Orphaned at 34

I’ve had several posts planned, I’ve not done it for a while because I’ve told myself I was busy, but the truth is I didn’t feel like I had anything to say.  I went on a trip to Tennessee with my mom, CM, and Bug and I was going to write about that, then 3 days after we came home, she died.

My mom is dead. My dad died three years ago.  As ridiculous as it is to say, I feel like an orphan. I feel lost. I feel angry. I’m mad at my mom more than anything. I’m mad at her for the 34 years of arguments. I’m mad at 34 years of making me second guess myself. I’m mad at 34 years of making me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I’m mad a her for spending the last 10 years pretending like the awful things that happened growing up were things that I made up. I’m mad that we didn’t get the opportunity to improve our relationship. I’m mad that I wasn’t more patient. I’m made that she never saw her own faults. I’m mad that after my dad died of heart problems, she didn’t take care of her own health issues, especially her weight. I’m mad that my daughter is missing two grandparents. I’m mad at myself that I am relieved that I can live my life without being constantly judged and questioned. I’m mad that Bug will never know all the good qualities my mom mad. I’m mad that I didn’t forgive more often.

For every thoughtless, unkind thing she did, she probably did half a dozen nice things.  When I was going through financial issues with my ex-husband, she let us both come stay there.  When my ex-husband and I split up, I moved in with her for a year and a half. If I ever needed clothes or money, she gave it to me. If she knew someone who was going without, she’d make sure they had it. She made baskets for battered women shelters, she gave snack boxes to programs for deployed service members. She sold make up for a living and would go to nursing homes to do makeup for old women. Any time I had a friend with nowhere to go, they had a place on her couch.

Any time I failed at something, I could be sure it would be brought up the next time we argued. I have been screamed at for things I did in kindergarten as a grown adult. I have had mistakes I made a decade ago cast up to me during arguments about current day issues. Through my childhood and up into my late teens I was slapped, hit, cornered, and had my room tore to pieces in her fury. She once caught me with a romance novel and she tore my whole room apart and smashed things on the floor. When she found out that I was bisexual she told me she couldn’t believe that she let me around her nieces and nephews, like I was an actual person. When she found out I was sexual active at 19  because she found condoms she called me a whore who’d fuck anybody.

When I moved in with my ex when I was 24, she helped me furnish our apartment.  When we told her we were getting married when I was 26, she spent the next year helping me plan a beautiful wedding.  She and my father never once worried about the money for anything.  Most times I was reigning her in and finding the cheaper option. When she started making friends with gay people she took me to go see her first drag show and she bough us all drinks. We never spoke of my sexuality but, what can you do. When I got pregnant 6 months after I started seeing CM and I had a baby 15 weeks early, she did everything she could to help. She drove 30 minutes north twice a week every week to come see Bug in the NICU. She bought baby clothes, barrettes for hair the baby didn’t even have yet, and tiny little shoes. Every mile stone we made in the NICU she’d tell anyone who would listen. Every picture went on Facebook. She constantly reminded me that I needed to make sure I was taking care of myself.

My mom got pregnant during her senior year of high school. She missed her graduation ceremony because she was in labor with me. My dad joined the Navy to support us and they both worked their asses off over the years. They were both capable of being violent and cruel. They were both capable of loving. They tried really hard all the time. They worked hard and they started a family when they were young. I don’t know that they ever had the tools they really needed. I also know they could have gotten the counseling to have them.

So today is Father’s Day.  I don’t have a mother or a father anymore. I have CM though and I know that he will be exactly the kind of father Bug needs and deserves. It helps, but it isn’t really doing much for the gaping hole that I have inside me right now. Three weeks ago I was crying and telling CM that I wished my dad was here to take care of my mom. That he could somehow fix things. Now, they are back together, I suppose.

I don’t know how long it will take to reconcile both sides of my mom. I don’t know how long it will take me to be ok. What I can say is that, she had a good last weekend. She went to go see her parents with me, CM, and her Bug. She grilled out and had steaks and she was there to see her grandbaby get in a swimming pool for the first time. I guess if I had to pick a way to spend my last weekend, it would be grilling out around a pool with the people I care about.

No pictures on this post, I’ll share pictures some other time.

Post Partum Depression

I’ve started at least 4 other drafts of this, trying to get it together about how I feel.  It’s just hard to put it all together.  I’m so adrift right now.  I’m working a Stay at Home Mom lifestyle right now and it’s pretty ok.  We can’t put the Bug into daycare until she’s at least a year old.  Even if I did go back to work, daycare is so expensive that I would need to make significantly more than I was making before the baby for it to be worth it.  I’ve had my own job and my own money since I was 13.  I bought things when I wanted them, I save money when I wanted.  This new life where I have to like…clear my purchases is really chafing me.  Not that CM doesn’t get me whatever I need and things that I want, but it’s different.  I don’t want to ask for money for frivolous things like a pedicure when he’s the sole provider.  I’m not comfortable when I think about how much money we owe.  Bug was covered for just a little over $1 million dollars in medical bills with CM’s insurance, for just 73 days.  We still owe another $78,000 for what wasn’t covered.  This is on top of what I owe for giving birth.  I left one job for another because I thought, “hey, I have 15 more weeks till this baby,” and it was going to be day 1 insurance coverage at the new job.  Unfortunately I went into labor in the 2 week period that I wouldn’t have coverage.  It weighs on me all the time.  Do I stay home and work on just being a mom?  Do I go back to work as soon as I can and start trying to make a dent in this medical debt?  Do I declare bankruptcy?  I haven’t written in forever because I just can’t stop worrying all the time.  I can’t take this weight off of my chest.  I gotta get some things out and written down though.

Over the last few days I have been trying to look at myself and take stock of where I am, emotionally.  It’s not awesome.  I don’t feel awesome.  I have bipolar disorder 2.  I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old and I’ve only done a fair to moderate job of staying on my meds throughout my life.  After I split up with my ex husband (a store I’ll get to, eventually) I got back on my medication.  I was seeing a counselor regular.  Hell, I even lost 60 pounds.  However, I stopped taking my medication when I found out that I was pregnant.  I know that there are medications that are deemed safe, I wasn’t comfortable with any.  Maybe it was the right decision, maybe it wasn’t, I don’t really know.  It’s the decision I made at the time.  Maybe it wasn’t the right choice but I was afraid of any effects on the baby, now I wonder if it would have mattered.  She came so early and I wonder if my stress and mental state contributed to it. I look back and I second guess so many decisions that I made while I was pregnant but honestly, other than my meds I did pretty well.  I didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, I got plenty of water, I took the multivitamins, I made it to all my prenatal visits, and I did all the things I was supposed to do.  There just really isn’t any discernible reason for it.

That’s the hard part, I don’t like not knowing or understanding WHY something happened.  Now Bug is doing pretty ok and I’m left to trying to put everything together.  I’m trying to put my mind together, my heart, and my illness.  I have all these doubts.  I love my boyfriend and I know that he loves me, but every disagreement that we have I take so personally.  I feel like he doesn’t value me.  I know that it isn’t true.  I know that this is my illness talking.  I keep looking at my baby and I’m trying to understand myself as a new person that is a parent.  I am sure I could be accused of taking something that women have been doing for ages and turning it into a personal crisis.  I don’t care, though.  I know I’m not the only person who feels overwhelmed.  I know I’m not the only person trying to reconcile the person that they were a year ago with the person they have to be now.  I know that I’m not the only one who is unsure of themselves.  It makes me tired.  I feel so fatigued all the time.  All the worry and self doubt keeps me awake at night.  I don’t sleep well and I feel anxious about everything.

I did finally go to the gynecologist though.  It only took me 8 months after having a baby.  In fairness to me though, I tried to schedule 2 months ago and they only had appointments 1 month out and I missed that because I had a stomach flu and had to take an appointment another month after that.  Still though, waiting 6 months to go see a doctor is obviously wildly irresponsible.  I can excuse myself for the time when Bug was in the NICU because I could barely process anything that wasn’t her.  The 3 months following was pure procrastination and unwillingness to dehermit myself.  YAY MENTAL ILLNESS!  They put in an IUD and I got a prescription for my antidepressant.  I need to find a new head shrinker though.  The doctor I was going to closed her practice and retired.   I don’t know if you know what it’s like looking for an office with both a psychiatrist and a psychologist but it’s not fun and it’s not easy.  Then if you do find one they have to be accepting new patients and take your insurance.  If you aren’t crazy when you start looking for a doctor, you will be by the end.

I know this was all over the place but I really just had to get it all out there.  I can talk more about all of it in detail as I go but for right now, it just needed to be written down to rest my  brain.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

This is a review and it may contain some spoilers.  I will try to keep them to a minimum.

 

I’ve always loved video games, ever since my parents picked up a Nintendo in the late 80s.  I remember how excited I was when the original Tomb Raider came out and how amazing it was to have a capable female in a video game.  I think that’s why I instantly fell in love with Horizon Zero Dawn.  It gave me all the same thrill of watching Lara hurtle across an expanse to catch a ledge the first time, with amazing graphics and a unique post-apocalyptic story.  I like pretty much everything about the main character, Aloy.

It was developed by Guerilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment using GG’s Decima engine, which you may be familiar with from Killzone Shadow Fall.  It’s actually being used by Kojima Productions for the highly anticipated Death Stranding.  In fact, there are several collectibles in the game that are pieces from Death Stranding, which is to me, very Hideo Kojima in nature, he loves to hide things.

Gameplay

The controls are a breeze!  Everything about it was easy to adapt to and there weren’t any finger crunching button combos.  The game allows for several weapon types to be equipped at once and you can quickly switch between them with a pull up wheel that allows you to create additional ammunition at the same time.  I favored the bow above other weapon and trap types, but I did try them all out.  Each weapon class, such as bow, a tripcaster that you use to set up trip lines, and a ropecaster that you use to tie down the machines that roam, come in different makes, each with it’s own strengths and weaknesses.  I prefer weapons that could use fire type ammunition.  Honestly, everything about the control setup is great, I wouldn’t change a thing.  The game includes a lot of climbing and I do feel like that’s been dumbed down a little.  As long as you are pushing the L stick in the right direction and hitting X you’re pretty much fine.  I feel like there are some spots in the game that would have been trickier if climbing and jumping was more challenging.  Battles with the machines in the game can be tough as you are usually fighting a large number and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

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She is super serious all the time.

Graphics

HOLY CRAP THIS GAME IS PRETTY!  Seriously, this game is gorgeous.  Now, I’m playing on a big ass TV, its 60″ 4k, HDR and only 6 months old, so it’s gonna depend some on your display capabilities.  Even still, you could probably play this on a tube TV and it would look good. The draw distance is fantastic, if it’s clear weather in the game and you’re in flatland, you can see so far.  The green of the grass is so vibrant, the blue of the sky is bright, and the running water sparkles when it’s sunny.  Meticulous attention has been paid to the textures.  You don’t see repeated textures on the surfaces of rocks.  The face animations during conversation were amazing.  This is no Mass Effect: Andromeda, no one’s teeth are terrifying to look at.

Voice Acting

The pacing is really even with the voice acting, nothing feels rushed about the conversation.  The characters are able to pause and let a sentence bear weight before moving on to the next.  It was really great to listen to because the story is so compelling and if it was rushed it really would have been jarring and taken me out of the narrative.

Plot

So here is where is you are gonna a few spoilers, again, I’m keeping it as few as possible.  It all takes place after a world extinction event, which is pretty clear in the commercials.  There are limited animal resources, few agricultural resources, and people rely largely on the parts scavenged from the machines that now roam.  The story of how we’ve gotten to this point is slowly revealed as you delve through ruins, and discover documents and files pertaining to the last days of civilization.  The whole thing is very tragic.  It’s a situation where corporate greed and military opportunism come together and wipe us all out, it doesn’t seem too far fetched right now.

The Ending

This game was fun to play.  It was intuitive, and gorgeous.  I loved it up until the very end, and by that, I mean I loved it except for the end.  I went through hours of game play (please don’t ask me how much.  My numbers are way off as I’d leave it paused for hours taking care of the baby.)  The actual final battle was not particularly challenging.  I did it from far away from the boss and while I was treated with an interesting cut scene hinting at a cool sequel, I was infuriated by the next bit.  I got a notice that my game would be brought back to my last save point before the end of the game and I could continue to play.  I’M SORRY WHAT?!  Imagine beating Alduin and then getting sent back to just before you left for Sovngarde in Skyrim! I had hoped to finish the game and then be able to wrap up the few side quests I had left.  Instead I’m in this video game purgatory.  I have to just sit here with a game that can’t really be finished.  My choices are new game+ or wander around in a world that’s waiting for me to hurry up and save them.  It seriously irks me.

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It’s basically a robot sabertooth, so you know, be careful.

The DLC

The DLC is really good.  It ties into the main game really well and offers several extra hours of additional play and opens up additional map areas and collectables.  I would wait until just before the final battle to play it because you’ll acquire a great weapon that can be further modified and waiting will trigger plot in the DLC you might not otherwise have.  You have access to several new weapons and armor with the DLC that will certainly be effective in the last battle.

Overall

It’s a game worth playing and I look forward to the sequel, they’ve certainly left room for it.  I took half a star because I’m so infuriated by how they end it.  I’m all about that 100% and it’s making my brain itch.

3.5/5 Get the game, for reals.

My Million Dollar Baby part 4

I think the hardest part about going over and writing about everything that happened is sorting it all out in my head.  It’s all so much a jumble of worry, fear, and guilt.  I know guilt is a weird one, but it’s one that a lot of preemie moms, especially micropreemie moms. It’s this awful feeling that my own body betrayed me.  I feel like I should have done something differently.  I feel bad that I wasn’t able to nurse.  I know that I don’t need to feel this way and that we did the best we could, but it’s the little thoughts that creep into my head.  It’s nice though, to be able to sit and organize it all in my brain.

Early on in her stay she got an infection and they had to transfuse her blood.  They gave her 2 ccs of blood. I wish I knew how much blood was in her body overall at that point. It would be interesting to know.  After that though, she really rallied.  She began putting on weight and growing steadily.  They did her weigh-ins around 11pm and I or my boyfriend would call to get her weight.  I was to the point where I couldn’t sleep until I had it.  Most of the nurses were pretty understanding about it.

The hardest part was leaving her alone.  I was always worried if she was lonesome and if she was getting enough attention.  It didn’t matter that I saw nurses going in and out of rooms giving all sorts of care and affection, I wasn’t there.  No matter that she was asleep and growing 80% of the time.  I felt like I was missing things.  The first time she wore clothes, I wasn’t there to dress her.  Her first little bath was someone else.  I took up doing her care as soon as I was allowed.  The first bath I gave her was nerve wracking.  They put a little bowl of warm water in the isolette and I would wipe her down with a soapy gauze wipe and then dry her down with another and massage in baby oil.  The very first time I honestly panicked afterwards.  I kept my cool during, but after I was a mess.  She only weighed 2.5lbs.

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The baby and her daddy have the same hairline.

I know we were fortunate though, so many micro preemies are in the NICU longer than she was.  We were there 73 days and it was awful.  She gained weight fairly quickly though, and even started bottle feeding sooner they expected.  Sh had a tube from her nose to her tummy for the majority of her stay.  I honestly, cannot express how much easier it was made by how amazing our nurses were. I don’t know how they do it.  Four days a week in 12 hour shifts taking care of vulnerable babies, some that don’t make it is a job for people who are basically heroes.  If I cried, they listened, if I was afraid, they reassured me, and they were constant sources of encouragement.  There were a lot of times that I just sat with her and cried.  I did kind of a lot of crying there, I’m not going to lie about it.

It was the beginning of October when the doctors started talking about GOING HOME.  There were a few things she needed to be able to accomplish before she could go home. She needed to weigh more than 4.5lbs, she needed to go 5 consecutive days with out a drop in her breathing or heart rate, she needed to be able to sit up in her car seat without having an event, and she needed to be taking all of her food by bottle.  It was so frustrating because she really took to the bottle right away.  She was really happy to be in control of her own eating, I think but it was hard work.  She was trying and sucking but it was too hard and she started having heart and breathing events.  They cut back on it and gave her another week before trying again and HOLY CRAP was she eating.  Finally we had a go home date. November 2nd.  She passed the car seat test with no issues. Our baby was coming home at 4lbs 6oz in preemie clothes that were too big for her!

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In a car seat that starts at 4lbs and an outfit that starts at 6lb.

So this is it, this is the last of the hospital posts I’m gong to do, I want to get on to the parts where we are living.  I don’t think you can have that without this though.  This the baby that was a little over a million dollars in covered hospital bills and another $78k out of pocket.  She’s worth every penny.

Cruelty Free Glam

I’m taking a break from the saga of my beautiful baby to talk about the other thing I love. MAKE UP!!! I’ve been playing in it since I was 12 and I swear by mascara and red lipstick. On my worst, ugliest day if I can at least manage black mascara and red lipstick I feel better.  I love blending colors, I love finding new brushes, I ESPECIALLY love finding a good deal.

A little over a year ago I started switching everything over to cruelty free brands. I didn’t throw anything away but as things needed replaced or if I was going to splurge, I made sure it was cruelty free.  For the folks who don’t know, this means that it was not tested on animals and no animals were harmed to produce the product. Many CF products are vegan, but not all. If it contains beeswax, it can’t be called vegan as it’s an animal byproduct. Anyways, I got really into Wet N Wild make up. I used it in junior high, which is longer ago than I’m willing to admit and it was not good. My mom worked for Clinique so I used the Wet N Wild sparingly. It is sooooo good now. Seriously.

Last year they produced a box set of unicorn themed make up and I am so in love with all of it.  The highlighters were super pigmented, the liquid lipstick has fantastic staying power, it was quality.  They also came out with a line of make up meant for flash photography called PhotoFocus and I freaking love it.  It’s smooth, it’s long lasting and the brushes are really soft.

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Behold my grainy photo!
A few months ago they had a mermaid box come out and I missed it being back and forth in the NICU and I swore I would get the next box they did and I FREAKING MISSED IT. I’m so mad at myself. It’s super shimmer and called Goth-o-Graphic. It’s sparkly and black and skulls!!! WHY!? It was basically custom made for me and I missed it. I can buy the separate pieces but I want the dumb box. I want the shiny, holograpic skulls. I’ll have to try Ebay, but my feelings are hurt.

I’ve become a huge fan of Wet N Wild, they’ve stepped their game up, they make up is really nice, and most importantly they don’t test on animals.  I never really understood how bad it is on the animals.  I know that we use animals for a great deal of medical testing and I don’t see a way around that, but for something as frivolous as cosmetics, we don’t need to mess with beagles. Oh yeah, beagles. They are popular test animals due to their friendly and trusting nature. I won’t get too soap boxy, I have way too many contradictions in my dealings with mean and such but it’s at least one small thing I can do. Check out Rescue Freedom Project they used to be the Beagle Freedom Project but they upgraded. They do good work and I’ve given them some money in the past.

I haven’t go make up shopping since Bug was born, she really doesn’t care what I look like and we don’t really go many places because it’s flu season and she’s a micro preemie. I will say that looking nicer is on my list of things to do, I’m just so damn tired all the time. I’ll be well rested soon though, right???

My Million Dollar Baby Part 3

LONG HAUL

It’s worth noting that among all of this insanity, we were moving. We found a townhouse on a Saturday and then on Monday I was giving birth, Wednesday afternoon released me and we had a move in date of Friday the 25th.  My boyfriend had spent the better part of the last decade living like a nomad and had few possessions and no furniture.  I had split from my ex-husband 2 years prior 6 weeks after my dad and so moved in with my mom. I needed a place to regroup and she needed company without my dad.  So I have things in storage, but I left the big stuff, furniture and things with my ex.

My boyfriend and I had nothing really. The plan was to go to a scratch and dent furniture store near my mom’s house and buy everything we needed, put it into a moving truck, go to my storage unit and fill it the rest of the way, and then take it to our new place.  This was a fine plan until I had the baby, now it seemed like basically a nightmare. I had $1000 cash in my purse because if you paid cash rather than credit the store would haggle with you and I left it sitting somewhere in the store. I don’t know when, I just know that I realized it was missing. Thankfully someone turned it in to customer service, but I was a fucking wreck. I cried on an ottoman for a good 10 minutes.  We got most of what we needed though: a couch, recliner, tv stand, a mattress and box springs, and we even found a Pack n Play and a cat tree.

Then we set out to the U-Haul. Oh U-Haul…I hate you. I had called them and let them know I lost the key to my unit and they told me for a $50 fee they could cut it off, I figured that was fine, that was the cost of me being disorganized. Unfortunately when I got there they let me know that they couldn’t cut MY lock off because it is a disc lock. I would have to call a locksmith. It took that guy an hour and a half to show up and quote me $269.  I should have just paid it because my things have been in there since and I keep having to deal with their nightmare customer service and wanting to die every time I talk to them. Plus we’ve spent well over the $269. Meanwhile my boyfriend is teaching himself to pick locks in an attempt to get into the lock without paying a locksmith. I don’t have any more to say regarding this because it’s stupid and makes me mad.

While I was still in the hospital after giving birth they brought me a pump so I could work on getting my milk to come in as soon as possible. I got a few little drops the second day and I was pretty excited. I was pumping 20 minutes every 2 hours for 4 weeks before I quit. I was so discouraged. I was pumping, massaging, taking hot showers, eating oatmeal, eating breast milk cookies, taking fenugreek, and generally adhering to every bit of fact and old wive’s tale I could find trying to get my milk. I drank so much water I felt like I was going to drown. I’d go to the NICU with my lunch bag full of containers with 3-7 milliliters of breast milk and feel like the nurses were disappointed when they opened our rooms little refrigerator. “Just keep trying! It’s liquid gold,” they would all say, cheerfully. I know I’m projecting on them, they were friendly and encouraging. I just felt like my body was betraying me again. I couldn’t keep her in my body and now I couldn’t feed her. Finally I decided that they were giving her donor milk, supplementing with formula and I couldn’t do anymore. She could have a mom that was miserable trying to produce drops of milk, exhausted and self-recriminating or she could be a bottle fed baby with mom that was holding it together.

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Breast milk cookies. They are actually really good. Does not contain tit juice.

I know that a lot of preemie moms are at the hospital 12 hours a day, every day.  They spend hours a day holding them. I joined a 2 micro preemie Facebook groups and reached out for support but I did not find it helpful.  So much of it was moms in a morbid “who has it worse” competition or moms with situations that went even beyond what we were going through. These women were there for hours, making posts about their exhaustion and how their marriages were falling apart. Pretty early in the process we decided that we weren’t going to do that. We went 5 days a week and we stayed 3-4 hours. I did 1-2 hours of skin to skin care each time. We both kind of felt like the less we futzed with her the more time she spent sleeping and growing. I don’t know if it’s accurate or not but we brought her home about 45 days sooner than they estimated when she was born.

At first this was fine, she was a little bit of a thing. It took probably 3 weeks to get her up to 2lbs and we celebrated hard when she finally did. After than she seemed to just flourish. I have to talk about her diapers though. Pampers is the only diaper brand to make diapers as as small as she needed. Even the smallest one was big on her at first. They had 3 preemie sizes, although I believe they’ve recently added on that the baby just lays on if they are too delicate to wear one.

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The little one is half the size of a playing card.

My Million Dollar Baby Part 2

THE AFTER

I got to go to the level 2 NICU at about 2am to see my daughter.  She didn’t even have a name yet. We thought we had 15 more weeks to settle on something.  I had a big list which I realized contained the names of all the Golden Girls. I like old names, Judy was a front runner.

My boyfriend wheeled me down the hallway, a gown tied to me, cold pack, and blood soaked pad between my legs as I cried. I had to see that she was ok, I had to know she was really alive.  It took 2 left turns to get me to a big rotunda and then a secured door where security asked for the number on a wristband delivery had placed on me the moment she was born.

We were buzzed back into the NICU and guided down the hallway to her room and there she was.  I heard the doctors, I heard the nurses, I heard my mom, and my boyfriend telling me important things I needed to know but it all sounded like it was coming from down a long hallway. They were hardly even there for me. My baby was there in her little baby terrarium under a glowing blue Bili light, there to prevent jaundice. Lines attached to her umbilical cord, providing nutrients I was providing hours ago. Nutrients I felt like I should still be providing. I was suddenly filled with a sense of relief mixed with guilt and regret. She was everything I wanted and I had somehow failed her.

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It was pretty impossible to get a picture for the first week. She just looked like she was in a tiny baby rave. I could only reach in through the little port holes and gently touch her hands and feet. I was told only touch, don’t rub, her skin can’t handle rubbing yet. I’d love to tell you that she was beautiful, I would love to tell you that she was a little doll. I can’t though. The poor thing hadn’t really begun to put on any weight yet. She was born 1lb 10oz and barely over a foot long. She looked like a cross between Dobby the house elf and Gollum. Bless her heart.

I am not really the type though to dwell. She was alive, I could work with that. Whatever developmental delays she might have, challenges she may face, or physical disabilities she may have, she was alive. Anything after that was something that we would manage. I didn’t really have a choice.  They pumped both she and I full of antibiotics to combat the effects of the chorioamnionitis. The doctor put her on an experimental treatment of hydrocortisone. The idea was that because she was born in such traumatic circumstances she had heightened cortisol levels and when that adrenaline dropped she would crash.

The next morning the doctors met with me and told me it would be at least after Christmas before I took her home. She was born on 8/21/17, her due date was December 1st. Now I was looking at Christmas or New Years to bring her home. My boyfriend held my hand as I cried and listened to the doctor. Nurses came in, cheerful, caring, and full of the knowledge they have gained taking care of babies on the brink at 12 hour shifts, 4 days a week. These were the women who were going to get me through this.

It was a week before I could hold her.

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My Million Dollar Baby part 1

BIRTH DAY

Yesterday was 6 months since I gave birth unexpectedly. Not that I didn’t know I was having a baby, I won’t be featured in any “I didn’t know I was pregnant” stories. I gave birth at 25 weeks and 3 days into my pregnancy. When I look back at the week or so leading up to my labor I can see how things add up, but at the time I attributed so many issues to just being pregnant.  In fact, I had gone to the doctor for some of them and she diagnosed me with BV, gave me an antibiotic, and sent me on my way.

Babies born at 25 weeks have a survival rate of 50%-80%, but she was born because I had a severe case of chorioamnionitis. It’s a bacterial infection of the amnion and chorion, which are basically layers of the amniotic sac. It only occurs in about 6% of pregnancies and dropped my babies survival probability in half, and it is really super gross. I had at some point gotten a tear in my sac and what I thought was pregnancy incontinence was my amniotic fluid slowly draining, also bacteria was getting inside the sac.

Getting back to they day I gave birth, it was rough. I woke up around 7am with awful abdominal cramping that I attributed to round ligament pain from my stretching stomach muscles. I took a warm bath to try and ease it and that didn’t help much. By 9am I was laying on the couch while my boyfriend worried. By 11am I was bent over the side of the couch crying and trying to convince him I would be fine. “We’re going to the hospital now, before I have to scrape you off the floor,” he said.

We went to the satellite branch of one of the local hospitals and they brought me back immediately, took a look at my cooch, listened to my complaints, and promptly informed me that I was in labor. I advised them that this was of course impossible, haha. They told me they couldn’t treat me there and sent me by ambulance to the main hospital.  At this point they were administering drugs to try and keep her in and stop labor as well as pain meds. I spent hours laying in the hospital bed, screaming with contractions and trying to make it to the toilet to pee because they were pumping me with fluids.

At some point I looked at the toilet before flushing and noticed that it was filled with what looked like egg drop soup. I told the nurse and she looked and her face got very still and she turned and walked away. I wasn’t entirely with it but I knew that probably wasn’t good. My amniotic fluid had gone…well…chunky.

About 20 minutes later a very worried looking doctor from the NICU came to my room and sat down on the end of my bed and began to explain what was going on while my boyfriend held my hand and we cried. I was told she might not make it, I was told about all the developmental disorders she might have due to my infection and her prematurity, and was told that they were going to do everything they could. My boyfriend called my mom and told her what was going on and to hurry to the hospital.

All day long everything had been about keeping her in and now, we were turning on a dime to getting her out as quickly as possible. They couldn’t give me an epidural, my white blood cell count was too high and if there was any of the infection in my blood they risked pushing it into my spine. They also stopped the drugs to prevent labor, so what I had thought was pain before was actually just the tip of the iceberg. My abdomen was swollen from all the infection and I had a nurse cramming a heart monitor hard against my belly. At one point I had an amazing freakout; they had tried to give me an epidural once before determining they shouldn’t and had botched it. I don’t know, maybe they botched it, maybe I wasn’t being still enough. All I know is that at one point I demanded that everyone get the hell out of my room and leave me alone because I needed to gather myself.  Actually, I think what I said was that I needed to get my shit together.  The nurses said, “fine, but we’ll be back and in greater numbers.” Apparently they are sand people.

I would say that I probably was in labor when I got up at 7am and at 10pm after hours of crying to my mom, my boyfriend, nurses, and the new gods and the old they wheeled me to the OR.  The goal was vaginal birth but they wanted to be prepared for anything.

You know, when you watch a movie and a baby is born, the first sound is crying. You expect it.  After only 30 minutes of actively pushing my baby was born and it was silent. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.  “Is she alive?” I asked it quietly and no one answered me. I panicked. I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t hear her, and for the first time in 25 weeks my body was only mine again. “IS SHE ALIVE?”  It was a shout in my own ears. My boyfriend and the doctors answered me, “yes, she’s alive, she’s ok.”

They wheeled me around a corner and I saw her for just moments before she was taken to the NICU. She was so small. She was so delicate. She was wrapped in plastic like leftovers. Then they whisked her away and took me to a room to recover. They would let me know when I could come see her.

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