The Very Worst Week of My Life

Yesterday I shared my birth story. Such a sweet, peaceful, and quick birth it was that brought The Blessing into our lives. For almost two whole days we basked in the afterglow of that birth, adoring our new little baby, beginning to understand what an extra chromosome meant to us. And then it happened. My world threatened to collapse in top of me.

I have been considering exactly what to write concerning this nightmare that we had entered into. Words fail me as I try to remember how it all happened. Do I just list the events in chronological order, separating out the emotion from fact in an attempt to accurately tell a story? Or do I try to convey the despair, terror, and desperation that haunted me every second of that week? Is any of that even possible? And so I beg your indulgence as I muddle my way through my tale, knowing that words can never really express accurately the things I am trying to tell you.

The diaper was filled with blood. Not a little streak, not a tinge, but filled with blood. As I wiped the blood from her bottom, she grunted and more blood came pouring out where poo should have been. And to the emergency room we sped.

I laid her pale, limp body on the warming bed as the doctor came in the door. “And what brings you here, tonight?” he asked us pleasantly. I pulled the diaper away from her leg, exposing the gobs of dark red blood filling it yet again. “This” I said.

And the room exploded with activity. We were rushed to a larger room where the shouting and bustle began. Blood transfusions! Oxygen! Antibiotics! The Man and I stood against the wall, clinging to each other and silently crying while we helplessly watched this crowd of people try to save our daughter’s life. A social worker appeared and through a fog I heard her explain that she was there to answer any of our questions. She explained what was going on at any given time – “now they are drilling into her bone to administer the iv because they can’t find her veins”.

After what seemed like an eternity, she was stable and ready to be transferred to the ICU.

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Then the testing began. Brain scans, ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests. We spoke to a slew of specialists as tests results came back and needed explaining. All the while, my Blessing laid on that warming bed with so many tubes and wires coming off and out of her body that I could barley touch her. I stood by her bed, crying so constantly and endlessly that it took days for the swelling around my eyes to subside. I wondered if we would be taking her home or if I would never hold her again. I prayed in the wordless way one does when sobs and sighs will just have to do. My post partum body ached from the many long walks to the pumping room where I would try to express milk in hopes that she would one day need it. My feet became more swollen than ever they were during the pregnancy and my head ached constantly, whether from the crying, the exhaustion, or my rising blood pressure we will never know. But wild horses could not have pulled me from that bedside. My whole heart was laying there, struggling to survive.

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And survive, she did. The glimmer of hope was already shining as every test came back with good news, and everyday she improved just a little bit more. And then the tubes started coming off, the ivs were removed one by one and finally we were transferred out of the ICU and to a regular room. And then we were discharged and able to come home. We had been there for six days.

The Blessing has been home for a week, now, and seems to be doing well. She is breastfeeding with only a little supplementing needed. We will be seeing the pediatrician later this week for a follow up visit, but for now we are back to enjoying our new baby, learning about her and her specialness, and recovering from the most awful week of our lives.

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We are overwhelmingly grateful to all of our friends and family who supported us during this trial – bringing to us food, hugs, and pleasant company while we lived at the hospital, keeping our kids happy, fed, and carefree during our absence, and upholding us in prayer through every heartbreaking minute of our ordeal.

Above all, I am beyond thankful to God, who in His mercy has allowed us to keep our Blessing a little longer. Every moment she is with me is a moment to treasure.

IMGP9432I realize that this account leaves room for lots of questions. This really is all that I can bear to say at this time. I am ready to get back to blogging about happy things like yarn and fiber and itty-bitty baby knits.

 

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Birth of The Blessing

I was awakened by a very painful contraction late one night two weeks ago. I pressed the Indiglo button on my watch. 12:30. “Was that a real contraction?” I wondered, “or did it seem so painful because I am so tired?” I had been having contractions for days and days that never quite turned into labor so I wasn’t about to get excited about this one.

I laid there in the dark waiting for the next contraction before I would decide whether I should get up or go back to sleep. I didn’t have to wait long. The next contraction came on strong and hard and I knew that this was probably the real deal. But I waited for one more, just to be sure. The third one did not disappoint.

Rolling out of bed I said to The Man, “I am having some good contractions. I’ll call you when it gets serious.” He grunted and rolled over knowing that he didn’t have much longer to sleep.

I decided to text my midwife and let her know we would be needing her in a few hours.  “Sorry to wake you, ” I wrote, “but I am pretty sure I am in the beginning of labor. Was 4cm this afternoon. Contrax are about 8 min apart and nice painful ones. Will call you when it gets interesting.” Then I sat on the couch and decided to knit. I figured that when I could no longer knit through the contractions, I’d wake up The Man and get serious.

I knit through four contractions.  The fifth one found me closing my eyes and moaning softly as I tried to relax. I set my knitting aside. Two more contractions like that and The Man was out of bed.

After checking on me, The Man went into the bathroom and started cleaning the bathtub. I heard the water running as he filled it and I started making my way to the bathroom, stopping twice to breathe through contractions. Then the shivers started. By the time I got to the bathroom (and, folks, my house is very small, it wasn’t a long walk), the contractions were right on top of each other. By the time I crawled into the blissfully hot water, there was no break between them.

As if in a dream, I heard The Man say something about calling the midwife and my mom. I gasped that he needed to wake the big kids, too. I was thinking that I couldn’t keep this up much longer, and assumed I still had hours to go – I had only just begun, after all! I heard The Man whispering a prayer, “Oh, God. Please slow it down.” And then out loud, “This is going really fast!”

“Don’t say that to me,” I panted, “It’s not helpful!”

And then the contractions stopped. I knew this meant I was complete. Pushing was next. I looked up and there were my four big kids, all crowded in the doorway, sleepy eyed and pajama clad. The Man sat on the toilet looking intense and confident.

“It’s almost time to push,” I said, as I relaxed in the water, waiting for the next phase to begin.

And then it began. I panted through the first pushing contraction, thinking somewhere in the back of my mind that I needed to wait for the midwife and for my mom. After the contraction subsided, sanity returned and I realized how silly this was. I have had two planned unassisted births! I can do this! So, with the next contraction I pushed.

Three pushes later and out she came! A teeny, tiny baby emerged from my body and I lifted her out of the water onto my chest. It was 3:01. She blinked in the light and serenely took it all in. She was beautiful in an unexpected way. I knew instantly that she had Down syndrome. I looked at The Man as he looked at her. He didn’t see it, yet. I looked back at her. This was not what I had pictured, not what I had expected. But I was okay with it. I knew it would be alright.

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After a short time, I felt it was time for the placenta to be birthed. The Dancing Queen cut the umbilical cord and The Bookworm wrapped the baby in a towel and took her in the living room. The Man helped me finish the process and got me out of the tub and into bed. There I had my new baby handed back to me and I looked at her again. She was so very tiny! My first six babies averaged 9 pounds, but this little squish was only 7lbs, 6oz!

My mom and the midwife both arrived about this time. Baby was checked out and given a clean bill of health. My mom put a movie on for the kids (who, at 4 am were very awake and excited) and I just stared at this tiny little girl in my arms.

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The first two days with her were lovely, I stayed in bed and we had skin-to-skin time round the clock. She had some trouble nursing, but as we worked on it, she improved with each feeding. The kids all adored her and lined up for their turn to hold her. The Man and I slowly adjusted to the idea of parenting a child with Down syndrome, focusing on the great blessing that she is and will be.

And so, my Encore Baby, The Blessing, entered this world, changing our lives far more than we ever expected. She is an amazing blessing and quite an exciting addition to our family.

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But the story continues. I’ll write about what happened next tomorrow.

Loved and Lost – Knitting Teeny Tiny Charity Items

When she lost her baby boy at seventeen weeks gestation, she wrapped his tiny body in a blanket that she had knit for him. It was so comforting to have that handmade baby blanket in the midst of such grief and turmoil. That one little blanket served to comfort her in the weeks to come as she mourned her lost son in a way that no mother ever should.
Emerson was due on July 13, 2013 and on that day the family will be scattering his ashes and saying goodbye. On that day she will be making her first donation.

As a tribute to her son, Morgan has organized Elephant Tears, a group of knitters on Ravelry who make teeny tiny knitted things for other babies born too soon, gone too soon. It is a way to comfort those who mourn and show respect to those who are lost. “Elephant Tears collects small preemie blankets, 18-24” squares/rectangles, to donate to the birth center at the University of Colorado Hospital. These blankets will add a personal touch to the bereavement packages provided by the hospital to families who have lost a baby due to unfortunate circumstances,as well as giving those parents a very tangible item to bring them comfort in the coming days, weeks, or months.”*

Please consider joining me in supporting this sweet mother as she reaches out to those in need and in remembering her sweet boy, Emerson. It takes only a few hours and a small amount of yarn to make such teeny tiny things and bring comfort to a grieving mothers heart.

This is the beginnings of the box that I am putting together to send to Elephant Tears – (detailed notes on my Ravelry project page here)

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If you are local to me, please feel free to contribute. I hope to get my box in the mail by July 5 and would love to add whatever you make, too. Just bring it by anytime.

For more information, please check out the Elephant Tears Ravelry Group or contact HolyCuteness on Ravelry.

*this is directly quoted from the Ravelry Group page

A Collection Of Randomness

First off, I would like to thank all of you who have been asking me if I am still alive. Yes, I am here, still pregnant, and healthy, and extremely uncomfortable. Hence the lack of blogging. I don’t want to make this blog my whining place about all of the ways that this pregnancy is torturing me, so I simply stay away. And then there is The Cave, which is once again beckoning me to hide away and finish off this gestation in solitary confinement, preferably in a warm bath with soft music and occasional, brief visits from the little people whom I love, but are who so loud and energetic!

There are some things that I can share with you, though, of the knitting and spinning variety, that would make a decent blog post. So, here is a random collection of my yarnie activities from the last month. (to shorten my sitting at the computer, I am not going to provide individual links to all of these projects. The details can be found in my Ravelry notebook here.)

1. Rainbows!

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2. Billowy Blanket

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IMGP9134_medium3. Fishie Socks!

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4. A baby sweater that came out too big (and so was reassigned to The Fraggle) and a second version that came out just right.

IMGP9197_medium2IMGP9192_medium25. Some sewing has happened, too. Necessitating some matching knit shorties, of course. (Super easy and cute sewing pattern from here and adorable fabric from this Etsy shop – you gotta check out her fabric. She has Mo Willems Pigeon fabric! Oh my! Too cute! )

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6. And, of course, some spinning. It feels like cheating to not properly post about these yarns – they were all great learning experiences and I have a lot to say about them. Maybe I will come back to that later. (Notes are on the stash pages if you can’t wait) For now, just enjoy the pretties. ooooooo, pretties!

IMGP9167_medium IMGP9211_medium IMGP9131_medium IMGP9171_mediumIMGP9162_mediumThere is knitting in progress, some baby related, some not. Spinning is on hold for now, as my feet swell horribly after I sit at the wheel for any decent length of time.

In other news (since this is a random post), my three June Bugs are turning 6, 4, and 2 years old this month and there is a super frilly, pastel pink, girlie-girlie, ballerina tea party coming up that will be very fun to show you. I think that I enjoy planning the parties more than the kids enjoy the actual event, which really is a good thing, because it is a lot of work!

And, now, the obligatory belly shot – 35 weeks down, 5 more to go (give or take)

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SO, that is me for now. I’ll try to check in again before baby comes, but I make no promises. Just know that when this pregnancy finally ends and I have a wonderful new baby and a body that doesn’t torment me anymore, I will surely return to being a good blogger. Thanks again for all of your support and well wishes. I enjoy hearing from all of you, both here and on Ravelry. I have such a sweet group of cyber friends. Thank you for hanging in there with me!

 

 

 

Mama is a What?

Season passes to the zoo are wonderful things. We can pick up some In-and-Out and then go watch the giraffes for an hour while The Fraggle pushes her stroller around in circles and into passers-by. Going to the zoo for an hour or two is much more doable than spending an entire day trudging around in the hot sun trying to see everything and get our moneys worth. As it was, two hours did me in and this old pregnant body reminded me of it for days. But we had fun, and that has been in short supply since the pregnancy began, so at least I went to bed that night feeling like a good mom for the first time in a few months. 

So, there we were, looking for a parking spot so that we could spend a couple hours at the zoo. I always drive right up to the entrance first, you know, because there might be a space waiting for me right by the gate. It happens. This time, however, it didn’t.

“I don’t know why I always do that,” I remarked to the kids. “I always think there will be a spot open this close. I guess I am just an optimist.”

After a brief pause, The Munchkin piped up from the back seat, “Mama! You’re not a octopus!”

And that is why everyone should have kids. They keep you smiling.

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Inspiration Strikes! And I am Helpless to Resist!

I don’t do ultrasounds. In seven pregnancies I have had a total of four of them, three on the same baby, and all were medically necessary at the time. (I won’t bore you with the why’s, just google “dangers of ultrasounds” and you will know.) The consequence of this is that the baby’s gender is always a surprise, and I like it that way. When, after hours of pain and toil, a baby finally makes it’s way into this world, the most beautiful sound after the newborn cry is the declaration, “IT’S A GIRL!” (or BOY!, but I haven’t heard that one very often) Once we did discover the gender pre-birth, with The Munchkin, and it was weird to me. It felt artificial and wrong to know what was cooking in there. But, that is not the point of this post.

The point is, we won’t be finding out what we are having until we have had it, which makes for less than inspired baby knitting. Gender neutral baby knitting is not really very exciting. I know I can knit fast, and I plan to churn out heaps of knitted pink ruffles or blue robot longies as the case may be once we know who it is that I am knitting for, but I want to knit a blanket while I gestate.

So, there I was on Ravelry perusing blankets. I did lace for The Fraggle, but this time around I feel weaker and sicker and I don’t want to bother with complicated knitting. Simplicity is my middle name these days, so I was looking at striped blankets. Not terribly exciting, but then I found this: (photo used with permission)

BillowBlanket3(See Ravelry Project Page here and related blog post here)

To be honest, I am not sure what it is that I love about this, as far as a baby is concerned, but it sparked an idea that I couldn’t let go of. Before I knew it, I had placed a Knit Picks order and was waiting on pins and needles to get going on my own version of the above masterpiece.

Billow is a bulky, thick and thin, 100% cotton yarn that is softer than I expected. And the colors are perfect. I used all of the colors pictured above and threw in some purple because that is more “me”. When the yarn came, I was so excited that I snapped a quick picture with my iPad before balling it up and casting it on right then and there.

IMG_0572And once the knitting began, I was really cooking. Nevermind that I have months to go before there will be a baby to wrap in it. This is perfect pregnant/sick knitting.

IMGP8439My version differs from the inspiration blanket in that I am throwing in a purl row every seven rows and it will be smaller. I am going for crib size, which google tells me is 45″x60″.

I might have to order more yarn.

 

 

 

 

Why Do They Call it Morning Sickness When it Lasts All Day Long and Late into the Night?

And where did the lie that it will be better in the second trimester come from?

And why would an ailing body that is trying to build a new baby constantly crave awful things like Coca-cola and Cheetos?

And why can’t I feel like knitting while I lie on the couch for weeks at a time?

These are a few of the questions that have plagued my mind over the last five and a half months as I have suffered through yet another difficult pregnancy. But with the arrival of spring relief has come and I am slowly coming back to life. I have even taken the kids to the park this week. Sure, I was nauseous and weak for the rest of the day, but it was nice to get out of the house.

I am knitting again, too. The first project that I tackled when the knitting fever came back over me was to finish The Man’s christmas present. Poor guy only got one sock in his stocking with a promise of another to come. I don’t feel too bad about it, I mean I am making more offspring for him, after all. And the one sock was a heavenly merino/cashmere/nylon blend that is fit for kings. His foot was swathed in luxury. Sure the other one was left in the cold, but I thought I would remedy that in January. Well, better late than never, and I whipped out the second half in March.

IMGP8312Regular Guy Toe Up Socks in Handmaiden Casbah Ebony Ravelry Page here . Pictured on my feet, so a little baggie.

Pardon the horrible photography. I still don’t feel like getting off of the couch very much!

Three things about this knit –

1. The yarn is fantastic! I have already knit socks for me in it and it is fabulous. Hard wearing, unbelievably soft, and gorgeous colors. Well worth the price.

2. The pattern was free and easy. I didn’t do the short row toes as instructed, but preferred to use Judy’s Magic Cast On. More details on the Ravelry page.

3. The man has long feet, but at least they are narrow. One hundred grams made a nice, long, skinny pair of socks, leaving a very small ball for darning when needed.

There has been progress on other things as well, but I have got to save some things for later. I don’t know if I am back completely, but I sure hope so. I miss my friends in bloggyland and look forward to getting back into the swing of things here as well as in real life.

And, just so you don’t think I have been faking it – here is my progress on Encore Baby so far:

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Encore!

Remember the scene in “Evan Almighty” when Evan tells God that building an ark is just not “part of my plans” and God laughs hysterically? “Why are you laughing?” Evan asks, to which God replies, “You said, ‘my plans’! hahaha!”

Now, remember all that rambling I have done over the last 18 months or so about only having six kids? About never getting pregnant again?

Well, as my sister-in-law put it, if The Fraggle was our “grand finale”, we are about to get an encore.

That’s right, folks! God had other plans for this family and we are expecting our seventh baby in July!

I confess that this has been a difficult adjustment for me. I didn’t realize how sold I was on the idea of “being done” until I found that I wasn’t done after all. My mindset has already left the baby making stage behind and I have bid farewell to each phase as The Fraggle has grown out of breastfeeding, night waking, teething, crawling, spitting up, and all the other things that I thought were over for me. My plans were good and I was looking at the next few years with excitement and confidence.

God’s plans are always good, always best, and I believe that this is no exception. And to prove it, His loving grace has kept me from the pit of hyperemisis gravidarum and instead I have only had moderate nausea and fatigue (a miracle that I will always be thankful for). Perhaps this is my redemption pregnancy – the one that I get to enjoy. And I have high hopes for a redemptive birth after my last traumatic experience.

Best of all, at the end of this pregnancy a new little baby will enter our lives, enriching our home with new life, adding to the amazing family that God has blessed us with.

Who could say no to that?

So, now my bloggy absenteeness is explained. I don’t plan to blog for the rest of this month, but in January I hope to be back to normal and ready to face the world again.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Dear Readers! And we’ll chat again soon!

The Fraggle Turns One – A Retrospective On My Last Birth

This week marks one year since I gave birth to my last baby.

The Fraggle is amazing. God knew that I needed an easy baby this last time around. He blessed me with an eager nursing, long nap taking, not very needy, easy going baby. The Fraggle is responsible for many, many smiles and has caused so much joy in our home.

One Year. The Fraggle is one year. And she is lovely.

In our family we have a tradition. On your birthday, you hear your birth story. It always begins, “______ years ago today…” and what follows is the story of joyous birth. But when I start The Fraggle’s story, I can’t remember joy. I remember this.

One year ago this week, I was in the hospital. It was the last place I wanted or expected to be. Up until that week I had only known easy, peaceful, simple homebirths. But, as I laid in that hospital bed, strapped to monitors and totally exhausted, I was filled with fear, worry, homesickness, disappointment, and stress. With my blood pressure climbing daily and the worries about the baby’s heart and being separated from my five children for days and days, I was a total wreck. Her birth was great as far as hospital births go I suppose, but I wasn’t used to hospital births. Compared to my previous five birth experiences, it was horrible, terrible, awful. A memory that I’d rather not have. An experience not for reliving on special occassions.

But, then I look at this little girl, this amazing blessing, and I wonder if that really matters. Sure it began in turmoil, but the turmoil was temporary, and once she got the “all clear” from the cardiologist and my blood pressure came down, we began a year of bliss. I feel robbed of the blissful experience that I associate with birth, but better and more beautiful experiences followed – an entire year of them. Memories to cherish, documented with pictures, and remembered with joy.

The tears come to my eyes and the disappointment returns to me again as I relive the story of her birth, but The Fraggle is too young to understand what I whisper to her while I hold her tight. I am determined to have a better version to tell her when she can understand. I will find a way to tell the story from a better perspective, when the joys of the years of her life have dimmed the pain of her birth. Just as a mother forgets the pain of labor, so I hope to forget the pains of my heart.

How ungrateful am I to dwell on a painful moment instead of celebrating the weeks and months of bliss? No, I will not do so. I will find the good in her birth and remember that. And where is the good in her birth story? Here. The good is right here.

And today it is right here.

And between those two moments is an entire year of bliss.

Happy Birthday, Little Fraggle! I love you!

(For the full birth story click here)

Knitting a Prayer

In the last two years I have come to know of many moms who have lost their babies. A baby gone after only a few weeks in her mother’s arms, a miscarriage, a stillborn child – news of this kind breaks my heart. A woman I never knew before suddenly becomes so dear a comrade to me in that sisterhood of unbearable loss and I weep for her as I wept after my own miscarriage two summers ago. So when I was told of yet another lost baby, another mother who will never hold her baby this side of heaven, my heart broke yet again.

The square pictured above is for a quilt for this mourning mother. And though I don’t even know her name, as I knit each stitch, I prayed for her. I prayed peace and comfort. I prayed that she would be surrounded by those who know what to say and when to say nothing. I prayed for her family and her husband. I prayed healing and new life for her heart and her home.

When I had prayed all I could pray for her, I thought of other moms whose names I know and I prayed for them, too. I prayed joy for those in mourning. I prayed peace for those in turmoil. I prayed comfort for those whose hearts are still raw from the pain. I prayed healing for the families who are missing the presence of a crib and the sound of a new baby’s cry.

If you have your babies, then hold them. Thank God for them. Enjoy them.

And pray with me for those who don’t.