This is harder than I thought…

My other blog posts were written when everything was going well. When I wasn’t having obvious complications and my overall well being was pretty positive. This is not a positive post.

Things have taken a bit of a difficult turn. Last weekend I spent two days in labor and delivery on Magnesium Sulfate to stop signs of labor. One nurse jokingly called the medication “a hangover without a party.” Basically I felt like someone had given me a strong benadryl that made me horrendously nauseous, gave me a splitting headache, and made me feel like I was literally on fire for over a day. At one point I began sobbing because I couldn’t take the feeling of the medication and I wanted to peel my skin off and go home.

I was so depressed because my son was too scared of me in that state, and of the machines, and the noises in labor and delivery to come visit. Plus, I spent 2 out of 4 of my days with my amazing Abby completely incoherent. She was, as usual, a wonderful friend and bed side nurse. It just wasn’t the slumber party I had imagined when I was counting down to her visit. Cameron is an amazing rock, and reminds me that when we got here a month ago I’d be willing to do anything for baby Owen, but ever since that trip upstairs, I’m broken and am questioning my limits of ‘anything’.

I’m on 24/7 heart and contraction monitoring for Owen, which means I can’t sit or lay comfortably. I have to lay or sit in a way that nurses and doctors can constantly monitor baby, which at 27 weeks pregnant, means I feel uncomfortable. ANY maternity book you read says, “when pregnant, don’t sleep on your back.” Guess how I’m being forced to exist? On my back, slightly inclined. I get one break a day, my shower. It feels so good to not be lying down or have the monitors slowing giving me a rash. (I get heat rash easily and the gel from the doppler makes it worse) They usually ask me to rush out of the shower so I’m not vertical too long.

On top of that, they’re monitoring my blood sugar because my glucose test said my fasting sugar was too high. So four times a day I have my finger pricked, to the result of a normal sugar level. (It’s usually between 93 and 115). However, I’m still on a limited diet unless Cameron brings me outside food. Today Cameron brought me a Five Guys burger and shake. Even after my delicious cookies and cream shake, my blood sugar was only 120.

I can’t go on a walk. I can’t go outside. I can’t put my son in bed or take him to the park. I can’t pick my clothes from my closet or choose my food. I can’t teach. I can’t even wrap my hands around my belly to feel Owen move because I have monitors covering where he is. I can’t nest and wash Owen’s clothes or prepare his nursery and I’m so done not having any control over anything.

I swear to anyone who says “Oh but you’re getting such good rest!” I will kill you. If you think this egg crate mattress and CONSTANT disruption in the middle of the night to adjust monitors is “rest”, by all means, allow me to trade you. I am a blow and go, do it all and then some kind of person and I can’t handle the vegetative, isolated, shell of a person I am.

Today, when I was denied a walk outside and began crying, the nurse asked me if I wanted to discuss an antidepressant with my doctor. I wanted to say: No, you psychopath, I need sunshine and fresh air, not a chemical. You want to know what’s wrong with me? Read The Yellow Wallpaper.

This is not to say that I’m not incredibly thankful that we made it from 22 weeks and 4 days to now 27 weeks and 6 days. The fact that I had almost no fluid and am now at a normal level is nothing short of a miracle, especially since I haven’t gone into full labor. I know that the sunshine, prayers, books, craft supplies, face masks, and love that have been sent our way have made this so much easier to handle.

But I’m not made of steel. I am not resilient against feeling alone and helpless to do something for my little fighter, Owen. His heartbeat is always in my ear, and each time it begins to slow, or drop, my heart stops too. My body is literally broken, and we’re a ticking time bomb to his arrival. Advice from doctors on what to do? “Rest, and drink water.” GREAT. Thank you. I’ll get right on that.

So if you feel the need to send us something, first send prayers for strength and positivity to make it to week 34 (that’s 7 more weeks). If you must send something tangible, make it for baby Owen or big brother Colby, but not me. A mother’s joy comes from the light she created in her children, and when it shines through their laughter or smiles, that’s when we’re the happiest.

What those stuck in the hospital REALLY need…

First, I, with every ounce of my soul, deeply appreciate everything I have been given to keep me occupied or beautified. I totally bedazzled a unicorn the other day and painted my nails complete with nail stickers. I, however, did want to give some pointers on what to gift to help those who might also be bed ridden, bored, and possibly hormonal.

Classic insta post cataloging our friendship

I collaborated with my very close, soul sister level, amazing friend Abby to make these lists for you. We met eight years ago, long before we even knew our husbands, or had degrees, or had very much of life figured out. We were just good friends waiting tables and eating Chimy’s Taqueria together. Over time, I learned she is Wonder Woman. Shortly after I began teaching 9th grade with her five years ago, she had a 41 day hospital stay surrounding her heart-lung transplant. If anyone knows how to make the best of an unfavorable situation like a long term hospital stay, it’s her.

The Starter Kit (Possibly for shorter stays with a concrete release date)

  • Lotion
  • Lip Balm
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Book or two
  • Journal
  • Fun Pens
  • Coloring or activity book/Colored Pencils
  • Comfy/Compression Socks
  • Snacks
  • Jacket
  • Body Wipes
Little something something from my high school friend Elisa, who THANK THE LORD, also ended up in California. I have a thing for Narwhals, so she adopted this one from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on my behalf.

Hospitals are terribly cold, and so DRY. I haven’t really felt the need to wash my hair just because I feel like I’m not producing oil. I have leg dandruff. Ew. Which especially means if the person you’re shopping for is also in danger of bedsores, good quality moisturizers make a world of difference. While staying busy, I am a fan of a good phone game like Words with Friends, but sometimes I just don’t want to stare at a screen for a while. The activity & coloring books I’ve been gifted are good for giving my eyes a break while still working my brain. However, if the nurses use the phrase, “you may want to bring some comforts from home…” because you’re not going home anytime soon, use the next list.

The Long Haul

  • Cozy blanket or pillow from home (the below picture features my wedge pillow, which supports my baby bump, and I love it)
  • Favorite coffee/tea mug
  • Water bottle
  • Long term crafts
  • Board Games/Cards
  • Gaming device
  • Apple TV/Amazon Firestick
  • Journal
  • Laptop/ Tablet
  • French Press/Pour Over/Tea Bags
Care package from my also pregnant friend Danae, complete with bluebonnets from Texas and lots of mini crafts! I am so used to us glitter bombing each other I basically surgically dissected everything from the bag. It took about 10 minutes. No glitter was found.

When Abby was in the hospital, she made everyone friendship bracelets. I wore mine like a badge of honor until it fell off. I’ve picked up macrame. (Which, by the way, is just a REALLY BIG friendship bracelet! They use the same knots.) Our friend circle during her transplant stay had a rotating schedule of going to visit. It kept Abby from getting too tired of any one of us. We usually ordered queso or cookies and watched a lot of girlie T.V. like Vampire Diaries. If you’re swinging by to keep someone company, try and keep what you bring simple.

Swing by Gifts

  • Snack food- especially favorites from local restaurants
  • One time use crafts
  • One time use self care (Like face or eye masks)

This list is short for a reason. After a while, stuff accumulates. Even stuff from home. Eventually, someone’s partner, parents, children, or designated awesome person has to take all of that home. So when you swing by, its best to bring things that are consumable and wont take up space they might not have. The other day my friend Monica brought by carne asada fries and oh my goodness they were HEAVEN to my pregnant soul.

Personal Favor

I want to say, on a personal note, I will never ever turn down a good book. I didn’t major in English because I love having a useless degree. I love literature! However, I also don’t need anything, after being here a month (Yes, ALREADY), I’m pretty set. If you decide you need send or bring us something, send something from our baby registry to the house. I can’t nest from here, or do any baby shopping. Which is probably for the best for the bank account. I’m sure my husband is already seeing a small savings from my inability to go to Target unsupervised. However, the biological urge to nest is definitely NOT being satisfied from here. I am sure there are many other mamas on bed rest who would share the same request.

Link to Registry

Final Note

I am having a rough week. The itch to be and do something productive has hit me pretty hard. So this week’s countdown is to Abby’s visit. ONLY four more days until my very amazing Abby is coming to California to visit and keep me company. I cannot say enough how emotionally healing it is to have someone who is full of positivity and support keep you stable. I know she’s been there done this, and even when she wasn’t even at 60%, she made it look so easy. While my husband is doing a beyond amazing job for me and our family, sometimes you need to lean on someone besides your partner. Abby is my good friend, work wife, matron of honor, permanent favorite coffee date, and I cannot WAIT for her presence to be in my bubble. (Sorry, Abby, that I am forever trying to poison you with hazelnut biscotti or macaroons.) A huge thank you for letting me share part of your story, and for sharing your expertise.

Little snap from our wedding day.

How to survive hospital bed rest

I have officially been in the hospital three weeks. My perspective is not the same as many others I know who have been bed bound because, well, I’m not sick. I’m not battling a disease or fighting off infection or recovering from a surgery. I feel really good. The part of this process I am struggling with is knowing I will not be going home anytime soon, and when I do, life won’t be the same.

So if you happen to find yourself, like me, stuck in bed for weeks or maybe even months, here are some of my tips for making the most of bed rest.

First, create a schedule or routine. Mine changes if I happen to get a visitor besides my family or have unexpected medical things that have to get done (like an extra ultrasound). I try to stick to it so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my day.

My amazing pour over from Tribo Coffee

I wake up, force myself to get up out of bed, and wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I turn on the news and make myself a cup of coffee. I have to ask my nurse nicely for hot water to do so, but its worth it. My husband bought me amazing pour overs so I don’t have to drink the watered down hospital Folgers. I also have an Ember mug that keeps my coffee warm, so if I’m interrupted, I can still enjoy my coffee after everyone leaves. The mornings have lots of interruptions between vital checks and medications and doctor check ins and baby stress monitoring. After Good Morning America wraps up, I turn the T.V. off, pick a playlist on Spotify and do a craft until lunchtime, or until I finish. After lunch, I usually read or color until my husband or father in law and son come to visit. They usually hang out until dinner time. We often go for walks or if the weather isn’t great we just color together in my room. Sometimes we do dinner together, sometimes I eat the hospital dinner and they eat at home. After they leave I’m usually pretty bummed and wishing I could go with them, so I binge watch happy T.V. to distract myself. Once the nurses come by in the evening I make a cup of tea and once its empty, I make myself turn off the lights and go to bed.

Showing off my son’s and my artistic skills.

Second, do the little things that make you feel human.

I always shower in the morning and put on a minimal amount of makeup. It’s usually just concealer under my eyes and mascara, but it makes me look so much more awake. I take the time to moisturize and use belly butter on my bump. If I am feeling really motivated, I will blow dry my hair too. I try to clip or paint my nails once a week. These little things make me feel less like a baby making zombie. And yes, it feels insane to basically say, “do basic self care and hygiene!” But when you don’t have anywhere to go and your only responsibility is to ‘drink water, grow baby’, sometimes its hard just to wash your face or get out of bed. I also have my own butter and coffee creamer. Every hospital has a different set up, but I have a small mini fridge that I can keep some snacks in. Having my coffee taste like mine is HUGE. I order a lot of my snacks through Whole Foods PrimeNow, so if you’re in a bigger city, see if it delivers to your area. It saves your family a trip to the store and you get exactly what you want and not the weird brand your person decided was ‘better’.

Third, make your wardrobe work for you.

My failed attempt at trying to take a picture of my cute pants, but because I am pregnant and have NO balance, I tipped over. Don’t tell my nurse.

One pretty great part about being a long term antepartum patient is that I don’t have to wear a hospital gown every day. I have chosen to live life in compression socks, compression yoga pants (the fear of blood clots is real y’all), and basic maternity t-shirts. The compression socks are a non-negotiable with my doctors. I chose to order cute ones from Amazon rather than wear the 1940’s style, thigh high, nude colored hosiery offered by the hospital. The nurses like them and they’re doctor approved. Old Navy, yes the partner company to the Gap, actually has amazing maternity basics online that aren’t expensive. Plus, a lot of their pants have fit options for your belly based on what trimester you’re in. (WHAT A CONCEPT!) I also have plenty of house sweaters my husband is nice enough to rotate out for me as they get messy. A house sweater, for reference, is a sweater you own that is super comfy and probably well broken in that is socially acceptable to wear in your HOUSE but not really in public. You own them, I own them, one probably used to be your partners but you stole it, they’re a necessity.

Fourth, talk to someone outside the hospital every day who isn’t your partner or parent.

I am a very social person who thrives on contact, so I like talking to lots of people. However, there is something to be said about having someone who you can talk to who will give an outside perspective to the world and doesn’t have any responsibilities for your care. They’ll help keep you centered and remind you of the life outside your immediate circle.

Fifth, create excuses for positivity.

Countdown the days until a milestone, or a visit from someone important, or a holiday. Do things you can be proud of. I’m pretty crafty, a lot of people aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something worthwhile. Youtube and Pinterest are pretty infinite in terms of ideas to keep you occupied and how to’s. Ask the volunteers to go on walks. There are lots of young college students wandering around eager to refill water and would love an excuse to not stock nursing supplies. I was gifted a coloring book with positive quotes. They take forever to color, but sometimes just reading through the quotes themselves helps.

I am very lucky that I have a really positive and supportive village. People who have known me a really long time know that I wasn’t always a consistent ray of sunshine. I think over time I trimmed out the people in my life that weighed me down and surrounded myself instead by people I wanted to be more like. They’re all happy, and positive, and choose to be inspiring and motivating. The older I get, the less tolerance I have for things that weigh my heart down. So I’m hoping by keeping up with the positive ways I’m getting through this, I can help someone else do it to.

Links to buy the things:

Coffee pour overs: https://www.amazon.com/TRIBO-Single-Serve-Portable-Specialty-Roasted/dp/B07B8P7247/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=tribo%2Bcoffee&qid=1553730059&s=gateway&sr=8-2&th=1

Ember Mug: https://www.amazon.com/Ember-EMBFJ-CM171000US-Temperature-Control/dp/B07D93QWXG/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=ember+mug&qid=1553730311&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

Maternity compression pants: https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=417966012&cid=1129586&pcid=1053229

Compression socks: https://www.amazon.com/Compression-Socks-Women-Men-Travel-20-25/dp/B07JQXDZLV/ref=sr_1_20?keywords=compression+socks+women&qid=1553730205&s=gateway&sr=8-20

Basic maternity tops: https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=434926002&cid=1096124&pcid=1090999

Inspirational Coloring book: https://www.amazon.com/Inspirational-Colouring-Book-Everyone-Fearless/dp/1640010734/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=positivity+coloring+book&qid=1553730758&s=gateway&sr=8-4

The reality of bed rest in the hospital.

I am usually one to do a lot of writing and sharing. I am a very outgoing person. While I think I’ve done a lot of sharing pictures recently through Instagram or Snapchat, they’ve mostly been the result of starving for human interaction. I haven’t wanted to share what the reality was of why I was in the hospital or what I’m actually feeling. When people ask how I’m doing I just respond with “I can’t complain!” or “Just stir crazy!” Which might just be me psyching myself out of feeling the really negative feelings that come with being by yourself 20 out of 24 hours of the day.

I have officially been in the hospital 17 days. The goal is for me to be here 84-90 days if all goes perfect.

My husband’s family and many of his close friends are nearby and thankfully they’ve helped with our son and brought things to keep me busy. I’ve read plenty of other blogs about hospital bedrest and helpless husbands who can’t cook or do laundry. I read about a woman who had to make phone calls to schedule dinners brought to her husband. I am extremely thankful that I have a self reliant husband who can take care of everything, to a fault. He is not the type to ask for help or admit he might need it. However, I think he’s doing an exceptional job finding balance, or at least putting on a great front for my sake.

People who know me really well know I am a can’t stop, wont stop personality. So in the past 4 months when I had a small uterine hemorrhage (which I was told not to worry about and would heal like a bruise), moved to California, transferred my teaching credential, and started a new job, it didn’t occur to me to slow down. We had lives to start over and damn it, I didn’t have time to lose. My pregnancy with our first son was a BREEZE. What did I have to worry about? Even after I was in the hospital, I put in grades in my gradebook to make sure my students knew I was still there for them. So after my campus cut off all of my log ins, I had a couple days of “Well… what the hell do I do now?” It’s also been a heart breaking emotional struggle to know the parts of parenting that were my job are now being taken care of without a problem and I’m not there. My son’s needs are being met, and he’s happy. He even has a new fish named Spunky the Fish and loves him. My job now is to sit. Drink water. Sit. Pray. Piddle with crafts. Sit. Drink water. Eat. Wait for my family to visit. Sit. Drink Water.

My view most of the day, complete with fun compression socks that I’m required to live in. Tuesdays and Saturdays are Fixer Upper marathons on HGTV.

Female bodies are pretty amazing. We’re biologically predisposed to do whats best for the growing human inside us, and my body told me to pump the breaks. Amniotic fluid is measured in an index I don’t understand but normal is between 8 and 18, below 5 is considered minimal. At our anatomy scan I was at a 3. At the point we came to the hospital about 4 hours later, pretty much 0. This is medically called oligohydramnios. They confirmed my water had broken and I would have to stay until delivery, which could be any moment, even now. I was given an IV of fluids, a number of antibiotics, and put on a contraction monitor. I was 22 weeks and 4 days. I was told they couldn’t do anything for baby if he was born until he was at least 24 weeks. They kept asking us if we wanted to terminate. It was not a good day. It was not a good week.

One of my 20 minute monitoring sessions. The number on the left is baby’s heart rate, the big number on the right is the contraction level, the little number is my pulse.

The good news is that this past week at my 24 week update my AFI (amniotic fluid index) was 4.6. Baby Owen is measuring average for his gestation now and is head down. I am now not attached to anything in terms of IVs or monitors, outside of 20 minutes twice a day they record baby’s heartbeat and my contractions, which have been normal. I can wander around my room now and shower when I feel like it. I did get two steroid shots to help baby’s lungs develop. The only medication they give me is really for pregnancy maintenance. Cameron takes me on wheel chair rides so I can get sunshine, fresh air, and ice cream. Colby rides in my lap and leaves me souvenirs of whip cream or popsicle drips. For the most part, I feel really good! However, because I am at a high risk for infection, I won’t go home until after I deliver.

There wont be any nesting. No rebuilding of our first son’s crib or washing of his onesies in Dreft so I can huff baby scent. No unnecessary trips to Hobby Lobby to set up the nursery. I’m not reading big brother books to my son at night in the rocking chair to help him get ready for the baby. I’m missing my best friend’s baby shower in Texas. Which means it will also be even longer before I can hold my other bff/college roommate’s new baby that was born in December. We wont take family photos for mother’s day like I wanted. (I insist on family photos for mother’s day every year because getting Newetts to take any photo is an act of Congress). I can’t be where I feel like I’m needed. I’m not doing my jobs as a mother or wife. I’m not working. I’m sitting. Drinking water. Praying. Piddling on social media. Sitting. Counting the hours until my family visits. Crying. Drinking water. Sitting. Counting days until friends visit. Drinking water. Sitting.

It could be worse. This could have been over 17 days ago, but it isn’t. Baby is growing and making improvements every day showing no signs of trying to make his entrance. This is HARD, but I keep reminding myself that I have a village of amazing people that have shown me that long hospital stays are no big deal. Steroid shots can be cake. (I don’t have to give myself any of the shots… major kudos to my people who have to inject anything into themselves.) I know NICU warriors who spent months driving back and forth and now have happy, healthy children. If they can do it, so can we. My husband has been incredible and puts up with my Amazon PrimeNow orders, and goes out of his way to make me feel loved and to bring pieces of our normal life to me. Yes, I really want to go home. I really, REALLY want to go home, but someday these 84-90 days will feel like a blink, and I’ll be at home in our bed with all three of my boys and all of the negative won’t be what I remember.

The view of the harbor from the window outside my door. The nice nurses let me have my coffee out there in the mornings.