The Toddler Challenge

In a lot of ways being on modified rest really isn’t that difficult.  In the beginning it was HARD because I was so symptomatic that I could barely do anything.  I felt incredibly unwell but being at home made me want to jump into everything I would normally be doing.  Now fast forward 5 weeks later and I’m feeling pretty good.  There are days that are bad, but more so they’ve turned into just a few hours at the end of the day.  I’m able to tolerate doing a bit more than I could in the beginning and I have my Dr’s blessing to listen to my body and do what I can but stop when it’s been enough.  So the biggest challenge hasn’t actually been me, but my 3 year old.

This week I felt like I was coming undone with him.  When I first came home he was a complete disaster.  Opposite from what he normally is.  His normal is a sweet, kind, relatively quiet, obedient and rational little one.  His behaviour normally is actually a bit abnormal for the average toddler and I’ve been so grateful for it.  Often I’ve said “I’m just waiting for it all to change” but after three years it didn’t seem like that was happening and he would continue on in his way.  Then enter me being admitted to the hospital for 7 days, him being pulled from dayhome, my mom here to live and help out and my husband on Christmas vacation.  The poor little guys life was completely turned upside down and thrown out the window.  His entire routine and what he knew to be his world was shaken up and not put back together.

He began to argue, cry over things he normally wouldn’t, wake up in the middle of the night, wake up extremely early, rarely take a nap and all around was completely different.  There were very slight breaks in the cloud but it seemed I was finally getting my threenager and it distressed me.  Where was the little boy so kind and so sweet? The biggest challenge is that his nap times are riddled with yelling and screaming for 2 hours straight, not out of sadness or anger but just “because I like to yell and scream” and although I would try and address it it would continue to happen.  He continued to become more and more sleep deprived and then on Tuesday we had our worst day yet and I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  Everyone keep saying, “maybe he’s growing out of his nap” but in my head and in my heart I know my boy and I know for certain he absolutely needs sleep.  At the very least he needs a time to just be quiet, to wind down but of course sometimes you just can’t force little ones to do what you know they need.   At the beginning of this week I committed to two weeks of solid routine and if at the end of that he didn’t nap at all I would begin to transition to “quiet time” – any and all suggestions on how to do that well are very welcomed!

Yesterday after a good nights sleep he seemed to be back to my sweet and kind little boy.  I had a long appointment in the morning and left him at home with my mom.  When I came home I prepared us lunch and just like we would before this fiasco – we immediately went upstairs for nap time.  He didn’t fight me or cry, we rocked and he drank his milk then I spent about 10 minutes talking through nap time and quiet time with him.  We discussed why it is important to sleep well, why we need rest, why we need to be quiet.  He of course had a rebuttal for every sentence but he was absorbing my words and I knew it.  On Tuesday he lost a lot of privileges because of his yelling and screaming at nap time (that he had been forewarned about) and he could recall them yesterday (thank you rationality!) so we discussed those privileges again yesterday.  I reiterated quite a few times and he acknowledged his understanding.  I put him in bed and he cuddled up with his polar bear and blanket about 2 minutes after I shut the door he made one tiny little squeal and then was silent.  HE FELL ASLEEP!  My momma heart was so relieved.

The real relief came when he woke up and I went in to his room.  He was back to the behaviour I knew to be his.  All evening he was so pleasant and didn’t fight anything all evening, even when he would start he was easily rationalized with and redirected. He could even verbalize and discuss the differences from the two days.  I could have cried after he went to bed I was so happy to have seen my little boy back to normal.

Of course that was just one day and it may all change today but more than ever I’m optimistic that I don’t in fact have a threenager on my hands.  Rather I have a little boy whose world was completely upset and has been struggling to get back to what he knows to be true and normal.  I’m going to try my best to get him back to that place before this baby shows up and throws us all for a loop.

The Battle

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I’m well into the second week of being on moderately reduced activity and I’ve hit 26 weeks!  It’s both easier and much harder all at the same time.  I’ve been feeling markedly better this week which is awesome and reassuring.  I’ve had far less contractions and no cramping at all.  It makes me really hopeful that I’ll go well into the 30’s (weeks) before delivering.  So in those ways it’s easier – feeling better makes life easier!

It’s also harder because I feel better.  The better I feel the more I want to do.  I want to cook, clean, run errands, lift my kid, move my couch and find those lost toys – all the things.  My brain registers that I’m feeling better because I’m resting and if I don’t rest I won’t feel better.  My heart cries for normalcy and independence.  It’s a constant battle.

Yesterday I had an ultrasound and doctor’s appointment.  Thankfully everything is stable and there’s nothing to be very concerned about right now.  My doctor classifies me as being on “auto pilot” for the time being and has told me to keep doing what I’m doing.  After the appointment I ended up running some errands and doing a bit more than I should have and ended up with some contractions – nothing major but a definite confirmation that I need to be persistent with rest.  Thankfully my mom is here to scold me when I lift Ezekiel, or am on my feet too much – it would be a much different story if she was not.

Christmas is such a hard time to be confined to a couch but I’m so loving this time of year. The lights, the baking, the gift giving – I love it all and I love watching Ezekiel experience it with a whole new level of understanding.

Merry Christmas to you and your family! I’m wishing you a time of peace, love and joy during this season.

At Home on Modified Rest

Well, I’ve been home since Monday and today’s only Friday.  Not even a full week at home and the learning curve to this new temporary life is steep.  I was sent home on “moderately reduced activity” which is a drastic difference to how I was living before being hospitalized, but still has enough freedom that I’m not just laying down all day long.  The guidelines are: resting 3x3hrs/day, 10 minutes or less of walking, less than 20 minutes on feet at one time, light house duties (nothing that involves any type of strain so no lifting laundry or vacuuming etc), limited stair climbing, no looking after toddlers.

Here’s the thing though, although I try my best to follow these guidelines sometimes I find myself wandering the house just “tidying” up and before I know it 45 minutes have passed.  Then I pay for it the rest of the day, I get crampy and start contracting and generally feel terrible.  Even leaving the house is a feat.  On Wednesday I had to drop off some papers for my short term disability, then we went to the library to return some books and let Ezekiel play, then we picked up some groceries (I order online and they shop, bag and deliver to my car while I sit in the car).  Total time on my feet was less than 15 minutes, and total time out of the house was about 1.5hrs and by the time I got home I felt terrible.  It’s discouraging that I no longer am just doing things to be cautious, I’m actually on these restrictions because without them I’d have a micro-premie in the NICU for months.  Earlier in my pregnancy I went off 12 hr shifts and night shifts extremely early (relative to the “norm” on the unit) because it was hard on my body and I was being cautious.  I then went on modified duties and sat at a desk (less than two weeks before being hospitalized), again because I was being cautious but now it’s just plain necessary to be resting for almost the entire day.  A hard pill to swallow.   I think it’s taken this long for me to figure it out.  Of course I knew it but I just had to “get it,” you know?  It’s amazing that 12 days ago I was living normally, cleaning my house, cooking, doing laundry and grocery shopping all in the same day and today I literally can’t do any of those things for more than a few minutes and I’m out for the day.

I’m doing my best to stay out of the hospital, and I’ll have to become more rigid with my time on my feet.  Maybe I’ll have to set a timer every time I get up to do something.  I’m trying to keep myself busy with projects that can be done while sitting.  I’ll write a post about that later on.  Honestly though the days seem to fly, when Ezekiel’s awake it’s all about him.  We read, build with blocks, play music and he dances, we do puzzles, colour and then it’s nap time.  I can’t imagine doing this without my mom here though, she’s doing all the cooking, cleaning, lifting, laundering and anything that’s just too much for me.  Some people don’t have that luxury and it would be a thousand times harder than it is for me.  So I’m trying to stay positive and count my blessings.  It’s really not all that bad, I get an extra 3 months (fingers crossed) at home with my little guy before we have a new addition and his world is turned upside down.  I’m doing my best to make the most of it because I won’t get these days back.

I’ll take all the suggestions for things to do while resting! Also all the prayers that I get to rest for 3 more months!

Going Home

Well, it’s been a week since I presented to labor and delivery triage with the worst abdominal pain I’d ever felt in my life.  I’ve had ultrasounds, EKG’s, bloodwork and other tests trying to figure things out without ever coming up with a definitive diagnosis. The best we’ve got is a most probable and likely.  Doctors don’t like saying things definitively unless they have 150% proof that it’s true (drives me nuts).

Here’s the thing – I’m not a textbook case – welcome to my whole life! I’ve never been a textbook case, and the problem with not being a textbook case is that you have several practitioners theorizing on the issue (or to some – the lack-there-of).  This is where healthcare is very grey.  Depending on a physicians experience and comfort level (and/or arrogance) they will treat or not treat, theorize that your symptoms are exaggerated, nothing to worry about – because they can’t find an answer.  Then there’s the other side of the spectrum, the physician who knows you, who takes time to understand you, taps into you beyond just physical symptoms.  They are the ones that trust the patient and at the same time trust their clinical judgement and make the best possible decision by marrying those two factors – those are my people.  I’m not one to run to a hospital or physician at every ache and pain, in fact I will suffer, until I have done my own theorizing and waiting it out just to be certain that I am neither wasting my own time nor the time of the practitioner.  When I choose a physician (in the case of a GP) I take my time and make sure that I can trust that physician, but also that they are acting like they can trust me.  In the case of a specialist you don’t always have that luxury, however I have been so so so lucky to have been referred to only the top of the top when it comes to specialties and I’ve never been disappointed.

Then came this hospital stay.  I see doctors left right and centre all through out the days, more if it’s an “exciting day” and less if it’s a boring day but not often do I know all of them.  I’m left to the mercy of whoever happens to see me that day, and for the most part I can’t really complain about it.  I’ve been very well taken care of, in the beginning things were very cautious and everyone was sort of tip toeing around wondering what was going to happen, but things are becoming more stable and they are becoming more and more comfortable with my “symptoms.”  Yesterday, though I had one physician who came in here, clearly not doing a great review of my chart or history and making clinical judgements based on a 30 second conversation and poking my belly a few times.  Then declared I was just having abdominal muscle pain and I should prepare to leave the next day.  To say I was floored and upset would be an understatement, in the moment I was shocked and not prepared to rebuttal anything (not that I had time anyways, he was out of here in two minutes), but it took a good 2 hours just to calm myself down.  In the end I reminded myself that 1) he was not my physician and would not be making any final decisions in my care and 2) regardless of his opinion I am the best expert on my body and “muscle pain” is not even close to what was happening (I should know, I also have had terrible joint and muscle pain since 8 weeks pregnant!).

However, going home is looking more and more likely, and no I’m not entirely comfortable given my history with Ezekiel.  The menstrual like cramping with irritable uterus is how I presented just hours before going into labor with him.  I actually didn’t have a single contraction when I began dilating (rapidly) so going home with crampiness as well as an irritable uterus that turns into contractions coming every 2 minutes and a shortened cervix that can be defined as “incompetent”  is not my idea of a fun time at home.  Given that I don’t know what the classical labor feels or looks like because it’s never happened to me, when will I know that it’s the real thing versus just irritability? How long do I wait? Will I wait too long? At this rate if I’d be in labor and delivery being checked out several times a day.  The uncertainty makes me extremely uncomfortable – here’s the thing, pregnancy? It’s ALL uncertain.  No matter how many tools you use, no matter how much experience you have the best you will ever do is an educated guess.

The bottom line is that in the end it’s not these Doctors I need to ultimately trust, it’s not even myself.  In the end I have to trust that God has it all taken care of, that He has orchestrated every move and decision made by the physicians.  That He has placed me in the care of the best and He is guiding them.  That He is protecting me and this babe and things will work out regardless.  Honestly, I think it wouldn’t matter if they sent me home today or 5 weeks from now, I would still be uncomfortable so I’m trusting with everything in me that my discomfort is just me being over cautious and not me being intuitive.  I’d love your prayers for the protection of this pregnancy for the next 13 weeks and for peace for me.

Ramblings From the Hospital

I’m on day 6 of hospitalization and modified rest.  It’s weird that I have expected this to come, yet now that it’s here I’m in a bit of disbelief that it’s actually happening.  Before I even became pregnant when I talked about a second pregnancy I always had this nagging in the back of my mind that it wasn’t going to be as easy.  Certainly my first pregnancy wasn’t a walk in the park, it had it’s own struggles, but compared to the last 25 weeks it really was so easy.  I don’t know why I was so sure this one was going to be different, I just knew.  Even though I was expecting this in a way there were parts of me that still hoped I could have a relatively event free pregnancy.  I was glad to take the extra pain, all the appointments and medications, modifications at work and at home if I could make it to at least 36 weeks without any serious complications.

Yet here I am wavering between peace and stress, with complications I both expected and didn’t.  I expected my cervix to shorten early – but 24 weeks early? Not so much.  I didn’t expect any other complications – this whole placental abruption just threw me for a loop.  Right now it’s actually not as big of a concern as my cervix – the placenta is functioning well still, the baby is growing and thriving.  However, my presentation of abdominal pain, no bleeding and so early on (19 weeks even though they didn’t find it until 24) is associated with poorer outcomes.  Thankfully I’m in the right place should anything serious happen with the placenta and I’m taking all the necessary precautions  of modified rest and listening to my body.  In anyone else all of that would likely be sufficient to keep the placenta functioning healthily without any more abruption but throw in my connective tissue disorder and it’s just unknown what will happen.  What is known is that my cervix will continue to shorten rapidly, and I will begin to dilate – when? Who knows, but guarantee it’s going to be a lot earlier than 38 weeks when I should be having a scheduled section.  What’s not guaranteed is when baby will actually come.  I mean people go a long time on bed rest and very dilated and deliver big healthy babies.  That’s my ultimate prayer and goal.

All these unknowns and uncontrolled variables -it’s just so much for a control freak like me.  Pregnancy is the ultimate of uncontrolled situations, anything can happen and rarely are you anticipating each situation.  Instead it always seems to be a wait and deal with it when it happens situation.  The opposite of what I would like.

Despite it all I’m doing my very very best to listen to my body first.  I’m trying to be over cautious and joyful through it all.  Not the easiest while stuck in a hospital but there really is just so much to be thankful for.  I try not to think about what-if’s, instead I take each moment in each day as it comes.  I try and occupy my time with useful things (quickly running out of those though!), and rest as much as possible.

This is only a short time (hopefully 12 weeks) in the grand scheme of things, and this little life growing inside me deserves the best chance possible and I’m determined to do everything I can to provide just that.