Mud Play

This spring, we’ve had more than our fair share of rain. As of the last total I saw on the news, we’d had around 8 inches. As the pond in our front yard can attest, this is by far more than we usually get.

While we are ready for the rain to stop and very much looking forward to sunshine and warmer temperatures, Blue has enjoyed the mud that the rain has left behind. A few weeks ago, he was playing outside and fell in the middle of a mud puddle. It was pretty chilly that day and Blue was not excited to be wet and covered in mud.

muddy toddler

Today is the first 70+ degree day we’ve had in a while, so HandyMan took Blue outside to play and Blue immediately went back to the same mud puddle to play. HandyMan has been encouraging Blue to throw rocks from our driveway into the puddle, with the hope that eventually, the hole will be filled up. Blue can do this for hours, but today he found another way to enjoy the mud puddle.

Oh, the simple joys of childhood!

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Blue’s Birth Story, Part 3

If you missed the first 2 parts of Blue’s birth story, click here and here.

Being sent, alone, to the hospital to be monitored for signs of labor is intimidating to say the least. But that is what I did. I walked into registration, signed the appropriate forms and was wheeled up to labor & delivery.

It was such a surreal journey, riding in a wheelchair to the room where I would meet my baby. I couldn’t believe it was happening.

Once I was in the room, in a hospital gown & hooked up to the contraction monitor, it was quickly obvious that I was having regular contractions. In fact, they were coming 5 minutes apart and over the next couple of hours the contractions only increased in frequency and strength. My parents arrived to wait with me until HandyMan could arrive from work. It was wonderful to have the company and be able to talk to someone while I waited to see what was going to happen.

Just before HandyMan arrived that evening, I got up to go to the bathroom. As soon as I stood up my water broke. It was exactly like what they show in the movies. There was a huge gush of fluid and a puddle on the floor. At first I was embarrassed, sure my bladder had succumbed to the pressure from the contractions & Blue, but the nurse acted quickly and determined that it was amniotic fluid. Initially I was relieved, glad I was still in control of my bladder, but then the next contraction hit. Let me tell you, the intensity of the contractions before my water broke was nothing compared to what they felt like immediately after. The first one took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.

HandyMan arrived a few minutes later and was shocked to learn that I was really in labor and that he had just missed my water breaking. For the next couple of hours, I walked the halls, checked my email and did anything I could to take my mind off the pain of the contractions.

Then I gave in and asked for some pain medicine. I tried IV pain medicine first and when it wore off I asked for the anesthesiologist to come and try an epidural. I say “try” because I had scoliosis surgery as a teenager and my spine is fused from almost the top to almost the bottom. I had assumed since high school that I would be unable to have an epidural, but the anesthesiologist had promised to try and thankfully, was successful!

The next few hours of labor were much more calm. We were even able to get a little bit of sleep.

And then I threw up. Everywhere. All over me, the bed & the IV stand. It was gross and to make matters worse, because of the epidural I couldn’t move around to help get myself and the bedding changed. Once everything was cleaned up, my nurse decided to check me to see how far I had progressed and discovered I was fully dilated and it was time to start pushing.

And push and push and push. I pushed for the next 4 hours. It didn’t seem like 4 hours, time actually went pretty fast. My nurse was beginning to get a little nervous that I would have to have a C-section, but then it was time for shift change. My night nurse stayed and the day nurse, who had just arrived, suggested changing positions to help Blue move down the birth canal. That was exactly what we needed and just a few pushes later Blue arrived into the world.

Our beautiful little boy arrived in the world with a head full of dark brown hair, he weighed 6lbs 13 oz, was 20.5″ long and was pronounced 100% healthy.

It was an amazing experience!

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The BedRest Chronicles, Part 1

Today marks exactly 2 weeks since I underwent a rescue cerclage and 2 weeks of official bed rest.

To say that the last 2 weeks have been stressful and emotional would be an understatement, but there have also been lots of good things to come out of our experience so far.

It has been really hard for me to lay on our couch and watch other people (HandyMan included) take care of Blue – doing all the things that I used to do with him. I miss giving him a bath and putting him to bed at night. I miss taking him outside to play, but what I really miss is being able to pick him up and comfort him when he’s upset or hurt. Sometimes it just breaks my heart to watch someone else do those things with him. The same things that I completely took for granted being able to do before being put on bed rest!

During the past 2 weeks I’ve struggled a lot with feelings of guilt. When Blue comes to me with his hands raised for me to pick him up and I have to tell him that I can’t I feel so guilty. I feel like I’m cheating him and not giving him the attention or care that he needs. But at the same time, I know that doing those things with Blue could jeopardize our baby girl’s very life. And that’s not fair to her. Our baby girl is very active and completely perfect for her gestational age, but it is simply too early for her to be born and survive without a long and hard fight ahead of her. It would devastate me to do something that would put her life at risk.

So on the couch I stay. Mostly laying down, sometimes “lounging” and only getting up to go to the bathroom, eat and shower. It’s not very fun, but it’s necessary.

But, like I said, it’s not all been bad.

Our friends, family and church family have stepped up to help us in amazing ways. My mom is buying our groceries and household supplies, my sister is watching Blue at least 1 day a week, my mother-in-law has arranged with her work to work from here 1-2 days a week and women from our church are coming over to stay with me & Blue during the day and are bringing us meals. While it’s not an ideal situation, there is absolutely no way HandyMan and I could have gotten through the last 2 weeks or the remainder of my time on bed rest without their help. We have been SO blessed by everyone’s help and prayers.

We are reminded daily that life is precious and worth fighting for.

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Home is Where the Couch Is

I am home!

I was so excited to be released from the hospital on Monday, but coming home has been a little bittersweet. HandyMan has gone back to work and since I’m not supposed to lift Blue, that means I can’t really take care of him by myself. So Blue is also not here.

Being a stay at home mom, it’s hard to be at home just sitting around while Blue is hanging out somewhere else. I know he’s having fun playing with my sister’s kids or at our friend’s house playing with her kids, but I still miss him.

Last night when HandyMan got home from work with Blue, he was so excited to see me. Which, obviously, felt really good, but also made me sad. After supper, he spent most of the evening sitting next to me on the couch, playing with a few toys and watching Elmo videos on YouTube. It was so nice to get a little cuddle time with him!

When you’re busy, sitting around the house doing nothing sounds pretty appealing. I’ve definitely been one to make comments wishing I had more time at home. I can’t imagine that I’ll be making those comments again for a while! Now that I’m sitting around the house, especially since it’s due to pregnancy complications, I find myself focusing on my body and wondering if every twinge or cramp is something I need to worry about. I know this is something I shouldn’t be doing. I need to focus on the positive things, otherwise I just sit here on the verge of tears all the time. Which is not exactly the best thing for my mental health!

So here are some of the positives I’m going to try to focus on:

  • I’m still pregnant! Every day that our baby girl stays inside of me is one day closer to a healthy, full term baby!
  • There’s nothing wrong with our baby. According to every ultrasound we’ve had (and so far there have been several), she is perfectly healthy!
  • I have an awesome husband. He is going above and beyond to take care of me and Blue.
  • Blue is doing well adjusting to his new schedule. He’s been shuffled around a lot over the last week and has been such a trooper!
  • Our friends and family are amazing. We’ve had so many offers of help, prayer and encouragement and all of them have been so comforting.
  • The doctor gave me the OK to go to church on Sunday! (Provided I get dropped off at the door, walk in and and sit right down for the duration of the service.) I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it!
  • Our baby has been moving & kicking frequently, letting me know she’s OK.
  • I have more time to blog :)
  • The time away from Blue is giving me the opportunity to really appreciate the awesome little boy he is.
  • We have a laptop, high-speed internet & Netflix on demand to help keep me occupied :)
  • I’m at home and not in the hospital!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to focus on those things as I continue with, what could be, several months of bed rest. Because, what I want more than anything, is to give my baby the opportunity to be born healthy and I will do whatever I need to do to made that happen.

 

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Keeping In What Wants to Come Out

Thursday morning dawned bright and early after a rough night’s sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about what could be going wrong with my body and the baby. Thankfully HandyMan was able to take the day off to go with me to the doctor and got Blue ready to spend the day with his grandpa. Once we were all ready to go, we left for Indianapolis. After dropping Blue of with HandyMan’s dad, we were officially on our way to the high risk doctor’s office in Indy. HandyMan and I were both nervous, not knowing what to expect and very quiet during the drive.

After receiving sketchy information from my OB the day before, we were really excited to find the right doctor’s office on the first try. And then it was time to wait – again. I usually don’t mind waiting for the doctor, but this week it was really hard. I was so nervous and scared and just wanted to know what was going on and what I needed to do to keep my baby in instead of out.

When my name was finally called, HandyMan and I went into the examination room where there was an ultrasound set up. The ultrasound tech immediately began to examine my cervix and the baby to see what was going on. She started looking at the cervix and after taking a few measurements she briefly left the room before returning to measure the baby. When she was completely done with the ultrasound we knew more than we had the day before. First off, we got a really good look at baby’s bottom and are confident that baby #2 is a GIRL! (Yay!) We also learned that my cervix was just over 1cm long and that I was, in fact, starting to dilate. The ultrasound tech told us that she had ordered a wheel chair because she thought we would be sent to the hospital after the doctor examined me. What!?!? When I had left the house that morning, it NEVER occurred to me that I could be going straight to the hospital!

The doctor arrived a few minutes later and after looking at the ultrasound pictures and actually examining my cervix, he determined that a cerclage would be the best option for us. We were told that we could choose to go home and do nothing or use some hormone treatments to attempt to keep things from progressing, but those options were not nearly as effective as a cerclage and we would very likely have a pre-term baby if that is what we chose to do. We definitely didn’t want that, so we opted for the cerclage. The doctor used the ultrasound to guide a needle in for an amniocentesis, so they could check for infection in my uterus and then sent me to the hospital. The part I left out was that I was an emotional wreck. It’s not fun to watch the doctor push a needle in through the stomach, into the uterus and amniotic sack. The womb is supposed to be a safe place for baby to grow and develop, not a place where she could get poked with a needle! Thankfully our baby girl, somehow, knew to lay still and the procedure went off without any problems.

Then it was just a waiting game.

We had to wait 24 hours for the test results to come back. Those were the most nerve-wracking, emotional 24 hours of my life. We had visitors that evening, which was nice. I’ve never really appreciated people who take time to visit those in the hospital before, but it has been so nice to have company. They allowed me to keep my mind off the scary things and focus on doing what I need to do at that moment to keep my baby safe. The hardest part was when my in-laws brought Blue to visit. I really, REALLY, wanted to see him, but it was hard to not be able to pick him up and love on him. But he was too busy anyway. He ran around the hospital room, talking and yelling as loud as he could. It was heart-wrenching when he left.

The next morning we got the test results back and everything was negative! The cerclage was a go!! It was such good news. So that morning, at 9:30, they wheeled me into an operating room (in the NICU, which was kind of scary) and got to work. I’m not going to go into a ton of details about a cerclage, except to say it is a stitch put in the cervix to keep it from continuing to dilate & efface and that the procedure in itself, does not allow the woman to have any dignity. I was INCREDIBLY glad when it was over! I was also incredibly relieved when it was over. It was almost as if a weight had been lifted.

I still have several months of bed rest awaiting me, but knowing that it is going to be much harder for my cervix to betray me by continuing to dilate is very comforting.

Bring on the bed rest!

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Fighting for Baby

I woke up on Wednesday morning just like it was any other day. Blue and I were home a lone and I had a plan to get some work done before getting ready for my regularly scheduled prenatal appointment that afternoon. I always look forward to these appointments. I love hearing that my baby is growing normally and hearing the baby’s heartbeat. This day I was especially excited because I had another ultrasound scheduled. We had an ultrasound 4 weeks before, but the baby was lying in such a way that the ultrasound tech was unable to get a good look at some things, including gender.

So another ultrasound was scheduled. And I was excited about it.

The baby looked great during the ultrasound. Had a really good heartbeat and all the measurements were normal for the baby’s gestational age. It was such a relief to see that my baby was growing and developing normally. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a good look at gender again – baby must have been feeling modest because baby put it’s feet down in the way of the money shot. But, I thought, that’s OK – we didn’t need to know the gender to have a healthy baby.

Then the ultrasound tech wanted to check the length of my cervix.

I didn’t think much of it, because this ultrasound tech has always checked the length of my cervix during ultrasounds. However, I did start to get a little worried when she couldn’t see it with the regular transducer. Instead she had to use the vaginal transducer to get a good look at it. And then she got quiet. When I asked her about it, she just told me that my doctor would go over the results with me.

Normally, there is no wait at my doctor’s office, but the wait on Wednesday seemed to last forever. Thankfully my mother-in-law had come with me to help with Blue and was able to keep me distracted from worrying too much. When my name was finally called and we all went back into the examining room, I was informed that my doctor wanted to check me (which means a pants off appointment & not my favorite thing). The doctor checked me and somberly told me that my cervix has thinned significantly. That at 22 weeks pregnant, a woman’s cervix should be around 3 cm long and mine was a little over 1 cm and to top it off, it was already dilated to 1 cm. Definitely not a good thing. This, in fact, was the same diagnosis I got when I started having complications at the end of my pregnancy with Blue, just 10 weeks sooner. My doctor told me that he was going to refer me to a high risk specialist in Indianapolis and then would call me that afternoon or the next day with an appointment.

I got a call less than an hour later.

My OB himself called me to schedule the appointment. I really love my OB and believe that he is a great doctor, but phone skills maybe aren’t his strength. I was sitting in my mother-in-law’s car when he called. I answered the phone a little hesitantly since I didn’t recognize the number and a voice says, “Michelle?” I said yes it was me. Then he says, “Are you home already?” I replied that no, I wasn’t home. The voice then says, “Oh, you must be on your cell phone.” I said that I was and then I recognized the voice as my OB’s and smiled to myself. He then went on to explain that I had an appointment scheduled for the next morning at 9:00 am, however he couldn’t remember the doctor’s name and he wasn’t 100% sure of the location. However, he did know the name of the doctor in charge of the practice, I would just be seeing one of his colleagues. I assured my OB that I would find the office and could make the appointment the next morning.

And the whole time I was FREAKING OUT! I’m not a doctor, but it didn’t take being a doctor to know that the baby, my 22 week baby, was in danger of coming. I tried not to cry or worry too much, but it was really hard. I felt like I was on the brink of crying all the time. All I could think about was months of bed rest and how much I hated bed rest when I was pregnant with Blue. I thought about having a pre-term baby and all the complications that come with prematurity. I really lost it when I thought about Blue. I knew bed rest would mean that it would be hard or almost impossible for me to care for him or play with him. And Blue’s too little to understand what’s going on. But maybe I was jumping the gun? I decided to try to stay calm until talking with the specialists the next day.

This was getting long, so I had to cut it off. Come back later for the rest of the story.

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Another Remodeling Project

When HandyMan and I were pregnant with Blue we started remodeling a room to be used as his bedroom. Due to several different circumstances, the room was unable to be completed before Blue was born. This caused a lot of stress and arguments for both HandyMan and I, so it seemed crazy to start another remodeling project now that we are expecting baby #2!

room demolition

Note: ugly paneling & cracked drywall - demolishing this room was not hard to do!

But we did. Although this time we are not planning on using that room for the baby right away. We are planning on the baby rooming in with us for a while before, eventually, sharing a room with Blue, regardless of whether the baby is a boy or girl.

So if we’re not planning on making this room for the new baby, why did we even start on it?

There are several reasons. The biggest being that the people who lived here before us used very questionable construction practices when “upgrading” the house. The room we’re remodeling was part of an addition added in the mid-80s and above the room, on the outside of the house, the roof is visibly sagging. Definitely not a good sign!

So we cleaned out the room and tore into it a couple of weeks ago. As we took down the ceiling, we discovered exactly what we had expected, undersized rafters – as well as some other surprises.

The undersized rafters aren’t going to be huge deal to replace since we are going to be re-roofing the house anyway, it was the other surprises that shocked us.

room demolition exposed raftersThis was what we found to be so surprising. Original siding – over 100 years old, hiding just behind the drywall. And the wiring was on top of the siding, just under the drywall. It’s AMAZING they didn’t put drywall screws through it while hanging the drywall.

siding behind drywallIf you look closely at the top of this picture, you can see a bird’s nest that was left in the wall. And you get a better look at the wonderful wiring job that was done.

bird's nest in wallAs we finished demolishing the room, we discovered that the previous owners left the original exterior siding on the whole (what is now an) interior wall. Crazy! At least they actually insulated this room, even though they didn’t bother to heat it.

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