Monday, December 17, 2012

A Catch-up VIA Pictures from October !!!

As I mentioned in my last post, it has been quite awhile since I updated.  I figure most everyone reading this really only wants to see pictures of the kids, so here we go!

The Pflugerville Pfall Chili Pfest was Pfantastic!!!!

Uncle Justin and Dita and Aunt Liz Came a Barbecuing!

The kids absolutely love watching anyone play Angry Birds!


Next stop November!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Now we know ( a c-section story)

Yes, yes it has been awhile.  I have many excuses.  Main one probably being the topic of this post.  Really, I need to put it down in words to hopefully finally get past the experience and perhaps help other who may go through something similar.  Maybe this will free up my mind and body and allow baby number 3 (due any day now) to "slip" into this world, easily and soon.  I have come up with (what I think) is the simplest and most straight forward way of explaining what happened, what we felt, and what we learned.  Michael is brewing a batch of beer, kids are asleep, I have some time on my hands and a glass of Asti, so here goes!

We found out I was pregnant and found the only practice with midwives in our area.  The first appointment was at 12 weeks.  I have "white coat syndrome (WCS)" and it becomes very apparent from the beginning.  I take a lot of extra tests because of the high blood pressure (WCS) and this means more needles (only adds to extremeness of WCS.)  Blood tests keep showing everything normal.  Our 20 week ultrasound shows a healthy baby boy!  I keep getting sent for more tests because of the higher BP (we kept getting the same midwife who would not listen.)  The tests start to include bi-weekly ultrasounds (u/s.) 

Around 35 weeks one of the u/s techs detects a possible fetal heart defect.  We see a specialist who diagnoses a coarctation of the aorta.  She recommends a natural birth as planned at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital as the best thing for the baby with a helicopter standing by to transfer to Children's Hospital for surgery in the first 2 days.  They have a very clear image of the defect, but inform us there is a 1% chance this could "heal" on its own as he begins to use his lungs.  His first "scream" could send a burst of blood through and open up (stretch) the pinched vein before the extra fetal pathway closes. 

This information of such a small chance of our newborn not needing to fly out for surgery soon after birth really hit hard.  My brain worked logically and we made plans and followed doctors directions.  My body started craving sugar and all comfort foods.  I also went into stress mode with lots of sleeping and higher BP at home as well as sky-rocketing medical office BP.  The midwife tried to put on meds, but we kept reminding her the very bad possible side effects on an already compromised baby.

My week consists of a visit to the midwives, the lab for blood tests, 24 urine collection, and a visit to Greater Washington Maternal Fetal Medicine for an u/s.  38 weeks saw an u/s where the fluid level measured 5.  They send me to the Hospital(right across the street) for 24 hr monitoring.  I am there for 3 hrs and a more laid back Midwife on call sends me home as "normal."  The next week shows the same thing only the Midwife on call decides to just induce labor.  At this point I was very good at following orders, so I was admitted and we began induction!

They began with prostaglandin gel for day 1.  Day 2 saw more prostaglandin gel and pitocin.  Day 3 another midwife came on and suggested another u/s which produces a measurement of 4.8.  Since the fluid went down she could not send us home, so she offered cytotec with the pitocin.  This third day I really began to feel pain and especially in my back in between contractions.  There was a lack of sleep, lack of a midwives presence in the room, and a growing feeling of complete helplessness and cluelessness over my stubborn body.  Day four saw a change of room to a one with a window and me asking for an epidural.  As I attempted to sleep, nurses ran in and threw a mask on my face and told me to breathe and then just left.  Then one of the practices OBs showed up at 4am with a midwife hanging in his shadow telling us the baby has been in distress awhile now and needed to come out now.  4:18am Gabe is born via Cesarean Section.

For me, the worst part was all that followed my surgery.  I was shaking nonstop, in shock, exhausted, in pain, and very much alone in a dark and very empty recovery room.  I did not know how Gabe was doing, but did have the sense of mind (though barely) to be glad Michael was with him.  I was moved to the Mother/Baby Suite sans baby.  I badly needed sleep, not only for my body to recover, but also for my brain to process all that occurred.  They did not let me sleep.  Every hour was someone trying to take vitals, blood, to teach breastfeeding, check for hemorrhoids, push pills...a nightmare.  I did not hold Gabe for 2 days.  I became frantic with a nurse just begging for sleep and she gave me a shot in the butt of something.  I slept finally and that may have a lot to do with the threatening sign Michael placed on the door.

Gabe did not have his Momma for TWO DAYS!!!  He did have Michael very frequently.  He did have a coarctation in his first evaluation, but it did not call for immediate surgery.  The next day it was gone (Praise the Lord!) and he was a perfectly healthy baby and a giant compared to all the other residents of the NICU.  He was baptised on day 2 in the NICU by our wonderful Parish Polish Priest.  They kept him 5 day because of vit and min levels, which was a bit ridiculous, but that did give Mom time to pull herself together.

!!!!!!!!WHAT WE FELT!!!!!!!!
From the beginning we felt a frustration at the lack of communication between us and the midwives, the midwives and their overseers, the practice and the supplementary practices (the lab and u/s practice, Children's was absolutely wonderful with their communication!) as well as hospital employees.  The Midwife I was constantly seeing did not even see the child I was carrying as a baby until he was born and then he was not her concern as he was not her patient.  I also had to constantly explain the my blood pressure at home was nowhere near as high as she raised it during our appointments.  During our induction, we felt abandoned by our "caregivers" and completely lost in a sea of non-information.  We were caught up in a process that we did not seem to fit in...ineffective. We have heard people tell us they are surprised we were "allowed" to go so long.  I think we just baffled them with my strong-box of a uterus.  Again there was a lack of communication, information, and overall physical presence of a "caregiver."  We also knew some of what to fight for for mom (especially given the blessing to pursue a natural birth by the Heart Specialist,) but were easily swayed by a midwife we trusted and pure exhaustion with process.  I was scared to death when they threw a mask on me and left without explanation.  I was actually a bit relieved when the OB showed up and told me this would be over in less than 20 mins.  I suspect at this point the midwives where in trouble for inducing me in the first place and then letting us go for so long.  Then I really did go crazy from physical exhaustion, loneliness, betrayal (caregiver,) and the blatant insensitivity of hospital staff.  THEY PUT A NEEDLE IN MY BUTT!  Thank goodness I was sneaking food during labor or I would have starved due to the no eating till you poo rule!  I also felt empty.  Gabe did not exist as a real person.  He was something in my mind.  This was the worst part for me as the general thing anyone who came into the room said was "at least you have a healthy baby."

What We Learned
Hold your Baby!  This little being is what makes any suffering on his behalf worth it!  I do think I could have been able to better process everything If I had just been wheeled down to the NICU right after recovery and allowed to hold my baby.  This would have made Breastfeeding a heck of a lot easier, too.  We struggled for months to get that down!

You can take all the classes you want, but you do not know a situation until you are in it and feel the pressure.  The best thing a first time parent can do is have a trusted third party present who is active in the modern day hospital birthing scene (a grandparent just did not encounter the same problems...theirs were different as procedures were different.)  I am speaking of an experienced family member, friend, Doula, or Birthing instructor.

A midwife nowadays is not what you think (at least in Maryland.)  I thought a midwife was a medical professional who could relate on a more personal level.  I thought she would have more of a physical presence, a sense of camaraderie.  It turns out that a professional midwife is very limited by law and their overseers in their practice and at the Hospital they carry privileges with.  What I was looking for was a Doula.  In Maryland the child is very separated from the Mother.  Basically the baby is not truly seen as a person till birth.  If for some reason you have a stillbirth at 20 weeks you are not even granted a Birth Certificate as they do not recognise the child as a person legally.  This is so sad and can make it hard for a couple to make decisions based on the infants welfare, prebirth.  This is why I had to keep asking the effects of any proposed medication on the baby and especially one with a heart defect.  Luckily our baby had a doctor in-utero and we could call her with any questions at any time.

Induction is rarely a good idea.  1) a due date is sooooo inaccurate!  If anything it is a "guess date" and in all actuality it is a guess month!  With a first child the wait is almost always longer than 41.5 weeks!  2) There are so many natural "hastenings" to try before hospital admittance.  (exercise, herbs, dietary supplements, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, visualizations, and manual massage and stretching!)  3) an experienced u/s tech can give pretty accurate information on good fluid levels and placenta function.  4) it really is a ticking time bomb towards a c-section, especially if you do not respond as normal.

5 is not a low measurement for fluid and definitely not a reason of induction.  Low would be a 3.  And it is a fact that fluid lowers as birth comes closer, so expect lower readings a week before birth!  This seems to be more and more the excuse used to start induction.

Stay away from the hospital unless you want to hop on that induction train.  Even if you start labor on your own, stay home until you can't.  Try to go to an u/s place not next door to a hospital.  The biggest theme we encountered was doctors covering their butts!  Many professionals will order those extra tests and send you to extra visits and offices and hospitals just so they can cover their bases if they perchance missed something/ you misunderstood their information.  There is a big lack of confidence and it bleeds down to you the patient who ends up with bigger bills and (in most cases) senseless worries. 

Research and show confidence in yourself, it actually helped us deal with the midwives our second go around.  They saw our confidence and it boosted theirs in our abilities to process information and not wavier in decisions.  You can pick who your appointments are with.  Do it!  Do not continue to see someone you very much dislike.  Call ahead the day before to make sure they did not switch office schedules.  Yes you may be stuck with this individual for labor, but you will come in much happier and too busy with laboring to bother too much with them.

Exercise and eat healthy!  Who know how low my BP could have stayed if I had just resisted drowning my sorrows in food and sleep?

 If you go through a C-section, talk about it! This is a major surgery and most times, unplanned. Don't forget the father as well. He is usually less prepared then the mother and then he sees his loved one tied to a table and cut open!  I did not realise that Michael was even really effected by it until I noticed he would rant a bit about it if anyone asked him for details even 2 years later!

We were led down a path of sorrow and caught up in process and politics over something that could have been beautiful and natural.  We were ill prepared; a product of a generation that knows little to nothing about childbirth as designed by God.  The professionals we turned to betrayed our trust and circumstances turned us into scared sheep.  I tend to sum up the experience as "now we know."  I found ICAN and worked to eradicate my ignorance of all things childbirth.  This led us to a VBAC one year later and my current work as a DONA trained Doula.  All I ask parents to do is seek out information and have a care provider you truly trust.  Then all you can do is trust in God and pray for any and all mercy he can give.  hehe.  Childbirth is not easy, but it is not something to be feared or manipulated.  I am thankful that C-sections are available for those that truly need them, but they truly are overabundant in the US.  They are products of a process that is so easy to be caught up in and is so many times unnecessary.  You will not catch us on that train again!  Now we know.
Two days old!  Yes, even as things were, he was worth it all!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pregnant Thoughts

Calling this "mid-October," still due "mid-December
  The other day I was spending my ritual 1/2 hour pulling together dinner and doing dishes while Michael enjoyed his post-work beer outside on the patio watching the kids play in the yard.  I had to pause for a second and smirk, because here I was, in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant.  The funniest thing about all of this is that here is where I fit.  I love this time I get a much needed break from the children.  I love having a clean kitchen with which to present my culinary masterpiece of the day (sometimes just sandwiches, but they can be elegantly arranged on a plate.)  I love that Michael gets to spend relaxing time with his children and they get to go crazy outside for a bit.  I love not wearing shoes.  I love feeling the little one inside me react to the loosening of my body and the release of "happy" hormones.  We get our girl time and just get to enjoy the moment.  So while I have not been writing Gabe's birth story, I have been just enjoying and loving life.  There\are some things I really enjoy about pregnancy - so many cool and interesting happenings.

Did you know?

  1.   None of my babies have been strong constant movers.  The only times I really feel them are the 20 mins right after I lay down for the night (because I relax and they have a bit more room) and when they are hungry (about 5 mins before I realize the burn in my tummy is hunger.)  It is known that babies react strongly to your hunger and even the Mommy's thoughts of food.  So, if you have a baby who is not cooperating at a gender-seeking ultrasound, just imagine a sugary cupcake and many times the chemical spike of your body preparing to eat sugar will wake/excite the baby into moving!  A foot massage also works to move the little one in that it relaxes Mom and gives the baby room to stretch.
  2.   Chiropractic care during the third trimester can lead to a sooner and quicker birth.  Most women walk around with their hips out of alignment from that monthly assault of hormone fluctuation.  This can be even worse for pregnant ladies.  A proper alignment of hips and spine give the baby a clear path down and out.  Go 3 times in your last month and that baby slides out! (haha, maybe not, but it could make it a heck of a lot easier and who wouldn't want that?!)  *While alignment of bone is the goal, it is really muscle that needs to be trained to hold and flex position.  It takes longer to coax muscle to what it should be, but massage therapy with chiropracy can work miracles!  This in part is why Prenatal Yoga is so popular and beneficial.  It can take longer to get the result, but the benefits last as strong muscle holds the bones in place so a chiropractor doesn't have to "pop" them back into line.*
  3.   *This fact will make you seem smart and knowledgeable to medical professionals.*  If you are currently carrying your first child in your womb who is past 20 weeks (the current viability age) you are called a "primip."  Nurses and hospital staff like to throw this around to describe women likely to have a longer labor and very newly experience labor pains.  It can sometimes come off as a bit condescending.  If you are on a subsequent pregnancy past 20 weeks you are considered a "multip."  This can be used to warn doctors and nurses of a quicker pregnancy and a woman who knows what she is doing (likely to push if she feels like it.)  Even more explanatory is the term "granmultip," which represents a woman on her 5th or later pregnancy past 20 weeks.  This woman is a pro at birth and procedures as well as fertile.
If you want further information or sources for these "facts" just ask.  There is more information and awesomeness where these came from (mainly my stack of Doula training books and supplemental reading.)  I hope you enjoyed the picture of the fat lady and insight to what she is thinking about!  You'll hear from me next on the subject of April 2010 and the little man who changed our lives forever...duh duh duhhhh!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Little Things...

  Man those little things add up.  Little things go wrong and suddenly I am in full meltdown mode.  Little things go right and Life could never be better!  We went through a lot of emotional ups and downs the past week.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will update you on Leland Life - via bullet point - "downers" first -"ups" last to ensure smiles and not leave you thinking I am drowning in tears.

  • Sickness!  A total body dump for Mom and endless snot for the babies.  We are still fighting this, though the mucus has gone from clear to thick and green(which I think means healing, but makes your head all the heavier!)
  • We have no friends!  Ok we do have friends, but no families with young children here in the area.  It is such a blessing to have similar minded/situated friends making their way through life with you a quick drive away.  Plus the kids NEED other kids to play with/learn from.  Ok maybe they don't need them, but it makes mom's life easier.
  • I am absolutely awful at making friends!  I have attempted 3 meetups here in North Austin.  The first I was in the wrong place (I jumbled highway numbers.)  The second I was the only one to show(it was a daily Mass meet-up, so my friend Jesus was there, and able to witness Gabe dump a bowl of Holy Water during Communion.)  The third, another mom said she was there, but I could not find her(She claimed to be late and then drove a car other than what she had told, I drove home 2 hrs later in tears.  How am I supposed to enjoy the park, when I am constantly looking for someone/checking my phone?)  I also suppose it can be intimidating(?) for people to walk up and friend me, the frazzled very pregnant one with two very active toddlers.
  • My family is faaaaar awaaaay and they all live together (Mom, Dad, 5 siblings.)  So I am pretty much on my own out here and out of thought or at least out of phone calls...aaahhem (hint hint.) 
  • This Holiday Season is also looking pretty lonely!  We cannot afford to go anywhere, plus we have a little one growing who could make her appearance from Thanksgiving to Christmas!  Some of Michael's family has mentioned trying to visit, but no definites and some of them have just made their own move away from Texas to St. Louis!  My family is crickets.  Not really, they all have their own issues and I guess are trying to be nice by not saying "ain't gonna happen" straight-up.  Not that I even like like people visiting when I am super pregnant.  What is wrong with me!?
  • Husband left for 5 day work Conference the exact morning after my all night pukefest.  I was soooo not meant to be a single parent!  That 6:30pm-7:30pm hour is horrible.  There is a(t least) dinner mess, I am worn out for the day, and somehow the kids catch a second wind of energy.
  • Gabe became obsessed with prettying up his eyes with markers and pillaged make-up, while Sera at some point (don't ask me when) chipped a tooth.  These, combined with that twilight hour of yelling and chasing, makes me a shoe-in for Worst-Mother-of-the-Year.
  • The move set us back a couple of thousand dollars!  We are not poor and I cannot complain.  We actually have a great budget and should come out on top in less than six months (even with our newest's approaching medical bills.)  The problem is that I have been splurging on treats and outings trying to make friends.  Gah!
Ok ok enough of the downers!  Just a reminder of our humanity!  I will get out of this funk.  No wonder no one is calling.  It would be downright depressing to listen to me.  I, myself have avoided dear friends in these situations.

On To The Goodtimes!
  • My body rid itself of all poison (everything really.)  I physically feel great!
  • It was in the 50*'s here and I felt like autumn!  We made apple pie and wore long sleeves (for the morning.)
  • The day before Michael finally came home, Elizabeth (my Sis-in-law) came over and we took the kids to the Vigil Mass, got donuts, and had dinner!  She saved me from a break down! 
  • Michael took off Monday and we went shopping as a family and were super productive.
  • After a few rescheduled appointments, I finally get to see my midwife Heather tomorrow afternoon!  They let kids come and just play in their playroom and with the receptionist, which lets me focus on my check-up!
  • Also They are letting us pay itemized for our maternity care!  This is huge!  It changes our upfront cost from 4,500 to 2,800.  (For those of you curious about homebirth/birthcenter care, they usually charge upfront by 34-36weeks, then insurance refunds you.  In MD/VA/WV homebirth charge is 4,000 and that is a little high because of the legal battles and anti-midwife stigma in the area.  There are no current legally practicing homebirth midwives in MD!  (a topic for another post)  4,500 is a great price for all the "bells and whistles" of this birthcenter in TX!  We get a discount because we transfer in late and can pay upfront early.  The late transfer line is still 3 weeks away for us, but they are soo reasonable and friendly here!  Alright, I will save gushing about Heather for other posts and updates. 
  • I am back in full swing in the kitchen!  We have a shopping schedule and the pantry and fridge are full!  I even pulled out the crock pot!  I have a cycle for big meals and lighter ones and tons of left overs.  This really makes it feel like home. 
  • We have an amazing backyard, just enough landscaping to make it pretty, but not too much to overwork us!

Gabe dresses himself and changes shoes hourly
  • The kids love each other!  It really is the sweetest thing to watch these two.  If Sera gets hurt (which she always does) Gabe tells her it is ok and holds her for a kiss.  He also gets up to usher her back to bed when she comes to the gate for another "20 more minutes of prebed cuddle." (sometimes with a "stop crying!")  They both bargain with each other over watching youtube clips of Elmo(Sera) or Thomas(Gabe.)  Both of them are without fail sure to grab two of anything offered so they can share with the other!  Adorable!  Gabe even talks about holding the new baby and gives her kisses.
  • This makes me happy
  • It is my favorite season and that means chocolate chi, pumpkins, and the beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows in the flowers Michael brings home!
I have read a lot of blogs recently from these perfect stay at home moms who have it all together and have like a million hobbies and perfect children, families, and houses.  I cannot relate!  Hopefully someone out there can relate to me!
In preparation for December and delving into one of my favorite topics, I'm planning on putting down the birth stories of our first two children for my next posts.  This can be a warning to some folks and a "get excited" for others!  And now can end the longest post ever!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

...just to give you a piece of the daily craziness

  Remember the post this morning where Gabe started drawing on his eyelids.  I hardly ever put on make-up so he must have watched me like once and it stuck in his head.  [Side story:  as a one year old Gabe was allowed to play with my nail polish.  It was fun working on colors and categorizing.  I stopped that when he turned 2 and could start opening them.]  Well Gabe was taking a nap(working off his sickness) so I let Sera have them.  Gabe must have heard the fun, because I come out of the bathroom to him saying "oh no, oh no."  Not good.  With some quick action (eye rinse routine) and then quick remover work on the cream carpet, this crisis has passed. 

Of course this gave Sera time to get into her own mischief.  The skunk even tried to hide in the Garden tub.  Time to get the hook and eye closer for the bedroom (only for nap and bedtime.)  This is why the playroom and the stairs have a gate!  Also why mommies use the bathroom with the door open!

Look Mom! I made a house a home!

  Sorry to create a blog and then disappear for a week.  I have a good excuse!  We were/are sick!  really sick.  At first I just thought the runny noses were allergies, which I hear everyone who moves to Austin gets like until they move away again. 

Proof of Sickness.  The kids LOVE their beds, but they didn't make it there.  Also they never sleep together, that always turns into nonstop giggles or kickfights, never sleep!

But then it got worse with the heavy head stuffed head...and then came the all-night detox!  My poor body spewed out Everything in 10 hrs.  The next day I had a total of 10 saltines and lots of water.  Did I mention the lovely husband (who has not been sick) left that morning for a 5 day conference in Oklahoma City?  Thank God the kids just have the runny noses and cough!  So I am now on the upswing and finally straightened up our sickhouse.  What better time to take pictures and update y'all.  Please notice I wrote "straightened,"  not "clean."

This is the Front Door
Upstairs: Kids Room(straight), Play/Guest Room(right), Kid/Guest Bath(left), Master Suite (left.) Linen Closet/Bookcase.
Kitchen/Dinning Room
Kitchen (Loving the Giant Fridge!)
Kids Table/Nook
Garage Door Off Kitchen, also 1/2 Bath and Laundry/Pantry
Storage/Closet/Laundry Room/Pantry

Kids Room!  Little People for Scale.  Was a study with shelving all around.  Now for Sleeping/Dressing/Reading

Beds and the Closet is full of Books

Kids/Guest Bath.  One of THREE Bathrooms I have to keep Clean UGH.
Playroom/Guest Bedroom

Little people for scale

Sleep Sofa for all those guests clamoring to visit!
 This concludes our tour!  I will show the Backyard and Master Suite later/when I straighten them.  My only real complaints would be the lack of storage/linen closets, the noise a high ceiling can carry, and the fire ants building sand piles everywhere.  Also the two car garage holds two cars, not a car and a van.  Overall we are super happy and will be here at least 15 months!  This is our little Texan Girl's first house.  AWWWW.  I will also make sure to post belly pic soon!  Off to HEB (Here Everything's Better, a Texas Grocery Store) for rice cakes, saline, and Gatorade to help us finish off this sickness!

PS.  Like Gabe's bow?  It matches his eyeliner.  He was drawing on paper with my eyeliner yesterday, which I stopped, and he was told that is only for eyes.  So, today all coloring utensils were used on his eyes.  I tried to get pictures, but he does this funky eye scrunch thing when you go in for a close-up.  Also he gets a plug (which happens to be pink) when he is sick (especially since Mom is also sick!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It Just seems like a good time to start a blog

  Hello Family and Friends!  Our move to Pflugerville, Tx from Maryland is now complete!  Whoooo weee that took awhile.  I hope this will be an easy way to keep in touch and not leave anyone out of our so interesting lives.  I am a huge fan of bullet points, so here we go!

  • Michael has an amazing new job with youth soccer in South Texas!  -  He is home for dinner at six every night and has all but 4-5 weekends off a year!
  • We're staying at a 3 bd/3bath house with a fenced-in backyard right across from a park complete with playground, walking trail, fields, and a frisbeegolf course.
  • The movers damaged a lot of our stuff, but it is now fixed and/or gotten over.
  • We are in a drought and can only water the lawn on Sundays!  So Hot!
  • The kids love the backyard and their "free-range."
  • Littlest Girl Leland is still due in Mid-December and I finally chose a midwife!  Check out her website - - Now just I have to choose between homebirth and the center by 36 weeks!  We were planning home, but those jetted tubsat the center!
  • We are all unpacked, so come visit!  We have a guest/playroom - so much fun!
  • Michael has a new phone number and I use my gmail now...let me know if you need it.
Here are some pictures!
Pretty much sums up our journey

Also Sum up the Journey Pretty Well
Preview of the new room!

All settled in, putting the kids to work.
Next Post I'll Show the House!