Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Said What?

When someone you know has a preemie it's a hard time for everyone. The excitement, pomp and circumstance that usually surround a birth is absent. It's hard to know what to say to help the parents because you know nothing you say will make them feel better but you also don't want to say something stupid and make them feel worse. Here's some help:

-First and foremost, if you don't know what to say, for the love of God don't stay quiet. Nothing made us feel worse than people who just didn't say anything at all. In hindsight we know it was because they didn't know what to say but in the moment it felt like we were either ignored or Munchkin wasn't being celebrated. Yes he was early and it was scary but he was still born and that's still reason to celebrate. If you don't know what to say, say that! "I don't know what to say but congratulations and he/she is amazing. You are so strong and let me know if you need anything."


-Do NOT lead with "oh my gosh, he/she is so tiny" and leave it at that. The baby was early, the parents know the baby is tiny and don't need that constantly pointed out. However, if that's part of what is said it's okay. So tiny and cute, so tiny and feisty, so tiny and look at all that hair! These are all okay, pick a second adjective though and don't just stick with tiny.

-Sometimes just the offer of help means the most. The parents may or may not take you up on the offer but they'll know you're there if they need it. Trust me, some of the people I remember the most throughout our whole ordeal are the people who offered some sort of assistance every time I talked to them. There is one friend in particular that sticks out for me. Every single time I talked to her she would offer a shoulder to cry on. Every time I logged in to Facebook I would have a message from her reminding me if I needed to talk she'd be there for me. I can't explain to you how much that still means to me. I never took her up on it because I wanted to just crawl into my shell and put on a brave front, but I thought about it almost every day.

-DO NOT forget they had a baby and there is cause for celebration. Send a card, flowers, balloons, or whatever you would've sent had the baby been full-term. Don't be overenthusiastic about the birth but don't be too depressing either.

Above all else, be a sounding board. You won't be able to honestly feel what they feel or know the emotion that goes into it. You won't understand a lot of the medical things that are said. But the best think you can do is listen and be a shoulder if that person decides to open the flood gates to you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

I thought I would do a Thanksgiving blog this year since there is so, so much to be thankful for.
This year I'm thankful for:

-The roof over our heads and the fact we can afford the roof and have me stay home with Munchkin.

-The Hubs who works so hard to provide for us so we don't have to worry about anything.

-Our health. A cliche, yes, but this year it's true. Health has taken on a whole new meaning after last December and I am so grateful to be here, healthy and able to live life as normal once again. Graham's health is better every day and considering where he came from, that in and of itself it amazing.

-My family. I have become closer to my parents in a way I never thought I would. Being a parent has given me a new appreciation for my mom and dad and the sacrifices they made to make my and my sister's life better. They have been an amazing source of strength for me over the last few years and never more so than when I've been at my weakest. They raise me up. My sister and brother are amazing. My sister is such an inspiration to me and the fact that she relishes being an aunt warms my heart. She had her first semester law school finals while I was in the hospital and no one told her how seriously ill I was. When she found out how bad it was she was PISSED. I love her for that. :)

-The nurses and doctors at St. Joseph Mercy that saved our lives last year. My nurses: Carrie and Carol who snuck me popsicles when I was tired of ice chips and snuck me to the NICU to meet Munchkin when the docs said no. Munchkin's nurses and doctors, especially: Carrie, Jill, Amy, and Cammie, Dr. Ivacko and Dr. Weiner. They all took a special interest in Munchkin and treated him like family. He wasn't just a patient to them, he was their own child or grandchild and they fought tooth and nail and stayed long past their shifts to help and brainstorm. I am forever in their debt for what they did for him.

-My friends, both old and new. I miss my friends in Colorado so much. I miss being a more physical presence in their lives but being away has really shown me who my real friends are and I cherish them. My new friends here in Michigan are a godsend. Sarah and Kasey have been a breath of fresh air and are so amazing. I would be friends with them even if we didn't have kids! Their friendship has made Michigan feel like home and the girl time I get with each of them is priceless. They've kept me sane and probably out of the looney bin a few times!

-And mostly, I'm thankful for The Hubs and Munchkin. Munchkin is my heart and soul and I never knew I could love someone as much as that little man. He melts my heart and I would've willingly given my life in those fateful days in December if it meant he got to grow up big and strong. Every thing he does is amazing to me because it almost didn't happen; because every breath, laugh, bottle, piece of food, crawl is something that almost wasn't. And The Hubs; we've had our ups and downs like all married couples but he's been there to hold me up (literally and figuratively) over the past 11 1/2 months and has been my cheerleader. He sees the positive when all I want to see is the negative. He takes Munchkin and tells me to go get a manicure/haircut/buy a book/get coffe, etc. He gets up early on the weekends so I can catch up on sleep. He understands that even though I don't have a job outside the home, what I do at home is still hard and time consuming and exhausting. He's an amazing Dad to that little boy.

I hope everyone else had a good Thanksgiving and remember it's not JUST about the amazing food; it's about coming together with the people you love and appreciating what you do have, however much or little that may be.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You Can Laugh in here Ya Know

The hospital chaplain does rounds in the NICU for parents who want to pray with her and have them pray over your baby. I developed a relationship with our chaplain because I was there every day while she did her rounds and we would end up chit-chatting. She is a very nice, gentle woman and was such a huge help in me keeping my faith when I was so mad at God but still needed his help.

There's one particular morning I will never forget. It was just like any other day. I arrived at the hospital, walked through the lobby, took the elevator to the third floor. I checked in at the NICU desk and they buzzed me through. I walked down the hallway as the smell of sterile hit my nose. My heart still races when I think of that smell. I turned right and stopped dead in my tracks.

Munchkin was sleeping in his isolette but the chaplain and the head nurse practitioner were sitting at his bedside. My heart stopped. They always bring in the chaplain when they need to break bad news and this particular nurse practitioner was close to us. Tears started to sting my eyes; my heart was not beating. They were going to tell me Munchkin took a turn for the worse and they're going to tell me to call the Hubs to be here. I was so scared but I forced myself to walk over there.

I took a deep breath right before they would turn around to give me "the look" and the awful news.

Amy, the NP, turned to see me and....smiled? "Oh, hey Katy. How are you this morning?" What?

"I'm fine...what's...is Munchkin okay?"

"Oh he's fine. Betty just stopped by to drop something off for you and knew you'd be here soon so she waited and we got to chatting."

Moral of the story: If you work in a NICU and just want to "chat" with a religious leader, DO IT AWAY FROM THE BEDSIDE OF THE BABY!!

We all had a good laugh after that and they felt so bad they scared me like that, but it became an inside joke with the three of us. Oh dear lord.

After that, the NICU started to become more of a normal place for me to be every day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Welcome to the NICU

Do you want to know what life is like in the NICU?

This song by Rascal Flatts sums it up nicely.

"Stand"
You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright, you'll be alright

[Chorus:]
Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend till you break
Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place
________________________________________

Every day in the NICU is a fight. Every drive there and every drive home is gut wrenching. Every alarm that goes off makes your heart stop and makes panic set in even when it's not your baby alarming. Every time you see a baby go home you’re happy but it’s hard to watch because you’re jealous. Every time a new baby fills that bed it shatters your heart. You want to hug the parents and tell the mom in the wheelchair with the hospital gown on that she’ll be alright but the fight of her life is ahead of her.



You feel beaten down all the time. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders and feel like you have nowhere to turn, no one to understand what this is like, alone and helpless. You can literally feel your heart breaking and your throat hurts from stifling the tears so the NICU staff doesn’t have to pull the curtain because you're a crying basket case…again. Like the song says, you are bent until you break, until you’re literally down on your knees. You think and feel like you just do not have the strength to move on, no strength to spend one more day in that hospital, to spend one more day sanitizing yourself just so you can touch your son, to make the drive home without your baby again and again. You feel like you have no control as you sit there and literally will you child to take a breath when you can see his stats dropping and you know he's forgotten to breathe again. "Come on baby, take a breath. Take a breath; come on, don't alarm. Take a breath." Then the alarm goes off...fuck.

It's the most helpless you've ever felt in your life. Your child is having a hard time taking a deep breath. He keeps "bradying" (where his heart rate drops). He's in his isolette and all you can do is look at him and cry because he's struggling and there's absolutely nothing you can do for him.



You feel like you want to quit, like this can’t possibly be your life, that it’s not your child in intensive care. You want to scream at God, “why did you let this happen to us? Why are we the ones singled out to have this road no parent should ever have to experience?”

You are irrationally jealous of moms bringing their babies home 3 days after birth. It feels like every day you show up to see your son a new mom with a big happy grin is leaving the hospital with their baby. And it's a giant kick in the heart every time. You learn to look at your phone or keep your head down as you walk in because you just can't see that one more time and have people watch you cry as you walk through the lobby.

But when you’re down on your knees and feel like you just can’t do it, you wipe the tears, take a deep breath and pause. You close your eyes and think of the 2lb 7oz dynamo that needs you that is doing everything he can to fight every single second since the day he was born. You know he’s counting on you to be as strong as he’s been in the face of so much adversity. You take another breath, stand up, brush yourself off, and take the step you didn’t think you could. You find new strength and get your second (or 10th or 57th) wind and say, “I can do this today. Just think about today and I’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”

But it's not all terrible. Those stories come tomorrow. :) Here's a snuggle picture to prove it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Hello, My Name is Mommy

I had an emergency c-section with Munchkin. I was quickly prepped and wheeled to the surgery room. I shook the whole time. My mind was completely blank.

While they prepped me they stressed to me and Hubs that most likely the Munchkin wouldn't cry when he came out. Everyone knows that a crying newborn is a healthy one but since he was so early they had no idea what shape he would be in and if he could even breathe on his own. They told us over and over, "just because he doesn't cry doesn't mean he's dead. We'll let you know how he is within a minute or so but don't freak out when he doesn't cry."   I kept repeating to myself "doesn't mean he's dead. Just small. Doesn't mean he's dead. Just needs some support. Doesn't mean he's dead."

Not exactly the warm, fuzzy thoughts I had dreamed about before my son's birth, but the absolute necessary ones in our situation.

Back to the O.R., the doctors are doing their thing and say "okay here he comes." Out he came and........the boy was screaming his head off! Granted he wasn't as loud as a regular baby, in fact he sounded like a little lamb. But a PISSED little lamb. He was crying and promptly peed on my doctor. It was the most glorious thing I'd ever heard and for the first time in days I shed a tear, a happy tear of all things.

As HELLP Syndrome goes, all .5% of us that get it generally get better after the baby is delivered. Well, apparently not me. I ended up getting worse and my blood pressure decided it wasn't done play tricks on me just yet. It continued to soar, my liver continued to become larger and my doctors decided I wasn't stable enough to go see Munchkin. For almost 4 days I relied on family members to bring me pictures and videos and updates.

The first picture I saw without his CPAP machine on I burst into tears; he looked exactly like Hubs. He had a full head of beautiful dark hair and the sweetest face. I loved him immediately and my heart literally ached. My heart was in my throat as I fought back tears.

My nurses were not satisfied with the fact the doctors wouldn't let me get wheeled down to the NICU so they took things into their own hands, literally. One nurse that took a special liking to me decided she wasn't okay with me not seeing Munchkin so she snuck me down one day to meet my son. I was jittery and nervous getting wheeled down the halls to the NICU.

When we entered I didn't know what to expect. I'd never been in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before and I didn't know which miniature person in the isolette was mine. They wheeled me up to the side of Bay 10, right by the window and there he was. My son. My tiny, pink, bony, feisty, warm, sweet little Munchkin was right there in front of me. The little man who kicked me in the middle of the night, the boy I'd talked to for 7 months, and the baby who I almost died for. There he was.

I couldn't hold him but you're allowed to "tuck and contain". You put one hand on the top of their head and the other hand on their butt with their legs curled up into your palm. I couldn't help but cry in astonishment, he was alive, he was breathing on his own and, according to the nurses, he could get mad and throw one heck of a tantrum.

Nurse Jill said "hey little man, mama's here" and I smiled through my tears. That's how I met my boy.



Tuesday, November 01, 2011

So you're having a preemie...

I'm not sure how other people react when they find out they're having their child early. I don't trust television or movies to be the guide in that because my reaction to hearing I was pregnant in the first place wasn't the tear-jerking, cheering, jumping-up-and-down reaction you see on t.v. I was in shock, utter shock. Munchkin was planned so we weren't shocked in that sense but one second you're just you and the next second there is a living thing inside you and you're going to be a parent. I cannot even begin to put into words the cataclysmic shift that happened in me the second I saw two lines, and I'm a writer so believe me, I've tried!

A thousand things ran through my mind; boy or girl, how big will I get, what will I look like 9-months pregnant, where will we live when I give birth, will I be a good mom, etc. etc.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Hubs and I would have a preemie. If you know me, you know I'm a planner, a list maker, a plan-for-the-worst type of person. We moved to Michigan when I was 17 weeks pregnant and needed to find a new doctor and hospital. We picked a hospital about 30 minutes away because it's the best darn baby hospital in 3 states. I distinctly remember telling my husband it has the best NICU in the Great Lakes region, ya know, just in case. I also vividly remember telling him about my new doctor, "I want someone who will fight for my life if it comes to that. I want someone who will put their foot down and not care who they offend if my life is at stake." Little did I know, that's exactly what would happen word for word.

At 29-weeks my wonderful, amazing grandfather had just passed away after an awful four-year battle with Alzheimer's and dementia. I was quite upset so two days later when I thought I was having horrible heartburn I didn't think much of it since it had been a stressful few days. It got worse and we ended up at triage in the Labor and Delivery department. (The whole story is written in a previous post here)

After all the tests were run and we started realizing things were bad, the on-call doc came in and said the words that haunt me still: "We're hoping to keep your son in for 48 more hours."








Silence....I was stunned. I'm usually quite emotional and cry easily. In this situation I didn't cry. I was shocked and confused, scared of the unknown. I knew I was sick; in fact, I was dying. My body decided my pregnancy was a foreign threat, it couldn't get rid of it so it decided to start shutting down starting with the kidneys and liver soon to be followed by massive hypertension, a horrendous drop in platelets, and, if not treated, a stroke.

I didn't cry, I didn't panic. My mind was racing and blank all at the same time. I was sick, yes, but my son was in danger. HE was my priority, not myself. At this point it was fight or flight. Stay strong or panic and make things worse. I fought...and fought...and fought. They didn't think I'd make it 48 hours without delivering; I made it 4 days.

Neonatologists and NICU nurses came in to talk to Hubs and I about all the things our preemie could face after birth. Words I didn't understand or were too scary to comprehend were being thrown around like surfactant, ventilator, respiratory distress, brain bleeds, etc. All the horrible awful things that can happen to your preemie. I was only half listening partly because I was so drugged up and partly because I didn't want to hear it.

Every minute, every hour counts at that gestation. I fought until my body literally couldn't handle it anymore. I was poked and prodded, blood taken every 4 hours, reflexes tested, not allowed to eat, seeing double, a face of fire due to anti-stroke meds and I endured it all without panic or complaint. Nurses called me the Miracle Mama because I was still pregnant 4 days later. My doctor saw my body was no longer controllable with medicine and it began to fail no matter what they did. My doctor stood up for me and told the NICU doctors my body was shutting down and they needed to take Munchkin out; she was going to save my life and their job was going to start with my son.

My life changed forever on the Sunday I heard the words "we hope to keep your son in for 48 hours." And 4 days later I officially became the mother to the sassiest damn preemie east of the Mississippi.

Prematurity Awareness Month

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and this is obviously a cause near and dear to my heart. My munchkin was born at 29weeks 5days due to my very rare pregnancy syndrome. I plan on updating my blog every few days with a new fact about preemies or an experience we went through. I was going to try for every day but let's be serious, that's a lot of work!

This might be a little hard for me at times because I've mostly kept my feelings and experiences to myself and to a select few people. I'm a very emotional person but can be a private person when it comes to something that's a big deal. To the outside world it looks like I'm going through something hard but being strong. Internally and to only a few people I let myself fall apart.

The point of my preemie facts and stories on here and on my Facebook is not to bring people down or make people feel bad. There's also no cure for prematurity in most cases. This is a month about awareness. One in eight babies are born premature (before 37 weeks gestation) yet there's still a stigma that comes with having a preemie. This is to shed light on the plight of the preemie parent, what we go through, the adversity and dangers our child faces from the second they're born, and to let you in on how you can help or support someone newly in this position.

Having a preemie is horribly isolating. It feels like no one understands, you get irrationally angry and jealous at people who have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, and no one really knows what to say or do. My goal this month is just to bring awareness so prematurity isn't such a forgotten topic.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

IKEA is great, but...

Don't get me wrong, I love IKEA just as much as the next lady. They have amazing storage ideas, low prices and innovative things you can't really find elsewhere. I like taking G-Man there, stroll around, gab with a friend, and pick up some much needed organizational items.

But besides the crazed people that drive hours to be there that take pictures in front of it; besides the women that push you out of the way with the giant carts because they're not paying attention; besides those things, let me tell you a little story.

The Hubs and I decided we wanted a new bed. The one we have is a king size and it was a hand-me-down four years ago. It's lumpy, uncomfortable and slopes to one side. I've been having trouble sleeping lately so we decided to treat ourselves to a new mattress, headboard and side tables.

"We'll go to IKEA," we say to each other. "They have great stuff."

We pack up G-Man and head to IKEA. We go to the mattress section and start picking out a new bed. About two beds into our laying down I realize just how many people have probably laid in those test beds....ick. As I make a mental note to burn my clothes when we get home, we decide on which bed we like the best. We tell the attendant and she prints us off a piece of paper. We look at her like she spoke Swahili. "What's this for? How much is delivery?" She looks at us just as perplexed and says "you bring this to the check-out and then set up delivery down there." Okay, fine.

Then we swing past the bedroom furniture department to pick out a frame. We find one we like and look on the back of the tag; it comes in three packages? Okay, fine. We write down the aisle number and bin of said packages and head downstairs.

We go to the aisle and bin and....nothing. It's not there. Some other bed is in that bin. We look in the next bin, and the next and the next. Nothing. We ask someone, they again look at us like we're idiots and say "well what bin number did the tag say?" I swallow my urge to be just as polite and sarcastic back (i mean, what sort of example is that for my son?) and tell her as nice as I possibly could that we checked that bin and it wasn't there. She tells me I must've written it down wrong. Of course, that MUST be what happened.

We finally, after 30 minutes of looking, find two of the three packages for this bed two aisles away from where it should've been. Then we realize we're missing some middle piece, we finally find that too. Now all we need to look for are the slats that go under the mattress. Another 20 minutes of looking and we still can't find the damn slats. I then realize G-Man has eaten half of the paper we needed to buy the mattress. Great. He smiles at me, so proud he has destroyed this piece of paper.

As we're looking for the slats we run into another customer who looks just as upset and disheveled as us at this point. He can find his damn bed either.

SUCCESS! We finally find the aisle and bin for the slats and....it's sold out? It's freakin' sold out. We track someone down and ask if they have more. He checks and says "we're out." No shit, sherlock. I ask, "when will you get more in?" Another call on the radio later we find out they have no idea when they'll get more in. FAN-tastic.

We ask how much delivery is going to be and we're told we need to go buy our stuff first THEN go to the delivery desk and they'll tell us. So you're telling me I have to buy all this stuff first THEN find out how much and when delivery is? Um, I think not.

At this point G-Man is getting crabby, no doubt that paper probably isn't sitting well, and we decide we can fit this stuff in the car and I'll look online really quick and see if we can just buy the slats from IKEA online. I look online...it's out of stock on there too?

I'm hot, pissed and starting to resent the last 2 hours we've spent in this damn store.

Long story short, if you go up to our room today you'll see our lumpy, uncomfortable, slanted, hand-me-down king-size bed.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mom2Mom

As a mom I'm always looking for good deals on gently used stuff for G-Man. I hate paying full price for something that he'll use or wear for a small amount of time. I read about celebrity kids who wear designer clothing, have nursery furniture worth tens of thousands of dollars, silk burp cloths, and chenille diapers. As someone who doesn't rely on nannies and doesn't have money to dry clean burp cloths, I rely on something called mom2mom sales. It's basically an indoor garage sale just for baby and kid stuff. I had heard about these sales and decided to check one out with a friend. I was expecting crazed moms dashing in the doors "Black Friday" style and chop-blocking each other for the last $1 pair of pants. I wore my tennis shoes just in case and contemplated bringing a bullet proof vest (I mean, we DO live in a Detroit suburb).

We arrive half asleep (it was 8am), coffee in hand, pay our $1 to get in, look up and start to hear the angels sing; aaaaaaaahhhhhhh. It's tables and tables of gently used baby things; $1 pajamas, $2 pairs of shoes, $2 pairs of pants. There are onsies as far as the eyes can see, toys from vintage to new-with-tags, books, holiday gear, strollers, and on and on and on. It's like our mecca...mom mecca.

We were overwhelmed and in awe of what we were seeing! We kept saying to each other "we wish we would've known about this sooner!" It was like we were "in", like it's this underground sale we need to exchange an egg to get directions for.

The best thing about the sales: it's every weekend at different locations all around the metro area.

In true Katy fashion, I made a list of things I needed to look for and although I definitely still have things I need, I totally scored.

G-Man now has:
two pairs of track pants
two pairs khakis
one pair of sweat pants
three pajamas
one Christmas pajama
a long underwear onsie
a BAG of about 15 pairs of socks
a Christmas sweater
a Playskool child-size grill that talks
a Dr. Seuss book
a Charlie Brown Christmas book
all for.........

$25 dollars total!

I'm totally going back. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Gets Your Goat

When you set the DVR to record something but the previous show run 2-3 minutes long, thus making you miss the last 2-3 minutes of your recorded show. Urg.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Owning

Sometimes I hate owning a house. Yes it affords stability for your children, a nice place to call home, I can paint/hang/destroy/change anything I want, not care if the cats scratch the stairs. However I'm sick to death of sinking money into homes I know I'm not staying in for very long.

Moving in order to get promoted with The Hubs' job means we know we're probably not staying in Michigan forever, probably not even for two more years. Hell, maybe not even for ONE year. We were always planning on renting when his company moves us places but here in the Detroit area it's cheaper to rent not to mention there's no chance of being evicted from a rental we pay for every month.

Hindsight is 20/20 but man-oh-man we should've just rented. We were told the water damage in the basement was old and it had since been fixed. After the first major rain storm we found a small lake in our storage room in the basement so apparently fixed means "it's your problem now, suckers".

There's a small tree growing out the top of our chimney. Yes, a tree. At first it was funny, then the chimney guy told us the tree is a symptom of a MUCH bigger problem and basically "bend over, here's the bill".

We love our house, we do. But for every specialist I have to pry my wallet open for I love it less and less.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Annoyed With Food

You may ask yourself, how can one be annoyed with food? I, for one, personally love food and have a love/hate relationship with it (as in I love food and hate that it makes me fat). However, living in Detroit I have come to loathe grocery shopping for several reasons. Reason #1: apparently people in gangs don't tend to grocery shop much and chains don't want to open stores in "the ghetto". This means I have one national grocery store chain to shop in that doesn't include Wal-Mart (which is a WHOLE other story). Just Kroger...and some insanely expensive local grocery stores. Just an FYI "big-chain-stores", there are people in Detroit suburbs that don't live in the ghetto! Where the hell am I supposed to get my food??

Reason #2: There is no "off" time to go grocery shopping to avoid the crowds. I've gone first thing in the morning, weekend evenings, late at night, week days. It doesn't matter. I run into old bitties who are worried that I'm going to cut in line at the deli counter, annoying women that park their carts in front of the WHOLE cheese section, people who will literally hip-check you to get to the last "buy-1-get-1" steak. And I can't do a damn thing about it here because as The Hubs says, "it's Detroit, they could shoot you."

Reason #3: Apparently The Hubs and I don't have "Michigan" taste in food. I have to go 20 minutes away to the fancy part of town in order to get the selection I need for just normal stuff we eat. Even Boulder Chips are in the "healthy" aisle. Really? The bags are next to the Kashi cereal and fruit leathers. I never thought I'd be one of "those" people where asking for fresh mozzarella and Boulder Chips elicited looks from store clerks that basically said I'm a Prius Driving, fabric bag toting, tree hugging hippy. What a difference 1400 miles makes. In Denver we were chastized because we didn't eat organic all the time or grow our own hemp to make clothes. Here, you may as well call me crunchy. Go figure.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday (TWO days late)

Whoops, two days late this time!

1. I really need to start focusing on working out now that Graham has a more predictable napping schedule.
2. I'm so glad it rained all night!
3. I believe the "shake weight" is so phallic there's NO WAY the makers of it didn't realize it when they started the marketing.
4. My banana bread didn't turn out well.
5. I need a vacation.
6. I'm bummed I missed ladies night.
7. I want to read another book.
8. My neighbor's 100-year-old tree broke and half of it fell down yesterday. It made the loudest noise and it's quite impressive. Good thing it fell in the yard!
9. I'm annoyed with my touch-screen phone.
10. I'm mad Steve got to go to Fenway.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday (a day late)

1. I have no motivation to do all the laundry.
2. I need to do the laundry because we have two sets of people coming to our house this weekend.
3. I hate that my laundry room is in the basement.
4. Graham is getting closer to crawling, he can get up on all 4's now!
5. We're under an extreme heat warning until Friday, ugh.
6. I started making pacifier clips to sell on Etsy.
7. I can't believe Graham is almost 8 months old.
8. I'm excited for Mandi to be here this weekend!
9. I'm ridiculously obsessed with my Shark Steam Mop.
10. I want a cupcake.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Card

The only funny thing (or any thing) I'll say about Casey Anthony.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday

1. I finished my first whole book since Graham was born and it felt great!
2. I'm so sick of this dry heat we've been getting in Michigan, ugh.
3. I refuse to buy new clothes until I've lost the baby weight.
4. Television in the summer sucks, Netflix has become my new best friend to do chores to.
5. I'm ashamed to admit the other night when I felt something wet on my side where Graham was sitting, I was relieved to find it was only puke.
6. I can't wait for Fall.
7. I might want a tattoo.
8. I'm pissed the phone cover I bought cracked when I dropped my phone...on carpet...from two feet off the ground.
9. Graham looks like a jarhead because his hair is only coming in on top.
10. I love my Saturn Vue.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

10 Things Tuesday

1: We took Graham to the Detroit Zoo for the first time on Sunday.
2: He loved the penguins.
3: I hate not having sprinklers and having to hand water everything.
4: I'm craving doughnuts.
5: I love hamburgers on the grill and tater tots for dinner.
6: I wish I had more time to read books again.
7: Somehow I actually miss getting up and going to work sometimes.
8: I'm excited for our first playdate tomorrow with a lady I met through a baby class.
9: I love my house but we need more space...badly.
10: I miss my old friends this week more than normal.

Monday, May 23, 2011

URG!!!

Who steals someone's stuff?? I woke up yesterday morning to find my purse inside out on my porch. That's never a good sign. Then I realized I'd left it in the car...which we accidentally left unlocked. Graham was throwing a fit when we got home from the grocery store and it slipped our minds because we were busy trying to settle him back down. He's teething and sometimes he can be a handful.

Anyway, some assholes went around the neighborhood last night stealing people's stuff and unfortunately that was the night we left the car unlocked and the purse in there. They stole my wallet and digital camera but left the rest of the purse, which is weird. Luckily my ID and debit card were in a different wallet in the house but they got my credit cards, rewards cards, library card, gift cards, appointment reminders, business cards for other people, etc. PLUS, the memory card in my digital camera had about 2 years worth of photos on it, including some photos from the NICU. :(

It just breaks my heart and makes me so mad at myself. But I guess when you're a mom things just slip your mind. The cop taking the police report said if she had a dollar for every time she left something important somewhere when her kids were little she wouldn't have to be a cop. It just sucks. There was no cash in the wallet and the camera would probably only sell for about $25. I want to just tell the thief "F*^$ you! Next time you come to steal my stuff, let me know. I'll slip a $20 under the door mat and you can have that; it'll be worth more than what you stole. And give me my memory card back, asshole!"

Why do people do stuff like that? How incredibly rude. Sometimes, I just hate people.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Life According To....

Mariah Carey this week.

Are you Male or Female:
"Your Girl"

Describe yourself:
"Butterfly"

How do you feel:
"Against All Odds"

Describe where you currently live:
"Migrate"

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
"Underneath the Stars"

Your favorite form of transportation:
"Fly Away"

Your best friend is:
"All I've Ever Wanted"

You and your best friends are:
"Miss You"

What's the weather like:
"Wind"

Favorite time of day:
"Just to Hold you Once Again"

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
"Through the Rain"

What is life to you:
"Reflections"

Your last relationship:
"It's a Wrap"

Your fear:
"Everything Fades Away"

What is the best advice you have to give:
"Anytime You Need a Friend"

Thought for the Day:
"Always Be My Baby"

How I would like to die:
"Joy Ride"

March for Babies

LOVE THIS!! Flash mob of pregnant women for the March for Babies kick-off yesterday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Changed For Life

Munchkin is home now and it's marvelous, scary, exciting, and beyond what I ever could've imagined. But don't assume just because he's home, everything is better and I'm just a regular new mom. We have two reflux meds we have to give him; one is once a day by oral syringe that has to be expertly timed between two meals, the other is 3 times a day. One of the meds makes his extremely gassy so he's on gas drops as well. He's on a multivitamin with iron because he's somewhat anemic because preemies grow too fast for their red bloodcell count to keep up. He has to stay upright for 30-40 minutes after a feed so he doesn't spit everything back up.

Since his system is still underdeveloped, any small cold could go right to the lungs and land him back in the hospital.

But what I know is that he's an amazing kid, stronger than I ever imagined or could hope for.

I also know that I will never be the same after the start my son had. I have an eternal soft spot for sick babies above and beyond just normal concern. I personalize every time I hear of a baby sick, especially a preemie or one that ends up in the hospital. I cry every time I hear someone is having their baby way too early because it brings back my own terror and I literally hurt for what they're about to endure.

I will always be the mother of a preemie, always. Even if he's 6'1 and 30 years old, he's still my 2lb 7oz feisty 29-week preemie.

I look back at pictures of his first few hours, days and weeks on this earth and realize just how early he was, just how small and fragile he was, and just how close the two of us were to losing everything; both of us were in peril and it could've gone either way.

But the little Munchkin is almost 4 months old and currently weighs in at 8lbs 14oz, 6 1/2 pounds more than his birth weight. We're still battling his reflux; he's on a new medication which makes his super gassy but some other moms with babies on this med said that passes after the initial few weeks. He's been a little under the weather the last day or so but we'll see how things pan out.

He's a fighter and getting to so big.

He can hold his head up pretty well, if you hold him up he can flex his legs and stand up on your legs. He likes basketball, loves being held and loves his tummy time. He's on the verge of smiling; any day now. He has several chins, huge blue eyes and his hair in any given light is dark brown, auburn or blonde, lol. He loves to feel soft things like blankets and sweaters. He loves the skylights in our bedroom.

I will never be the same after the last 4 months; not just because I'm a new mom but because of the way it all happened. It wasn't the fun way or the preferred way, but it was our way and it's made us who we are now.


 45 minutes old. Notice the pacifier in relation to his tiny head.



 About a day old.






Munchkin at 3 months. :) My big boy. Notice the size of the pacifier to his head now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preemie Moms

How Preemie Moms Are Chosen~*~(Erma Bombeck)
Did you ever wonder how the mothers of premature babies are chosen?Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth, selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia. Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity.

"Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a preemie."The angel is curious.

"Why this one, God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a premature baby a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel."

"But does she have the patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."

"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect She has just the right amount of selfishness."

The angel gasps, "Selfishness?! Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see-- ignorance, cruelty, prejudice-- and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."

"And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.

God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cooler Rules

Since Munchkin has been in the NICU I've been pumping breast milk and bringing it to the hospital in a cooler. However, more times than not I forget to put the ice packs in the freezer so I have to improvise.

Frozen peas and corn work the best because it's small and has little pellets that form to the milk bottles. Broccoli shouldn't be the first option because it makes the whole cooler smell like...well, broccoli. And definitely don't use ice in ziploc bags because the ice melts and the bags leak all over the place.

Word to the wise, don't forget to put the ice pack in the freezer!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Praise You in This Storm
-Casting Crowns

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

Chorus:
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

Chorus

I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

Chorus


I feel like I'm drowning sometimes. Every time something starts going well it seems something else happens and we have a set back. If feels like we've been in the NICU longer than everyone else and other kids born at 29 weeks have gone home before us. I not only want him home, I want him to be doing well. I don't want him struggling anymore and I'm getting frustrated. He's being so strong and fighting and I need to stay strong and fight. None of this has been easy, none of this has been fun. The only consolation is seeing his little face every day and watching him grow. He WILL come home, he WILL thrive past this but right now it's been the longest 7 weeks of my life.

Please God, get us out of this storm. Why does it have to keep raining on my boy? Let us see the brighter days soon, please.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Admitting

They say admittance is the first step towards recovery. I have a lot to recover from and have been trying not to admit painful things. Even though I live in the middle of it every day I try not to let the truth creep in, but it's time to start admitting things so I can start to recover from the last 8 weeks (and counting).

Even though it hurts to admit it, I admit:
-I am the mother of a preemie, born 11 weeks and 1 day early.
-I have been terrified for eight straight weeks, since the day they told me Munchkin was coming out early.
-I have cried more the last 8 weeks than I remember ever crying.
-I miss my grandfather so terribly it hurts.
-I believe with my whole heart that my grandfather is in the hospital watching over Munchkin.
-I ask myself and God constantly "why did this have to happen to US?"
-I feel jipped of the normal, exciting pregnancy and birth experience.
-I am not, and never again will be, the person I was when I was 29weeks and 2 days pregnant (the day before I was admitted to the hospital). That woman doesn't exist anymore.
-I live by the quote "You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option."
-I'm about to my breaking point and don't know how much more I can shoulder.
-I also know I have no breaking point and I'll shoulder this until I don't have to anymore.
-My faith in God has been shaken but alternately it's been strengthened. I don't know how to get through this without him.
-I will never NOT be a NICU mom. We will graduate from the NICU but I will ALWAYS be a NICU mom; it will never go away from my heart, my soul or my sons beginning.
-I'm terrified.
-I've met some absolutely wonderful people I wish I never had to meet. We all belong to the tight-knit fraternity no one wants to belong to; preemie parents.
-I did nothing wrong to make this happen but I hate the fact my body couldn't handle the end of my pregnancy.
-This has been the most challenging, hardest, rewarding, strange thing that's ever happened.
-I no longer take things for granted. I had no idea how lucky I was to be ignorant and oblivious to the plight of NICU parents.
-I get mad and jealous of the women who are still ignorant and oblivious to this side of having a baby. They have no idea how lucky they are.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hard Day

Today was a hard day. Munchkin had a fabulous day and that definitely helps (read about him at the link on the left of my page) but I still had a down day. Sometimes I'm happy and joking and laughing; sometimes I'm sad and low and crying. A lot of times both of those can happen within the same hour.

The drives to the NICU are hard and I'm not sure why. I cry almost every day as I drive there to see my son. It's not always necesarily crying for Munchkin, just crying for the enormity of all that I've been through and continue to go through. It seems like every day is a different thing I'm going through.

Today, I miss my grandfather and I'm reliving the terror of the night I was admitted to the hospital. I tried sleeping last night but I felt like I couldn't breathe. My mind kept reliving the 36 hours before I was admitted and I could literally feel those hours; the liver pain that we mistook for reflux, the long, agonizing drive to the hospital filled with pain, the fact we were being admitted and the frightening fact that my pregnancy was rapidly coming to an end 10 weeks early.

And I miss my grandfather terribly. Mentally he's been gone for many years but that doesn't mean his death was any easier to take. I can't imagine this world without my amazing grandfather. I didn't want Munchkin to never know his great-grandfather's laugh and his mischevious smile. Munchkin has that smile and when he randomly smiles in his isolette I imagine my grandfather whispering jokes to him. They have their own inside jokes I think.

Munchkin is doing amazing today. He had a rough few days with his breathing and his events but they found some fluid in his lungs, got rid of it and now he's doing great. He's breathing much better even than before and having very few events. His brain is starting to develop much more and he's getting bigger every day. When he does well it makes me feel so much better.

But I can't shake everything that has happened. I think in light of all that happened all at the same time, I'm handling things quite well. I just can't escape the things that happened and the trauma I went through. I have a grieving process that never got to take place for my grandfather but also for other things. I need to know how to grieve the end of my pregnancy being taken away; I need to grieve the "normal" event labor should've been and the joyous event it usually is and the fact we got neither of those.

Seeing other moms leave the hospital with their babies 2 days after they had them is hard. It seems almost every time I go to the hospital there is a mom and a dad with goofy grins on their faces going home with their brand new baby. Me on the other hand, I'm on my way in to see my son who has been there for 5 weeks and counting. I know I will get my day when Munchkin comes home and it'll be one of the best days ever but I had to work for it a hell of a lot harder than most people. I will be one of those goofy grinned people soon but in the meantime it's hard to watch those other new parents go home with no idea how much it hurts to watch them be oblivious to any other outcome.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Don't Call Me Tiny

I know my son is small. He was born at 30 weeks weighing 2lb 7oz. I know he's smaller than a newborn. You know why? Because he's a preemie and preemies are small. When you look at a photo of him, don't let the first thing out of your mouth be "oh, he's so tiny!" I know he's tiny.

When you see a newborn baby what do you say? You comment on the amount of hair, their cheeks, their eyes or facial expressions. You comment about how cute they are whether you actually mean that or not becaue let's be honest, sometimes it's just lip service. We all know "those" newborns.

How about next time I see your kid I comment on something that's super obvious. You show me your kid and I say "Oh, their head is so big!" or "MY oh MY that's a large child.

Sound good?

Monday, January 03, 2011

This is My December

December was a bad month. To spare some details, let me summarize the shitty month that ended my 2010. My beloved grandfather finally lost his battle with alzheimer's. I was completely torn up and not ready to grieve the great loss. My heart ached for the fact the world lost this man and I lost my wonderful grandfather. Although he had been mentally gone for a long time due to the dimentia and alzheimers, he was still my awesome grandfather who made growing up so fun and exciting.

Two days after his passing, still grieving, I started to get what I thought was severe acid reflux. For two nights I didn't sleep because of this awful pain and on Sunday December 5 I went to Labor and Delivery triage for a pain cocktail as prescribed by my doctor who was meeting us there. Minor annoyance but all in the name of pregnancy. Well, not quite.

Once we got there and they started taking vitals and bloodwork they diagnosed me with Pre-Eclampsia. My blood pressure was sky rocketing and they had to admit me to the hospital. We then heard the most terrifying words we'd ever heard; "We hope to keep your son in for 48 more hours but we'll see how it goes." I've never heard anything more awful in my life. I was barely 29 weeks pregnant and they hoped to keep my son in for 48 more HOURS??

In a few short hours they diagnosed me with severe pre-e and severe HELLP Syndrome. Basically my liver was failing and self-destructing, my platelets were falling making it easier to bleed out and my blood pressure was so high they had to put me on a magnesium IV so I didn't have a stroke. Unfortunately the mag makes you feel like you have the flu but worse. My face felt like it was on fire and I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.

I got two steroid shots but I kept getting worse and worse. Even sitting still my blood pressure would skyrocket to over 200/110. Even though I was getting worse I held on for four more days to give the baby the best chance at survival. I got him to 29 weeks 4 days pregnant when I started to take an even worse turn. My doctor told me at that point I was so bad they needed to take him out or I would die.

They prepped me for the csection and I've never been so scared. I was only 7 months pregnant, how was this happening??

 He weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces and he came out crying. They told us to expect him not to cry, it didn't mean he was dead it's just that he was so early they had no idea how formed his lungs would be.  But he was yelling his head off; the sweetest sound I've ever heard. He immediately peed on my doctor. And I shed my first tear in 4 days. He was out in the world and it was so bittersweet. He should've still been inside. I should've been able to protect him better. But his cry was strong and that was music to my ears.



They whisked him away to the NICU and sewed me up. They took me to the intensive care recovery room to monitor me for 4 hours to make sure I didn't bleed out due to the HELLP.

The only way to stop the HELLP Syndrome is to deliver the baby but with severe HELLP, that isn't enough to stop the syndrome. I kept getting worse after he was out and was in the hospital for 6 more days. I wasn't able to see Munchkin until his 3rd day which almost killed me. I wanted to see him so bad but my blood pressure wouldn't stabilize enough to let me get out of bed. Finally my nurse got a lower pressure reading and snuck me down to the NICU so I could finally meet and hold my son.



It was an incredibly scary, traumatic experience but our son is doing amazingly well in the NICU. I'll post some updates later but he's doing so well, I couldn't ask for a stronger, more feisty child. He's fantastic and the light of our lives.