Sunday, September 13, 2015

Livia's arrival

The Friday before I was induced, I went in for my twice-weekly NST. I had my blood drawn a few days before to check my Bile Acid and Liver Function a few days before and I asked the nurse who did my NST if she could check on that. She found my test results, and my BA level was 45--five points above "severe". This was with me being medicated. I was rushed into an appointment with one of the midwives--she consulted with two of the OBs and it was decided that we would still go forward with the plan to induce the following Wednesday.

On Labor Day, I found out that I was #5 on the hospital's induction call list. Somehow the next day, I moved up to the #2 slot so I woke up extra early (not that I slept much the night before anyway, because I had THE WORST itching that night) to wait for the call. At 7:30, my phone rang and the nurse said that my induction was scheduled for 9 a.m. So, we got Kate out of bed, loaded up the car, took her to my mother-in-law's house, and checked in at Labor & Delivery. My mother-in-law predicted that I would have a six-hour labor. I thought she was crazy.
Everyone should give birth with awesome views. Just saying.

Checked in and gowned! Excited to be meeting my baby

We waited about an hour for them to get everything ready. There were questions to answer, protocols to go over, nurses to meet, cervix to be checked (came in at 2 cm dilated already, yay!), etc. Finally around 10:30, they started pitocin.

With Kate, I was determined, come hell and high water, that I would NOT have an epidural. Well after a night of cervadil and five hours of pitocin and no progress, I changed my mind. She was born ten hours after the epidural. 

This time around, I decided very early on that I was going to be open-minded about pain relief. I knew that since it was more likely than not that I was going to have cholestasis again and therefore have to be induced early, it was probably best that I be more accepting of pain medication. I still practiced relaxation skills, like visualization and mindfulness, because they help with my depression/anxiety. My birth plan was this: healthy baby with as little damage to me as humanly possible. Having a high risk pregnancy really helps get your priorities in order. 

After a couple of hours on pitocin, it was getting harder to manage the contractions. I knew that I couldn't handle much worse pain, so the next time my nurse came in, I asked for the epidural. When the nurse anesthetist came in with her cart, I said, "You know how happy I am to see you, right?" She laughed. 

Epidural was administered, and within a half-hour, I was pretty much in heaven.

Oooh yeah
It was the PERFECT epidural. I could still move my legs, turn over on my sides, and feel the tightening of my belly...but I was NOT in the slightest bit of pain. I didn't press the button to increase the dosage once it was that good. 

When I was pregnant with Kate, I read about calling contractions "surges" or "birthing waves" or even "pressure waves" as a way of pain reduction. Well, the contractions felt like birthing waves AFTER I got that epidural. Ha!

About an hour after I got the epidural, the OB on call came to break my water (the midwife on call was at another delivery at another hospital that was taking a long time). I only felt a trickle and had expected more.

My midwife, who was called Kathryn, finally showed up. She checked me (I was at a four now) and she looked up my birth report with Kate (isn't technology grand?). She said, "I think you'll have this baby in just a few hours. You had your first pretty soon after they broke your water." Again, I scoffed at this. 

Then....I felt the gush. The student nurse came to check on me and I told her that either the catheter wasn't doing its job or my water broke. She checked, and confirmed that it had indeed broke. She brought the other nurses in and I was checked again--9.5 cm dilated. WHAT?! 

Kathryn came back in with a smile, "Well, didn't I tell you that you'd go fast?"

Suddenly, the room filled with nurses and a respiratory crew from the nursery (the antidepressant I'm on is associated with babies not crying at first). Even though I wasn't quite complete, Kathryn had me try pushing anyway to see if we could get the last "lip" out of the way. 

One push and Kathryn said, "Oh wow, this one has A LOT of hair!" They brought out the mirror like I had asked. 

Two more pushes, and Livia was on my stomach.

She was only there for a minute or so when they said that she wasn't pinking up fast enough, so they took her over to the warming table where the respiratory crew started working on her right away. I know she got weighed and measured at some point. Weight: 7 lb. 5 oz. (two ounces bigger than Kate, but a good-sized 37-weeker like her). Length: 18.5 inches (a half-inch shorter than Kate). Total amount of time in labor: 5 1/2 hours.

They finally had to take her down to the nursery. Stephan didn't know whether to stay with me or go with her.

"Go with her!" I commanded. "I have people taking care of me here!"

So he did.

Somewhere in all of this, the placenta came out, I got stitched up (only four stitches, woo!), and then I was given a menu so I could order dinner. I ordered grilled salmon. Yes, grilled salmon. It was delicious.

At some point, Stephan came back with Livia and she was doing better. We were taken to my room, I was given drugs, and I tried to nurse Livia. Unfortunately, we were having a really rough time partly because I was exhausted and a bit out of it because of the drugs (why oh why did that nurse give me two percocet?). I finally asked for a little bottle to give her, praying that it wouldn't wreck nursing for us. 5 ml and she was out like a light. My mother-in-law brought Kate to visit, and oh boy was Kate excited to meet her baby sister. 

When Kate and Grandma were getting ready to leave, my nurse came by again, and I asked if she could take Livia to the nursery. The nurse mentioned that she was probably going to take her anyway because Livia was grunting again. At some point, Stephan left, and I went to bed.

I was awoken in the middle of the night by my night nurse, who informed me that Livia had to be taken to the NICU. She was still grunting and her blood sugar had gotten low, and then while my nurse was giving her a bottle, her oxygen saturation levels were going nuts. It's a good thing I had sent Livia to the nursery, otherwise this would have gone unnoticed.

So the next few days, I spent trying to figure out how to nurse Livia and making it to feeding sessions. I'm really glad that the NICU was just down the hall from my room, rather than in a different place in the hospital like some are. I had hoped that Livia and I would be discharged at the same time, but it wasn't going to be. I stayed on as a boarder rather than patient on the last night so I could still nurse (nursing was finally starting to work well, thanks to wonderful lactation consultants and nurses). 

We got to go home yesterday, and we are happy that she is here and that she is healthy. I am grateful for hospitals and good medical care--I don't want to know what would happen to my little family without it. Some people might blame me being induced early for Livia's problems, but honestly, it really was better to have her out than in. Plus, we got to meet some amazing nurses in the NICU and now I'm convinced that NICU nurses are angels in disguise.

Now to figure out how to parent two kids. I hope we don't mess this one up :)

For those who are curious, Livia looks like her daddy. She does have my mouth though :D

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This pregnancy hates me

As if this pregnancy wasn't throwing me enough curveballs. Spotting in the first weeks, not finding little baby on ultrasound, holy food aversions and nausea Batman, subchorionic hematoma...and then being diagnosed with cholestasis at 28 weeks. In all of this, Stephan's dad was going through his last months, which brought emotional upheaval of its own. I thought I just had to deal with a few more weeks of itching hell, get induced at 37 weeks, and be done with it.

My gallbladder had other ideas.

I hit 35 weeks yesterday, and to celebrate, my gallbladder decided it had a death wish. Admittedly, I've been eating a lot of junk recently (sleep deprivation and stress does that), and my gallbladder must have decided that it couldn't take it anymore. At around three-something yesterday, I had a snack that I probably shouldn't have had because I really wasn't hungry (stress eating not a good idea). At first, I just felt really, really full. Then, the Right Upper Quadrant Pain (a normal thing in cholestasis pregnancies, unfortunatley) started. It was mild at first, but within a few hours, it became unbearable. I couldn't lie down. I couldn't get comfortable. I was breathing heavily. In short, I was miserable.

I tried calling my OB office, but it was closed.

Finally, I decided that we were going to the hospital. Stephan hemmed and hawed about it for a little bit, until I screamed at him, "I would rather go through childbirth than this! We are going to the hospital NOW! GET YOUR SHOES ON!" Pain removes all tact. He got his shoes on and we loaded up into the van.

We don't live that far from the hospital, but oh man it felt like it was taking forever. I was writhing, screaming at the top of my lungs, and begging the good Lord to put me out of my misery

Stephan dropped me off the at the ER entrance so he could go park the car. I went in, and said, "I'm 35 weeks pregnant. I have cholestasis, and I am having severe right upper quadrant pain." The receptionists were very kind. "We'll take you up to labor/delivery since you're so far along in your pregnancy. Would you like a wheelchair?" To which I said yes. We met Stephan and Kate outside and they walked with us.

We got up to labor/delivery and I told the nurses what was up. They got my info and put me in the first triage room. My favorite midwife was on call that night and already at the hospital. I was offered percocet for the pain and I gladly took it, although it took forever to work. I also had blood drawn and they had a hard time finding a good vein because I was slightly dehydrated. Oh, and I was strapped to monitors too, but I was glad that I was getting help. My midwife ordered an abdominal ultrasound and I was wheeled down there for that. After I got back to the triage room, the nurse said that it looked like my gallbladder was inflamed, but the radiologist had to verify it first.

The percocet finally started kicking in, and my mother-in-law came to take Kate to her house. We were thinking she'd take her until we were done at the hospital, but she said that Kate was going to stay overnight.

My midwife came back in and verified that yes, it was my gallbladder and it could very well be gallstones or "sludge". She also informed me that I was having contractions, which I wasn't really feeling (Braxton Hicks don't really bother me like other women I guess). I was checked, and apparently I'm already one centimeter dilated and 80% effaced. Let this mean a much easier labor.

After a while, the pain was completely gone. Thank you percocet!

My prognosis? I don't need my gallbladder out right now because my liver enzyme levels are really good (thank you Ursodiol) and because of how far along I am. However, my midwife does want me to see a surgeon to establish a good rapport in case I do end up needing it out in the future...which could happen. I also need to eat healthier than I have been, and try to keep fried fatty food to a minimum. Meal time isn't hard for healthy's snacking that I struggle with :(

Oh, and I have to take it easy for the next couple of weeks because I'm already dilating and almost completely effaced. We don't want me going into labor too early. Easier said than done. I'm going to be packing a hospital bag, JUST in case.

I was discharged around ten o'clock last night and we got a late meal at IHOP. Egg white vegetable omelette? Don't mind if I do.

I'm feeling a lot better today, though I'm pretty tired. I slept a lot better last night, that's for certain. Stephan telecommuted for work today so he could take care of me. Kate is home now after having lots of fun with Grandma Kathy :) I do have a prescription for percocet that I'll be filling soon, but I'm only to take it if I have another severe attack and I have to call the midwives if I do.

If any of you have healthy snack ideas, send them my way! I need easy, healthy snacks for when I'm nursing this baby because I get SO HUNGRY nursing :)

So ends my hospital saga. I hope that's the last one until I'm induced.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grandpa passes away and I have cholestasis again

Things have been a bit crazy lately.

Just a few weeks ago, Stephan's dad passed away after a long battle with leiomyosarcoma

Wait, what?!

We had known for some time that my father-in-law was dying, but I kept quiet about it here and on social media in general out of respect for my family's privacy and because he lived with the cancer for much longer than the experts expected, we had no idea when he would go.

The last several months have been some of the hardest we've experienced as a family. We pretty much put our lives on hold so we could say good-bye when the time came. Kate started to become scared of Grandpa because of the pain drugs he was taking and the equipment he needed to function. First it was a walker, then a wheelchair, then he needed a morphine pump, oxygen, and finally a hospital bed. Some people have told us, "Oh, Kate is old enough that she'll remember her grandfather!" I'm not sure how I feel about her remembering her grandpa being close to death.

Then there are the people who ask, "Did he suffer long?"

I am going to lay it out right now: never ask that question. NEVER. It is in poor taste, and frankly, it's none of your business because the surviving family members are grieving enough as it is. He had cancer and he battled it for more than a decade (there was a time he was in remission), does that answer your question?

The funeral was a week after he passed away, and it was a good funeral (as far as funerals go). Kate did remarkably well during the service and the events afterwards. Well, during the funeral itself when we were trying to shush her, she said, "No! I want to be LOUD!" Oh, Kate. She slept most of the way to Mendon (a small town by Logan) for the graveside service, which was a tender mercy.

Stephan gave the dedicatory prayer, and it was the most beautiful dedicatory I have ever heard in the many funerals I've ever attended (my humble opinion, of course).

While we are grateful he is no longer in pain, we do miss him. This has been very hard for Stephan, especially since he still has ALL of his grandparents. To lose a parent before losing a grandparent...that is just wrong. Cancer is unfair like that. Mean, mean cancer.

And in other news, I have cholestasis again. This time, the itching came in full swing at 28 weeks and that is when I was diagnosed. So while I was diagnosed at 35 weeks last time and only had two weeks from onset to induction, I will have put up with this itching for a total of nine weeks by the time I deliver (which should be in three weeks, thank goodness).

So right now, I'm taking drugs to help with the itching, making the doctor's office my home away from home, and not getting much sleep. This stinks. Basically, it will be a great act of faith (or stupidity) if I decide to have another child after this one. I'm pretty sure I said the same last time, which is one reason why there will be 3 1/2 years between Kate and her little sister.

What's funny is that last time, I was so disappointed about being induced and this time I can hardly wait. Birth plan? Basically, healthy baby with as little damage to me as humanly possible. Luckily, Little Sis is staying healthy right now and has been measuring either on schedule or slightly ahead. She is also very active. Keep it up sweetie :)

In GOOD news, we have a minivan. Yup.

That's all for now. I'll probably write more about the cholestasis at another time.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Never-ending Fever

Kate doesn't get ill often, but when she does, it's usually only for a few days tops and then all is right in the world again.

So, when she woke up in the wee hours of Sunday morning last week with a fever, we thought that it would be over in a few days and we could continue on with our lives.

We were wrong.

Sunday, we all stayed home from church to keep Kate from spreading germs. She seemed to want us both, so it was good that we were all home together. She slept a lot, we dosed her with children's Tylenol and Advil, etc.

Monday, the fever was still there and again, she slept a lot. She drank lots of water and lemonade, but didn't really want to eat. Then she threw up--that's when I called the doctor. By the time we got to the doctor, she was acting pretty normal and her fever was under control. The doctor said it was just a bug and that she would get over it soon enough.

She never threw up again, thank goodness. On Tuesday, she didn't go to preschool and again, she slept and slept and slept. Only wanted to drink water and once in a while I convinced her to have a popsicle just so she could have some calories at least. I thought for sure she would be better by Wednesday, so she could go to play group and then go back to preschool on Thursday.


Wednesday and Thursday were more or less the same--fever, sleeping, and little appetite. By this point, I was panicking. What if she had something even worse? What if she had gotten rabies from that cat bite she got on Memorial Day? She wasn't even taking ice cream, which made me think, "OH MY GOSH, SHE'S DYING!" I offered many prayers for her health.

I should mention that I was sleep deprived because Kate was waking up all hours of the night asking for water. I'm also pregnant, which doesn't lend itself to having lots of energy. Double whammy. It doesn't help that I have an anxiety disorder, so I naturally tend to panic. But bear with me, I wasn't used to Kate being sick for so long. She's a very healthy child (apart from eczema and food allergies)--I mean, she's only had antibiotics ONCE in her three years of life and that was in eye drop form. Yeah, I got really lucky in the healthy kid department. We consulted with Nurse Grandma numerous times, who assured us that Kate would be just fine. I have decided that everyone needs to be related to a nurse.

By Friday, things were starting to look up. Her fever was in the low grade range, so we hardly had to give her medicine. She was still sleepy, but she at least ate a little macaroni and cheese and drank some apple juice for lunch. That night, her fever broke. HALLELUJAH! I may or may not have sung (to the tune of "The Morning Breaks"), "The fever breaks, the virus flees!" Hey, I was sleep deprived, give me a break.

So now, my sweet, sassy little girl is back and making up for lost calories by eating everything in sight. I like having my good eater back.

We all went to church today, and it was joyous. I was chatting with another mom about Kate's illness, and her Nursery leader said that her daughter (who is about the same age) had the exact same thing about a month ago--waking up all night asking for water and all! She had also freaked out when her daughter had it (because the fever just would not break), so now I don't feel silly.

Now we can venture out into the land of the living (ha ha), although now we're entering a heat wave with highs in the triple digits. I think we'll be spending quality time at the pool and in our air conditioned condo. God bless air conditioning.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


  • We found out in May that we're having another girl. First name has been chosen, but we're stumped about middle names. Kate is VERY excited to be getting a little sister. Due date is now September 30, but I'll probably go sooner than that with my track record.
  • Kate is going to summer preschool twice a week! She loves it and I enjoy the two-hour break for me...heh heh. I've also got her enrolled for the fall.
  • We're hoping to get a second car in the next few months before baby girl comes. Preferably a mini van. I have no shame. So, we're trying to save up for that.
  • I've been nesting. A lot. 
  • My OB closed his practice because of family stuff, so I followed my midwives from last pregnancy over to their new practice (which is where almost EVERYONE in my ward goes). It's a lot closer to where I live and right next to the hospital I'll be delivering at, so I think this is all for the best. 
  • I've started itching a bit again. I had bloodwork done, and so far everything is normal. I'll be getting periodic blood tests in the meantime so we can catch any changes while they're in the early stages. I am glad that once again, my concerns are being taken seriously.
  • It is so very hot here. First we had a long, wet spring and now it is Hades outside. I am not looking forward to being pregnant all through this summer. I guess Kate and I will be spending time at the pool.
  • Kate has had a low grade fever for a few days and hasn't been able to go to preschool. I took her to the doctor on Monday and everything is fine, so it's probably just one of those kid viruses. I'm not used to her having a fever for so long, so I'm hoping she gets better really soon.

I guess that's all for now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kate goes to the dentist

Kate had her first ever dentist visit just over two weeks ago. Truth be told, I put it off too long mostly because I was scared of her being traumatized for life from the dentist. I mean, come on, dentists are a child's worst enemy right? Except, my dentist growing up was actually very nice. He even had a daughter the same age as me who I went to elementary school with. Even still, going to the dentist isn't fun the first time...right?

Well, these fears proved to be unfounded. Kate did VERY well at the dentist.

The hygienists and the dentist were so sweet and gentle with her. I was floored at how well Kate was handling everything--she seemed curious about it all. My first memory of the dentist includes me screaming, but remember that I was speech delayed and was going through more than my fair share of medical tests at the time.

Unfortunately, Kate had a lot of cavities. In fact, one was so deep that she was going to need a baby root canal. They thought she would need two. I felt so horrible, but the dentist said it wasn't uncommon in our area because the water isn't fluoridated here. Needless to say, I really really hate the anti-fluoride crowd right now, but that's another rant for another time.

So, I made an appointment for her to get the root canal(s) done and other cavities filled...for the next day. I paid extra so she could be sedated. Our insurance doesn't cover sedation for root canals because it's considered a "non-necessity". Um, it should be for toddlers!!! Oh well, it's better than paying the therapy bills later in life for an un-sedated root canal, right?

I had to make ride arrangements because of the sedation stuff because Stephan couldn't take time off work. One friend from the ward would take us to the dentist, and another friend would take us home.

Needless to say, this mom worried about her baby being sedated the next day! I began to appreciate my own mom more, for all the times she has had a child undergo surgery. I also worried about not letting Kate eat before the procedure, but it ended up not being too bad. The next morning, after Stephan left for work, she came in for her morning snuggle and slept in my arms for a long time. It was a tender mercy for me :)

We were also potty training at the time, and I just put her in a pull up to be safe. By some miracle, this whole thing didn't completely uproot the potty training.

Waiting for our ride with her lovies

After being dropped off at the dentist's office, we were taken back. Kate wasn't interested in pre-anesthesia laughing gas, and she didn't cry TOO much when they were poking her little arm for the anesthetic. They asked if I had any questions, and I just told them, "Please take good care of my baby." Again, I was amazed at how great they were being with her. I was escorted out of the room after the IV was placed....and waited.

Oh yeah, I forgot to take my meds that morning in all the craziness. D'oh! By another miracle, I managed to get through without, but I took them as soon as I got home! While I waited, I called Stephan and then I called my mom.

The procedure lasted for just over an hour. They came and got me as soon as she woke up, and the poor kid was disoriented and angry that she wasn't allowed to walk around. My friend Misti had come to take us home, and while I had to go back to the front desk to discuss more of the payment stuff (they only had to do one root canal after all, but there were more cavities). My friend stayed with Kate while I signed stuff...and I could hear angry Kate all the way from the front :(

I thought Kate would only be allowed liquids for the rest of the day, but the assistants and dentist told me that she could eat normally! I grabbed a cookie from the front desk to give her, and oh boy did she like it.
Drugs and sugar. Oooh yeah.

Misti also drove me to Zupa's by my house so I could grab lunch for Kate and me (I hadn't eaten since breakfast). She even helped us get upstairs and settled. She was amazed at how well Kate was eating.

I had thought that Kate would take naps for the rest of the day, and oh boy was I wrong.


She even went potty. Mostly we just snuggled until Daddy came home. I think we had leftovers for dinner.

Kate seems unscathed from the experience. We even went to the dentist again a few days later so Stephan and I could have our cleanings and checkups, and she wasn't the slightest bit scared of the office. Thank goodness!

She also likes her "sparkle tooth"

On the plus side, she is eating much better now than she was before. I guess it's hard to eat when your teeth are hurting :(

She also takes tiny fluoride pills every night after brushing her teeth and affectionately calls them her "teeth medicine".

In other news, Kate is officially potty trained! *cue the hallelujah chorus*

Sunday, April 19, 2015


If you read my last post, I mentioned having a subchorionic bleed several weeks ago.

Basically, it's a small pocket of blood near the placenta--approximately 20% of women experience this during pregnancy. Most of the time it's harmless especially if it's small, but bigger ones can cause more problems.

One Friday, when I was just about 11 weeks pregnant, I went to the bathroom and discovered blood. Red blood. Naturally, I panicked. I left a message on my doctor's voicemail asking him to call back, and when he did, I told him what was happening. He told me that chances were good that everything was fine, but because of last summer's miscarriage, we would arrange for an ultrasound. He called the order into the hospital radiology department and then I made an appointment to go get an seven o'clock at night. Did I mention that it was his day off when he did all of this? Well, it was.

Stephan came home early in the meantime because I was freaking out.

Oh, and I had to drink lots of water an hour before going in so I could have a full bladder for the ultrasound. Yaaaaay.

We dropped Kate off with the grandparents, checked in at the hospital, and waited. It felt like we waited forever just for the ultrasound.

They came and got us, and we went into the ultrasound room. When the ultrasound tech started the ultrasound, she commented on my very full bladder. I asked her to be gentle.

She was quiet the entire time, and unlike the OB office, there was no TV monitor showing the ultrasound. So...I just laid there and prayed very hard. "Please let this baby be okay," I prayed. Stephan was sitting in a chair and could see a little bit of the ultrasound (he thought he saw baby move, which was reassuring to me). After the tech was finished, I asked her if the bathroom was close (remember, it had been more than an hour since I had gone!). Luckily, the bathroom was right across the hall from the ultrasound room, and I made good use of it. It's cruel to make pregnant ladies wait to use the toilet.

Then there was even more waiting. I swear we waited an hour, watching some weird cooking and reality shows in the waiting room. First the radiologist had to look at other stuff before getting to my ultrasound and then they had a hard time getting a hold of my doctor.

Diagnosis: a very small subchorionic bleed. Baby was fine (hallelujah!). Basically, I needed to take it easy. Actually, I was told that I needed to go on bed rest, but like that was going to happen with a three-year-old. I took it easy for the next week and didn't do any heavy lifting other than occasionally picking Kate up.

I am now 16 weeks along and baby is still doing well. No more bleeding--it only lasted about a day, thank goodness. We will find out if it's a boy or a girl on May 7!

We're also convinced that this one likes to freak us out for attention.

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