Saturday, December 31, 2011

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times ...

Cliche, yet so very true.

The year started out great, with the birth of our sweet, adorable, goofy baby girl. I relished my time away from the office on maternity leave. What could be better than a steady schedule of baby snuggles, bad tv, shopping, and never having to set the alarm? I spent a lot of time with family and friends I usually don't get to see too often. My husband found a job quickly once he started looking -- a job that is vastly different (for the better) in terms of quality of life. We took a fabulous vacation to Maui and saw two of our good friends get married. I returned to work a found a new, comfortable groove in my assignment -- something I hadn't felt in the office for quite some time. Things were really, really good and I was really, really happy. Sure there were challenges and annoyances along the way, but the good far outweighed the bad. There were days I'd be in my office during lunch, catch a glimpse of a family photo or read a funny message from a friend, and think to myself "I am so blessed."

Then everything with my dad happened and my world fell apart. While I still can find joy, humor, and goodness in various things, there is still a deep sadness that permeates each day. No matter how enjoyable a particular day might be, at the end of it, in those moments right before you drift off to sleep, all my thoughts come back to the following: dad is gone, mom is losing her mind, and my relationship with my brother is (probably) permanently damaged.

When I look back on 2011, I don't know how to label it. Obviously the latter part of the year sucked big time, but the year also brought me some of the most magical moments I've ever experienced. So whatever 2011 was, I'm just relieved that it is over. And whatever 2012 will be, I just hope it isn't as much of a roller coaster ride.

Wishing all of you a happy and prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Six Weeks

It's been just around six weeks since my dad died.

People have told me that I'll find "a new normal," but for now it just all still seems surreal.

There's a lot I want to document about everything that happened, but I can't. Not yet.

I don't cry every day anymore, but I've reached the point where something out of the blue, or the little things, will upset me and make me sad. Stuff like passing by the merlot section in BevMo. It's never been my favorite varietal, but it was my dad's favorite, so I'd always buy him a nice bottle for the holidays that we'd end up sharing. Tonight I wrote out all the cards for my parents' grandkids, grand-nieces & grand-nephews on behalf of my mom. Then I realized that with my mom's condition (dementia) and my dad's passing, there'd be no more cards for me from my parents on special occasions. And I still can't bear to read a newspaper when I'm up in San Francisco, because my dad and I would always swap sections.

I have no idea how to get through this Christmas weekend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You can have a plan ...

... but then life decides to throw up a roadblock instead.

In other words, my efforts at NaBloPoMo '11 are pretty much done today, Day 2.

At 9am this morning I was laughing & joking with court staff.

At 10am I got a message that my dad had taken a nasty fall, but appeared to be alright apart from a lot of blood.

At 11am I got a phone call that my dad was actually going to be facing an emergency craniotomy for a large subdural hematoma.

Cue sobbing & a massive freakout.

I never expected to spend my lunch talking to a neurosurgeon.

I don't have a laptop or iPad, so blogging will have to fall to the wayside since I've obviously got some business to handle.

If there was anything good to be said about today, it was the overwhelming amount of good thoughts and support I received from my friends --- old, new, near, far & some that I have never even met in person yet. Your messages really do mean a lot.

At 10pm, the adrenaline that has kept me going all day is gone & I am wiped out. But I've still got about 500 things to do before I can attempt sleep.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's NaBloPoMo!

What better time to start blogging again, especially if you've been a slacker like me, right?

But of course it *has* to start on a Tuesday, the busiest day of my week. So for today, this is all you get.

Lame, I know. So leave me a comment and flame away!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The End is Near

Not the end of days, but the end of my awesome maternity leave, which sort of feels the same to me. :(

Remember that Leave List I drafted back in March? I've completed exactly 1-1/2 things on that list. I had super fun purple-ish streaks in my hair and I've gotten through most of that magazine pile. While I didn't spend any time on those other things on the list, I did spend a lot of time having fun. Sure there were days filled with dirty diapers and naptime tantrums, but there were far more days filled with hanging out with friends, visiting family, shopping, food truck chasing, cooking new recipes, watching tv & cuddling a sweet, happy baby. And there wasn't a single day I had to set the alarm clock for myself. No regrets man.

I'm now staring down approximately the last three weeks of my leave, trying to maximize my fun before I'm shackled to The Man again. I already covered up my purple hair with a dress code friendly shade of brown. *sigh* So here is my updated leave list:

- Spend a day at Laguna Beach
- Have brunch with friend(s)
- Go on our 1st real vacation in over a year
- Read "A Suitable Boy" (not your traditional beach read, but whatevs)
- Finish all those magazines
- Stop checking my work e-mail
- Make beef bourguigon (even though it's 5 million degrees outside)

I've left myself some wiggle room to go wherever the day may take me. :-)

I will miss you maternity leave, but let's stick our head in the sand about your imminent demise and make every day count in the meantime!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Operation Wedding Weight

In January 2012, I will celebrate my 5th wedding anniversary. Since that day back in 2007, I have gained 50 pounds.

Say it with me ..... HOLY SHIT!!!!!

When I got married, I was 10 pounds above what would be the upper limit of a normal BMI for my height, but I thought I still looked pretty good. BMI doesn't account for big boobs.

(blurry pic of a pic but you get the idea)

These days however, I pretty much hate every photo of myself, as well as my reflection in the mirror.

How does one gain 50 pounds in almost 5 years? Well there was happy post-marriage weight, followed by stress-eating-due-to-a-sucky-boss-weight, followed by pregnancy weight, with a HUGE dose of laziness thrown in. Yeah, I can't believe I let me do this to myself either.

So tomorrow morning I commence Operation Wedding Weight. The goal is to get as close as I can to my wedding weight by my wedding anniversary. That's 50 pounds in 31 weeks, which breaks down to a target loss of 1.6 pounds per week. Not too unreasonable, right?

The plan is as follows:
- 3 low carb meals and 2 snacks per day (aiming for no more than 1600 calories/day)
- limit of one 5oz. glass of wine per night, if at all
- skating 2x per week
- pilates 2x per week
- cardio 4x per week, for at least 40 minutes
- a daily 2-3 mile walk with the kid for the rest of maternity leave

I could totally say that this is all in the interest of health now that I'm 35, that diabetes runs in the family and gestational diabetes upped my chances even more of developing Type 2, that I want to model healthy eating for my child, blah blah blah, but in all honesty I'm just a really vain bitch who wants to feel pretty and shop easily again.

If I put it out on the interwebz I have to do it right?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My First Mother's Day (Epically Long)

Note: Obviously this is late, but I had food poisoning on Sunday, the worst case I've had since college. Happy Mother's Day indeed!

It seems like an opportune time for Juliette's birth story, no? I know some of you are cringing and clicking the back button already, but I swear there is not much grossness in this post. This is likely to be the longest post I will ever write, but I need to document as much as I can while it's still somewhat fresh in my mind. And I didn't want to spend the whole week breaking it up into parts. Besides, thirteen to fifteen years from now I'm going to need this info to lay a guilt trip on the kiddo. ;-)

On Saturday January 22nd, I was just shy of being 35 weeks pregnant. I went to pilates in the morning, thought about packing a hospital bag & reading some birth prep info, napped instead, ate dinner, watched tv & went to bed by 11pm. I wanted to be well rested for the next day, as we had plans to see the 3rd show in our Pantages season ticket package. It was a pretty typical, lazy day.

At 3am on Sunday January 23rd, I woke up with a backache. Figuring I may have pulled something in pilates I tried to adjust my sleep position. Nothing seemed to alleviate the pain though. By 4am I gave up on trying to sleep and went out to the living room. Initially, sitting up seemed to relieve my back, but then the pain would return. After nearly 45 minutes I realized that the pain was coming & going every 4 minutes and I frantically starting googling "back labor." I also had signs of bloody show. It wasn't long after that Google search that I frantically called Kaiser hospital's 24-hour advice line. I got transferred to a Labor & Delivery nurse who told me to come straight in if the pattern of back pain continued for 2 hours.

By that point, Eddie had woken up. I updated him as to what was going on. Then he went back to bed. Hmph. From 5-6am I timed my labor, which stayed at a steady 4 minutes between back contractions, while watching Say Yes to the Dress. At 6am I started throwing together a bag to take to the hospital. Luckily I had polled some mom friends a few weeks earlier on what they felt was essential, so I had a list written down already. I love packing lists, no matter the situation. At 6:30am I made myself somewhat presentable & woke up Eddie. Or rather tried to wake up Eddie. From bed he saw me standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom & told me to let him know when I was ready, then rolled back over. I promptly informed him that it was not a hair & makeup type of day & that we needed to leave asap. Within 15 minutes he was up, walked the dog & we were on our way.

Here is where Meltdown #1 occurred. We were in no way ready for a baby that wasn't supposed to arrive for another five weeks. I had no idea why I was in preterm labor. I knew that my OB, whom I adore & completely trust, was on vacation out of town. Cue the tears.

Around 7am we arrived at the L&D admitting office. They took down all my basic info, then sent me into a triage room where I got hooked up to monitors to measure my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. I also got flooded with fluids, in case dehydration was the culprit. Then I was given two doses of procardia, with the hope the medication would stop the contractions. No such luck. I was in some sort of denial at this stage, thinking that I might need to take the morning off work the next day or might need to be on bedrest for a while. The reality is that I was still contracting every 4 minutes, despite being dilated only1cm. They decided to complete the admissions process and I was on my way to a birthing suite by 10am.

The birthing suite was large & private with a huge bathroom and shower. I wish I had time to take advantage of it all, but back labor is excruciating. Every doctor & nurse I encountered said it's the worst type of labor pain except for pitocin-induced contractions. Yikes. By the time I got settled into the birthing suite, around 11am, I was dilated to 4cm. My 1st and most awesome nurse offered me an epidural. I had no qualms about saying "Yes please!" At 12pm, the nurse anesthetist arrived, Eddie was sent out of the room and I got into position to get the epidural. While I had heard many tales about the huge epidural needle, etc. what I hadn't heard was how much the local anesthesia prior to the epidural hurts. Holy shit that stuff stung like a mofo. I don't know if it was my inability to get into a good position or the nurse anesthetist's inability to do her job, but it took two attempts and nearly one hour to get that sucker in me. Once the epidural took effect, things were pretty blissful. I wasn't in pain and I could lay in bed watching tv to my heart's content. I was constantly on the phone, texting family, friends, & my boss (since by that point it was clear I wasn't going to be in at all the next day). I met the on-call OB, who was perfectly nice. I also met with a NICU doctor, just in case the baby would need to go there after birth, but he seemed optimistic that she wouldn't need to. The only bad thing at this point was the fact that I was starving. I had been on a very regimented diet that had me eating every 3 hours for gestational diabetes, but it was well over 12 hours since my last snack of greek yogurt. Around 5pm my nurse took pity on me and snuck me 2 orange-flavored sugar-free popsicles. At the time, those popsicles were as delicious as anything I'd ever eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant. I continued to get checked for progress and was pleased to find out I had dilated to 7cm. It seemed as if the baby would be born by midnight.

At 7pm, a new nurse came on duty and checked me again. I was still at 7cm. A couple hours later, I was still at 7cm. At midnight, I was still at 7cm. The doctor came in and told me he didn't want to do any interventions as long as me and the baby were still doing alright. He wanted the baby to incubate inside of me for as long as she could. While I appreciated his philosophy of letting my body & nature take their courses, I was starting to feel a little dejected. With the epidural still working its magic, I got as comfy as I could and tried to sleep.

On Monday January 24th, I woke up around 7am. I'd been in the hospital a full 24 hours. I was on to nurse #3. She checked me again around 9am and I was still at that blasted 7cm.

The new day meant a new OB on-call. I met her at 10am and welcomed her suggestion to try a little pitocin to see if they would intensify my contractions a little bit. Since I already had an epidural, the pitocin-pain I had heard about wouldn't be a factor. At 11am, there were some scary moments where the baby's heart rate dipped dramatically low for seemingly no reason. I started preparing myself to hear "We need to do a c-section," but the OB waited it out a minute or two and the baby's heartbeat got back up to normal. At 12pm I got checked again to see if the pitocin was working. I was still at that blasted 7cm!

Here is where Meltdown #2 occurred. I was starving & exhausted. I hadn't progressed in 17 hours. I didn't know how much longer I could keep myself together enough to actually push this baby out, whenever that would be. Thankfully Eddie was a fantastic coach and got me through the tears.

Shortly after noon, the OB returned and asked if I'd consent to letting her break my water. I said yes. It seemed to have a quick effect, as I started feeling enough pressure within the hour to request a booster for my epidural. By 1pm I had dilated to 9cm and was feeling a lot of pressure. I also started trembling violently. I had the shakes for a solid hour. By 2pm I was finally at 10cm and started pushing. I also started hating nurse #3 who kept telling me I wasn't pushing hard enough. I really wanted to tell her to STFU and/or kick her in the head. At 3pm, after several rounds of pushing, the baby's head was right at the exit point, yet just wouldn't go through. For a girl who decided that she wanted to come into the world early, this kid sure took her sweet ass time about it. Sheesh. Around 3:15pm the OB came in, followed by a team from NICU. After another round or two of pushing, the OB asked if I'd like some vacuum assistance. I took her up on the offer and Juliette entered the world at 3:32pm, after 34 hours of labor, weighing 5lbs 13oz and measuring 19-1/2 inches.

Here is where Meltdown #3 occurred. I wasn't in tears, but I was in silent fear because the baby was not letting out a robust cry. In fact, she wasn't making much noise at all. After being placed on my chest for a nanosecond, she was whisked to the area of the room set up for the NICU team. Everyone was so quiet & focused on what they were doing it freaked me out. The OB tried to reassure me that everything was fine, but I wouldn't be convinced unless I heard her cry. The baby finally did let out a cry, but it sounded wrong, like she was gasping. So off to NICU she went while I got cleaned up and stitched. I had a small 2nd degree tear, but it wasn't anything that I felt at the time.

By 5pm I was being transferred out of the birthing suite and on my way to a recovery room. The recovery room was also private, but it was small and I had to share the bathroom. Yuck, especially with all the stuff happening downstairs if you know what I mean. I had hoped we could go to the NICU right away, but I had contracted a slight fever post-birth. By 7pm the fever was gone and we started walking down the hallway to see our daughter.

These are Juliette's first photos. They are still a little hard for me to look at even now that a few months have passed. She had to be intubated right after birth and when we first saw her we could immediately tell that she hated those darn tubes and wanted them out. She was so unhappy, fighting the tubes, and there was nothing we could do other than hold her tiny IV-attached hand.

The NICU staff was fantastic. They encouraged us to be as hands-on as we could and had an open-door policy for visits.Thankfully by our second visit later that evening, she was no longer intubated and had only a nasal cannula. Finally, we could hold her. Or rather, I could hold her. I don't know if he was scared by how small and fragile she was or if he just wanted me to have my time with her, but Eddie let me do all the holding that first night.

By the next morning, Tuesday, Juliette was off of breathing assistance altogether. She had a bath and someone dolled her up in an adorable hat.

We spent most of that day visiting with the baby in NICU. She was doing well, but the doctors wanted to observe her that extra day just to be sure. During this time we got an odd visit from the hospital social worker who interviewed us in an attempt to see if there were any factors of concern that may have played a part in Juliette's premature birth. In essence, they were trying to find out if I was a crackhead, if Eddie abused me or if we were broke. :-/ After finding out about our levels of education, my employer and believing we're financially secure, the social worker quickly wrapped up her visit. On Wednesday morning we found out that Juliette had jaundice and would need time under the UV lights, so her discharge would be postponed at least a day.

I got discharged late Wednesday afternoon.

Here is where Meltdown #4 occurred. Up to that point I was relatively okay with the fact that our baby was in NICU and would not be coming home right away. I found comfort in the fact that she was being carefully monitored and looked after by professionals who knew exactly what they were doing and had far more experience with babies than I did. I knew that she was improving leaps & bounds with each day and was one of the strongest babies in the NICU. I knew she'd be home soon. But it felt so.damn.wrong being wheeled out of the hospital without our baby in my arms.

The first thing I did after getting home (other than giving Jack a million scratches behind his ears & pats on the head) was take the longest, hottest, best shower of my life. After a quick nap and dinner it was back to the NICU. Then it was back home, where I slept uninterrupted for the first time in days. On Thursday we (mostly Eddie) spent the morning and early afternoon cleaning the house and trying to get the nursery together. I made some phone calls to get my short-term disability claim & maternity leave going and then we spent the rest of the day back at the NICU. Juliette's jaundice levels had come down, but she still needed to complete her hearing and car seat test, both of which were scheduled for Friday morning. Before noon on Friday we got the call that Juliette was ready to come home. After a quick lunch we headed out for the hospital, stopping to make a trip to Babies R' Us for all the essentials.

Getting discharged from NICU seemed to take forever, but it was well worth the time. I had been having major issues with breastfeeding, so one of the RNs worked with me for a long time, trying different techniques. She was better than any of the LCs who had visited me, but alas, my boobies were still uncooperative. We met with the baby's pediatrician, who I had met a year earlier in my pilates class (doesn't that sound so yuppie?). We got loaded up with diapers, bottles, nipples, pacifiers, etc. Several of the nurses came by to say goodbye to Juliette. We also got a certificate with her teeny footprints imprinted on it, as well as the artwork that decorated her bassinet. One of the NICU nurses does a drawing for each baby that comes into the unit.

At 7pm, we were finally on our way home. All three of us. :-)

Now, I didn't have much of a birth plan during my pregnancy other than "Go to hospital. Have baby." However, there were some things that I knew would be out of my control, but that I hoped to avoid:

1. I didn't want to go into labor before reaching full term.
2. I didn't want to have a long labor, only to end up with a c-section.
3. I didn't want to have a baby in NICU.

Um, yeah. The only part of that I avoided was a c-section. I guess one could compare that list to what actually happened and say that I must have had a bad birth experience. My feeling on the matter, however, is that my birth experience was not ideal but it was still good. The hospital staff in L&D and in NICU was fantastic. They were caring, respectful, reassuring & always kept us informed of what was happening. I felt that my feelings were a priority and that no one tried to push me into doing anything I didn't want to. Even after we were home we received follow-up calls from the nurses (and my OB once he was back from vacation) to make sure things were okay and to answer any questions that may have arisen. The process may not have been perfect, but the end result certainly is:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Leave List

Hello? Is anyone out there?

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I've blogged. I didn't stop for any particular reason, other than laziness. Okay, maybe my addiction to Twitter had a little bit to do with it. ;) I kept meaning to get back into blogging, but something always seemed to pop up and distract me. Then I got consumed with a project that ended with me popping out this beautiful creature:

With the arrival of the little one (to be detailed in another post), I am on leave from work until August. While the priority during that time will be bonding with and taking care of baby J, I also wanted to use the time to finally tackle some of the tasks that I have been putting off forever, claiming lack of time and energy after work. Number 1 on that list? Blogging. :) I don't intend for this to become a mommy blog, but now did seem to be a good time to return to a medium meant to document daily life as well as the big events.

Other items on the list:
- Upload/back up photos.
- Catchup on an enormous stack of magazines. I swear 1/2 the clutter in the condo is due to my magazines.
- Master a cookie
- Read A Suitable Boy.
- Exercise every day.
- Finish my closet reorganization
- Catalog all of my skating videos. They date back to 1988, so it's a huge undertaking.
- Get hair streaks in an outrageous color. I was too much of a good girl to do this when I was a teenager & since my office is conservative, this might be the only chance I'll have to recapture my youth.
- Take Jack to dog beach.
- Buy new bed & throw pillows.
- Donate books (thereby freeing up space for new books!)

Nothing earth-shattering, but at least it's a starting point for me to whittle down the seemingly never-ending "To Do" list.