Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the face of fear

Today was the kids' first day of swimming lessons. Bryn started the pre-school group, Sea Stars, while Abi & Kai started Level 1. (except, Kai had to miss out after his MRI......more soon...) This is Abi's 2nd time at this level, 3rd time attempting swimming lessons altogether. All of the kids were very excited to start this!

In the Older's group there is a boy who looks to be about 10 years old He's the biggest in the group, with a head of sandy brown hair. I was happy that the class size was small (only 5 students) and of various ages (I'd say average age was 8 or 9), so that the kids wouldn't have to feel that they were "too old" to be in the very first level, knowing that most of their friends are already in level 3 or higher in swimming. I stood and watched their class for a few minutes as the Instructor asked them all the put their faces into the water and blow bubbles. (an activity taught in each swimming level, I've found) One by one, the students followed, and I grinned with pride as Abi did as well. A year ago and she would've hesitated and only dunked the tip of her nose to give the appearance of submersion. Then I noticed the older boy. He hadn't participated. When the Instructor asked him to, he turned away to face the outside of the pool, with tears in his eyes. And my heart broke for him. I understood his fear, or rather, I remembered his fear. I remembered the many years Hunny & I tried to coax our children to put their faces into water or to allow water to run down their foreheads. I remembered the tears and their cries, and I wanted to go to that boy and tell him things would be okay, that it was alright to be afriad, but it would get better over time.

But, of course, I didn't. Instead, I walked away, letting the Instructor deal with her student, and observed Bryn's class as they learned to blow bubbles in the shallow end of the pool. Bryn timidly placed his face into the water, but came up sputtering. He looked so tragic as tears flowed along with drips down his little cheeks. It was all I could do to not call out to him, to gather him up and wipe his face and comfort his fears. But I needed to be brave and so I looked the other way, trusting the Instructor to allay any fears these small children had. When I looked back a few minutes later, Bryn was all smiles again. He looked like he was having the time of his life, and my heart swelled.

I wandered back to the Olders to see how they were faring, and I saw the boy still with the Instructor, attempting one-on-one teaching. (another volunteer took over with the other kids and they practiced kicking and submerging their heads) The gangly child still had a face full of fear, and tears flowed from the corners of his eyes, yet I watched him as he tried to relax and rest in the Teacher's arms and lay his back in the water. His body was stiff and he was fighting with the task. But he was doing it. He has his arms outstretched, the cuff of his neck was in the water now, and his knees up, so not a complete follow-through, but he was doing it. And I was so proud of this boy. And I don't even know him! I wanted to encourage him, let him know of my support, tell him how awesome he was doing, but I kept quiet and observed. And smiled.

This boy looked miserable. You could tell he really struggled with the lesson and that he didn't enjoy it. But to me, he was the bravest boy out in that pool. He hated what he had to do and he feared it, but he did it anyways. And I was so proud of him

I hope that tonight, at home, he had someone to tell him how brave and strong he was. I hope I see him at the next lesson, and I hope that over time, he begins to see his strength as well. And I hope that I can instill in my own children a sense of bravery to fight their fears as well.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gut issues

Oh the nausea!

I am almost 27w and I am still dealing with nausea. It's not a constant thing though, thankfully; some days I don't have any issues at all, but then some days are full of acid reflux. I am still taking my Diclectin, but it's not too helpful, to be honest. So my doctor recommended that I take Gravol. Today I am regretting not picking some up when I picked up my synthroid perscription. BLAH!

I'm not too sure if this is just one of those "morning sickness" nausea or if it's from something else. With my Hypertension, I was told to watch out for it as a symptom. It could also be from my gall bladder. Remember me mentioning having to go for an abdominal ultrasound? It was to check out my innards because I had been having pains after eating. Not severe, but enough for me to have to lie down for an hour or so. I wasn't thinking anything of the ultrasound and was really expecting it to come back all clear. What a surprise when they said that I had gallstones! "Quite a few of them", too, according to the doctor! Apparently it can be common with women after having several children. I had no idea!

I am so thankful that I am not having any of the typical pains with gallstones though. I was reading up on them on a pregnancy forum and the postings were making me so nervous and upset that I had to stop reading! "Pains worse than labor"??? Really? Eek! So far, I only get some sharp pains that last at most an hour, but they don't send me to the hospital. And this only happened for a few days and hasn't returned in about a month, which is such a relief! I am terrified to think that one day they may. I'm quite confident in saying that I don't want to have to go through that! I'm scared enough of labour, and I've gone through that a few times already!

I learned that the main option for "curing" gallstones are to remove the Gall Bladder via laproscopic surgery. Hey, why not, they still haven't found a genuine use for it, which is bizarre! I'm sure it must be useful for something! I can't picture God giving us extra body parts for the fun of it, but they still don't have a "real" use for tonsils yet either. *shrugs* The other option is to take medication to break down the stones, but you have to take these meds for up to 5 years since it takes that long. Are you serious? That's crazy talk! I'm hoping mine just go away. Just because they say that I have "several" of them doesn't tell me the size of them and if I need to be concerned. I was just told to watch for symptoms, such as pain that lasts 5 hours or more, and vomiting and nausea. If I have that, I need to go to the ER. Oh great. So far things are okay and the pain seems to have gone away for the most part; I'm watching my diet more and trying to avoid lots of fat, but I've found that the things that most people say to stay away from don't seem to bother me. (such as cheese and chocolate) I would say that I am blessed. Lucky. And grateful.

This pregnancy is so strange to me. I have all these issues that I was not anticipating and they're all about ME and not about the baby. Which is a good thing, but I am anxious about what else is to come. I am still on the lookout for any suspicious signs of pre-term labour and leaking. Along with all the other symptoms I'm too look out for. Like nausea, headaches, swelling, pain, vomiting, dizziness, sight problems.....h'mm.....what else?

Thankfully none of those have happened to me to a bad degree. Except now I have leg cramps to deal with, which is common in pregnancy, but still. I can't sleep at night because my legs ache and I can't get comfortable. *sigh* The trials a mother must go through to have a baby!

Friday, March 11, 2011

one down...

Last night, I made my first trip onto the maternity ward at Peace Arch Hospital, where I *will*may* deliver. I hadn't been there in 2 and a half years and a lot has changed as they are just finishing up their upgrades. Wow. It looks great! Totally unrecognizable. Which is good, and sad, since I had so many good baby memories there and it's unfamiliar now, but it was small and needed updating badly, so... all-in-all a good thing. Too bad my visit wasn't a nicer one.

For two days, I had been having strong Braxton Hicks (BH) and some abdominal pain and lower back pain. The first day, I shrugged them off, even though I was concerned. But yesterday, the stomach pain woke me up from my otherwise pleasant napping on the couch! Not nice! I spent the next two hours alternating between BH and the pain, all the while trying to keep myself occupied by unloading/loading the dishwasher (yes, in that order), filling the bread maker with ingredients and sweeping and cleaning my kitchen floors. None of which took away the pain or lessened it or even took my mind off of it. Yet, I still waffled on whether or not I should head into the hospital.

I have this bizarre problem called a "guilt complex". I'm not too sure if it comes from being a Mom or if it's just a "me thing", but it tends to govern how I treat my own health crisis'. I couldn't just head to the hospital because, not only did I have the Youngers at home, but I'd have to go get the Olders from school in two hours, so I'd have to wait. And I didn't want to go when Hunny came home because he'd need help with dinner and getting the kids into bed and prepping for school the next day. And then I couldn't go later because then it would be a late night and we'd never get the sleep we need and...and...and... it's all so silly. But I really hate to inconvenience anyone with my little issues. I even start to tell myself that the nurses and doctors don't need to be bothered with a paranoid mother who doesn't actually have a health problem; I certainly don't need to be taking up their time when they could be dealing with other patients more serious than myself. I'd rather deal with my own problems at home, by myself, not tell anyone. (which is how I end up leaking waters for hours instead of telling my Hunny to come home from work to take me to the hospital for 3 of our children's births, and laboring at home until I was almost fully dialated with the other....*blush*)

But I couldn't shake this feeling where something just "wasn't right". So I finally decided enough was enough and told Hunny I was heading in to PAH. ...that is, after I called the maternity ward to get their opinion and make sure they weren't too busy, and after I called my sister to see if she wanted to go for a drive (my Hunny and Mom insisted that I get her to go with me! I tried not to take it as a thought that they didn't think I could handle it on my own, but it did make me laugh!)---she was out though, so I went alone.

The whole 20 minute drive was full of fear on my part (I am only 24w along) and praying, and BH and pain. I've got it in my head that they'll find something wrong with me, that I'm in early labor (hey, my signs say that I am according to the internet, the evil thing!) and I'll be admitted and put on bed rest. I'm near tears and I'm scared and it's the real reason why I didn't want to go to the hospital earlier.

I got hooked up to the machine and Baby Jellybean and I had our first non-stress test (NST). They listened to baby's heartbeat, and I had to note whenever I felt movement (which was a bit tough as I'd hear the movement on the machine's speakers but sometimes I wouldn't feel it, so I'd have to tell myself not to click the button just because the machine says something!) and I had a probe-thing attached to me to detect any contractions. They monitored me for half an hour, until the nurse lost the baby and all was coming up good. Guess how many contractions or BH I logged during that time? None. Nada. Nothing. Zero. After having them all freakin' day long.... It was a good thing, for sure, but awfully frustrating too.

Since my urine and blood tests came back negative and good and I had no pains or tightenings to show, the doctor cleared me all good and safe to return home. I was in my bed, snuggling for sleep by 11:30pm! (ok, so I didn't go to bed until after midnight, but the point was that I wasn't at PAH for hours on end like I was worried) I was happy and felt a bit better and confident that I wasn't in any early labor, but I didn't get any answers or suggestions for my pain and BH. They did keep asking me if I was "taking it easy.....or as easy as you can with four children." (I was asked that by both nurses and the doctor at different times!) but I'm not too sure how to answer that. I'm *trying* to take it easy, but, again that Guilt Complex comes into play. I feel like I'm not doing *enough*. I spend a lot of my mornings laying down, resting and napping, so I feel by late afternoon I should be doing something. The house is a mess, dinner needs to be made, the dishes are piling up, we're running out of clean clothes... I don't want Hunny to come home and think, "goodness, did she do anything today?" So I'm trying to put an effort out. Especially since one day I may not be able to.

Tonight, I really felt like I was doing "too much". I had no problems whatsoever during the day with BH or pain, and so I was really happy. That is, until I came home from picking up the kids' from school and I started to get really painful back spasms. I was just walking in the kitchen, deciding on dinner, nothing major. But I had been cleaning and had been carrying Rhys around a lot (since he's been asking me to do that lately this week) and I was pooped.

I admit it, I am paranoid. I get scared. Every new week is another to cross of my list, which gives me some relief, but every week also brings fear. Will this week be the week....that I start to leak? that my body fails? that I end up on bed rest? Every pregnancy has been earlier for pre-term. Abi at 37w. Kai at 36w. Bryn at 33w. Rhys at 30w (when I was put on bedrest for leaking, and had complete PROM at 35w, when he was delivered) So I have been on high alert and watch since, oh maybe 16w. *sigh* I haven't slept very good lately. Imagine that. But I want to be paying attention and be sure of what's going on. If there is something happening, I need to be aware so that I can get the help I need. I know that there have been great wonderful advances in medical science that can have a 24 weeker survive, but I surely don't want to have to go through that. Poor Jellybean isn't ready to be born. There's not enough fat to keep her warm, her lungs aren't developed, she's so tiny. It would be wonderful not to lose her and to have her grow strong enough in the NICU, but the developmental issues afterwards are scary! I don't want to have to go through that. So, every week, I breathe a bit better.

I find that I am waiting for 30 weeks to come, as if that is when I think things will happen. I'm just praying it doesn't happen sooner.

It was good to have some reassurance that my body isn't going against me right now and that baby is still safe and that we didn't need to be admitted to the maternity ward. I left the hospital feeling good, but a bit frustrated that all my symptoms disappeared while there. The nurses bid me good night when I left, saying they'd see me again in 16 weeks! We'll see... I have a feeling I'll be back there for more NST's though. We got our first one out of the way though and passed with flying colours! *smile*

I'll Stand with arms high and heart abandoned

This song has been on my mind tonight. Had to share, of course.

What can I say? What can I do? But to offer this heart, oh God, completely to you.

The Stand - Hillsong United

You stood before creation
Eternity within Your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
Carried the Cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You

So I'll walk upon salvation
Your Spirit alive in me
This life to declare Your promise
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all

So I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours

Saturday, March 5, 2011

FINALLY!!!! (in which I vent a little)

I FINALLY have an OB!!! I'm happy and relieved. Especially since I'm already 24 weeks along today (which means I'm in my 6th Month...I think. I forget months and think in terms of weeks during pregnancy, since that's how it goes!) This has been an ongoing challenge for me, something I've been fighting for since the beginning, so I feel frustrated and unsure. Indifferent and cranky. Satisfied and pleased.

I've joked to family about how I'll "try not to be bitter" when I see the Obstetrician at the end of the month, but I really don't think I am. Even though I do feel that I have every right to be. See, soon after I found out I was pregnant, I requested a referral to this specific OB from my own doctor, since I had seen her during my pregnancy with Rhys. I am a High Risk Pregnancy and knew that I'd just likely end up needing to see a specialist anyways, so why not skip the "middle man" at the Maternity Clinic and get the care I needed? However, I hadn't heard anything from them yet and I was nearing the end of my first trimester, so I brought it up to the doctor's receptionist again, to which they called around and found out that this OB didn't want to see me. She wanted me to go through the Mat Clinic first. *roll eyes* Whatever for? You'd think she'd like how I asked for her and wanted her to be my doctor!

So I asked for a different OB at a different hospital. Knowing how I have a tendency to not go full term, I may as well go straight to the hospital with the great NICU (where Bryn was born at 33w) However, I find out that they want me to go through the Mat Clinic first as well, until that doctor says I'm "high risk". Are you kidding me? I already am! I began this pregnancy that way! Once you're "high risk" in one pregnancy, you're considered it for the next ones too!!! Sheesh. So no skipping the "middle man". I begrudgingly went to the Maternity Clinic. I didn't even care who saw me, I was only interested in getting the appointments over and getting them to refer me. But even that wasn't going to happen easily!

I even tried to get a Midwife. I really wanted a specialist who was interested in ME and the baby, who would give me the time of day, who would talk to me and go over concerns I'd had and would let the whole pregnancy feel "natural" and beautiful, instead of tiring and heavy, as it's been for me before. Like a midwife would do. I looked up online for midwives in the area, checked out the ones that had delivering abilities at the hospitals I wanted, and even asked friends for opinions. But that didn't work out well for me in the end either, as they won't take on High Risk Pregnancies; which I understand, but also felt bummed about.

What was it going to take to get a specialist to care for me and the baby????

To say that the first 16 weeks weren't stressful would be a lie. I was so stressed and so upset and worried and paranoid and angry and frustrated! I was trying to be proactive but I felt I wasn't being taken seriously, and it was difficult. To say that in the past 6 months I have been preoccupied by this whole issue would be downplaying it. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything else other than this problem, much to the faltering of my business and my family. *sigh*

But then things picked up.

After they fell apart, that is.

I had high blood pressure. And when I say "high", I mean really high. As in not good high. As in I needed to be seen by a team of specialists out at BC Women's Hospital that deals only in high BP during pregnancy. This team takes on only special cases, those that are pre-eclampsia and IUGR. I was freaking out when I learned that! I was told by many not to worry and to not get too far ahead of myself, but well, what else was I to do but look online for more information??? I know, I know, some people would say that is a bad idea, but I'd rather be informed at the options and choices and solutions than to not have a clue going into something. Of course, that also only made me convinced that not only was I pre-e, but I was one of those rare cases of pre-e that show up really early, even though it typically only does in late term. I had convinced myself that this pregnancy was doomed and I'd be on bed rest and maybe hospitalized and spent much of my time praying that we'd make it to a reasonable stage of the pregnancy for viability. (which I am very close to now, thankfully)

I walked into the EMMA clinic with apprehension and concern, and left with assurance and hope. After an ultrasound, detailed past history, medical knowledge (not mine of course, the team of doctors) consistent BP checks, some medication, and a lot of appointments it was determined that my hypertension was pre-existing. What a shock that was to me. It wasn't even an option that popped into my head! Sure, it was a possibility on every site I looked up, but I hadn't even considered it. I've never had high blood pressure. Never. How could this be something I entered the pregnancy with? What an idea! But this all was detected at 14 weeks, so it was the most obvious suggestion.

I was not at high risk for pre-e! HOORAY! In fact, they assessed me at only a 30% chance of it becoming that! What a relief! But what another surprise I had when, at my appointment, the doctor I was seeing "kicked me out" of the EMMA Clinic!!! It was a good thing, indeed, but also something I wasn't expecting! Instead, I was to be followed by the Internal Medicine Doctor, who deals with hypertension outside of pregnancy from now on.

I see Dr M every two weeks, and we check my blood pressure and go over any issues that I may have and we discuss medication (currently I am not on any as my blood pressure is great!) and she sends me for lab work. Lots of lab work. I have my urine checked and whatever else they look at in my blood (lol) and things are being regulated. I go out to Vancouver so often, I am used to it and I enjoy it! I love this doctor and her intern doctor (at least, I think that's who she is. Or she's doing her practicum, I'm not too sure. I don't understand it all. But she's a doctor and I like her a lot too!) and I feel good and secure and happy. I feel that things are being taken care of.

But then I forget that this woman is taking care of ME. She's *my* doctor, and I still don't have a "baby doctor". I hadn't even seen my own doctor at the maternity clinic in two months, when he said he'd put a referral in to an OB for me just after Christmas, and I hadn't heard from that doctor either. So when that reality set in again, it was frustrating. Granted, things were going well, and I was being monitored on a regular basis, and the baby was growing and I could feel constant kicking, so in that aspect I didn't need to be too concerned. But I was annoyed at feeling discarded. When I finally did get in to the Mat Clinic again, I was feeling so let down over the whole issue that I just didn't *care* anymore. I wasn't going to fight or push or anything. I'll just take the first specialist they'll give me.

So I'm going to see the OB that I requested back in October.

Yeah. The one that didn't want to see me. I feel I have a "right" to be bitter over it all, and in some ways I am. But in more ways, I also feel relieved and resigned about the whole thing. I was starting to think that maybe I didn't even need a doctor, that I'd done this all before and would go in to the hospital I wanted to deliver at when I felt I needed to! After all, no doctor has actually even delivered any of my children, they'd all been too late or left the room for unusual reasons when I'd been fully dialated! But then I don't want to become "that kind of mom"...the one who self-diagnoses and then finds herself in trouble later on.

So when I see this doctor at the end of the month, I'll do my best to accept her type of care and her insight into my High Risk-edness, and to not try to mess it up. I'll also try real hard not too let my mind get ahead of itself and to think up issues that aren't happening. I've had too many sleepless nights because of paranoia of early leaking, and of constant checking and questioning myself. After all, maybe things will be okay. Maybe I won't even *need* this OB. Maybe it will all turn out for naught. Wouldn't that be a blessing? I am trying to convince myself that I won't have any baby issues, even though past history tells me otherwise. One thing I do believe already is that every pregnancy is different.

Isn't that the truth!
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