Jul 272013

I’ll start with some pictures:
This is a picture of Justin in the operating room, right when he was born. 2 lbs, 8 oz; 16 inches long.

Birth picture

Birth picture

A little bit of perspective on just how tiny Justin was…he often looks bigger in pictures.

Tiny boy

Justin with Jack’s hand

Perhaps the most excruciating part after having my c-section wasn’t the pain itself (after all, I was on lots of pain meds), but the fact that I couldn’t see the baby until I was out of labor and delivery and into the recovery room. After the c-section, my oxygen levels weren’t where they should have been. Because of this, I was stuck in labor and delivery until I saw a respiratory therapist. It wasn’t all bad…my pain levels weren’t that bad, and I had lots of visitors. I had initially been against visitors right away (when we were planning for a non-emergency birth), but now they were a welcome distraction. I must have sent Jack to the NICU six or seven times. While I was still under heavy medication, anyone who asked me how I felt got the response of “hungry.” Probably not the most appropriate response, given that my son was in the NICU, but I think it was the only response I could muster without completely losing it.

We waited for hours…literally. It got to the point where they seemed to think they would be moving me soon, so my parents, Jack’s parents, and Jack’s brother and sister-in-law waited for me in the recovery room. And then we waited…and waited some more. I thought the respiratory therapist forgot about me. The heavy medications were wearing off, and I was getting more anxious by the second. I wanted to see my baby. It was almost 10pm before I got to see him…almost 7 hours after he was born. Don’t get me wrong, he was briefly wheeled by me in the incubator before he was taken to the NICU, but I was still about 2 feet from him. I hadn’t REALLY had the chance to see him. At that, I only got to see him for a few moments as I was wheeled on the bed to my recovery room.

What I learned about his prognosis was promising. He was briefly intubated, but the breathing tube was removed even before Jack saw him in the NICU. He was on a C-PAP machine (the same sort of machine used for sleep apnea) and on room oxygen.

The first time I really saw Justin

The first time I really saw Justin

I entered the recovery room to a crowd of people. At that point I didn’t really want to see anyone. I hadn’t really realized until moments before when I saw the baby, just how tiny he was and how big of a fight he would have. I was choking back tears. I quickly whispered to Jack to take them to the NICU to see the baby, and to send them on their way so I could sleep. While Jack was gone with everyone else, the night nurse came in. She was very kind and motherly, and I felt very at ease with her. I think I sent Jack to the NICU one last time before we went to bed, after everyone else was gone. I wouldn’t be allowed to see Justin until the next night (Sunday, February 10th, if you’re keeping track) once the magnesium sulfate IV had been removed and I was able to stand up and go to the bathroom on my own.

I got as much sleep as I could that night, with vitals being taken every two hours to monitor my blood pressure. I woke Jack up very early on Sunday and sent him to the NICU to check on the baby. That happened several times throughout the day – I was very paranoid that something would happen and no one would be there for him. I had visitors: My mom and dad, Jack’s mom and dad, Jack’s brother, sister-in-law, and both of our nephews, and Jack’s aunt and uncle. All well-meaning, but I didn’t really want a room full of visitors. I was too exhausted and too worried. Lots of preemie clothes came with the visitors, and they were so very tiny. I think I zoned out through most of the conversations. It was really because of how worried I was but at least I could blame it on the pain medication. Finally everyone left, and it was just us. In the evening, the nurse removed the magnesium IV. She also told me I could be off the oxygen since my saturation levels were better. I had to get out of bed and use the bathroom before I would be allowed to go to the NICU to see Justin. Getting out of bed was horrible. I had two things going against me – the muscle weakness from the magnesium sulfate and being bedridden for three days, and the pain from the c-section. I had to lean on both Jack and the nurse to stand up. Slowly but surely, I made it to the bathroom. I had to sit on the toilet for some time to manage the pain, but I managed to use the bathroom and Jack helped me back to the chair in the room. He was able to track down a wheelchair and he took me down to the NICU. I must have looked like a total disaster – I hadn’t had a shower since Tuesday night, my feet were so swollen from the IV fluids that I couldn’t even get socks on (the NICU staff told me I should have something on my feet for safety purposes and not to walk around barefoot- it was at that point that I thought about what I was going to put on my feet to go home). It didn’t matter at that point. I just wanted to see Justin.

We got back to Justin’s room and washed our hands, as we had to every time we entered and left the room. I looked around at all the equipment, and the writing on his whiteboard. “Welcome to the NICU, Justin!” it said. I immediately saw that there was a blanket covering the incubator. It came from Project Linus, the first of many donated blankets Justin got during his stay. It was a strong reminder that we weren’t prepared to have a baby yet. We didn’t have anything, except for his furniture…but his room wasn’t even done. We had someone come in and talk to us about participating in a few medical studies regarding premature babies – nothing invasive, just collecting daily stool samples and analyzing for certain illnesses. I agreed to participate, after all, you never know how this might help future premature babies. I had also signed up for a study regarding preeclampsia – all it involved was an extra vial of blood from me, a small tissue sample of the placenta, and a phone interview about my and my family’s medical history. I could have stayed in the room all night, but I was on limited time, as I had to get back for vitals. At that point, I finally got to have food. I was given a menu and was told I could call the cafeteria for room service. I had a ton of choices = I got an entree with four (!!) sides, two drinks, and dessert. The problem was that I wanted everything. I can’t remember what I ordered, but I remember being told to eat slowly since my body had to readjust to food. Once again, I slept the best I could, but vitals were every two hours.

Monday arrived, and with that, another day of overwhelming information. A hospital social worker came in to talk to us in the morning, and explained to us the symptoms of Postpartum Depression and why women with babies in the NICU are particularly at risk. She talked with Jack and explained that if he saw any signs of severe PPD to get me to the doctor. We also got information regarding SSI and medical assistance for Justin. I learned how to use the breast pump, as my milk had come in full force. The fact that it was a week day meant no visitors – a welcome change of pace. We visited the baby several times, and I walked partway at least once. The pain was still horrible, but I was finally allowed to get a shower!! I also managed to pull a muscle in my left leg – I had been leaning on it to get up from the toilet while pulling up on the bar on the wall. Jack went home for a short time during the day, just long enough to take a shower and play with and feed the cats. He also stopped and bought me a nice pair of slippers – the shoes I would wear home, as my winter boots wouldn’t go on my feet. He was only gone about three and a half hours, but it felt so much longer. It was the first time I had really been alone since the previous Wednesday. The nurse knew he had gone, so she went over my discharge booklet. Most of it wouldn’t apply, since Justin would be staying in the NICU for awhile. Jack came back, and said he wanted to watch Monday Night RAW, so we visited Justin and returned from the NICU just before it came on. It was nice to do something that we normally did. After the show finished, Jack went to the NICU to check on Justin and then we went to bed.

Tuesday wasn’t much different. I had my staples removed that morning, and found out that my incision was healing nicely. I was finally off the portable monitor. I was given the choice to either go home or stay an extra night. I chose to stay, mostly because I knew when I left, I’d be leaving without my baby. We visited Justin several times. I felt so helpless. All I could do was sit and watch him. Tuesday came and went, and Wednesday arrived – my discharge day.

I knew Wednesday would be rough. The morning nurse told me I probably wouldn’t be discharged until later in the day, so we stayed in the NICU for awhile. I gathered all of our belongings, and we basically waited. I was discharged around 3pm – the start of afternoon rush hour. We stayed in the NICU for a few hours after I was discharged. We were finally allowed to hold Justin. And then it was time to leave. I made it to the car without crying, but as soon as the car door shut, I lost it. I was leaving the hospital without my baby. On top of that, pain was starting to set in. I hadn’t had pain medication since 10am. We got stuck in rush hour traffic, and it took us almost an hour just to get out of the city. It was around 10pm before we made it to a pharmacy. We had to bypass our normal pharmacy because it had already closed, and find the nearest 24 hour pharmacy. So there I was, with my fuzzy slippers, my biggest pair of pants and a large t-shirt, hunched over in pain, in the middle of a Walgreens, filling a prescription for pain medication. I explained to the woman at the counter that I had just had a c-section and my baby was in the NICU and I needed to fill my pain medications. I had to use the bathroom while I was waiting, and I had some trouble getting up because of the pulled muscle.

We finally arrived home. I was in tears for a variety of reasons – I got to see my cats, I was worried about the baby, I was happy to be home…so many emotions. I was under strict instructions to not use the stairs for a few days, so I knew I’d be sleeping on the couch or loveseat. All I wanted was my own bed. Jack called the NICU to check on Justin before we went to sleep. Sleeping totally sucked without an adjustable bed (not that I slept well at the hospital, but it made getting up and laying down easier). I wasn’t comfortable anywhere. I was in pain when I laid down, and I was in pain when I sat up. I woke up every few hours to use the breast pump. I knew the next several weeks would be very long and the added anxiety didn’t help.

 Posted by at 1:35 am
Jul 082013

In my last post, I talked all about infertility and my pregnancy. I had a relatively easy pregnancy – morning sickness, but nothing too severe. It was more like an overactive gag reflex. I had a bad round of stomach flu around Thanksgiving, but that was really it.

January went by smoothly. I was really fatigued, but chalked it up to a normal pregnancy symptom. Everything was going well. Until February 6th.

On February 6th, I had my normal OB/GYN 32 week appointment. As usual, I left it up to Jack if he wanted to come or not. His response was the same as the other times – if I felt I needed him, he would come. I told him not to worry about it. After all, there’s nothing exciting about a normal 32 week appointment. For some reason, on my lunch break, I sent Jack a text message and asked him to meet me for my appointment. I’ll never know what exactly prompted me to do that but I’m so glad that I did.

At the start of my appointment, my blood pressure was high. REALLY high. However, it had happened at the last two appointments and went back to normal later on during the appointment. They had me lay down on the exam table and came back a few minutes later to take it again. Still really high. A few more minutes and a third time…still high. At this point, the doctor came in and explained that they had found protein in my urine – a sign of preeclampsia. With that and my blood pressure readings, Jack was given strict instructions to take me directly to the hospital – no stopping for food, no going home and packing.

I cried the entire car ride – about half an hour. I worried about the baby. I worried about myself. I worried about Jack, should something happen to me or the baby or both. I worried about if the cats had food and water at home. I worried about anything and everything I could think of. I could still feel the baby moving, which was a small relief for me. I got to the hospital and got checked in. I was hooked up to a blood pressure machine to take my blood pressure every 15 minutes. And the kicker…I had to catch all of my urine and put it in a bottle for 24 hours so they could get a better analysis of the amount of protein in my urine. Being 32 weeks pregnant, it was A LOT of urine. At the hospital, I was allowed to eat and get up and move around. One of the other small comforts was a nurse that knew Jack and his family. My blood pressure went down a little bit, on the high range of normal. I had no other symptoms of preeclampsia – no blurred vision, no major headaches, no swelling…no seizures. According to my initial blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office, I should have been having seizures.

It was a boring 24 hours. Jack stayed with me. We watched TV and slept the best we could. I had an ultrasound to check on the baby. While we were waiting for the results, I was brought dinner – Thanksgiving dinner. It was awesome. This was on Thursday, February 7th.

I had finished my food and was getting anxious to go home. I knew I would probably be put on bedrest, but I was fine with that. The next thing I knew, I had several people rush into my room. They started setting me up for an IV. I panicked. I knew this wasn’t good, and I knew it meant I wasn’t going home. I had no clue what was going on. My blood pressure skyrocketed to 170s/130s. I was then told (AFTER getting the IV fluids and being started on magnesium sulfate) that I was being transferred to a hospital with a higher level NICU for the baby. I got a steroid shot for the baby’s lungs (I would get the second one the next night) and was transported via ambulance to a hospital a little over an hour away. Jack had to follow in the car, probably the most excruciating drive of his life. He had no clue what would happen to me or the baby. He called both his parents and my parents on the way. I can’t remember if his parents visited that night, or the following night, but they were there when I got a more detailed ultrasound to determine the baby’s growth. I knew the baby should be between 3.5 and 4 pounds. He was estimated to be about 2 pounds. I was completely floored. I was diagnosed (or rather, the baby was diagnosed) with Intrauterine Growth Restriction, caused by the preeclampsia.

Now, it still bothers me how that sort of growth restriction went on undetected. With all of my ultrasounds and appointments, I wonder if there was ever a time when his growth wasn’t on track, and if so, why wasn’t he checked more thoroughly? I will probably never know.

Jack’s family continued to hold out hope that the baby wouldn’t have to be delivered. I knew in my heart that he would arrive that weekend. I was given the second steroid shot for the baby’s lungs around 6:30pm on Friday, February 8th. The goal was to make it another 24 hours for the steroids to have maximum effectiveness. I had been given a choice to have labor induced or to have a c-section. With the growth restriction, the doctors weren’t sure if he would survive labor if it got rough. It was really no choice at that point – a c-section it was. I worried all night Friday, but managed to get a little sleep. I believe I was given Ambien to help.

I woke up Saturday morning, and tried to make light of the situation. I should mention that I wasn’t allowed to get up out of bed, as magnesium sulfate makes your muscles weak. I also wasn’t allowed to eat. So the last time I had been out of bed and eaten was Thursday evening before the ambulance ride. I had already been told that it would be 24 hours after the baby’s birth before I would be allowed to get out of bed and eat. There was a movie marathon on the TV. I turned it on, since the 40 Year Old Virgin was playing. I at least thought I could laugh a few times. I was incredibly anxious about the c-section and what the outcome would be. At some point during the movie, the doctors came in with a buzzer and put it on my belly. They said the baby’s heart rate was good, but he wasn’t moving as much as they would like. He started moving around with the buzzer, and even kicked at it. I continued to watch the movie and tried not to worry.

Around 1:30, I had a flood of people rush into my room. Once again, no one told me what was going on until it was underway. The baby wasn’t moving around. His heart rate was still okay, but not as good as it had been. They were doing an emergency c-section. I clutched to a stuffed bear that Jack had brought. I told him I wouldn’t let go of it, that way they couldn’t take the baby early. He pried it out of my arms. I told him I wanted my mother, or his mother, or somebody’s mother. Our families weren’t there yet. They weren’t supposed to come until about 4. Jack immediately called them and told them they were taking me to surgery.

They took me to the operating room to be prepped and Jack was left behind to dress in his operating room outfit (which, funny enough, didn’t fit and they had to rig it). I cried through the local anesthesia and the spinal block. It didn’t really hurt but it was my response to being nervous. The spinal block worked immediately. I was also given morphine. The medications made me nauseous, so I was given Zofran.

Jack came into the operating room just in time. I asked him repeatedly if the baby was out yet. He didn’t know. I didn’t hear anything. And then finally, after the longest minutes of my life, I heard what sounded like a tiny lamb. Justin was born at 2:43pm. He weighed 2 pounds 8 ounces, and was just 16 inches long. But he took his first breath on his own, which was encouraging. We knew it would be an uphill battle with a lengthy hospital stay, but he had made his way into the world.

More to follow…

Jan 032013

Subtitle: Why I hated everyone (including myself) for four years

Kind of inspired by Melissa’s post, or more specifically, her sixth resolution. In a way, this is letting go of the past, but also trying to let go of the things that I can’t control.

Jack and I got married in July 2007. It was always a no-brainer for me that I wanted kids. After all, I chose working with children as my profession. While Jack was never adamant about wanting kids, he had said that he could see himself having children with me. By the end of August, Jack’s brother and his wife announced their pregnancy with their first child.

I was jealous. I couldn’t help it. I knew it wasn’t the appropriate time for us financially (not to mention we were still in the process of buying a house while living with Jack’s parents). I remember bawling, and Jack’s mom saying something about how I must be feeling a need to mother something. His mom knew that I wanted a cat as soon as we moved down to our house, but his parents allowed me to get a kitten even though we were still living up there. We (well, mostly I) picked Delilah, a lovely silver tabby girl. One of the stipulations to us having a cat while still living with Jack’s mom and dad was that it had to be female, as their cats were female. Delilah was the only female in the cages at Petsmart (not that it mattered – I fell in love with her the moment I saw her sweet face), so it was fate. But still…we got a cat, they got a kid. It didn’t seem like a fair trade off.

Meanwhile, I knew something wasn’t quite right with my body. I had always known to some extent. All through high school and college, my cycles were never regular. At this point, it was only getting worse and things were increasingly irregular. At some point in early 2008 (February I believe), we decided to forgo any form of birth control. It was going to be a limited time thing, but with my body completely out of whack, it seemed pointless to use birth control. We went several months and of course, nothing happened. I can’t remember exactly when, but sometime that summer I finally caved and made a gynecologist appointment.

Now up until this point, I had never had a gynecologist appointment. Me putting it off was definitely a fear of the unknown. I tend to do that in all aspects of my life. Sometimes I suspect I have some mild form of Autism because of my fear of change and the unknown, but that’s beside the point. At the appointment, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I was sent for bloodwork, given a prescription for Provera to induce my period, and 50 mg of Clomid to induce ovulation. I had no side effects with either medication, even though Clomid has been known to wreak havoc with hormones. Follow-up bloodwork showed that the Clomid didn’t work. I was given an increased dosage of 100 mg to try.

For as easy as the 50 mg of Clomid was the first time, that’s how hard the 100 mg was the second time. It turned me into an irrational, hormonal, anxiety-ridden mess. This was around Christmas 2008, I believe. I’ve truly lost track by this point, and it’s a time in my life that I don’t really care to relive. I was also experiencing difficulties with my job, as it was an environment I was very uncomfortable with, and eventually ended up resigning due to death threats (that’s a story for a different day). I had to pull over on a crowded four-lane highway because of my anxiety attacks. I could barely make it through the stores to finish my holiday shopping. I was pretty sure I had hit rock bottom as far as depression and hopelessness. To make matters worse, the follow-up bloodwork showed that the 100 mg didn’t work. All of the anxiety was for nothing. I made the resolution with myself to try one more time with the Clomid (the maximum my gynecologist would allow before sending me to a fertility specialist), after taking a month or two to regroup. Not to my surprise, the third try with Clomid didn’t work either.

In the mean time, many of my friends were announcing pregnancies of their own. I had never felt so alone. I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to be happy for them, but I just couldn’t be. Don’t get me wrong, I had some degree of happiness for them and I could react appropriately via Facebook and email. Phone calls and face-to-face conversations were a different story – I couldn’t hide my disappointment that I wasn’t able to share in the happiness. And I wasn’t ready to share my issues. So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I isolated myself. Not just from my pregnant friends, but from everyone, up to family and including my own husband.

I was given a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. It was brutal. They wanted me to continue to try Clomid with closer monitoring (ultrasounds to check my ovaries and what felt like constant bloodwork). I wasn’t thrilled, as I had heard about some different drugs being used for people who didn’t react well to Clomid. The doctor I spoke with wasn’t willing to try anything “new” – she was taking a very conservative approach. When I expressed my displeasure with taking the same approach that failed three times, I was told by the doctor that she would only consider other approaches if I had weight loss surgery first and at that point, I would have to go straight to IVF. That wording is putting it nicely compared to what she actually said. I went through one cycle with that doctor, and decided I was done with the overall attitude I was getting.

I gave up, and sank deeper into the hopelessness and isolation. At that point, I was finding it much easier to withdraw myself than to get into my issues. Around this time, Jack’s brother and his wife announced that they were expecting their second child. I won’t get into specifics about it, but it wasn’t pretty for a variety of reasons. We had already been experiencing a lot of comments about how we were next for kids, and lots of questions about when. My easiest response was that we were thinking we weren’t going to have kids. In a way, it killed me. The comments and questions kept coming and coming. I eventually couldn’t take it anymore, and exploded with several of Jack’s family members about the reality of my fertility issues and the fact that there most likely would not be any children from us. The responses were not what I hoped for. I hoped for some understanding, and to just be left alone about it. Instead I got a lot of the following:

Just relax and it’ll happen.
You should go to church and pray.
Oh, I went through that once for a month or two and I have (x amount of children) now.

All of these comments upset me. First of all, we tried the “just relax” approach. Just relaxing doesn’t change the fact that there is something wrong with my body. As for the going to church and praying…that comment sent me over the edge. It seemed like a feeble attempt to turn me religious, and it wasn’t going to happen. And the last one…I wanted to scream. It hadn’t been a month or two, it had been almost two years at this point.

I decided to seek a second opinion from a different reproductive endocrinologist. While this doctor was much nicer, I got a similar response. That I was still young, I should try Weight Watchers for awhile, and check back in six months if I wasn’t able to lose a certain amount of weight to see if their was a bigger problem than just PCOS. I got the same response to not wanting to try Clomid – that IVF would be the next logical step. Except it really wasn’t for us, not financially. Not when fertility treatments weren’t covered by insurance.

I half-assed tried Weight Watchers, and was easily able to lose a certain amount of weight. It didn’t seem to matter at that point so I gave up. I knew we couldn’t afford IVF. I let myself continue to feel isolated and miserable, and I let myself take comfort in food and I gained more weight. I continually sank deeper and deeper. I didn’t feel like Jack understood at all, and in all reality, he probably didn’t. Having kids was never a deal-breaker for him like it was for me. I felt horrible about myself. I felt damaged. And I felt like Jack deserved better, he deserved someone that wasn’t broken.

This continued, for close to another two years. Almost four years at this point. I had another refill of Clomid sitting in the medicine cupboard in the bathroom, but I couldn’t bring myself to take it. I had a better job and was in a better overall situation, but still couldn’t shake the depression with regards to wanting a child. At the start of my second year of my new job, I noticed several people had lost a good deal of weight. I couldn’t help but ask how. I found out that they had been working with another teacher who had a personal training business outside of school. I joked that I’d never be able to run five feet, let alone lose weight. By this point, my fertility problems were well-known to anyone that asked about children. I figured at this point, I had nothing to lose, and the personal trainer was nothing but optimistic and upbeat, even given the uphill battle that I was facing. Once I buckled down and strictly followed the diet and running plan, I found it easier and quickly found myself losing weight. Not as much as I hoped for at first, and it was slow, but steady. I found myself able to run further and further, and before I knew it, I could run 1/4 of a mile without having to stop to walk. Once the cold weather came around, I had to stop due to my asthma attacks. I stalled, but kept the weight off.

Jack and I were approaching our fifth wedding anniversary in the summer of 2012. We decided we wanted to take a trip to Disney World. I managed to lose another 15 lbs or so before we left, bringing the total to close to 50 lbs. I still had the last refill of Clomid. We decided that since I had lost weight (and I was at my lowest weight since we had started trying for a child), I would take Provera to time my period before we left for Disney, and follow through with the Clomid. The hope was that since I was in a better job situation and that since we would be on vacation, the Clomid side effects would not be as harsh. I knew there was potential for disaster if the side effects were the same, but at this point, I didn’t care. It was Disney World – the happiest place on Earth, right? This was our last-ditch effort. I knew all about having to time sex based on the point in my cycles, and on vacation, it didn’t seem as stressful or as big of a deal. I made the promise to myself to go above and beyond – meaning well beyond the timing of when I should have ovulated. I wanted to make this last-ditch effort count.

We got home from vacation. I knew I was expecting my period around the 25th of July. The 25th came and went…no period. And two negative pregnancy tests. I resigned myself to failure, and for once, I felt at least a little bit okay with that. I wrote my new 1001 things to do, trying to find something to look forward to. The following weekend, we were planning on going to a local amusement park. I still didn’t have my period. Jack insisted that I take a pregnancy test before going, because he knew I would want to ride some rides. Still negative. I told him I’d call the doctor during the next week, since something was obviously going very wrong with my body. We went to the amusement park and had fun. It didn’t dawn on me until almost the next weekend that I still didn’t have my period. I had one pregnancy test left. I decided to take it…it’s not like I had anything to lose at that point. As per my usual routine with pregnancy tests, I did my thing, dried it off, and went upstairs. Jack was still sleeping. It was before 6 in the morning. I sat and watched TV and waited the full 10 minutes, as I had been advised by many doctors to not look at the test right after the initial waiting period. I thought I saw a faint line.

I quickly woke up Jack. I told him I thought it was positive and that I was imagining it. He looked, said it looked positive to him, spouted off something about his dick being magic, and went back to sleep. On his way home from work that day, he stopped and picked up a better (brand name) test. I took it the next morning…and it was indeed positive. Holy shit.

I moved from the “oh my God, it worked” phase to the “this will never stick” phase fairly quickly. Given my issues and our luck, it just didn’t seem likely. The OB/GYN couldn’t get me in until I would be around 8 weeks, and even then, it would just be a yearly exam and a urine test. I tried not to worry for the three weeks in between the positive test and the appointment. I was preparing for a new school year. My appointment was canceled and rescheduled three separate times. On the day of the appointment, I was a nervous wreck. The urine test came up as positive, and I had my yearly exam. I was given a referral for a dating/viability ultrasound. I didn’t expect much, but scheduled the ultrasound for Labor Day weekend (how fitting). I was very nervous that morning, and I think I cried much of the car ride to the hospital for the ultrasound. I settled in on the exam table and tried to relax. I didn’t look at the screen at first. I heard the tech say “There it is.” I turned and saw what looked like a kidney bean flickering on the screen. The flickering was a heartbeat. I almost died on the spot. I expected nothing – I figured it was somehow all in my head.

I had to immediately decide about the NT scan and genetic testing. Jack and I opted out of everything, because at this point, it was a baby, and whatever happened, happened. I spent the next few weeks being very nervous. My first prenatal appointment wasn’t until I was almost 12 weeks. At that appointment, I finally got to hear the heartbeat. I was shocked it was still there. We told Jack’s parents at that point, but asked them to please not spread the news yet. About a week later, we let them tell.

I remained incredibly nervous until the 20 week anatomy ultrasound. I figured we’d find something wrong at that point. We quickly found out we were having a boy, but that was about all we found out during the first ultrasound. The tech was awful and got virtually no measurements. We scheduled a second ultrasound for the following weekend. Everything was fine…except for the spine. They were having trouble finding his spine. The doctor stated they were probably just being overly cautious, but they were sending me to a different hospital with better imaging equipment. I had to wait two more weeks. It was excruciating. And completely unnecessary. He was fine…just very, very active. The issue with his spine was that he was not still long enough for the initial imaging equipment to capture measurements. We weren’t exactly forthcoming with too many people right away. It wasn’t until after that third ultrasound that I told my family. I just couldn’t bear having to un-tell if something bad really happened.

So, here we are. We’re expecting our little guy in early April. It’s been a long journey. And while this post doesn’t make up for me being a shitty friend, relative, and wife, it certainly feels better to have it out there. It isn’t an excuse for me acting the way I have for the past four years, but it is a reason. I’d like to get my friends back in my life, but I totally understand if that is not what they want. Four years is a long time.

If you’ve read this whole mess, thanks for bearing with me. And if you haven’t, well, that’s fine too. In fact, I doubt anyone will even read this mess. But here it is, for better or worse, my feelings for the last four years (five at this point) of my life.

Aug 072012

I’ve been attempting to work on organizing rooms in the house. We’d like to start working on at least one room, so we’ll have a room worth of furniture to rearrange for at least a few weeks, if not permanently. The room we’re looking at first is our office, which is kind of a catch-all room for junk at this point. We aren’t up there that much, as it’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. There is no direct heat to that room, and I really want to change that. If we were to have kids, that is the room that would be a child’s room. It would be the easiest of the two spare rooms upstairs to work on (and get finished in a timely matter). There are two issues I think we’ll run into in that room – first of all, the floor slants (I don’t think they used any sort of level when this house was built), and second of all, there’s a closed-off fireplace. We don’t want to open the fireplaces up because it will cause our homeowner’s insurance to skyrocket. We’d like to just remove the mantle and the cement in front of the fireplace and be done with it. As with everything else in this house, probably easier said than done.

Anyway…I also ordered a small bookshelf for all of our cookbooks. If the cookbooks are actually in the kitchen, we’ll be much more likely to use them. We have an old-school TV, a full-sized mattress and box spring, a desk chair, and an old record player (it’s actually a full-sized console) to get out of this house. I also still have a ton of educational things that I can take to work with me. And shoes…oh my God, the shoes. We have SO many shoes. I maintain that Jack has more than me though (and I’m probably right). I think we’re just a case of too much stuff and not enough space. I have a ton of scrapbooking and other craft supplies. We both love movies, so we have two full bookshelves of movies in the living room. We have so many books, that I don’t even know where to start. Luckily, the Ikea bookshelves we’ve bought allow us to double up on rows of books – so for every shelf, we can actually have two rows of books. Otherwise, we’d be screwed.

That’s where we’re at right now. We got rid of our dining room table last year, and we were going to replace it, but I don’t think we are now. We still have a table in the kitchen.

 Posted by at 5:18 pm
Jul 272012

I know I’ve done it before, but I never finished. So, I decided to start a new 101 things in 1001 days list. The main difference is that this time, these aren’t things I feel that I have to do. These are things that I need and want to do. I’m hoping that will make a difference and that I’ll finish the list.

I’ll be tracking my progress here on my blog and also at Day Zero. If anyone else decides to start a list (my whole two readers), please let me know in the comments – I’d love to follow your progress!

Here is my list:

  1. Return to Disney World
  2. Return to Vermont
  3. Visit a beach
  4. Find 100 things that make me happy
  5. Avoid fast food for a month
  6. Stop drinking soda for a month
  7. Visit a new place
  8. Visit the mountains in the fall
  9. Read a book each week
  10. Visit Niagara Falls
  11. Let my hair stylist do what she wants with my hair
  12. Lose 50 lbs
  13. Return to the reproductive endocrinologist
  14. Be confident in a bathing suit
  15. Have family photos taken
  16. Run a mile
  17. Complete Couch to 5k program
  18. Take a photography class
  19. Finish my wedding scrapbook
  20. Take a cake decorating class
  21. Get certified in CPR
  22. Landscape my yard
  23. Cook 50 new recipes
  24. Put $5 into savings for every day of this list
  25. Put $10 into savings for every goal completed
  26. Pay off my credit cards
  27. Donate to a local animal shelter
  28. Watch 50 films I’ve never seen before
  29. Find 10 new bands that I like
  30. Answer the “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”
  31. Complete a 365 day photo challenge
  32. Volunteer at an animal shelter
  33. Send a secret to PostSecret
  34. Read all of the Harry Potter books
  35. Start remodeling our house
  36. Make a recipe book
  37. Make homemade ice cream
  38. Make homemade household cleaners
  39. Go to 5 different museums
  40. Get a professional massage
  41. Take a picture for each letter of the alphabet
  42. Fly a kite
  43. Pay it forward
  44. Take a road trip with no set destination
  45. Go to a Renaissance Fair
  46. Complete the 30 Day Shred
  47. Beat a video game
  48. Learn 10 phrases in German
  49. Cook dinner every day for a week
  50. Keep a photo journal of my weight loss progress
  51. Learn 50 new things by clicking the random articles button on Wikipedia
  52. Build a sandcastle
  53. Find 50 quotes that inspire/motivate me
  54. Organize my house, room by room
  55. Visit a winery
  56. Visit Washington D.C. USA
  57. Make bread from scratch
  58. Clean out my email inbox(s)
  59. Make a Year in Pictures album
  60. Make my own jam
  61. Make my own spaghetti sauce
  62. Write all my bad memories on paper, burn this paper afterwards
  63. Make a list of 25 things I like about myself
  64. Go a week without junk food
  65. Plant a garden
  66. Try yoga
  67. Try Indian food
  68. Complete a 1000 piece puzzle
  69. Write a list of 100 things that make me angry
  70. Join Postcrossing.com and send 10 postcards
  71. Fulfill a Christmas wishlist through Salvation Army
  72. Buy “Your Life in Lists” and complete it
  73. Participate in Operation Beautiful (http://operationbeautiful.com)
  74. Complete NaBloPoMo
  75. Make a pie from scratch
  76. Make a cake from scratch
  77. Make wheat buns from scratch
  78. Visit 3 state parks
  79. Visit Gettysburg
  80. Visit the Zoo
  81. Give a handmade gift
  82. Make stepping stones for the yard
  83. Make my own coasters
  84. Take a picture of a lighthouse
  85. Make cheesecake from scratch
  86. Buy a little black dress
  87. Get my passport
  88. Make my own Christmas cards
  89. Get fitted for a bra
  90. Do the 200 sit-ups challenge (www.twohundredsitups.com)
  91. Do 50 consecutive push-ups
  92. Make homemade pierogies
  93. Finish my vacation 2012 scrapbook
  94. Watch a sunset on the beach
  95. Visit Phipps Conservatory
  96. Get 3 Donors Choose projects funded
  97. Attend a roller derby match
  98. Make 3 blankets to donate to Project Linus
  99. Make a weekly meal plan for 3 months, and stick to it
  100. Swim in the Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon
  101. Try 5 new restaurants
 Posted by at 2:59 pm
Apr 162012

I haven’t updated in some time. Truthfully, once the school year gets into full swing, a lot of my personal doings get shoved aside. I realize that I need to put some time aside for myself and do things that I enjoy. I’d LOVE to put up a new layout for this blog, but nothing I design looks good to me.

I’ve decided to get back into maintaining fanlistings. I have one up right now for Monsters, Inc. and I’ve applied to adopt some others. The collective is not up and running yet. I’m hoping that by doing some layouts for fanlistings and having a focused target, maybe my layout block will finally go away.

As for the weight loss, I haven’t weighed myself in quite awhile. However, I can tell by my clothes that I must still be losing. My new swimsuit is an XL (could be a large if it wasn’t for my hips and chest; it’s loose in a few places), my pants size is an 18 (again with the hips), and my shirt size is large or XL. I can finally buy things in non-plus sized departments, which is very exciting for me. It’s been a long time coming. Right now I’m having major issues with self-control and motivation – the story of my life. I’m having a really hard time pulling myself out of this funk and continuing, but I know I NEED to – for my health, for the hope of future children, and for my own self-confidence and sanity.

 Posted by at 9:19 pm
Jan 162012

In response to a post written on Jem’s blog – it has really had me thinking the last few days about what I really want in life.

I’d like to lose more weight. Probably about 70 more pounds – I don’t know for sure. I haven’t weighed myself the last few weeks. In the winter months, I tend to become quite sedentary. I don’t know exactly what it is about this time of the year (although I’ve speculated about Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I just don’t want to move. I’m hoping to be a good bit closer to my goal by this summer. In turn, I’m also hoping to overcome my asthma. Asthma has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. However, my mother was a heavy smoker, and then I gained a ton of weight. I know my breathing is better since I no longer live with my mother, but I’m still overweight. I’m hoping once I lose the weight, the asthma will disappear. I don’t know that losing the weight will help improve my self-confidence, but it’s a step in the right direction to being healthier.

I’d also like to become a better housekeeper and cook. This also goes back to living with my mother. When I was younger, she did not want me to do anything in the house. If I ran the vacuum, it was the wrong way. If I emptied the dishwasher, it was the wrong way. So I just got used to not doing much around the house. I wasn’t allowed to do laundry, for fear I might do it wrong and ruin clothes. I wasn’t allowed to cook, for fear I might burn the house down or waste food by cooking it wrong. Therefore, my housekeeping and cooking skills are not the greatest. I get frustrated very easily when a room is messy. Often, I just don’t know where to start and I feel very overwhelmed, and I just give up. This goes for cooking also. I most likely have a bit of OCD about cleaning and cooking, and everything I do in those two areas has to follow a very specific pattern. I know I need to work harder in those two areas.

Someday, I’d like to foster cats for the local animal rescue. My husband always teases me that I’m the cat whisperer. Sometimes I think he’s right. I’m very comfortable around animals, and very patient with scared animals. I can’t stand hearing about all the mistreated and abandoned animals. I’d like to do something to help. If (hopefully when) we move/renovate/build a new house, our current plan is to build a set of rooms to foster animals. Believe me, I have a plan for it. I already know how this room/set of rooms would be set up and flow with the rest of the house.

I’d like to have a child or two. This may not be possible, I don’t exactly know yet. This is where losing weight comes into play. I have explained infertility (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – PCOS), but yet, it is still somewhat unexplained. At this point, there is no reason other than my weight to explain why my ovaries do not respond to some of the most common drugs. Hence why my weight loss is so important to me. However, I’m also prepared to travel down the road to adoption if I lose weight and my body still does not respond.

In order to potentially proceed with adoption, I’d like to be more financially secure. Easier said than done. It seems like it should be easy – two working adults, with somewhat decent paying jobs. Then take into account that it took me six years worth of schooling and four years worth of searching to land the job that I have today. Four years of not having steady work, but still having to pay bills. My parents were poor, and almost everything I needed during college had to go on a credit card – books, clothes for student teaching, car repairs, and the hundreds of dollars in materials I had to buy for various educational lessons and demonstrations for my classes. We paid for our own wedding, minus a few thousand dollars that Jack’s parents were able to chip in. The year after Jack and I got married, he lost his job due to the company downsizing. He was able to find a job quickly, but it was a huge pay cut – and it was also during the four years when I wasn’t working steadily. Now he has a better job (and has had this job for just about a year), but it still feels like we’re catching up. It feels like a constant stream of catching up, and just when we think we’re fine, something “catastrophic” happens. Think cars dying, needing a new roof on the house, furnace having issues type of catastrophic. When it rains, it pours, and it always has for us. We’re working on the money situation. It hasn’t been easy. It’s meant a lot of cutting back, cutting out, and going without. There have been times we’ve had to pick and choose which bills to pay so we could pay for car repairs – hopefully those days are over. We are taking a rather nice vacation this summer, and it’s one we’ve planned meticulously. Even though we both know it’s expensive, we feel we owe it to ourselves after not having much of a honeymoon and not really having a fun vacation since we’ve been married. We’ve weighed the costs, and budgeted so that we can afford it without credit cards.

I’m hoping between taking care of our finances and losing weight, some of the other things I’d like to do in life will fall into place. I know there are a ton of smaller things I’d like to do but those are a few of the major things I hope Jack and I can accomplish together.

Jan 012012

I’m hoping to upload a picture every day for the next year. I’ve tried doing this before on Flickr, but never successfully. So I’m using the 365 Project website. Using the website, it’s very easy to send a picture to an email account and it uploads automatically. If anyone wants to follow me, you can find me here.

Dec 042011

I know I’ve said it before, but once the school year starts, work takes over. It feels like it’s been a few days since I’ve blogged, but it’s been three months. I can assure you, I did not fall off the face of the earth. Between balancing work, training, and my personal life, things get very hectic. Many people are under the impression that teachers have it easy, with a shorter work day than some professions and three months off in the summer. Those teachers that don’t truly care may have it easy, but for me, from September to June, teaching is a 24/7 job. When I’m not physically at work, I’m trying to come up with ways to help my students. Trying to design new lessons, and new ways to help them understand concepts that they don’t grasp. Or I’m doing paperwork. Even during the summer, I’m trying to come up with ways to improve last year’s lessons. My primary goal always has been (and always will be) to help my students as much as I possibly can in the amount of time I have them.

Anyway. It’s been awhile. Some stats:

Starting Weight: 237.2 lbs
Current Weight: 216.2 lbs
Difference: -21.0 lbs
Difference from last entry: -15.0 lbs

I know those of you that know me in real life saw I had a 30 lb weight loss. That’s from the weight I started at, right around 245 lbs. The starting weight I’ve been recording on here is the weight I was at when I started with my trainer. I never thought I’d lose 10 lbs, let alone 30 lbs, so to see the numbers written out is astounding for me. The problem is I don’t see it. I can tell that my clothes are looser, and I’ve dropped down to 18/20 in pants and L/XL in shirts. If I could just lose a few inches off of my waist, my pants size would probably drop again. But when I look in the mirror, I still see me at 245 lbs. I don’t truthfully know if I’ll ever see myself differently. This is something I’ve dealt with all my life. Looking back to pictures from high school and junior high, there are some pictures where I look painfully skinny. Collarbone sticking out, bony face…but at the time, I was still convinced that I was grossly overweight. My image of myself just isn’t good. I don’t have confidence in myself. I’m convinced that everyone around me is making fun of my weight. And I know part of that is from being bullied about my appearance in school. Working with a trainer who has confidence in me (and the support of my friends and family) has helped. I got my hair cut last Friday. For the first time in a LONG time, I was impressed by the hair cut and what it did for the shape of my face. Aside from a double chin, my face looks slimmer. I don’t know if I’ll ever lose the double chin – my chin is a weird shape to begin with, and I’m not sure how to go about getting rid of the fat around my chin. Maybe it’s one of the last things to go, I don’t know. I did feel some confidence in packing up 8 garbage bags full of clothing to send elsewhere. Until I realized how much money in clothing I was just giving away – then I cried. But…in time, I’ll get over it. Hopefully I’ll have new clothes – clothes that are not plus-sized, clothes that are actually fashionable, and clothes that I’ll feel comfortable in. And with that, I hope I can finally find my confidence.

I know most of the last paragraph was rambling. But sometimes it just feels good to get it out.

Sep 132011

Tonight was my second weigh-in with my trainer. I feared that I might have slipped some this week, despite trying to stick to the diet and giving it my all with the running. Usually, I’m the person that any weight gain (and sometimes even keeping it steady) severely affects my self-confidence. I realize that I need to get over my fears and accept that sometimes plateaus will happen, and I need to understand that if I’m doing everything right, I’m not likely to see a gain.

Starting Weight: 237.2 lbs
Current Weight: 231.2 lbs
Difference: -6.0 lbs
Difference from last week: -3.0 lbs

This week I lost another 3 lbs. As much as I’d love to see the weight melt off, I’m happy to have found a somewhat steady rate of weight loss. This is a healthy rate for weight loss. I know that if I lose too much at once, I’m more likely to gain it back. There are some things I could definitely change as far as the diet, but overall, I’m happy with my progress. Over the next few weeks I’m going to start looking for smaller things that I can change. Those small things will probably help me lose even more weight.

As for inches, I lost .5 of an inch from my neck, .25 of an inch from my bicep, .5 of an inch from my forearm, 1.5 inches from my chest, 2 inches from my waist, 3 inches from my lower waist, and 1 inch from my butt. The grand total for the week is 8.75 inches. While that is still a great loss, it’s kind of a letdown after the 13 inches last week, but I realize that 13 inch loss probably isn’t going to be typical for me.

This week will be challenging. I’ll be doing strength training three days this week (on my own). I’ll also have three runs with my trainer this week, as well as two solo runs. The weather has been beautiful – warm with low humidity – so I know that now is the time for me to push myself a little bit harder.