Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Emily Rose: A Pregnancy Story, Part 5: A Spring (Not) So Sweet

A Spring (Not) So Sweet
Dear Baby Emily,
I’m not usually a superstitious person. Not everything that happens has a higher meaning or is part of some “master plan.” So when the weather grew too warm too soon, I appreciated it for what it was–a chance to enjoy the outdoors for the first time in months. I didn’t see it as a sign that something in my world was...off.
For the first day of the March heat wave, I was at the playground with your brothers after school.  Everyone else in the community seemed to be out too. The kids were in shorts or spring dresses and the parents were mingling with the enthusiasm you would expect after a long winter. I wish I could say I was among them, laughing, gossiping, but I still didn’t know anyone that well and I wasn’t feeling the best in the world either. At this point, I wasn’t too concerned. It was warm, almost too warm and at twenty-ish weeks, I wasn’t yet “cured” of my first trimester symptoms. So I sipped from my water bottle and watched life happen around me. Unfortunately, I let your brother sip from the water bottle too. A couple of days earlier he had a fever, a cough, and a few bouts of vomiting. It was hard to tell what was wrong with him, but Tylenol, toast, rest, and fluids helped him bounce back to his rambunctious self in record time. I should have known that kids are resilient. And me? Pregnant and with the weakest stomach in the history of stomachs? Not so much...
We went home to get popsicles and within twenty minutes of our arrival, I went from reading a book outside, slightly under the weather, to vomiting my guts out every eight minutes (yes, I timed it). And I couldn’t catch a break even hours later. It was time to call my doctor. He asked me if I thought I needed to come to the hospital. I didn’t want to sound like a weakling so I hesitated to say yes. I had a feeling I was going to end up there anyway and I should have just said so, but I let him try his pharmaceutical approach first. 
So your father went to retrieve the anti-nausea medication with a little more kick than the one I had already tried in my medicine cabinet. Because of a hold up at the pharmacy (the prescription was late to arrive and they gave him a hard time because he mentioned that I was pregnant), I endured about an hour more of vomiting before the drug arrived. After the end of an eight-minute cycle, I swallowed the pill and went to bed. And just as I expected, 7 minutes and forty-five seconds later the drug was out of my system. We tried but failed. I was admitted to the maternity ward soon thereafter. 
From what I could remember, they took good care of me. I had a rough night, though. But gradually the stomach bug from hell lost its punch. By the next morning, I could eat and drink again and once they adjusted my blood potassium level, I was free to go home.
By early May, I had overcome “the plague” and a nasty stint on antibiotics for a UTI. I was feeling better at last. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Since our delusional landlord decided to put the house we were renting on the market for WAY too much money, we had to move AGAIN (I just counted...I’ve moved 15 times in my life, and despite what your brothers say, I’m really not that old).  Was I Overwhelmed? Yes. Your brother’s school year wasn’t over yet, we had less than a month’s notice, and I wasn’t supposed to lift anything over twenty-five pounds. Was the task impossible? No, so I did my best to stay focused and stay strong.
The day before moving day, I had to take a break from the madness for a doctor’s appointment.  I was actually looking forward to it. For once I wanted to give him a good report. And on the drive there, I had an epiphany about your name. Your father and I had already decided your name would be Emily, but your middle name proved to be more of a challenge. So when I came up with Emily Rose, I thought it was going to be one of those nice spring days where nothing could go wrong. 
The appointment began with business as usual. I was due for my glucose tolerance test. No problem, I thought. I passed that test two times before and I even said, “sugar makes me happy.” Next, we moved right along to the sonogram and then he asked me if I had any questions.        
“Do you usually deliver your own babies?” I asked. My second trimester was ending so I thought that was a fair question. I didn’t know how they divided up the deliveries. Was it by chance or by assignment? Since he seemed to claim me as his own, I assumed I would be working with him through your birth and beyond. 
“We try to, BUT...”
And MAN was it a big “but!” He told me he was leaving the practice. I listened to his brief and vague explanation in shocked silence. And I must have had a you’re-breaking-up-with-me expression on my face because eventually he interrupted his monologue to ask, “Are you OK?”
“Yeah!” I said too quickly. I shook off the expression and dismissed his concern by changing the subject. “So should I start seeing someone else?”
The gist of his answer was “yes, that’s a good idea,” but I zoned out. I was too busy trying to keep my tears in check to listen. After that, there was an awkward good-bye/good luck in the hall and that was it. Bond broken. Easy come, easy go...right?  Well, it may have been just business to him, but I take things personally when they concern my health and my baby. I didn’t know anyone else or trust anyone else, and at nearly seven months pregnant, I was ready to walk out and never come back. 
I gave myself a few hours to be an emotional wreck. Then I had to put the situation from my mind until the move was over.      
A week later, I still hadn’t made a decision about a hospital. Thanks to our new location, I had two additional hospitals to consider within a reasonable distance. I was starting the research for a switch, but I thought I might as well get the glucose test over with first. 
I went in, drank that awful flat orange soda, gossiped with other mommies in the area (one of which provided the dirt about my doctor’s departure), and left an hour later without much worry. Like I said, I passed it twice before. 
Then I got the phone call. I failed the test. Yeah, that’s right. I failed, and I don’t usually fail tests, not gracefully anyway. I had to take the 3-hour test a few days later. In the end, I didn’t officially fail, but I was considered “borderline” for gestational diabetes. So I dropped sweet beverages, candy, ice cream, and baked goods from my diet. I know in the long run I’m probably healthier without all of the above. I try to remember that when I’m choking down whole grain “cookies.” But I’m pregnant and irrational so I find my mind drifting to chocolate, and brownies, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. 
So, Emily Rose, just to summarize, over the spring I lost the lining of my stomach, my doctor, sugar, and my home. And when it’s four in the morning and I can’t sleep, do you know what I miss the most? The sugar…(sigh).
Love,

Your glucose-deprived mother :(

Monday, July 16, 2012

Universal Truths of Parenting

Safety scissors barely cut construction paper, but will easily cut hair.

The length of the pause before the scream is directly proportional to the severity of the toddler's injury.

A child will always want the one someone else has, even if an identical item is offered, especially if  that someone else is a sibling.

If you are not paying attention, shoes will end up on the wrong feet more than seems statistically possible.

When in a rush, the slow child must do everything themselves, but when mom is sitting and eating, a simple task like getting a spoon out of the silverware drawer is beyond the zone of proximal development.

Clothes a child once refused to wear become beloved items when you try to hand them down to a younger sibling.

Daylight savings time is intended to ruin your life.  At least, it seems that way.  Also, at some point in June your children will refuse to go to bed because "it is still in the day."

Halloween is just one big orgiastic sugar fest. Let them binge. Then throw the remaining candy away come November 1st.  

Valentines Day is the new Halloween.  Seriously, must every card now include candy with it?

The first year is spent anxiously awaiting their first word and first step. You spend the next dozen or so telling them to sit down and be quiet.

The days are long but the years are short, so enjoy them as much as you can.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Emily Rose: A Pregnancy Story, Part 4: From Blue to Pink

From Blue to Pink
Emily Rose,
Our snowless winter in Vermont was as dreary as late November, only colder. And it lingered on. I suppose it was an ideal time to be housebound. When I stared out the window and saw only the bleak and the brown, I didn’t feel guilty for existing in slippers and pajamas. 
At the time most pregnant women start to feel some relief from their first trimester symptoms (around twelve weeks), mine were at their peak. Evenings and nights were the hardest. I had trouble holding down a protein-rich meal for dinner and if I chose something light to eat instead, I would wake up in the middle of the night hungry and nauseous. Either way, I was stumbling to the bathroom at least once a day. 
I was starting to think I would never feel better. Even though I had another OB appointment coming up, I doubted the practice’s ability to help me. The first impression they made on me was a lasting one. And if they didn’t pull through and make me believe they were caring and competent enough to deliver you, Emily Rose, then I was determined to take my business elsewhere.
When the doctor (a different one than last time–THANK GOD) came into the exam room, I was surprised by his age. He was old enough for me to have faith that he knew what he was doing, but still young compared to most of the other doctors I’ve dealt with. As we chatted, I decided his age was a character strength. He could relate to a thirty-something-ish woman without coming across as unnatural. I certainly appreciated that. And since my symptoms were severe, he prescribed an anti-nausea medication and said, “You don’t have to suffer.”
I almost left the doctor’s office in tears once again, yet this time it was for a different reason.  I didn’t feel as alone as before because I had a doctor I trusted. He became an essential member of the team that would bring you, little one, into the world.
February was more endurable after that and by mid-March, winter had more or less petered out. Even though it was cool and damp on the day of our crucial, gender-determining ultrasound, I was dressed for spring and feeling optimistic. My intuition told me you were a girl, but I had my doubts too. Your father and I had reached a level of acceptance that things don’t usually go according to plan. I was ready for anything, I guess, but I was still biting my lip, hoping you were a girl from the moment the ultrasound wand made contact with my rounding stomach. 
After all the other essential parts of you were measured and photographed, there was only one thing left to find out. I tried not to move or even blink as the ultrasound technician circled and contorted the wand around. She didn’t say anything for a long time. My lower lip probably had deep trench marks by the time she said, “I’m not seeing any boy parts...”
Some parents would rather not know the gender of their baby before birth because there are so few surprises in life to enjoy. While I admire the fortitude of those who prefer to wait, I never regretted finding out early. I instantly felt more connected to you. Those flutters and tiny kicks belonged to a girl who will likely have blue eyes, wavy brown pigtails, and freckles someday. And I needed that image to hold on to because my pregnancy was about to become one wild ride.
Love,  

Mother Dearest