Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On miracles, Part III (the long awaited birth story)...

Because of the high risk nature of my pregnancy with my daughter, Schafer, in 2014-2015, I am only now getting around to telling her story.  Click HERE for Part I and HERE for Part II in this series.

***

And, yes.  I know I promised it by her first birthday.  Better late than never?

***

My pregnancy with Schafer was the exact opposite of my pregnancy with her brother in 2011-2012. 

With Banner, my pregnancy was easy.  I had the clotting disorders then too (of course), but didn't know about them.  Having never experienced a pregnancy loss, I didn't worry or stay up at night with all the "what ifs" going through my head.  I was simply pregnant and excited to meet my little boy.  As weird as it sounds, I didn't even worry about giving birth because I had faith that he'd arrive safe and sound one way or another.  That said, I really wanted a natural, drug-free experience.

I carried Banner nearly 42 weeks.  We were going to induce on January 6th, but I went into labor on my own on January 3rd.  Everything was progressing as it should until the doctor broke my water and saw blood.  Still, I was allowed to labor without medication until the bleeding increased dramatically.  The doctor gave me an ultimatum:  either get an epidural or risk missing the birth of my son (since they'd have to gas me to preform an emergency C-section).  I still (naively) hoped for a vaginal birth until Banner refused to drop and his little heartbeat dropped below 60.  I was wheeled into surgery, and became a mother at 5:46 AM on January 4th.  My placenta had abrupted and I had lost over two liters of blood, but Banner was fine so nothing else mattered.

Cut to 2015 and my pregnancy with Schafer.  I was considered high risk from the get-go thanks to several clotting disorders that were discovered after losing a second little boy in the spring of 2014 and nearly losing Schafer six months later.  Even though, at the time, I was only seven weeks pregnant with her, I was immediately put on an aspirin regimen and had to learn how to give myself shots of anticoagulants in the abdomen daily.  Those shots were increased to twice a day as my pregnancy progressed and the baby became viable.  The area around my navel became dark, tender and discolored and a large knot developed just under the surface of my skin.  If you look closely at my belly shots from last year, you can see it just below my belly button.  It was much more visible in person, and very tender to the touch.  Even now, a year later, you can still see some hints of black and blue and feel the remnant of my bump's lump if you look at or palpate my abdomen.

I knew Schaf would come on or before June 1st, 2015; despite the fact that her official due date wasn't until June 8th.  Because of the clotting issues and anticoagulants, they didn't want me to risk going into labor on my own.  My doctor wouldn't even do internal checks towards the end of my pregnancy to see if I was dilating because he didn't want to risk doing anything to encourage labor.  Everything about Schafer's delivery was planned and scheduled.  I'd stop taking/injecting any and all anticoagulants three days prior to my c-section date, check into Baylor Hospital early in the morning on June 1st, and she'd be delivered sometime later that morning.

With Banner, I got three untrasounds.  One to confirm the pregnancy, one to check development and to reveal gender, and one last (unexpected) one to check fluid levels around 38 weeks.  With Schafer, however, I got sonograms all.the.time.  They were looking for a host of problems:  placental abruption (because I have a history), blood clots (because I have a predisposition), any evidence that the baby wasn't growing or was in distress (because blood clots in the placenta can cut off nourishment to the fetus), etc.  Good thing too, because it was a sonogram that sent us across the street to the hospital on May 28th, 2015.  Four days before I was scheduled to have her on June 1.

In hindsight, that last sonogram was off.  Erin wasn't her usual lighthearted and chatty self.  She didn't tell us how much Schafer weighed or make any comments about her nose or inter-uterine fluid levels.  She didn't print us off any photos.  Instead she seemed fixated on the placenta before muttering a quick and muffled, "She's ready to come out".  We assumed that at 38.5 weeks, Erin meant that in a general sense.  After all, 38 weeks is considered full term and we had been watching Schafer take practice breaths for weeks.  It was only after we had been ushered across the hall and into an exam room that the doctor came in and said, "It's baby day."

Me:  "I know!  June 1st is Monday!  Almost there!  Wait...what?"
Doctor (gravely):  "You are going to have this baby today."

He then proceeded to explain that they were seeing something on the sonogram that they didn't like.  Everything pointed to a blood clot or another placental abruption, and they needed to take the baby immediately. 

Trevor:  "So we should leave here and go to Baylor at what time?"
Doctor:  "Now."
Trevor:  "Oh."

Trevor and I had arrived at the appointment in separate cars.  He had gone to workout that morning and met me at the doctor's office dressed and ready for work.  And, of course, I had planned to go to the museum afterwards as well (unbeknownst to me, my coworkers had been planning a baby shower for that very afternoon which I never got to attend).  So, we had to drive our separate cars across the street and park them in the hospital garage (to keep them from getting towed/ticketed when our meters ran out).  I was hysterical, and barely remember calling work to tell them what was going on.

It wasn't that I wasn't prepared for Schafer to come early.  We had known this was a very real possibility almost from the get-go.  In fact, my doctor said it was a miracle she didn't come weeks earlier, because - after we hit viability - that is most likely what would have happened if a clot had formed or was detected on an ultrasound (because clots can very quickly lead to stillbirth).  And, really, I was prepared for delivery (or as much as you ever can be).  Instead, it was the realization that things weren't going according to plan that sent me over the edge.  My doctor had emphasized over and over again how they wanted - NEEDED - everything to go as scheduled, and now Schafer was coming before she was supposed to.  Granted, they had put me on twice daily Heparin injections because that particular anticoagulant has a short life and an antidote that can be administered in an emergency.  And, even if everything had gone according to plan, my OB kept reassuring me that he would have extra platelets ready to administer to me if needed in the delivery room (not sure why he thought this bit of info would comfort me, but he kept repeating it last spring).  Still, all I could think about as I drove across the street was that my baby was in danger, I might be bleeding internally, needed immediate surgery, and I had shot myself full of a blood thinner not ninety minutes earlier. 

And then my mind drifted to Banner.  My dear, sweet boy.  He and I had been snuggling in bed that very morning.  I remember watching him breathe and pulling him a little closer to me; knowing the moments of him being my one and only were numbered.  He, not understanding why his mother was being abnormally clingy, chirped, "Mama!  Stop messing with me!" 

My appointment wasn't until 9:30 AM, so Banner and I didn't have to rush quite so much that morning.  It had been so nice to take it slow.  Still, as I was driving across the street to Baylor, I recall wishing I could do that whole morning over again....just so I could savor every last moment with my little boy.  Because that was it.  Everything would be different after that today.  And I just hoped Schafer and I would come both out on the other side of delivery okay, so I could hold both my babies in my arms and finally breathe again. 

I've heard a lot of my friends worry about the transition from one kid to two, and how their first child would handle it.  Would they feel replaced?  Unloved?  I've also heard stories of second time mothers concerned about bonding with their newest edition.  Could they ever love another baby as much as they love their first?  What if there wasn't an immediate connection?  And I can honestly say none of those thoughts ever crossed my mind.  My biggest concern was always getting Schafer here safe and sound.  The doctor once asked Trevor how I was holding up emotionally, and he responded with, "I don't think she'll ever relax until the baby is here and breathing on her own".  And that was very true.  But I was also very worried about the "what ifs" if I did not survive the surgery.  After all, I lost a lot of blood giving birth to Banner, and that was without being on Heparin and an aspirin regimen. If the worst were to happen, the last thing I'd ever want was for Schafer to grow up feeling responsible, or for Banner (or Trevor, for that matter) to blame her.  These were the thoughts that kept me up countless nights and headlined my nightmares.  I only tried talking to Trevor about it twice.  Once at home one night as we got ready for bed, and once again after we parked the car and headed down the parking garage stairs in the direction of Labor and Delivery.  Both conversations were fractured and tear filled on my part, but he said he understood.  Although I would never want to leave them, I would gladly give up my life for my babies.  I know it sounds cliché, but in that moment - as we were heading to check in for surgery - it somehow felt very real and very possible.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Trevor and I were immediately ushered into a room and I was hooked up to a bunch of machines to monitor both me and the baby.  I had been having mild contractions for awhile, and a couple of them even registered on the machine (albeit barely).  I remember wanting to believe that - even if I hadn't had the sonogram - Schafer would have decided to come that day anyway.  Funny how some of the irrational thoughts from my first pregnancy refused to go away completely.  Like the baby choosing her own birthday was somehow important in the grand scheme of things (it isn't).  Or having an unmedicated vaginal birth (who really cares when all is said and done if baby and mom are okay?).  Even though I got the impression that no competent doctor in his/her right mind would allow me to even consider delivering vaginally, it was still something a (teeny tiny) part of me (secretly) wanted to experience. 

Of course, I'd never-ever risk the life of one of my babies.  It was mostly about irrationally mourning the feeling I had when I was pregnant for the first time with Banner; that ridiculous notion that I was somehow in control and calling the shots.  Mourning the idea of having a birth plan with a music play list or being able to choose to have a home birth, and having it go just like I wanted.  Rationally, I know that those things are, in the grand scheme of things, silly and about me selfishly wanting to prove something (mostly to myself), and the most important thing is delivering a healthy baby in the end.  But, still.  There was a simpler time when I thought things like unmedicated, vaginal births with music playlists were important and something to strive for, and it is still hard for me to fully accept (even now) that - 100 or even 50 years ago (or today in another part of the world) - having babies would be a lethal proposition for me.

Waiting for surgery...

But I digress.

Since the baby was, for the moment, stable, the c-section was pushed back until the latter part of the afternoon to give the Heparin as much time as possible to wear off before surgery.  Which gave Trevor and me plenty of time to make phone calls to let day care know what was going on, arrange for my mom and sister to pick up/take care of Banner, cancel my dental appointment for that afternoon (ha!), alert my neighbor, Becky, to tend to our dogs (especially important because of the weather forecast), etc.  Trevor's mother showed up to help us pass the time, and we just...well, waited.  I had made the epic mistake of not eating or drinking before my doctor's appointment, and - once admitted to the hospital - I was no longer allowed to eat or drink.  While nerves took the edge off of most of my hunger, I was still pregnant and suddenly very aware that my next meal of solid food was at least 30 some odd hours away. 

And little did I know that when I was finally permitted to eat again, the hospital would serve me a hamburger covered in sautéed onions.  Trevor thought this was hysterical. #thanksTrev

The surgery was initially scheduled for 4 PM, but my doctor ended up pushing it back another hour to 5 PM.  Since Schafer was still stable I was all about it. 

About a month before Schafer was born, Trevor took Banner to the ranch for a boy's weekend and left big, ole' pregnant me in Dallas unattended.  In the process of using a hand saw to cut down a problematic tree limb (yeah, I know.  Shut up.  Clearly, pregnant me requires constant adult supervision), I sliced my finger.  Holy moly, was there a lot of blood.  Not only that, but it took forever to get it to stop bleeding.  Granted, the wound was pretty superficial (not deep enough to require stitches, but not a scratch either), but it gave me a healthy appreciation of the power of blood thinners.  In my mind (which has no medical training whatsoever), every minute that the Heparin was allowed to wear off was good. 

Plus, time is a wonky weird thing in hospitals.  Since I was dreading the surgery (I just wanted it to be over!), 4 PM was there before I knew it.  The hour between 4 and 5 flew by too, but I remember trying to breathe and appreciate every last kick, roll and nudge from Schafer on the inside.  I didn't have that time to process what was happening when I delivered Banner, or to relish in the last few moments of my pregnancy.  Not that being in labor allows for much reflection, but emergency c-sections, in my experience, are down right traumatic.

With Banner, I was wheeled into surgery on a gurney, and he was born just a few minutes later.  It was all panic, sweat and rushed directives.  All around me were people racing around in a blur of movement in the operating room. There was no small talk.  No time to explain what was going on or answer questions.  And the actual removal of Banner from my body was an almost violent experience. That may sound weird, but I honestly do not know how else to describe it.  My mom told me much, much later that when Banner was born, he didn't move or cry right away and was immediately handed over to the team ready to receive the baby.  Of course, Banner ended up being just fine, but - for a few horrible moments - she thought he was stillborn and wondered how she was ever going to break the news to me.

Schafer's surgery was also technically an emergency (at least in the sense that it wasn't planned to take place that day), but everything about it was completely different.  I was allowed to walk myself to the operating room in socks, where they administered the epidural and prepped me for surgery.  The mood was lighter.  The doctor joked with the anesthesiologist and the nurses.  There was music playing.  My doctor told me when he was starting to make the incision (with Banner he just cut.  They didn't even have time to put up a proper curtain), and everyone seemed relaxed.  My mom - who was present for both c-sections - commented later that she didn't realize how much of a true emergency Banner's birth was from the get-go until she witnessed Schafer's.  She remembered feeling in the way when Banner was born, and thinking my doctor was rude.  With Schafer, however, she stood there next to Trevor the entire time and participated in the chatter.

The surgery itself also took a lot longer.  That might sound awful, but it wasn't. 

I'll never forget my OB referring to his cauterization tool as his fire stick, me calling him on it and then having him (jokingly) chastise me for listening to his banter as he worked on the other side of the curtain.

Schafer was born at 5:48 PM.  She came into the world screaming mad with her little fists clenched; ready to take on the world.  Almost immediately she started to pee, and I remember one of the nurses saying, "Oh, no!  Not before we weigh you!  You are losing weight!" 


Trevor captured the whole thing on camera.  He had stuck his cell phone in the breast pocket of his scrub and hit record.  Since he had already seen his wife fileted open on an operating table once before, he had no problems going behind the curtain to watch his daughter breathe in her first breath and witness the doctor cutting the cord.  And, of course, the camera in his pocket was also there to document the entire experience (even though Trevor had long forgotten it was even there; much less recording). 

I've seen the footage exactly once.  While I'm happy the footage exists, it was hard to for me to watch. 


In the end, Schafer weighed 6.11 pounds and was 19.75 inches long.  Upon seeing her for the first time, I said "Hi, baby".  When I had said this to Banner after he was born, he immediately stopped crying and stared at me.  Schafer, on the other hand, just continued to wail.  "She's mad", my mother kept saying over and over, and it was true.  The girl was born with a strong set of lungs and wasn't afraid to use them.  Still isn't, if you want to know the truth.  She's opinionated, that one.

My placenta had not abrupted, nor were there any signs of blood clots.  Instead, what the doctor discovered upon delivering my daughter, was a separation of the amion and chorion.  What Erin had seen on the sonogram earlier that morning was actually the amniotic membrane free floating.  Because it is so rare (they apparently don't even keep stats on how often it happens) - especially in later stages of pregnancy - my doctor sent a sample off to pathology, but told me I'd probably never know how or why it occurred.  The membranes are supposed to fuse to the wall of the uterus by week 18, and stay that way.  When they don't fuse, a pregnancy is automatically labeled "high risk".  But my membranes HAD fused, and then - for some unknown reason - come unfused (is that even a word?) which, obviously, isn't supposed to happen.  That said, it was very good they delivered Schafer when they did.  The membrane separation may be rare, but apparently the risk of stillbirth and/or fetal entanglement skyrockets when it does occur.  My babies must have very diligent guardian angels watching over them.  I like to believe that the baby boy we lost just over two years ago had a hand in getting Schafer down to us all safe and healthy.

My sweet little squeaky baby.
Seriously.  She made noises like a baby bird.

I wasn't allowed to hold my daughter for nearly an hour as the doctor put me back together.  But, once I could, Schafer stopped crying almost immediately, lifted her head and started to try to crawl up my chest to nurse.  Girlfriend was hungry!  Everyone talked about how alert and strong she was.  Even the nurse in recovery commented on how determined Schafer was to get to my boob.  Apparently most babies don't have an agenda so quickly after being born, but both of mine came out starving with well developed rooting instincts, latched on like champs and started to nurse right away.

After Banner was born, I felt completely overwhelmed almost from the get-go.  I was desperate to protect my baby, but didn't know what I was doing and everything felt like a deathtrap.  After Schafer was born, though, all I felt was peace, love, happiness and relief.  At least until the panic attacks started on day two.  But they had nothing to do with Schafer.  In fact, one of the only ways I could keep them at bay was to hold her skin to skin on my chest.  We slept that way for a couple of nights after I realized what a calming effect she had on me physically.  In fact, she spent almost all of our hospital stay - except for Friday night when the panic attacks were at their worst - on me.  I didn't even know the password was "snail" one day until the nurses came to take Schafer to the nursery for a checkup.


One of Schafer's name sakes was a favorite cousin of mine who died not long after Trevor and I were married.  She loved labyrinths.  During one of my panic attacks, Trevor took me outside in a wheelchair to get some fresh air (he did this a couple of times actually.  Once at 3 AM as a thunderstorm approached and the sky was lit up with lightening).  When the panic attacks were at their worst, I felt like the room was closing in on me and like I couldn't breathe.  Being outside helped to ease those irrational feelings of claustrophobia.

Anyway, Trevor didn't know where he was going.  We were just walking for the sake of moving, and all of a sudden we came upon a labyrinth on the hospital grounds.  I know it sounds crazy, but it felt like we were lead there.  And walking the labyrinth had a profound calming effect on me.


But I digress again.  It is why this story has taken so long to tell.  I remember so much, so vividly, and I want to be able to tell Schafer one day without losing all the little details that time has a habit of stealing from memory. 

After an hour or so in recovery, Schafer and I were wheeled up to Truett's 7th floor and into room 710, where Amy, Adam, Banner and my mother were waiting to greet us and meet the newest addition.  Banner was so happy and just kept giggling and "booping" Schafer's tiny little nose.  You could tell how proud he was of her from the first moment he laid eyes on her.  My heart just swelled.  It was like they already knew each other, and had been patiently waiting for time and space to reunite them.  Even today, thirteen months later, you can see how much they love each other simply by observing them together.  It is the most precious thing I've ever had the privilege to witness.

He dubbed her "spider baby" in the hospital.

Banner, with help from my mom and Amy, threw Schafer a birth day party that evening.  It was complete with cupcakes and balloons.  Banner even picked out a book for Schafer.  According to Amy, she and Adam didn't even have to help him choose.  He simply walked into the store, and made a beeline to a board book about female superheroes entitled GIRL POWER.  Could not have found a more perfect gift from him to her if I had tried. 


Schafer and I spent three days in the hospital, and were released from Baylor on May 31st.  My milk didn't come in until Sunday, and - as a result - Schafer lost just over 11% of her body weight.  Consequently, we found ourselves at the pediatrician's office early on Monday morning, June 1st (a.k.a. the day she was supposed to be born).  I was worried the doctor was going to insist on giving her formula until my supply matured, but luckily by then her weight had already stared to rebound - and with a vengeance.  It was such a dramatic gain that the doctor even said I didn't have to wake Schafer up every 2-3 hours overnight, and could let her sleep until she woke up naturally.

Whew.

My relief was palpable which is silly, because - again - stuff like formula versus breast milk really doesn't matter.  The most important thing is that babies are fed.  That said, breastfeeding was important to me.  For no other reason than it was simply something I wanted to be able to provide my children.  Banner received my breast milk exclusively for over six months, and then mixed with formula for an additional 2.5 months (until he was nearly nine months old).  Honestly, I wanted to go longer, but I got sick and antibiotics all but dried me up.

I'm very proud of the fact that Schafer never needed a single drop of formula.  The doctors and nurses were forced to give Banner formula when we were still in the hospital because his jaundice levels were so high and my milk took so long to come in the first time.  And we were almost at that point with Schafer and her post birth weight loss (they start to worry when the baby loses any more than 10% ), but then my milk came in and all was right with the world.  I only intended to provide her with breast milk exclusively for six months (like I did for Banner), but made it over a year.  Schafer is actually still getting breast milk today - 13 months later - because I was lucky and always made more than she needed.  The excess I froze and stored in freezers all over Dallas (thanks, dad and Amy!).  So she's still getting my milk even though my last day to pump was technically two weeks ago today on June 15, 2016.

As for recovery from surgery, I remember my recovery following Banner's birth being hard, but mostly because I was so weak from the blood loss.  It took awhile for the feelings of lightheadedness to go away. 

I didn't have vertigo following Schafer's birth, but - in many ways - it was harder to recover the second time around.  Part of that had to do with having to resume the shots of Heparin in the abdomen almost immediately.  It made it hard for my body to heal since it couldn't clot, so healing simply took a lot longer.  I also wasn't allowed to take ibuprofen or any NSAID pain killers because of the injectable anticoagulants, and - regardless of the fact that I had half as many staples (only 26 versus over 40 with Banner) - Tylenol just didn't make a dent in the pain and swelling department.  What I would have given for a proper dose of Advil!  It also didn't help that I had a three year old who's world was just rocked by the introduction of a baby sister.  Sweet boy wanted mama to pick him up and snuggle him, too, and that same mama kept forgetting that lifting a forty pound boy so soon after major abdominal surgery had painful consequences. 

Despite all the pain and anxiety, I do it all again.  Getting Schafer here safe and sound is literally the hardest thing I have ever done - mentally and physically.  And it makes my heart so happy to see her shine; my beautiful rainbow.  A catastrophist by nature, it isn't lost on me what a miracle she is, and how many things could have gone wrong.  So many women with conditions like mine suffer miscarriage after miscarriage to no avail, and somehow I have two healthy, happy kiddos sleeping away down the hall from where I type at this very moment.  I consider myself one of the luckiest mamas in the world.

This was taken one year ago today.  It really does go by so fast:

#thor #athena

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Banner on the (now infamous) Rangers versus Blue Jays game...

 
In case you missed it, THIS HAPPENED at the Ranger's game on Sunday.

Here is what the brawl looked like from our seats...

Banner's thoughts on the game and fight (in no particular order):

  • "The Good Guy got The Bad Guy out."

  • [On baseball turning into hockey and both teams running on to the field] "That guy just needs a hug."

  • "Maybe there was a spider on The Bad Guy's face and The Good Guy was just trying to be nice by punching it off."



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Banner Quotes, Spring Edition...


Mr. Garcia: "Who lives with you at home?"
Banner: [Raises hand] "I brush my teeth by myself."
Mr. Garcia: "Good job, Banner, but who lives with you? Or, rather, who feeds you?"
Banner: "I feed myself."
Mr. Garcia: "Fair enough."


Schafer:  *Sneezes*
Banner: "Mama, Schafer got bless on me."

Banner:  "Don't worry mama! I being careful!"
(He was on top of his dresser trying to get something off the very top of the armoire.)


Banner:  "The doggies no like to go to bed, either."
Me:  "Not true.  Haskell loves his bed."
Banner:  [After a long pause...] "Well, Gypsy and Alley no like to go to bed.  Haskell just lazy."


Me: "What did you learn about in church today?"
Banner: {shrug} "Jesus?"

Banner:  "I want to be a police officer priest...as long as I can have my own phone."

Banner:  [Pointing to a stained glass window]  "Daddy? Is that Jesus?"
Trevor:  "Yes."
Banner:  "So, Jesus wears flip flops all the time?"


Banner:  "I never-ever pick my nose."

Banner:  "Momma, I need a new superhero picture thing for the wall because it is almost Thursday."
(He wanted a new calendar.)


Me: "Banner, I love you all the way to Pluto and back."
Banner: "Is that far?"
Me: "Yes, it is an unfathomable distance."
Banner: "Oh, like the ranch or Durango?"
Me: "Sort of."
Banner: "If you can't get there when you want, it's far."
Me: "Fair enough."


Banner: "Mommy, I sorry. I poot on you."
Me:  "Ew.  Really, Ban?"
Banner:  "You can't be mad because I already say 'sorry'."



Banner: "You can't talk to strangers because you don't know their names."

Banner:  "If you are a stranger, how you going to make any friends? Because you are a stranger, you don't have any friends and nobody want to talk to you because you are a stranger!"

Banner: [to ATT guy, Bo]: "So, you are a stranger."
Bo: "Yes, I guess I am."
Banner: "So you no have any friends?"
Bo: "No, I have friends."
Banner: "No you don't. You are a stranger. No one talks to strangers, so you no have any friends. You can't have friends if no one talks to you."
Bo: "But you are talking to me."
Banner: "I only talking to you because my mama is right there. Not because we are friends. I can't be friends with a stranger."


Banner: "Mommy, I brushed my hair to get the angles out."

Banner: "Kids just don't know things."
(After being reprimanded for doing something he knew he shouldn't do.)



Banner: "Boys are the best soccer players. Not girls."
Me: "Actually, buddy, girl soccer players won the World Cup. They are the best soccer players in the whole world."
Banner: "Not they aren't!"
Me: "Yes, they are. I can show you pictures."
Banner: "Well, I can show you boys!"



Banner: "That's funny. I don't like funny things."

Banner: "Ew! What's that smell?"
Me: "What smell?"
Banner: "Daddy."

 
Banner: "Mama, Pluto is not a planet. He is a dog and he lives at Mickey mouse's playhouse."

Banner: "I just kissed myself because I am one of the dudes."



Banner: "I no nap at school today because I was busy protecting all my friends."
Me: "From what?"
Banner: "Probably spiders."

Banner: "Knock, knock."
Trev: "Who is there?"
Banner: "Pizza."
Trev: "Pizza who?"
Banner: "Flower."
Trev: "I don't think you understand how knock-knock jokes work."
 
 
Banner: "Mama, you know how you call me 'peanut'?"
Me: "Yes."
Banner: "I want to be your pumpkin. Not your peanut."
 
 
Banner: "Mama, I want you to know that I chose you to be my mama. I looked down and thought to myself, '[my full name]'. She knows me."

 
Banner: "Mama, did you know that dinosaurs can't sneeze on girls or pick on boys?"

Banner: "I can ride a motorcycle because I'm the smart one."
 
 
Banner: "Mama? Why that bird running when it can fly?"
Me: "Dunno, buddy. Been wondering the same thing for years."
Banner: "Yeah, because birds run funny."
Me: "I was thinking more along the lines of 'why run when you can fly' but sure."

Banner to Schafer: "I love you fat, little girl!"

 
Banner refers to both his wallet (that Gram gave him for Christmas) and the pockets on his over-the-door shoe organizer in his closet as "envelopes".
 
 
Banner:  "BUT THAT IS SO FAIR!"
Me:  "Isn't fair?"
Banner:  "NO!  It IS fair!"
Me:  "Okay.  Then why are you upset?"
Banner:  "It is just too fair!"
 
 Banner:  "Maybe ice cream will make it all better?"
 
 
Banner:  "Is it still Mother's Day?"
Me:  "No.  That was just Sunday."
Banner:  "But I want it to still be Mother's Day!"
Me:  "Well, it will be Father's Day soon..."
Banner:  "When is it going to be Kid's Day?"
 

Friday, April 15, 2016

On miracles, Part II...

Below is the continuation of the story started six months ago HERE.

***

I remember walking out of the sono tech’s room to discover Deandra waiting patiently for me to emerge outside the door. Tears were still streaming down my face, so I’m sure she assumed the worst. Without saying a word, she embraced and held me long and tight. Overcome with emotion and unable to speak, all I could do was sob into her shoulder.

“Everything looks great. Baby is measuring just over seven weeks,” chirped Erin from the doorway.

“Really?! See? Didn’t I tell you about miracles?” Deandra said as she held me tight. “I told you not to give up hope. Let’s get you into an exam room.”

I followed her down the hall, and into a room. I was clutching the line of ultrasound pictures Erin had given me; still marveling at the tiny little blob with the miraculously beating heart. I was in a state of disbelief, and shaking from adrenaline.

After Deandra collected my vitals, she left to get the doctor. For a few minutes, I was alone and tried in earnest to compose myself – at least enough to call Trevor. But, of course, the second the phone started to ring, I lost it again. So, when Trev answered, all he heard was me crying on the other end of the line.

“It’s going to be okay. What did the doctor say? Did you schedule a date for the surgery?”

“It…It…It…,” I choked through tears, “has a heartbeat. Our baby is alive. Erin said everything looks perfect.”

One of the best moments of my life was being able to deliver this good news to Trevor. The pic from THIS POST is the actual image I sent him after I hung up.

(I also felt incredibly guilty for him not being there to witness it in person.)

Not long after, my doctor walked in to the exam room. His smile was from ear to ear as he congratulated me.

And then things got serious.

The results from the Total Loss Panel revealed several problems; including three different clotting disorders and a gene mutation. I had asked myself WHY repeatedly after losing the baby in the spring of 2014, and now I had my answer. Most likely a blood clot formed on my side of the placenta, which – ultimately – killed him.

The chances of it happening again, I was told, were great, and I was immediately put on injectable blood thinners. Not five minutes later Deandra walked in and showed me how to give myself shots in the abdomen…something I would do multiple times daily throughout my pregnancy and for months after delivery.

Had you asked me before that day if I could give myself injections, I would have told you “no”. It is amazing what you can do when you have to.

I was also given a regime of pills to take. During my pregnancy with Banner, I took nothing except my prenatal and the occasional allergy pill.  I remember sobbing when I was told that I needed antibiotics to treat a bladder infection when I was about seven months along with Ban.  And, yet, here I was just over seven weeks and taking more in one day than I probably took in 41+ weeks with my son.

I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. The low of thinking I’d lost another baby, the high of hearing the heartbeat, the low of realizing was essentially a walking blood clot. And that was all before the doctor leveled with me about my chances of miscarriage or stillbirth (both very high). Suddenly I was back in that place where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Even thinking about how much time I had left before the baby was viable (much less term) sent me in a place of panic. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.

I told no one anything except Trevor. I refused to share our news, because it all seemed impossible somehow and doomed to fail. Even today, when I think back and reflect upon my pregnancy with Schafer – even knowing what I know today – I still feel queasy, nervous and, strangely enough, grief. I would see other friends post about their pregnancies and feel sadness. Not because I was pregnant. But because I could never feel excitement…only terror. I’ve never been so scared of losing something in my life.

Two of the clotting risks were being caused by Protein S and Protein C deficiencies.  According to my hematologist (because I have a hematologist now), people who are deficient in S and C are either deficient in either S or C; not both.  A fact that, according to her, make me "medically interesting". 

To date, I've found very little good in being labeled "medically interesting".  Just to START the process of getting my veins fixed again (because - wow - did they make my pregnancy with Schaf super uncomfortable towards the end) took three months, two trips to the hematologist and about $5,000 in blood work.  I was told I needed to get my veins treated, because - not doing so - increased my clot risk.  But so did the process of...you know, actually fixing them.  And that's just for a routine, outpatient procedure.

Just for the record, I also experienced my first blood clot in my lower, left leg at the beginning of April (2016).  The pain was intense and came out of nowhere.  The terror of being home alone (Trevor was in Detroit for work) with two kiddos was breathtaking.  I think that part of the reason Schafer's story is so hard for me to tell is because - in so many ways - the story didn't end with her birth.  I'm still trying to get my mind (and body) around my new reality.  A reality I may have never known about if I hadn't lost that baby boy back in March of 2014. 

But I digress.

Back in October of 2014, all this information was overwhelming.  Toss in the pregnancy hormones and I could barely function.  I seconded guessed everything I did.  Sleeping was impossible because I couldn't turn off all the "what ifs" shouting in my brain.  In many ways, I was just going through the motions of living between injections, taking pills and taking care of Banner.

Then our twelve week appointment rolled around, and I just about made myself sick with worry.  It was, of course, the same "end of first trimester" appointment that we learned we lost the little boy earlier that same year.  So, when the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat right away, my stress started manifesting itself physically.  My blood pressure and heartbeat skyrocketed, which - of course - made hearing the baby's heartbeat nearly impossible.  I started to cry and hyperventilate; convinced that I had lost this baby too.  My doctor actually apologized, and said - considering my history - that he should have just scheduled me for a sonogram.  It was the longest two minutes of my life, but then - just as he was about to give up and send me back to Erin - he found it.  My blood pressure and heart rate started to subside immediately as my tears turned to sobs of relief and joy.

Because of the high risk nature of the pregnancy, my doctor ordered a bunch of tests.  One of them checked on the health of the fetus.  So, just before Thanksgiving 2014, we learned two things.  1) that the baby I was carrying was healthy and free from whatever number of genetic abnormalities and malformations they can test for; and 2) was a girl.

I can't prove it, but I already knew long before the results were back that I was having a daughter. Just like I knew she'd be born in May.

When my doctor called to tell me the baby was healthy on the day before Thanksgiving, he asked if I wanted him to write the gender down and leave it in a sealed envelope for me to pick up at his office. That way I could open it with Trevor over the Thanksgiving holiday. Initially, this sounded like a plan, but then I just couldn't stand it and told him to simply tell me over the phone.

I know, I know.  I probably should have gone and picked up the envelope, but I wanted - NEEDED - to hear my doctor say the words out loud.

(Sorry again, Trevor.)


Don't worry, though.  When Trevor came home that night, I had decorated the kitchen with giant IT'S A GIRL balloons.  We later took each of our parents the same balloons in boxes with a balloon inside as a way of letting the family in on our little secret.  It was both a "Surprise! We are pregnant!" and a "Surprise!  It is a girl!" all rolled into one.  We told our mothers on November 27, 2014 in Dallas, and Mimi and my dad on November 28, 2014 down at the ranch.  Again, I can't prove it, but I remember thinking she would be born six months later on May 28.  I just couldn't get that date out of my head from the second I learned I was pregnant; even though she technically wasn't due until June. 

Speaking of due dates, Schafer was due on June 8th.  Exactly 8 months after the due date of the baby we lost (he was due October 8th).  My favorite number is 8.  Even though all that could be chalked up to coincidence, I clung to it as a good sign during my entire pregnancy.

That and the song ODDS ARE by the Barenaked Ladies.  Because difficult times in life needs a mantra.
 
***

My goal is to finish telling Schafer's pregnancy and birth story by girlfriend's 1st birthday.  So stay tuned...

Monday, April 04, 2016

That's my girl...


"Schafer had a happy day, and drank her bottles like a champ (Yay!).  She enjoyed our sensory experience (exploring a tub of ice cubes) but got very annoyed with the ice for slipping through her fingers when she tried to grab it.  She was so annoyed that, by the time she did manage to get ahold of one, she threw it in frustration.  It was kind of hilarious. -Kat"

Friday, April 01, 2016

The Moo and The Schaf...


One of the most unexpected joys of having babies is, for me, seeing reminders of loved ones lost in their faces and personalities.

I've thought for awhile that Schaf resembles my paternal grandmother, Moo.  Especially in the mouth (Mimi and I refer to it as "Moo Mouth").  But it also goes beyond that to the point that I sometimes joke that Schafer is my grandmother reincarnated. 

Just a few ways examples:

  • Schafer is HIGHLY opinionated about ALL the things.  Moo wasn't a wallflower, either.
  • Some of Schafer's noises (baby babble and verbal sound effects) remind me of Moo.  Not sure if it is the pitch or what, but it is definitely there.
  • The PINCHING.  Moo was a notorious pincher.  So is Schafer.
  • The mischievous look in Schafer's eye when she does something she knows she shouldn't.  Moo's father called her "Pest", and I'm definitely getting this vibe from my daughter (Related:  Moo called me "Worry Wart", so this might be a dominant genetic trait).

Thursday, March 31, 2016

On Easter...


 

 

 
 
 



Cue soundtrack from Psycho.