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 ❤


Rogers Wireless and Pooh Bear: The Cuddle Wars January 31, 2012

Andrew and I had a long conversation that Saturday night about Vaughan cuddling his receiving blanket in the isolette, and how sad it seemed. We felt so guilty that he didn’t have anything to snuggle! Newborns who come home can cuddle Mommy or Daddy, their teddies, toys etc. Vaughan had to stay cocooned up in his blankets and wires…so what to do?

One of V’s nurses that day had mentioned to me that we weren’t able to put stuffed animals into the isolette with him. They tend to pose a smothering hazzard, because, at 2 lbs 12 oz, pretty much any stuffie would dwarf V. The toys were welcome in the NICU but were left perched like ominous, fluffy giants on the side of the isolette rather than inside as a snuggle-buddy. We were, however, allowed to bring in layettes, also known as lovey blankets, which could be put inside with our little guy.

The nurse recommended that Andrew and I sleep with it so that V would know our scent and then bring it in for him to have. So Sunday morning we had a mission, to purchase a ‘blankie’ for V! This would be our first official purchase as parents for our baby boy. We’d been so spoiled at our shower and by family and friends, along with the fact that V arrived so early, we hadn’t actually gotten him anything ourselves at this point.

We also had another purpose for heading to the mall that Sunday. Andrew needed a new phone and since my contract was coming up, we had decided to take the plunge and sign up for a family plan with Rogers Wireless. As mentioned before Andrew’s phone had stopped working the night I went into labour and I was unable to reach him (I am aware that this does sound like a B-rated romantic comedy moment here). This remained a problem afterwards because if the hospital or I needed to reach him about anything to do with V, we both needed reliable sources of communication.

As you know signing up for a cell phone contract is serious business and we researched in our ‘spare’ time to make sure we were getting the best value for our needs, or at least what our perceived needs would be, over the next three years. We figured that hitting up the mall when it opened at noon would let us get in and get out relatively quickly, stuffed animal blanket thing and new cell phones in hand. Then we’d head up to the hospital for a visit with V before Andrew headed back to the theatre for rehearsal.

Looking back now, I’m sure ‘fate’ was laughing it’s fool head off when it heard our plans and decided to make our already memorable and stressful week a little longer. We stopped at Walmart first and bought the only lovely blanket we could find; a pale yellow ‘Winnie The Pooh’ with a velvet top and satin underside, featuring Winnie’s head and arms. Beggars can’t be choosers and we were determined to have the toy to him that night (yeah, yeah I know we were supposed to sleep with it, so sue me). No more receiving blanket snuggles for our kiddo!

Then we made tracks over to the Rogers store. Cue ominous music here….

The lineup was epic. I’m talking at least 15 people long. Why oh why did everyone decide to get new cell phones that day? Oh yeah…OSAP had just come in. Awesome. There were also the assorted students who had dropped their phones, or in one case run them over with a bike, during drunken Orientation week shenanigans. Double awesome.

So Andrew and I sighed and took our place at the back of the line, hoping that the 3 employees manning the desk would make short work of everyone’s requests. Oh wait, new employees got stuck with the Sunday shift? Sweet! AND someone called in sick? What luck!! If you haven’t already sensed the sarcasm here, let me tell you that all of this info made me want to start jabbing myself in the eye with one of their little USB internet devices. We hunkered down for a long wait.

I feel like this is where I need to mention that, while epidurals are like a giant hug from Heaven, they do occasionally have the unpleasant side effect of some lingering back pain for a few days after they are administered. Not surprising seeing as someone jammed a 10 inch needle up your spine. This was just the icing on the crap sundae, as each moment standing in that line felt like someone was running a pizza cutter along my lower back. This made the whole experience just that much more special.

When we finally made it to the front of the line, luck of the draw, we managed to get the ‘newbie’ who had never signed anyone up for a plan in his life. This however, wasn’t too bad for us, however, I did feel marginally guilty for the people behind us as one of the more experienced employees came over to help. I could go into more detail but I’ll leave it at this: Signing up for the plan took a lot longer than necessary due to (and we should have expected this at this point) computer glitches, stock issues, etc. Thankfully after 2+ hours we left the store the proud owners of fancy new smartphones. We made tracks out of the mall and back to St. Jo’s.

Now, I had nothing else to do with the rest my day other than spend time with our little guy. Andrew, on the other hand, had a rehearsal to get to and by the time we arrived at the hospital he only had 15 minutes to visit with his son. This was a big moment for us as a family and I remember Andrew getting to hold V and crying because he just really didn’t want to go.

Andrew enjoying his all too brief snuggles after our Rogers experience.

As a woman and mother there is nothing sweeter than watching the two greatest loves in your life bond and feel it so strongly that it moves, at least one of them, to tears. Andrew was so angry at Rogers for taking away his time with his son, and although it was necessary, he just felt robbed of his day. I also think this is when it really struck him that, for the next few weeks at least, his time at the NICU would be limited. It’s different when a newborn is home and Daddy can see him before and after work, and then be able to snuggle after the play. When that newborn is in the hospital it is a lot harder to just go and cuddle, especially juggling it with rounds, visiting hours, work, etc. We made a deal that if he was unable to make it between work and rehearsal, or even if he just felt like he needed more time with V, that we would come when we could afterwards, even if that was at 2am. This, I think, helped him relax and he was able to head back to his commitment with the play. I assured him that I’d use our fancy new phones to keep him updated on V’s progress.

Sleeping peacefully while being held by his Daddy. I can totally understand why he didn't want to leave this little miracle!

We did decide to hold off on the lovey blanket for one more day so that we could wash it and yes, sleep with it before we added it to his little world inside the isolette. This was important because Andrew wanted to have time to see Vaughan’s reaction to the toy, and we really wanted to experience any ‘milestones’ like that together as a family, a philosophy we still stick to today!