Thursday, December 21, 2017

On an Impactful Moment

     Monday started off like a normal day. We got some errands done in the morning, including picking up a car to borrow so that we could take ours to the dealership for recall related repairs. Andrew and Xander went to the library, while Simon and I spent a little time at home before we planned to meet up at the dealership at our appointment time.

     I hurried to make a late lunch for myself, and hurried to get on the road with Simon. Simon was not thrilled to be in the car again, so I was distracted by his crying. I was around the corner from our house when all of that changed in an instant. 

     I was approaching an intersection when the light suddenly turned yellow. I knew I needed to stop but the red pickup truck in front of me was nearly into the intersection and seemed to be going to go through on the yellow light. The driver suddenly changed his mind, leaving me without enough space to stop.

      I hit him. My glasses flew onto the dashboard. My air bag went off. I couldn’t breathe because of the smoky chalk that had exploded from the deflating air bag.

      I was dimly aware that the truck had pulled to the other side of the intersection - in my mind, to be safer. While I was still dazed from the impact, I watched, uncomprehending, as the truck drove off. I tried to drive, to move the car out of the road. It wouldn’t move. I got out and grabbed Simon in his car seat, and moved to the sidewalk. Now safe, I turned into a useless, emotional mess.

      Even in that moment, I was amazed and grateful at the kindness of strangers. Before I even got out of my car, I had two guys sticking their heads out of their truck window next to me, asking if I was okay. When I got to the sidewalk, two women were there, asking if I was okay, calling 911. 

     There is a gas station on the corner I’d chosen, and the guy on duty came over and encouraged me to come inside to keep warm, keep the baby warm. Before I even got off the sidewalk to a bench by the gas station, a woman came and told me, “my husband is moving your car.” She had hopped out of the cab of their tow truck, and he was already hooking it up to move the disabled car to safety in the gas station lot. She disappeared after a quick “Merry Christmas!”

      Since the accident occurred a stone’s throw from the police station, officers arrived in moments, and the paramedics quickly after that. I answered questions and got checked out. The paramedics commented they could see that I had been wearing my seatbelt, since I had a fresh abrasion on my chest. Though I was shocked that the other driver had left the scene, it ended up being a good thing for us in the sense that it was immediately deemed their fault.

     Andrew and Xander arrived after the paramedics had looked me over, and Xander’s reaction was unexpected. Unsurprisingly, he was sweet and reassuring, “it’s ok, Mama; it’s ok, Simon.” What was unexpected and amusing was that he had gotten mad and protective on the way over, when Andrew told him that someone had hit us. He said, “You don’t crash into Mama! I crash into you!” He told me, “I was mad at the other cars!” My sweet, loyal, small protector. I observed to Andrew, “He’s a Hufflepuff like his Daddy.”

     Most of the rest of the day was spent on the phone with insurance, telling the story about 6 more times to various people, and verbally processing my whole experience.

     Andrew’s aunt and uncle, from whom we had borrowed the car, were exceedingly gracious about the whole incident. We all counted our blessings that it was their second, lesser used car, and not either of our primary vehicles. I was grateful that it hadn’t been worse; incredibly glad that I wasn’t more injured or put out of work. I was glad Andrew and Xander were not in the car, and that Simon was safe.

     Overall, it has been an eye-opening experience: a wake up call to be more aware as a driver, to treasure every day with my loved ones, to be more present in every moment.

      “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! ... My hope is in you.”

                                                             ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:4‬-5, 7

Monday, June 26, 2017

Simon’s Birth Story

     For the last eight weeks or so, I’ve been trying to get Simon’s birth story written and posted, while it’s somewhat fresh in my mind. As it turns out, it’s hard to find time when you have a newborn *and* a potty-training toddler!

     My pregnancy with Simon was challenging, to say the least. (I wrote about that in this post.) By third trimester, I was counting down to when it would be over, and definitely struggling.

     I was nervous the whole time about ending up with another C-section, as that was something I really wanted to avoid. If I was attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean), but had to have a C-section for a problem that arose, that would be fine, but I hated the idea of having to plan on another C-section. It is, after all, major surgery, and I didn’t want to think about trying to recover from it with a newborn and a toddler. With that in mind, I was thrilled when he managed to turn head-down (Xander never did) and stayed there! 

     On Wednesday night at the end of March, I went into labor. Although I had been contracting at a low but still uncomfortable level for nearly two weeks straight, this felt different. I knew it was real labor. Of course, I started active labor at midnight, after being awake all day. I let Andrew sleep, and moved around the house, breathing through contractions. I tried to catch a little more sleep, and after a mere 45 minute nap, I woke up to my water breaking. 

     At that point, I figured I should tell Andrew, and we got ready to go to the hospital. The next contractions after my water broke felt exponentially stronger, and I started to get the feeling this was going to happen fast. I actually got nervous about having the baby in the car! As it turns out, I was right. By the time I got to the hospital and they checked me, I was dilated to 7 cm.

     In no time at all, I felt the urge to push. My midwife had me get on my hands and knees for a little while, so that Simon would turn a little into a more ideal position. I could hardly stand that, but they got the nitrous oxide set up and I was able to tolerate it better. 

     A very short time later, I was fully dilated and ready to push, so I pushed for about five contractions and he was out! Incredibly, Simon was born less than an hour after I arrived at the hospital and got into a bed.

     To say the experience was overwhelming and indescribable is an understatement. The best way I found to describe it at the time was that I was on a runaway freight train, and while I had much more agency in the process than with my C-section, it still felt more like it was happening to me, than something I was doing. But I did do it! I still can’t believe that I gave birth naturally to an entire human child. I was blown away by the raw emotion and jumble of thoughts I experienced in that moment. 

     My inner monologue went something like, “Did that really just happen?” “What just happened to me?” “I can’t believe he’s here! I just had a baby!” “Oh my word, that hurt!!” “I have a new 10 for my 10/10 pain scale.” “That was incredible.” “Man, my throat hurts from all the moaning and groaning.” “Hey, I’m proud of myself! I managed to not swear or yell at anybody!”

This picture is the best way I can sum up the crazy mix of emotions in that moment. Pardon the 'freshness'. ;)

     There was a lot about the birth process that I didn’t know about at all. Right after Simon’s birth, I got crazy strong shakes, apparently from adrenaline. Following that, I got a second wind on which I managed to function for the next six hours or so. I have stayed up for crazy long periods of time before, like 27 hours, but that day, I experienced a new level of “running on fumes”. 

     In the time after Simon was born, our parents brought Xander to meet his new brother. That was a precious time. He was so excited, and proud to be a big brother. It was amusing to watch his little mind grasp the concept when we explained that this baby was Baby Simon, the same baby who had been in Mommy’s belly. He seemed to think it was someone else’s baby. 

     As a VBAC, this birth was restorative in some ways. The agency I experienced was so different than the surgical experience of a C-section. I felt empowered, because as much as I felt like it was a crazy, overwhelming process that happened to me whether I wanted to or not, I still felt that, “I did that!”  I certainly felt more connected to what was happening in the moments of birth as well. I was able to reach down in between contractions as he was crowning and actually feel what was going on. 

     Certainly, there are some advantages to a C-section; namely, using the bathroom was not terrifying like it was after this birth. Birthing a baby as quickly as I did is not easy on the body, to be sure. Yet, I was amazed that I was up and moving around without assistance by that same evening. A week after the birth, I was feeling close to normal. I think it was close to six weeks or more after my C-section until I felt that way. While I was nauseated all day after my C-section, I felt like I had run a marathon this time. By the next morning, I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know existed! After my C-section, I don’t think I took any pain medicine, only medicine for nausea. This time, I took ibuprofen for about 48 hours, for the whole-body achiness! 
     I’m really glad I was able to have a successful VBAC. I know not all providers are on board with them, but I am so grateful that my midwife group was supportive, and that the hospital was supportive of me doing it. Overall, I had a really good experience with the hospital and my midwife. Shout out to Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth and the Acclaim Nurse Midwives (formerly UNT midwives)! They rock.

     Thanks for reading! If you’ve managed to read all of my long pregnancy and birth stories, you’ve definitely earned this picture of an adorable baby Simon. 

For your amusement...#pregnancyproblems


When your full bladder keeps triggering unpleasant Braxton Hicks contractions, but you’re supposed to drink lots of water

When you eat a good amount of food because you’re *so* hungry, and then you get indigestion.

When you crave french fries, donuts, and popcorn, and you don’t feel like having self-control!

When you squat to pull something from the lowest shelf at work and literally fall on your butt


When pregnancy brain makes you blank out on a coworker’s name… that you’ve worked with every week for months… in front of a patient
When you keep getting your scrub tops wet at work because every time you wash your hands, your belly is too close to the overpowered automatic faucet

When you are past a certain point in your pregnancy and every single patient / family asks you about it

When you have a question about your patient for their provider and… nope, it’s gone.

On Pregnancy, the Second Time Around

     When I was pregnant with our first child, I loved it. Sure, not every minute of it was wonderful, but it was a really positive experience overall. I didn’t have excessive nausea, my fibromyalgia pain was well controlled, and I enjoyed being pregnant. There is something wonderous about growing a human in your body. It’s amazing to watch your body change drastically, to feel the baby move, and to anticipate the birth of a child. You know that addition to your family will change your life forever.

     Fast forward almost two years, and we were ready to think about having another baby. I was excited. I will admit, I was feeling some ‘baby fever’ while watching my first son turn into a little boy more and more every day. I was also really excited about the possibility of hormones helping my pain once again. While I had a good supply of milk to breastfeed my first, my hormones had continued to help me. Due to lack of supply, I weaned my firstborn at about 18 months, but my hormones had helped less and less after the first year.

     So, in July, we got pregnant. We have been blessed that it really was that easy for us, twice. I stopped taking my pain medicine, Lyrica (not approved for pregnancy/breastfeeding), and waited. I hoped that my hormones would kick in for me sooner rather than later, but I kept waiting. I held onto hope longer than I care to admit, but eventually I had to come to the conclusion that this time, my hormones were not going to ‘fix’ my fibromyalgia. That was hard.

     Not only did I have more unpredictable (and therefore less manageable) morning sickness, but I felt tired and achy, in more pain than before without Lyrica on board. So, I made it through first trimester and started to feel a bit better, though I had to adjust to my new normal level of pain.

     In November, we found out we were having a second boy. I will admit that I was caught offguard by that! I felt like this pregnancy had been so completely different from my first that there was no way that we could be having another boy. Andrew and I had both been expecting to hear it was a girl, so that was certainly a mental adjustment. 

     Not long after that, I ran into the next hurdle of this more difficult pregnancy: migraines. I started having such frequent migraines, some of which lasted for more than 24 hours. It was miserable. Then, they let up for awhile, and I thought maybe they’d passed. 

     I started back to work at a second job (with my previous employer), so that I was working four shifts every other week. It was a struggle to find the energy to work three nights a week, let alone four. In December, I faced my next major hurdle.

     One night at work, I was pulling a patient up in the bed, working with a coworker. The patient was unable to help, and with the size of my belly, I couldn’t get close enough to the bed. I also couldn’t get close enough to the head of the bed to effectively pull. Instead of asking for help, I stupidly miscalculated that I could handle it. The next day that I was off of work, I woke up and couldn’t stand up. I had tweaked my low back (sciatic nerve) so badly that I couldn’t bear weight. I spent the next six hours in bed laying on an ice pack, and immediately, desperately, tried to find solutions. I bought lidocaine patches and a TENS unit, found a chiropractor, and tried a support belt.

     For over a month, I dealt with all my normal pain, the discomforts of a third trimester pregnancy belly, and an injured sciatic nerve. Weeks went by in which I didn’t have the ability to lift my left leg more than a foot off the ground. 

     Finally, in January, I was able to see a chiropractic practice that specializes in pregnancy. I was so incredibly grateful that their interventions did eventually help.

     Also in January, I got to the point that I couldn’t handle everything anymore. I was beyond stressed by working two jobs, being pregnant, and dealing with so much pain. I was anxious and depressed, and got to the point where I had the kinds of thoughts you never want to say out loud. I knew I needed help. After having a massive emotional meltdown, I went to my midwife and started taking an antidepressant. Once I was at therapeutic levels, I felt like a different person. I still had a lot of stressors in my life, certainly, but I was not so overwhelmed by my life and crippled by anxiety.

     In February and March, I started to move forward, only to face the next battle of this pregnancy: preterm contractions. I began to have consistent contractions to varying levels of discomfort, starting at 30 weeks. I went to the hospital to be observed and treated five times by the end, and had at least a couple of other incidences besides. 

     When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I had contractions that led to cervical change, officially considered preterm labor. I got two doses of steroids after the medication to stop my contractions was ineffective, and we braced to have a baby a little too early. 

     I stopped working, tried to take it easy, and we prayed that our baby boy would hold out awhile longer, until it was safer. At the same time, I was more and more ready to be done being pregnant! Thankfully, my body let him continue baking for another two weeks. As I turned 37 weeks, I noticed various signs (other than the contractions that had been constant for too long) that my body was ready. I stopped taking it easy, and started thinking about how to trigger labor. I was really ready to be done being pregnant. 

See Simon's Birth Story for the rest of the story...