MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

The Big Question November 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 6:41 pm
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This is a blog post that I’ve been thinking about writing, but it’s probably one of the more difficult ones for me since it’s not quite as much about V and more about me as his mother and previous human incubator.

This is me. Hi! (All photos for this post courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography)

This is me. Hi!
(All photos for this post courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography)

As soon as I left the safe cocoon of my mat leave and started interacting with other adults the most common question I get after telling them I have a child is, “So when are you guys having another?” Now let’s be honest for a second, this isn’t really anyone’s business besides me and my husband but I can understand why it gets thrown out so often to us moms.

For some reason, society seems to think that children couldn’t possibly be happy, well adjusted or well behaved without siblings. FYI all of those assumptions are a bunch of crap, and this isn’t based on my biased opinion as V’s mom, it’s based on my adult friends who grew up as only children and still managed to survive and succeed into adulthood. Shocking I know! Anyways, end of that rant but let’s examine this question a little more closely shall we? I also want to point out that this post reflects my opinions entirely, if you want A’s you’ll have to ask him! It also covers some topics related to a woman’s baby-making parts so for the easily squeamish please come back for future updates.

A and I are the happy, proud and lucky parents of a fantastic, healthy and energetic three year old boy. When I first went back to work V had yet to sleep through the night; 18 months was our magic marker. I am still a little bitter at all those mom’s who had night sleepers at 6 weeks. At this point I knew my limitations as a mother and was aware that although each child is blessing I wouldn’t be the happiest camper balancing an active toddler and another sleepless infant. I have so much respect for those mommies with kids close together but I know that it’s not something I would win any awards for. I love my sleep!

Active little man!

Active little man!

A and I had also discussed V’s development when the conversation of more kids came up. We were sure that we didn’t want any more until we knew that V was developing normally, didn’t need any therapies or surgery and that we would be free to dedicate time to two children without having V suffer should anything come up as a result of his dramatic entrance. We knew that V would be followed very closely for 3 years to make sure he was on track with other kids his age and there are such a wide variety of things that can result due to prematurity, resuscitation, oxygen tubes, etc that we wanted to make sure V would have 100% of our time, money and attention should anything come up.

The BIG decision for us in regards to more children involved me though. My body was my enemy during my pregnancy with V and I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to your self confidence as a woman when the one thing you can’t do properly is (from a biological perspective at least) your one purpose for existence! I mean, all of these other women get pregnant, sail through, and deliver without a care in the world, why not me! The big wake-up happened at my 6 week follow up with my high risk OB. I went in hoping for some answers on why V made his early entrance and although we definitely weren’t thinking of more babies at the time, find out what the future would hold ‘just in case’. I left greatly disappointed. I was told that they had absolutely no idea why V was early. There are just so many reasons that some babies make their way into the world earlier than others that they couldn’t even guess. What my Dr was able to tell me though was what our lives would look like should we decide to have any more children and trust me when I tell you that it’s no picnic.

First I will need to be referred to my high risk OB by 16 weeks of any subsequent pregnancies for weekly appointments to follow on the fetus’ progress and the length of my cervix. This means being subject to ‘trans-vaginal ultrasounds’ on a weekly/biweekly basis to see how tightly my body will hold onto any pregnancy. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to load up your bladder, have someone insert a bizarre looking wand into your lady parts and wait to see a specialist on a weekly basis. I might as well move in to the hospital…

OH WAIT! That’s what will likely happen should we decide to take this leap of faith again. I will likely be admitted for observation and strict bed rest by 30 weeks of pregnancy, depending on what my ultrasound results show. They can’t continue the trans-vaginal ones in the third trimester because it’s too dangerous to the fetus, so you get to sit/lie around and wait. And having been there before I can’t tell you how much that idea thrills me. Weeks away from my family at home, alone, lying on a hospital bed and crossing your legs? Good times.

Did I mention the stitch they may put in? One thing every pregnant lady looks forward to is surgery early into her pregnancy. Again, based on the results of any future ultrasounds, I may have to have a circlage put in to hold my cervix closed as the fetus gains weight. My Dr believes that the most likely cause for my water breaking early with V is an incompetent cervix. Essentially when V gained weight my body became incapable of supporting it and he, for all intents and purposes, ‘fell out’. The surgery in and of itself presents possible pregnancy ending complications but without it we may run the risk of going into labour before the viability marker (24 weeks). Prior to that point no life-saving efforts will be undertaken and we will be left dealing with the terrifying spector of infant loss.

The other concern my OB had for me was the fact that my contractions started with frequency and pain at 19 weeks. This indicates low hormone levels which can stimulate my body to trigger labour early. The only way to try and prevent them going forward will be to obtain weekly injections of synthetic progesterone to trick my body into behaving as it should. This will be along with my rH negative vaccines since I’m one of the 5% of the population that carries a negative blood type. Now I don’t mind needles but the prospect of weekly shots in my behind doesn’t exactly fill me with glee.

Watching my boys! Life is always better as a participant.

Watching my boys! Life is always better as a participant.

Even with all of these precautions that they would be willing to undertake for me there is no guarantee that they will work and A and I have to face the reality that any future pregnancies could have devastating outcomes around the 21-24 week mark. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to bury a child. Any parent knows that regardless of how your child comes into this world as soon as you’re aware that you’re going to be responsible for that precious tiny life there isn’t much you won’t do to protect it. How would I be able to deal with forming an emotional bond to a child I wouldn’t be able to bring home? Another question is how we would deal with another preemie. We have a very high likelihood of having another early arrival because I unfortunately experienced both forms of premature labour with early contractions and early water breakage. What if a second child did experience complications and subsequent physical and developmental delays. Are we in a good position to dedicate the time and attention to a child with special needs as well as V? We know that love would never be an issue but do we live in a area that provides good services, what do our benefits cover etc.

Daddy always makes it all better.

Daddy always makes it all better.

This would also have HUGE implications on our day to day life for the duration of the pregnancy. I would be on bed-rest and off work, likely from 16 weeks onwards and A would have to take over pretty much all home and work responsibilities. He would be responsible for all of V’s care and most of mine as well, and I do struggle as to whether that’s a fair burden to put on him when he does so much for us already.

Along with all of these concerns that apply to our personal situation we also deal with the normal questions parents ask themselves when considering adding to their family regarding time, attention, finances etc. It really is one heck of a process isn’t it?

Loving my baby boy!

Loving my baby boy!

That being said, A and I have not made the final call in expanding our family. I, personally, would love to have another but I would also love a ‘Magic 8 Ball’ to predict what the outcome to another pregnancy would be for me. I know each expecting mama experiences uncertainty but having come so close to losing something so precious I just don’t know if I’d be able to survive. I do know several of the NICU mommies I met have had amazingly successful, full term, subsequent pregnancies, but I just worry that that won’t be me. I think an important aspect of any possible future pregnancy would be to head in thinking that it will be normal and roll with the punches if and when they come up but with the intervention I’d need I think pretending would be difficult.

Regardless of our decision however, A and I are so blessed to be as lucky as we are. If V remains an only child his whole life then we’re happy with that. How can you be disappointed when you’ve already hit the parent jackpot?! I sure do love that little man! I mean all of these ‘what-ifs’ only really come into play if pregnancy does even happen for us in the future. All of those couples who deal with infertility and miscarriages are a testament to the fact that pregnancy is never ever a sure thing no matter where your heart lies.

To wrap up though, I guess going back to the original question my answer for the time being needs to be, “We haven’t quite decided yet, thank you.” and then do my darnedest to change the subject back to the awesome little kid we already have in our life!

Family <3

Family ❤

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A Blizzard In August: The Things We Do For Our Kids… August 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 2:46 pm
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Last week, August 8th, was Blizzard Day at DQ to help raise funds for your local Children’s Hospital. Now I know going out for ice cream in August certainly seems like a chore, and sometimes, for most people, it’s just happy circumstance that satisfying your craving for a delicious treat has the bonus side effect of giving back to your community, whether you frequent the hospital or not!

For us, we actually had the date marked down on our calendar because V has shamelessly taken advantage of their services several times this year and whatever we can do to give back we will…even if it means eating copious amounts of ice cream to raise the funds…oh the things we do for our children right??

Enjoying a Blizzard for Children's Hospital London!

Enjoying a Blizzard for Children’s Hospital London!

I realized that while I’d shared our terrifying ‘febrile seizure’ story I have been lax in updating the other health story of the year. V’s week-long stay for croup! Now as a parent I had always heard people speaking of this mythical ‘croup’ illness and I always did the smile and nod thing since I had no idea what they were talking about…well never again! I will probably hear the sounds of the croup cough and wheeze in my head for many years and my adrenaline will likely spike to unhealthy levels each time V gets a cold because let me tell you, croup is not for the faint of heart!

One night, nearing the end of March, Andrew picked me up from work and let me know that he thought V had gotten a little too crazy in the bath and maybe swallowed some water since he’d picked up a bit of a cough before bed. No big deal right? We can handle a cold like a champ! The shocker came when we went to check out little man before turning in and found him struggling to pull in a full breath in his sleep. We grabbed that kid out of his crib so fast and Andrew had the car around to pick us up before V had even realized what was going on. Our first thought was that he was having an asthma attack and we figured we’d head to the ER, have a treatment and see our family dr the next day. We figured if having a seizure had us home in under 3 hours then a little wheeze wouldn’t take much longer. Pfft….

The second we stepped into the ER the nurse had us in for our preliminary evaluation in Triage, into a bed and seen by the doctor all within 15 mins, and if you’ve ever been to an ER in Ontario you know that is practically unheard of. The doctor looked over V quickly and confidently before giving us the diagnosis of croup. He told us that we’d give V a steroid treatment, watch him for about an hour and then go from there. Usually the first and second nights are the worst but the steroid usually takes the edge off and kids are good to go. V took the steroid like a champ and then proceeded to cough it up all over the bed…awesome…so round two it was! The dr however didn’t see enough initial improvement and called respiratory therapy to come down and visit. Awesome! Things were starting to look a bit more serious but again Andrew and I were just going with the flow. The RT came down and decided it was about time to give V an ‘Epi’ treatment. Basically epinephrine given in a mist held right by his nose. V was having none of this ‘smoke’ held into his face so this was bit more difficult but we got it done. Of course this type of treatment carries a few more risks related to the elevated heart rate it causes so we were in for at least 8 hours of observation…*sigh* They wouldn’t even think of letting V go home until they could see him breathing in his sleep and were content that the ‘strider’ (wheeze) was gone. Of course after you give a 2-year-old a dose of steroid and another inhaled treatment to get him going they are pretty much on board for any ‘all-nighter’ you might have planned and we didn’t get him to sleep until after 8am.

Sleep you say? I don't think so!!

Sleep you say? I don’t think so!!

The doctor then sent us home and let us know if he got worse to come back but to try taking him outside to the cool air first. Gotta love those old tricks! We dragged our butts home, slept for about an hour and then spent the rest of the chilly March day with our windows and screen doors open. V seemed back to his normal self and we were read to put it all behind us by Monday night when he fell asleep with no trouble.

Tuesday morning however we were back to the ER when V woke up struggling to pull in a full breath again. Honestly as a parent watching your child struggle to breathe is one of the scariest and most powerless moments of your life. A and I had already done this while he was in the NICU and having to revisit it was no walk in the park. We arrive at the ER just before the shift switch and actually were lucky enough to be seen by the same staff we’d had on Sunday night. They didn’t even start with the steroid first this time but called RT to come back down for the special ‘smoke’ treatment. We knew this meant we were going to be there for the day at least and made ourselves comfortable. However when V required a second inhaled treatment an hour after the first and a third two hours after that, we were told that we should make arrangement to be admitted, likely until the end of the following day. The only benefit to being admitted with croup was that it is CRAZY contagious to other kids so we were given a swanky private room with a pullout couch, free cable TV and internet, bathroom and plenty of space for one crazy active 2-year-old hyped up on all sorts of adrenaline producing drugs.

Downtime between vitals checks and medicine...poor sleepy boy!

Downtime between vitals checks and medicine…poor sleepy boy!

One test the doctors needed to perform was going to be a scope to view V’s airway and lungs. The concern they had was that when he was a preemie and on a ventilator that he had developed scar tissue and this was causing the airways to narrow more than they usually would with croup. Luckily that came back totally normal but V battled this croup infection for a week before we were finally discharged the following Saturday. We had to stay until he could go a full day without the inhaled treatments and we had a great team help us get there. V was being followed by the RT team, PICU team, Floor drs and nurses, as well as the ENT team! Popular little guy during rounds let me tell you! The treatment, however, that finally helped turn the corner, was a full 24 hr dosage schedule on the oral steroids. Usually it’s given once a day but V received 6 doses in a 24 hour period. They worked like a charm but until you’ve seen a 2-year-old experiencing ‘Roid Rage you have no idea what you’re in for! V had the most epic meltdowns I’ve ever seen from any child ever and for absolutely no reason. He would literally flail about on his bed screaming “I MAD!!” at the top of his lungs until he wore himself out enough to sleep. It was awesome….especially since it took about an additional week to clear itself out of his system.

Running around like a maniac, hopped up on the steroids, playing with a glove balloon!

Running around like a maniac, hopped up on the steroids, playing with a glove balloon!

The most heart-wrenching moment for me during his hospital stay was when they decided they wanted to hook him up to an IV to make sure he was getting enough fluids. To insert the IV into a two-year old they have to bundle them (aka swaddle) in a blanket and have a second nurse hold the child down to prevent them from yanking away. V took it like a champ, no screaming, but he just looked at me with big crocodile tears streaming from his eyes, and asked me “Mommy, what I do bad?”. I lost it. The consequence of being big enough to be aware enough of what was happening to his body and not being big enough to understand the why made him think we were punishing him instead of helping him. It just broke my heart and I just sat and snuggled with him as much as possible to let him know that no-one was mad at him. Poor baby boy!

V will his IV and all of his monitors. That's a lot of equipment for a tiny kid!

V will his IV and all of his monitors. That’s a lot of equipment for a tiny kid!

V was also the most spoiled kid on the face of the planet that week! Various friends and family stopped by to visit or send gifts. He was in seventh heaven and we were just in awe of the amazing support system we had in place helping us through a hard time. I also have to give mad props to Andrew’s work who went above and BEYOND to make sure he could be at the hospital with his child as much as he needed. His boss even took time out of his day to bring us coffee and a gift bag for V including his very own personalized Jays baseball cap! As I said…SPOILED!

Pimped out hospital room! Target also opened that week so I think all of our relative cleared out the Thomas section...

Pimped out hospital room! Target also opened that week so I think all of our relative cleared out the Thomas section…

Since we’ve gotten over this one incident V has had croup a second time. We managed to make it through without another hospital stay but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about croup season coming up again in the fall. Once a child has it once apparently they are more prone to having it again and I’m not sure my heart can take it! Placing my order for V’s protective plastic bubble this week!