March 2, 2016

Beatrice's Birth Story... Part II...

Who knew?

Not me! I thought I wrapped up Bea's birth story in a single post... as it turns out, there is a part II to this good 'ol birth story.

At nearly three months postpartum I realized that I probably should not still be so achy and uncomfortable. I kept brushing it off knowing that I popped a baby out of my hooha and assumed it's likely that some things could still be recovering. However, knowing in my gut that it would be better to get it checked out, I made an appointment.

Here's the thing, I don't know what's normal but at my 6 week and 10 week check up I was never given a physical examination. They asked if I felt good, I said yes, because I thought I did (aches and pains are normal after birthing a babe, right?) and that was that.

So upon this next visit, I obviously insist on a physical exam. Very quickly I am told, "hm, things don't look right." I come to find out that I have granulated scar tissue from stitches. This where I get unsure of things, long story short:

I was first told that they were polyps from layers of skin getting missed when being stitched up.
Then I was told that I was going to need surgery. 
Surgery under general anesthesia (what?!)
Quite shocked, once home I had a million questions (of course).
I called back insisting that I needed more information and I'd like to speak to the doctor. 
The doctor actually called me to chat (that was nice of her).
I asked my long list of questions--a lot of questions. 
But things still seemed a little off to me.
I chatted with my mom and my boss (ha. normal).
With their support, I decided I needed a second opinion.
Got a second opinion.
Was told that my situation was not polyps but granulated scar tissue.
I did indeed need surgery. 

And that's that. I have surgery in about five days. I'm frustrated, annoyed, anxious... but I suppose it's just a part of my birth story and we know how unique those are. 

I want to blame someone (like the resident who stitched me up or the attending who supervised her) but I'm not sure that's the best use of my time. I have other thoughts about alerting the hospital I delivered at that I feel I possibly did not receive the best care... but I'll know more about how I want to proceed once my mom comes to town for my surgery and supports me in my conversations with my doctor. 

So surgery is on the 7th of March (my original return date to work) so now instead I'm planning on being back to work on March 15th. Not only am I anxious about surgery but I'm on an emotional roller coaster of feelings about returning to work and being away from my baby. I knew this would be hard... but this is harddddd. Prayers appreciated!

December 20, 2015

Beatrice's Birth Story

I love a good birth story and now that I have experienced my own, I want to be sure to document the whirlwind of those special few days.

Beatrice Ruth was born on Monday, November 9th at 7:58am, truly the most amazing moment of my life.

That moment was preceded by a couple intense and painful days. On Friday, November 6th I went to work only to find that I really didn't feel great. I had started to experience swelling; swelling in my feet, my hands, my face... my nose and lips even. I decided that I was going to head home and spend some time with my feet up. My mother in law, Mary, had already come to town just a few days prior. Her intentions were to clean, cook and help us organize before the baby arrived, a very welcomed gift!

I can't quite remember what happened on Friday evening, but I believe we all shared a meal and I went to bed early as I normally did during pregnancy. Saturday was an exciting day for me as Matt had gifted me a pedicure. Matt had to work the majority of the afternoon and evening so Mary and I headed to the salon to be pampered. I remember being amazed by the swelling of my feet and legs. I picked a pretty pink color in honor of the little lady who was about to enter our lives. The massage was amazing and I joked with the manicurist that this might put me into labor...

After the pedicure, Mary and I headed to campus to check in on Matt and his event that night. Ironically, this weekend was the university's "Dad's Weekend". Matt and his student organization were hosting a burger buffet dinner. Though neither my mother in law or I were dad's... we hit up the event for a free meal and a visit with Matt since he'd be working past midnight. It was nice to visit with Matt and I showed off my pretty pink toes.

Since Matt would be working late at another student event, Mary and I went home to relax the rest of the night. Around 11:00pm I started getting ready for bed, as I was brushing my teeth and changing into pj's, I felt a strange sensation..."did my water just break?" I went to the bathroom... confused and uncertain. After checking... I was still confused and uncertain, so I headed up to bed. As I laid in bed I texted Matt that I thought my water broke. I tried to stress to him that I really was not sure and it was probably just another odd side effect of pregnancy. I encouraged him not to worry and to stay at work. Meanwhile he had texted his mom that I was upstairs and my water had broken. Around this time I heard a loud yell and my mother in law running up the steps to our bedroom to check on me. I assured her that I was not certain and was probably experiencing normal pregnancy stuff. She agreed, knowing very well that pregnancy provides lots of odd happenings. She headed back downstairs... I turned the lights off and tried to sleep.

15 minutes later...Matt was home. I was a bit upset with him that he left work for this. Nothing was certain and I planned on just going to bed. Though I continued to insist that nothing was happening, deep down I knew better. About an hour later I started timing contractions. 4-6 mins apart, lasting a minute long. I decided to sleep. Matt agreed and he fell soundly asleep. I spent the rest of the night drifting in and out of sleep, occasionally timing contractions. By 4:00am Matt was up with me, timing contractions and talking me through each one. Things were starting to really hurt and I slowly began to admit to myself that I was going to be enduring back labor. The dreaded back labor.

With my contractions increasing in timing, Matt was getting anxious. Considering how uncertain I had been about everything, I tried to postpone the idea of heading to the hospital. Matt didn't like this idea and at around 6:30am on Sunday, November 8th we headed to labor and delivery. Once at the hospital they hooked me up to all the monitors and checked for dilation. Weeks prior I had already been 75% effaced, so the doctors were looking for some sort of progress beyond that. They noted that my water had not broken and I was only dilated to one cm, but continued to thin. As I'm sure most laboring women think when they hear this sort or news... "How in the heck have I endured so much pain and not dilated more?".

39.2 weeks. Saturday morning I took this selfie before we headed to the hospital (the first time). I was already experiencing painful contractions, but clearly I still had the ability to smile. 
The nurses had me walk the halls for another hour and would check me again. The hall walking was pretty miserable--every few minutes I would stop and hang on the handrail of the hall. Matt was right by my side, stopping when I did, to gently hold me. I was checked again only to show no progress. We were sent home.

The rest of the day is a major blur. There was not a thing that left me feeling comfortable. I tried to sleep, catching bits of rest. I walked the house, stretched my back on the yoga ball, and took a stroll through the neighborhood with Matt, Mary and my mom (we had alerted my mom to impending labor early that morning. Her and dad hit the road right away and were in Athens with plenty of time to be a part of my laboring at home). Just recently I had to be reminded that we all walked the neighbor on that Sunday. I barely remember it as the pain was beginning to blur all reality. During that walk I hung on Matt for every contraction and prayed that each passing pain was progressing my body in labor.

A bit later at home I tried to eat something as I knew it had been a long while since I ate and would be limited to what I could eat once at the hospital. After a few bites of chicken noodle soup I knew I was in trouble. I darted to the bathroom and just missed the toilet. Poor Matt was stuck cleaning.

Back at home I labored for hours. I tried to find something that was comfortable. Sitting, using the yoga ball, a heating pad on my back, pacing-- nothing seemed to provide any sort of relief. 

As you can see here I was not thrilled with my mom taking pictures of me. I felt so miserable and even felt a bit scared at not knowing how much longer I'd be enduring this crazy back labor. 
I was in full blown labor... dreading each contraction and now experiencing nausea (my all too familiar pregnancy friend). I tried hard to think back to our lamaze classes... incorporating different methods to ease the discomfort. I started thinking long and hard about the evening and night ahead. I asked myself if I would be able to get through another 8+ hours at home (wanting to get through the night & hit up L&D in the morning) and knew that would be impossible. As we all sat in the living room and I paced our tiny house, I shared that I thought we needed to head back to the hospital. This was hard for me to admit because the last thing I wanted was to go back to the hospital and have them tell us to go home, yet again.

We all loaded up and headed back to L&D at around 7:30pm. I was hooked back up and checked for progress, I had dilated to 3cm and was fully effaced. Progress was happening! No news had ever sounded better. They agreed to admit me and started preparing a room. Now, one thing I learned quite quickly is that everything takes forever in a hospital, Bah! And when you are laboring and feeling significantly uncomfortable in the triage room everything. takes. forever. As the labor pains increased, I began shaking. My body would not and could not stop shaking. This alone was exhausting.

In triage on the L&D floor. You can see me holding my back--ouch.
It was then that the doctor came in and asked if I'd be wanting an epidural. Before I could fully process the question I said, "Yes!". Now I will note, I really wanted to attempt a non-medicated birth. But I will also say that I never ruled out the idea of an epidural. Being that I never fully committed to a non-medicated birth prior to labor.. I didn't have much motivation not to get an epidural. My half-hearted commitment to a non-medicated birth in combination with the back labor... that epidural sounded like the most amazing gift ever invented.

Over the next few hours I continued to endure each and every back contraction. Ouch. They got me set up in a labor and delivery room; my mom, Matt and Mary all joined me. Everyone took their respective spots, Matt in a lounge chair next to me, mom in a chair on the other side and Mary at the far end of the room in a chair/bed. These hours were quite blurry as I still had not received the epidural. So many things had to be done before the topic of the epidural ever came up again (where is this dang epidural?!). So much 'paper work' was being done on the mobile computer, consisting of a million little questions that I had already answered earlier that morning. What medication was on? family history?.... it went on and I tried to answer questions in-between contractions.

Still waiting on that epidural and the nausea became quite persistent

The doctor came back around and checked me again to announce that I was now 5cm dilated. In my blurry state my ears perked as I heard her mention that the anesthesiologist had been called and should be in soon. It was 10:30pm when my family was asked to leave the L&D room so the anesthesiologist could work her magic. Her name was Faith. She was the nicest women with the sweetest British accent. I was nervous, simply because of everything I have ever heard about remaining still during the placement of the epidural, but Faith and the nurse put me at ease. The nurse held me while Faith placed the needle, I alerted them when the next contraction was starting and the process froze until it had passed. By 10:47pm I was already feeling the affects of the epidural. My family had returned to the room and I was relishing in the relief I was feeling. At this point I had been in labor for nearly 24hrs and    welcomed the releif. I was back. I became much more aware of my reality, I even smiled and laughed. Labor became a very different experience, quite quickly.

Finally prepping for the epidural

Faith, working her magic
Epidural in and feeling relief 
Once the epidural was in, the doctor returned to break my waters. With the epidural in and my waters broken, my nurse suggested that we all rest up. My body still shook quite violently. My legs stopped the constant shake (thanks to the glory of the epidural), but my upper half continued to move in rhythm. I tried hard to sleep, getting moments of rest only to wake up from my shaking again. The nurse occasionally popped in to check my blood pressure and the monitor on the baby. This routine continued for a few more hours. At some point I started to feel my pesky acid reflux flair up and I began throwing up. I remember thinking how diligent pregnancy heart burn is... even in it's final moments. I wanted nothing more that to drink a big tall glass of water...which my nurse prevented me from doing. Even my sips of water or the few ice chips I sucked on caused me to throw up.

At around 5:00am I was checked again for dilation... I had hit 9cm and the nurse started prepping for pushing. I remember thinking how quickly this seemed to happen. I was surprised by the progression my body was making and in disbelief that I was headed into the pushing part of labor. The doctors mentioned how great it was that I was having a spontaneous labor--meaning there was no need for Pitocin, it simply was Bea's time to come. My nurse talked me through how to push and just as quickly I started to do so. At this time the room was quiet and just one nurse talked me through each push on each contraction. Every so often the doctor popped back in to check my progress and talk me through another push. I remember being complimented on how well I pushed. This was the second compliment of my labor, the first came from Faith who mentioned what a beautiful back I had. Silly as it sounds, both things gave me confidence. With each push I knew we were that much closer to meeting our baby. As I neared two hours of pushing we approached my last few pushes. The doctor mentioned how close I was, which only motivated me more. With one more large push I was able to get Bea's head around my pelvic bone. The nurses and doctors insisted that I feel her head as it had made it's appearance. She had so much hair, something the medical staff could not stop talking about. It was on that next contraction that approached quite quickly from the last, that I knew she was coming. The nurses and doctors asked that I breath through the contraction and not push as they were not quite ready--a task that was simply impossible to do.

As the doctors (an attending doctor, a resident and a third year student) and nurses (my nurse, the baby nurse) scurried to get their gowns on, I pushed Beatrice out. There was no breathing through the intense need to push... and in that moment I met Bea. Born at 7:58am on Monday, November 9th, 2015.

Skin to skin happened immediately and was quickly followed by Bea's first latch to my breast. Though we knew that she had had a bowl movement in utero, she came out clean and with little to no meconium in her lungs, allowing for the skin to skin time I was hoping for. She was simply perfect.

The next hour or so was a blur of excitement and disbelief at what had just occurred. Our baby was here. The attending doctor and his resident spent the majority of the hour repairing the aftermath of my vaginal delivery. It was then that I learned that I had torn quite significantly and was in the process of loosing nearly three liters of blood. It was not until a few hours later and in the following days that I would learn the reality of a second degree tear and significant blood loss. Postpartum recovery is no joke,

The rest of our stay in the hospital was quite nice. I was regularly monitored for blood loss and the idea of a blood transfusion was suggested, yet was never needed. Matt and I oogled our baby as we spent time visiting with our parents. Matt thoroughly enjoyed the unlimited food service while I indulged in many orange sherbets. Our birth story truly was a blessing.

We were released on Wednesday to head home--a family of three.

February 5, 2015

Celebrating Grandma, Everyday

On January 28th we celebrated grandma's birthday. Following recent events that included emergency gallbladder surgery and an unforeseen blood clot causing a stroke... I came up with the following words:

It’s hard for me, as it is for anyone who knows grandma, that she had such a successful gallbladder surgery and yet a complication from a blood clot has caused our happy, outspoken and tech savvy grandma to be in the fight of her life. It doesn’t seem fair, and I’ve tried to find people to blame, but the reality is, this is a low…in a life full of incredible ‘ups’ and occasional ‘downs’.

Greif is not a friend, but a necessary process. And as I journey from shock to blame and settle into sadness, I’m able to say that hope has clung to me. Not all things can be understood today or even tomorrow, but knowing that God never allows tragedy to happen without hope for something brighter, I’m going to nestle right into that bright, warm and sunny place of peace.

We may not know the road grandma has in front of her, but with hope as a constant side-kick, it will be faithful and telling of God's grace and His limitless abilities. God’s not done working on her or through her, and I’m just beyond happy that today we celebrate grandma, we celebrate all of her years, the hard ones, the sad ones, the happy ones and this one, the one that holds immense Hope.

I love my gram and if you wouldn’t mind sending more thoughts and prayers her way on this special birthday, we could not be more thankful!

Think she'll let me borrow her leopard hat?


January 12, 2015

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget that I take daily medication for a thyroid disease. Even more times I forget that I have a failing thyroid. Having an autoimmune disease can mean a million and one different things for a million and one different people. For many it's a chronic state of pain and discomfort, and yet others never experience a single symptom.

I fall somewhere in between the two. And it all depends on the day. Autoimmune diseases suck, but I am very aware that what I endure and what alters my life could be so much worse, I really don't have it all that bad. I can get out of bed in the morning. I can go to work and I can live a mostly normal life.

So most days I forget I have a dying thyroid. But when I got a phone call last week from the doctor (endocrinologist) himself, I was reminded that my thyroid continues to suck and that it's doing a really great job at not doing its job.

All this to say, I see my specialist 2-4 times a year. I do blood work every 3 months, and I get an ultra sound or two a year. My most recent ultra sound revealed that a nodule on my thyroid is growing. Once they get a certain size, the doctor becomes concerned. I've had a concerning nodule before, and from that I had a biopsy of the tumor. The biopsy came back inconclusive and yet un-alarming. So with that... we moved on. But here I am again waiting to hear what the doc would like to do.

I had more blood work done today and he will be getting back to me with what he would like to do. I'm guessing not much...? He'll probably increase my medication and worst case scenario he'll ask for another biopsy.

So it's not all bad and terrible. And I'm not 'sick'. It's just that this thing I have, this autoimmune disease... it's not going anywhere. It persists. My body thinks my thyroid is the enemy so it's working really hard to kill it. Some days I feel good, some days I'm extra tired, achy, foggy or anxiety filled. But most days I'm good. 

It just goes to show how truly blessed I am. If this is my battle, I can fight it. There is so much worse out there. There are much larger burdens to bear. So this is my version of thyroid disease. It's not an issue until it is. It's not a bother, until it makes me sick. It's not in the forefront of my mind until it needs to be.

So this week I'm waiting to hear from my doctor.

If you or someone you know endures a thyroid disorder, I hope you don't feel alone. It's one of these diseases that doesn't get a ton of the research funding, doctors don't always stay up to date on what research there is, and many times it's treated by looking at the blood work numbers as opposed to asking the patient how they are feeling. All this makes it a frustrating and often lonely place to be. But you are not alone! Don't hesitate to contact me if you ever need to chat.

And if you're new to reading my blog, I've talked about my thyroid before and how it relates to anxiety and that last time I had a biopsy which revealed good results. :)

December 24, 2014

The Happiest

Thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with both of our families! We wish you the happiest holiday!

December 14, 2014

when it all pays off

When it all pays off
Not long ago I started my first job ever. Maybe I was 13? I assisted the community art coordinator with the instruction of art to elementary aged students over summer break. We called it Art in the Park; a joy of a job, and a fantastic first.

Somewhere between Art in the Park and today, I’ve accumulated something I think we call a work ethic. I’m not sure if it was my time spent planting seeds at a greenhouse, doing chores for senior citizens, folding thousands of t-shirts for a store or scrubbing toilets… but I’m here in this place, this place of new fronts. A place that allows me to be thankful for my time spent doing odd jobs for the sake of building a strong work ethic.
If you had asked Matt and me five years ago what life would look like in five years… it wouldn’t have looked like this.
There’s no denying that the opportunities that have been presented to me are ones of advantage. I know I’m fortunate and I know the experiences offered are ones of fortune. But intertwined amongst those great fortunes have been hard work, diligence and a tiny bit of sacrifice.
This path that I’m on has all the same destinations that I wanted five years ago, some probably dating back even longer ago… desires of the heart impressed onto me even as a little girl. It’s just that the distance amongst each destination had many more miles to travel than what could have been seen by the eye. It took enduring the journey to recognize that the eye can play tricks on you.
Matt and I still look ahead to many of those exciting destinations and now know better than ever that the wait is worth it, and anticipation has the power to create some of the happiest feelings.
So maybe I would have loved a full time professional job straight out of undergrad, and maybe I would have enjoyed not having to move fours hours from home, but then all of this, all that we’ve worked so hard for never would have been a thing. And looking back, I’m just not sure the "easy way" was ever the best way.
New fronts are happening.

I assure you scrubbing toilets, scrapping plates and planting seeds: pays off.
Taking risks, moving away from home and going back to school: that pays off too.
Waiting patiently, executing the work in front of you and believing in yourself: yep… that's totally worth it.

August 24, 2014

Call Me Katie

How can summer almost be over?

I can't face this fact. I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough... I didn't take full advantage of the months that I crave all year long.

But here I am, the day before fall semester starts. Tomorrow I start the semester by teaching three courses. I better be ready, because there is really no other option. They better just call me Katie.

In other exciting news, which also makes three courses feel like a lot, I was recently hired as the Coordinator for First Generation Students at Ohio University. I think I'll be busy this fall, and I am extremely happy about this sort of busy! I love college students and I can't wait to start being a part of their experience!

And yet I'm also still keeping busy with my photography. Several weddings and family sessions and senior shoots...

Matt and I sure like to stay busy. Not sure we know any other way to do life.

Here I am, about to be 28, doing lots of things I love. Living in a home I love, in a town we love. It's all shaping up. So I thought we deserved 'this' in year one of marriage (silly me).... ohhh if only we knew back then what we know now. Hard work, moving across the state, time, patience.... it all makes sense now. To be in a place that feels right, at least for today. That's a great place to be in; that's a great feeling.

Right now feels nice.

This weekend also marks our one year adoption anniversary of our pup Gouda. One year with this ornery booger. Not sure if "puppy Gouda" or "toddler Gouda" is easier, but I sure am glad to have him around, and if anything is going to make me frustrated, I don't mind it being his cute face. And he can't be a toddler forever... right? Right??

Tomorrow I become an adjunct college instructor. Shoot.