Guess who’s due date is today?

Needed an advent

Little doors counting down days

Dispensing candy

Today Ike-a-saurus is 40 weeks! He's made it to term! 6lbs 5oz, 17 inches. He's still on the midgety side of things, but lord o lord how he's grown!

A recap for those with the 1001 Things That Can Go Wrong With Your Pregnancy bingo cards:

Early march, 2008: WHAT?! PREGNANT?! Call bff in state of shock, catch her on her way to Target, keep her on her phone for 45 minutes while she sits in her car. Go through rapid-cycling stages of denial and acceptance

April, 2008: make it past first trimester only to start bleeding. Everywhere. It stops after a morning. Subchorionic hemorrhage discovered. Partial bedrest of the "don't do anything crazy" variety is imposed.

May, 2008: a hell of a lot more bleeding, trip to ER. Stupid blood clot. Partial bedrest continues.

June, 2008: bleeding never really stops. Baby is fine, though he has a single umbilical artery and we worry about it. Go see a perinatologist, he says all is well, other than the fucking clot (not his exact words).

July, 2008: make it to 20 weeks – July 1st – then, water breaks. Or does it? Go to L&D repeated times, see my doctor repeated times, tests are negative for amniotic fluid, fluid level is OK. And then suddenly it's not. But tests are still negative. WTF? Use highly technical Dixie cup to catch next gush, bring it in to doctor… Positive.

Freak out.

See perinatologist. He recommends termination. He says I will get septic, the baby won't properly develop lungs. If I make it another two weeks – which he assures me there's less than a 10% chance of – I could be putting my life at risk and selfishly gestating a baby that will die in or out of my womb.

Go on complete bed rest at home.

Freak out. A lot. A lot a lot.

Decide that doctor has a not great bedside manner. Decide not to get septic or terminate.

Sit in bed and cry.

Worry a lot.

Take shitloads of abx and tocolytics.

Cry.

Watch beverly hills 90210.

Cry, but this time because brenda wore those awful suspenders.

Start bleeding again, along with gushing amniotic fluid, go to hospital at 23 weeks, 6 days.
Admitted for the duration of the pregnancy.

August, 2008: complete bed rest in hospital. Baby is transverse breech, but doing pretty well.
Contractions start big time.
Lots of terbutaline shots, steroid shots, one shot of stadol on a bad day, shots shots shots.

36 days of shots later… Isaac is born! 28 weeks, 2 days gestation. He is 2lbs 5oz and 12 inches long. He is tiny. Really, really tiny. But he's only on the ventilator for 24 hours. Only on CPAP another 24. Then it's nasal canula all the way.

His lungs DID grow.

He DID get born.

September, 2008: NICU nicu NICU. Bradys, desats, apneas, PICC line, learning how to eat, how to poop… how to be a mommy in two places at once

October, 2008: more learning to eat and poop. So much driving back and forth to the NICU. So much pumping.

10/20: he comes home at exactly 8 weeks old, 36 weeks gestation.

November, 2008: we learn how to be a family again.

Today is his due date. Today is when everything was supposed to start. Instead, it all ends and THEN it starts. Today he is officially a newborn. Today I am not supposed to be pregnant.

Today.

I never thought it would come.

40 weeks.

Today.

It's here. At last.

Things that have been ruined

associative
memories can be too much
lurking in shadows

I'm learning that there are things that have been completely ruined by my hospital stay and the NICU visits. When I see them, taste them, hear them, smell them, read them, play them, I am transported back to a place I don't want to be. It's kind of a shame, especially with the music and the snacks and the books.

I keep thinking if I take time away from this stuff then maybe I can come back to it anew, but really, I think that's a backwards approach. Taking time away from it is only going to make the associative memories stronger. They become kind of latent – like a smell that suddenly reminds you of your grandmother 10 years after she's been gone, or the chorus of a song reminding you of the day you watched your boyfriend make-out with someone else when he thought you weren't looking. You forget about those memories and then WHAP they smack you in the face one day when you're driving down the street, or walking through a farmer's market, or shopping at Target.

If I fight the latency, then maybe I can reclaim the stuff I want to – used to – like. But that's a lot of work. Trying to desensitize yourself to painful memories just to enjoy a record seems a little bit crazy. On the other hand, being smacked across the face with a sudden time travel back to hospital bedrest is no fun either.

For now, I guess, I have to take a break from these things. Maybe one day I will be ready to wallow in the memories they bring back (and by wallow, I mean let them get to me until they don't anymore – like whatsherface in The Abyss having to drown so that she can survive).

  • Pregnant women (it is excruciating for me to see them, hear about them, talk to them, read about them or otherwise acknowledge they exist. They make me scared and sad and nervous and protective – a strange and uncomfortable variety of emotions)
  • Vampire Weekend (listened to in the car on the way to and from the NICU to keep my spirits up)
  • Clif Bars (eaten in the car on the way to and from the NICU to keep my blood sugar up)
  • Cetaphil face soap (the liquid kind – used to quickly wash my face when I finally got showering "privileges" in the hospital)
  • The Closer (watched on the nights I had AFIs [amniotic fluid measurements] and the night I went into labor for real)
  • I am Legend (the book – a great book that was the perfect metaphor for being trapped in the hospital)
  • Aurora Feint (a game on my iphone that I played during the 20 minutes breaks between terbutaline shots on the bad nights in the hospital)
  • Pretty much all of my t-shirts (worn on bedrest at home and in the hospital)

Those are just the main ones. The REALLY scary ones are those that I can't think of, that sneak up out of nowhere. That's when you find yourself crying at Target and not knowing why.

Though I have to say, even with all of this, so much good has come out of The Saga. Obviously, there's Ike-a-saurus. But then there's also this deep, deep appreciation of my home and being able to see and hug and yell at anyone whenever I want. There is the satisfaction of being able to pick up my baby without having to ask someone if it's OK first. There's the wonderful freedom to go anywhere, at anytime, and buy milkshakes for myself and the kids. There are the closer relationships and the Things That Hadn't Been Said that were said between me and others – both good and bad. There's a lot of stuff I'm thankful for. Even when I fuss about silly things, I am still deeply grateful. So I guess sacrificing a few songs and books and snacks for the sake of sanity is OK.

At least for now.

It’s an ax-ee-net

bad butter fingers
conspire to maim innocents
ruin self-esteem

It is hard for us to get going in the mornings. I'm running on no sleep, and when I wake up I'm usually well behind on my pumping schedule, Ike-a-saurus is starving, the wee-er one is starving, I am desperate for a shower to wake me up, etc. (Thank goodness my husband gets the wee one off to school!)

So when we have to actually get out of the house, things get pretty frantic, pretty quickly.

This morning, we had a well check for the wee-er one at 9:30. When I made the appointment I thought that seemed plenty late in the morning – past rush hour, even.

Ha

Ha

Ha

Just by the skin of our teeth we managed to be in the garage trying to get in the car at 9:04. We live 20 minutes from the doctor – in no traffic. It was going to be close.

That was when I dropped my water bottle on Ike's face. Mm-hmm. A full bottle of good ol' Ozarka, WHACK, square between the eyes.

He was in his car seat, which I had set on the garage floor while I was getting the wee-er one in the car. As I juggled her and the diaper bag and my other bag (which I hesitate to call a purse – it's more of a diaper bag appendix), the water bottle slipped from my hand and made a sickening thwap sound. At first I thought we got really lucky and it had just hit the side of the carseat. There was that millisecond of silence that happens right after something bad has occurred. That one millisecond where you think everything might be OK. Everything is silent, the world stops, and you think, whew, what I fear just happened maybe didn't happen.

But then Ike-a-saurus screwed up his face into a purple ball of sheer WTF. And then he screamed. Oh, how he screamed.

You know when you go to a restaurant like the Cracker Barrel and there are those games on the table? Games meant to challenge your mind, take up a lot of time, frustrate you, and ultimately get tossed through an open window? Can you remove the washer from this bent up railroad spike? No? Too bad for you! And it's still another 30 minutes until your grits arrive! Sucker! Well, the people who invented those games also invented the straps on Ike-a-saurus' car seat. It takes like 20 minutes and an engineering degree to get him strapped in. Then it takes another 20 minutes and a reverse engineering degree to get him out. And you don't get rewarded with a bowl of grits when you're done.

So he was screaming, and I had to rustle around in my brain to find my Car Seat Reverse Engineering Degree to unstrap him so that I could then rustle up my mama MD to check him for signs of blunt trauma and/or brain damage. Of course, while I am doing this, the wee-er one is taking off her shoes and her pants and eating raisins off the floor of the car.

I finally got her strapped in, deemed Ike possibly undamaged, spent 20 minutes getting him strapped back into his torture device car seat and we were finally driving down the street.

That was when we were met with the longest line of traffic I have ever seen. People were driving across the blowing two-foot tall chaff in the wide highway median to get away from this traffic beast. I thought about it, but then had visions of being ticketed while a tow truck driver asked why my baby's forehead has a water bottle shaped bruise on it.

So we sat in traffic. I choked back tears of "WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE SO HARD" and called my superstar friend to see if she could use her mad skillz to find out what the fuck was going on. All traffic reports said everything was clear. Of course they did. She consoled me. We hung up. I called the doctor's office to tell them we were going to be ridiculously late.

Finally, we made it. The doctor gave a free looksee at Ike's face and proclaimed all was well. (At least you didn't drop him head first on concrete, he said laughing. The day isn't over yet, I replied cheerfully.) He poked at the wee-er one, said she is a bit skinny for her age, and then he was off. One MMR and Hep A shot later, we were back in the car. This time, the wee-er one was screaming her head off.

After tylenol, motrin, an ice pack, a bribe of any baby doll she wants, a Frosty, some french fries, uninterrupted Elmo watching, and a nap, she is feeling much better. Me? I am tired.

"It's an ax-ee-net," the wee-er one says now, pointing at the red mark on Ike-a-saurus' head.
"A what?" I ask.
"An ax-ee-net on his head. Wif da water."
"Yes," I agree. "It was an accident."
"It fweeks me out," she confirms.
"It freaks me out, too," I say.

This whole day. Freaking me out. 

It’s 3:20 am

This hour kicks my ass
Later in the day – not fun
Though it’s quiet now

Waking up between 2 and 3 every AM is not a lot of fun. This is the time I’ve chosen for one of our two stinky Neosure feedings.

Ike-a-saurus guzzles a couple of ounces of the preemie formula, then I pump and watch most of the formula rise back up and come out of his nose, I console, clean, re-diaper, change his outfit, find a dry blanket, and then we both collapse into a fitful sleep until 5, when it starts all over again. Though at 5, it’s daddy’s turn. (if only he could pump, too.)
(hush with your dirty jokes.)

And even though this “routine” is exhausting, I have to say… Tiny bright eyes, a warm soft head, squishy cuddles… It’s so nice, even at 3:20am.

I should write that down

for good or evil
memory can go both ways
a tough decision

Every time I sit down to blog, or even to write just for myself, I think that I will write the story of my pregnancy, how it all went wrong, the hospital stay, Ike-a-saurus' birth story, the NICU story, everything. I envision it as a kind of cliff-hanger million-part series. I plan to write just until I can't take it anymore, and then I can pick up where I left off a few days later.

But I can't do it. It's still just too hard. I've started to wonder if not talking about it would be a good way to go. Just put it behind me, kiss Ike-a-saurus on the head, and move on. I don't think that's something I can do, though. It feels like a story that needs to be told, if not to just excise it from my head, to put it out in the ether for other people to read – people who are going through a similar thing.

It feels like, if the only way I can karmically pay back the Universe or God or whomever, is to spread the story then I better well get to it. If carefully illustrating the true pain and scariness and elation and worry is the only real way to pay back the friends and family who sacrificed so much for us – the only way to even begin to try to show them how their efforts kept us bouyant in a time of drowning – then, again, I better get to it.

I sit here, and as I type, I see the scar on the outside of my left wrist from the first IV that was hastily installed when I hurried to the hospital in late July. I can find two more IV scars, but just barely. For some reason that first one is darker than the others. It's going to stick with me, I think. And when I see it, I always think, "I need to tell the story."

The other day, I went through the blog and read some of the posts from that time, and there weren't that many. It's amazing how much love and support we got with just a handful of "things are really bad" posts. No details, or only minor details, and yet, everyone knew we were in need.

I have not really been in need in my life before. And now that things are settling down, I don't know how to transition back. Day-to-day, yes, I do know. Our family is closer than ever. Friendships are bonded with the super glue of shared terror and shared elation. But emotionally – emotionally I am having a bit of a hard time knowing how to be OK again. How to not be scared, how to say thank-you, how to be OK with the fact that my thank-yous will never be enough to really say thank-you.

So I want to write it down.

But I can't.

I will one day, or, really, over the course of many days. But not yet.

I just wanted to let you know it's coming.

And I used to like going to the eye doctor

small gelato spoon
looks so dainty until it
scoops out baby's eye

Ike-a-saurus has to go to the eye doctor every two weeks until he is term. This is to monitor the vascularization (is that a word?) of his eyes. We're watching out (so to speak) for ROP, which I think stands for Retinopathy of Prematurity. So far his eyes are fine, maybe a little farsighted, but nothing major.

Since his eyes are fine, it is hard for me to understand why we have to keep taking him to the opthamologist – or Crazy Ass Eye-Ball Scooping Grouch, MD.

Every time we go get Ike's eyes checked, the doctor gets a nurse to pin him down and then puts in these fucked up looking Minority Report eye speculums. They are actually called Eye Speculums. Then he sticks this thing that I like to call The Gelato Spoon – INTO Ike-a-saurus' eyes. As you can imagine, much screaming ensues. From Ike, from me, from the wee-er one who cries whenever Ike cries… it is a disaster.

They dilate his eyes before this traumatic process, and they put an anesthetic in his eyes before the gelato spoon, but it doesn't seem like they give that anesthetic enough time to kick in. It is just horrifying. And lord does he cry. This is not a baby that cries for anything. Even vaccines just make him squeal for a second and then he's fine.

We have one more visit left (hopefully), but I don't know how I am going to be able to take him back there. It's hard for me to understand how these trips are not doing more harm than good. I hate them. I hate them so much.

And just to add insult to injury, there is this list I have in my head; a list of things I don't want to talk about with strangers. It is like the Seven Words You Can't Say on TV, only it's composed of the Specific Topics You Don't Mention To Me In Public (or mostly anywhere). Things like premature babies dying, how it's OK to be racist if you're old and Texan, future physical and developmental problems former preemies suffer, etc. My list is violated every time I go to that stupid eye doctor.

Next time someone at that place violates my list I am just going to shout forbidden words at them to shock them into shutting up.

"I know a baby that caught a dread disease and—"

"COCKSUCKER!"

"Can you believe how black the new presi—"

"TAINT!"

"Have you had your son tested for—"

"TWAT!"

I think maybe if I do that, we will never have to go back no matter what.

Fucking eye doctor, ruining gelato for us forever AND making me write twat on my blog. Asshole.