Monthly Archives: August 2009

Back update — vacation plans nixed. Bummer.

Thank you everyone, sincerely, for your prayers.

I have a weensy bit of scoliosis — my spine curves off to the left as it meets my pelvis.  Normally, this doesn’t cause a ton of problems;  about twice a year, I have back pain and go to the chiropractor, and he pops and twists everything back into place in a visit or two.

Two weeks ago today, I hurt my back, as I twisted as I lifted Fiala…  but we were in the midst of Fiala’s allergy testing that week, and I just didn’t do anything about it except try to rest.  Finally, last Monday I went to the chiropractor.  That helped somewhat, but my muscles were already so out-of-whack from being out of place for a week… so I went back on Wednesday.  I hadn’t been home for 20 minutes when I seriously threw it out… by… bending over my bed to change Fiala.  That’s all I did.  And my legs buckled.

Long story short, I was on my back from Wednesday night to Saturday morning.  I couldn’t walk, couldn’t stand, couldn’t sit.  Even laying very still on my back hurt immensely.  I was icing, using Salonpas patches, Traumeel cream, taking ibuprofen (which I didn’t want to do, but I was in such pain!).  My husband took Thursday and Friday off of work to keep us fed and cared for.  We took two excruciating trips back to the chiropractor on Thursday and Friday.  Finally, by mid-morning Saturday, I could walk, briefly, without excruciating pain.  And, by yesterday, I could sit briefly.

I’m sitting now, as I type this.  But, still, I’m supposed to be either lying flat on my back, or standing.  And no lifting at all.  I feel about 90% better, which is fabulous.  I had started to lose heart and was becoming really upset and stressed about the pain.  I mean, my husband can’t stay home from work forever;  I need to be functional to mother!

I think that was the worst I’ve ever hurt, barring labor.

A HUGE bummer is we’ve had to cancel our vacation, which was due to start tomorrow.  I haven’t done laundry in a week.  I haven’t prepared food for the trip — with Fiala’s new allergen-restricted diet, it’s still hard for me to sort out what we’re eating while at home, let alone taking it on the road.  Plus, her huge yeast infection is not yet healed, and it’s so time-consuming to care for her diaper area… it’s hard to figure out how we’d do that, camping.  (Note:  Oddly, fresh aloe vera gel, from our plant out back, was making it worse.  Maybe there’s a tiny amount of natural sugars in the gel that the yeast was feeding off of.  Not sure.  Overall, it’s better than it was a week ago, but frustratingly, not healed yet.)

Martin and I are trying to come up with consolation plans for our trip…  It will likely involve my mother and stepdad’s newly-remodeled cabin in the tiny mountain hamlet of Crown King, and hopefully, a trip to Horsethief Basin to fish… But my kids are really, really disappointed.  Martin and I are also thinking maybe we can take the kids to Disneyland in early January — Disneyland which is INSANELY expensive, but to which we’ve never gone (well, Martin and I went before we had kids), and I think they’d be very excited about going, though to place their hopes four months out is difficult for kids.

So, thanks again to everyone for your concern and your prayers.  🙂  I’ll have to catch up later on your blogs, though!!!!

Texting from the floor. Hurt

Texting from the floor. Hurt my back last Monday and REALLY bad on Wednesday. 😦 Hubby has stayed home to care for kids & me.

Erin’s birth story

I can’t believe my friend Erin’s baby, Abigail, is almost three weeks old.  Regular readers may remember that I had really enjoyed preparing to be Erin’s birth coach, which she asked me to do after I twisted her arm because I had some experience — five births — having a natural birth in a hospital setting.

However, things did not go well, and Erin ended up having an emergency c-section, only minutes after she arrived at the hospital.  That was followed up by a 9-day stay in the NICU and Level II nursery for her dear sweet baby, Abigail Ruth.

Erin has said that I can post the birth story now, so…

(I wrote this the day after Abigail was born.)

When I was preparing to help Erin in labor, I had three main concerns:

  1. My education:  I wanted to make sure I understood all the processes of birth that I possibly could, so that I could help lead my friend into good birthing decisions.
  2. My friend’s choices:  I carried some concern that, no matter how I led, that in the heat of the situation, my friend would make unwise choices.
  3. The doctor’s motives:  I was concerned that the doctor would make decisions based not upon a good outcome for Erin and her baby, but out of convenience, litigation-avoidance, and/or profit motive.  (To a lesser extent, I was concerned about the nursing care Erin would receive, along similar lines of my concern about the doctor.)

What I didn’t even truly consider, deep in my heart, was that something outside of those three categories might happen.  I didn’t really, truly think that something would go WRONG, unless it was from the consequences of my not knowing what to do, Erin making poor decisions, or undue interference from the doctor.

I received an e-mail from someone this morning who said that when she has acted as a doula, and that things do end up going south, it takes her a couple of days of reflection, prayer, and worship to pull out of it.  Even before she wrote that to me, I found that to be exactly what I was experiencing.

Reflection:  yes, thoughtfully so.  Prayer:  nearly continually, just offering up conversation to God, pouring out my heart, for my sweet friend, her dear baby, her husband, and myself.  Worship:  ha!  I have had Telecast’s Beauty of Simplicity on repeat play and have listened to it countless times now.

What I have come to is this:

  1. After Erin had a c-section, I thought, “I must not have done my job.”  But, actually, I did.  I did it.  When the nurse said, “Late decels” and I looked at the strip from the fetal heartrate monitor, I knew it was true.  I knew it was serious, and when the nurses and doctor jumped on it QUICKLY and said, basically, “C-section now!”  I knew that they likely weren’t jumping the gun.  I knew what they were seeing on the monitors meant decreased oxygen to the baby.  Reading up a bit, afterwards, I see that variable decels during a contraction are frequently related to umbilical issues, which will often resolve themselves with a better birthing position, and that the current theory is that late decels indicate placental insufficiency (though that does NOT appear to have been the case for Erin;  her placenta was healthy).  But at the time, all I could remember was that if she labored on her left side, or on hands and knees, that if it was due to compression of the vena cava, or from the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck, oxygen supply would have a good chance of being boosted.  But, that didn’t happen.  The decels were getting worse, not rebounding as high, dipping ever lower.  The baby still wasn’t getting oxygen.  I knew that, when the nurses, then the doctor, said that they would have to do a section, ASAP, that they weren’t just creating an artificial emergency;  it was an actual emergency;  a section was truly warranted.  This was made even more clear after the baby was born.
  2. Erin did everything right that she possibly could have.  She labored at home as long as she could.  She did wait for labor to spontaneously begin.  She actually had prodromal labor for a good 24-30 hours.  She waited until the contractions were 3 minutes apart and painful before going into the hospital.  She didn’t make any poor choices at all, not at home, nor in the hospital.  She did all she possibly could do.  She only ever dilated to 1 cm, and there’s no way that was anyone’s fault.
  3. The doctor didn’t make any interventions, from ANY motives, until that c-section.  There was no pitocin.  There were no scare-tactic situations.  There wasn’t any time for that.  And, as much as I stridently believe that the c-section rate in the United States has crazily, needlessly ballooned to 31.8% due to bad policies regularly practiced in standard medical care right now, and that women need to have as natural a birth as possible, I found myself repeating to myself, “He was right.  I’m glad he was there.  I’m glad he acted swiftly.  I’m glad he was a surgeon.”  The nurses, too, did the right thing.  (I am less pleased with the care from nurses that Erin received, but I don’t think that any of it negatively affected the outcome;  I just wish, in a few separate situations, they had acted/done differently.)

What we found out after birth:

  • Sweet baby Abigail had let go copious amounts of meconium while in the womb, rendering the amniotic fluid to have a “pea soup” consistency.  She aspirating it deep into her lungs, and swallowed a lot as well.
  • Her one minute Apgar was four.  (Five minute was eight, thank God.)
  • Her blood pH was 7.07.  That is low.  Very low.  Very acidic.  That happens when the baby is not receiving enough oxygen.  If it had dipped below 7.00, Abigail would very likely have faced permanent neurological problems.  The doctor told us that, in an oxygen deprived environment, blood pH drops 0.4 per hour.  If my math is right, that means that within 12 minutes, Abigail’s blood pH would have dropped into the perilous range with long-term effects.
  • Baby Abigail was truly in fetal distress, not due to the fault of ANYONE.

I find myself wondering how a midwife would have handled it, if Erin had chosen to birth at home.  Not that Erin was ever considering that, that I know of.  But, when you’re looking at a window of opportunity, of NEED FOR ACTION, a window of less than 15 minutes…  Could a midwife have transferred care to a hospital quickly enough?

Maybe a midwife would have handled the situation in a wise and speedy way, and everything would have been fine.  Maybe with a simple fetoscope, she could have detected the late decels (combined with no dilation) much earlier than in a hospital, because it seems to me that most women who would birth with a midwife would be likely to call the midwife a bit earlier in the labor process.  This is just my own conjecture, though.  (Anyone with midwifery experience PLEASE feel free to chime in;  I am abundantly curious.)

No matter how anybody else might have handled the situation, the experience leaves me with a better understanding of why so many doctors are anti-homebirthing.  Erin’s birth was one of those situations that I’m sure play in the memories of doctors as they refuse to give their support to home birthing.

So…  I’m still feeling very reflective about the whole thing.  Not depressed, but very quiet and thoughtful.  Even though I’m 98% certain that nothing could have been done in advance, or during labor, to avoid a c-section, there is still 2% of me that thinks, “There must have been something…”  I’m still checking into a thing or two, just to make absolutely certain that somebody couldn’t have done something along the way that would have improved the outcome of Erin’s birth.  But, I’m not dwelling on what-ifs;  I simply want to file it all away in my memory, for the future… [Note:  After talking extensively with two natural-birthing-minded L&D RNs, it doesn’t appear that there was anything that could have been done, though one nurse did say that she has seen a women labor for a long time with little to no dilation, frequently when the baby’s head is turned a bit to the side in a way that is keeping the head from sitting RIGHT on the cervix… but then the baby turns a bit, and WHAM! nearly instant dilation.  However, even she agreed that though this may have been the case with Erin, the no-dilation PLUS late decels meant that Erin did, indeed, need a c-section.]

I think, though, that — though this birth SO wasn’t about me — I am left in a good place.  Too many natural childbirth advocates rail with vitriol against OB/GYNs.  I have read a lot of bitter rants, emphasizing the fact that they are surgeons, and that they’re simply chomping at the bit to perform surgery.  I have read many startlingly bad statistics and countless birth stories of situations gone awry, caused by the mishandling of the natural birth process, primarily at the hands of OB/GYN surgeons and other medical caregivers who simply don’t seem to care — for one reason or another — for natural birthing at all.  I have always said that I’m glad we do have doctors for true emergencies.  But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought, “Are there true emergencies??  Do they even exist???”  Well, now I know:  there are.  They do.  And when they happen, I’m glad that there are surgeons trained to save the lives of babies who would surely — truly — otherwise be brain damaged or stillborn.

Again, not that the birth of Abigail Ruth was about me.  But I feel like I’ve gleaned good from it.  While I am still very much an advocate of natural childbirth, that is now balanced with first-hand knowledge that OB/GYNs do still (or at least can!) play a vital role in the successful outcome of a birthing experience.

Cooking, Freecycle, Homeschooling, Leading Worship…

  • Now that I’ve been cooking without all of Fiala’s allergens for… six dinners now, I feel much better, much less despondent, much less, “What are we going to eat??”  I am trying to concentrate on what we can eat, rather than what we can’t.  My family has been very encouraging, and no one (except Audrey) has balked at the “weird” grains I’ve been serving, like buckwheat and millet.  It also helps that eliminating all of the allergens is REALLY helping her.  I gave Fiala a dose of Benedryl tonight (well, last night, technically — I’m writing this late on Tuesday/early Wednesday) for the first time in several days.  And, I haven’t given her Protopic since Saturday morning.  She was itchy tonight;  I think it was the banana I gave her (and that I ate, as well) earlier today.  She tested negative to banana both on the prick test and the patch test, but I have observed in the past that bananas seemed to bother her… so I’m going to stop the bananas again, no matter what the test showed.  It did taste great eating a banana for the first time in a month, though.  🙂  Short-lived joy, that.
  • Garlic does remain the most difficult thing to live without!  Well, that and rice.  I knew we ate a lot of garlic, but, man!  It’s in everything…  Absolutely pervasive.  I’m trying to decide if I should give everything away that we can’t eat…  I think I will, rather than letting the potatoes rot in the pantry.
  • Speaking of giving things away, I finally gave away all of my maternity clothes on Freecycle today.  I prayed briefly, “God, it would rock if a woman, say, four months pregnant, responded, because then she could use both the summer and the winter stuff I have.”  And, whaddya know?  A very grateful, sweet mother who is 4 months pregnant with her second picked them up, saying, “You don’t KNOW what a blessing this is to my family.”  🙂  Perfect.
  • Historically, me getting rid of all my maternity and small baby stuff is the way to ensure that I GET pregnant immediately.  😮  We’re not trying to conceive, but I must say that I wouldn’t be upset at all if I found out I was pregnant!  I’ll be one of those women in the news, “Pregnant at 57 years old!”  Just kidding.  I’m only 36.  😀
  • We sort of started school last week.  We’re easing into it, mostly because I just don’t have my act together yet!  I had the boys do about 2 hours’ worth this morning, and that’s the most they’ve done in one day, so far…  Today, I also sorted through all of our school stuff, deciding what to keep for future use, what to use for this school year, what to sell, what to pack up for storage, and what to give away.  And, if you’re thinking, “Shouldn’t you have done that weeks ago?” you’re right. :lookofchagrin:  I still need to make a schedule, which has kept me from hittin’ it hard… but ~sigh~ some school is better than no school, I guess!!  I hope!!  Frankly, though, I feel such a release of freedom now that Arizona has lightened its requirements for homeschoolers even MORE and deleted the official requirement of schooling for 35 weeks each year.  I feel a lot better doing half-days (currently — I won’t do half-days forever);  I no longer feel like I’m breaking some law…
  • I found out that I will officially be leading kinship worship again this year.  I guess I passed muster!  I won’t be with the same kinship leader, though, which is sort of bummer*, because I thought we worked very well together.  In a way, though, I like being “forced” into a different group, instead of attending one just with my close friends, because then it gives me the opportunity to get to know people that I might not otherwise become close with.

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*I recently learned — have I mentioned this before?? — that “bummer” has very different connotations across the pond than it does here in the States.  😮  Just switch on your Queen’s English filter, if need be.  Sorry, my British friends!!

Worst baby yeast infection ever (but her face is healing!!)

Mama and Fi

Mama and Fi

EDITED TO ADD:  See very long comment by me on 04/21/10 for updated baby yeast infection regimen.

I took this on Sunday, as I stayed home to help Fiala recover from the worst case of yeast infection I’ve ever seen, which has made her red and swollen from the top of her bum all the way around to her belly button, with “satellite” patches that extend even further.  As of yesterday, we are now using prescription Nystatin to help it further heal… but my regimen of taking care of her bum pretty much takes the entire day.  HOWEVER, her face looks beautifully clear, does it not?  It is now Tuesday late afternoon, and she hasn’t had Protopic or any medication since Saturday morning, and it still looks great.  Previously, even on our dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free diet, I was still having to faithfully use Protopic 2x/day, or her face would break out in lesions.

I feel like saying, “Told you so!” to the first allergist we saw, who was extremely skeptical that Fiala could be healed simply by altering her diet (and mine, as she is nursing).  The allergist she has now is not suggesting that we do anything OTHER than alter the diet (other than the steroid cream on her legs), and he wants to see us in a couple of weeks to gauge her progress.

Her legs are still bad, and the allergist prescribed — yet another — topical steroid, but I decided, instead, to be more generous with the triamcinolone on her legs, just until they are healed… then, I think/hope, given the evidence on her face, we should be able to stop it altogeterh.

OK.  Yeast diaper rash care.  On Saturday, I could tell that the normal regimen of bare-butt therapy just wasn’t cutting it, so I Googled, and decided to use pretty much anything and everything that sounded safe.

We are:

  1. Giving her a probiotic capsule (broken) and mixed with a small amount of water, daily.
  2. Rinsing her bum in water EVERY time she pees.
  3. Having her bare as much as possible, which is most of her waking time.
  4. Keeping her in an uncovered cloth diaper the remainder of the time.
  5. Changing her as soon as she pees.  Yes, this makes for a good 15-20 diapers a day.
  6. Putting her (bare-butt) in sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day.
  7. Smoothing on liquid Mylanta with a cottonball, and letting it dry to a milky white.  (I’m not entirely sure how this works, as urine is not acidic, but it really seems to help.  Edited to amend: Urine IS acidic.)
  8. We’re now using Nystatin powder, but before that I had used miconazole (didn’t help) and Lotrimin AF (clotrimizole), which was actually helping.
  9. Using pure aloe vera gel during the time when its between applications of the antifungals, and letting it dry.
  10. SLATHERING on zinc oxide cream (I’m using Aveeno) when she goes down for a nap/nighttime.

The Nystatin is definitely helping, but I think we could have beat it using just the above over-the-counter regimen.

Irony

In my blog reader (which is actually a Firefox plug-in called Sage which manages RSS feeds), there is a blog which, every time I click it, I think, “If she’s blogging about her oldest child’s health again, I’m not going to read it.”  I even went so far as to wonder if she had Munchausen by proxy because though she has a number of kids, each blog post is fully about some aspect of one of her child”s illness, or if the post is about something else entirely, she will, no doubt, allude to it.  She’ll even post multiple times in one day, never neglecting to write about some aspect of the illness.

Makes me think, yet again, that God has an ironic sense of humor.  Because, guess what?  I have been so very overwhelmed by Fiala’s health issues that, even though there are a great many other things occurring in our lives, and even though I have four other kids, it’s all I can do to NOT write about the minutiae of her own illnesses.

Oh, the humility.  The act of being humbled, yet again, by parenting… seeing, yet again, some aspect of which I’ve stood in judgment of others, come and whop me upside the head in a remarkably similar fashion, and I find myself acting in the very same manner which I had scorned in someone else.

So, please be informed that I’m resisting the urge to blog yet another update about Fiala.

P.S.  I’m aware that this post places my attitudes in a most unflattering light, but I felt the need to confess.  Also, I don’t think said blogger has ever visited my blog, nor is she on my blogroll, so if you’re thinking, “I think she means me!” you can be assured that I’m not referring to you.

Civilization! It’s encroaching!

I like to pretend that I don’t really live in the 5th largest city in the nation.

Well, it’s more than pretend;  I live in one of its suburbs.

In a very far-flung region of one of its most outlying suburbs.

I’m not a city girl at heart, can you tell?

Even though I work to make certain to appreciate where I live, instead of resent it (as I used to), I still cling to the un-city aspects of my locale.  One of the things I’ve been fond of saying, since we moved to our current home (a number of years ago) is, “We’re 3½ miles from the nearest stoplight.”  Well, that is soon to be shortened by a mile.

I saw, yesterday, on my way to the grocery store, that the city is in the process of installing a stoplight.  Granted, it’s at a place that, frankly, needs a stoplight.  There’s not so much traffic, but such that there is, combined with a poorly engineered curve in the road, makes it so that it is very, very hard to turn against traffic at that intersection:  one has to wait a long time, and when one turns, have more than a little bit of faith that no one is going to come zooming over the hill and around the bend and t-bone one’s vehicle.

In my mind, I actually re-engineered the particular intersection, and had come up with a way to ease the flow of traffic, in such a way that would not require a stoplight.  Even though I went through that mental exercise more than a year ago, city planners never deigned to ask me what I thought about it, and had the audacity to install a stoplight.  ~sigh~

So, now I live 2½ miles from the nearest stoplight.

My husband ROCKS!!

My husband rocks* because he calls me several times a day from work, and on his way to and from work, and he never makes me feel unwanted when I call him, or like I’m interrupting him.  Sometimes, he says, “I gotta go! Call you later!” and quickly hangs up, but I think that’s totally understandable. We also usually have several text conversations a day. There are some days where we only talk to each other once or twice during the day, but those are pretty rare.  It just makes me happy that he’s always happy to talk to me, and is often thinking of me, even when he’s across town and knee-deep in work.  It’s funny, because when he gets home from work, there’s rarely anything “new” to tell me;  we’ve already talked about it.

Right now, he’s at my ex-sister-in-law’s, celebrating the birthday of one of our nieces with our boys and his parents, and I’m at home with Audrey (who has a fever) and Fiala, who is very fussy with her skin issues. Martin just texted me, “I’m grilling chicken,” and it reminded me of the commercial where the teen son is exasperated with his Dad who sends a tweet saying, “I’m sitting on the front porch…” I told Martin maybe he should sign up for Twitter! 😀

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*I know this isn’t following an “official” MHR prompt or anything — I haven’t done that in a while; consistency isn’t my strong suit — but my husband still rocks.

Toilet paper, nick names, losing weight, P&P, and old friends :)

  • Anyone have any suggestions for inexpensive but nice toilet paper?  The way we go through toilet paper makes installing a bidet seem like a cost-effective idea.
  • Our toilet paper situation is not helped by Audrey.  We have discovered that she, pleased with her 3yo dexterity and skill, regularly removes and throws away partially-used rolls, just so that she can install a new one.  This is one of those situations where I almost wish that I was the one doing all the chores, so I would have more oversight and catch these things more quickly.  The boys, “Oh, yeah… lots of times there are half rolls of toilet paper in the trash!”
  • Fiala’s nickname has become “Fifa.”  FEE-fuh.  Like FIFA, but with a great deal more sweet chubbiness.
  • I have determined that losing 10 pounds is enough to make one’s jeans fit much more loosely, but not really enough for anyone to notice… not even one’s husband.  Still, I weigh less now than I have in at least five years, and even if my trimness is imaginary, I feel quite good about it.  And, I freely admit that the last three pounds have been shed in the last couple of weeks, where I have been completely at a loss about what to eat, given my baby’s multiple food allergies.
  • I am re-reading Pride and Prejudice, and though I don’t often read books more than once, I am thoroughly enjoying it;  it still seems fresh.  I am amazed at how much escaped my notice, the first time through (about a year ago).  And, just to pick a fight, the movie with Keira Knightly is INFINITELY better than the BBC version with Colin Firth.
  • And, Scott, if you’re reading, Martin says, “Hi!”  And, I don’t even remember you making me cry, so obviously, it didn’t do any permanent damage.  😉  And, you have cute kids.

One of the sweetest pictures in the world

It’s the whole thing…  the expression on Audrey’s face.  Her sandy hair, gently waving beneath her hand-me-down helmet.  The dress.  The lighting.

~sigh~

I made this picture the background on my computer, because there are many times — daily — when this darling girl pushes all the wrong buttons in me, and I have to decide to purposefully appreciate her, and this picture captures her fleeting sweetness, and makes it just a tad easier.  Part of me thinks it’s wrong for me to be swayed by her cuteness, but part of me is very appreciative for that soft spot in my heart for her sweet face, because if it wasn’t for that, I think I’d spend a lot MORE time than I already do, being frustrated with her.

This scene took place before a great deal of whining, fit-pitching, and general squealy unkindness, but we won’t go there…

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