Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Writing feels right

Every so often I feel overwhelmed by my thoughts. Sometimes it's a spiral of anxiety, spinning the most awful what-ifs and trying to figure out how I'd dig myself out of each scenario. Other times it's trying to organize my thoughts into some order and being unsure where to start.

At some point during our fertility treatment, after yet another loss, I tried therapy. Maybe it was the therapist, maybe it was my personality, maybe it was just not the right fit. For whatever reason it didn't help so I stopped after one or two sessions. 

I recall the point in our journey, back in 2016, on the eve of yet another new year without children, when I started the blog. I think part of me wanted to connect with other people going through the same thing. It quickly became the most trusted way for me to feel relief whenever my feelings felt like they were going to spill over beyond my control. 

As a bilingual, I frequently get asked "what language do you think in?" Answering that question means taking a step back and realizing that when I'm thinking, I'm figuring out how to tell the thought or story over to another person. Which means that whatever language you're currently more fluent or immersed in is the one you're probably going to be thinking in. 

Over the years writing has become an extension of my thoughts. I've referred back to it when meeting specialists to get exact numbers for whatever procedure. I've worked out how I feel about any particular situation or event by writing out the pros and cons and walked away feeling clearer. Sometimes it's to document for the sake of trying to unburden my mind from needing to retain information. I've poured my heart out time and again by writing out when I felt like the burden of my pain was just too intrusive and heavy to ask another person to listen to; sometimes seeing my pain reflected back at me through their reaction was too much to handle. 

Writing feels judgement free. Effortless. But also one-sided and bias. I can take as little or as much time as I want to formulate thoughts. I can abandon thoughts if I feel like I'm finished thinking about them. I can look back at old pieces and see how I've evolved.

I would consider monetizing writing if the opportunity came up but I haven't pursued it. I would hate for it to ever feel like a chore.

Why do you write? 

Friday, August 19, 2022

Birth Story: May 2022

At 11 weeks old I'm finally sitting down to write down the birth story for our second son. As I edit this, it's been 14 weeks. 

We were scheduled to leave the toddler with family the night before. What was supposed to be a quick and simple drop off became a whole ordeal. He totally knew something was up and refused to go to bed. That was the night he figured out how to climb out of the pack n play, and the house was completely not baby-proofed so it was impossible to let him "cry it out" to fall asleep. Since we thought it would be a quick drop off I had not eaten dinner yet and by hour three of this we were all ready to cry. Since I was scheduled for surgery in the morning the window to have something to eat was closing rapidly and we needed to make a decision. We ended up taking him back home and having a family member come over at 5 am while he was still asleep, and we headed over to the hospital. 

We checked in, it was quiet. I got my wrist bands that would annoy me for the next four days. My doctor had an unscheduled family emergency earlier in week, so my original surgery was moved three days later. It meant that I was the only one on my doctor's schedule for that day - she had come in just to do my c-sec. The floor was quiet. Instead of going to labor and delivery like last time, I was taken directly to a pre-op prep room. They took vitals and another covid test. I changed into a gown and they got an IV started and a monitor on. Several people came in to go over medical history, to talk about anesthesia, etc. My doula called ten minutes before she was supposed to arrive and said she had an exposure to covid, do I still want her there? I said if she's allowed to be in the hospital then yes. She's a hospital employee and vaccinated, and I didn't think there was an issue, especially since she was masked and gowned. Her job was to keep me calm and take photos. 

My doctor comes to say hi and we were ready to start. I was taken to the OR through an adjacent door while my husband and doula waited outside until the anesthesiologist was done. They had me sit on the edge of the table and curve my back. Not so simple with a 39 week belly. It was also the moment when my brain decided this was a good time to freak out. While I had confidence in the anesthesiologist, I was convinced this was the moment where he was going to paralyze me for life or give birth to a still-born. I was so in my head I couldn't think straight. He was setting up and I was tearing up. The longer it took him to do whatever he was doing back there, the more I cried. As it progressed I was full on sobbing and they kept telling me not to move, which made me more scared that I was going to manifest my fear because I couldn't keep still. I was crying and snotting into my mask, full on heaves. My blood pressure spiked to 170/100. My doctor came over to hug me and hold on while the anesth team worked behind. I asked for a tissue but it's a sterile OR, there are no tissues. I was given gauze instead. They let me take my mask off. There was a shot in my back and I felt water up my leg and completely lost it - I shouted out, "You missed, it's up my leg, my leg is wet!!!" Crying and sobbing hysterically. I was worried they'd start cutting before I was numb because they missed. I found out later it's called a "zinger" and it wasn't wet. I've never been so hysterical before, and I remember it completely and fully. The staff was wonderful and did everything to try to reassure me and calm me down. A nurse clipped some lavender scent thing on my gown to try to help relax me, but I'm sensitive to smells and I hated it. I asked, "Oh wow what is that stink?! What's that smell??" She took it away but it was the equivalent to a slap across the face - like, shake it off girl. They're giving you smelling salts, you're acting insane. Pull it together! At that point the anesthesiologist finally finished also and I lay down and calmed down. 

The spinal block for a scheduled csec is different numbing than the epidural and goes all the way up to the rib cage. That made it difficult to breathe. You don't realize how many of those muscles you use just to suck in air. They called in my husband and doula and started cutting. It seemed to take a lot longer this time until we heard baby. Once they said, "here he is!" and I didn't hear a cry I started to panic again. Where was the cry? What is happening? No one would tell me and I couldn't see anything over that stupid curtain. It wasn't anything - they were just focused and I was talking too softly for anyone to hear. Finally we heard that precious cry. Beautiful baby boy was 8 lbs 12 oz. So hairy. So cute. I don't remember much in the moments after - as soon as he was out and fine I felt like I could finally relax. I was having trouble breathing because of the numbing so they gave me oxygen. It took a while for them to sew me up. I remembered that from last time. They transferred me to another bed by rolling from one side to another - all I had to do was keep my arms crossed and they did most of the work with some sheets and magic. 

I got wheeled to post-surgery recovery where I was the only patient there. I was nauseous and so weak that I felt my arms couldn't hold the baby. I told the doula not to let the baby fall. My doctor came to check on me and work on the computer for a bit within sight.  The nurse and doula came over and they chatted a bit. The baby nurse came to check on baby and check his temperature. I felt kind of forgotten but was also so tired and recovering from the adrenaline rush from earlier. The doula shared the photos she took which were really few and blurry. I was disappointed with them. Baby latched right away and had no problem nursing. Soon after it was the three of us and one nurse. My husband had our stuff and rolled the baby bassinet while the nurse tried to roll my bed toward the Mother Baby ward on her own. The bed was kind of wonky and difficult to maneuver so she was having trouble doing it on her own. I was having trouble staying alert and the movement was making me dizzy, but I remember feeling frustrated for her that they were so short-staffed there wasn't another nurse available to help. She ended up flagging one on the way and together they got most of the way to the MB ward until the original nurse got a phone call on her cell about her kids school and had to leave for a few minutes. She eventually came back and I thanked her for all her help during the morning. She was the nurse that had checked me in was with me the entire morning. 

The next few days were long and exhausting. Due to outdated covid protocols the baby wasn't allowed to leave the room. Not just that there was no nursery - he wasn't allowed out of the room at all. We found this out when my husband rolled out the bassinet to the hallway to give me a few moments of quiet so I can fall asleep and he was ushered back by a nurse. I couldn't get any sleep. I was having trouble peeing and getting close to the deadline where if I don't pee they need to intervene, which made me stress out more. I was drinking so much water and it was accumulating but I wasn't able to pee. It finally happened shortly before the deadline. The room had a weird smell, maybe it was close to the cafeteria or there was an hvac issue. It was extremely cold until we had a maintenance person come. Again because of covid we had no visitors. My mother was allowed to come for a short time and that was it, unlike with our toddler where it was a parade of people throughout the whole stay. It did get a little lonely. At some point my husband went home to check in on the toddler who wasn't feeling well. We'd later learn that it was an ear infection. 

I was allowed to stay up to 4 nights but I was ready to go home asap. I would have left the next morning but baby wasn't ready. Then the following night baby had a choking incident which freaked me out and I needed reassurance that nurses were nearby if it happened again so we stayed a third night. We finally got home and our toddler was dropped off. It was surreal to try to juggle a toddler with a cold and a newborn. 

Now that I'm nearly done my maternity leave, I think back on the last fourteen weeks as we transitioned to a family of four. It's been really hard. It's not just the physical recovery, or just the sleep deprivation, or the constant non-stop energy from the toddler, or the struggle of breastfeeding, or the constant need to be on and alert because literal lives depend on it -- it's all of those together at the same time for months at a time. I'm so lucky I was able to spend the summer at home even if it was difficult. I'm grateful they're both here and I get so much joy from both of them individually and together and it was absolutely worth every single hurdle it took to get to this point. All that being true, there have been moments where I just need a break. Not even a vacation (even though I was envious of all the beach photos posted online), but just a physical and mental break. 

I'm going back to my full time job feeling like my tank is on empty. I've given myself a year to do some serious soul searching to figure out what I want. The past decade I've spent all my energy, time, and focus on building a family - it has been the primary and singular goal. So much so that all other passions have faded away. What do I want? Who do I want to be? Do I want to change careers? Do I want to move to another state or country? Do I want to try for a third? What will bring me happiness? While on one hand I feel confidence that I can succeed in anything I put my mind to, on the other hand it feels like I'm missing a spark to get momentum started. I don't know where the destination is so I can't even start to forge a path from point A to point B. In the meantime I'll brace myself for our new routine and daily grind while I try to figure it out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What a week

In the past week we had an ER visit for a toddler that had trouble breathing, a diagnosis of cancer for a close family member, my first pp period and baby's first fever. Survival mode. 


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