Saturday, November 16, 2013

Daily Fears of Parenthood

Austin is 7 months old now.  It's been a whirlwind and it's been difficult, but I am, generally, happy.  I don't remember the 26th of every month anymore.  I don't think about Riley every day anymore.  But I do think of him.  When I pass his sunset picture frame in my bedroom.  When I drive by the cemetery where he is buried.  But I don't look at Austin and think, "Riley would have done this a year ago", or think, "Riley would have been a little over a year old now".  I feel very fortunate that I survived my grief, that I recovered and have moved on with my life.

These days are more focused on Austin and his growth and development.  He was born with thumb hypoplasia, a very rare congenital abnormality where his thumbs did not grow properly at
birth.  Eventually he'll have some sort of surgery on his left thumb (it has zero function).  His right thumb he can use, but will most likely have limited usage.

We saw an occupational therapist this week.  According to her his gross motor skills are delayed a little over a month.  So of course you can't help but panic that something more is wrong with him. Or like the fact that he's not "babbling" yet.  He squeals and giggles and laughs, but he's not doing the "baa baa, ma ma, da da" that he's "supposed" to be doing at this age.

I remember with Neil (who was 9 weeks premature) having the same fears during his first year. Eventually he caught up - but he had reason to be delayed.  He was premature.  Even then, with his corrected age, he was still behind on everything - crawling, walking, talking.  So rationally I know that Austin will probably be the same.  But emotionally it's so hard.  You just want your kids to be "perfect".  I'm sure there are lots of other parents out there has the same fears but it's oh so hard.  And it's hard too when none of your friends are dealing with anything remotely like this. They've never had any real "problems" with pregnancy or childhood development, so it's rough. And when I try to talk to my husband about it he just tries to brush it off, saying I worry too much.

It's just tough.  I really, really don't want Austin to have anything else wrong with him.  I know that if he does we'll deal with it, but gosh it's tough.  And unfair.  And frustrating.  And it just makes me mad.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Time out from blog writing

Austin is 6 weeks old now.  It's been a rough 6 weeks of no sleep and lots of doctors appointments. Through it all I often stop and think how grateful I am to have this little boy in our lives.  It's hard to remember that at 2am when he just won't sleep, but when he looks at me with his angelic face, I am so happy.

This blog has helped me through such a difficult time in my life with the loss of Riley.  Connecting with other parents who suffered infant loss has been so cathartic for me.  But now it's time to focus on life, and my family.  I may return to writing again, but for now I want to focus on the future.  I'll never forget Riley and he'll always be a special part of me, but I don't want to be sad anymore and I want to stop dwelling on the past.

Here's the to future and whatever it may bring...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Thumb Hypoplasia

So Austin has thumb hypoplasia.  A rare abnormality of the thumbs that occurs in 1 out of 100,000 babies where the thumbs did not form properly during the first few weeks of gestation (usually around week 5-8 of pregnancy).  There is no known cause for this, just that they didn't form properly.  And of course we always get stuck with the rare cases!

His right thumb is better than the left.  The left is what they call a "floating thumb", where the bones did not grow enough and the thumb is just hanging loose, "floating".  We saw the orthopedic surgeon last week and she said there's essentially no hope for his ever having use of his left thumb as is. Is is best treated by pollicization of the index finger, where they take the index finger and turn it into a thumb, leaving him with 3 fingers and a thumb.

It's just so unreal. I just don't understand why we couldn't have been blessed with a "normal" baby after everything we've been through.  And yet I kick myself for saying that because there are so many worse things that could have happened to him.  He will figure it out, how to use his fingers and thumbs.  He'll probably be teased a lot in school and he'll always have to approach the subject with strangers and new people he meets, but it could be a lot worse.

The only unknown for now is whether he has any other associated conditions.  About 86% of the children with hypoplastic thumb have associated abnormalities.  Fortunately we've already ruled out a heart condition, but he could have kidney or urinary issues. We got for an ultrasound of his stomach in 2 weeks to find out.

So yeah, it's scary, frustrating, and annoying, but at the end of the day it is what it is and we're going to have to deal with it.  But I think I'm done with issues now!  We've had our share, so it would be nice to be left to our devices and not have any more surprises...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Introducing Austin Riley Taylor - born April 10, 2013

We made it!!  Austin Riley Taylor was born April 10, 2013 at 3.21pm.  He was 6lb7oz.  After 15 hours of labour (!) and an attempt at a natural birth, he ended up being born by c-section.

It's been a 11 days and the time has passed so quickly, yet so slowly.  Feeding is going well, but the nights are so, so hard.  I'm in a state of delirium, really.  Neil has not been adjusting well, having several fits a day and it's been really hard.

Unfortunately, Austin has a few problems - his thumbs are not properly developed and he has an indentation at the base of his spine.  So, it means more hospital visits - ultrasounds on his back, meeting with an orthopedic surgeon, as well as a geneticist to rule out these issues being related to some other syndrome.  It's extremely scary.  After everything we've been through you just want to have a "perfect, healthy baby".  But because we always seem to the on the wrong side of percentages, if it can happen to us it does.  Makes you wonder why us?

But through it all I try to just look at our gorgeous angel, Austin, who made it through despite all the struggles and the long, long weeks of bed rest.  And I know that no matter what we will love him for all that he is, but you just pray that everything will work out okay in the end.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

37 weeks!

We made it!!!  Full term.  Can you believe it?  After 10 weeks of couch potato rest this baby is finally considered full term.  Amazing.  It's hard to describe the range of emotions I'm feeling: elation, relief, apprehension, fear, impatience.  They roll around continuously as if daring me to chose one and stick to it.

Elation : I am thrilled we made it this far.  With Neil being born at 31 weeks, I never thought I'd make it past 35 weeks.  Sure, I'd heard the stories of women who'd delivered prematurely and their next child went full term, but given my history of being on the wrong side of percentages, I never actually believed I would be one of them.  So indeed I am elated.

Relief: that this baby (hopefully) won't spend several weeks in the NICU.  No travelling back and forth to the hospital ever day, not able to spend any private time with your newborn, always being at the mercy of the nurses and those darn machines!

Apprehension & fear: We've made it this far, nothing could go wrong now...right?  Right???  I am so terrified of losing this baby after I've done everything I can to keep him alive until now.  I feel like after all the struggles we've been through, it just isn't possible that something would go wrong again, right?  But that doubt nags at me, clawing it's way into my head whenever possible.  I try to push it aside and bring myself back to only positive thoughts and images, but it is oh so hard.

Impatience: Let's get this baby out already!!  I want to meet him, I want to hold him, I don't want to be pregnant anymore.  lol!  Having never made it this far in a pregnancy, I now totally understand what all those women in their 9th month complain about: aching bodies, peeing ALL THE TIME, exhaustion, crankiness, impatience.  I feel it all.  Plus the fact that I have painful contractions EVERY DAY, and nothing becomes of them is very frustrating.  I'll have contractions for 3 hours and I think, "this is it.  The time has come".  And then they subside.  The waiting is killing me!

Through it all, I always bring myself back to this: This is the decision we made - that we would try one more time.  We knew it would be difficult; we knew it would be emotional; we knew it would be a long 9 months.  But through it all, we knew it would be worth it - regardless of the outcome.  I knew I didn't want to wake up at 40 and regret not having tried one more time.  So whatever happens, I am happy we chose to go through this one last time, even if I am elated, relieved, apprehensive, fearful and impatient.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Torn between impatience and hope

I am so ready for this pregnancy to be over with.  I'll be 36 weeks tomorrow and I ache all over.  It's getting harder and harder to walk up and down the stairs.  I'm continuously out of breath.  I have contractions every day, but they always cease.  I'm tired.  I'm grumpy. I'm scared.

A part of me wants to go into labor now so that Snoop can be born and this long stretch of months of waiting and anticipation will be over.  And the other part of me knows how great it would be if I would go full term.  Just one more week.  It's possible, right?

D. wants to go on a farm tour in Ontario on Thursday.  It's 3 hours away and I'm so afraid that something will happen that day and he won't get back in time.  But of course if I make him stay and I don't go into labor he'll be pissed and frustrated and upset.  But seriously, what other husband would actually drive 3 hours away when their wife is 36 weeks pregnant and has had the history and bad luck that I have?  I mean am I asking too much?  Am I being unreasonable?  So part of me wants to have the baby now so he doesn't go on Thursday.  How horrible is that?

And of course as I'm writing this I'm having contractions - but I'm sure they'll stop.  They always do :)

Argh......the waiting game!  I know it's only a matter of time, I just have to be patient.  Not one of my strong points.  I'm probably the least patient person I know.  ha ha!

But I can do this.  I know I can.  When I start to get scared and emotional I try to remind myself that I can handle this.  I have been through so more before.  This is nothing in comparison.  I just have to be strong.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Uterine Rupture Risk

So first of all....35 weeks!!!  When I was in the hospital 9 weeks ago I never, ever believed I would make it this far in the pregnancy.  Neil was born at 31 weeks, so I was sure I wouldn't go much more than 33 or 34 weeks.  But I'm halfway through 35 weeks and after seeing my doctor yesterday he says it's looking like I'll go another 2 weeks!  wow.

So anyways, at Thursday's ultrasound the doctor asked me what my birth plan was with my doctor.  I jokingly said, "go 40 weeks", to which her response was, "um, that's not necessarily a good idea".  Huh?

Since the beginning I've said I wanted to deliver this baby naturally.  We know this is possible because I delivered Riley naturally.  But, since Neil was born by c-section I do have a risk of uterine rupture (1%).  What I did not know is that if I don't spontaneously go into labor and the doctors induce me, the risk of rupture increases exponentially.  So basically if by 38 weeks I don't go into labor by myself they won't induce me and plan a c-section.

I just never considered that option because they induced me with Riley. But with Riley I was only 29 weeks and he was only 3 lbs, so even though I was induced it was a much smaller risk.

I really don't want a c-section (I remember how painful it was to recover from my last one), but I also don't want to take any more risk than I have to.  If I do rupture my uterus its catastrophic - as in baby most likely dies or ends us severely mentally handicapped.  Nice odds, huh?

So do I hope for natural labor and natural delivery by 37 weeks, or do I just not take any chances and tell my doctor I want a c-section no matter what, even if I do go into labor myself?  I just don't know what to do!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More contractions, but so far so good

Last night I had a lot of contractions.  From 10-11.30pm and then from 2.30-4.00am.  There were btw 10-15 minutes apart, so no reason to panic or go to the hospital but of course I was awake all night this it?  Am I going to go into labour soon?

Tomorrow I'll be 34 weeks.  That's 7 weeks that I will have been on couch potato rest.  Gosh it's been a long, long road.  It's hard to believe I'll be full term in 3 weeks.  After such a long, stressful, scary, emotional, and overwhelming pregnancy, I can almost see the light...just please don't let it be a train at the end of a tunnel!!  But seriously, I'm so optimistic and scared and nervous all at once.  I so, so want this baby to be born healthy and alive and I just feel like I'm playing with time, with fate.  I don't know.  I'm so afraid to believe that he's going to live, be born, but I want it so so much.

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday.  I'm 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced, which I guess you can stay at this stage for several weeks.  At any rate, a girl was there for her 6 week postpartum checkup and she had her baby girl with her.  She was so tiny!  And just looking at her I was thinking, "gosh, I'm going to have a baby that small in just a few weeks".  But it's so hard, because I really, really want to believe it to be true, but there's always this nagging doubt, this little voice in my head saying, "don't get ahead of yourself, Cat, nothing is guaranteed yet".  Argh!!!  It's so annoying!  It makes me so angry that I can't be excited and enjoy the thought of have our baby boy in a few weeks.  It's not fair.  Not fair at all.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dear Neil (2 1/2 years)

Dear Neil,

You are two and a half years old now and you are such a toddler!  You are climbing and jumping over everything.  Everything is funny to you and everything is "no" or "oui"!  You are talking more and more every day, which is such a relief and a pleasure.  It's so cute to see you discover new words and some of the things you say are hilarious   You are our little french boy too, which is so funny.  Half the time I can't tell if you're speaking french or english, which makes it difficult to understand you and which frustrates you immensely, but when we do understand you it's so great to see your face light up in joy.

Your favourite sentence lately is, "un autre barn la" (another barn there)!  Every time we go for a drive in the country and you see all the farms you say "un autre barn la".  It's so cute how you say "barn" instead of "grange", so you're really "frenglish".

You continue to love daycare, which makes us so happy.  Sabrina is going such a great job with you and it's clear that you're learning and developing and growing so well.  You spend lots of time outside this winter, and it's so great to see how much fun you're having in the snow this year.  You can actually go sledding and climbing and build snowmen.  And you love it so much!

You love the barn with a passion, but you're still scared of the calves, which I find so funny.  The big cows don't scare you, but the babies do.  Strange!  But every day you ask to go to the barn, which makes daddy very happy :)  You love tractors and trucks and I know daddy can't wait for you to grow a little older so he can teach you how to drive them.

But gosh so much has happened in the last 6 months!  You went to New Hampshire and went swimming in the lake.  You swam so much this summer and loved it!  I think you're part fish.  You went to Santa's Village and met all santa's little elves.  You went to Cayo Coco Cuba in November with your best buds Noah and Zack (and John and Jojo) and had a wonderful time.  The plane ride down was difficult, but the return trip was great.  You celebrated Christmas in style, and it was so great to see you really enjoy Christmas this year.  Opening presents was such a thrill because you were so excited for every gift.  You were spoiled once again this year :)

You had your first real "accident" when one of the other kids at daycare pushed you into the bench.  Your forehead split open and you got a nasty gash.  Fortunately Sabrina knew exactly what to do, and you didn't need stitches.  You recovered quickly, but hopefully you don't end up with too big a scar.

You've become such a sociable little kid these past few months too.  You're open to meeting new people and it doesn't take long for you to be talking and laughing with them.  You love to give kisses and hugs, which is so nice too because for the longest time you weren't very quick at giving affection.

And so, dear Neil, I can't wait to see how you grow over the next 6 months.  It's going to be an interesting time for all of us, with baby coming in the next month or two.  I know it will be hard at first to share your mom and dad with someone else, but I'm sure you will love and protect your little brother and I know you're going to be a great big brother.

Until next time, little man.

Riley's Pregnancy Journal

Today I took out the pregnancy journal I wrote in when I was pregnant with Riley.  I wanted to read the section about what to bring to the hospital so I could start putting my hospital bag together.  When I took the journal out, I don't know why but I didn't realize it was Riley's journal.  I flipped through the pages and found the section from week 29.  I wrote in it each day:

Sun Aug 21:
29 weeks!  We're getting there.  It feels like the weeks are going by so slowly but when he comes it will feel like it went so fast.
Mon Aug 22:
Begged mom & dad for a glider rocker today.  Got one for Neil's room and it's so much better/comfortable to hold him now.  Still thinking of names.  Gosh this is hard.
Tue 23:
Had contractions this morning.  A little scary! Saw Dr. B and everything is okay.  Phew! But glucose levels high so have to go for 2nd test.  And doing another ultrasound.  11 weeks to go!
Wed 24:
Glucose test tomorrow.  Ugh. Hope it goes okay and I don't have gest. diabetes.

Kind of surreal to read it back.  It's like that with life.  You have no idea what's coming.  One day everything is one way and the next your whole world turns upside down.  I also found my 20 week ultrasound pictures in the back of the journal.  There's one that is really good - you can really see him.  Gosh it's strange.  But you know, I got a little teary-eyed, but I didn't break down, so that's really good progress I think.  Probably because things are going well with this pregnancy.  But it reminds you that anything can happen.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"we don't know when you will go into labor"

So I saw my doctor today.  I'm 1 cm dilated   Which is normally nothing to worry about, but since Neil was born 9 weeks premature, my doctor's response was, "we don't know when you will go into labor.  It could be this week, it could be in a month".  Thanks for making it easy for me doc! lol!

But overall I'm pretty zen about the whole thing.  I've got the shots of cortisone, so if anything happens at least his lungs will have a better chance.  And I've been through it before, so I know how having a premie works, and what the NICU is all about.  But I really want to make it full term.

I have contractions every day.  A few in the morning, a few at night.  It's unsettling, especially those that hurt more, because you don't know if it's just casual contractions or if it's going to start.  And you don't want to stress too much because that can make the contractions worse.  Ah, the waiting game, gotta love it!

32 weeks, 1 day.  We're getting there!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

31 week milestone passed

Neil was born at 31 weeks, 2 days.  I passed that milestone on Friday.  One more hill we've conquered!  It wasn't without incident, though.  Wednesday I ended up in the hospital again with contractions.  All turned out okay - no change in cervix or baby, so we were happy about that.  They kept me for 24 hours, though, to give me the 2 shots of cortisone for baby's lungs.  This way if I do deliver prematurely in the next 2 weeks he'll have had that added help.

So I'm starting to feel more encouraged, more like this baby has a chance now.  Because if Neil was born 9 weeks early and is perfectly healthy now, then if we had another baby early it would be okay.  And I feel like I'm less afraid of the possibility of stillbirth again, even though I know it is indeed a real possibility.  But I guess because I've passed the 2 major milestones, I'm breathing a little easier.

The hardest part about all of this is being so lonely and bored.  I can't do anything, I can't go out and enjoy the winter.  It's really hard being cooped up all the time.  Like this afternoon, D's friend called him up and invited us to join him at the local outdoor rink.  Of course I couldn't go.  So D got to go and have a great time with our friends while I was stuck at the house.  It's really hard.  You get depressed because you're so emotional anyways, and no one really understands it.  All my friends are like "you're so lucky, you can relax and watch tv and get caught up on sleep".  Yeah, yeah.  You try it!  I'm such a busy, active person normally that this is just killing me!

But now we're really starting to count down: 60 days to 40 weeks!  It seems reachable now.  The last 4 weeks went by so slowly, but I do feel like the next 4 weeks will go by a little faster and then it will be just gravy.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tug of War between Getting Excited and Being Nervous

On Thursday we went to Toys R US.  There was a stroller on sale I wanted to look at.  We ended up buying it (the Baby Trend Expedition ELX Travel System, in case you're wondering).  And do you know what my first question to the sales lady was?  If we don't take it out of the box, can we return it?  Doesn't that just suck?  Most expecting parents would be so excited to open the box as soon as they got home, to put the stroller together and test it out, etc.  My first thought is: well, I don't want to jinx anything in case he doesn't make it.

I'm having a really hard time with this.  I keep thinking about all these great things I want to buy Snoop Dog, but I'm so afraid to buy anything.  When walking around toys r us I also saw these adorable little blankets and I so wanted to get one, but something inside of me just won't let me.  I started welling up in tears because it's not fair.  It's not fair that I can't be excited and happy about this pregnancy.  All these other pregnant women are feeling these wonderful emotions and I don't get to experience any of them.

When I was pregnant with Neil and I had absolutely no idea what baby items I should get.  I knew nothing about babies before Neil came along.  So of course I had to rely on friends suggestions and figure it out along the way. Now I know better.  I want to buy the adorable blankets that I never knew existed with Neil.  I want to get the cool toys and play sets and outfits, etc, but I just can't.  I know that when Snoop is born I'll be able to do it all then, but there's something about being able to  stock up and prepare everything while pregnant that makes it so exciting.  Argh!!  No fair.

69 days to go...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thank you to Neil's Daycare Educator

Dear Neil's Daycare Educator,

Thank you.  For everything that you do.  As the 3rd player in this Everest like climb of the mountain we call child-raising, you play such a critical role in Neil's growth and development, and you are doing such a wonderful job.  You are caring and loving, sympathetic and understanding, firm and tough when required, and exactly what our son needs during these critical early years.

We don't thank our daycare educators enough.  Why is that?  They are with our children for 9-10 hours every day.  They see our children grow and learn.  They teach our children right from wrong.  They console them when they are sad, dry their tears when they fall, and celebrate with them when they learn something new.  They help our children discover this wonderful world.  They make things interesting.  They are so creative and enthusiastic.  And yet they are always the last to be thanked.  Just because we pay them, doesn't mean they don't deserve any less praise and appreciation than, say, our child's doctor.  Sure a doctor might be able to prescribe antibiotics to rid an infection, but a daycare educator is the one who identified your child is getting sick in the first place.  She's the one who notices when something is a little off and helps you figure out what is going on.

Neil's educator, we'll call her Angel, is truly a gift from the heavens.  Now granted I don't have others to compare her to, but I feel so blessed and grateful to have found her.  Not only is her daycare only 1 km from our house, but the atmosphere she creates is so loving and caring.  You can tell the kids really love being there and have so much fun.  On Monday mornings when I say to Neil - are we going to Angel's today?  He is so excited!  When we walk in the door he has such a smile on his face and he can't wait to play with his friends, and all the toys, and read books and do puzzles and play outside and go sledding and walk through the woods and go swimming and run through the sprinkler and dig holes in the sand.  Each week he's learning something new and every day when we pick him up and ask "did you have a good day today?", the answer is always the same: "OUI!! (yes)" with a huge smile on his face.

So, Angel, thank you.  Thank you for helping us raise an amazing little boy.  I seriously don't know what we would do without you.  You have helped me learn how to be a good mother; you've given me advice and suggestions and they've never been wrong.  When Neil grows up to be a successful adult in whatever he does I know that part of that will be because of you.  Keep up with the amazing job that you're doing and know that all of us parents appreciate you so much, even if not all of them show it or say it. If I could do one thing it would be for all parents to be lucky enough to find a daycare educator as wonderful as you are.  Thank you.

Angela and Neil - Dec 2011

Friday, February 8, 2013

Better Day

Today was a much better day.  Snoop was moving around a lot, which makes everything so much easier to handle.  As long as he's moving a lot it means he's nourishing well which means he's growing well.

Neil had a great day too.  My friend and her son came over for supper and he played with them and was so happy.  He's starting to speak more and more these days, which is such a relief.  I am finally seeing an improvement there, so all in all it was a good day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

An unsettling doctor's appointment

So I had an ultrasound today. This was a follow up appointment following my brief hospital stay 2 weeks ago.  They wanted to check my cervix via ultrasound to make sure there hadn't been any changes, basically to verify that I wasn't progressing towards preterm labor.

The technician did her measurements and then went to get the doctor.  He came back and told us that everything is looking good, but Snoop Dog is a little small for his gestational age - around 15th percentile. Apparently 2 weeks ago he was in the 27th percentile (according to the ultrasound measurements), so they're concerned that maybe he's not growing enough; not getting enough nourishment from the placenta.  If I was having a normal pregnancy they wouldn't be too concerned, but because of my history and what happened last time, they want to make sure he continues to grow and gets enough nourishment. The blood flow is still very strong through umbilical chord, but there is reason for cautiousness.
Which means: ultrasounds at the high risk clinic every Thursday until baby is born to follow his growth curve and make sure he's continuing to grow enough. Doctor said that if they find baby is not growing well (ie not getting right nourishment & not growing enough) they may opt to deliver him prematurely and have him finish his growth in the neo-natal. 
I don't know what to think.  The doctor didn't seem too concerned when explaining it all to me, but at the same time, isn't it hisjob not to make us worry?  And maybe it's more serious than he's setting it out to be?  Or, maybe it's not so bad and we just need to be followed closely.  I don't know.  It's so scary and frustrating because there's nothing I can do but wait.  Wait to see.  That's the hardest part.  I'm 29 weeks now; I just need to get through this week, then next week, then we're at 31 weeks, when Neil was born.
The last 2 weeks went by so slowly, how am I every going to get through the next 2 weeks?  The next 6 weeks?  The next 11 weeks? This is so hard.  I'm trying to stay as positive as I can, but ARGH!!!!!  I just want Snoop Dog to be healthy, and born as close to full term as possible.  The thought of him being in neo-natal for 7 weeks like Neil is just agonizing.  Those were some of the hardest weeks of our lives and, I don't know.  Anything is better than him not making it at all, and if it means him being in neo for several weeks so be it, but we were really encouraged and really feeling positive about it all and I really, honestly, truly believed we'd make it to 37 weeks.  Now, I'm just not so sure and I'm feeling very, very low about the whole thing.