(If you don't like the music, scroll down and you can control it on the right side. But I like it, so there! )

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Getting Busted

Remember the post a few weeks back where I spoke of my bad luck with cameras and difficulties of keeping everyone else off of them? Well, today Evan got caught. Random cute pictures of Zach kept showing up, and I just figured John was taking them. But nope. It's Evan. Because he forgets to delete the evidence. Today, this is what I found:


Scaring Random People

So I went to the hospital yesterday to settle the last lingering bit of the Pregnancy from Hell. I had to go to the cashier's window, and they pull your info up on a screen, and their little computer screen populates with the different accounts you have. Each visit is a seperate account, and I was hospitalized a total of 34 times between late-January and mid-May. The poor guy working the window! His eyes got as big as saucers and he got all pale on me. He croaked, "Can I ask what was wrong?" So I told him, and that made it worse. Turns out his wife is 19 weeks pregnant. Then he asked about my level of insurance, since our hospital offers three levels of coverage. He apparently has the cheapest while I had the best, most expensive (thank God!). I only ended up owing about $15K total, for everything. This would seem like a lot until I explain that my home health bill alone was $48K before insurance. So the bottom line is that despite my best efforts to reassure this guy, everything I said only made it worse. But I had to explain, because the poor guy was thinking that those charges were all routine for pregnancy, when in fact they are not and I am a freak of nature.
Maybe I just need to keep my mouth shut from now on.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mornings in the 'Hood.

Okay, so I wake this morning before the baby. Before John. And way before Evan. I brew my coffee. (Yep, remember the Death of the Coffeemaker? My old friend was replaced!) And I go outside to sit on the front porch before it turns into Shades of Hades out there like it always does. Lately it has been sweltering, and you can feel your fat cells melting as soon as you step outside, but not this morning. I actually was wearing a hoodie!

So there I am, mug in hand, people-watching. Before I say this, let me tell you I love my neighborhood. I really do. But seriously? Some of these people are freaks!

When I was pregnant with Zach, I tended to notice other peoples' baby gear, simply because I was in the market myself. Well we have this one chick who walks every morning with a Bugaboo Frog. WTF, you ask? Well, that's a stroller. An $800 stroller to be exact. I covet it, really. But this woman has it to....wait for it...walk her damned dog. Which happens to be the ugliest animal I have ever seen. I am all for the pets-as-family-members deal. And just because I am allergic to everything with fur does not make me an animal hater. But this? Seriously? Isn't the pont of walking a dog just that? Actually walking the dog? I guess I could be wrong...

Next we have Mr. Crotchety. Mr. Crotchety has to be 80 years old. He hates kids. Fine. He has that right. I try to be polite to him, but because I procreated, I am on his short list. He is directly next door to me. For the first 6 months we lived here, I was off of work for the Pregnancy From Hell. But once I started working again, and could be seen coming and going in scrubs, his memory was jogged and I became familiar to him. Turns out I took care of his wife at one point. But before that, he would simply growl when I would smile and wave. Well, in the mornings, before it gets hot, Mr. Crotchety tends his lawn. He can be seen doing a vast array of chores in odd old-people ways. This morning, he was seen trimming the grass along his sidewalk...with scissors! Down on his 80-year-old knees.

Then there's The Playa. Ha! This is the guy who gets up, ushers his kids into his minivan, then rolls. It's all "Come on, kids, buckle up!", then you hear it: booming bass. In the minivan. And all of the windows are down as gagsta rap thuds from the vehicle as he makes his way down the street.

And do you remember those ultra-short running shorts that were made of shiny nylon? We--wait, not we--some people---wore them in the 80's. Well, I have a neighbor who thought they were too good to let slip with the passing of the decades. And he runs in them every morning. But the best part? He completes the look with the tight tank top, the tube socks pulled up to his knees, the sweatbands on his head and wrists. And he has to be about 60. It is all I can do to keep from laughing when he runs by the house in the morning.

Before you think I live in the Land of Misfits, I shoud clarify that these oddballs are mixed amongst the general population of late 20's/ early 30's young professionals that make up the rest of the community. We are the more normal ones. They can be seen walking behind strollers with actual children in them, while their dogs trail along on leashes. Wearing clothes from this decade. Mowing the lawn with actual lawn equipment. Acting their age.

But the oddballs make my morning coffee so much more interesting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here?

This happened here, in Northern Kentucky. I came out of work Sunday morning, where John was there to pick me up after my shift, and he immediately told me to be quiet as he was listening to the radio host talk about an incident that had occurred in my own area. Of course the interview on the radio was rather one-sided and I got the impression that the woman in the restaurant was actually topless. With that in mind, and even as a breastfeeding mother, I sided with the restaurant. I believe we should have the right to feed our babies in public, and the law is on our side, but there is no need to flaunt it, and I think discretion is called for. I personally am too self-conscious to nurse Zach in public without being hidden. Instead of fighting the sensibilities of others, I would just as soon go to my car. Of course my self-consciousness has led me on many occasions to give in and give Zach bottles of pumped milk while out on trips. Of course, this is bad. My pumped milk, in light of my supply issues, really is precious to us and should be saved for my long hours at work.
So all of this has me thinking about the whole ordeal. I think the views of the public keep me from just whipping out my boob whenever Zach is hungry, but my own misgivings would keep me covered even if my breastfeeding in public would solicit applause from a crowd.
So back to this woman...She was vilified, and now I am appalled at the restaurant. Of course they made it sound like she was topless, which is now obviously not the case. But what of the people who complained?
The restaurant owner was on the radio speaking of how there were 8 year old boys in the restaurant at the time. And I happened to think of my own 8-year-old boy and my breastfeeding. And sadly, I could relate. Evan understands that the way I have chosen to feed Zach really is what is best for Zach and I both. With that in mind, it is not something that should be hidden from Evan. But then there is the conservative part of me who cannot get past the idea of exposing myself to my son at a time when he is most impressionable and curious about the differences between male and female. So for my own comfort, we have elected for me to pump and nurse out of Evan's sight. He knows what I am doing. We tell him. He laughs when he holds Zach and Zach roots, looking to nurse against Evan's chest. He'll tell his baby brother that he doesn't make milk as he giggles. He understands the process. It is all about personal comfort for us. But I am not going to force that on anyone else, and if this woman was feeding her baby in front of Evan, I wouldn't care.
And the bathroom....Really? Does the manager eat in the bathroom? Especially a public restroom! What do you think of when you think of public restrooms? Germ-laden. Gross. Dirty. Not exactly appetizing, is it?
So overall, I am appalled that this happened here. I am aghast at the way they presented this woman to the media, in such a way that another breastfeeding mother was even siding with the restaurant and labeling her as a fight-picker. I really thought this area was more progressive than that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finally


So it only took 10 years. I followed him in the car as he drove it home, and realized that I am as fiercely protective of John as I am of my children. It's strange to realize this a decade into a marriage, but it's true. With every car he passed, with every twitch of his foot as he shifted gears, I worried for his safety as much as I do my young, vulnerable kids. Even though he is older than me. Evan though he can take care of himself. Even though the same hands he has used to diaper our children are also the ones that were tough enough to defend our country. This man is my world.

An admirer at the gas station struck up a conversation at the pump, and he beamed when he told the man, "My wife bought this for me."

And right now, I am just happy that he is happy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bitch?

I'll start this with a direct quote from a coworker.

"Andrea, you are so much more pleasant to work with now. You were such a bitch before."

Ummm, wow! Really? And I assure you she wasn't joking. And the fact that she thought it was okay to say something so hurtful may sort of be my fault. I have that abrasive, in-your-face attitude. I always have, and any effort I have put forth to change it fails miserably. It's just me. Or is it?
I talk a good game. People around me would tell you I am hardcore, no-nonsense. But truthfully? My skin isn't quite as thick as I put on. My feelings are easily hurt and I am seriously pretty insecure. But you would never know that unless I tell you. Or unless you know me really, really well. I think John is the only one who knows the true me.

So this? Well, I laughed, but inside I was hurt. It was weird to find out she thought this about me. She honestly believed that having Zach mellowed me out. It did. But some of it is just simple logic. Before I got pregnant, I would manage at least 70 hours' worth of work (at least!) with a full-time school schedule, fitting in sleep every third day between exams and OT shifts. I was the classic workaholic. When I got pregnant, I cut down on the OT, dreading the complications I knew would be coming. I cut down on school, but didn't cut it out. So I was still tired, and shocked by a pregnancy. Then came the part where I wasn't doing anything but my base work schedule. And that is when the contractions started, so I was constantly miserable from pain and discomfort. (Yes, the contractions started earlier than documented. I knew what was going on and didn't tell anyone at all until they got too much to tolerate. I faked well.) So yeah, maybe I was bitchy. But a bitch?

So this has all got me thinking about the label we put on women. I think of a bitch as someone who is generally mean-spirited and female. I don't think I fit into this category, with that being said. But that isn't what the word has come to mean in our society. The label is instead carelessly tossed around to any woman who is outspoken, ambitious, serious, and honest about her thoughts. With that being said, it can actually be a compliment. Should I say thank you?

Zachary's Gift

Hmmmm, where to start?

I have always said that children are not supposed to bring gifts into our lives. It is their job just to be, and our job to love them and make them feel secure in this world. But having Zachary has brought such an enormous gift to my life that it is difficult to put into words.


It all starts with breastfeeding. I used to be a junk-food junkie. I paid no more attention to the junk going into my body than I did to speed limit signs along the road. I lived on fast food. I never took vitamins. The list of abuse to my body is endless. But with his birth and subsequent nursing, I started to pay more attention. Herbal supplements. Whole grains. Fresh, organic fruits and veggies. Lean meats. Lots of water. Actual exercise that doesn't involve running around a hospital while the rest of the world sleeps. And the real kicker? I started doing all of this effortlessly. Oh, I've dieted before, and it always took such effort that I gave up soon thereafter. But lately I find that making more healthful choices just comes with the territory of being a nursing mom. I don't want junk food. It has completely lost its appeal to me.

And the changes don't stop there. I take vitamins and herbal supplements now. I go on walks. I actually sleep. I am calmer, more serene. Overall, I just take better care of myself. Zach did this to me, and it got me to thinking. Is it all about breastfeeding or is a new-found appreciation of my body after surviving the pregnancy behind the changes? I think it is a combination of both.

Of course these changes are having a huge impact on my life. People around me are noticing (another post about this coming up). And the more healthful habits have manifested themselves into weight loss. Although I know my caloric needs greatly increased with breastfeeding, my appetite never did. So I am burning more and actually eating less, and at 9 weeks postpartum, I have lost a total of 45 pounds. I knew I had lost a significant amount of weight by 5 weeks when I went to my OB to be cleared for work, but the rest I didn't measure until recently. I just noticed clothes changing in the way they fit: first it was "Hey, I can fit into these shorts again!", followed by "Hey, these shorts are looser than before.", then finally "Hey, these shorts are too freakin' big to wear!" Shirts I wore right before getting pregnant are now nightgowns. And the little c-section pooch I had from having Evan, which I expected to get worse with the second c-section, is actually getting flatter.

Before you discredit this and tally it up to normal postpartum changes, let me tell you something. I looked horrible during the pregnancy. I was bloated, tired-looking. You could see the misery on my face. It oozed from my pores. But I only had a net gain of 11 pounds throughout the whole damned thing.(I emphasize "net gain" because I would gain a pound, lose 2, gain 2, lose 4, throughout.) And 7.5 of those pounds were all baby. So I actually left the hospital weighing less than I did when the little pee stick revealed its fateful two pink lines.

So now here I am. In better shape and weighing less than I have ever weighed. And this is following 5 months of bedrest and otherwise sedentary ways. Thanks, Zachary!

Balance

So I just finished Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Loved it. It is being released as a movie with Julia Roberts in it, though that had nothing to do with my selecting it. Actually, it was more like a "Hey, why is Julia Roberts on the cover of my book?" type of moment. I absolutely hate seeing a movie before I read the book. And the movies always let me down. I loved loved loved The Time Traveler's Wife. One of my all-time favorites, but the movie left me disappointed. For me, reading that book was like reading a giant metaphor for marriage. I didn't get the same feeling from the movie. So anyhow, back to Eat Pray Love.
For some reason, this book had a strange impact on me. I should start by saying that I'm not religious at all. I'm not anti-religion either. My son attends parochial school, for crying out loud. So I'm not an atheist either. I would call myself more agnostic than anything. But I am reading about Gilbert's spiritual journey around the world, and I suddenly got this feeling that my life was off balance. I wanted that level of peace and self-reflection for myself, and I was jealous of her experience. This is really bizarre for me.
I've done yoga as more of a relaxation/ fitness practice than a spiritual one. There is something inherently calming about sitting quietly in insane poses that both pulls you in and centers you. And maybe it's age-related (I am getting older!) but I feel like I need this sort of calm in my life at this point in time.
Before you roll your eyes at me, I should explain. It is certainly not surprising for a new mother to long for some calmness. I am not exempt from that. But considering my personality, this desire surprises me. I usually thrive on stress. Crazy job, insane schedule, educational demands. Juggle juggle juggle. And it is almost like I need this to be happy. As a matter of fact, if there isn't adequate challenge in my life, I get too bored and subconsciously invent drama, being the lunatic that I am. I've actually caught myself doing it when I wasn't even aware. So for me--ME--to say I long for that? Well it is bizarre to say the least. I see big changes coming my way, and I have no idea what they are going to be.




Friday, July 16, 2010

Because I Love Him

The craziest thing I have ever done was to marry John.

Let me explain.

John and I met through a mutual friend 10 years ago. I was a cashier at this huge party store, and so was my friend. And she was telling me all about her good guy friend named John. He kept getting involved with the wrong women, and I with the wrong men. I jokingly told her, "Well, if he is such a great guy, introduce us, because all I can find are jerks." But he lived 4 hours away. Apparently she knew him through a friend of hers from Cincinnati who ended up moving to the town he was from. They dated and she ended up being one of the bad seeds, but not before John had made friends with her friends. C'mon. 4 hours away. I forgot all about it. Then about two months later, there he was, up to visit. Riding his motorcycle, fresh from the Marine Corps, wearing Levi's that were faded in all the right places. Of course she introduced us. And we hit it off. As a matter of fact, we hit it off so well that everyone around us at a party thought we had already been a couple. We ended up pretty much spending the weekend together before he had to get back on his motorcycle and head home. I didn't want him to go. We had fit together so well. He said he would call, and in my cynicism, I thought "yeah, riiiiiight". But he did call. Not only did he call when he got home, but called on the way home. Pulled over in the rain, motorcycle perched on the side of the road under a bridge. And he called again when he got home. We pretty much stayed on the phone for a little over a week. Then he cashed his paycheck, quit his job and moved to Cincinnati to be closer to me. After just a couple of weeks. Crazy.
Within a month, I was so over-the-moon in love with this guy that I felt insane. We hadn't been together long enough to feel the way I did. Was I losing my mind? What was even crazier was when he bought me a beautiful princess-cut solitaire. And with that, we were engaged after one month of meeting.
We started looking at the idea of planning a wedding. I do not have cheap taste. I wanted the elegant venue, drenched in crystal and roses and candlelight. The fairytale dress. I always have and still do. But at that point, neither of us were in position to pay for it. My parents had passed, leaving just us. And we decided that if we couldn't afford what we wanted, then we didn't want any of it. With that, we eloped. Well not really eloped. We were married on Christmas Eve in front of a Christmas Tree at John's mom's house. The dating, the engagement, and the wedding altogether took about 3 months. That's it.

Everyone said we were insane. We didn't care. We were insanely in love. He had my very soul. And just a couple of months later, we discovered ourselves to be expecting a little boy--our Evan.
A lot has happened since then. Educations were completed. Children were born after horrendous pregnancies. We've had some pretty big trials, and we have made it through. Together. Just us.

Remember the motorcycle? I made John get rid of it. It scared me. He loved it, too. But he did so because he didn't want me to worry. Throughout our whole marriage, all 10 years we have been together, he has longingly looked at replacing that motorcycle. It was Kawasaki Vulcan, he says, because he couldn't afford a Harley Davidson back then. He wants a Harley so bad I swear he can taste it. And because I love him, I want so much to be able to give it to him. I have literally envisioned me finishing med school, and with a doctor's salary, surprising John in front of all of his family and friends with a new Harley. But it never happened and is never going to now.

I was thinking to myself that I would approach my favorite loan lady at my bank for a loan for John to have a motorcycle for his birthday in November. On the heels of Zach's pregnancy, John is feeling aged, and I wanted to make him happy. After all, I would give him the world if I could. I didn't know if it would happen though...

Well, the other night, as I was doggedly schlepping through the halls of the hospital, I noticed a sign on the door of the in-hospital branch of our credit union. They were selling a 2006 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe, apparently a reposession. These are pretty common lately, as our hospital recently purchased another area health system, and with that merger, our credit unions merged. Therefore, our credit union inherited some bad accounts. There for awhile, they could have stocked their own used car lot with all of the repossessions. I made a few calls and discovered the asking price was about $3K below what I would pay a dealer, and so I put in a bid for it for the asking price. That was approved. Then I put in for the financing, and it was approved as well.

I just bought John a Harley. The look on his face was worth it. He has dreamed of having one for as long as I have known him, and I made that dream come true. I cannot put into words how I feel. It is so much more to me than a motorcycle. It is a chance to give back to John for the years I have had him by my side, through it all, without fail.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Company I Keep


Happy Zachary. The morning after he slept all night in his big crib for the frst time. Which means we all got some awesome sleep. Though I must admit that the neurotic side of me had me running to the crib at 8 AM to make sure he was still breathing after I realized he did not wake me up at all since 11 PM last night. My baby is growing up already.

Pump It, Baby!

No, this isn't an obscene post. It is more misadventures in breastfeeding.

I don't know if I've talked about pumps before, but I purchased a Medela Pump in Style while still pregnant. It was supposed to be the gold standard in pumps for working moms, so Iwas pleased. I used the Medela Symphony while in the hospital, when Zach was barely nursing, and my milk came in in full force, then tapered off. And so the drama started. I thought it may be my pump. So I bought a Medela Freestyle, also the gold standard, but with more bells and whistles. No improvement. There was a great increase in the amount I could pump that was mainly due to other things: consuming lactogenic foods, increased nursing/ pumping, taking galactogogues (Reglan, Fenugreek, Flaxseed, etc.). The Symphony is also the pump they use in the lactation room at the hospital where I work. I noticed a huge increase in what I can pump while there. At first I thought this was due to the fact that I have no choice but to go longer in between pumping breaks. It just isn't feasible to pump every 2 hours there. Another therapist has to hold my pager, my patients have to be all tucked in and in need of none of my services, and more. The most I can do is 3 breaks in a 12-hour shift. But I have tried to duplicate the pattern here at home and still get about half the amount I do at work. There is only one solution in my mind: I need to get my hands on a Symphony at home. Bring on the rental!

Well, around here, one can rent the Medela Symphony for about $110 per month. With Zach's latch issues and voracious appetite, I will need one for the duration I will be breastfeeding--at least one year. I want to give extended nursing a try but am creeped out by an older toddler reaching for my boob, so if I do it, it will only be with pumped milk. With that in mind, I would need the pump even longer. So if you do the math, it would be roughly $1.4 K to rent a pump for the next year. If I give up and go straight to formula feeding, it would be even more. So I made some phone calls, and the hospital for which I work has a Women's Wellness Boutique that carries or can order anything a nursing mother needs. And they can special order me a Medela Symphony. They even give me a 20% discount on purchases. So for about the cost of renting a Symphony, I can just buy my own. And they do payroll deduction, busting purchases up into 3 payments if desired. But this pump is costly, and it would equal about $500 per paycheck. Nah. So I called and called. I made my plea as to why I need this pump (preemie, latch issues, last resort), and they agreed to break it up into 8 payments just for me. Yay.

So this time next week, I will own my very own hospital-grade Medela Symphony Preemie Edition (It has a computer software card that, when inserted, will mimic the way Zach sucks). I'm excited, as I know it is just a effective as nursing a baby is. And the beauty is that she quoted me a price of $1500 on the phone, then when she ordered it with the preemie software, found out it is almost $2K, but she felt bad so is only charging me the $1500.

In the meantime, our trip pretty much did in the progress I was making on the supply issue. I was just too self-conscious about pumping and nursing. The business of it all had me forgetting doses of my supplements and medication. And I completely forgot my Fenugreek, and thus stopped it abruptly which can be detrimental. Between the three, I am almost back to square one. So I have to pull myself up by the bootstraps and go back to the pump-every-hour routine, which makes me want to cry. But at least I now know it can be done. Having the hospital-grade pump will certainly help in the next week or so.

All of this makes me think of the trip to B&N today. I was perusing the parenting section in search of a new copy of LLL's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding when I saw this title:
Breastfeeding Sucks: What to Do When Your Mammaries Make You Miserable.
Seriously, I about died laughing. And the cover is even better! (See right.) There was a whole line of "Sucks" books: Pregnancy Sucks, etc. Hilarious. I didn't buy any of them. They seemed entertaining, but I was there for more informative reading today. Now I am thinking about ordering it online.

So anyway, here we go. Again. The Misadventures of Ol' Bessie, the Milk Maker. Mooooooo!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who's To Blame After Suspect Escapes From Hospital? - Cincinnati News Story - WLWT Cincinnati

Who's To Blame After Suspect Escapes From Hospital? - Cincinnati News Story - WLWT Cincinnati

So now we are corrections officers? Police officers? Seriously?

Zach Gets Mad

Zachary was playing with his overhead gym last night when I noticed he would get frustated and fussy every so often. He has been working on reaching for things, and apparentlywhen he lacks the developed coordination to get what he wants, he gets angry. (Please, please, please excuse John's "Awwww shit!" comment in the middle of the video!)
video

Monday, July 12, 2010

Evan and the Wedding


So our niece got married. Incidentally, I used to refer to her only as John's niece, but sometime over the past decade of our marriage, the "John's" became "Our". She was 11 years old when we brought Ev home from the hospital. And I remember on our wedding day, her mom (John's big sis) telling her that she now had to listen to me as well.)

So she got married. She picked Evan and her other cousin Ev's age to be ushers. I questioned the wisdom of this. Sure enough, after I was seated, I was trying to juggle between keeping Zach quiet and watching Evan perform his duties. When I no longer saw him seating the guests, I thought to myself, "Uh-huh, I knew it was too big a job for him!" But before I knew it, the processional of the wedding party had started, and there was my son, with a different tie on, walking down the aisle. And he looked so beautiful and grown up. He did so well. It turns out that the ring bearer fell ill right before the wedding, and Evan got yanked from his role of usher and thrust into the role of stand-in without the benefit of the rehearsal the night before. (Incidentally, this is why his tie is a tad too short in the photo--it wasn't intended for him!) I was so proud. But a small part of me had a flash-forward of the day my son will find a life partner and tie the knot. And with that in mind, the bawling commenced.

I should also mention that I definitely need practice with my new camera. I tried to snap pictures of the wedding party in real time, especially of my baby boy standing at the alter, but had a slight problem. A digital female voice kept talking to me: "Saving to memory card" every time the shutter was pressed. And I was starting to get dirty looks. All while I was trying to balance Zach in one arm and quiet my digital friend with the other. So while I have pictures, they are blurred from both movement and having the camera in the wrong mode. Bummer.

Grandparents

We left Madisonville, Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. I am usually eager to return home after a trip like that. I am just, by nature, a city person. This time I cried when we left.

I never had the chance to know any of my grandparents. They all passed away before I was born. And so I looked forward to the day my mother would meet my children, but then she passed away before I could even think about the idea of having kids. Dad soon followed. But John's parents are still here. My boys get to know them.

So Sunday afternoon, John's mom held and rocked Zach while John packed the car. I brought the carseat over to her to put Zach in. He had fallen fast asleep in her arms, which was pretty much where he spent the whole 4 days we were down there, anyway. She seemed sad to have to put him in his carseat, and held him up for her husband to kiss on the top of his little head. It seemed so....final. We were leaving Evan down there to spend a couple of weeks, but Zach had to come home. He is just too young. I honestly felt like I was taking him away from her.

So I held it in. But once we started to pull away from her house, to back out of the driveway, I started to sob. John's mother and I have certainly had our differences over the past decade, but she has always been a shining example of what I always envisioned a grandparent to be. Is our staying so far away going to prevent her from being close to Zach like she has been close to Evan?

We were going to leave her house to go to John's dad's house to drop off clothes for Evan. He will be down there for a little while, alternating between staying with John's dad, John's mom's and stepfather's, and John's sister's. He gets to have a blast with all of them. I am so appreciative and value that more than anyone can know. But as we are pulling away,and the tears were flowing, here comes John's dad on one of his motorcycles. And Evan is on the back. After I got over the first thought of "OH MY GOD MY BABY IS ON A MOTORCYCLE!!!!!", I realized how cute he was there with his grandpa, and that I could trust John's dad to keep Ev safe, even to his own detriment. And so I snapped a picture. It could not have captured the moment better (other than me being able to actually work my new camera and the picture being clearer). There is my cute, sweet Evan having a ball with his grandpa while John and I drive away, with John's mom's house in the rearview mirror.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Smiles For Daddy


"Andrea, HURRY! Bring the camera!"
I know this means Zach is doing something cute that I want to capture. And he is. Curled up on Daddy's chest, tucked under his blanket, he is cooing and smiling at John. And he is so sweet that I could eat him up. So I made it in time to capture their "conversation".

Have Baby, Will Travel


Look, spit-up happens. As does leaking diapers. And just about any other clothes-soiling incident when you have a little baby.

This is just one of the thoughts racing through my mind as I try to pack our family up for a weekend at John's mom's house. What are the others?

The baby needs a safe place to sleep.

How many diapers will we need?

What if the house is too cool at night? Or too hot?

What about feeding? How much milk will need to store? How much supplementation will Zach need?

Zach will need something to do while awake.

The list goes on and on. So I am packing hot pajamas and cool pajamas, an entire can of formula, a whole large pack of diapers and a full container of wipes. Approximately 3 outfits per day. The pack'n'play. The overhead gym. Bottles and water and formula. Breastpump and storage supplies. My oatmeal and flaxseed and herbal tea and fenugreek and Reglan. The Boppy.

And this is all just for Zach. I just may need to rent a van!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Woman's Work


If this grosses you out, I apologize.
This is what I have been working toward all along.
To give Zachary a piece of myself each and every day, multiple times a day. To do what is best for him. And it has been harder than I could've imagined.
I've learned about galactogogues, and have consumed them in large quantities. I've had the herbal teas, and I don't like tea--not even sweetened iced tea. I am now eating a bowl of oatmeal daily, even though the texture gags me. I am taking a medication that could damage my nervous system, though it most likely will not. I have had many nights where I have set my alarm clock to wake me every hour so I could pump. I have cried when those efforts only produced as little as a half a ounce at one point. I have felt the thrill of the first night I left for work with 12 ounces of pumped milk in the refrigerator, enough to meet my baby's needs while I was away, even though it took 2 days of incessant pumping to produce that. I have felt joy that I was able to pump 2 ounces at a time, total, then felt the deep disappointment when I realized even this was inadequate.
But this? This is 4 ounces of pumped breastmilk. From one side. My production is sort of lopsided, so I only got 7 ounces total. But this? This is victory. This is my work for the past 2 months of my life. I am proud of myself for sticking with it when it would have been easier to give up.
The happiness, the relief, the joy, the heartbreak, the dedication, the perseverance, the resolve....Who could've know it could all fit in 4 fluid ounces?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lucky Me


Last night, I got the call I have been dreading since my return to work. To the NICU. For a preemie.
I got to work on the baby immediately. A little boy. 3 lbs., 4 oz. Tiny, yet perfectly made. Lungs not wanting to work. I didn't ask questions, other than to make sure we weren't dealing with something that would affect his treatment. No meconium aspiration. C-section delivery. He was obviously a preemie. Gestational age? 35 weeks, 5 days. Delivered after an amniocentesis assured mature lungs, and a long struggle with preterm labor for the mom.
Chills ran up my spine.
Zachary.
Evan.
You know, I try to treat all of my patients the same. I try to treat them as I would want my loved ones to be treated if one of them were to fall ill. But I would be lying if I said anything other than that I treated this baby better than any other patient I have ever had. My touch was more gentle. My dealings with the family more compassionate. How could they not be? I saw Zach's and Evan's angel faces in his eyes. And my heart broke just a bit for the moments where I have allowed myself to forget that both of my boys are true miracles. We are so blessed. We are the lucky ones. How could I ever permit myself to forget that for even a second?
I have made a decision. My hospital is building a state-of-the-art new NICU so we no longer have to ship such high-risk cases out. They are, as we speak, assembling a core team of therapists for the role in the NICU. I didn't think I could stomach it. I thought it would rip my heart out daily. I thought this was a good reason to say no. Now I know that this level of care and understanding makes me tailor-made for the job. When working with adults, one has to be almost heartless to make it through. For this job? One has to be all heart.

Should've Known...


...That the solution to Zach's bathtime woes would be the cheapest route. He screams and screams his way through baths. And after, when he is getting lubed up with baby lotion and diapered and clothed. He is still a bit small for his infant tub, and it is difficult to keep him secure while he is squirming in the water. So I bought this $8 mesh hammock on a wire frame at the nearest store. It goes directly into our normal tub, and it cradles and embraces his little body. o more screaming! He actually seemed to enjoy his bath, and I am wishing I would've tried this sooner!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Haven't Done This in Years

When I was a little kid, I used to play putt-putt all of the time (errrr, miniature golf, depending on where you live). I can even remember the jingle from the commercial for our local course: "Putt-putt-putt-putt-putt-For-the-fun-of-it....." Yesterday, we were bored after going out to dinner, and headed to the neighborhood park. Well our neighbors I don't like were there, so we literally did an about-face and left, much to Evan's dismay. We couldn't figure out what to do, yet somehow we ended up at a putt-putt course. Evan had only been one time before, so he was thrilled. The outing really was about pleasing him, so in that, it was a success. But truthfully, the whole family had fun. Zach pretty much chilled in his stroller, fascinated by the bright lights overhead. John and I did what we always do when it comes to any game: fierce competition. You would have thought it was an Olympic event for which we had trained our whole lives. And Evan made friends with the teen couple one hole in front of us, despite my delicate explanation that they were on a date. (Of course John whispered in my ear about Ev "c###-blocking", and I about died with laughter, though Evan doesn't know and will never need to know what Daddy said.) But anyhow, much to John's dismay, I kept getting holes in one, and Evan made it his mission to alert the staff each time, even though I told him he didn't need to. So we ended up leaving with a handful of tickets for either discounted or free games. John got a couple of them, but he was killing me by making the Shooter McGavern move from Happy Gilmore each time. But regardless, fun was had by all, and I think we will have to do that again!















Moby'd

I don't know why, but John refuses to use the Moby Wrap with Zach. He calls it our papoose, and laughs everytime I use it. This is strange to me. Zach and I both love it. We get to be close and snuggly while I have hands available for other tasks. And Zach gets the warm fuzzies he needs. It's hard to believe my baby boy is almost 2 months old. He still acts very much the newborn, and it's no wonder why. His true adjusted age is just a little past 3 weeks. So really, he still needs this. I originally bought the wrap, well, because it was cheap. I wanted a baby carrier that will be flexible as he grows, but didn't want to spend huge amounts of money until I knew for a fact that Zach would like it. The $45 for the Moby was just right. Wow! I'm so glad I picked it. Yesterday, he was having a fussy spell and nothing would fix it. After nursing him (well, really just a quick snack for him, as he fell asleep in my arms), he curled up in a ball in the wrap and drifted off to sleep, as seen above. Fussiness cured.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Brothers

I was so worried about Evan's reaction to having a new baby in the house after being an only child for almost 9 years. He isn't used to having our attention divided between 2 children. We have doted on him and honestly, he is more than a little over-indulged.
I could not have been more surprised! Evan adores Zachary. He begs to hold him, will not leave or enter the room with giving his baby brother a kiss, and could spend hours showing Zach how to manipulate the world around him. What is even more touching is watching Ev read to the baby. Zach is enthralled with his big brother's voice and will stare with wide-eyed wonder as Evan shares his picture books from his younger days with the baby. In the picture above, Evan was helping to guide Zach's hands toward the toys on his overhead gym. Zach has started to reach toward things, and Evan was giving him direction. What a Proud Mommy Moment for me!

Advice from a True Expert

So I saw the breastfeedng medicine doc yesterday. She examined both Zach and I. Zach is tongue-tied. His frenulum is thin in the front, so they would usually just snip it in the office, but his gets thicker as it goes back, so she wasn't comfortable. She said he had a great, strong, coordinated suck and all is well there, so if was worried about it, I could follow up with an ENT doc, but she didn't think it would impact breastfeeding at all.

In her opinion, my reduced supply is due to many little things. Stress: notice I didn't have any supply issues until the spina bifida scare. Sleep deprivation: the issue got worse when he started going through his little growth spurts and I started getting less and less sleep. And when I started to take action to increase my supply, myefforts were useless because I started taking progesterone birth control pills, getting even less sleep and more stress because of work. So I have a plan.

Continue the Fenugreek. We don't seem to be having any side effects from it. It's safe, so why stop?
Stop the birth control pills. For now, John will have to revert back to behaving like a pimply-faced teen nervously asking for Trojans that are behind the pharmacy counter.
Continue nursing and pumping as often as I can.
Add a daily bowl of outmeal to my diet.
More sleep.
Back to yoga. It is the only thing that has ever been able to relax my high-strung self. And daily walks.
And the last part? Well, this is a little worrisome. She prescribed Reglan. Designed for reflux, it was found to have the side effect of increasing Prolactin secretion in the body, which is the hormone needed to make milk. Thus increasing supply in most all who use it. It has even been used to induce lactation in adoptive mothers. But it has some nasty neurological side effects severe enough that the FDA has made the manufacturer put a black box warning on the label. These are seen more with longer periods of use, and she is only having me use it for one month, during which they will call and check on me often. The risks also increase with a history of certain medical conditions, of which I have none. So I am gambling a bit with my brain, but the risk is calculated and most all of the side effects (if experienced, even) reverse when treatment is stopped.
So that is the plan. Let's see if it works.

The Real ER



Remember this music? I used to love ER, as in the show. Every night in that ER was an adventure in medical rarities. We medical people love that shit. Stuff you may only see once in a career, and when it really happens, you are in awe and try to remember all of the stuff you learned in school about it. But in real life? It never happens.


Tuesday night started out uneventful. I was assigned to the ER, and was handed the ER pager by a therapist eager to get home. She told me she had only received 2 pages all day, both of which were for patients who ended up being discharged. Beautiful for her,bad for me. She jinxed me. For the first four hours of my shift, no calls at all. Then all hell broke loose.


After 11 PM, our staffing cuts down and the ER therapist covers other areas also. At 10:35, 5 minutes after getting report, I was called to a crashing patient's bedside. The therapist who had her during evening hours doesn't do critical care, and the patient was in a severe respiratory acidosis. She started her on BiPAP (non-invasive ventilation that is used non-aggressively for sleep apnea and more aggressively for this). After an hour, the patient was mine, and I start the first minutes of the 11PM leg of my shift fielding a call from her nurse, who had her pulmonologist on the phone, demanding to know why her acidosis had not improved on the machine. He wanted immediate intubation, but I managed to hold him off while he let me (experienced in critical care) get more aggressive with the equipment. Beautiful. And it worked.


But in the throes of all of that, I get a page: respiratory distress in the ER. I respond immediately to the little girl in pretty bad distress, get her settled on a continuous neb, and off I go to answer the call I get for respiratory arrest in another ER bed. An intubation, and 2-hour fiasco while I try to ventilate an obese woman with a physician who simply refused to give adequate sedation, making my job a nightmare. Then it is off to another unit in the hospital for a patient who aspirated a chocolate milkshake that was supplied by family members who did not understand that nothing by mouth means just that: nothing. I suctioned his lungs free of the chocolate goop, and off I go to a cardiopulmonary arrest in the ER, which resulted in me bagging a patient while running to the cath lab to fix a blockage in a 34 year old man. As soon as I get him hooked up to a ventilator and my hands are freed, I get called for another crashing patient. While responding to this one, I get 2 calls. An employee at a local factory wrecked a forklift while drunk. I had to do a breathalyzer, which is a legal process and I hate doing them. But as soon as I get there, the ER calls me for a cric kit. Seriously? Never in my career have I been party to an emergency cricothyroidotomy. A true life-saving measure for someone whose airway is closed, but we avoid it at all costs. And we have all kinds of airway tricks up our sleeve to help us do so. So why does the ER need a cric kit, and if there is that bad of an airway emergency, why was I just then getting called? Severe allergic reaction, and a resident tried to look at that throat with a scope. Bad move. Really bad move. Because anytime there is that much swelling, ramming a scope down there is just going to cause the airway to close up. Lovely.

So I think my shift is ending. It it 5:45 AM. I finally sit down to chart everything I have done in 8 hours from my scribbled notes in my pocket (Incidentally, the paper is damp with my sweat: The huge exam lights we use for codes get damned hot, plus I have been running fo 8 hours.) I am also trying to stuff my face with the sandwich a kind coworker got for me when it became apparent that I would not be getting a lunch break. I take the first bite and make the first entry into the charting software when I hear the dreaded pager. Another code, full arrest, meet the patient in the cath lab, where EMS is taking him. I was relieved when I heard he was already intubated. That means I just set up a vent and go on about my day. I am having dreams about finishing my sandwich, of getting my charting done so I can leave on time, when I hear the dreaded words that lead me to the most Holy Shit Moment of my career.

"We need an OB kit NOW!!!!!". Ha. right. OB kit? Whatever. I sarcastically ask the ER doc if we are now in the business of delivering babies in the ER when OB is right down the hall. (Think of Gone With the Wind: "I don't know nuthin' 'bout buthin' no babies!) Yes, we are. And before I can even think, we are running. I am simply following. But wait! We are running to the waiting room. Why are we leaving the hospital?

Oh. Oh holy CRAP! We are delivering a baby in the ER parking lot. In the back of a Chevy Equinox. Seriously. And I am the only one there with experience in neonatal resuscitation. And the baby is blue. And all I have is a bulb syringe that was taped to the OB kit. Before I know it, I am barking orders. And I am running through the halls of the hospital with a blue baby girl in one arm and an oxygen tank in the other while the nurse runs alongside me, holding the blow-by near her face. Before we can even get to the NICU, she is pink. I did my job well. She doesn't even go to the nursery, but straight to her mother's arms. And I go straight to my department to hand off that damned pager and go home.

So there you have it. I love cool Rockstar moments in my work. But I don't like having them all occur in one night. That was not cool. I don't think I will be watching ER reruns ever again. And I am still wondering if that night was a dream. Did I really do all of that? Did I really resuscitate a baby at a parking-lot delivery?