Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just the facts, ma'am...

There's a fine line between whining and telling exactly what happened on this "vacation" of ours. 

And though I really, really want to whine and stomp my feet and cry about how terrible it all was, I'll spare you all that and just tell you exactly what happened.

Yesterday morning, Max woke up crying with a screaming fever.  Abby was crying because everything hurt.  Ashylnn was crying because everyong else was crying.  I wanted to cry.

The vacation was over. 

By 10am, we had everything packed in the car, ("I don't care where you pack everything, Mom.  Just throw it in the van.  We'll sort it all out later.") and were on the road. 

We made it home in record time.  I figured as long as we were all going lay around feeling sorry for ourselves, we may as well do it at home, on our own couches.

And I learned a very important lesson.  Next time I get the wild idea to take all three children on "vacation" by myself,. a much wiser course would be to wrap all my children in bubble wrap and lock us all in our rooms for the duration.  It would be cheaper, and probably a lot more enjoyable.

Friday, May 28, 2010

When the husband's away...

A child is guaranteed to end up in the hospital.

Last time Tom went to Europe, Max visited three hospitals, two ER's, with a bonus ride in an ambulance.

I joked with Tom that he needed to have a stern talk with Max about staying out of the hospital while Dad is out of the country.

Turns out, it wasn't Max I needed to worry about.

Abby was riding her bike down a hill at Capitol Reef National Park today, got out of control, and took the nastiest spill I've ever seen.  I was behind her in the car, and my heart stopped.   Its one of those terrible images that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

She was covered in blood, screaming and going quickly into shock.  We piled her into the van and drove to the Visitor's Center, and they directed us to the clinic in Bicknell, about 20 miles away.

Five stitches in her chin,  a wicked case of road rash on her chest, a wrapped elbow, a wrapped knee, too many band-aids and bruises to count, and $330 dollars later, ("No, our policy is to have the patient pay up front and then we'll reimburse you when and if your insurance pays."  Like I said a few posts back, its a good thing that our money tree in the backyard is starting to bloom...) Abby is back at the cabin, limping around recovering.

It will probably take me much longer. 

And my husband is no longer allowed to go to Europe on business.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The one time utter chaos manages to pay off

A week ago, my husband got news that he was headed to Germany this week for work.  Unfortunately, it also meant that due to an acute lack of child care, that I wasn't going to be able to attend the Casual Blogger's Conference this weekend.  After a suitable period of mourning, I decided that rather than spend all week staring at the walls and going stir-crazy alone with my three wild children, that I would pack them all up in the van and head down to my parents' cabin in Torrey.  Better scenery, two extra adults to help corral the crazies, and a change of pace would be good ideas all the way around.

While I was nervous about the drive alone with them, everything went relatively well, until we hit the tiny town of Bicknell, UT, about 5 or so miles from Torrey.  Max, who had adamently refused to nap the whole trip, decided that he was done.  Done with the carseat, done with our feeble attempts to entertain him, done.  And then he commenced the shrieking. 

Then Ashlynn decided she was done listening to Max scream, and decided to start screaming at Max to stop screaming.  As you can imagine, this was incredibly effective.   Then Abby started yelling at them both.  More effectiveness.  I started chanting "Five more minutes, five more minutes," in my head.

Then I looked up to see red and blue flashing lights in my rearview mirror.

After uttering a minor four-letter word, calmly and cooly pulling over, the very nice Wayne County Sherriff approached my window.  I very honestly had no idea what I had done, but guessed that I probably hadn't been watching my speed. 

Sure enough, the very nice officer had clocked me going 11 over in the middle of Bicknell, and then trailed me for a few miles.  *gulp*  I was obviously paying very close attention to my driving!

Lucky for me, this is the one and only instance where the Armaggedon going on in my van actually worked to my benefit.  I explained to the officer that I was a little distracted by the screaming which Max was so generously still demonstrating.  Ashlynn, who has a terrible fear of police officers, had stopped yelling and was cowering in the backseat.

The officer chuckled when I told him about my two screamers, and then took a look and said, "And you have one on the way, you must be a glutton for punishment. You probably are just anxious to get there and get out of the car,"  I laughed at that, agreeing whole-heartedly, despite being slightly horrified that at 12 weeks pregnant, I'm showing enough for a perfect stranger to comment on it! 

He took a look at my driver's liscense for a second, then handed it back to me, and said "Just make sure you watch your speed from here on out."   I was a little surprised that he didn't even run my liscense, then realized he probably went home to tell his wife about the crazy lady in the red minivan with the screaming kids that he pulled over.  For once, I was glad to have someone feel sorry for me.

I'm proud to report that I didn't go a single mile over the speed limit all the way to Torrey. 

And now, for some gratuitous cute Torrey pictures.

This is the first trip we've had where Max hasn't been incredibly scared of the four-wheelers.

I even took him for a little 5 mph ride around the property.  Don't judge.  He loved it.  And this is Wayne county, where not teaching your child to ride a four-wheeler is considered child abuse.
Falling in the giant mud puddle was not so much fun, however.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This post has a happy ending

It almost didn't.

I had a routine check up with an ob/gyn yesterday.  While its not exactly normal to see a homebirth midwife and an ob/gyn at the same time, ever since my last miscarriage at thirteen weeks, I've needed to know that my pregnancies were viable.  

The ob/gyn who did my last D&C is amazingly respectful, supportive and willing to help.  After the surgery, he told my husband and me that he would help us in any way he could. He suggested when we got pregnant again that we see him for the first 12 weeks, have an early ultrasound to verify that everything was progressing normally, and then he would be happy to discharge us to the care of our midwife.   

This time around, we opted to do the same thing.  We saw him at eight weeks, had a quick (less than a minute) ultrasound showing a healthy heartbeat, and scheduled one more appointment at twelve weeks.  

Yesterday, when I went in, I was expecting to be in and out.  When the doctor came in, he offered to do another quick ultrasound.  Once on the table, I was concerned when an image didn't immediately come up on the screen.  

Several times, he turned on the sound, trying to hear a heartbeat.  There was nothing.

He searched for a few minutes, and still couldn't find anything.  I made a lame joke about the baby playing hide and seek, and he didn't answer.  My heart caught in my throat.  

"I'm so sorry," he said, "but I can't find anything.  There's very little fluid, and I can't find a heartbeat."  He pointed to an image on the screen, still searching with the ultrasound.  "I'm sorry. But let's do a quick check with the vaginal ultrasound to be sure."

He left me in the room with one of those lovely paper "sheets" to cover myself.  In the two minutes that it took me to get undressed and situated, I battled a myriad of crazy emotions.  First and foremost, I was numb.  I couldn't believe that this was happening again.  My sister just went through this exact same situation three weeks ago at her twelve-week visit, and I was incredulous that both of us were going through the same thing.  I clicked into survival mode, immediately planning the lesson cancellations, and how I would manage to have a D&C when my husband was scheduled to leave for Germany today for a business trip.   

The doctor came back in, and started the vaginal ultrasound.  Immediately, a crystal-clear image popped up and once again, the doctor said, "I'm sorry," but this time he followed it with "Its right there."

"What's right there?" I stuttered.

He turned on the sound, and there it was.  The blissful sound of a baby's heartbeat.

The doctor apologized up and down.  He said he didn't know what had just happened, and said it was the worst ultrasound imaging he had ever seen.  The baby was measuring perfect, and the image was so clear that we could see the spine, two arms and two legs moving around, the skull, the brain, and the fluttering heartbeat.  

I've struggled ever since I found our we were expecting again.  I don't think I was emotionally ready to be pregnant again, and the reality of this pregnancy has been tempered and colored with Max's surgery and hospitalizations.  I've felt horribly guilty because I haven't felt the excitement and anticipation that I've felt every other time I've been pregnant.  

It wasn't until I was faced with the idea of losing the baby that I realized how much I really do want this little person to join our family.  And while things have been complicated and difficult these first few weeks, I now know that I wouldn't go back and undo it, even if I could.  The timing definitely isn't what we would have chosen, but this little person is obviously on their way at this time for a reason.  And I can't wait to meet him or her and have them join our crazy little family. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's so great about homebirth anyway?

This afternoon, I had a great conversation with a friend who is considering homebirth if and when she and her husband decide to have another baby.  We talked about midwives, doulas, cost, practicality and so on, and ever since I hung up the phone, I've been reminiscing about Max's fantastic homebirth, and the other homebirths I've been privileged to attend as a doula. 

There are a lot of people who think I'm completely insane for birthing babies at home.  And I confess, I used to be one of them.  But now that I've birthed a baby at home, I know that barring an emergency or huge complication, I could never go back to the hospital for a birth.  (I spend way to much time in them as it is!)

There are plenty of studies that affirm the safety of homebirth when compared with hospital birth.  Plenty of outspoken critics on both sides of the debate.   But for me, and many other homebirthers, its not about statistics.  Sure we're glad to know that homebirth is generall as safe or even more safe than birthing in the hospital, but there are lots of other reasons we choose to have our babies at home.

1- No rushing around to get to the hospital. No fear of having a baby in the car (I did that) or at the admitting station. You don't have to have the interruption of moving to a different place with unfamiliar smells, sights, sounds, or unfamiliar PEOPLE when you're in the most active and vulnerable part of labor.

2- No being bugged after the birth. You get to hold your baby for as long as you want, and no one will take them away from you until you're ready. The baby is alwasy treated gently, and everything is done in front of you. No hard hospital beds. No monitors. No nurses waking you up at 6 am to check your blood pressure, draw blood, or give you pain meds. There is nothing in the world like being tucked into your own bed with your brand new baby after birth. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

3- You get to manage your own labor however you choose. I had a start and stop labor that lasted over a week. We went for a walk at 2am to get contractions moving again. I walked stairs. I slept. No one pressured me that "we need to get things moving faster" or talked about pitocin. I ate and drank freely, and felt completely comfortable being stark naked. I felt completely spoiled and cared for.

4- You choose your own birth team. I can't imagine having someone who is a virtual stranger (a nurse, an ob etc) being there for one of the most intimate experiences of my life.  The women who attended me were loving, caring, and treated me with complete caring and respect. 

5- If there is a need for something medical at the birth, midwives have the equipment and training to deal with it. Max was born blue and floppy, and we had to do a full ressucitation. But, he never left my arms and things resolved quickly.

6- People talk about the mess, but we never saw any of it. My midwife and doula cleaned everything up and then some. You never would have known there was a baby born there. They even left homemade food in my fridge.

7- No packing you and your baby up hours or days after your birth to go home.  Midwives will come to you for postpartum visits, and I was encouraged to spend the first week after he was born in bed.  It was a wonderful time to be nurtured and get to know my new baby.

8- My older girls were there for the birth and it was an amazing experience that they still talk about. They woke up as he was about to be born, and they were so excited to watch! It truly made it a family affair, and I hope planted a seed in my girls' minds that birth is normal, not something to be afraid of.

So what about you?  Are you a homebirther?  Natural birther? Do you think homebirthers are crazy?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Next time, I'm washing my hair first...

Max is officially grounded.  At least until he's 25.  If not older. 

You see all these gray hairs?  I swear they're all from him.  And after this weekend, it's gonna take a lot more than a bottle of hair color off the grocery store shelf to cover this up.  We're talking industrial strength hair color. 

So because it's May, because my last post was about medical issues, or maybe because the God of Irony decided that it had been way too long since we had visited an ER, we spent the weekend in the hospital with Max.

You know that nasty fever?  It came as a result of the nasty stomach bug that Ashlynn started.  Problem was, Max doesn't seem to be able to fight stuff like that off.  He spent Thursday with a wicked fever, (think 104!) and Friday with a mild one.  He wasn't eating anything, and hardly drinking.  I'm not even going to mention how awful the diarrhea was.  Just when I was starting to get worried, he ate a good meal on Friday night.

Then, as we were visiting with good friends and about to sit down for a night of games and fun, he threw up all over me.  There's nothing to make you feel like a mom like leaving a party because there's puke all over you.  And you weren't the one who did the puking!

Saturday was filled with more attempts to get him to eat or drink.  Nada.  When I was at the grocery store that afternoon, I was suddenly filled with an unmistakeable panic.  I called home to make sure everything was ok.  Tom siad everything was fine.  Max had been sleeping for four and a half hours.  While normally I would rejoice and praise the fates, this time I knew he was probably sleeping because he didn't have the energy to do anything else.

When he woke up, he hadn't had a wet diaper for nearly twelve hours and I knew it was time to do something.  I called and talked with the pediatrician on call, and she told me we needed to get him to the ER to get him hydrated ASAP. 

I fed my family, cleaned up the dinner and packed up the baby.  We thought it was just going to be a quick trip.  (As if there's ever such thing...)  Turns out I should have showered, washed my hair, shaved my legs and packed a bag.

Mission: Rehydrate Max turned out to be a lot more complicated than anticipated.  Poor guy has my terrible veins, and it took 7 sticks, 6 blown veins, a doctor and three nurses holding him down, and many many tears, (his and mine) before they were finally able to get an IV started.  After a few hours, the doctor came back and told me that Max's blood work pointed towards him being severely dehydrated.  She told me that he was starting to become acidotic, (and while I don't know exactly what that means, it just doesn't sound good!) and that they wanted to keep him overnight for observation and more fluids. 

So with that, we were moved upstairs, and set up camp in a hospital bed for the night. 

Can I just say how much I hate trying to sleep in hospital beds?  Especially when you're sleeping in your clothes?  And how I hate that just when you or your kiddo gets into a decent sleep pattern, it's inevitable that the nurse is going to come in for a set of vitals?

By yesterday morning, the fluids had worked their magic.  Our pediatrician explained that when kids get this dehydrated, the tissues around their stomach get irritated, irritating the stomach, and often can't calm down without help.  I was glad to see him eat a good breakfast and start throwing things off the hospital bed, because I could tell he was starting to feel better.

It took us forever to get discharged, and I started feeling very self concious.  We had spent Saturday working in the yard, so my feet were green from cutting the grass, I was wearing a hat to cover my greasy hair, and smelled like something out of the black lagoon.  I found myself wondering why an emergency hospitalization can't ever happen on a day where I had showered and washed my hair first.  You know when you start smelling yourself that things are really getting bad.

So yeah, Max and I were super glad to be home yesterday.  The shower and the nap were both equally needed and appreciated.

He's feeling better today, although hospitalizations always make him whiney and clingy for a few days afterwards.  He looks a bit like a baby junkie with bruises and needle marks all over his arms, hands and feet. And his diapers still could pass for nuclear waste.

I love him, but he's seriously in trouble.  And is going to pay me back for every one of the hair treatments I'm going to need. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you ever really wanted to know what it's like to have medical "issues"

Let me set the scene.

It's Monday morning.  My 6-year old has been puking since 1 am Sunday morning, (Happy Mother's Day to me!) and is running a crazy fever, so she's home from school. 

I'm on a mission to deal with the insurance company and all the bills from Max's surgery that are mounting like crazy.

To avoid filling my blog with lots of four-letter words, let's just say that it took almost two hours, three representatives, a few rounds of tears, getting hung up on once, and several incidences of having the cell phone in one hand and the landline in the other, only to dscover that we are now responsible for an additional $2000 for Max's surgery. 

Isn't that exciting?  I mean, it's a good thing that it's springtime, because that money tree in the backyard is just starting to blossom.

After convincing myself that throwing the phone across the room wasn't going to solve anything, giving the six year old more tylenol, and the baby a stack of books to occupy him, I got in the shower in an attempt to start my day two hours late.

Approximately 24 seconds after I got out of the shower, the *%)@& phone started ringing again.  This time, it was the ENT's office calling to cancel the appointment we set up a month ago to check on Max's ear tubes.  It wouldn't be a huge deal, except he's 6 weeks post-op for ear tubes, and Max has been clawing his ears to shreds, and I've been anxious to make sure his tubes are in the right place.

Come to find out, there are no ENT's in the office this week.  Or next week.   The nurse at the ENT's office was sufficiently concerned about my baby scratching holes in his ears that she told us we need to make an appointment with our pediatrician ASAP. 

So being a responsible mom, I called the pediatrician.  I succeeded in securing an appointment for the next day.  I thought all was fine and dandy until the receptionist said, "Wait a second.  You have a flag on your file."

I started laughing.  At this point, there was nothing else I could do.  I mean, after finding out we're two thousand dollars poorer, what else could go wrong?

"Does your son have issues?" the receptionist asked.

Again, there was nothing I could do but laugh.   Issues?  No. Not unless you consider two major skull surgeries, a stack of specialists, and a medical history longer than the rest of the family put together "issues."

"Well, it's not a bad flag," she went on, "It's just a note that lets us know that we should schedule extra time for Max's appointments because of his issues."

By this time, I was laughing like a crazed maniac.  My eighteen month old has been flagged at the pediatrician's office fore being a trouble maker.   I have officially become one of "those" parents.

I spent the rest of the day laughing about it.  It was either that or cry, and I already did my allotment of that for the day.

As a follow-up, Max's ears are perfectly clear.  But the nasty stomach bug that started with Ashlynn left me laying on the couch moaning for a day and a half, and now has Max, fresh off a doctor visit, running a nasty fever. 

Yup, we have issues.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For Mother's Day

I'm guest-posting over at MMB today... Yes!  Little old me!  Come on over and check it out. 

It's a post I wrote last year on Mother's Day, not knowing how similar I would be feeling this year.  Never would I have thought we would be a month post-op again, nor that I would still be feeling so many of the same feelings a year later. 

Thankfully, just as toddlers learn from repetition, (ask me how many times we've read "Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?" to Max this week...) I've been given, and will be given, lots of chances to learn patience, compassion, and unconditional love. 

Here's to hoping that in the next year, we stay out of the hospital.  And that maybe I can move just a little bit closer to being the mom I want to be. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In which I become jealous of the cat

I am seriously tired.

I forget how incredibly, bone-tired, I'm-going-to-die-if-I-don't-sleep right now I get when I'm pregnant.

Add that to a teething baby who is up every 37 minutes all night long, (Seriously.  I counted.) and you have a recipe for one very tired mama.

Give me a choice between just about anything and sleep, and I'll pick sleep. 

This afternoon after the girls got home from school and Max was napping, I told them they could go upstairs for a few minutes and play so I could shut my eyes.  I told myself it was just going to be a few minutes.  An hour and twenty minutes later, I woke up with drool on my chin and the print of the couch on my cheek, wondering how it got to 5:20. 

Yesterday I started feeling insanely jealous of our big fat black cat.  You see, all he does all day is sleep. 

He spent a few hours sleeping in the baby's crib, (Max certainly isn't using it!) then got up, ate some food out of his dish, and spent the next few hours sleeping under our bed.  Then he moved to the window seat.  Yesterday night, he spent a few minutes purring in my lap, then curled up on the couch and went back to sleep again.

And the best part about it?  No one expects him to do anything different!

Yes, I'm convinced.  I need to be a cat.  At least for the rest of my first trimester. 

It's hard work growing an entire human from scratch you know. 

That's what I keep telling myself as I lay around the house like a slug, anyway.  I figure no matter what else anyone around here does, I'm still being more productive than they are. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One Year, One Month

Yesterday marked some interesting milestones.  A year ago yesterday, we were sitting in the waiting room at Primary Children's Medical Center as our five and a half month old baby son underwent his first surgery. 

It's a good thing that when we were sitting in the hospital a year ago that I had no idea we would be doing it again eleven short months later. 

Yesterday also marked a month and a day from surgery number two. 

Max is doing beautifully.  Looking at him, you would never know that he has been through such an ordeal, not just once but twice.  His head is filled with the normal post-op lumps and bumps, but there is nothing overly concerning, which is saying something because a month post-op from his first surgery, I could still see the triangular shape to his forehead. 

I can't describe how much I would love to put all of this behind us and never think of it again.  We have our first real post-op appointment this week, and I'm hoping that's a significant step towards that.

Oh, and did I mention that yesterday was my birthday?  We got a sitter, saw a movie, and ate crab legs.  Good day. 
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