Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday update on Trystan

Today was a good day. Trystan seems to be doing quite well. He was eating today! He had a colostomy last Saturday, and had not eaten since early Friday. Actually, if his condition had been caught earlier, he would not probably have eaten at all, as there was nowhere to let the waste out from. In any case, they had placed a tube down his nose and into his stomach to suck out bile and meconium that was coming back up. On Tuesday, the nurse had removed the suction tube, and Tuesday night they attempted to feed him a small amount. One unfortunate side effect of having surgery where your intestines are handled is that the normal peristalsys (sp?) can get halted or reversed temporarily--lucky me, I got a small taste of this myself with the C-section. Basically, it takes a couple of days for food to move, and in the correct direction. So Tuesday night, Trystan threw up bile and had his suction tube replaced. Thursday the tube was back out again, and mid-afternoon, we attempted to feed him again.

Trystan had breastmilk fresh from the tap for the first nearly 24 hours of his life. Thursday afternoon, the doctors ordered that he try pedialyte in a bottle first. If you've never tasted the "unflavored" pedialyte, my husband describes the taste like this: wet down your concrete patio and then lick it. Tasty, huh. Then add it to a bottle with a rubber nipple (a "disposable" rubber nipple at that), and you are not talking about a tasty treat, especially for someone who has only ever tasted sweet breastmilk. He made the funniest faces and even gagged at the taste of the pedialyte before finally taking about half an ounce. Luckily, it stayed down and he got breastmilk (still in a bottle) 3 hours later. Today I fed him two of his feedings of breastmilk from bottles, and decided that he really isn't that thrilled with the rubber nipples. He also remembers that I nursed him, and I'd have to cradle him in the nursing position, wait for him to root on my breast, and then slip in the bottle to get him to take it from me--apparently the nurses have had a bit better time (they are also much better at bottle feeding than I am--I breastfed Charlotte for 19-20 months, but left the bottles for other people). The third feeding, the surgeons had said that they didn't care whether he took a bottle or breastfed, as long as he was eating and it stayed down, so I nursed him--he was quite happy to latch and eat his fill with no reluctance. The surgeon had not written anything down, and the nurse was somewhat skeptical (I think this one likes to do everything exactly by the book--not a bad trait), but he ate and we were both happy. I just hope he isn't too upset with the nurses tonight when they offer him more bottles.

I also got to give Trystan a bath today--they've been doing it at night after we leave, but he had not gotten one last night. He had his regular newborn hearing test, and passed. They started him on oral amoxycillin, which is a preventitive measure. On Monday, they will do a dye test to check out the true state of his kidney function (they've been working so far, but with his abnormalities, they're concerned that parts of the system may not work as well or things could flow backwards). I also got in plenty of snuggle time, and got to hold and interact with him during a long span of time where he was wide awake and checking out the room.

Oh yeah, and I drove myself today. I had a repeat C-section (might post a more detailed birth story later), and I've been fine without the percoset (narcotic pain reliever) for the last two days. So I was safe to drive today. I'm actually feeling pretty good--my recovery has been much quicker than with Charlotte, but I've had reason to walk a lot more, which is probably helping quite a bit. My tummy is still saggy and smooshy and I do feel the incision, but it is much less painful and/or annoying than last time--my doctor's use of sutures instead of staples helps a lot--the staples were in for nearly a week last time and themselves were very annoying.

Maybe next time I update, I'll include a photo. He's really a cutie if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I have been slow in announcing the birth of my son, Trystan. He arrived at 12:52pm on Thursday, March 22nd by C-section. He was 7lbs 12oz and around 21inches long at birth.

We knew that Trystan had two issues that the doctors had been watching during my pregnancy--a 2-vessel cord (usually there are 3), and at least one kidney that was dilated (too big). Once he was born, however, we found a few more issues. The most immediate one is called an imperforate anus. Basically, he had no anus and therefore could not poop. The doctors did not catch it immediately upon his birth, and I actually got him breastfeeding for the better part of his first 24 hours of life before a nurse was checking to see why he had not had his first meconium. He was immediately transferred to St. Louis Children's Hospital for evaluation, and they scheduled a colostomy for Saturday afternoon. During a colostomy, they bring a piece of his intestine outside his belly so that he can pass stool into a special bag, called an ostomy bag. That will allow him to eat and poop relatively normally until he grows a bit bigger and can have more surgery to construct a new anus and get the intestines/colon/etc attached. He should be able to go home with the ostomy bag.

In evaluating him, the doctors also found that he does indeed have irregular kidneys--one is smaller than normal, and the other is a kidney + a "stem" (a partial kidney). He also has two ureters on the larger side, instead of the normal one. So far, his kidneys are functioning fine, but they will be watching and evaluating htem in the weeks/months to come to see how well each side is working and if there are any issues.

Cardiologists evaluated his heart and found a defect that causes a heart murmur (I don't have the name of the defect in front of me), which may fix iteself as he grows. They also found an anurism near one of the valves which requires more watching and will probably be fixed at some point. The anurism is a type which rarely ruptures in babies or small children, but is found sometimes when an otherwise healthy young adult dies suddenly.

My OB released me from Missouri Baptist, where I gave birth, early on Saturday so I could go to Childrens' for Trystan's first surgery. For myself, I'm doing rather well--much better than I did at this point after Charlotte was born, which is good. Trystan is holding up quite well, and yesterday had the tube in his stomach (that was helping to remove excess bile/meconium/etc) removed, and his catheter removed, and spent the day in a crib instead of a warming bed. He still had an IV in his head. Today they should OK him to start eating again, and I have an ample supply of breastmilk waiting for him. My milk came in rather fast, and I was well-versed in pumping from my experience with Charlotte, so I am currently able to pump more than he will probably be able to drink for a while. Hopefully they will let me return to breastfeeding him soon after he starts eating and they're sure he's processing the milk without trouble.

I will have plenty more updates later, but for now, I am headed off to the hospital to see my son.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Not yet

Despite possible rumors to the contrary, I am still preganant. Sunday night we had another false alarm. This time I was sure my water had broken--not the huge gush that I got with Charlotte, but more liquid over a longer period than any bladder accident (which I have NOT been having trouble with anyway)--and it was clear fluid, with no off (i.e. urine) smell. However, the trickle stopped, and I am told that the membranes appear intact. Darn the luck.

I was having contractions, and had dialated a bit further (up to 2+ cm), and the contractions continued Sunday night and all day Monday (though 5-10 minutes apart). Today, nada. I am not at work the last two days. Yesterday, I didn't feel great with contractions, and am getting tired of scraping together enough work to keep me busy for only a day at a time (since I can't guarantee I'll return the next day to finish anything). Today I had a Dr appointment (NST was normal, as usual, still dilated 2ish cm). Now, I'm lounging on the couch, getting ready to watch a movie, and being a tiny bit careless with my sick days, which, together with short-term disability, are paying for part of my maternity leave...That means that I'll have a week (hopefully not 2) more of time off, though unpaid at the end (still wanting 12 weeks off after the baby is actually born...the time can be arranged, the money does run out before then). Then again, if I'm feeling this "normal" tomorrow and the weather is in the upper 60's as the last forecast said they would be, perhaps I'll gather friends and take Charlotte to the zoo, and try to walk myself into labor :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Still Pregnant

My contractions slowly faded away on Wednesday, depsite additional walking (including the 1-mile loop around the Mills). Everyone was surprised to see me at work on Thursday. And today. I'm only 39 weeks, but I've been told by my dr that things could happen "any time".

I did find some red raspberry leaf tea at Wild Oats on my way home from yesterday's regularly scheduled Dr visit....maybe if I make the whole box, and then walk around the neighborhood a few hundred times this weekend....and I've already requested a bowl of my husband's fresh salsa for Sunday. My doc is out of town this weekend, and the partner who delivered Charlotte is on call (my doc was out of town for Charlotte too...maybe that means I have a chance of going this weekend....). There is no baby shower planned for this weekend (like there was for the weekend before Charlotte came), but we do have my IL's as houseguests, hopefully to be here to help out when the baby comes.

Then again, maybe this baby is like I was--willing to hang on till the last possible moment. I was a 42 week-er, but with a surprisingly fast labor that my dad nearly missed because he tried to call his parents to tell them that I was coming. Maybe I should spike that salsa with some of the tea leaves, and find an article on emergency home births for my husband...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So I went home

I started having a lot of contractions yesterday afternoon around 3pm. They weren't particularly consistent--many as close as 3 minutes apart, some closer to 8-10 minutes apart. They weren't particularly painful, and mostly seemed to cause me to use the restroom. I called my husband from the parking lot at Charlotte's daycare, after a drive with mostly 3-5 minute contractions, and asked if he could skip his weekly wallyball league game and come home instead, knowing that things weren't painful enough to mean that the baby was minutes from birth, but nor did I want to be home alone with a toddler and have a hard time reaching him by phone.

We went home. I walked around. I started packing bags--one for me, one for Charlotte in case she needed to go visit a friends' house for the evening. Nothing really got worse. We had some dinner--cans of soup. My husband and Charlotte had popcorn and strawberries later in the evening. We all sat around on the couch and watched tv. My contractions were still in the 3-8 minute range, seeming to slow a bit if I actually lay down instead of sitting straight up. We went to bed around 10. I was able to mostly sleep--still getting up to go to the bathroom probably every hour or so, until about 2:45 in the morning.

After a trip to the bathroom, I noticed that the contractions were back at about 5 minutes apart, and were a bit more uncomfortable than before. Not really painful, just uncomfortable. I timed them for an hour or so in bed--3-5 minutes (there were a couple of 6 minute gaps where I either lost counted or started to doze, but really 3-5 minutes). My husband woke up to use the restroom and I told him what I was feeling. Finally I got up and went to call my OB, as I'd hit the 5 minutes apart for over an hour stage. He told me to head on to the hospital and get checked out.

At that point, it was about 4am and we had a sleeping toddler. I took a shower and gave my husband the unpleasant task of choosing one of two sets of friends in the neighborhood to call for assistance. He called, and one of the guys--the father of one of Charlotte's playmates, and a good friend of ours since college--came up. We packed things and headed to the hospital. My contractions were still there, and still merely annoying, so I probably looked a lot better than many women walking into a maternity ward at 4am.

The triage nurse took my information, hooked me up to monitors (the same kind of contraction and fetal heartrate monitors that I am tested on twice a week during my NST's), checked my cervix. 1.5 cm dialated, about 50% effaced. Contractions about 5 minutes apart, but on a scale 1-10, I rated them at a 3 (just above her example of menstrual cramps). They were definitely doing something--the last time my cervix was checked I was less than .5 inch dialated and just starting to efface. After a bit, I was unhooked and told to go walking around for an hour and come back. My husband and I toured the lobbies, some hallways, then outside around the parking lots, enjoying the warm spring pre-dawn.

We came back, and they repeated the checks--still same dilation, about the same effacing. By now, my doctor had arrived at the hospital for a different C-section he was scheduled for--Wednesdays are his "surgery" days, so he would actually be around all day. He confirmed the nurse's checks. They sent us on another walk. This time, we passed a Starbucks coffee cart, and I got some hot tea and a scone to nibble (my stomach was growling and it was 7:30 in the morning), and took another nice stroll outside. I was feeling contractions while walking, but they were harder to distinguish than when I was sitting (and I have plenty of normal discomfort from walking a lot, including lower abdomen pressure from the baby normally). Finally, we returned to the labor&delivery floor for round 3 of cervix checks and another quick monitoring. My contractions were a steady 4 minutes apart, but my cervix hadn't budged.

My doctor gave me the option of staying, and probably getting a bit of pitocin to help get things moving, or to head home and wait it out. Much as the idea of getting the process rolling appeals to me (and my lack of patience lately), I remember the pitocin last time and how much it hurt, and I know it would probably lead to an epidural, which I'm afraid will put me in the same straights as last time--a (bigger) baby that can get in a bad position and me not able to move enough (or be allowed out of bed) to help things. That may be what led to the C-section the first time, and I'd like to avoid one now. There's still the chance that my hip bones are just not shaped correctly to allow a baby's head to pass through, no matter how optimally he is positioned--but my mom had 5 babies, and each grandma had 4 (including the one who is less that 5 feet tall and really a tiny thing). I want the chance to try and avoid major surgery.

So I went home. And now we wait again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Big Girl Pants

We sent Charlotte to daycare today in underwear, instead of a diaper or pull-up. This is a big step (for us as well as her), and we have our fingers crossed that it helps the potty training move forward and not reverse. Unfortunately, we didn't do it because Charlotte has been so great at using the potty lately...rather because she has started insisting on having "diaper changes" (her words, accompanied by laying down and putting her feet up).

She did wonderfully for about 2 months when she first turned 2--we could almost have switched her to underwear then (maybe we should have). But then, things came to an abrupt halt shortly before the holidays, and we've been stalled ever since. She started refusing to use the toilet at home, and then at school, though she's actually quite good when we're away from home (must be the novelty of a public restroom, or the sense of control she gets by having us stop whatever we're doing to take her to the bathroom).

I bought her some training pants a couple of months ago, and we've tried them sporadically since then when we're at home. We also got plastic pants that cover them, to save our upholstery in the mean time. Some days she's really good at wearing them and doesn't wet, and some days she refuses to admit when she did wet them (despite the wet spot we see on the side of her pants). If nothing else, when she does go, it's immediately apparent because she starts walking bow-legged to avoid the wetness (unlike the super-absorbant pull-ups that keep her feeling dry).

So, we decided that for consistency that we would try keeping her in underwear all day and evening. I'm expecting extra laundry (I sent two extra pairs of pants to school along with 3 extra pairs of underwear and plastic pants today). The daycare workers seem supportive so far...I'll find out this afternoon how the first day went. Hopefully they're not tempted to throw her back in diapers unless she runs out of clean underwear, or we'll be back to square one. I also hope that the impending arrival of her new baby brother doesn't interrupt things too badly either (it may be bad timing to start the underwear within a week or two of my due date, but we have to do this at some point).

Wish us luck. Or feel free to reprimand us for approaching things wrong (come on, fellow parents--you *know* that your way was better...go ahead and say it...I don't mind). Either way, I'll probably report on the progress (or lack thereof) in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

For the record...YES I'm ready...

In case you were wondering, yes I'm ready for the baby to be born. We're pretty much done preparing at home. I'm full term. The baby is certainly big enough (2 weeks ago , he was estimated at 6lbs 4oz by low-birthweight baby here...). We have our emergency contacts ready and waiting to take Charlotte (including friends in the neighborhood who could react quickly if its the middle of the night, and Charlotte's aunt and uncle and grandparents who are farther away but will come to help out as soon as they hear). Anytime this kiddo wants to make an appearance is fine by me--in fact, the sooner he comes, the smaller he'll be, and the better chance my VBAC has of succeeding (or at least, the better chance I have of it succeeding without freaking out doctors and hospital staff that it won't work). No, I'm not taking off of work early--at least, no earlier than my due date. I would do nothing but sit around the house and watch TV, and eat up my leave time, so what's the point--I'd rather have more bonding time with the little guy later than catch up on Oprah and my knitting now.

With Charlotte, I never got to the stage of being "ready" and impatient for labor to start. But I'm already a week past when she came, which was all I was hoping to get to this time around. I don't know any sure-fire ways to kick off labor (short of being induced, which is not on the menu, or scheduling a c-section, something I don't want to do either). I don't truly believe that spicy Mexican food will do the trick--despite my salsa story from last time, I had enough other signs that I overlooked at the time, that the Mexican was just a coincidence. I'm starting to take more walks, hoping that will help with contractions, but really it is just an excuse to see a little sunlight and help Charlotte burn off some of her evening energy. In any case, no matter what kind of crazy antics I try to get labor started, I really know that it will come in it's own time.

But really, kid, now would be great!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Charlotte at church

Ever since she was an infant, Charlotte has attended church with us on Sundays. She is generally well-behaved through church services, and especially enjoys the music. When she was a baby she used to fall asleep on me almost every week. She is still a cuddly child and likes to snuggle through most of mass.

Lately, I've noticed that she's paying a lot more attention to the actual mass than she used to. She insists on opening her own hymnal when we're singing (whether it's the correct one or not doesn't make a difference to her yet), and she is starting to follow along with other things: holding hands during the "Our father", making the sign of the cross and saying "Amen" when everyone else does, even kneeling when we kneel (well, sort of --she kneels for 2 seconds then gets frustrated that she can't see and stands on the kneeler instead). I even occaisonally catch her mimicking the hand gestures of the priest.

Sunday, Charlotte tried even harder to participate in the Mass. In the Catholic church, at least, children do not participate in communion right from birth--they wait until after a "First Comunion" ceremony that happens somewhere around the first or second grade. Parents do typically bring their young children through the comunion lines, and the comunion ministers will give them a blessing. I've been worried for a while that Charlotte would demand to participate, not understanding why daddy and mommy eat something that looks like a cracker with a sip of "Mommy juice" (I drink cranberry juice for breakfast most mornings..."Daddy juice" means orange juice in our house). Sunday, Charlotte was paying particular attention to the ceremony leading up to comunion--watching as the first of the hosts were distributed to the comunion ministers, and repeating the word "peace" ("piece"?) as Father Gary said it at various points. My husband carried her through the communion line without incident, and she received her weekly blessing (which includes tracing the sign of the cross on her forehead).

Once back in the pew, Charlotte opened up her baggie of goldfish crackers and resumed her snack from earlier, as we knealt for the remainder of the song/prayer time. She must have been paying special attention to everything that morning, because she pulled out a single goldfish cracker and held it out to me with all seriousness and said something. It took me a minute to translate her words, and finally I asked, "Peace of Christ?". She smiled at my understanding and tried to hand me the goldfish cracker again, repeating "Piece of Christ" :) Apparently she had deemed her goldfish crackers duly consecrated. I accepted the cracker and ate it, and she immediately placed her hand on my forehead and mumbled something else that I did not attempt to literally translate--I assume it was a blessing, like the ones she gets every Sunday.