Thursday, January 27, 2011

In a bit of a funk

Seriously, I don't know why I can't get it together lately. Well, no, that's not true either. I'm pregnant, I've been sick, and my toddler is running me ragged. There's just not enough of me left to write, which sucks, because writing is a big part of what keeps me together in the first place.

Don't get me wrong - good things are afoot here.

Acorn not only is now asking for food (by dragging us to the fridge so he can grab his milk) - yesterday my husband was taking too long, so he opened the fridge himself, grabbed the milk, closed the door, and went about his merry way. It's such a huge step for him to recognize hunger and then to find a solution.

Today is day three of preschool too. Day 2 (Tuesday) went well, since they basically gave him someone 1-on-1 to walk him through the day. Nurse sat back, and as long as he could look up and see her, he was great...until they started vacuuming. He cried today when I went to leave (and Goddess help me, I want to make my spouse do drop offs for the rest of the month after that), even though he was practically running to the room to play with things when we got there. I keep reminding myself it's a process, and that this transition is what he needs, and that reaction is why we're doing it now....but it still sucks.

Baby Leaf is hanging in there. Ze is right on schedule for my due date (which the OB agreed to move back to where it should have been, based on 2 ultrasounds that didn't match his date by over a week - funny how when you have really long cycles, they don't line up with the little wheel of doom due dates, huh?).  We go back to re-do our sequential scan on Monday morning, which is the same day I go to see MFM (maternal-fetal medicine, also known as the high risk guys).

It's really exciting to be able to see Leaf, and at this week's appointment, I got to hear zir heartbeat, rather than just seeing it, which about made me cry. It's still very hard to believe some days that there really is a baby in there.

(obligatory side note: I'm still not sure we're going to find out whether Leaf is a boy or a girl before birth, and if we do find out, I'm not sure we're going to tell. It's not likely we'll be having a baby shower, since the only thing we're really lacking is girl clothes if Leaf is a girl.)

My blood pressure is actually improving - at the endocrinologist this morning, it was NORMAL, which it hasn't been in about 2 months. Most of that time it's been borderline high, with occasional OMGWTFBBQ type numbers, particularly when I was vomiting 6 times a day and when I had a sinus infection with asthma flare-ups. This is promising, because that means my body is doing what it should - with Acorn, it never went below borderline, and started climbing at about 20 weeks. While we're only at 11 weeks now, it's still better than with Acorn.

I also didn't lose weight this week, which is a first. I didn't gain weight either, but I can live with that right now. I can see my belly starting to pop out, but I doubt anyone else would see it...except in this one pair of pants, which are cut kind of strangely to begin with. My maternity yoga pants aren't comfortable yet; my regular pants are not really comfortable or uncomfortable, so I'm still wearing normal clothes to work, and my plain old non-maternity yoga pants when I'm at home.

Anyway. That's about the size of it. It's good, really....I just don't really feel it this week. I'm easily overwhelmed, and frequently feel like the walls are closing in on me. I am looking forward to having Monday mostly to myself, even if it does involve going to the doctors. I've failed miserably at meditation lately, which usually helps in times like this, so I guess I need to figure out something else.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exciting Developments on the Eating Front

This weekend, Acorn has started asking for food!

Most tube-fed kids have a hard time with hunger cues. They're fed on a strict schedule to make sure they get the required amount of calories, in an appropriate amount of liquid volume, rather than being fed on demand. It's hard to re-learn that connection: I'm hungry, I get someone to realize I need to eat, I get fed, I stop feeling hungry.

Now, to be fair, he's mostly dragging people to the fridge and making them open it so he can get his milk himself. But still, it's a huge step for us. It means he recognizes hunger, and recognizes that eating (or drinking) makes it better.

And, of course, it means he knows where to find milk :)

We've been trying to get him to eat solid foods first today (well, most days) rather than filling up on milk. It's been mostly successful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Deja Vu all over again

This morning, I got myself together to head to the Fetal Imaging department for our 12 week screen. It got scheduled this week because my doctor moved my due date up 10 days last week, because he felt it was more accurate, being based on my last menstrual period. By that logic, had I gotten pregnant the cycle before (where I ovulated mid-October), I'd've been 4.5 months pregnant already, since early July was the LMP date for that cycle. *sigh*

Anyway. That's neither here nor there, though for what it's worth, baby measured right on schedule for *my* date, and a week behind his date, so they couldn't do the screen, because baby wasn't big enough.

This morning, driving to the hospital, there was a sense of Deja Vu. This is the route we drove every day for 9 1/2 months while Acorn was in the NICU. We'd driven this route for several scans and for 2 admissions to triage before that, and for several inpatient stays for him after, but it's always framed in my mind by looking at the NICU windows on our way in (other than his first 8 weeks or so, he had a window overlooking our drive in), hoping nothing had gone haywire in the last half hour that we hadn't heard about yet.

It's always the same - the parking garage, the glassed-in bridge from the parking lot into the building, passing the registration desk, and into the hallway with the big wall of TV screens advertising the Children's Surgery Center at the far end.

When Acorn was born, leaving the hospital without him wasn't the hardest thing for me - though many moms take it hard, I needed out of the hospital for my own sanity (it was the first time in 2 weeks I'd breathed real air). I needed away from the social workers who thought I was crazy (ok, not that I'm not somewhat off, and not that I don't have questionable brain chemistry, but it was like an intervention!), the food that I couldn't stand, the constant checking of my blood pressure. I knew that Acorn was in the best place he could be - it was crystal clear to me the morning he was born that him staying put in my womb was not an option for either of us, if I wanted us to have any chance at survival.

No, what was hardest was coming back the next morning. Into that garage for the first of many trips, walking across the bridge, surrounded by pregnant women going to Fetal Imaging, where I'd been every morning the week before Acorn's birth, and then past the birth center elevators, which I also had to pass to get to the NICU. I walked the whole way that morning, without any help, the furthest I'd walked in 2 weeks, and it was physically exhausting, but the emotional toll was so much greater.

How could those women be happy, when this possibility was out there? Why were they so lucky to have a "normal" pregnancy, but not me?

It's still a little surreal to walk that way and not continue on to the main elevators - 291 days makes for a pretty strong habit, and I can (and have) walked that walk half asleep, panicked, on autopilot, drugged to the point of nearly being non-functional....but also triumphantly, happily, and at peace with the world.

And for all of that....I'd really rather never make that walk again. If we have to, we will deal with it, but I really hope it's not another 291 days in a row.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

support communities

Acorn has a lot of medical diagnoses. And for every one of them, I can find at least one or two email lists or message boards or other ways to connect with parents whose kids also have that same diagnosis.

I'm starting to realize, however, that not all of them are a good fit for every family.

A friend of mine on a very natural parenting oriented message board has a little boy with special needs. They've made huge strides in his progress, but she points out that not following the "right" therapies on many of these groups is likely to make you an outcast. Complementary medicine (acupuncture, CST, herbs, dietary changes) are seen by some groups as less than adequate, because you could give a pill or have surgery - even though those things also have huge risks for side effects. And in some cases, she's gotten as good of results as the more allopathic approach can offer, with less drama.

Today I'm leaving a bunch of online groups that no longer serve a purpose for me (if they ever did). It's complicated, but I feel like even getting emails I'm not going to find any useful info in is too much work right now. I've got a sinus infection, I'm pregnant, we're preparing for what is looking to be our most wild and chaotic year ever....and some of this stuff just isn't helping with that, so it's time for it to go.

Support communities are great if you're getting stuff out of them. There are some that have led to what I hope will be life-long friendships. Those ones are staying.

Friday, January 14, 2011

body image, healthy eating, and morning sickness

It's taken me days to write this. Days and tears and honesty that I wasn't sure I had. And a homeopathic remedy that's worked well for my mood swings...

...that, and the promise of a chocolate milkshake on the way home as a reward, if I get through the last of it today.


Food and I have a long history of failed attempts at a functional relationship.

I have a history of eating in ways that weren't healthy in order to attempt to be thin. I have a history of vague attempts at dieting (and then gaining more weight back than I'd lost to begin with). I have a history of living in a household where food was controlled to the Nth degree (my best guess is that a trained evaluator would diagnose my dad as having Aspergers and sensory processing disorder; his food preferences are very narrow, and anyone who doesn't agree is just. plain. wrong.). I have a history of alternately not eating for days, or binging on everything in sight when I'm depressed.

Add in the very disfunctional way our society approaches body image for girls and women, and you've got quite a mess.

For me, any "diet" that requires counting sets off a very bad sort of loop - and it doesn't matter if that counting is calories, carbs, proteins, or points. It's a way of imposing control, and control and I, too, have a very disfunctional relationship, except under very specific circumstances (and even then, I still worry that the very existence of that exception to the rule, by its very nature, is disfunctional in some big ways).

It's only been the last few years that I've really come to terms with this history, and come to see that there are other ways of approaching body image and food - ways that celebrate food without putting down the body I have, ways that celebrate the body I have without making me miserable about the body that some folks think I ought to have. Ways of eating that focus on nutrition, on giving my body what it needs to be its best (whatever that best is). Ways of exercising that focus on moving because it feels good, not because it's some magic ticket to some idealized body.

The last few years are probably the most functional my relationship with food has ever been - and that's not to say there aren't days where this fragile bridge of friendship has broken down under the weight of all that history. I eat until I'm satisfied, but not past that point. We mostly eat at home, and we eat things made from real foods - things I can identify, things that aren't in cans or boxes. I eat more fruits and vegetables on a regular basis than I ate in a week as a kid; I try new things, I use spices (we had onion and garlic and cinnamon and salt and pepper when I was a kid). I cook with cream and butter when a recipe calls for it, without agonizing over the fat or calories - I find I tend to eat less when I eat things made this way, because my body is satisfied more quickly.

If I'm gonna have dessert, it's usually going to be something fabulous, because I deserve it - why waste good calories on bad food?


Pregnancy has a funny way of interfering with all this progress.  I had issues when I was pregnant with Acorn - morning sickness really threw things off, and my relationship with food was very tentative then. I tried hard to stay in a zone of peace about it, but regularly failed. There were points where I couldn't finish a hamburger because it was too much food. And the list of foods I couldn't stand to eat because of food aversions was a mile long.

This pregnancy, the morning sickness has been far worse. There've been days where I know I didn't consume 1000 calories, and I know I didn't keep all of it down (and you see that number there? there's a number because that's how paranoid I've become). I've been told protein is the key to preventing pre-eclampsia, but how do you even begin to count protein grams when you're vomiting six times a day?

And then I got medication for the morning sickness, but I still don't feel like eating. I know it's not good - it's been very clear the last couple of weeks that the less I eat, the more anxiety I feel, but we're already at a point where I'm paranoid about eating the wrong things, and fearful that the meds will stop working, and the resulting waves of anxiety means there are times I just don't eat anything, because it's easier....which just makes the anxiety worse.

On top of that are the cravings. This time is not so bad as it was with Acorn (largely because the whole idea of food is right out much of the time right now). And the more rational part of me knows that following a craving is not a bad thing - my body is smart and it knows what it needs, especially if I'm otherwise eating well. But I'm rarely that rational right now, and I'm not eating that well to begin with. Part of me worries that the craving foods are displacing protein, or vegetables, or any number of more healthy things that my body and my baby need. Part of me just doesn't want to eat at all, because it's easier than possibly being sick, or arguing with myself about whether it's the "right" thing to eat. Part of me worries that I'm not eating enough - and clearly, when I'm not eating at all that's true, it's just hard to know what constitutes enough when you have no appetite and are likely to vomit if you eat too much, even with meds.


I'd say that it's more important to me not to pass all this angst on to Acorn than to actually fix it....but really, that's a sign of the stress inherent in the current situation. Our needs are equally important.

Acorn has always been a kid with feeding issues. A combination of sensory issues, bad experiences, a trach, and a lack of experience has meant that oral feedings have been a challenge. We are only recently not feeding him via feeding tube, and most days, he still doesn't eat like most other kids his age. He eats more foods than my dad, which says a lot.

It's taken a ton of work to get to this point....but here we are, maintaining weight and growing without the tube, completely normal for his age in terms of weight and height.  It's been a struggle for me too - I hate peas, but he eats them happily; even though the smell of eggs right  now makes me nauseous, I've made him eggs in the last week.

There's a lot of work that goes into putting on a good face for him - into encouraging him to try everything (even things I can't stand, even when I'm not pregnant), into encouraging him to eat a little of everything, in encouraging him to ask for food when he's hungry. In short, into helping him build a good relationship with food from the beginning.

But the pressure on me, from me, is huge, and right now I'm not sure I can keep it up.

Last night he and I had mozzerella sticks and peanut butter toast for dinner - he wasn't thrilled with the toast, but he ate the cheese, and we had a nice dinner together that we both enjoyed. That counts for something, right?

Monday, January 10, 2011

in the closet, or out?

I wrote some posts ahead, to be scheduled after I figure out when I'm telling people about our upcoming addition to the family. The first part of this was written at 5 weeks and 4 days pregnant by my count (and I know when I ovulated, so I'm pretty sure I'm spot on). The second part, at 8 weeks 6 days.


When I was pregnant with Acorn, I put off buying maternity clothes. First, because I couldn't believe I was finally pregnant, and second because I was so stinkin' sick with morning sickness I couldn't imagine shopping...besides, I was embarrassed to be shopping for maternity clothes when clearly, I didn't look pregnant, I was *obviously* just fat.

A big part of that was the 2 sizes I lost while vomiting. Seriously, I know my doctors and my insurance company all believe I should lose weight; I don't really think this was what they meant. Belts were a problem at 13 weeks, I started rotating outfits in at 15 weeks (with those belly bands over my regular pants, or over my maternity pants to help hold them up) and I finally put away the last of my normal clothes around 20 weeks.

I bought some things I regretted, because even as a size 14/16/18 (depending on the brand) there aren't a lot of choices, maternity wise. Most maternity stores have limited selection at the mall to begin with, and then only have one little 3 foot section of wall for "plus sizes" which is funny, given that fully half of the female population of the US wears size 14 or larger.

Anyway. When I came home from my 2 week stay in the hospital, my mom packed up all my maternity things while I was napping. I was kind of glad she'd done it - I just wasn't ready to deal with it yet, but seeing it in the closet wasn't going to help either.

On the opposite end of the spectrum....this weekend I unpacked that same bag of clothing. I want - need - time to process.

And I want time to go looking for items to replace the ones I hate. I can go resale hunting over the holiday break, I have plenty of time. Because if I have anything to say about it, this is going to be a healthy full term pregnancy, and I'm going to wear this stuff longer than the 6-8 weeks of use it got last time.


I'm still contemplating what to do about clothing. I have no desire to out myself at work just yet. But in the evenings when I get home, I long for the comfort of yoga pants. My belly hasn't grown - the morning sickness this time around has required drugs, in fact, and I lost 6 pounds between week 6 and week 8. Part of it, I'm sure, is constipation caused by the medication. But anything tight is just....too tight.

I did go buy some things on sale. And maybe I'll buy a few more in a month or so - I still have to figure out telling the people I see every day (work, and Acorn's staff), much less the family. But by then I'll probably be wearing maternity clothes anyway

This is the part I dread, actually - telling people. It's different telling friends. Friends are all glad for you - even the ones who hate kids, and the ones  who are jealous. Actually, sometimes especially the ones who are jealous, the ones who've had their own fertility struggles. They know how much it means.

Co-workers are funny about this sort of thing. They know you'll be out; they know they'll be expected to carry some of the load. I worry about their reaction, given Acorn's history and early arrival.

I'm still happy, don't get me wrong - but today the anxiety is getting to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Have I mentioned yet that being pregnant terrifies me?

First, there's the fact that my body actually did what it was supposed to, all by itself. That's completely unprecidented, and it  makes me wonder a bit if I was abducted by aliens.

Second, there's the timing. Seriously. Acorn will be getting his trach out in the spring, and if all goes well this little one - who I've decided to call Leaf here on my blog - will be born mid-to-late summer.

If all doesn't go well, Leaf will be making his or her arrival about the same time Acorn gets his trach out, and we'll be jumping right back into this whole crazy mess.

Third....there's a baby. In my belly. That will need food and clothing and some sort of child care and we've been terribly spoiled the last couple of years with good child care for Acorn that has been paid by our insurance, and we'll be picking up the tab for Acorn's care too.

Fourth, the morning sickness has been awful, and though I'm now taking medication for it, I worry about side effects and I worry that the horrific morning sickness means there's more to worry about.

On the plus side....

There's a baby.
In my belly.
And I don't think anything could make me happier

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NICU memories

One big thing that's come full circle with this pregnancy is our NICU experience.

Ours was both better and worse than some. But we've agreed that should things go that route, we want to be in the same hospital.


Because part of the way most NICUs work appears to be based more on politics than on patient or parent needs.

Because we already know the system there - who is willing to be flexible, who isn't, which nurses to trust and which to avoid, how to get things done, what rules to push and what rules to follow to the letter, what things are in our control and which aren't (no matter how much the staff makes it out that they're God in this little world of theirs).

Because we already know the head of neonatology has issues with strong women (and I'm no push-over).

Because it seems to me that most people go into the NICU terrified, and come out just as terrified, having been through what appears to be a capricious system ruled by who's on duty this shift, never learning how to get what they need, and never really learning how to get their children home - it just happens by magic.

Because we don't want to have to learn the system all over again at a different hospital, with less family-friendly visiting rules, farther from home.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Bit of Happy News

So, the long and short of it is, I'm pregnant!!!

I've spent weeks trying to figure out when to say it, how to say it. But I'm just so amazingly happy about it that I figured it was better to share, so I could actually say something about it, because I'm ready to burst. I'd hoped to wait until next week, when we have an ultrasound scheduled to check for a heartbeat and such.

And then last night I outed myself on twitter hoping for help with the severe morning sickness I've been dealing with, because I reached a breaking point, having thrown up every single time I ate yesterday, except one (right before bed).

This little one was conceived without the use of fertility drugs - something we did not think was possible for us, so all I can assume is divine intervention. There are a couple of Goddesses who will have chocolate and other goodies when it is next appropriate to do so. We had been sure that this fall was the right time to try again, until some family things for next summer came up that meant putting it off for better timing...but if an opportunity to try without drugs was going to present itself, at the time we originally felt was right, who am I to argue?

While I'm already hating morning sickness (see above), and there were a lot of things about my pregnancy with Acorn that I wish had gone differently, I really enjoyed being pregnant, and I am finding little moments of joy in this pregnancy.

I love being able to sit here quietly, soaking in this feeling. The heavy feeling in my belly, even though baby is not nearly big enough to make anything feel like anything. The warm glow that nearly crackles across my skin at times - that same energy that makes people comment on how pregnant women just glow. The very spiritual and yet grounding realization that there is a person inside me, just waiting to come out and let us meet him or her.

I don't know that we'll be finding out the sex of this baby before its birth - we supposedly knew Acorn's, about as sure as we could be, and they were wrong. Not finding out would be less drama inducing, I think.
Mostly, though, I am praying. Praying a lot, daily - for a healthy baby, and a healthy full term pregnancy without complications. If you all wouldn't mind, I think we could use all the help we can get on that front.