family

36 Weeks and Counting!

We have reached 36 weeks in this pregnancy and are slowly trudging our way towards 37!  Catriona has spent the last few weeks stubbornly not growing (she ended up dropping 4 weeks of growth total prior to this weeks doctors appointment).  So this week we did an ultrasound to check on her growth and the amniotic fluid levels.  Thankfully everything came out well.  She is estimated to be around 6 pounds 11 ounces at this point (which is amazing considering how small my bump is compared to when I was pregnant with Liam!) and while my amniotic fluid levels are on the lower end of normal they should be fine for the remainder of the pregnancy.  Her head is down, the contractions are becoming more frequent, and we are playing a waiting game to meet her.

I continue to have (what has become) my normal migraines, tachycardia, and passing out.  For the last week my symptoms have been somewhat relieved, I even had 3 good days in a row where I was able to be up and about without any chest or head pain, but for an added treat these last few days I have been enjoying some third trimester sickness (which is amazingly just like the first trimester was).   I have a cardiology consult tomorrow and am hopeful to find some answers to what can be done for this chronic chest pressure, shoulder pain, and episodes of tachycardia.  That said, I am very aware that any medication that could be given to relieve those symptoms for me has to wait until after Catriona’s arrival, so I am learning to live with it and take it easy when things really start to act up.

On Monday my sister-in-law came over to the house to take some maternity picture for us since we are currently unable to travel to the photographer that we used to do the maternity shoot we did when pregnant with Liam (Linden Photography in Central NH).  I spent some time this morning playing around on Photoshop and touching up the lighting on the pictures.  I am pretty happy with the results, and so thankful to Aunty Moonshine for taking them for us.  Though this has been a difficult pregnancy we are planning on it being my last pregnancy and I want to be able to look back on this time and remember how it has helped us grow as a family later on.  I wish I had enough Photoshop talent to reduce the (well-earned) shadows and bags under my eyes… you would think someone who spends as much time in bed as I have been lately wouldn’t have any but I can’t seem to sleep for more than two hours at a time thanks to our little girls efforts to escape the womb.

We continue to be grateful for everyone’s prayers and well wishes.  The support of our family and friends  has truly have been an amazing help in us pulling through this pregnancy!

27 weeks and counting!

We have hit the 27 week mark and celebrated the last week of the second trimester with a big appointment at the OB office, complete with a follow-up ultrasound.  I have spent the last week in frequent contact with my OB office and on frequent bed rest due to a headache that wouldn’t go away, blurred vision, and high blood pressures.  All of these are unfortunately signs of preeclampsia.  Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition that can affect 5-8% of pregnancies, but that typically starts later in the third trimester (Preeclampsia Foundation).  For me to be having signs of this condition this early into the pregnancy was scary to say the least.  Thankfully my blood pressure has been staying down with bed rest.  Unfortunately Tylenol has not been effective for the headaches or blurred vision for me and I stopped taking it after a few days due to the ineffectiveness and some right upper quadrant abdominal pain (which can indicate liver problems).    So I ventured into this appointment with my Mom at my side (my husband was unable to take the day off of work) with a bit of trepidation.

First up was the ultrasound.  Catriona is a bit of a mover and a shaker so it created a challenge for picture-taking, but everything look great.  The fluid levels were good, the placenta is healthy, her head is down and she is ready to roll and the best news of all is that the membranes fused!  Although there are still some (slight) risks for early delivery that go along with a late fusion we are now talking a week or two early as opposed to months early which technically means we have an excellent chance for a full term (after 37 weeks) healthy and happy baby.  Now lets just hope that she doesn’t come on Liam’s birthday!  Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers for the last few months that we would get our miracle, they certainly helped to get us through this stressful time.  We feel so lucky to have this great news to share and to see how healthy our little girl is now that my body has decided to behave properly!

Next up was the visit with the nurse midwife and the OB.  It was a tag team visit due to the high blood pressures today, that ended up with a trip to the hospital.  While we have an excellent health care system up here in the Northeast, and some of the best prenatal care in the country, it is still very concerning to have more than a week of high blood pressures and headaches, so it was off to the hospital for me to test for preeclampsia ( a set of tests that includes a urine collection, liver function panel, creatinine, and CBC), and calling out of work for at least the next week until my next OB visit.  The midwife and OB were hopeful that the headaches, blurred vision, and high blood pressures (because they were not critically high and were only pre-hypertensive) could be due to a migraine headache caused by increased estrogen levels rather than preeclampsia because it was so early in the pregnancy.  After a couple of hours in the hospital, and a couple of blood draws we had our second round of good news for the day, no preeclampsia!  I am now on migraine medication and monitoring side effects, but my blood pressure is almost back to normal and right now I am pain free for the first time in 8 days (though a bit foggy and tired from the medication).

 

 

For me the best part of the day was being able to make it home in time to tuck my little guy into bed.  He loved seeing the new pictures of his sister and was so happy to get some extra Momma snuggles tonight!

Conan and I are thrilled with the news, and are very hopeful that after the next week life will get back to as close to normal as we can!  Thank you again to everyone for the thoughts and prayers!  Lets hope the remainder of the pregnancy is now stress free!

 

*****Preeclampsia is a pretty scary and potentially life threatening condition that affects 5-8% of pregnancies in the United States and accounts for approximately 18% of maternal deaths in this country.  To educate yourself more on this condition please visit preeclampsia.org which provides excellent resources in learning the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia.  Also keep in mind that while giving birth does solve the problems caused by preeclampsia for your infant it does not always solve the problems caused by it for mothers.  Be aware and educate yourself on the potential post birth problems that can occur for mothers who experience this condition.*****

Preeclampsia Foundation. (n.d.). Preeclampsia Foundation. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from Preeclampsia Fact Sheet : http://www.preeclampsia.org/pdf/Preeclampsia%20Fact%20sheet%20v2.pdf

 

24 Weeks and Counting, an update

Well, it has been a rough couple of weeks for me.  As it turns out, I am REALLY bad about taking it easy without constantly giving myself reminders.  My husband has become a professional at telling me not to do things I am not supposed to do, and reminding me to stop and take breaks.  I have become crabby, which is not a usual thing for me and I don’t like it.  The kids, well, they have really taken to the encouraged independence.  Liam and The Bean now put themselves to bed at nap and bedtime.  I am trying to not miss the snuggles I use to steal when carrying them upstairs too much.

For Catriona things are going well, or at least as good as we can hope for!  We had a very positive checkup at 23 weeks where she measured exactly on target (which is amazing for a little girl who is most likely going to be tiny!) and her heart rate was a lovely 145.  Her kick counts have been perfect.  The only concerning thing that has come up recently have been frequent Braxton Hicks contractions.  Thankfully they are not following any pattern at this point and have only been over the 6 an hour allowed at this stage of pregnancy a handful of times.  At the 23 week appointment they found an infection so I am hopeful that after a week of antibiotics things will calm down in the contraction department.  Our next ultrasound is at 27 weeks and I am still hoping for a miracle!  At this point, however, I am simply thankful to have made it this far.

At 23-24 weeks babies begin making a substance called surfactant.  This is used by the body to help stabilize the alveoli in the lungs (The alveoli help oxygen get from the air to the bloodstream, but in order to do this they need to be nice and plump like a grape, surfactants help keep them from collapsing when you exhale).  With the production of surfactant comes the chance for survival with pre-term births, so if something were to happen tonight Catriona would have a fighting chance, especially with the awesome hospitals in this area.  24 weeks was a big milestone for us.  I celebrated with a braided chicken pot pie bread with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for dessert 🙂

On a personal note, because I am carrying so low this time (thanks to the less than stable environment my body created for Catriona) life is becoming uncomfortable.  There are definitely times where it already feels like the last (everlasting) month of pregnancy.  clothing is also becoming uncomfortable.  Maternity pants with the cloth panel fall off of me because my belly isn’t quite large enough for them, but the ones with the low band are too tight for me to wear and do essential things like breathe, or not walk like a penguin.  My go to pants of choice for this pregnancy are becoming yoga pants.  I could sing a song for how much I love them lately.  I see a lot of dresses coming up in my future as well.  The plus side? My maternity scrubs are the most comfortable articles of clothing ever (even if one pocket does oddly fall right on the center of my expanding stomach).

No, Thank You.

Over the last decade (plus) of working as a geriatric nurse I have, on occasion, become close to not only the patients I care for but also their families.  In any long-term care and skilled nursing facility you get to know family members, especially the ones that visit often.  You build a professional relationship with them that can so easily become personal as you share some of the most emotionally challenging times of their lives as they watch their mother, father, beloved aunt or uncle, or that special grandparent go through the stages of chronic illness and eventually move on.   The majority of the time I work exceptionally hard to keep that relationship professional.  I do this not because I do not care, I do… deeply.  I create that boundary to protect my emotional well-being.  This serves a double purpose of being able to more easily compartmentalize my emotions so that I can comfort a grieving family member while continuing to provide quality care to my other patients.

This weekend we had a death.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it was a death that hit harder than others have for multiple reasons.  The patient was special.  You know how some people just light up a room?  This patient was able to do that even when battling severe pain from the cancer that would eventually take away life.  There was a sparkle in this patient’s eye that nothing could extinguish.  This patient’s smile was catching and made your heart lighter and was a gift that was shared with everyone.  This patient’s family loved him deeply.

I went in to work on Friday knowing I had to work a double shift and that I was going to be working on the long-term care unit rather than the skilled unit I typically work on.  I was a little excited to go into work because I was going to be able to spend some extra time with residents that I no longer get to see as much since switching to the skilled floor a month ago.  I was feeling refreshed coming in after 3 days off.  My nurse-partner and I work so well as a team, and Friday started our weekend together.  The family of the dying patient was in sitting with him, socializing with each other, doing everything they could to lift each other’s spirits.  They had been in non-stop for 4 days at that point since the patient had taken a turn for the worst Monday night holding vigils and celebrating a life lived well and full of love.  Immediately after they all went home for the night the patient took his last breath and went to sleep.  I made what is always the hardest phone call in the world to make to his family.  They came back to say goodbye one more time and upon entering the building thanked me.  The words they said were beautiful and appreciated, but I have some of mine own to say back to them.

 

Thank you.

Thank you for showing me that there are still families that will drop everything to be with a loved one in their time of need.

Thank you for openly sharing your love with each other.

Thank you for including not only the family of blood, but also this patient’s family of choice.

Thank you for dropping any problems you may have with one another and supporting one another through this time.

Thank you for bringing laughter in what can be a dark time.

Thank you for sharing your stories with myself and all of the other staff.

Thank you for supporting this patient’s end of life choices, giving him the support he wanted and needed, and allowing us to provide him with as much comfort as possible.

Thank you for openly appreciating not only my work, but also the work of every single staff member in the facility.  You don’t know how very rare that is.

Thank you for cherishing and learning from your elders.

 

I see a lot of death because of the age group I choose to work with.  I wish I could say that I see the open love in every family that I saw in this one, but sadly that just isn’t true.  So I will leave everyone with this thought.  Family is the most important thing you can create in this world.  It does not matter if the “family” you create is related to you by blood or if they are a family of choice… if you are lucky you will have both.

Cherish them.  Love them.  Support them in their times of need.  It will pay you back ten fold.

 

15 months later…

I can’t believe how the time has flown, Liam is 15 months already! It has been so exciting to watch him play, grow, and learn these last few months. Everything happens so fast at this point, it’s like a neural explosion. Over the last 3 months Liam has:

  • Gone from stumbling to run-stumbling
  • Learned to say over 25 words, although he mostly refers to animals by the sounds they make, except our youngest dog, Bruise, who he calls Rooze.
  • Learned how to walk backwards and spin in a circle
  • Begun helping Conan and I with simple tasks (carrying light things mostly)

His favorite things right now are:

  • Reading… By himself, to the bear, to Conan and I… This little boy loves to be the one reading the story.
  • His big white bear, “Baby”… When Liam was born Conan’s company sent us a present, a giant white polar bear which I never named because I figured it would be too big to drag around. Liam has proven me wrong and he has named it “Baby”. The other stuffed animals are babies too, but there is only one Baby and he goes everywhere with Liam.
  • Yogurt, cereal bars, and berries
  • Going to the park
  • The tub, this little guy loves his baths (and his bath toys)

He has had a lot of adventures over the last three months, including:

  • His first sleepovers with Grammy and Grampy F.
  • His second annual Flynnstock with Conan
  • His first trip to the beach!

While I have tried (desperately sometimes) to be there for every single event it just hasn’t been possible and sometimes Conan and Liam are a two man team while I am at home with the puppy brothers doing homework or at work.  We do our best with the time we have and try to make every moment count.

Today the three of us went out to lunch to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and then to the park for some quality time (and to exhaust Liam before his nap).  It was suppose to rain all day today so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to get out and about.  My park plan however backfired as it was not just Liam that needed the nap when we got home 😉

And now a parting message from Liam himself and a few more of my favorite pictures from the last few months….

mddddddddddddddddddddddcnn vvvvvvvvvvvvmvb nffkbgghashgklbjcv b hvfghm jk df6988888888888888888

I can’t wait to see what the next three months brings!

Who Needs Diapers?

So today, after I woke up from a lovely sleep in (this a huge shout out to my awesomely understanding husband who totally gets the fact that sometimes I don’t get home from work until 3am, and if I can sleep I will) I had just enough time to turn on the Keurig before Liam woke up from his morning nap and started playing with his dolls in his crib.  He sounded like he was in an awesome mood so I headed right up to get him so we could have some fun.  That is when I walked into a naked butt in the air as he was working on standing up.

That is right… a NAKED BUTT!

My jaw may have literally dropped.  Casually tossed over the edge of the crib was his diaper… he decided the shirt could stay on.

Because Liam is only 14 months old there was no hope in the universe that he did not pee all over the bed.  So I gingerly reached a hand down and did the touch test… yes, it was wet.  Awesome.

As my dreams of packing up the family for a trip to York’s Wild Animal Kingdom flew out the window and visions of endless loads of laundry jumped into my head I picked up my kiddo at arms length, brought him into his bathroom, placed him into the tub and proceeded to break one of the two cardinal child bathing rules that have been drilled into my head since I was a young girl who was slightly obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club, I turned on the water while he was in the tub.  No, I did not burn my child, but his bubble bath might have been a little colder than usual.  Honestly, he didn’t seem to mind.

Conan very nicely brought me a cup of coffee while I was supervising the tub time.  He can be totally credited with saving my sanity with that one small act.  (yes, yes, I know, I have a caffeine “problem”)

Does anyone else have any diaper removal stories?  Are there any hints or tricks to getting the little guy to not keep doing it?  He was so very impressed with himself when I found him, and although I did not make a big deal out of it (to him anyway) I have a feeling that my stubborn little one will keep up the trick now that he has figured it out.

Artsy Toddlers

Liam and The Bean have been exploring their artistic side this week.  For the most part we have been playing with crayons and stickers, using this exploration in art as an opportunity to learn shapes and colors.  Today I was tired of drawing green circles and purple squares so I decided to be brave and break out the finger paints.

I set up this activity with one color of paint only placed onto a plate for easy dipping for their small hands, I also prepared by grabbing a roll of paper towels and a bowl of water in advance for emergency clean ups (surprise! there were a few!).  We started out by taking turns and making hand prints (for Momma’s memory box), then it was a finger painting free for all.  All in all it was a great time and entertained them for about 30 minutes total. Even the clean up afterwards wasn’t all that difficult thanks to being prepared with water and towels.  The kids had a blast!

And now for the photos… this is the last few days of art activities 🙂 It looks like the Grammy’s and Grampy’s are going to be getting LOTS of presents!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Things Thursday, 7/10/14

 

Three Things Thursday is an exercise in gratitude that began over on Nerd In The Brain, another awesome blog.  Every Thursday I highlight three things from the week that I am grateful and/or made me happy.  It is a highlight of those little extra things in life that you don’t always have time to stop and enjoy.  A celebration of life’s gravy.  Feel free to steal this idea for yourself as well 🙂

This week I am thankful for

 

1. Unexpected nostalgia

20140709-233724-85044199.jpgA long time ago, in a town (not that) far away I was an emotionally turbulent high school student.  Back in those days I went through a lot of stages… thanks to an incredibly vibrant local music scene and a personal passion for music (band geek) most of those stages were based on what I perceived a fan of certain types of music should look and/or act like.  I recall the period I spent having a love affair with Tori Amos to be exceptionally angst-y… and yet when this song came on the radio (yes, I STILL listen to the radio) I turned it up and sang along.  I have such fond memories of hanging out with my friends and listening to Tori and being so excited when this CD came out.

 

2. Quiet moments on my back deck after Liam goes to bed

20140709-233721-85041689.jpg

Yes, I adore my son.  But there are times when I just like to take five minutes to myself, and this is where I usually do it…. except never by myself really because the puppy brothers always tag along.  I love our back yard.  It is big, usually quiet(ish), and so peaceful.  I am a neighborhood type of girl, so I really don’t mind a little bit of noise.  I like having neighbors, and I am fond of the older gentleman who lives in the little ranch behind us and the conversations we have over the back fence.  I would be even fonder of him if the fence were higher, not see through, I only ever saw his eyes, and he was always there to spout words of wisdom when I need them.

3. Farmer’s Market Splurging

20140709-233717-85037802.jpgYes, I went to the Farmer’s Market to get fruits, vegetables, berries, eggs, and whole milk yogurt… and then I saw the sunflowers.  Most of the time if I splurge on myself its an extra Starbucks coffee for the week, yesterday I decided to bring a little sunshine into my home.  I had planted sunflowers in the front yard this spring, but some animal (probably a skunk) decided to knock them all over and eat the heads off…. now I have headless sunflowers in the yard… they aren’t all that pretty.  Liam thought the flowers were a fantastic idea when I brought them home, so I let him explore them for a bit before putting them in the vase.  I think they held up pretty well to his handling.

 

What are you thankful for this week?

 

Day 37

Day 37 of the selfie challenge: 365 Days of Momma

It’s Sunday! AND! I have the day off!!!!

That’s right, its my weekend off… I firmly believe that having to work every other weekend makes me that much more appreciative of the ones I have off.

This morning Liam took off after breakfast, grabbed a book and his teddy bear, and then proceeded to set himself up on the couch next to me to “study” with me.  That’s right, I used the “s” word.  Someone though it would be a brilliant idea to take a full course load in the summer during the most gorgeous weather of the year because the semester is shorter and it would be nice to just get the work done with.  The same someone is now incredibly worried that maybe, just maybe, she might not be able to keep up.  I don’t know who comes up with these brilliant ideas but they probably should have less of them.

So the adorableness ensued this morning and Liam and I studied together for about 10 minutes before my urge to snap a picture completely overcame me.  Of course as soon as I picked up the camera phone he had to climb into my lap to get it…. The result is this:

Today’s selfie is less of me and more of us, but it is an awesome memory that I want to hold on to…. especially with the puppy photo-bomb in the second shot!

 

I do promise an update soon on my personal progress towards self acceptance of myself in photographs.  This project has turned into more than I originally planned.  What started out as something that was just for me has also evolved into a mechanism to show Liam my memories from his early childhood.

 

 

Somersworth Children’s Festival

So I am a little behind in keeping up with the blog.. I blame the awesomely hot weather (and my subsequent desire to spend my life in the splash pool with the toddlers).

I also am prepping to head back to school in a big way next week after taking the spring semester off (it was so nice!).  I have a year left of classes, and a year left of an internship before I can take my administrator boards, so it is all serious all the time starting next week.  It really is a shame I can’t (safely) bring the laptop into the splash pool with me.  That would be some amazing multitasking.

This group of pictures is from the annual International Children’s Festival in Somersworth NH that we went to with a pretty big group of the family a few weeks ago.   It was an absolute blast and if you are in the seacoast NH region on the 3rd Saturday in June you should definitely make plans to bring your family!  The activities there were definitely geared to the 10 an under crowd, but even the 1 year olds had a blast dancing and hanging out with the animals at the miniature petting zoo.  As a parent the events on the various stages kept me entertained as well, and it was so much fun to see the kids enjoying themselves.  I think this is going to be a yearly trip for us.

Want more information about the festival?  Visit the website for the Somersworth Festival Association.

And without further adieu… pictures!

 

First stop for us was the Wildlife Encounters area.  There were animals and a mini petting zoo for the kids.. a hit with all of them.  The folks over at wildlife encounters were super busy, but also super nice.  they do Birthday Parties in the area and my sister-in-law who works at a local day care center said that their visits to the daycare are always a kid/parent favorite.  Personally I loved the staffing ratio they had, despite all of the kids that were milling around they were able to keep everything well organized, the animals not overcrowded, and everyone happy and safe.

After the animals we had some fun on the playground, drawing pictures in the shade, and then cooled off with the splash pool that was set up before taking a long walk down to the second site of the festival (note* there was a trolley that we did not know about that would have taken us down minus the hike… good to know for next year!)

Next up for us was a nice cold drink and snack time while we watched a Jamaican band and then the TaeKwon Do demo put on by Mr. B’s school.  The older kids were fascinated, the toddlers wanted to risk life and limb to run out among all the kicking and punching people.  Apparently it looked like fun!

The second site had all the normal fair like activities, including rides, face painting, games, fair food and balloon animals.  There also was a pretty cool craft fair inside the school and a tented area that highlighted the cultural trends of different nationalities.

This is where Liam passed out (literally, while walking), so Conan and I trudged back to the car and went to go pick up pizza while everyone else got to enjoy a lovely trolley ride and some more fun!