Sunday, October 31, 2010

Abby's Early Days

A Challenge

So by now, you have heard me rave about the Ronald McDonald House. Let me just explain that it is more than a nice house with fun activities for the kids. We have met so many wonderful people who are all dealing with major medical problems. It is so nice to be able to share stories and know that people understand the jumble of emotions we are feeling. They all have the same wishes for their kids that we do.

We are also so thankful for the staff who just genuinely show caring. I can't tell you how many times staff members have stopped us to ask how Abby was doing today. It is never in a oh, I need to ask kind of a way--these people truly care about the families that are staying there. It's evident by the way they interact with the kids. It's obvious when they great returning families who have been gone for a while.

The volunteer network that RMH has is so awesome! Groups come in to prepare meals (not every breakfast and dinner, but frequently) and create activities for the kids. Companies bring in special treats and toys for the kids and put them in their mail boxes. Local attractions donate tickets so that families can do something fun together. IT. IS. AMAZING.

So the challenge: A lot of you have commented on how you never really knew what RMH was all about. Well, now you do! So in order to provide for more families in need of a home-away-from-home, please consider donating your spare change when you go to McDonalds. There are containers at the counter and in the drive-through, and all money goes directly to support RMH.

Matt and I are also already discussing ways that we can help at RMH of Maryland directly by having the youth group cook dinner or plan an activity. I would love to donate some toys or treats for the mailboxes too. One family has even taken on the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner the last two years! We would love to be a part of the volunteer efforts when our life returns to some sort of normalcy. (Nope, I have no idea what normal means anymore, but I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually!)

So that's my challenge to you: just donate the spare change to RMH and help out a wonderful charity! Thank you so much to all of you who have already said that you've started donating! I LOVE IT! (And so did the director when I told her today!) :)

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Saturday, October 30, 2010 2:31 PM, EDT

Proud Big Brother

Caleb met Abby last night, and I have to say that he is quite smitten with her! He really enjoyed holding her hand and remarked often, "Look how little her big toe is!" With our help, he stroked her hair and kissed her hand when he left. It was all very sweet. We have our first official family picture (minus Becky, as Caleb often reminded us!) that we are enjoying. We'll post pictures soon, but for now we are just enjoying the moment!

Last night after dinner, they had a pumpkin carving activity for the kids. Caleb was in heaven! My parents stayed with him while we went back to the hospital for a little longer. While I can't say that getting Caleb to bed last night was easy, we made it! He is having to adjust to having me as an authority figure again after 6 weeks of someone else being in charge. We're also in the process of trying to find the balance between enjoying our son when he is hear and being there for Abby. We're not used to splitting time between kids, and definitely not in this way. We want Caleb to feel loved and secure amist all of the craziness, so we are being careful to spend quality time with him as well.

Today, I set foot in a store for the first time since September 19th. I have only been in the hospital, my house, or RMH since then...pretty crazy! I kind of felt like I was an invisible person walking through the store looking at everyone else leading their normal lives without the faintest idea of what our life is like right now. It was a bit surreal, but I managed to make it through and get the things we needed without making a spectacle of myself!

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a little boy playing on the playground with a face that is just begging to be photographed!

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Sunday, October 31, 2010 10:24 PM, EDT

Abby's First Halloween

I'm hoping that Abby's Halloween next year will involve a costume, candy, and games at our church. Unfortunately, this year's was spent at the NICU in a diaper with a feeding tube. BUT, the sweet nurses made each of the babies a little pumpkin decoration with the baby's picture in it, so at least we got to document it some way.

All in all, Abby has had a good weekend! She is starting to wake up now that they are reducing her pain meds. She has tried to wake up before, but it has been in a very irritated, uncomfortable way that caused the nurses to up her pain meds again. This time, her wake-up seems very calm and natural. We are enjoying seeing her eyes once in a while, even though they still have that cloudy, drugged look to them! We will be very thankful when she is off of all of the pain meds completely and able to be more aware of her surroundings.

The doctors have also upped her feedings to 15 ml, which is about 1/2 an ounce. This doesn't seem like much, but she started at 5 ml! We're excited to see her start to grow now that she won't be burning all of the calories trying to breathe. Pray that she continues to tolerate the feedings so that they don't have to bring her back down. She's had a little trouble, but they are trying to ride it out because they really want her to grow!

Caleb enjoying spending time with Abby. He absolutely hates scrubbing in and wearing the yellow gown, so getting him into the room is a bit of a struggle. Once he sees Abby though, he is perfectly fine to just sit there and talk to her. It's very cute.

RMH had a parade today that we really enjoyed. Ronald McDonald himself led the parade, and Caleb absolutely loved him! He's not much on mascots, but he adored Ronald! He kept yelling, "Good job, Ronald McDonald! Good job!" :) They also had a DJ, tons of food, motorcyclists, classic cars, and police vehicles. It was really exciting for Caleb, and a good chance for us to spend some quality time together. We haven't had too much of that since I was hospitalized.

While our main focus while we are at RMH is most certainly Abby and will never view it as a cheap vacation like some (unfortunately) do, we are thankful that they provide fun activities to do with Caleb when he is here. We want him to feel included during this ordeal and not abandoned by us.

Tomorrow, Abby will have an MRI. Please pray for the procedure and that the results will be good!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rollercoaster Ride

Meet Abby

We are ready to introduce you to our beautiful girl, Abigail Elizabeth Joy Leach! There are some pictures in the photo album for you to enjoy. :)

FYI: The orange tube in her nose is her trumpet, which helps her breathe and keeps her tongue out of the way. The orange tube in her mouth is her feeding tube, and the black cord in her mouth is a safety feature in case she has real trouble breathing. There's the tour. :)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010 5:50 PM, EDT

Roller Coaster Ride

Abby had a pretty good morning today. Matt and I stepped out while the doctors were rounding on the other patients and went to the waiting room for a while. I walked back to her room to deliver some milk before we went to get some lunch, and was hit with some news:

"We're heading to the OR. Abby needs to be intubated."

I ran to get Matt, who was in the waiting room, and we heard the whole report. After we left, Abby really started having a lot of trouble breathing and it was determined that not having a secure airway was really putting her in danger.

They took her back, but unfortunately were unable to intubate. Babies with small airways (and hers is really small) are just very difficult to intubate--and they weren't even attempting oral intubation.

Abby now has a secure airway through a trach. While this is much more invasive than we were hoping, it does have its positives. Now that the airway isn't as much of a concern, we can move forward with other issues that need to be addressed. Because she doesn't have to struggle so hard to breathe, she won't be burning so many calories and will be able to grow!! Plus, we are able to see her full face for the first time ever. The trumpet and tape are gone now and we can fully admire her beautiful face! I spent a lot of time stroking her this afternoon. :) She has my nose just like Caleb! Matt's still clinging to the brown eyes as his only hope for her looking like him...

While today didn't go quite the way we wanted it to, we still know that God has a plan in all of this. We have already seen His hand in so many things: the fact that I feel wonderful and am able to fully focus on Abby instead of my own pain, the compassion we've seen in so many of the nurses and doctors during this process, the conversations we have been able to have about our hope with so many staff members and others in the hospital (I have shared about God more in the last month and a half than I ever have!), the love we have received from all of you, and the way He has been teaching us to cling to each other and Him for support. Matt and I have never been closer.

So yes, while there have been lots of tears these last 5 days, we are still choosing joy...Abby Joy, to be exact! :) Love you all!!!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:23 PM, EDT

An Angel Named Megan

We have had wonderful experiences with all of our nurses so far, but one has an extra special place in our hearts already. Her name is Megan, and she is amazing.

From the first time Megan had Abby, she treated her as a person and not just as a patient. As a mom who was just trying to wrap my brain around all of the craziness, I really appreciated this. It's hard when they are constantly poking and prodding your baby, but Megan really was gentle and loving toward Abby.

Since then, we've had Megan several more times as Abby's night nurse. We've been able to share with her more and she was there for me on one particularly bad night. She couldn't do anything, but she was there and she listened and that was enough.

Last night, Megan had a training class before she got her assignment and wasn't able to get Abby. She popped in to see her, found out about her bad day and the trach, and took the time to write us the sweetest, most compassionate page-long note. We found it taped to her bedside this morning and were so moved by her kindness. She didn't have to say anything, but she knew that this was difficult for us and wanted to let us know that she cared.

What an awesome woman!!

Megan is also following our journey on Caring Megan, Matt and I just wanted to say thanks. That's not nearly enough considering how wonderful you have been, but we really do appreciate your compassion. We are so thankful for you!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Abby's Early Days

Day 3 of Our New Normal

Bear with me as I more or less summarize our day! We headed to the NICU this morning in time to hear the doctors round on Abby. As much as we can, we like to be in on their conversations so that we can ask questions as necessary. We've learned and seen some things we probably wouldn't have otherwise, so it's been good.

I was able to do Kangaroo Care again today! (I realized I didn't explain what that was yesterday. I hold Abby skin-to-skin and cover her with my shirt and blankets. The nurses all firmly believe in how much it helps the babies...and the mommies!) Matt woke up with a little bit of a cough and he did not want to risk getting Abby sick, so he didn't hold her. He was disappointed, but hoping he gets better soon so that he can bond with his princess!

We left Abby alone for a while and ate lunch so that she could rest before an afternoon and evening of visitors! Her fan club: my sister, my friend Kelly, Pastor Jay and Bari-tennette, my parents, and Matt's parents (in that order!) It was a busy day for her, but she did great!

It's amazing how much we (and the nurses) have learned about her in such a short time. We know the positions she likes best, recognize the signs when she is having trouble breathing, and can often anticipate when her levels are going to start going down! She is definitely developing patterns that are making it a bit easier to care for her. While there isn't much that I can do for her right now, I like that I am learning how to help her improve her breathing habits.

Tomorrow will be a big day: Abby will start eating!! She will begin receiving milk through a feeding tube, which is quite exciting for us--one more step! Again, this also helps me to feel more useful during her care: it's something I can provide! We're hoping she tolerates it well so that she will continue to receive feedings. Otherwise, it's back to the boring old IV fluids!

I was discharged today, but the hospital offers on a case-by-case basis for families to "sleep over" in an empty room for up to 2 nights when their baby is in the NICU. We are very thankful for this because we are on a waiting list for the Ronald McDonald House. We're hoping to get in by Tuesday when we have to leave here. It will be really nice to finally have a permanent "home" where we can settle in, unpack, and develop some sort of a routine.

We will be leaving early tomorrow morning for home so that we can pack for a long-term stay, visit with Caleb for a little while, and get some much-needed hair cuts! We'll come back here tomorrow afternoon with all of the things we will need for an extended stay.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010 10:51 AM, EDT

Abby had a pretty good day yesterday, although she pulled her trumpet out of her nose twice! She's feisty, I tell ya! It's obviously irritating her, but they can't switch nostrils because it won't fit in the other one. She has one side that is smaller than the other, so the trumpet will only go in the right side. Poor thing!

The ENT team will be doing a scope of her airway on Thursday and to determine the next plan of action. They are looking at some long-term options to help her breathe better on her own. We aren't sure of the time of the procedure (remember that whole "hospital time" issue?), but please pray fervently on Thursday. This will be her first time under anesthesia and I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about it.

Matt and I went home yesterday for a little while to pack for a long-term stay. We stayed at the hospital again last night, but are so thankful for my cousin who is allowing us to stay at her house while she is away for a few days!! It will be nice to have a "homey-er" place to stay while we are waiting to get into the Ronald McDonald House (RMH for short). Please pray that we will get in there soon! We are looking forward to unpacking and not living out of suitcases and bags for a while.

By the way: RMH is a wonderful organization! Say what you want about McDonalds--they definitely have a wonderful foundation! I know people are all up in arms about the lack of toys in the Happy Meals these days. Perhaps you miss your cheap Spiderman action figure, but I am personally thankful that they are instead donating that money to RMH! I know that my spare change will be going in those containers at the counter from now on.

We met with our social worker today. She is a wonderful woman who has been with us since the beginning of my hospital stay. Not only can she get things done for us (specifically paperwork!), but she is so compassionate and thoughtful. We are so thankful for Catherine.

Caleb is still fighting a cold, but we saw him yesterday and he is very excited to meet Abby. He enjoyed looking at the pictures and especially thought it was cool that she got to go camping in a tent and play the trumpet. :) We've been pleased so far with how he has handled all of this. We are really hoping to get him up here soon--to meet Abby, and also to be more of a family unit!

Sidenote: My sister is amazing. She has more or less adopted Caleb and has been so wonderful with him. Thank you, Amy! You are doing us an awesome service by loving on our boy for us while we're here!!

Well, we're heading to the cafeteria to get some food before spending some quality time with our girl. (We have to step out while the doctors are rounding on the other patients, so it was a good time for me to post.) Here's hoping I get to hold her again! (Matt is still fighting his cold as well, poor guy!)

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010 9:23 PM, EDT


We got THE CALL from the Ronald McDonald House today saying that they had a room available for us! We were sooooo excited and quickly packed everything up before heading over.

The place is amazing! There is a really nice play room, tons of books, movies, video games, and board games, a really cool playground that is completely secure, two huge kitchens with everything you need, lots of goodies all over the place for us, tons of activities for the kids, breakfast and dinner's pretty crazy.

On Sunday, there will be a big RMH parade where the families dress up and march through the streets. They get tshirts, lunch, candy, play games...Caleb will love it! We were already planning for him to be here anyway, so it will be great.

They have free tickets available for local attractions like the Science Center, aquarium, Port Discovery, and the zoo. We're planning to space some of those activities out so that Caleb will have plenty to do. For now, the house alone is entertainment enough!

I will try to take some pictures of the house tomorrow. You can check out , but the pictures do not do it justice! The house is beautiful and the rooms are so, so nice.

Matt and I really feel like we are home now. We finally have a place to unpack and chill when we're not at the hospital. We've already met another nice young couple with a little boy at JH. I think we'll enjoy getting to know them better.

I know I said it before, but this is an awesome charity. We are so, so, SO thankful to be here!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Seeing Abby for the first time in the NICU was surreal. That is really the only word to describe it. This little 4 pound peanut mixed up in a tangle of wires and tubes was my daughter! The foot wrapped in gauze is the same foot that kicked me and stepped on my bladder. The tiny hands curled up next to her mouth were in the same position they were during so many of the sonograms. The hair that we saw floating in the amniotic fluid, the same hair that was admired by so many sonographers, is every bit as long and full as everyone said! Abby will definitely be a bow wearer.

She is beautiful to us and has been showing the nurses and doctors her feisty side! She clamped down on one NP who stuck her finger in her mouth; the NP declared her a rude little girl! (She has quickly become one of our favorites who has been excellent at explaining things and answering our questions!) Yesterday, she kept trying to pull out the trumpet in her nose. I told her repeatedly that they would do more mean things to her if she succeeded, but then we showed her what they did to the little boy who wouldn’t stay still for his X-ray. She settled down after that. J

The same little girl who kicked the fetal heart monitor for a full half an hour in protest has learned very quickly how to show her displeasure at the staff. She growls at the nurses and has even kicked them a time or two! We are working with her on how to channel her anger more positively—like by taking deeper breaths!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010 2:08 PM, EDT

The Last 24 Hours

Yesterday was filled with getting to know our daughter, meeting lots of doctors, and processing a ton of information. I kind of feel like I’m in a haze.

There is much more surrounding Abby’s condition than we originally thought. They ran a lot of tests yesterday and my girl was examined by a million different doctors. What a way to spend your birth day! There are still many, many questions to be answered, but we do know that Abby has a problem with her ribs and spine. While an X-ray suggested a heart problem, an Echo showed that everything looked okay. Praise God!!

She was poked and prodded until I finally asked for a PICC line for her. She inherited her momma’s bad veins and that was proven by the many bruises all over her hands, arms, and feet. They whole-heartedly agreed (some parents don’t want an invasive procedure done, but I know how painful it is to get stuck so much!) and she had a central line put in through her belly button, which is a lot less painful than the traditional way. We’re hoping it lasts for a while so that they can hold off on the PICC line through the arm.

As we knew, securing Abby’s airway is the most crucial right now. She has a “trumpet” in her nose that helps keep her tongue in place, and they have also put into place some safety measures in case they need to secure the airway quickly. She has been on her stomach, side, and back. It seems pretty evident that she breaths best on her stomach for now, although the goal is of course to get her to breath equally well no matter how she is lying. She is currently breathing on her own in an oxygen tent. They removed the tent for a few minutes when we first met her so that we could get a closer look, but it became evident that she is relying on the oxygen for now.

We know we’ve pretty much been open books thus far with Abby’s diagnosis and progress. As I mentioned, we have been given a lot of information to process very quickly and a lot of it is still in hypothesis form. Thank you for allowing us to share new pieces with you as they become more probable and as we become comfortable. Questions are very difficult for us right now: sometimes because we/the doctors don’t have the answers, and sometimes because we are just learning how to accept our new normal. Thanks for taking the information we give you and waiting for us to be able to share more.

Several of you have asked about pictures of Abby. We know that so many people are praying for her and genuinely care about her well-being. We are so thankful for you!! That being said, we’re not quite ready to share pictures just yet. I’m sure we’ll get there, but I know you’ll understand when I say that the last 24 hours have been quite overwhelming for us. We are still trying to come to grips with the fact that the tiny baby with wires and tubes going everywhere is our daughter.

We so appreciate all of the Caring Bridge and Facebook comments, the emails, and the phone calls. We covet your prayers and can feel the support surrounding us. We would love if you would continue to do so, and know that we read every single comment. They are such an encouragement to us! If we don’t respond to your emails and calls, know that we seriously appreciate them. It’s just that we are trying to spend as much time as we can getting to know Abby while juggling meetings with doctors, visits from family and friends, and Matt’s constant reminders that I am still a patient recovering from delivery and need to rest! There just hasn’t been much time for emailing and talking on the phone.

Again, thank you so much for supporting us during this difficult time. Matt and I are truly thankful for you!!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010 9:40 PM, EDT

Kangaroo Care

I’m pretty sure I can top whatever your “high point” of the day. I got to hold my girl for an hour and a half this afternoon, and it was awesome! It has been very difficult watching others hold their babies when we knew it was impossible, so I was very thankful to the nurses who made this happen for us.

The best part is that Abby did great!! Her stats were really good the entire time and she only need an extra puff of oxygen twice—pretty awesome, since she is usually under an oxygen tent 24/7! I think she felt very safe with her momma.

We talked about all kinds of things: I filled her in on her big brother, discussed her behavior toward the nurses with her, told her all about Caleb’s birthday party (she was very excited that it was a pool party—we all know how much she loves to swim!), and of course told her how much she was loved and wanted.

This is the most exposed we have seen her, so it was wonderful to stroke her back, check out her ears and eyes (she has my ears!) and nuzzle her (completely hair-covered) sweet head. I told her the reason they normally have her head all covered up with stuff is so that the other babies don’t get jealous of her beautiful dark hair. She even opened her eyes and checked us out for quite a while. It was great to see her alert.

So yeah…pretty much an amazing afternoon. I was very thankful to hold her and can’t wait to see Matt doing it tomorrow!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Abby is Here!


Apparently, my internet is working! Yay, Dad! :) Look forward to more frequent posts again now. What would you do without my daily ramblings and updates?!

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Friday, October 22, 2010 9:41 AM, EDT

Short post because i'm on my iPod: Abby is here! She came at 12:12 a.m. Weighing 4 pounds and measuring 17 inches. She is currently breathing on her own and is being examined by lots of specialists today to check out some things that hadn't shown up on sonograms. We will be more specific about those things when we have more detailed information. In the mean time, please pray for our girl---specifically that her fighting spirit we've seen so much continues!! She's going to need to fight hard. Thanks for your support!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010 6:42 AM, EDT

Entering the World With a Splash!

On Thursday night, I started contracting heavily at 7:45. My meds were due at 8:00 anyway, so I took them slightly early and waited for them to kick in. At 9:00, the contractions were even stronger and closer together, so I knew that the meds had stopped working. Matt had a meeting at the church, so I called him…twice…and texted him…once…before finally calling the church directly. I figured I would just keep calling until someone answered! Thankfully, I got in touch with him (his phone never registered a call from me) and we decided to head up to Baltimore. Bruce came over to pick Caleb and me up, drive me to the church, and bring Caleb back to his house. He put his police driving skills to work. J

As soon as we got on the road, I called LD to tell them we were on our way. I also reminded them of the need to call Dr. K and the NICU to put them on alert. They said that they would do that once I got here and they checked me. This frustrated us and so I called them back again to explain the situation further. The doctor “explained” that sometimes women with a lot of fluid think they are in labor when the contractions are just caused by the excess fluid. Thanks, but I have been contracting for 6 weeks now. I think I know that.

Thankfully, the traffic was minimal at this time of evening and we made it to UMMC quickly at around 10:45 p.m. The same doctor from the phone checked me right away and discovered that I was 8 cm! I couldn’t resist smirking her on the inside, but held myself in check on the outside. They rushed me to a room and made lots of phone calls. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get in touch with Dr. K (whom the next day said her phone never rang, so I’m wondering if they actually called her. She said she really wanted to be there!!) After some discussion with the NICU, they decided to have me deliver in the OR so that all of the necessary people could fit. The NICU staff waited in a room across the hall for their time to shine, and it all worked out really well.

They wanted me to wait to push until everything was set up and ready, which is no easy feat when you are in active labor! I managed, but was very thankful when they finally gave me the okay! Right before I started pushing, they broke my water at 12:06. (I find it funny that it never did break on its own, despite the polyhydraminos!) It drained for several minutes and then I had my first push.

I felt this kind of burst of pressure before a tidal wave came spewing out, soaking two of the doctors head to toe! I was mortified (as if I had anything to do with it!) and apologized profusely, but we all got a good laugh out of it. Thankfully, they were in sterile gowns because of the OR and therefore were mostly covered. Good thing!

I gave it three or four more good pushes, and my girl was born at 12:12! (For those of you that recall, I pushed with Caleb for 2 hours and 40 minutes because he stayed so high, so this was quite a change!)

You know how normally they deliver the head, do some suction, and then pull the baby out completely? Not Abby! She decided it would be way more fun to shoot out rocket launcher-style! According to Matt, the doctor nearly dropped her! A lot more fluid came along with her, so I assume it was kind of like a water slide. I’ll bet she would be all over the slip-n-slide we used to do at Camp Wabanna!

The NICU staff immediately began working on her, so I wasn’t able to see her. The Chief of Anesthesiology was a very sweet man who took on the role of giving us updates while they worked. He was actually the one who convinced them to let me see and touch her before they took her down to the NICU, and I was very appreciative!

While they worked, the doctors collected the cord blood (Yes, we banked it. Hopefully, we will never use it. However, it’s reassuring knowing that it is there if we ever do need it. I will not live regretting that we could have done something more for her.) and finished up with me.

After I made it back to the labor room, things progressed pretty quickly for us and I was able to move downstairs within about an hour. I must say, delivering a 4 lb baby is much easier than a full-term baby! I felt pretty darn good!

As soon as we dropped our stuff off in our new room (#10, if you’re counting!), we headed straight to the NICU. A definite positive to being here so long is making friends with so many staff members. Either they recognized the stubborn look in my eye or they understood my need to be with my daughter as soon as possible. Either way, they fully supported me visiting her right away.

We are so thankful that we made it in time to deliver here and are very pleased with our decision not to go to our local hospital first. This worked out much better for us!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

hospital drama

This is Not a Happy Post

If you are looking for my typical Susie Sunshine post about everything being great and wonderful, you won't find it here. Because right now, I'm madder than I have been since I have been here. I chose blue for this post because it's supposed to be calming. It's not working.

Soooooo it's 3 a.m. and I thought they were coming to do my vitals. Mildly annoying? Yes, because I get my meds @ 4 and they usually try to do them at the same time so I'm not woken up again, but whatever.

Oh no. This would be the phlebotomist coming to draw blood and start an IV. Am I contracting and need a new IV? No. Am I on any medicines that require immediate blood tests? No. Am I in a dead sleep, trying to count every minute between med wake-ups and doctors? Why yes, yes I am.

Seriously, I don't think people who work the night shift have any understanding of the sleeping patterns of normal people. What good do you think would come of drawing blood and putting an IV in at 3 a.m? Couldn't it wait until the morning like all of the other ones had?

I know I probably should have exercised my patient rights and flat-out refused to have it done until morning. At this point though, I was still trying to be respectful (mistake #1) and knew that she was just doing what she was told. Someone put the orders in and she was just following through.

So I told her that I have bad veins and while I'm sure she hears that a lot and doesn't really care, I really do. I mentioned that several phlebotomists hadn't been able to get it, so I was only giving her one shot. She seemed to ignore that entire statement.

I futilely asked for Lidocaine, knowing they don't use it. I was told that I was in the wrong hospital for that. I should have just sent her out right there. (mistake #2)

Story of my life: I get stuck, she digs around, and she doesn't get it. "Huh, it's right there. Why is it rolling?" You could probably write this part yourself by now, right?

Normally they put the gauze and a bandaid over it, right? Well, she uses the plastic stuff...the same plastic stuff that holds the IV down...the same plastic stuff that is ridiculously sticky and rips off all of your arm hair in that spot. Think waxing strips. I have patches of no hair on my arms, like a really bad shaving job.

I should have been paying more attention to what she was putting on there and asked for a bandaid (which I really shouldn't have to do---logical reasoning!!), but that was mistake #3. I'm on a roll now! I have already pulled it off because I know keeping it there would only make it worse. What's one more patch of hairless arm?

So she left saying that she would tell my nurse. I think she knew better than to even see if I'd let her try again. I just heard a call for my nurse (I heard my room # mentioned) but no one else is putting any needles in my arm until after 7 a.m.

Let's just say it is a really good thing that no one is staying with me tonight and I don't have any mode of transportation. This pretty much did it for me. Do you think the hospital shuttle goes to our house? Maybe I could bribe the driver with snacks...

Like I said, this wasn't a happy post. I tried not to write it. Seriously, I did. But then I thought that maybe people needed to know that I'm not always positive and optimistic. Like when people try to start IVs at 3 a.m. after I've been here a month and have proven that I have bad veins and then annoying people don't get the IV to go so they put plastic stuff on my arm that will tear off even more hair than is already missing.

Yeah, like that.

Optimistic people have bad days too.

The first item on my agenda as president of the United States will be to make the use of Lidocaine mandatory in all medical facilities. You're welcome.

4:30 a.m. Update: My nurse (whom I'd never had before) came in at 4 to check my vitals and give me my meds. When I asked why the phlebotomist came at 3:00 to do it when it's always been done in the daytime before, her reply was...

You ready for this?

"Oh, was that too early?"

No, actually 3:00 a.m. is the perfect time for people to repeatedly poke holes in my veins.

"I didn't realize you would want to sleep in."

Well, you're right. Normally, I'm up by now feeding the chickens, milking the cows, and mending the fence by the north pasture. Being in the hospital for so long has made me soft and lazy.

She said they put a request in for Ms. Pat, who was the phlebotomist who did such a great job before (see the post "On Why I Love Phlebotomists"...although maybe that needs to be amended based on my recent experience.)

AND, this nurse went to flush my current IV. Bet you can't guess what happened.

Yep, it blew. Lucky me. So now I am IV-less for the moment.

I do have a positive side to all of this though. My blood pressure was higher than it has ever been in the middle of the night while I've been on these meds. I wonder why...

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Monday, October 18, 2010 2:48 PM, EDT

Things Are Looking Up, it's a Great Little World We Live in...

Name that tune and that musical! (I live my life if song!)

Anyway, I am in a much better humor now. Why, you ask? Well, because I talked to my team of doctors when they came to round today and they all agreed that I am really not much of a risk anymore, so they don't see any reason to keep my IV in 24/7! When I need it again (like when I am in active labor), I can have it put in. After checking out my veins, they all quickly agreed that they needed a bit of a break if the LD nurses were to be able to find one when it was really needed!

I am IV freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Other reasons why I am in a much better mood now:

* My dad came to visit me today and I really enjoyed his company. He's a good dad. :)

* I ordered Caleb and Abby super cute brother-sister shirts from this great little Etsy shop that does custom printing. I have shopped there before and have been really happy with the products.

* I located a great camera bag (that doesn't look like a camera bag--I have fears of being mugged if I were to buy something with NIKON scrawled across it) on Ebay and won the auction, nabbing it at a pretty good price!

* Caleb filled me in all about habitats today, complete with examples. I've got a pretty bright kiddo on my hands! He is also thoroughly enjoying a new reading program my mom introduced him to where he gets points for reading or listening to books, then trades the points in to buy things for his space rocket! It's really cool--think Farmville for little kids!

So, I am back to my usually optimistic self...and I won't be sneaking out of the hospital today. :)

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010 6:57 PM, EDT

The rumors are true: I am home!!!!!!!!!!!

I just wrote a really long post all about it and lost it. I don't have the energy to rewrite the entire thing, so just know that I am home until Abby is born and enjoying famly time! Caleb was super excited to see me and has spent most of the day attached to my hip. He has been very sweet and cuddly!

If I don't go before then, I will be induced on November 8th.

We don't currently have internet at home, so don't look for too many new posts for a while. Just remember, no news is good news!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

hospital news


I had the most fabulous news today! Dr. K came to tell me that I am officially OFF of bedrest and am allowed to roll around the hospital! While I still need to take it easy (I won't be joining in the marathon that is currently running by the hospital!), I do not have to be flat-back and can take short rides around.

Unless you have been on extended bed rest, you have no idea how exciting this is. Just rolling around looking at other people was quite entertaining. You just don't know.

So if you'll excuse me, it might just be time for me to go on another ride! :)

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Saturday, October 16, 2010 4:22 PM, EDT

A Cool Way to Say Thank You

During my adventure around the hospital (which was quite enjoyable-- thanks for asking!), my mom and I came across this box with little tokens in it. Intrigued, we moved up to get a closer look and discovered that they are "thank you tokens." There are cards that you can fill out thanking a hospital staff member for their excellent care (think Leograms, SLES people!). You give the card to the person, who in turn gives it to his or her supervisor. Then the employee is entered in for a drawing to get an extra day of leave!! CCPS employees, do you think this could work for us?!? :)

I was really excited to find them and have already written 6 for some of my favorite staff members. I hope at least one of them benefits from an extra day off! :)

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Sunday, October 17, 2010 4:15 PM, EDT

Almost Normal

Today was almost a normal afternoon! Matt and Caleb came, and we all went to lunch at the cafeteria (whose food is WAY better than what I am served, by the way!), zoomed around the hospital, threw pennies in the fountain, let Caleb play on the little play area they have, and went outside to get fresh air!!!

This was the first time in a month that I have been outside. Talk about a lack of vitamin D! It was so exciting. Seriously, you have no idea (unless you, too, have been in the hospital for a month without venturing out of doors!)

It was a wonderful afternoon!!!

In other news: I keep forgetting to give a sonogram report. We did get to go to CAFCA on Friday, thanks to my persistent nurse's assistant begging them to take me at the last minute. (I am supposed to be scanned every Friday, but sometimes they get busy and forget to call to have them bring me over).

Mom was able to go with me, and she got the full view, thanks to my favorite sonographer Pragati! Abby is breathing through her mouth and nose repeatedly now, and we were able to see fluid in her stomach and watch as it traveled through her intestines! Talk about cool!

True to form, Pragati worked hard to get some great pictures for us. Abby's mouth has formed into a really cute little heart shape, and we got a picture of her hands primly folded under her chin. It is really cute! There are also a few pictures of her with her arms crossed over her face in an X where she is pointing directly at the probe--as if to say, "You people leave me alone!!" That girl is a mess!

Friday, October 15, 2010

hospital happenings

Tid Bits

This is pretty much a stream of consciousness post. If you're not into jumping from one topic to another, stop reading now! Consider yourself warned. :)

First of all, did you watch the Chilean miner rescue?! Wow, did I cry! It's pretty much amazing that all of them not only survived, but came out with minimal injuries! What a great story! I love that the "breaking news" today was something positive and encouraging for once.

Matt spent the night last night and we spent the evening playing Phase 10 and watching Glee. It was almost normal...except for the vitals checks, medicines, and IVs. Yeah, except for that.

I had loads of awesome visitors today! At mid-morning, 5 wonderful ladies from our church came bearing lots of yummy food. It was a great visit!

Matt left shortly after they did, and I settled in to watch some of the live footage of the miners' rescue on CNN. A knock on the door revealed my favorite three year old! "Surprise, Momma!" was his greeting. Amy managed to get him up here without me knowing, and my friend Theresa came with her! I love visitors!

I am not losing my bathroom privileges! My doctors assured me that nothing has happened to take that away from me now that I'm nearing 34 weeks (34 weeks!!! Yay!!!!!)

The Venadynes just showed up (the order took a while to come up and I told my nurse it was because I called down and cancelled it!) Joking! :) I'll be back to the familiar annoying squeeze and release tomorrow, but at least I don't have to wear them at night. It's only for a few days, because at 34 weeks (that magic number again!!!) they will be increasing my activity. I'll be zooming around this hospital come Monday!

Tomorrow brings more visitors to make me smile. :)

Like I said, this was all over the place. So sorry!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010 10:06 AM, EDT

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you...

App-pealing Apps!

I thought I'd share some of my favorite apps for my iPod, in case any of you are interested. Probably not, but I'm going to share them anyway!

I have never paid for an app, so all of these are free and can be found in the free section of iTunes.

1. Sleep Machine eLite: I have slept with an air purifier since college and sometimes have trouble sleeping without the white noise. This app has lots of different sleeping noises, such as waves, rain, white noise, crickets, wind, etc. I have used it several nights in the hospital when my IV makes clicking noises or there is an annoying humming sound.

2. Pandora: This is internet radio and you can choose "stations" that fit your style. Naturally I have a Glee station! The only downside to this is that you have to have an internet connection for it to work. You can also get Pandora on a desktop computer.

3. Animal Fun: This kids' app is really great for animal recognitionn. It shows a real photo of the animal (with lots of interesting ones like Dromedary, Ferret, and Orca), says the name, makes the sound, and even spells the word! Caleb was really into this one when he was 2 or so, and it definitely expanded his vocabulary.

4. What to Expect: This is the digital version of the book What to Expect When You're Expecting. It includes daily information about your pregnancy and a weekly update about you and your baby's development. There's information for dads in there too!

5. Fast Shop: This is a grocery list. Once you type the item in once, the app remembers it and will add it to the list if you start to type it. As you shop and get items, you can "cross" them off your list.

6. Weather Channel: It's not the most detailed weather report, but it includes the temperature and basic forecast for the day, 36 hours, or 10 days. It also includes an allergen alert, which is nice when you want to know what's in season.

If you have an iPod or iPhone, check out some of these apps! :)

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Friday, October 15, 2010 12:21 PM, EDT

Happy Friday! Last night was a bit interesting with lots and lots of big contractions that weren't stopped with fluid. I contracted through my entire dose of meds, but they finally tapered off after they gave me my next dose (a little early) and I was finally able to fall asleep around 1 a.m. or so.

Mom stayed with me last night. She's hoping to finally get to go to a sonogram today! Watch, they won't take me! ;) (I never know when I am going; they just show up with the wheelchair and we head down there.) I do normally go on Fridays though, so hopefully she'll be able to go.

The phlebotomist tried to redo my IV yesterday, since she was drawing blood anyway (it's just one stick that way). She went for my hand and I wouldn't let her do it, so she got irritated with me and took it out on my veins. Ouch!! She hit it so badly that it actually swelled up quite a bit and I had a nice little knot. No, she didn't get the IV in.

When I needed fluids last night, my current IV blew. Surprise, surprise! Thankfully, my nurse knows me well and went right to labor and delivery to get their best! The woman came down and used lidocaine, so I was fine! She got it in one try and was very sweet to boot! Let's hope this one lasts at least another 3 days...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

hospital happenings

Wow, You All Know Me Way Too Well...

So, it cracked me up that people starting contemplating reasons why I would want the window open! I assure you that while climbing out of my 6th floor window to escape to freedom was somewhat enticing, I am way too scared of falling to ever do that. Much more likely would be me putting on a long-sleeved shirt to cover up my bracelets and IV and sneaking out of the hospital. Of course, getting home might be a bit of a problem...

No, no, don't worry. I will be staying here with a smile on my face. When things get really bad, I remind myself that every needle, every IV, every day that I am in here means one less that Abby has to endure.

That being said, tonight's dinner (yes, the food saga continues) was quite frustrating. When I took off my dinner cover in anticipation because I was quite hungry tonight, I discovered spaghetti with meat sauce and freezer-burned Lactaid ice cream.

No, I'm not lactose intolerant.

While I didn't consider throwing my plate out the window, I was quite tempted to throw it at the wall. However, I quickly decided that that would result in me having to move to another room on another floor and would also involve tranquilizers and straps. So I maintained control and instead ate the oh-so-healthy dinner of Fritos, peanut butter cups, and chocolate straws.

Yeah, I know, that sounds awesome. However, you need to remember that I have been a vegetarian for nearly 17 years--on November 9th--and really do LOVE healthy eating. I would much prefer a plate full of fresh fruit and veggies than tons of junk. While I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, I have been missing my healthy food! Call me weird...I've been called worse!

I mentioned to the girl who picked up my tray that my meal was messed up yet again (way more than I blog about--I only mention the worst ones!), and her reply was...get ready to be quite impressed with her eloquence...


Thank you for your compassion. I'll just continue to munch on Fritos while my daughter's brain development slows because I haven't eaten anything with DHA in it for three weeks. (Yes, I have researched and know all about which foods are best for what type of development. I can't help it. It's what I do!)

Okay, enough for tonight. I'm over it. :)

PS: I feel like this was all over the place. Sorry for the ramblings.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010 11:23 AM, EDT

Did Ya Miss Me?

My sister inquired last night as to why I didn't write anything yesterday. Honestly, I had a bit of writer's block and felt like anything I penned would be the same old, same old. I do have a few things to share now though!

I have been contracting a lot recently--it seems to be about every 10-12 hours or so. The doctors say that this will be my new norm because my fluid levels are increasing. Right now, giving me IV fluids is working to slow them to an eventual halt. Let's hope that they keep working until at least next Monday!

My wonderful social worker came to visit yesterday and I talked to her about the food issues. She was appalled that I've been here 3 weeks and they still haven't gotten it together! That woman gets things done!! A dietitian spoke to me later in the afternoon. This woman seemed to know what she was talking about and confirmed my concerns about DHA and other important nutrients. Turns out there is an entire list of vegetarian meals that I haven't been offered! (If you're familiar with them, they're all a brand called Amy's that are sold at grocery stores. Most of them are really good and all of them are nutritionally sound. Almost all of them are made with beans or soy.) These meals go way beyond the pizza and PBJ I've been alternating for the past 3 weeks (of course, mix in the fried chicken, spaghetti with meat sauce, and other assorted mistakes!)

I will also be getting Greek yogurt with every lunch and Ensure with every meal. Before you wrinkle your nose with disdain at the thought of Ensure, it really isn't that bad. I was on a liquid diet for about a month when I had jaw surgery and I actually developed a taste for the stuff! Plus, it's packed with nutrition to help supplement what I'm not getting here.

My parents brought me a delicious meal of shrimp skewers (DHA!!!) and grilled vegetables last night from Chesapeake Grille. Yummo!! I ate every bite of it and was therefore able to ignore most of what was on my dinner tray.

So with any luck, my food woes are over. For those of you who think all of this is rather silly and ridiculous, you try surviving on next to nothing for 3 weeks. You'll be doing something about it too! :)

In other news: I am thoroughly enjoying the cool breeze that flows through my window. My room is much nicer now and I didn't sleep with a wet wash cloth last night. Plus, I actually enjoy the city noises. (Well, except for the woman screaming bloody murder last night. That was a bit disconcerting.)

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010 9:12 AM, EDT

Venadynes Strike Again

The med student assigned to my case (whom I normally like, but she was the bearer of bad news today) informed me that I should have been wearing the Venadynes all along. Have you forgotten what they are? Let me refresh your memory.

Venadynes are the obnoxious compression cuffs that turn your ankles and calves into slimy, sweaty, pieces of flesh while very nearly cutting off your circulation by inflating for about 10 seconds every minute. Sleeping is virtually impossible. When I had to wear them 24-7, I might have torn them off in a fit of rage and thrown them across the room. But I don't remember--the details are hazy and I will blame the Magnesium for anything that happened!

In short, they are absolutely miserable.

I have put in my request for a compromise: I'll wear them all day if I don't have to wear them at night. (I was told I only had to wear them at night, so as long as I am wearing them a good chunk of the day, I don't see what difference it makes). We'll see if that works.

She also questioned whether they are going to take away my bathroom privileges, but they are still discussing that as a team. UGH! I'm not really sure why they are even talking about that...maybe the increase in contractions? I'm running, not walking, to the bathroom to shower as soon as I finish this post. :)

In other news, here's a little quote from my favorite 3 year old, as emailed to me by my sister:

"I like the hole in my sock. It's like an airhole for my toe."

I love that kid!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

hospital tales


I am in amazement at the number of hits this site has gotten in the last 2 weeks since I started it. I think I had 5 blog readers before I went into the hospital. The things I have to do to get a little blog attention around here... :)

Seriously though, it means a lot to Matt and I that you all care enough to check the posts, keep updated with the progress, and leave messages on the guest book. We know that so many people are praying for us!

Yesterday God sent me an angel in the form of Ms. Penny, the sweetest nurse I could ever want. Remember the bad night I'd had? Well, God knew I needed a bit of encouragement before my reduction (the reduction that never actually happened) and Ms. Penny started talking to me about the power of prayer. I agreed and shared a bit of my story with her. Before she took me upstairs to have the procedure done, she asked if she could pray for me. That sweet woman prayed a beautiful prayer that calmed my heart and helped restore my positive attitude. She was exactly what I needed at that time, and I told her so. And I didn't even cry! (quite a feat from the girl who tears up at Hallmark commercials...)

So far, it's been a quiet, calm weekend with the promise of lots of visitors in a few hours! One of them is a cute 3 year old who calls me Momma. :)

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Sunday, October 10, 2010 11:19 AM, EDT

On Why I Love Phlebotomists...a Love Story

My doctor suggested that we try doing a continuous IV drip to see if that helps keep my veins open better than just a daily flushing. I was up for trying it, and being attached to a pole isn't such a big deal when you're just walking 5 feet to the bathroom and back. Anything to buy my veins more time, right??

Wrong. My IV blew this morning. It hadn't even been my typical 3 days yet and I'd been hooked up to an IV pretty much 24/7 except while I showered. My veins just aren't 5 day material. Good thought though!

It so happened that the phlebotomist came in to do my Type-In Screen bloodwork right after it blew. I mentioned it to her and she said she should just go ahead and do an IV so that I don't have to get stuck twice.

I'll admit it. I was a little leery. She didn't have lidocaine and the memory of my last IV nightmare was still fresh. She checked my veins and said I had plenty. It would only take her one try. So I allowed her to try....once!

Low and behold, she got it without any digging in my favorite spot (isn't it pitiful that I have a favorite?!) on the top of my arm!

I told her that the nurses said last time that the phlebotomists had already left for the day...turns out they're there 24/7! I also told her what they'd said about going for my neck next and she told me I had too many "good" veins for them to even be mentioning that!

I made sure to get her name and I will be asking for her again. She's been drawing blood and doing IVs for 20 years. That's a lot of experience!

In addition to telling her she actually made my day, I made sure she got a snack from the snack basket and thanked her profusely for doing such a great job--and being very kind at the same time!

So here's to at least another 3 days with an IV in a much better spot than in the crook of my arm!

Repeat after me: Phlebotomists are your friends. <3

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Sunday, October 10, 2010 4:49 PM, EDT

A Window to the Outside World

Matt and Caleb visited today, which was delightful as usual. After my lamenting about not feeling outside air for 3 weeks, Matt was able to figure out how to open one of my windows!!!! It made me very, very happy. Of course, as soon as I went to go stick my head out for a second, Nurse Caleb ordered me to, "Get back in bed!" :)

This is the first time I've felt a breeze since they took me off of the helicopter and into the hospital, nearly 3 weeks ago exactly.

I'm leaving the window open too, because they have cut off the air conditioning in the building and it is really hot in here! Turning my thermostat down to 60 degrees is my futile attempt to control it, but I know that the room thermostats are just for show. My allergies will probably be going crazy in the morning after sleeping with the window open, but at least it's not pollen season!

Friday, October 8, 2010

hospital drama

Round 3: Julie vs. Her Uterus

Update: I will be having a reduction today. My favorite doctor came in and said she really felt like we should do it today before the weekend, since the levels are definitely higher. I agree, and I like that she is the one to be able to do it! Plus, I talked to her about my IV woes and she is going to put in my chart that I need linocain with every stick. She said that I'm the nicest patient who's been here forever and if that's my only request, they can handle that! Things are starting to look up!

After last night's adventure, the doctor came first thing this morning to check my fluid levels. Low and behold, they were higher. She did it twice, so it's somewhere between 30-34. Regardless, they are increasing.

While the team is still discussing final plans, they (and we) are leaning toward doing a reduction today so as not to go into the weekend with different people covering. It appears that I will need another one sooner than later, and the weekend people don't seem to be as familiar with my case.

Yippee...dare I hope that this is my last?

In other news, I got maybe 3 hours of fitful sleep last night, thanks to the awkward position in which I had to sleep because of the IV in my arm. It throbbed all night unless I was in the "perfect" position...which meant sleeping on my back, something I don't do well at all. Not fun!

Plus, I think I have officially dammaged nerves in my hand, thanks to the constant digging! Now, whenever I touch the top of my hand with my finger, it sends shooting pains up the rest of my hand! I'm thinking that's not right...

Sorry this post isn't more upbeat and positive like normal. I've seen better days and I spent the better part of the overnight plotting my escape! (just kidding...sort of!) :)

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Friday, October 8, 2010 2:57 PM, EDT

An Eventful Morning

Where to start? I went up at 9:00 a.m. for my reduction. I didn't have to go on the Mag, which was a wonderful thing that became even better as events transpired.

My doctor was doing the pre-procedure sonogram to check things out when she noticed a little bit of an issue. I'll try my best to explain it.

There are two layers to the membranes (bag of waters): outer and inner. The inner layer is closest to the baby. Apparently during my last reduction, these membranes separated. Unfortunately, no one noticed this until Dr. K looked today. She showed me and it really is just floating in the fluid--I'm not sure how it was missed. She explained that while it's not really dangerous to me and won't kick me into labor, it does present a problem for a reduction. If they try to remove fluid, the needle will instead suck up the membrane and they will be unable to get any fluid.

For the little bit of fluid they would possibly be able to remove, it is not worth the risk to do a reduction. Unless the benefits outweight the risks, I will not have another one.

Dr. K measured my fluid levels and got between 24-26, very different from the 30-34 earlier this morning. She sent me to CAFCA and they measured 28-29, so they will be taking CAFCA's measurement. This just goes to show how subjective the measurement is!

The positive is that my levels aren't as high as we thought they were. The negative is that we have pretty much lost the option of doing a reduction--our best bet for holding off labor. We were able to see Abby breathing both through her mouth and out of her nose on the sonogram today, which they were very happy to see. If she is born sooner than later, she is in a much better position than 3 weeks ago.

Please pray that my contractions stay at bay and it is a quiet weekend! Well, make that a noisy weekend with the cheerful sound of my Caleb Boy coming to visit! :)

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Saturday, October 9, 2010 8:23 AM, EDT


Gimme a head with hair

Long beautiful hair

Shining, gleaming,

Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair

Shoulder length or longer

Here baby, there mama

Everywhere daddy daddy

(Did you know that there's a revival of the musical that is doing really well right now? I actually enjoy listening to the revival version more than the original. Thank you, Broadway Channel on Serius Radio!)

Anyway, I digress. This post has nothing to do with the musical, but it has everything to do with HAIR.

Who has a lot of it? My girl!!!

Several different sonographers have now remarked that she has more hair than they've ever seen on an unborn baby! We were actually able to see it floating in the amniotic fluid during one of my scans. She's got a ton!

The newest model for Our Favorite Things will be donning Fall's latest fashions in newborn bows just as soon as the nurses let me put them in, to be sure! I can't wait!

In other news: they are no longer going to scan me daily to check my fluid levels, since a reduction is pretty much out of the question anyway. If I start heavily contracting, they'll check just to see what my numbers are, but it won't be done daily anymore. I'll still go to CAFCA once a week though.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

hospital drama

Football is Biblical

***We interrupt the regularly scheduled program of Horizontal Living to entertain you with a story and a song.

My child loves football. He learned how to throw his arms up and shout "Touchdown, Redskins!" when he really little and has enjoyed watching football with his daddy this season. In fact, he sleeps in a Redskins shirt every night that they play.

So yesterday, he was wearing a Redskins shirt running around my sister's house singing,

"Hail to the Redskins! The Bible tells me so!"

(sing it to yourself to the tune of Jesus Loves Me if you don't get it!)

Yes, he is his father's son.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010 11:59 AM, EDT

Pass It On

I have been fortunate to have friends bring me some magazines to occupy my time a bit. They vary from crafting to Christian to entertainment, but I read all of them cover to cover!!

I started a pile of the magazines I had finished and decided that instead of throwing them away, I would ask the nurse to pass them on to some of my AP (anti-partum) neighbors. They loved them and now others have joined in the "Pass it On" program! I got a baby magazine last night to peruse.

Yay for helping to make the time pass by quicker. I wish they could wheel our beds into a common area and let us talk to each other from our horizontal state!

BTW: For my friends who sent me magazines, I did cut out your addresses before passing them on. Never fear--your safety is on my mind! :)

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Thursday, October 7, 2010 8:00 PM, EDT

Donations Wanted

No, I don't want your money, or your candy, or even your blood...exactly.

I simply want your arms--or more specifically, your veins.

This afternoon, I started contracting again. They hooked me up to the monitor, and started some fluids. That's when my IV backed up and my arm started swelling quickly. Welp, that one's blown!

My nurse (who had already had me and knew that my veins were bad) went to go get "the best," who dug extensively in my arm before deciding she would try for the hand. I begged her not to, as no one has ever gotten my hand and they always hit a nerve. But, she prevailed. After more digging and nerve-hitting, I told her very plainly to stop. Then I told my nurse's assistant to get my discharge papers together...only half joking.

Two labor and delivery nurses came down to check me out. Both arms' circulation cut off by turniquettes, they finally found a "good" vein in the crook of my left arm. Thankfully, these nurses believed in the power of Linocaine and gave that to me before they commenced their own digging. But this time I didn't feel it!!

After an hour total of people trying to find a vein, they finally got it in, although it is quite uncomfortable. I now am basically down to one arm unless I can manage to use my left one without bending it (which is how I'm typing this). The kicker? These seasoned LD nurses said that my veins are pretty well shot and that the next place for them to go might have to be my neck. MY NECK!

So what I need from you is just a few veins that I can attach to mine. I'm thinking the epoxy I use for my necklaces should be strong enough to glue them to my arm.

Or, if you have any other ideas that sound better than that, I will be open to them as well. For now though, I'll take the donations.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

hospital drama

I Gotta Feelin'....

Why yes, I am in fact posting this at 5 a.m. A particularly chipper nurse gave me my 4 a.m. meds and I was unable to go back to sleep after answering her many questions. No matter though, because today is going to be a good day!! Here's why:

* Matt is coming and spending the night! He hasn't stayed here since Thursday and I miss him. I'm used to him being away, but this is way longer than we've ever had to do before.

* I haven't had Mag or been NPO for over a week!! Yay for 3 meals a day!

* The menu order form for today's meals actually had a bit of variety, so I am straying from the regular tomato soup for once!

* My favorite night nurse is back on tonight and she's awesome!

* Last, but certainly not least, Glee is on tonight and we can watch it uninterrupted, thanks to my favorite dad buying us a few days of television! Glee rocks my world. :)

So you see? It has to be a good day with all of that positive stuff happening!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010 12:47 PM, EDT

News is slow here in Horizontal Land, but I will try my best to recap every detail of my bedrest adventures. Inquiring minds want to know, I'm sure. :)

Last night's episode of Glee was hysterical! I hope I have a Grilled Cheesus tonight for dinner! If you didn't watch it, run, don't walk, to Hulu and view it!

I had a surprise visit last night from our pastor and his wife. She went through similar circumstances with two of her children and it was good to chat with them.

My favorite day nurse, Marilou, is wonderful! She is Philipino and has lived quite an interesting life. She has some hysterical stories and loves to just sit and chat when she has a few extra minutes. My day is brighter with her around. It's nice to have nurses who care about their patients.

Matt is realizing that life as a single parent isn't so easy (even with lots of help from family and friends) and I think he's appreciating what I go through when he is gone all of the time! The other day he said he woke up an hour earlier than usual and was still late. Poor guy! It was good to spend time with him last night. I miss him!

Yesterday's lunch was awesome--by far the best I've had since I've been here. I got an entire plate of fresh fruit arranged on a bed of greens with cottage cheese, and it was soooo good! I was getting tired of the carb-heavy foods I was being given (because vegetarians only eat bread and potatoes) so this was a welcome change. I can't quite say the same for last night's dinner of watery vegetable soup, but Matt fixed that with a slice of delicious pizza from downstairs. Plus, he brought me Wawa lemonade and peanut butter cups! I love that man!

Word is getting around about our lollipop stash. It cracks me up when people stick their head in for a minute just to grab a sugar fix. Jackie, the med student, was on call all night and grabbed a couple to try to keep herself awake and alert!

Thank you to everyone who emails or posts stories about normal life! They really do entertain me! :)

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010 3:11 PM, EDT

A Sad Tale With a Happy Ending

Update: Oh boy. I got a visit from a hospital nutritionist who apologized profusely for the mistake and brought me another snack basket. It really wasn't that big of a deal! At 4:30, they bring me my meal. I'm now apparently on the early track (it's usually brought at 6:30) and I had...linen napkins! I asked the person who brought my meal and she said I'm a VIP now. It really wasn't that big of a deal! I feel bad that I ever said anything at all!

Well, I spoke too soon. Today's lunch was...fried chicken. A double portion (because I'm pregnant) of fried chicken, actually. And not much else!

Normally when they've messed up my meal, I just eat the other stuff or have been fortunate enough to have been brought something for dinner from a visitor. So I've never complained before. But nobody was here to buy me food from downstairs and there really wasn't much to eat. Plus, I was hungry!!

So I asked my nurse if it would be possible to get something else. Good ole Marilou--she called right down there and went to bat for me. They claimed that I wasn't a real vegetarian and that they have no documentation of me being one, but she had my order form and read to them what I had actually ordered. (After 2 1/2 weeks of having vegetarian meals, you'd think they'd catch on!) They commented that I ate the bacon they gave me this morning, which made me feel a bit stalked. (For the record, Matt ate it because he can't pass up a piece of crispy bacon!) After three calls to the cafeteria from Marilou, I finally got lunch at 3:00.

Yes, this is a sad, sad tale...but here's the happy ending I was talking about. Remember the yummy lunch of fresh fruit and cottage cheese I had yesterday? I was brought another one that was equally delicious! So it's all good. And Abby is happy now too.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hospital News

Never Fear, Never Fear

I have an IV in again. The saddest part is that it took my favorite phlebotomist (is is pitiful that I even have a favorite?) TWO tries to get it in! In her words, "Wow, this is slim pickins!" I think that's a sign that I've been here too long. They'll be checking out my feet soon for good veins!

We're back in business though and I have really enjoyed getting to know her. She has a five year old who was born here at 24 weeks, so she has been incredibly sweet and understanding (she was on hospital bedrest herself from 12-24 weeks!) It's nice to have people around who can share similar experiences.

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Monday, October 4, 2010 10:16 AM, EDT

Somebody's Got a Case of the Mondays...

On this dreary Monday morning, I thought I'd share some good news! My fluid levels are still holding! After my first reduction, they only held for 2 days before starting to increase again. It has been 8 days since my last reduction and things are still looking good! Yay!!

This new dosage seems to be working really well for me as far as my contractions go. I haven't really had any at all, which is excellent! Unfortunately, it's taking its toll on my blood pressure (74 over 44 this morning!) and causing me to feel dizzy, shaky, and very tired. They're watching me closely and I'm being really careful when I get up to go to the bathroom. I fell on Saturday and don't want to do anything to cause Abby more problems...or to take away my bathroom privileges! :) The plus side to all of this is that I can pretty much doze whenever I feel like it....

I'll hopefully be heading to get one of my "fancy scans" done today. I was supposed to go for my weekly scan on Friday but they couldn't get me in, so they're going to try again today. These are the 4-D scans that are just amazing to look at, and where I have gotten all of the sonogram pictures I've posted. They're pretty amazing!

That's all of the latest from horizonal land. Oh, well, that, and the man whose window I can look into got another floral arrangement. (interesting news is a bit slow from my vantage point...) :)

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Monday, October 4, 2010 4:54 PM, EDT

I did get to go to CAFCA today for my comprehensive scan. One of the med students who has been assigned to my case came with me because she'd never seen one of them, and it worked out that my dad and Caleb happened to be there at the right time as well! I'm learning that when you are an in-patient and on hospital time, you don't get any warning for such's just whenever the wheelchair shows up! My mom was some kind of jealous that she didn't get to go because she always seems to be on her way when they take me. Dad was going to go home and sufficiently gloat about his good timing! :)

While we didn't get some of the more exciting pictures we've gotten in the past, the big thing was the fluid levels. My daily scans are done at the bedside with a portable machine by residents; these scans are done by highly-skilled sonographers who do it all day long. When I get one of these done, they do three fluid level tests and average the scores. These are the scores in which I hold the most stock.

Welp, it's not looking too good folks! My average score was 27...quite a bit higher than the 20 I was told this morning. This doesn't necessarily mean I need to have a reduction tomorrow or anything, but it does put everyone on alert that I could start heavily contracting again.

I, however, am trying not to focus on that. Instead, I am celebrating my girl's 32 week birthday (is it a birthday if she hasn't been born yet?) and thanking God that He has given her this long to develop. Two weeks ago, I never would have thought I would make it this long. But now here I am with another round of steroid shots in me giving her lungs every opportunity to develop. Every day she stays inside means another day for her brain to grow. So it's alright! This is two weeks we didn't think we'd have.

Of course, we're not wanting her to come yet! Please pray that she stays in a bit longer! But we recognize that we are approaching "The point of no return" and that she is in a much better position to be born than she was two weeks ago. We're just thankful for every day she's been given!

Thank you to all of you who have posted messages to us and who have been praying for us. Unlike blogger, I can't respond to each one individually, but know that we are appreciative of every single note you leave! We know that our girl is being lifted up continually in prayer by so many people and we are feeling your love. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hospital News

The 12 Days of Bedrest

On this, my 12th full day of bedrest, I thought that I might entertain you (or at least myself) with a song. For length's sake, I only included the 12th verse. Rest assured that I did type out the entire song with all 12 verses, because I really don't have anything better to do! :)

On the twelfth day of bed rest, my nurse gave to me

Twelve Venadyne lectures

Eleven contraction palpations

My tenth sonogram

Nine various bracelets

My eighth different room

Seven Albuterol puffs

Six cups of ice water

Five Nifedipine pills!

Four grams of Mag

Three hospital meals

Two Colace tablets

And a needle stick in my right arm.

Happy bed rest to all, and to all a good night!

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Sunday, October 3, 2010 8:16 AM, EDT

2 Weeks Ago

2 weeks ago I took a quick shower (had I known it would be my last for a week, I would have slowed down and enjoyed it more!), ate breakfast, and got Caleb ready for church.

2 weeks ago I painted my toe nails to match the dress I was wearing.

2 weeks ago I took my 30 week baby bump photo in the mirror.

2 weeks ago I drove to church like every Sunday.

2 weeks ago I walked outside and enjoyed the fresh air for the last time.

2 weeks ago I had the scariest day of my life. I thought I would be meeting my daughter that day, and it was much too early. I was terrified.

2 weeks ago I took a helicopter ride to UMMC where some wonderful doctors and nurses took control of the situation and stopped my labor, buying my Abby Girl precious time.

A lot has happened in two weeks! I was a bit homesick last night and lamenting the fact that things are not going to return to normal for quite some time. Thanks to the friends that reminded me to define my new normal! Things will be normal again, but they may not be the same kind of normal. I don't quite know what normal is right now, but I think it will start with me no longer being an inpatient and getting to see Caleb more. So I'm back to being in good spirits!

My positive thought for the day? I currently do not have an iv port in!!! This is only because the one I had in went bad last night and the phlebotomists don't work that late. They asked if I wanted to have a nurse do it last night just in case I needed fluids overnight, but I told them I would take my chances. :) I will be getting another one today, but for now I'm free!

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Sunday, October 3, 2010 8:31 AM, EDT

Keeping in touch

We've been getting creative with ways that I can stay connected with Caleb. It has been crazy hard being away from him and I think the transition back to being "Mom" again after I'm out of the hospital is going to be a little rough for him after having so many different care-givers. I've already seen glimpses of him not really looking at me as an authority figure anymore. I can't really blame him, seeing as I can't do much but lie flat in the bed!

Anyway, aside from talking to him on the phone each day, we've also tried to get him up here to visit as much as possible. This is really more for me than for him, as Caleb is pretty resilient and doesn't seem to mind being passed around! Visits are dependent on who can bring him, but I will have seen him 3 days in a row this week! :)

Caleb has been bringing books and little toys with him when he visits so that we have something to do. As I have mentioned before, he hates when I am hooked up to stuff. Yesterday, I requested my daily monitoring be done in the a.m. so that it would be finished by the time they got here. It was a good move, because it was the first time I've been totally disconnected the entire time he's been here! He climbed right up on the bed and asked me to read Horton Hatches an Egg to him. I happily obliged!

We picked up one of those recordable books from Hallmark that allows Caleb to hear my voice as the pages turn. I recorded it last night and he will get to listen to it today for the first time. He was really excited about the thought of me "reading" to him at home. Naturally, I had to rerecord a few pages because I got a little choked up, but I made it through!

Since Matt and I both have webcams on our laptops, we downloaded Skype with the intention of me being able to chat with Caleb. Apparently, it's too complicated for us! I couldn't get it to work from here, so we thought maybe it was blocked by the hospital server. But Matt can't get it to work from home or church either. It appears to be operator error! We're both pretty technologically savvy, so it frustrates me that I can't get it to work! If you're a Skype guru, let me know and maybe you can help us figure it out.

So those are the things I've been doing to try to stay connected with Caleb. I welcome other creative ideas, because I miss my boy!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hospital News

Rain Drops Keep Fallin' on My...Hospital Window

I love natural light. I'd seriously keep the lights off all of the time if it was light enough for me to see. Plus, natural light makes for great pictures!! (5 p.m. or so is the BEST lighting for pictures and also the time I'm normally outside with Caleb, so it works out well! FYI!)

Whenever Matt's not around to close them (he doesn't like that other patients can stare into my room), I have the blinds pulled up on my two hospital windows so that I can get a glimpse of the outside world and add a bit of natural light to my room. There's not so much sunshine right now, but that's okay. Today, I've been watching the rain.

I love rain anyway, but I'm gaining a new appreciation for it in my horizontal state. It's really interesting to note the falling patterns (or lack thereof) because it can be raining really super heavy and then all of the sudden just slow way down for a few seconds. Some of the drops fall really fast on the window sill while others seem to be almost in slow motion. The pitches are different on them too, which I guess depends on where they hit and the speed at which they fall. Have you noticed that when they hit the ground or window sill that they almost sound like pressing the keys on the computer or typewriter? It's almost the exact same noise. The misty stuff that is currently falling doesn't really make any noise at all, but the occasionally heavy raindrop adds a little sound now and then.

So there's your rain analysis. A product of boredom? Perhaps. But there is also something to be said for slowing down and taking in God's creation. I don't do that enough in my typically busy go-get-'em life. So if you have a few seconds sometime today, stop and listen to the rain. :)

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Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:38 AM, EDT

What Are You Wearing Home?

The other night, I was talking to Caleb on the phone. Like always, he asked when I was coming home. Naturally, this makes me cry every time.

This time though, he asked what I was going to be wearing when I came home. That confused me a bit, because Caleb doesn't normally pay much attention to my wardrobe choices. I asked him to explain and he clarified by asking what kind of doctor stuff I'd be wearing.

Aha. Every time Caleb has visited, I've been hooked up to monitors, IVs, blood pressure, etc. Although recently I've been totally unhooked for the majority of my day, luck would have it that there's something attached to me whenever he visits. This freaks him out a bit...more than I realized, I guess.

I quickly assured him that when I come home, I will not be hooked up to anything! I will just be Mommy without any IVs, wires, or bracelets. He was really happy to hear it!

What's the hardest part of all of this? It's not being horizontal, or having blood drawn, or even being NPO so often. It is being away from the sweetest gift I've ever received. Considering I've never left him for more than 2 days at a time, this is definitely rough on me.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel though, and we will definitely be working on a schedule for after Abby is born (and we are still up here with her while she's in the NICU) so that he will get to stay with us for at least part of the week. That's non-negotiable. I love that kid too much to be away too much longer!

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Friday, October 1, 2010 2:13 PM, EDT

Catching You Up

Don’t you hate it when you write a lengthy post and hit submit onto to discover that the internet is not working and you just lost the entire thing? Yeah, me too. This is my second attempt and I’m typing and saving it in Word first!!

It has occurred to me that some of you are just tuning into our little reality show and may not be familiar with what started all of this to begin with. Allow me to recap!

At 20 weeks, Abby was diagnosed here at UMMC with having micrognathia. This is a condition where the jaw isn’t in proportion to the rest of her head and can cause her to have breathing and eating problems. There are a lot of other syndromes that go along with micrognathia and one in particular that we’re pretty sure she has, but they can’t really be diagnosed for certain until she’s born.

We’ve been coming here once a month for sonograms to monitor her growth and fluid levels. Dr. H warned us that an increase in fluid levels will mean that she is no longer swallowing like she should and could indicate a bigger problem. We were warned—and it happened!

I switched my care to a local OB here so that I could deliver at UMMC. At the time, my place of delivery wasn’t a concern (of course, it is now!) but it was essential that Abby be at a hospital with a NICU equipped to handle her uncommon condition. Since there was no way that I would deliver at my hometown hospital only to have her flown out (and possibly lose precious time getting her stable), we made the obvious choice to deliver at UMMC. Now with prematurity also being an issue, it is even more essential that we be here. Babies with her condition are really hard to intubate anyway, but premature babies with this condition are nearly impossible. An experienced neonatologist certified in nasal intubation is critical in her case.

We never intended to do an amniocentesis because termination was never an option and we couldn’t change whatever she had. Plus, I was scared of having an amnio—ha ha! Little did I know…

When we did the first amnio reduction, they asked if we wanted to get some of the fluid tested. I said sure, since they were taking it off anyway and just going to throw it away! Plus, it will give her doctors more information on how to treat her. While the preliminary tests (just the 3 main syndromes they can test for here—none of which were really a concern for us) came back fine, we’re waiting on the comprehensive results.

There is so much about Abby’s condition that we just won’t know until she’s born. Does this bother the heck out of the planner in me? Why yes, it does! But I’m trying to focus on what we DO know. We know that she will be immediately taken to the NICU after birth and monitored very closely. We know that she won’t be going home at the same time I’m discharged (her length of stay is really undetermined, but will be longer if she is premature). We know that she will not go home on a breathing/heart monitor or a feeding tube unless it’s surgically placed in her stomach. All of the what if’s regarding surgeries, length of intubation, other syndromes, etc. are all labeled wait-and-see.

So, I think that just about catches you up. Pretty much everything here has already been stated on my blog, but I know it’s a pain to sift through pages and pages of [delightfully funny and clever] blog posts to get a glimpse of what is going on.

In other news: my fluid levels were a bit higher today—not alarming, but on the rise. This goes along with the heavy contractions I had last night that put the nurses into a tailspin and almost sent me upstairs in the middle of the night. Thank goodness for the extra “push” dose of my meds! It did the trick, allowing us to stay in our room and finally get some sleep from 2:30-5:30!