Only afraid in the dark

2016 is going to be the year that makes me tough.

Or maybe tough isn’t the right word. Let’s try ‘resilient.’ It sounds a little more like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Which theoretically there is. Remains to be seen though.

I keep trying to write about this thing we’re in, whatever it is. Phase. All of motherhood is one phase after another. And in their own way, they’re all hard. This one is, by far, the hardest. At least as far as I can remember. Sleep deprivation makes all things fuzzy and, to some extent, rose colored.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand… Oliver is sick, again. I’ve long since lost track of how many times. It started in September, I think, right at the beginning of flu season. Oliver scared the crap out of me by waking me up with a fever of nearly 105 degrees. Every time I tried to give him medicine, he threw it up, so we headed off to the ER at 3-something in the morning. They sat with us while we rode out the fever, and finally got some medicine in him, and then we were sent home, exhausted.

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A couple of weeks later, it happened again. We had just been to his doctor so we knew he had an ear infection, so we were ‘prepared’ with antibiotics and fever reducer. But again he woke up at 2am burning up. He was still a couple of hours away from being able to get another dose of his Tylenol (I didn’t know I could double up acetaminophen and ibuprofen yet.) So when he was already running a temperature over 104, we went back to the ER. They tried to give him medicine, which he promptly threw up like usual. They did a chest x-ray, a urinalysis, monitored his blood oxygen, all looking for what could be causing his crazy fever, because, according to the doctors who examined him, his ears didn’t even look that bad.

Finally the fever broke again, and they were just about to send us home, but they wanted to check his pulse/ox one more time, and it was low. So we were transferred to a pediatric hospital and admitted. It was an exhausting whirlwind of dehydration, several hours of trying to just get a damn IV started, a mega-dose of antibiotics, no clear diagnosis, and eventually going home. The only good thing I can say about this episode is that the hospital staff was amazing, and now we were finally armed with the tools to combat his high fevers from home.

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He continued to get sick though, every week or two. After the third (?) time since his hospital stay, I sat down with his doctor and said we need some answers. We agreed to look into allergy and immunology testing, and he gave us the name of a fantastic specialist. We were seen within a week, and again, I was super impressed with the level of care we received. The doctor heard everything I had to say, and actually told me I had done well and my instincts and experience were spot on. So now we knew what we were up against, finally. Officially: Transient Hypogammaglobulinemia of Infancy. Basically the immune system he was supposed to start developing between 6-12 months old is lagging behind. They think he will catch up and be ‘normal’ at some point (usually by 3 years old), but he will have to undergo regular testing to see what progress he’s making. And, his situation is further complicated by food and environmental allergies. And… AND… There’s no treatment, unless he were to not outgrow the condition.

Here is where we wait for that light at the end of the tunnel. But we’re not there yet.

Basically we do everything we can to protect him (including cancelling the trip back to Indiana for Oliver and me [even though that was kind of a bust because Brandon and Nora came back with colds, and he got sick anyway]), we almost never go out except for our weekly grocery runs, and even then I sanitize every surface within a foot of him and make him wear mittens the whole time.  And still he gets sick.

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Not one night goes by that I don’t reach out in the dark to feel his forehead.

I know in my head what the doctors say: that some day this will all be a distant memory. But my heart is tired. A sick baby burning up with fever is pitiful. He still scares me sometimes in the night, a couple of hours before he’s supposed to need medicine, too warm.  The rest of the time, I can be brave and roll with whatever his little body throws at us. In the dark though, you never know.

Peace

I think it’s fairly safe to say that motherhood is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Also, a lot more joyful.

The victories of every day are so sweet when you learn to slow down and be in each moment.

I imagine this could be true of any life, not just one of motherhood.

I barely remember myself the way I was before. But now I am here, grown and changed and better for it.

I still may weep in the hard times; there’s still plenty of them, but the resilience of my children has rubbed off a little on me.  Be wholly in this moment, and then move on to the next. Embrace the pain or frustration, along with the warmth and wonder.

Happy holidays, friends.

 

Dusts off keyboard…

So, um…. hey!

It’s been a while. Sorry about that.

Motherhood is kind of a nutty time warp.

This year has been especially busy, what with moving to Colorado and all.

Oh yeah, did I mention we moved to Colorado? No, I guess not.

It’s kinda beautiful.

mountains

And even though we miss our friends and family back in Indiana, I don’t think we could have gotten any luckier falling into a community that supports us. And we love visitors! (Please come!)

Oliver turned one year old. I’m still in denial. But he’s getting so very big, and just look at that handsome smile!

messy smile

Nora… what are the words? Three-and-a-half. She’s beautiful, smart, hilarious, stubborn, kind, and on and on. She’s settled very well into her role as a big sister. I hear myself constantly repeating things my mom said to me. I imagine this trend will be sticking around for a while. But, egads, she fills my heart up with love.

Nora

Brandon is really loving his work, and it keeps him very busy. Also in the spring we’ll be looking to buy a house, since that wasn’t really on our radar when we first got here. So another move…. *shudder* and then we should be finally settled for a while.

And me? Well there’s play dates, story times, parks and hikes, and all kinds of fun activities to fill our days. And I’ve found a groovy little yoga spot to get away to when I need some ‘me time’. It’s kind of perfect. (If I could move all my Indiana mom friends out here, it would be truly perfect, but I’m getting a little greedy.)

Twinges

Four months old is a very magical age for babies. They start showing a lot of personality and playfulness, which is, quite frankly, so fun. Plus things are (starting) to get a bit easier (for some moms/babies). You begin to maybe, kind of sort of have a little bit of a routine going, you might even be feeling like you’ve had a night or two of something that resembles sleep lately. You feel like breastfeeding is almost easy now, and you’re looking forward to starting solids in a couple of months. Which means your baby is practically grown up, right?

(Trust me, two years later when you’re wondering if your toddler will EVER learn to use the potty, you’ll know you were wrong.)

So here’s the thing. My very lovely midwife took a much needed vacation and got the month of December off. She is one seriously incredible woman and after spending lots of time with her over the past three years, I’ve grown to love her and her work immensely.

But now vacation is over. And all of the sudden my Facebook feed is being flooded with delightful pictures and baby announcements and oh-my-holy-crap what is this I’m feeling?? It can only be described as Twinges.

We are very VERY much done having babies. It is known. But that also means my time with Rhoda is really and truly done, unless sometime in the future I get into some form of birth work. (Not at all beyond possibility, just definitely not a ‘right now’ thing.)

So I get these Twinges. Sadness? Jealousy? Longing? Joy? Reminiscing? Probably all of these things. I can see why people get a little crazy and start thinking, “maybe just one more.”

But, no. Twinges they may be, but they are just little sweet pieces of my memories flooding in with fondness. They cannot override the part of me that says OH HELL NO when I remember that my mental mantra through Oliver’s birth was Never Again. Beautiful, yes?

And as my husband said, if all else fails, “You may just have to un-friend her for a while.”

164

That’s what the scale said a couple of days ago when I last stepped on it.

I love it.

It’s only about 15 more pounds than my lowest weight over the past decade or so. That was just before my wedding, of course.

It’s about 35 pounds less than I weighed a week after Oliver was born. And less than 10 pounds more than my pre-pregnancy weight.

It’s just under the line of obese to overweight. (If you’re into that BMI stuff.)

Most importantly, it’s progress.

164 is self love. It’s hard work and finding balance. It’s breastfeeding and finding nutritious food that doesn’t make my son sick. It’s keeping up with a toddler and her constant desire to play soccer.

It’s patience. It’s remembering that with Nora I didn’t even start to lose the baby weight until well after her first birthday. It’s keeping on, finding a couple of minutes here and there, and moving my body with energy I’m not convinced I actually have sometimes.

It’s perfection. Or it might as well be, since it’s an ideal that no one ever achieves. I truly love where I’m at, and where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

January

Things that are happening this year:

I’m on a super wonky diet because Oliver has been diagnosed with a plethora of food sensitivities. This first month is the most restrictive (I’ll spare you the gory details), but for 6+ months I will be dairy, soy, chicken, zucchini, apple, sweet potato, scallion, sorgum and brewers yeast-free. Also gluten free for the duration of our time breastfeeding, and Oliver will likely be GF his whole life. We haven’t started solids with him yet, but considering the mess his gut is in already, we’ll probably be delaying beyond 6 months old.

We’ve started assembling a home gym. This has actually been in the works for a while, but January brings out all the good sales for New Year’s Resolution-ers. So, so, SO excited to get my lift on again!

Other assorted non-resolution goals. Brandon got me a sweet gift pack of classes at our local yoga studio, plus I’ve committed myself to 100 practices in 2015. (I’m being realistic though, even a 10 minute practice before bed is great.) Also I’m attempting to do pushups every day. They’re great for upper body and core strength, which are both sorely lacking since being pregnant. Finally I’m still working on a reading list for the year, spending less time on my computer, getting Nora potty trained (heh, we’ll see), and some spending less/saving more financial goals.

I’m sure this all sounds very humdrum but I’m super stoked to get things started on a positive note. Self improvement is kind of a big deal for me, and now that our little family feels complete, it’s time to invest back in myself!

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Oliver’s Story

Labor Day weekend is filled with bad jokes about pregnant women. The joke was on them though when I woke up Sunday morning and my water broke. But let me back up a couple of steps.

Saturday was rough. We had one real thing to do and that was go to the grocery store. Our fridge was basically empty and I was supposed to make beef stew that evening, so we needed some carrots and potatoes. But I dread the store. The stares, the comments, and worst of all, random people touching me. I get it, I’m huge. But leave me alone.
As we walked through the store, I remember sending my sister some texts about how awful the whole thing was, but at least when we were done, I’d be ready to go into labor. (Ha!) After that we came home and I relaxed for far too long, got dinner in the crock pot far too late, and eventually we scavenged up something for dinner while the stew went in the fridge for “later.” We settled in for the night and all was well.
Sunday morning Nora came into our room and woke us up, and Brandon took her downstairs to play while I dozed for a bit longer. Later when they were getting ready to make the usual pancakes and eggs, they came back up to wake me. As I finally rolled out of bed around 8:30, I felt that trickle of a high rupture and my water breaking.
I texted my midwife and doula to let them know, and then my mom to come over as soon as she could. But we kept doing our normal thing, making breakfast as a family. I had a few contractions, but they were far enough apart, I brushed them off as “random and unorganized.” When we finally sat down to eat, I took the opportunity to start timing them, and of course they weren’t random at all. So we ate, planned to get our dog to the kennel, and started getting ready for a big day.

My mom arrived, and I went to shower. The hustle of arrivals and departures had gotten my contractions off rhythm, so after I was clean (about 10:30), I decided to head up to bed with some music to just relax. We were all in the zone: Brandon got the pool set up, Nora played with her grandma, I put on my headphones and started the Live, Birds of Prey album. It was kind of perfect.
I lay there resting, feeling the contractions washing over me. They were definitely getting stronger, and about 45 minutes later I texted my midwife and doula to head over. I hid out for a little bit longer and then decided I wanted to go see how Nora was doing with my mom.
When I came downstairs, suddenly my contractions got very intense, and I was having to vocalize loudly just to get through them. So when Nora came inside from playing and one of these contractions hit, I could tell it was time for her to leave. She was a little scared and worried about me, but I wasn’t in a position to reassure her. Luckily we planned for just this, so Brandon packed the last couple things in her bag and got the car seat moved, just as everyone was showing up for me. (I heard a rumor that he also accidentally tried to send one of the doula’s bags with my mom, but somehow it was returned before anyone missed it.)
Kat, my doula arrived first, and I was kneeling by the stairs. She sat with me doing her thing, and we hung on until Rhoda, our midwife, and her team arrived shortly after. As everyone was getting set up, Kat casually mentioned that unless I wanted to be checked to see how far I was, I could just get in the birth pool for some relief.
‘OKAY!’ I remember thinking. Or maybe, ‘thank f*#%ing goodness.’ Either way, I stripped down to my bra and climbed in. It was pretty wonderful. Rhoda checked us with the Doppler and we got down to business.
Relief was relatively short lived and I kept thinking about a technique we learned in our birth class, where the instructor, also a doula, would give laboring mothers a couple of combs to squeeze. Somehow the little pain was able to take the edge off the contractions. So we tried that (instead of crushing Brandon’s and Kat’s fingers), and suddenly I realized I was starting to feel sick. I told Kat, and I already knew what it meant and what she would say, but I needed to hear it to believe we were there already. She said, “Sometimes you throw up to throw down.” In other words, it was probably time to start pushing.
Last time I remember I was a little scared of pushing so I fought it (as much as a laboring woman can), and I did end up throwing up. This time, I was ready. This hurts and the only way to be done is to get this baby out. So I pushed and pushed and Rhoda was magically right there to coach and encourage me. It was painfully intense and beautifully surreal. And then he was born, just before 1pm, my son, Oliver Bernard Kelley.
The next few hours are a blur as we snuggled and nursed, relaxed in the herbal bath, I was checked for tearing (just a little, no stitches needed!) and Oliver was weighed, measured, and examined. Kat asked me what I wanted to eat, and I laughed and remembered all the beef stew that was sitting in the fridge. It was perfect!

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