Saturday, April 27, 2013

Out of this alive

I was actually starting to think that it would never happen, but by some miracle, over the past week and a half, we have managed to go from postnatal chaos to some form of routine again, entailing full school days and on time bedtime. I’m not sure how, to be honest, since nothing in particular has happened. We just... adjusted, I guess, and I regained some kind of control over our lives. Don’t get me wrong; there’s still chaos - it’s just not omnipotent, which means we get through most days in a – somewhat - similar fashion.

Mental note to self: after the birth of next baby, don’t worry about the chaos that follows birth. It will sort itself out.

Oh wait. There won’t be any more babies. Pheuw.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy birthday!

A little over a year ago, as you might recall, I started changing my eating and exercise habits to lead a healthier and more energetic life. I was reaching the end of my 30’s and decided that I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 40, and that I wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday looking (and feeling) great, somewhere special, like on a beach or in Paris. Maybe my husband would even buy me jewelry? Turning 40 was going to be a big deal!


I feel like I was putting a prom dress on, thinking I was going dancing, when I should have been getting my wet suit on, ready for an afternoon in the Red Sea!

Obviously, I didn’t end up running that marathon, and I’m as far from my ideal weight as I’ve ever been. I spent quite a portion of my 40th birthday yesterday at the American embassy getting birth certificate and passport paperwork sorted, and as every day these days, I endured a session of unpleasant open wound care. I spent the rest of the day at home, inside. It was a rainy and windy day.

And guess what? It was a good day. I hugged my children, nursed a beautiful baby, kissed my husband, had some good food, cake and a glass of champagne. In light of what has happened over the past year, in the past months and what we are going to experience over the next year, turning 40 was nothing – no big deal. I mean, really; we have a new BABY! and I just survived a dangerous pregnancy and birth – a surgery. Plus we have some very exciting times coming up (I will tell you more about this soon).

Turning 40? Completely overshadowed. By life. And a great one at that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bottle feeding

As you know by now, we are total hippie parents: we practice exclusive breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, etc. – all those annoying parenting techniques that are continuously discussed in media and commented on by experts, parents, doctors and anyone else with an opinion. As I’ve mentioned before, our motivation is not always exactly based on any ideological beliefs, but could perhaps be attributed to laziness.

In any case; our parenting style has meant that we’ve never had any baby bottles in our possession – we’ve never fed our babies formula, and we’ve never been in a situation where I’ve consistently had to pump milk to be fed to the baby in my absence. Until now, when I have to go to the hospital every day. It’s not like I’m gone for a long time – an hour and a little more at most – but we’ve learned that no matter how little time I’m going to be away, I should never leave the house without leaving some milk behind. Maybe it’s a preemie thing, or maybe it’s just normal at this age – I can’t remember – but it seems our baby wants to eat all the time, so even though I feed him right before I leave, he still seems to get hungry while I’m gone. We have a cheap hand pump that comes with a bottle, and it only takes me about 10 minutes to express 4 oz, so it’s not really any trouble (except after several days, my wrists are quite sore from squeezing the pump!). 

This morning I was gone exactly 50 minutes, and when I came home, Courtney had changed the baby’s diaper twice, fed him the whole bottle and lay with him until he fell asleep (until they both fell asleep, actually). He stayed asleep for almost two hours after I came home, leaving me time to clean up the house, vacuum, load the washer and dishwasher, make a big breakfast, and spend some time taking care of my neglected older boys (bangs were cut, clothes sorted, stories read, music discussed, etc.). It felt like cheating, somehow: baby was cared for, fed and put to sleep AND I had all that time to go to the hospital AND catch up on other things.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Extended newborn stage

Don’t get me wrong; although our baby’s preemie behavior sometimes worries me, I’m enjoying it to the fullest. The older boys so quickly turned into babies, but this time – not only are we already appreciating every moment more than ever, this being our fourth and last baby – we get to enjoy the newborn stage for a few extra moments. The cutest little sounds, movements, the tiny feet and hands, the curled up legs and arms, and that beautiful, innocent “fart-smile” as we call it, which is only an involuntary reflex, but oh so cute. All this usually vanishes between recovery, nursing, paper work and everything else that happens right after the baby is born, however now, we are blessed with an extended newborn stage. 

Silver lining. Extra sweet edition.

A minor setback

I’m really not sure what I said or did, but the surgeon I saw yesterday obviously has some kind of set idea of what kind of person I am. I came in with an infected, open wound in my abdomen, very tender to the touch. He had me lie down on a bed, exposed my wound, got some kind of blunt scissors instrument out, and said, “Maybe another patient I would give some local anesthetics, but I think you are fine?” (I’m adding that question mark there myself, hoping that he meant to pose this as a question, however in reality, there was no indication that he might be asking me, and actually, what followed pretty clearly suggests that he assumed I didn’t need numbing.) Without waiting for me to answer, he started tearing the rest of the wound open (yes, TEARING, with his instrument), and cleaning it out with hydrogen peroxide (which STINGS!) and gauze, all the while instructing his students, hovering around me, to not “be afraid to make contact,” (Ahh! You’re RUBBING the INSIDE of me!) and exclaiming, “Yes, this bleeding is healthy because it means the tissue is viable.” (you’re making me BLEED?!) My moans and silent protests were ignored. Eventually my surgeon was satisfied with his students’ reactions and questions/answers and covered my wound with gauze (wet-to-dry).

Imagine, I get to go through this EVERY DAY for the next 10 days to 3 weeks (at which point, hopefully, it will have healed enough that it can be permanently closed). I’m hoping that as the infection goes away, my wound will be less sore and it won’t hurt as much.

As bad as it is though, I like my surgeon’s attitude. He called my wound opening up a “minor setback,” especially with my “special case” in mind, and “considering other possible outcomes.” (Oh, you mean, like, death?)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Can't. Catch. Up.

To be honest, since the birth, I haven’t been able to do much of anything besides taking care of my body – and only in the most basic way, as in ‘change my wound dressing, drink water, take medication and sleep’ – and taking care of the baby. Everything else – the older boys’ bedtime, daily routines, rooms, clothes & shoes (I just noticed that Abraham’s sandals (the only pair of shoes he owns) are too small AND broken!), hygiene, nutrition, school - has deteriorated and/or got out of control, and what little I am able to get done between gauze changes and nursing, is more like damage control. I feel like I'm always two steps behind.  

Except for on days like these, when I feel like I'm three or even four steps behind.

I've been redressing my open wound every day, following doctor's orders and doing quite well, if I may say. When I got an infection above the open wound last week, I took antibiotics, and it seemed like it was getting better. This morning when I woke up however, the incision above the wound had opened up and was oozing pus. Followed another afternoon in the ER and a visit with the surgeon who worked with my OBGYN during the surgery.

The good news is that it can only get better from here on, since all that could go wrong in the healing process pretty much went wrong between the surgery and now. The bad news is that it's going to be another 2-3 weeks until I'm healed, and in the meantime, I have to go see the doctor once/day, every day.

Thank God for a helpful husband, great friends, and lots of summer days to make up the lost school work.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A preemie thing?

Our sweet baby - 3 weeks old today - is still a little yellow, but is eating really well, sleeping and pooping/peeing. He’s so very fetus-like to me; he really doesn’t do much else that these basic three things, and he’s all curled up all the time. I don’t feel like he’s very aware or in control of anything
either; everything he does is either an unintentional reflex (he is a noisy sleeper, and moves, squirms, twitches and jerks a lot – although when I touch him he seems to gain some control and stops), or by instinct (like rooting for a breast or sucking, and waking up to feed). It’s hard to explain what exactly I’m expecting him to do at this point, but there’s something slightly different about him compared to my other boys when they were a couple of weeks old. I haven’t looked much into it, but I’m hoping these are all part of a normal preemie behavior. (He does turn his head towards exciting noises and light, which I guess is a sign of… something.)

He does still have another week before he was supposed to be born – perhaps after his due date he will act more like a (newborn) baby?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Still struggling

I still have a disturbingly large hole in my lower abdomen that I have to stuff with fresh wet gauze every day and cover with an oversized band aid. My open wound is definitely smaller than it was when the staples were first removed, however this week I had another setback when my incision site got infected. I developed a fever, chills, my scar got red, swollen and tender, and the discharge… changed (I will spare you the details here). My doctor put me on antibiotics. I’ve spent the past few days trying to recover from this, wondering what else – possibly - can go wrong.