A Little Girl Cometh

I finally put her down to sleep. But there’s a problem. If I’m not holding her, I don’t think I can sleep. When she is on my chest, I can feel and hear her breath. Now, I keep checking to see the rise and fall of inhale and exhale. I continue to monitor her shifts and twitches. She is almost three weeks old and I can count on my hands the number of times I have put her down to sleep. Mostly, she lays on my lap or chest. Or I am carrying her around. There is a thing called “baby wearing” now. I have all these contraptions from our time with Jordan. He hated them all, so I didn’t really get to use the Moby, or the Baby Bjorn, or the Ring Sling. I carried Mariana in the ring sling tonight. It calmed her fussiness for awhile. Plus, I got to put some laundry away while still holding her. Seems like progress…

Mariana was born August 19th. She came slightly over a week early. And for the most part, she is doing great. She is eating well and should be back to her birth weight now. But she has laryngomalacia, a condition where the larynx is underdeveloped, a little floppy, and so it can partially flap over the throat causing airway constriction and wheezing, called stridor. For the most part, she seems unaffected. But when her reflux gets bad, we are dealing with obstructive apnea which is scary. We actually went into the ER the first week she was born. They put her on a monitor overnight to watch her oxygenation. And she did fine. So now we are just supposed to monitor at home and wait for her to grow out of it. Easier said than done some days. She is just so small.

Jordan was smaller, he came out 2 lbs 2 oz and then fought to get to 5 lbs before we finally got home from the NICU. He gained more weight once he was home. But still, this girl seems so little, even though she is almost 7 lbs. I know we are not even 3 weeks in, but I am wishing for time to fly so she is bigger and stronger and I don’t worry so damn much. But I suppose that is a foolish notion. I forgot how much worry there is when you have a child. I hope we get better at dealing with the anxiety. Right now, most days I have to make myself pray just so I don’t choke on the worry. I just give it over to the Saints she’s named after, St. Mary (Theotokos) and St. Anna, and hope they take over. They usually do.

I’ve bounced around with the baby blues. But I am feeling the better these last few days. Less hormonal, more rational, typical me. Which is good because I was questioning my mommy skills for awhile there and that doesn’t help with the anxiety when you don’t feel like you have a clue what you’re doing. (sigh)

These are the ramblings of a new mom. Well new to being a mom again.

I thought it would be so much easier than Jordan and I suppose in some ways it is, but the mental struggle has been harder. Perhaps because we lost Jordan and we have this persistent PTSD that we carry around, it has been more difficult to feel capable. Anyway, like I said, the last few days have been better and I am grateful.

I wish I’d written something sooner. It would have been a more celebratory writing. Because we were and are thrilled she arrived safely. But the sleep deprivation and the worry has etched some lines in our exuberance.

I read about the concept of the 4th trimester. The first 3 months of a baby’s life are still this huge adjustment. They are still developing, still getting used to the world. I think we are still incubating as parents as well.

Anyway, I will end this bit of chaotic writing with a a picture of the princess. She is lovely and sweet and 3 weeks tomorrow. Whew!



Cake Dreams

Cake DreamsAt 37 weeks pregnant, pastries have dominated my sleeping hours. A few nights ago, I had dreams of french toast. Last night, I dreamed of cake with gluten-free frosting. Why was the frosting gluten-free? I have no idea. Then as the night wore on, after multiple sessions of waking and pillow readjustment, I was back in REM. This time, with the help of someone else (I can’t remember anymore) we layered together a berry crumble or was it a rectangular pie? Either way, I woke looking forward to some pastries waiting. But sadly, I had only toast and oatmeal to satiate my patisserie cravings. They didn’t do the job.

I don’t usually dream of food. In fact, I never do. But in the last couple of weeks, it is clear this little bundle of growing baby in my belly is demanding a caloric increase. I’ve actually noticed that she is all knees and uncomfortable rolls when I haven’t eaten in a while. Once I pound down some food, she settles down. This is training for feeding after she is born, I guess. I am making an effort to eat more frequently, focusing on getting enough protein and fat. But according to the dreams, it is not enough.

So, today, I am making a special trip to a local bakery. I feel it is only right to satisfy the cravings of the baby. I am doing it for her, really. Just because I am picturing licking off the icing is just an added bonus.

Being at 37 weeks, is a realized pregnancy objective for me. This was the goal, make it to what qualifies as a full-term pregnancy. And here we are! With no sign of delivery in sight. This is both comforting and nerve-racking. The idea that she could show up any day has provoked some anxious nights for both my husband and I. But I also want her to bake as long as is necessary for her development. I’ve done lists and lists of “to do’s” to keep me occupied, but their effects are waning. I will just have to focus on stuffing my face and making dreams a reality. I am already starting to feel better.

A Loving Legacy

Today we reach the 36th week of this pregnancy. And along this journey, it feels as if every moment of joy is sandwiched in a moment of longing for Jordan. As we near the end of this journey, l miss him more and more. We are joyful about our new addition, and sometimes I can feel Jordan near, cheering us on. But without being able to hold him, to inhale him, and to love him, it will feel like something is missing.

I try to send my love up to the skies and sometimes that helps. Or when I fuss over his grave, that helps too. But we grow closer to taking over his room for this little girl in my belly pocket. And at some point, we will have to take his picture out of his crib and acknowledge that we are passing on the legacy of Jordan and his room. We will hope that his little sister will feel him looking over her, and she will come to know her brother in ways we will never understand as parents, ways which can only be understood by siblings. That’s my prayer today.

I don’t know how we will function in the future. My guess is we will lament things we never got to do with Jordan. And as baby girl grows and experiences the world, we will have moments of melancholy where we wish he could be there too. But I will try to remind myself that he is there if I close my eyes and listen. I will hear him laughing, I will feel him sending love and dancing alongside us. That is how I picture him, a skipping, happy little cherub, delighting in all of our happiness and trying hard to end the past sorrow.

We are lucky. God is Good.

The Illusion of Preparing

Today, I am 34 weeks pregnant. I don’t really believe it. I mean, sure, I have this bowling ball attached to my stomach which moves without my control, and, yes, people are starting to touch said bowling ball like it’s another person and not part of my body. But this idea of another little human appearing seems a bit far-fetched. No wonder the myth of the stork emerged, it does kind of feel like a baby comes from out of the sky. Boom, one day, a crying infant pops out of your body and within a couple days you take this newly breathing lifeform home. Weird.

Plus this whole process so far is so counter my experience with Jordan, I don’t know what to make of it. The little bean is looking good? Really? Still? With Jordan, most of the pregnancy was trying to grapple with the reality of his diagnosis. I remember waiting for the worst, him passing away in utero. Instead, after a dramatic placental abruption at 30 weeks, he arrived alive and fighting.

I’m skimming against 40 and this is my longest, most “normal” pregnancy.  The process feels like a strange new world where other people can relate to my experience. I go to prenatal yoga and discuss reflux, insomnia, and hip pain with the other 14 pregnant women in my class. People repeatedly ask how I am feeling/doing and I am cheerful in my reply without a hesitating thought regarding a genetic anomaly.

Then, there’s the planning. My husband and I are discussing cord banks and making appointments to visit the maternity ward at the hospital. I’ve ordered curtains and cushions for the nursery. Friends and family bombard us with pink onesies, muslin blankets, and bath toys at a tropical pink shower. This must be how the majority of people experience pregnancy, I think to myself.

I am, however, well aware of all the what-if’s, could be’s and maybe’s that come with pregnancy. I am grateful that we have weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests (NST) ordered by my doctor. I catch my breath every time the ultrasound tech is searching for the heartbeat, even though the baby may have moved just an hour or two before the appointment. And despite the continuing good news I worry about the delivery and then after the delivery. And I try really hard not to imagine all the dangers and the pitfalls that this life is going to throw at this little one.

So I go back to thinking about what to pack for the hospital or obsess over which pack n’ play to purchase knowing there is nothing that fully prepares you for the baby that falls out of the sky. “Whoops!” They say as they catch the slippery little bundle. “Here is your own special brand of chaos,” they add as they hand her over. Enjoy! Take care! We are waved out of the hospital and into the world.

My Fertility Protocol: MTHFR and late-thirties pregnancy

I’ve been meaning to write about the steps we took to get pregnant. I wanted to have this out there for women who are trying to get pregnant with the MTHFR gene or because they are on the older side of the optimal fertility timeframe. So I will outline my issues and the steps taken to overcome those issues. Currently I am 26 weeks pregnant and 39 years old. So far all the ultrasounds and testing have come back with positive results, but we still have 14 weeks to go. That is my first disclaimer. My second is that what works for one woman may not work for another. This is probably pretty obvious for any woman currently trying to get pregnant. My point in publishing my protocol here is for women to have a starting point conversation with their doctors. I encourage any woman who has had multiple losses of pregnancy to check their genetics and see if they have an MTHFR gene mutation or another clotting disorder.

During our process we saw a fertility doctor who specialized in helping women get pregnant without the use of IVF. We’ve had two miscarriages and a baby with Full Trisomy 18 (which means it was spontaneous and not related to genetics. If it were partial or mosaic then it could have been related to genetics). Ultimately, we could get pregnant, but beyond that things got sketchy. So unless we wanted to do pre-genetic testing on the embryos (and we didn’t), there was no point to doing IVF.

The fertility doctor ordered ultrasounds to watch the progress of my cycle, namely ovulation. He also had blood drawn at certain times of my cycle to watch the level of estradiol and progesterone. The results were this: 1) the lining of my uterus didn’t get as thick as he wanted, and 2) my progesterone was clearly low on the back end of my cycle. With this information in addition to my MTHFR C677T homozygous diagnosis this is the protocol my doctor prescribed and I followed (for the most part):

Prior to trying:

  1. 5-MTHF-My Ob/Gyn prescribed a compound with L-methylfolate (or 5-MTHF) , a biologically more digestable form of folic acid. In combination with the 5-MTHF, the compound also contains B12 and B6 to help with absorption. This can also be put together through separate pills of each, but I like less things to swallow, so I get the compound through a local pharmacy even though my insurance doesn’t cover it. For more information on MTHFR, you can check out this link or check out Wellness Mama, she has a very complete article on the gene mutation as well.
  2. Progesterone- A month or two before trying to get pregnant, I started with the Progesterone (200 mg) three days after ovulation for 10 days.
  3. Baby Aspirin- A month before trying I started taking baby aspirin everyday. I noticed long lasting bruising so my doctor said that I could go to every other day.
  4. L-Arginine– 3000 mg twice a day. The fertility doctor prescribed this for increased circulation, helping with clotting and with increasing the lining of the uterus during my fertile window. This was a bit of pain since I could only find it in 1000 mg for awhile, but if you can get ahold of the 3000mg, then it is much easier.
  5. Myo-inositol– Basically this is supposed to help with egg quality and follicle development. There is more detail here.
  6. Fertiaid– I took this for awhile, but I was taking so much. I kind of gave up on this one. However, my husband was very good about taking this to make sure his “contributions” would be as healthy as possible.

During the cycles of trying for pregnancy, I continued all supplements and added:

Letrozole- This was prescribed by my doctor and I don’t know the dosage. But I took it on days 3-7 of my cycle. However, with this protocol I kept getting sick (a cold usually) by the time of my fertile window. So I looked online and found another protocol that recommended taking the Letrozole on days 5-9. I reasoned my ovulation usually came later anyway and perhaps just shifting the days a little would help me avoid getting a cold and ruining the timeframe when we should be trying. And with that shift, we were able to try and to conceive successfully!

During pregnancy, my goal is to keep circulation up  and avoiding clotting-

  1. 5-MTHF compound.
  2. Baby Aspirin daily
  3. Fish oil/Vitamin D (I alternate)
  4. Pre-natal with folate (NOT folic acid)
  5. Calcium and fiber

Again, we still have weeks to go, there are no guarantees. But this is the longest, least eventful pregnancy we have experienced. Praise God. Speaking of the God, that is the other angle to this pregnancy. Although we consulted doctors, we also consulted many, many spiritual people. With the loss of Jordan, attempting to have another child was mentally and emotionally challenging. Without the prayers of people in our lives and God bestowing his grace, we would not be where we are right now.

Loving Again

I am feeling a little restless these days. There are lists of things for me to do, but instead I just pace around like I’m waiting for the baby to come. Part of me had this brilliant idea to apply for graduate school. That’s pretty irrational since I am scheduled to have a baby in August, but hey maybe it will take my mind off of the looming due date. I can just think about something mundane like school and classes rather than wrapping my head around the life change coming my way again.

It is such a human response to be scared of change, to worry about myself and what I won’t be able to do.  But if I think back 5 years, geez, I was so happy when Jordan was born. I was so freaking happy. I’ve never been that happy before or since. And it was so hard after he passed away because I had all this love, this massive amount of mommy love to give and he didn’t need it anymore. He had God’s overwhelming and penetrating love; he had relief, and quiet, and grace, and everything we’re all searching for. That was so difficult, not having somewhere to put all that. Now I am nervous about generating all that love again. About loving someone with that veracity.

When my husband and I started dating, I was a scared little girl with a big attitude. He is very honest with his emotions and I felt like he wanted too much from me. And in the early part of our relationship, I tried to hold back parts of myself. Honestly, it was habit, something I had been doing for so long I didn’t recognize it. Over the years, I hope I have greatly improved, although, I have my moments. But with Jordan, with my child who needed me completely, there was no way to hold back. The love just came pouring out like an overwhelming dam and the world pivoted 180 degrees so that the sunlight hit right on his face. How can you have that, lose it, then come around and do it again? I’m not sure. What if I am able to hold something back because I’ve been hurt and because I miss Jordan, and I am not the mother for this baby like I was for Jordan?

It sound foolish as I write it. I can blame some of this rant and insecurity on hormones. Yes, let’s blame those hormones, but also let’s be honest–we are flawed human beings.  I will not be perfect and I can’t possibly control all the emotions I will have in this process. As this pregnancy continues, I am sure I will have more times of doubt and worry. That’s what pregnancy is for, apparently. But God willing, and God bless us that we will be greater parents for having and losing Jordan. That’s what I’m praying for today.


Ta Da! Normal is the new Weird

My little imp
Koliva for Jordan’s Memorial

Jordan passed away three years ago, Tuesday. It is strange how quickly time has passed. I still miss him almost daily and memories hit me at random times resulting in a smile, longing, or tears. In general, I don’t feel as raw as I did in previous years. I suppose that is why they call it healing. People still say stupid things sometimes, but I try to forgive them for their lack of understanding, because that is what it is. How could they possibly understand if they haven’t lost a child? Thankfully, I have a group of women I meet with every couple of months. Everyone one of them has lost a child, mostly older children but it doesn’t seem to matter. The grief and the acceptance of that pain is common among us all. I am thankful for that group which would not have happened without my neighbor who, unfortunately, lost her son in a car accident. That loss brought a lot of lovely mothers together. Life is weird.

Speaking of weird. I’m 19 weeks pregnant! And, yes, absolutely, there is a mountain of anxiety I try to tame daily. Plus, the comparison to my pregnancy with Jordan which adds another level of strange. But so far, according to doctors and tests, everything is going on in a normal, average fashion. Thanks be to God. We found out around Christmas and survived the first trimester fairly well. Probably because I didn’t tell anyone, and I wasn’t showing, so it didn’t feel completely real (except for the daily naps). Now with the growing baby bump, we’ve told more people in our lives and I thought it was time to make it official here.

Although the big, official Growth Ultrasound happens next week, we got a glimpse of the little bean last week. I think most moms might feel this way, but it is surreal to see a little growing alien in your stomach. I wasn’t exactly sure what I felt after I saw its head and spine, and its little fingers as they waved us away. And the little bean was hiccuping, which apparently is normal. So yeah, weird.

People ask me now how I’m feeling or how are things going, or is everything alright. All I can answer is, as far as I know, yes. Since I haven’t had your average pregnancy, it’s hard to tell. What is normal? It just hasn’t been my world. The best I can do is focus on the next milestone. And if that goes well, then I’ll focus on the next milestone. Despite the myriad of things to worry about (like truly a long list) I vow to try to stay calm and think good thoughts. It does helps to think that Jordan is already watching and praying for his sibling and for us. In fact, there are a lot of people: friends, and families, monks, and nuns, that are praying for us. When they tell me that they’re praying, I do feel a moment of relief. We are not alone.