18 days

18 days can change your world.

Day 1: Ivy was born at 32 weeks 5 days gestation, weighing 3 lbs 9 oz. She spent the first 2 hours of her life intubated, then simply on room air.
Day 4 & 5: Ivy spent most of her time in phototherapy to keep her bilirubin levels down.
Day 5: Ivy nursed for the first time.
Day 6: her IV was removed as she had been taking her NG feeds so well that she did not require TPN (the mixture of lipids and proteins that preemies get via IV) anymore.
Day 8: she was prepared for transfer to a different hospital since she was doing so well. On day 9 we flew in an airplane, her in her isolette, to a NICU closer to home.
Day 15, her NG tube was removed as she was nursing full feeds at every feed.
Day 17 she failed her carseat test. That was the only fail Ivy had in the NICU.
Day 18, she passed her carseat test and she was discharged, weighing 4 lbs 0.5 ounces and only 35 weeks 2 days gestation.

I have a friend that I have never met in real life. She started commenting on my blog about three years ago, and I started reading her blog. We started writing back and forth and we are facebook friends.
I knew how much she and her husband wanted a baby. They struggled with infertility for a couple of years until she finally was able to get pregnant. Her writing exuded her elation over the pregnancy and she was counting down the weeks until she would be a mother.
Suddenly, at 30 and a half weeks, she went into labour and delivered a beautiful baby girl, Rory Rose, in an ambulance en route to the hospital. Miraculously, the baby not only survived, but was thriving. Having had a preemie myself, I was so excited to be able to share that experience with someone. I gave her tips that worked for me, and offered to send her copies of my preemie books (as I was no longer using them). She posted photos of the two of them doing kangaroo care, and of her reading a book to her while they bonded skin-to-skin. After seven days of bliss, Rory became seriously ill with what the doctors said was necrotizing enterocolitis.
Day 9: Rory crashed twice, requiring CPR both times to be revived.
Day 10: Rory seemed to settle into a groove of stability. Her bowels were still questionable, but she was stable. The doctors advised that they would do surgery when she was strong enough to be transported to another hospital and handle the surgery.
Day 12: Rory was improving and surprising doctors left, right and center.
Day 13: The doctors noticed that Rory had suffered a brain bleed and that there could be brain damage.
Day 15: Rory’s brain bleed was very severe and half of her brain was dead. It was also swelling and putting pressure on the other side of her brain. There was nothing the doctors could do for her other than manage her pain. She opened her eyes and looked at her mommy and daddy for about 15 minutes that evening.
On day 18, Rory went to be with Jesus.

I cannot help but look at my Ivy and feel both blessed and guilty. Ivy had such an easy NICU experience that I took for granted. I never once thought that anything bad would happen. I did not know that NEC is not uncommon among preemies. I knew that preemies were more susceptible to brain bleeds, but I never even contemplated the idea that it was even a risk for Ivy. I guess with all the trouble I was having with my own health, I just assumed that Ivy would be fine no matter what, and I was determined to get her out of the NICU and home as fast as we could.

In 18 days, your world can change.
I wish that every preemie baby could go home with their mommy and daddy in 18 days. I wish that Katie could have held her sweet baby girl without all the tubes and alarms and nursed her to chubbiness. I wish she could still be reading her stories while she made sweet sleepy sounds on her chest. I wish that she would have been able to arrange all her clothes in her closet by age and by colour. I wish that she would have been able to try on her cow-print cloth diapers on her and squeal with delight when she saw how cute they were and how big they would make her bum look.

I wish she would not be going home to a baby’s room filled with hopes and dreams that will never be fulfilled.

I’m so sorry.

Fat Girl Vs. Anorectic Girl

So many people have commented on how quickly I slimmed down after having iBean. Yes, I am thinner now than I was before I got pregnant with Sashimi.  I am currently the same size I was when I graduated from high school. If i walked around with an FAQ on my back, one of the questions would be “Do you work hard at it, or do you just have good genes?”  The truth is, although in this particular instance I have not had to physically work hard (thanks to my friend thyroiditis and his sidekick breastfeeding), my relationship with food and my body has not always been so easy.

My eating is so much different now than when I was a teenager.  I used to eat compulsively and was 155 lbs at my heaviest.  Not huge, but not small either for a short girl.  I would polish off a ring of sausage as a snack, or a large bag of tostitos and salsa. I drank a lot of coke and tequila (not together). I liked adding those flavoured creamers (try 7 or 8 of them) to my hot chocolate. Then, at 17, I overheard a boy refer to me as  “cute, but chubby.”  All I heard was chubby.

I started exercising regularly.  I made a rule that I was only allowed to eat thin soups for lunch – no more sandwiches or other unnecessary bread consumption.  I would only eat a banana for breakfast. Doing this helped me lose nearly 25 lbs in 6 months.  Then my dad was killed in an accident, I dropped another 5 or 7 lbs in a matter of days.  I went shopping for my grad dress (for my American friends, grad dresses here are equivalent to prom dresses) about a month afterward and was completely thrilled when I realized that I fit a size 4.  I had never been a size 4, and the rush of seeing such a small dress on my body was something I cannot explain. By the time I actually graduated, the dress was slightly too big, and I could have easily worn a size 2.

When I moved out on my own to attend university, I remember thinking these exact words: “When I am on my own, I can lose as much weight as I want.”  That is scary to think of now, but I distinctly remember thinking it. I started keeping a food journal, documenting everything I ate, whether I had a bowel movement, how much I exercised, and how much I weighed. A typical day would read:

Breakfast: banana. Lunch: mini pita with cream cheese. Supper: salad with salsa and light ranch.  Tae-bo one hour. No BM. Weight: 103 lbs.

There were days when I ate out at a restaurant.  Those days, I usually just drew a big angry face and took ex-lax when I got home (I have no gag reflex, it seems, as I tried to purge and it never worked.  A blessing in disguise). A couple of my friends from high school saw me and commented on how they coud feel my spine when they hugged me.  I just told them it was stress, all the while masking my extreme delight in being so thin.  I should also mention that I was amenorrheic for about a year.  It did not bother me at all.

In the spring, I started seeing a psychologist (for another matter) and through therapy, realized that I had an eating disorder. Meanwhile, my physician had put me on an anti-depressant that had a side effect of causing increased appetite – I think she suspected something was wrong as well.  At first, I would put the extra food I craved in my mouth, chew it up, and then spit it in the garbage.  Gradually, I started to see how deranged this was, and  started swallowng the food.  I managed to put on 10 lbs over  the four-month summer break, followed another 10 lbs during my two-week séjour in France. I returned home no longer fitting my pants and with significantly larger breasts (much to Tony’s delight).

The guilt I felt over eating what I felt was too much (what I now realize was eating normally) took a few years to subside.  Tony was a very positive support for me, and I purged my closet of all my skinny clothes, so I would not put them on, feel them cutting into my flesh, and revert back to old ways.

Now, 10 years and three babies later, I like to think i have achieved some sort of balance, somewhat shaped by the fat girl and anorectic girl constantly dueling in my head.    My weight stays pretty constant. I eat what I want, all the while watching portion size and making sure that I am getting lots of fruit and veggies.  Sometimes the anorectic girl wins, and I order salad at a restaurant when I really wanted pasta.  Other times, the fat girl wins when I eat a big piece of pie for breakfast or eat two handfuls of cookies while watching TV.  But they play a zero-sum game.  If one girl wins, the next time she will lose.

Time had been kind to me, as I really don’t think about these things anymore.  I enjoy my life and food on my own terms, exercise when I want (or have the energy) to do it.  In becoming a mother, I have seen my body do incredible things and I have more respect for my body.   When I see myself in the mirror, I like what I see just as it is.**

———

**Okay. Maybe not the acne. But I guess that’s what concealer is for.

Thyroid. The First.

My appointment today with my doctor went much more smoothly than I thought.  I did not get all the answers I was looking for, but here is what we have for now:

  • My thyroid is underactive right now.  It has been a bit all over the place (it was hypo in January just before I had iBean, then hyper in April, now back to hypo).  It is not uncommon in postpartum women for the thyroid to be a little wonky, so my doctor put me on synthroid and we will be monitoring my TSH, T3 and T4 (and thyroid antibodies) to see if this is a permanent thing or if it will resolve and resume normal functioning.
  • I have protein in my urine.  Again.  After having iBean, over the course of my hospital stay the protein had pretty much gone away, but now it is back.  Weird, right?  Right.  My doctor thinks so, too.  That, along with my high blood pressure, convinced him to refer me to an endocrinologist in the city.  I am an interesting case, or so I have been told.
  • My doctor changed my blood pressure medication.  Tony is filling that prescription as I type.
  • I have to go back for more bloodword next week to test for all sorts of other things related to kidney functioning and the endocrine system.
  • I produce roughly 2.5 L of urine in a 24-hr period.  Apparently this is a-ok.
  • I weigh less now that I did before getting pregnant with iBean.  I gained 40 lbs while pregnant with her and managed to drop it ALL in 4 months.  I think the hyperthyroidism had something to do with that, but I am currently at a weight that I have not been since I was 19.  Not sure if that is good or bad.  Definitely need to invest in a belt or smaller pants.

Stay tuned for more details on my fascinating case.

Hypertension. Still.

As I alluded to in my previous post, I was in the ER myself yesterday.  I had been on a waiting list for an ambulatory blood pressure monitor to determine what my numbers REALLY are, and the nurse from Chronic Disease Management called me to say I could come and get hooked up.  Since I was planning on heading up there to weigh iBean (who turned 6 months), I thought it would be a two-birds-with-one-stone thing. The boys were still in Edmonton with Tony, so it was just us girls. After the hospital, I thought we could go to the swimming pool or something.

I arrived at the hospital and went to CDM. The nurse took my blood pressure before attaching the ambulatory monitor to me.  My reading: 166/112. Huh?  “Are you feeling alright?” She asked. I felt fine.  I was very relaxed, only having iBean in the house with me for 24 hours was like a free vay-cay. No reason for it to be so high.  So she took my pressure on the other arm: 158/108.  Not much better.

“I really don’t feel comfortable putting this monitor on you if your blood pressure is so high already,” the nurse said.  “I think your doctor is in the ER today.  I will let him know I am sending you down there.”

So off we went.  Down the blood pressure path again.  My doctor ordered a myriad of tests (all of which I have been previously subjected to) and put me back on the last blood pressure med I had been taking.  He then directed me to the lab, where I had some blood taken (five or six vials), a urine test AND they sent me home with two 24-hr urine collection tests.  That’s right. Two.

At this point, I am resigned to my fate. My bloodwork has been consistently good, my organ functions have always been good (even at my worst state in the hospital). I know that my preeclampsia was so bad that I was at risk of having long-term hypertension as a result, but I really wish there was something more.  When I explain my condition to people (including doctors) they are floored that my pregnancy blood pressure problems persist even when there is no baby in my belly. How can that be? There must be something else wrong with you.  You don’t feel it when your blood pressure is that high?  Do you have double vision? Headaches?

No.  I feel nothing.  If I was not so diligent about my blood pressure readings, I would honestly have had no idea I was hypertensive at all.  I am an active otherwise healthy person whose blood pressure can climb so high that it is a wonder that I have not stroked out.  And I feel nothing.

How is that possible??

Where is House when you need him…

 

Oh – and iBean weighs 13 lbs 7 oz 😉

Hypertension – the sequel, or rather, the continuing story

iBean will be 6 months next week and my blood pressure has still not returned to normal.  At its peak in the hospital is was 182/133.  Every medical professional I tell that to is simply amazed that neither iBean or I stroked out.  It was a pure miracle that she came out as well as she did and that despite my high blood pressure, no lasting physical damage to my body or organs.

But I am still living with the hypertension. I slowly weaned down from my 17 (!!) daily blood pressure pills to the last one, and went off that last medication 15 days ago.  My blood pressure has not spiked back up, but it is slightly higher than it was on the meds. My diastolic pressure is borderline hypertensive, depending on the time (and day) I take it.  I was originally told in the hospital by the myriad of specialists that if my blood pressure had not resolved within 12 weeks postpartum, that I would most likely have chronic hypertension for the rest of my life.  I guess that is what I have to now face.  I was really hoping that once I was off all of the meds (and when you are on 17 pills a day, it takes a LONG time to titrate down!) my bp would normalize.

I was also told that I was at a substantial risk for this whole preeclampsia thing to recur should I decide to get pregnant again.  The specialists kept using the words conception planning appointments, high risk, specialist appointments, bedrest, hospitalization, premature delivery, possible organ damage, fetal death, maternal death should I decide to get pregnant again, particularly if my blood pressure did not resolve itself.

Or maybe not. I could get pregnant and everything would be peachy, just like my pregnancy with K-Man.

But 3 of my 4 pregnancies have had blood pressure issues.  Not full-on wars like this last one, but chances are, the next one would just make that number 4 out of 5.

Giving me the benefit of the doubt, my doctor (the man is a saint) is putting a requisition for another halter blood pressure monitor and giving me some more time to see if my body will bring itself back to normal.  There are things I can do: exercise (WTF is that?!), eat less salt (moment of silence as I say goodbye to soya sauce) and eat more beets (there are only so many beets I can consume in a day without wanting to yarf).

Tonight, I went for a walk.  I was farking tired, but while Ivy napped and Tony was home, K-Man hopped in the jogging stroller and we went for a brisk walk, about 3 km. The first real exercise I have done in almost a year. The goal to bring my diastolic blood pressure down is to do 20-30 minutes of “exercise” 4 times a week.  Not just running around after kids and up and down the stairs doing laundry.  I’m talking above and beyond that.  It would be WAY easier if I had an iPod that could actually hold all my dance/trance/upbeat music. Right now it is mostly consumed by stuff to listen to in the car while chauffeuring the kids around (Glee features prominantly).

High blood pressure is supposed to be for old people.  Not 29-year old size-4-wearing mothers.

It’s a good thing iBean was worth it.

iBean at her maximum level of medical intervention, shortly after birth

The Bean, 5 months old, trying on her bathing suit to see if it fits. It totally does! We're hitting the pool!

5 weeks later…and this is how it goes

I had my D&C five weeks ago, and things have not resolved themselves.  Emotionally, I am better.  I have made a sort of peace with the fact that I lost my twins.  The fact that they died at the same time makes me believe that there was something genetically wrong with both of them, and they were not meant to live outside of me.

Physically, I am annoyed beyond reason.  In the past five weeks, I have had 12 days of no bleeding.  That makes 23 days of bleeding.  The past 9 days have been light, much the way it is when you are at the end of your period. the end of my period typically does not take 9 days.  And usually proceeds a good 3 weeks of NON bleeding.  Not just 12 days.   Annoying, though, is the fact that my doctor is concerned about infection and keep testing and swabbing to find the cause of this.  So far, nothing.  Everything is negative. I am glad that he is concerned, but I have had enough stuff shoved up my bajingo  in the past month to last me a while.

I just want things to be back to normal so that we can try again (shoving something else up my bajingo, but somewhat more pleasant than a speculum and extra-long Q-tip).  I really wanted to have a baby in 2010, but if things keep up the way they have…well, that won’t be happening.

Rules for Internet Usage

Spurred by the massive amounts of information (mainly misinformation) about the Hini aka H1N1 aka Swine Flu aka Bacon Plague aka the Oinking Sickness, I have realized that many people do not really know how the internet works.  I feel called upon to pay heed to this grave matter, and have compiled the following:

Official Rules for Internet Usage, Version Hini Point One

  1. When you google something, the first page of results from your google search are not an indication of their veracity or “trueness.” Results are ranked based on how many hits, or “clicks” they receive.  The more you click, the higher its google rank.  This does not mean its content is true and reliable.   Example: Just because the first site that pops up when you google “H1N1 vaccine ingredients” tells you that it contains formaldehyde and tissues from aborted babies does NOT mean it is true.
  2. Anyone can publish anything they want on the internet.  There are no editors or publishers to approve or reject any of its content.  Example: I could create a page touting the merits of taking high doses of Vitamin D to combat the Hini, encouraging people to take doses higher than the daily maximum recommended intake of 2000 IU, and watch my stocks in the vitamin company soar.  I could casually forget to include pertinent information such as the possibility of vitamin D toxicity, which can cause calcium deposits to form in places, like, your blood vessels.  Awesome.
  3. Never believe anything, especially forwards, you receive in your e-mail inbox.  Most of these are not true. You will NOT get bad luck for 100 years if you delete the message before forwarding it to 27 of your favourite friends. Example: Ashley Flores is not a real missing person.  She may not even be a real “found” person.
  4. Anyone can sign any name to the bottom of an e-mail.  There is no way to track this back.  Example: I could write an e-mail to everyone, telling them that eating bacon dipped in vitamin D will give you immunity from the Hini.  Then I could sign it Dr. David Suzuki, and copy and paste an entire list of his credentials and all the great stuff he has done.  That doesn’t mean the Suze wrote the e-mail, and it definitely does not mean you should braise your pig fat with D-drops.
  5. When in doubt about the veracity of an e-mail, go to snopes.com and please, for the love of Zeus, look it up before you forward it.
  6. “Researching” is not the same as “googling.” There are places to go on the internet if you want real facts.  Most of these are databases of academic periodicals from universities and libraries.  Not so much from google.  Don’t get me wrong, if you want great ideas for icebreakers for your next business function, google is awesome.  If you want to know what caused Gulf War Syndrome (ahem), google is NOT where you go; Pub Med (not to be confused with Club Med) is where you want to be.

If you do not know how to properly use the internet, please don’t use it to make important decisions, such as how to properly cook pufferfish, or whether or not to get the Hini shot.  You wouldn’t google “pufferfish”, then watch a youtube video on how to cut it properly without leeching its poison into the meat, then cook it and serve it to yourself and your children.  Why, then, are people willing to make a decision about getting a vaccine based on their “research” on the internet and in TV Guide rather than talking to their family physician or their pharmacist? Because they don’t know the rules of the internet.  The internet is a free-for-all.  Sometimes, this can be fantastic. But not when you are making important decisions regarding your health and the health of your loved ones.

Get off the computer and go talk to your physician or pharmacist or other health care practitioner.  He/She will be more than happy to give you all the valid information you need.

 

**I realize the irony of my posting this on the internet.  Like I said, it’s a BYOB out here. It sort of tickles me.