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Birth Stories: When The Unexpected Happens

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Welcome to the Share Your Story event: Childbirth – Your Stories

This post was written as part of the Share Your Story event hosted by Kids in the House. Our contributors have shared their stories, struggles, and wisdom about the unforgettable yet unpredictable event that is childbirth.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head about what childbirth would be like and the changes that would come with the new addition to our family.

I had very high hopes that I would be able to stick to the birth plan that I wanted but at the same time, I prepared myself for the unexpected. Or so I thought.

Three weeks before “the little hummingbird” was due, I developed preeclampsia and was told I’m being admitted to the hospital that day to have my baby.

My husband and I rushed home, packed in a hurry, and made it back to the hospital.

Part of my birth plan included soothing showers if needed and walks around the hospital floor to help with the progression of labor. As soon as I got into my room, I was hooked up to an I.V. where I was treated with magnesium for preeclampsia. There would be no getting out of the hospital bed for anything.

Things pretty much snowballed from there and everything that happened with my labor and delivery, including an emergency cesarean, was the opposite of what I was hoping for. I really felt like I failed in such a big way. But looking back now, I see that it was out of my control.

An important thing to remember is that while you may be disappointed that things don’t happen as planned with childbirth, try not to be hard on yourself. You do the best that you can but childbirth is very unpredictable. As one of my nurses told me “Babies don’t read the books on what to expect”.

After my daughter was born, things settled a bit but I started to have a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. She wouldn’t latch on to nurse and when I was finally able to give her a bottle, she refused that too.

I was becoming more concerned that there was something wrong and told a few of the nurses. I just had no idea what to tell them exactly. There was something in the way she cried and her breathing didn’t always seem quite right. That’s something else to remember; always trust your instincts when it comes to your child and don’t be afraid to voice any concerns that you may have. When it comes to medical care, the best advocate is you.

By the next afternoon, while a nurse was checking on me, my daughter started shaking and crying. The nurse left the room and came back to test her blood sugar. It was extremely low and in an instant, another nurse came in. There was a quick discussion between them and our little girl was rushed to the NICU.

She stabilized by that night but the doctors were baffled at what was wrong.

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The little hummingbird was in the NICU for 3 weeks and many tests were run.

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Despite all of that, they still didn’t know why her blood sugar would be fine for a day or two, and then drop to very low levels.

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Her doctors put her on a medication to stabilize her blood sugar and after a few days of making sure she was doing well, she was finally able to come home.

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We had to keep our daughter on medication for a while and check her blood sugar 3-4 times a day but eventually we were able to stop both of those things. The next five years have been spent trying to find out why she’s had drops in her blood sugar since her stay in the NICU. We’re finally getting closer to an answer which may possibly be Glycogen Storage Disorder.

Becoming a parent is overwhelming enough but when your child has medical issues and has to stay in the NICU, the stress and anxiety can become too much to bear. Having a great support system and keeping the lines of communication open is a must, especially with your spouse.

Despite the difficult beginnings we had, the little hummingbird is thriving and excited to be starting Kindergarten in a few weeks.

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Please be sure to read the submissions by the other Share Your Story contributors, and visit Kids in the House to find out how you can participate in our next Share Your Story Blogger Event!

  • Two Peas in a Pod: A Double Miracle – Rachael at Three Boys and Mom shares how the blessing of an unexpected twin pregnancy saved a woman’s life.
  • Childbirth: the Ache of Love – Sasha at MomLife Now describes how one mom discovered a miraculous beauty she new not existed.
  • Tax Day 2007 – Cheryl at The Pump Station & Nursery looks back on how an easy pregnancy turned out to be a taxing birth experience.
  • Going with the Flow – Bridget at Bridget Bertrand shares how her OB helped to put her on the right course in regards to birth plans, the playlist, and even the recipe to make the day her daughter came into the world.
  • My Not-So Natural Birth Story – Rachel at Mommy Greenest shares a lot of questions with questions with pregnant and new parents through her work, but this time describes what it was like for her, giving birth for the first time – but definitely not the last – time.
  • The (Not So) Perfect Birth Story – Britt at My Life and Kids reflects on how a mom’s life-threatening delivery helped mold her into the mother she was meant to be.
  • Giving Birth: When the Unexpected Happens – Elle at This is Mommyhood shares advice for when your baby has an unexpected stay in the NICU.
  • A New Look at the “Perfect” Birth Story – Melissa at Fill My Cup shares how a crazy delivery gave one mom a new perspective on the ‘perfect birth.’
  • Induction Induced Feelings of LossThe Orange Rhino shares how a planned induction brought unplanned feelings of jealousy, sadness, disappointment and loss.
  • Our Beautiful Birth Story – Lindsay at The Fully Caffeinated Mama reflects on how it wasn’t the feeling of intense pain caused by the epidural wearing off that she remembers, but rather the beautiful baby on her chest for the first time.
  • Jack’s Arrival – Samantha at The Peanuts Gang thought she would have a scheduled c-section, but it turned out that having Jack was QUICK and sooner than expected!
  • Remembering to Breathe – Suzy at Kids in the House explains how with little fanfare, the completely wrong music, and a very distracted doctor, her son Leo was born.
Comments { 9 }

Total Recall: I could never be a pediatric dentist because I’d probably end up fingerless and have to hold my dental instruments with my feet but nobody would want to go to a fingerless dentist so really I’m saving money and years of having to go to dental school.

Thank you all for your emails and comments. I will try to get back to all of you soon.

I’m so raw and feel like someone’s torturing me with non-stop episodes of LazyTown aka I’m in the depths of hell. I decided I’d hate to leave my blog with nothing so I’ll be doing some “Total Recall” posts that I used to do. Posts that I’ve already published. Even though I keep telling myself to give up writing all together, I’ll be back soon.

~~~~~~~~~~

Published June 27, 2011

We took the little hummingbird to the dentist a few weeks ago. I’ve heard some people say your kid needs a check-up at 1, some have said 3, some say not until they start school. Oy, it’s so confusing. She was born with a tooth, yeah it was a little creepy, and we’ve noticed that since she was getting her other teeth in, the one she was born with started receding into her gums and was looking kind of funky.

The day she was born, she had her tooth checked out by a pediatric dentist from the hospital. A few of the nurses were saying the tooth will probably need to be pulled and since I was like wha? nuh uh!, they had the dentist come and check it out and he said it was a real tooth that didn’t need to be pulled and to just leave it alone. Whew!

She had her 2nd BIRTHDAY!! back in April and my hubby and I were thinking she should go see a pediatric dentist soon which meant that we put it off since we’re totally responsible like that. Then the tooth that she was born with went MIA.

The hummingbird doesn’t really let us get near her mouth and since keeping my fingers is really important to me, I have to get creative and tickle her while holding her upside down or make animal sounds so she’ll mimic me and that’s when I was able to have .002 seconds to look in her mouth and see that nope, that tooth wasn’t there.

Since I am now a not at all total professional when it comes to taking my daughter to the dentist, here are my not at all professional thoughts and insights (?) when it comes to dealing with kids and dentistry.

If you follow these 30 really long steps, you too can be a not at all professional when it comes to taking your toddler to the dentist.

1. Have your husband make the dentist appointment. Soon your darling little girl (or boy) will be an angsty tween/teen who blames you for all of their problems. It will come in handy to be able to say You may be mad at me for embarrassing you in front of your friends by dropping you off at school in my pajamas BUT your father is the one that made your first dentist appointment.

2. The night after your husband has made the appointment, while you try to get your 2-year-old to brush their teeth, you’ll be thinking I am so glad I’m not a pediatric dentist because they are screwed.

3. You will also start thinking Oh my gawd, my baby is going to the dentist and she will never forgive me.

4. Then you’ll be thinking how she freaked out when it came to taking her to see the Easter Bunny and get all panicky with thoughts of going to the dentist and finding out they have a thing for bunnies.

5. When you and your husband are in bed later that night, you’ll make the mistake of telling him about the dentist having a bunny themed office as well as saying Oh my gawd, my baby is going to the dentist and she will never forgive me.

6. He’ll then ask if you have any anti-anxiety meds left and if you do you should take one. Then he’ll say our little girl is only going to the dentist and it’s unlikely they’ll have a bunny theme, particularly creepy Easter Bunnies.

7. You normally check on your sleeping daughter a few hundred times a night but you add another hundred because not only is your child at their cutest when they’re finally sleeping after a 2 hour bedtime battle, you think Oh my gawd, my baby is going to the dentist and she will never forgive me.

8. After going back to your bedroom, you find that your husband has also become so worried about it and that’s why he’s asleep.

9. You start thinking how worried you were when you took your little one to your hairdresser for their first haircut and even though you prepared for the worst, your child didn’t freak out at all and did really well because she liked your hairdresser.

10. You then start thinking that even though your hairdresser moved hours away down to San Diego, maybe she does dentistry on the side but she just didn’t get a chance to tell you about it because the two of you were too consumed with talking about crazy in-laws and celebrity gossip.

11. You kick your husband in the leg for snoring because he ripped the mask from his CPAP machine off his face. Finally you go to sleep and dream about you and Mark Ruffalo in Hawaii.

12. Hold on a minute….still dreaming.

13. You wake up the day of THE appointment and you have those first few blissful minutes where you don’t worry about anything. Then it hits you and you think f#@!.

14. You get your daughter out of bed and find that she Houdini’d her way out of her footie pajamas and her diaper. She’s sitting in her crib buck naked with the biggest smile on her face.

15. Since you feel so guilty and are pretty sure your little girl will freak out at the dentist, you let her watch as much Caillou as possible, hoping she won’t notice that you’re stressing.

16. While your child is in their Caillou or other completely annoying kids show trance, you decide this is the perfect time to get a quick shower.

17. When walking out of the bathroom, you see that your child is buck naked on your bed watching Caillou and starts laughing when she sees you laughing. You try not to laugh too hard since you’re just wearing a towel and don’t want to pee yourself. There’s no time to take another quick shower and you don’t want to go to the dentist smelling like pee but if you have to end up doing that, blame it on your 2-year-old and just say they had a leaky diaper.

Also check to see if your daughter peed the bed. You just washed the sheets and blankets the day before and feel relieved that she didn’t relieve herself on the bed because the last thing you want to do is wash everything again.

18. Have your husband go with you to the pediatric dentist because Oh my gawd, my baby is going to the dentist and she will never forgive me.

19. On the way there you start freaking out and your hubby suggests once you get to the dentist, maybe it would be better if you stay in the waiting room or better yet, the car.

20. Give him the look of death and remind him since you’re sure he’s forgotten that Oh my gawd, my baby is going to the dentist and she will never forgive me and I have to be with her.

21. Start trying to get out of taking your little one to the dentist. You see a few Mexican restaurants and suggest going there instead. You can get your 2-year-old a crunchy taco and you rationalize to your husband that having her eat the hard taco shell would be just as good for her teeth as whatever the dentist is going to do.

22. Your hubby gives you the your crazy look and you’re pretty sure he’ll tie you up and lock you in the car so you don’t scare the other patients at the possibly bunny themed dentist office.

23. When he’s only halfway pulled into the parking space, hop out of the car so you can screw up his plans.

24. While you’re in the waiting room, give your hummingbird as many hugs and kisses as they’ll allow. Feel some relief that you don’t see anything having to do with bunnies so far.

25. After waiting for what seems like forever, you’re called back and think f*ck, here we go.

26. You were worried that the dentist wouldn’t be able to get your little hummingbird’s mouth open. Your little one ends up screaming their head off so the dentist is able to get a good look at their teeth. It absolutely kills you to see your little babe scared and screaming so while your hubby holds your little girl, you go over and sit down in a chair before you faint.

27. Finally the torture for the both of you is over and the dentist is really awesome with your little girl. You wish she did adult dentistry and tell your hubby later that you wish she could be your primary doctor. The dentist lets you know that the tooth your baby was born with is definitely gone but other than that, everything looks fine.

She asks if you floss your 2-year-old’s teeth and both you and your hubby laugh out loud and then realize she’s being serious. You give her a smile and tell her you’ll try in a few years and after you can get your toddler to brush their teeth without having them throw their toothbrush across the bathroom every time.

28. You leave the dentist and want to spoil your poor little girl who still has tears in her eyes.

29. You don’t normally let her have much sugar but decide going to get a cookies and cream milkshake is in order. You and your hubby will be drinking most of it anyway.

30. On the way home, mention to your hubby again about stopping to get some crunchy tacos so the hummingbird can clean her teeth with the hard taco shell after the milkshake. Plus you’re really craving tacos but your buttmunch hubby doesn’t stop.

Happy brushing!

*I think I’ve watched this a few hundred times in the last few days. Music helps the soul.

Comments { 1 }

Benjamin

I went into preterm labor at 28 weeks pregnant. There were complications that I’d rather not get into right now and despite the best efforts of my doctor and nurses, we lost our son, Benjamin.

The little hummingbird isn’t really aware of what’s been going on and I’m not sure how to break it to a 4 year-old.

Earlier today, I had to fill out a cremation form and pick out an urn for my son. I wish all of this was just a nightmare.

I want to thank you all for your continued support.

*Sovay

Comments { 45 }

It’s all good

Baby boy’s amnio came back and yes, it is positive for down syndrome. Not gonna lie, these past few weeks have been such a mindfuck. Honestly, my first thought when I found out that he has Ds is that I didn’t want this baby.

I know, it’s horrible but when you find out your pregnant and have that first ultrasound where you see your little one, usually the last thing on your mind is that something could be wrong. Months went by and everything being seen looked great on the ultrasounds until they did a screening test.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been in severe panic mode. Always so full of anxiety, waking up in the middle of the night and feeling like my heart would explode because of anxiety attacks.

Then, over the weekend, my husband and I really talked about it and had long discussions about our little boy. We talked and talked and talked and talked and came to the realization that our baby bird will be so loved and no matter what is thrown at us because of Ds, we can’t wait to have this beautiful baby in our lives.

Of course, we’re still terrified of the unknown but the panic and anxiety is starting to subside and I’m excited for our new addition to arrive.

I want to thank all of you for your love and support with this. You guys are amazing! xxoo

*Volcano

Comments { 17 }

Metal

I’m not sure if I wrote about this before but my stomach is full of metal.

Nuts and bolts, screws, and a metal screen. It’s what’s holding the inside of my stomach together after the doctors shredded my stomach. It’s full of this crazy shit because of my botched c-section with the hummingbird back in 2009.

I really want to have a vaginal birth but I’m worried I’ll have to have another c-section.

That is my biggest fear and one of the things that has me so worried. With all that hardware in my stomach, I’m afraid of having a cesarean because of it. Terrified actually. Terrified that because of this, I may have even more complications if they have to open me up and mess around with my pieced back together stomach.

Who knows. Maybe the stars will align at the right time and I’ll get to have a vaginal birth after all. I just really don’t want to be sliced open.

Especially when the doctor that pieced me back together said while yes, it’s safe to have another baby, a c-section could really complicate matters because most of the metal is where they would cut for the c-section and I would also need to have a surgeon on hand “just in case”.

I have this vision of having to get a cesarean done and while they pull this baby bird out of me, all these bolts and screws will fall out of my stomach and jingle around on the floor.

Can you imagine…  it would sound like a piggy bank being dropped in the room. *ding… ding.. ding*

My ob/gyn set me up for a VBAC consultation at another hospital when I’m 20 weeks, along with my “big” ultrasound. I guess they have different guidelines at the hospital close to our house so I wouldn’t qualify for a VBAC here.

My nerves are starting to go away as far as being constantly worried about the baby bird. A lot of it has to do with the exceptional medical care and compassion I’ve received from all the doctors in Maine.

I knew how fucked up and traumatized I was with the horrible care I received with my first pregnancy at Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed but now that I finally know what prenatal care is supposed to be like, it’s such a huge relief.

I also plan on having a doula and I’m in the early stages of researching the process. I think it will be tremendously helpful to have a doula there for the birth. Even if I do end up having another c-section.

But because of all the metal in my stomach, here’s hoping I can push that baby out the way it came in.

Did you have a doula for childbirth? Pros? Any cons? Advice?

*The Raconteurs

Comments { 5 }

Nerves

Monday is the big day. It’s the first ultrasound for the baby bird. I am fucking terrified. I can’t stop thinking about the what ifs? I admit I’ve been a nervous wreck since I found out I was pregnant last month. I can’t bear the thought of finding out something is wrong… another miscarriage.

When I went to see my ob/gyn a few weeks ago, after asking some basic questions, she stopped and then asked what could she do to help me calm my nerves and feel more relaxed. She also gave me a hug.

I was fucking floored and wanted to cry after that. In a good way.

I NEVER experienced that kind of compassion when I was pregnant with the hummingbird and had to go to the military hospital in Bethesda and dealt with all of those asshole military doctors.

It finally feels like I’m healing from Postpartum PTSD after all this time. This pregnancy experience has been unbelievably better already and I feel like I actually have some say in these things, unlike last time when I just felt like I was ordered around with very little explanation.

Dr. Awesome even set me up to have my 20 week ultrasound along with a consultation for a VBAC with a clinic in Portland. Even if I don’t get the natural delivery I’ve been wanting since I was pregnant with the hummingbird, my doctor has already proven that I can trust her which is such a relief to me.

So, I don’t know why I’m still such a nervous wreck but I’m hoping that once I finally see the baby bird on the ultrasound, all of these nerves will finally settle down so I can enjoy the hell out of this pregnancy. Both the good and the bad that comes along with it… even the awful and constant morning sickness.

*Fake Plastic Trees

Comments { 4 }

Guest Post: When Cancer Hits Home. The Blog Post Emily Hopes You Never Need To Read.

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This guest post is from Emily Fowler who doesn’t have a blog (she should!), but you can find her on Twitter: @Ladyaero3. If you’d like to guest post, email me at elle dot mommyhood at gmail dot com.

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My husband was diagnosed with cancer three years ago when my son was nine years old. In the time since then I have had to muddle my way through figuring out how to help our son deal with the fact that Daddy has cancer. While I fervently hope none of you will ever need to learn the lessons I have learned, I think they can actually have a much broader application for some of the other family challenges we all face.

1) Your kids know when something is wrong, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes

When my husband first went to the Dr, we didn’t know for sure it was cancer (on that Friday afternoon we were only told “It doesn’t look good, come back for more tests on Monday”…seriously?!). We decided to wait to tell our son until we had more information. The thing about kids, though, is that they’re so much more aware than we think they are. Despite our attempts to keep things as lighthearted and normal as possible, on the way home from the Farmers Market that Sunday, my son asked from the backseat “Mom, why are you so sad?”

We carry a lot of stressors as parents (family illness, unemployment, loss, divorce) and while we don’t want to make our kids carry those burdens, we can’t hide them from our kids either. Letting our children know (in age appropriate terms**) what’s happening and how you are going to handle it can make them feel much more secure- “Well, it sucks, but Mom & Dad know what’s happening and they’ve got it covered.”

2) Build your kids a safety net

For most kids, they have an innate belief that if something really bad happens, Mom or Dad will be there to catch them when they fall.  When our children are faced with the sudden awareness that Mom & Dad might not always be there, it can throw their whole world off axis. No matter what is causing the tilt (having dual homes after a divorce, learning that parents are not immortal), one way to help kids regain their footing is to show them in black and white what their safety net looks like.

To alleviate my son’s fears of being left alone (‘cause he figured if Dads could go away, Moms might too), I sat down with him and wrote down who would take care of him if something happened to me. Because my son is a “what if” kind of kid, I had to make the list about 12 people deep before he felt secure that all the bases were covered, but it did the trick. Having that list also made him feel safer when Dad was in the hospital and someone else had to pick him up from school for me- he knew who had his back.

3) Remember that your kids are still growing

There is a very big difference between how a nine year old deals with things and how a twelve year old deals with things. That’s true no matter what is happening in your life, but it’s something that really hits home when you have a situation that stretches over the span of years. It means that every once in a while you have to stop and really look at whether you’re still meeting your kids’ emotional and intellectual needs when it comes to dealing with a family challenge.

While we have had the help of a school counselor the past couple of years, we  recently decided (including input from my son) that it was time to get my son a different level of support (in our case, a counselor who specializes in working with kids and families with a major or terminal illness).

Being a pre-Teen (oh, the fun of hormones and mood swings!) is hard enough- trying to deal with that and a family crisis at the same time is just adding fuel to the fire. Where my son’s nine year old self was more comfortable venting to me, his 12 year old self needed an additional outlet. Sometimes he asks me to stay and sometimes wants to talk to the counselor on his own. It’s all good. And in a few years, he might need something else- I’ll need to keep checking.

Also, remember that your very smart kids are getting smarter all the time. While we have always given our son the facts about cancer (except for life expectancy, since even our Dr. can’t tell us that right now), over the years the detail level of those facts has had to increase to meet our son’s age and intellectual curiosity.

Dumbing down the answers just leaves him frustrated and confused. So, every once in a while check in with yourself (and your kids!) to see if you are trying to help them in their understanding of their world or if you are trying to hide it from them. If you find it’s that latter, go back and read #1 again.

4) Take care of yourself

Wait, what? Yes, this is a list of ways to help your kids, but you just can’t do that when you’re so worn out or sad or empty that you can’t even crawl out from under the covers. During my husband’s stem cell transplant, my sister helped organize a list of folks that wanted to be of service. One of the things she organized was time off for me.

One night every other week, someone would take my son for a fun night out and another person would bring dinner for my husband while another friend got me out of the house for a couple of hours. I didn’t think I needed that, right up until I left the house.  Suddenly, my shoulders didn’t feel quite so weighed down and my mind had something besides worry to focus on. I came back from those couple of hours with my batteries recharged and my empathy back in place (it can wear down when you’re a constant caretaker). When the road is rough, don’t forget to pull off at a rest stop now and then.

**Over the last three years I have had many folks ask me how to explain cancer to younger kids. With so many people living longer lives these days, it pops up more than folks might think (especially with Grandparents or even Great-Grandparents).

I have seen instances where people just try to hide it (“Grandma’s just under the weather” but then she ends up in the hospital, leaving kids panicked that their next cold is going to be fatal) and some where the clinical explanation given to kids would have been hard for pre-med students to follow.  And so I offer up what I told my son on that very hard day three years ago.  I hope you never need to use it.

“Cancer cells are regular cells that have gone wonky (or weird, or crazy, or whatever word your family uses for something that just isn’t quite right). The cancer cells then try to make lots of other cells just like them. That can get in the way of our healthy cells doing their jobs, though, which can mean our bodies won’t work right anymore.”

In response to “Does cancer make you die?” (The second part is chemo specific, so change as needed): “If certain parts of our bodies can’t do their jobs any more, then, yes, it can make you die. But we’re fighting those cancer cells. The Dr. is giving some medicine that kills fast growing cells like cancer so we can keep it from going places it shouldn’t be going.

Our bodies have other fast growing cells too- like the ones that grow our hair- so they might lose their hair for a while, but it will grow back. They will need lots of extra rest to fight the cancer, but we’re all going to be sending lots of love to help. Would you like to draw them a picture or write them a letter? I know they would like that.”

*Dixie Chicks

Comments { 2 }