Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Walden's Great Escape - A Birth Story

At long last – Walden’s Birth Story.

I really need to get this down before I forget everything! I spend the week following Wally’s arrival doped up on Percocet and questionably conscious, so it’s already not as clear as Ryann and Clifton’s births.

We had our c-section (due to the previa) scheduled for May 1, not knowing whether we would actually make it to the date or not. I traditionally start some pretty intense prodromal labor around 36 weeks which had a huge risk of causing a hemorrhage and from there an emergency c-section. We were crossing our fingers to avoid this for a few reasons – 1. Risks of hemorrhage to me. 2. Risks of hemorrhage to Walden. 3. Need for general anesthesia which would also mean that Jared would be left in the waiting room not knowing what was happening. Major flashback central. No bueno.

So in the days leading up to the c-section, I made a valiant effort to take it easy. Kind of. Ever since I had been put on partial bedrest I had been biking to work rather than walking. Sounds and looked crazy, I know. But we live just a couple blocks away and while walking over would cause contractions every time, I was able to bike over with none. I also felt a bit more mobile on my bike than I did waddling over, a bit like swimming. It was a funny comparison to my perfectly healthy pregnancy with Clifton when Jared outlawed my bike in fear of falls. This time I was on bedrest with a high risk pregnancy and biking became my main method of transportation. Whodathunk.

I actually became increasingly bad about staying within my bedrest restrictions as May 1 approached. I strongly felt the limited time that was left with just Clif and wanted to fit in all of the last things with him. We even had a zoo trip with just the two of us a day or two before. Not exactly approved activities. Luckily Wally stuck tight.

The night before and the morning of May 1 were surreal. Both of the other kiddos came on their own time and we labored at home with them for hours. This time we hugged and kissed Clif and Nana and walked out the door to the hospital with no signs of labor. It was bizarre to check in to the hospital and know that I would be laying on a table and sliced open in just a couple hours. So, so odd. Also nerve wracking since we had schedule this for three weeks before Wally was due and we had no idea how he would handle this. Three weeks is nothing compared to the thirteen weeks we had previously been staring down, but it’s still nothing to laugh off. Those last few weeks are typically spent still inside for a reason. Final lung and brain development is crucial as well as a lower ability to deal with outside stimuli. However, we were hitting the point at which the risk of keeping him in was outweighing the risk of taking him out.

I was prepped for surgery with two IVs, one in each hand. One was for the typical IV fluids and the other was reserved for emergency blood products, just in case things went south on the table. It’s not unusual for previas to have trouble coming out or for them to be something more complex than expected, such as accreta. We were gently reminded several times that if Jared were asked to leave that he would need to leave quickly and that I would be put under general. This also carried the risk of an emergency hysterectomy. We arranged for my Mom to be in the waiting room just in case Jared were kicked out. After everything we experienced with Ryann, I can’t imagine Jared having to wait out in the waiting room by himself. That’s a panic attack waiting to happen. At least this way my Mom would be there during the panic attack. Ha! Somehow a bit better.

Our midwife, who also delivered Clifton (or rather directed Jared while he delivered Clifton, crazy!), was able to be there as the assisting nurse. This was so awesome and calming. (We love Karen!)

Jared was also able to be there while they were giving me the spinal, which is not the norm apparently. Not sure why they made the exception, but I’m so glad they did. This point was probably the height of my nervousness. We were in the operating room, everyone was gowned, I was about to be sliced open. Eep! Up until this point I was excited-nervous. At this point I had some scared-nervous. But truly, still not too bad. There was even a hilarious point (probably frustrating point for the nurses) when Jared unintentionally contaminated the already scrubbed surgical field by poking at my belly to see if I had any sensation left. Whoops.

I got the spinal, my legs went dead, my fear of barfing on the table was not realized. Thank you, thank you anesthesiologist who preemptively gave me some anti-nausea meds in my IV. Although c-sections can be done in just a few minutes, if needed, my surgeon crept along. She didn’t know exactly what she would find and so didn’t want to rush. We also had no idea how much bleeding would be happening and so she was trying to control it as much as possible as we went. Jared asked to peek over the curtain as they pulled Walden out, so Karen told him “we’re about to break the amniotic sac”. So awesome and strange! Jared peeked over just enough to see Walden and not enough to see inside me, definitely not a medical junkie, that one. When Ryann was born, she was a little mouse. Hardly a sound, just a couple mews. Clifton cried, but pretty normally and then he settled down. Walden was pissed. His nickname around the house right now is The Rager and it was actually quite fitting from the start. He was not happy to be pulled out and he let everyone know. But as sad as it could be to hear a baby so angry, it was the best sound in the world. He could breathe, he could scream, he could respond. He did have a bit of trouble with one lung and the nursery and NICU nurses had a bit of a tussle over where he was headed. The regular nursery nurse pushed for just a bit of time to acclimate. He was given a CPap and put in a warmer and Jared was allowed to stick by his side the whole time. The CPap was removed after about 30 minutes and he was okay outside the warmer after a few hours. As much as I had hoped to be able to keep him with me from immediately after he was checked over, I ended up being just fine with having a bit of time to myself and to get semi-settled into my recovery room, knowing that Jared was right by his side.

As the NICU and nursery were working on Walden, the surgeon was working on me. Big grins all around when that trouble making placenta came right out and my uterus started contracting just as it should. No blood products needed. Best case scenario that we all had been hoping for.

My sis and her family came by to meet Walden through the windows of the nursery, since they all had a slight cold. My mom was able to get a couple pictures of Walden through the window so that I could see him while I was waiting. I had been able to see and touch him for about 30 seconds in the operating room, but after that he was whisked away. After I had been in my room for a few hours, Jared was finally able to push Walden’s bassinet over to my room and hand him to me. Best. Thing. Ever. It’s such a strange thing to hold this tiny stranger who I love so much and can’t wait to get to know. Right away we all said that he didn’t look like Ryann or Clif. Wally has a much longer face, both Ryann and Clif had super round faces. Wally’s ears stick out and he looked tan before even seeing the sun.

The hard part of this whole experience came after the c-section – Recovery. And by all accounts, I had a wonderful recovery. My surgery was at about 9:30am and I was helped up and across my room by 5pm. Not a pleasant experience. Especially not when compared with my other recoveries, especially Clif, where I could easily take a shower solo and wear normal clothes by noon! With Ryann and Clif, during my recoveries I never took so much as an aspirin. With Walden I had the normal percocet, massive ibuprofen, stool softeners, antacids, as well as two additional doses of morphine that first day. It also didn’t help that I still had a pretty intense cough from a cold the previous week. Every single cough was toe curlingly painful. The next day I started pushing the bassinet on rounds of the recovery floor. Three times per day was my goal and I had to sneak one in at 11pm that second day in order to make it. That day I couldn’t stand up straight, I was shuffling, I had to stop for breaks, and by the time we got back to my room I was holding by belly and couldn’t wait to lay down. Every day was a bit better and I was finally feeling close-ish to my normal self by 2 weeks postpartum. However, I didn’t feel fully recovered until closer to 6 weeks postpartum. By two weeks I could walk and bend and climb stairs at a normal pace. By six weeks I could carry clif and fold and load the stroller and go grocery shopping. I did all these things well before the six week mark, but it would always end with me bleeding like a stuck pig. Postpartum bleeding with Ryann and Clifton was done by 10 days or so. Walden’s lasted until about 8 weeks. Huge difference.

One thing that I’m really happy about is my lack of concern over my c-section scar. I’m proud of that gash. It’s bad a$$! Hells yeah, I had a living baby pulled out of my open womb! Just as proud of it as my other experiences. I labored for a full day with Ryann. I had Clif with zero medical intervention. I pushed both out in three contractions. Wally, I kept inside me until it was finally safe for him to breathe our air, I laid on a table and had my belly cut open so that he could be safely born, and I will carry the scar for the rest of my life. Birth is amazing.

Walden did have jaundice, just like our other two. But while the other two narrowly avoided the billi lights, since we were still in the hospital, they just threw little Wally in there for good measure. Just kidding, he really was getting quite yellow. This bought us an extra day in the hospital, which I was surprisingly fine with. I was a bit scared to have our giant-manchild, Clif, around my still super-sore body. Having my Mom in town to help watch Clif was a huge help in allowing me to relax and recuperate during my stay. Also, Percocet. That stuff really knocks you out. I was nodding in and out my entire time on it. Really glad I didn’t drop Walden.

We’re really hoping that our next one gets to be a VBAC, however we are at a higher risk for another previa. We’re still huge natural birth supporters and hope to have another, but we’re also so very thankful for modern medicine and what it can do for us. WHEN NEEDED. That’s the key. Our bodies are marvelous things, but sometimes they need a bit of help. Or a lifeline. Fifty years ago I would probably be dead. We are so thankful for the skill of our medical team and the options that were available to us.

And Clifton is in love with his brother.

Last picture of The Belly.

All three babes at three months.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Three Years Out

Two days ago was May 29, the day my daughter died.

Three years ago I spent the day rotating between the couch and the bed, watching episodes of Glee (there was an entire season available on Hulu and it provided just a smidge of distraction), fading in and out of sleep, waking over and over to a reality that seemed a nightmare instead.

We haven't watched a single episode of Glee since.

May 29 has become a day to remember the life of our girl and spend time as a family. We make a trek to the Lincoln Children's Zoo every year, a place we intended to take Ryann on May 29, 2011 and a place we visited with close friends and family after her burial.

This year, Jared and I also made time for the two of us. After we put Clifton to bed, we bundled up the littlest dude (who kindly stayed asleep the entire outing) and went out for a leisurely, late dinner at Blue Orchid, the restaurant we took a small group to after our zoo outing three years ago.

This year brought a new freshness to our grief, as a friend had just lost her youngest son a couple days before. And in light of these losses, I would like to share a list of things that helped Jared and me in the aftermath of losing Ryann and things that might help your own family and friends if you're at a loss.
  • being inundated with Facebook messages, especially with no expectation of a response. Just a virtual hug to let us know how many people had been touched by her in her short life and how many people were grieving with us. 
  • sharing memories. Memories are the most cherished and most fleeting things, such a frustrating thing to know that we don't remember everything. Any little memory that can be shared is the most wonderful thing, even just a memory of seeing her walk down the street. 
  • anything that might help to check out from the present for a few moments - movie tickets, gift certificates to restaurants, invitations to visit friends out of town.
  • helping to pay expenses. The expenses after something like this is astronomical, even with good insurance. And then the real indignity is having to pay for a funeral on top of it all. Friends helping to cover these things is such a meaningful, needed, and tangible way to support.
  • creating a memory book, memory Facebook page, etc. where everyone is free to contribute and all the memories are consolidated in one place.
  • checking in down the road. Even just a quick note of 'how are you doing these days?' in the weeks, months, and years to come. That means a lot.
  • flowers. I had never really understood how meaningful sending flowers to a funeral could be. We were so buoyed by the flowers that were sent to the funeral by different families, groups, and churches. So amazing.
Also, a good rule of thumb is this. We have had our fair share of hurtful and inappropriate comments, and although we know that they are well meaning, they stung (or sometimes sucker punched) just the same.

Do not add to the hurt. Be a support.

My darling girl and me, just shy of three months.
Photos of the two of us aren't that common, since I was often the one behind the camera.

Walden Elder Hiscock

Behold! A very delayed and very brief announcement that Walden has arrived!

I will be popping in soon in order to tell an actual birth story (as well as finally tell Clifton's birth story). But until then, let these stats and all this adorableness bridge the gap.

Weight - 6lb 7oz. He dropped down to 5lb 14oz, but is now up to a hefty 6lb 13oz. As of yesterday we wanted to see him hit his birth weight again. He well surpassed that. (These 'current' stats are as of his two week appointment. He's now over 8lb!)

Length - 19.5in

Time - 9:22am

He has dark blue eyes, dark brown hair, and seems to resemble the Hiscock side of the family. So far we're all thinking he favors Grandpa Hiscock and Uncle Vincent. He definitely has a look distinct from the other two kiddos.

A few teeny weeny newbie pictures.

And a more recent picture with more alert eyeballs eyeballing the world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Goal 1 Down!

We have made it past the 32 week mark! This has been our first goal to reach and it feels so good to have made it. The next goal Jared and I have made for ourselves is to keep Walden cooking past Jared's Master's recital on April 10, that will put us at 34.5 weeks and will make life just a bit more sane.

Look Ma! No more IV!
I was discharged from the hospital on March 9 and have been cleared for minimal activity. I'm working from my office in the mornings and from bed in the afternoons. I'm not allowed to do any housework or 'heavy' lifting (over 10lbs). I've also limited my own walking as I've found that I can feel Walden pushing down way too quickly and tend to get contractions from very minimal activity.

The housework ban is a mixed blessing as I get to rest guilt-free, but then I'm stuck on the couch thinking about the sink of dishes, grimy bathroom, and un-vacuumed floors. With Jared in the last quarter of his Master's program, it's all he can do to keep up with schoolwork, practice, and Clif. The housework will just have to wait. This too shall pass.

I am loving this rare chance to have daily smoothies.
Working from home in the afternoons has made lunchtime a bit more flexible.
Yum. My fruity pregnancy craving is happy.

By far the hardest thing to deal with is the lifting restrictions. With Clif pushing 30lbs, he's well over my limit. And though I'm so thankful to be feeling quite well, it does make it difficult to remember that all is not actually well and to ask for help when needed. We've been spending a lot of time playing on the floor, reading, and doing puzzles. We've also had a definite uptick in the amount of Sesame Street and Muppets viewed, but I suppose that's not the end of the world. The most frustrating thing is that I'm completely unable to take Clif on outings on my own. Although he generally does well climbing in and out of his carseat and will sometimes hold my hand as we're walking, he is only 18-months-old and I'm completely unable to contain him if he decides he wants to go in another direction. Thus park visits are out, we nearly had to miss the circus (but we didn't! hooray!), I can't take him to Sabbath School. Luckily we had just made the switch to a toddler bed a few days before my last bleed, so I'm occasionally able to do the whole bedtime routine, since there's no lifting absolutely necessary (as long as he's being relatively cooperative).

 This little dude cracks me up. He's making a ducky face with Ernie's ducky.

And that's that. We could be meeting Walden any day, but hope that he bakes for at least two more weeks. Life's in a bit of limbo at the moment. I'm no longer contained to a bed (hooray!) but I'm definitely not 100%. My next checkup is on Monday along with another ultrasound. We should be able to get a good estimate on Wally's current size (I'm guessing 4.5lbs) as well as check again to see if this stubborn placenta might have budged. Not putting a whole lot of hope on that, but wouldn't it be nice?!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Uterine Updates

As many of you have seen from Facebook and Instagram, I am currently hanging out in Labor and Delivery. Fun times.

For those of you who do not enjoy hearing the nitty-gritty of things concerning birth and such, just a warning.
The post below will contain such things.

At our twenty week ultrasound we found out that we had a low-lying placenta. Which was later re-identified as being a marginal placenta previa. Which has since been re-re-identified as a complete placenta previa. As I assume that most of you are unfamiliar with the term, let me give you a brief explanation. The placenta is supposed to be attached towards the top of the uterus. A previa has attached very low, in our case, completely covering the cervix. This causes several problems. First of all, baby's escape hatch is blocked. Not a good thing. Secondly, baby is constantly resting on, bouncing on, and pinching the placenta. Also not good. The placenta is a very blood-rich organ and is baby's life-support while they're still inside, so it's generally a good idea to keep it in good health. Previa commonly causes bleeding, anywhere from spotting to straight up hemorrhaging. As the baby gets bigger, the risk goes up. Heavier weight on the placenta, unhappier the placenta gets. Once the risk is judged too great, a c-section done. Most previa babies are premature.

I had our first episode of spotting at 27 weeks. (For those of you less well versed in this world, full-term is 38-42 weeks, 40 weeks being standard.) It was very minor. I got off my feet for the night and took the next day relatively easy. I started again at 29 weeks. A bit more, still not severe, but followed by 3 days of clots. Not good. Thus the decision to send me to the hospital in order to get a round of steroids in me that will help to develop Walden's lungs just a little faster. Things seem to have calmed down now, but the plan is to keep me in the hospital until Sunday afternoon. At that point I'll head home and take things easy - no lifting, no housework, etc. We will be seeing more bleeding and we will be seeing more of the hospital. No one can say when that might be. Hopefully we'll be able to keep Walden in until closer to 36 weeks, but he's already a big guy. The goal is to get past 32 and then as far past as possible. We will most likely be looking at a NICU stay, but do not expect to see any severe complications. Walden will just need some more time of special care in order to mature enough on all fronts to come home.

This was all a pretty hard pill to swallow when it all really became real this week. We had been hoping that the placenta would migrate up, that we wouldn't have issues with bleeding, that things would be normal. It was a jolt to realize that we need to change our expectations. There were tears and fears, still are here and there, but overall we've really gotten to a good place. We have an amazing support system (all of you!!!) filled with people who actually mean it when they ask how they can help. Thank you. We truly are pretty good at the moment, but we may be calling on a few of you in the coming weeks, so ready the casseroles and prepare for some babysitting.

The most frustrating thing about all of this is knowing that we won't be able to have Walden to ourselves until he's weeks or maybe even months old. Who doesn't love that squishable newborn phase when they're just a little mewing lump? Even though the NICU nurses are amazing and we are so beyond thankful for them and their ilk, it's hard knowing that it's going to be someone other than yourself there to help your kiddo in the middle of the night.

The scariest thing about this is the flashbacks. We're going to have a baby who's covered in wires and tubes and connected to beeping machines. We're going to walk in to the hospital with Walden and leave without him. We've done this before. Of course we realize that these are very different circumstances, but it doesn't change the fear. No one expected Ryann to die that night. We know first hand how quickly things can go from fine to dire. And this time it won't be just our kiddo in the hospital, it will be me too. This is probably one of the hardest things for Jared. He has to sit by my side while across the curtain the doctors are slicing into me, hoping to avoid a hemorrhage, and pulling out our preterm babe. We know in our minds that every should/will be fine. But it's scary.

So in conclusion - thank you, prayers and good thoughts appreciated, and we are so excited/scared/on pins and needles to be meeting our new son.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Links I've Enjoyed that You May Too

These shadow sculptures are pretty amazing.

It's good to remember that most of us are doing better than we think.

I thoroughly enjoyed these ballet webisodes.


Yes. This. Thank you.

Loved this genius idea.

Sometimes it's the little things that touch the deepest need.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Treat Yo' Self!

It's that time of year to start placing your Valentines orders for french macarons! Please have all orders in by February 11 in order for pick-up or delivery in the Lincoln area on February 14. Most flavors and variety boxes available upon request.

dozen - $20
half dozen - $12