Friday, September 28, 2012

7:30pm and All Is Well

What a day, what a day.

Currently James is sleeping soundly in his bed.  He's got Tylenol (plus a little Melatonin) coursing through his system.  He ate a decent dinner and has had a fair amount to drink today.  I pray he rests very, very well.

I cannot thank you all enough for your kind words of encouragement and support and prayers.  I really and truly think all our prayers were answered today, a true blessing from the Lord.

My only complaint about the day was that the doctor came to talk to me about the surgery WHILE I was holding my screaming, flailing, octopus-like child post-surgery.  I had questions.  Lots of them.  The doctor was showing me the pictures she took (which I asked her to take) of his mouth all the while asking if I'm okay.  I'm pretty sure the look on my face was unsettled.  I needed to get my child more calmed down before I could continue the conversation with the doctor, but I missed my window.  By the time James was acting more human, the doctor was gone.  I'll ask the rest of my questions in a week when we get the pathology results back.

Tears flowed for me again this afternoon as I spoke with my mother-in-law about walking with James back to the OR.  That was a traumatizing experience for me.  Would I do it again if I had to?  Absolutely.  Did it crush my heart to do it?  Absolutely.  I think it helped him to be carried by me to the OR, placed on the OR table while all the strangers gathered around him.  He looked suspiciously at everyone, but he didn't cry.  The crying didn't start until they put the mask to his face to put him to sleep.  He didn't like that part and therefore didn't cooperate.  That's the point when I helped hold down his arms so they could mask him to sleep.  That's when internally I started to lose it.  It just seemed so freakin' cruel to do this to him.  Here I am helping pin him down and he's fighting with all his strength.  In my head I was begging for him to go to sleep quickly.  It couldn't have been more than a minute or so before he stopped fighting and started drifting off to sleep.  That's the point that I started to lose it externally.  They quickly ushered me out of the OR.  That was the time they would have escorted me out regardless, but I'm sure they were trying to help me out by getting me out of there expeditiously.  The nurse walking me out kept assuring me he was in good hands.  I had no doubt about that.  Honestly, I didn't.  I knew he was asleep and wasn't hurting and would be just fine.  I was just upset that I'd witnessed my child fighting so hard and then going limp.  I'm in the medical field.  I knew what to expect.  I didn't anticipate having such trouble with what I was going to see.  Boy oh boy was I wrong.

On a brighter note, James took a couple of naps today and played some in between.  He was pretty unsteady on his feet, falling more than usual.  And he wasn't very interested in playing by himself.  To be expected.  Scott and I both spent a lot of time with him.  I am just so grateful that we're home and he gets to sleep in his own bed.

If you want to see the pictures they took in the OR, email me at baacuff at mac dot com.  I didn't want to post them here and risk traumatizing people that don't want to see medical pictures.  (Scott would be included in that demographic.  Not that he reads this blog...)

May your evening be peaceful, restful, and full of gratitude.  Mine sure is.

11:30am Update

And we're HOME!

They let me go visit James in the recovery room around 8:45 am.  Man, was he WILD.  I had asked everyone to pray that he wouldn't be fearful.  I didn't think to mention ANGRY.  He seemed to know who I was, but he was flailing and not happy with his waking up process.  He kept holding up his IV arm like "Do something about this!!" The pulse oximeter on his finger was completely unacceptable as well.  Not to mention the blood pressure cuff on his leg.... You get the idea.  It took about 30 minutes to calm him down and get him to settle a little bit.  For the next 30 minutes we just sat together in the rocking chair beside his crib in the recovery room.  He took some sips of apple juice here and there.  I thought Scott and I would trade out every few minutes or so, but that was definitely not happening.  Once James calmed down, I was not moving a muscle!  The more coherent James became, the better he did and the more he drank.  We hung out in recovery for a little over an hour before moving to another post-recovery room.  That's when he got to see DADDY!  James lost his patience in that room, however, and he was ready to go.  They took the IV out as the very last thing, and then sent us out the door.

We got home just before 11 am.  This was him on the ride home:

He ate a soft, squishy lunch (yogurt, applesauce, oatmeal), took a few sips of a drink, and now he's in his crib attempting to go to sleep.  We'll see how that goes...

A few minutes of playing before nap time.

Bandaid on his right wrist from the IV.

Look at those sleepy eyes.

Thank you so, so much for all the thoughts and prayers on our behalf!!

8am Update

James is in surgery. 

Answered prayers thus far: 

  • He slept all night. 
  • Pre-op time was relatively painless and tear-free. 
  • I got to carry him to the OR and hold him while they put him to sleep with a gas mask thingy. James objected STRONGLY to the mask. I did fine in the OR and then FELL TO PIECES when I walked out. The circulating OR nurse kept saying "We'll take good care of him." I said "I know..." Still a mess. I really do think he's fine, though!
Scott and I have had some breakfast and are in the waiting room.

Thanks for your continued prayers for PEACE.  Maybe you could add to the list that I would stop tearing up.  Good grief...

5:15am  "Too early, Momma!"

The playroom has a VACUUM. His favorite thing!

The patient gown is a wee bit large...

The marshmallow suit I got to wear to the OR.  It was even big enough to hold in mah belleh!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

James' Tongue Surgery

Tomorrow is the big day.  My son will undergo general anesthesia to have a mystery growth removed from his tongue. If this is the first you've heard of James' tongue thingy, you can read more about it here.

Today we had his pre-op appointment.  That was exciting, to say the least.  He cried almost non-stop while we were in the exam room waiting on the doctor.  He cried when they weighed him.  He cried when they took his temperature under his arm.  Even with nobody else in the room, he cried.  This makes me more than a little bit nervous for tomorrow, surgery day.  He didn't have anything painful done to him today and he was a total mess!  Poor, poor James...

We are to be at the hospital at 6:30 am for a 7:30 am surgery.  Thankfully, he's the first case for this surgeon.  I like that.  Nobody else to bump his procedure to a later time.  Hopefully he will hardly notice he hasn't eaten or had anything to drink before surgery.  (He usually eats breakfast around 7 am.)

It is still to be determined whether this will involve an overnight stay or not.  It depends on how he handles the anesthesia and whether or not he's willing to drink anything after the procedure.

Tonight I had to bathe him in this special antiseptic soap.  I have to bathe him again in the morning with the same stuff.  Weird.  The surgery will be in his mouth, but at least his skin will be germ-free.

As I was gathering stuff to take to the hospital with us tomorrow, I felt overwhelmed.  How do I pack a hospital bag for a one year old??  Toys, favorite foods, sippy cups, lovey blankets, videos to watch...  You'd think because I work in a hospital, being in one wouldn't be much of a big deal to me.  WRONG.  I only feel comfortable in the area I work in:  Special Care Nursery.  The rest of the hospital is scary to me!  And this isn't even taking place at my hospital.  We're headed down the road for James' surgery to completely unfamiliar territory.  It makes my heart break to think of all the parents that have really, really sick kids that spend days, weeks, and months inpatient in a hospital.  I'm thankful this isn't routine for our family.    

If you are the praying type, here are our specific requests:

  • Restful night's sleep for James (and his parents!).  That's been quite elusive lately...
  • Short, uneventful procedure.  No complications, difficulty intubating him, starting his IV, removing the tongue thingy.
  • PEACE for James during this whole event.  Fear will not be a part of this!
  • Smooth, uneventful recovery from anesthesia.
  • James will be willing and eager to drink and eat after the procedure.
  • No overnight stay!
  • Good report from the pathology lab in about a week when they  tells us whatever this tongue thingy is.
  • No infections or other post-op complications.
  • No preterm labor for me because of this. :)

That's quite a list.  Thanks for thinking of us and our sweet boy during this time.  I will update this blog tomorrow as soon as I get a chance.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

10 Pregnancy Thoughts

In no particular order:
  1. Saying that being pregnant messes with my self-image is like saying the Vietnam war was a little skirmish.  It is so hard to adjust how I think/feel about how I look.  Sometimes I'm perfectly okay with my growing belly (and incredibly awesome boobs....oh TMI...sorry in-laws and 3 male readers...).  Other days, most days actually, I just feel EXTRA LARGE.  And that bothers me.  A lot.  It's a daily mental battle.  Anybody agree??
  2. I don't have funky hair or wild clothes or rockin' tattoos.  I'm used to going about my day just kind of blending in wherever I go.  Pregnancy impedes this, greatly.  People notice.  Everywhere I go I catch somebody looking at me or my belly.  If I have my son James with me, I think that they are judging me for having two kids so close together. 
  3. I frequently think about women who struggle with infertility.  I feel conspicuous with my big ole belly, as I fear it is rubbing it in the faces of women who would love to be pregnant.  
  4. I wonder if this will be my last pregnancy.  Will we have more biological kids after this one?  Will we adopt?  I don't know how to go about making such a decision.  Being "done" seems like a really big deal.  If you're "done", how did you know?
  5. My main pregnancy complaints:  Sleep is elusive.  It's hard to flop from side to side all night long and negotiate all my pillows with every turn.  My fingers are starting to swell.  I wasn't married during my first pregnancy, so wearing rings or having swollen fingers didn't really impact me.  I didn't experience this with my second pregnancy.  Most days I don't wear any rings because of my fat-paws.  (vet techs will understand this reference)  Carrying James anywhere, for any length of time, completely wears me out (like down the 2 flights of stairs to the car, or worse, from the car up to the apt).  I'm carrying an extra 20+ pounds already.  When I pick him up, that doubles.  I'm really, really itchy.  (mostly my back) The OB doctor and a dermatologist have said it could just be skin changes in pregnancy.  So, I'll keep on scratchin.  Other than that, though, I feel pretty good.  No major (consistent) aches or pains.  I'm still able to do my job, thankfully.  And when I choose to, can help maintain my house.
  6. I think I'm a little more excited to meet this baby than I was last pregnancy.  Not that I wasn't excited last time!  I know now what to expect.  Or at least a rough idea.  I'm excited to see those sweet little fingers and toes and itty bitty soft ears.  I know the newborn phase is brutal, but I also know it won't last forever.  I'm excited to meet this little girl and get to know her.  I've heard people say that before, referring to their unborn children, but I didn't really feel the same way until this pregnancy.  Yay for feeling excited!
  7. At this point in my pregnancy, I frequently care for babies in the Special Care Nursery that are about the same age as my baby. (32 weeks)  It's so bizarre to see/touch/hold/care for a tiny baby and think "Wait, that's about how big my baby is in my belly..."  Crazy.
  8. On a work-related note, I have to fight fear on a daily basis.  What I see at my job is pregnancy/labor/delivery NOT going how people thought it would.  The baby is born weeks early.  The baby is born on time, but experiences unexpected complications.  If I'm not careful, I'm quickly consumed by fear.  Fear of going into preterm labor.  Fear of having a preemie.  Fear of having a term baby that gets sick.  Fear of having a c-section.  How do I combat the fear?  I have prayed 2 Timothy 1:7 over and over and over again:  "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind."  
  9. Scott and I are trying to make some significant housing decisions in the next couple of months.  Our options:  sign a new lease for our current apartment, move within our apartment complex, or move somewhere outside of this complex.  Our lease is up November 30th.  I'm due November 4th.  I feel apprehensive about moving 9 months pregnant or with a newborn....UGH.  Please let me know if you've done either one.  Tell me you lived through it and it can be done.
  10. Poor James.  He has NO idea how his world is about to be rocked.  We talk about his baby sister in my belly, but I know he doesn't understand.  Well, BELLY he understands.  He usually follows that word with a *patpatpat* either on his belly or mine.
    Unrelated to pregnancy, just an update:  We decided to go ahead and schedule James' tongue-thingy-removal-surgery for September 28th.  Prayers welcome!!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read my post about it here.  

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Dear Nursing School Student

    'Tis the season to go back to school!  Whether you are still taking pre-reqs to get into nursing school or have already negotiated the labyrinth of nursing school admission and are now a bona fide student, this post is for you.

    Hang in there.  YOU CAN DO THIS.

    Getting in and successfully completing nursing school is a ridiculously complex process.

    • Pre-requisite classes to make A's in.
    • Financial aid to procure.
    • Background checks.
    • Immunizations to get updated.
    • CPR certifications to maintain.
    • Silly forms to fill out, the list of which seems to change minute by minute (or at least semester by semester) and nobody really knows for sure the comprehensive list of said nebulous forms.

    I was naive going into nursing school.  I arrogantly thought, "I have a four year degree already, I can get a two-year degree--no problem."  Nursing school helps curb arrogance, by the way.  Yes, there were some things about going back to school for the second time (as a 26 year old) that made it easier than the first time around (as an 18 year old).  For example, I was (a little) better at time management the second time around.  But my Associate's Degree of Nursing from Wake Tech Community College was way, way harder than my Bachelor's of Animal Science from N.C. State.  Part of the challenge of my second degree was that I cared a whole lot more about doing well in my classes than I did while a student at NCSU.  It is, in fact, harder to make As than it is to make Bs and Cs.  I slacked my way through the academic portion of my Wolfpack days.  I'm not proud of that fact, but I can't change it now.  I decided before nursing school that I would never again half-ass my way through school.

    You have to decide how badly you want this nursing degree.  There will be many occasions before, during, and even after school when you start working when you will question whether or not this was a good idea.  Some of you will decide it's not for you.  For some of you, your instructors will try to decide FOR you that nursing school isn't for you.  If you want it, though, you'll have to fight for it.  You'll have to prove to yourself, to that clinical instructor that has you in her cross-hairs, to the preceptor that's bitter about her job and taking it out on you, to your family that thinks you've fallen off the face of the Earth, that YOU CAN DO THIS.  

    I have a soft spot in my heart for you nursing students.  I want you to know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  You will survive.  You will eventually get to sign your name with ", RN".  (which you may do on credit card receipts too, however unnecessary.)

    Don't give up.

    Hang in there.  YOU CAN DO THIS.

    Thoughts from some of my fellow nursing school buddies:

    "When you FINALLY graduate, pass the boards and get a still feel like you don't know ANYTHING!!!  However, that first paycheck was awesome!  Finally getting paid to do the same work we'd been doing for free for so long!" - Happy-to-be-done-with-school-Heather

    "Oh Lord...I blocked all of that out of my memory!!! I don't remember any of those things we had to do." - Selective-Amnesia-Sarah

    "Trying to find out HOW to register for NCLEX...having to go downtown to get finger printed, trying to find a parking space, sending in all the right forms, trying to follow through on everything... I am glad that part of our lives is OVER!! After school? Having to sit through the boring orientation about the "wake way" (or, I am sure.. the 'Rex Way") and having to fill out MORE forms to get a badge, use your badge at the cafeteria, get entered in the pyxis, etc. etc. Forms, forms, forms!!!" -Juli-no-E

    "Signing up for the NCLEX with the Person Vue folks only after you have graduated school and then having to trust that your school has done their part to ensure that you did, indeed, graduate from school and are eligible to take the NCLEX. And lets not forget the agonizing wait for the ATT (Authorization to Test) so that we can even sign up for a NCLEX test site in the first place." -Guys-can-be-nurses-too-Tony

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Open Adoption

    What were your reasons for choosing open adoption?

    From the moment I found out I was pregnant in 2003, I considered adoption.  I didn't know what all that meant.  What I did know is that I wasn't in a place emotionally, mentally, or financially to raise a child the way I felt the child deserved to be raised.  

    I met with some birthmother counselors from a couple of adoption agencies to talk about the very, very beginning of the adoption process.  I walked into those appointments thinking "This is going to be hard to talk about."  I walked out of those appointments thinking "This is going to be so much harder than I ever thought."  The thought of going through a whole pregnancy, labor, and delivery and NOT keeping the "prize" (ie, the child) in the end seemed counterintuitive.  The thought of being a single mom overwhelmed me, too.  I didn't like my options, but I had to choose.  

    As the pregnancy progressed and I made some decisions (like moving home) to help ease the stress of my situation, I had more time and mental space (or "bandwidth", to use a corporate term) to consider my decision.  I talked to single moms.  I talked to birthmothers.  I prayed.  A lot.  

    Roughly eight weeks before Chloe was born, I made my decision final.  I was placing this child for adoption to give her the best chance at life that I could give her.  The agency I was working with (Bethany Christian Services) started pulling adoptive parent profiles for me to look through.  I told them my criteria:  out of state, ideally a biracial couple, or if it was a white couple I hoped that they already had another adopted biracial child in their home.  I hoped to stay in touch through the agency, getting pictures and updates sent to me via BCS, but no direct contact between me and the parents. (semi-open adoption)  I flipped through a few parent profiles, but had no idea how to make a decision for this child growing in me.

    Meanwhile, several couples at my parents' church had approached my parents saying they would be interested in adopting my baby.  I had ruled out all of those people because they were "too close to home".  I thought it would be too hard to have her so close to me and my family.  But then, my heart shifted.  I kept coming back in my mind to this one couple my parents knew.  The parents were biracial (Puerto Rican/Cuban/American) AND they had an adopted son who was biracial.  I kept looking through parent profiles at the agency, but I realized I was measuring everyone against this couple from church.  

    The problem was I didn't know how to find out more about them without dragging them through a potential emotional roller coaster.  They didn't have a parent profile book I could thumb through at the agency.  They had a young son (14 months old).  Were they even interested in adopting again so quickly after their first child?  How would they feel about both of our families being in such proximity at the church?  How could I get answers to these questions?  What if I didn't want to choose them in the end?  Would that be heart-breaking to them?

    The solution?  Pastor Lynton Turkington played middle man for me.  He called Melissa and Alvin and asked them my first question, without revealing to them it was me asking:  Are you interested in adopting again, soon?  After they said yes, they were interested, he told them who I was and asked my second question:  How do you feel about the proximity of both of our families in this church?  Do you foresee that being a problem?  Too close for comfort?  To which they answered "No problem.  We'll just figure it out as we go along."  (They are very laid back, easy-going of the many things I love about them.)  

    My heart had done such a 180 degree turn.  I went from wanting her out of state, staying in touch through a third party (the agency), to wanting her as close as possible.  If I was not in a place to raise her myself, I wanted to be able to see her and hold her and hear about her and watch her grow.  I figured it might be painful, to see her and have her so close.  But I chose that pain over the pain of never getting to see her or interact with her.  

    Melissa, Alvin, their son Shiloh and I met for the first time over dinner at an Olive Garden.  I remember Alvin asking me about timing. 

    Alvin:  "So, how long are we talking here, until she's born?"  

    Me: "Three to six weeks." (I was 34 weeks pregnant at the time.)

    Alvin:  "Woah..."

    Me: "Yeah..."

    Can you imagine getting six weeks notice that you were going to have another baby?? Holy moly...

    So that is how I chose open adoption.  It just sort of evolved into that as I went through my decision making process.  

    And Melissa, Alvin, and I have done just as we said we would.  We've figured things out as we've gone along.  There are times when it's bittersweet to see Chloe.  But I would rather experience that bittersweetness and get to see her than the alternative...

    *I'm linking up with Open Adoption Bloggers for their roundtable discussion.

    Other posts from me about adoption:


    Grandparents and Adoption