Friday, October 14, 2011

The Life and Times of our Preemie Boy

When I think back on all the things I was nervous about when it came to motherhood, I would like to respectfully laugh at myself. The things I was afraid of like diaper changing, bathing and feeding are so routine now I can do them while living on 3 hours of sleep. It's the things I didn't know about or think about that scare me the most now.
We never could have known Owen would be born a full month early. And while I did try to read up on preemies, it always brought me to a sad place as it reminded me of Jack. So I will admit, I didn't read as much as I probably should have. Now we are coming upon some of the concerns a parent faces when you child is born early and has made it out of the NICU. Things like developmental milestones and whether or not he's reaching them, and what to do about when to start solids because technically, he's just turning 3 months old. One thing I had not considered until more recently was the gauntlet of the cold and flu season.
Our pediatricians office called us the other day to inform us that Owen qualified for a special shot to help protect him from the RSV virus. The injection, called Synagis, provides a baby with the antibodies they didn't get from their mother when they are born too soon. It's not an immunization, as it wears off and you have to have repeat shots done every 28 days. I had never even heard of this nor did I know to be concerned about RSV until now. I knew he was sensitive to illness due to the severity of his lung disease when he was born, but I didn't know he could contract a cold virus that could turn fatal. That FREAKED me out.
So like the good germophobe I am, I am now on full alert. We are trying to figure out if the insurance will cover Owen's injections. If they do, he will get them at Children's Hospital. Meanwhile, I plan to plaster signs on our door warning people not to come in the house if they are sick. And heaven help the sick person who sneezes next to him if we go to the store or something. YOU WILL BE HAND SANITIZERED by me.
I may be being a bit dramatic but you know what, I have a right to be. Owen can't tell people not to sneeze by him. He also can't walk away from someone or wash his own hands. That's up to us as his parents. And by golly I'm gonna do the very best I can to keep him from getting sick. So much for worrying about diaper changing......

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Finding Joy and Peace

As Owen's 4 month birthday comes up next week, I can't help but to reflect on this past
year. It was this time last year that we had no idea whether or not we would ever become parents again. I had just had a procedure done to inspect my uterus and ovaries. We had had all the tests come back telling us I had MTHFR. And of course, we were still missing our baby boy. I remember at that time thinking, "where will we be in a year?" and I'm happy to say, I'm glad for where we are at.
It certainly was not an easy journey. In fact, it seems like nothing Dustin and I ever do is easy. But we made it. And I think that should offer hope to others. If you suffer from MTHFR, it is possible to have a healthy baby. I'm walking proof.
And now comes the inevitable question of whether or not we will go on to have more babies. The answer to that? I really don't know. I'm not exactly good at being pregnant and my poor body has been through an awful lot in just 14 short months. So for the time being, I think we are just going to enjoy Owen and continue to honor Jack as best as we can. I cannot say what the future holds for us. I find myself yet again wondering, where will we be in a year?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Picture of Love

Yesterday, my husband was home with the baby and when I walked in the door I found him taking photos of Owen on our bed. It was such a sweet moment because I love seeing him interact with the baby and the fact that he was taking pictures like a proud daddy made my heart smile. So I wanted to share one of the best shots he got and to encourge you all to share a photo of your rainbow baby or angel baby too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Long Time, No See

I am woefully behind in my blogging, but for a very good reason. Owen keeps us pretty busy these days. He is growing like a weed and we're thinking he may be about 12pds already. He goes for his next well baby check up in a week, so we'll know for sure then. His silent reflux seems to be getting better, and the nutramigen formula has really helped a lot. We think he is allergic to milk protein. He never did get the hang of breastfeeding which really dissapointed me, but as long as he gets what he needs I'm happy. Meanwhile, we've started collecting preemie clothes to donate to the hospital where Owen was in the NICU. I plan to take the donations on September 11th as a positive thing to do that in day in memory of so much tragedy. You can find the clothing drive on facebook at "Little O's Preemie Clothes" (Owen's best nurse, Christina, used to call him her Little O).
Lately, I spend more time writing in my grief blog, Searching for Jack, I think because having Owen has brought back so many emotions. I think those feelings are always there, but were amplified by actually seeing what we missed out on. It's very complex when you have a baby after loss. So much of you wants to be happy, but there is still a very big hole in your heart. And at times, you stare at the child in front of you and you know in your heart that his brother should be sitting next to him. Poking at him, trying to wake him up.
I've been asked a couple of times if we'll have anymore children and thinking on it I can honestly say I have no idea. It took a lot of medical care, bedrest, family support and help to get Owen here and I don't know if we'll ever have that kind of situation again. I hope so, but it will be something that takes a lot of thought and planning. Not to mention, I'd like to take a few years off to get rid of some of this weight I'm lugging around. I'm beginning to feel like Jabba the Hut (with an even bigger butt! lol!).
So that's a little update on our lives right now, again sorry for not posting more. And thank you, as always, for continuing to read. :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Arrival of Our Rainbow: Welcome Owen!

The past three weeks have been so busy that I haven't had much of a chance to really sit down and write about it. But, I am happy to say that our Rainbow baby Owen made his debut on June 16th, 2011 at 12:27pm. He weighed in at 6lbs even and measured 17 inches long. Owen's due date wasn't until the end of July and he was born at 34 weeks and 4 days gestation, so he had to go to the NICU. His lungs were just not mature enough yet for him to breathe on his own. So he was transported to a hospital in downtown Detroit where he spent two weeks before coming home.
Owen's Birth and NICU Story:
During the evening of June 15th, I had attended my local Metro-Detroit SHARE support group meeting. It was a great meeting because I got to see so many of my friends and I knew it would be my last meeting pregnant (little did I know how soon that would happen!). During the meeting I had felt contractions off and on but for me, I had issues with contractions at different points in our pregnancy, so I wasn't surprised. I thought I would get home, eat dinner and pop my feet up thinking they would go away.
By the time I did all of that my contractions were starting to get stronger and more frequent. They felt like very intense menstrual cramps and squeezing all at once. Dustin called me from work to see if I needed anything before he came home and I told him I was going to call the doctor because I didn't feel right. When I spoke to the doctor he said of course to go to L&D because of my history of pre-term labor. So as soon as the hubby got home, we left for the hospital. By then it was around midnight.
Needless to say the nurses in triage thought that they could give me fluids and medication and the contractions would stop. To make a long night short I will say basically we tried three doses of medication and a lot of fluid only to have my contractions slow down moderately. They slowed enough at one point that my doctor had me moved to another room for observation because he thought they were going to stop. By then it was about 7:00am. Once I got moved I had Dustin go home to take a nap, shower and eat. He was exhausted from working the night prior and helping me through contractions throughout the night.
After Dustin left, I managed to squeeze in a short nap before I realized that my contractions has returned with renewed vigor and intensity. It hurt so bad I called my nurses in and told them something was wrong. They watched the monitors and the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and not showing any signs of stopping. By then I was exhausted myself and really scared. So I called Dustin back up to the hospital because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. The nurses left to go call my doctor.
At that point it was just me and the contractions and let me tell you, I bow down to all of the women who have endured natural child birth. I wasn't even that far into labor and I was ready to throw in the towel! Kudos to those ladies who go all the way without drugs!
At 8:00am Dustin walked into the room just in time to have a nurse follow him and say "we're gonna have a c-section, the doctor is on his way". This hit us both like a ton of bricks because we knew it was still early to be having our baby. But we were happy at the same time to finally meet our son. Whenever we have something going on in our family, we always take a little knitted hat that Jack wore when he was in the hospital as a good luck charm. At that point Dustin gave me Jack's hat to hold on to for comfort. It helped me stay positive and it reminded me of how strong we both were, to endure the loss of our first baby. I knew that we could make it through whatever happened with Owen.
It was a little after 8am and Dustin started calling family members to let everyone know what was going on. My mom arrived first, followed by my mother in law Marie and eventually my dad and Aunt Melissa. They hung out in my delivery room while Dustin stood with me to help me through the continuing contractions. Eventually everyone had to leave while I got prepped for the surgery. Finally, at about 11:30am I was wheeled back to the operating room to get my spinal.
Once the spinal was in place and the curtain was up, Dustin got to come back and sit with me during the c-section. I had to have a c-section again since I had a classical one with Jack. The doctor planned to look over my old scar to see if it needed any repair and luckily it did not, so he was able to do a horizontal cut instead of a vertical incision. In retrospect, let me say that recovery from this surgery has been a lot better pain wise than the first one. And I am recuperating a lot more quickly.
As the c-section progressed we finally got to hear what we had waited to hear for so very long. The pulled Owen out and he was crying! The doctor showed him to me over the sheet and it was amazing! He looked so big to me compared to Jack!
We cried and cried for joy as they worked on Owen, all the while knowing that there would be some complications. They showed him to us briefly and I was allowed to kiss him goodbye, and then he was whisked away to the special nursery. I was stitched up and sent over to the recovery room. Dustin got to go and watch the team take care of Owen.
In recovery I tried my hardest to just sleep but I couldn't. I was so shocked at how fast everything had happened. I kept trying to wrap my mind around Owen being here and how big he was. Most of all though, I wanted to see him and know he was ok.
After being taken to my room we had a myriad of visitors and the lactation consultant came to see me. I was on a lot of medication at this point so I'm not going to try to recall all of the details of this time except for when I got to see Owen. The pediatricians and staff at the hospital where we delivered decided it would be best for Owen to go to a hospital that had a full NICU because of the severity of his lungs not being mature. And so he was being sent downtown to Detroits Henry Ford Hospital. Before they shipped him via ambulance, they wheeled him to my room so I could say goodbye and in a sense, hello. It was an emotional moment for both Dustin and I because we had waited for so long to hold our baby. And we knew we were going to have to wait awhile longer.
After Owen was taken downtown, I spent the next few days recovering as fast as I could. Finally, on the Saturday after I had Owen, I was released from the hospital and able to go see our baby. I cried so much when I finally got to see him. He was so beautiful. Our encounter with him was so brief at his birth that I really hadn't a chance to really "see" him. It was hard watching him be hooked up to all of the machines, but at the same time, I was just so incredibly thankful he was alive. It would be two weeks in the NICU before we would finally get our baby boy home.
And now after a week of having him with us, it has been both wonderful and challenging. We are both learning what it means to be parents to an earth baby as well as an angel baby. And it is hard. It's hard when you realize that everything this little baby is doing, you know your other baby will never get to experience. It makes things bittersweet at times. Additionally, with Owen being premature he is experiencing some feeding issues and that is never fun for any baby. So we are working through that with our pediatrician. I can say though that all of the shots, doctors appointments, worry, and anxiety were well worth it. Because my greatest accomplishments in my life, I feel, are my boys.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Good Day

Today we had our growth measurement ultrasound for Owen. It was really exciting for us because at our last ultrasound, we had just made it to 24 weeks and he was measuring at 2lbs. So we knew he had to have gotten bigger since then, as its almost been 10 weeks. Well, our little baby has indeed grown to be somewhere between 5.5lbs-6lbs! This is MIND blowing! To me, 2lbs was big, let alone almost 6lbs! I just keep thinking how amazing it is that he has grown so much in what feels like a relatively small amount of time. And he even has hair! The ultrasound tech showed us the "halo" around the bottom of his head and you could even see the little strands. Simply one of the greatest joys of my life was seeing this little boy today.
I think the most encouraging thing is to know that he is big enough now that if he were to come early, I think he would do ok. He may still have to go to the NICU for a time, but overall I think he would recover well. Now my fears run in a different area. All the other possible ways babies don't make it home. Even when things go well, you still have that nagging "don't get too happy" voice in the back of your mind. I wish so much that I could just shut that voice off. But I can't. And so I try to enjoy the moments of pure joy, like when seeing Owen's little hairs, for as long as I can.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

31 Weeks, Thank Goodness!

So this past week has been a little scary on the pregnancy front. It started out wonderfully, with a beautiful baby shower on Sunday, thrown by our family. We got just about everything we needed for little Owen and more. And seeing everyone after being on bedrest was really, really nice. But unfortunately, on Tuesday, reality came slapping us back in the face as the reason why we are considered high-risk reared it's ugly head: Pre-Term Labor (PTL).
Every Tuesday and Friday I go to my regular OB's office to be hooked up to the NST monitor where they watch babies heartbeat and check for contractions. On Tuesday I went in, just like any other day. Not feeling particularily different. However, once I sat down in the recliner and the test started, I began to notice something strange. I felt like the top of my uterus was squeezing on and off. When the nurse came back to check on me, I asked her if I was having contractions. She picked up the strip and looked it over and said "yep. I'm gonna go talk to Dr. Crain and see what she thinks of this". (Dr. Crain is the other attending OB at our office, my Dr. was in surgery that day). And of course, due to my history of classical c-section and premature rupture of membranes, I was told to go to the hospital.
So I went in to triage where my dad came and met me so he could help communicate with our family on what was going on (my hubby was trying to get out of work and my cell phone gets very little signal in the hospital). We spent the afternoon there where the nurses did a fetal fibro test to check for pre-term labor. It came back negative which was very good. However, that didn't solve the problem of the contractions which were coming about 2-4 minutes apart. Normally, a woman can have contractions and as long as she isn't dialating, it is ok. But for me, with my up and down incision on my uterus, the doctors don't want me to contract at all if possible due to the risk of rupture. And since I am on bloodthinners to boot, a rupture would be, very, very, bad.
At that point I was given a dose of procardia, a medication I already take, to try to calm my uterus down. When that didn't work, I was admitted and taken to Labor and Delivery. At that point the doctor decided to give me everything for the in the event that I did rupture and the baby would need to be taken. I was given steroids for the babies lungs and I was put on antibiotics to prevent infection. Then to help stop the contractions, I was put on a magnesium drip. Magnesium is a miserable medication to be on if you ever get the displeasure of experiencing it. Although it works, it makes you feel really yucky.
I spent that Wednesday in L&D waiting to be moved to a room on the antepartum floor since it seemed like the magnesium was starting to work, and the contractions were getting further and further apart. Eventually, they stopped and I was able to be taken off the magnesium and moved to the other room. I stayed there another night for observation. Thankfully, I woke up on Thursday and had made it to 31 weeks pregnant.
When I was discharged I was given new instructions for home. Whereas before, I was allowed to walk for periods of 10 minutes at a time, I am now no longer allowed to. I have bathroom privledges and I can be up to eat and I can go to my doctors appointments. The rest of the time, I am to rest as much as I can to keep my uterus calm. The doctor's new goal is to get us to 34 weeks pregnant, which is when a baby who is born early has a reduced risk of complications. I am hoping we can make it even further.
Here's to hoping we see week 32!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It has been a really good week for baby Owen. We had our first two non-stress tests and he did very well at both of them. His daddy and I went to our second pre-natal class and learned all about natural childbirth. Then we followed that up by scheduling our c-section for July 14th, 2011 at 8:00am. Not trying to put natural childbirth down at all, we just have to have a repeat c-section since that was what we had with Jack. I would much rather have intense pain over the course of a few days, as opposed to a spinal block and full on surgery with an 8 week recovery time. But as long as Owen comes out fat and happy, and hopefully crying, it's all worth it.
I feel like we made a lot of progress forward, making it all the way to 30 weeks pregnant.
But then, that nagging worry creeps into my head. Am I getting too happy? Am I too excited about this baby? Will it all be for nothing? Will our loss come in some other form this time? Questions, questions, questions. They plague my every waking thought and dreams. And being at home on bedrest doesn't help distract me from these thoughts. Even when I am trying to work from home, I find myself drifting off into these "what if" scenarios. Not only do you have the normal first-time parent worries, you have the -we've experienced a loss before- worries. It is enough to make you want to buckle. And granted, writing for me is a release, so please don't send the Calvary after me. It's just good to put these thoughts down somewhere. To get them out.
I keep trying to stay positive. I try to remind myself that we are doing really well, the baby is growing and we have lots of love and support. Sometimes, I am able to conquer my fears with this technique. When I fail, I look for support by reminding myself of my friends who have gone on to have successful pregnancies. I re-read success stories from people I don't even know, that I find online. Just to refill my well of hope. But it is hard. It is so very hard.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Almost 30 Weeks

It's been a little while since I last posted. Our laptops video card died so I've been out of touch, but it was a good break and it came at an appropriate time too. It gave me some time to reconnect with the real world a bit since bedrest has had me for connected to the computer for the past few months. We spent mother's day honoring our first born son Jack, since it was also his first birthday away from us and this past Saturday we attended a memorial service at the hospital where he was born. Overall, I think it has been a healing couple of weeks. In Owen's world, we've been ever so busy.
Not only am I getting bigger as we approach week 30, but I am confident that he is too. This past week, he pressed his hand to the inside of my tummy and I could see its outline. It was so fast, that I really believe I should wear a helmet cam to catch these moments for his daddy to see. Owen's kicks in general are a lot stronger and we can actually watch him move around in my belly from the outside in the evening when we are all relaxing. I enjoy this time a lot. I like getting to share his movements with Dustin so he feels connected to Owen too. We missed this phase of pregnancy with Jack, and it's been a real gift and blessing to able to experience these things. I always tell myself that, even if the worst happens to us again, I will always remember these times because they have brought us so much joy. I think Owen has showed us how to be happy again, how to be happy in our new skins.
In the medical outlook for us, this week begins our twice weekly non-stress tests every Tuesday and Friday morning. For those who don't know, an NST involves you basically being hooked up to a heart beat monitor and movement monitor for a certain period of time at your doctors office. If the babies heart rate and movement meet the criteria the doctor is looking for at the time, and everything else checks out ok, you get to leave. But, if the doctor isn't satisfied by something, either the baby isn't moving as much as they'd like or the heart rate isn't normal you get sent to the hospital for further evaluation. I believe (and this is an assumption, I'm not sure) that most people in the high-risk category do the NST's. I'm not sure if you would get them as often or at all, for a normal pregnancy. Either way, I'm happy to sit in a lazy boy recliner for a half an hour twice a week listening to my babies heart beat :)
We also have our next prenatal class this Tuesday which promises to be super fun. We're going to be going over all of the stages of labor and even though we are having a c-section, I'm excited to learn about it. Last week we learned mostly about the anatomy of a pregnancy and pregnancy exercises as well as what to look for in case of preterm labor. It was hard to be at that class because it was Jack's angelversary, but we managed to make it through. I'm hoping this week is a little more gentle on us emotionally.
Lastly, Friday is our next OB appointment and I am hoping to get the doctor to nail down which week he will be removing our cerclage. Because after that comes out, the baby can theoretically determine when he wants to come on his own. (Well he could do that now too, hopefully not yet though!). We talked about the dates for our c-section at the last appointment and it is looking like July 14th or possibly the 15th will be Owen's birthday. That will be when we hit 38 weeks pregnant and it's as far as our OB will allow us to go due to my uterus being scarred from my previous classical c-section.
Whew! This turned out to be a long one. Sorry ya'll! I'm playing catch up here. Thanks for reading, as always.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Another Milestone Coming to Pass

As of this Thursday, we will be 28 weeks (7 months) pregnant. This has been a long time goal of ours because, as our high-risk doctor puts it, you reach "take home" viability. It seems so odd to me that during my first pregnancy, I would have never worried about not actually taking our baby home. And now, I am obsessed with it. That is what experience gives you though, aside from a new respect for life, it gives you a fear like you had never known before. So every step you take, every milestone you reach, is like a hesitant breath. You want to take a sigh of relief but you can't because you know there is still so much that can happen.

I think people who have not experienced the loss of child don't totally understand this kind of anxiety. If you mention something on facebook about your worry, generally, people who have not shared the experience give you answers like "it will be ok this time" and "don't worry, you'll be fine". Those who know what it is like however, will encourage you through each moment. Reminding you to take things one step and a time, because they know that there is not a guarantee and they won't try to promise you that there is one. And I do not wish more people understood how I felt, because that means they too would have had to have suffered this kind of loss. I only mention it here because I feel like other people who are going through a subsequent pregnancy after loss can relate. If you have really understanding or empathetic friends, hold on to those people. You will need them to keep you strong. And if you are fortunate enough to have a great family support system, that really helps the anxiety too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26 Weeks and 6 Days

Sometimes, I can't believe that I am still pregnant. That I am still carrying this little miracle inside of me. That might sound odd, coming from someone who isn't even 30 weeks pregnant yet, but for me every week I gain is a new goal accomplished. I remember distinctly when the doctor's told me that if I could hold off giving birth until 28 weeks, Jack would have a much better chance at survival. He would have had to face challenges, but he would have had a better chance. And now, I sit here almost 27 weeks pregnant with Owen thinking, "wow, I've almost made it to 7 months pregnant, he might just be ok".

That is the hardest thing about a rainbow pregnancy. You are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for the moment when you get bad news and it's all over. The anxiety is overwhelming and at times, depressing. Because all you want in your heart is to be happy, but your mind is constantly reminding you of what could go wrong. It's enough to keep you up at night, that's for sure.

But, I read a really good book about pregnancy after loss where each person gave their account of their loss, and then followed it with their story of hope. (It's called Journey's: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss). It was inspiring and reassuring that good things do happen. And then I am a part of a group of women on facebook, who provide me support and encouragement everyday and I am so thankful for them. So I have been trying to find ways to stay positive, even when it's hard. I think I will breathe a little easier once we get to 28 weeks. We won't be "in the clear" or anything, but at least we'll have made it that far.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our 26 Week Check Up

Today we had our 26 week check up with Dr. Finazzo and we also did our one hour glucose test to check for gestational diabetes. The test went well and was not as bad as I thought it would be, aside from just being very hungry since you're not supposed to eat anything ahead of time. I drank the orange flavored glucose syrup and it really just tasted like flat pop. Our visit was good with the Doctor. We talked about how I keep getting infections which is normal for someone who has a cerclage in place, and I showed him my hives which he diagnosed as PUPP. PUPP stands for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, which is essentially an extremely itchy rash that won't be going away until the baby is born. For more information about this fun new pregnancy symptom, click here. I don't mean to sound sarcastic but I was really caught off guard by the whole thing. I had never heard of PUPP before and I am seriously considering creating a brochure for teenage girls "So you think you want to be pregnant?".

At any rate, we won't find out our results for the glucose test until mid next week due to the holiday and the lab being closed. So keep your fingers crossed for us. We go back in two weeks, right before Jack's birthday. And then the following Tuesday (Jack's angelversary) we have both our first Non-Stress Test and our first Parenting Class. I plan to be a hot mess at both. I might even get a shirt made for the day to people understand why I am spontaneously bursting out into tears. Unfortunately, we don't have any other option for either appointment because the class has a set schedule and that was the only slot left for the NST. It will be interesting, that's for sure.

So that's all for now, I will update everyone once we find out our glucose results. Thanks for reading, as always.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A New Blog for Our New Rainbow

Firstly, I'd like to thank Franchesca Cox at Smallbird Studio's for working with me to design this beautiful blog. She did a fantastic job and she offers a special discount to bereaved families which I thought was really generous. If you have a moment, please visit the link on the bottom right of the page to see her other work in honor of her sweet daughter.

Secondly, welcome to my new blog! I wanted a place where I could write about being pregnant with our rainbow baby because it really is a different experience. I plan to share photos here, to continue with my poetry and to continue with the path of healing. I do not intend to stop writing in my blog for Jack, but I plan to keep that blog focused just on him. He deserves his own space and really, Searching for Jack has always been his and always will be.

I hope that you enjoy this new space and will continue to read as Owen's story unfolds for us.