25 March 2005

...and it continues...

I am tired beyond words. Yesterday, I never had a chance to make that coffee I desparately craved. Today, I made it before going to my doctor's appointment. I knew I'd never survive the day otherwise. My husband had to come home to stay with Little B as he was still running a fever and I'm a mom who does not care to expose illness to anyone else if possible. Just Little B having it is bad enough. This has been one of the harder rounds of being sick for our household. Part of it is juggling a new baby and trying not to spread germs...part of it is that anytime she is resting, he is not and vice versa...and a huge part is simply the redundant nights of waking on the hour.

Last night I involuntarily fell asleep around 9:30. My husband had Miss C downstairs and she fell asleep shortly before that; Little B, after 2 naps during the day, was finally getting a lower temperature, and fell asleep when I did (or I should say I fell asleep when he did...I'd just read to him and was snuggling him). I was startled awake when he cried out. And I was shocked to realize it was 11pm. My husband brought me my asthma medication that I take each night and I skipped washing my face and teeth...I never skip those. I conked back out and from then on, I was awake on the hour, practically, with an hour long, 2 kid session around 4am. I believe I got another 2 hours in a row then, but Little B was ready to get up at 7ish...the earlier sunrises are working against me these days. He was feeling a bit better, had eaten some apples and peanut butter during the 4am round, and though he didn't eat much else today, his fever stayed below the 101 mark versus the 102-104+ from yesterday.

My entire family is sleeping right now. Me? You may ask why I am not seizing the chance to sleep when I need it so desparately...I'm a crank-pot and by evening felt definitely down and in the dumps...I am headed to bed in a moment, but needed to do something for myself and enjoy a few minutes of awake time without one of the kids demanding my immediate attention...I am not handing out tissues or medicine, refilling a juice cup, offering popsicles or changing movies in the DVD...nor am I nursing or changing a diaper or outfit, refilling the wipes container or wiping up spit-up...

Never mind. Little B is crying out. My peace is gone. Then it will be a new diaper and hopefully I will get a bit of rest before dawn...

24 March 2005

adeno virus

Yuck. For two nights, I've been more awake than asleep. This has nothing to do with my 7 week old baby, either. It's my 4 year old. The first night, I thought he was having bad dreams and a bit of allergy-related congestion. He literally whined and wimpered all night. (He starts the night out in his bed, then joins us later on.) He went to school yesterday, showing only signs of a drippy nose, and having seen at least one other kid in his class on Monday who was lingering by the tissue box I decided not to worry since whatever it was he got from that same class or else it was spring allergies. Well, yesterday was his Easter party at school, so I took our fruit contribution and went up there at 11am. He seemed a bit on the pale side and after their egg hunt, I kissed his head and he felt warm. I figured it was from the egg hunt. Boy, was I wrong. When it was time to leave, shortly after noon, I buckled him into his booster seat and kissed his head again (we are an affectionate family). Sheesh...still quite warm. Now, I began to believe it was a fever. He was still pale and hadn't eaten much. Sigh.

The mother of one of his friends was walking past my car, so I mentioned to her that he had a fever...two thoughts went with this: one, another mom might know what's going around (she's also a nurse), and two, she'd know her son had been exposed to something. She quickly offered her nursing skills: "Can I feel his head?". Sure...please do! I wasn't trying to take advantage of her nurse status, but was grateful for her willingness. She proceeded to feel his head, put her hand down the back of his shirt, and have him breath on her palm. Neat. She easily deduced that he had a low grade fever. And suggested that a 48 hour virus had been going around and they'd had it a couple weeks ago. Gotta love mom knowledge.

Well, through the night, hi fever spiked. I have these nifty stickers that stay on for about 3 days under the arm and give a constant temp reading. When I noticed him getting warmer, I requested he come on to my bed so I could take care of his needs without getting up a dozen times or more. His temperature was 101.9 around midnight. I gave him Tylenol to help him rest, and he cooled off a good bit. He talked in his sleep excessively (typical of feverish kids), then by early morning, he was back up to 102.2 and I gave him a bit more Tylenol. Poor kid!

His throat hurts, his eyes burn, his nose drips incessently, and his back and head ache. He is one miserable little boy. Given the constant fever and sore throat, I considered he might have strep as well as some allergies on the side and decided to call the doctor. Turns out, it's Adeno Virus, incorporating every single symptom he has, plus could include stomach upset while running its three to five day course of high fever (the fever causes the back and head aches). Ugh. The doctor said they are seeing a LOT of it right now. Figures.

I hope Miss C doesn't get it. I hope I don't get it for that matter. I am feeling rough, but it's related to lack of sleep: burning eyes, headache and exhaustion. ha! But who am I to complain? Little B feels worse than I do, that's for sure. I'm just fearful of juggling a new baby and a sick boy. And he soooo misses kissing on his sister. In the meantime, we are having serious TV days this week. He just fell asleep watching Veggie Tales on the sofa.

I do believe I will make some coffee to go with my lunch. Today is definitely a coffee day. Maybe I'll make enough for two big cups...mmmmm...who knows when I'll get sleep again?

23 March 2005

therapy and parties

Monday was Miss C's weekly appointment with her physical therapist, Jeff. He first watches for a few minutes to see how she moves on her own. From this, he can tell how far her range is in stretching her arm to her side or trying to lift it onto her chest or anything else may do. Then, he begins to do some stretches on her arm and can feel which way she 'wants' to move it. I notice this, too. There is almost a resistance to go all directions but one, and that one way is an easily assisted move. Apparently, this is her brain sending a message to her arm to move, but the muscles is not strong enough and the nerve is not firing sufficiently, so by assisting her movement, we send the message back to her brain that the move is effective. This process helps her brain register what the nerve is still not quite able to tell it. We are also developing the muscles and training them to function in a normal pattern.

There are two things in particular that we are watching for at this point. One is supination of the wrist. Basically, if you look at her, she keeps her palms face down all the time. We want her to voluntarily move them face up. Second is shoulder flexion, which is essentially raising her arm above her head. Jeff was trying to encourage this with gravity assistance (allowing gravity to make her job easier by adjusting her position). He said he could feel one of the three necessary muscles flexing beneath his fingertips...yay! It's just not strong enough yet to carry through with the movement.

Miss C does not bend her elbow much yet, either. Mostly, she keeps her arm straight. If she is on her right side, the left arm will move more (it's not pulling against gravity to move, thus making it easier for her, but still using the necessary muscles), and her elbow will bend some as she tries to learn her way. However, the elbow uses the bicep to move and that is the easiest muscle to build...it will voluntarily begin to work more as the others get stronger, so it is not a major concern right now.

On another note, my little boy turned four! Wow...he's growing up so fast. I swear it was just yesterday that he was the size of his sister...only he woke up a lot more in the night. Still does, for that matter! But he is absolutely the best four year old I could dream up. Most days. haha! We had a little birthday party for him over the weekend. It was just warm enough for the kids to go out and play in the yard. We kept things as simple as possible...no specific games...time slot that allowed for cake and ice cream but no other foods...and a maid to clean the house a few days prior...I could not have gotten this house ready on my own...I've just barely been feeling myself in the past two weeks as it is. But, we felt Little B really needed a special day for himself. He chose a Nemo theme. That meant Nemo on the cake, the party hats (forgotten upstairs until everyone was gone...oh well), party favor bags and two things in the bags, table cloth and invites and thank you notes. That was it. I even got ice cream cups so everything was completely disposable. I was still exhausted at the end of the day and truth be told, I really just sat and visited except to get out ice cream and take a couple pictures. And nurse Miss C.

Speaking of Miss C...she's fussing...off to mommy land!

19 March 2005

"i'm glad she didn't go"

Tonight, after exhuastion-driven tears and arguments with our son, he was finally settled into bed and calm at long last. We were lying together, talking about things as he unwound. I make an effort to be particularly positive as he's about to fall asleep so as to encourage a better rest and better dreams. In the midst of this, Miss C was screaming downstairs with my husband, and I finally told him to bring her up so I could nurse her. She settled in happily, feet upon her brother's back. I asked him if that was okay, and he said he liked it. (He truly adores his new sister...and frequently makes comments such as "I'm glad we have a new baby now". What a great kid!) Suddenly, when I think maybe he's about to fall asleep, Little B says, "I'm glad she didn't go". Huh? I tensed and got a little short as I asked, "Go where; what are you talking about? I don't understand." To which he replies, "Nothing, I was just talking to myself. I meant that I'm glad she didn't die. That's all I was saying."

My heart nearly stopped. I could hardly bear it. I spoke reassuringly to him, saying we were glad, too, and that we were so happy each of them is a part of our family, etc...then I sat there with tears running down my face. We never told him that Miss C's life was ever in danger during her birth--only that she'd been stuck. And I believe we have all made efforts to be careful of what we say about her birth in front of him. It's almost as if he has a sixth sense. Of course, he also knows her name is from my grandmother who died nearly two years ago. Perhaps that was his association with death...he's made other remarks related to such. However, this was different. He was so specific and his word choice so not a four-year olds...it was hard to hear and I was instantly transported back to her birth...I did not know how serious her situation was at birth until it was all over. Yet, I experienced it tonight like I knew it as it happened. And my heart was bleeding.

How blessed I am to have my little girl to hold.
How blessed I am to have a little boy with such a tender heart.
I cannot fathom life without them.
Thank You Father...

17 March 2005

life today

I had my 6-week post partum check-up yesterday. And I survived. Whew. I was terrified of having an exam done, but it wasn't even painful. Until about 10 minutes later. haha! I was definitely less than comfy the rest of the day, but I can't really complain considering the incredible pain I had a matter of weeks ago. Looking back, that pain was much worse than I even realized. There is a kind of numbing that goes with intense pain. Such was the case in the early days of my recovery. I am healing well and the stitches are now gone. That is wonderful to me because it tells me I won't split open the seam that I now have. Sigh...

Roxanne always makes it a point to check on the progress of Miss C's arm. I was nice to hear her say, "She's moving it much more than just three weeks ago!" Being the one who watches day to day, sometimes it's hard to see the progress. The world of physical therapy is new for me. With a brachial plexus injury, one of three things has happened with the damaged nerves:

1. They can be stretched. Sometimes, a neuroma (scar tissue) can develop on the healing nerve.

2. They can be ruptured (torn apart).

3. They can be pulled from the spine, called an avulsion.

Visibly, the arm simply hangs limp and does not function.

If the nerves are stretched, they will heal themselves and the therapy will keep the muscles functioning in the meantime. Should her evaluation at 3 months of age be lacking, they will probably discuss surgery with us. If repaired, the nerves can (hopefully) heal themselves. If left unrepaired for too long, they will degenerate and be forever useless. At that point, the best they can do is redirect muscles for optimum use, resulting in less than 100% ability, for sure. Sometimes, repeat surgeries are necessary. If a neuroma occurs, I believe it can hinder the progress of a healing nerve, and also require surgery.

At home, our 'therapy' for her includes passive range of motion exercises, joint compressions, and triggering the nerves to fire with any type of input we can...vibration, light touch, massage and texture.

Miss C's hand and wrist have moved since she was born. Her upper arm is the area that is most affected. This indicates that fewer nerves are involved. Thus far, each week, she has shown significant improvement. Her fingers are opening more freely, her wrist is flexing further and her muscles are gaining strength. This week's appointment was especially good in that she moved her arm against gravity. That takes work for this little girl! We are so proud! And, to top it off, last night, she was really moving it a lot...with efforts to bend the elbow. It was awesome to see. My parents were here and we all sat around watching her move her arm when I would 'trigger' it by touching the upper arm with a light, ticklish touch. Lying on her back, she lifts it further than ever before. My heart is so thrilled at moments like that. Before they left, my whole family sat around and prayed for her...even my son. I know God will heal her. To whatever extent that He chooses...He knows exactly what is in His plan for her.

So, my life today consists of a baby who sleeps long, long hours, and is incredibly content, and a little boy who will be 4 in less than a week. I am gaining momentum in my daily activities after being out of commission for well over a month, and slowly life as I know it is evolving into a family of four and increased demands. But, it's worth every moment.

16 March 2005

my daughter's story

It is the details that make each story unique.
This is my daughter's story…

My pregnancy was really quite normal. I did not gain excess weight, and I measured exactly as I should have practically every week. I counted any extra discomfort towards it being a second pregnancy and chasing a 3 year old around. As my due date approached, my pelvic bone began to feel intensely bruised so that even rolling out of the bed was nearly impossible and my body was physically fatigued, more extreme than I recalled from before. My due date passed…but, I figured I was really due 4 days later anyway…then, that day passed as well. I was going to my weekly prenatal appointments with increasing awe that I was indeed still pregnant.

At one point, my father reminded me that the Lord would call my baby forth from my womb at the appointed time. In that moment, my anxiety was replaced by peace. I knew God was in control and remember saying that He already knew the details of my child’s delivery. I could trust in Him, rest in Him. And I did.

Finally, hoping to prevent medical induction, we allowed them to strip my membranes. More than 2 days later, in the midst of a horrible cold, I went into labor at last. I was now 8-12 days overdue. By the time I arrived at the hospital I was already in transition. When it was time to push, I was physically weak from the cold and simply told the Lord I would not be able to push for 4 hours as I had with my son. Roxanne, my midwife, encouraged me to change positions several times and things were moving so smoothly it was incredible. I’m not sure how I pushed so efficiently, but it took only 30 minutes. As she crowned, I felt her head, and as her head emerged, my husband was gloved and ready to help ‘catch’ our new baby. I had a friend along taking pictures and my mom was by my side. I was so ready to meet this little person who’d been living inside me.

I must insert here that in the waiting room, my mother had felt a pressing need to pray…pacing the floors for some time. She then joined me in the delivery room for a good bit of the pushing, though I have no recollection of when that was.

Suddenly things changed. Part of it I remember like a slide show, the rest of the details have been filled in for me over time, and I still glean new information weekly…

What I recall:
~Absolute peace. It never left me.
~Nurses on my stomach, extra people everywhere.
~Sudden awareness that my baby’s shoulder was stuck behind my pelvic bone—I’d read about this…shoulder dystocia.
~Asking if I could get on all fours as my reading had informed me that this was the easiest way to dislodge the baby. I was told no (by a nurse). Roxanne later told me we were simply out of time for that, but she was at that moment contemplating such a move.
~Roxanne briefly informing me of the need for an episiotomy. Snip. Small sting. Elbow up, CUT-CUT-CUT-CUT-CUT…
~Beginning to hyperventilate from the constant pushing; telling myself to pull it together because I had to get my baby out now. A couple deep cleansing breaths and push
~Tug. Pull. Push. From every direction.
~My mother telling me I had a girl. Wow.
~Being informed that my new baby girl weighed 11lbs 3 oz…I actually thought they were joking. They weren’t.
~A different midwife delivering my placenta. My midwife is better at it.

What I have since learned:
~Roxanne called some kind of code.
~Once the baby’s head is out, you have five minutes to get the rest of it out. We used every bit of those five minutes.
~Someone was running down the hall shouting “We need a doctor STAT!”
~There was actually a nurse on my bed pushing to dislodge my baby and at least one more on the other side helping. One of them tore a tendon in her wrist.
~No one knows just how many people were in the room helping.
~My baby was not breathing when she was born because she was stunned from the birth.
~There are many layers of repair with a level four episiotomy; and many weeks of recovery.
~If I had complained more to the midwives, it may have tipped them off that my baby was big. And I was simply trying not to whine. Figures.

Our daughter was as crowded by nurses as I had been. One nurse told me they needed to monitor her for a while. If all was okay, she would be brought to me later, otherwise they’d have to put her in NICU. I held her for all of two minutes, I think, before she was whisked out of the room. Everything was surreal during this time, arms bare of my new baby girl, adjusting to the shock of our experience. Yet the peace did not leave me. God was still in control.

My little girl has a Brachial Plexus Injury from being lodged behind my pelvic bone during the birth. This means some of the nerves to her arm were damaged. At this time, we do physical therapy every day at home and with a professional once a week. I will blog on this in the ensuing months as it has embarked us on a journey we never could have imagined. We pray the journey is short and simple, but in truth it could be long and drawn out. At this point, we do not know where it will take us. What we do know is we must pray. And God indeed knows the details that lie ahead. We must continue to trust and rest in Him.

In the meantime, Miss C is doing well. She is overall a very content baby, adored by her big brother, and is as perfect as any baby can be. She has absolutely captured our hearts and we know she was exactly who the Lord knew we needed in our family. On one hand, her life was in the balance for a few minutes during her birth, and on the other hand, I know God had her completely in His hands and never let her go. She was absolutely intended to be here. He has a plan for her. I know this deep inside. And it brings tears to my eyes. God is so good.