Friday, July 29, 2011

Home With Baby #5....and the Mean Voice in My Head

Such a sweet big brother!!
Every other time I had brought a baby home, it had been really hectic and stressful THANK YOU STUPID HORMONES.  Ian had screamed constantly and RARELY slept, and then when I brought each additional baby home, there was already another little person or two or three who still needed me EVERY! MINUTE!  But this time was WONDERFUL!  Ian and David were old enough to help Marie and Joseph if they needed anything, but Marie and Joseph were old enough that they really could do most things for themselves.  David, Marie, and Joseph were FASCINATED with our new baby and loved to hold him and look at him and do anything I needed them to do to help (run diapers back and forth, sit by the baby so I could use the bathroom BY MYSELF, etc...).  They honestly acted like this baby was the BEST! PRESENT! EVER!.....and it made me sad that I would never be able to give them the BEST! PRESENT! EVER! again. 

The tiny newborn feet and scrunched up legs!!!
I had been a little concerned about how Joseph was going to handle the reality of the baby coming home, since HE had been the baby for 3 1/2 years (although we had stopped referring to him as the baby a couple years ago), but there was NO PROBLEM at all!  Before the baby came home we had 2 groups of kids:  the older kids (2) and the younger kids (2).  Once Jeffrey came home we had the same 2 groups, but the baby was now the only "younger kid" since everyone else, including Joseph, counted themself as one of the older kids.


Because I JUST COULDN'T CATCH A BREAK The toe-curling nursing agony started right on schedule and lasted for the usual 3 weeks, so that was miserable to deal with on top of the baby waking up all night long.


Before Jeffrey was born, I talked to our family medical professional about our history of screaming babies and asked if we could start this one on Zant@c as soon as he came home from the hospital.  We did that, and, at the magical 3 week point at which his previous 3 siblings had started the hours-long nightly scream, he started.....the nightly fuss!  He got a little grumpy, but he did not scream for hours and hours like those before him!!

The toesies!  And the face!  And the velvet-soft baby hair!
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So, you know how sometimes the Mean Voice in your head (Um, if you've never heard the Mean Voice in YOUR head, you might want to just skip the rest of this and kindly not inform me that I'm crazier than I thought crazy....) tries to tell you that the reason this person or that person hasn't answered your emails/phone calls/tweets is because you are an irritating loser and why would anyone want to be friends with you anyway?  And, on a good day, you can tell that Mean Voice that you are pretty sure that people are just busy with life or dealing with their own problems, and it is your job as someone's friend to hang in there and be supportive, and they'll most likely start answering you when things settle down.  But then, every so often, someone will actually make it VERY CLEAR that, yes, indeed, they do think you are an bothersome, needy, useless waste of space and could you just GET THE HINT ALREADY?!  Experiences like that make it harder for me to argue with the Mean Voice the next time it is talking to me....and I had TWO experiences like that, within days of each other, right smack in the middle of the Hell that is Postpartum.  In my weakened (from the physical suffering of my pregnancy), wounded (from the attack of the Dementors severe depression and anxiety) condition, those experiences just confirmed my worst fears:  the long fight for my life struggle with my pregnancy had turned me into a worthless, heavy burden to the degree that even my oldest friends didn't want to put forth the effort to be friends with me anymore, and who knows what you're worth you better than your oldest friends?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bringing Home the Last Baby

Although I was twitterpated about my new baby and SO EXCITED that the hellacious pregnancy was over he had finally been born, it was really difficult for me to make the usual joyous phone calls from the hospital to spread the news;  every time I considered calling someone, I had that uncomfortable, squeezing, burning feeling in my chest.  Yes, I often get that feeling when I have to call a stranger or somebody I don't know well (usually to make an appointment for something), but it was very discouraging that I was having a hard time calling people that I knew and loved.

Once again, I HATED did not enjoy my stay at the hospital.  I especially did not appreciate my nurse who INSISTED that, even though the baby had nursed for AN HOUR in the delivery room, and I was EXHAUSTED, I needed to make sure I woke him up at midnight, to feed him again!  I was smart enough to smile and nod while thinking, "You have LOST YOUR MIND if you think I am going to wake this baby up during the one long stretch of sleep he's going to give me!!!".  The food was terrible, as usual.  Also, the hospital would not let ANY children come, so my kids, who were so excited to see their new baby, had to wait.

We had a list of names that we were considering for this baby, but, when I looked at his face nothing called out to me.  The person in charge of the birth certificate paperwork was leaving at a certain time the next day, so we were under a deadline.  Shortly before the deadline we finally decided on his name, and the first and middle name did end up being names from our list;  on this blog I will call him "Jeffrey".

Because, in my experience, people at the hospital routinely ignore what you tell them and don't care what you want To be sure there would be no misunderstanding, I told every person who entered my room, every time they entered, that I wanted to go home as soon as possible.  It must have worked;  my 2nd shift of nurses came in saying, "So you want to leave as soon as you can, right?".  I said yes and asked them to start bringing me the discharge paperwork as soon as they could so that I could leave at the first possible moment.

One nice thing about having had most of the other babies early in the morning was that when I woke up the next day we could go in 4 or 5 HOURS as soon as we could get all of the paperwork signed and survive the stupid lecture on basic baby care.  But Jeffrey was born around 7:30pm, and the hospital INSISTED that we stay the full 24-hours, so it was another long day spent counting the minutes.  I WISH I was one of those people who could just sign the "Against Medical Advice" papers and leave anyway, but I've always been too worried that SOMETHING would go wrong and then I'd feel guilty for the rest of my life.
Free at last!  We finally escaped left the hospital!!
Someone gave me this adorable monkey outfit in size Newborn;  it fit him the day he came home...and that was about it!
I really enjoyed introducing Jeffrey to his brothers and sister!!  It's hard to tell from the pictures, but they (other than Ian, who was still more interested in airplanes, but had learned to show appropriate. polite interest in things that did not fascinate him) were all THRILLED to meet and hold our new baby!

My suddenly giant 3 1/2 year old!  Joseph wasn't sure why the baby was so mad when we were all so happy to hold him!

Marie wasn't sure what he was so upset about either.
David was so happy that we finally had a baby at home that he could hold and love!
My first and last babies!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Give it to me straight---Baby's hair

It is really hard for me to believe that, in a few short minutes months, Baby has gone from this:
To this:

And this:

I'm pretty sure he has more hair than Marie had at this age.
But this:

The beautiful, golden curls!!
...is what is causing me the biggest problem!  I already know from sad, sad experience that as soon as I give him his first real haircut, he is going to look SO BIG let's just disregard his 18-24 month clothes and size 5-6 feet!  But those curls!  How can I get rid of those curls?! 

I am still SO SAD that he is the last baby even after the harrowing walk down memory lane with the posts this past week, and this is how I can tell that this last pregnancy, with all its misery, caused SERIOUS brain damage, but I don't want to keep him from growing up, and I don't want to make him feel bad (someday, when he notices things) for growing up. 

Sigh.

So, give it to me straight, for the well-being of the child;  do I need to just buck up and give him a haircut already?

I don't look like a walking tornado who can wreak havoc faster than my Mom can clean it up, do I?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Then: It Is Finished: Labor #5

During my pregnancy, I did not feel AT ALL bonded to the baby;  I was having a hard time feeling anything positive towards him.  I wasn't mad at the baby, specifically, especially since *I* was the one who had chosen to get pregnant, but it was really hard to get past the fact that if I wasn't pregnant I wouldn't be suffering so much.

I was terrified at the thought of trying to take care of a newborn while I was so broken;  newborns are so hard anyway, and to START OUT so weak?  Not looking good.  One of the thoughts that would torment me throughout my waking hours was that I was so damaged that I would not be able to love this baby once he was born, but I remembered hearing the story of another woman who had had a similar experience, and, once the baby was born, she HAD been able to love her baby, so I clung desperately to that hope.

Through so much of this pregnancy, I had felt as though something like the Dementors from Harry Potter were trying to suck the life out of me, and, many times, I felt like they were winning;  the feeling was so relentless and I was so weak from fighting for so long.
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When I found out what this baby's due date was, January 30th, I was a little concerned because Husband has two family birthdays on January 29th, and I didn't want our baby to be born on that day.  I didn't worry about this too much during most of the pregnancy because the others had all been born well before their due dates, but as the month of January wore on, I did start to worry.  By the time the 28th rolled around and I WAS STILL PREGNANT, I decided that I just wanted the baby to wait until February 1st because we were running out of colors in the box of markers so his family color was going to be purple, and then it would conveniently match his birthstone.  COME ON!  This had already been an awful pregnancy, he hadn't come on Grandma's birthday, he hadn't come on the 20th which would have been so satisfying because it would have been a little early AND my first baby had come on a 20th....COULDN'T I HAVE JUST *ONE* THING GO THE WAY I WANTED?!?!?!?!? 

Nope.

I’d been having contractions for a couple hours every night for about THREE WEEKS. They were slowly getting stronger. Friday, the 29th, I had just had it, and I didn’t feel good, so I had Husband stay home from work. I took a nap after lunch, and something woke me up.....I finally realized that it had been a CONTRACTION that woke me up because it had hurt, and I kept having contractions every 10 minutes or so for the next couple hours. I figured they would stop like all of the other contractions that had been giving me false hope for WEEKS, but they DID hurt, and I remembered from the last two times that the important thing was not how often the contractions came but if they hurt or not. So, I called Friend S. and told her Husband was bringing the kids over so we could go get checked. As soon as I called her, the contractions stopped, but I sincerely wanted to get to the hospital before I was a 7 this time and I figured that once I got there I could refuse to leave until they MADE THIS BABY COME OUT, so we went to get checked anyway since the contractions had been hurting.


We had ended up with a tradition of taking my picture near the clock right before we left for the hospital.  I was feeling so drained/defeated/exhausted/sick by this point, that I didn't want Husband to take this picture;  I was afraid that I would feel those feelings again every time I looked at it......but I didn't have the strength to protest (and, thankfully, it doesn't make me sick to look at it now).
(Do you see why I was extremely worried a little concerned about the size of the baby?!)
We checked into triage at Labor and Delivery around 3:30PM, and I was 5-6cm dilated.  The contractions started up again slowly when they put me on the monitor. I TOLD the nurses that we had tried to come in early so I could get my epidural before I started to really suffer, and I asked and asked and ASKED for it, but they kept saying they didn’t have a room for me in labor and delivery and they wouldn’t give it to me in triage. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY had not wanted to feel those my-body-is-going-to-implode-right-into-my-uterus-8cm-contractions! They checked me when they finally got a room for me around 7pm, and I was 8cm dilated.  The nurse was over in the corner with the anesthesiologist quietly saying “There isn’t time for an epidural”, and I said, “HE IS GOING TO BE AT LEAST NINE POUNDS, AND I’M NOT PUSHING THIS BABY OUT WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL!” 

It really was a lovely epidural——I could wiggle my toes and move my legs, and I could feel the contractions, although I no longer felt like my body was going to implode------it was great!   The baby’s heart rate dropped a few times, which immediately brought the nurses to my room wielding an oxygen mask for me, but we still had to wait around for the doctor (some random person——of course one of MY doctors was sick and the other chose to leave for the weekend, even though the nurse had called him while he was still at the office at 4pm) to come. What made waiting for the doctor even more frustrating was that I had a LOVELY nurse who had been a midwife in her previous country, and I would have PREFERRED to have HER deliver the baby, but she said the hospital insurance got mad when she did that, so EVEN THOUGH I WAS READY TO PUSH AND MY BABY'S HEART RATE KEPT DROPPING WITH EACH CONTRACTION, we had to wait for the doctor. 

When the doctor FINALLY showed up, the nurse told him the baby was coming, but he disregarded that information, and he checked me and asked me push a little.  Note:  he did this BEFORE he suited up.  When I pushed a little, LIKE HE ASKED ME TO, some bodily fluid (not sure which one;  I'll just assume it was amniotic fluid) squirted all over him, and the next time I looked at him, he was over in the corner, with an irritated look on his face, wiping his shoes off.  (This ended up being especially satisfying because one of my friends had gone to this doctor for one of her pregnancies, and she ended up not liking him.  She was very pleased when I gave her the labor run-down later.)

When His Majesty the MOST IMPORTANT person in the room the doctor was FINALLY ready (the rest of us had been ready for a good 30 minutes), I pushed and the baby came out fairly easily; the doctor told me to stop pushing at one point, and I figured the baby must be coming out too fast, but it turns out that I was right and the cord was around his neck.  This time, the doctor was able to unwrap it (unlike David, who had to have the cord around his neck cut before he could come out).  The doctor put the baby on my chest as soon as he was out, and I thought, "Darn it!  This was my last chance to get a newborn and this one looks a month or two old already too!"  But!  FOR THE FIRST! TIME! EVER!, as soon as I held him, I felt an IMMEDIATE bond with and love for this little person.  I was very surprised by that since I had had such a hard time feeling bonded to him for the many months I had been so sick. 

7:39 p.m.:  9 POUNDS, 22 1/2 INCHES LONG!

I love this baby!!!  And it didn't even take a few weeks days like it usually does!
The baby was born about 4 hours after we got to the hospital. As soon as there was a break in the excitement, I had Husband order pizza because I was SO HUNGRY, and, as soon as the baby had come out, the nausea had FINALLY gone away! (My P*zza H*t delivers right to the front desk at Labor and Delivery, in case you ever need to know.)  The pizza arrived while I was still in the delivery room, and I ate it there, thanks to my wonderful nurse who saw no reason to move me when I was very comfortable with my new baby and hot pizza. I really should have let Husband take a picture of me with the baby in one hand and the pizza in the other.
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Along with the nausea going away as soon as the baby came out, that feeling of something evil trying to suck the life out of me also went away.  It was a big relief to feel like the jaws of Hell were no longer gaping wide after me, but I felt weary and battle-scarred, and could only hope that I would recover and regain my strength again someday.  Not the best situation to be in as one enters the post-partum stage, but at least I no longer felt like I was under attack.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Then: A Slow Journey Through Hell That JUST WON'T END!

In the past, when I had thought about what would happen if I died, especially while there were still children at home, I had tried VERY HARD not to get pissed bitter sick at the thought of my husband re-marrying.  I felt like it would be selfish of me to expect him to live out the rest of his days alone, especially when he would have all of these children to take care of....but part of me felt equally strongly that I really wanted my husband to love and adore me to the degree that getting remarried would never even cross his mind.  I purposely did not bring this subject up very often because THAT is certainly one discussion that NEVER goes well, but Husband knew how irritated/trying not to be irrationally angry I felt about the subject.

But there came a point in this pregnancy, where I really wasn't sure I was going to survive, and I thought my family might be better off without me anyway, so I told Husband one night that, although it wasn't my favorite idea, I would not come back and angrily haunt him if this pregnancy killed me, and he got remarried someday.
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January 2, 2010
I’m trying not to dread Monday……back to stressing about transportation for the boys and homework, sigh. And getting up at 6:30am, that’s always so fun.

January 4, 2010
So far today is going OK, but the day is young! I miss feeling capable of handling the demands of my life.

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Some dear friends of ours, who are not able to visit very often, were going to be passing through one day.  Normally, I liked to have a certain favorite treat baked when they came, especially since we didn't see them very often.  I REALLY wanted to do that for this visit too, but it was SO HARD;  it took every particle of strength I could muster to make that batch of treats.  How could something I had done so many times seem so impossibly hard?
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January 6, 2010
I’m doing much better physically……at least, up to the point where my physical state is affecting my mental state.  Everything I usually do just seems so overwhelming right now, like I’ll be crushed under the weight of it if I even try. My mental state is SLOWLY improving; I’m not as depressed as I was, but the anxiety is still tormenting me. Like I wasn’t already a worrier who was nervous in people situations……

(Note the changing tone in the updates as the time goes on....remember:  I was STILL nauseous, the first three babies came during week 37, I was hoping that Joseph coming as late as he did was just a fluke, and I wanted this baby to come out so I would stop feeling sick!)

Babywatch update:  Well, I’ve made it to the weekly appointments where they check my progress every time. Today I am 2-3 cm dilated, but the baby is still pretty high. It seems like progress though =). Next appointment on Tuesday……

January 7, 2010
I made 11 batches of strawberry jam today……we’ll see if all of that standing puts me into real labor. So far just random contractions.

This anxiety is killing me!! I tried to read yesterday while I was waiting for my doctor’s appointment, but it made me anxious! I’m afraid I’m going to have a full-blown panic attack on the way to the hospital when I’m really in labor.

I hope I feel better once the baby comes; part of me is worried that it won’t make a difference. And part of me feels like this is just so unreal, even though I can feel the baby moving and I can feel the contractions that are coming every evening.

I should really go to bed……I’m so tired……

January 8, 2010
Baby’s still inside, and it feels like he’s trying to punch through my cervix or poke a hole in my stomach to get out. I won’t be really irritated unless he doesn’t come by the 17th……then I’ll be pretty grumpy. I thought it would be fun to have the baby sometime today because it is Grandma’s birthday, and I had David on Grandpa’s birthday, but my friends are throwing me a baby shower tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to that; how many times in your life does someone throw you a party where everyone brings you presents that you know you will like? I’m just hoping I don’t have problems with anxiety tomorrow when it is time to actually go to the party.

January 9, 2010
The baby shower was more or less fine; I forgot how uncomfortable it is when a bunch of people are watching you open presents, but it was fun to get lots of diapers and some new, cute baby outfits. Three of my friends made me a blanket using a square pattern I made, so that was a special present——of course I love handmade things I didn’t have to make, and I love projects that people work on together.

January 12, 2010
I am tired, grumpy, huge, and everything from my ribs down to my knees hurts. It is hard work bringing a new person into existence! I’m not counting minutes between contractions because they are still pretty far apart, and I’m trying not to count minutes until the baby comes because I always think the baby’s arrival is going to make me feel better, but it doesn’t because of the waking up all night and the 3 weeks of nursing agony. Knowing my luck, the nursing agony will last even longer this time. I can’t believe that I am still nauseous enough to feel yucky! Guess I’m going out of this pregnancy business with a bang……

Babywatch:  Humph. No change since last week, despite many random contractions. Grumpiness increasing.

January 18, 2010
It’s looking like a pretty safe bet that I won’t have the baby today...any time now would be nice...it is so draining to be on edge all the time, wondering when labor is going to seriously start (while I’m picking the boys up would not be a good time) and wondering how to rearrange everything else (getting people to and from school, etc.) on the spur of the moment since we can’t plan on anything.

January 20, 2010
So, I decided that it would be nice and meaningful if I had this baby today, on the 20th, because then I would have started and ended my childbearing experience on a 20th, and I would have done this for exactly 10 ½ years. No luck so far. It’s not looking good unless this baby breaks with tradition and comes during the day instead of the middle of the night. And I can feel this MASSIVE panic attack wanting to come out about this whole situation (the unknown! The pain! The possibilities of terrible things that could happen!), and it’s hard work holding that back.

January 21, 2010
Another rotten update because I am still pregnant:  Today I am 38 ½ weeks pregnant, and 3-4 cm dilated. Still no sign that the baby is actually on his way.

January 24, 2010
I just CANNOT BELIEVE that I am 39 weeks pregnant;  what happened to magical 37 weeks?  I feel like there is nothing in my life I can count on after this whole experience.  I am so bitter.  It is really draining expecting to go into labor at any second....for TWO WEEKS.  It gets old trying to make sure I have a plan for each day, just in case this is the day.  Not to forget the fear that gets stronger every day as this baby gets bigger and bigger while he is not coming out.   I remember quite clearly from my first experience that, although all babies come out somehow, not all babies come out well and without great physical suffering, because, you know, I haven't suffered enough with this pregnancy...and yet, when it's all over, I'm sure I will look back and it will seem like it went by so fast. 

January 25, 2010
Oh yes, still pregnant. Anxiety climbing every minute as I contemplate why this baby isn’t coming out. My vote is that he is wrapped up in his cord and that’s why he hasn’t dropped, and he won’t be coming out on his own. I can’t even rail on God because I’m sure He has His reasons……what if I am going to die in childbirth and this is His way of giving my family the most possible days to spend with me? Can’t really complain about that I guess. If I just weren’t already so weak still from the previous suffering, this would be easier to deal with.

January 27, 2010
I just can’t seem to get past the fact that I AM STILL PREGNANT and with each passing day I lose a little more confidence that this is going to end well.

January 28, 2010
I don’t know what I did to offend God...……but it must have been something incredible. The doctor’s appointment I was supposed to have tomorrow morning has been rescheduled for me, despite my protests, so now I get to wait THREE MORE DAYS to ask them strip my membranes and schedule my induction. Even though I will be OVERDUE on Monday, I don’t know if I will be able to convince them to induce me (because I JUST CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE), since they obviously care so much about my well-being already. I have been so thoroughly beaten by this whole experience that I am afraid I am not going to be able to muster up the strength to push this baby out should the opportunity ever arise. There’s the update for the week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Then: A Slow Journey Through Hell...Trying To Hang On

Friend K. called one day, newly pregnant and suffering from hyperemesis.  She was calling for advice/information/support/sympathy and to find out if there was anything she could do to lessen the suffering.  I told her where the best place was to get IVs and everything else I knew or had tried.  When I finished talking to her, my chest felt like it had burst into flames, and the fires of anxiety burned for the rest of the day.
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December 2, 2009
I’m feeling bearable today, but I don’t know what to do with myself. I know there are lots of things I could be doing, but every time I try to think about picking one of those things I get a nervous, smothering feeling in my chest. I haven’t even been able to work on pictures for about a week, and for a while there I was having good luck doing that. Yesterday I did manage to go through the house and get rid of some random things that I have been wanting to get rid of. I really am having a hard time restraining the urge to go through the house with a shovel and a garbage bag; even with my things! If I could find anyone to give yarn and stuff to I would so give almost all of it away.
Sometimes the Lord saves you from the fiery furnace, and sometimes He lets you burn.

December 3, 2009
I am hoping that I am not heading for another weekend of alternating between sitting on the couch and crying in my room, but I just don’t know. I’ve had to pick the boys up from school a few times this week, and I have to get Marie to the dentist tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t all end up being too much for me. And I’m really bitter that those few things could actually send me back to the couch……ok, the children constantly  squabbling might head me that direction too. Still, it’s so disappointing to me that it takes so little to make me crash. Maybe this is just the Lord’s roundabout way of ensuring that I get to enjoy this last baby; chances are, once he’s born, all I will be able to do is sit and hold and feed him all day.

December 4, 2009
I feel like I’m right on the edge. Close enough to normal to remember what it feels like, but with that feeling in the background that I could fall off the edge if the wind blows too hard.
These hard things don’t look quite so virtuous and character building when you’re smack in the middle of them, do they? I’m trying so hard not to be bitter, but it isn’t working. I really was OK with my attitude about the suffering involved with this pregnancy, going through EVERYTHING as patiently as I could, until I had my breakdown; that just seemed like the final insult after everything else……like kicking someone when they’re already down.
I’ve got to go now to feed the kids and get them down for quiet time so that I can rest; I’m terrified to miss my afternoon rest because I seem to plunge downhill if I get tired. I suspect I’m going to live my entire life in fear……like I didn’t have enough of a problem with that before all of this……

December 7, 2009
Tonight I’m going to actually need to interact with the children; make sure homework gets done, lunches are packed, break up fights, get people fed and in bed……I just miss the days when an evening like that didn’t fill me with dread almost to the point of panic.

December 8, 2009
I don’t feel as bad today as I did yesterday, but I have not yet heard what late time Husband is coming home tonight. I hate that feeling that lurks at the edges of my mind that tells me that the slightest pressure is going to crush me.
Well, Joseph’s dentist appointment was highly entertaining. I figured he was going to have a fit, but I thought the fit would start when they tried to put the nose mask on him or when they started giving him the first shot. Instead, he was perfectly fine for the drive there and while we were in the waiting room, but when the dental technician asked him if he would like strawberry, bubble gum, or orange flavor he hid his face in my lap and slumped to the floor. Then the friendly, peppy dentist came over to give him the happy version of what was going to be happening, and he crawled under my chair and curled into a ball. The dentist pulled him out from under the chair and he started screaming. He screamed all the way to the procedure room, being carried as he flailed around. He would not stop screaming to let any of us talk to him. He sat on my lap in the exam chair and managed to scream with his hands over his mouth so that the dentist couldn’t even get the mirror in there. I couldn’t help laughing because I just thought it was so funny that he threw his fit before they even tried to do anything. The dentist left the room a couple times; I got the impression he was trying not to throttle Joseph. In the end, the dentist said Joseph’s cavities aren’t desperate (it would have been nice if he would have mentioned that BEFORE this appointment) and we can try again in a few months.  Nice:  wasted morning and gas.

December 17, 2009
I’m still here, trying to not go crazy or drown in anxiety. Woohoo, on a really good day I can manage to go to one store to do a little shopping. I am slowly getting stronger; if I look at what I can do now compared to a month ago, there is progress, but it’s just so slow and so much less than I used to be capable of. I’m trying not to panic when I think about trying to take care of a newborn in this state; hopefully my hormones really are doing a lot of damage that will stop once the baby is out……but when do I ever get the best case scenario? I’m so sad because Friend S. thinks she’s having a girl, and I am pretty sure I am not going to be able to make any cute girl things for her. I would really like to, especially after all of the help she’s given me this year and because girl things are so fun, but I feel a little smothered every time I think about making something. The boys are now home for Christmas break; that could be good or bad. It is nice to not have to get up so early with them and then figure out how to get them home.

December 18, 2009
Today is turning out to be a pretty crappy day; my body is not my friend. Maybe things will look better after nap time, but I doubt it.

December 19, 2009
I am still not quite myself and unable to do much without wearing myself out and the nausea comes and goes, but at least I can eat and drink a little. The baby is due Jan. 30th; we’re hoping he will come early. Husband and the kids are doing fine. Ian and David are happy to be on Christmas break, and Joseph and Marie are happy to have them home.

December 20, 2009
My mom talked to more doctors that she works with/around and told me that they said it is pretty normal for someone who has starved for months to have problems with anxiety and depression because your brain gets depleted of everything it needs to work correctly; that explains why I get so tired too. They also said that things should get better as my body gets a chance to heal. I can only hope that healing is as quick as breaking down, but I doubt it. At least I have hope that this might not go on forever.
I don’t know if I have any Christmas spirit either; every time I have tried to think about Christmas, I have been overcome with anxiety because I’m supposed to get presents and stocking-stuffers for all of the children (not to mention all the other people I usually shop for), but I’m already overwhelmed with the amount of THINGS in the house, plus, half the time I can tell when they open something that they don’t really like it——if I’m lucky they don’t actually say anything, but I can still tell. I did manage to slowly get a few things for them during the month, and I think I managed to get everyone at least one thing they really wanted, so that’s done except for wrapping. I’ve listened to Christmas music so much (because it’s the only music that doesn’t cause me stress) that I may never be able to listen to it again if I ever get better because it will give me flashbacks of this awful time.
I was hoping the children would get something good out of this whole situation……something along the lines of, “Gosh, we’re lucky that mom usually does so many nice things for us”, but they seem to have more of the attitude of, “Gosh it would sure be nice if mom would stop sitting around and start doing her job again”.
I should really go to church today, but I just don’t know. I’m tired from not sleeping during quiet time yesterday and then not getting to bed until, gasp, 8:30 for various reasons, and I can still feel the fire of anxiety burning in my chest……I just don’t know.
If “sitting on the couch weeping, wishing someone would put me out of my misery, unable to do anything but stare out the window and keep my mind blank” for weeks, despite my other responsibilities, qualifies for “handling it” in the great, hated phrase, “The Lord won’t give you anything you can’t handle without His help” then the Lord and I have differing definitions of what constitutes "handling it".

December 21, 2009
I’m having trouble letting go of the future because this pregnancy has been such a horrible experience and yet I must be “handling it” if God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, so I’m pretty concerned about what else He thinks I can handle.  There was something comforting about being able to believe God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle; I’ve lost that comfort now, so I feel pretty vulnerable to the miseries of the world.
Marie is sick today, sigh. At least it doesn’t involve throwing up……yet, but now I get to look forward to it going through everyone because Friend S.’s kids had it last week, so, chances are, all of mine will get it too. So far it is just a sore throat and being tired; hopefully it will stay that easy.

December 23, 2009
Today is sucking. How long can I keep doing this? It’s so miserable, and I can’t even hope that it’s ever going to get better (I’m trying to fight that slim hope that I might feel better once I give birth because I don’t want to be disappointed). That whole Christmas is a time for miracles idea is, in reality, really cruel. I think it isn’t helping that I spend all day, every day saying the same things over and over and over again: Get your clothes off the floor, stop throwing things, stop bothering someone on purpose, speak instead of whining, I’m sorry you’re scared to go anywhere in the house by yourself-do it anyway, do your chore, do your chore, do your chore, we don’t have a maid so clean up after yourself, FLUSH THE TOILET, WIPE OFF THE TOILET SEAT IF YOU’RE TOO LAZY TO LIFT IT AND YOU MAKE A MESS……something about the fact that I can’t even get people to flush the toilet just makes all of the rest of it seem so hopeless. I miss the days when food made me feel better; what are you supposed to do when nothing makes you feel better?

December 24, 2009
Argh! Of course, even though they went to bed later than usual last night, Marie and Joseph were up at 6:30 today. Sigh. At least Husband will be home early today.  I hope today is better than yesterday; yesterday was pretty hard.

December 25, 2009
Well, the kids have had a nice day……even though David has been throwing up since last night. They each got at least one thing they really wanted, so they are all happy.  Ian has been talking and talking and talking and talking and talking at me all day; I’m still not sure how to get him to stop doing that because every time I politely tell him I’m not interested and try to explain to him about not talking someone to death, he gets snappy with his siblings the first time they try to say anything. I managed to do a couple of things that were making me anxious, so I guess that’s good. Maybe my general level of anxiety will go down now that I don’t have to worry about the closet-full of presents that need to be sorted and wrapped, and whatever else was worrying me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Then: A Slow Journey Through Hell Continues

During so many minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months where I could not escape the suffering and had plenty of time to think about things, I decided that chances were pretty good that, 3 or 4 years after this baby was born and I was (hopefully) feeling strong again, I might decide that I could get pregnant one more time.  Although I thought I MIGHT be able to survive the physical suffering again, I was QUITE CERTAIN that I would not survive the mental agony, should that attack me again.  In an effort to keep myself from having this experience again, I decided that I should probably take preventative measures.  I told my doctors to make a note in my chart so that, if something happened and I ended up having a C-section, they would do a tubal ligation while they were in there anyway.  I had to sign papers for that, of course;  it took me a month to be able to look at and sign those papers, and, even though I was SO completely miserable, I still cried when I gave the papers to the nurse to put in my chart because I did not want my child-bearing years to be over, but I didn't feel like I had much choice.
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One of the things that gave me great anxiety was feeling like I was going to ruin Ian and David's educations because I couldn't teach them like I wanted to while I was that sick.  Husband and I decided to send them to school for that school year.  Ian did fine (he was THRILLED about having a whole room full of people to talk to!), but David REALLY hated it.  He was so far ahead of what his class was doing.  I really regret sending him to school;  he would have been fine and learned more at home that year, but I just couldn't think clearly at the time we made that decision.

While I was pregnant, I couldn't even bear to look in their backpacks when they came home.  The piles of papers, assignments, calendars....I felt like I was being smothered when I saw any of those things. 
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September 30, 2009
We had our ultrasound and found out that we are going to have another precious boy! I am 22 weeks now and still sick and losing weight =(. Hopefully the nausea will end before the pregnancy does!

October 5, 2009
I’ve been so sick that we had to put the boys in school =(.

October 22, 2009
I’m still having social anxiety/avoidance issues here. I can’t believe how hard it is even just to email.

November 5, 2009
I don’t think there will be any more baby announcements from us after this. This one has about done me in =(.  There really are no words to adequately describe how much suffering has been involved in this pregnancy; I’m afraid this one broke my spirit, and I’m still trying to recover. The recovery is not going well.  I’m having a hard time doing the things I usually do……even email, isn’t that sad?  I still can’t even take care of my family =(, and I feel really bad that I can’t take care of my friends the way I like to either.

November 19, 2009
I am still surviving one day at a time.  Today wasn't too bad, which was a nice surprise because the day didn't have a good start when it started at 5 AM.  Probably the high point of my day was managing to get my next doctor's appointment for 3 1/2 weeks from now instead of 2 weeks like the doctor wanted =).   (I really enjoyed the increasingly SHOCKED look on the receptionist's face as she would present me with my few, paltry appointment choices, and, instead of happily kissing her feet and taking the first offered slot, I would say, "I'm sorry;  that isn't going to work for me.  What else do you have?"  She just couldn't fathom why I was not willing to make the experience of sitting in the stuffy waiting room for 1-2 hours EVEN WORSE for myself by taking a time that would force me to re-arrange other things.  And she was STUNNED that I really WAS NOT going to take one of those appointments even though it meant I would be coming in a full week and a half later than I was supposed to!)

November 30, 2009
I am still spending quite a bit of time sitting on the couch staring into space or in my room crying. The fires of anxiety are burning bright again today……This is hell; this is hell on earth, being trapped in my mind that still feels like a raw nerve. I continue to be amazed at how truly awful things are, and yet they manage to get worse and worse. I just don’t want to know what’s coming next.
I have considered going to the hospital, and I would do it if I thought it would do any good, but I really worry that it would push me right over the edge. I’m already barely coping, and I don’t think it would do good things for me to get out of my comfort-zone environment, be away from my excellent, supportive husband, and have my sleep messed up even more. Plus, if this is related to the pregnancy, I'd wager they don’t know what to do with that……my OBs don’t seem to know what to do and neither does the psychiatrist. I am DESPERATELY PRAYING that this will somehow improve once the baby is born, but I’m not really hopeful, given how things tend to go in my life.
I still get nauseous if I get tired, but I can eat pretty regularly now. I’m REALLY grateful that I can drink when I’m thirsty now too!
Ian and David are adjusting to life at school. Ian liked it right off, but it took David a little longer to adjust, and he would still prefer to be home schooled. Marie and Joseph are learning and growing.

What cinnamon sugar toast?  I don't know what you are talking about!
Quite often they will play together really well; it is fun to watch them being buddies.

Cute "matching" siblings!  Joseph loves that sister!
Husband is keeping busy at work and doing the things I still can’t do; he’s a pretty happy guy.
David, Marie, and Joseph are really excited for the new baby; Ian is more interested in WWII airplanes =)! Joseph is especially excited, which is cute to see. Of course, he has no idea about the reality of the situation, but hopefully he’ll be like David and love the baby anyway; it was so cute to watch David when Marie was born! He loved her right away.
Part of me really misses homeschooling the boys; there’s just something so nice about letting them learn at their own pace and seeing just how much they can learn doing things they enjoy.  Ian comes home with homework that I can tell he just doesn’t understand because his brain just isn’t there yet; it’s so much easier for them to learn something when they’re ready. The other part of me is relieved to have that burden lifted; it’s really hard to try to school so many at once. Now I’m mainly focusing on Marie, and Joseph learns things as he’s ready to notice them; Ian and David worked that way too——David learned SOOOO many things just because Ian was doing it. It really wouldn’t be bad if I could just do one child at a time.  Putting the boys in school relieved one kind of stress but created another, sigh. At least David isn’t throwing a screaming fit while being carried to the car every morning anymore……he’s a little bitter.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Then: A Slow Journey Through Hell...Breaking

It is one of the cruel, cruel ironies of life that a person can feel nausea and hunger at the same time.  I discovered that if I didn't eat one bite of ANYTHING for a day or two, the hunger pains would stop, but the moment I ate a tiny bite of something, they would start up again.  The instinct of self-preservation must be pretty powerful because I kept trying to eat, even though I felt worse EVERY! SINGLE! TIME! no matter what I ate.
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Friend S. picked up my children to take them to her house every week day for MONTHS.  I was SO GRATEFUL that she was able and willing to do this, but I cried every morning when they left because I felt so bad that I couldn't even take care of my own children, and I was so lonely by myself all day.
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Normally, when I hear about something sad, I feel sad but am able to find some good thing in the world to give me hope, and move on.  But suddenly, every sad thing I heard/read about was HEART WRENCHING and I just COULD NOT get past it!  In order to distract myself and use up some of my copious amounts of time with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling, I tried to read the Harry Potter books.  I couldn't make it past the 3rd book.
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As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I had numbered the weeks on the calendar, so that I could know how long I needed to hang on:  in my other hyperemesis pregnancies, the nausea had improved enough that I could function again around week 20.  I found week 20 on my calendar, and that was my goal through all of the long days I spent on the couch trying not to throw up, being unable to do anything but watch my IV drip and stare at the calendar wishing the time would move more quickly.  But week 20 came and went with no improvement, and I couldn't fight the misery any longer. 
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I'm not certain which part of this experience broke me:  the constant, severe nausea, the starving and losing 30 pounds in 3 months, being desperately thirsty but unable to drink anything, the hours spent in the Urgent Care waiting room, the pain of the IV's, getting sick with viruses a couple of times along with the hyperemesis, the awful experience of getting my gall bladder removed, the stress and pain of the blood clot and the subsequent painful shots....maybe it was everything combined.  Suddenly, I felt somewhat like I had been seriously injured in a shipwreck, and now I was floating, alone, in the ocean, trying not to drown, as wave over wave crashed over me.  I could see a few people in the distance, trying to throw me a rope, but it was so far away, and I was too injured and too busy trying to stay afloat to grab the rope.  Trying to talk on the phone, or talk to a friend who came to visit, or read a book, blogs or email, or crochet, or be in charge of the children....all of these very normal things felt like giant waves crashing over me, threatening to drown me.
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I started having anxiety attacks and became severely depressed.  (Although "became severely depressed" is the usual way to put it, I think it would be much more accurate to say "I was viciously attacked by and suffered serious, life-threatening injuries from severe depression.")  I am usually a little depressed, but this was the first time in my life that I actually had all of the symptoms on those checklists; usually I can say, “yes, no, a little bit, no, yes” to those questions, but this time is was YES all the way. I COULD! NOT! sleep (and sleep was my ONLY escape from the suffering, so it was AGONIZING to toss and turn and toss and turn ALL NIGHT LONG), I couldn't do any of the things I would normally do to distract myself (read, watch TV, crochet, etc....), I would be overcome by hopelessness at least once a day and sob and sob and sob...I am certain that I had never cried as much in all my life combined as I did at this time, and I am not an easy crier!  It was unbearable!  As bad as the physical suffering was, the mental suffering was even worse.  I discovered that a person's MIND could hurt.  My mind felt like a raw nerve, and being conscious felt like someone touching that raw nerve over and over again.
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During this awful time, I had a hard time interacting with my family and friends.  I felt so useless, like I was a huge weight that was going to drag everyone down with me.  I couldn't understand why anyone would want to be around me, and I was certain that, by the time we parted, they would see what a worthless burden I was.  What do you have to talk about or what do you have to give to someone else when your time is spent fighting the overwhelming misery that is threatening to swallow you?  I had a hard time answering the phone when people would call;   I even felt the fire of anxiety burning in my chest when I tried to talk to some of my dearest, long-time friends!  It took me A WEEK to gather the strength to call my sweet, little old grandma to wish her a Happy Birthday, and Grandma had never said anything approximating a harsh word to me in my entire life! 

Husband left me a sweet note one day, and I cried and cried when I read it because something like that would normally have brought me comfort and happiness, but I couldn't feel anything beyond the misery.
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When I started being unable to sleep, even though I was exhausted, and I was having panic attacks and  crying uncontrollably, my OB sent me to see a psychiatrist.  I couldn't even drive myself to the appointment;  I felt like I was being smothered when I thought about it.  Husband had to drive me, and he had to fill out all of the initial paperwork because looking at all of those questions and trying to think of the answers made my head hurt.  I couldn't stop crying, even though the waiting room was PACKED.  The psychiatrist gave me medication to help me sleep, medication for the anxiety, and medication for the depression.  He said that the medication for the depression would take about 3 weeks to work.  I honestly did not know how I was going to survive the pain and hopelessness in my mind that long, but he looked at me pointedly and said that my only other option was to go to the hospital.
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I would go to bed promptly at 7:00 each night because I just couldn't bear to be conscious anymore, and, even though it took me 2-3 hours to fall asleep, even with the medication, it was easier to be in bed in a dark room than to be around my family thinking about all of the things they needed and all the ways I felt like I was failing them;  every one of those thoughts was another wave crashing over me, threatening to drown me.  Marie and Joseph would take turns coming in to snuggle with me for a few minutes before I went to sleep.  Once they left, I had to play songs in my head to keep myself from thinking because every thought I had made my mind hurt.
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I was blessed to be born with a couple of strong beliefs that have served me well in my life.  One was that if I ever tried to sneak around and do something I wasn't supposed to, I would get caught;  this belief kept me out of a lot of trouble growing up.  The other was that if I ever tried to kill myself, it wouldn't work, and I would spend the rest of my life permanently damaged from the attempt.  This belief kept me from making a plan to kill myself when I spent much of the day wishing that I could be a fatality from a drive-by shooting so that I didn't have to suffer anymore.  The other two things that kept me from trying to end my life were:  1.  Life was precious and God would not be happy with me if I killed myself.  2.  Although I felt like I was a heavy, worthless burden on everyone around me, and I believed that Husband would be sad but eventually move on, I couldn't imagine how my children would ever get over their mother choosing to leave them, since they would probably (HOPEFULLY!!!!) never understand the amount of suffering that would drive a person to make such a choice.

A Slow Journey Through Hell Begins: Pregnancy #5

*Edited to add:  I should probably warn you mention that I am serious about the "Slow Journey" part, and there are about 5 more posts covering this pregnancy.  Bonus points if you make it through all of them ;-).

Before I got pregnant for the final time, I stood at my freezer, contemplating a container of Ben and Jerry's, and thinking, "There must be SOMETHING I can eat when I am pregnant and sick.  SURELY I couldn't have been so sick those other times that I couldn't have eaten some Ben and Jerry's!  I mean, REALLY;  is it even POSSIBLE to feel so bad that you can't eat ice cream?  Maybe there just wasn't any in the freezer the last couple of times I was pregnant.  SURELY I'll be able to 'choke down' (ha, ha) a pint every day, and then I'll get a decent number of calories even if I can't eat anything else!" 

This conversation with myself came back to mock me a few weeks later when I was pregnant and sick and stood at the freezer remembering my plan, but my stomach turned, and I gagged at the thought of eating even ONE BITE of my VERY FAVORITE flavor of Ben and Jerry's, or anything else, for that matter. 
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I called the doctor's office the minute I found out I was pregnant, I firmly told them I needed to get in ASAP because by the time they would have scheduled the usual 12 week appointment, I would already have been sick for 6 weeks. 

I went to that appointment and told the doctor that I had HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM, and I found out what I was supposed to do when I was too sick to eat or drink.  She said she would send some orders to Urgent Care so that they would know what to do with me when I came in.  THANKFULLY, she also wrote something down and gave it to me to give them when I got there because when I did go in, they could not find the orders she had sent. 

I asked her to give me the prescription for the anti-nausea medicine RIGHT THEN so I would have it when the sickness hit.  (Of course because my body hates me, the medicine didn't actually make the nausea go away;  if nausea has a scale of 1-10, and 1 is where I feel fine, and 10 is where I wish I were dead, hyperemesis puts me at about an 18, and taking the medicine and getting IV fluid brings me down to about a 14, so, yes, it helps, but it doesn't make it go away.)  Even though I had explained everything to her, and I THOUGHT she understood because she had been through the SAME THING, she still only wrote the prescription for 2 weeks worth of medicine, when my next appointment was going to be in 4 weeks!  Of course, I was so nervous and flustered at my appointment that I didn't notice this until I had left.  It was SUCH a pain to try to talk to the nurse in the office to get anything like that fixed;  I would have to call, leave a message (because she NEVER answered) and then wait until 5 or 6pm when she would call back.  It was very difficult for me to try to get the care I needed when I felt so sick, so I tried to plan as much of it as I could before I got to that point.   
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June 4, 2009
I survived the TWO HOUR stupid OB orientation meeting today:  make sure you don’t drink and smoke while you’re pregnant, OK? 

June 13, 2009
Dad,
If I can survive another pregnancy, you will be getting another grandchild towards the end of January =).
Love,
{Doing My Best}

June 21, 2009  (Sometimes people would ask if there was anything they could do to help...)
I need the Lord to perform a miracle on my behalf, but the answer seems to be NO/learn-patience-in-suffering again. Other than that, there seems to be nothing anyone can do.

June 23, 2009
I’m trying to hold up OK; it’s hard to not whine and complain when I feel so icky all the time, but I’m trying. I don’t feel so bad that I’m wishing for death yet, but I expect that it is coming;   just about everything I eat or drink makes me feel even sicker that I already do.
Friend C. has been here for about a week, and she’s been a GREAT help entertaining kids and cooking dinner, but she leaves tomorrow.  Husband helps as much as he can, but he has to go to work everyday, and he’s never quite able to get everything done while he’s there, so he’s stressed about that.
It hasn’t been as overwhelming this time since all of the children are older and Ian and David can do quite a bit to help Marie and Joseph, but there’s still the daily overseeing of the children and their chores and behavior and all of that sort of stuff. I think last time was the hardest because Marie was only about 14 months old when I got sick; I’m so glad that I don’t already have a baby this time!
Ugh, I’m afraid I’ve been sitting up too long typing, so I’m going to have to go.

June 25, 2009  (Someone asked if there was anything I needed.)
I think I need to go in for I.V. hydration tomorrow. Other than that, I don’t know what I need. Friend S. is taking my kids every day, and there are a couple other friends who stop by her house to take one or two of them sometimes. We have simple dinners, so Husband can take care of that pretty well, other than the fact that his job would really like him to work more like 60-80 hours a week instead of the 40 they are paying him for. The children are responsible for various chores that keep the house relatively clean. I think I need to know that I won’t have to do this again =(.  I never imagined I could ever feel that way.

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The first time I went to Urgent Care for IV fluid (2-3 weeks after I found out I was pregnant), I felt miserable and was on the verge of tears (One stupid helpful doctor Physician's Assistant told me that I would know if I was dehydrated because I wouldn't be able to cry;  ummmm, NO.  I was severely dehydrated for months, but I still had tears.  If I had waited as long as he thought I should, I would have been DEAD.), and they couldn't find the orders my doctor said she would send, which did not help with the trying-not-to-cry situation!  I showed them the other paper she had given me, so they sent me to the Infusion Center, but when I did finally get my IV, they told me that, the way the doctor had written the order, I could only have one bag of fluid unless there was protein in my urine  (REALLY?  It has to get to THAT point?  We can't try preventative measures so that it doesn't go that far?), and that *I* would need to call the doctor's office to get this worked out.  At that point, I was too sick to fight for what I needed.

For our anniversary, Husband had given me a box of my VERY FAVORITE See's Candies, butterscotch squares, but I couldn't eat those either.
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June 30, 2009
I am deathly nauseous EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY. If I eat or drink anything it gets even worse, so I don’t eat or drink much. As long as I lie still all day and don’t sit up, walk, or move, I can keep from gagging. I think I’m just going to have a standing appointment Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Infusion Center to get IV fluids. I wish my doctors would have listened to me the last THREE TIMES I suffered like this; I’m starting to think it’s a miracle that I didn’t die of complications from being severely dehydrated for 14 weeks each time. I went in for my first IV on Friday, and I was already so dehydrated that they couldn’t get blood to come out of my veins until they had given me an entire bag of fluid. It’s no fun being poked, but at least there is a way for me to get the fluid I need and my insurance should pay for it.
I’m out of luck:  the last two times I’ve taken Phenergan, it made me twitch, so I’m not supposed to take that anymore.  I take Zofran (the drug they give chemo patients to help with the nausea) 3 times a day, but it only makes the nausea a little less intense.
It really is a miracle that Ian, Marie, and Joseph are as healthy as they are since I could hardly eat or drink for 14 weeks while I was pregnant with them too;  I hate that it happens so close to the beginning too, when the baby’s development is so crucial.

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The head of OB at a major university, suggested that I get my gall bladder checked because there could be a connection between intense nausea and gall bladder trouble.  After doing the scan, the ultrasound tech looked VERY SURPRISED when I told her I wasn't having any pain or symptoms of gall bladder trouble, other than, possibly, the nausea.  When I was called with the results of the scan, I was told that my gall bladder was FULL of stones.  (After my surgery, the surgeon told me that there were so many stones, and some of them were so large, that he had to take the stones out before he could get my gall bladder out.)

I had my gall bladder removed, when I was about 11 weeks pregnant, DESPERATELY HOPING it would help with the nausea.  No luck.  And what a nightmare!  After the surgery, I refused the pain medication because I was already throwing up, and the pain meds would have made it worse:  I would rather feel the pain than take a chance at increasing the already unbearable nausea.  I felt terrible, mostly because of the effects of the anesthesia combined with the ever-present volcano in my stomach, and the nurses were not exactly caring helpful attentive.  I only pushed the call button when I was desperate for something, but it would be 10 or 15 minutes before anyone answered in a surly, irritated tone of voice.  Thankfully, Friend E. had come to visit so that she could take care of the kids during my surgery, so Husband was able to spend the night with me in the hospital;  I could not imagine staying there by myself!  I left as soon as I could the next morning, and rested much more comfortably at home.

At the same appointment that I asked my doctor about checking my gall bladder, I also showed him (2 different doctors at this practice) my arms which were COVERED with purple, green, and yellow bruises from all of the IV attempts and burst veins.  I had heard about PICC lines, and asked if I could have one of those so that I wouldn't have to be stabbed so many times. 

I also told him about the medication my friend with Hyperemesis had been give for her pregnancy months before, and asked if he thought that adding those medications would do any good.  So I left with prescriptions for more Zofran, Reglan, and Zantac.
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July 19, 2009
A couple days before the gall bladder surgery, I had a PICC line (an IV line that can stay in for a few months) inserted in my arm so I won’t have to be poked every time I have to have an IV. My doctor ordered a home health nurse for me, and they showed us how to do the IV's at home, so now I am hooked to an IV for most of the day every day. The gall bladder surgery seemed to go well; I felt a lot worse for a couple of days, and now I’m back to feeling as badly as I did before =(. I had hoped that it would help me to feel better to have my gall bladder removed, but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. So now I’m back to trying to endure each day without praying for death to release me from this misery. Feeling this bad all the time wears on a person.

July 25, 2009
I have started feeling a little better this week; the things I eat aren’t making me feel so sick, but nothing sounds appetizing, so it’s hard to think of something to eat. Maybe I’ll start feeling better once I’ve recovered more from the surgery.

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After having the PICC line in for about 2 1/2 weeks, and getting about 3 bags of fluid every two days, I actually felt a little better and was able to eat more.  It was very unsettling to have something hanging out of my arm all the time, knowing that the rest of it was INSIDE of my arm, but it was SO MUCH BETTER than being stabbed repeatedly trying to get an IV started every other day.......BUT.  After 2 1/2 weeks, my home-health nurse said she thought my PICC line arm was looking bigger than my other arm, and that arm started hurting, so she took the PICC line out and sent me to the the Emergency Room to get checked for a blood clot.  Even though the ER knew that I had hyperemesis, they did not feed me while I was there FOR 8 HOURS (and I hadn't thought to bring any food), and I didn't have much to drink either.  By the time I left the ER, I was feeling terrible again.
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August 1, 2009
Didn’t do much to celebrate for my birthday, but I was grateful to be able to eat some cake (that was before the PICC line came out).
The PICC line gave me a blood clot in my arm, so now I have to have painful, blood thinner shots in my stomach twice a day for I don’t know how long, sigh. I just can’t win. And ever since that day spent in the ER to diagnose the blood clot, I’ve felt worse than usual; I hope that passes soon.

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After the PICC line was removed, I had to go back to Urgent Care every time I needed an IV;  I was dehydrated to the degree that the home health nurse couldn't get one started.  I HATED going to Urgent Care because, the way the doctor had written the orders, they hooked the IV up through a machine that made it take about 2 hours for one bag of fluid to go in, and I hated being in that cold, sterile room for hours. 
There was one nurse at the infusion center who could get an IV started for me, usually on the first try (LOVED THAT NURSE!);  she would put the IV port in my arm, and then attach the IV tubing to the port.  When I was finished for the day, she would remove the tubing, wrap my arm and the port in gauze, and it could stay there until the next day.  Along with my home health nurse, I had received IV supplies that I could use at home....as long as I had a functioning port.  As long as the port didn't clot over or infiltrate, it could be used again and I wouldn't have to be stabbed for my next IV.  The first month I had IV therapy, a port would be good for at least 3 days, 4 if I was really lucky.  By the end of September, a port would not last for even 12 hours.

Because I wasn't suffering enough (*insert maniacal laughter here*), I also managed to get some sort of stomach virus 2 or 3 times.  I remember one night I threw up 3-4 times an hour for 5 hours, and to top it all off, I had a doctor's appointment (one of those that takes weeks to get) that morning with a cardiologist or some other specialized doctor like that, to check on my blood clot!  Oh the cruel, cruel paradox of trying desperately to stay hydrated while losing fluid through both ends of the body at the same time, if you get my drift.  I have always known that in every situation things could always be worse, and, in this situation, they generally were!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Then: Preparing for the next baby

When Joseph was about 10 months old, I was reading some old posts on a blog, and I came across this one, and, in that moment, that blogger did for me what none of my doctors, or anyone else, had been able to do:  she gave me a name for what happened to me when I was pregnant!  I was not crazy!  I was not being over dramatic!  I was not having normal morning sickness!  It had nothing to do with my attitude!  I had been suffering through Hyperemesis Gravidarum 3 of the 4 times I was pregnant!  I read this post and I cried because I understood the suffering that drove her to make that choice.

A few months later, I met another lady who was telling me that she got really sick when she was pregnant, and I was able to tell her that IT HAS A NAME and point her to the website!  When I went to visit her a few months later when she was newly pregnant, and she was lying on the couch looking just as miserable as I had the last time I had been pregnant, I was able to tell her, "You are dehydrated and can't think straight;  you NEED to go to Urgent Care and get an IV."  And she went and was able to get the medical care that she needed because someone was brave enough to share their experience with the world.
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Making the decision to get pregnant again was not done lightly, or without knowledge of the difficulty that was to be expected.  I was relatively content with how our family was at that point.  Joseph's favorite expressions were:  "NO, I'LL NEVER!" or "I'll ONLY do (thing X) IF you do (thing Y)!" and that was pretty tiresome the first minute it started by the end of the day.  He was old enough that he didn't need me every second, and he was finally potty trained!  I didn't have to take a diaper bag with me anymore!  He could buckle his own car seat!  I could sit at the park and watch the kids play instead of having to chase a little one who was going to climb something and fall!  AND I had made it through Joseph's babyhood without being sad about it passing because I hadn't thought he was the last one, so if he WAS the last one, I hadn't had to mourn the passing of all of the baby milestones!  Also, I was 99.9% certain (thanks to the HG website which informed me that hyperemesis got worse each time....nevertheless I just couldn't squash that 0.1% HOPE that if I had another boy, I wouldn't get sick because the last time I had two boys in a row I hadn't been so sick!) that I was going to get very sick 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant.  BUT.  The feeling that there was another baby waiting just WOULD NOT go away, and I LOVE my babies so very much, and I wanted that one too.  I can see, in my journal entries leading up to getting pregnant, that part of me knew there really was NO hope, and that this was going to be a very hard experience.

As much as we could, we tried to carefully plan the timing of this baby.  Joseph was nearly 3 years old, which was the longest spacing we'd ever had;  I didn't want to have a child so far apart from his other siblings, but I thought there was still going to be one more after him, and we really didn't have much choice about waiting so long, so I tried not to worry about it.  We needed to wait until after we had moved, and after we had settled in from the move, and then Husband had to go away for that 5-week training.  Also, if I could help it, I REALLY did not want to have another late summer baby, so that pushed it out a few more months also.

In an effort to gather my strength, I went to visit my friend one more time, this time for 2 weeks (LOVE that friend!!).  I knew it would be at least 2 years before I really had the chance to get away again, and my wonderful friend was happy to have me come visit again.  Also, I was trying to finish this project sometime before I died so I could get it out of the closet and enjoy it hanging on the wall, so I took it with me and spent most of my time working on that glorious cross-stitch that didn't argue with or talk to me or complain about anything or throw a screaming fit or wipe its nose on me EVEN ONCE! uninterrupted.

Despite having made it to our official "we're trying" time, opportunities were scarce with the threat of the deathly nausea looming 4 children and everything.  But it only took once....
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*Joseph was getting dressed one day, and I commented that he had picked out his star shirt (solid navy blue with one light blue star sewn on).  He looked at me very seriously and said, "Yes, but it doesn't have any Sneetches on it."

*Joseph was mad at me when I tucked him in for his nap, so when I said, "I love your face!  Do you love my face?" I was met with stony silence.  I went to lie down, but then I heard him crying, so I went back in to check on him.  As soon as I came back in the room, he cried, "I love your face too!"

*Joseph was very interested our friends' babies.  One day, I was holding a baby, and Joseph was looking at her and giving her loves.  Someone was teasing and said, "Joseph, are you going to take that baby home, so you have a baby at your house?"  Joseph looked THRILLED and looked at me hopefully.  He was very disappointed when I told him that we couldn't take the baby home because her mother would miss her.

*At Cub Scouts one night, the leader told Ian that they would be meeting at the park the next week to play soccer.  He said he'd rather play baseball.  She said, "We're going to be playing soccer."  He replied, "Well, all right.  But don't expect me to run.  I'm not one of those scamper around on the field and chase after the ball kind of players.  I'm more like one of those stand there and wait for the ball to come to me kind of players."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sometimes Knowledge Hurts

I had to pack Baby's outgrown clothes again today.  How does he keep growing so quickly?  Didn't I just unpack those clothes and put them in his dresser?  How is it possible that I will never have a baby that size again?

I also had to face the fact that he is too big for the size 3 diapers.  Really?  He fits in 4s now?  How did this happen? 

I never thought I would cry over outgrown clothes and diapers.....
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When I had Joseph, I was pretty certain he would not be my last baby, although I thought there was a small chance he might be.  I tried to enjoy my pregnancy and his babyhood as much as I could, just in case, and I wasn't too sad as he outgrew everything: 

*the soft, newborn fuzz on his shoulders
*his newborn smell
*his newborn clothes
*his newborn EVERY! PRECIOUS! SOFT! WARM! SQUISHY! THING!
*the way his body molded into mine as he fell asleep
*his reliance on me as his sole source of nourishment
*his 3-6 month clothes
*being non-mobile
*his 6-9 month clothes
*his baby swing
*his bouncy seat
*his 9-12 month clothes
*his baby-ness
*his 12-18 month clothes
*receiving nourishment and comfort from my body...

By the time he was about 2 years old and I no longer had to worry about structuring life around naptimes, feeding and changing someone before we could go anywhere, a diaper bag, being up all night...I decided that I could and would be content if he was my last baby;  there was no pain in the thought.
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Shortly after becoming pregnant with baby #5, I knew that I could not survive another pregnancy, so I've known since before he was born that he would be my last: 

*the last time I would see an ultrasound that showed a NEW, TINY PERSON growing in MY body
*the last time (I SINCERELY HOPE!) I would feel so miserable in my body that I wished I could die because death, and time, were the only ways to escape the misery
*the last time my stomach was firmly rounded
*the last time I gained so much weight that there were stretch marks
*the last time I would feel a baby moving inside me
*the last time I felt like someone was trying to punch a hole in my cervix
*the last time I would hold a newborn who was still warm from being in my body moments before
*the last time my body would have to recover from pregnancy and childbirth (I'm looking at YOU post-partum hormones!)
*the last time I felt a new baby eagerly nurse at my bre*st
*the last time I would have to endure 3 weeks of nursing agony
*the last time I would hold my very own tiny newborn as he slept
*the last time I would weep at the thought of having to get up AGAIN when I had just been up an hour before....for MONTHS

and, most recently,
*the last time I would nurse my baby into a blissful, milky stupor
*the last time that what I could provide was everything he needed.

I wonder if I will be content again when he gets older, like I was with his brother before him, but I don't know.  Despite being done with so many incredibly difficult things, each of the precious, enjoyable lasts have been a little stab to my heart, and it hurts.  I can't help wishing that I hadn't known for sure that this would be it, so I could have enjoyed all of these moments without the double-edged sword of knowing I would never enjoy them again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Then: The Piano Bench, Waffle Wednesday, and More!

One day, before we had moved, I was upstairs trying to do some organizing.  I could hear the boys playing happily downstairs, which, of course, made me VERY SUSPICIOUS.  I came downstairs to get something, and, as I walked past them, they were suddenly silent and watching me with peculiar, expectant looks on their faces.  When I walked past them again to go back upstairs, I noticed this:

10 minutes before this photo, this was a piano bench with a lovingly-used, gently distressed look about it.
Now it is the answer to the question:  what happens when you combine 2 boys + 2 PEZ dispensers + 10 minutes alone with the piano bench?
It took them, supervised by their father, a LONG TIME to sand that down and re-finish it!

MANY hours of sanding later...

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In the midst of glorious parenting, Husband was sent away to do training for work for FIVE WEEKS (missing 1 birthday and 1 anniversary).  I think the only good thing that came from that ETERNAL FIVE WEEKS was that 2 or 3 of my friends and I started having "Waffle Wednesday" every week.  Their husbands had meetings Wednesday nights, so they would come, with their kids, to my house, and I would cook waffles (or pancakes) for dinner for everyone while they had the harder job of wrangling all of the kids

It was SO FUN!  It was totally casual, so there wasn't the usual stress involved with inviting someone over for dinner.  I made waffles about once a week anyway because my kids liked them.  Waffles are a really easy/inexpensive meal to make, so there was no problem there.  Sometimes I would make scrambled eggs too, or one of them would bring bacon or juice or something to go with the waffles.  We all had little kids, and my house was already infested with kids kid-friendly, so it was happy chaos as the children played while the moms visited.  By the time we were finished eating and visiting, it was time for all of our kids to go to bed!  We did this every week for about a year, until I got sick with my last pregnancy.  Such GREAT memories!

Joseph and Marie "cro-shway-ing"
Birthday boy picked brownies, instead of cake, this year, and he ate them!
(I just realized that Baby is currently wearing that outfit...he is 6 months younger than Joseph was when he was wearing it, and the outfit hasn't shrunk.)
Someone was VERY PROUD that he had climbed up on his dresser and could get his own shoes on.
I turned around to see that Marie had discovered how to make a "cheese sandwich"!

She was quite pleased with herself!  (And since there were VERY FEW things she would eat, I thought it was a GREAT idea!)

It was shortly after Husband returned from his month-long absence that I DESPERATELY NEEDED some time away from children was inspired to re-do Ian's room

And a few weeks after that, I went, ALL BY MYSELF, to visit one of my friends in a different state so there was no way I could return home until my plane ticket said I could who conveniently unfortunately didn't have a land line, so I had to be really careful to keep my cell phone turned on so my family could reach me if they needed for example, if Husband had let someone CARVE WOOD with an EXACTO KNIFE, and subsequently needed some one's social security number in order to (BIG SURPRISE) check in to the Emergency Room.  I may have forgotten to turn it on a lot few times. 

It was SO LOVELY and refreshing to be able to do WHATEVER I WANTED!  I could wear my pajamas all day and take a shower whenever I felt like it.  I didn't have to fix any meals unless *I* was hungry, and then there was no complaining about the chocolate covered peanuts meal I grabbed fixed.  I didn't have to clean anything because we were not slobs cleaned up after ourselves as we went along.  Husband emailed me every night to let me know how things were going/remind me what I was missing;  at one point I mentioned that he might not want to refresh my mind on what I was missing quite so clearly until I was back in the state and couldn't get away.

One day, after I got home, David asked me a question, I answered him, and he argued with my answer.  Before I could say anything, Ian piped up with, "Are you really going to argue with someone who has a college education?"  I guess they'd heard me someone say THAT before....

Joseph discovered that he could reach the bathroom sink if he hooked his cute little toes on the knobs on the cabinet doors.

We went home to visit our families, and that is when Marie discovered that she LOOOOOOOOOOVED horses!  She was able to ride horses at her uncle's house, and she talked and talked about that until we went back 2 years later.


It had to happen eventually:  Marie cut her own hair.
I am REALLY tempted to point out that this happened on Husband's watch, but, as that would probably be tempting fate, I will refrain.