Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bliss

Unbelievably it has been 3 months since Rowan's birth and my last post!  I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown.  I have thought many times, why didn't my pregnancy go this fast?!    While I have thought of many blog topics along the way (jaundice, bili-blanket, breast feeding, reflux, green poop, dairy allergy, delirium, and all the fun things new Mom's experience) I have resisted writing on those topics because when I think about the core message of this blog they just seem so trivial.  That being said, I figured a little update is certainly appropriate.

The only word I can use to describe the last 3 months is bliss, pure bliss!  Rowan has been a complete dream and is sleeping through the night, taking great naps, & eating well.   On top of those core necessities he is smiling, cooing, laughing & melting my heart on a daily basis.  I can truly say that I savor every second I am with him like the last bite of decadent chocolate cake or the scent of fresh roses.  I look at him and can't help but tear up because I just love him so much, he is so perfect.

Now, perfect (to me) he may be, but he is an infant.  He did have his middle of the night wake up calls, always just as I finally entered dream world.  Bags under my eyes & a slightly delirious state being my norm, I never did mind waking up with him because those were some of the sweetest moments in his first weeks of life.  In fact, Frank goes to work at 5 am so we had agreed that he would take the 4:30 am feeding which lasted no more than 2 mornings because I missed being with him during those wee hours.  And, now that he sleeps through the night I still sometimes miss those precious moments.

Rowan is a big spitter!  He has reflux & while he is not fussy or colicky he makes up for both in spit-up. The poor little guy literally spews up his lunch many, many times per feeding.  Sometimes it is just a little dribble and other times it is a full projectile waterfall, so we do many loads of laundry & I can now write a book on the best burp rags available.  It also turns out that Rowan is sensitive (well, allergic) to dairy, so no cheese, milk, butter, or anything fun for Mom.

Spit-up, evening wake-up calls, poopy diapers, a diet without cheesecake, none of it matters.  In fact, I love all of it because it has to do with him.  Maybe this attitude has come from the long journey I have been on or maybe I have a dose of happy hormones, but I think it comes from love.  I have truly never experienced love like this before & I can't possibly imagine experiencing it again.  I know I will with the birth of subsequent kids, but for now I am soaking in the rich bliss of Rowan!


Here are some recent pics from our trip to Hawaii last week:

















Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Miracles DO happen


The same day I peed on a stick & saw the + sign I said to Frank, I know this baby is a boy & he will be born on October 5th. Call it mother's intuition or some sort of crazy divine intervention, but Rowan Blackington Grinnell was born on October 5th, 2009. By now you are aware that the same day 1 year ago we lost our twin girls. Since that tragic day I have been able to move forward by believing that my Angels are watching over me & this pregnancy. While the pregnancy hasn't exactly been smooth sailing I always had this gut feeling that things would be OK. I convinced myself to believe that Raphael, the angel of healing, and Lailah, the angel of conception, would take care of this baby & make sure that he arrived safely into our arms.

Around 10pm on October 4th I started having contractions & thought, hmmmmm, is it really going to happen on the 5th? Could it possibly happen on the 5th? At 3am we went into L&D triage & were told that I was still dilated to a 4. After walking around the hospital for an hour in an attempt to "speed things along" I was still at a 4 & was sent home. At 8:30am my contractions had significantly intensified, so we went in & sure enough after 3 weeks of being dilated 4cm I progressed to 5cm & was admitted! Around 2:00 I started pushing & at 2:58pm Rowan was born. As I held this precious little man for the first time I looked at him and immediately knew that this was all meant to be. It was clear that there was a greater plan for me & while it was really hard at times to keep believing, the moment I laid eyes on Rowan it all became so clear. Our girls selflessly gave themselves & shared their day, so we could have Rowan.

Rowan had a longer transition time than most babies & was taken tot he NICU for observation due to fluid in his lungs. He was a 9 lb baby & because of his big head he never really got a final squeeze on his chest to expel some of the fluid. Frank followed him to the NICU & once I was able to get up & into a wheelchair I was taken to the NICU to hold my little man's hand while the doctor's & nurses made sure his difficulty breathing wasn't caused by something more severe such as a collapsed lung or pneumonia. After a few hours they insisted that I leave & go to my room on the floor so the nurses could check me out & monitor my physical status, Frank stayed with Rowan. Leaving the NICU was so hard, already I didn't want to leave Rowan for even a second. As they wheeled me to my room I was worried, scared & uncertain whether or not he would be able to stay with us for the night. They opened the door to my room & the first thing I saw was a picture on the wall. It was a photograph of two girls holding hands in matching pink dresses with their backs towards me looking at a tree. I immediately burst into tears because I knew it was MY girls. They were telling me that Rowan would be just fine and that they were responsible for this incredible miracle. It was a surreal moment & while I've never been one to really buy into the supernatural, it was all too much to chalk up to coincidence. 30 minutes later Frank called & said "WE are on our way up to join you". Upon the pediatricians analysis of Rowan she pointed out two birth marks, one on each of his eye lids. These birth marks are called Angel Kisses! While they will fade in time & won't interfere with Rowans (or his mother's) vanity, it is again, an incredible sign that he does have two beautiful angels watching over him.

So October 5th went from being the worst day of my life to the best. Over the course of the year I have learned so much about myself, about priorities, about pain & grief & strength & attitude. I have been forever changed as a person & truly see the world through a whole new perspective. October 5th will always be a happy day because it marks the day Rowan came into our life & it also serves as a reminder to never take anything for granted & to remember that sometimes when life just doesn't make sense & you are tempted to give up hope something much greater might be in store for you. Miracles do come true.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Baby Mooney

Dear friends of ours are losing their beautiful baby girl at 20 weeks due to a congenital abnormality. It is terrible that Frank & I can now relate on this different level, but knowing the traumatic experience & the grief-ridden aftermath they are about to face, I hope to be a support & a light of hope for them. Unfortunately, we cannot take back our loss & we cannot change their situation to make it better, so instead we are simply there for them as many have been for us. My heart aches, as the pain is still so fresh & present in my own life, & the only thing I could think to do was to write this letter:

Dear Raphael & Lailah,

Another Angel will be joining you this Monday or Tuesday. It will be 1 year this Monday since you got your wings & we know you have figured out the ropes upstairs, so will you please hold this Angel's hand and help her to feel at home. Please teach her to dance & to fulfill dreams & to do all of the beautiful things that you Angels do on a daily basis. Please show her how to appear in nature & in everything that is beautiful on Earth, like you have done so many times. Love her & take care of her like you do each other, since her parents will no longer be there to care for her. Remind her that she is loved deeply & will remain a very special place in many peoples' hearts.

Also, will you please watch over her Mom & Dad and help them to feel the warmth and comfort that you have done for us over the past year. Help them to heal & to recognize that they have not lost a child, rather they have gained an Angel. Please teach this new Angel to give her Earth-bound parents & sister signs that she is watching over them and is still a part of their life, like you have done for us. Please help her instill beautiful images in her parents' minds of where she is & what she is doing. And remind her that she will never be forgotten, because she will never be forgotten, just like you will never be forgotten.

We love you & continue to be so proud to be your parents!
Love,
Mom & Dad

Monday, September 28, 2009

Comfy Baby

Spicy Food-- tried it, delicious avocado curry dish, no contractions.
Bouncing & rolling on an exercise ball-- nothing, except my neighbors' amusement when they peer into our living room.
Long walks/hikes-- everyday, nothing!
Sex-- awkward, yes, but tried it a few times, nothing!
Raspberry leaf tea-- not all that desirable on a 90 degree day, but drank it nonetheless, nothing!
Membrane stripping, 2X-- by my OB of course, ouch!
Warm bath-- that was nice, didn't work!
Couple sips of wine-- also nice, also didn't work!
Mow the lawn-- lawn looks good, baby still in belly!
Accupressure points-- great excuse for nightly foot massages, still nothing!

Baby C is just flat out happy & comfortable in my belly! Meanwhile, I have grown increasingly UNcomfortable. While I completely disagree with Octo-Mom & her irresponsible choices I now feel sorry for her physical condition as she neared the delivery of 8 babies. My stomach doesn't feel like it can stretch another millimeter & if it does, it might just explode. In fact, it is sometimes hard to tell if I am having a contraction or if it is just my taut tummy! I laugh at this post because it is truly a remarkable problem to have, I am ready, & baby is cooked, but he/she just isn't quite ready for the real world. I suppose I can't blame Baby for waiting until the last minute to grace the world with it's presence.

Part of me also wonders if our Angels are purposely waiting for October to send us this Angel. We are coming up on the 1 year anniversary of our loss and as it stands right now Dr. B said he will induce me on Monday, October 5th (yes, I know, crazy... that is the exact day our girls were born angels 1 year ago). While I think it would be an incredible sign from above, if the baby were born on that day, it is just not a day I want to "pick" for our Baby's birthday. It is Raphael & Lailah's day. A day I will never forget, a day that changed me forever. So as it stands we will induce on October 6th. However, if I make it through this weekend still pregnant I wouldn't be surprised if our girls selflessly share their day with Baby C!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Paradigm Shift

No matter what due date I pick from (first day last period, date of conception, first ultrasound measurement, most recent ultrasound measurement, etc.) Baby C is officially full term! It is an amazing feeling to have made it this far & to know that every additional day of pregnancy is just an added bonus. I actually commented to Frank that "this pregnancy has gone by so fast"! He almost fell out of his chair. That being said, I am SO ready to have this baby that these final days/weeks seem to drag on like months.

As of my appointment last Wednesday I am 4cm dilated and 75% effaced! Frank and I were convinced that Baby C would make it's grand entrance this past weekend, but here I am writing this blog entry on Monday. While I am ever grateful that we are at a point where we can wish for signs of labor, I find myself having a hard time with this dramatic paradigm shift. I spent the majority of this pregnancy preventing labor and here I am eating spicy food, going on hikes, taking baths & having Frank give me acupressure foot massages. Considering my fairly advanced cervical dilation with no signs of active labor, I sometimes wonder if I have been so mentally focused on preventing labor that my mind is actually preventing my body from going into labor?! I'm sure I am over thinking it all, and probably giving my mind over body control a little too much credit, but it is a bit coincidental that the woman who spent almost 2 months on bed rest & took a pre-term labor hormone for 13 weeks is now typing while bouncing on an exercise ball, hoping to induce labor.

While it is easy to get frustrated that the baby isn't cooperating with my desire to move from pregnancy into the next phase, I do remind myself that each day means stronger lung capacity, better sucking reflexes & a fatter, happier newborn. It is also a humble reminder that no matter how much we want things to happen a certain way, our body & mother nature truly know best & may have different plans. While knowing that almost all of the labor inducing tricks are mere wives tales I have still tried them all, to no avail. In fact, I have pretty much given up any hope of influencing when I will go into labor. So paradigm shift or not I have figured out that, like everything in life, our destiny lies in hands far greater than our own & baby will come when baby is ready.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mumus


OK, I get it! I totally "get" Mumus! Never in the past has such an obviously hideous fashion trend appealed to me as much as a Mumu does these days. They are comfortable; they hang just low enough to cover up those parts that need not be displayed yet they are short enough to provide ventilation on even the hottest of days. They come in all sorts of bright colors & obnoxious (some might call them "fun") prints, because heck if you are going with a Mumu, why not stand out in the crowd? You never have to worry about having "fat" clothes or "skinny" clothes because a Mumu always fits just right. They are great for vacation, working around the house, or you could even belt it & wear it to work. They are fancy enough for an evening out but casual enough for leftovers at home. Front, back, side, the silhouette is the same, so no need to worry about angling your "good side" toward the camera for a picture. They make accessorizing easy & getting dressed fun. Don't ever worry about crossing your legs, the Mumu has you covered. They are economical, easy to wash, & the Mumu designers never change the style making them a timeless classic. With so many upsides it's hard to know why this fashion staple hasn't made it into my closet yet. So forget the Diane Von Furtstenburg frock & the True Religion jeans, I'm going Mumu!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The countdown is on...

I have officially made it into the "safe zone", the organs are all developed & Dr. B would not stop labor should it start any day. Ironically, Labor Day was our final mile marker on this long and sometimes scary pregnancy road. Frank and I honestly never thought we'd get this far and it does feel amazingly great to know that the baby is fully developed! Although I chuckle when I say it "feels" really great because I have become increasingly uncomfortable & am anxiously awaiting any sign that labor is beginning. When people ask if I am ready they might be taken aback by my over enthusiastic "YES I AM READY!" My husband reminds me that we still have a week and a half or so before baby is full, full term, and I look at him lovingly and say "easy for you to say, buddy!"

Dr. B has a theory that the last few weeks of pregnancy are purposefully miserable so women actually look forward to labor. I couldn't agree more and looking forward to labor is an understatement in my case. First and foremost, I think the safe delivery of this child will provide an immense amount of closure for Frank and I (and even Dr. B & our closest friends & family). The last time we were admitted into L&D was literally the worst day of our lives. This time the day we are admitted will hopefully prove to be the best! I also sometimes find my mind wandering to the worse case scenario & it feels as though the baby is safer in my arms than in my belly at this point, although my right mind knows that is not the case & that the worry I have experienced during pregnancy is only a scratch on the surface of what is to come through this child's life. The whole year and half of pregnancy (as miraculous as it is) has gotten a little old & makes me excited to remember what it feels like to not be pregnant. And among the late pregnancy trivial annoyances such as insomnia, cramps, aches, pains, difficulty moving around, heartburn, stretch marks, etc. is the more important emotion of eager anticipation to finally meet this beautiful being. I feel like a 4 year old waiting for Christmas morning, yet not knowing when Christmas morning is going to come.

Obviously, I have a very strong desire for the contractions to start rolling in like El Nino, yet the rational and much more patient side of my mind reminds me to enjoy these last few days/weeks of pregnancy. Many women who I've interacted with lately say they see my belly & feel jealous and that they loved being pregnant & miss their pregnant bodies. Again, hard for me to understand that feeling right now, but it does help bring me back to earth & reminds me that even this late stage in pregnancy should be savored, because truly it could be over any day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Belly Pics

Now, from reading previous posts I'm sure you have an accurate impression of my daily struggles & frustration with my body. I love my belly, don't get me wrong, but its everything else that frustrates me. Having been pregnant for 1 1/2 years & really not being able to exercise during either pregnancy has taken a toll on my morale. There seem to be lumps & bumps in places I never knew could get lumps & bumps. My sweet husband always denies that I have anything but the "perfect" pregnant body, but when I point out an area that has never seen cottage cheese before he always reminds me that I have had a different path than most. His encouragement along with the many kind comments from friends & family members still isn't enough for the harshest critic of all, ME! I decided not to do maternity photos because in my mind, why would I ever want to remember such a frustrating time with my body. You have read the rest of my posts & know that those thoughts classify me in the temporarily insane category. Those thoughts really aren't ME. Fortunately I have a husband and a girlfriend who set me straight & talked me into doing maternity photos.

I found a wonderful photographer who works full time as a NICU nurse & does belly & baby photos on the side. I e.mailed her links to photos I found online & liked & she came to my house for the photo shoot armed with additional poses, a backdrop & an amazing eye behind the camera. We took lots of photos with & without clothes, with & without Frank & Maya (our dog) then headed up the hills to my parents home where we did some amazing outdoor photos. The entire experience was not only very comfortable but also a lot of fun. At one point she suggested doing some partially nude photos, I contemplated her suggestion, then said, "heck you see boobs all day long at work, why not". It turned out to be extremely liberating & resulted in some incredibly intimate & stunning photos of me & of Frank & me, all of which I will cherish. I truly think the photographer could make or break the experience & ours certainly made it! The next day she e.mailed me a link to her blog where she posted some of our photos & I literally burst into tears when I saw them. Having been so self-critical even I couldn't deny the beautiful images she had posted. It all sort of hit me that no matter what size you are used to pre-pregnancy & to whatever degree your body has changed during pregnancy there is no question that the pregnant body is simply beautiful! Immediately, I not only changed my whole Debby Downer perspective on my body, but felt an overwhelming boost in self-confidence. Doing these photos & seeing them on my computer screen reminded me that pregnancy is beautiful & special & the pregnant body (even your own) is meant to be loved & appreciated no matter what lumps & bumps have appeared out of nowhere. I e.mailed our photographer & thanked her for making the experience so comfortable & for literally boosting my beaten up body image. My husband replied to my e.mail (and made me cry): 'Sentiment expressed by Dana rings very true for me as well. Thank you for making this a great experience for my wife, now she can see how beautiful she looks with our baby. -Frank'

So there you have it, please do maternity photos. If hiring a professional isn't within your budget or your comfort level, have a friend or even your husband do them. You will not regret it & they will become a beautiful memory for you & your child of one of the most beautiful states your body will ever see.

Here is the link to Jennifer's blog. I hesitated letting her keep the non-clothed photos on her blog, then I remembered how much time I spend on this blog singing the "embrace you body" tune & decided that I better put my money where my mouth is. So, enjoy! And, again, enjoy your beautiful pregnant body!!!

Scroll down to "The G family is expecting"...
http://jenlschow.bigfolioblog.com/

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nesting

I'm standing (8 months pregnant) at the top of the stairs with my arms full of drapes, sneezing. Frank appears at the landing below the stairs...
Frank: "What are you doing?"
Dana: "I'm taking all of the drapes to be cleaned".
Frank: "All of the drapes? Why?"
Dana: "Frank, we've never had the drapes cleaned and we've lived here for 4 years, do you know what lives in these suckers?"
Frank: "Ahhhh Haaaaa, THIS is what nesting is!"

So there you have it, Frank's Ahhh Haaaa moment is indeed, me nesting. Not only do we now have very clean drapes, but we also have all new door knobs, a freshly painted office & laundry room, a new handrail for the stairs, new throw pillows on the couch, & new rugs in the kitchen. I haven't hit my fanatic clean everything with a Q-tip phase yet, but my girlfriends assure my that that is just around the corner. I appear to be in Phase 1 of nesting. I almost started to explain the drape scenario by saying it was something I always intended to do & just never found the time, but really I knew the moment Frank caught me in the act, I am nesting! The good news is, they really are things I have wanted to get done & just never found the motivation to do. And, so far, I haven't made Frank run to Riteaid in the middle of the night for diaper cream or anything totally irrational. Nesting not only facilitates the completion of 1/2 finished or odd ball tasks around the house, but it also serves as a little reminder that the long awaited bundle of joy is just around the corner.

Now that I've made it to the third trimester I have to say that it is by far the most fun trimester of all! The baby kicks & moves regularly which always makes me smile. It's the trimester you get to start thinking of & narrowing down names, the nursery starts to take shape, you meet with pediatricians & decide who will be your child's medical care giver, you get to take maternity photos (if you are so inclined), & you pack your hospital bag. Not to mention the overwhelming feeling of comfort in the fact that the organs are fully developed & the baby could come any day & be perfectly healthy. For those who have had pregnancy scares there is truly no better feeling. The excitement & anticipation elevates in the 3rd trimester & the pregnancy transforms into a very real thing. It feels as though the light at the end of the tunnel starts to rapidly approach. So bring on the nesting, we don't have long before we will add a wee-one to the nest! And, boy am I ready, clean drapes & all!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ready to POP?!

If you've seen the movie 'Knocked Up' with Katherine Heigl you might remember the scene where she is interviewing red carpet celebrities & they keep asking her if she is delivering tomorrow, or commenting that she is "ready to pop", or she can't possibly be 7 months pregnant she must be 9! Well the writers must've consulted with a preggo, as that scenario seems to happen to me regularly & when I ask other Moms they say the same thing happened to them. Just when you feel huge already someone (usually male) comes along and says "boy you must be getting ready for your epidural". Or when asked when are you due & you reply "I've got about 2 months left" they say "no way, you look like you could deliver tomorrow!" I've been getting these comments more & more these days & I can't help but start to feel a little self-conscious. "Should I look this big already?", "Do they know I've been pregnant for 1 1/2 years?", "Stupid men!", "You try carrying a baby around for 10 months!", "I must be retaining water today!", "Guess I shouldn't have had that extra scoop of ice cream last night!", "Maybe this baby will be big, my brother was 10.5lbs after all"... are all comments that have run through my head at times like those. And when I sit down and think about those seemingly insensitive comments I have to remind myself WHO CARES! I am carrying a healthy baby & if given the choice to be tiny having only gained 8lbs with a barely there bump & have an unhealthy baby or to look like I've gained the appropriate weight & get the "you must be ready to pop" comments on a daily basis, I choose option B. Embrace the belly, & forget about the "you must be ready for your maternity leave" comments!

Now that being said there are those folks who find clever ways to comment or ask questions about my pregnancy without implying that I look like Free Willy. I figured I would write those comments down as advice for those who just can't pass up an opportunity to say something about someone's bump.
-"You are absolutely glowing! When are you due?"
-"You are the cutest pregnant woman, you must be getting excited to have your baby!"
-"When are you due? Your baby will be so lucky to have such a beautiful Mom."
-"Pregnancy certainly agrees with you, when are you due?"
Now I'm not suggesting that flattery or exaggeration is necessary, but it certainly helps sugar coat the "I'm huge, bloated, tired, & I still have 2 months left" feeling that the preggo you are talking to is undoubtedly feeling. If compliments aren't your style, go for humor...
-"You sure have been hitting the beers this summer" (a parking garage attendant said that to me, I thought it was hilarious & he was so proud of his clever comment)
-"Did you swallow a basketball?"
-"Who's the man that did that to you, anyway?"
...yes, even preggos enjoy a good laugh. But whatever you do, don't say...
-"You look ready to pop!"
-"Are they inducing you tomorrow?"
-"You look like you could deliver a 10lb baby right now!"
-"Don't worry you will lose the pregnancy weight in no time!"
... because depending on the day, & what preggo you are talking to, you might get punched!

And preggos, from a fellow preggo, you DO look beautiful! Embrace the beautiful bump & the rest of it too, & remember that your body is the incredible vehicle that carries & delivers your beautiful baby. Love it no matter how many extra pounds you might've gained or despite the new cellulite field you've discovered, because nothing is more important than a healthy baby.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Babymoon


This weekend my husband and I went on what I referred to as a babymoon. While my husband is POSITIVE that I made this whole phenomenon up I reassured him that this is not a new thing & that many couples go on babymoons! While I am actually starting to feel like a "normal" pregnant woman we were mindful of our previous complications & opted to choose a location within driving distance. We did splurge a little and stayed at a stunning resort right on Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho. It was, perhaps, one of the most relaxing peaceful & romantic weekends we've had in a long time. We spent the weekend talking about the past, present & future. We ate great food, took leisurely strolls, spent hours sitting on the dock reading & snoozing, & laughed & talked like we did when we first started dating. It was a great break from the fast pace of life not to mention a welcomed reprieve from the 100+ degree heat in Boise. We reluctantly left our weekend retreat & on the drive home we commented on how much fun we had & vowed to do many, many more babymoons.

While a babymoon might have been a wise pregnant woman's ploy to get a luxurious vacation out of her husband, I do believe that there is great merit to the idea. There is so much emotion, planning & prep work that goes into pregnancy & getting ready for a baby, it is easy to lose sight of the reason you are in this position in the first place. You wouldn't be pregnant if it weren't for the love for your spouse. A babymoon is a great way to remind yourselves that the most important part of pregnancy and truly, your baby's life, is your love for each other. The paint in the nursery, the oodles of clothes & baby gear, the piles of books to read, & even the baby classes don't mean anything if you lose sight of what's really important. Someone once told me that the best gift you can give your children is a wonderful relationship with your spouse. Not only is that amazing insight, but it certainly justifies a babymoon. In fact, it justifies a babymoon, a post babymoon, regular date nights, & even long getaways just for two! So plan that babymoon & remember that the little being inside of you was created out of love for one another & nothing is more important than that!



Frank & Dana's Babymoon- McCall, Idaho

Friday, July 31, 2009

Stork Parking

Pregnancy is a privilege! Even the largest of trust funds, most beautiful & glamorous of lifestyles can't trump the privilege of creating life. I feel grateful everyday I get to carry this little one & to be one of the privileged women to become a Mom.

While I know in my soul that pregnancy is a great honor there are many hindrances along the way that start to chip away at life's greatest privilege. Most people wouldn't consider bi-monthly visits to the doctor's office much of a privilege, especially if there is substantial waiting room time associated with the visit. NO wine, NO soft cheese, NO deli meat, NO sushi, LIMIT fish consumption, LIMIT caffeine, NO diet coke, those limitations on consumption certainly don't make one feel very privileged. What about the day you read a pregnancy website & they tell you to get rid of your facial products that contain salicylic acid, retinol, or essential oils? No home-pampering during pregnancy? No hot tubs, stay out of the heat, keep your hot bath luke warm, don't sunbathe or you will get stretch marks. What about the camping trip when everyone is dousing themselves in bug spray & you get to watch them repel the mosquitos from themselves, meanwhile taking the brunt of the bites! Forget about finding relief from allergies, colds, or the flu, most medications are not approved for use during pregnancy. Swollen feet, swollen hands, puffy eyes, leg cramps, weight gain, & more weight gain. For those of us with 2nd trimester complications: don't exercise, don't lift heavy objects, stay off your feet, pelvic rest (aka no SEX), weekly injections & more & more visits to the doctor. You start to feel like you can't so much as sneeze without having your doctor on-call in case it is a big one! None of this would lead one to believe they are living a privileged life. So while it takes a lot of mental toughness to continue to believe that pregnancy is God's greatest gift it would be nice to have a few token privileges.

Well just when I started to feel like no one recognized how special us preggos really are I pulled into the Best Buy parking lot to find 3 parking spaces front & center & in the shade, labeled "Stork Parking- for expectant mothers". How great is that?! I've started to notice "Stork Parking" signs more & more & sometimes at the most random places. So what we used to be termed "Rock-star Parking" can now actually be called "Stork Parking"! I find myself going to Best Buy to buy a pack of gum & a water, just so I can use the "Stork Parking". I even noticed a "Stork Parking" spot at our local Shakespeare Theater, which I will greatly enjoy this coming Wednesday when we attend an outdoor performance with friends. Whoever thought of Stork Parking is brilliant! Aside from the obvious convenience of not having to make long treks through parking lots with swollen feet & lop-sided weight distribution, it is a privilege to be pregnant so why not enjoy a few token privileges along the way?! Hats off to you Best Buy, Toys'r'us, Boise Shakespeare Festival, & all of you other businesses who appreciate that you don't have to be Paris Hilton to be truly privileged!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blue Knees

In high school I ran track. Being a die hard dancer, sports weren't really my thing and I did it more for the social aspect & to see what all the sports & competition hype was all about. Because I was tall & flexible from my years as a dancer, one of the events I ran was the 300m hurdles. I wouldn't say I was anywhere near the best in that event and usually placed towards the back of the pack, in fact I don't think I had ever placed in any event except for maybe a relay. One meet at a neighboring high school I tripped over one of the first hurdles & fell flat on my face. I was literally a pancake on the track. I remember that moment so distinctly as the decision making process started to run through my head. Should I lay here & not finish the race, should I get up and walk off the track, or should I get up & RUN? Well, I chose door #3 & got up and ran. Call it my adrenaline or a false confidence I instilled in my competitors, but I passed everyone and ended up winning the race. That was the one and only time I ever won (or even placed) an event in a track meet. I learned a very valuable lesson that day: you have many choices in life & giving up is not one of them. The track I was running on happened to be blue & so were my knees, legs, & elbows for a couple of weeks, so for the rest of my high school days everyone on the track team called me "Blue Knees". I never minded being called "Blue Knees", because it reminded me that even falling down & having the odds stacked against me couldn't possibly stop me or hinder my spirit. Even then, I knew that this lesson would apply to all aspects of life.

So with that story being said, I have officially made it to the 3rd trimester! I am safely past the 28 week mark & almost to 30 weeks. Dr. B sets small milestones each time we meet, I like to think of them as hurdles. My first hurdle was to get to 25 weeks when the baby would be viable. Next, it was to make it to 28 weeks when the baby would be viable and have a really good chance at no long term health problems. Now we are aiming for the 32 week hurdle when most of the organ development will have taken place. Our next hurdle is 35 weeks when all of the organ development is complete & we might even get to take baby home with us. Our finish line is 38 weeks when our baby would be considered full term & we will almost definitely have a healthy baby to take home with us. Crossing each of these hurdles is better than winning a blue ribbon at the end of a track meet. And making it to the 3rd trimester is as good of a feeling as making the choice to get up and run after falling. If falling down to only get back up & win the race has given me hope that even after a tragic stillbirth, 6 1/2 weeks on bed rest, weekly preterm labor injections, & a somewhat turbulent pregnancy, we can still have a healthy full term baby at the finish line, then I guess we could say that "Blue Knees" is back!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

FREEDOM!

As of Tuesday I have been released from bed rest. I went into my appointment with Dr. B fully armed with a very convincing sales pitch. As I explained to him that Frank and I had been in McCall last weekend & that while he may not be happy to hear this I was "up" more than was prescribed and had no problems or issues & felt great! As I continued to ramble on about why he should take me off bed rest he interrupted me in mid-sentence and said "I was going to take you off bed rest today anyway". Those words were the best words I have heard all pregnancy.

While I had amazing support throughout my time on the couch from friends, family and my dear husband, it becomes a depressing exercise to lay around on the couch day after day no matter how positive of a person you are (see blog entry "It's not always sunshine and roses"). For someone who is used to being busy day-in and day-out just the lack of productivity and social interaction is enough to suck the life right out of you. From the outside I know that some might think that bed rest is a dream come true. In fact, one of my guy friends suggested I take up Xbox 360 gaming to pass the time, clearly bed rest is a pipe dream for him. And, many busy Moms made comments such as: "just wait until the baby arrives, you will be wishing for a quiet day of bed rest". I usually smiled kindly & said, "I know, you are right," but inside my head I was thinking "you've clearly never been on bed rest"! A few hours of down time or a long nap might be desired, but being stripped of all freedom & forced to lay horizontally for weeks on end is not all that dissimilar from a prison sentence (I imagine anyway, having never been in prison).

As tedious and frustrating as bed rest was at the time, I do have to say that the time did go by quickly. In total I was on the couch for 6 1/2 weeks and truly it didn't seem all that long. As always there are many worse stories of women being on bed rest for 16 weeks, or on magnesium sulfate in the ante-partum wing at the hospital for 13 weeks, or worse yet, in ante-partum with the bed tilted so their feet are above their head with no "up" privileges leaving them with a bed pan as their only option for "relief". Yes, I did feel lucky to be in the comfort of my own home for my time on bed rest & for the seemingly short duration relative to other women's experiences. Mostly, I am just ever more grateful to be able to get myself a glass of water, go to the grocery store, & help out at work in-person, while the baby continues to reside safely in my belly!

In fact, I've never been so happy to go to work, or do the dishes, or drive myself to the coffee shop. So next time you have a bad day at work, or your to do list feels overwhelming just remember that you have the freedom to go where you need to & do what you want to without recourse. Sometimes we take for granted the most basic notions & I leave the couch pretty confident that I will never take for granted my freedom again!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sweet Logan

Saturday morning dear friends of ours lost their 2 month old baby girl, Logan (Logan's Mother being one of those amazing friends I referred to in my recent "Friends" post). We are reminded, once again, that children are not an entitlement, rather they are a gift and every moment is meant to be cherished. I find myself at a loss for words as there are no words that can ease the pain or explain why such a tragedy could happen to such good people. So I will humbly turn my words & thoughts to a poem that was given to me by a woman who buried her infant at 2 months old. I found great comfort in these words & believe them to be so true.

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of Mine,” He said, “For you to love the while she lived and mourn for when she’s dead…
It may be six or seven years, or 22 or three, But will you, till I call her back, take care of her for Me?
She’ll bring you all her charms to gladden you, and shall her stay be brief,
You’ll have her lovely memories for solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.
Now will you give her all your love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take her back again?
I fancied that I heard them say: - ‘Dear Lord, thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter her with tenderness, we’ll love her while we may,
For all the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay,
But shall the angels call for her much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave bitter grief that comes, and try to understand.’”


In loving memory of Logan Teays White, may you dance with angels!

6 years of wedded bliss

Today is our 6th wedding anniversary. It is truly amazing how time flies yet we have done so much and a lot has happened in six short years. We watched our wedding video last week in anticipation of our anniversary, one of our yearly traditions. It was such a beautiful display of our innocence & love for one another. While the love has only deepened our experiences have removed us from the blissful innocent state in which we once lived. Frank and I wrote betrothal letters to each other which were read at our ceremony. I couldn't help but get teary when mine was read as I wrote "I know we have many hardships and happiness ahead of us, but one thing will always hold true, life makes sense with you by my side." When I wrote that I had absolutely no idea that we would lose children or that pregnancy would be an immense hardship for us, but even in all of my innocence I had the foresight to know that the man I chose to marry would stand by my side through it all. I love him more now than I ever could've imagined then. Here is the letter I wrote to Frank, I think it is beautiful, amazingly timeless & a wonderful way to honor a man who has truly become my better half.

Frank- my lover, my best friend, my soul mate,

I still cannot believe I found you! Fate has brought me someone more incredible than I could never have known to ask for. You make me laugh and smile, you give me vibrance and beauty, you hold my hand and listen unjudgingly, you kiss me 100 times in one sitting, you look at me so proudly and sincerely, you are my voice of reason and the arms I will always run to, it is with you where I am safe and proud to be myself. You walked into my heart through the butterflies in my stomach and have become such a part of me it is tough to differentiate between where my soul ends and yours begins. I know we have many hardships and happiness ahead of us, but one thing will always hold true, life makes sense with you by my side. I cannot wait for the continuation of our life long adventure, it has already exceeded any dream a woman could conjure. Thank you for choosing me-- to our life as ONE!

I love you,
Dana


Happy Anniversary Baby, I love you!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's not always Sunshine & Roses

99% of the time I keep myself smiling with the thought that this will all be worth it when we meet our little one. I wake up in the morning with a grateful and positive attitude knowing that every moment counts. I would not be serving my purpose here if I wasn't totally honest about that 1% of the time too. This week has been one of those 1% weeks and quite honestly, this sucks!

I hate that this is so hard for my husband and I. I hate that it has been such a long road and at the end of this whole process I will literally have been pregnant for 1 1/2 years, not far from an elephant's pregnancy, the longest possible gestation for a mammal (2 years). Speaking of elephants, I hate that I have not 1 but 2 pregnancies, including a twin pregnancy, worth of baby weight to work off. I hate that I am missing out on friend's weddings, trips I had planned, social gatherings, community events, and the day to day buzz at work (yes I am one who actually likes my job). I hate that I would give anything to have the twins here because it also means I would not have this baby who I already love so much. I hate that I still research and think about what happened, what went wrong, and what could've been done to change the outcome of my last pregnancy. I hate that one of the recent explanations for our loss is Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, something that can be treated if discovered early enough. I hate that sometimes I resent my husband for getting to go to work & workout & play golf & attend meetings, while I lay on the couch. I hate the fact that I now know every scheduled TV program from 7am through 10pm. I hate that all of my friends are going away for the 4th of July & I don't know if I should because I don't want to hinder or inconvenience anyone & who wants to be around a loaf on the couch. I hate that I am missing out on my favorite days of the year for hikes in the hills. I hate that I still have so many more weeks to go. I hate that this will strongly influence my decision to have more children despite wanting a large family.

I know I will get through this, I am getting through this, but there are days when it just flat out sucks! So tomorrow it will be back to sunshine and roses because that is the best way I know how to get through tough times. But for now I give you the honest truth about today. So, thank you, you just saved me hundreds of dollars in counseling fees.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dad, Father, Pops, Daddy, Papa, DaDa

What is the man's role in a baby's life during pregnancy? Eventually he will be the one to teach the child how to throw a football, or kick a soccer ball. He will serve as an example of hard work, ambition, & drive. He will teach his little boy how to be a gentleman & what to look for in a woman. He will teach his daughter to protect herself & that good guys are out there, she deserves one of them. He will reprimand them when they step out of line, and will lead them when they need guidance. He will encourage them, give them confidence, hug them, support them, & love them with all of his heart. Men dream about their role as a father & this all comes when he sees his little one for the first time, but what is his role during pregnancy?

I've asked a man who seems to have the loving husband role down pat & has a lot of experience with rocky pregnancy roads to comment on this:
"I would summarize a man's role in two words; "support" and "gopher". The first word needs no explanation, there will be plenty of opportunities to provide support. When your lovely wife expresses anxiety over losing the pregnancy weight, you assure her she will and you will help. It is impossible to hug and kiss her enough during this time, expressing that she is already a great mother. You take over more house work and meal prep. While support is big, being a gopher is mandatory. Gopher translates to "go for" in this context. As you begin a career on Wall Street you are required to "go for" anything your boss requires; coffee, lunch, whatever. This dynamic repeats itself with your pregnant wife. You "go for" water, sweet treats, back rubs, Idaho Fry company, nonfat chai's, etc. All of this sounds pretty simple and it is. The one thing to keep in mind is to support and gopher with a smile on your face. A smile on your face puts a smile on her face, & keeps her laughing." - FG

So you've heard it from the man who has become an expert at supporting his wife during pregnancy. In my opinion, the man's greatest job during pregnancy & during the child's life is to love their Mother unconditionally. Happy Father's Day to all of you Dads & thank you for loving us Mom's!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friends

I have been overwhelmed with support over the course of the last year from friends & family, near & far. I find myself in awe of their generosity, thoughtfulness & undying desire to help out. I've compiled a list of a few things my friends have been to me over the past few weeks.

A friend is...
...someone who takes your dog on a hike every morning at 6:45am, just so you don't have to feel guilty for not being able to take her yourself
...someone who text messages you almost daily just to ask how you are feeling
...girlfriends who throw a pedicure party in your living room
...someone who moves her "birthday lunch" to a birthday dinner at your house, just so you can be included
...someone who drops by a bouquet of peonies from the Saturday market
...someone who looks at your living room, notices that it is far from as clean as it normally is, grabs the broom & sweeps
...someone who does all the grocery shopping, cooking, & prep work for you when it's your turn to host dinner club
...someone who drops by their favorite chick flick collection
...a family who comes to your house & cooks dinner for all of you
...someone who calls just because they are in the neighborhood & are thinking of you
...someone who comes by for a visit
...someone who drops off items for lunch while your husband is out of town
...someone who works extra hours & takes time away from their life to compensate for your absence at work
...someone who sends you a gift in the mail just to make you smile when you receive it
...someone who brings by dinner to help take the load off of your husband
...someone who checks in via e.mail often
...someone who drops off their favorite movies, magazines & books to help pass the time
...someone who invites all of your girlfriends to your house for pizza while your husband is away
...someone who gives you a bright & vibrant hand made quilt to make your stay on the couch beautiful

Mostly a friend is someone who cares. My friends & family have showered me with support & love throughout losing the girls & through these past weeks on bed rest. Without them I simply could not survive. So, thank you to all of my amazing friends & family for all that you have done & for loving Frank, Me & Baby Grinnell!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eliot

I've had quite a few blog entry ideas brewing & I will write them at some point, but today a lightbulb went off in my head as I watched a very touching story on Oprah (yes, I watch Oprah these days, one of the new additions to my schedule since the inception of my life as a couch potato). She was highlighting miracle children who have beat the odds, surviving everything from extreme medical anomalies to Hurricane Katrina. The story that touched me the deepest was a story about baby Eliot who was born with Trisomy 18 and wasn't expected to survive birth. He exceeded every medical expectation and lived for 99 days. He remained on oxygen for most of his short life and was fed through a feeding tube. His parents celebrated his birthday everyday at 4:59, the time he was born. When he became an angel on his 99th day they released 99 balloons in honor of his life. They celebrated his amazing will to live and the inspiration he became to so many people without ever even saying a word.

I found myself relating in someway to their story through my experience in losing the girls & through my deep connection to this baby, cherishing every moment I have with him/her. When interviewed, Eliot's Mom commented that while going through the experience she just kept telling her husband "I will be sad later, but today I am going to enjoy every second I have with him". Those are certainly words to live by. Every day with our children should be celebrated & savored. Whether it's their high school graduation, their first day at kindergarten, the first steps they take or words they utter, the day they are born, or each time they kick in Mom's belly; those moments should be cherished as there's no telling what lies ahead.

Lately, I've found myself waking up excited and refreshed as it means we are one day closer to a healthy full term baby. Last night while my husband was brushing his teeth he commented that in less than 3 months we will get to meet our baby. When he made that comment I thought to myself that is no time at all! The days on bed rest continue to fly by and I find myself more thankful than ever for every moment with this child safely in my belly.

Here is a link to a video on Eliot's life (grab a tissue). Thank you Eliot for reminding all of us to cherish every moment and to stay strong no matter what challenges we may face.

You may have to copy & paste into your browser window...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th6Njr-qkq0

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

23 weeks 3 days

I have officially made it past the black cloud that has loomed over this pregnancy. Our girls were born angels at 23 weeks 2 days. Most women feel most apprehensive toward pregnancy in the first trimester. It is well documented that the majority of pregnancy losses occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. For me the first trimester was a breeze. I felt like this pregnancy was a complete miracle and any minor symptoms I experienced were overshadowed by my excitement and belief that this pregnancy was a gift and simply meant to be. Around 16 weeks I started to feel the impending doom of the 2nd trimester.

For most, the 2nd trimester is the best! The annoying pregnancy symptoms have subsided, you are starting to show but aren't too big or uncomfortable, you can feel the baby move & kick, your energy level is good & in general you just feel great. For me, the 2nd trimester was a physical reminder of where I was when I lost the girls. Not to mention I started to experience some scary symptoms which only exacerbated my paranoia. I joke with my girlfriends who love the 2nd trimester by saying "the 2nd trimester sucks, bring on the 1st & please let me have a 3rd". I say that maintaining a sense of humor as I still believe that every day of pregnancy is truly a gift & no symptom or complication will take that from me. That being said I have been put back on "stricter" bed rest after some cramping last Thursday night. Dr. B claims that cramping (similar to menstrual cramps) are productive labor contractions & are not to be taken lightly. He also described the harmless Braxton Hicks contractions as sporadic painless tightening in your mid to upper abdomen. So I am back on the couch more thankful than ever for every day I lay here as it means the baby is growing, its organs, muscles & bones are getting stronger & we are one day closer to a healthy, full term baby.

As the 3rd trimester nears I feel more optimistic than ever. I feel great despite the expected side effects from my daily life as a couch potato. The moment guilt starts to overwhelm me for not being physically present at work, or for missing important trips & social engagements, or for asking my husband to refill my water glass 1 more time, I feel the baby kick and am reminded that the most important job I have right now is to ensure this baby continues to grow & safely stays put until the time is right! So the black cloud has passed & slowly but surely my husband and I are getting closer to the pot of gold at the end of our rainbow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cinderella

Poor Cinderella! She only had a finite period of time at the ball before her chariot turned into a pumpkin. Or maybe she was the luckiest lady at the ball because she savored every second. My life for the next 10 days is somewhat synonymous. The good news is that in meeting with my high risk OB he feels my condition has stabilized and has upgraded me to modified bed rest. No I won't be re-covering my couch with fine fabric, rather it means I can be up and about for a couple of hours at a time during the day. We will meet again to reevaluate in a week and a half but until then my couple of hours are like gold! Now don't get me wrong, anything beats strict bed rest, but boy does a couple of hours fly by! By the time I make myself somewhat presentable & leave the house I have time for a short meeting, a quick visit with a friend or co-workier, a stop at the drug store, or a quick meal.

Have you ever calculated what can be accomplished in 2 hours? When that's all the time you have it sure doesn't seem like much. I've always been one to appreciate time and rarely do I ever wish minutes, hours, or days away. After losing the girls I not only gained a whole new perspective on how precious life is, but also the importance of time. There's nothing like a little modified bed rest to drive this point home. These lessons are transferable to all aspects of life, but with pregnancy months, weeks, days, & even hours count. One month after the baby is conceived it's heart & circulatory system are developed and the heart begins to beat. Each week during the 40 week pregnancy measurable development takes place. Ask a mother who's baby has been in the NICU the importance of 1 day. A baby's journey from womb to life happens in a number of hours. And, I can speak from personal experience that in a matter of minutes the prognosis of a pregnancy can change a mother's life forever. So don't forget about Cinderella when you find yourself wishing time away, because every moment counts!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Belly Kicks

One of the strangest, most wonderful, most surreal, most reassuring feelings in life has to be the feeling of the baby kicking in your belly. I felt what I thought was the baby moving around 16 weeks. I spent a few weeks questioning whether or not it was the baby. Is it gas? Is it a muscle twitching? Am I imagining it? Have I gone crazy? Now at 22 weeks the feeling of a living being moving inside my belly is not only progressively more obvious but increases in frequency daily. Recently, Frank was able to feel the baby kick when he placed his hand on my belly and now we can even see my belly move when Baby C kicks. Interestingly, even at 23 1/2 weeks I never felt the twins move or kick. Perhaps that was a warning sign that something was wrong, but looking back I feel sad that I never got to experience the most wonderful feeling in pregnancy with them. In fact, this feeling is what gets me through the long & monotonous days on bed rest. I received an inspiring e.mail from a fellow mother to an angel. She pointed out that a day on bed rest is one more day the baby moves & kicks inside of you and is one less day spent in the NICU fighting for it's life. What a great perspective and one that makes bed rest seem like nirvana.

Having traveled a long and difficult road which continues to have more and more speed bumps, feeling the baby kick erases all frustrations, fears, & negative thoughts that creep into my being. Truly, pregnancy is a miracle. And, I am continually reminded every time the baby moves, how lucky I am to carry this little being. Now back to the chick flicks...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A new meaning to the term couch potato...

After a weekend of "laying low" I went into my doctor's appointment on Tuesday feeling good & confident that this appointment was simply a formality. The progesterone seemed to be doing its job as the spotting had ceased and I just felt better all the way around. Despite how I was feeling, unfortunately my ultrasound results were less than stellar. My cervix length was down to 2.7 from 3.8 on Friday. Without hesitation Dr. B put me on bed rest, indefinitely. His thought is that the progesterone will continue to "kick-in" and will hopefully stabilize my cervical length, but considering my history & the rapid rate of cervical shortening in the past week and a half, he was not willing to risk anything. While an entire summer in the horizontal position flashed-forward in my mind, I did not disagree or argue with his orders. I left his office, after a few hours of tests and discussions with he and the nurses, in tears and with a big pit in my stomach. I hadn't felt a thing, contractions, cramps, nothing that would indicate my cervix shortening to a risky length. There were no warning signs which is what scares me the most going forward and leaves me a little disheartened.

I am just now writing this entry because I have spent the past 2 days feeling sorry for myself. Last time the whole cascade of events leading up to losing the girls had nothing to do with my cervix. Why now? It sometimes feels as though anything that can and will go drastically wrong in pregnancy happens to me and I find myself longing for harmless symptoms such as morning sickness or sciatica. Normally a very healthy person, I am just not accustomed to being the medical anomaly. I have watched so many friends go through flawless pregnancies where they work until their delivery date, never miss a beat socially, and even engage in daily jogs through the foothills. Some of them even claim that when running into their OB in public he or she gives them a blank look as though they don't even remember who they are. How is this possible when I spend 3 days "laying low" and have a cervical erosion of over 1 cm? And, as much as I love Dr. B, why can't I be his anonymous patient who sees him only for regular check-ups when he has to double check my first name before he enters the exam room? On the contrary I am his new BFF because I see him 4 times a week and have every form of contact info for him aside from his social security number! I'm not sure why this is my challenge in life but it seems to be and I am just trying to roll with the punches the only way I know how, with optimism & a glass half full attitude. So here I am writing this entry with a slightly more positive outlook and a long list of things I want to accomplish while subjected to my couch. With that being said, you may be hearing from me quite a bit more frequently! Oh, and if you have any movie or book favorites, don't hesitate to pass them along.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pink or Blue?

Is it a boy or girl? Well the short answer is, we don't know! We've decided to not find out the sex of our baby, until delivery of course. My husband jokes when people ask if we are having a boy or girl by replying "we don't care as long as it is one of the two"! And the truth is we really don't care. Now being the planner that I am it is tempting to find out the sex for decorating and clothing shopping purposes. And picking out names for the baby can be a little more involved. But really, does the baby care if their nursery is pink with floral patterns or blue with trucks & trains? Don't they live in one-sies for the first few months anyway? I've always felt as though having a few names in the que is a good idea but waiting to pick the actual name when you meet him or her is best. How many truly wonderful surprises do we have in life where either way the outcome is desirable? Not many, so we are waiting despite all of our friends' and family's dismay.

Now don't get me wrong I understand that curiosity kills the cat and some couples just HAVE to know. I understand and appreciate their reasons & respect the fact that the only true way to tell is through ultrasound or amnioscentesis. However, there is something to be said for mother's intuition. I, for instantce, am totally conviced that this baby is a boy. Now I haven't laid on the bed with a penny dangling from a string over my belly, & I can't tell if I am carrying high, low, all out front, or wide. And, our baby's heartbeat varies depending on if he/she is resting or active. Truly, I have absolutely no reason to think one way or the other aside from the fact that I just have this innate instinct that this little being is male. I asked Dr. B if there is anything to the wives tales or to mother's intuition. He did a study on 2,000 women, during his training, looking at whether or not the baby's heart rate was indicative of sex (the old wives tale says slow heart beats are boys and fast heart beats are girls). Simultaneously, he asked every woman if they had an instinct as to what their baby's sex was. What he found was that the heart rate WAS NOT statistically significant, but that the woman's instinct WAS statistically significant. So the old wives tales are probably just wives tales, but there IS something to be said for instinct.

With all that being said we joke that because we feel so strongly that this baby is a boy it is probably a girl! So we are going with a bright colored, unisex nursery, yellow & green one-sies, and a variety of names to choose from until October!

Here is a video from our 20 week ultrasound. My Mom said it looks like the baby is drinking a beer, clearly a boy taking after his father. Really, baby is just sucking his thumb!

video

Friday, May 22, 2009

A weekly prick in the bum...

Well a lot has happened in the past couple of weeks with my pregnancy so I suppose this blog entry is more of a status update than a deep thought. Unfortunately, the spotting I referred to in my "bit of a scare" blog entry has persisted. While it has been light it has occurred almost daily for the past few weeks. We've been hoping to explain it to ourselves as a result of my low-lying placenta or marginal placenta previa. Dr. B calls it normal (with a low-lying placenta) but not common. The longer it has persisted the less and less "common" it has become for previa & the more it is starting to look like the subtle onset of preterm labor. Dr. B suggested that we start progesterone injections which is a fairly new treatment option for high-risk pregnancies to prevent preterm labor. The treatment has been proven very effective for women with a history of preterm births and there don't seem to be any short term side effects. However, the long term side effects still need more data to be conclusive, which was part of Frank's and my hesitance in going on this med. We were given this option last week and have been tormented over the decision. I found myself having to make a decision that could potentially effect my unborn child's health. While my history makes me a perfect candidate for this treatment I wasn't convinced that the spotting was a sign of preterm labor. Being the perpetual optimist I was convinced that the spotting would subside and that it was due to the low-lying placenta. I just hated the thought of going on a med that didn't have long term data if I really didn't need to. This may sound crazy to bystanders who might be thinking "you lost your pregnancy at 23 weeks last time, go on the darn med!", but keep in mind that being raised in a physician's household where we rarely had band-aids, I continue to be a person who hesitates to take so much as allergy medication. We negotiated our points with Dr. B and settled on the fact that we would fill the medication & keep it on hand just in case I started to have any additional preterm labor symptoms.

Well, it turns out that this med is not easily filled at your neighborhood RiteAid. While prgoesterone is a very common hormone replacement therapy (commonly found in birth control pills, depo provera, etc.) even the hospital doesn't carry this particular formulation of progesterone. We ended up at a specialty pharmacy who had to order in the ingredients and compound the formulation for us, which is an all day process. While still pondering why we were even going to these lengths to get this med filled, again the perpetual optimist, we suddenly found ourselves in Labor & Delievery Triage Wednesday night. Part of my negotiation with Dr. B included me taking it easy for a few days to see if that would decrease the spotting. Well, at the end of my first day "taking it easy" and working from home I just didn't feel right. I couldn't tell if it was contractions or not, but I had some lower back pain and a dull ache in my cervical region. If we learned anything from our experience before we learned to listen to our (well my) gut feeling. So into triage we went. They hooked me up to the monitors to find baby doing well and no contractions. Dr. B happened to be on call and being about as cautious as an OB could be, he ordered an ultrasound to measure my cervix length in response to my complaint of the dull ache "down there". Down to radiology they wheeled me and as luck would have it they wheeled me into the same room where we were told our girls had no heartbeats. I looked at Frank and thought, this has to end differently than last time. The tech did the ultrasound and we found my cervix to have a length of 3.5 cm. Anything above 3 cm is normal, however last Friday they measured my cervix at 5 cm. I'm not an OB, but common sense would indicate that going from 5 cm to 3.5 cm in 4 days is probably not normal this early in pregnancy. My observation was pointed out to the nurses and then to Dr. B and they sent me home on strict bed rest until we could see him in the office on Friday. This is where I stand on my soap box and remind you all that your health is your own responsibility. Had we not noticed the measurement differences they would have told me my measurement was normal and sent me home with a quickly eroding cervix. For those that don't have an obsteterics degree, your cervix erodes (thins & shortens) to 0 and then dialates as you enter labor. They will check your cervical length just about anytime you have an ultrasound, which for most is twice during pregnancy unless there are signs or symptoms of an eroding or incompetent cervix.

Well long story short we met with Dr. B this morning and fairly confidently made the decision to go on the progesterone. With persistent spotting and an eroding cervix, both tell tale signs of preterm labor, the decision became much more obvious. Any potential long term effects of the progesterone far out weigh the potential health problems of having a severely preemie baby. After continued research I was also able to find a study with good 12-year followup data which also made me feel better. So a weekly prick in the bum it is for me, a lot more ultrasounds to monitor my cervix, and a few very valuable lessons reiterated:
-Listen to your gut! if you feel like something is wrong, it probably is and don't let them send you home until they've done all the possible tests.
-Take control of your own health, know what studies they are doing on you and what the results are because as we've learned there is no universal database with all of your health history catalogued. While a reading may appear normal the difference may be in the change from a previous, even better reading. Only you will remember this information and be able to help your doctor make the right decision for your care.
-Medications are not always the answer and make sure you ask a lot of questions and are comfortable before taking anything. When I first went to fill the prescription I was in tears and had a pit in my stomach, this is no condition in which to start a prophylaxis. Now, I feel very good about it and know that I made the best possible decision for myself and for my child.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mom, Mum, Mother, Mama, Mommy...

At what moment do we become a Mother? Some might argue that one becomes a Mother once their child is born. Others think it begins when they decide to get pregnant or adopt. For some, it is when they feel the baby kick for the first time. For me, becoming a mother begins the moment you become aware of the fact that you are pregnant. Instantaneously, we are bombarded by the wide range of emotions, never again to be relieved by a blank canvas of feelings, toward that child. When they begin may vary from woman to woman, but the emotions a woman experiences are similar throughout the child's life and are ever present.

Love, the deepest and most innate feeling of love toward another being. Worry, that the child is OK. Hope, for the child's health & happiness. Fear, that we will make a wrong decision or won't always know the right things to say & do as a mother. Excitement, for what the child may do or become. Anticipation of the child's future and how to prepare them physically and emotionally for what is to come. Protectiveness and the desire to shield them from harm. Respect for mother nature and the miracle she is creating. Amazement, from the first sight of their heartbeat on ultrasound to watching the person they become. Joy, pure and utter joy!

While my time as a mother has only been through pregnancy I have certainly felt all of the many scary yet wonderful emotions that have been described to me by so many Moms. I can only imagine the beauty of nurturing and raising one's own flesh and blood, as pregnancy continues to be one of my life's most incredible blessings.

To all you Mothers out there, from fellow preggos to seasoned veterans, Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Listen to your Dreams

Recently Frank and I had a little scare with this pregnancy.  After a relatively long day, I came home and had a bit of spotting, which any pregnancy website will tell you is reason to call your doctor.  Having learned from the past, we did not pass go & did not collect $200, we called our doctor's office immediately.  The on-call nurse called me back within 10 minutes and gave me very direct instructions to lay down with my feet above my head, drink 64 ounces of water & after 2 hours if the symptom persisted, to call the doctor on-call.  I laid on the couch with tears streaming down my cheeks, remembering all of the terrible events that led up to the loss of our girls.  My husband hugged me and told me that everything would be OK, this was different, this symptom is different and less worrisome, and this is a very different pregnancy.  Well sure enough 2 hours passed as did the spotting.  Coincidentally we had an appointment with Dr. B the very next day.  He explained this symptom as very normal for a 2nd pregnancy especially so immediately after the last pregnancy.  As the uterus stretches old blood from the last pregnancy is released and can cause spotting.  This may happen a few times throughout the rest of this pregnancy and is normal, he assured me.  So all is well, however considering the events of our last pregnancy Frank and I went to bed that night scared, nervous, worried, and solemn.

That night Frank had an interesting dream.  During our infamous trip to Hawaii (many of our friends are convinced that we conceived "Baby C' in Hawaii)  Frank read a book about a father who lost his daughter and his spiritual journey after her death.  One of the key take home points of the book was to listen to your dreams.  The book claims that often times dreams are a way to reconnect with the afterlife and with those we've lost.  I've mentioned this in previous blog entries, but we lost Frank's Dad 20 days after losing the girls.  I always felt as though he left us on purpose, he loved children, and I just knew in my heart that he left so he could take care of our two beautiful babies for us.  

Anyway, the night of our "scare" Frank had his first dream that involved his father since his death on October 25th, 2008.  He dreamt that we took the baby out of my womb and gave it to his father to take care of, until the baby's birth.  Now if the book that Frank read is correct in that dreams are a way of the afterlife communicating with us, one might interpret this dream as Frank's Dad telling Frank not to worry, that he is taking care of this pregnancy and this baby.  Now this might all be a little too supernatural to the afterlife skeptics out there, but it takes experiencing unexplainable tragedy to start believing in the afterlife and looking to spirituality for explanation.  Spiritual beliefs and signs, like Frank's dream, are what get me through the day and especially through the ups and downs of this pregnancy.  So, listen to you dreams, you never know when one might give you comfort, advice, or simply leave you smiling.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Is this your first?

I find myself in more and more casual conversations with strangers about my pregnancy these days.  Perhaps it is because I am starting to show, or maybe as a result of my obligation to explain why I care whether or not the cheese is pasteurized, or me feeling the need to rationalize my request when I ask the barrista or server to double check that the drink is decaf or virgin.  One way or another my pregnancy comes up as an easy & desirable conversation topic with strangers, and before I know it their questions start flowing like the Rio Grande.  "How far along are you?  When are you due?  Are you having a boy or a girl?  IS THIS YOUR FIRST?"  
 
Is this your first?  I cringe when I hear those 4 words.  I have felt very strongly about acknowledging the girls and my time with them, although brief, like I would any other child.  After all, I do have two children they just so happen to live in heaven.  So the answer to "is this your first" should be and is: "no".  However, I have noticed that more often than not, I respond with "yes".  I should clarify that if the "stranger" I am talking to is a friend of a friend or someone I know within a few degrees of separation I do respond with "no" I have two girls whom I lost at 23 weeks during my last pregnancy.  

So why do I answer "yes" to perfect strangers?  Is it because it is simply easier to say "yes this is my first pregnancy" than explain the circumstances surrounding my last pregnancy.  Or maybe I am protecting them from the uncomfortable but inevitable response they would feel obligated to give when I tell them the real answer.  Or maybe a piece of me wants to feel, if even for 1 split second, that I still have the innocence and naiveness of a first pregnancy.  Or maybe this is me going back to my old facade that everything is perfect, meanwhile hiding the pain I still live with daily.  Whatever the reason may be for my fictitious response I always answer sheepishly and inevitably I feel somewhat ashamed that I have, once again, pretended that this is my first pregnancy.  If the stranger cares enough to ask the question shouldn't they receive the truthful answer?   

Three thoughts...  To you lovely strangers out there who are so sweet and caring to ask about women's pregnancies: be prepared for an honest but maybe not so cheerful answer to your question.  To you women who have experienced the loss of a child (miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or otherwise):  let's make a vow to ourselves and to each other that we acknowledge our children, even to perfect strangers, no matter what the circumstance.  And to our angels: whatever the reason may be for answering stranger's questions untruthfully, this in no way diminishes the love we have for you!  So yes, this is my second pregnancy and my third child on the way, I am so proud to say!  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Links"

I now know what it feels like to be a Jimmy Dean sausage link!  

Due to the active nature of my job, I stand a lot.  A mild to moderately busy day now sends me home exhausted.   A long day on my feet causes my legs to swell & my feet to ache.  As I've discussed before, pregnancy exacerbates everything.  This is largely due to my energy stores being put to work supporting the growing baby, instead of my body.  Swelling is very common due to the increased blood volume which results in water retention & tissue edema.  So with all this in mind and knowing that regardless of how hard I try to modify my day (giving myself time to sit etc.) I still spend a lot of time standing, walking, and "running" about which sends me home exhausted with aching, swollen legs.  A few friends of mine who have similar work-related demands suggested asking Dr. B for prescription compression hose.  So I did!

Appt. #1
I was asked to take off my pants and stand in front of a very nice nurse who was trying to make small talk about the crazy weather patterns and the new Brazilian restaurant that just opened up by the movie theater.  She whips out a measuring tape and measures my ankle, calf & thigh.  In case you didn't already know this, those parts of your body don't "suck-in" very well.  Although "sucking-in" I tried, to the point where she said, "it's OK, you can breathe".  She smiles (or smirks) and writes down the measurements.  "Now your doctor prescribed a very firm grade of hose, you are going to want to give yourself about 20 minutes in the morning to get them on, and you will want to purchase a pair of rubber gloves with firm grips on the fingers.  I will order your hose and call you when they come in".  I had to repeat what she told me in my head a few times, what have a gotten myself into? 

Appt. #2
Again, pant-less, I found myself standing in front of a different, but very nice, nurse who smiled (or smirked) as she put on her rubber gloves and pulled my stockings out of the box.  "You can't scrunch these hose up like you do regular pantyhose, because if you do you can get your hand stuck in them and may not be able to get it back out".  I chuckled to myself, until she had me put my hand down the hose to feel how strong they are and I couldn't force it past the upper knee region if I tried.  How in the world am I going to get these suckers on my legs?  Ahhh haaaa the rubber gloves.  She helped me get the feet and calf portions on my legs then handed over the rubber gloves so I could put the rest of them on myself.  "Would you like to keep them on?"  I nodded, more in fear of her suggested removal technique than desire to remain in my new second skin.  "I'll meet you out front".  I put my pants over the very fashionable hose and proceeded to start to walk towards the front desk.  Walking in compression hose is an experience in itself, it feels as though someone has strapped springs up and down your legs and has sent you walking on the moon.  After walking, or spring stepping, to the front desk I also discovered that these suckers aren't cheap.   

So 2 appointments and $160 later I committed to wearing these hose to work, just to see if they help.   Well sure enough I now cannot live without my sausage sheaths!  They are money well spent & worth sacrificing those 15-20 minutes of sleep each day.   They do have a few downsides however.  I wouldn't expect to see them in Alexander McQueen's fall collection.  And, never mind the fact that by the time I reach my destination my pants have hiked themselves at least half way up my calf, causing more than a few stares.  Or the static electricity that radiates from my lower quadrant, making me feel blessed that I don't sell balloons for a living.  Oh, and another added bonus, as if pregnancy isn't already sexy enough, there seems to be real sex appeal to sitting naked at the end of the bed with blue rubber gloves on prying, pulling, & tugging these super strength pantyhose while uttering expletives at 6:15 in the morning.  Some men prefer Playboy, mine prefers the self-application of high-grade maternity compression hose, ha, ha!   All the negative side effects aside they certainly work their magic making my legs feel better, longer throughout the work day.  And, I now have a very special place in my heart for all of those encased meats out there in the world.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

6 months

It was 6 months ago today that our baby girls were born angels.  It feels as though a lot has happened since, but in the same breath I feel & remember our nightmare like it was yesterday.   While time has allowed me to learn to cope on a daily basis the pain and grief will forever remain.  I am reminded daily and especially on these landmark anniversaries that life is precious and every moment is meant to be cherished.  

In so many ways our girls and their memory are my lifeblood.  From the way they've changed my outlook on life, to the overwhelming feeling of comfort & peace with this pregnancy, to our due date potentially being on October 5th, to me seeing them in everything that's beautiful.  There continue to be external signs in addition to a deeply rooted emotional feeling that they are watching over me and this pregnancy.

I've decided to include the e.mails that I wrote immediately after our loss for two reasons.  There is something very humbling and intimate about the raw emotion expressed in the e.mails that contributes to every word I write here.  Secondly, it gives a starting point to my healing process.  One of my many objectives with this blog was to maybe one day help another woman who goes through a similar experience.  If they can see that I, too, felt the way they are feeling but life HAS gone on, and that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel for them then I have accomplished one of my goals.  Here they are [note: that I've made some corrections to my grief-ridden information for accuracy]:

10/6/08
Angels

Dear Friends,
It is with the deepest sadness I've ever personally experience that I write to you today.  Frank and I lost our twin girls this past weekend.  What started out as some minor contractions last Tuesday turned into me having to deliver them on [Sunday] morning.  As of right now it looks as though Baby B had a low-grade infection, probably from very early on, that [caused a blood clot in her umbilical cord & her heart to stop beating.  Because the two of them were on the same placenta we lost Baby A as well.]  At 24 weeks their immune systems were unable to fight the infection and [the clot] caused their hearts to stop beating.  There has been no infection found in my body, nor do they believe that the infection stemmed from me, rather just a very rare and very unfortunate circumstance.

At a time like this I find myself looking to the spiritual side of things as the scientific reasoning just doesn't seem to help explain why such a thing could ever happen to anyone.  I just keep telling myself that Baby B was sick and she needed her sister to come with her & hold her hand as she journeyed to heaven.  I believe they are now watching over us and have become our little angels.

Obviously, this is a very trying time for Frank and I and we appreciate all of your love and support.  We know we will get through this someday, but right now it is just SO HARD!  We spent our first night without our little girls physically present last night and I just truly felt such a void in my heart.  I guess time will eventually heal, but one thing is for sure:  they will always hold a very special place in our family & in our hearts.  We will never forget them.  So the next time you look up at the big blue sky, say a little prayer to our angels.

Love,
Dana


10/12/08
One Week

Dearest Friends,
It has been 1 week, this Sunday morning, since our twins have passed and while each day seems to get a tiny bit better than the last it is still so painful to wake up and face another day of grief and the overwhelming feeling of loss.  We are finding strength in each other, in family, and in you, our dearest friends.  Without all of your phone calls, e.mails, cards, flowers, food & especially hugs I just don't know where we'd be, you are truly helping us through this very difficult time.  We have received a number of e.mails from some of you sharing stories of similar losses and how you managed to cope.  It has been mentioned that naming our angels can be a wonderful way to remember and honor their special place in our hearts.  While initially hesitant, we've decided that it only makes sense to honor our little angels with names, as they will always be an important part of our family while we remain here on this Earth.

Ironically, we hadn't narrowed down any girl names during our pregnancy, which provided a very special opportunity to find names with meaning to us during this time.  We have named "baby A", Raphael.  A name I have always loved and as it turns out Raphael is the Angel of Healing.  We named "baby B", Lailah.  Lailah is the Angel of Conception.  We pray to Raphael to help Lailah return to health as she journeys to heaven and to watch over us and help us heal in the weeks, months & years to come.  We pray to Lailah to give us the strength physically & emotionally to conceive again and to watch over her future brother's or sister's journey to life.  We wanted to share these names with you so you can continue to help us remember & honor our baby girls in the future.

Frank and I spent this past weekend in Sun Valley, breathing the fresh mountain air and trying to gain the strength to put one foot in front of the other.  Throughout this past week we are reminded how precious life truly is and that the "little things" just really don't matter at all.  I find myself appreciating the beauty of nature so much more and cherishing the love of my husband, family & friends like I never have in the past.  While it is hard to believe I will ever be as happy as I was before, I am forever changed as a human being and maybe that is the greatest gift of all.

Love,
Dana & Frank

After losing our girls it took every ounce of energy I could muster to get out of bed in the morning.  Waves of nausea would overcome me and I would feel physically ill.  I would stare in to space forgetting where I was, what I was doing, and how it felt to care about anything.  I simply didn't care about anything.  It was difficult to eat.  I never once answered my phone for at least a month.  The simple act of glancing at my caller ID would prompt me into tears.  I had no desire to venture out into public & when I forced myself to attend a social engagement I felt numb and like I was faking wanting to be there, which I was.  I would sob every night, every morning, every time I was in the shower, when my husband would go to work & I was left alone, when I would look at my no longer pregnant body in the mirror, or when I would pass by the closed door to the nursery.  The "what could've been lingered" & the sense of loss became my shadow.   I couldn't see or hear anything about anyone who was pregnant or having a baby, even though I knew I should be happy for them, I just couldn't handle the reminder of my loss.

All of these feelings, emotions, & physical reminders are very common indeed.  I took a month away from work and spent my days painting, hiking, & learning the guitar.  I had many visitors in the first couple of weeks, which was nice, but then I got to the point where I just wanted time alone because no one but myself was going to get me through this.  I found myself taking baby steps through the healing process.  One day I got out of the shower and realized that I hadn't cried the entire shower.  I had my first really good laugh at something funny.  I drank a glass of wine with dinner at home one night, something I truly enjoy.  I found myself accepting invitations to go to a friend's house for dinner.  I applied makeup & dried my hair one day.  I ventured to the art supply store for more paint one day.  I went to bed one night without crying myself to sleep.  Slowly these seemingly minor steps became enormous leaps and bounds in the healing process.  Frank's father passed away and we flew to NY for his funeral, we returned on October 31st which concluded the worst month in our marriage and hopefully, our life.  On November 1st we attended a concert with some friends and on November 2nd I went back to work.  Day by day life was returning to normal.  

Today I not only get out of bed, but I want to get out of bed.  I smile wholeheartedly & experience joy just like I did before I lost the girls.  I laugh until my stomach hurts & I hug harder & more often than I ever have.  I appreciate my friends & family more than ever and have a deeper love & devotion towards my husband.  I do still cry, often, but it feels good & healthy.  I am extremely sensitive and empathetic to those who experience loss, whether it be a miscarriage, a divorce, the loss of a child or grandparent, or a stillbirth.  I have always been a sensitive and caring person, but when I hear of someone's life tragedy I now feel their pain as though it is my own.  I grieve for our girls every day, but life has gone on and I have become a better person through this process.  I hope that my worst enemy never has to know the excruciating pain & what a long difficult process the recovery is, but it is inevitable that women will experience this in the future.  To you women out there, hang in there, you will come through this, life will make sense again, and you will be changed for the better.  If you need a shoulder, I will be here, whether I know you or not.  So please reach out to me & to others who have been there.

A pregnancy blog with a twist.

If you start from my first entry "The Beginning" you will hear about my life's tragedy.  Out of the ashes of this terrible experience I have formed a whole new outlook on pregnancy.  Throw away the pregnancy books, stop worrying and complaining about pregnancy symptoms, forget about the multi-billion dollar pregnancy & baby industry and simply enjoy the miracle of creating life.  I plan to write about this pregnancy process from a new perspective.  A wiser, more thankful, and hopefully not too jaded perspective.  Since I wouldn't wish my tragedy on my worst enemy I hope that women can learn from my experience and perhaps view their own pregnancies in a slightly different light.  Enjoy!  And, happy miracle making!