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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seriously???? That's All?

So I am trying to solve the plugged duct in my left nipple. (Oh yeah, I should have warned about the TMI coming up....) And I go from the 24mm breastshields to the 27mm ones. I use those for a couple of days, pumping 8 times per day, and something happens. Pain. And swelling of areas you do not want to be swollen. And I can't see because I am up close and personal. So I stand topless in the bathroom and call John in to see if he can see anything wrong. And he says, "Oh my God, Andrea, you're bruised!" Yep, my girls are bruised. Actually bruised. And so I make a 9-1-1, code-blue trip to the Women's Wellness Boutique at the hospital, which is where I buy all of my nursing paraphenalia (both because they either have anything I could possibly need, or can order it with just a phone call, and I get an employee discount). And they help me do some research. And we watch videos online of correctly fitting breastshields. And we realize that I have been using the wrong sizes all along.

So let's recap: Pump In Style Advanced ($300), Freestyle ($400), Reglan, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Alfalfa, pumping pumping pumping, Breastfeeding Medicine specialists, visits to lactation, different bras thinking that the ones I had were cutting into me and causing the plugged ducts and thus decrease in supply. Lab test to check my thyroid. Biting the bullet and buying the $2K hospital-grade pump...

And I spend $10 on a set of shields in the next size up and actually pump double my average pumping yield in the first time I used them.

You have got to be kidding me.

I feel like a moron. And am having flashbacks of the first time I spoke to a LC about the drop in my supply. When we were puzzled that despite Zach's poor latch, my pumping with a good quality pump was not able to keep my supply up. And I started doing anything and everything to get it back up. And she aked me, "Andrea, do the flanges fit well?" And I said yes, thinking to myself, "Well duh!". But they didn't.

I found the solution. I'm glad it was such a simple one. I wish it had come sooner. I hope it isn't too late to fix it.

Packed Away

FYI--I'm typing this one-handed as Zach snoozes in the crook of my left arm. He has fallen asleep somewhere in the middle of me wearing him moby'd and me feeding him a whopping 6 ounce bottle of breastmilk. He's in this weird sort of limbo position, half in the carrier and half in the cradle hold in my arms. Actually, I was craving some Mommy-Baby time and so we were holed up in my bedroom jammin'out to the likes of the Stones and Aretha when he acted hungry. I told John to warm 2 ounces for more of a snack, but instead we got a whole meal. And 2 ounces in.....off to Dreamland. I would give anything to have a camera within arm's reach right now.

So...back to the post at hand...Remember the previous post where I spoke on our cool weather, Zach's seemingly exponential growth, and more? Well, today was a sad day for me in relation to that post. Today is the day that all of those bigger baby clothes emerged from my dryer smelling of Dreft and wholesome baby goodness. And I sorted, and hung, and organized into matching outfits. And I ran out of hangers. Now let me clarify: I purchased over 200 baby blue baby-sized hangers before Zach's arrival. And I ran out. As in there are over 200 outfits in circulation. Not counting sleepers and onesies and gowns. Just. Outfits. Well, I need more hangers, so I am about to send John to the store for them when he throws a fit. And he's right: Zachy doesn't need more hangers, he needs less clothes. Which leaves me with the task I have been putting off for a while now.

I had to sort through his clothes, removing the outgrown, out of season items to make room for the fall/ winter stuff. A novice mom probably would have handled it better than me. I, on the other hand, broke down. And I was reminded once again of how it all goes so fast. And it seemed as if each item had a special meaning.

The solid white, plain, Baby Gap sleeper. I was about 12 weeks pregnant when we bought it. It was unisex because we didn't know gender yet. And it was so tiny. The tag said "newborn" but it also said "up to 7 lbs." And at a time when the idea of another baby was so fresh to me,I held it up in the air to show John, and we were both amazed that a human baby could fit into something so small. It had been so long for us. And at a time when it really was too soon to start buying clothes, we couldn't help ourselves. It's what Zach wore home from the hospital, and we were even further amazed when something so tiny was still so large on Zach: we could've tied the legs into a bow they were so long.

The "Little Brother" onesie. Right after Evan found out we were having another boy, he was so upset and actually kind of angry at me. He had gone all afternoon without speaking to me as if it were all my fault that Zach was a boy. And then we were at Macy's, eager to buy clothes now that we knew gender, and Evan found the tiny onesie and brought it to me, saying, "Mama, I want to buy this for my baby brother." And I knew he would be okay. Zach is actually wearing that in several of the photos from the hospital.

There's more. The outfit my home health nurse brought me when she came to see Zach and to officially discharge me from their service. She was the one who hugged me 2 days before my amnio as she told me it would all be okay, that I would have a beautiful healthy baby and it would all be worth it. And she was right. Or what about the little romper I bought at Target? It was the one I was reaching for when I wrecked the scooter into the rack of baby clothes. (Hey, shopping while on bedrest proved to be quite the adventure. albeit an illegal one by my doctors' standards.) Or there was the little overall outfit. So cute. And the very first time Zach wore it was the day I learned a valuable lesson about breastfed babies--that they poop on their own schedule, even if that is only every other day. But that when they poop, they poop. Even if you are in the mall. And so I lifted the lift gate of my car and used an entire package of wipes to clean Zach up as he lay on a blanket in the cargo area of my car- the only area large enough for the operation at hand. And we made the intrepid journey to the nearest garbage can to throw the whole mess away, unwilling to be caught being the ones who stank the place up to be damned. And I thought to myself that the outfit would never come clean, which led me to another lesson about breastfed-baby poop--it really doesn't stain.

So there they all were: tangible memories. And I could remember all of it. And it was all folded up and packed away into plastic bins. And before I could bring myself to place the lids on, I just stared. They were so much more than clothes to me just then. They were memories of my pregnancy, before it got crazy and riddled with pain and complications. They were family bonding and evidence of my toughness to survive what I did. They were late nights spent learning to nurse. First smiles. When 3 became 4.

So Zach's first summer on Earth was packed away today. And since this was not my first go-'round, I know how this goes. This starts the March of the Seasons, passing with a blur. Time you will always remember and never, ever get back. And just like I did with Evan, I'll hold onto them for years, reluctant to let go. Until one day John will lament the amount of unneeded junk in the basement and try to find stuff to get rid of. And he'll ask, "What about all of these baby clothes?" And I'll have to let go. Just not right now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Breaking My Pledge

The girls at work have been teasing me lately because I have an addiction: baby clothes. I realized I may have a problem on my last trip to Babies' R'Us. I went in the monster store for pacifiers, not only because they seem to be as disposable in this house as the Pampers we wrap Zach's little butt in, but also because we need the next size up since Zach is growing. I did well at first, making a beeline to the appropriate section of the store and avoiding the pitfall that is the middle section, full of racks of sweet baby togs. And bonus for me when the brand I buy was BOGO! But then I made the mistake of straying once they were in the cart. The "Let's Just Look Around" mistake.

Oh Look! Carter's stuff is almost half off! And the BRU brand is BOGO! And before I knew what was happening, I had 10 new outfits for Zach in the cart and was rounding the corner to the shoes.
Of course this seems harmless to the layperson. The kid needs clothes, right? And after all, it is getting cold out, so there is a whole new season for which to shop! But the problem is that my coworkers were awesome to me once my baby emerged from me with a penis. Nobody else was having boys, and so the two who have had boys in the past year hooked me up! Bins upon bins of like-new baby boy clothes of appropriate sizes for the seasons. And one of them has a wife who managed a Gymboree and so there were scads of Gymboree clothes with the tags still on them. So I seperated them by size/ season, and had them stored and waiting for Zach to grow into them. I wouldn't need more baby clothes for Zach's first year of life!

So here we are again, with my newly-discovered problem. The first 3 months of Zach's life left me changing his clothes 3 and 4 times a day just so he could have an opportunity to wear the tiny outfits at least once before they were packed away as outgrown or passed on to someone else. And I vowed to myself and to my coworkers that I would refrain and use some serious self-restraint in the future. And I was being good. For a few weeks.

But then....
It got cold. Really cold and really suddenly. And I had to dig through the bins and cut the tags off of the clothes I have purchaed for fall. And I realized something: Zach can wear most all of them now! Of course the pants are a little long and some of the sleeves need to be rolled up because my baby has short arms and legs. But they fit, and I have gone through all of the bins. There is still a litle more, but not much at all. And it dawned on me what it is that this means:
I need to buy more baby clothes!!! I get to buy more baby clothes without feeling guilty about it! I have an excuse to break my pledge. Thank you, Zach, for being so pudgy and giving Mommy an excuse to shop! Woo Hoooooo!


I have been working too much, and I hate it. I know why I do it. $$$$$. But I feel like I am missing from my own life. From Zach's, Evan's, and John's life. And I'm sad.

John and I came to an agreement when I went back to work. I felt bad about having to return to work so soon and leaving Zach, but I had to do it. And John has done a stellar job taking care of our baby. Zach is clean and fed and happy. He's now on target with his milestones. But John didn't uphold his end of the agreement. Here's why:

I have worked 55 hours in the past 4 days. Gross, I know. But true. And I am so tired and weary that my bones are aching. And this means I am away a lot. John promised that when Zachary started doing something new, instead of presenting it to me in a way that left me feeling even worse, he would let me discover it on my own as if it were the first time Zach did it. So Saturday morning, I get out of work and my boys are waiting for me in the car outside of the hospital. And as soon as I get in the car, John is bursting with excitement. Zach finally did it! He rolled over. Up until that point, he had been doing his weird but funny thing where he would balance on his belly with arms and legs up in the air and rock back and forth, trying his hardest to roll over. It reminded me of a turtle stuck on his back, honestly, only in reverse with Zach on his ventral side. Hilarious, actually. But he finally did it. Of course I was sad because I missed it.

So today, I am trying to get Zach to do some tummy time. Despite my best efforts, he will not usually tolerate it more than 5 minutes. We have to get him off of his back in other ways, like his Jumperoo (even though he is a little too young), the Bumbo (which he hates), or the Moby Wrap. Whatever works, really, since his head is getting a little flat area on it. Anyhow, he is there on his tummy and getting seriously pissed off about it when he learns that he has a new manner to escape: he just flips over. Just like that, arms extended and a look of surprise on his face that was priceless as it dawned on him that he was no longer in the dreaded belly-down position. And so a new era has begun in our house.

Zach is no longer stuck where we put him. More caution is warranted in such things as changing his diaper on the changing table, casually laying him next to us on the sofa, and more. And before I know it, he will be crawling and nothing from the knee-height and down will be sacred any more in our house. And there will be more he will do that I will miss.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2/3rd's, The Shots, Scheduling Woes, and More

Today Zachy got his 4-Month immunizations. We couldn't have them done at his 4-month well-child appointment because it hadn't been exactly 2 months since his last round. He really is such an awesome baby. He cried a bit for the last ones, then did fine at home. No fussines or crankiness, no fever. I had the same expectations for these, and he did not disappoint. Though John said it was my turn to hold him for these. Neither of us like to be the bad guy, holding him down while pain is inflicted upon him. So I did. Fair is fair. But I cried right along with him, and both of us were instantly calmed when it as all over and I could pick him up and cuddle with him. My sweet, sweet baby boy.

On the breastfeeding front, things are going better and worse. I have managed to increase my supply a bit and am now producing about 2/3rds of his total intake. I now leave for work with more breastmilk in the fridge than he can eat in one night, and have a few days' worth built up in my freezer. Of course this progress comes at the cost of me being attached to a pump for what seems like all day. But in truth,I could be a lot better about it. I keep making plans to spend all of my off-time pumping at least every three hours and after feedings, but it seems like things always come up. Truly, I blame it all on my work schedule. We do self-scheduling, and we are currently working on the schedule I completed about 2 weeks after my big return to work after the 5-month hiatus. Instead of scheduling my days in a row, I scheduled myself for every other day. I did this not only because I had been off so long that I started to atrophy and didn't think I could physically handle long stretches of 12-hr. shifts, but also because I figured I would get no real sleep with a newborn who is breastfeeding. It turned out to be a mistake. Not only does Zach sleep like a champ, but I feel like I am never off of work and get even less sleep. Take today for example. I worked last night and had today off. By the time I got home and tried to sleep, most of the day was over. I really only got this evening off. And I spent that time doing things I needed to do. Plus the sleep I get is broken because I wake every few hours to nurse Zach or pump. Now it is 3:15 AM, my family is asleep and I am wide awake. I'll get more broken sleep tomorrow because I am back at it tomorrow night. Well, the next four nights, actually. I picked up 24 hours of overtime this weekend. For this next schedule that will be starting soon, I did the opposite: scheduled for three days at the beginning of one week and three days at the end of the following week, which means I have long 6-day stretches off in-between to rest and regroup and nurse and pump. My goal is to use this time to get Zach totally off of all formula supplements by the time he is 6 months old and ready to start solids. That seems lofty to me at this point but it really isn't when you do the math. For a baby eating solids, the average formula/ milk intake is about 24 oz. daily in addition to other foods. If I can pump just half an ounce more at each pumping session, that will put me way over that mark for daily output! And I will have all of those days off to do it! Ha! Finally!

On another Milk Maid note: It happened finally. I got a plugged duct. But not just any plugged duct. This is in a bad place. A very bad place. I had noticed I was a little more tender than normal. The LC has me hand-expressing after I pump because even the hospital-grade pump is leaving enough milk in there that it literally sprays out after a pumping session. So I do and it has become habit. But when I was doing my little ritual yesterday......oh bloody HELL!!! It hurt. Badly. Because I can't be normal and get a plugged duct on the side or something. Nooooooo! I get one actually inside of my nipple. And weirdest of the weird, you can actually feel the milk passages in there because there is about a 2-inch section of inflamed duct that feels all ropy and knotty. So tonight I waited and waited for Ev to go to bed so I could sit in my living room with a hot wet washcloth on my...well, you get the picture. It is still there. If it isn't gone in a couple of days, I am to see my doctor, according to the LC. Gah! I'm sure this all the result of my sucky schedule, business at work, and erratic pumping/ nursing schedule. I think I have come up with a solution: I bought that damned Freestyle that has the rechargeable battery. I might as well use it. I think I'm going to make its permanent home be my car, so when I am running errands or am out and can't nurse Zach, I can use it. No more excuses. And much handier than, say, lugging around the big pump of Herculean proportions. I don't een have an excuse to take it out of the car since I have a standard power outlet in my car's console and can just plug it in when the batt is dead. There!

So there you have the low-down on my issues once again. Now back to work.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On Coming Back and Letting Go

Work has been so strange lately. It's not even Hell Season yet. For those of you who don't realize what that is, Hell Season usually hits around November and lasts through March or April--in other words, flu season. In other words, the best of times and worst of times to for a respiratory therapist. The best because I will earn about 3 times more than I usually do in the off season because the hospital is usually full of respiratory patients and the overtime is there for the taking. And I am opportunistic. Sick people need our care, staffing has to be up to accomodate them, and I am all about more moola! On the downside, I have not yet maneuvered Hell Season as a Nursing Mom. I had another night last night where I went 8 hours without pumping because I was just too busy, and this is way before it is supposed to be as such. Will my boobs survive? I don't know. We shall see. But you can expect more posts about work.

So anyway...

Last night I got a call from an RN friend from the SICU, warning me that I should start heading that way, that my patient was getting ready to code. I get there and he is off of his ventilator and the nurse is bagging him. I take over and am bagging him when we lose his pulse. The big blue button is pressed to alert the troops, and the rest of the code team arrives. We resuscitate this patient for over 50 minutes. During that time, we get his pulse back only to lose it again. His wife is brought in to say her goodbyes and also to see that we are doing everything. She is obviously very distressed and calls his daughters. And we call it: Time of Death 04:46. The rest of the team leaves the room except for me and his assigned nurse. I tell the nurse to turn the oxygen off from the connection on the wall and the loud hiss of it stops and there is silence. I detach the bag from his endotracheal tube and lay it on his chest. And then I hear it: noisy breathing. I look down and he is spontaneously breathing. And not the agonal, uncoordinated breathing of the dying. No, this man is breathing. So I try to discreetly get the nurse's attention, who calls the resident back in. And they check him. Good pulse, good blood prssure. Just like that. He came back. The Lazarus Syndrome. I've heard of it happening may times. This was just the first time it happened to me. So we hook him back up to the ventilator and tuck the blankets back around him and leave the room with out resuscitation equipment. Just like that, as if nothing had happend. Totally bizzare.

Meanwhile, in an adjacent unit of the hospital, there is a patient who is breaking my heart. An elderly gentleman who knows he is dying and has signed a DNR order. And he begged me and begged me to help him die, and all I could offer him was treatment to prolong his life. I have to tell him both sides: that it could be considered life-saving treatment, but that it also could be short-term to help him through until he can breathe a little easier. And bless him, he doesn't want it and I can see that, but I think he is worried about what I want to hear more than he is about how he wants to die. And it breaks my heart. He keeps asking the nurse and I to just make it go quicker, and I can't. We ask if he wants us to call in his family and he says no. "I've been married for 64 years to the love of my life," he says, "and I don't want her to go through this. Just call her when I'm gone." True selflessness. He wasn't worried about her being there to hold his hand. Instead he took the hands of a young nurse and a respiratory therapist, both strangers to him, and that was enough for him. I had to stand there and do nothing while he started to slowly slip away. I couldn't call a code or intubate or breathe for him. There were no chest compressions or life-saving cardioactive drugs. And now I can't get him out of my mind.

We spend years of our lives learning how to save a life. That's what I do. Well, the biggest part of what I do, anyway. I'm sorry if that sounds like the swagger of a cocky healthcare provider with a God complex. It really is just the fact of my occupation. And they teach us of the legalities of our role: what constitutes extraordinary measures, medical futility and more. But then there is the side of this for which they do not prepare us: standing by and doing nothing. Holding a hand as our patient dies when we are trained and geared toward doing anything and everything to prevent it. And in that moment, just like my patient, I have to let go. One would think that the resuscitations and other life-saving moments would be the greatest challenge, but they really aren't for me. What happened with this guy--well that is the hardest part. Having the ability to keep him breathing an his heart beating and not doing it. Letting go.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Bane of My Existence

Or Why I Can't Sleep. Or Why I Have No Time. Or Breastfeeding Kinda Sucks. Or This is Bullsh*t. Yeah, I could come up with quite a few titles for this post. Because after a busy night-one busy night- at work, my supply dropped back down again. So I am back to pumping every 3 hours around the clock. Again. And after just a few days of being back at it, I feel like a zombie. But what sucks is that I'll work and work at getting my supply back up, then go to work one night and it will be guarunteed to go back down. I am constantly attached to a breastpump, and I fricken hate it. But just when I am about to say "screw it" and give up, I have one of those warm fuzzy nursing moments with Zach, and I instantly know I won't be giving it up anytime soon. Because every drop of my milk he gets is my way of giving myself over to him.

One of my fave OB nurses from work put it into perspective for me. She knows all I have tried to be able to exclusively breastfeed Zach. (I mean, c'mon, who buys a $2000 pump??????) So when I was feeling down about it and cursing the lactation consultant who first had me give him damned formula in the hospital, she cleared my head by telling me that they were secretly talking about keeping Zach in the hospital. In fact, if he would have lost 2 more ounces of his birth weight, he wouldn't have come home with me. And that was with him getting formula. I can only imagine what would have happened if he would have just been nursing and getting colostrum those first few days. I didn't know any of this until she told me. And then she reminded me that I have been at least 50% of his food source for 4 months, which is a lot more than a lot of babies get, and that I managed to do that with a preemie who couldn't latch. And during the emotional aftermath of my pregnancy, which was enough to dry up the fricken Atlantic. So yeah, she picked me up a bit.

So no, I won't give up. But it still sucks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Invisible Wings

Today marks 4 months since the day Zachary entered our world. 4 months to the day when unspoken fear paralyzed me and I worried that despite all of the tests to ensure otherwise, it would just be too soon for him. 4 months since the day he was in the NICU, away from me and I worried about his fate long before I was able to hold him for the first time. Since the day we finally met and everyone in the room was silent as mother and son just stared at each other, breathing each other in after months of pain.

I'm struggling to put into words just what this little boy has brought to my life. He showed me my toughness. He showed me just how much my heart can hold, how much I love being a mother. That miracles really can happen not once, but twice, to the same life. Or is he really my miracle? Perhaps he is his own and I am just the one priviledgd enough to witness it.

It is absolutely amazing to watch his personality unfold before my eyes. Big personality in such a small packege. 14 pounds of preciousness. To see the wonder in his eyes as he takes in the world around him renews in me a sense of just how amazing everything can be. And I want to give him nothing but the best. I did with his older brother as well, but not quite to this extent. I was always more of a creature of convenience. I hardly recognize myself these days: babywearing, breastfeeding, making my own baby food, considering cloth diapering. I never thought this would be me. Zach did that.

As for Zachy's development, I refuse to allow myself to get caught up in timelines for milestones. I know he was premature and have the expectation that he will be a month or two behind his peers. But regardless, he is happy and healthy and thriving. He will do it all in his own time. As for right now, he is the most social baby. He has the warmest of smiles for everyone, especially Mommy and Daddy. He has slept through the night since about six weeks of age, which is amazing because for him, 6 weeks of age was my actual due date. He bats at toys and tries to "talk" to them in his baby language. His hands curl around his toys and he brings them to his mouth, but I don't yet think this is purposeful. When he is held close, he still curls into the ball of a newborn, with legs tucked up under his belly and arms close to his chest. He still loves being swaddled. He takes 2 naps per day. My favorite time of day is when I have just returned from a night of work and Zach and I retreat to my bed were he lays in the crook of my arm, close to my heart, and nurses as he drifts off to sleep. Long after he falls asleep and I should be asleep, I find myself awake and just staring into his sleeping face. Long black lashes curling onto cherubic cheeks. Rosebud mouth. The absolute picture of peace and innocence and beauty. And when he finally awakens, whether it be from a nap or from a nighttime slumber, he doesn't wake us. He will lay quietly and coo at his mobile or just look around. When we awaken and run to the crib to check on him, he just looks at us with the sweetest of toothless grins, as if to say "Good Morning! I thought you might need some rest and so I let you sleep in." He still only cries when hungry. He won't let you know he has a dirty diaper. Instead, he'll just look at you as if to say, "Hey! You gonna do something about this or what?" Lately he has added a new cry: the cry of boredom, to which we respond with more talking and showing and doing. And it actually works, unlike with his older brother, who was temperamental and fussy and hard to please.

I have never been a religious person. I lean more towards the laws of science. But having Zach has made question what higher power is out there, governing the miracle that is him, adding this gift to my life. And if there truly are angels on Earth, Zachary is most decidedly one of them. It's just that we cannot see his wings.

Distant Memories

I found these pics while clearing my computer of old unwanted files. I took them with Zach's baby book in mind, then forgot they even existed until now. The first is my left thigh complete with the catheter that infused Brethine into me in an effort to keep the contractions at bay. I had to change the infusion site every 48 hours. The absence of other scars on my thigh tells me that this was one of the first days I had it. Now, after months of that, my legs are covered with scars.
The second was taken from my perspective on bedrest and on my home uterine monitor at around 26 weeks of pregnancy, when the contractions were starting to come at break-neck speed, every 2 minutes or so, around the clock, and I pretty much lived all of my days with that thing on my belly. Zach hated it and would kick at it every time. Now, looking at these, I can recall the first day I had neither. It felt so strange, and I kept reaching for it. It was also the first day I was no longer pregnant and Zach's first day of his life. 4 months ago today, to be exact.
I still am in awe that we survived all of it. But we did.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Move Over, Gerber!

I don't know why I did this. But I was toying with the idea of making Zach's baby food for his big start on solids, but hadn't made up my mind. Well, I was doing some volunteer work and part of my project I am working on is to organize their donations they receive from outside. I was sorting through their supply of baby food, organizing it into stages, type, expiration date and more. And I was absolutely appalled in a way I never was when Evan was a baby. That stuff has a shelf life of about 100 years. Which really made me question what it is that they put in there that we are giving our children to consume at a stage when their digestive systems are at their most vulnerable. Gross. Then there was the actual food. I actually found one called "Country Breakfast": pureed ham and eggs and hashbrowns. Seriously. Let's just start them out from birth with diabetes and high cholesterol and hypertension. Then maybe they can have their first blocked coronary artery before high school. So that sealed the deal for me. I'm a smart person. I can do this, right?

My first step was to find containers. I managed to find some BPA-free containers for the bargain price of $8 for 24. They're freezer safe, microwave safe, and dishwasher safe. Score! Next came the food. Wholesome and pure was the goal. So I stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies of every color of the rainbow. The exception was squash because (A) I couldn't find a fresh squash and
(B) I don't think I would know what the hell to do with one if I did. So for that first food, I bought frozen. To reap the health benefits of this project, I needed to cook them in the healthiest way possible to both preserve the nutrients and minimize the use of fats and oils, as well as salt and sugar. I chose to steam and boil. No additives whatsoever.

The first batch I made was the squash and carrots. I steamed the carrots for what seemed like forever after I spent all of that time peeling and slicing them. My fingernails were stained orange for 2 days afterwards. The first batch was actually pretty comical. I didn't want to cook the carrots long enough that I allowed all of the nutrients to escape, but they needed to be soft enough to be able to puree them. So I cooked them, again, for what seemed like forever, then dumped them into a mixing bowl with a touch of purified water to keep them moist. The plan was to first coarsely chop them using an attachment on my hand mixer. (I don't have a food processor because I have never had the need, but if this works out, I may need to invest in one!) Then I planned to put them in the blender to puree them from there. Well they were still too firm, and as soom as the blades from my mixer touched them, sliced carrots started flying and zinging through the air, ricocheting off of my cabinets and just about every other surface in my kitchen. I ended up finishing up by boiling them to get them to a softer consistency, and from there, the process went smoothly. The squash? Well the squash was a piece of cake and went directly from stove-top to blender with no problems and pureed like a dream.

So at the end of my little misadventure, my counter was covered with small containers of homemade baby food for Zach, cooling so I could then freeze them. John looked quite impressed that his non-domesticated wife was capable of doing this, and I was pretty pleased with myself and thought this surely should warrant my nomoination for Mommy of the Year. I figure if I do a little at a time, by the time Zach starts solids at the planned age of 6 months, I will have a pretty nice supply. And I read that they are good in the freezer for about 4 months, so I have plenty of time. Later this week, I have 2 subsequent days off and plan to tackle bananas.

( Image Credit: http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0PDoYCgfo1M2lEAJmKjzbkF/SIG=12rud72bm/EXP=1284427808/**http%3a//health.howstuffworks.com/postpartum-nutrition-guidelines-ga5.htm)

The Great Homework Caper

Everyday, when Ev gets home from school, we ask him if he has homework and if so, we expect him to do it right then and there. We do not screw around with school work at all. Period. More often than not, he says he doesn't have any. A couple of times he has said he left the necessary books at school. We get on him, but that doesn't seem to have an effect on him. On the nights he says he has none? Well, I have to trust him, right?

So imagine my surprise when his teacher has him call one day last week. The night before was one of the nights he had told us he had no homework. Apparently the next morning, in front of his teacher, the excuse turned to "I left my books at home". Since she is the one doing the assigning,he an't very well lie to her about having homework. So he calls us and tells us he needs his books. Where are they, Evan? He doesn't know. John and I tear the house apart looking for them, but they are nowhere to be found. Shortly after, his teacher calls and requests a conference. Great. We said we'd be there that very day when school was dismissed.

Turns out my sweet, highly gifted oldest son has decided to take a complete strike from homework. She said he had done homework 2 times in 3 weeks, and had not had recess since the very first day of school because of this. I was a little puzzled as to why I didn't know about this beforehand. The books he couldn't find? They were in his desk the entire time, but he couldn't very well tell her that or she would see into his little scheme. I could have killed him!

So that was the night that Evan came home from school and sat at the kitchen table for 4 hours, catching up on every scrap of work he has missed. And the night he lost every priviledge he has: tv, computer, video games, iPod, toys...You name it, and I can bet it's off limits to my kid until he can prove to me that he can manage to do the one job he has.

The Scary Part

We people who work in healthcare often do our jobs without really thinking of personal risk. I am no different. As I typed that last statement, I got a vision of me helping to load a patient into a chopper while bagging with one hand and trying to hold the stretcher up with another. No small feat considering the patient weighed over 500 lbs, and I seriously am lucky that I didn't sustain a more serious back injury other than a puilled muscle. Or I can tell you of walking into the rooms of countless tuberculosis patients, getting parts of my pinched into bed rails, my foot run over by an ICU bed during a patient transport. Skinned and scraped knees from doing CPR in a parking lot. I even got H1N1 while pregnant with Zach. It happens. I take care of some pretty sick people. What is the realest threat? Bloodborne pathogens. HIV, Hepatitis, and more. I had managed to escape. I have spent years of my life poking needles into people's arteries and yet to have a needlestick.

Until this past Friday night.

I was taking care of a patient covered in tattoos and piercings, which are both risk factors. He was unresponsive and I was told he was unable to move his left side. Yet when I popped the needle into his left radial artery, he jerked so quickly that the needle promptly left his artery and went straight into my left middle finger. The wheels of handling an employee exposure were set into motion immediately as the house supervisor was present when it happened, when I blurted out "Oh SHIT!" and pulled my hand away with my blood already pooling up underneath the latex glove. Then another nurse walks into to alert staff that according to family, they guy also has a history of illicit drug use.

Double Shit.

Of course I had paperwork to complete and had my labs drawn. They did a rapid HIV screen on the patient. It was a Friday night, so I was told that they would have to page an on-call employee health person, but I would have my results by the end of my shift at 7 AM. Nope.

Through a long chain of events, I finally got an answer 36 hours later. But this was after my making many phone calls, including to my family doctor. I didn't know what to do. You see, hepatitis and HIV are both passed directly through breastmilk. I couldn't feed Zach until I had an answer. They tried to tell me that the risk of me getting anything was low, and while that is true, a chance of one in a million is still too high for me when it comes to my precious baby.

Then there is the part that had me, for a day and a half, facing the scariest part of my job. What did I come into contact with? What if I caught something? What of my family? It was absolutely, positively nerve-wracking. And every possible scenario raced through my brain in the time it took me to find out that the man was negative for everything. Now all I have to do is make sure that there wasn't anything latent in my blood. And I will have to be tested several times over the next year to make sure I stay negative for everything. But for the first time in my career, I had to stop and think about what it is I truly do on a daily basis. And it scared me to death.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been going non-stop for a couple of weeks now, and thus no time to blog. Today, the house needs my attention, among other things, but I am taking some time for me. Right Now. I mean it! So what has been occupying my time?

The Illness

Zach has always had a slight bit of nasal congestion since birth. Normally it is clear, but he has been cursed with my pug nose, so it gets stuck in there. Hey, I'm an RT an therefore a pro at removing respiratory gunk. Of course Zach loathes the dreaded bulb syringe and saline drops, but I get the job done. And because of my professional credentials, John always saves it for me. Translation: I have to be the one to make my baby boy cry. Gah! Well, last Friday we were preparing to take our boys out of town to see their grandparents. Zach chooses then to wake up with a cough. A dry, hacking, non-productive cough. I figured it was from nasal drainage, cleaned him out, and we left town as planned. So we end up 4 hours from home and the drainage turns yellow, the cough starts to happen all day instead of just when he wakes. I wanted desperately to put stethoscope to chest to see what was happening in those tiny premature lungs of his, but alas my steth was on my kitchen counter at home. (Pause here, my cappucino is ready!) So anyhow, we stayed our 3 days, which would have been 5 had my boss not needed me for the holiday weekend coverage. And as soon as I got home Sunday night, I listened to Zachy's lungs. Crackles in both bases. Bad. So I made our first emergency after hours call to our doctor. They know me from the hospital. I told him what was going on, that Zach appeared to be in no respiratory distress, but with it being a holiday weekend, thought they might want me to take him for an OP chest x-ray or possibly call something in. Nope. He wanted me to take him to the ER because of Zach's status as a preemie. Blech, ok.

The ER Visit

We do as told and we get to the ER. Of course Zach is being his charming self, smiling and laughing and cooing at the nurses. They fall in love with him. And he gets his first x-ray. The x-ray techs are amazed that he doesn't cry, but rather looks around, taking it all in. He gets fascinated by the light they shine on his torso to help them place the location of the picture and his brow wrinkles with confusion when the light goes off. He is my perfectly behaved baby. The ER doc is one I have not worked with, and she asks if I have any other children, because she notes I am "remarkably good at this". What a compliment! But it turns out there is no pneumonia, and so we go home with baby in tow, only to follow up at Zach's well-child appointment 3 days later.

The Morons

We are on our way home from the ER that night. I am in a slight hurry because it is 9:30 and I have to be at work at 11. Of course it is the first Sunday in September in the Cincinnati area. If you aren't from here and know noone who is, you have no idea. Riverfest. Where hundreds of thousands of people from all over descend on the Ohio River to watch the sky literally erupt into some of the most spectacular fireworks in the world. It Is Cincinnati. John and I are usually there on the river amongst the madness, but this year, Zach was just too young, the noise too loud for him, and the crowd too maddening for me to attempt to get through with such a small baby. But what does this translate to? Traffic. Lots and lots of it. So John starts navigating side streets to get us home. We get to our neighborhood, and he makes a turn onto a side street right around the corner from my house because he cannot turn that way onto our street. His intention is to turn around in this cul-de-sac and approach the intersection from a different way. But this is atop a huge hill and you can see the fireworks from there. The street is lined with cars filled with onlookers. Our windows are down because it is a nice night. And that is when it happens: a group of drunk people decide to toss their cups of beer on my car simultaneously. And they manage to soak Evan with beer. They even got poor Zach, soaking his carseat, which was located in the center of my backseat. I yell at John to stop the car, an I get out and give them some choice words, letting them know they soaked my children with thir booze in their efforts to be funny. And they had the balls to shout back. So John gets out of the car then, putting on his Marine Corps DI voice. Nothing good comes from that voice. I know what it means. I have only heard it one other time when Evan hit me during a tantrum and John got in his face and told him that while I was Evan's mom, I was also his wife and noone hits his wife and gets away with it. It is his scary voice. And it means John is so angry that I could see him doing something to get arrested. So I get him back in the car and we go home. But by this point, my interior and both of my kids smell like Bud Light. And I have to go to work as a healtcare provider in that car. Great. I figure it is a good idea to call the police so I have documentation. The last thing I want is for someone to pull me over and think I had been drinking. Or bathing my children in beer. And as soon as the cruiser door opens, the cop says "Wow, I can already smell it!" That is how bad it was. He told me there was a road block around the corner because of the holiday weekend and gave me his business card to show the officer who stops me so they know the boozey smell wasn't coming from me. Lovely. With that, I head into work.

The Epic Disaster

Here I am at work. I have been in the car for 5 hours that day. I have had an altercation with morons, the police at my house, my baby to the ER, and no sleep.

How could I forget that this night was to be my first run-in with the new $80M software program the hospital has purchased? And to make matters worse, I was supposed to be off, but came in to help out my fellow man. So this new system is to encompass all I do at the hospital: pharmacy records, charting, orders, medical records, lab results, x-ray images and reports, and even communication with other members of the healthcare team.It's called Epic. And it is a effing disaster. A complete clusterf###. Seriously. And of course I get the crappiest assignment in the hospital because they figure I am only there for 8 instead of 12 hours. It also happens to be Pediatric Respiratory Night in the hospital. Left and right, children were being admitted from the ER. The problem with this is that kids are seen and assessed every 2 hours. When you have 80 patients, you cannot finish a complete round by then. Plus the e-disaster with the new software. Gah! I should have stayed home! I counted down until my shift was over, only to encounter a catastrophe of another variety upon my exit from the hospital...

The Why-the-Bleep-Does-My-Car-Sound-Like-a-Weedeater Moment

Yep, you read that correctly. It really did. Someone in a beat-up Nova was actually gawking at my car because of the way it sounded. The clencher? My car is a 2009 model. What the %$&^*?????? Seriously? Fo' rizzle! Granted it is slightly over the 36K miles that is the bumper-to-bumper warranty, because for the first few months I owned it, I was commuting to work from 90 minutes away. But still. It's seriously less than 2 years old. There is no reason it should sound like that! But of course with it being a holiday weekend, I have to wait for a couple of days for a Dodge dealer to open in order to have the problem diagnosed.

When we finally get the car looked at by someone qualified for such a thing, we discover that the alternator has a bearing in it that is going out, causing it to jump around inside my car's guts. And they tell me that it could go out in the next 5 minutes or it could last like that for a year. Noone knows. Of course I am most decidedly not okay with this information, and end up thunking down over $500 for the repair. I am pretty disgruntled that I have to do so with my newish car, though. So once I prepay for the expensive part, I call the customer line for Dodge and complain. They take down some info and tell me they will get back with me. The next day, a nice man named Chad calls my house and tells me that Dodge is going to refund all of my money for the repair so long as I can mail them copies of my receipts. Done. I guess the squeakiest wheel really does get the oil.

So there you have it: the reason I haven't blogged. Now you're up to speed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Benefits of My Workplace

I am usually the queen of organization. And I give scouts a run for their money when it comes to preparedness. But last night when I got to work, I realized I did not bring my A game. Really. I usually load up my bag with the various crap I take. When you work 12 hours, 3/4 of your day is spent working. So....I have to remember to take 2 doses each of my fenugreek, blessed thistle and alfalfa, my prenatal vitamin, my DHA supplement, and my birth control pill. I take them all at dinner, then take a second dose of the herbs later. I remembered those. But which s the most important on that list? (Hint: Pregnancy from HELL!) Yep! I forgot my BCP. So I called John. His response? "Do you really want me to schlep out to bring it to you????" Nope. I don't. That's fine Stay home. But he is now officially cut off.

But that isn't all I forgot. I went to pump the first time at 9 PM. Usually, I pumpinto small-ish containers, then dump into a milk storage bag until it is full, then start over with a new bag, etc. Well, these small containers hold about 5 ounces, total. Not gonna work for 12 hours. But I forgot that I used the last storage bag in my pumping bag last time I worked. My cup runneth over. Literally. What to do, what to do? Well, duh Andrea! I work in a hospital! There has to be sterile containers. So I pilfered through the clean supply room in the MICU and came up with this:

Yep, that really is a urine specimen cup. Hey, they're sterile and individually wrapped! Desperate times call for desperate measures. And working in a hospital has its advantages at times! Of course John about died when I brought these home in the morning. Oh well.