Saturday, March 30, 2013

...and we're back!

It has been almost two weeks since our sweet baby's birth. I wanted to post our birth story earlier, but… you know what it’s like, I’m sure, and as you will find out, things kept coming up in the way of my recovery (and writing). 

Anyways; since Thursday I have finally got to stay home and rest with the baby, and have been able to put something together. I am “back-blogging” our story, so if you want to read the whole story from beginning to end, you should start here (the day before the surgery) and read forward (by scrolling up) in time.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Open wound care and a jaundiced baby

I was sent home from the ER with very clear instructions: take a shower every day, and redress your wound right after. Call us if you see or feel any sign of an infection. 

That first shower felt really great – I had not been able to shower properly before this due to the catheter – but when I attempted to redress my wound, the whole situation became too much – I might have just realized that I was stuffing an inch and a half-deep hole in my abdomen with wet gauze - and I just about passed out. My husband, not much more confident, had to step in.

Please keep in mind that this whole time – from a few hours after surgery – all I ever wanted was to rest with my baby. But first I was in the hospital with all that this entailed, and then once home, there was a constant interruption for paperwork and check-ups. But things were about to get even more complicated. 

At our baby’s first check-up, four days after we got home from the hospital, the pediatrician noted how yellow he looked, and ordered a blood test. She called back an hour or so later with the results: his bilirubin level was 17.2 mg, and she wanted us to go to the hospital immediately to get him admitted for 2-3 days of light therapy. 

Now, I was a bit concerned too about our baby’s color, however not overly so, since all signs told us it was normal physiological jaundice that could be managed with frequent breastfeeding and some sun. His bilirubin level was high but I felt like I was just getting the breastfeeding going properly, and that if we could just have some rest and peace, everything else would follow. 2-3 days in the hospital would not only be very hard on me physically (the last place a person with an open wound should be in is a hospital, and I would not be able to get my much needed rest there), but would completely disrupt our breastfeeding progress, and hence have a negative effect on our baby’s health. 

Too tired to argue, I had Courtney take this discussion as well: “Yes, I’m afraid we are going to go against your medical advice here, doctor.” We did have to agree to come back the next day though to retest, and if his level had gone up further, that we would consider admitting him for light therapy. 

Followed 24 hours of marathon nursing – every 45 minutes to one and a half hours – accompanied by some naked time in the sun. It was tiring, but I figured that it would be worth it, not having to go to the hospital. 

The blood test the next day showed a bilirubin level of 13.4 – my effort had paid off. The doctor called back with the results and advised us to “just keep doing whatever it is that you are doing.” (That's sound medical advice, right there!) Taking care of our baby, that’s what. 

And that’s what we are going to spend Easter weekend doing, at home, in peace.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Open wound

Seven days after my surgery, my husband looked at my wound and suggested we contact my doctor, since it really didn’t look like it was healing properly (I still couldn't see the lower part of my belly properly, so I had not noticed). He confirmed that indeed, something was wrong, and told me to go to the ER. There, a few of his residents examined me, consulted my doctor, and then sent for the plastic surgeon on call. She examined my wound and told me the inevitable: there was no return – this wound had to be opened (staples removed) in the lower part, and I would have to exercise “Open Wound Care” for the next four weeks. 

Don’t know what open wound care is? My advice to you: if you type in the search term in Google, make sure you don’t accidentally click “images” or “videos” – it will scar you for life. 

Once my wound has somewhat healed, they can go in and stitch it up to make it look better, but the surgeon was very clear: it has to heal from the inside out first.

Oh boy.

To make me feel a little better, my doctor’s team removed my catheter (a day or two early), but it was little comfort since my main concern was the recovery time, and it had just been prolonged by four weeks.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Trying to recover

I can’t believe it has almost been a week. Having a baby really is like being in a casino: you lose track of time. 

All three older boys left for a sleep over last night and didn’t come back until dinner time today. I spent most of the day in a reclining position watching movies with the baby. My incision is still bleeding in the lower part – I think because I keep putting pressure on it while sitting up nursing – and I was hoping that if I took it extra easy today, the bleeding would stop. 

Part of me feels really bad for not doing anything around the house – most of you know how active I usually am, and so you can imagine how difficult it is for me to just sit still! – but the fact that I’m physically constrained by my catheter and that I currently have a body that is just begging me not to move pretty much make any of my efforts to do something futile.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 5: First day at home

Two major events:

Removal of incision site pad. Wow – I really do look like Frankenstein. When my doctor said he had to close me up quickly, he wasn’t kidding. But it doesn’t matter. And he knew it wouldn’t. The baby I have in my arms is worth every scar.

First post-op bowel movement. If you’ve ever had abdominal surgery, you just closed your eyes in silence, and suffered with me for a moment, remembering how excruciatingly painful it was. If you’ve never had abdominal surgery, I hope you never will have to. Your abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to facilitate visualization, and for two weeks after surgery, your body will have to get rid of this gas – it’s unbearable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 4: Going home

Baby and I were discharged in the late morning with a long list of medications and instructions, the most complicated ones relating to my catheter care. I had feared before the surgery that I would have to leave the hospital with a catheter, but once I was on my way home, it didn’t seem to matter. I was alive, I was going home with a healthy baby, and I had a bladder that might need some time, but that would recover 100%.

The paperwork was not too difficult (actually, it might have been, but my husband took care of it), and campus security took us through campus in a car, all the way to our house.

Best thing about being home? 

My boys! Finally, all four of them united, and our family reunited, as it should be. 

Also; free access to our Nestle water cooler (in the hospital they kept filling up my water bottle from the water fountain in the hallway, and really, although it might be safe (at least I hope it is), it’s not very tasty water. 

Oh, and decent food. It’s true what they say. Hospital food is horrible!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 3: Backlash

I’m not sure how, but I kept going like this - walking back and forth to the NICU to nurse our baby - for about 24 hours. When I returned to my room in the early morning on the third day however, my incision was bleeding profusely, and I collapsed on my bed. My doctor told me I should stay in bed, but at the same time, he understood what I was doing, and knew that as long as our baby was in the NICU, I couldn't focus on my own recovery. I begged him to interfere, somehow, so that I didn’t have to walk across the hospital to nurse a perfectly healthy baby any more, but we both knew that sadly he couldn't do much.

I was in horrible pain too - to go over to the NICU I had to remove my IV, which meant I was just taking paracetamol in tablet form against the pain – not very effective when you've just had your stomach split open. 

My husband was supposed to teach this day, but I called him and told him I needed him. He came, and worked hard on discussing with every resident he could find, and argued with the attending. I don’t know why this particular expired professor was so adamant about keeping our baby in the NICU, but sadly we had to suspect that it was a matter of proving himself right in front of his students (we overheard him teaching on several occasions, and it was obvious he was no longer up to date or even remembered basic facts). Here’s an actual conversation that took place during one of the discussions:

Attending: “We need to keep him here because he has lost a lot of weight.”

My husband: “Um, he weighed 3100 grams at birth and now he weighs a little over 2900 grams, which means he has lost 200 grams.

Attending, with a serious and concerned voice: “Yes, that’s right. He has lost 200 grams.”

My husband: “That’s about 5% of his birth weight.”

Attending: “Yes, 5% - he has lost FIVE PERCENT.”

My husband: “Normal weight loss after birth is 10-15%.”

Attending: “Yes, that’s correct; 10-15% is normal.”


Then, when there were no more medical arguments left, the doctor claimed that it was impossible to transfer a baby from the NICU to the nursery. There were no protocols for this kind of action. All they could do was to discharge the baby. But I was not in a state to be discharged. Things took a twisted turn that ended with the chief, who was abroad, being contacted to OK the transfer. 

In the end, towards early afternoon, I couldn’t hold back the tears any more, but cried desperately in my bed, too exhausted to go back. “Just get my baby here,” I sobbed to Courtney, and he went over, more determined than ever. I’m not sure what else went down here exactly, but within an hour, I had our little baby in my room.

He is here, he's great and I'm alive!

7 Lbs, 19.6 in. Only a little bit of a wet lung, which cleared right up. 5.5 hour surgery. More details will follow...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 2: Baby care - the day after my surgery

I should have spent this day reclined in bed, recovering, while nursing a new born. 

Because of a stubborn neonatologist who really should have retired years ago, instead I spent it walking back and forth between my hospital room and the NICU, and sitting in the worst chair possible for a post cesarean patient, trying to get started on nursing a sleepy preemie, full on glucose IV.

By morning the day after birth, there was nothing wrong with our baby any more - he had recovered from his wet lung completely over night. He was off the oxygen and all his levels were perfect, however the attending wanted to keep him “under observation” for an additional 12 hours. Really?! Our pleads that the best thing for the baby at this moment would be to join his mother in her room were futile. Telling the doctor about my difficult surgery, and how hard it was for me to walk back and forth, had no effect. "Why are you coming to nurse him so much? He's fine, since he has the glucose IV,” was the answer we got.

The sad thing is, all this time that I spent in the NICU, I never saw another mother feed her baby (and there were plenty of babies there). In fact, during my entire stay in the maternity ward, I never once saw a fellow nursing mother. I guess it's a matter of culture here.

But I have certain beliefs when it comes to baby care, and one of them is that "breast is best," so I set my alarm for every two hours and made the trek. Breastfeeding was difficult at first because it had been 24 hours since the birth, our baby was not hungry due to the glucose he was being administered, I was in pain, and holding the baby was a challenge due to all the tubes, IVs and monitor cables. Also, when Courtney went over to check on him in the early morning, our baby had a pacifier in his mouth, despite our specific request not to give him one. 

It took me a few hours and several attempts to get him awake enough to latch on and then even more time to get him to actually start drinking. I can't count on my fingers the number of times the staff offered me formula and/or pumping "for supplement," during this time. At best they thought I was crazy, making things so difficult for myself. I never had trouble like this before, but my experience helped me endure and I just kept trusting my and the baby’s instincts. Finally in the afternoon he really started sucking and I could hear little swallowing noises. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day 1: Birth and surgery

This was the plan: 

1/ have six units of blood on hand, in case things start going south; 
2/ vertical incision from about 2 in. above my belly button, so that the placenta would not be disturbed in any way when delivering the baby; 
3/ separate out (dissect) uterus with placenta intact, and completely remove it, along with the cervix; and 
4/ carefully stitch me up as pretty as possible (a promise my OBGYN had made to me).

I was woken up by my husband around 7 am, who came to be there for me and the baby during the surgery. He wouldn’t be allowed into the OR, but wanted to stay just outside. He was tired and very serious. We were happy, of course, that the end of this high risk pregnancy was near, and very excited to finally meet our new baby, but the seriousness of the surgery was on both our minds.

We were brought down to the OR floor (me in my bed) where we got to chat with the anesthesiologist, who had a very elaborate plan. Since I really didn’t want general anesthesia (it makes the baby sleepy and it makes recovery take longer), she was planning to use a spinal block followed by an epidural. She was really sweet and what a great doctor to accommodate a patient like that. 

After a while I had to say goodbye to my dear husband (it was harder than usual, since 7% of our “good bye” was of the more lasting nature – we are not dramatic people, rather factual; but since there was an actual 7% mortality risk involved in this surgery, we had prepared for the worst, practically, and wanted to make sure we had said what we wanted to say, should these be our last words - better safe than sorry, right?), and was brought into the actual operating room, where I was transferred to the operating table. Since it’s very cold in the OR I was covered by a warm blanket. Then I had to sit up so that the anesthesiologist and the senior doctor could administer the spinal block and epidural (which they would start once the spinal block started wearing off: my fourth (and hopefully last!). If you don’t think about what they are doing – sticking a needle in YOUR SPINE – it’s not that bad, and it doesn’t really hurt. After I lay down again I could feel the numbness starting to spread down my legs. My arms where spread out and fastened (so that they wouldn't fall down when I was sleeping), and the anesthesiologist numbed my left hand (I already had an IV in my right hand, remember?) to put an ENORMOUS IV in (it's so large they numb your hand to put it in - think about that) – the one that would potentially give me blood, if needed. Then she put up my hair using a surgical glove, and put a surgical cap on me. In the meantime, my doctors put in the Foley catheter, cleaned my vagina on the inside (I couldn’t feel anything at this point, thank God) and prepped my belly for the incision. I was chatting with the anesthesiologist and her attending, who was a very sweet man as well (in fact, I have yet to meet an anesthesiologist who is not sweet and caring), and they asked me about my previous cesareans. I told them about my experience in Belgium and Cairo, and then felt like I should mention that I usually cry a bit during c-sections, so that they wouldn’t think there was something wrong when I did. For some reason this quite upset the senior attending, and as I took one last look at my smooth, even pregnant belly before they put a screen up to cover my view, he kept encouraging me "not to cry on a Sunday." 

At this point, the doctors asked everyone to be quiet and focus on the operation, and they began their work. Of course, as always, I could kind of see what they were doing by looking at the huge lamp above me, where my body was reflected. I watched them cut my stomach open (it's not a very clear reflection, but rather gives you an idea of what is happening), poking around for a while (I could feel quite a bit of tugging), and then I heard a cry - a strong, beautiful cry, and watched our baby being lifted out of my abdomen and handed to the neonatologist. “He’s perfect,” my doctor assured me, before continuing his work (this was really where the serious part began for the surgeons). The neonatal team had their table set up right next to me where I could see everything, and I watched as they suctioned our baby and gave him his first check-up. “This is when I cry,” I told the anesthesiologist, and he replied, “Ahhh, these are HAPPY tears?! Yes, yes, that is very good then!” He was a sweet, funny man.

Born at exactly 36 weeks, our baby weighed 3100 grams and was 50 cm tall. His Apgar was 9-10 and 10-10 after five minutes. He kept screaming the whole time they checked him, until they wrapped him up in a blanket and brought him over to me for a kiss. He looked perfect, his cheek was so soft, and I cried. I was so happy. Then they left with him, and the anesthesiologist sedated me. 

For the next five hours, I was completely out.

When I came about, I was in recovery, and my husband was there by my side, in a surgical gown. I was alive! But what else? What had happened? The anesthesiologist was there as well, and some intern who insisted I needed more morphine. I tried to tell him I felt fine, and that I didn’t want morphine because I wanted to nurse, but I couldn’t talk. My voice was half gone and all I could do was slur like a drunk. Thankfully, both my husband and the anesthesiologist stepped in and helped me. I could feel my legs, which I thought was very weird, since I know the epidural lasts for at least three hours, but I wasn’t really in any horrible pain. (I got the answer to this riddle later, when talking to my doctor.) 

After a while I was brought up to my room, and informed that although our baby was doing well, he had been admitted to the NICU for a bit of a wet lung, and would need 12-24 hours to recover. Just like Abraham. I was really sad that I couldn’t see him right away, or nurse him, but to be honest, those first 12 hours after surgery are a bit of a blur. As it turns out, the operation had been a lot longer and more complicated than anticipated, and I had lost quite a bit of blood.

My husband told me that when the surgery was over, the doctor showed him pictures of my uterus and from the operation (yes, they took tons of pictures for their study). He told him that once the baby was out, what they had seen was worse than they had ever imagined. My doctor has been working with cases like these for 15 years, and the senior oncologist has at least 30 years of experience, and neither one of them had ever seen a worse case of placenta percreta. The entire bottom of my uterus was just placenta, which had grown through the wall completely, and reached out to my bladder. Instead of 2 ½ to 3 hours, the two doctors had to work non-stop for 5 hours to dissect and separate out my uterus, which they then according to plan, removed intact with the placenta along with my cervix (since most of my blood was going to the placenta, trying to remove it from the uterine wall would have been – most likely – fatal). Then followed a repair of my bladder.

This is what my doctor told me later: at this point they had to make a choice. My doctor had promised me that since they were making such a large vertical incision (to deliver the baby from the top part of my uterus as not to accidentally run into the placenta (good call!), he was going to take great care when stitching me up, for a beautiful scar. However, since the spinal had worn out, and then the epidural, they were faced with either quickly finishing up on a small but effective dose of morphine, or having to put me under general anesthesia. My doctor, who – as it turns out - has got to know me quite well, made the call, and grabbed the stapler.

Think Frankenstein.

I didn't really care, and he knew it - the baby's health came before everything.

I went to sleep early that evening, and only woke up a few times for pain medication and when the nurses came to check my vitals. I slept all the way until 8 am, when my doctor came in and told me I could start walking a bit. As soon as I could sit up, I had a nurse take me over to the NICU in a wheel chair to see our baby.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day T -1 to surgery

This is the day before my surgery. After check-in, I quickly got hooked up to an IV and clad in a hospital gown. I then spent the late afternoon/evening watching movies on my computer, trying to relax. I knew the doctors’ plan: to fill me up with fluids to ‘dilute’ my blood, so that when I lost blood during surgery the next day, it wouldn’t be as concentrated and I wouldn’t lose as many red blood cells.

After August’s piano concert that evening, my husband stopped by and showed me the video of August performing. I can’t believe I had to miss it! Of all the nights. He did so well, and I might have shed a tear while watching it on William’s iPod.

It was hard to sleep, that first night in the hospital – sleeping with an IV in your hand takes a bit of getting used to, and I needed to use the bathroom every other hour (I was still pregnant, remember, and had a large amount of liquid per hour entering my body). I might also have been a bit emotional about all kinds of things - having a baby the next day, saying good-bye to certain parts of my body that I knew would be removed, and my smooth, round belly, which would never look the same again. I missed the boys too, knowing that due to hospital policy, I might not be able to see them for several days.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A very bizarre evening

This is long, and I apologize for that, but it's quite a roller coaster story, so if you're into that kind of thing, read on.

Settling in at the hospital

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I headed over to the hospital for me to be admitted. The c-section/surgery was supposed to take place today in the afternoon, but as I might have mentioned before, they wanted me to go through some preparatory treatment before the surgery, so we needed to come in a day early.

The feared paperwork was slightly unpleasant but bearable, and only took about an hour. The room I was given was clean, with space for two beds, but only my bed was in there. There was a phone, internet (after a couple of phone calls), and a TV. My doctor’s residents came in a small group and took my history, performed an ultrasound, a nurse came and chatted and explained routines, and a lab assistant came and took blood samples. I was hooked up to a baby monitor. 


It all seemed pretty normal until the blood bank requested that my husband go down to their office to “make arrangements for the blood.” When he came back he was in a slight panic. As it turns out, the blood bank will only release two units of blood unless somebody donates blood in your name. My doctor had requested six units, so when my husband appeared at the blood bank, they basically asked him, “Where is the blood?” When my husband did not present them with six units of blood, they gave him a couple of phone numbers to other blood banks and advised him to start calling - including family and friends - and told him they had to have the blood by 10 pm.

So there we were, using the hospital phone and our cell phone, calling around – strangers and friends – trying to find people that could come donate blood in my name. It was bizarre. An added challenge is that my blood type is not the most common one: A-, but what proved to be the biggest obstacle was the fact that most people don’t actually know their blood type. We found one person, and a very blessed friend with connections found three. One of those three went to the blood bank and was turned down “because she’s European.” Turns out, they don’t take blood from Europeans, due to certain illnesses. Tell me the logic of that. I am European. You’d think I’d be more compatible with a German’s blood than any other nationality’s blood.

One of our friends, while giving blood, asked the blood bank what people usually do to find blood, or if there’s a big accident, and they told her that they never have any problems, because as soon as something happens, everyone’s uncles, cousins, siblings, aunts, etc. show up. Of course. My aunts, cousins and one sibling all have my blood type. Unfortunately, they’re thousands of miles away, plus, you know, they’re European so they couldn’t have donated blood anyway.

My husband's meeting

In the middle of our frenetic phone calling, my husband – who to top things off, is still suffering from the flu with pretty severe sinus headaches, a bad cold and fatigue – had to go to an important meeting. Now, he is in general a laid back person, but when it comes to things like these, he doesn’t have my “It will all work out” attitude, and was quite worried. So, although he really wanted this meeting to go well - instead of appearing serious and composed, he now ran in there asking people about their blood type, and then suffered through most of it, constantly blowing his nose, losing his voice, and worst of all, his trail of thought.

I didn’t know exactly how his meeting was going, of course, but I knew he was upset and that he would have trouble keeping focused the way he had wanted to. So when eventually, after a lot of phone calls back and forth in our little community, a friend of Abraham’s father, who is a doctor at the hospital, went over and talked to the blood bank, and they told him that “all was OK,” I couldn’t wait for my husband to come back to the hospital so that I could ease his mind, and tell him that the blood issue was taken care of.

The surgery is postponed

Then right before he came back, one of the residents came in and told me that the other surgeon who was going to participate in the surgery together with my OBGYN, was stuck at an airport in Europe, and was not going to make it by today, “Unfortunately, your planned cesarean/surgery will have to be postponed.” I was free to go. Incredible.

Habemus papam

Just then, I glanced at my Kindle, and saw a picture of the Sistine Chapel chimney with white smoke pouring out of it.

Discharged, still pregnant

My husband came back just moments later, and we were discharged. Home by 9:30 pm.

Traumatized four year old

Before we left home that afternoon I had sat down with Abraham and had a long talk about how I was going to stay in the hospital for many days, and how he might not see me for a while since little kids are not allowed to visit the hospital. He was not happy, but seemed to understand that he would be OK with “his boys” at home, and grandma. I shed a tear when I left, knowing it would be hard for him who has never been apart from me.

Now here I was, a few hours later.

He gave me a big happy hug and asked me about the baby, so I told him the whole story of the doctor stuck in a snow storm. Then he asked if I was going to lay down with him, so I did, and he went to sleep. He obviously thought nothing of the fact that I had told him I would be gone for a long time and then came right back: it was like he hears stories of surgeons getting stuck in snowstorms and surgeries being postponed, all the time.

Sum it up!

So there you have it. First we’re hit with this whole blood bank affair, then our surgery is postponed, a new pope is announced, and our four year old is slightly traumatized. All in one evening.

Now what?

This morning I found out that the doctor will be back tonight, that they expect me to come back in on Saturday, and that the surgery will take place on Sunday. I told my doctor, “I’m not going to hold my breath,” but he was not in a joking mood. He let me know that he too is worried, and I appreciate that, of course.

I’m spending the day performing what can best be described as a reboot of my brain. I didn’t realize how much mental preparation I had done for this surgery until it was postponed, and now I have to work up to it again. In the meantime, I must admit I’m actually relieved, since this delay means the baby will be past the crucial 36 weeks gestation when he is born.

Tomorrow I will take my mom to the store, have some nice food, and then we go again. Are you ready?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Homeschoolers' sleep pattern promotes learning

This article discussing a new study made me not feel as bad about letting the boys keep a later evening and morning schedule.

The quilt

Isn't it lovely?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting ready for surgery

My friends threw me a baby shower yesterday. It was a lovely high tea party, and the gifts were fun – everything from onesies to nipple cream. The greatest gift was a quilt that my book club friends had made, each contributing a square. I’m amazed I didn’t cry when I received it, but maybe I was too shocked: it is beautiful, and what a great memory!

So, here we are; last few days of calm before the storm. My doctor is expecting me at the hospital on Wednesday so that I can get ready for the surgery on Thursday. As he explained it, I will be hooked up to an IV as soon as I come in and pumped full of fluids, so that when I “lose a lot of blood, it’s diluted” and hence I “don’t lose as many red blood cells.” Sounds lovely, no? 

I feel like I’m getting ready to be in a terrible car accident.

Post illness- pre birth school work

School was a complete disaster this past week due to illness. The boys read quite a bit, but I could not get them to do anything else - not even heavy reading. Yesterday morning finally, everyone was fever free and nobody had thrown up or had diarrhea for days. Only the bad colds remained. Then William went outside for a couple of hours to see his friends, happy to be back playing, and when he came in he was exhausted, and his fever back.

So I let them sleep this morning. Later and tomorrow we’ll do some history and writing projects, and art – things I know Prof. Husband will not do with them while I’m in the hospital. 

Then they’ll start on their three week “light program,” which entails basic, independent every day work: Math, English (grammar, spelling and reading), Rosetta Stone and music practice. It's all written out in a neat schedule. They have assigned readings every day that contain sections from history and science, but there is no substantial project work planned. We can do that this summer.

Sounds good?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last post about illness, I hope

They are still sick. Sort of.

Abraham spent most of yesterday drinking water and then throwing it up. It went on for hours, literally, until he passed out from exhaustion. This morning he got up, had a big drink of water, and then threw it right back up again. I decided to take him to the doctor (for fear of dehydration), so I brought him in the shower, and then attempted to feed him pancakes before we left. He ate two large plates, and had a huge drink of milk. Then he sat down and played blocks, showing no sign of illness. So we didn't go.

William spent yesterday sleeping, and most of last night coughing. This morning he had an egg, and then he assumed a horizontal position on the couch. He hasn't eaten anything else today, and spent most of the day asleep. If he's not better tomorrow, I might have to take him to the doctor.

August seems fine, actually. I'm glad.

Prof. Husband woke up with a scratchy throat, a temperature, an achy body and extreme fatigue. I sent him back to bed, asking him to call me when was ready for a barf bucket. He has been asleep since.

At least when they're asleep, they're not throwing up, right?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Degrees of illness this morning

38.8°C: This is William, who seems to be on the mend, slowly recovering.

38.7°C: This is Abraham, who had a rough night, drifting in and out of a fever haze, delirious, and then threw up as soon as he woke up. I’m pretty sure his actual temperature is much higher, since he basically held the thermometer between his teeth with an open mouth. Judging by general appearance and behavior though, he’s definitely fighting the flu.

38.9°C: This is the new runner up for the flu, August, who is just starting to feel bad this morning. I don’t have a good feeling about it.

37.1°C: This is me, feeling a bit under the weather, trying to stay away from the full-fledged flu. Alcohol spray is my friend.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

They are returning to life

It appears the four-year old got away with a 24 hour mild episode, however my nine-year old pretty much stayed in the position you see in the picture (from early this afternoon) for 48 hours. White face, red cheeks, hot body; coughing, blowing his nose, barfing, but mainly sleeping - drifting in and out of a fever induced haze for two full nights and two full days.

Sometime tonight he rose, got into the bath where I washed his hair and rinsed him off with warm water, and then he came out in a fresh set of pajamas and had some food: crackers, apple, pomegranate, potatoes, and eventually some chicken.

I think tomorrow will be better.

Do you remember that show?

Sometimes I visit an internet birth group with women all due around the same time as I am. Occasionally I find some useful information, and it's nice to hear from other women in the same situation as myself. Usually though, I can't really relate. Most of the other women are very young and this is their first baby. A lot of them are recently married or not yet married. Many of them - sadly -have relationship problems, and a post such as this one is not uncommon:

“I’m 34 weeks pregnant and just found out that not only has my husband been cheating on me while I’m pregnant, but today I found out that he has given me genital warts and chlamydia. What would you do if you were me?”

I call these 10 minutes of my day, my “Jerry Springer Daily.”

Breaking a toe and catching the flu, all within one week

My nine-year old is not in the best of worlds right now. Beginning of last week he got up from the couch and stubbed his toe on the coffee table (not the one that went to the market, thank goodness, but the one that stayed home). It wasn’t your average general stubbing, but a very violent one, clear-cut, and after thorough examination by both me and Prof. Husband, we concluded it was most likely broken. William is by far the most active member of this family, tough and strong, but the pain that this toe injury caused – even with pain relief - brought tears to his eyes for days. Not only was he in pain, but he couldn’t go out and play soccer, tag, pig, whatever games they play outside every day, and he had a couple of really rough days.

Just when his toe started to feel much better, around Sunday evening, he started feeling bad. It was a general uncomfortable feeling with some chest pain and aches. As the mean mother I am, I dismissed it as a mild case of Dontfeellikeschoolititus. By Monday evening he didn’t seem like himself though, and when he said he felt dizzy I got out the thermometer: 103°F!

I left the house on Tuesday morning with a friend who so generously had offered to take me mega-shopping to prepare for baby’s arrival. We were going to three stores, and we had just entered the first one when my husband called, stressed (he was getting ready to go to work): William had just thrown up all over the carpets in the living room, and all my husband had time to do before he left was put William in the bath and the carpets on the balcony. My relaxed and organized extensive shopping trip turned into a “grab what you can” marathon through Spinney's, and I came home to a house of chaos that took me most of the rest of the day to sort out. By evening, our four-year old seemed to have caught the bug, and towards bedtime, both my husband and I felt bad as well.

William hasn’t been able to keep anything down since Monday night, and has been more or less asleep for 36 hours now. It's the worst kind of flu; it includes bad body aches, high fever, a cold with a very sore throat, AND a stomach bug, all in one. I actually can’t remember ever seeing him this sick. My poor baby!

I just hope this virus is gone within the next few days (and that nobody else gets it as bad), as we’re counting down to baby’s arrival: T-8 days.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Thank you for being there

As scary as my condition is, I don’t notice it at all. In fact, I feel really good, and this pregnancy is, in all appearance, no different from any of my other pregnancies (which were all pretty good). I strive, perhaps with a little more motivation, to take it easy, take care of myself, and eat well, but that’s about it. There’s not really any effort involved, since my body is pretty much running the show - and it’s annoyingly wholesome.

Anyways; so when people – you blog readers, friends far away or near - offer me prayers or help, “What can we do to help?” I don’t know exactly what to say. I am very worried, of course, about all kinds of things (the surgery, the baby, the boys, the professor's work, the paperwork – oh, the paperwork!), but at the same time, I don’t feel like I need any extra attention or help, because, you know, I feel great. I realize that I probably will need help – or rather, our family will - but at the moment it’s difficult to imagine what that might be.

So for now, I just want you to know that I am very grateful for people around us who care. Thank you.

Pregnancy cravings

Early on in this pregnancy I decided that - this being probably the last time in my life I didn't have to count every calorie that goes into my mouth - I was going to give myself a "free pass." Enjoy something extra, while I can. I even bought treats that I usually enjoy - chips, chocolate - to accommodate my prospective self indulgence.

But then the most annoying thing happened. Feeling a little snacky, I would go into the kitchen and offer myself anything I desired, eyeing the Cadbury bar and the pretzels, and tune into my cravings. They would completely let me down, every time. My body hasn't wanted any chocolate or chips during this pregnancy, but craves fruits and calcium. All I ever desired, standing there in the kitchen - even craved - was a large apple, a banana or a tub of strawberries. Sometimes a berry smoothie.

I've eaten less sweets or crisps these past nine months than ever.

So disappointing.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Not for the faint of heart

There it is – the results of my MRI and the level 2 ultrasound are conclusive: I have placenta percreta (wiki-link here). To make a long story short, this means our baby will be born at 36 weeks gestation, and I will have some pretty extensive surgery along with the scheduled cesarean section. It will not be pretty, or easy – the surgery alone will take a few hours, and I will be spending a lot more days in the hospital than anticipated.

Not exactly how I envisioned the birth of our fourth child.

My mother is coming to stay with the boys so that Courtney can stay with me, but I still feel bad that I will not be there for them. I will miss their taekwondo belt tests and a piano recital, and Abraham will have to go to sleep without his mama for the first time in his life.

I worry about the baby. 36 weeks is awfully early for a baby to be born. What if his lungs are not ready or he has trouble nursing? The good news is that this baby seems to take after his brothers, and already weighed 2.5 kg at 33 weeks, which means that, if he adds at least the average 1 oz/day over the next two weeks, he’ll weigh around 3 kg (6.6 Lbs) at birth. Not bad for a premature baby.

I also worry about those first crucial hours after birth. If our baby is fine and doesn’t have to go into the NICU, then Courtney will take him and hold him until I come out of surgery. Hopefully I’ll be able to nurse him immediately. If there are issues, then… I don’t have a plan.

This might just be one of those situations where I’ll have to acknowledge that I cannot be in full control, but am left to trust my body, rely on my husband’s judgment, and [cringe] trust my doctors (who I’m seeing, one on one, next week). Oh, and have faith that God’s got my back.