Thursday, July 31, 2008

Week 26

I've finally hit one of the smaller milestones that the neonatal doctors like to see when you're on antepartum. Twenty-six weeks! At twenty-four or twenty-five they smile a little and say things like, "Well, the survival rates aren't so bad. . ." and then proceed to tell you not to go into labor for a couple more weeks. At twenty-six they start sounding a little more cheerful about your baby's prospects. I imagine that when we hit twenty-eight they might actually throw a party for me. But I need to remember not to get ahead of myself. Twenty-six. My baby is at twenty-six.

I had my weekly ultrasound today and the baby looked well. The screen showed my baby in black and white, clearly using his or her little diaphragm to practice breathing motions. I am very low on fluid since I spent the last two days leaking heavily. But the doctors don't seem too concerned since babies are continually making more fluid. I haven't leaked any fluid yet today so perhaps Baby Nuevo is working on building up more reserves. Despite the positive news, I'm getting tired of going through all of these tests alone. During a normal pregnancy, I have no problems going to the prenatal appointments by myself (if going with small children is really going by yourself), but now that things have taken a downturn, I wish I could have Peter here to be with me while I wait to find out how our baby is doing. I spend so much time alone and I am pretty good at it, but there are times when I really would like to have someone hold my hand. I'm not scared, much, and I'm not worried, most of the time. But I feel the lack of the comfort Peter brings to most situations.

All that said, I'm going to enjoy the small victory that two and a half weeks in the hospital has brought me. And I'm going to knit another baby hat.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Week Two

I've been in the hospital on bed rest for two weeks now. I cannot believe it's been so long already. I cannot believe that I have so many weeks left to go. It's amazing that time can go so fast and still move so slowly.

My family seems to have settled into a schedule of care-providers with people coming on their regular days. As time moves on, I think the kids will be able to anticipate who will be taking care of them on a particular day. Thomas and Anna are excited to come visit me in the evenings and they seem happy enough when it is time to leave, though we do need to add the incentive of walking past the nursery window so they can see the new babies on the way to the car. Everything seems to be working out.

After two weeks in bed, hospital life (and food) is starting to loose its charm. The past two days have found me with moments of irritability and impatience. I am beginning to dislike waiting for people to do things for me. I've gotten over the awkwardness of having to call a nurse for a cup of water and now I'm occasionally grumpy because calling a nurse means I have to wait for something I used to be able to do for myself. I have more sympathy for small children who have to wait for someone to do almost everything for them. Oh, the convenience of fulfilling your own needs! At least I can use the bathroom on my own.

I am hoping this moodiness will pass. I find that being grumpy only makes me more irritable since this attitude is unfamiliar to me. I just want to be my normal, cheerful self.

I am very good at entertaining myself. I have at hand any number of ways to amuse myself including the internet and email, my knitting, and a couple of good books. The TV is little help. It would be worthless if it didn't come with a DVD player. However, after two weeks in bed, I am occasionally finding myself at loose ends for something to do. I'll lay on my side, looking out the window, wishing for something new to brighten my day. Visitors help a great deal, particularly those who are able to come during the day. I have been lucky that I have only had a couple days when I've had no visitors at all. Those were long days indeed, but most days I see Peter and the kids for an hour or so in the evenings. I think the best days are when Rachel or my friend Kate have been able to come for longer visits. I'm not sick so visitors don't tire me out like they would if I were unwell.

So all that is left is to wait. I am always thinking ahead to that future date when this baby will be delivered and we will be able to go home again. I have mid-September fixed in my mind as my goal, though I know that for me at least it could be sooner. I would love it if my baby could go home with me, but I don't see that this could happen. Part of the challenge is not knowing when I can expect the end to come or what it will look like for the baby when it finally gets here. It's almost like Alfred Hitchcock wrote my script for the next few weeks.

I think that the only thing for it is to find another hobby. Rock collecting and metal detecting are out, of course. Figure skating won't do, either. Any ideas?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Small News: Updated

I had an interesting meeting with one of the super-specialists who was on rounds yesterday.

He said that of women who rupture early most of them will deliver in about a week. Of the rest, there is no telling when they will deliver, but that a lot of them seem to hang on to about 32 weeks. Amazing! This is just what I've been wanting to know, but no one has been able to tell me. Of course, most doctors don't want to be this specific because I can still deliver at any time and I'm sure they don't want me to be upset if I'm expecting to carry the baby to 32 weeks and end up delivering at 28. But it's a little reassuring to know that hoping to carry to 32 weeks isn't outside the realm of possibility. I'm still hoping for a 34 week miracle, but you take what you get in situations like these.

I'm still praying every day for God's help in holding off infection and for grace and comfort for my family. I've been smacked around by statistics in the past and I don't put much confidence in them*. But I'll take reassurance where I can find it and yesterday I was happy to find a doctor that brought some with him.

*My uncle always jokes about how he doesn't care what the statistics are. Even if you have a 99% chance of not having something bad happening, if it does happen, your chances are exactly 100% that it will.

Update: Also, I haven't leaked any more fluid for a day and a half. This is also good news. I'll probably leak again, but it's good to know that I'm holding on, for a while at least, to the new fluid that is being made.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Short List

I'm still pregnant! And I've hit the 25 week mark. Good news, indeed, though there is still a very long way to go.

I was brushing my teeth this morning and it occurred to me that I could be brushing my teeth at that hospital sink for the next two months. For some reason it struck me as an impossible amount of time. I can imagine being here through the weekend, but it seems amazing to think of how long I could be here by the time the baby arrives. I suppose if I were to spend that whole time brushing my teeth it would seem longer than it has to. Oral health is important, but you could carry a good thing too far.

In any case, I bring an offering to you today. Peter came by last night for a visit and we had a chance to compile a Short List of potential baby names for the Peanut. I'll preface this list by saying that Peter is an impossible person to name babies with. He usually rejects most names and of the names he'll agree to add to "The List", many of those don't make a second cut. But then, if I bring a previously rejected name to the table a second time, he'll profess an affection for it and it will be put on the list. Naming children with Peter is not for the faint of heart. Luckily, I think our situation is sitting heavily on him so he was able to put himself to the task of sorting names with more seriousness. We have an uncertain amount of time to fool around with this. I think that we may have an actual list.

So without further ado:

Baby Names


Nora (I've loved this name for a long time and I think Peter might finally be warming to it)
Eleanor (gotta love the historical/fictional background)
June (this is Peter's favorite, I think)
Beatrice (nothing cuter than a little girl called "Bea")


Joseph (I have some concerns about having a Thomas and a Joe--one full name and one nickname, but if we go with it, I don't think that the asymmetry will bring the house down)
Leo (a previously rejected name that Peter now likes. we have some friends with a Theo, but I think this will be ok)

So, I feel better now. Even if I don't have a lot of time left to ponder these names, at least we'll have something manageable to choose from. Certainly it's better than 35,000 Names for Your Baby. However, I think that I still have a few weeks to consider my possibilities. With so many people remembering me in their prayers, how can I have anything but hope?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Good News Is. . .

I'm still pregnant.

The baby turns 25 weeks old on Thursday, which is good news, too. And I'm still pregnant.

Complete hospital bedrest is a strange thing. I get to stay in bed all day, watch what movies I like and have people who bring me glasses of cold water. I've had a healthy portion of company most days (those are the good days) and I get plenty of peace and quiet. But it's driving me a little crazy that I have to be here and that my children are missing me at home. I wish there was some way I could make this easier for them. I wish I could make it easier on Peter.

That said, I am strongly hoping that I get to be pregnant for a long, long time still. I honestly cannot imagine what it will be like after five, seven, nine more weeks of this strange new life, but for now, I've got one week down already. If I can keep from getting an infection, I will have many more weeks to go.

I'm hoping that tomorrow night Peter and I will have a little quiet time to go over all of your excellent Baby Name Suggestions and that I will get to post our List. I really appreciated all of your thoughtful ideas. I can't wait until we have a solid short list of names to think about!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bring Home Baby List

I have been gradually realizing over the past few days that I am not ready for a new baby yet. Surprised? Don't misunderstand me--I have the little socks and sleepers and the infant car seat as well as a crib, tiny cloth diapers, and a changing pad. But I realized yesterday that nothing is ready yet!

The baby clothes and diapers should be rewashed and brought upstairs, I still want to knit a baby hat for the wee one, and I really should get some long sleeve onsies and t-shirts (preemies use these a lot). This is a lot like the dream where you show up to prom in your nightgown. I'm trying not to panic because no matter when the baby is born there is likely to be at least a short stay in the NICU for him or her and I can prepare things then. But I still get a little worried because I'm not able to be home to do any of the preparations for our impending arrival now.

But all of the little chores that are on my Bring Home Baby list are nothing compared to the item at the top of this list, the only thing that really should be done before the baby is born. We need to pick out a name.

Sure, the cloth dipaers and little sleepers can wait. What does the kid need for the first few days besides a little gown and one pack of disposables? But right after your baby is born, the first thing the nurses ask is "So, does the little guy have a name yet?" Am I supposed to say NO? And then how long do you take to decide? What if a WEEK goes by and your baby still doesn't have a name? This is how kids get named "Precious" or "Goober".

I'm not even sure where to start. We've had a hard time getting even a modest list of names to materialize. Also, I'd like some time to think of a name and live with it for a while. I don't want to have the baby, name it Sparkle (hey! works for a boy OR a girl!) and realize a month later that Sparkle is a stripper's name. We've had the name Eleanor on the list for a while and I like it, but I don't know if I can live with it. Every day. Maybe I'll never get past the "old lady" feel it seems to carry around the edges. Beatrice poses some of the same problems. How about Penelope? There is so much I love about this name, but maybe it's too exotic for a child growing up in the Midwest. Or maybe it doesn't fit with Thomas and Anna's names. Thomas, Anna, and Penelope. Hmm. I am riddled with indecision. We have some names on the list, but there aren't any that jump up and grab my attention in a perfect, pearl-like way. The Boy List is another issue. Instead of a list of names I love 3/4 of the way, I have a list of NOTHING. Ok, we have two names, but, again, I love them 3/4 of the way.

So, what do you think? Want to help name a baby?

If you like, you can give me some of your ideas and in a couple of days I'll post a list of some of our picks. After that, we'll talk some more. It's a Baby Naming Summit Conference and you're all invited. You may dress informally.

If you'd like help with your suggestions, you should know that we like names that are more traditional. Kylee or Harlee probably won't make the cut. Despite the conservative nature of Thomas and Anna's names, we do like names that are more unusual like Beatrice, Penelope, Violet or Maeve. BUT, if it is unusual I like to avoid something that could end up being trendy-ish. This is a concern for me with Beatrice--could Beatrice, in five years, be the next Olivia, Sophia, or Amelia? All of this is subjective, I know, and I'll tell you now that we need more suggestions than less.

Thanks for your help! I hope I won't need to have a name ready for another 9-10 weeks still!

Friday, July 18, 2008


First of all, I want to thank you for all of your prayers and kind thoughts. When I get discouraged, I remember all of the people who are praying for me, my baby, and my family and it encourages me to know that so many people are surrounding us with their care.

I've waited to write anything more in hopes that I might have something more to share, but I'm afraid that life on the ante partum unit is not unlike life anywhere else. No news is good news. I'm still pregnant and the baby seems healthy. We can only wait and see where this is going. There is nothing I can do to help the situation other than to lie very, very still. All day. Every day. As much as I pity Peter's burden in all of this, I can bet you that he doesn't envy me a jot. I had been thinking of this as a version of Mommy Jail, but it occurred to me that even prisoners have recreation programs and physical fitness hours. I do have internet access, however, and someone to bring me water. I wager that the food is about the same, though.

So, here I am, trying to keep my spirits up and not spend too much time worrying about the baby or how things are going at home. Luckily, I know the kids are being well cared for by family and friends. They have been able to be with people they know and with whom they are comfortable. We are trying to keep them home most of the time, so that they can have some stability and structure to their lives. The person making them the peanut butter sandwich might change, but at least they will be home.

The great irony in this, of course, is that our kitchen is still set to be demolished on July 28th. So, even though they will be home, our house is going to change a great deal. At least they will be there to see the changes happen as the work progresses. It won't be too great a shock if they are there to watch and understand what is happening. I'm afraid that for me it will be more like falling asleep in the car and not knowing where I am when I wake up when I finally am able to go home again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Post With a Hundred Titles

During the last two days I have come up with at least a couple of dozen titles for this post I'm going to write, but none of them seemed very fitting.  The last couple of days have ranked among the worst I've ever lived through and there's just no way to sum it up into a leading title.

I'm not quite 24 weeks pregnant yet and on Monday my water broke.  Not even my Irish gallows humor was able to stand up to the seriousness of the situation as Peter and I went to the hospital to have the situation assessed.  It was obvious that my water had broken--I had a ruptured membrane with Thomas at 31 weeks (though he didn't deliver until 32) and my water broke with Anna at 37 weeks.  But this was so entirely unexpected that I didn't know what to make of it at first.  My water broke?  really?  We drove to the hospital and I knew that there was really nothing they could do.  I'd been down this road before with Thomas--the early delivery, the weeks in the NICU, learning to care for a premature baby.  I knew what was involved with babies born at 32 weeks and I had a very good idea of what the NICU experience would look like for a baby born earlier, if the baby lived at all.

I lay on the bed as the nurse hooked me up to the fetal monitors.  I couldn't breathe and all I could think was "What are we going to tell the kids?"  I was so mad at my stupid, broken body.  Why couldn't I grow a membrane like other women?  Why do my pregnancies always have to be like this?  I was about to loose a perfectly good, healthy baby because my body didn't know how to carry babies.

I don't remember what happened next, but I was wheeled down the hall into a labor & delivery room they use to stabilize their pre-term labor patients.  They did the tests they do in situations like this and hooked me up to antibiotics in case of infection and magnesium sulfate in case of contractions.  They hooked up the fetal monitors and called in the specialists.  They wheeled in an ultrasound machine and they poked and prodded and then the neonatal specialists came in.  There were IVs and so many things happening that it still makes my head spin.  A doctor gave me run-down of what I could expect if I delivered at 24 weeks and then he talked about how that improved with every week the baby spent in the womb.  One of the super-duper specialists came in, did the ultrasound, and very optimistically said that she expected me to keep the baby in for another 3-4 weeks, at least.  I started being able to breath again.  A very little.

The next day another specialist came in and gave an even more optimistic assessment when she informed me that they keep many women in my situation for months before delivering and that it wouldn't be unrealistic to expect me to be able to carry this baby to 32, even 34 weeks gestation.  Rosy pictures, indeed.

All of this, of course, is barring any infections I might get with my water broken.  I'm still not 24 weeks along yet and it is still so, so early.  The survival rates at this point are 60-70%, which is good, but the difference between here and, say, 28 weeks, is the difference between our baby surviving and our baby doing well.  And it is a long, long road between where I am tonight, sitting alone in a hospital room, and taking home a nearly full-term baby.  I won't even think of all of the milestones I need to hit along the way--26 wks, 27 wks, 28 wks, 30 wks, 32 wks--all of which would still leave my baby in a very challenging position, if not as precarious as I had originally thought when I walked in the hospital doors.

Part of me is curled up inside, thinking of how powerfully difficult it was to care for a premature baby before, how I prayed to God to never let it happen again because I just didn't have the strength to go through it one more time.  Then Anna came, beautifully full-term and as peaceful as a rose.  We'll ignore the trauma of her emergency c-section for now because I thought that the NICU was far, far behind me.  It was almost like I was healed.

Now here I am again, with the real possibility that it could not only happen again, but this time it could be much, much worse.  My logic and reason is fried.  I cannot make sense of this.  But I do remember the grace I found in the middle of Thomas's situation.  I remember how glad I was that he was born so strong and healthy, even if he was premature.  I remember how the doctors and nurses warned me that he might not cry when he was born because his lungs might be weak and underdeveloped, but that when he was born he did cry, loud and mad.  I remember how quickly he matured in the NICU and how he came home a whole week before anyone though he'd be able to.  I remember the grace that was there.  But it was grace in the middle of a horrible storm, certainly not a storm anyone would want to face twice.

And this situation, the extreme prematurity aside, has challenges I've only contemplated in the abstract. What would Peter do with the children if I weren't there?  What would their lives look like without me to care for them?  I'm the only one I want mothering my children, but now I can't do the simplest things for them.  I am so far removed from their daily routine that I couldn't tell you what they ate for breakfast or lunch.  Anna fell down and scraped her leg yesterday and I didn't get to put a Band-aid on her knee.  These are small, trivial things, but so much of motherhood is made up of the small, care-taking tasks that I am at loose ends imagining what I can be to these small children without them.  I worry that they will forget what it is like to have me caring for them; what it is like to have me around as a part of their lives.  They come for short visits once a day, though tomorrow they won't make it to the hospital at all.  They stay for an hour, maybe two if we watch some TV.  We curl up in bed together and they run around the hospital room and make a ruckus.  And then they're gone.

The boredom of bed rest is a challenge, to be sure.  The physical difficulty of remaining in bed is going to be more and more apparent as the days and weeks (God be merciful!) roll on.  But the thing I find hardest to bear is being away from my children, away from my family, and away from my home.  I'm grieving the loss of what this pregnancy should have been as I try to come to terms with how my relationship to my kids will change as I miss these (hopefully!) months from their daily lives.  I am slowly giving those months up as I reach for the hope that this baby I'm carrying will hang out a while longer in my womb.  Much longer.  I have no idea what the next few weeks will bring for me or my family, but I'm trying to be hopeful for the best outcome.  I know that eventually, the children will adjust both to me being gone and to me returning home.  I'm just praying with all the faith I have that God will hold back any infection so that He can finish knitting this baby together in my womb, where he or she is meant to be.

Wish me luck, and please pray with me.  My bottom may forever resemble the bend of a hospital bed, but I'd gladly take that shape in order to have a healthy, strong 34 week baby and a short stay in the NICU.  I'm just looking forward to the day when I can go home again and our family can be together.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake

The last two weekends have been a lot of fun.  We took the kids strawberry-picking and look at what we got:

Nearly 20 lbs of fresh, organic strawberries.  How lucky am I?  I don't know how many pounds of strawberries the kids ate in the field, but I do know they weren't very hungry for a while afterwards.  I brought the berries home and spent some time cleaning and freezing them so, hurray!  Strawberries in November!

As if this weren't enough, we went back last weekend with my parents and picked, oh, yes, another 10 lbs of strawberries.  This time I froze some, but with the others my mom and I made this:

Two batches of strawberry jam.  One for her, one for me.  And it tastes as good as it looks.  I pretty much want to roll around on top of a giant waffle covered with fresh jam.  If I go pick some more berries, I may be able to.

I think Anna may want to join me.

Here's Thomas, contemplating The Berry:

I'll be sad when strawberry season is over.  But since I don't have any more money to give the people who own the strawberry field, it might not matter much anyway.  It's just nice to know that the berries are out there, just waiting to be made into jam.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


So, here I am again at the Mid-Point of pregnancy.  May I introduce you to Baby Number 3?

This baby is about 22-23 weeks along and seems to be doing very well.  I look at this little picture and think that I am incredibly lucky and that I am so happy to be waiting for this wee one to be born.  I'm still nervous about how a third baby will change the dynamics of our family, but I'm feeling more confident that things will be ok after we've adjusted to a new person in our home.

Baby Nuevo looks so peaceful.  The baby's just resting there, playing his or her own games in peace.  I'm listening to the rabble going on upstairs right now and I want to tell him or her to enjoy it while it lasts.  There's little quiet time to be had in THIS house!

We don't know the gender yet--the anticipation builds--but I've still been doing a huge amount of knitting for the Wee Baby.  I have three pairs of soakers (mostly) knit and a pair of Picky Pants waiting for elastic and another pair of Picky Pants on the needles.  I've been trying out Peace Fleece for the first time and I like it a lot.  I wish it had about 25 more yards per skein, but it has enough for me to be satisfied.  I just wish there were a store nearby that sold it.  The shipping on it is considerable.  

I confess I bought a skein of green called Anna's Grasshopper.  When it came in the mail, I saw the name printed on the label and I just about cried.  If I were to have 100 children, would I always feel a little sad for the youngest child as I waited for the next to be born?  Or am I just hopped up on pregnancy hormones to the point where even something like this would make me teary?

I'll leave you with a funny story from this morning.  I went to the clinic this morning to get a shot [boring medical details omitted] and the nurse giving me my shot asked if we were going to be having more children.  I told her that this was our last planned child and she remarked that I was a "baby making machine".  I was so surprised!  I think of the families I know who have 5, 6, 7 or more children and I wanted to say, "Lady, when it comes to baby making, I am totally an underachiever!"  People never stop cracking me up!