God’s Plans

Trigger warning: Miscarriage, Long story

I had vague symptoms of nausea (dry heaving) and fatigue (I needed 2 naps a day) that made me wonder if I was pregnant. I thought the chances were low since I had recently stopped nursing after a month or two of weaning from nursing down to 1 session a day. Oh yes, and the intercourse was not frequent- how can it be? With a little one in our room who kept waking up a few times during the night?

Thanks to Amazon., I bought a multi-pack of pregnancy tests from Amazon because let me tell you, a 1- or 2-pack brandname test from the grocery or local pharmacy will cost you a $20 or so. I checked a few weeks ago and it was negative. I was checking also because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before I started the NuvaRing.

A few weeks ago, I went to a medspa for a skincare consultation. I was planning to start Retinol products so for shits and giggles, I took a pregnancy test, and was crazy shocked to see it was positive. My face was millimeters away from the test strip because I could not believe what I was seeing. I peed on another one and it lit up too. Jeff was still at work and was going to be there until 10pm at least.  In the past, I have had him come home to look at the positive pregnancy tests at home but this time, it was too juicy to wait so I just texted him and talked to him.

My thoughts in the first 24 hours were the following:

(1)    Holy shit, how did this happen?

(2)    OMG, this can’t be real?

(3)    OMG, Life is over

(4)    OMG, we’ll have 2 under 2!

(5)    OMG, maybe this will be a girl?!!!

(6)    OMG, our family will be complete!

(7)    OMG, we need an even bigger house and bigger car!

(8) OMG, how am I going to take 3 kids out at once?

(9) Poor Cam, he’s going to be the middle child and didn’t get a lot of time with Mommy!

(10) Poor Jacob, he’s going to hate me!

 

Can you see a theme in my stream of consciousness?

I knew the pregnancy must’ve been super early because of my serial urine pregnancy tests. The timing was uncertain because the last period I had was pre-Cameron which was November 2017.   I called my OB who wanted to check my blood levels of HCG.  The numbers looked good (supposed to double after 48 hours or so).  So then we scheduled for an ultrasound to see how if we could see anything and get a better estimate of how far along I was.

I had to wait 1.5 weeks to get in for an ultrasound and appointment with my OB. It was an emotional 1.5 weeks. At first, I had a repeat of the above 10 thoughts over and over again… But then, I started to get excited that God had a plan for us to complete our family. Previously to this positive pregnancy test, I had hemmed and hawed about having a 3rd kid- I loved this baby age. ANd when it was time to find a new home for my maternity pillow and pump parts, I was saddened knowing this was going to be it.

Wednesday, I got an abdominal and transvaginal ultrasound. It showed a very small/little something that looked like a sac of some kind, estimated age of 5 weeks/3 days but too small/early to see anything really else. I went into the OB office to chat and I was in a good mood, telling him how surprised I was seeing apositive pregnancy test after I had just seen him the Friday before at the hospital. I also said that I knew it was early and that no matter what happens, we will be okay with it.   The OB also reassured me that I had 2 previous uneventful/healthy pregnancies so there was no reason to believe this one would be different.

I hesitated to ask for a picture of the little sac and didn’t ask (also knew the images would be in my chart). When I went home,  I was curious what the due date would be so I googled how to calculate it based on gestational age and saw that he/she would be due 12/29/2019 +/- 4 days. A Christmas baby!!

Thursday afternoon, I started to notice some red/brown tinge on the toilet paper. It was not constant and I took notes about what I saw. I called the OB office and emailed my OB to ask him if this was normal (also after consulting google).  It was normal to spot after transvaginal ultrasounds (I did feel like the ultrasonographer was a little rough as I was uncomfortable (he got up to readjust his stool and took the ultrasound probe with him as he moved).  OB said to call him if I noticed anything different, had cramps, etc.

Friday, the discharge started to become a little redder and I had a sinking feeling. Saturday, bleeding became more consistent and I had to change from a pantiliner to a regular pad.  That night was Jacob’s school’s fundraiser gala- I was hesitant to wear a tampon in case there was any chance this nugget had a fighting chance.  Luckily, the pad didn’t show through the dress so I wore a pad. I did also have a few drinks at the gala because (1) I had a feeling this wasn’t going to go in a positive direction, (2) I’ve had way more drinks with Jacob and Cameron before knowing I was pregnant with them and they turned out okay, (3) I needed a little relaxation.

Meanwhile over the course of the days, I’m hugging the little nugget and praying to God to please keep this nugget safe and in my belly. And I’m also praying to give me the strength in case He decides to have other plans for us.

Sunday, the bleeding is more red and like a period. In my head, I’m going through a cycle of emotions:

(1) Please keep this nugget safe in my belly,

(2) Maybe there is a teeny sliver of hope that this nugget is okay,

(3) I need to prepare myself for the very likely possibility that the nugget is not there

(4) God has a plan for us, Believe in Him, it’s already in the works

(5) One step a time.

(6) WHY did I have to take a pregnancy test at home? Had I not done anything, I would’ve thought this was my period

(7) WHY did I have to go in for an appointment so early to get a transvaginal ultrasound when I didnt’ with the last 2- maybe the TVUS did it!!

(8) I had two very healthy pregnancies and having 2 amazing healthy boys, I was lucky enough with the 2. I can’t have it all.

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A glimmer of hope for something positive

As I drove to work Monday AM, I saw a rainbow… I thought, wow, this is so beautiful. And a sign of somethin

g overall positive and hopeful. I called the OB office as soon as the office opened and I got a

phone call back to come in that day for another ultrasound and appointment with him.

I had to ask a colleague/friend for help with finishing my afternoon of cases. As I asked for help, I started to cry. I hadn’t said it outloud to anyone except Jeff and then it hit me that I was likely having an abortion, a spontaneous abortion.

 

Initially I thought I could handle going to the appointment by myself but then Jeff realized I probably wouldn’t be okay so he met me there. I called one of my girlfriends on the way there and her kind words and voice made me bawl bawl bawl. I had to try to gather myself before going into the office – I’m not a pretty crier and you could totally tell I had been crying based on the red and puffiness of my eyes.

 

The female ultrasonographer this time also started with the abdominal ultrasound. I wasnt’ sure what was what but I did know that it looked different than last week’s and I started to realize what was happening. Then she did the transvaginal ultrasound, I asked her where the uterus was, and then I realized again that it looked different and said outloud to Jeff, there’s nothing there, and then I started to cry.

 

After the TVUS, the chux I was sitting on was soaked with blood. And when  went to pee afterwards, it was a bloodbath.   We met with the OB afterwards and I cried in his office.He reminded me of all the medical things I knew- it wasn’t my fault;  there was nothing I did or could’ve done; Usually with a serum HCG>1000, he can usually see something; this doesn’t mean I can’t/won’t have a normal pregnancy afterwards.

I left the office avoiding eye contact with the other pregnant ladies and the front desk receptionists who knew me and had congratulated me just a week ago…

I made the smart decision to stop by the bank on the way home to get money.  I felt a strong urge to pee and thought, maybe I can hold it. But I said, I’m probably bleeding so let me assess the situation.  AFter I peed, I felt a few clots come out. I looked into the toiletand saw something that looked like a BIG clot. I looked closer and saw something that looked like a ball with a long vascular cord attached to it. I thought, is that the baby (I call it baby but I know it as products of conception or something)? I thought, how sad I have to flush it down the toilet at a friggin bank. Should I try to scoop it out of the toilet? Do I want to do that to myself? I did take some pictures though the lighting was awful. It took me a little time to clean myself up as other clots had fallen into my underwear and pants too- typical Frances Kim hotmess style.

I went home hoping one of my kids would be awake so I could give him an extra hug. Cameron  was awake. As the nanny was getting ready to leave, she asked me if I was okay because I looked really tired. I told her what happened and she gave me a big hug. She told me she had 3 miscarriages before having her first child.

A handful of close friends/women have struggled/survived miscarriage. I realize how blessed I am to have 2 healthy children and to have not had to deal with the pain and struggle of a miscarriage utnil now.   There is so much to be grateful for- I have 2 healthy kids, a loving husband and family. I am ‘lucky’ that this was early enough where there was no heartbeat. If this happened later after a heartbeat, it would’ve hurt so much more.

Jeff was trying to be helpful but I felt like everything he was saying/doing was not what I needed/wanted to hear. What could anyone say/do in this kind of situation? I wanted to wallow in my own sadness and self-pity for a little bit mourning my little nugget and all the what ifs, could/should/wouldves, and the potential missed events of this nugget’s life.  I apologized to Cameron for the missed opportunity to be a big brother but also congratulated him on remaining the baby of the family. I apologized to Jeff that we couldn’t get a 3rd baby this year. I felt like apologizing to myself for all the negative emotions/thoughts that came through my mind, however, fleeting they were.

I had to pray to God for strength and courage and to help me learn His lessons.  I had/have to remind myself there was nothing I could’ve done differently. Or was there? that are my thoughts. Several weeks ago, I had chills at night and used an electric heating pad to keep myself warm. I was febrile, sweating, myalgic/malaise-ic, taking Tylenol and Advil for my symptoms- did that cause this? This was way before the test was positive though but my mind goes way back to what could’ve started this downward spiral.

Perhaps this was one of God’s many plans for me- to be able to really empathize with my patients (I work mainly in a women and newborns hospital these days) and friends who have had to survive miscarriages. There are no words to share with someone- to all the I’m sorry/my heart goes out to you- there is not enough anything to bring this baby back. I know it’s for the better (probably?) that this is happening and that everything happens for a reason but it doesn’t alleviate any of the heartache and pain.

Ignorance would’ve been bliss. Or would it have? The clot in the bathroom probably would’ve made me wonder what that was since it’d be hard to pass off as a regular clot. I wish I had not seen it. Or do I? I truly believe transvaginal ultrasounds are not good for me (this is not based on any medical evidence, obviously).

My heart, emotions and mind are exhausted. Well, I wanted answers and I got the answers. Sure, this was not the answer I was hoping for but I knew deep down that this was the path I was entering when I started to bleed more consistently.

I feel/felt alone although I know I am not alone- I have close friends and colleagues who have experienced much worse than I have. I know it will get better, I know I will be okay. I want to clear the house now of all the things we were keeping for #3 (baby bathtub, maternity pillow, Clothes too small for Cameron, maternity wear, pump parts).  It just sucks. I want to lay down, stare at pics of my kiddos, hug them… I would not wish this kind of sadness on my worst enemy. Even though I was preparing myself for it, it felt a lot more painful when it was actually confirmed.

So, there is what has been happening these last few weeks. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. I apologize for the detail but it is more of a catharsis for me. Who knows what the future will bring. I can’t help but wonder if I want to try for a third baby in the future. All I know is, Heaven gained a little angel nugget yesterday.  I know my Grandmother will take good care of him/her.

It’s weird to ‘talk’ about. I don’t want to say it out loud but sometimes I want a big hug from any and everyone. My eyes are finally deswelling and I’m trying to give myself some love and give my kiddos some extra TLC as well.

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My loves
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My happy smiley cutie pie

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Have you ever experienced a pregnancy loss? My heart goes out to you if it does. 

 

 

When your own child is sick

People may assume, oh, you’re a doctor, so when your kid is sick, you know what to do…  Let me tell you, maybe that works for some doctor parents, but not this one! Jacob woke up Thursday night at 11pm crying, screaming, and coughing. It sounded like a night terror the way he was crying and so upset. He also was coughing this awful-sounding cough, like nothing I have ever heard before. I was by myself since Jeff was still at work. While I’m trying to comfort Jacob, in the other room, #2 starts wailing too. As hot as Jacob felt and how he was acting, I knew he was febrile and sick.

IMG_2359My mind starts racing- where are all the thermometers? How high is his temp? What if it’s crazy high? When is Jeff coming home? Do I need to take him to the ER? Where is our Tylenol and Advil? Which do I give first? OMG, how am I going to take both kids to the ER by myself. ACK‼‼ The doctor component of my mom brain wasn’t turning on and was in slow motion. I knew I had to pretend to a logical medical professional.

His ear temperature was 102+. Trying to check a rectal temperature in a hysterical child and by myself was not in the cards for us that night. Okay, so what’s next? I went with Tylenol and working on soothing Jacob’s stressed self. I knew I was going to have to encourage fluids and get him back to sleep. We went to the living room and had him on my lap and watched TV while I waited for the Tylenol to kick in. It seemed to take FOREVER, longer than I remembered! Eventually (an hour or two later), he was calmer and acting closer to his normal self. We went back to his room and I slept in the bed with him while getting kicked in the eyeball, waking up with every cough/noise and checking that he wasn’t getting hotter.

IMG_2412I had to go to work Friday and Jeff was home with the kids and nanny. Jeff was supposed to leave Friday early afternoon to go skiing for weekend. But when Jacob woke up, he was still febrile and not acting his usual self. Thanks to more medications, he was better so Dad took him on a few errands to stock up the house and he seemed okay until a few hours later, when he got drowsy around 12pm and fell asleep on the car ride home. Hm, that’s not like Jacob to go to sleep voluntarily before 2pm.

He woke up with a fever so Jeff gave him meds and then took him to the Pediatrician’s office. Of course at the Peds office, Jacob seemed to be acting better other than a fast heart rate. She asked Jeff if we wanted to test him for the flu and luckily he was negative for the flu. She said to keep treating his viral illness with Tylenol/Advil and call on Monday if he’s still having fevers.

So, while at work all day, itching to get home ASAP to see my sick baby, Jeff feels reassured that it’s a common cold and leaves Friday early evening.

The weekend was rough by myself- I was in this time-standing-still constant state of stress/worry about Jacob- is he warm, what’s he going to eat, he needs to drink more, what meds should I give next, what do I do if I have to take him to the Emergency Department, what do I if Cameron gets sick, why are the meds taking so long  to work?!? Just on and on. Luckily we have a pulse oximeter to tell me what his heart rate  and oxygen saturation are. As you can imagine, it’s pure joy getting Jacob to sit still long enough for this monitor to tell me the numbers. Also what is even more joyful is getting Jacob his medicine.

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This went on all weekend- fevers were being treated by Tylenol and Advil but it was pretty disconcerting to see that as the medicine started to wear off (near hour 5-6), he would start to look sleepy/eyes half closed, ears would turn red and he would get quieter and breathe faster.  He was refusing most foods. He did have a little pizza and we would go for short walks to look for the ice cream trucks. But overall, he was only drinking juice boxes, Gatorade, coconut water, and milk.  Miraculously he was pooping once a day though in his underwear. But I didn’t care because I was happy he was pooping!

I was able to find coverage for work on Monday so I could be home. Seven forty on Monday morning, I checked his oxygen saturation because he was lethargic, hot, breathing too fast and heartbeat racing. I was getting more concerned because he was refusing anything to drinks usually he jumps at the idea of Gatorade or milk but he was not interested. I got him a lollipop that he was simply holding in his hand rather than enjoying in his mouth.  His oxygen level was 91-92% and he was breathing 50-60 breaths a minute (normal is about 20-30 for his age) and I heard some wheezing. I was contemplating getting my stethoscope to listen but I thought the important thing to do was to be a mom and lay there and comfort him. Luckily, our nanny was with Cameron so I could focus on Jacob. What do I do? Take him to the ER? The pediatrician’s office opens at 8am so should I call them first? First, I gave him some Advil and encouraged some juice. And I called the office and was able to get a sick visit appointment for at 9:50am. I thought, by then, I bet he’ll be back to his normal self and the pediatrician will think I’m nutty.

As predicted, the Tylenol kicked in by our appointment time and I was happy he was feeling better and his oxygen was 98% at the doctor’s office. She listened to his lungs for a long time and said she heard some wheezing and Right lower lobe crackles. She thought it was a pneumonia and wanted to know if I wanted a chest x-ray or a breathing treatment. Usually, I’m all for testing but in this case, would a CXR really change the treatment? And, also, did I want to trapse my kid all around town in his condition? I did want to see if a breathing treatment would help his breathing/lungs. She noticed some mild labored breathing (“retractions”) as well.   She asked if I wanted to start antibiotics even though she still suspected a viral pneumonia. She said with fevers for 5 days, it would be okay to start antibiotics. I said, YES, we’ve got to do something different.

JIMG_2606.jpgacob was a champ with the breathing treatment and at the doctor’s office. We left to go buy a muffin (he said he wanted to eat one!) but he didn’t eat any of that. We went to CVS to pick up our medications, then went to another CVS closeby to pick up the facemask to his albuterol inhaler contraption.  At the second CVS, he said he wanted some strawberry milk. While we were waiting for our meds, I sat him down in the chair and gave him a sip of strawberry milk. And then his face did NOT look good and he started dry heaving. I got a garbage can in the nick of time and he puked into it.  The super kind pharmacy manager brought over some napkins and water. He looked okay after his vomiting episode but he was beginning to feel warm so I wanted to get him home ASAP. I drove home as smooth/quickly as I could and I look back to see Jacob looking drowsier. Uh oh, please stay awake, buddy! I need to get some meds in you before you start to get sleepy. Maybe I should’ve bought some meds at CVS and given it there. Argh, why did I NOT do that?  We got home quickly and I was able to get some meds in, put a diaper on, and he was in bed again by 12:30pm.

Monday and Tuesday’s schedule continued: check temp, pulse ox/heart rate, listen to lungs, give medications, bribe with honey/lollipops/ice cream, watch movies/TV, repeat. We added Vicks VapoRub humidifier to the mix as well and that seemed to help Jacob’s cough and breathing. Now on to making sure Cameron stays healthy. As for me, I’m beginning to feel malaise/stuffiness and have been shoving meds down my gullet as well.

Now… a few questions…

Why does being a doctor not come in that handy when your oqn child is sick? What happened to the rational, logical, non-emotional, health professional? Where’d she go when I needed her most!?

I wasn’t completely comfortable by myself for the weekend. It was a high-stress situation with little/no sleep or rest. It was a challenge to focus on the other kid while taking care of the sick one.  Fortunately, Cameron was chill and played by himself. I wanted to keep the two of them somewhat separated to avoid Jacob coughing into Cameron’s face. But it was very guilt-provoking to not be able to play fully with Cameron while knowing that Jacob needed some extra TLC.   At times, like this, I wish I had family closer to town.

And that’s another Catch 22 as well. Your friends and family want to help you but you don’t want to expose them to the Contagion of our household either! So, it was a very ‘lonely’ weekend at home. We watched a lot of Jacob’s favorite shows. There were some outdoors activities to try but I wanted Jacob to rest/hydrate and also didn’t want to expose our germs and vice versa.

If this happens again, I hope to have more confidence in myself to be able to face Jacob’s sickness without fear/anxiety- at least, not too much.  So what if I have to take one of them to the hospital? I can do it. It’s going to be hard but oh well! That is life.

IMG_2777.PNGWednesday morning, the fever cycle broke and he was back to his normal self. It took a few days to get his appetite back but I had had enough with 5 days of fever! All we had to do was complete a 10-day course of antibiotics. It didn’t take long for #2 (and Mom) to get what #1 had. Sigh!

This weekend made me me wonder, how in the world do single moms handle things? and how would things be if we added another kid to the mix??? ACK!!!  I hope everyone stays healthy this season and hopefully flu season is long gone.

What kinds of things do you do when your child is sick? Do you feel overwhelmed or anxious when you’re home alone with kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts and words of wisdom to battle sickness.

 

 

I have a Threenager!

I’m now a mom of a threenager! I have been emotional and nostalgic for Jacob’s baby days. As I looked through pictures from the day before he was born (induction thanks to post-dates) and the day he was born, I can’t help but wonder where all the time went and miss the good ole ‘easy’ baby days. He is a little man now- he has opinions, stories, nonstop energy and a neverending curiosity for all things nature and outdoors. Where is my baby?

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The way he looks at ice cream is pure joy !

We decided to go with experiences for Jacob’s birthday rather than have a birthday party this year. Last Friday, Jeff and I took him to Legoland. It was the first time for all of us and I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect but had heard it was a lot of fun. Jeff didn’t think we needed a stroller, hat or hoodie for him and Jacob. On our drive up there, I discovered he thought the park was indoors and didn’t realize it was a large, outdoors theme park. Luckily, I grabbed a jacket for Jacob and Jeff had a hat in the car.

Legoland was super fun despite not having a lot of rides that Jacob could ride yet. Jacob isn’t too into Legos right now but maybe we should try to introduce him to more. We have MegaBloks that he likes to build with but is more about playing with trains, cars and trucks. I have become my dad and easily dizzy-ed by any kind of ride. Legoland also confirmed what Jeff and I already knew about ourselves. We don’t like to wait in line for anything (food, rides) so we will avoid parks/activities on the weekend whenever possible. We did a lot of walking (2.6 miles) in a 3-hour span. Jacob was a trooper and walked most of the way as well. He passed out in the car on the drive home despite a morning full of ice cream and potato chips!

On Jacob’s birthday, my parents and I took Jacob to Sea World. The only time I went to Sea World was when I was 7 years old and in Orlando. I barely remember the Disney trip and vaguely remember seeing Shamu and wanting a killer whale stuffed animal. He loved the dolphins and bat rays and we rode a ride that made me crazy dizzy and wishing Jeff was there to ride with him. Jacob was more intrigued with a toy train that I bought for him and running to the Slushee stand whenever he saw one. As hard as it was for me to say no to him, his diet was already more sugar than nutrients that day so I had to say no.

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How old are you, buddy?

My husband and I are a two-physician household and I am flabbergasted at how expensive entry into these parks are. Park entry for 3+ years old is about $100- for one visit!!! The parks then offer annual membership passes for a little bit more- like $150 or so. If there’s any chance you’d go to the park again, it makes sense to buy a membership. Not only do we have to consider entry, we have to purchase food and souvenirs. My very-frugal mom raaarely purchased any souvenirs for me – she called them trinkets and said they were a waste of money. She was right! As always! So when Jacob asks for toys, my heart wants to say yes but my mind says to be practical and say no.

It melted my heart to see the smile on Jacob’s face and his natural curiosity to explore and touch everything about the park. His potty-training success was good as I came prepared with Ziploc bags so he can pee right then/there. I don’t know why more parents don’t do that. At what age are children able to hold their pee/poop to make it to a bathroom? What if there’s a line? Jacob needs constant reminder and to be given options/plans (e.g., let’s pee first and then get some milk). We’ve had a few regression/accidents these last few weeks. We’ve gone to pull-ups at naps and nights but he’s been overflowing his pull-ups (even with fluid restriction and peeing right before sleeping) so we are trying diapers again. More on that later.

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I would like to take this time to give myself a big pat on the back for keeping Jacob alive for 3 years. Most of the first few years was in a state of hotmess-ness. I had no idea what I was doing- finding my way amidst a sea of cluelessness, anxiety, fear, insecurity, emotions and OCDness. There were also many Liters of tears shed from joy, frustration, and guilt. I never imagined myself as having kids and being a Mom… And I look back and wish I had given myself a little more grace during this time of new phase of our lives. I will try to do that as I continue my motherhood journey. If you know me, you know how cheesy I can be so excuse the cheese. Being a mom and doctor mom is hard work. But somehow with the help of God, a village of family and friends, we have all survived!

 

What emotions/thoughts go through your minds and hearts when it’s your child(ren)’s birthday(s)?

 

My Mom Bod is a Wonderland

Thanks to John Mayer, anytime I hear the word ‘Wonderland’ I will start to hear the tunes of this song.

My Mom Bod has been kicking my butt this last month.

Let’s rewind to September 2016- I was 6 months postpartum with Jacob and feeling good in life. Jacob was a champ, work was going well, everything was peachy. I decided I felt a burning desire to go jogging again. I started very slowly, walk and jog for 5 minutes, 1 mile at a time. It was hard to get started but after the first mile, it felt great. I had been doing this for about a week or so.

I bent over to get Jacob out of his high chair when I felt some excruciating pain in my lower back, in the middle of my spine. And I knew right then something was not right. Luckily my parents were with us so I handed Jacob to them as I hobbled over to lie down. I felt like someone took a hammer to the lower middle back of my spine and had beat it to a pulp.

I could barely move without feeling excruciating pain- if I coughed/sneezed/moved it felt like my spine was combusting within my body. After a few days of rest and ibuprofen, it got better.  Then a week later, as I sneezed, I felt the pain again and I couldn’t move again.   When Jeff tried to help me up from a chair or bed, my spine hurts like a mofo. It made no sense how I could have so much pain without having ANY need to use a muscle?!?

Things got better and then tweaked things again after a sneeze. I got better and then tweaked things again after twisting and trying to get out of the car. It was awful. Our nanny had to bring Jacob to bed so I could nurse him, then she would come and get him after he was done and did any/all lifting until Jeff got home.  There were meds that could have helped my muscles relax but I didn’t want to have to pump and dump. I was determined to continue nursing for a year!

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Jacob at 6 months old

After a week of steroids, a single dose of Flexeril (back brace left my body with a very obvious scoliosis), later an MRI revealed a herniated L4-L5 disc. How in the world? Looking back, I have had similar episodes in the past but that’s a story for a different day.

My back never fully recovered. The spine pain was gone but all the muscles around it were tight and my flexibility went down the tubes. I got a lumbar epidural steroid injection which made me feel great! I was determined to get back in shape in case we got pregnant with Baby #2. My exercise training plan went very slowly and then a few months later, I got pregnant. The pregnancy contributed to some more back pain thanks to the weight gain, hormones, increasing lordosis. I went to physical therapy and things got better again but I knew the recovery was limited because of the relaxin hormones and weight distribution.

After Cameron was born, the pelvic pain and back pain improved but things were tight. Then, after a long drive home from Mammoth, I leaned over to put something on a shelf, sneezed, and then felt the same (but a little less in quantity) central, localized low back pain that had debilitated me in 2016. Uh oh. I cannot go through this again….

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My 5 month old comparisons.

I told myself as I was lying there feeling sorry for myself that I MUST get my back better and will have to do what it takes to get back to being functional. I haven’t surfed, snowboarded, jogged, golfed- haven’t done anything active that I wanted to do out of fear of reherniation. I have 3 boys (1 for Jeff) with whom I want to enjoy sports and activities with. I would like to get in shape, work out again, get my life back!!!!

To complicate the recovery even more, I have had a cough/cold some sort of respiratory infection since the initial injury 1/20. Trying to avoid sneezing and coughing has been nearly impossible and the fear is real! I have had some serious coughing and sneezing spells. I could’ve taken medicine which would have helped my cough and also helped the weaning process by decreasing supply but I didn’t want medications to force me to wean against my preferences.

Thanks to a consultation with a lactation consultant, she came up with an organized plan/schedule to help my weaning process.  Part of this weaning process involved training Cameron to sleep through the night, like 10pm-5am. Our pediatrician said he was heavy enough where he didn’t necessarily wake up because he was hungry. And this was true as he was used to waking up around 10:30 pm (when I’d enter the bedroom and he could smell me), 1am and 3am where he’d cry, start to suckle and then fall asleep quickly but would like to sleep snuggled close to me- something we both enjoyed about the night despite my lack of sleep.

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My bookmark!
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Catching up on some reading as I never really get to read quietly by myself (at least a book of my choice, anyway!).
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It was easy to get to but the door was locked for a while. I knocked on the door but no one answered. 😦

Luckily, I was away during the time to sleep train/wean these feedings. I went to Phoenix for a girls’ trip to celebrate our upcoming 40th birthdays. These are my home friends whom I’ve known since 3rd grade and junior high. More than half my luggage was my pump, parts and on the return, a cooler bag/ice filled with frozen milk. I was VERY proud of myself for keeping up with the schedule and luckily didn’t get a clogged duct. I had never exclusively pumped for so long.

The lactation pathway is amazing. I realize how fortunate I was that my milk came in (Day 4, a bit later than with Jacob but whew!) and Cameron ate and enjoyed eating with me. Somehow, the hormones regulate themselves with supply/demand and adjust in a few days so you’re not a milk-fall with breasts the size of bowling balls. I was an exact producer- 1 oz/hour. If I drank some coconut milk, almond milk or coconut water, maybe I’d get 0.5 oz more or so.

Cameron and I are down to two nursing sessions a day- upon wakeup in the morning and before bedtime. I no longer need to pump at work which saves me a lot of time and stress. I love how he looks for my breasts when I get him lateral in the morning or positioned on the Brest Friend at night. He likes to pat me on my arms or chest to make sure I’m there. It makes me sad to thing that this relationship is coming to an end. I know this will haunt me for a long time- anything that doesn’t work in our favor will lead to guilt and sadness and maybe the lack of breastfeeding/milk is the cause of this bad outcome.

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Sleeping babies are the cutest, aren’t they?

I realize that there is no evidence-based medicine to support that stopping breastfeeding will reduce relaxin, heal my pain, or improve my recovery. There will likely be some more guilt/resentment associated toward myself if I don’t get better. But what I do know is that I have to try everything I can to get myself better. I have spoken with a few people who say it can take years of physical therapy, core strengthening, etc. It will not be a cheap process either. Sigh.

My mom bod truly is a wonderland. Thankfully, my back pain is better so I can function at home and work and I am not bedbound. I have started Physical therapy and am going to be diligent with my exercise homework. Hopefully, Cameron and I will still have the bond although we’ll have 6 months less of nursing time that Jacob and I had.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend! We are approaching Jacob’s 3rd birthday and we are not having a birthday party this year for him. Instead we are doing experiences like Sea World and Legoland with him. Stay tuned for stories about these fun adventures.

Did you have any pregnancy/postpartum ailments? How did you overcome these obstacles? Did you feel a lot of pressure to start/continue to nurse/pump?

 

On to 2019…

Where do I begin… It has been nothing short of a hot mess since I last wrote anything.

The boys have been nothing but great. Cameron is growing and eating like a champ. He rolled over, is able to soothe himself to sleep with very minimal moaning/crying. Jacob is becoming a better bigger brother and seems like a little man!

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Jacob’s first professional school photos- Who is this child? My heart explodes looking at this picture every time.

After a week of trial and after my first day back of work, our new nanny quit for reasons that did not make any sense. What followed was a bit on the terrifying side- she came to the house the next day (uninvited) with her spouse, demanding money and refused to give our house keys and preschool FOB. There were a few other details to the story that still give me some anxiety so I will leave that out. But Mamas, trust your gut. During the interview process, there was something that didn’t quite feel right. But I said, maybe I’m being overly sensitive and think that no one will be good enough. And even if someone says they have a clean driving record and no crimes, do your homework and get a background check. Looking back, it all made sense.

Thankfully our first nanny was able to squeeze in a few days to help us out. We paid a pretty hefty price but we were desperate and she was doing us a big favor. We were happy we had someone whom we could trust.

We took our first trip as a family of 4 to Montana to visit Jeff’s brother’s family for Christmas. It is a whole new world of packing, sherpa-ing, coordinating as much stuff as possible with our arrival crew so we could minimize packing. Staying at a house vs hotel makes life SO much easier. It was a white, cold Christmas but so much fun sledding, trying ice skates for the first time and sitting by the fire admiring the beautiful tree and snow.

We got back and it was back to business. We had to interview a few nannies and also decided to potty train Jacob the next few days… Potty training is one of the hardest thi

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There was a lot of resistance the first day and I thought we were going to have to abort.

ngs of parenthood. No joke. There is a required level of vigilance to reading when your child is ready to pee. Day 1 also required a lot of Dreft laundry stain remover, mini M&Ms, lots of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes (Thanks, Costco!) and tears (from Jacob and me both). By Day 3, his peeing was 100% and poops were about 85%. At least he’s not holding his poop, right? And after day 7, he only needs/wants the big potty!

 

We were about to hire a new nanny when our old nanny asked if she could stay on longer with us.  There were too many unknowns one of which was that her daughter is due with her first grandson in May. And as much as we could try to plan to give her time off, as we all know, the baby comes when the baby wants to come! So after much number crunching (she was asking for a lot more money) and emotional turmoil and guilt, we had to say it wouldn’t work for both parties.  It made me sad but I know it was the right thing to do for our family.

img_8622For Jeff’s birthday trip, we went to Mammoth this past week. It went so much more smoothly than I anticipated- with potty training, we did some fluid restriction and only needed a few stops sans accidents. Cameron slept the whole time, ate during a few stops, and we made it in excellent time (8:30am-3:45pm). The way home was a little different- there was a huge snowstorm when we left at 9:30am or so. It was a slow drive for a few hours until we got to Bishop. I’m glad Jeff drove! Cameron slept again and Jacob finally napped- when he woke up he had to go to the bathroom and by the time we got to a bathroom, it was too late. Poor guy was so distraught as were we for him. L We’ve been having some regression this last week. We’ll have to decide if we want to proceed with Pull-ups or something for nighttime. Apparently, it’s very common for boys to need Pull-ups for several years. We shall see…

When I was growing up, my parents used to tell me to not go out in the cold with wet hair. We lived in Chicago and it got cold in Chicago! There was/is no scientific evidence to support this theory; however, any time I go out in the cold with wet hair, I get sick! And this last time was no different! I never shower in the morning but felt the need to feel clean on the long drive home. The next day, I start with my usual prodrome of sore throat, then that night I had fever, chills, myalgias, felt cold, it hurt to swallow, it was a hot mess. Advil, Tylenol and Mucinex have been my best friend these few days. Literally and figuratively, a hot mess, I am!

And for the icing on the cake, I was bending over yesterday and sneezed strong enough to cause sharp back pain… This pain felt all too familiar to me as in September 2016 (7 months postpartum with Jacob), I bent down to pick up Jacob and felt this excruciating pain in the middle of my spine and ended up having a herniated disc. I improved with rest in a week but tweaked it again after a sneeze and this time the recovery and pain was much worse- I couldn’t walk, couldn’t work, lift Jacob – it was humbling, debilitating and I haven’t recovered since. It doesn’t help that I have a cough so every time I cough, it felt like my spine was going to rip out of my rear end.

Pregnancy also brought back some back pain- unfortunately that is expected with pregnancy but with my previous history, it didn’t help… So, I am afraid of going down this path again. So after some more reflection, I have decided to wean myself from nursing/pumping so my body can eliminate the hormones (relaxin) that makes everything so loose-y goose-y. I will miss the joy that Cameron gives me as he looks for me as he nurses, how he strokes my breast as he’s eating, smiles at me as he is full and content… Sigh, I have some stash stored and I will ration that out as long as I can.. and I have to wean my pumping so I don’t get a clogged duct or mastitis.

I need to get my body healed so I can keep up with the boys and get my back recovered ASAP. Wish me luck, it makes me sad… I remember being sad when I had to stop nursing Jacob but that was more on my end/guilt. Jacob did great! Hopefully Cameron will too. Formula is expensive but so is my being debilitated and inability to work!

That is the ‘short’ synopsis of what’s been going on in our lives. Time sure does seem to fly… A lot faster than with #1. I will try to be better about keeping up with the blog. I hope everyone is having a great new year! Happy 2019!!

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Does anyone have any potty training advice? Or how to slow time?

Back to our old new place

Tonight is our last night in our ‘new’ place.  Our old place will have new paint, carpet, shower and no more water damage in the walls of the kitchen and master shower.   Despite all the buildup and chaos leading up to the move back, I’m feeling kind of sad to have to leave our current home.

What will I miss about our current place?

I’ll miss living in the village where we can walk to restaurants, cafes, the gelato store, my favorite boba café, an awesome breakfast café and bakery… Ill also miss the new appliances- the quiet dishwasher, fast washer and dryer (that’s also on the same level as our living area), and all the space (we’re moving from a 4-bedroom to a 2-bedroom).

You may be wondering why don’t you just stay there then? Well, to start, our old place is right by the ocean! The view just cannot be beat. Secondly, the rent for this place is almost twice of what we currently pay.

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We’ll finally be able to settle into what was supposed to be our ‘new’ life of four. But I can’t help but feel somewhat attached to this home that we made for ourselves these last three months. The people who helped us find this place and make this our home will always have a special place in our heart. This was the home we brought our brand new, 1-day-old son.  This was where our parents met this cutie pie for the first time.  And I’ll always remember how Jacob pranced and skipped around this place these last several months.

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Some balance skills
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A man and his hog
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Always has to offroad on our way home
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I love BOBA! He knows the bank is where to get the good lollipops!

 

Thanksgiving is next week, I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. Then our new nanny starts the following week and then I’m back to work the week after that. I am not looking forward to being away from these kiddos. I jokingly say I’ll be okay leaving Jacob since he is a whole lot of toddler these days. I look at him and am nostalgic for his baby days. I can see why people have babies after their little ones grow up.

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Jacob through the years
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Jacob vs. Cameron

It’ll be another adjustment. We’ll take it day by day and see how things go. Stay tuned…

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Jacob – Aug vs. Nov
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Cameron – Aug vs. Nov

 

Terrible Twos going on to Three-nager

My goal to keep up with weekly blogs has not been fulfilled since Cameron was born. It seems like ages since he was born and it’s been only 2 months. We’ve only been just the 4 of us for two weeks now. My parents, Jeff’s parents and friends have come to stay with us.   Both sets of parents were incredibly helpful with entertaining and giving attention to Jacob, meal prep and clean up, and household chores (laundry, garbage, cleaning) that we didn’t have enough hands/hours to do.

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Happy 2 months birthday, Cameron!

Now we’ve been on our own for almost 2 weeks and the house is a hot mess. That may be our new norm. Dishes are done at the end of the day, meals are whatever is fastest and easiest, laundry piles up until we need burp cloths and blankets. Thankfully, Jacob is entertained MWF morning at schools. I’m trying to find things for him to do the other days.

Jacob is on his way to becoming a three-nager. He had a few serious tantrums/meltdowns and acts of defiance this past year (Mammoth Village when he wanted me to buy a carton of coconut water when I had already bought/he drank from a bottle is the one that sticks out in my mind). Most recently, he decided to spill all the Goldfish onto the couch cushion and when I asked him to put them back into their bag, he proceeded to crush the Goldfish, scatter them everywhere and laughed as he ran away from me.

Because I was nursing Cameron, I was helpless to do anything other than talk in a stern voice and try to give him my stink eye. Neither worked and I was increasingly becoming impatient. I put Cameron down, brought him to the couch and tried to get him to pick the Goldfish up. He protested, cried, screamed and I raised my voice. Nothing was working nor did I think to consult my brain for the notes I had written from How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen

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Jacob likes to stay close

were far from my mind.

While this is going on, my mind and emotions are all over the place. I’m frustrated that Jacob is not listening, I’m annoyed that there is a big mess of Goldfish, I’m wondering how I’m going to teach Jacob to respect food and take responsibility for making a mess, I’m fast forwarding to his three-nage years and wondering how I’m going to handle more frequent/worse tantrums, and I’m mad at myself and feel guilty that I’m upset and raising my voice at him.

There is life-long reflection and learning to parenting. Will there ever be a day where I don’t feel guilty or lacking in some kind? I’m not sure. I would like to be a gentle, patient parent who focuses on the positive and is able to redirect with humor or distraction. That doesn’t happen easily especially in the heat of the moment. Next time, I must be mindful of these emotions and try harder to be calm and positive.

Later on when both parties were calmer, I had a conversation with Jacob to try to relay to him the importance of respecting food (e.g., Goldfish is food for eating) and cleaning up if we making a mess. He seemed to understand and we haven’t had any further Goldfish incidents since then.

Jacob is being himself: a toddler- learning so much and quickly, wanting to have fun outside and doing everything he wants to do (eat candy, watch TV). I mean, who doesn’t want to do all those things all day long?

I need a refresher course on how to talk to toddlers so they will listen. I have a few other books in my library that I haven’t read yet – No Drama Discipline and The Whole Brain Child.  I’ll add reading and praying to my daily To Do list.

Stay tuned for future blogs about preparing to return to work, picking a nanny and dealing with diaper rash.  Cameron is 2 months old now and is eating and growing like a champ.   Until then, I hope everyone has a fun and cute Halloween! This weekend’s task is to get Jacob a costume! He refuses everything!

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Cameron at 1 month vs 2 months (I got confused as to who was who!)
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Jacob at 2 months vs Cameron at 2 months. Cameron barely fits in this layout!
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Pumpkin carving 2017 vs 2018
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Cameron is happy it’s Friday!!!

What funny stories or advice do you have about the terrible twos and threenager tantrums?