Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happiness Now

As I started to drift into the I'm-in-solitary-confinement blues yesterday, I realized I needed to get a grip. So I latched onto the memory of my plane trip home from Berlin last summer. I was so anxious to see my children that it almost hurt. Every moment I was away from them started to feel unbearable and I thought that there was nothing in life that would matter if I could just be with them again.

I know, crazy. I spent the previous four and a half years desperate for a chance to get away from the little darlin' ones. Sometimes your wish has to be granted before you realize you actually want something more.

Since then, I've been on a mental voyage to a place that has changed my life. I have finally arrived: I'm happy to be a stay-at-home Mom. Thrilled, in fact. Who would have thought this of me?

My husband asked me last night if I'd like to get back to school to start my graduate degree in the next year or two, if I could find a program that let me take things at a slow pace. No way. I could change my mind, of course, but I think I'd rather wait five or ten years. My heart is here. I'm satisfied to spend time staring into my kids' eyes (true love, every time), baking cookies and spending hours paper-crafting valentines that are really not that much better than the store-bought ones.

So as I laid in bed feeling imprisoned and restless, I remembered how it felt to be somewhere other than home. It felt great and I'd go again in a heartbeat, but it also hurt to be away from this crazy place called home. This is where I'll come back to. This is where my heart will always be. And even if I'm stuck here for two more months without so much as a peek at the encroaching spring, I would rather be imprisoned here than anywhere else in the world.

Safe in the arms of those I love. Safe in the laughter of my children. Blessed with happiness from above. This is where I belong.

Monday, February 22, 2010



Some start with a great whirlwind of discovery, shared secrets and the comfort of mutual understanding. These seem to leave in a whirlwind, too, but of mistrust and disappointment.

Some start with a mutual warmth--but patience. Sometimes these fade slowly and easily away, no pain and no regret. And sometimes these build day by day until  you realize that you have built a solid foundation of shared experiences and understanding. These are friendships to treasure.

Some start with a wariness that is almost tangible. I think this is how one of my greatest friendships started. We were thrown together and the tension was sometimes palpable. Sometimes we would work side by side without speaking to each other. And when we were around other people, you would assume we were total strangers.

Years later, I realized that if we had seen each other at our worst and learned to be friends, this was a friendship that would last. And it has, through ups and downs and good times and bad times. Sometimes we are sarcastic and cutting to each other--and it genuinely hurts. But I know that we'll get over it. We'll move on. Because we have faith in each other to stand back up when we fall down.

I've learned to be cautious of friendships that start with heat--they will likely go down in flames. (Of course, I might surprise myself one day with a Phoenix Friendship--out of the ashes, so to speak.) So I treasure friendships that are warm and comfortable and just right. And I've learned to be patient with friendships that start a little chilly. Patience before rewards.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Memories of Pregnancies Past

1. Going in for a routine checkup at Labor & Delivery. The nurse took my BP, her eyes got huge and she rushed from the room, grabbed the supplies she needed and stuck an IV in me immediately. I wonder what the number was. I felt annoyed.

2. My doctor showing up unexpectedly at another of those L&D appointments after I'd been waiting hours to be released. "You're gonna have a baby today!" Shock. The whole world turned upside down in a good, but very stunning, way.

3. "We'll take you in to the operating room for your c-section in about an hour. They're just finishing up another patient right now." An hour passed and the nurse returned, slightly agitated. "It'll be a little longer." An hour later, I started to wonder why any woman would be in the operating room for 2+ hours for a routine c-section? Another hour later and the nurses eyes were red and swollen. My feelings of elation and happy expectation were suddenly gone as I worried about the stranger a few rooms away.

My obstetrician eventually came in and said gently, "Can we do it in the morning? Everyone here is emotionally frayed and I can promise you'll get better medical attention from them tomorrow." Later he told us that a medical student, who had been there to observe, wanted to choose a new career after what he had just seen.

We read the news article the next day about the woman who had died in childbirth with unstoppable hemorrhaging. The baby survived.

I was the next patient in that operating room at 8:00 a.m. There were no signs of blood anywhere. I tried not to think about it.

4. The first--very loud--cry and my doctors both saying, "It's a boy!" simultaneously. The most beautiful sound I have ever heard since we knew his lungs weren't quite mature.

5. The silence that followed the birth of my twins. "Are they out??? Are they okay???" I asked nervously. "Oh yeah, everything is fine." So much personality in that lack of crying. In retrospect, that silence was as beautiful as the first reassuring cry from my first child.

6. Staring at my tummy--trying not to stare at my tummy--and thinking, "Staples? Seriously... staples? What am I? Some kind of office document?"

7. Wondering if laughter or crying would tear my stomach back open. I tried so hard not to move at all, because it all felt so wrong to see that gash across my mid-section.

8. Despite that, loving the simplicity of c-sections.

9. Holding my newborn son in my arms.

10. Holding two newborn sons in two arms with nobody in the room to help me put them down again. The first of many, "What in the world do I do now?" moments as the mother of multiples.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bed rest

My whole life revolves around pregnancy right now. When do I ever blog about humorous day-to-day ironies anymore? I feel that I'm becoming dull in more ways than one. Oh well. People ask how I am and, as much as I prefer my blog to be a creative outlet rather than a simple information-spreading tool, here we go again.

According to the CDC, "Preeclampsia and eclampsia comprise the second leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the United States and the leading cause in many developing nations."

I do not have pre-eclampsia. Yet. But I have been telling people I am "dealing with pre-eclampsia." I realize now that this is completely misleading and I will explain. I have pregnancy-induced hypertension, meaning that my blood pressure is going up as my pregnancy progresses. This is one of the main symptoms of pre-eclampsia, but must be accompanied by other symptoms such as protein in my urine (which I also have, but not at "diagnostic" levels yet.) However, both of these symptoms are controllable right now if I lie down and limit my activity.

So I am living in the shadow of pre-eclampsia. It is looming over me, sneaking up from behind and I while I cannot see it yet, I know that it will eventually grab hold of me and refuse to let go until we deliver the baby. That is what PE does. There is no cure except getting the ******** placenta out of my body. With good care, PE will not progress to eclampsia (seizures and possibly coma.)

However, the blood pressure alone can harm the baby. According to the March of Dimes, "Hypertension may narrow or tighten the blood vessels in the uterus that supply the baby with oxygen and nutrients. Hypertension during pregnancy can create severe risks for both mother and baby, including:

"Health problems for the mother, such as heart attack and stroke
"Slow fetal growth and low birthweight
"Increased risk of preterm delivery
"Placental abruption"

(Sorry for the bad formatting. I know it's wrong, but give me a break. This isn't a school report, I'm emotionally exhausted and have other things to do than fiddle with proper format in a blog entry.)

So here is the update. I saw the doctor today and one of my main questions for him was, "Am I over-reacting by laying down all the time?" I mean, he just said, "Watch your activity level and definitely no more exercising." I interpreted that to me I could still have a life... just a very slow-paced life.

Apparently I was wrong.

I was about to tell him how I'd checked my BP at the grocery store after dropping the twins off at preschool and he interrupted in frustration, "You're taking your kids to preschool??? Why are you doing that? You shouldn't be leaving your house!"

I then had to admit that I'd also taught Primary on Sunday and felt sicker than a dog by the evening. He said I shouldn't be going to church anymore. That is out. I shouldn't be doing grocery shopping. I shouldn't be cooking meals. I shouldn't be doing housework. I shouldn't be OUT OF MY HOUSE at all (except for appointments with him) and that I'm just lucky that he'll still let me sit up to watch TV instead of laying flat in bed for the next few months.

I started crying. I couldn't help it. I said, "I try so hard to be a compliant patient. I thought I was over-reacting by being down so much. I didn't understand!" He knows this about me and told me that I am a smart person and that if I have any other questions, I know what I should be doing even if it isn't spelled out for me. He's right. I've been through this twice and I have to get over my insecurities about "over-reacting."

My doctor, who is very chill and non-communicative most of the time, was very honest with me today. No, there's basically no chance I will deliver this baby in May. It will be April or sooner. He said he has no way of knowing right now how early the baby will be. Yes, we will be doing blood work regularly to watch for danger signs. (This is why I had to deliver Joseph early: the blood work.) Yes, there will be regular 24-hour urine collections. (Ugh.) Yes, I'll probably be spending a fair amount of time in Labor & Delivery to monitor everything (and I better just get used to it now.)

Yes, I'll probably have a magnesium sulfate drip, which alone brings me to tears. The mag sulfate made me so dizzy and delirious that I don't remember anything about Joseph's first 24 hours except the frustration that I had no idea what was going on with my newborn son, had only seen him for a few minutes and when they tried to put me in a wheelchair to visit him in the NICU, I couldn't even sit up in bed for more than a few seconds. I missed it all. The oxygen hood, the beeping machines that kept the nurses hopping over him constantly, the first bath... everything. It's a memory I'll never have with Joseph and probably not with my little girl.

I'm in a whirl of emotions right now. If I'm lucky enough to keep this baby inside me full-term, I am staring at over two months of bed rest. I've been "taking it easy" for one week and I'm so bored and lonely and stir-crazy and frustrated that I want to scream. If you think it's "relaxing" to not worry about housework or cooking, you haven't been through this. Is it relaxing to watch my husband come home from a long day at work and have to immediately start making dinner, cleaning up, getting kids ready for bed, cleaning up more so he never gets a break at all? Seriously? No, I feel like crap that he suddenly has the weight of the world on his shoulders. 

The kids are already getting tense and high-strung without the normal routine of Mom taking care of things for them. Is it "relaxing" to MAKE my children spend hours every day in front of a computer screen or TV screen because I CANNOT referee creative play? No, it feels like crap. I know I signed up for this and it's an important thing and will be WORTH it, but I still feel like such a failure when I can't give my children what they need. They need stability, discipline, boundaries and routine to feel safe and cared-for. I can see the craziness in their eyes already at being given so much responsibility and so much freedom.

I asked the OB if I could go to my son's baptism in March. He thought about it and said, "Move it to May. This baby will definitely be here in May and it'll be okay to wait a couple months. Move it to June if you're worried about it." Is that relaxing to tell my son, who has been looking forward to baptism for years, that he can't be baptized? No, actually, that is a burden that I don't want to have right now.

I read two books yesterday. Two. Entire. Books. That's fun, but honestly, it gets boring to sit and stare at a book all day for TWO OR THREE MONTHS. My wrists hurt from holding the books. My back hurts from staying in one position for so long. I can't sleep anymore because I'm not being active. My OB says not to worry about it, because my body doesn't NEED that sleep while I'm lying down. But no, it's not relaxing to wake up at 4:30 a.m. on a regular basis and stare at the ceiling for hours in hopes that I'll fall back asleep. That is one of my own personal hells. I hate it.

Okay, deep breaths. We'll summarize.

I'm frustrated.

I'm scared.

I'm nervous.

I'm bored to tears.

I'm so lonely from being alone all day long, even after my husband comes home (because he has to be taking care of the children and housework.)

I'll get over it.

In a couple hours, I'll be embarrassed that I was so worked up over something that is temporary, manageable and being carefully overseen by an excellent physician.

My feelings are perfectly valid, but I wish I wasn't so emotional. I wish I was like my sister-in-law, Tiffani, who is so stoic and upbeat about having dangerously low amniotic fluid levels and her baby having the cord around its' neck (twice, I think). I'm sure she has concerns and frustrations, but she quietly manages them alone and never stops smiling when she talks about it with me. I want to be her when I grow up.

And that's the update. I would go back to check for typos (which are frequent with me... I think "there" and type "their" instead, or leave out entire words, or phrases or.) But I'm tired. And I have to go lie down. And read a book. Or watch TV. And try to feel lucky that I am not doing housework or cooking meals, even though that's all I want to be doing right now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


 x 18
  x 18
 x 35

I did it! My first attempt at homemade valentines has been super fun, although I forgot how exhausting it is to force my children to write their name that many times. That alone took forever.

The twins were fairly compliant at taking suggestions from Mom but Joseph was extremely picky and we had to compromise a lot to make his more "manly." We ended up with red and tan (which doesn't show well in the photos!) instead of the pastel colors I used for the twins.

The pictures don't do them justice because I know *nothing* about how to take good photos indoors when there is no light. Bleh! I can't wait to go make some for teachers, family and friends. I took a few to the nurses at my OB's office today because they put up with a lot from me. My OB says I am not a difficult patient, but I feel like a pain when all my third trimester woes start stacking up.

So now I'm done with the compulsory valentines and anything else I make is just for fun fun fun. Family, friends, visiting teachees, etc are just icing on the crafty cake. Hooray! (That means probably one more crafty entry and then back to life as usual for this blog. This many pictures in one month is just shocking, don't you think? You can see why when you sample my photography skills above.)

(Want to see someone who does this right? See my inspiration for Elijah's valentine gift.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Why yes, I am in paper crafting mode.

And yes, it does make a bit of a mess. But it keeps me entertained and off my feet.

And the results are well worth it. My kids will have lots of fun helping me make these simple little Valentine's for their classes later today ... I hope! Time to go get back to it. I'll take pictures of the final design later, if I think of it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

February Wind

I chose to go without a coat today, and when that bitter February wind hit my cheeks I wondered if I had made a bad decision. Only a moment after the shock of cold, I was shocked into recognition. I know this wind, I thought. This February wind.

"I would recognize that wind anywhere," I said aloud to the twins as I closed my eyes to savor it. It felt exactly this way when my children were born. They were all born in February and their birthdays are just days apart. It rained while I gave birth to all my children. That's how I know the Groundhog was wrong--the snow always turns to rain during this month and then each snow storm is merely a fluke, at least in my mind. There is no turning back once we hit mid-February because Spring is just around the corner.

However, I am hoping this February wind is not a signal that my last child's birth is mere weeks away. I'm not ready for that. Baby's not ready for that. She needs a few more months, not a few more weeks. And I think we'll get there, but it's not going to be easy-peesy-rice-and-cheesy. I've seen the writing on the walls for a couple weeks now, but I wasn't ready to talk about it. Now I am.

A few weeks ago, I was out shopping--buying baby's first little pink and purple and green dresses for church next Spring--when I started feeling really shaky. I held my hand up in front of my face and I couldn't see it shaking, but I felt jittery all over. By the time I got home and laid down, I thought I'd be feeling better. Hours later, I was starting to feel nervous. I still felt really sick. I called the nurse to ask her if people felt this way with gestational diabetes, maybe? I had done some research and it seemed like I was exhibiting some symptoms of hypoglycemia actually, which is opposite, but... I just needed to talk it over.

She ordered my glucose tolerance test right away (which later showed very healthy blood sugar levels), and then was ready to hang up when I nervously told her how sick I'd been feeling all day. Nervously because, given my history, I know that the answer to most problems at this stage of pregnancy equals, "Go into labor and delivery and make sure everything is okay with baby" and that just seems like such an over-reaction to feeling sick.

The nurse said, "Go into labor and delivery and make sure everything is okay. Better safe than sorry." I kind of whined and said I'd go in if I still felt sick in a few hours, hoping she'd let me off the hook. After all, they can't arrest me for ignoring the nurse's orders, right? Just the doctor's. Right? She urged me again to just go in. I said I'd wait and see how I felt when my husband got home, because I couldn't very go in with three crazy children. Right?

She could tell I was trying to refuse. Her next words hit like an overused metaphor. Or simile, to be more precise. "If this is pre-eclampsia, it can sneak up really quickly. You really need to be careful."

Ouch. She hit me where it hurt. My first son was born early because of pre-eclampsia. Something to do with my liver, which my research later suggested was very serious, if I was guessing correctly. I was on high blood pressure medication for months while pregnant with the twins--and I was on bedrest for two solid months. In other words, this is serious stuff to me because of my history.

I went in to the hospital. My blood pressure was just slightly borderline and plummeted to ridiculously low/healthy levels as I laid in the bed and relaxed for a couple hours. The baby was fine. I was fine. Everything was fine. I felt incredibly embarrassed that my complaining to the nurse led to hours of being in the hospital for apparently no reason. Ugh.

I went home, depressed, and went to sleep. The next morning, thinking everything was peachy keen, I noticed something troubling that brought all the worry back. I suspected something was up and thought I wasn't so paranoid after all. After a quick trip to the OB's office, my worries were doubled. I was right. I wouldn't have even noticed this with my first pregnancy--the pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia really took me by surprise. Luckily, I had my regular OB appointment the next day so I knew I'd get some answers.

...but I didn't. My doctor, who tries to keep his hormone-infused, freaked-out pregnant women as calm as possible, just told me it wasn't necessarily pre-eclampsia and that he'd just see me more often now to make sure we didn't miss anything.

NOTE: At this point, I was not even in my third trimester. To deal with these issues this early had me incredibly freaked out. The baby would have a 50% chance of survival, and "survival" would probably mean living with major handicaps her entire life. Like being blind. Or deaf. Or having an IQ of 3. Point being that I was really freaked out.

Anyway, my freaking out subsided gradually as I remembered that I have trusted my doctor with my life more than once and I have total faith in him. If he's not freaking out, I shouldn't be either. Deep breaths. Happy thoughts. All is well.

I had another follow-up appointment today and those pesky symptoms that bothered me a few weeks ago are still holding strong. And my blood pressure was, officially, way too high. 150 over something. However, after laying down for five minutes, it dropped to 120/70, which is totally fine... except that it proves that chilling out is really important right now, and I have a lot of work to do.

The doctor ordered a very annoying hospital test (Gack) and told me I need to really watch my activity, and definitely no more exercising.

To a woman who has been on bed rest for the two previous pregnancies, this sounds like: "Take it easy ... OR ELSE." In other words, I can try to manage this carefully and still have some freedom or I can push my limits and be forced into inactivity.

The writing is on the wall. There is so much that still has to be done. So much to purchase, and clean and organize and prepare! I think, "QUICK! Go get the shopping done! Don't delay!!" Then I remember my orders to "take it easy ... OR ELSE!" and I feel trapped. Slow and steady? Prioritize? I would ask for help, but I'm really the only one who can do a lot of things like tidying my office, filing away papers where they belong, etc.

And ain't NOBODY gonna buy all that cute, pink, girlie stuff for me. I have been waiting for YEARS to buy frilly little stuff. That's my reward for surviving pregnancy again. I demand my reward!

...but baby needs me to chill out, relax, not worry...

Wow, I think I feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it.