My Volunteering Experience

After having Luna I knew I wanted to begin volunteering. There are lots of reasons why volunteering topped my to-do list. One, is an obvious, to be a good example to Luna and to introduce her to a helpful and positive environment. I also always wanted to volunteer when I had a full-time job, but rarely had the time, or flexibility in my schedule. Mostly, though, I want to volunteer because I want to give back. I want to help people. I want to do what I can, even if it’s small, to make this world a little brighter.

When I was in the hospital with Luna, I was so depressed and scared, but so many people continued to show up. Friends, family and strangers did not give up on me. They showed up, they brought me food, they made me laugh, they messaged me, believed in me and eventually made me believe in myself again. When I was finally able to come home with Luna I knew I wanted to “show up” for others. I wanted to help someone feel a little stronger, happier and braver. I spent hours trying to find the right volunteering fit for me. There’s actually a website (volunteermatch.org) that uses your likes and skills to match you up with a volunteering job in your location. In fact, I found something that seems to be a good fit, but it’s been a VERY long process. Every single volunteering gig seems to require a background check, a medical release, a personal record, a fingerprint, a signature in blood and your firstborn child. I’ve been patiently waiting for all my appointments, paperwork and documentation to go through and get filed so I can get started, but geez it’s a bit ridiculous.

Then, right when I was feeling disheartened, I was asked by a friend of a friend to visit a little girl in the children’s hospital. No paperwork required, just me. The little girl they spoke of, spends a lot of time alone in the hospital and the thought maybe I’d be interested in spending time with her. I was absolutely interested and immediately began making plans. I broke out my box of teacher Christmas activities, grabbed my favorite children’s books, packed some art supplies and headed to the hospital full of nerves and excitement. I was finally going to make a difference! BUT, it require me being in a hospital…my biggest fear.

The Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville is basically Disneyland. It’s gorgeous. It’s so full of colors, animated animals, activities, treats, toys and events. I was beyond impressed, but quickly depressed. It’s so wonderful that these children and families have a safe and beautiful place to take their children, but it’s also hard to know that it’s there because there are so many kids who need it. As I roamed the halls, passed the food court and watched some local performers single Christmas carols my heart felt like it was breaking with each step I took. Before I even made it to the little girl’s room I began questioning whether or not I was capable of taking on this particular volunteering opportunity. Maybe, this isn’t the right fit for me.

My first day began with the children’s musician who goes from room to room singing and playing instruments with the kids. Before she left the room, she had me, the Dad, a friend, a volunteer, a nurse and Luna playing instruments and singing Feliz Navidad. It was a beautiful moment. Thirty minutes later it was just me and my new friend (Oh, and Luna!). The sweet little girl is painfully shy. I was told she wouldn’t talk, but would communicate with me by pointing and nodding. I decided to just talk and talk in hopes of breaking the ice. I danced around, showed her how to make ornaments, read How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which she had never heard), wrote a letter to Santa and asked her every question I could think of that would require more than a nod. Ten minutes in I got her to whisper, and by the end of our time together I couldn’t get her to stop talking! We had a blast! I was a big ball of anxiety half of the time, but when she hugged me as I packed my stuff to leave, I knew it was worth it.

Luna playing along with the music.
Luna playing along with the music.

She called me a couple of days later to invite me back, and I’ll be back a third time on Thursday. She hugs me, laughs at me and seems to enjoy just talking to me, but I think she likes Luna most of all! I don’t think Luna has ever had someone play with her and love on her as much as this sweet girl. I get hugs when I show up and when I leave, but Luna gets hugs and kisses. I got to know one of the nurses who was giving a breathing treatment during my last visit. She found out that I used to teach and she went on and on about how much respect she has for teachers and how she could never do such a hard job. I think my jaw was on the floor. “You can’t be serious?? Yes, teaching is hard, but ummmm, you’re a nurse. I have no idea how you do your job everyday.” Nurses are very very special people and are probably some for of superhero.

I have loved the little bit of time I’ve gotten to spend with my new young friend, and look forward to more, but it doesn’t make that walk through the hospital any easier. I cry the second I get in my car, thank God for my healthy baby. I think “I just can’t…I just can’t understand any of this. How is life so hard and so unfair for these kids?” I am in such awe of every family I pass. I have so much respect for everyone working and volunteering at the hospital each and every day. While I think “I just can’t”, they just have to. They have no choice. I do though, I can choose to show up, and while it may be hard, it’s not near as hard as if that little girl was sitting in that hospital room with no visitors.  Seeing that little girl’s smile and her whole face light up when I walk in the room is worth any bit of uncomfortableness I may feel. Yeah, visiting a children’s hospital isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, but you may be their only sunshine.

If you’re fortunate enough to have some time to volunteer this year, please consider it. I know it’s not easy to sign up with an organization. It takes time and often a big commitment, but there are many simple ways to help out. Visit an elderly neighbor, bring food to a local shelter, walk your sick neighbor’s dog, babysit someone’s kids who needs a break, wash your Grandparent’s car or call someone you know is lonely this Holiday season. Sometimes, we think we aren’t strong enough to help or make a difference, but we are. We are enough. So show up as you are and I promise you won’t regret it.

Cheers!

TBT: Drive, Play, Fall (Part II)

Here’s the continuation of one of our Albanian adventures that I began sharing a couple of Thursdays ago. These stories were first told on my first blog “Adventures of a Teacher”. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 3: Cave Journey

After our heated night in the hotel room we got up early and headed to the beach to rent some kayaks. We paid an eight year old boy 500  leke ($5) to use the boats for an hour and headed down the shore. Our friend, Erind, lead us to a beautiful cove with a tall cave entrance. The cave was not very deep, but the ceilings were high, and there was a large opening at the top that allowed sunbeams to come through and reflect on the navy water. We immediately pulled our boat on the rocks and began exploring. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t take my camera.)

Our view from where we ate breakfast.
Our view from where we ate breakfast.

I was barefoot so it was a little painful to climb around the coral-like formations, so I decided to take a swim. The water was icy, but refreshing. I swam across the cave to a rock formation where Boyfriend was climbing and kicked something that I thought was coral. However, when I exited the water to examine my foot, I found 4 barbs stuck in my toes from a sea urchin. It really stung, but I tried to laugh it off and talk about how I now had something to blog about.

Walking on the rocky beach before our kayaking adventure.
Walking on the rocky beach before our kayaking adventure.

The rock formation we climbed was about 30 feet tall and provided a window out of the cave and into the ocean. The water was crystal clear and very deep so we all took turns jumping off the cliff. It was a little of an adrenaline rush, and shockingly cold when we hit the water. We were past our one-hour rental time so we quickly got in our boats to head back. I could not stop shivering as we paddled so Erind kindly suggested we stop in another close cove to rest on the warm rocks.

CHAPTER 4: What Goes Up Must Come Down

I laid out on the hot stones to stay warm, Erind went for a swim to find more sea urchins, and Boyfriend, being Boyfriend, decided to start climbing all the rocks around us. After about twenty minutes I heard Boyfriend’s feet stepping through the pebbles as he descended the cliff he had conquered. I turned around to tell him I was ready, and was shocked to find him limping and bleeding from almost head-to-toe.

I frantically asked what had happened, and he just limped past me and fell into the water. His face was pale and shocked, and he continued to ignore my questions. He had obviously fallen, and by this time Erind had noticed and we were both trying to get him out of the water to examine the damage.

Boyfriend explained to me hours later that while he was climbing down, a very large rock broke underneath him and he slipped a few feet down, then the large rock fell on top of his right leg and broke in half over his leg. It was apparently traumatic enough to make Boyfriend very sick once his adrenaline lowered. We had to wait on the little beach for almost an hour before he would get back on the kayak. Once that was done, I rowed the two of us for an hour to get back to where we started.

Everyone on the shore was shocked to find us in such a state. A very kind Albanian woman ran to grab her first aid kit and made Boyfriend lay back while she cleaned up his wounds. Another hour passed and we tried to get Boyfriend back to the car, which just made his leg more swollen and bleed even more. Erind and his friends decided to take us to the “emergency room” on the beach.

Here's Peter putting on brave face as the kind woman cleaned his wounds. I left out all the photos of the actual wounds...you're welcome.
Here’s Boyfriend putting on brave face as the kind woman cleaned his wounds. I left out all the photos of the actual wounds…you’re welcome.

This “emergency room” was more like a clinic you would imagine in a WWII movie. It was very small, concrete walls, little metal beds, and no A/C. The Albanian doctor was very soft-spoken and could not speak English. Luckily, we had our friends to translate.

After cleaning the wounds once more, the doc suggested he have stitches in his leg (and that there was a 90% chance it was NOT broken). This of course led to a local anesthetic which made Boyfriend sick once more. Finally, it was all cleaned and bandaged, and the extremely kind doctor sent us on our way. (He wouldn’t charge us anything so we left him a tip instead.)

doctor

Finally, (after a 7 hour drive), we made it home. We are still exhausted.

At least the drive home was pretty.
At least the drive home was pretty.

Overall, we really did have a great weekend. After only being here one week, we have toured the capital, made many new friends, seen the mountains, kayaked the ocean, and visited the hospital. Not too bad if I do say so myself. Oh, and Boyfriend totally stole the thunder from my sea urchin sting.

EPILOGUE:

Boyfriend is fine and will survive his little mishap, maybe even learn something from it. Currently, he is horizontal with his leg elevated and watching movies. Mostly, he is frustrated that he cannot leave the apartment. I have a feeling, that our next adventure won’t be too far away.

Annnddd 4 years later, Husband is still always finding away to get himself into trouble and do something dangerous. Everyday is an adventure with this guy.

Cheers!

A Recent Panic Attack

Every since having Luna (remember that whole traumatic experience?) I have been battling high blood pressure and anxiety. The anxiety was expected. I’ve always had very high anxiety, so I just assumed it would be a little extreme after having a baby, with all the crazy hormones and whatnot. I did not ever think I’d be in the hospital for 10 days, be put on tons of medication and end up seeing a hypertension specialist at Vanderbilt. Since coming home with Luna, and a new list of prescriptions, I have  started (been ordered to) take my blood pressure daily.

For the first couple of months it was very low, like “my body only moves in slow-motion” low. The doctor cut my meds down and it stayed on the lower side so my meds got cut back again. (Woo!) About a week after cutting out one pill my blood pressure shot up. It was through the roof all night, and it sent me into a panic. And, in case you weren’t sure, having a panic attack isn’t a good companion for high blood pressure, nope not one bit.

My doctor is very cool, straight-forward and blunt. I called him late at night (bet he regrets giving me his cell number now) and tried in my calmest voice to say “Oh hey, so my blood pressure is high and also I am freaking out a little, okay a lot. Should I be worried about dying?” My doctor basically said, “Stop it. You’re fine. Take your medicine and chill out.” He so does not get “anxiety” or “panic attacks”. Anytime I mention it he just says, “Why? I don’t understand. You’ll live to be a 100. Calm down.”

His inability to relate or understand is somehow very calming to me. That night, I managed to go to sleep, but anxiety took over the next day. I don’t know what it is about health problems, but anytime something comes up with my health I completely meltdown. I kid you not, but for 2 straight days last weeks I was incapable of almost anything. I physically and mentally shutdown. I could not write, get dressed, run errands, clean, eat…nothing. I hate admitting this because it sounds lazy and selfish. It’s all so dramatic, but I truly can’t help it.

know that the more I do, the better I feel. I know how to take deep breaths, think positive and do all of that crap, but nothing would work. Whenever I panic, like for real panic, it seems impossible to reverse the effects. My mind was consumed with images of my funeral, with thoughts of Luna being raised without me and a constant stream of negativity. It’s awful and weird to admit these fears that reveal themselves during an anxiety attack, but they’re real for me. I don’t think I went half an hour without breaking down in tears for those two days.

I could feel myself sinking. As I got lower, everything good in life seemed further away. Husband, Luna, my life…they were all just above the surface as I struggled to keep my head above the water. By day two, I could see a little light. I could see the stress on Husband’s face when I broke down, and I knew I had to start taking steps. I remembered two very important words of advice at this point.

The first is a quote from my Grandmother’s journal.

I’m convinced that I will never be without problems of all sorts, but still I must never see the dark pit again. Only an idiot is continually happy, joyous and has no problems; but stupidity is another thing. A stupid person hangs onto that first step and enjoys all that muck he is in. Boy, this second step feels better all the time.

The second is something my Mom told me after having Luna.

Focus on the small victories.

I took their wise words and consciously made an effort to start climbing up that ladder and focusing on my little accomplishments. I forced myself to stop the negative thoughts. They still came, but each time they did I replaced them with something positive…like Luna’s face, dancing, good music, a smoothie, and yoga. I then took action. I forced myself to exercise (hallelujah, does that help!), I only talked about happy things, I hugged and kissed Husband A LOT and before long I actually began believing the positivity.

It wasn’t instant, but I was coming to life again. By the end of the week I was back to my regular kind-of-anxious self. By the time I went to my specialist this week I could actually laugh about my freak out and talk to him without crying. My health still isn’t where I want it to be, which is disappointing, but it’s not horrible either. I’m mostly healthy. I’m happy. I’ll most likely make a full recovery, but if I don’t that’s okay too. That’s why we have doctors and drugs, right? I think my doctor is probably right…I will live to be 100.

Cheers!

The Road to Recovery

Today I am 20 days postpartum and feeling a hell of a lot better. After the 10 day hospital stay, the dozens of tests, various doctor visits, and literally hundreds of pills I am happy to say I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and have learned some very valuable life lessons. Living in the hospital and having my blood pressure taken constantly while slowly having the life drained out of me was my definition of torture. It was as if someone force me to live through my worst nightmare. There were moments when I thought I couldn’t take one more second, but now I realize it was just a stepping stone to what life has in store.

This post is kind of serious, so I'll sprinkle some adorable baby photos throughout to lighten the mood!
This post is kind of serious, so I’ll sprinkle some adorable baby photos throughout to lighten the mood!

I am a positive person, (hello! my blog is called “positively panicked”), but anyone who saw me during that hospital stint will tell you I was in a dark place. I know and have studied all the ways to stay positive…I have been to therapists, studied the benefits of positive thinking, meditated, prayed, trained in yoga and read numerous books on not only how to stop a panic attack with positive thinking, but the benefits of it. Yet, at that moment, fear, anxiety and panic took over. No amount of deep breathing, music or change of thought helped.

After Luna’s delivery I quickly went from new-mommy elation to “I’m going to die” in a matter of hours. It didn’t help that some of the nurses were unaware of my high-anxiety and said the exact wrong things to me. One told me that if my guests didn’t leave I’d have seizure. Then,  a doctor told me that if this were 50 years ago I’d be dead, and Husband would be a widower. He then seemed surprised when I my reaction was to cry and curl up in the fetal position. The shocked look on the professionals faces after my blood pressure tests, the dark hospital room and the strict instructions to stay on my side scared me enough to constantly make me imagine Luna’s life without me in it. I’ve never been so scared.

The side effect of the medicines didn’t help. I had hot flashes, the chills, dizziness, weakness, headaches, numbness and more. They had me on 16 blood pressure pills a day, percocet, ambien, celexa and xanax. I was not only an emotional and physical wreck, but was quickly becoming a zombie. Over-medicated, I was unable to function like a new Mom and had no appetite whatsoever. Before leaving the hospital I’d lost all my pregnancy weight plus some. Not exactly how I planned on getting back into my skinny jeans.

Her nursery is still unfinished, but here's a little peak at her crib.
Her nursery is still unfinished, but here’s a little peak at her crib with her in it.

NOW, I realize this all sounds depressing and awful, but I tell you this to explain to you how I clawed my way out of that dark pit. I hope my experience will be able to help anyone feeling sick or depressed. While bed-ridden I was constantly googling my symptoms and searching for someone, anyone who had experienced what I was going through. I was looking for hope, which I found in many places.

The poor staff at my hospital probably dreaded coming in my room. I cried to every single doctor, nurse and tech I saw. One nurse reminded me over and over again to be kind and gentle to myself. She built me up by reminding me that not only did I go through a traumatic labor, but I created a human and am now solely responsible for feeding that human. She told me I was amazing, but I was also sick and not to feel guilty about that. She hit the nail on the head when she compared being internally sick to being externally sick. If my legs were broken I wouldn’t feel bad about having to wear a cast. I wouldn’t feel guilty for not being able to walk, but because I was hurt where no one could see, I felt ashamed. I couldn’t understand why everything had become so difficult, I didn’t want to accept being on so many meds and I needed to get over that kind of thinking.

I received advice from a few blogs, my best friends, Husband, family and even some of my favorite songs, but perhaps the best advice I got was from my Mom. Mom told me to focus on “small victories”. It seems really silly, but around day 7 in the hospital, I gave it a try. I decided to make one small goal for each day and to revel in its completion. First goal, was to take a shower, brush my teeth and change Luna’s diaper myself. Seems a bit ridiculous, but it took every little bit of me to power through the tasks. I did it, I felt successful and I had one small victory to focus on that day.

sleep

Next, I decided to walk down the hallway. I made it halfway before I began losing vision, but I did it. Once we were in our own home, I continued my “small victories” goals. One day my goal was to bathe Luna, next was to blow dry my hair, then do laundry, go to Target and so on… Eventually, these “small victories” felt like big victories. Before I knew it I had a whole list of little accomplishments to focus on and prove to myself that things were improving and I was healing… slowly but surely.

The biggest problem was my medication. The 16 blood pressure pills a day (for real) have taken their toll. They make me so weak and dizzy that often just walking from one room to the next feels like a marathon…and this is coming from the girl who was doing Shaun T’s Asylum at 9 months pregnant! I knew something had to change, and it had to change fast. Thankfully, with the help of my Mom-in-law I was able to get an appointment with Nashville’s only hypertension specialist at Vanderbilt hospital.

Of course, in typical me-fashion, I was anxious, sweating and terrified to meet yet another new doctor where I’d have to explain that I’m anxious and terrified of doctors and hospitals. This doctor didn’t really get “panic attacks”, but the one thing he did get was high blood pressure. It’s his life. After lots of more fun tests he decided that I’m basically healthy and way over-medicated (shocking, I know). My blood pressure was actually very low at this point. NOW, I’m down to 5 pills a day (woohoo!) and will just keep going down from there. This is the biggest victory so far, and I’m only 20 days into this new life.

My little eskimo
My little Eskimo

Through all of this mess, I’ve learned to overcome some big fears. I am forced to slow WAY down and take every day one moment at a time. Every little thing Luna does, Husband does and even each little chore is appreciated. Never again will I take my health for granted. I’ve also gained so much more respect for any sick parents. I can’t imagine how someone with a serious illness and children does it. Mentally, I think I’d lose it, yet I know there are parents out there facing far bigger obstacles than I just faced the first couple of weeks. I don’t know where they find their strength and bravery.

I read a blog recently that spoke about looking at obstacles with excitement. Sure, shitty situations happen to us all, but perhaps every bad day or every closed door is just part of the path to our destiny.  Maybe we are meant to hit 8 closed doors before reaching that opened door. If we look at the obstacles in our life in this light, then they don’t seem quite so bad. The idea that going through this awful labor and delivery experience has just prepared me for something far greater in life makes it bearable. I can see now that every day has gotten better and will continue to improve. And, when I feel normal again I can hopefully use this experience to help someone else.

If anything, I will do my best to teach Luna to be excited about the obstacles in her life and to believe that everything will be okay.

Cheers!

A Lot Can Happen in 2 Weeks

As of yesterday our little Luna is 2 weeks old! Boy has a lot happened in those two weeks.

sleepy

After spending the majority of her life in a dark hospital room, our poor baby is probably confused about where she lives. I was feeling very depressed during that time, but I tried to bring myself out of it by focusing on her. A few of my Facebook friends had babies the same week I had Luna, and they were of course home and happy long before we left the hospital. I felt jealous of all of their happy “welcome home” and “baby’s firsts” photos. Normally, I am a “make the best of any situation” kind of person, but the depression and the TON of medications in my system made me a different person. After a few days I knew I had to fight for my happiness and sanity. I couldn’t do much, but began taking photos of Luna, sharing them with friends and making plans for what we would do once we were back home.

instagram collage

And, once we were home I was looking forward to the littlest things… Luna’s first bath, introducing her to our pets, putting her in her new cute clothes and just doing normal day-to-day things. Even now, I’m still too weak to do much… can’t even wash the dishes. You’d think I’d be grateful, but never in my life have I wanted to just do normal chores and what-not so badly. We did, however, get to give Luna her first bath. It became a whole family affair. Belle is so concerned when Luna cries or whimpers that we had to put her on the cabinet so she could watch and see that Luna was safe.

First bath!
First bath!
Daddy drying her off.
Daddy drying her off.

I’m so relieved that Belle seems to like Luna. Duckie, on the other hand mostly acts like the baby doesn’t exist. She just wants all of the attention for herself.  In the first 30 minutes of getting home I passed out on the bed and was quickly joined…everyone was happy to be back together.

1st home

One good thing about having such a difficult first ten days is that everything else seems easier, funnier even. Spit-up. explosive diapers, all-night feeding sessions and even the poop catastrophe that ended up all over our white comforter are hilarious and even appreciated. It’s real life in our real home. I’m so happy to be able to stand and change her diaper that I can’t even feel frustrated when something like this happens.

Besides “first baths” and “first embarrassing moments”, Luna had a few other “first”. We took her out to a family dinner at a new French restaurant. She’s had her first two newborn doctor appointments (and is already WAY passed her birth weight). We went shopping at Target together (Mommy had to embarrassingly shop in one of those electric wheelchair thingys…it sucks being so weak and dizzy.) Oh, and the photo on the bottom left is when Belle tried to drop her toy donut next to Luna and it ended up looping her arm, so cute!

collage

Luna has had a lot of visitors too! In the hospital I felt so depressed that I didn’t even want to see people. In fact, I didn’t even want to answer my phone. This is very out of character for me. You know, we always have visitors, so for me to not want to see anyone was a clear sign something was very wrong. I’m so happy to be home now, happier and able to enjoy company. And, I really love showing off Luna…she’s seriously the cutest.

honeyandpawpaw
My sweet mom actually blow-dried my hair for me just so we could all take a photo together.

I’m having to take life slower than ever, but that just means I get to enjoy lots of cuddle and downtime with Luna…and that’s what really matters.

blanket

Cheers!

Luna’s Birth Story: A Not-So-Magical Experience

luna

In case you haven’t heard, we had our baby! Luna Hazel was born on Wednesday January 29th at 12:11pm. She weighed 5 lbs 14 oz and was 18.5 inches long. A perfect bundle of blonde hair and beautiful joy. She could not be a happier, prettier, healthier or better baby, and for that we are SO grateful.

However, her birth was far from perfect and was nothing like I ever would have imagined it. Before giving birth this is exactly what I hoped and imagined delivering our baby would be like….

Contractions would start and I would breathe through them at home for a while. I would do my makeup and hair, eat a big meal and try to relax until contractions got closer together. Once we arrived to the hospital, I would use the labor tub, the labor balls, the labor bar, etc, etc to get through the pain and try to not get an epidural. I’m not necessarily anti-epidural, but I wanted to try to go without one and be free to walk about and do what I please. I hate being attached to anything in a hospital. Anyways, after a few hours, we’d have our baby, a room full of people who love us and all would be right in the world. The end.

Here is what actually happened….

Last Tuesday, I had my regular 37 week check-up at my OBGYN at 8:30am. I felt normal and excited to hear if there were any changes. As the nurse took my blood pressure she looked a little concerned and took it again…and again. Then, she had another nurse come over and take it once more. They asked if my head hurt or if my vision was blurry…it wasn’t. They asked if I felt okay, and I said “Not anymore!” After, the doctor looked me over they told me to “relax” (yeah right) and they’d take my vitals again. The doctor then came in and told me I probably have toxemia and I need to go straight to the hospital…do not go home, do not pass go and collect $200… go directly to the hospital.

OKAY…if you are new to Positively Panicked, allow me to give you a quick description of myself: I have very high anxiety and panic attacks. My triggers are hospitals, sicknesses and high blood pressure. Also, my health during the entire pregnancy was perfect, so this all came as quite a shock.

A little scared, I called Husband to meet me there and drove myself to the hospital where the fun really began. I arrived at 10am and after being observed and tested for a few hours they decided to induce me at 2pm. Toxemia and preeclampsia had been ruled out, but my blood pressure kept getting higher. No one really knows why. So, they started me on pitocin and let the contractions begin. Eventually, my blood pressure only go higher so they put me on magnesium.

When they decided to put me on magnesium I had already been in labor for several hours, was shaken up and scared and really sick of having my blood pressure constantly taken. I was not allowed to eat or drink and was STARVING. (I had a yogurt and half a banana before my OBGYN appointment that morning…and that was it.)  Then, the nurse tells me that magnesium will keep me from having a stroke or seizure, but will make me feel like crap. She said I’d have to have a catheter, stay lying on my left side, I’d feel woozy, get a bad headache and have hot flashes and chills. Awesome, because the situation really wasn’t crappy enough already. Boy, was she right…magnesium makes you feel awful.

At 1am I was dilated to 2cm. I wanted to hurt someone when I heard this. 2cm? Only 2!? I’d already been in labor for almost 12 hours! And, being induced is really not a fun type of labor. They suggested I get an epidural, my first reaction was “no”, but the nurse told me I’d probably be in labor for 12 more hours and reminded me that I’m already stuck in the bed and connected to a million tubes and IV’s, so I said, “Let’s do it.” They also had me wear an oxygen mask the rest of the time.

The epidural made me sick at first (who knew I could feel worse?), but not long after it began working and I actually felt some relief. I even slept a little. Fast forward about 11 hours and I was FINALLY fully dilated and effaced. Now, I was scared. Scared to push, scared to deliver a baby, scared about my high blood pressure, but I was also ready. I wanted to get this over with. I wanted to have my baby, have my blood pressure drop back to normal and get the heck out of my worst nightmare.

Husband, was amazing, never left my side, held me, took photos and coached me through everything. After being in labor for over 22 hours, I only pushed for 25 minutes and our little Luna entered the world. We cried and just stared at her in disbelief because all of a sudden there she was… it was the most surreal experience.

tear untouched

First family photo
First family photo

I’m so glad I got an epidural because it probably kept my blood pressure at bay during delivery, AND I had a pretty bad perineal tear that I luckily did not have to feel get stitched. I wish this was the end. I wish I could tell you that we got cleaned up, stayed the night and then came home to be parents, but it is so far from the end. My blood pressure would not drop. I had to be kept on magnesium for another 24 hours (still no food, water or ability to get out of the bed). I could not enjoy any visitors because I was so scared, miserable and uncomfortable. Thank God, I got to keep Luna with me and breastfeed right away, but it wasn’t easy after not eating for over 48 hours.

Her body temperature was low for the first couple of hours so they had to take her and heat her up under lights for a little while. They also bathed her and put a tiny bow on her head!
Her body temperature was low for the first couple of hours so they had to take her and heat her up under lights for a little while. They also bathed her and put a tiny bow on her head!

The next day, I was taken off magnesium and allowed to eat, but still stuck in the hospital because my bp was still too high. To make a very long story slightly shorter I’ll just say I was kept in the hospital for 9 nights and 10 days. I felt as if I was tortured and forced to live a nightmare for hours on end. I couldn’t eat for about 5 days due to lack of appetite, nerves and medications. I couldn’t have visitors some days. My anxiety is through the roof. I’m on 3 different blood pressure medications for the time being and have had so many panic attacks over the last week it’s unreal. I was so weak upon being released I could only walk about 30 feet before almost passing out. I am still terrified and trying so hard to keep my mind thinking positively.

Besides, the physical ailments, I am emotionally drained. My hormones are all over place. I cry at everything. I know I am so lucky and blessed to have this beautiful baby and the BEST Husband ever (he never left my side for  the entire 10 days…not once).  At the same time, I am crushed that our first couple of weeks as parents has been so traumatic. I just want to be a mother. I am depressed about being on so much medication and I am really afraid of going back to the doctor this week to check everything.

Luna is perfect. She had jaundice and had to be in the incubator looking thing for a day, but other than that she is perfectly healthy and the most content little baby.

jaundice

There were a couple of times that Mommy was not able to breastfeed so Daddy took over with formula.
There were a couple of times that Mommy was not able to breastfeed so Daddy took over with formula.

It’s amazing now to look back to two weeks ago…I was so upset that our nursery wasn’t finished, our newborn photos weren’t scheduled, worried about stretch-marks and gaining too much weight… everything seems so silly now. None of that stupid stuff matters, at all. Our nursery is still unfinished and it’s the last thing on my mind. All of a sudden life has been put in a whole new perspective.

I want to scream “this isn’t FAIR! I’m young, I’m the epitome of health! I’m a vegetarian! I workout 6 days a week! Why is this happening to me?!?!?!” But, Husband has reminded me that it is fair. It’s life. And, I’m lucky. I am here, I am getting stronger and healthier each day. I have a healthy baby. I have a healthy Husband. I have a beautiful home. We have awesome supportive family and friends who have cared for us, brought us food, cleaned our house, watched our pets, prayed for us and supported us in so many ways. Things could be a lot worse.

I don’t know how much I’ll be writing over the next couple of weeks, but I have so much more to share and will definitely be updating as soon as life gets a little more normal.

Thank you all so much for your thoughts, prayers, encouraging messages and positive vibes sent our way. You have no idea how much we appreciate them. Please keep them coming.

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Cheers

False Alarm

At work last night something happened…I don’t want to get too detailed for the sake of you squirmy people out there, so let’s just say I sprung a leak. Still too much? Oh well. I knew something was not normal, but I felt perfect, so I ignored it and finished working. I know, I know…not smart, but again, I felt perfect!

On the way home, I stopped for gas and Googled my symptoms. I don’t normally do this, but I was 99% sure the results would assure me that all is well. Wrong. Every single freakin’ website said “Call your doctor or go to the hospital immediately!”. Again, I thought, I feel fine! I was tired after work, hungry and needed to go to bed early for a subbing job the next day. I did not have time to go to the hospital, especially since I felt fine. No way.

I decided to give a very good friend who very recently had a baby a call. I wanted her to tell me Google is wrong. She did not. In her very nice calm way she basically said, “Stop being stubborn and go to the hospital.” Uggghhhhh.

At this point I called Husband to give him a head’s up that I might possibly need to go to the hospital, but I was going to call our doctor first. Turns out, you can call your doctor virtually anytime if you’re pregnant! I had to speak with a nurse first, but 30 seconds after hanging up with her my doctor called me back and told me to go to the hospital NOW. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Now, I had been the perfect picture of calm all night. I felt fine. I knew nothing was wrong, and I just had this absolute calmness about me, until he called. My doctor is super chill, so when he sounded the slightest bit urgent on the phone my fears began to creep in and start to work. Obviously, a million things were running through my mind on our very long 40 minute drive, but mostly I worried I was going to be put on bed rest. “I can’t be put on bed rest” is all I kept muttering.

I expected an emergency room sort of reaction when I arrived, but the baby wing at our hospital was not alarmed. They were expecting me, but had me wait my turn, register, fill out SO much paper work and took about 45 minutes to admit me. Admit me. Are you serious? Can’t you just check me out and send me on my way?

They had to treat me as if I was in labor. We had to answer questions about epidurals, decide how many visitors we wanted, and basically create our entire birthing plan and then some. I was hesitant to answer because a) I am supposed to have 3 more months to make these decisions and b) I am not having this baby right now!

They actually put me in a wheelchair and rolled me to my room! I have to tell you, this is not at all what Husband and I expected on the drive to the hospital. I had a baby heartbeat monitor on, a contractions monitor and a blood pressure cuff for hours! Considering the situation, and my history, I was still fairly calm. I wasn’t panicking and I only cried on the car ride so I was feeling a little proud of myself…. Then, the blood pressure taking started.

Getting rolled into my room.
Getting rolled into my room.

Crap.

It was obviously high. I have serious issues with getting my blood pressure taken and hospitals in general. Lucky for me, I got to keep the cuff on and have it automatically taken every 15 minutes. So, as I lay in a hospital bed watching Conan I had to listen to my baby’s fast little heart beating (this is probably soothing for some, but not at all for me), watch the monitors and constantly get worked up over my stupid blood pressure being taken. It was torture. I was oh so close to taking it off, but I acted like a big girl and kept it attached.

Sad.
Sad.

I kept it on because I decided at that point to use this time as a positive opportunity. Yes, our night was ruined, supper was left on the stove, I had to cancel my job for the next day and I was feeling frightened, but I was learning so much!  We got fully registered at the hospital, learned exactly what to expect when delivery time does come, got to know some of the very friendly staff and even began to get use to having my blood pressure taken. So I stayed in the bed, allowed the testing and reminded myself that it will just be easier next time around.

Eventually the nurse came back to tell us “False alarm!”. Our baby girl is perfectly healthy and I am perfectly healthy. She told us this was our first false alarm and we should go home and get plenty of rest. I told her it will hopefully be our only false alarm, and I’ll see her again in 3 months.

Whew. The second we were released I realized how hungry I was. Husband and I were both relieved and ready to get home. We ate dinner and fell fast asleep on the couch together at 1 am. It wasn’t exactly a great night, but it could have been much worse. No need to worry or be alarmed. Doctor says I’m perfect and to continue on as normal.

That’s the best news I heard all day.

Cheers!