July 22, 2014
by hyedi
3 Comments

Picking up the pieces

Just when we started easing back into some kind of a routine and life was somewhat returning to normal, this past week the hospital bills started showing up, we had to go pick up Charlie’s death certificate and after months of super clear “pregnancy” skin, I started breaking out like a teenage boy. We were quickly reminded that this will be our life for awhile, because:

We’re still in the early stages of the grieving process. J and I are working through all of the emotions “appropriately” (whatever that means) but we have a long journey ahead of us. Even when we have a good day or two, out of nowhere, something will catch us totally off guard. Like reviewing Charlie’s death certificate or planning an upcoming trip for a family wedding and thinking about how the day of the wedding was supposed to be my due date. I saw this article the other day and it really hit home.

I gave birth.  I’m still physically healing from surgery. The recovery process doesn’t speed up just because you experienced a loss. I spent the last week thinking about how most women recover from a caesarean while trying to take care of a newborn at the same time and therefore mentally beating myself up every time someone asked if I was back at work yet and I replied “no.” It took some wise words from a friend and the book “The Gift of Time” to remind me that I had major surgery and to be kind to myself.

My body knows that I gave birth. But it doesn’t know that I don’t have a baby to take care of. So almost a week after I delivered, my milk came in. It’s another thing I had prepared myself for but it was still hard to deal with. I read somewhere that for some women who have experienced a loss, this can cause a “second grieving” and I can understand why, especially since breastfeeding was something I was looking forward to.

And then there’s the baby weight. Because of all of the extra fluid I was carrying around, I had already gained around 40 pounds when they last weighed me at 29.5 weeks (and that was after my water broke). At my appointment last week, I had lost 27 pounds, which means I have 13 pounds to go to be back at pre-pregnancy weight. Right now, I’m not able to exercise (hoping I get the go ahead at my six week follow up appointment) but I’m also not ready to really start watching what I’m eating, either. I’m not too concerned about it actually. The hardest part about the extra weight and my changed body really comes down to this: when I look in the mirror, what I see is a reminder of losing Charlie — and that’s hard.

On a positive note, we got some good news this past week at my two week follow up appointment. The doctor said that the takeaway message for us is that what we went through was likely an isolated, extremely rare thing and that we should be able to treat any future pregnancies as “normal.” It’s hard to think about the future right now, but it was reassuring to hear.

July 14, 2014
by hyedi
16 Comments

Charlie’s Birth Story

After going back and forth about how detailed I wanted to be in Charlie’s birth story, this is what I landed on. I wrote a more detailed one for J and myself to have but decided to keep that private.

It would be an understatement to say that so many things about my pregnancy didn’t work out anywhere close to what I had imagined or hoped for (I realize that they rarely do). One of those things is that all along I wanted nothing more than to have a vaginal delivery if it was possible, but once it became clear that we were going to need to deliver Charlie to be able to give him a shot at life, that option went out the door. The doctor strongly recommended a C-section because she was worried about Charlie being able to tolerate labor.

The events leading up to the decision to deliver Charlie all happened very quickly and once we made that decision, things continued to move quickly. The conversation with the doctor took place at 10:26 p.m., the anesthesiologist was in the room less than ten minutes later, and then before we knew it, it was go time. The rest of the team was in place, and they got Jesse suited up. The adrenaline started kicking in and I couldn’t help but start shaking uncontrollably. They took me up to the OR first and got me all numbed up (luckily I was able to hold still for long enough that they got my spinal in without any issues or pain). They brought J in shortly after and at 11:12 p.m., Charlie was born. J then saw them whisk Charlie away.

The anesthesiologist went to check on Charlie and came back to let us know that the neonatal team was working on inserting a breathing tube. He also let us know that he was struggling and that his heart rate was quite low, around 60 bpm. Minutes later, one of the neonatalogists came in and I think we knew what she was going to say even before she said it, but her words still hit us like a ton of bricks: “I’m so sorry, but Charlie isn’t going to make it.”
They cleaned and bundled Charlie up, brought him into the OR and handed him to me so we could  hold him while he was still alive. I was starting to feel nauseous from all of the pulling and tugging, so J then took him into his arms and we held our precious baby boy until they came back to check him again, at 11:46 p.m., when they let us know they could no longer find a heartbeat. Our sweet boy passed away peacefully in our arms.

Once I was all stitched back up, we were moved into recovery, where we took turns snuggling Charlie some more. As the shock started to wear off (slightly), we were able to admire just how cute our sweet baby boy was.

Just before 2 a.m., after a couple of hours in recovery, they brought us to our room and got us settled in. Jesse’s family joined us in the room and my parents arrived a couple of hours later, around 4:30 a.m., to meet their grandson.

The rest of Friday (the Fourth of July) was busy, the hospital chaplain that I’d reached out to after we got Charlie’s diagnosis, came to perform the naming ceremony that Jesse and I had picked out. Shortly after, Megan, a professional photographer volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep arrived to take some photos of Charlie and of Jesse and me with Charlie. The day was mostly a blur, I had barely slept at all since we were first admitted to the hospital and I remember not wanting to sleep, just to spend as much time with our little family as possible.

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**All photos in this post are by Megan Crown with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
On Saturday evening, we decided to keep Charlie in our room for one final night. After they got my discharge information drawn up and prescriptions filled, we started packing up and I got ready and put on some real clothes. We said our final goodbyes and Jesse went to pull the car up while the nurse wheeled me down a back hallway instead of by the rest of the postpartum rooms. Letting the nurses know that we were ready for them to take Charlie away and then leaving the hospital without him, was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

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We are so thankful for the outstanding care we received throughout this entire ordeal and for the amazing nurses (seriously, we can’t say enough good things about our nurses), doctors, care coordinators, social workers, our doulas and other members of our care team. The past ten weeks have been a roller coaster (to say the least), but it also made us cherish each day that Charlie was still alive and fighting.

We’re also very thankful that we were able to keep Charlie in our room with us for as long as we wanted. We’ll never forget that precious time we had that gave us the chance to snuggle him and give him lots of love and to take our time saying goodbye. His grandparents, aunts and uncles (both blood and not) and cousins were also able to meet and say goodbye to him.

Last Tuesday, J and I met with the funeral home in the morning. After that was over, we headed up to his family’s cabin, where we stayed until Friday afternoon. I’m so glad we decided to get away for a few days. And as hard as it was to come back home, we came home to beautiful flowers and sympathy cards and home cooked meals (seriously, thank you for helping me not have to think about cooking right now) and people wanting to stop by to visit with us. We’re so grateful.

Tomorrow I have my first postpartum appointment — I’m still sore, but recovering and feeling a little better physically every day. And I keep reminding myself that my body, like everything else, needs time to heal.

July 2, 2014
by hyedi
5 Comments

Pregnancy eats + summer snacking with Blue Diamond

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. Blue Diamond provided me with one 6 oz. can and one 4 oz. bag of almonds for free as part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program. All opinions shared are my own.

It’s been kind of a bummer summer so far since I’ve had to cut back on my physical activity pretty drastically ever since my hospital stay. Because of that, I feel like watching what I eat has become even more important than ever. I’m also trying to focus on upping my protein intake (I don’t think I’ve been super successful at that) and being mindful of my iron intake also. My hemoglobin levels checked out OK surprisingly, but it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to be a little low and mine was low when I was in the hospital.

And to add to that, truthfully, cooking has been the last thing that J or I want to do and it’s been that way, pretty much since we got Charlie’s diagnosis. So we’ve been going out to eat more than we probably should be, but each week, we do a little better at finding something to eat at home. Here’s a little sample of what I’ve been eating lately:

Breakfasts

Baked oatmeal – you can totally play around with this recipe by cutting back on the brown sugar and adding different kinds of fruit. I made a batch on Sunday night and had for breakfast during the week!

Fresh fruit – strawberries and bananas (trying to keep those pesky leg cramps under control!)

Puffins!

Scrambled egg with salsa, a little shredded cheese, spinach in a whole wheat tortilla

Lunch

Lunch is probably where I struggle the most. There have been quite a few Whole Foods salad bar salads and leftovers from dinners.

Dinners

Two good recipes that don’t require firing up the oven:

Crispy Gnocchi with zucchini, basil and sweet corn

Tilapia tacos

Snacks

Snacking has become really important because when I make good snacking decisions, I also make better meal decisions because then I’m not starving when it comes to eating lunch and dinner. As I’ve gotten more pregnant, I also can’t eat as much in one sitting (I think the hot weather is also a factor) so I find myself hungry shortly after I eat a meal. Some of my favorite snacks currently:

Blue Diamond almonds – The folks at Blue Diamond sent me the blueberry and coconut flavors to try. I loved them both — just a few after a meal will satisfy my sweet tooth and the toasted coconut flavor is not too “coconut-y.” But as a side note, my favorite flavor will always be salt and vinegar.

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Trail mix – especially loving this stuff:

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Cottage cheese

Again with the fruit!

Anything with peanut butter on it

Treats

I’ve been doing a decent job of keeping my sweets intake under control, but now that it’s officially summer, it’s been really tempting to treat myself to ice cream. Most nights I satisfy that craving with frozen yogurt bars, fruit bars (both strawberry flavored) or dark chocolate dipped bananas. But one special treat that the hubs and I enjoyed the other night was gelato with coconut and blueberry almonds as a topping — DELICIOUS!

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Instead of having to get the food processor dirty, I just threw a handful of almonds into my little food chopper.

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We went with good old fashioned vanilla gelato, but in my the head the flavor combinations are endless! I’m thinking the caramel macchiato would be especially good on chocolate or sea salt caramel gelato — yum.

Any good snack options I should add to my rotation?

What have you been eating lately?

June 25, 2014
by hyedi
2 Comments

Weekend recap + how I feel about the third trimester (so far)

This is a little late, but I hope you all had a good weekend. On Saturday, we officially made it to 28 weeks! But uh, to celebrate, we spent 2.5 hours in the hospital. I was having a lot of contractions again and wasn’t feeling Charlie move as much as he had been the past couple of days, so we figured it was best to go in. After some tests and monitoring, we were relieved to hear that everything looked fine and that we didn’t need to be admitted again.

The weekend had its upsides too though, we went to a BBQ with some friends Saturday night and Saturday morning, before I decided to call the doctor, I made a quick trip to the farmer’s market with Andrea.Then, besides going out to dinner with some friends, I mostly took it easy and rested/napped all day Sunday.

J, with his very serious sandwich.

J, with his very serious sandwich.

How I feel about the third trimester so far

I think that the third trimester is really catching up with me already. Or maybe it’s because really, I had it pretty easy during the first trimester with no morning sickness to speak of. But really, the biggest challenge these days is to maintain a balance between noticing when things don’t seem right with either my health or Charlie’s and not freaking out over every little thing. It’s hard because just like with other things during pregnancy, some of the warning signs I’ve been told to look out for can either be really serious or just a typical pregnancy thing. Basically, this has turned me into a giant ball of anxiety and stress, which can’t be good for me or Charlie, either.

Oh, and due in part to Charlie’s condition, I’m carrying around a decent amount of extra amniotic fluid these days. Which as my doctor put it “makes you look and feel like you’re at term already or carrying twins.” So trying to get sleep at night, find a comfortable position to sit in for more than a few minutes at a time and to fit behind the steering wheel in my car are all fun things lately.

Weekly appointment

We had another good appointment yesterday. No big changes to Charlie which is good news. I also had my gestational diabetes test that I’ve basically been nervous about since I got pregnant. (Seriously.) From all of my blog stalking, I was expecting fruit punch or orange-flavored juice, but it was Sprite-flavored and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! They said that I wouldn’t hear from them yesterday unless something was abnormal, so hopefully that means I passed! We go back tomorrow for another fetal echocardiogram where we will get some more information from the pediatric cardiologist about — this will help our care team determine what possible interventions to consider as we move forward.

Random things

Even though I won’t be able to wear it for awhile, I got word that my Oiselle swim order shipped! Hoping it shows up any day now :)

We celebrated my kitty’s birthday last week. She turned seven! It feels like we just brought her home — she was an anniversary gift from the hubs (then-boyfriend)!

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How was your weekend? Congrats to everyone who ran one of Grandma’s races! :)

How do you deal with anxiety? Favorite ways to relax?

Tell me how your running is going so I can live vicariously through you!

June 19, 2014
by hyedi
12 Comments

Second trimester recap: weeks 22-26

Well here we are, officially in the third trimester and almost six weeks since the date we found out that our unborn son had a rare tumor growing inside of him that would likely end his life before he was ever born. Since then, we’ve had a lot of time to mentally process the situation. We’ve also had countless tests, ultrasounds, appointments, a hospital stay and we’ve accumulated like, a hundred members of our care team (and they are all amazing). And even though it didn’t feel like it would, life has somewhat returned to “normal” — well, with a little less cooking and a little more takeout involved.

At the urging of my new (amazing) therapist, and because it feels good to me, too, I’m starting to come back around to celebrating the usual pregnancy milestones as I would probably be doing had we not received this diagnosis. I’m thinking about taking my first bump pic in forever (although I don’t think my stomach can be called a bump anymore) when I turn 28 weeks this weekend and I resumed journaling in my Belly Book. We’ve really been carrying on as usual — I still take my prenatal vitamin everyday, don’t eat deli meat, and so on.

Perhaps even more so than early on in the pregnancy, we’re really taking things day by day and week by week. Outcomes for any intervention are still pretty poor right now if Charlie’s condition began to deteriorate, but a few weeks can make a big difference since babies grow so much during this time. So we go in each week hoping that Charlie stays “sick stable” and we can check off another week.

Here are some other random pregnancy milestones:

Reading and playing music - we’ve started reading books and playing music for Charlie. It’s a really fun thing for J and me to do together and it’s totally helping us bond with him.

My mom got me a Snoogle! - I held out for as long as possible, using a body pillow and a million other regular pillows, but my sleep quality has been so poor lately that I got desperate. And the Snoogle (for me, anyways) has been as amazing as others have made it sound.

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I took my big belly to a 5K! - J was racing a 5K and Charlie and I cheered him all the way to a second place overall finish! So proud. And speaking of my belly, it’s starting to get in the way a lot. When I drop things (which happens often) I’ve started just leaving them on the floor because picking them up isn’t fun. I’m sure J loves following me around just to pick up the things I’ve dropped.

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My belly button - I’ll spare you a photo on this one, but let me tell you, my belly button looks weird It’s no longer an innie, but it’s not an outtie yet, either. Expecting it to pop any day now!

Workouts - Workouts have been pretty nonexistent lately. Especially with the heat and my recent early labor scare, I’ve been advised to take it really, really easy. I’m not on bed rest (yet), but trying to be smart since the goal is to keep this baby where he is for as long as possible! Not working out has been really hard, mentally too, but reminding myself of the reason helps a lot. And if it ever stops raining and we get some cool evenings, I’m looking forward to some very slow walks around the block.

Thanks again for all of the comments and emails. We never know what each day will bring and some are way harder than others — your support means more than you’ll ever know!

May 22, 2014
by hyedi
10 Comments

Preparing.

If you’re currently pregnant or feel like you might be upset by reading something about very serious pregnancy complications, please don’t read any further.

The morning after we had been admitted to the hospital for fetal monitoring, we had our next regularly scheduled prenatal appointment (which are now taking place at the specialty perinatal facility). The appointment started with an ultrasound where the technician went through the usual formalities of telling us what position baby is in, showing us baby’s arms, legs, etc. I was happy to get to see our baby again, but at the same time, it was a little sad. And when she got to the chest area, I knew what she was looking at and measuring, and even my untrained eye could tell that the mass had grown in the past two weeks.

The technician left and one of the maternal fetal specialists we’ve been seeing came in and let us know that things indeed did seem to be worsening. We talked about the fact that I had gone to the hospital the previous day and that I hadn’t been feeling as much movement in the past week or so. He asked if we had any questions and although I was already choking up just thinking about my words, I managed to ask if he had any idea about how much time our baby has left. He replied that the rarity of the condition makes it hard to predict, but that I should plan to be seen on a weekly basis now to check for “viability” — I could feel the pit in my stomach worsen just reading his body language. The original plan was to be seen every four weeks as you would at this stage in a typical pregnancy. He also mentioned before he left the room, that I need to be on the lookout for any symptoms of preeclampsia, since what’s going on with baby can sometimes have an effect on the mama’s health.

Since part of the purpose of that day’s appointment was to officially transfer our care from the family practice doctor I was previously seeing, the appointment wasn’t over. We moved to a traditional-looking exam room where I was weighed, peed in yet another cup and answered a million health background screening questions. And based on the nurse’s cheery disposition, she either didn’t know our situation (and the news we were just given) or she was trying her best to take our minds off of things. Once that part of the appointment was done, our care coordinator (AKA the most wonderful woman in the world) came in with another nurse care coordinator who went over a birth plan template with us. And that’s when things really started to get real/extra awful. While I always knew I wanted a birth plan written before going into labor (knowing that things typically change), I never imagined the kinds of things we’d need to make decisions about to include in a birth plan unique to our situation. And while I can’t imagine going into labor and not being prepared for your child be to stillborn, it’s still extremely difficult to be making decisions about funeral/burial/cremation and while your baby is still alive and kicking inside of you. A few boxes of tissues later, and after meeting with a social worker from our health care system’s perinatal hospice program, we headed home with our heads spinning. We hadn’t expected such a long appointment and certainly hadn’t expected the news we received, so J and I both took the rest of the day off and started to prepare to give our friends and family an update.

In the whirlwind 24 hours that followed our appointment and as we started to process everything, I’ve been doing a ton of research (topics include: “what to do when my milk comes in after a stillbirth” and “complications surrounding delivering the placenta after an early induction”). I also started a new list of what to pack in my hospital bag, tearfully crossing out the items I had originally included on it for baby. We also met with our wonderful doulas last night who walked through the birth plan template from their perspective and helped us think of more questions to ask our doctor and care coordinators.

So that’s where things currently stand. I’m probably going to take a break from posting here for the near future. If you’d like to stay updated on our journey, I’m working on setting up a Caring Bridge page for updates instead and will post the link or share with anyone who would like to stay updated.

Thank you again for all of the support <3

May 21, 2014
by hyedi
1 Comment

Life lately + a scare

Life has felt weird lately. We have our good and bad days and we alternate between just trying to maintain our normal routines and filling our day with activities that let us escape reality for even just a little while.

Ever since we felt ready to see people, we’ve had a few really lovely dinners and lunches with friends. We leave each one of those get togethers feeling so lucky that we have such great people in our lives.

This past weekend, the morning after a great dinner with some friends at the Rabbit Hole, J ran a 5K in beautiful spring weather and came in second place overall!

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Getting his medal

After the race, Andrea and I walked around Lake Nokomis and then got some lunch at Sandcastle, all while enjoying the sunshine.

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Mmm, fry bread.

Then, J and I spent the rest of the day with family at his uncle’s 50th birthday party. It was a great day full of love.

Then on Monday, crappy weather returned in the form of pouring rain. That afternoon, after a really nice lunch with a great friend, I could feel my anxiety building — it had now officially been about 24 hours since I had felt baby N make even the slightest movement. So I called our care coordinator and asked if she thought we should come in. We had our next appointment the following morning at 10 a.m., but since I hadn’t slept the night before (because of my anxiety over the decrease in movement) she called our doctor and we decided that at the very least we should come in to have some peace of mind.

As soon as J got home from work, we drove to the hospital and got all checked in. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy when I saw the excited-looking families in the waiting room who were probably going to find out at any moment that they have a new addition to their families. The nurse took us back to a triage area, got my weight, had me pee in a cup (of course) and then hooked me up to the fetal monitoring machine. J and I let out a sigh of relief when she was able to find the heartbeat right away. She then explained that it’s routine to continue to monitor me for 45 minutes to an hour unless I feel at least three distinct instances of movement before that time, so she turned on our TV and J and I settled in with some snacks. About a half an hour later, she came back looking really sad. She explained that she had the chance to look at our chart and after realizing our situation, she had tracked down the on call doctor who happened to be one of the specialists we had seen at our last appointment. Being the sweet woman she was, she asked the doctor to come in and see us if we wanted to see him. The doc came in and said that considering the circumstances, he was pleased with how the heartbeat sounded but that the ultrasound we were having the next morning would really be key to seeing how things were progressing. We were discharged shortly after that and I was able to sleep that night, thankful that our baby was still holding on.

May 15, 2014
by hyedi
6 Comments

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

Taking a break from all of the heavy life posts to check in with a quick, but delicious, giveaway. If you didn’t already know, today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I do hope you have a real chocolate chip cookie today, but in case you’re looking for a healthier option, Balance Bar has a delicious Cookie Dough flavor that I’m currently obsessed with.

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The Balance Bar folks sent me my very own BOX of Cookie Dough bars and I get to give a box away to one lucky reader!

To enter, leave a comment below. It can be about anything, but here are a couple of ideas:

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Do you enjoy your cookies with or without milk?

I’ll choose a winner on Monday. Good luck!