Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hey blog

Long time, no blog.

It's been a busy year. Oscar is almost 14 months, crawling everywhere, standing everywhere, scared to walk. He eats anything and everything, usually, and is eating a ton. He's still a tiny guy. It's fun to watch this tiny little dude do all these big kid things. Plus he is the perfect size for holding.

Everyone says, "It's different when it's your own baby." Everyone is right. All those times I'd babysit as a kid and couldn't wait for the parents to get home, I don't really feel any of that with Oscar. I mean, sometimes I look forward to Jeff getting home, but mostly so we are all home together.

Adjusting to motherhood was really difficult for me. I fell into patterns of crippling anxiety, couldn't sleep, and ended up getting on meds. It was the right decision for me. Within days, I felt almost like myself again. I'll start weaning off of them soon. I hope it goes well.

I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned since becoming a mother is to accept myself for who I am and focus on what is truly important. There are times I really don't want to do all the mom stuff, and that's okay. I weigh more right now than I have, perhaps ever, and that's okay. I'm not perfect, and I don't really try to be, but I do my best and accept that as enough.

I feel the urge to post again today. Something has been on my mind a lot lately.

I've had a good number of friends leave the LDS church in the past few years; or, if they haven't left, they are deeply conflicted by their membership in the church.

I get it. I am young women's president in my ward. I hate that anytime babysitting is needed, the young women are immediately volunteered by our Relief Society president. I hate that the Boy Scout budget is bigger than ours. I hate that church is the one place in my girls' lives where they will be told they can't do something a boy can do. I understand why, but I still don't like it.

I also don't like that the children of gay parents can't be baptized. I've thought about this in many different ways, from many different aspects. In some situations I can see how it would cause the child to be in conflict with his or her parents, and that it could create tension and discord in the home. I am not in favor of that. But overall, I am not at peace with the policy, I do not like it, and I mourn with those who are affected by it. I am sorry you are hurting.

What I do like are the doctrines of the church. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my Heavenly Parents. I love the light of the gospel, the light of the Holy Ghost as He speaks to my soul, and I love serving others.

A few weeks ago, my old journalism professor linked on Facebook to a letter to the editor he'd had published in the Salt Lake Tribune. His letter was about how the Trib unfairly references the LDS church with sarcasm and disdain, even when the church has done something good. I began reading the comments to his letter. One man commented that church members are really good at serving others, but only when they've been asked to do so by a leader.

He is completely accurate in saying that. It's not true of all church members, but it's largely true. We serve when we are asked to. How many of us were doing anything to help refugees before it was asked of us in conference? Jeff and I sent a baby carrier to a group that gives baby carriers to Syrian refugees as they arrive in Greece. But that's all we've done. I hadn't looked into anything local until after this last General Conference. Now our young women are collecting goods to bring to Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, which has been collecting housewares for refugee homes for months. I've decided 2017 is going to be our year of service. Each girl will pick some kind of service they want to do, whether it's for a family, an organization, whatever, and we will all support her in it.

I don't want to be a Christian, let alone a person, who just sits back and waits for opportunities to come to me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My baby boy

Life has sure been crazy these past nine or so months. Oscar came home from the hospital on January 11, yes, the same day David Bowie died. Definitely no coincidence.

Crazy to me how he's grown. He now weighs right around 13 lbs and is almost 24 inches long. He seems huge. I was at my friend's house the other day with her and her 8-lb twins. Oscar looks gigantic compared to them. It's difficult to remember just how small he was, the size of a squirrel at first, maybe even smaller, and then a small puppy, and then a bag of rice, etc. His growth is astounding to me.

Oscar smiles now, he giggles, he holds his head up (for the most part), and sometimes (rarely) he remembers he knows how to roll from tummy to back. He eats a ton, he sleeps through the night, he LOVES being held and being with people.

We've been taking him to church for almost two months, and he does great. He basically sleeps the whole time in our solly baby wrap. If he's not asleep, he is very content to people watch.

Jeff and I are amazed by him, his growth and his health. He is a very healthy boy. Every doctor we've seen has commented on how rare he is, to be born at 26 weeks and have no problems. None at all. His only doctor is his pediatrician. We haven't had to see any specialists since his first month home, before he came off home oxygen.

Some things haven't worked out like we planned. I thought we'd co-sleep, and that was awful for us. I thought we'd nurse, but it was causing me a lot of anxiety to not know how much he was eating (so I'm still pumping, which is another story). I thought I'd never give my baby formula, but like many moms of micro preemies I don't make enough milk for him, and he had tons of formula in the NICU to help him grow. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that life hasn't looked like we'd planned, but it doesn't really matter. We have a healthy, happy, sweet, calm baby boy who loves being alive.

I never knew my heart was capable of this kind of love. But oh, I am so glad it is.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Baby Ward

After being on bedrest in the hospital for a week, Oscar Claude Ward was born at 1 lb 9 oz (710 grams) and was 12 inches long. Oscar is now 17 inches long and weighs 3 lbs 8 oz. He is so cute, is working on a third chin, loves his pacifier, poops a lot, and wants to cuddle all the time. I love Oscar more and more every day. He is the best baby in the whole world and I can't wait to bring him home from the hospital once he's done growing.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Miracle on Lisa Ward Street

Last week I thought twice about something that's happened a fair amount during the bleed portion of my pregnancy, i.e. gushes of fluid. I've never thought much about them; I figured they were part of the bleed rearing its head. But last week as I felt another fluid gush, I thought twice.

I went in for another ultrasound Monday (I'd had one the week prior) and was called Tuesday afternoon saying I needed to come in Wednesday. "It's not an emergency," they said. "So can we talk about it over the phone?" I asked. "No, you need to come in." Blurg.

The next 24 hours were pretty excruciating. Tuesday night I focused on our brand new Drexel Declaration buffet (thank you Craigslist - p.s. this is not our house), and Wednesday I stayed focused at work. I asked God Wednesday morning that he might let my brave women (my spirit world angels) be with me all day, that they might be instructed to whisper kind things to me all day, that they might say things to build my confidence and assurance in the health of my baby.

The drive to the OB's office felt faster than usual. As always, my blood pressure was high. It always is when I go there. Dr. D. saw me right away and launched into it.

Based on Monday's ultrasound, the baby was measuring two weeks behind. Amniotic fluid was low. The placenta is detached in multiple places thanks (no thanks) to the bleed. I took the news calmly. I could feel my brave women with me, helping me. He explained some things; luckily I have researched all the possible side effects of a hematoma, so I was well aware of everything he said. Baby might be in distress and his kidneys might not be functioning well, so his fluid production is lessened, etc. A bunch of hypotheticals.

Dr. D. referred me directly to the perinatologist department at the neighboring hospital for further evaluation. I figured I'd have to wait a week. To my surprise, the office called and said come over now. I hadn't even left Dr. D's parking lot yet.

I was immediately seen by their senior-most sonographer, who has 30 years of experience. She looked at the baby's organs, his limbs, she measured him, she measured his fluid, she measured the bleed, she looked at the placenta. It was a long ultrasound. She updated me on most things as she went. The perinatologist came in to review the report. I didn't know what to expect; I just hoped Dr. D's sonographer (who I love and trust) had been wrong.

She was wrong about a few things. First, baby is measuring right on schedule. He weighs 1 lb 11 oz. His vital organs were all functioning normally, including his kidneys which produce the urine which is amniotic fluid. That said, his fluid is lower than we thought, 6 cm of fluid (normal is 8-18 cm). The cause of that is undetermined. They couldn't find a rupture in the sac membranes. The bleed is now small to medium in size, is inactive, and is located behind the placenta, so the placenta is detached where that bleed is. It's also detached in other places where the bleed once was. She measured my cervix, which had been measuring short for weeks, but she measured it above 3 cm, which is normal.

My baby and I are walking statistic breakers. There's a 1% chance of having a subchorionic bleed, and an even smaller chance of it never going away like mine. There's a 1% chance of detached placenta, about a 5% chance of shortened cervix, a 0% chance of a cervix thickening. Dr. D. told me, reassuringly, that every patient he's had that's had a bleed as large as mine as early as I did in the pregnancy ended up losing their baby. It really is nothing short of a miracle that I still have mine and that he is normal.

I felt my brave women with me all day and all through my appointments. People often look at me like I'm crazy when they ask about my pregnancy and I tell them all these horrible things. They are indeed horrible things, and I should be a basket of nerves and tears. But I'm not. I know this baby will be okay. I am learning so much more about the Lord's love, the Atonement, and how they apply to all the things we go through in life. I've wondered, How does Christ even understand what I'm going through now? He has never carried a child. But, Christ has given life to the dead. He experienced the same worries and fears and uncertainty that I am experiencing now. He can empathize with me, and that is enough for Him to know how to succor me. He has sent my brave women to me to succor me. I have been told they know what I am going through and they know how to help me. I have felt their healing hands upon me and know they are there for me when I call upon them. I love them, my brave women.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Brave Women

No one ever told me pregnancy could have this man ups and downs. This pregnancy has caused its fair share of worry.

Yesterday at work I started cramping and bleeding. After about two hours of that, I ended up passing a huge blood clot, about 7 cm x 5 cm. Like I said, huge. And disgusting. And eerily cool. I stopped by my midwife's office to check on the baby, just in case, and it was there in all it's 158 bpm glory. Go Baby Ward!

The cramping continued into the evening when I passed another large clot, though smaller than the morning's clot, and then two more quarter-sized clots an hour later. If you've never passed a blood clot through your lady parts (if you have those), it is a very weird sensation, like a ball sliding out of a tube. Passing it doesn't hurt, but trying

The cramping and bleeding continued well into the night. As I laid down to sleep, I realized the cramping was coming and going. I soon clued into the fact that I was having contractions. Strong ones. I don't know how they compare to labor contractions, but these were strong. Enough to reduce me to tears a few times. I breathed through them, using my yoga breathing to inhale the pain and exhale it out. Thank heaven that worked. I frequently got up to pee and pass more blood. Around 1 am I couldn't take the pain anymore. I hadn't slept a wink and neither had Jeff. He gave me a blessing and Heavenly Father had one simple thing to tell me: that I was surrounded by brave women who were attending to me in my time of pain of weakness. They were there to calm me and support me through this time. Shortly later I fell asleep between contractions and slept until the sun came up.

My friend Ashley has an ongoing #webravewomen movement. I thought of the brave women in my life who support me in my times of need, and I thought about all the brave women who have given me life. I always think first to my Grandma Betty, who will never be replaced in my heart. She taught me how to unconditionally love and serve. I thought of Great Grandma Marie, who joined the church in St. Louis as a teenager, then raised 13 kids on a farm in Delta, Utah. She would later lose one of them to a horrible tractor accident. Later she developed Lou Gehrig's disease (of ALS Ice Bucket challenge fame...**shudder**), and communicated by blinking her eyes a certain number of times to indicate each letter she wanted to say. I thought of my Great Grandma Rosina, who, with one child out of wedlock, immigrated with her mother from Germany to Utah. She later met my Great Grandpa Walter. They were married and had four more children, one of whom died young. As immigrants, they were usually poor, but they got by. Then one day Great Grandpa Walter didn't come home. For a few days, he didn't come home. Then Great Grandma Rosina saw a notice in the newspaper about a John Doe who'd been hit by a drunk driver and was killed instantly. She knew that man was her husband. She went to morgue where her worst fear was confirmed. Now destitute and with five young children, she moved her family to the wrong side of the tracks. One night the police came and busted up a moonshine racket in the house next door. The police threw crates of moonshine into the streets, the bottles and wooden crates breaking everywhere. Rosina gathered up the wood to create a haphazard wood floor to cover their dirt floor. My Papa Walter used to gather old produce from markets and wander around town trying to sell it in his little wagon, as a five year old boy.

As I lay there in pain, in my comfortable bed, with A/C on, a full bank account, warm blankets, food in my fridge, loving and forlornly helpless husband at my side, I thought about all the brave women in my life who endured so much more with so much less. I love them. I deeply appreciate them. I have gone through a fraction of what they endured. I hope they will teach me to be like them.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

the good news and less good news

The good news is that the ER ultrasound tech and interpreting MD were fools. The baby is right on schedule, maybe even a little ahead! HOORAY! I cried genuine tears of relief and let out a sincere "Praise the Lord" when the ultrasound tech told me that.

The less good news is that the clot is still there, though I've had no symptoms of it in over a week. I did the math, and the clot is basically about half as long as my uterus currently is, I think. That seems pretty good to me. I also learned that the clots aren't necessarily touching the placenta, which is even better. Of that 25% area where the clot is, maybe only 25% of the clot is actually touching the placenta. In other words, a small amount.

Most women with clots, even large ones, go on to have normal and healthy pregnancies.

Thanks to everyone for offering their faith, prayers, and good vibes that Mr. Clot will see himself gone soon.

Thanks to my midwife Holly for texting me all the time, even when it's her day off.

Thanks to Sara V. for giving me more midwife advice and being such a good, supportive friend.

Thanks to Jana N. for telling me success stories about other women who've had large clots and for buying my baby a dress. Even if it's a boy, he will wear it.

Thanks to John Denver and Nick Drake for writing music that helps me stay calm. No one ever told me emotions are so heightened during pregnancy. I haven't felt anxiety, joy, love, and calm like this since I was a teen with out of control hormones. It's actually pretty cool to feel so alive again! But I will be happy when my emotional levels are temperate again after the baby comes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

be patient in thine afflictions

Some people are people of faith, and others aren't. I am a person of faith. Sometimes I need my faith more than other times, but its strength does not waver. I have seen the hand of loving Heavenly Parents, felt the redeeming love and grace of the Savior, and heard the sweet guidance of the Holy Spirit too many times to deny Their existence. This knowledge is the essence of who I am.

Last night I started bleeding, really bleeding, from you know where, with some intense pressure in my lady regions. This wouldn't be an issue except that I'm 16 weeks pregnant (or so I thought. I'll get to that). Anyone knows that bleeding during pregnancy isn't really a good thing. After bleeding nonstop for a good 30 minutes, we hopped in the car on a strangely deserted rainy Houston night to head for the ER.

I was taken back right away. My decision to see a midwife and avoid the hospital was confirmed throughout the night as I was poked, had blood drawn, was hooked up to an IV, had tape ripped off my arm, had to sit in a bed on a puppy pad, and was forced to get the worst of all pokes...a catheter. Thank heaven that was only a 30 second experience (the most miserable 30 seconds in recent memory).

We thought it was a late miscarriage, but right away the ultrasound tech gave us the good news that she found a strong fetal heartbeat, 153 bpm. Later the doctor told us some not as good news. The fetus is measuring 11-12 weeks, not 16. We may have miscalculated the date of conception, or the fetus might just be small, or there might be a problem. The main problem and source of the bleeding is a subchrionic hematoma, a big one at 5 cm. These hematomas are hemorrhages that sit between the placenta and uterus. Usually they clot and go away, if they're small. Big hematomas like mine could also clot (get to work, little blood cells!), or they could cause a placental abruption, or they could cause an all out miscarriage. It's really anyone's guess.

But there were miracles yesterday, creeping up throughout the day. If I was a missionary, I would have been tipped off to the fact that something important was right around the corner, but I just figured I was having a lucky day.

Yesterday morning, the a/c was off in my office building again, which is no big deal (despite the 100 degree heat), so I brought my work home.

Then our company controller called saying the company would possibly be willing to give me a $1,000 monthly stipend so I could get on Jeff's insurance. It would mean we could upgrade off our high deductible plans. Fingers were crossed for this stipend as I called his provider and they verified that the enrollment period was still open.

It was Jeff's first day back at school, and luckily, he decided he wanted to celebrate with a legendary Barnaby's chocolate brownie. Barnaby's is just up the street from our house. And that is when the bleeding started.

Jeff administered a blessing of healing when we got home, and he spoke those sweet words that calm the mind and heal the soul. All will be well, whatever that is, but it will work out for the best. It always does.

By 7:30 am this morning, my boss had approved giving Jeff and I the insurance stipend, thanks in large part to this scare. On our new plan, my prenatal care will be 100% covered. Now, if only I could back date the enrollment date one day... :)

I know my Parents and parents love me and watch over me. I felt my Grandma Betty, my guardian angel, with me through the night. I felt my Papa and my great-grandpas who I've never met help Jeff give me that blessing. I know what I know, and I am so grateful to know it. I feel like the worst isn't over, but if it is, that's fine with me!