New Hurtles on our Journey

The past few months Baby C and I have been battling a new hurdle for me... Tongue Tie... 
Seriously! What's next?   Thankfully I have a very supportive partner and that has made all the difference with all of the hurdles that have come my way.
A few months ago I was getting a little worried about Baby C's weight gain.  I kept looking for the fat rolls that weren't coming.  I looked at pictures of his siblings at his age and noticed Baby K didn't have any rolls then either, which should have been more of a warning since she has a lip tie.  Around this time I also noticed a groin hernia and he seemed to be a bit fussy. We went into the Ped to discover that at 2 months he had only gained 1 lb since birth.  




This sent us both into a panic, so much so that her first suggestion was to put him on formula.  She knows me, and knows how I feel about formula.  I also knew that my milk was not the issue.  I called the IBCLC that day and set up an appointment.  Until we could meet I "Triple Fed", this meant feeding one side while pumping the other, swapping sides and then bottle feeding whatever was pumped.   This was a long exhausting process.  Especially with the older 3 running around and attempting to get school work done.  At one point I actually broke my hand pump, and once I had my old electric double pump.. I was attached to the wall for at 15-30minutes every 3-4 hours.  
I met the IBCLC at the Pediatric Dentist's office where both confirmed the tie. Baby C was diagnosed with a Stage 3 Posterior Tounge Tie.  He wasn't getting much milk transfer from latching and would spit up much of what he did get.  
The Dentist suggested we go see a Speech Therapist for evaluation and therapies for the tie, which was made easier since Lil C already has weekly therapies.  Baby C was also getting weekly weight checks and his weight had been slowly increasing thanks to the triple feeds, but the stress and exhaustion of the feeds did make me consider formula a few times. 


Meanwhile we had the appointment about his hernia.  The Surgon didn't really see a tie but assured me that he could do that too when he did the repair.  Good news right? Instead of being awake he could be asleep and we could deal with all the painful stuff at once.
After he came out of the hernia repair the surgon informed me that he had had 2 hernia (both now repaired) and that he couldn't get a Pediatric ENT to come look, but the plastic surgeon looked at it and he didn't think it looked like a tie either, so he didn't clip it.  I almost broke down in tears.  I informed him that his problem wasn't length but that it was to thick.  "Besides he doesn't have any weight gain issue."  I managed not to smack him. But I all but yelled at him that he was only gaining weight due to the triple feeds.   He suggested we see a pediatric ENT or a Speech Therapist.  When I told him we had seen a Pediatric dentist and a Speech Therapist he asked what she said.. and when I curtly replied that she confirmed it... well the look on his face can only be described as "Cat got your tounge" 
After Baby C healed from the repair I was hoping he had gotten big enough and strong enough (like Baby K did) that he didn't need all the triple feeds, I started slacking.. and at his weight check, his weight had slowed way down.   So I scheduled the clip with the Pediatric Dentist.  
He didn't fuss to much and for the first time he fully drained me and barely spit up.  Plus the spit up was mostly clear.  Since the repair a week ago he has gained 1 lb and gotten back on the growth curve.  His spit-ups aren't every feeding and most of the feeding anymore.  And best of all, he finally has fat rolls.  


Happy World Breastfeeding Week Ya'll! 

And baby makes 6

Those who have been following on Instagram have been aware of my pregnancy and birth, but there is much more to the story.  
My pregnancy went fairly well with the complications of my history with 1  2  and 3 plus I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and later got a positive strep B test. 
This time I had a new doctor and a new hospital.  Both were "VBAC friendly" which is more difficult to find due to my history.  I did get one key bit of information that I had never been told before.  My new OB told me to get a Doula.  "Hospitals don't take VBACs seriously without a Doula".  It was like a key clicking into place, although my husband did not understand it.   My Doula requires her clients to take Bradley birth classes, which my husband wasn't to happy about either.  It became our weekly night-off from the kids and allowed the kids to get used to my parents putting them to bed.  I learned a ton that I didn't realize I didn't know going into the class, with the exclusion of the breastfeeding class.. there I just tried to keep my answers short to be polite to the IBCLC guest speaker. 😉
Around 3am on a Thursday morning the contractions started.  When they talk about how you can't sleep through them... they aren't kidding.  I got no sleep once they started.  They would wake me up and then by the time I would get my brain calmed to try and get back to sleep.. the next one would start.  
At around 5am, I gave up and just got up.  I tried to wait a bit but spent most of the morning clutching the couch through contractions.   Then I texted my sister, who had herself done 40 hours completely natural.  Laboring was a first for me.  
I wasn't able to wait until 8:30 to call my Dad though.. only until 7:30 shortly after one of the kids sat on my head during a contraction...  that was.. unpleasant. Unfortunately this did also set off my mom's worry.  Around this same time I texted my Doula and one of the ladies from church to start the prayer chain, since I am high risk after all. 
Soon after my father came and picked up the kids, followed by my sister's arrival. This allowed me to snack a little and get a shower.  My contractions did calm down and space out a bit at this time.   It was very nice to have her there as psychological support and she knew just what to say to keep me from worrying about everyone else.  
I was able to get dressed before my doula got there.  I kept hugging the couch during contractions until she suggested trying to sit upright on the ball, which did seem to intensify the contractions but they still hadn't got into a regular pattern.  Our goal was to get me into a regular pattern and late stage labor before I went in to the hospital.  Due to my history we knew that we would want to be at the hospital as soon as possible after my labor broke and for transition.  
 After laboring that way for a bit we went in my room and tried the peanut ball for over an hour, but because I  had been awake so early, I kept yawning.  The doula said that I should try and get a nap since I was obviously tired to be yawning during labor. 😝
After a short nap I joined everyone back in the living room and the contractions became much more regular. It was very obvious that the nap was needed.  I did most of my contracting on the ball.  We did try a bit of leaning on the ball and my doula did a bit of hip squeeze and hot rice pack, which was nice.  Shortly around this time I went to the bathroom and saw a little blood which actually made us a bit excited (once I got over the shock and my doula assured me it was my "bloody show") 
At one point I laid down on our loveseat to try to labor in that position for a bit.. and then my water broke.  This one was very different from when my water broke with Lil'K which felt like a popping balloon and someone else peeing in my pants.   This felt more like a snapping and spiking pain. The flow from it was much faster as well.  At this point everyone went into hurried mode... except me.  The pain greatly increased and I could only move at a snail pace.  My doula worried about the couch, but thankfully when my mom re-upholstered it for me she had added a waterproof layer.  Which is why I picked that couch to try and side-lay on.  Once we were in the car my husband and I had to try and figure out where I had put the OB's number so we could call her and let her know we were on our way so she could meet us.  I really didn't want any other OB to deliver me since I have had such poor experiences with OBs.  
During the drive my pain steadily increased and never fully went away.  Every contraction the pain level increased.  I told my husband that this must be transition since it was so intense.  I was clinging to my Boppy and trying to find the least painful position while staying in the seatbelt.  It is also the first time I have tried to get my husband to drive faster.  The pain was so intense that I told him I finally understood why someone would choose a c-section.  Humming was the only thing I could do to temper the pain.  This is when I started suspecting something wasn't right. 
When we finally arrived at the hospital parking lot my Doula and sister both came to my door but I was in the middle of a contraction and could not move.  I just clung to my sister for a minute until the contraction subsided and I could shuffle my way to the door.  
I was asked if I needed a wheelchair and quickly accepted. Shortly before or after that I had another contraction and clung onto my sister, which is where my Doula suspected I was rupturing.  After I got in the chair I clutched my Boppy in front of me and was pushed into the L&D department, I think my husband was pushing me but I am not sure.  I vaguely remember my Doula explaining my case to the nurses. I do remember seeing my OB's face and being very releaved to see her there.  I was taken in the room but could not move much.  I could only stand to be on all fours.   The nurses had to put my monitors on with me in this position.  At this point I was clinging to the hope that all the pain was my cervix opening since I had never experienced it before.  
My OB did have me turn over to check my cervix, all of us hoping that I was just having intense transition but all of us suspecting that I wasn't.  At this point I was thinking clearly but unable to speak due to the intense pain.  When she checked I was only 4cm and at  every contraction his heart rate would dip to 50.  The three of us all knew that I needed the c-section but being unable to speak I consented to the section via sign language.  Which ended up simplifying to a thumbs up because everyone else's sign language needs work. 😜
Signing the consent form was probably the worst signiture I have ever written.  
Shortly after my bed was pushed down the hall leaving my Doula, sister and husband behind, this was the first time in our 10 years together that he was afraid for my life.  All I was thinking was for them to hurry and knock me out, just knock me out. 
When in the OR I had to transfer to the operating table.  The anisesheologust at my head putting the mask on me telling me to breathe slowly.  I am trying to breathe deeply because I want to be out quickly.  My OB was at my side and there was a fury of movement around the OR.  
When I woke back in the room 3 hours later I asked my sister if I still had my overies, because I was worried about going into menopause.  Baby C was on my chest trying to snuggle and nurse. 
 
But there were some complications and it took a few days to piece together what had happened.  
Apparently after Baby K's scheduled section my bladder had adheared to my uterus.  During the pregnancy it had slowly stretched along with my uterus to the point that it was underneath my belly button.  I suspect the rupture began when my water broke and continued to expand with each contraction.  In the OR I had the classic "double bump" of a rupture.  Once she opened me up she had to pause for a second to try and figure out what she was seeing.  My uterus and bladder had split so much that Baby C was in my bladder up to his shoulders.   She cut the other side of my bladder and pulled Baby C all the way through.   He was checked and brought to my husband.  Which was the second time he has ever been afraid for my life.  The nurses said Baby C was the most vigorous section baby they had ever seen.  
Around this time they called the urology surgeon from surgery at another local hospital.  They had to pause that surgery and he came over to put me back together.   He said he had never seen anything like it.  
I had to use a cath bag for 2 weeks to allow my bladder to heal.  Unfortunately the clots from the healing clogged it up a few times and had to be irrigated.  The spasms that accompanied the clots were almost as painful as the rupture.  This did require an extra speeding run to the hospital where we left Baby C behind and my mom followed with him.  I ended up "walking" into the ER crying for help when the clot suddenly broke loose and I just broke down crying. They had to flush out the clots and sent me home.  The clots and accompanying spasms were as painful as the rupture.  I am very glad to be rid of it.
Although I went through all of that, I would do it again.  This has been the first time I have not required PPD meds.  I only had a slight "baby blues" and had the meds "just in case" in my medicine cabinet.  I think the laboring truly made the difference.  We do know that the laboring did save our lives.  The contractions woke him up and put him near the surface.  Either way my bladder would have been cut open but I likely would have bled more, had a full bladder and they would have had to find/get to my womb beneath/around my bladder.  Surprisingly I didn't really hemorage and only lost the same amount of blood as a normal section.  They did expect me to lose more so had the fluids wide open, which made my feet really swollen and that took a few weeks to go down to normal.  Of all of my deliveries, it was the least psychologically traumatic, which should say something about the previous two.  This time I was the decision maker, not someone to be "handled" or talked down to.  I was treated as an intelligent respected  adult by my OB.  The way she treated me has made all the difference in my emotional state post delivery.  Shouldn't that be how it is? 

Watch for more pics of Baby C and all the toadlets on Instagram

Surviving the NICU: with your marriage

NICU parents face so many struggles.  Fear, hurt, understanding, knowledge, patience and so much more.

One area that is frequently forgotten.. Is marrage.  So much time and energy is placed on dealing with the medical and the sick baby that the relationship between mom and dad can get forgotten or placed on the back burner for far to long.  NICU parents have a very high divorce rate, most places state 97% (some say as low as 90, but I can't find any studies).  Also aparently the longer you are in the NICU.. The higher the risk, we were in 175 days. 
So what can you do about it?  The first thing is to be aware.  You have to know a struggle is there to be able to battle it. 
We have watched many of our NICU friends separate after spending time in the NICU. We are currently 5 years out from our NICU time but still have the "special needs child" risk which is also high (although it may be a myth!)
Our marrage and ourselves are far from perfect, and we both admit that. 
A few things you can do-
Avoid blame!:
This is very important.  Daddy C could blame me for the heart condition (since I was on clomid and heart conditions run in my family).  We could blame each other for the Pre-Eclampsia since that is in both our families.  We could nit-pick back and forth about what we could have done diffrently to change the outcome, but none of this is helpful. It mearly creates strife and division.  This also includes trying not to blame yourself, if there is nothing you can do about it now, then it is not helpful.  Use your time and energy to focus on what you CAN do, such as googling what you can do to improve long term outcomes and/or pumping. 
Teamwork:
Just like in every marrage you should develop a team mentality.  The tasks you divide up will be NICU specific issues, but need to be geared toward each of your strengths.   I like to have information so I did (and still do!) most of the communicating with the doctors and nurses.  I keep track of meds, history and goals.  My husband is better at dealing with emotionally charged situations or where our son has to do something that will be painful.  For example I would step out of the NICU during eye exams and my husband would stay with him.  He is also the one who usually holds him during IVs.  We even worked as a team when it came to pumping, in the early days he would deliver the tiny syringes of milk.  Later he would take the night pumpings to the fridge and carry the frozen milk to the NICU when they needed a fresh supply.   He also took on the job of cleaning and sanitizing the pump.
Take turns:
When you are having baby time, take turns. We would swap turns at each care time, I would get the first turn of the day and he usually got the last (I need more sleep). When it came time to do kangaroo care, we swapped then too. When we had only one per day, I got it because I needed it to help me keep/build my supply (except for Father's Day, which was my gift), but when we went up to two, he got the second.  Then I the third and so on.
Date night: 
About once a month or so, we would miss one care (so hard!) to go on a date night.  Sometimes it was just a meal, but Daddy C is a movie geek, so going to a movie meant a lot for him.  Whatever works for ya'll.  Our first date night was a few weeks in when our church youth group went to a concert in the city that our NICU was in and took us along.  It was their way of getting us out of the NICU for a few hours. Lil'C was having a good day, so we went. I still remember it fondly and am glad we went. 
Strengthen the foundation: 
A weak foundation is hard on any marriage, but being in a highly stressful situation such as the NICU can really exasperate any weak areas.  We have done a few "marriage courses" over the years, even before we were pregnant.   We both hold firmly to the idea that there is always room for improvement any ANY marriage and that NO marriage is perfect.   No "happily ever after" princess here., "I Do" is a starting gun not a finish line. 
A few we have liked: 
Captivating and Wild at Heart (not marriage per say but helps you understand your own weaknesses, highly suggest it first)
Prepare to last (We did this in a church group)
Fireproof (in process) 
I have also read blogs (Pinterest!) and  books when we run into an issue.
I like the book The Surrendered Wife,  even though I hate the title and don't agree completely but I think she makes some valid points.  
I love finding free kindle books (even if I don't fully agree with the author, I usually find a new perspective.) They change frequently, so search.
Fix the finances:
The #1 cause of divorce is money trouble.. Or fighting about finances.  And NICU time is EXPENSIVE, and with therapies, Doctor appointments and being medically fragile.. It doesn't get much better.  So I highly suggest Dave Ramesy.  We had already read some of his books and we also were gifted his financial peace class, and that seriously brought some peace.  We have WAY less arguments in our home now and we are on Baby Step 2, we have a way to go but we are getting there! 

I hope these tips help strengthen your marriage and your marriage defies the odds just like your little one!

Do you have any tips for me? 

Eviction Number Three

I know it has been over 6 months since my last post.. It has taken me this long to hopefully be able to complete this post.
Attempting to hold it together for photos
On July 14 I went in for a very much unwanted scheduled C-section.  My OB was going out of town and there was no other OB in the area that I even slightly trusted to even touch me, much less deliver my baby.   I was angry and dreading the surgery, seriously not how you should feel when looking to meeting your child.
My sister was my "doula" and my husband was also there.  When we got there we realized we had not taken any "bump" pictures, so we took some quickly.
 We went in and found out they had given away my room because they expected us to arrive at 8am, while my Dr had told us to arrive at anytime..  I immediately wanted to leave.  The nurse seemed a bit angry that we were "late",  my sister stepped out of the room where she went to the nurses station and politely (from what I was told) and explained that we were a hospital family and I really did not want to be having the section, but was not given a choice in the matter.
We  waited in the prep room, next to a woman in actual labor with the nurse and my sister telling jokes to keep my mind off of it.   We kept being told "a few more minutes"  "uh oh.. someone got pushed ahead"  so I didn't actually go back until 3.  That gave us enough time for them to eat and my sister to braid my hair since I knew it would be a little while until I would be able to shower.
We went over my birth plan (I used this one as a starting point and adjusted it for us) and they assured us that they would attempt to accommodate our wishes.  I swear they thought I was the crazy natural mama up for the section, but after my sister's talk with the nurses they were all really kind to us, almost pitying.
When I finally went back I was scared and worried the entire time.  I really hate getting epidurals... the cold room, the pain, the worry that if they slip up I could be paralyzed, spinal headaches... etc.   Then I was staring at the same ceiling tiles as I was at Lil'K's delivery and thinking that if that Dr hadn't been an idiot then I wouldn't be forced to do this section..
Skin-to-Skin in the OR
 My hubby came in and was allowed to look over the curtain and my sister stood at the door, both got to watch my uterus pulled out, while I looked at the bugs inside the florescent lights.   There was the usual pushing and tugging and to do a "delayed" cord clamping they laid her on my legs and did whatever else it is for as long as they could until the placenta began to separate.  Then they cut the cord, and brought her to me so we could skin to skin.  Unfortunately, due to the epidural I had weakness in my arms and had trouble moving them.  My husband was not by my side at this moment and I have no idea why.  The neonatologist had to help me adjust her because her face was in my neck.
 She was cleaned up and hubby got to trim the cord, which was actually a first for us.  He stayed with her until she was reunited with me in the room.  I of course was numb and unable to move my legs for many hours.  I remember them doing the final clean up and after they removed the curtian being shocked that my legs weren't straight like I thought they were.  When I was back in the room my hubby was able to stay with me,  and my parents brought Lil'C and Lil'K to meet their new baby sister, Baby K.   They both wanted to climb on my lap and cuddle but we of course had to be careful since I couldn't move or feel if they were hurting me.
Lil'K and Baby K
 
 Lil'C and Baby K

Baby wearing less than 24hours after Section.
After the epidural wore off enough I was able to get around a bit, very very slowly.  Baby K did end up having some trouble with holding her temperature and there was talk of putting her in a warmer.  First I grabbed my sling and stuck her on me, where she stayed the rest of the time there.. even at night.  That is something I would only do in a hospital setting since the nurses come in frequently and I am an experienced co-sleeper.  Still worried me but her temperature stayed 1/2 a degree from mine for the rest of our stay.
 The biggest worry I had was going home, and being home most of the day by myself with 3 little ones while healing from the surgery.  Due to Lil'K's affinity for flopping, that did become a worry.  She landed on me once so hard that I screamed and my sister had to pull her off.  I was in tears it hurt so bad.. and I was on pain meds at the time.  
At 5Lb 15oz She was my largest baby. 
She has gotten much bigger in 6 months
I do wonder if I could have done it differently, my scar was thinning but that isn't a huge deal.  If only I had been allowed to attempt a VBAC with Lil'K then maybe I would have been able to do the same with Baby K.  The crazy part is that the risk levels of a VBAC at Lil'K is less of a risk than a 3rd section and they knew I wanted a third child.  It just feels unethical to me and a bit crazy.
My post-pain is worse now as well.  My scar is in almost constant pain along with my upper right thigh,  there is also some numbing at the upper part of it (the pain goes around the edges of the numbing).   It just all feels so unnecessary and a bit unfair to my girls and myself.  So now I have had one necessary and life saving c-section, and two unnecessary ones.
Baby K is growing and is a very happy little person,  for that I am blessed.


Scheduled Eviction

By time this posts I will be going to have major surgery.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I am 9 months pregnant with our third child Baby K.   I haven't posted much for two reasons: 1. We didn't know we were expecting until the second trimester, 2. Pregnancy kinna freaks me out since for me it is a potentially life threatening situation.  I really avoid thinking about it, and the closer we get to the section tomorrow, the more frightened I become.  My PTSD has really been acting up and I know it will come to a head tomorrow in the OR.

Due to where I live and finances my options are extremely limited.  I'm actually a bit jealous of some of the mom's in my special scars group  who have VBAC supportive hospitals, and a VBAC supportive OB/midwife.  I actually found the most VBAC supportive OB in the area but the hospital he delivers at has a strict anti-VBAC policy.  I searched the area for a midwife but couldn't find one, even though I doubt we would have been able to afford one anyway.   The closer we have gotten to the section date the more I understand why some women choose unassisted home births, but I feel that is far to risky in my situation.  
One of the things that many of the Special Scars women face is a OB who says they are VBAC friendly and then switch at the last minute.  I seem to have accidentally done the opposite with my OB.  He asked me what the goal was and I told him that I wanted to go into labor on my own.  Which is the least of what I wanted to do.  I also wanted a trial-of-labor and optimum being a VBAC.  Due to my history I know that induction is far to risky so I would have to go into labor on my own within the next 20 hours to do that, which feels very unlikely.  I know many just say, don't show up tomorrow (including DH) but the problem with that is that my OB is going out of town and if I did go into labor I would be forced to use one of his partners... And that didn't go so well last time.... 
I really think OBs should do a round of pediatrics during their med school training, there is one thing that pediatrics do better than any other division of the medical field.. Psychology in medicine.   Pediatrics remembers that how a patient feels, effects how they heal and must be taken into account.  I think OBs are frequently the worst.  A mom is seen strictly as a problem to be solved: get the kid out. So many women are ending up like myself with traumatic births because of it.   Getting the kid out isn't the end of the equation.   
I actually pointed this out to my OB the other day.  After I am delivered, I will have to go home and care for 3 small children all alone.  Sure I have a supportive husband who will help when he is home, but he doesn't (nor could we afford) paternity leave.  My 4 year old (Lil'C) will still need to go to therapy, or risk loosing it.  He frequently needs to be carried, and picked up since he falls a lot.  My 2 year old (Lil'K) will still want to play and "flop" on my belly.  She also frequently fights getting in her car seat, to the point that it takes holding her down with all my weight to get her in it.  Plus I will have all of the newborn duties and normal house keeping duties to keep up with.  A VBAC would mean that this wouldn't change much, but a RCS means that I can't drive or lift anything heavier than a milk jug for at least two weeks or risk opening my incision and bleeding or worse.   OBs frequently forget to take such things into account, and hospital lawyers never do. 
One extra bit of "fun" is that Baby K's placenta is directly on top of  Lil'C's scar.  This means that it could have grown into the scar putting me at an increased risk of hemorrhage and possible historectomy... Yeah that is what every 31year old wants.. A historectomy...
I have done research on this and I truly feel that a VBAC would actually be safer, if Baby K were placed imedeately on my chest and allowed to nurse with delayed cord clamping.  If the placenta were allowed to release on its own since nursing would help close the blood vessels and lower the risk of hemorrhage.  
But because of some hospital policy I am forced to have major abdominal surgery which puts me at risk for not only hemorrhage and historectomy, but blood clots (seizure/stroke), paralysis (epidural), and death..  And a section has been shown to increase the risk of asthma, allergies and immunie issues as well as actually change a babies DNA in the process.. 
I know the VBAC would also have the risk of rupture at somewhere between 4 and 7% (some Drs clame as high as 10, but research (http://www.specialscars.org/index.php/studies/) does not support it.  IF I ruptured Baby K and I could possibly both die, but that is a small percentage of that. 
I really wish OBs and hospitals would consider more than getting the kid out when thinking of these unethical policies.  I think these policies are why more and more women are choosing unassisted home births.  
I think if politicians would push to have more midwives (registered) to be allowed/encouraged to do hospital births (especially in cases like mine) then our maternal death rate (the highest in the developed world!) would drop and so would unassisted home births.  Instead midwives in some states are prosecuted for attending women like myself... Which leads to mom's feeling like unassisted home birth is the only option..  It really needs to change. 
Hopefully all will go well tomorrow.. But prayers/happy thoughts would be appreciated :)