Gratitude

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.

 

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

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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?

 

Three Things Thursday, 6/5/2014

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….   Grandparents.

Grammy and Grampy F, and Grammy and Grampy D who live close by have been lifesavers this week which turned out to be exceptionally busy.  From driving across the state to watch Liam while I worked this weekend and the hubs was out of town to taking Liam so the hubs and I could go out for a last minute business dinner with an out of town engineer the grandparents that are nearby have been lifesavers this week. Liam is also lucky enough to have another set of grandparents that live in Florida and give us an excuse to go on vacation in the winter (as well as sending cool mail, but these are things to be thankful of for a different day)

Next up is this AWESOME Bumkin insulated food tote:

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Every month Liam gets a package of toys and stuff from a company that had also given us a gift card for his birthday… on a whim (because even the shipping was free for this item) we picked out this… the tote that I didn’t even know I needed.  It’s insulated, the food is out of the diaper bag so no longer is getting squished AND there is enough room for Momma to put a snack in for herself too.  Plus it has alligators on it.  It doesn’t get any cooler than that, unless of course you are a stuffed Boston Terrier wearing hot pink shades and a cool hat… that might win.

Last up for the week is…

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This blanket.  Well, not really the blanket… its just a nice, warm blanket that is perfect for puppies to cuddle into on the couch.  It is the way the blanket cam to be in our living room that I am thankful for.  Yesterday, after getting up at the crack of dawn (literally) so I could get the entire house full of puppies and babies ready to bring Leroy in for his last post surgical vet visit we came home and Liam passed out… apparently he doesn’t appreciate being woken up early.  I was bouncing from the massive amounts of caffeine I had sucked down so I decided to clean out the basement.  You know, on a whim, because it seemed like the thing to do.  While I was down there I found a brand new set of queen sized sheets and this blanket that I did not know we had.  Both items were on the household shopping list, but I had yet to make it out to purchase them.  i feel like I just saved $50… which is awesome… do you know how much Starbucks that buys?

Well, that is it for this week for me..  What are you thankful for today?

Three Things Thursday, 5/15/14

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 my first thing is

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Yes, that I the barely visible moon and a couple of stars… It was not quite dark yet when I took the picture, so you don’t get the full effect. This picture is mostly about location. I am thankful that although I live less than 5 minutes from Target (the most wonderful place on Earth) I also live in an area that allows us to enjoy a starry night out on the deck after the kiddo is tucked in for the night. Summer is coming 🙂

My second thing for this week is

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Baby Ranunculus! I love ranunculus, they are up in my top three favorite flowers along with gerber daisies and hydrangeas. This particular plant is a project that Liam and I have going on the back deck. I am trying to train him young to water the flowers because I am awful at remembering to do it myself. I figure in a few years if Liam is trained correctly I can have all the gardens I want without worrying about death due to under-watering.

Last up this week is

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The giant stuffed Boston Terrier Liam’s Aunty got him for his birthday. Now Liam can learn where the dogs eyes are and get all the ear tugging in that he wants without me worrying that today will be the day the dogs are no longer tolerant. Teaching The Bean to be gentle with the dogs was a piece of cake, Liam on the other hand is a bit more rough and we are still working hard to smooth out those edges.
As an added bonus, I have been having fun tricking the other puppy brothers with the fake Boston Terrier for a few days now… It might never get old.

That is it for this week!
Here is a bonus Liam picture for reading all the way to the end 🙂

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Three Things Thursday, 5/1/14, All About Liam

Three Things Thursday is an exercise in gratitude originating over at Nerd In The Brain (another awesome blog).

This week I am going to shake things up a bit, instead of three things we are going to get three aspects of one thing… Liam.  One year ago today after a long labor we finally got to meet our Liam.  This week we are going to celebrate his life and I will list three things that I am grateful for about Liam.

Yes, that’s right, we now officially have a toddler!  This week a year ago I was stuck at 3cm for a week straight before finally getting to meet our Liam for the first time.

He was 7 lbs 15 ounces with a full head of hair… the only baby I have ever personally known to have a faux-hawk within hours of birth. My husband and I were over joyed.

 

 

 

 

He was so tiny! When he was a newborn he fit so nicely in the crook of my arm, now he spills out over the edge of my lap. It’s been a pretty busy year of development and our big guy is now walking and saying a handful of words. After a year of sleeping in 2-4 hour stretches I am now starting to enjoy 5-8 hour stretches of sleep instead. (You really don’t appreciate the value of a good nights sleep until you experience the joys of parenthood.)

 

The first thing is his smile and sense of humor (yes I know that is really two things).

I like to take baby selfies at 6:30 am

I like to take baby selfies at 6:30 am

Liam is one of those people who when he smiles it goes all the way to his eyes.  He really can light up a room, and his little laugh is infectious.  He also has a wicked sense of humor.  He loves it when you chase after him, and will wait for you to catch up and “almost” get him before taking off again.

 

The next thing I am thankful for is his curiosity.

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See?

 

Last of all I am thankful for his determination… though I am sure I will call it stubbornness and be cranky about it when he is older.

Liam is determined to do everything himself and keep up with his big cousins (M and the Bean) who are 5 months older than him.  This peppered with a nice amount of curiosity certainly keep my husband and I on our toes!  It is so much fun to watch him learn!

 

As a closer this is what Liam and I were doing at 5:35 this morning, the moment he turned one…. my great sleeper unfortunately had a rough night of teething last night 😦

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Three Things Thursday

One of my favorite blogs, Nerd In The Brain, does this every Thursday and I absolutely love the idea.  It is sort of the lines of 100 days of Happy that people are doing on Pintrest.

In a nutshell 3 things Thursday is a small collection of photographs of things that you are grateful for.  Not the obvious things… like the hubs. kids, and pups… but the little things.  The frosting of life.

Here are my 3 things for this Thursday

 

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This picture is not just about coffee, which I am more than grateful for… Some could say dependent. This is about the mug. I have two I these mugs that my mom bought for me. They are my favorites. Not only do they hold 12 ounces of liquid gold, but they are also sturdy and thick. The perfect cup to drink out of… And as an added bonus they make me think of my mom, who is pretty awesome.

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This owl. My husband thinks it’s ridiculous. I think he actually rolled his eyes when I brought it home. It’s my favorite knick-knack… Who doesn’t need an owl with a snail on its head in their house?

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Yes bottles…. While I am grateful or the Doc Brown bottles and how well they work I am most grateful for the fact that my husband cleaned them! Cleaning bottles has become the least favorite chore in our house since Liam’s arrival.