Friday, December 16, 2011

Babble's Top 100 Mommy Blogs of 2011 (I Must Have Been #101)

I know this is going to be shocking, but I didn't make it into the Babble's Top 100 Mommy Blogs of 2011. BOO! But I'm kind of OK with it since I didn't even know the list existed until a few minutes ago. But let's be honest - we all know I was probably #101. ANYWHO... So now that I know about it, I see that there is a button to nominate your fav mommy blog for the 2012 edition of the list. If you happen to know of a deserving mommy blog {ah-hem} then please click here and nominate it: xoxo, Erica

A Little Bit Pregnant

They say you can't be a "little bit pregnant". But I totally was. Yes - me. You know... the one who got her tubes tied in June? {Read this for a refresher on that situation: } Here's what happened...

The week before Deacon's surgery, I started to feel a little funny. Nauseous. Sore boobs. Exhausted. The only times I had all three of those symptoms at the same time was right before I found out I was prego with Miss Paige, and then D. So of course I got a little worried. But because of the enormous amount of stress I was under, I chalked it up to a fluke. I mean - seriously - there is a less than 1% chance of getting pregnant after a tubal ligation procedure. That is pretty much impossible. Or so I thought...

My period was scheduled to come before I went to the hospital with Deacon. But it didn't. So I packed my "supplies" in my hospital bag. But it never came. And so on the day we were scheduled to bring Deacon home after his surgery, I finally fessed up to Daniel - I was over a week late. He reached out for anything to hold on to so he wouldn't pass out. I told him it was probably just stress and stuff because - again, SERIOUSLY - it was pretty much impossible. We decided to see what happened when we went home.

Thursday. Friday. Saturday. NOTHING. So on Sunday I decided it was time to take a pregnancy test just to rule that out. I bought the digital kind - I didn't want any mis-reading of lines or plus signs. I peed. I waited. And in a shocking turn of events - PREGNANT popped up on the screen. WHAT?!?! I gasped and called for my mom (because, in this situation, my mom was the only one who could think rationally and explain how this could happen). We stood there staring at the stick for 30 minutes. Then I called up Daniel and showed him. His reaction? Laughter. Hysterical laughter. As if I told him the funniest joke in the world. He told me I better call the doctor ASAP and figure out what was going on.

At this point everything was running through my mind. Did they forget to cut my tubes? Did they decide I was too young for the procedure and refuse to do it? Did they cut the wrong thing? My mom finally brought up the very real possibility that it could be an ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy. Oh great.

So I called my OB's answering service and got a call back almost immediately. I needed to go in first thing the next morning for an ultrasound to determine where exactly the embryo was - in my uterus? in my fallopian tubes? somewhere else?!

Of course by this point I was getting excited that there may be another baby on the way. I was thinking of names, figuring out how we were going to fit another baby in our home, texting my BFFs with the shocking news. Obviously if I had my tubes tied we didn't want any more biological children. BUT - if I somehow ended up pregnant - I knew this would be a miracle baby and that idea was exciting to me. I was hoping that if there was really an embryo - a baby - forming in my body, that it had somehow made it to my uterus. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

The ultrasound showed there was nothing visible inside my uterus. But it was still so early, they said it was a possibility we just couldn't see it yet. But more than likely the embryo was attached in my fallopian tubes or somewhere else. My urine test at the OB came back positive. They had me take a blood test so they could look at my quantitative and qualitative hCG. My OB checked the paperwork to make sure my fallopian tubes had indeed been "tied" (come to find out they tie them, cut them, remove a small section AND then burn each end during the procedure). They had. I didn't know this, but after the tubal ligation they send a small piece from each fallopian tube to Pathology to confirm it was the fallopian tube that had been cut. At that point, the writing was pretty much on the wall - unless this was the most magical embryo ever formed, there was little to no chance it was in my uterus.

Ready for a quick biology lesson? See, the way a tubal ligation IS SUPPOSED TO work is that you still drop an egg each month, but there is no way for sperm to get to the egg to fertilize it because each fallopian tube has been severed into two separate pieces. Think of taking a hose, bending it in half, then cutting the loop off the top. Then burning each end so it melts together. You would now have two separate pieces of hose. So the unfertilized egg just "reabsorbs" into your body. In an ectopic pregnancy, the egg somehow gets through it's side of the fallopian tube (maybe through a small part that didn't heal properly or where scar tissue formed), the sperm gets through the other side (through something that didn't heal properly on that side), and they meet in the middle. Now you understand why the chances of this happening are less than 1%. So say all that happened - the egg and sperm BOTH busted out of tubes that were - for all intents and purposes - GLUED shut, magically met in the middle, and began to create a baby... Well that embryo could attach anywhere. For it to attach in the uterus, it would have to go back through the same hole in the fallopian tube the sperm snuck out of. And unless this embryo has a GPS unit strapped to it, you can see why this is pretty impossible. So the embryo floats around until it attaches somewhere - possibly your fallopian tube - or maybe your intestines, stomach. It really could end up anywhere.

So I was told I needed to be hyper-alert as to what my body was doing over the next few days. If I felt any pain, lightheadedness or dizziness, etc - I would need to call 911 and be rushed to the hospital immediately. My fallopian tube could be rupturing (because it couldn't handle the rapidly growing embryo) which would cause me to bleed out (and die) pretty quickly. Nice, right? Just what I needed to hear : )  But if the embryo wasn't attached to my fallopian tube, there was a good chance it would stop developing on it's own pretty quickly (due to lack of proper blood supply) and just reabsorb back into my body. And "luckily", that's what happened.

My hCG tests came back "negative" - meaning there wasn't enough hCG present by that point to demonstrate a viable pregnancy. About a week after that, I got my period. I was relieved my body took care of it on its own - if the embryo (baby) couldn't survive and thrive because it wasn't in my uterus, then I would rather have it naturally move through my body (as opposed to something rupturing). It sounds emotional, but it really wasn't too bad. Even though I let myself get excited for a hot second, my logical side figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't going to go anywhere.

And there you have it. For about three weeks, I was technically prego... AGAIN. I think they refer to it as a "chemical pregnancy". "But HOW did it happen?!" you ask? Well - I'll save that for my next post : )

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Surgery: Craniosynostosis Repair Day 4 - Present

Need to catch up? Here are links to all the Cranio posts in chronological order:

Day 4: October 27
By day 4, it felt like we had been through a war. We were exhausted (mentally and physically), beat up. But our little man was rearing to go. He was wire-free (we were calling him Deacon 2.0) and a smiling ball of energy. It was like nothing had ever happened to him. It's absolutely amazing how quickly he recovered.

Today: December 13
Almost two months past the surgery and Deacon is doing better than ever! The scar is completely healed and the dissolveable stitches have all come out.
And the most amazing part is how quickly he has caught up in his development. Almost immediately after we returned home, I began to notice how much more alert he was. he had a twinkle in his eyes that hadn't been there before. He became interested in solids and began eating purees for the first time a week after he came home. His hair began growing at record speed. He began reaching for things and holding on to them. He's teething now. And just recently he began putting weight on his feet. We found out during a post-op appointment that when they went in to operate, they saw that his brain was pretty compacted and blood flow was definitely limited. That explains a lot of the "delays" that I picked up on before the surgery.

Modern medicine and technology is a beautiful thing. I am so thankful that God blessed our doctors with the knowledge and true genius to do what they do. I could never thank them enough.

And now we are here - on the other side of Craniosynostosis. Happy. Healthy. Healed. And thankful each and every day.

The Surgery: Craniosynostosis Repair Day 3

Need to catch up? Here are links to all the Cranio posts in chronological order:

Day 3: October 26
Day 3 came and it was finally time to remove Deacon's head wrap. The doctor's felt that removing it would help with the swelling and may even help reduce his fever. They were right : ) One by one the tubes and IVs began to come out. It was also the first time we got to take a look at his scar.

I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a little shocking. I knew he was going to be cut from ear to ear. But actually seeing it broke my heart a little. All those stitches in that little head. But by this point he was doing so well. Eating, peeing, smiling. And the new shape of his head was absolutely astounding.

Why, what a round head you have!!
Removing the head wrap made a HUGE difference in his swelling. It immediately began to go down. His eyes would get a little swollen when he would sleep (especially if he slept on his side). But he was SO much happier now that he could see the world around him. Everything was roses from this point on.

The Surgery: Craniosynostosis Repair Day 2

Need to catch up? Here are links to all the Cranio posts in chronological order:

Day 2: October 25
Day 2 was the worst. Deacon woke up swollen. His eyes were swelled almost completely shut. He would cry out in pain when his meds would begin to wear off. He began running a fever. The only thing we could do was hold him, kiss him, and tell him everything would be OK. Our doctor said that he was upset not because of the pain, but because he couldn't see anything. He needed to know the world he knew was still there. He needed to smell us. To hear us. To feel us. It was heart breaking. In the afternoon, he was doing well enough to be transferred out of the PICU.

Our family began coming by to "relieve" us so we could grab food and shower. It was a blessing! We always wanted someone there with Deacon for when he woke up, got upset, or just needed a snuggle. The love in that little hospital room was palpable.

The evening of Day 2, Deacon began to "wake up" a little more. He was off some of the strongest pain killers and his fever had dropped slightly. He started kicking like he was playing in the World Cup finals. When we played his musical monkey for him he would begin to dance - even smile a little bit. It was amazing.

That night his fever spiked again. He began vomiting and took a few steps backwards. But by the next morning he was doing a lot better.

Day 2 was a roller coaster. I have to admit that a strange feeling came over me on Day 2. My baby boy was so swollen, completely unrecognizable, and I felt like I had lost him. Almost like the baby I had before the surgery was gone, and this was a new baby. I didn't have any less love for the "new" Deacon, but part of me missed the "old" Deacon. I felt like I was grieving. In mourning. I would go to his crib to get him in the morning and be surprised. Like after you dye your hair a completely different color and it is shocking/surprising every time you look at yourself in the mirror because you expect to see the old color? And it took me about a week after we returned home to realize that this baby is the SAME baby as before. He may look different - "fixed" if you will - but his insides were the same. This was the same baby I carried for nine months. The baby I gave birth to. The baby whose smile melted my heart. He was still my little man. And it was like a new joy filled my heart - the little boy I thought I had lost came back to me. No words can really describe what I felt over those days. All I know is that I never, ever want to feel that way again.

The Surgery: Craniosynostosis Repair Day 1

Need to catch up? Here are links to all the Cranio posts:

October 24, 2011: Surgery Day
I didn't have to worry about setting my alarm because I never went to sleep that night before. I laid in bed until about 3 a.m., then decided to start getting ready. We had to be at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. - the surgery was scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. I took a shower, got dressed, made sure our bags were packed and everything was ready to go. My husband was snoozing like a baby : ) See, we deal with things very differently. When I am stressed, it seeps out of every pore of my body. One look at my eyes and you can see whatever I am feeling. My husband internalizes it and keeps a cool exterior. And sometimes {a lot of times} that bothers me because I take his cool, calm demeanor as not "caring". But that's not the truth. He feels it just as strongly as I do. He just knows he needs to hold it together while I crumble. He has a plan in his mind as to how things need to go and sticks to it. Even though I may freak out, he keeps us glued together. That's why we make the perfect team : )

At about 5:15 a.m. we hit the road, a sleepy Deacon in the back seat. We swung by McDonald's for coffee and Egg McMuffins. Daniel insisted I pour my coffee into the insulated cup he brought along (sticking to the plan he laid out in his head). I prefer a good styrofoam cup, but obliged because I knew he needed to keep his plan on the tracks. It seems silly, but at that very moment, we were doing everything we could to keep from crumbling into a million pieces. We arrived at the hospital just before 6:00 a.m. and headed inside. {Here we go...}

Why am I up so early?! Heading inside on the morning of Deacon's surgery

 Since we "pre-registered" the week before, we only had to wait a few minutes until they took us back to our room. Once there, a nurse stopped by and described what would happen over the next few hours. This room would be our "waiting room" during Deacon's surgery. She said things would start to move very quickly as they prepped D for surgery. She asked that I get him into his hospital gown.

Really, Mama? Purple? It's not really my color.

A good "before" picture of Deacon's head. Since it couldn't grow from side to side, it grew front to back at an abnormally fast rate.

Little man wondering what is going on

Over the next hour or so, our support team arrived. Grandma, Nana, Papa and Uncle David. Aunt Gigi was holding down the fort at home, watching Paigey. Everyone else was praying.

And just before 8 a.m. - right on schedule - an operating room nurse arrived to take Deacon back to surgery. And we all lost it. It was nothing the nurse did or said - all the nurses and doctors were nothing but kind, supportive and encouraging - but I felt like my heart got ripped right out of my chest. I couldn't breathe. If Daniel wasn't there to hold me up, I would have dropped to the ground. We prayed. We hugged. We cried. And we prayed some more. And then a pastor came in to pray with us some more. And in a much needed moment of levity, he began calling Deacon by the wrong name by accident. I corrected him - laughing through my tears - and we were all able to smile again. The waiting game had begun, and we all headed down to the cafeteria for a change of scenery.

A little while later Daniel and I headed up to the room. We didn't want to miss any updates. A nurse was supposed to call the room every hour to fill us in on how things were going. Right on cue, the phone rang as we entered the room. The nurse said everything was going well. She said it took some time to get all D's IV's in. I knew before hand that they would put him under full anesthesia before inserting any IVs. I knew he wouldn't be in pain. And she said they had to start the blood transfusion immediately because his counts were low. {Not sure if I mentioned before, but I had to donate blood a few weeks prior in case Deacon needed a blood transfusion during his surgery. I did a "directed donation" so they would have my blood to give him if they needed it. Ends up they did.} And when we hung up the phone a sense of peace came over me. I'm not sure if it was the security I felt knowing my blood - his mama's blood - was pumping into my baby's teeny tiny veins at that very moment just like when he was in the womb. Or if my body finally gave in to the exhaustion. But I could feel the arms of God wrapped around me, around my baby boy. And a peace rushed over my body. And the very moment I hung up the phone, I fell asleep. A deep sleep. A calm, peaceful sleep.Right there on the hospital bed.

After an hour or so, we got another update. this time from our Pediatric Neurosurgeon. His portion of the surgery (removing the skull from the brain) was complete and he said everything went perfectly. And just a little while after that, the Cranio-Facial Plastic Surgeon came in to tell us his portion (reshaping the skull, putting it back together with plates and screws) was also complete. And that Deacon was doing very well. They were closing him up, taking him to recovery for a bit to allow him to wake up, and then he would be heading up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where we could see him. I literally ran through the halls of Children's Hospital up to the PICU waiting area. They said it would be another hour or two until I could see him, but I didn't care. I ran. And then we waited. 

PICU Waiting Room. Halloween decor tried to make it look like a happy place, but believe me when I say that there was a lot of sadness and heartache in that room. We were waiting for our child to come out of surgery that we had months to prepare for. We knew he would be OK. But other parents were waiting to find out if their child would survive after a horrible, unexpected accident (i.e. car accident). It put things in perspective.
And finally - after what felt like a lifetime of waiting - I saw my little man being wheeled up the hallway. They still had to get him situated in his PICU room, but they said I could see him for a few moments before they brought him in. Daniel said I threw my phone on the ground (and everything else that was in my lap) when I heard the gurney coming up the hall and ran outside. I don't remember this. All I remember is seeing my little peanut.

My first peek at Deacon post-surgery outside the PICU waiting room.

The remainder of the day is kind of a blur. Deacon got settled in his PICU room hooked up to a million monitors. He had three IV lines, one pumping fluids, one pumping morphine and the last one left open for emergency access. His head was wrapped up like a mummy, with a single drain coming out the top to remove excess fluid and blood build up. At this point, he still looked like my baby. I could still see my little man through all the wires, bandages and cords. At one point he started to cry and I instinctively picked him up and Daniel and I took turns holding him for the next few hours. It was only later on that the PICU nurse told me that most parents are afraid to hold their babies after the surgery and won't do so for a few days. Nothing could keep me from holding that little man. He may have been tethered to a ton of machines, but the most important thing was that he was tethered to my heart and could feel my love all over his little body. Day 1 was long. Day 2 was even longer.