You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Short of It...

Dear Family and Friends,

A few days before Christmas I began experiencing some new pains/sensations where baby boy is “living.”  Having never done this part before, I attributed them to third trimester changes and basically just tried to get over/ignore them (like any good nurse patient would).  On Christmas, they happily went away, but the day after Christmas, these sensations came back and something about them had me very, very irritated.  By Sunday, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.  I called my doctor yesterday and described what I was feeling.  He agreed that it all sounded like typical third trimester stuff and thought we could hold off on a visit until later in the week until I told him I just really felt something wasn’t right.  So he fit me in yesterday afternoon for an ultrasound.  The short of it is that I’ve started to efface, meaning my cervix is severely shortened compared to my last measurement.  And the baby is now engaged, or has dropped (which Zac noticed the day after Christmas, as I was suddenly carrying much lower).  So these two things have us more than a little concerned that baby boy might be trying to make an early debut.  

However, that’s not to say that these changes can’t also happen in a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy.  Many women walk around dilated and effaced for weeks in their last trimester.  But given my history, it’s just worrisome.  Yesterday I received a first dose of steroids to rapidly mature baby boy’s lungs.  I will get another dose today.  I also received some of these steroids with Everett, although he came before we were able to complete them.  This medication will give him the best chance of breathing on his own should he be born anytime after today.  

My doctor and I discussed what we could expect at this gestation.  I will be 33 weeks tomorrow.  A 33 week preemie is a totally different ball game than a 25 week micro-preemie, but he would still require a NICU stay...albeit hopefully very short (like a few weeks).  At 34 weeks, even if I went into full blown labor, they wouldn’t stop it.  Research shows that there is no increased risk of delivering vs delaying birth at that gestation so we really just need to make it one more week.  The best thing I can do is try not to worry and rest up.  My doctor didn’t recommend bed rest but he did tell me to ramp up on my couch time.  So that’s what we will do.

In an odd coincidence, Everett and I delivered Christmas cookies to the SV NICU last week.  It’s something that was done for us at CHLA and we’ve kept up the tradition here at home.  Several times a year we bake for the NICU families and package the goodies up with an inspirational message for the parents.  In the four years we’ve been doing this, we’ve never been allowed back into the NICU itself.  However, this year, the nurses felt it would be a nice idea to have me hand deliver the packages to the NICU give them a face to go with an incredible success story.  I jumped at the opportunity.  And about 30 seconds after walking back into the NICU, I realized that I’d made a very wrong decision.  Being back in that NICU, words can’t even describe how awful it felt.  The last time I was in that room, we were being told that Everett likely wouldn’t survive.  They had shut down the entire NICU, closed our section off, and allowed all our family members to come in.  They dimmed the lights, they moved the chairs into a giant circle, and Zac and I held him as we kept our thoughts to ourselves about what the next 24 hours might hold.  I can remember wondering in that moment if this was going to be the last time I held my living son.  All these emotions came FLOODING back when I stepped into the NICU.  I handed out the packages as quickly as I could, kept a smile on my face and told a few families a very abridged version of our story.  And then I high-tailed it out of there, so nauseous and fighting back tears and so full of every depressing emotion that I never wanted to feel again.  I wasn’t ready to be back there.  And that really surprised me.

So if you could pray that this baby boy keeps cooking and that my cervix keeps holding, we would very much appreciate it!  All we want is healthy...and no NICU if possible.  We are strong enough to handle anything thrown our way...this I know.  But this time we would really, really like things to just be...easy.  We want to hear him cry and we want to hold him in the first moments after he’s born.  I’m just praying we aren’t hoping for too much.  

Happy New Year to you all!


The Bollinger Family

P.S.  If baby boy stays in, our scheduled c-section date is February 12th, 2014 at 7am.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What I'm Thankful For/What I'm Terrified Of...

Dear Family and Friends,

I am still pregnant!!!  Thirty one weeks tomorrow...and only eight weeks to go.  We are planning on a scheduled c-section at 39 weeks.  We still don’t have a firm birth date but we know it will be around February 12th.  With the holidays and a generally busy season, time has been flying by.  And while eight weeks left to prepare may sound like a lot, I’m already beginning to feel some nesting instincts to get stuff done.  In these past few weeks I’ve finally allowed myself to relax a little, taking reassurance that if he were born now, he’d more that likely survive with minimal complications.  

I’ve been thinking a lot these past five weeks, all of which have been a new experience for us, about what I’m thankful for in this pregnancy.  Several people have told me that I make being pregnant look easy.  It’s not easy, by the way.  The third trimester really is a different beast.  But I am making a conscious effort to be thankful for every day, every moment, every pain, and every experience that we get, knowing that things can change in a instant.  So in a effort to continue to be appreciative for this little life growing inside me, I wrote down a list of the things I’m thankful for during this pregnancy.  

I’m thankful for...

  1. Weight gain: I only gained four pounds with Everett.  I’ve gained *much* more this time.  As the scale ticks up, I’m trying to remember that every pound gained is more weight on our baby and is a sign that my body is doing what it was meant to do.  Sure, some days I don’t necessarily love the way my body is changing, how things are getting soft and dimply, but this baby is SO worth it.  And Zac tells me everyday that I’m beautiful (isn’t he the BEST!)
  2. Creating a nursery while still pregnant: This weekend, Zac and I assembled all the baby furniture...crib, dresser, and changing table and I started to wash the bedding etc.  We stayed up until 1:30am doing it all while Everett slept.  We had the best time; me listening to Zac curse at the dresser for having lock screw hardware (apparently his least favorite), as he watched me fold and refold crib sheets washed in Dreft, which smelled so good.  We talked about what we think this baby will look like, what his temperament might be, discussed which qualities we hope he will and will not have.  It was a night I will cherish always.
  3. Smiles and belly touches from strangers: I think a lot of pregnant women find this phenomena invasive, but I just can’t get enough.  I love that strangers are smiling at me with that “oh, she’s having a baby” face and that every day someone asks me when I’m due.  I’m really loving that people are holding doors open for me and are offering to grab things off shelves in stores.  With Everett, it was never obvious that I was pregnant, so I’m gobbling up the extra attention.  And I don’t even mind the touching of my belly.  I am just glad that I have a belly to touch.   
  4. A clear complexion:  I’ve never had clear skin...NEVER.  Even as an adult I’ve struggled with managing my acne.  With this pregnancy, my skin has never looked better.  Something to do with the hormones I’m sure, but I’m loving every moment of being zit-free and am enjoying the pregnancy glow.
  5. Not being able to reach my feet comfortably: All I have to say is that I now have a really good excuse to get pedicures :-)
  6. Tiredness, shortness of breath, reflux, sciatica pain, restless sleep, swollen feet etc etc: Ok, so I know that none of these are very fun.  Heck, some of them are downright painful.  And I do complain about them from time to time.  But I really am trying to focus on being thankful for getting to experience the pains of pregnancy.  And if I could just get one stretch mark, I’d be over the moon (Yes, you read that right, I want a stretch mark.  After all, it’s the true mark of pregnancy and a sign that you made it to the end).

I’ve also been thinking these past five weeks about what I’m most scared of.  With Everett, we didn’t have time to process everything that happened...all our fears  surrounding his birth, his prognosis, his future...until he was home and real life resumed.  It has taken years to work through it all; to feel every emotion, express it, and deal with it.  This time, especially with being off work, I have a lot of time for my mind to wander.  So I thought I’d also make a list of the things that scare me the most.  

I’m terrified of...

  1. Another NICU stay:  Ok, we are prepared for another NICU stay.  But that doesn’t mean that the fear doesn’t still keep me up at night sometimes.  With each passing week, this fear gets smaller, but even healthy, term babies sometimes end up in the NICU.  I really, really, really don’t want to go back there.  And I can’t even imagine the logistics of caring for Everett, while recovering from surgery, and trying to meet the needs of a sick newborn.  Plus, the baby would be hospitalized at a different facility from where we are planning to deliver.  It just would other words for it.   
  2. Breastfeeding: When it comes to pumping, I’m a pro.  I did it for Everett for almost five months, and while it was tedious at times, I’m thankful that my body produced milk.  I know breastfeeding can be challenging.  I’m nervous about the whole process.  But I have many friends who are champion breastfeeders and I will be looking to them for support.  
  3. Post-Partum Depression: I’ve never really touched on my struggles with post-partum depression publicly, but those very close to me know that I went a little “nuts” while Everett was hospitalized.  Things got pretty bad and I ended up needing an anti-depressant for a few years after his birth.  It was a time in my life that was very, very dark and took a lot of effort from our whole family to get through.  Being in that vulnerable place is something I never want to experience again.  
  4. Everett becoming a sibling: Everett is not only the center of our world, but he also gets a lot of attention because of who he is and how he was born.  He’s such a sweet boy but he’s very used to getting what he wants, when he wants it.  His world is about to get rocked, big time.  I’m hoping the transition from only child to big brother will be smooth (as smooth as it can be right?)  We’ve started talking to him about getting a brother, but I don’t think he will really grasp what it means until the baby is here.  
  5. Being a first-time mom...again: This is a biggie!  Yes, I’ve had a baby and I’ve cared for a newborn...kinda.  Everett came home at almost six months old.  While he weighed only six pounds, he could hold his head up, he didn’t have an umbilical cord stump, he was medicated for reflux and gas (and any other newborn ailment you could imagine), he was all sorted out on fortified breast milk/formula, he slept through the night (yes, he slept through the night from the first night), we had had six months of getting to know his personality, and I had about a million people dedicated to his care that were only a phone call away for advice and support.  This time, we will be flying solo with a baby we just met.  I’m scared of the true newborn phase.  I honestly can’t remember a night when Everett has ever kept us awake...seriously.  We got adequate sleep from the beginning.  The exhaustion came from the doctor and therapy appointments (and catching up from a six month emotional nightmare).  My saving grace, I keep telling myself, is that at least I work nights, so I know I can stay up.  But I also have so much more responsibility in my life now, and those needs will have to be met, whether I’ve had good sleep or not.  And what will those needs be?  Like I said, it all makes me nervous.
  6. Loving another child as much as I love Everett: I just can’t fathom this.  I love my first born SO DARN MUCH!  I hope I love my last born just as much.  

Overall I’m feeling pretty good.  My cervix is still holding and while I’ve begun to feel some new sensations in my belly, my doctor assures me that everything seems normal.  We continue to be thankful for all the love and support we’ve received from all of you.  We are so blessed in so many ways and we try to be ever appreciative.  We hope each of you has an equally blessed holiday surrounded by the love of family and friends.  

Merry Christmas!

The Bollinger Family