Monday, August 25, 2014

Bentley Two Months

Okay Folks... I cannot get over how flippin' cute my kid is so I am barraging you with a lot of his two month photos. I know I am biased and all but objectively I think he is really adorable. Especially in this vest. 

 We have two weddings throughout the month of August and so I dressed him in this outfit. He has become such a little man this past month. He smiles a ton, especially in the mornings. He is quite the fussy baby at night but we still love him even when he cries so much he pukes.
 He loves his baby gym... we call it his wiggle mat cause he wiggles his arms and legs like crazy when we set him down there. He is learning to use his voice so well now and coos and ahhs at us a ton. 
  This little boy has stolen my heart in ways I didn't think were even possible. It hasn't all been peachy keen and in fact a lot of it has been incredibly hard and anxiety ridden but I still cannot imagine my life without this little one. 
 We were in a pretty bad accident recently and the brief moment where I realized that it only takes a split second for life to change was terrifying. We are all fine thank God but it was a reminder that every moment we have is a gift and I'm trying to not take any of it for granted. The days that are hard I look at him and remember why I keep fighting and waking up every day. 
 I'll be going back to work pretty soon here and my heart just breaks thinking about not being with him all of the time. 
 I guess I'll just have to plaster these photos all over my locker so I don't get too sad. Doesn't that smile just make you melt? 
Happy (belated) two months Benny. Mama loves you so much. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bentley - One Month

Friends, I cannot believe it has been over a month since my little boy came into the world. The past 5 weeks have been completely an upheaval in my life. I have been struggling with pretty severe postpartum anxiety and depression but I am getting help and getting better daily.

 Last week my sister in law and I decided to do a little photo shoot to commemorate Benny's one month of life. She has been staying with us to help out with Benny and it has been a huge lifesaver and a big part in my getting better.
 I have been thoroughly enjoying my little bean more than ever these days. His little smirks and smiles make me beam with joy. The way he cries out and ooohs and ahhs, trying so hard to test his voice just melts my heart.
 He is the greatest joy I have ever experienced. It is really hard to put into words how amazing it is to be this little munchkin's mama but I am so thankful I am.

Friday, June 27, 2014

My slightly traumatic birth story.

My due date was June 8th and the week prior I had my membranes swept twice and two false labor scares with one trip to L&D that included us getting monitored and sent home. I had a ton of braxton hicks that felt very confusing as to whether they were true contractions or not. Turns out I was having mild contractions about every 10 minutes and just didn't really feel them. Around 11am on June 9th I started feeling like I was either slowly leaking amniotic fluid or peeing my pants. By 4pm that evening it had happened enough throughout the day that I emailed my doctor to ask if it was something worth checking in on. By 7pm or so I full on soaked my pants and decided it was time to call the on-call number for my clinic. The OB told me to go straight to L&D and sure enough my water had broken and I was to be induced that evening!

They started with two doses of cytotec pills, spaced 4 hours apart. I got my doses of ampicillin for being GBS positive. The contractions got stronger but were still irregular in spacing and intensity. At around 4am the pain started getting consistently worse and it was difficult because the contractions would stack together at times. We had also been battling with Bentley's heart rate decelerating all night. I couldn't lie on my back because his heart rate would dip down to the 70-90's so I was stuck on my left side and it was getting pretty uncomfortable. I made it to about 4-5cm dilated, -1 station and decided at that point to get the epidural so they could start the pitocin and really get things moving. They started the pitocin and eventually the decelerations became more severe, lasting longer and longer with each contraction. By 6am we had multiple people rushing in the room, flipping me from side to side, turning off the pitocin and giving me sublingual sprays of nitroglycerin to stop the contractions. I was having strong contractions that kept stacking which made the decels worse. I had a large amount of bloody show as well. In fact my whole bed was soaked with blood from the waist down. At that point they had called my OB and told her she needed to come in right away. When she got there I could tell by her face that it was getting very serious. She checked me and I was dilated to 7cm and as she is talking to me about my options his heart rate dips down and stays down. Mid conversation my OB looks at me and goes "No we need to do an emergency c-section now. His heart rate isn't coming up."

Within minutes my husband was throwing on scrubs and I was being wheeled into the operating room. Luckily the epidural was in place already so they just increased it to a full nerve block which had a slight complication and made my entire left side numb... but it was better than going under general anesthesia and being intubated. I warned the anesthesiologist that I had severe panic attacks during pregnancy when I felt short of breath and since the block makes you feel like you aren't breathing they pre-treated me with a little bit of versed which made me totally loopy but made the procedure totally bearable too.  I got sick during the section and ended up vomiting everywhere. Within 15 minutes they had Bentley out; he had the chord around his neck and was descending down the birth canal slightly crooked. He also had severe molding on his head (major cone head) which probably meant that my pelvis was too long and narrow for him to make it through.  During the surgery I lost about 800ml of blood which is a TON for a c-section. The next day they almost had to transfuse me with blood because my hematocrit dropped so low. Bentley was taken to the nursery with his dad. I got stitched up and sent to recovery where I continued to vomit everywhere. About 2 hours after birth I got to hold my baby boy for the first time and I sobbed uncontrollably. He was perfect and beautiful and I was so relieved to have him out of me and have him healthy.

 If I am really honest I feel like pregnancy and childbirth were the worst experiences of my life. I never want to go through it again. I can definitely say that my son is the best thing in my world though and I am SO SO glad to have him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Baby Shower Pictures

I wanted to share the baby shower photos I have because I realize that much of what I write about on here in terms of my pregnancy is just sad. While I have been suffering from severe antepartum depression it wouldn't be fair to say that there have only been horrible, depressing moments. There are some great moments of my pregnancy that I hope to remember. My baby shower was definitely one of them.
My mother in law did such a wonderful job at making me feel so loved and cared for and Bentley too!
I looked ready to give birth any minute but really I still had 8 weeks to go!

 She had such an amazing spread of food and really fun games and these adorable prizes.
 We got so many gifts from everyone and even had a little helper while we were opening presents. :)

I was so happy that friends from all over the state came to join us. It's hard to get all of us together these days but it was a huge blessing to have them all there. 

 I also was so lucky to have amazing co-workers who threw me the sweetest work baby shower. We are decorating Bentley's room in a Super Mario Brother's theme so my friend Julie went through all the trouble to hunt down baby Mario decorations!
So much good food and love from everyone. This kid really is going to be so incredibly spoiled.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

For Bentley


I am sitting here pregnant at almost 37 weeks and I am marveling that in just a little while I will be holding you in my arms for the very first time. It feels like an eternity away and yet I know it will fly by quickly in the grand scheme of things. These past months have been a trial for me. I have struggled with pregnancy more than I have any other thing in my entire life. There has been a lot of pain and discomfort and worry. Many days where it felt like the torture would never end.

Yet, so many times I would press my hand to my belly, trying to remind myself why I was enduring it all, and there you would be. Your little foot meeting the palm of my hand so strong and quick and my heart would melt. You were my joy in the midst of such despair. I struggled with depression during pregnancy, along with all of the other physical ailments too but the depression was the worst.

Still, in the midst of it all, knowing that I would someday get to hold you and see you and know you, it kept me afloat. The sound of your heart beat was pure bliss. The day I found out that you were a little boy... my baby boy, I cried tears of joy. I have dreams of you too. Wondering what you will be like. What you look like. How it will feel to see you and hold you. There are so many people who want to meet you. So much family and so much love waiting for you in this world. I feel lucky though because I have already felt you. I already know you in so many ways. Your hiccups, your kicks, your every move I feel from within. You are my sweet Benny. My reason for fighting and getting up every day, even when it feels impossible. My love for you is beyond what words could ever describe. It is a special love that only a mother could have. A special bond from feeling you grow since the very minute you came into existence.

I promise I will always give you everything I have. It will be flawed and I will make many mistakes along the way... that I am sure of... but you will always get the very best of me. I undoubtedly will fail a million times over but I hope you will always feel loved, safe and secure. I hope you will always know your worth. I hope I can teach you to have compassion for others, faith in God and integrity in all that you do. I hope you live life intentionally, passionately and fully. I pray that you will love deeply and travel often. I hope that you laugh a lot and find joy in the mundane. But most of all, my sweet Benny, I hope that you will always know that you are the best thing this life has given me.

I love you,
Your momma

Thursday, May 8, 2014

To My Fellow Nurses

I have been sitting at my computer for over an hour now trying to think of what I want to say to my fellow nurses on "Nurses Week". It is hard to put into words just what a nurse does on a daily basis. If you were to shadow me on a day at work you would see that my day is very busy. From the minute I am done getting report my mind is already racing with the list of things I must accomplish. Giving medications, patient education, trips to CT scan and MRI, wound care and dressing changes, getting immobile patients out of bed, multidisciplinary rounds, assessments, charting, titrating IV medications to maintain hemodynamic stability, drawing labs, adjusting ventilator settings, monitoring vital signs, cleaning up every bodily fluid imaginable. We are the ones at the bedside 24/7. A bedside nurse is a very special person. We are there for the sickest patients in the most vulnerable state of being. We hold your hand, clean you up, hug your families, skip our breaks and our meals just to make sure you are stable and taken care of. We give up our holidays for our patients. We sacrifice time with our own families working nights, weekends, and overtime because we want to take care of people.

There have been many times that I wanted to quit nursing all together. Too many days I come home exhausted and spent. Physically hurting, emotionally drained and defeated by the system that often prevents me from connecting to the more "human" aspects of my job. I love the days that I get to spend a little extra time with my patients. Reassuring, helping, hand holding, healing, connecting. Those days are rare but the good nurses I know make every effort to fit that in when they can. The good nurses I know are the ones who are smart and work with integrity. They work tirelessly and selflessly for their patients. They teach and train newer nurses to be caring, thorough individuals who advocate for the patients even when it means you have to go head to head with the on call physician.

Nursing is anything but a glamorous job. It can be rewarding, it is rewarding but many times it is just hard. I am proud of what I do and I cannot imagine doing anything else. My job gives me meaning. I know that despite the lack of accolades we make a difference in the lives of those we treat and care for. To my fellow nurses, I hope this week you feel appreciated. I hope you stop and take the time to recognize all that you do on a daily basis. I hope someone hugs you and says "thank you" but if not I am saying it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. What you do is significant. What you do matters. What you do saves lives. For the people you touch, the families you support and the patients you heal, you deserve so much. For now I hope you hear me when I say thank you, you matter and please don't stop what you do. Your co-workers need you, your patients need you, their families need you and this world would be a lesser place without a nurse like you. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Antepartum Depression at 35 weeks

It started early for me. Despite the fact that I kept blaming it all on my anxiety and fear of becoming a first time mom, the depression really started much sooner than I would like to admit. I remember early in my first trimester having overwhelming waves of guilt and sadness. There were many days that I spent every work break locked up in our library, sobbing. Trying to catch my breath, I would cry out to my unborn child, "I am so sorry. I'm so sorry I'm your mama. I'm so sorry baby." I felt completely horrible that this poor child would be born to such a miserable failure of a human being. I felt so guilty all of the time and so devastatingly sad. I had frequent panic attacks and was so physically miserable with every pregnancy symptom in the book. Stuck on a liquid diet for two months because I could not keep down solid food. Praying that somehow all of the GI symptoms would eventually clear. Praying that my asthma would somehow come under control again so I could breathe. When one thing would let up another would creep in and I only felt more defeated as time went on.

Then we had our anatomy scan in February and we were told that we were most likely having a child with an intersex disorder. Meaning at the very least he would need surgery after birth and at the very worst our child actually had no defined gender or would be both genders but could also have other abnormalities like infertility and mild retardation. Suddenly the baby boy I had named and grown so very attached to became genderless and lacked any real identity to connect with in my mind. That same week I had been started on Wellbutrin for the depression and one of the black box warnings for this drug is suicidal ideation. Over the two weeks it took to do further testing and wait for a follow up ultrasound I began to spiral out of control. We eventually found out that the anatomy scan tech just had bad images because the umbilical cord was in the way and we were in fact having a very healthy baby boy, but by then the damage had been done. Every day became a battle to simply survive. Life seemed utterly pointless and I began to think about death with fondness. Wishing that somehow I could simply not exist anymore.

I decided to go off the Wellbutrin and with the help of my husband and my OB-Gyn I began seeing a therapist that specialized in pregnancy related issues. Slowly, I began to get better and within a month I felt actually somewhat normal! I even remember telling my OB-Gyn that I thought the third trimester was my magical trimester. I honestly only remember one brief period, maybe a couple of days where I felt those suicidal thoughts creep back in and I remember it being associated with feeling physically really crappy. I had a wonderful baby shower around week 32 that was so happy I felt pure joy that entire week. Excitement even for what was to come.

Then came week 34 and the beast that is antepartum depression crept back in and decided to dig in deep. This child inside of me is growing big and it literally feels as if a 300 pound man is sitting square on my chest. I cannot catch my breath for the life of me and I panic on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. The other day I spent a good portion of my day googling things like "antepartum depression" "suicide during pregnancy" "antepartum depression worsening during second pregnancy" in an attempt to find someone who understood the darkness that has taken hold of my mind. I also have been completely preoccupied lately with the thought that I just cannot imagine ever doing this again. The realization that having another child could possibly be one of the worst ideas is so heart breaking. I want more children. I don't want Bentley to be an only child but the thought of willingly inviting this beast into my life again is down right terrifying. I told Chris through tears yesterday that I was afraid I would get even more depressed and commit suicide if I ever got pregnant again. How awful is that? I even considered writing a letter to myself in order to remind my future self just how horrible and scary this pregnancy was. I am so afraid that the joy of having Bentley will make me forget the beast and it's hold on my mind. I am so afraid that I will decide to be brave and that the next time I won't be so lucky. Next time the depression will be so debilitating that I just won't survive it and my children will be left without a mother. The thought that I just can't have more children is a burden that hurts so deep and I know it hurts Chris too. I don't know what the future entails but it just feels very bleak.

Right now I am desperately clinging to the hope that this will all get better once Bentley gets here. It's hard though because I am told that having antepartum depression predisposes you for postpartum depression. I seem to also only hear the horror stories of taking care of a newborn. The lack of sleep, the torture that is breastfeeding, the pain of recovery, the never ending cries of a colicky, inconsolable baby. It all just feels like I will be jumping from the pan to the fire. I have 5 weeks to go and I feel like each day is a battle to get through. Some are better than others but for now I have to keep fighting to live despite my complete lack of desire to go on at times. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Life Lately

It's raining today and I could not be happier. I know so many people struggle with feeling more depressed when it is gloomy outside but I am not one of those. I love the rain. Right outside my kitchen window I have a ton of greenery and trees. I sometimes sit and watch the rain pour down all of leaves. It's incredibly peaceful. My mom always used to call it "snuggle weather" and I can't help but to think of what it will be like when little Benny comes and I can bundle him up in feet pajamas and just cuddle him all day long.
He has been moving a lot lately. Full on ninja style, alien moving in my belly, kicks and twists and turns. In fact there have been many times he has made me jump clear out of my seat or straight up in bed. This kid is strong and super active, which makes me so very happy. It is the best part of this whole process. As I wind down for bed each night I often sit there for an hour or so just holding my hands over my belly, smiling to myself and just feeling him move around. It is truly amazing to know that my child is in there, growing and being his own little person.
I have grown a lot over the past few weeks too. I am officially 30 weeks along now and I cannot fathom how I will last another 10 weeks with this little munchkin inside of me. I already feel incredibly huge and heavy and it can be hard at times. I've been feeling better when it comes to my depression but the anxiety is still there. My asthma has been bad during pregnancy and having a baby growing up against your lungs makes it very difficult to breathe sometimes. It's a big panic inducer for me when I have those severe shortness of breath moments. I'm sure all of you mamas out there know what I mean. The third trimester really slows you down and makes you feel so out of shape!
I worry a lot about the postpartum period too. I know breastfeeding is hard and the lack of sleep is really tough but I actually think those aren't my worst fears. My worst fear is the crazy fluctuation in hormones you have after giving birth. I feel like that has been my issue this whole time... the complete lack of control over my body... physically, emotionally, and mentally it is all so unpredictable. Especially being a first time mom I just have no clue what to expect. Hopefully, the fact that my little man will finally be here and in my arms (and also able to hand over to dad when it gets to be too much) will help.

For now, I am just trying to enjoy having Benny to myself. Carrying him with me everywhere I go and feeling his little feet in my side and his hiccups in my hips... it really is so special and miraculous. Ten weeks left to savor... or survive. :)

Happy Monday Friends. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to Survive Night Shift Nursing

For five years I have been a night shift nurse in the ICU. I never thought I would make the transition to day shift nursing but this past month I made the leap and for me it was the best decision I have made in years. I think I forgot how wonderful it is to sleep when it is actually dark outside and my days off are now actually days off! I'm not perpetually catching up on sleep or trying to rotate my schedule to accommodate work or my pathetic attempt at a social life.

Despite the horrors that the night shift bestowed on my life I do know that for many years I was happy on nights and I think I can share a few tips for those of you venturing into the graveyard world. Being a new grad nurse almost inevitably means you will start out on nights... even a seasoned nurse who moves to a new hospital starts at the bottom of the food chain and has to usually work the night shift. So, for those of you looking for some help in surviving beyond the land of the living... here goes.

1) Your schedule has to be the most protected aspect of your life. Whether you choose to work multiple days in a row or not, this is most important. You have the choice to stay on the night shift for a stretch and then switch your sleeping to match day shift on your stretch of days off or you can work one or two days in a row and then just stay on a night shift schedule always. Most night shifters I know work 3-4 days in a row (I never recommend more than 4) and then have 3-4 days off in a row to flip their schedule and live among the land of the living for those few days.

2) Plan your meals ahead of time. Sleep is the most important part of surviving night shift and what I found to be most helpful was planning all of my meals the day before I started a long stretch at work. The less time I'm worried about packing 12 hours worth of food, the more time I get to spend in bed and that is awesome.

3) Learn to say no. Being a night shift person unfortunately means that 99% of the time people will not understand your schedule or the need to protect your sleep. Social events can be really hard to plan because sometimes people don't understand that yes 1:00 pm is in fact WAY too early for a night shift person to wake up. Especially if it is your first day off! That first day off after working a long stretch... take my advice and don't make any plans. That day is ruined... a total wash and when you need to plan something that you can't get out of either do it right after work or very late in the evening.

Being a night shift nurse is incredibly hard. I did it for five years and I know many people who have done it for their entire career. Yes, it is quieter and slower and there are less people to deal with which is nice but you also work with fewer staff and you need to have more autonomy and the ability to trust your clinical judgement. Night shift also doesn't get nearly as much recognition as day shift. In fact I received my first present from a family member this week! 5 years I have been working at my hospital and this was the first time I have been given a thank you card for taking care of  a patient. It was nice and I realize now just how glad I am to be working again in the land of the living. Still, I value the time I had on nights because I learned a lot and hopefully my tips can help someone else too!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pregnancy and Depression

I have never been the kind of person to sugar coat anything. I am open, honest, and transparent most of the time. And yet my pregnancy has been an incredibly difficult thing to share with people. Early on in my baby journey I deleted my Facebook. I haven't done the typical "weekly bump photo" like most bloggers love to do. I thought I would too! I have limited myself to using Twitter and Instagram and even those things I rarely post anything on. I have been so very protective of my pregnancy and I think it's because my pregnancy hasn't been what I'd hoped or what others expected it to be.

Society in general has this image of pregnant women as these glowing, feminine goddesses. *GAG* oh sorry, did I just ruin it for someone? Pregnancy for me has been miserable and not just because of the usual pregnancy symptoms... because while those are horrible and I do mean horrible... they aren't the worst part. The worst parts are the moments when someone tells you that something might be seriously wrong with your baby. Or when you completely loose any attachment you ever had to the child growing inside of you. Or the moments when the antepartum depression sinks in so deeply that you truly see no reason to exist anymore.

I was talking to a friend of mine today who struggles with depression as well and I told him that I think one of the hardest things to deal with these days is that people see me as weak. They think I am overreacting or that I just don't "handle" pregnancy well. That maybe if I fought a little harder, I could beat the depression. If I were stronger then maybe I wouldn't be so miserable. As if I have a choice in it all.

But see, that is not how depression works. Depression is not a choice or a mindset that you can choose to overcome. It is not something you can pray away or give a pat on the back and expect it to disappear. It is not about mental toughness or about your will to fight. Trust me... coming from someone who has overcome so much. It is no lack of will or strength or tenacity that is getting the best of me. This friend of mine told me something today that made me smile and I even felt a little bit proud. He said,

"The thing is that the people I know with depression are some of the toughest fuckers on the planet. I would go through hell with those people. I'll take someone who battles depression and can still be a success over anybody. There's nobody tougher."

Amen friend. And thank you for reminding me of that truth.

I am thankful for people like him. People who get it. People who reach out despite the fact that I am no bowl of cherries. People who aren't afraid to include me in their life because of where I am. People who don't just ignore it or me because it is uncomfortable for them to face. I am struggling with depression and while it may not be fun and I may be different.... I am still me. I am still here. Still fighting. I still get up every single day. I go to work. I take care of myself and my baby. I clean my house. I fight to live even on the days where it feels pointless. If that isn't toughness or resilience I don't know what is.
I'm hoping that on the off chance that someone stumbles across this post and is struggling with depression... especially pregnancy related depression.... I hope you know that you are not alone. But more importantly, you should know that if you are still waking up every day and choosing to live... you should be proud. You my friend are a badass. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ireland on my mind

A few years ago I made a trip to visit two of my BFF's on the opposite side of the world. Lebanon and Ireland in one trip. It was glorious and probably one of the best things I have done outside of living in South Africa for a few months and traveling to Thailand during college.

I have been lucky to travel quite a bit in my life. I wish I could travel more but lately the thought of airplanes and packing and jet lag just sounds horrendous. Over the past two years I have settled more into home, which is why I am even more thankful that I traveled a good amount in my early/mid twenties. I have a feeling that international trips won't exist with a little one... not to mention a husband who hates the thought of traveling internationally.

He isn't big on being forced out of your comfort zone when it comes to traveling. I used to thrive off of that thrill though. The feeling that your world is so different from the one you are visiting. I think it forces you to stay humble and tolerant in a way that is unique to being immersed in another culture or country. Chris is a domestic traveler though, having been to most of the 50 states. I however have been to only a handful in comparison.

So for now, I am nostalgically thinking of the time I spent in Ireland. I have close to 2,000 photos from that trip. I remember coming home and being so overwhelmed with them all that I hardly edited any.

I took a chunk of them recently and I began exploring a bit more. Being sick this whole week has afforded me few joys.  Yet, reminiscing on this splendid trip with the best travel buddy ever made me really happy.

We decided to make a spur of the moment trip from Dublin to Belfast and up to the Giant's Causeway. I forgot how beautiful it was! I'm so glad I took so many photos and I can't wait to someday tell Bentley about my many adventures overseas. And maybe someday he and I will have some travel adventures of our very own.

Oh Ireland I heart you.