Saturday, August 30, 2008

Baby Mine

I can't wait until I get home so I can post an updated picture of Henry. He is so beautiful.

I got to hold him on my chest last night when I came to visit. They've taken him off of that clunky breathing machine and now he's on a low-pressure nose-prong type device that gives the least amount of breathing assistance. I like it much better because it's less intrusive and seems much more comfortable for him to wear.

Now that he has a smaller tube I can actually see his little face! They took off the hat he had been wearing and I've been able to see that he has a fair bit of dark, wavy hair, too. His face is wrinkly and he looks like a teeny little old man. He is so sweet.

In somewhat related news, they are holding the Republican National Convention just a couple of blocks from the hospital we are staying in. I'm discharged tomorrow (ack! Who will take care of me now?) so for the next week I will have a very hard time getting back here to spend time with Henry, when I am able to come at all. I'll have driving restrictions for two weeks as I recover from surgery.

I think that most of our friends and family who have been coming to care for the kids are going to continue to come to help out as I recover. Can I begin to tell you how lucky I am? It is hard to swallow your pride when you first begin to really depend on other people to help you. It is hard to realize that you simply cannot do what needs to get done on your own. But when you move past that, you are nothing but grateful that you have people who love you so much and who are able to give you the help that you need. We have all of these people who have helped us freely with no expectation of repayment. What more can a person want in their life but such wonderful people like these? Henry is so fortunate to have such a group of people waiting to welcome him home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Welcome, Baby!

I'd like to introduce you to our newest little one. Meet Henry Steven Edstrom. He was born last evening at 5pm and weighs 3 lbs 9 oz.

He was breech, so of course he needed to come via cesarean section. Everything went well and he cried when he was born. He was just beautiful. Even though he was breathing at his birth, they still opted to put him on a cpap machine so that he wouldn't get too tired out trying to breathe. He didn't need to be put on a ventilator or anything like that--hooray! He is doing very well, especially for a 30 week baby.

I know the picture looks a little scary with the breathing mask and the IV board on his hand and all of the other tubes and tape. Believe me, though, that he is doing an amazing job. He's moving quite a bit and is even opening his eyes for us when we're in the room talking to him. I only wish we could spend more time with him, but it's hard for me to be up and out of bed for very long.

I just wanted to stop in and share our good news. I want to thank you all for your prayers, kind wishes, and support during this difficult time. You have no idea how your comments and emails have cheered and encouraged me.

Now we wait and hope for a speedy and trouble-free stay in the NICU!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My days left in the hospital are numbered.

Last night there was a bit of green discharge which looked like meconium in my fluid. The doctor on call ordered an IV, no food or fluids, and for me to be monitored for six hours--from six until midnight. I'm afraid I disgraced myself when the IV person tried three times to dig a needle into my vein. By the third time she was trying unsuccessfully to put it in my hand, I started crying for her to stop. They got another person to come in and she took two stabs before it got put in. It took quite a while before I was able to settle myself down. It was overwhelming to have to be continuously monitored, with an IV, and not even water to drink.

By midnight I was off the monitor--baby looked fine--and I was finally able to sleep. At six the doctor wanted me to spend another two hours on the monitor, so the sleep was short-lived.

This morning Peter and the kids came for a visit, which is lucky, I suppose, since my white blood cell counts came back elevated and indicating that an infection is brewing. Peter was able to talk to the doctor who is rounding today and hear that we might be delivering the baby today, or maybe not. Right now we don't know what will happen for sure since they want to continuously monitor the baby to see how he or she is doing. If no other signs of infection appear and baby is doing well, they will probably leave the baby in a while longer. If it seems like baby is in distress at all, they will deliver the little one today. Either way, my hospital stay just got a lot less pleasant.

I'll be 30 weeks tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Six Weeks of Bed Head

I've been in Hospital de la Casa for six weeks now awaiting the impending arrival of Baby Nuevo. Obviously, I am still pregnant. I really want to make it to 30 weeks, which happens on Thursday. After a night like last night, I know to keep my goals modest for a while.

I didn't sleep much last night because I kept having uncomfortable contractions that woke me up. Finally, around four in the morning I gave up on sleep and watched the clock for a while. I was having contractions every ten to fifteen minutes. I thought about calling my nurse, but I didn't know what to ask for and I didn't know what to expect her to do. She might have hooked me up to the monitor, but it's always been poor at picking up my contractions in the past. In the end I went back to sleep and woke up at 6:45. The contractions seem to have settled down again, though my uterus feels sore from all of the activity. I wish the doctor I saw yesterday were on rounds again today because I'd like to ask her what she thinks these contractions are doing. It seems strange that after all of these weeks post-rupture that I would suddenly go into labor without any other symptoms of infection. The doctor rounding today is a doctor I have never met before so I think I need to proceed with caution when discussing the contractions. I don't want anyone to overreact and operate before we absolutely have to. The baby's heart rate looked good on the monitor this morning, so I don't see any reason to panic per se, but I have concerns.

Really, all I want is the doctor to say it's no big deal and that we need to "wait and see".

I wish I knew how this is all going to end. It would save me a great deal of worry in the meantime. In this case, doctors don't seem to have many answers, but if this one has an interesting opinion, apart from "wait and see", I'll let you know after he's done with his visit.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Highs and Lows

I realize the day isn't half over, but I thought I would share a high and a low of my day so far.

Low: Though I am not a wildly fit person, my calf muscles are normally very tone. Today I noticed that even when I flex my calf muscles they are still soft and mushy. Atrophy: Achieved.

High: I had my daily meeting with one of the specialists who is rounding the unit today. She is one of the more conservative (though not pessimistic) doctors I've had. She said that based on how I've been doing so far, she thinks I could be one of those who goes on to 34 weeks. I know I've had other doctors share that speculation, but it was a more impressive comment coming from this doctor. Of course, it doesn't mean that I will go on to 34, or even 32, weeks, but it was an encouraging thing to hear.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


If you're going to spend a lot of time alone, laying in a hospital bed, I think that treats are an integral part of managing monotony and boredom. There's nothing better than a visitor and there's nothing beats a visitor bearing gifts.

Here are some things people have brought that have made my days better:

  • cups of really good coffee like Caribou or Starbucks
  • a box of fancy Tazo tea
  • yarn
  • Aveda bath products
  • yarn and pattern kits
  • clean pillowcases
  • books and magazines
  • food and snacks
  • candy
Sometimes I have to buy my own books or yarn or treats, and it's almost as good, but I love when people thoughtfully bring things that cheer me up when their visit is done. No matter how much my friends and family enjoy visiting, no one wants to move in with me!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

29 Weeks and Contractions

Today is Week 29 for our baby and I think I've been noticing some changes in my pregnancy. This last week I've been having some lower abdominal cramping--not like the normal crampy feeling you'd expect during your period, but more like my uterus is getting irritated by holding a growing baby with little to no fluid to cushion his or her movements. I've also been noticing more Braxton-Hicks type contractions. They aren't real contractions, per se, but I've definitely noticed my body "working out" like it would if I were having a normal pregnancy. I wouldn't be surprised to find that my cervix has been changing this week, though, of course, it is difficult for the doctors to check.

I'd been mentioning this off and on to my nurses in a low-key manner, but this morning I mentioned it to my nurse in a "yes, I've been having contractions" kind of way and it set off a lot more activity than I had anticipated. I tried to explain that I have been having these all week and that they hadn't gotten particularly stronger, just a little more frequent. They nearly prepped me for surgery. They wheeled in the IV, talked about restricting my food and drink, and drew a few blood samples. Honestly, they can do whatever they want, but I don't want to have to wear an IV while they "wait and see" what my body does. They are painful to get, painful to wear, and awkward to haul around. I was scared. I really didn't want one. And I really didn't want to have to have surgery or the baby today! As resigned as I am to the inevitability of a Cesarean, I was terrified at the idea of being wheeled in to the operating room and being prepped for surgery. It was a terribly lonely feeling.

When my doctor came in to talk, I emphasised that I had been having these contractions for a few days now and that they weren't any stronger, just a little more frequent, blah, blah, blah, back-pedal, down-play, minimize. In the end, she seemed to think that we could wait a bit longer before beginning any actions that would prepare me to deliver. I was so relieved.

I'm feeling better now, though I wish Peter could come up this afternoon and sit with me for a while. Of course, he can't and I won't ask, but sometimes I get very tired of having to do this alone. All of the wonderful support and help we've gotten around the house, with meals and with the kids only walks me so far down this path. It seems I need to go the rest of the way by myself. Even though I have accepted the fact that Peter most likely will miss the actual delivery of this baby, I didn't think being alone would bother me so much.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


So, how many hours of Law & Order can a person watch before contemplating a life of crime or a life of solitude in the Alaskan wilderness?

Whatever the answer to this question is, I'm approaching that limit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Knitted Bullet of Love

This is a picture of the first pair of socks I've ever knit. I finished them for Peter because I think he misses me. He assures me that they actually fit, but I'm waiting to see if he wears them more than once. I have high hopes. If you're an interested knitter, I used Trekking XXL sock yarn and the basic sock recipe from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book Knitting Rules. I can't get enough of that woman's writing.

It's funny--you'd think that with all of this "time off" to knit I'd be stocking up on little knitted things for the baby! I'm thinking of the longies, the sweaters, the bonnets, the booties, the inevitable baby blanket, but, no. I'm not knitting for the baby much at all. I have a pattern and a sweater's worth of yarn all ready to go, but I feel like I have to finish some socks for the kids before I can really feel free to start on the sweater. I wanted to finish some mittens for them, too. It's hard to knit for the baby when I'm missing Thomas and Anna and Peter so much. For some reason, my concern for Baby Nuevo isn't translating into little woolies. For some reason, it smacks of over-confidence to me. It's as though casting on for a sweater or blanket is like driving my stake into the ground and declaring that there WILL most certainly be a baby and that the baby will need KNITWEAR! I'm not sure I'm ready to committ to that level of confidence yet.

Also, logic dictates, if the baby were born anytime soon, the baby would be in the NICU for many, many weeks, leaving me with ample time to 1) Recover from the surgery (the baby is breech and unlikely to turn again) and to 2) knit for the baby while at home looking after Thomas and Anna. In addition to this, logic also tells me that if the baby isn't coming until 34 weeks (please, God!), I have weeks and weeks to knit before the baby will be needing clothes of any kind, much less knitwear! So, I'm putting it off.

I'm going to whip out a pair of socks for Anna and a pair for Thomas in the next couple of days and after that I'm going to suck it up and knit a sweater for the new baby. I'm looking forward to it, even though it is a nervous first step. There is a slight chance that I've been over thinking this whole thing a little bit, too. After nearly five weeks on hospital bed rest, I suppose it's natural to get a little nutty about something.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Bed rest is making this pregnancy seem longer than it is.

With Thomas I carefully tracked the days and weeks before his due date. I couldn't wait for my new baby to arrive. It seemed like December would never come. Of course, when it did come, it didn't matter since Thomas had been born two months prior.

Anna's pregnancy breezed by. Apart from progesterone injections and regular OB appointments, I had a young toddler to distract me and I would look at the calendar and think, "Wow! Thirty weeks already!"

This pregnancy started out that way. It began so well and was progressing at such a nice pace. The last four and a half weeks have brought Time to a grinding, moaning crawl. It's taken this long, but I've finally made it to the first--the FIRST!--big milestone.

I am 28 weeks pregnant today.

It's taken long enough. At 28 weeks the survival rates are very high and complication rates are very low. There would still be some problems and certainly some Respiratory Distress Syndrome and the baby would most likely need very invasive breathing assistance, as least for a few days. But at this point, the doctors would be pretty cheerful if little Baby Nuevo had to be born now. I wouldn't be, but that's beside the point. The real upside to this is that I'm not having a baby today. So hopefully the picture gets even better from here.

The real bright spot for me is the meeting I had with one of the specialists who came around yesterday. I haven't seen her since the day after my water broke and I was struck by her pretty first name--Helen--and by her wild optimism. She said then that she thought they could keep me here for ten weeks before the baby would be delivered. When she came yesterday she asserted that she believed that I'd make it until 32 to 34 weeks and that they'd have to do a c-section to get the baby out. She had a lot of very technical reasons why she thought that, but I'll tell you the truth--most of it went over my head. I hope she's right!

It's amazing the variety of estimates there are as to how long I'm expected to be here. I can only assume that it's because some doctors tend to be much more conservative than others, but I don't really know why. I'm thinking of starting a betting pool for my visitors and staff. I'll put a calender on the wall and they can write their estimates on it and whomever is closest can win something cool. Like a cheesecake.

The important thing for now is that I'm still pregnant. My fluid levels are very low and sometimes that depresses me, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'll leak while lying on my back, perfectly still. What more could a person do? The baby is transverse breech now and so I think that I leak more now that the baby's head isn't "plugging the exit", so to speak. I just hope the doctors don't get nervous about how low my fluid levels are and decide to section me earlier than necessary.

I'll keep you updated.

For now I have another ultrasound to look forward to in an hour, plus my brother is coming up to bring me a Chipolte burrito. So much to do, so little time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

27 Weeks

I'm twenty-seven weeks pregnant today and I think that it's ok to relax a tiny, tiny bit.

The neonatologist came by yesterday to give me the run-down of what we can expect from a baby born between 27 and 28 weeks. Having had a preemie before, I'm not too mislead by rainbow colored pictures of high survival rates and a hopefully smooth NICU stay, but he was very optimistic. Every day the baby stays inside the womb is huge and the first few days after birth (if the baby were to be born today, which he won't) could still bring a lot of surprises, but overall things are promising. To summarize, if the Peanut were born today--which he or she won't be--they would expect him to survive. Chances of complications are relatively low and we could expect the baby to grow normally and to be like other children. The baby would be in the NICU for a long time, but could probably have a relatively uneventful stay, Respiratory Distress Syndrome aside.

All that said, the longer I stay pregnant the greater our chances are of a happy, sunshine-type ending. But it is reassuring to know that we are leaving the Danger Zone where the chances of Baby's survival are NOT so high and our chances of complications are greater. And since I don't have plans to give birth today, or maybe even tomorrow, I feel like I have the luxury to focus on the positive side of this. We have come a looooong way in the last three weeks. And whatever happens, I need to remember--I NEED to remember--that what we will get is vastly better than what I was expecting when I first walked into the hospital. I will most likely (the misleading promises of statistics aside) be bringing home a healthy baby instead of trying to figure out how to plan a funeral. I am already blessed.

Of course, I am still hanging onto the hope of reaching 34 weeks. This is the Olympics of Pregnancy and there's no point in competing if you're hoping to just cross the finish line. There is honor in that, to be sure, but I'm competing for the gold medal. It makes me laugh a little because it is entirely out of my control. It's a big job, however, and I like me a silly metaphor.

I will end this ridiculously upbeat post by saying that I am sick of the smell of amniotic fluid and if I never smell it again, it will be too soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Week Three and Some Knitting

I've been in the hospital on bed rest for three weeks now and I don't have anything more to say about it that is interesting. Basically, most of my comments can be reduced to sniff, sniff, whine, moan, complain, and some more sniffing. Oh--and my hips hurt. The staff at the hospital has been fantastic. They have made me feel very cared for and everyone is extremely competent at their job. I hope to be here for a long time still, so this is very important.

Already I have been here for a marathon of time and by the end of this I hope to be able to compete at Bed Rest on an Olympic level. If I can make it to 34 weeks, I'll get a gold medal and maybe some diamonds. There may be product endorsements as well and I will be anticipating calls from Motherhood Maternity as they search for a spokesmom for their Pajama Line. I'll go on tour and sign nursing bras. It'll be great.

That said, I'm going to move onto knitting.

You'll need to use your imagination to some extent since I don't have my camera available. When possible I'll try to provide links to patterns, though, to assist you.

So far I've knit both of the kids a pair of mittens. I wanted something small and fast that I could knit up so that they would have something soft to hold that I had made just for them. They LOVE it when I knit them things so this absolutely thrilled them. I made Anna's from some leftover pink and lime colored yarn Rachel gave me and Thomas and I ordered some Knit Picks kettle dyed Wool of the Andes in the Ivy colorway. I really, really like that yarn. Anna's been sleeping with her mittens "just in case it snows". How adorable is that?

I have knit no fewer than four (!) baby bonnets. I have no idea what got into me. None. But I have to thank Knittymama for mentioning this pattern on her website because it provided me with days of knitted entertainment. I used some Misti Alpaca for one hat in a nice silvery grey color. It was an alpaca/silk blend and it's so soft--just right for a preemie. I used Nature Spun yarn for the other three. I made two in green and one in navy blue. Now I just need to find baby heads that can wear them! My baby will only have one head (or so the ultrasound techs tell me) so there really is no call for the other hats. One went home with Kate, but I think I'll send the other one home with her, too, since it's in a larger size and may fit litte Meg better when winter comes.

I am currently working on a pair of socks for Peter. I'm using some Trekking XXL yarn that I got from a craft store that was going out of business. I am not a sock knitter. I want to be, but I worry too much that I'll put all of that work into a pair of socks that won't fit. This isn't my first attempt, but I hope it will be at least marginally successful. I really want Peter to like them. More than that, I just want him to be able to wear them! I'm worried already that they'll be too tight. I'm using the Basic Sock recipe from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book Knitting Rules.

Next on the list is the Bunny Blanket Bunny that you can find on Ravelry and also on Lion Brand's website. This one, I'm making for the baby. It should be a very quick knit so that I can move on to a baby sweater for the little one. I'm very excited about the sweater. I had been looking and looking for a pattern to knit and couldn't find anything. I wanted something simple and gender-neutral, but couldn't find anything that suited me. Then Allison sent me a care package with the perfect pattern and the most beautiful yarn for a little baby sweater! Now I have the skeins sitting in my room at the hospital so I can give them a squeeze now and then. The yarn is organic cotten with a soft, peaceful color. It's so nice and just the thing for a little baby. I have to resisit the urge to knit a great, big sweater for what is certain to be a very little baby.

I'm rounding the corner toward week 27. I feel like I'm chasing down every day and pounding it into the ground as I move past. It's slow work, making a baby. There aren't any shortcuts.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Book List

So, read any good books lately?

When you have little more than time on your hands you find that you are suddenly able to read all of those books that you always meant to read. So, what have I been reading? Not much. At least, I haven't been reading much compared to the quantity of books I used to devour when I was in peak reading condition.

So far I've read two more books in the Amelia Peabody series: The Snake, The Crocodile, and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters and The Last Camel Died at Noon by the same author. If you like murder mysteries and interesting characters, I really recommend this series. They aren't gory or frightening, but they are a fun, light read and they're very well written. The author really pulls you into the story.

A friend gave me a copy of Kabul Beauty School after she found out I was on bed rest for a few weeks. I don't know if I can say much for the author's writing ability, but she has an absolutely unique story to tell. An American hair stylist travels to Afghanistan to open a beauty school. She hopes that by teaching young women a skill and how to run a business that she can help these women become more independent and less at the mercy of the often abusive patriarchal families and society that they live in. I read this book in a day. If you can find a copy used, it's worth your time to read. Other books I've read in the same vein are Reading Lolita in Tehran and Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. I find the lives of women in these societies to be very interesting and often frightening. I've always been a "good girl" and in the Middle East it seems very difficult to walk the line. Even when women are "behaving" themselves, they are still at the whim of the men in their lives and their society.

The next book I have in line is The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman. This author is one of my favorite columnists for the New York Times and I heard part of an interview he gave on NPR (or was it MPR?) after this book was released. He has a lot to say and he articulates it very well.

Up next: Stuff I Have Knit. You'll be wanting to know what's been flying off my needles lately as well as what's lined up next. At least I know the other knitters out there will be interested! And I need a break from thinking about my uterus.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Who knew that pink could be such a frightening color?

Yesterday afternoon my body started producing some pinkness along with my typical fluid "output" and the result was understandably alarming. I was as worried and scared as I've been since this whole thing began. My nurse didn't seem too concerned about it, but there isn't much in the way of reassuring news to be had in this situation. I called Peter to let him know about the change and I thought of calling my friend, but didn't want to cry on the phone. As long as everything stays the same with my condition, I'm mostly fine, but any change brings the uncertainty and risk of the situation to the surface and I end up a mass of nerves. It's cruelly unfair that even at a time like this, I am still not permitted a glass of whiskey.

One of my super-specialist doctors came on his rounds this morning and was very reassuring. I could continue to spot like this throughout the rest of my pregnancy and that it has a lot to do with having low fluid levels. Apparently amniotic fluid, among many other things, keeps your uterus from getting irritated and scuffed up by your big, wiggly baby. When you don't have much, well, irritation and scuffing ensues. It has nothing to do with how well the pregnancy is going--high-risk factors aside. Of course, it can mean that your cervix is dilating and that you are going into labor, but my lack of regular contractions suggests that this is not the case. I stand reassured.

It is amazing to me how some people have this natural ability to reassure, comfort, and encourage and others, no matter how well intentioned, simply do not. It is a gift, and I'm glad to see it's not as rare as I once thought.