Friday, May 29, 2009

The Birth of the Twins... VERY LONG POST

This is how the twins arrived. Some of it might be graphic, so read at your discretion.
Friday morning I woke up and felt a little funniness downstairs. I a little bit ignored it, a little bit wondered about it. But mostly I just ignored it. That’s what I do. I started updating the “Stories” section of the page and got on the phone with Amber to talk to her about said “funniness”… “Amber, I think my water broke?” “Melissa, how can you think it broke?” “I dunno…” and I kept on updating and putzing around the house doing my morning routine, getting Jack out of bed, getting ready to head outside to play in the pool on a beautiful day (to include donning a bathing suit) etc. Mid-way through all of this I said, “Yeah dude, my water is definitely broken. I think I should call Justin.” Amber said she’d rush right over. I was feeling ZERO contractions so I kept on about my morning chores and finally got ahold of Justin who insisted I get to the hospital as soon as possible and he’d meet me there. A couple hours and a McDonald’s stop later and I was there, leaving behind my precious Jack to embark on a new journey as a mother. I checked in around noon or 1ish and they finally got my Pitocin a-dripping at 3pm. Luckily, spending weeks and weeks at 5 cm meant I progressed pretty quickly and I consented to let them do the stupid epidural around 6 cm.
I really hated it. I mean, after everything was all over, I’m glad I had it, but no, I’m not a convert. I’d rather deal with the pain. It’s just a personal thing. The insertion didn’t really hurt – but the overall sensation was disquieting and felt unnatural and unnerving. They gave me a test dose strong enough to knock out the contractions for an hour to make sure it was working and by the time I hit 7.5 cm or so, it was gone. My doc checked me and noticed there was still a bag of water between Addie’s head and her exit, so she popped that and I was ready to push an hour of decently uncomfortable contractions later. Of course, at this point, they’re telling me, “Tell us if you need to push, okay?” And I said to Justin, “Honey, put on your scrubs and tell them I need to push RIGHT NOW.” Of course they came back and said, “Okay, sure, well let’s get you to the OR… don’t push, okay?” Some ungodly number of minutes later, after what seemed like an interminable trip through labor and delivery we arrived in the OR and some ungodly number of minutes later, the requisite number of spectators had arrived and the room was prepped and I was fully under the impression that I had been abducted by aliens because I refused to look at anything other than the gigantic light directly above my head and at Justin’s face in his silly scrub mask. Everything else was a sterile blue-green and white blur against stainless steel and tile. NOT exactly the most comforting environment for what I was about to undertake. FINALLY, after people saying, “Don’t push Honey, breathe.” And me thinking “I’d like to push my fist through your face,” they told me to push. I don’t think it was more than 1 or 2 contractions and a few pushes before Addie made her entrance in one long push. Her cry was AMAZING to hear. They took her over to get her evaluated and Justin kept a watchful eye over both of us. I pushed through another contraction to get Jordan to move down and maybe a second one that brought her to the cervical opening and the next thing I heard was my doctor say, “Melissa, honey, her heart rate is at 80 so I need you to push her out on this next contraction, okay? She needs to get out now.” My mind started racing instantly as I stared in Justin’s reassuring face… “Oh my God there are no drugs in my epidural and it’ll take at LEAST 5 minutes to dose me up enough for the C-section, not to mention the prep time for that. Oh my God, my baby’s life depends on me and this next contraction.” I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. I pushed with all of my might, I swear I did. I have never exerted myself like that in my LIFE, but she didn’t go far enough. I learned later that her face was towards the ceiling, presenting the larger part of her skull which is much more difficult to push out. My doctor recognized the issue and audibled instantly to a forceps extraction. Justin briefly saw the forceps, I didn’t look. Now, up to this point, I hadn’t made really a peep except for the requisite panting and puffing. No moaning, no yelling… well, they gave me some oxygen, told me to push, and opened up those forceps. I let out a holler like none other at the absolute paralyzing pain that instantly flashed through my hips and up my spine as I pushed while they guided little Jordan down and out in about 2 pushes. I screamed with relief when she was out and Justin kept me focused so I could calm down a little bit. At some point in between all of this I got to give Addison a kiss, and shortly after Jordan came out, Justin brought her over for me to see as well. I looked over and saw giant little baby hands waving back at me – he and I both remarked instantly at the size of their mitts – so adorable! I only briefly saw them before they were taken to the nursery for the rest of their evaluations. Meanwhile the doctors were STILL working on me and I was STILL in crazy amounts of pain. I realized something was going on and I just told Justin to go be with the babies. “They need you, Daddy – there’s nothing you can do here – I’m fine. Go be with them!” I know he was torn, but I think my doctor reassured him and he went with the girls. And off he went to be with Addison Ryan Gallagher, born at 8:48 pm weighing 5lbs 6oz (a pound less than estimated by the ultrasound) and Jordan Riley Gallagher, born at 8:57 pm weighing 7lbs 2oz… the little babies with giant hands.
“WHAT are you doing to me?!” I asked. “Oh, this hurts?” “Uh, yeah… *grunt* Quite a bit, actually.” “Oh, well you’re bleeding pretty badly and we’re just trying to get it under control.” Oh. Well that explained why I couldn’t see my doctor’s arm and hand and why a second doctor was kneading my abdomen as if he were doing CPR chest-compressions. I think at this point the anesthesiologist realized that I was in a retarded amount of discomfort from their efforts to stop the bleeding so he started some drugs in my epidural – for which I will FOREVER be grateful considering what they ended up having to do down there. I’m not going into gory details, and I’m fine, but these were not sensations I really care to feel and I’m not dumb enough to want to be a martyr. After some ups and downs with my blood pressure and various medications, I was finally wheeled to post-op where I met back up with Justin who was absolutely horrified at the ashen, shaking mess that his wife had become. A combination of hormones, blood-loss, exertion, the cold temperature of the OR and weird meds in my body had left me a shaking, shivering disaster covered in warming blankets and barfing up the strange blue liquid my anesthesiologist insisted I chug en route to the OR in-between contractions.
He told me that they needed about 4 hours with the girls to do their stuff and we’d get them back once in the postpartum ward. Disappointed but too exhausted to argue, I was just grateful for the possibility of getting a little rest. They thankfully had put me in a private room because of the state of my body post-delivery and the fact that I had twins in-bound. Ordinarily Justin would not have been able to stay the night with me because I would have been sharing a room, but they realized that I was pretty weak and I’d need a little help with two babies. As it turns out, at around the 3-hour postpartum mark, a pediatric NP came in to tell me they had to put Jordan in the NICU. I was absolutely devastated. Everything had been fine afterwards I’d thought. They’d reassured me that everything was okay and that the dip in heart rate was not a problem. What was wrong? Well, as with many C-section babies, those extracted with the aid of forceps often don’t get a proper chest-compression on the way through the birth canal and that, combined with her face-up presentation meant she had inhaled some fluid that her lungs were having a bit of a hard time clearing. So I was concerned, and worried, and sad, but not terrified. An hour later they brought Addie to me and I FINALLY got to hold my baby girl who latched on (unlike her brother) perfectly and contentedly nursed for about 20 minutes.
She has blue eyes. She has dark hair. She has delicate features and a heart-shaped face with Justin’s eyes. She has some gigantic hands and long toes and fingers. She is absolutely stunning. We still can’t get over how tiny she is!
I finally was strong enough around 11 the next morning to walk down to the NICU to see Jordan. It was unfathomable to me that I had a daughter in the world I really had never met. I only saw her for enough time to give her a kiss before they whisked her away the night before. She was so lonely looking in her isolette – so little and so fragile. Wires and monitors and tubes obscured most of her features, but I could tell she also had dark hair, and Justin said her eyes are blue too. She has Jack’s chin and nose and mouth and now that she’s home, every time I look at her while she’s nursing, I see Jack at that age. It’s incredible. I wasn’t able to hold her – just stroke her cheek and whisper to her how much I love her and how much we all miss her. It was another day or so before I could hold her and didn’t get to nurse her until we had been home for a day or so. Thankfully, she improved quickly and we were pleasantly surprised when their June 3rd estimated discharge date moved forward and we got the call on Wednesday morning (Addie and I got home Monday) that we were allowed to go snatch her from the grips of the hospital. She lost some weight in the NICU down to about 6lbs 7oz and Addie gained an insane amount of weight in the first two days of life – from 5lbs 6oz to 6lbs!
Jordan’s homecoming was a relief for me – I had been pumping 5-6 times a day for her and we were trying to coordinate visits to her with neither child able to come with Justin and I, and it was breaking my heart to not have one of my babies home with me and it was obvious that Addie wanted her sister. Both girls are instantly calmed down with human contact. They sleep so well together – cuddled together and snuggly in a way that makes me feel queasy with love. As a family we only had Thursday to be together for a full day before Justin was back to work today to stand duty until tomorrow morning. I was so scared last night, but so far it hasn’t been bad. All 3 are sleeping now and the house is a mess and I’m unshowered and I don’t really care. I basically nurse and change diapers and play with Thomas trains with Jack. Rinse. Repeat. The diapers. The incalculable number of diapers. Holy moly. I am exhausted and spacey, but happy and fairly confident that I’m not going to screw any of the 3 of them up too badly over the next few months.
Amber kept Jack at her house for us on Friday night – THANK YOU AMBER!!!! - where he apparently did fantastically well. I am so proud of him! Then, for the remainder of my stay, Justin got to be super Daddy and take care of all things household and Jack. They had their routine of coming to visit Mommy – replete with counting of hospital floors in the elevator and button-pushing sequences and dinner rituals. My little boy seemed to grow up over-night and his vocabulary exploded and he seemed to magically understand things I thought were too much for him. I was changing Addie’s diaper in the hospital and Jack was watching and he said, “That’s disgusting.” (Yes, he says it. “DIS GUSSSS TIG”) “No it’s not, Jack. I change I am exhausted and spacey, but happy and fairly confident that I’m not going to screw any of the 3 of them up too badly over the next few months.
Amber kept Jack at her house for us on Friday night – THANK YOU AMBER!!!! - where he apparently did fantastically well. I am so proud of him! Then, for the remainder of my stay, Justin got to be super Daddy and take care of all things household and Jack. They had their routine of coming to visit Mommy – replete with counting of hospital floors in the elevator and button-pushing sequences and dinner rituals. My little boy seemed to grow up over-night and his vocabulary exploded and he seemed to magically understand things I thought were too much for him. I was changing Addie’s diaper in the hospital and Jack was watching and he said, “That’s disgusting.” (Yes, he says it. “DIS GUSSSS TIG”) “No it’s not, Jack. I change your diaper all the time.” “No.” “Yes, I do.” “No, don’t poop.” “Yes, you do.” “No. I fart.” Magical, see? He was so kind and gentle with Addie – and he patted my belly and declared “All done, Baby” when he saw her out in the world. I could go on and on, but we really are just so proud of him. He truly loves them – he makes us either bring them up with us for bedtime or else he absolutely must kiss them before leaving for nap or bed. If one cries, he makes sure we’re dealing with it or else tells us, “It’s better” after he’s covered them gingerly with a blanket. He feeds them bottles (supervised) as well as he can and loves to hold them and stroke their heads. I love my kids.
I’m thrilled to able to dance around with him (we do “dancing” in the kitchen) and get down on the floor with him and chase him around and snuggle with him on my lap… I’m tired and my legs and ankles are still swollen, but it’s getting insanely better quickly. I have no idea how much weight I gained because of the edema, but I’m moving quickly in a good direction, though by no means stressed about it.
On a very sad note, the night I delivered the girls, Enzo took a turn for the worst with his illness… Justin, incredible man that he is, tried everything to nurse the bunny back to health on his own – hand feeding, watering, even bathing the poor fella who couldn’t stand up anymore and was just voiding where he lay and soaking in his own urine and poo… Justin sat for hours with him, holding him and trying to reassure him and coax him to eat and drink enough to show improvement. When I got home, I saw how totally painful the whole thing had to have been for Justin – Enzo was so pathetic and such a sad, sad sight and required so much attention that Justin dotingly gave him despite worries for me and the babies and his own exhaustion. He held that bunny in his lap, let him pee on his lap, and petted him to calm him down when Enzo spasmed, remaining steady and strong. I love my husband. After a couple of days, Justin and I spoke with the vet and determined that it probably would be best for Enzo if we let him go. He had no quality of life. He deserved peace that wouldn’t come here on Earth, and so, on our way to go pick up Jordan from the hospital, we dropped Enzo off at the vet and said goodbye to our furry buddy. It hurt us so much (and me, admittedly, more than I thought it would) to see him go… the way his body was wrenched made it so that he was stuck on his side with his head nearly upside down. He started trembling in his carrier while I was waiting for the paperwork in the vet’s office, so I unzipped the front flap to put my hand on his heaving side to calm him down and when I took it away, he stuck his good front paw out the zipper like he was reaching out to me. I held it until they took him from me. I’ll never forget it. We’ll never forget you, Enzo… Thank you for everything, pal.
I know this has been an impossibly long post, and I’m sorry, but there has been so much change in the last week!
I want to thank everyone who has helped, offered to help, or just given a few words of encouragement, prayer, and congratulations. We couldn’t have done any of this without you guys – we love you!
AND – a HUGE congratulations are in order for a very dear member of our family, Justin’s cousin Sarah Calta is now Mrs. Alan Schoeneberger – a wedding that must have been absolutely beautiful and we are so sorry to have missed it! Best of luck to you two from all five of us! We love you!
And with that, I hear another round of diaper changing coming up and potentially some whirl-wind toy and baby-blanket purging in the living room. Enjoy the update and stay tuned for more!

I've Been Away Awhile...

... and I might not come back full-swing for a little bit. Justin's on duty today so I've got 3 kids, 2 of whom are exactly a week old tonight, by myself for the next 28 hours for the first time EVER and I don't think "sheer untenable terror" would be too strong a term for how I feel about that. We only had one day as a family of 5 before the real world hit us hard again, and that's nowhere NEAR enough time to figure out how to nurse 2, burp 2, change 3, feed a tot, play with a tot, maintain any kind of personal hygiene, etc. OMG I'm overwhelmed. But I can figure something out.

Anyway, I'll catch up slowly over the next couple of weeks. I'm sure you'll understand!

By the way, in case anyone was wondering, Enzo had to leave us. We dropped him off at the vet for euthanasia on our way to pick up Jordan from the hospital... He took a turn downhill while I was in labor and his quality of life, even with a level of care that would have been unsustainable for Justin and I, would have been almost non-existent. It's gut-wrenching to have made the decision we did, but we will forever love our furry little practice child. RIP you fluffy, lovable, goofy douche-bag...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rabbit Stew, Anyone...?

Well, I was about to post an update over the weekend about how swimmingly well Enzo has been doing with his gimp. We even re-introduced Enzo and Jack - and this was Jack's reaction:

Adorable, eh? Enzo of course didn't stick around long as we didn't want to over-tax him so we put him back upstairs in his tower prison (the 3rd floor). This was a Wednesday or Thursday... Well, Saturday night, Justin went to bed and I headed up to feed and love on Enzo a bit before I turned in too. I got up there and there was no movement in the cage. I couldn't even see Enzo -heard no scuffling or anything. Panicked, I called down to Justin to inform him that Enzo was NOT in the cage, somehow. I thought perhaps his brief taste of freedom had inspired a jail-break. Well, there's not much ON the 3rd floor, and he was neither under nor behind ANYTHING. So I called down to lazy bones... erm... Justin... that "Enzo is GONE!" Then I saw him... stuffed motionless in the tiny space between the outside of the cage and the inside of the white fence we use as an "outer enclosure" to the whole thing. As Justin was **finally** coming up the stairs, I gasped, "Oh my gosh I think he's dead!" As I pulled him out of the cage, he started moving in what seemed like a seizure and I amended to: "Oh no, he's not dead, he's dying!" Freaked out that I was hurting him, I set him on the floor and he just "swam" in place on his side, flopping and rolling and flopping, with his head at an impossible angle that made me want to call an Exorcist rather than a vet. Justin's head emerged at the top of the steps in time to see this and he about lost it too. It took me a second, but I scooped Enzo back up and held him tightly to keep him from flailing and realized that one eye was totally bugged out of the socket and one was all but shut and his face was droopy on that side, so I immediately thought he'd had a stroke. Then I thought he had possibly tried to escape, didn't make it due to his lame elbow, and broke his back. So I started trying to get him to use his muscles and found that he really had all of his strength and had control over the movement of his limbs. Poor Justin just sat there trying to figure out how this crap happens to us and what in the world we were going to do about it at 11:30 on a Saturday night after we'd each enjoyed a glass of wine. After the initial shock and panic wore off, I realized he had a condition I'd read about when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with our other bunny, Esmeralda... "wry neck" or "head tilt". I didn't know much about it, other than that it exists and that it's a symptom of something else. Not sure what to do at this point, I realized that Enzo hadn't eaten the pellets I'd given him the night before, so whatever went wrong had probably been wrong for about 24 hours or so... and that meant he hadn't had any water in at least that long. So we prioritized getting him some water. I passed Enzo to Justin, gave him the water bottle, and told him I was going to go get on the internet and see what I could find before we started calling emergency vets. Enzo seemed to be very grateful for the water and the security of being secured in Justin's lap, so down I went...

This head-tilt issue... usually it's from something like an ear infection, stroke, trauma, etc. or from a parasite that lives in the kindeys, reproduces, and migrates to other organs after trauma, dehydration or a compromised immune system called E. cuniculi, and when it resides in the brain, causes cysts that can cause, among other issues, head-tilt. The "flopping" issue isn't from loss of strength or control of the body, but a total inability to gain balance since the inner-ear can't regulate if a bun's head is turned 120 degrees to the left. I guess about 80% of rabbits are suspected to have the parasite, but in most cases, it never migrates or causes problems. I assume Enzo picked up the parasite when he was in the vet's office for his elbow, and it just hung out until recently and was probably triggered by the fact that his immune system has been working on fixing his elbow lately... he hasn't been exhibiting signs of an ear infection, didn't seem to have signs of a stroke... so I figured it was probably the parasite. Doing some more research indicated that dehydration can aggravate the growth of the parasite and cause it to accelerate, so I went upstairs and told Justin that this was the most likely scenario.

While I had been gone, Enzo drank a good amount of water and already his eye looked incredibly less buggy and he seemed to be calming down a bit. That he was responding to an increase in hydration also indicated to me that E. cuniculi was most likely the root cause. Once we had calmed ourselves down and satisfied ourselves that Enzo had consumed as much water as he was going to for the time being, we offered him some food (which he rejected) and decided it was best to just make him comfortable enough to rest peacefully until morning when we could reevaluate. In the morning, he seemed slightly better - certainly better than he had been when I first found him. In fact, he had moved himself a little bit around the cage. So we held him, gave him more water, offered him more food and decided to wait until Monday to get in touch with a vet, since all emergency vets are too far away for me to have been able to justify going that far from the hospital. All day Sunday we kept hydrating him, giving him lettuce, and holding him securely, until at least his eyes stopped spinning crazily around like he had just gotten off the Tea Cups. I called Monday, secured a Tuesday appointment, and continued nursing him and trying to keep him comfy. Last night, he seemed almost normal - was drinking on his own, and had eaten some pellets on his own, and this morning, he seemed very much like his old self, with a slightly tilted head that makes him actually very cute. He has a very quizzical look about him at all times right now. Combined with his right paw being held in a "duh" fashion across his chest and it's a very tragically funny sight.

Anyway, took him to the vet, and she agrees with me. Also said that giving him as much water as we have been is probably what's enabled him to come back around so quickly. She's never seen an E. cuniculi case of head-tilt respond so well without drugs in such a short time. So she gave me a 30-day course of anti-parasitic drug and told me he should make a pretty good recovery. Even if he doesn't progress beyond where he is TODAY, he will adapt fairly well and re-learn to walk, run, eat and drink and live a full, happy life. So, the good news is that I am not going to have to deal with 4x daily subcutaneous fluid injections and 4x daily syringe feedings and daily physical therapy sessions etc. to get him healthy again, as some people do. In that case, we'd be sending him to the light, I think. As it is, I was nearly hoping that she'd tell me he's dunzo... but he's not. It's (big) bump in the road, but we can get him back on track...

But really? Now? Can you imagine if I had still been in the hospital? Can you imagine that phone call from Justin? Lordy. Such a disaster. Once again, marvelous timing, Powers That Be.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ugh, the Hospital Saga...

There is no way I am re-typing this one... You can read it on the baby page at or what I've copied/pasted below:

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing Mommies in my life! Believe me, I know what an honor, a blessing, a gift, and (at times, like this weekend!) exhausting endeavor it is to define yourself as "Mommy". I could go on and on about it, but I'm pretty sure you'd rather just hear about this past weekend and what the heck happened that I was in prison the hospital for 72 hours...

On Friday, I had a regular OB appointment, though not with my own provider (Dr. Sheldon) because she has been temporarily deployed to one of the Red Cross ships, the Comfort, until May 16th. The doctor who saw me checked my cervix and saw it was at 4 cm and I had effaced a tiny bit more since my last cervical check - which was on the Sunday before when I was 3 cm. She said I should head over to Labor and Delivery Triage to have them check me again to make sure and to hook me up to the monitors for awhile to see that the babies were fine. It sounded reasonable, so I took my chart and headed down the hall. L&D was PACKED when I got there and Triage was backed up. I waited a little more than an hour (Justin was at home with Jack, so it was fine) and they took my vitals and listened to the girls' heart-rates and re-checked my cervix. Still at 4. So the nurse said they'd like to talk to the doctors and see what they say before giving me the green light to head home. That was fine. But it was also noon at this point and I hadn't eaten since 7 that morning and I knew that if they stuck me there for any amount of time, I wouldn't be able to eat anything at all. So I pleaded with them (probably my biggest mistake, in retrospect) to let me go grab some food. They said that was fine as long as I stayed in the building so I walked from L&D to Taco Bell, ate a good $10 of food there (which is fairly difficult to do, but figured if I was going to actually have babies, I'd want the calories since the worst part of a 22 hour labor with Jack was being hungry) and headed back. They re-checked me at that point and I was 5 cm dilated with no change in effacement, but Addison was at a 0 station (right AT the cervical opening, whereas -1,-2, etc. indicate the baby's head is further up in the uterus and +1, +2 etc. mean the head is past the cervical opening and in the birth canal) "Melissa, you're going to have some babies today! We're going to go ahead and admit you, yay!" The words "you're going to have some babies today" should be the most exciting words a giant pregnant woman hears and now I'm utterly and totally afraid to hear them out of another nurse's mouth until someone looks between my legs and sees baby hair fuzz. Anyway, they took me back to a L&D room and... put me in bed and hooked me up to the monitors. So if I had any "momentum" and was actually headed towards delivering these girlies, that killed it. For hours I sat there listening to their perfect heartbeats, watching the total and complete lack of contractions on the screen, feeling nothing but the numbness of my tush and growing frustration of being stalled with no hope of pitocin to help me get going. The doctors there are insisting the twins are still preemies (though my own doctor was calling them "full term" at 34 weeks) and will not help my labor along in any capacity - to include stripping my membranes. They had me stay over night in L&D and said they'd evaluate me in the morning to decide if I was actually in labor, if they were going to put me in another ward, 4-E, also known as "antepartum", or if I could just go home. Kasey was a trooper and brought me some McDonald's when they ascertained that I wasn't in labor enough to warrant NPO orders, and she sat with me and kept me company for awhile. I sent Justin home for most of this entire bunch of BS so he could be with Jack and maintain as much normalcy as possible for the poor kiddo; I knew nothing exciting was going to happen. Besides, we live 3 stoplights away... 10 minutes if you stop at each one.
Monitors hooked up over night, continuous fluids, IV penicillin in case the Group B Strep test came back positive... vitals every 2 hours... It was a long, exhausting night of absolutely nothing constructive happening. The girls' heart rates were fine, I wasn't contracting... in general, it was pointless torture. Saturday morning they decided I could move to 4-E because they refused to send me home at 5 cm. The only way anything would change is if a) I dilated to 6 or 7 cm on my own or b) my water broke. Otherwise, it was sit and wait. But sit and wait IN THE HOSPITAL. Keep in mind, at this point, I hadn't seen Jack in a full 24 hours, and the last time I did see him, I was looking at the back of his head as I snuck out the kitchen door to my appointment. The ache in my heart was worse than any contraction I ever felt during my labor with him. Even now looking back on how horrendous it was to be away from him makes me queasy.

Anyway, they moved me to this other room - no real TV, a window that looked out on a roof and a/c unit and got no sunshine, and the most heinous excuse for 3 square meals I've ever seen in my life. Oh, and a roommate. As soon as I got to the room, I called Justin and made him bring me my Jack. I can't even begin to describe what it was like to see him again. I can't. I have no words. It was simply amazing. While Justin was there, we ascertained that, contrary to what I had been told initially (that I wasn't allowed to leave the bed, let alone the room), I had orders to walk at least 3 times a day and was permitted to walk around the hospital grounds. The nurse even told me that "when they write orders like that, it's generally because they want to see if there is any change from walking and if not, going home becomes an option." So we instantly scooped Jack up and went walking, hoping against hope that either there would be no change or I'd just break some water and we could get the show on the road. I FELT NOTHING. No contractions, no change in Addie's station, nothing. Jack looked exhausted, so I walked the boys back to the parking garage, buckled Jack into his car seat so he could go home and nap, and watched them drive away. It was gut-wrenching. As I was buckling Jack he pointed at the passenger seat and said, "Mama, sit. Sit dere." All I could do was kiss his sweet little face and try to smile at him. (I already knew at this point that I couldn't handle 3 weeks of this shit nonsense.) Went back in to the room and rested until Justin came back with Jack for dinner and more walking. Again, Jack demanded I sit in the passenger seat when I put him in the car seat. Meanwhile, on the labor front, STILL NO CHANGE. I had to spend another night there... This time I had one of Jack's blankies, but it didn't do a thing to soothe my frustration and loneliness.

Justin called before he put Jack to bed because Jack kept pointing at the phone and saying, "Mama!" So they called and Justin asked Jack, "What's Mama doing?" and Jack replied, "Mama with babies." It was amazing to hear him chattering away on the phone. He got on and told me all about the birds eating their "Nummahs" (his word for good food) and the stars in the sky and the boats in the water and everything he could think of. I think I should mention here that Justin did an amazing job - an i ndescribably amazing job adjusting to being thrust into the role of a single father with a tot and house to care for. When I got home there were no massive piles of laundry sitting around, not food piled up on the counter and no dishes in the sink. He and Jack played and spent great time together, and I am so blessed to have both of them in my life. Anyway, I went to bed that night, needless to say, with the heaviest emptiness I've ever felt in my heart at the prospect of 3 weeks without my son.

The whole day we had been discussing the possibility of leaving AMA (against medical advice) and what that would mean for me, the twins, our insurance, etc. and had come to the decision that if, by Sunday morning, we couldn't convince someone to let me leave, I was going to go ahead and check out AMA. The biggest fear was that doing so would mean Tricare was unwilling to pay for the delivery. Once we found that isn't the case, I was 100% convinced that being at home in my environment would absolutely be the best thing for all 5 of us. By 6 am Sunday, I had convinced a few nurses and even one of the doctors (but unfortunately, not his superior) that I was better off at home. Eventually, the "head" doctor finally came in to talk to me and I explained my position and he just looked at me and said no. I'll sum up both sides of the argument:

Medical Staff:
1. I could progress to 10 cm, not know it, have 2 contractions and deliver the babies en route to the hospital and both could perish. 2. I can be continuously monitored in the hospital. 3. Labor can progress MUCH faster with 2nd pregnancies and especially with twins. 4. I would be able to rest and relax there and be "taken care of".

1. There is no way I will not notice SOMETHING different between 5-10 cm. 2. We live incredibly close to the hospital and if worst comes to worse, we live a block and a half from the Portsmouth FD and can call 911. 3. Two 6-lb babies will not simply fall out of me. 4. If labor was going to progress SO MUCH FASTER with this pregnancy, I probably would have seen SOME change over the course of the 4.5+ miles we walked over a day and a half and the 72 hours I sat around waiting for something to happen. 5. "Resting" and "relaxing" are beyond impossible in a hospital, especially with a roommate. 6. I didn't see a single fresh veggie or piece of fresh fruit the whole time I was there. "Whole grain" wasn't even an option, let alone, "wheat" instead of "white" bread. Everything was over cooked so any nutrients were totally gone, replaced with sodium for "flavor". I couldn't eat the food and therefore replaced 2 of 3 meals with McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc. which was unhealthy AND expensive. 7. Child care for Jack? 8. By the third visit he was starting to act up and I knew that the day would come (probably in the next 3) when he refused to come see me and that would not only break my spirit entirely, but make what will already be a difficult transition even worse. 9. With Jack's labor and delivery, it took over 12 hours, 9 of them on Pitocin, 6 of them on the MAXIMUM dose of Pitocin, to get me to progress from 5-6 centimeters AFTER my water had broken. 10. My mental, spiritual and emotional health are just as important at this stage of pregnancy as my physical health. 11. Delivering the twins in 2 contractions and having both perish on the floor of the van is the worst case, least likely scenario and I cannot live my life basing my decisions on that one potential outcome. I would not get in a car or handle sharp objects or leave my house without a biohazard suit if that were the case. 12. I know my body. I can feel minute changes in what the girls are doing. I know what it feels like when Addie's head is at a 0 station versus a -3 station. I'm responsible enough to go back to the hospital the second anything weird happens AT ALL. 13. I can't rank my children in importance; Jack and his well-being is in no way less important to me than the girls'. They are safe and comfortable (clearly) and happy in utero, and I will keep them there until they schedule my induction at 38 weeks. In the meantime, Jack needs me as much as I need him.

The nasty old crotchety Dr. Ayers just scoffed, asked me if I wanted dead babies and said I'm not allowed to leave unless I sign an AMA form. I could have punched him. So we began the process of checking out AMA. After being "counseled" by the Officer of the Day, the Nurse of the Day, several doctors, several other nurses, Officer of the Day again, having them ask to speak with Justin's command, speaking with our command ourselves, and signing my name on one measly little line, I was out of there by nap time on Sunday. We came home and relaxed and snuggled and played and did some yard-work and everything was wonderful. I haven't felt a contraction the whole time, I'm getting rest, my feet are up most of the day, I sent Justin back to work, and life is good.

When I sat down in the passenger seat of the van after strapping Jack in to his seat, he started clapping and shouted, "YAY! Mama sit! Mama home!" and I LOST it. I have cried so much over the last few days from the roller coaster of emotion it is unbelievable. I got him up after his nap on Sunday and he just looked up at me from his bed and said, "Mama... you here." Sunday's bedtime and Monday's nap time were a bit of a struggle I think because he was afraid I wouldn't be here when he woke up. I lay in his bed with him yesterday morning and he put his hand on my cheek and said very sternly, "Mama. No more doctor. Stay here." I started crying and he used the back of his hands to wipe my eyes and he patted my cheek and said, "S'okay... whatsamatter? S'okoay." and he kissed my nose. I just told him I love him and I'm sorry I left him and he just sat there for a minute. I composed myself as quickly as I could and he said, "Better?" When I said, "yep, thank you Jack," he jumped up, grabbed Eeyore and demanded we go play trains.

I'm still catching up on all the lost sleep and trying to make up for the emotional exhaustion of the whole ordeal, but I'm happy, comfortable and content now. So we wait.
Probably another 2.5 weeks.

I will be miserably huge at that point...

But we'll wait. At home.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Slipcovers, Burp Cloths, Bugs and Pink & Brown

It's been awhile... didn't want you to forget how adorable Jack is.
Jack's carpenter bee BFF

Misty's ADORABLE burpcloths (and part of my campaign against Justin's insistence that a crazy embroidery/sewing machine isn't necessary)

Seriously? SO CUTE.

Girls' crib - all set up and ready for babies!

Here's the nursery... still needs stuff on the walls. You can see the slipcovered ottoman in the front left... I also upholstered the shelves over the changing table in the same fabric as the chair.

The back of the chair... I wanted buttons instead of bows, but I couldn't find a button store.

The newly slipcovered chair... this isn't a great picture, but there are matching bows on the front.
So that's where my time has been going lately. Sewing slipcovers by hand, setting up my pink and brown nursery, playing with Jack and his bugs and doing all of it at a snail's pace because I'm so overly extraordinarily preg.


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