Monday, October 23, 2017

I've Missed This. So Here We Go...

I haven’t written in a while. I used to blog often. About everything. And then one day I stopped. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision, it simply happened. Sometime after my third child was born. You could say that having three kids doesn’t give you much time for hobbies.

The thing is, I miss it. I miss having thoughts that turn into words that form sentences and paragraphs and a piece of writing. Most things I wrote were nothing special. Basic mommy-blogger stuff. But it felt cathartic to share my experience with others. And I like to think I was a real voice in a world full of filters and perfectly curated, matchy-match family photos. So I’m going to start writing again. Starting, well, now.

Here’s the thing, I’m trying to disconnect from the technology. Ironic that in my quest to do so I’ve decided to start writing again. It’s not the technology that I loathe. It’s the lack of relationships it causes and the ability to simply fold within. I find myself scrolling away on facebook for what adds up to hours a day. Yes, hours. I tell myself it’s for my “business”, but it’s not. Very few of these instances do anything to further my mission and business. If I’m being honest I’m escaping. The internet is the perfect place to hide.

But in doing so I am missing all the goings on around me. I am missing my children needing me. I am missing connection with my husband. I am missing out on forming actual, real relationships with people IN REAL LIFE.

I read an article yesterday explaining the rise in depression and anxiety among teens as correlated to the rise in iphones. Not surprising news, but jarring to read nonetheless. With a click of the button you can instantly see events you weren’t invited to, playdates that didn’t include your kids, the perfect date another couple is on or that dream vacation you don’t have the money to take. So I am vowing to say enough is enough. I need to change. I am going to change.

One of my girlfriends recently deactivated her Facebook account. She said it was freeing. She doesn’t miss it in the least. I’m not ready for that step as I do enjoy social media (I mean, please, have you seen the ridiculous amount of selfies and kid pictures I post?). But I am going to find a happy balance. I must.

A few nights ago I was rocking Bridget before bed. She is 21 months old and fits perfectly in my lap. Her chubby little legs wrap around my body, her head full of soft blond curls rests in the crook of my neck and her arms hold me tight. I am her world. And it is fleeting.

I walked out of her room and sobbed. Not because I will miss this. Because I will. But because I can’t remember how it felt to hold either of my boys (now 4.5 and almost 7) like that. I don’t know the last time I rocked either of them. I don’t know when it was that they were too big for me to hold like that. And I know that in the blink of an eye Bridget will be too big too.

I left my job as a lawyer to spend more time with my kids. I wanted to be the stay at home mom that I wasn’t when the boys were babies. I wanted to BE there for them. But I’m not there. I’m 1,000 miles away in some bullshit Instagram photo or FB article. I am distracted to say the least. And they deserve more. I’m not saying they need to be the center of my universe, but they need a present mother. And since I can’t uninvent the smart phone, I will start where I can. I will make a conscious decision to put my phone in the closet. I will get on the floor and draw with them. I will even get out the paint and the playdough and we will make a damn mess.

And I will foster relationships in person. I want more coffee dates with moms I don’t know well. I want to visit with my best friend and her family and make memories together. I want to talk on the phone and hear your voice rather than hide behind a text message. (Related, a friend texted me this week asking me to call her about some beauty products and my heart skipped a beat. We had never actually talked on the phone. How awkward would that be? Spoiler alert: we gabbed on and on as if we were teenage girls and it was oh so refreshing.)

I want more real, messy life. And as fucked up as it might seem given all this, I plan on documenting it as it unfolds on this blog. So let’s get wine. Let’s have coffee. Let’s have a video call at 10am to chat about life. Let’s get our kids together after school and sit outside watching them play. It’d be so much more soul-filling than simply liking each other’s posts from afar, don’t you think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

B's Kidney Update (@ 1 month old)

Last Friday we went to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for Bridget to have a renal ultrasound and a VCUG. Last night her pediatric urologist gave us the run down of what these tests revealed. So here's the skinny:

Good news first. Her ultrasound showed a healthy appearing RIGHT kidney. (Yay! Yay! Yay!)  Her doctor does suspect that the right kidney has a ureteral duplication (but uncomplicated), which means two ureters are draining from the RIGHT kidney to the bladder.  “Uncomplicated” means no reflux (no urine washing backwards up to the kidney as sometimes occurs) and no obstruction (blockage).  Uncomplicated also means there is no adverse consequence of having this anatomy. (Woohoo! At least one good kidney is what we've been praying for!)

The less than good news, but better than we were expecting news: As suspected from my prenatal ultrasounds, the LEFT kidney also has a ureteral duplication, but it's complicated. The ureter from the upper portion of the kidney (i.e. the “upper pole ureter”) ends in a ureterocele. Ureterocele means that the last part of the ureter as it enters the bladder is dilated, expanded, ballooned.  This is associated with obstruction of the upper pole portion of the kidney. (This was all what we expected from my prenatal ultrasounds.)

B's Left Kidney - all those dark spots are not present in a normal kidney

Because the upper pole ureter pushes on the lower pole ureter the lower pole ureter which does not end in a ureterocele and does not reflux is also partially, but only partially obstructed. While that sounds scary, it is not an emergency because apparently the lower pole of the left kidney can tolerate this situation for some time.  And, here's more good news, the upper pole is a small segment in its overall contribution to renal function- given its ultrasound features it may not offer any real significant kidney function. Bridget's urologist expects her overall kidney function now and in the future to be normal. (Great!!!)

So what is next? Apparently, the management of ureteroceles is very individualized and a key detail in decision making is the level of function in the upper pole and the impact of the left upper pole on the left lower pole function and drainage.  So B needs another test called a MAG3 renal scan. So looks like we're going nuclear.  Kind of scary, but some fellow kidney-moms I've met thanks to the magic of Facebook, have assured me it is tolerable.  The doctors prefer to obtain this study at 6 weeks of age due to the way that neonatal kidney handles the contrast.  B will be six weeks old next Thursday, so the test should be scheduled in the coming weeks. Once the doctor has the results from this scan he'll be able to decide what procedure she needs and when she'll need it. So while we don't have the game plan in place yet, we feel very optimistic and have been able to breathe a little easier today.  Of course I don't love that B will need surgery, but I'm thankful that her long term prognosis is looking good for now!

Thanks for the continued prayers and thoughts! We are loving our little lady and feel so lucky to have her in our family!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

3rd Times a Charm

It's true, the more kids you have the easier it becomes. Or I have a really chill baby - jury's still out on why this newborn phase with Bridget has been rather blissful. Perhaps the large looming questions about her kidneys are causing me to truly embrace this time with her. Or it is the fact that I'm not nearly as crazy as I was with the boys.

For instance:
Lukas and Julian: I had an app on my phone that tracked which boob I fed them from, for how long and the time in between each feeding. I used this app obsessively.
Bridget: Girlfriend gets nursed any time she seems hungry/bored/fussy. I have no clue which side she has eaten off of last and am relying on the trusty "which boob feels heavier" method to pick a side. I don't care if I fed her 10 minutes ago, if she seems hungry, to the boob she goes.  If 3 hours have passed, I DO NOT wake the baby. Never wake the baby. I mean, come on.

L&J: Swaddled every single time for a nap or nightime and asleep on their back in the pack n play. This resulted in an exhausted momma as I was up with them seemingly all night for months.
B: We stared bedsharing at 4am her first night at home after she was up every hour in her crib. I haven't even attempted putting her back in her crib for nighttime and don't plan to. She takes naps in the Moses basket, in her vibrating chair, on my chest or wherever she will continue sleeping.  I've swaddled her about 5 times and apparently suck at it now as she Houdini's herself out each time.

Getting out of the house:
L: I specifically remember calling my mom when Lukas was about 4 weeks old in tears because I was going stir crazy. I had this tiny baby, in winter, and I was too scared to take him anywhere or do anything, but I was so alone and bored and a little loony.  She told me to put him in the car and drive the 35 minutes to her house. This "outing" saved my sanity!
B: We have had a few weeks staying inside the house but we get out much more than I did with the boys. Yesterday we drove the boys to school, went to the post office, grocery shopped and picked the boys up from school. Admittedly, it was a bit too much in one day with a 3.5 week old.

Noise level:
L&J: I never tried to keep a quiet house with the boys, but I didn't love the dog barking or loud noises that might wake the baby.
B: With two rowdy boys, a dog, cat and two adults, there is no silencing the noise. But this time around, I encourage it and purposely have vacuumed around Bridget while she sleeps in her lamb chair on the floor. If the baby can sleep through the loudness of our house, she can sleep anywhere!

Although, there are a few things that I'm arguably more crazy about:
Head position:
L&J: I didn't worry at all about how much time they spent on their backs or in the car seat. L turned out fine, but if you'll recall, J had that lovely 4 month period in a helmet to correct his flat head.
B: Todd and I are both hyperaware of which side Bridget favors.  She likes looking to her right, so we are making sure she doesn't spend too much time on her back looking right. I've done a few of the physical therapy exercises we did for Julian's torticolis and she sleeps on her side often so hopefully we'll avoid the flat head syndrome this time around.

Wet diaper count:
L&J: My biggest concern with their peeing was try to prevent getting peed on!
B: I get more excited over wet diapers than one would think possible. Better yet, I'm like a cheerleader on crack when she pees while I'm changing her.  Pee means at least one of her kidneys is working, so we are cheering on the peeing.

L&J: With L I wasn't concerned with germs at all. I'm not a germaphobe and it didn't really occur to me to do be concerned even though he was born in winter. I mean, we washed our hands and had visitors use hand sanitizer but it wasn't on my radar.  Julian was born in summer so germs, the flu and RSV weren't a huge threat.
B: I think I've lost my mind. The boys come home from school and immediately strip off their school clothes, go straight to wash their hands and then put on clean clothes.  No one is allowed to touch Bridget's hands (because a baby's hands go directly IN their mouth) and I'm not a big fan of others holding her. The only positive side of her on the prophylactic antibiotic is that hopefully it will prevent her from getting any nasty winter germs!  Oh and it's making sure she doesn't get a kidney, bladder or urinary tract infection, so I suppose there are multiple positives.

I love being a mom of 3. I have had crazy thoughts of having a fourth but my sweet husband has assured me that I'll need to find a new husband to make that happen. And well, I like my hubby, so I guess we're done.  Unless we're not. I mean, we are. But one more would be so sweet. But insane. Definitely done. I think.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kidney Tests

Sweet Bridget will be two weeks old tomorrow (in case you missed it and are curious, you can read her birth story here). We are all loving having her here and she is getting spoiled daily. The combination of our first girl, our last child (I think...) and her precarious health condition have lead me to truly enjoy the newborn phase with her. I'm not normally a fan of this stage, but I am relishing our days laying on the couch, co-sleeping at night and bonding while nursing. My recovery this time around has been my easiest of all three kids so that is probably contributing to my postpartum bliss.  Although the baby blues definitely come and go and I've had a few random bouts of tears which are making my husband think I'm going a little crazy.  I remind him that it's my hormones. Always blame the hormones!

So I haven't given an update on Bridget's kidneys because we unfortunately don't know anything more yet. She had an ultrasound the day she was born and our pediatrician said that it confirmed what we already knew. I didn't press him on this because he's not the specialist and I had given birth a mere 5 hours earlier and wasn't thinking too clearly.  Bridget's abdomen has looked distended to me since birth and one of the nurses even commented on this, but when I asked our pediatrician he didn't express concern. Bridget started taking a prophylactic antibiotic the day she was born because there is a risk of infection due to the urine that is backing up in her ureter(s) and left kidney. She will continue taking this until the urologist can determine it is not needed.

As for the next steps, we are scheduled to go up to Atlanta next Thursday for her first round of tests. I believe she will be having three tests, but I only know two of them. She'll have another ultrasound which should be able to more clearly show what is going on compared to the ultrasounds that were done on me while I was pregnant.  She will also have a VCUG which will show us how well her kidneys, ureter and bladder are working. All I know is that it will involve Bridget getting a catheter and getting x-rays. The whole thing makes me nervous so I haven't spent much time researching the procedure other than finding the link for this post.  And to be honest, I haven't read through the link. At this point, ignorance is bliss. I'm already nervous for Thursday and figure I don't need the extra anxiety of knowing exactly what will happen to B.  I also don't know if we'll meet with the urologist to go over the results that day or if we'll have to come back up for a follow-up appointment. But hopefully within a week or so we'll have an actual diagnosis and treatment plan. We know it is almost certain she needs surgery, we're just hopeful it is minimally invasive and can wait until she's at least six months old.

Aside from her round belly, Bridget looks completely normal and perfect. Our pediatrician referred to her as perfect at her first checkup. She is peeing regularly so we know at least one of her kidneys is working properly. But the fact remains that she has a birth defect. And until we know the extent of the issue, my mind can't help but worry every day. When she cries uncontrollably I worry she's in pain. When I look at her belly I am reminded that while she looks perfect, her insides tell a different story.

I am praying for the best possible outcome next week. I don't even know what that means, other than Bridget getting to live a full, long life.  She is such a sweet baby and I am so blessed to be her mom.  Thank you all for the continued prayers and inquires about how she's doing.  As soon as we know more, I'll update everyone. Until then, please continue praying for her health and our strength as we navigate this next phase.

Ok, time to snuggle with my sweet girl.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Welcome Bridget Starr

I am thrilled beyond words to announce the arrival of our daughter, Bridget Starr! She was born a week and two days ago and we are so utterly in love with our sweet girl.  It feels as though she has always been a part of our family. The boys adore her and she's already acquired the nickname "Bridgey" from her brother Julian. Our family is now truly complete. 

Here is her birth story:

Date of Birth: January 7, 2016 @ 11:29am
Original Due Date: January 14, 2016
Weeks Pregnant: 39
Baby's Weight: 8 lbs 4 oz
Baby's Length: 20 in

We learned back at my 37 week appointment that my MFM recommended that I deliver Bridget at 39 weeks. He had told us he didn't want me to go past my due date, but the notes he sent to my OB recommended that I be induced at 39 weeks if she wasn't here by then. While this was disappointing to me since I wanted to have a natural birth with no interventions, I also realized that I was lucky to have made it this far with my pregnancy given Bridget's kidney defect. So I tried to make peace with the likelihood of induction, but still hoped I would spontaneously go into labor on my own.

Over Christmas I thought things were starting.  I lost my mucus plug on Christmas Eve and was worried she'd arrive that night and I'd miss Christmas morning. Thankfully she stayed put. I then got the stomach bug the weekend after Christmas and prayed she would sit tight until I was over that awfulness. Again, thankfully she stayed put. Then on New Year's Eve at my 38 week appointment my OB checked my cervix and without warning swept my membranes trying to move things along.  She knew I wanted to avoid pitocin, so I think she figured a membrane sweep was the least invasive intervention that might get things started. I would've liked being consulted before this happened, but it is what it is. This is when the fun false/prodromal labor started. For the next week I had contractions daily, sometimes for hours on end.  And Sunday afternoon, January 3rd I was convinced the real deal had started. 

Sunday, the 3rd, I walked 2 miles in my neighborhood in the morning. Then we took the boys to the Museum of Arts and Sciences here in Macon. As we sat in the planetarium watching a show about the life of a star I noticed I was having consistent contractions. I didn't start timing them for a few hours, convinced it was just more false labor. But as the evening went on, it was clear they were there to stay. Todd and I went for another mile walk and while we were walking the contractions were coming about 2 minutes apart and were quite intense. We got back to the house and I called my doula asking her advise. She suggested we eat dinner, give it an hour and see if they stuck around.  So we ate, put the boys to bed and eventually headed off to L&D around 7:30pm.  Contractions were still coming about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting 60-90 seconds long. Yet they weren't painful. We got assessed at the hospital and I was 3cm and 60% effaced, with contractions registering every 8 minutes.  Of course, on the ride to the hospital I noticed the contractions slowing down, but we went in anyway. The nurse said they wanted to monitor me for an hour and then decide what to do. I made it clear that I did not want to be admitted if I was not in active labor and that sitting in a hospital bed for an hour was not something that I intended to do. So we were allowed to walk the floor for 45 minutes and come back to see if things had progressed. An hour later, nothing had changed. So my midwife agreed that I could go home.  I was embarrassed that we'd even gone in to the hospital, but glad we were not being kept unnecessarily. So off we went home and I was able to go to sleep for the night.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday brought more contractions, but nothing consistent. On Wednesday I made one last ditch effort go get things going on their own. I walked miles around my neighborhood, drank red raspberry tea and applied clary sage EOs to my belly, hips and ankles (something that supposedly can get labor going). But by late Wednesday night I accepted the fact that we were heading for induction the next day. My doula called that night to talk things out. She said the hospital would likely have me arrive at 11pm Thursday night to start the cervadil and then depending on where things stood Friday morning they'd go from there. So I went to bed assuming we'd have all day Thursday to try to get labor going on its own. 

I was jolted awake at 5:30am Thursday morning by a phone call from the hospital telling me to arrive at 7am!  This was surprising since I thought I wasn't going to go in until that evening!  I quickly took a shower, ate some eggs and finished packing our hospital bag. Julian woke up so I was able to get some snuggles in with him and then we woke up Lukas to tell him we were leaving.  The boys were groggy and I was a little sad to leave knowing they wouldn't be getting my full attention once their sister arrived. 

So Thursday morning we arrived at the hospital and checked in. I was sad that I wasn't going to have the birth experience I was hoping for and a little on edge. The nurse checked me and I was 3-4cm and 60%. So not much change since our trip to L&D that Sunday, which was discouraging - I had hoped the prodromal labor contractions were doing something! And thankfully the monitors were picking up contractions, so things were happening. My midwife knew I wanted a natural birth, so rather than starting with pitocin, she agreed to break my water and give me 3 hours to see if things would start on their own. 

My water was broken at 9:15 and things moved FAST! My awesome nurse, Karla, suggested I try nipple stimulation to get things moving as it sends natural pitocin (aka oxytocin) signals to your body. So I got up and walked laps around the room whilst rubbing my nipples. It was surely a sight.  But it worked! Almost immediately contractions started coming regularly and within thirty minutes I went from chatting with Todd to having to concentrate and breathe through each one. 

My doula, Mandy, arrived around 10am. I was still jovial when she arrived and excited that things were progressing. But that didn't last long. I wasn't able to continue standing once the contractions really kicked in. So I sat on the hospital bed with my back straight and my legs criss-crossed and knees pointed down at the suggestion of Mandy. Contractions were intense and quickly were one on top of each other. Mandy and Todd helped me breathe through them, each sitting on either side of me holding my hand. As a contraction would hit I closed my eyes and zoned out for each contraction. The hypnobirthing classes I took during my 1st pregnancy 5 years ago for Lukas definitely helped keep me relaxed. Todd, Mandy and Karla talked about Todd and my love story which kept me entertained in between contractions. Or at least distracted! 

By 11am I had the urge to throw up and felt a lot of pressure around my bum. Apparently these are sure indicators that things are moving along, but it was also the time I absolutely lost it and was convinced I couldn't continue but I was in transition at that point and there was no turning back! Mandy looked at me and said "You can do this. You ARE doing this!" And she said that within 3 hours I'd be holding my baby. She meant this to be encouraging but I looked back and said there was NO way I could do this for 3 more hours!  Thankfully we didn't have to wait that long. 

My whole body began shaking uncontrollably and I was feeling the need to push.  Karla checked my cervix and there was a lip that wasn't moving, so she told me to push once and she helped move part of my cervix back that wasn't moving because of the baby's head. This helped get me to 10cm and suddenly it was time to push. The midwife wasn't there yet, and Karla had another nurse come in the room to be a second set of hands in case she needed to deliver Bridget! Let's just say I was a vocal momma bear during pushing and I feel sorry for anyone that could hear me. Lots of F-bombs and a few "get her OUT!!!!!" yells may have happened. Along with some other choice words. But in only three contractions she was out! Somehow I didn't experience the ring of fire and had no tearing!!! And the sense of relief once Bridget was out was immediate! But holy hell it was intense. 

Bridget was born at 11:29am - under 2 hours from the start of real contractions to finish with no pain meds! It felt great to not be drugged afterwards and I was shocked that I actually did it. And this recovery has been much easier than the first two. We only stayed in the hospital 24 hours and are all happy to be home.  (And as a fun sidenote, my mom was here helping us with the boys when Bridget was born. She was blow drying her hair and suddenly all the power in the house blinked off.  She had to reset the clock in the kitchen and looked at her phone to find out the power outage happened at exactly 11:29am! How cool is that?!)

I'm thrilled our baby girl is here. She is a sweetheart and we are completely wrapped around her finger already. She is peeing great so we don't have to do anything immediately with her kidney. We are scheduled to go to Atlanta for her first round of tests on January 28th, so we'll know more then.  But for now we're just loving on our newest addition!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Embracing Change

Yesterday was my last day as a lawyer for foreseeable future. Well, technically I am still under contract with my firm until December 31st, but since I only get paid when I work and I'm not doing any more work, I think it's safe to say I'm no longer a practicing attorney. It is such a strange feeling.

I've had December 18th on my mind for a few months now, since it was set as my last day. My calendar has been marked with "last day of work" since October. It has seemed like the day would never come, but then suddenly it was here and now it has passed.  I will wake up Monday morning without needing to get dressed to go sit at a desk. I have no contracts swimming through my head or clients to get back to. I have no deadline looming. I have no pressure. I have freedom.  And it feels amazing.

I cried yesterday as I pulled out of my work parking lot and called my husband to tell him I was done. The emotional release was immediate. The sense of completion and the knowledge that this was the right decision were profound.  After over 8 years doing something I have not been passionate about, it feels good to walk away.

I also find it ironic that on my last day in practice one of my best girlfriends made partner at her firm. She is propelling forward while I am hitting stop. For a second I felt jealous as she has attained something I thought I wanted to for quite a few years. But that feeling didn't last long. It's not what was in my heart and it would not have made me happy. My other good friend from law school just returned home after spending 61 days away at trial in another city, only getting to see her children for a few days over Thanksgiving. Yet another law school friend is now working part time, 3 days a week and spending the other two with her son. A few others have stopped practicing and now work for the law school, and yet others have said goodbye to the law long before me.  We all started in the same place but have ended up on different paths. It's hard to not compare and worry if you picked the wrong path. The doubts have started to creep in a little today. What if I hate this change. What if I am bad at being a stay-at-home-mom?

I've had to stop myself from going down this mental road. The truth is that I've left the legal doors open. I have options if a few months down the road, after Bridget's arrival, I decide I want to go back. But I don't see that happening. In my head and my heart, this is the end of my legal career for now.

So what's next?  My main focus now is getting Bridget here safely. I have less than 4 weeks to go as my doctors will not let me go past my due date. I suspect they'll schedule an induction for 39 weeks if I'm still pregnant at that point. She's measuring big and the last ultrasound on her kidney wasn't great. I'm mentally preparing for an induction, pitocin-fueled labor. It is not what I want. I want an unmedicated, doula-assisted birthing experience, but I know that my desires may need to be set aside if it's in Bridget's best interest to proceed otherwise.

Between now and my due date I have a lot going on. The boys are off school for the next two weeks. My parents are coming down on Monday and then my brother and his family are arriving Wednesday evening. This house will be full for Christmas. My nephews are coming and I'm so excited to see them and to watch Lukas and Julian play with them for a full week.  It will be a truly magical Christmas with four boys aged 2-7 under one roof. My heart is full just thinking about the week to come.

Then we will usher in a new year. 2016 is going to be a great year. A year of change and transition and unknown roads. It will bring us our daughter and we'll start navigating the road that is her health journey. I know that road might be bumpy, but we'll hold on tight and move forward. It's all we can do.

I also feel that 2016 will bring with it personal growth that I can't yet comprehend.  My Beautycounter business, the real reason I was able to step away from my legal career, is going to flourish. I feel confident in that. I love my job with Beautycounter. I love coaching the women on my team and working along side them to build robust, profitable businesses. Todd heard me on one of my coaching calls a few weeks ago and remarked how happy I sounded on the phone. I hadn't really thought about it, but he's right. I get so much joy out of sharing the company's mission and empowering other women to succeed in this business. I love watching my team expand and can't wait to work with even more amazing women.

One thing I never got from the legal world was positive reinforcement. No one was lifting each other up and it was not a collaborative environment. Beautycounter is the opposite of everything I experience in private practice. It is women helping women. It is building others up to succeed and acknowledging their hard work and dedication. I may not be as financially successful with Beautycounter (at least not yet, however I work with women who make way more a month than I ever did as a lawyer and I plan to join them soon), but the personal success and accomplishment I get from this job far exceed anything I've ever felt practicing law.  We will make the new budget work for our family and I will be happier for it. I have no doubt about this. And I also have no doubt that I will see greater success with Beautycounter than I initially dreamed possible.  When you find something you love, are passionate about and want to share with the world, you have found your thing.  Beautycounter and my family are my thing. Law was not. Of this, I am certain.

I also know that 2016 is my year to write. I'm not sure yet if that will be an uptick in blogging or something else. I have dreams of being a published author one day. I don't yet have a book idea, but I plan on finding one and going for it.

And who knows what else is in store. I'm embracing the unknown and cannot wait to see what this next chapter ends up looking like.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What Lies Ahead & Wishes for B

I don't think people like to read posts like the one I'm about to write. But I need to write it. Writing has always been a form of therapy for me, so I'm hopeful that by getting the words out on paper there will be some relief. Or a sense of peace. Or at least acceptance. We'll see. I never know what words will come or what catharsis will ensue until I'm done. But if you're looking for a positive post, this probably isn't it.

I'm 34 weeks and 4 days pregnant with Bridget. She's due in exactly 38 days. 5 more weeks and 3 days. But the reality is that she could very well come any day between now and then. And while we all hope she doesn't arrive until at least 39 weeks, she seems to have her own agenda and we're just along for the ride. She'll be here when it's her time.  The only thing certain is that within 6 weeks, she will be born. And as that time frame gets smaller with each passing day, my thoughts shift from worrying about keeping her in as long as possible to what will happen once she is here.

Since August 31st, my 7th wedding anniversary, when we learned we weren't having a "healthy" baby, I've longed to simply meet her. For weeks I checked viability charts to see what her odds of survival would be if she were to be born at that given time. I'd pray for her to stay put one more week. I'd wish for my amniotic fluid level to stay normal and for her right kidney to stay strong and healthy. I hoped the left kidney would stay as is and not worsen from appointment to appointment. And those things have happened, more or less.

Born today she would still be considered a premie. A NICU stay might occur. But she'd likely be OK. I've personally had two friends deliver at 33.5 and 35 weeks respectively and their babies had a rough start but are doing great today. So I know that I'm past the point of worrying about initial viability.

So my worry has shifted. Bridget will be here soon. By looking at her you'll not know she has a birth defect. I'm told she won't look any different from a healthy baby. But from what we can see on the ultrasounds, she's not "healthy". She will be born with a health concern, and it is one that we don't yet know where it will lead.  And I am so scared about how that will unfold.  **tears are now flowing as I type***

There are so many unknowns about her condition and the treatment and the tests. The doctors are focusing on getting her here, which obviously is step number one.  It's a key step, without which none of the rest of my concerns matter.  So yes, I'm glad all hands have been focused on watching my health and her stability on the inside. But then what? She's born and we need to monitor her number of wet diapers. If they are normal then we get to wait until she's the ripe age of 2 weeks old to go to CHOA for extensive testing on her kidneys to determine function and an actual diagnosis. The limited research I've allowed myself to do on theses tests has frightened me. My two week old will likely be sedated. I lost my shit when Julian, at 4 months old, had to have a beanie cap tied around his head and lay still as a laser took measurements of his head. There was no sedation or strapping him down and I barely made it through that 5 minute ordeal.  Bridget's test will be much more invasive and scary. I don't know how to prepare for that. I don't know how to stay composed and strong for her.

And then we are given a firm diagnosis (I hope). And we've already been told it will require surgery. The hope is that we wait until she is 6 months old for the surgery to be performed. We don't know yet what the surgeon will be doing, but there is one thing I do know. Surgery requires anesthesia. On a baby.  MY baby. And there are risks and complications and as an attorney I know there will be release forms that have to be signed prior to the surgery. One of them will say something to the effect of, "By signing below you acknowledge that all surgeries contain some level of risk including [insert laundry list of bad things] and possibly death."

And I know what you're thinking: Stay positive. Don't jump to the worst case scenario. Rely on God and know that he will get you through and protect her. Don't put negative thoughts out there into the universe. Surround her in white light.

I get it. I'm typically one of those warm and fuzzy type people. I like to live my life with positivity. I've said the phrase "Everything happen for a reason" before. I want to see the good in all things.

But the reality is that death happens. We are ALL going to die. And we don't know when that will happen. But it will happen. For all of us. Including our children, which is a terrifying thought. I know that any one of my kids could be killed in a car accident or freak accident any day of the week, and yes we have to continue living our lives every day without being paralyzed by this fact. So some would say that I should view Bridget's kidney defect and surgery in the same light. But I can't. Having surgery has inherent risk above and beyond every day living.  There is no guarantee something won't go wrong. And the thought scares me and brings me to tears.

Yesterday my girlfriends threw Bridget and I a sprinkle shower. It was a lovely afternoon and I am truly blessed with great friends. The hostesses know me well enough to not plan any party games, but they were thoughtful and had everyone fill out a card with "Wishes for Bridget".

I hope love __________; I hope you laugh __________; I hope you never forget __________; I hope you become __________; I hope you aren't afraid _____________; I hope you have __________; I hope you grow ___________; and I hope you learn _____________.

I sat on the couch last night and read through all the cards. I hope you love with all your heart. I hope you laugh often. I hope you never forget how much you are loved. I hope you become confident.  I hope you aren't afraid to speak your mind. I hope you have a great sense of humor. I hope you grow slowly and confidently. I hope you learn to take chances.  Some were funny, others were sweet and all were heartfelt. I was already so touched by them, but when I got to one of the last ones, I was brought to sobs. One of my dearest friends wrote down the one thing that I too wish for B.

I hope you have time.

It may seem like a bizarre thing for someone to hope for a soon-to-be new mother's child, especially at a baby shower, a day meant to be full of celebration and joy. But it was so real and so honest. And unfortunately it comes from a mother whose baby didn't have time. We all know life is a finite amount of time. Yet I think most of us assume we'll always have more time. We take our days for granted. We take our loved ones for granted. And none of us want to think that our baby will be the one who doesn't have the one thing you can never get more of once it's gone. I watched as my friend lived out the nightmare of losing her son Marco to cancer. He wasn't even 10 months old. He didn't have time.  And none of us know how much time we will actually have here.

And this fear and unknown of how much time I'll have with B is what I'm struggling with. I want her in my arms, yes. But I want to watch her grow up and live a long, loving life. I want her to have time. It is the one hope I have for her. So please, pray for time. And hug your loved ones tight tonight. Call that person to say I love you or I'm sorry. Live in the moment and love with your whole heart. Because we don't know how much time we're allotted here. So embrace the time you have.

And to my sweet Bridget:

I hope you love without fear.
I hope you laugh often and with a big ugly laugh like your momma.
I hope you never forget the joy you bring to those around you.
I hope you become a confident and passionate woman who cares deeply and beats to her own drummer.
I hope you aren't afraid to change direction when the path you're on is no longer serving you.
I hope you have time.  So very much time.
I hope you grow strong and healthy.
I hope you learn that kindness and love are the most important things in this world. So spread them both openly and without expectation.