaningfully in this less-than-perfect world."

Post 67...Ninja Baby

On Friday we had an appointment with the Obgyn. It was just a standard check up so there really isn't much to report about it. The only fun part was, when the doctor was checking the baby's heartbeat, the baby was moving so much! We kept hearing the little blips of Sunshine kicking and wiggling around. It was fun to hear how active the baby is. Although, the doctor said, as they get bigger, all that moving and kicking around might lead to some "discomfort." Translation: it's gonna hurt.

Other than that, we won't be back into the Obgyn office until a month from now just for the usual check up. But we will, however, be having check ups every two weeks with the specialists who are putting in the cerclage.

So the countdown to the cerclage continues! Each day, I'm becoming more and more scared of the surgery. Why can't it be over already?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Post 66...Sunshine's first gift

This was a Christmas gift to Sunshine from a close friend of mine. It's Sunshine's first gift!

My husband has read it to Sunshine and it is such a cute book!

Post 65...Testing 1, 2, 3

Yesterday I got the results back from the blood test from our combined screening. I'm happy to report that the tests all came back clean. The doctor said that the risk of chromosomal abnormalities is very low. So that is a relief. Not that I really thought our risk was high but, after breaking the odds with my incompetent cervix, I didn't want to take any chances. Also, I am now officially insured! I should be getting my card in the next week or two. I'm still waiting to get the information in the mail about DSHS coverage, but it's nice to know I at least have coverage in time for the cerclage.

Oh the's next week and I'm very scared. Each day I get closer to the surgery, my eye has been twitching more and more, and I've been really emotional. Not only is this my first time ever having surgery, it's a procedure that will determine the life or death of my baby. And although the hospital care is great and the doctors have been wonderful, I hate being at the hospital. The only times I've ever been in the hospital for myself has been the day I was born and the day I miscarried Joey. So...not exactly a happy memory the last time I was there. It's very hard waiting and watching as the date of the cerclage slowly approaches.

On a happy note, I've been feeling more fluttery movements of the baby moving. From time to time, I even feel a very obvious BOMP of the baby kicking. I can't wait for the kicks to be even stronger and more obvious. I've missed that feeling.

Today, I want nothing more than a giant sub sandwich with everything on it: extra meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, olives, onion, peppers, mayo, and mustard. Oh it sounds amazing!....and maybe a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone for dessert! I guess the cravings are kicking in again.