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Postpartum PTSD

*Please excuse any writing errors. This was a post I couldn’t read back.

It was the third week that my newborn daughter was in the NICU. I was waiting for my husband to get home so we could visit her in the hospital when I started feeling nauseous. Anxiety came crashing down on me and my heart started racing. The more I thought about the drive to the hospital where I gave birth to my daughter, the worse I felt and I ended up getting sick all over the bedroom carpet.

On the way to the hospital, my nerves start getting worse and by the time we enter the hospital parking garage, I got sick again and couldn’t stop shaking. The closer we got to the NICU on the 6th floor of the hospital, I was in such a panic and started crying.

My husband assumed it was because of our daughter being in the NICU for 3 weeks because of low blood sugar. I didn’t say anything like I should have but it was that day that I knew something was very wrong. It wasn’t until a year later that I first heard of postpartum post traumatic stress disorder.

I had always assumed that when it came to PTSD, it was something only soldiers got when fighting in a war. Then the pieces started coming together.

I wasn’t happy with the prenatal care I received but couldn’t do anything about it. My husband is in the military and at the time we were in close proximity to a couple of military hospitals. If that’s the case, our insurance won’t let you see a “civilian” doctor.

Every time I had a prenatal appointment, I had a different doctor and was never able to put my trust in one. That was when I started to feel like I had little control over the care I was getting and would be very frustrated that there was never a time when I could actually sit down with one of these doctors and discuss my first time mom jitters.

At 37 weeks, I had my monthly appointment and the doctor was really concerned about my blood pressure. She was worried that I was starting to develop preeclampsia and by that afternoon, I was checked into the hospital, waiting to have a baby. I was pretty reasonable about my birth plan. I was hoping for a natural childbirth but there was no way in hell I was going to say no to an epidural.

During my labor, I had several medical interventions and was very frustrated that most of the medical staff coming in and out of my hospital room seemed to be burdened when my husband or I would ask questions about what they were doing.

I ended up having an emergency c-section and while they were pulling my daughter out of me, it felt like a cement block was starting to crush my chest. Then my daughter was brought to me and the joy of that put the way I felt physically on the back burner.

I was wheeled into a recovery room and across the room, my freshly baked babe was getting her first bath while my husband stood there in awe while filming it.

I started to have trouble breathing and my nurse got the oxygen mask. The cement block that I felt I had on my chest turned into a cement wall and I was having more trouble breathing. It was getting more difficult to talk with the nurse and that’s when she said it appeared that my lungs were filling up with fluid and I had pulmonary edema.

She told me she was going to get medication for it but first she needed it approved by a doctor. I still have absolutely no idea who delivered my daughter so I didn’t have any idea who my doctor was supposed to be.

Medical staff was walking in and out of the room and finally the nurse spotted a doctor that I’d never seen in my life. My nurse rushed over and quickly told him the situation while I was trying so hard to stay conscious. It was at this point that I couldn’t even say a word because I felt like I was drowning.

The doctor sauntered over and started asking me several questions. I was trying to keep my shit together because I was absolutely terrified over what was happening to me. I couldn’t answer any of these doctor’s questions so he stood there beside the hospital bed I was in and was waiting for me to answer.

Some of the last things I remember was hearing my gorgeous new baby crying across the room and my husband comforting her. I was feeling so dizzy and knew I was losing conscious and couldn’t stop it no matter how hard I tried. I remember the nurse leaving my side and the same damn doctor kept on asking me to describe my symptoms to him.

I truly believed this was the end for me. I don’t mean for it to sound so dramatic but I thought I was going to die right there in the recovery room with my daughter just several feet away from me. My husband had no idea what was happening in my corner of the room as he was understandably so wrapped up in our beautiful baby girl.

That’s when everything went blank and I remember the nurse shaking me and saying my name. When I came to, that asshole doctor was still there but standing farther away from me. I don’t know if the nurse gave him a piece of her mind or what happened but after I came to, that doctor just walked out of the room without saying a word.

When I was finally able to speak again without the oxygen mask, I said “Please tell me that wasn’t a doctor but instead a janitor”. The nurse replied “I wish I could tell you that”. I don’t remember the nurse’s name but I will forever be so thankful that she didn’t put up with this doctor’s bullshit and instead jumped into action.

It took me nearly a year to tell my husband what happened after I gave birth. I didn’t want to ruin the experience for him by letting him know what happened but was so relieved when I finally did.

I’ve been trying to write about my experience with Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for 3 years and 2 month but would panic each time. It wasn’t until I read this by Tricia that I finally felt “safe” enough to go through the emotions of my experience. Even as I type this, my heart is racing and my hands are shaking.

I’m currently in therapy and finally getting more control over this but it’s still a struggle each day. One I’m finally getting strong enough to fight.

Have you experienced Postpartum Depression or Postpartum PTSD? If you’d like, please share your story in the comments.

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Total Recall: What I didn’t expect after expecting. Alternate title: Holy Hell!! Jebus Criminy on a cracker!

Since I’m plagued with another nasty sinus infection, I thought I would do a Total Recall (an old post that I want to “recycle”). If you’d like to add an old post, the linky is at the bottom.

 

What I didn’t expect after expecting 

June 20, 2011

 

This has been sitting in my draft file for a few months because I keep on thinking of things to add. I could literally go on and on & write a book on this but tried to keep this kind of short, for me anyway.

I was told of things that would happen after I had a baby but in a vague way and of course I didn’t think some of this stuff would happen to me. Yes, you’re right. I’m a dumbass.

I talk about blood, pee, and poop so you should stop reading now if you’re super squeamish and would like to keep down that yummy meal you just had.

If you’re not sure that you’re ready to have kids then reading this will be perfect birth control.

Screw what to expect. Expect the unexpected.

No matter what anyone tells you will happen after you have a baby, including me, it might not happen to you. You just never know what to expect with a baby. Your cute little squishy babe grows so fast and changes so much that it can be hard to keep up.

There were so many things I had planned on once my daughter was born and with most of the things, I’ve gone the other way. Like television.

I had planned on not having her watch very much television but now that she’s 2, if I want to get anything done (a shower, scarfing down lunch before she sees me eating and ends up eating all of it even though she didn’t want much of her lunch…) I let her watch her favorite show along with a few others that she likes. I’m still in no way guaranteed to be able to get things done but since my little girl doesn’t always nap, it can guarantee some of my sanity.

Being a parent is harder than I thought it would be. There are times when my little girl will be throwing a tantrum and just when I think Calgon, take me away she’ll all of a sudden do something so cute that it makes my heart melt. But other times I can be counting down the minutes until my hubby gets home so I can hand her off to him and I can have a breather.

Lack of bladder control.

When I was pregnant (and way before that) I read about kegel exercises. Since I had to pee constantly while I was pregnant, the last thing I wanted to do were kegel’s.

I used to think only women who gave birth vaginally had problems with bladder control. Silly me. I pee myself when I cough, sneeze, laugh, and breathe although it’s not all the time.

Sometimes I’ll think I’m safe after I sneeze and then I’m thinking ha ha bladder, I won this round but it gets back at me a few minutes later. Usually when it happens I’ll say Ohhhh! and my hubby will be like you peed yourself didn’t you? and as I’m running up the stairs I’ll say yep and by the way, you’re having the next baby.

There will be blood. And look! More blood, and more, and more.

I thought how awesome it was that I didn’t have my period for several months but don’t be fooled. Not only do you get all of the periods you’ve missed at the same time, you get more for good measure. I was bleeding for weeks and had to wear diaper sized pads.

Mesh panties.

I had no idea these existed, just like the perineal bottle. I’m sure the look of What the f*ck?! I had was pretty obvious when the nurse handed me both. The hospital gave me mesh underwear along with huge pads that looked like they were made for the Jolly Green Giant. I have to admit, it took a few days but I started to like the mesh underwear, especially since my own would bother my cesarean incision. I even asked for a few more to bring home.

The first postpartum poo.

I wasn’t able to experience a vaginal birth since I had an emergency c-section but 3 days later I felt what it was like to give birth…out of my ass. Oh My Gawd! I was given stool softeners and took them but didn’t think it would be that bad.

There was a hand rail by the toilet in my hospital room and I thought it was there for help getting up. Nope. That hand rail is there so you can hold on for dear life while you have the poo that has come from the depths of hell.

Just a tip. Before you leave the hospital, steal bring home everything that isn’t bolted down.

I took a few of the waterproof pads they had on my hospital bed and some of the towels. Get my towels and bed all bloody? I think not. I know there were other things I brought home but I just can’t remember. Oh, that’s another wonderful thing about mommyhood. Mommy Brain. woo hoo!

When my daughter came home, we took the diapers, wipes, etc. The nurse we had actually went and got a new pack of diapers for us since the little hummingbird only had a few left in her NICU cart. Our nurse was helping us stock up on other freebies as well. I also grabbed a few of the drink pitchers I had used since they were perfect when it came to warming up bottles.

Just breathe.

As much as we wanted to bring our daughter home from the NICU, it was also terrifying. We were the ones responsible for this tiny person. I remember the first or second night after she came home. The swaddling blankets we got weren’t even capable of wrapping up a chipmunk and our little girl was only about 8 pounds at the time.

So my hubby went out to find bigger blankets and it was the first time I was alone with my daughter.

While my husband was gone, I gave her a bottle and everything was smooth sailing at that point. Then she threw up all over me and the couch. She also had a diaper blowout. There were tears on my part because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. Then I kept telling myself that my daughter doesn’t know I’m not doing everything perfect and I became more calm-ish. Don’t get me wrong, I still sent frantic texts to my husband to hurry the hell up.

*Quick sidenote. I discovered Aden & Anais blankets around her first birthday and my daughter LOVES them. We have to make sure to bring one with us wherever we go. They are pricey but so worth it.

Pregnancy weight and recovery.

Unless your name is Miranda Kerr or Gisele ‘I made pancakes and washed dishes shortly after giving birth, a birth that wasn’t painful, not even a little bit’ Bündchen *eyeroll*, try not to stress about your weight after having a baby. The weight will come off eventually and if it doesn’t, remember that your body went through a lot.

It’s the same with recovery and exercising. You might see women who’ve just had a baby a week before, jogging around the neighborhood but it’s fine if your thinking hell to the no and of course if you’ve had a c-section, you have to wait anyway. Recovery is different for everyone. Enjoy your crying, poopy, pukey, will not sleep for more than a few hours at a time, what the hell?! I’m going to die of sleep deprivation, baby. Yay!

Postpartum feelings.

It took me almost 14 years to have a baby it’s more like 13 but you know how I feel about that number (that’s for another post) and I thought everything would be like a diaper commercial. All smiley and happy. It’s not. Unless you’re a robot but robots can’t have babies. I don’t think.

There wasn’t any doubt that I loved my little girl and I had waited so long to have her. But the hormones were swirling around, here was this new little person in our lives, and my hubby and I were beyond exhausted. There were times, especially in the early months, when I would think What did I get myself into? or This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

I would hear people with newborns saying how it’s such an amazing time and everything’s great and so easy. I would end up feeling like an awful new mom because I didn’t always think it was rainbows and butterflies. In hindsight, I think my feelings were normal.

Don’t feel pressured when it comes to how you want to raise your child. We might have different ways we want to do it but we want the same outcome. To raise our tiny dictators as best as we can and have them know how much we love them no matter what.

I don’t think there’s a wrong way when it comes to raising kids and how you go about it. There will always be people who judge but just tune them out.

I wanted to breastfeed more than anything but it didn’t work out like I hoped so instead I pumped like a maniac. I beat myself up for not being able to breastfeed and felt bad because I had very little milk coming in but honestly, looking back now, I wish I would have just spent that time with my daughter soaking in all her sweet babyness (totally a word) instead of being hooked up to a pump several times a day.

I started cloth diapering her around her first birthday but lately we haven’t been doing it as often. I don’t know why since it’s so much easier than I thought it would be. I love cloth diapering. I was feeling bad about it but my hubby and I are doing what works for us.

Last but not least….

You will freak out about every little thing and that’s normal. There will be times when you’re not freaking out and then you’ll freak out for not freaking out.

Pretty self-explanatory.

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A dingo ate my baby?!

Okay, so a dingo didn’t eat my baby but I haven’t gotten much sleep for a while and couldn’t think of anything else for a title.

It took my hubby and I almost 14 years to have the little hummingbird. Long story long is that while I was ready for a baby soon after we were married, he kept on dragging his feet and making excuses.

For the first couple of years I could deal with it and with him being in the military and all the moving we did, I understood. But once we were stationed in Virginia Beach for nearly 3 years, even though he was gone a lot, he would tell me he’s just not ready. It was difficult because the other officer wives had children already and here I was childless and so we didn’t have much to talk about.

After about 5 or 6 years there was a lot of tension between us over the matter. I know marriage is a roller coaster and that was a down period for us. My hubby wouldn’t even talk about having kids which was beyond effing frustrating.

I was on birth control but when 8 or so years of marriage went by without any baby plans in the near future, I had some people saying to just stop taking it because this waiting game for a baby was getting ridiculous.

I honestly don’t know if either of us have fertility issues or how long it could take for the little hummingbird to get a sibling in a few years since we never tried to have a baby. Sure there were times when we would move somewhere and there would be a lapse in me taking the pill because I would have to wait to see a new doctor and get a prescription but I never got pregnant during those times.

The miscarriage I had in August concerns me into thinking there could be an issue but I know there are so many reasons why that happens. The pregnancy was also a surprise like the hummingibrd.

Being childless continued after 10, 11, 12 years of marriage and now that I look back, I think there was a much deeper issue for my husband’s excuses and having such a long delay for us having a baby. Maybe this is because I’m just now getting to the heart of my depression with seeing my therapist but I think a lot of it had to do with the way he was raised and the things he went through. While I know plenty, I also think there are things he has left out or has supressed.

To sum it up, I think he was terrified of having children because he didn’t want the same thing to happen to our kid/s that happened to him. There’s so much about his parents, especially my MIL, that I don’t say….believe it or not.

Fast forward to June of 2008. We were living in Arlington, VA and I went in for my yearly exam. The doctor ended up writing a prescription for the wrong birth control which I didn’t notice until I was in the parking lot. I thought I would simply run back into the clinic to get it changed but when I went back, the doctor was already with another patient.

I left my info and told the receptionist what the problem was and thought it would be straightened out soon. Wrong. I never heard from the doctor. I even went to the clinic to speak with someone to no avail. The whole time I was thinking I just want my damn birth control, not meth, and this was crazy to go through all of this.

Then I was told I needed to come in for another exam so the doctor could stick her hand up my hoo-ha and do another pap smear even though I had already gotten the results from the one a few weeks prior and it was clear. I would explain that I’ve done this less that a month ago and just needed the correct prescription.

She had written a prescription for a birth control pill that wasn’t anything like what I’ve been taking so I was worried about how it would affect me since I’ve learned over the years that I need to be on a low dose of birth control or else I become like a pissed off Christian Bale on the set of Terminator 3 except my meltdown doesn’t become viral or get a cool song remix.

After calling several times, going to the clinic, leaving messages, and all of that good stuff, I thought eff it. I know obviously by not being on birth control my chances of getting pregnant became sky-high but my hubby knew the dilemma I was in so we used other forms of birth control.

Wait a sec, this just in….it didn’t work…obviously.

The subtle signs were there but I really didn’t think anything of it. The biggest giveaway should have been when I went downstairs from our 18th floor apartment to the little convenience store on the first floor and instead of getting something with chocolate, I had this intense craving for something lemony which has never happened seeing as how I’m a chocoholic.

The physical symptoms I was having were very close to when I get my period so again, I didn’t think anything of it. Soon after I had to drive my hubby to the Naval Hospital in Bethesda because he had broken his foot and was finally getting surgery on it. There I was driving on the freeway and I had the worst nausea. I blamed it on nerves because of my husband’s surgery.

Normally I have the nose of a dog but my sense of smell went up tremendously. Also, just a week before my husband’s foot surgery, we went to a music festival in Maryland and while it was awesome, I was beyond exhausted which was another sign…..ding, ding, ding.

One other sign that I seemed to ignore was I had this intense need to pick out a girl’s baby name. I had names already picked out for my firstborn….Emma Rose for a girl and Caden Gage for a boy but I had picked out these names years ago. The girl name I loved had become so popular and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use that name after all.

So, I poured through baby name websites when without knowing it I was about 3 weeks pregnant. Nothing really jumped out at me but then I found a baby name book I had gotten years ago. While I was flipping through the pages, whoop there it was. I knew there would be very few girls named “the little hummingbird” I kid, I kid and was certain that would be the name I would use someday. I had no idea that “someday” would be 8 months later.

A few weeks later in September I remember sitting in the living room listening to Kings of Leon “Sex On Fire” over and over and all of these things finally came together for me. I knew I had a pregnancy test somewhere so I ripped through my bathroom cabinets and finally found it.

I peed on the stick and it was positive within seconds. I was in total shock even though it shouldn’t have been that surprising. So, I convinced myself the pregnancy test was “broken”, ha, and ran across the street to CVS where I got a 2 pack of one brand and a 2 pack  of a different one. I rushed back home and all were positive.

Then I went to the grocery store down the street because holy hell in a hot pocket, all of these tests had to have been broken because of some kind of conspiracy, right?

I peed some more and those were positive too.

When my husband came home from work that day, I was going to act cool about it and wait to tell him but that lasted all of 2 seconds. He was really shocked to say the least. Even after I went to take a blood test the next day, he still wasn’t convinced.

It wasn’t until 2 weeks later when I went in for my first ultrasound and we saw the hummingbird that it really hit us both.

There was another photo we got on that first visit and I swear it looks like she’s tap dancing. When I think about it now and how she can’t sit still for even a minute, she probably was tap dancing in my uterus.

After the first doctor’s visit, my hubby really seemed to come around and once she was born, it was love at first cry…for all of us. Then just a day after she was born, she was rushed to the NICU and our lives were changed even more.

The feelings I have when I think about her 21 days in the NICU are still so fresh in my mind, even after 2 1/2 years. We were in the dark most of the time when it came to her issue with hypoglycemia (that was resolved when she was 6 weeks old) which was really frustrating. I was pretty much like my daughter would be…fine one minute, crying the next, then fine again.

Over two years later, I’m amazed and so thankful and exhausted at how she’s such a free-spirited, sweet, animated and theatrical, and oh my gawd she never stops moving, ever entergetic little girl who is poking me in the back and saying in a whisper, mahmeee, mahmeee, mahmee as I write this.

                                        

It’s World Prematurity Day and while the hummingbird was born at 37 weeks, I know there are many of you who are celebrating your miracle babies. I was born about 6 weeks premature and weighed 4 pounds 4 ounces. I also had a congentital heart defect and my prognosis was grim….6 months tops to live.

Tricia who has her personal blog Stream Of The Conscious and writes for our awesome group website A Nervous Tic Motion wrote an absolutely beautiful post about her twin boys being born at 27 weeks. She also made a video of the time that they spent in the NICU so I would suggest having a box of tisues handy.

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Navigating the NICU.

This guest post is from Tricia who blogs at Stream Of The Conscious and has twin boys aka the muppets who were born at 27 weeks gestation.

The little hummingbird was in the NICU for different reasons but when you, your family, and your child go through this experience, I feel like there’s an instant bond with others who have had children in the NICU.

While my husband and I had a less than desirable experience when our daughter was in the hospital because of many things, I told Tricia that it helps to know someone had a positve experience despite the circumstances she was under.

Reading her blog FAQ about her twins is an absolute must. It had me smiling and laughing the whole time. The muppets turned a year old at the end of May and Tricia wrote her sons a beautiful letter about the journey from the time they were born, through their stay in the NICU, and when they came home.

Q and A with Tricia.

Elle: If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, which weapon would you want to have to fight these brain eaters?

A. a flame thrower.

B. an unlimited supply of ninja throwing stars.

C. a chainsaw.

D. a shoelace because you’re bad ass.

E. other and what would it be?

F. none of the above, I want to be a damn zombie!

Tricia: Is this a trick question? The answer is obviously A. Threaten me and my family and you’re going down in a fiery ball of defeat.

It will be like fireworks of victory. Unless…unless you’re actually a zombie trying to figure out what my methods of battle are. In which case the answer is B, Ninja Stars. Pay no attention to the bright orb hurling toward you…

Elle: If you could be stuck in an elevator with anyone, who would it be?

Tricia: This is cheesy but that’d be my husband. He’s figured out the magic trick of keeping me calm (a VERY impressive feat) and is handy enough to figure out how to MacGuyver us out of the stuck-y situation without letting us plummet to our death.

And yes, that’s instantly where my mind is going to go the second the elevator stops – even if we’re 3 feet off the ground floor.

Elle: If you could drop everything and go anywhere (real or fantasy) in the world, where would it be?

Tricia: Maui = Paradise. Perhaps with a stopover at See’s candy first.

Elle: Which would you rather win? An Oscar, a Grammy, or a Tony.

Tricia: That’s easy, Oscar. I’ve had my acceptance speech written since I was 7. I’d like to thank the Academy for recognizing how fun it would be to translate my novel into a screenplay and letting me be the head writer.

I thank all of you for this Best Screenplay Adaptation award. Look boys! You have a brother!

Elle: A favorite non-mommy activity?

Tricia: Sleep. Oh doesn’t that just sound divine right now?

Elle: What’s a favorite book that you like to read to your kids?

Tricia: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was our theme/NICU mission statement. I would read that book to them daily, showing them the brightly colored pages through the plastic walls of their isolettes.

Their favorite part of the story were the depictions of food the little caterpillar ate his way through. As they got bigger, I’d tickled their tummies when we came to the page stating that the little caterpillar was now a big fat caterpillar!

Elle: What kid’s cartoon or character makes you want to bang your head against a spike?

Tricia: This may be considered blasphemy but I’ve gotta go with Elmo. It’s that song. “Elmo’s Song. LaLaLa” (Repeat ad infinitum…)

You know what, I’d like to change my answer to question No. 1 again. I’m going to lock the zombies in a contained room and repeatedly play “Elmo’ss Song.” I give them a max of seven minutes before they decide dead is the way to go (as opposed to undead).

*Elle’s note….I’ve heard that song 20 billion times and the first few times were cute but now I’d like to take that song and unleash a bunch of wild dogs on it so they’d rip it to pieces and nobody would ever have to hear that song again.

 ~~~

In Tricia’s words.

I write stuff for a living. But I never thought I’d end up a mommy blogger. A world-famous Newbery Medal recipient, sure – but it instead appears my writing talents have headed down the road less traveled.

It was always my dream to be a writer. By day, I’m a corporate writer; by night, I’m working on the next Great American Novel.

My twin boys were born at 27 weeks gestation weighing 2 pounds. I held Caden in my arms for no more than 10 seconds after his birth. I watched Logan get wheeled out of the operating room wrought with tubes and encased in a plastic incubator.

They were born 12 weeks too soon. And then I passed out.

I didn’t get to meet my muppets the day they were born. I spent hours shivering uncontrollably in a recovery room – demanding water from a nurse who tried my patience to its last nerve by insisting on following medical protocol instead of catering to my thirsty whims.

Five hours after they were born, my husband was indoctrinated into life as a NICU parent. He was crying when he came back, but he reported they were doing amazingly well. There were so many wires…

Today they’re 14 months old, living up to their nicknames of Search and Destroy. And I write about them.

~~~

Doing Time: Navigating the NICU

*Below is a plethora of unsolicited advice: Doing time in the NICU is rough. It’s overwhelming.

Most new parents expect to leave the hospital with their newborn days after giving birth, dazed and confused about what to do once they get home. But what about the parents who return home while their newborn remains behind in the NICU?

There are numerous articles deciphering the medical technology NICU parents can expect to encounter, but many of those parents then wonder what they can do to help nurture and bond with their child.

I asked our NICU nurses for their thoughts and advice. I could give my perspective adnauseam – but I thought answers from the other side would be equally beneficial. 

Walking into the unit will overwhelm you. It will slowly become routine – but it will not get easier. Even going back to visit with two healthy jumbo tots stillelicits a visceral reaction.

Our nurses assured us that their team do not expect the newly frazzled parents to remember all of the information being thrown at them.

That little tiny person covered with wires is going to be taking up the vast majority of your attention. And the stress of giving birth at any time during the gestational period leaves little span left for attention.

Our nurses suggest that parents write down all of their questions. Bring them back later, your nurses will be happy to answer all of your questions to the best of their abilities. And don’t worry about asking the same questions repeatedly.

Aside from the fact that they answer those questions for a living, you won’t remember what you’ve asked anyway. Nor will you remember the answers for several weeks – there is a lot to process. A lot.

The machines, blinking numbers, beeps, alarms – they will scare you. They will create a Pavlovian response that causes you to frantically turn looking to see breaths whenever you hear a similar tone. But the nurses know those suckers backwards and forwards.

Your job is to focus on your new child. As the days, weeks, months drag on into what seems like eternity, those beeps and alarms will become nothing more than background noise. Background noise that will forever scare the bejeezus out of you.

And soon you’ll have the knowledge on how to silence those alarms – and not by simply pushing the “defer” button. No matter how many times you want to leap out of your seat and throttle the monitor with it’s beeps and numbers with their peaks and valleys.

But you’ll learn to gently stroke your baby’s back, encouraging your little fighter to breathe. Breathe damnit, breathe!

If your nurse isn’t right there to greet you, there will be another nurse to welcome you. Despite your fragile mental state, your nurse will be focused on making sure your physically fragile baby is stable. 

The nurses are not ignoring you – but for the same reason you’re there, that little child is everyone’s first priority.

Despite your irrational preemie-parent wishes, you will have a few different nurses taking care of your little one. It may be frustrating at times but they are all trained RNs (registered nurses). They are all capable of taking care of your precious darling, and regardless of how much like surrogate parents they become – the hospital keeps sending them home to sleep.

That being said, do not be afraid to express your questions, qualms or concerns. You are the parents; if you don’t “mesh” with a nurse, it is your right to speak up. No one is going to “take it out” on the baby – who, let’s face it, they like better than you anyway.

From the nurses point of view, they’d appreciate the acknowledgment that many of them have been doing this for a very long time. The muppets primary nurses had 18 and 16 years of time in the baby growth correctional facility.

So, chances are there is a reason behind their request on how to interact with a baby busy trying to master the concept of breathing in and out, over and over – forever.

Listen to the nurses when they explain what the prima donna preemie like or dislikes. For example, you’re going to want to hold your child as soon as possible – and reassure them that you’ll be there to protect them and make all the bad things go away. Sometimes a little one is just too fragile and they may not be able to tolerate such strenuous stimulation.

Neither your child nor the nurses intentionally try to hurt your feelings. Instead you can simply be there for them, by placing your hand gently over their tiny body and quietly talking about mundane daily life and all there is to experience on the outside.

By the same token, try not to freak out if it feels like the nurses are pushing you to hurry up and parent. You’ll be standing over the intimidating isolette (likely fighting the guilt about how you couldn’t prevent this situation), and sending every vibe of good juju you can muster.

The nurse will turn to you matter-of-factly, point to the stash of diapers that would comfortably cover about half of your pinky finger and ask you to change your baby. Don’t worry -the nurse will be expecting your terrified look of incredulity.

Maneuvering around all those wires and Barbie size limbs is scary, but if your nurse didn’t think it was safe to do so, they would not ask.

It’s your baby no matter the circumstance. You’d likely still be totally freaked out with a healthy 40-week newborn in the Mother/Baby recovery room. So now’s the time to step up. Your nurse will be there if you panic, but they’ll let you take charge to the best of baby’s ability.

Nurse June spent a lot of time staring at us while we were in the NICU. “Well what do you want me to do? Their your kids – you deal with them.” I’d like to take this moment to reiterate how much we love Nurse June. Even if she did collude with the muppets to save all poopy blowouts for our arrival.

Even though your baby is premature and lives in their own personal condo at the moment, you are now a parent. Just as if you had brought home a term baby, it is time to jump right in and start parenting. It may be a bit more challenging for you but you have to jump in and just do it.

What is entirely within your control is to take good care of yourself. A sick mommy or daddy will not be able to give their preemie the best love they deserve.

Yes, it is heart-wrenching to walk out of that unit once you’ve experienced love at first sight but a new mom needs to rest and take care of herself first so she can heal quickly and concentrate on her baby. When you are well rested and healthy, you’ll have every opportunity to participate in your infants care.

I was so eager to be there for the muppets, I practically passed out – sprawled flat across the NICU floor – because I couldn’t be bothered with the fact that six weeks of strict bedrest and a c-section does not one flight-of-foot make. The blood meant for my brain diverted itself to a more convenient horizontal layout. Gravity, thou art a cruel mistress…

By far, the biggest challenge you will face is the loss of control of the whole situation. No matter how much you are involved in your baby’s care, no matter how much time you spend in the NICU or how much juju you have to spare, you will have no control over your baby’s condition. Zero, zip, zilch.

Trust me and the nurses I spoke with about this missive, if they could control anything health related, tiny babies would never be sick and NICU nurses would spend their days restocking burp clothes in the hospital store room. Okay, I made that last part up. They’d probably all find different jobs.

It takes nine months for a baby to grow up big and strong in their mommy’s tummy. Well, it’s supposed to anyway. So it is reasonable that it will take time for your baby to reach ideal healthiness outside of the womb.

The general timeline you can expect to hear is that your child will be ready to go home around your actual due date. Patience and understanding is a big part of being a preemie parent. Clearly, this was an area I did not excel at. Breathe damnit!

Now for the hard part. As much as we all want to believe our little miracles are merely a “feeder and grower,” chilling with some new NICU friends who want the same for their babies which is for them to get bigger and go home, some little ones are sick. Sick babies means wires. Wires means procedures. Procedures mean panicked parents.

The medical staff is not alienating you nor plotting against you, when they ask you to step away from the unit so they can work on your child.

Our nurses have assured me they do not enjoy poking babies with IVs the width of sewing thread or drawing blood of which they have precious little. But they do it because it needs to be done for your little one’s ultimate homecoming. And it’s generally not ideal to have a parent already on the verge of a nervous breakdown hovering (or more likely, hyperventilating) over their shoulder.

One, it’s going to be a giant pain in their tushy if they have to extricate themselves from a sterile environment to deal with fainting mommies and daddies. Literally. These nurses deal with tiny patients. Mommies and daddies are giants.

Two, procedures don’t leave warm fuzzy memories which then rapidly raises the guilt quotient. “Procedures” in general are icky. When was the last time your doctor called you and you announced to the world at large,“Goody! I get a procedure today!”

NICU nurses chose their profession. They fall in love with our miracles. They cherish our angels and stay by their side through the long road ahead – for baby and parents. They worry about them on their days off. They will call the unit, “Did they finally poop on their own?” “Did they eat all their milk via thenipple or are they still gavaged?” Each preemie milestone is celebrated, just as Mom and Dad rejoice.

NICU nurses become family. The muppets nurses’ still follow their progress (God Bless social media) and they will be beside them next month, celebrating a successful first year.

One final word from the NICU nurses. The Internet is a fabulous tool. It makes researching info on anything a cinch. But learning the definition of a tool, condition, or disease is only part of the education (even when the Internet provides seemingly perfect results – like this blog).

The answers are never black and white. Every child is unique.

~If you would like to write a guest post about anything you want, whether or not you have a blog, please email me at elle dot mommyhood at gmail dot com.

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Changes are a comin’.

I’ve been wanting to make changes to my blog for a while. I would love to completely have my blog designed the way I want it but when it comes to CSS and code, I suck. I changed my blog theme back to what I had previously since the other one I had won’t allow a drop down menu for the tabs above.

You’re so fascinated with all of this aren’t you? Wait, don’t answer.

I’m still going to have my regular rambling and quirky posts but I would really like to make my blog more than just whatever pops into this crazy head of mine. I’ve really been enjoying having guest bloggers because I love to hear about the experiences of other moms.

Obviously you can have your own blog for that but with some, that’s not really an option if family and friends are reading or you don’t have the time. That’s why the guest posts are for bloggers, people who don’t blog but would like to occasionally, and it’s also for those who want to be anonymous.

I’ve added a tab for kid friendly food and recipes. I had planned on setting that up a lot sooner but as you know, being a mama or dad is hard work and there’s little time for much else.

I’ve also added a tab called music box. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with that yet but for as long as I can remember, music has always been a huge part of my life. When I first started my blog, I had a weekly post called Don’t Fret, It’s Music Monday and I would like to bring the music back.

I don’t know if I’ll just put up videos of songs that I’ve really been loving that particular week or what I’ll use that page for. I think it would be cool to use that page for not just me but other music lovers and have them write a music related guest post; a favorite concert, their wedding song, meeting a rock star, etc.

I love all kinds of music but my favorite is rock/indie/and folk although you don’t have to have the same musical tastes as I do to contribute. I want you to share what you love. I want to know what gets your booty shakin’ or your head banging.

I know my blog is small but I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve fallen in love with blogging and I would really love for it to become more of a parenting community. Obviously, even when you have a child, that doesn’t stop you from loving the things that you did before.

Sure, it might put a wrench in the frequency that you’re able to enjoy these things. Instead of kicking back and watching old episodes of Sex And The City, I am forced to watch the Sprout channel or Nick Jr. Yay! Not! And instead of listening to cd’s that I love, Sublime’s 40 oz. To Freedom is one of my all time favorites (of course I have a lot of favorites), I get to hear The Wiggles sing Rock A Bye Your Bear and Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy over and over.

I’m also adding a few more pages to my blog including a reading/book page. Again, I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with that page but I’m a voracious reader even though I’m not able to read as often as I’d like.

These changes are going to take some time because of my lack of time but I hope in the next couple of months it will come together. My mind just went in the gutter over that last bit. heh.

I had every intention of writing about the NICU experience my husband and I had and how extremely difficult it was. It’s something I need to write for me because I know it will help my feelings and emotions. I will get to it but I don’t know when.

The depression I’ve been in made me stop writing about it as well as a very traumatic experience right after I gave birth to the little hummingbird.  That’s also something I need to get out onto my blog for the same reasons as our NICU experience.

If anyone would like to contribute to my blog and/or a specific area (books, music, recipes, PPD, birth trauma, Postpartum PTSD or whatever else you can think of) then you’re more than welcome. Like I’ve told others, I can only pay you in linky love if you have a blog but I’d love to have different views and opinions.

If you don’t have a blog and want to contribute, my daughter can pay you in hummingbird cyber hugs. Email me at elle dot mommyhood at gmail dot com.

Elle xo

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Just when I think it’s not possible to love my sweet little hummingbird more than I do, bam! I do. This isn’t some sort of invasion of the body snatchers type of situation. Believe it or not I don’t always bitch and whine. I know, shocker.

After we brought the little hummingbird home from the NICU it was so overwhelming. She had low blood sugar and when we were able to bring her home after 3 weeks in the hospital, she was on 2 medications given twice daily, we had to follow a strict feeding schedule, and 3 times a day we had to check her blood sugar which was agony and broke my heart.

We had no idea if the issue with her having low blood sugar would be temporary or if it would be something she would live with for the rest of her life.

We had to wipe her heel with an alcohol pad and then prick it with a lancet, try to keep her foot still to get enough blood on the test strip, hold a cotton swab on her heel to stop the bleeding, and put a band-aid on her poor little foot with one hand while putting the test strip in the glucose meter with the other hand all while having her cry and flail about.

Sometimes when we would lancet her heel, we wouldn’t get enough blood to test so we would have to do it a second time. It was freaking torture.  There were times when it was too difficult to get a cotton swab on her heel in time so she would be crying and kicking on her changing table and blood would get all over.

Seeing my 3 week old daughter kicking and screaming from something I caused made me feel so bad. While this seemed to feel like forever, when the hummingbird was 6 weeks, her blood sugar stabilized and she went off of her medications. We no longer had to deal with testing her glucose levels which was a huge relief.

Still, it didn’t stop me from worrying when she wouldn’t have much of her bottle. I would hear the “normal” amount that babies her age would be eating but it wasn’t until she was about 6 months old when she started having about 4 ounces of formula, if that, which still wasn’t considered the “normal” amount.

Since I’m lactose intolerant, I thought that might be part of the problem with her even though the doctors she went to said it wasn’t. But mama knows best and I put her on a formula with less lactose. While she still didn’t eat within the “normal” range, it seemed to help. So to doctors I say this: *blows raspberry*

Even though she’s in the clear and has been for quite some time, I still worry when she doesn’t eat much. If you have a toddler, you know that one day they’ll scarf their food but the next day they might eat very little.

The first year of mommyhood was hard for me because of my daughter’s issues and I had complications from my cesarean so it took longer to heal which meant a lot of pain and I had to have surgery 11 months later to correct the problem. 

Becoming a mom is such an adjustment. At least for me it was. To be honest, it’s something that I’m still trying to find a balance with. The hummingbird changes on a daily basis and it can be hard to keep up with her and everything she’s learning.

Not only is she racing around a hundred miles a minute, her brain seems to be doing the same. My daughter was a late talker and it’s only been in the past few months that she’s really been letting us hear her bad ass language skills. Most of what she says comes in the form of a question.

When I ask her if she’d like cheese for a snack, she runs to the fridge and then starts hopping around while saying cheese? cheese? One of the funniest things she’s been saying is I’m stuck which usually comes out I stuck.

I never knew those two words could be applied to so many things; a toy she can’t reach, when she’s behind a safety gate, if she can’t open a door because of the toddler proof thingamajigs we put on the door handles, when wanting to get out of her high chair….

On the weekends when my hubby gets up with her, she’ll run to our bedroom and try to climb up on the bed so usually the first thing I hear in the morning is I stuck I stuck, Maaahhhmeee, I stuck.

I loved my daughter as soon as I found out I was pregnant but at the same time pregnancy was surreal. Sometimes I would forget that I was growing a human in there that has to eventually come out. Eeeek!

The love for her grew as my stomach did. I loved laying in bed at night watching her move an elbow or a foot and have it poke up against my stomach and move all over. The first time that happened I freaked out because it seemed like something out of the movie Alien.

I also loved when she would get hiccups while I was pregnant. Even now I like to cuddle up with her when she has them because it brings me back to when it was just me and her.

After she was born and we had a scary start, the love I felt for her was so strong and it was pure torture hearing her cries when the nurses would have to reinsert an IV or take her blood.

She’s been on this earth for 2 years 3 months and just when I think I couldn’t love her anymore than I do, another day goes by and I realize the love I have for her continues to grow. After she’s asleep, I go into her room and watch her sleep, amazed that I helped create such a wonderful little girl.

It can be frustrating when she doesn’t nap, battles bedtime, is constantly testing me, won’t let me pee in peace, steps on the cat on purpose, throws her food on the floor because she’s mad but no matter what she does or who she grows up to be, she will ALWAYS have my heart. It also doesn’t hurt that I have xanax. heh.

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A difficult beginning: The NICU in pictures.

I’ve mentioned before okay, plenty of times that my daughter’s 2nd BIRTHDAY!! is coming up and I felt like reminiscing. I’m currently writing about our NICU experience. I don’t think I’ll necessarily get closure from it but I still harbor so much anxiety and anger from the ordeal because we had very little communication with any of the doctors while she was in the hospital and I know writing can help.

I also want to write about the birth of the little hummingbird for the same reason but that might take more time. For now I’ll just say that it left me feeling like I had absolutely no say over my body and the doctors I dealt with gave me little, if any, information about what was going on during my labor and when it came to several medical interventions.

I’ve read about birth trauma and while some doctors I saw afterwards might think it’s bullshit, I believe that’s what I went through and still continue to deal with. Since it’s taking longer than I expected to write about the NICU because a lot of emotions have come flooding back from that and my birth experience, I thought I would share some pictures.

The hummingbird actually had a tooth when she was born and sure did know how to use it when I tried to breastfeed her.

They didn't discover that she had low blood sugar until a day after she was born. This is the first time that we saw her after she was rushed to the NICU.

The poor hummingbird was so swollen because of her I.V. meds. I wanted more than anything to break her out of the NICU and bring her home.

After spending so much time at the hospital, we would come up with ways to have fun.

Rockin' the mohawk!

Finally going home after 3 weeks. Yay!

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