Pregnancy woes, nursery wins, and a tiny savage witnessing it all

So, last week we had our regular OB appointment on Tuesday followed by the fetal echo on Wednesday. The OB appointment went well, the fetal echo was kinda crappy. First off, I just hate ultrasounds at this point. They are uncomfortable, frustrating, and generally open more questions than provide answers. Wednesday’s appointment was no different. They looked over the heart and determined that the pulmonary artery WAS in fact bifurcated and that the rest of the heart structures looked “normal,” BUT that the pulmonary artery was slightly dilated before the bifurcation, there was mild to moderate leakage from the artery, and the ductus arteriosus “appeared torturous.”

So what does this mean?

“We will follow up to see if it resolves.” “Yeah, but what if it doesn’t?” “We will follow up after birth.” “And then? Are we looking at surgery?” “Unlikely.” “Sooo, what will we be doing, then?” “Continuing to monitor. It may be idiopathic and fine.” “But if it isn’t?” “We will monitor for signs of any issues.” Okay at this point I nearly punched the woman. Answer the question and quit being vague. If you’re a big enough physician to say ‘There’s a potential problem,’ then you damn well better be ready to explain. Finally, I said, “WHAT WOULD CAUSE THIS THAT HAS YOU SO WORRIED?” “It is probably idiopathic and will resolve on it’s own.” At this point I give her a death glare and use my scary voice, “What. Could. Be. Causing. This??” “Um. It could be a sign of a connective tissue disorder. But that’s rare. See you in 4 weeks.” Yeah, I pretty much loathed that cardiologist because she ignored me the entire scan, then provided a craptastic explanation of what she saw and what it meant. Basically, she provided zero concrete information, yet she flooded us with new worries. I will not be following up with her in four weeks. Or ever because I hate the air she breathes.

To say I hate appointments and pregnancy is like the understatement of my life. It is miserable. I have been officially diagnosed with polyhydramnios. My fluid levels are now straddling the line between mild and moderate poly. I cannot breathe even a little bit unless I sit straight up. I no longer sleep and eating or drinking anything makes it even more difficult to breathe. Imagine cutting the amount of lung space you generally have in half. Now, for funsies, half it again.  That’s what I’m dealing with, and it totally blows. It also causes a lot of pain. Not normal late pregnancy pain. Like major ascites kind of visceral pain. I ended up in the hospital this past weekend because I could not breathe and could not walk. I literally hobbled out of work on Thursday because I was contracting so badly. This too is due to the excess fluid. My body is all “WTF man, I can’t handle this fluid.” I got admitted to L&D, and got the full pre-term workup: hydration, pain meds, magnesium drip (satan’s infusion), and labs. Now I’m fine, Clark’s fine, but I won’t say that it’s been such an awesome ride, because it’s actually been total shit.

Moving on to lighter and brighter!

I do not have gestational diabetes! Woo! That is one positive thing. Another is that Clark’s nursery has taken off as of late and is looking more and more perfect.  I despise themes, and his nursery is basically a smorgasbord of boy like Darcy’s was a smorgasbord of girl. The walls are a really light blue yet still neutral-ish. His crib skirt is navy/cream mattress ticking, and there’s a big cowhide rug on the floor. I also really like mammoths and moose, so he has big stuffed versions of both on his bookshelf.

We moved all of the nursery furniture out of Darcy’s nursery and into Clark’s with the exception of the crib. We are going to transition her in the next couple of weeks to her big girl bed! It’s pretty precious and is already in her room. She thinks it’s a trampoline and will likely knock her teeth out jumping on it. She’s unconcerned and unreasonable though, so I’m not wasting too much worry over it.  She has had this recent language explosion. Her most recent additions to her vocabulary include, “It my!” (It’s mine), “Buh-bay” (baby), “Peese” (Please), “Heyyyy” (self-explanatory), and “Key” so that she can set off the panic alarms on our cars from the kitchen while playing with said key. She also becomes a total savage when we “force” her to leave any activity she wants to continue. A real-life screaming, hitting, BITING, savage. Since I can’t really pick her up much right now (seriously, it’s sad), Ben has been on the receiving end and it’s comical. We obviously don’t laugh about it in front of her, and out in the public it’s pretty embarrassing, but come on. She’s 18 months old, and is basically still an animal with animal instincts. She’ll outgrow it. I just hope she does before I’m the one manhandling her.

Ben and I are trucking along. School is hard for both of us, and I am less motivated than most at this juncture. Just trying to stick it out for another month and a half. Ben is getting ready to go to out of the country this weekend, so I’m a little concerned about dealing with Darcy by myself: just the general lifting and chasing because of contractions and inability to breathe and all that. We’ll manage fine though, that little tyrant and I. She’s my girl and gives me many kisses–and tells her daddy “No!” almost every time he asks haha! She’s a funny one, that girl. I haven’t ordered a Halloween costume for the Darce-bird either. I don’t know that I will. It seems like too much effort, and I need to focus my energies on breathing, so I don’t die to death while attempting to sleep.

Anywho, I hope this look into my life hasn’t seemed too dismal. I’m 30 weeks pregnant, so not much longer until I meet my sweet little Clark. That is the good stuff. Pregnancy may totally suck, but my new baby will be worth it all. I cannot wait to meet him and kiss his little face. Maybe Darcy will be more forthcoming with kisses for Clark than she is for kisses with daddy. Then again, Clark probably won’t be sporting the facial hair her daddy does. I’m rambling. Carry on good people. God is good in all circumstances. Love to all.



“It’s not supposed to be this way…right??”

What does it mean to you when your world gets rocked? How do you react? Are you angry? Devastated? Maybe just numb? You could even be like me and experience all of those big feelings in a predictable, repetitive, and exhausting movie reel. Up until recently, I’ve had three such occasions where the floor has lurched beneath my feet, and I’ve fallen on my face. You know, the situation or moment where the image of life as you had planned it is irrevocably blown into ash. Whether or not I directly influenced these world-rocking experiences, I thought I was as low as I could possibly go each time they occurred. And yet, each experience has brought me lower still.

When I was young, I was very much in love with a boy until I wasn’t. Telling him I didn’t love him anymore, and I couldn’t marry him was the hardest thing I had done in my life at that point. Like any decision you make in life, it causes ripples and the effects were felt for months. Cold shoulders, hurtful gossip, and some really awkward encounters in my small town were a few of the mainstays for the months to come. During that period, I felt lonely and abandoned by friends and family alike. It was the most alone I had felt in my life. I thought I would rather disappear than keep going, and I naively thought that it was probably the worst thing that would happen to me. Yeah, I was 21 and knew nothing.

We had a perfect ultrasound at 8 weeks. The doctor told Ben and me that the baby looked amazing, and that we should tell our family and friends the great news. “After seeing a healthy heartbeat on ultrasound, the chance of miscarriage is only 1-3%.” We told our families. And then, four weeks later after our next appointment, we had to un-tell them because during that ultrasound my doctor said, “I’m so sorry, dear. I just don’t see a heartbeat. There is no heartbeat.” For unknown reasons, our baby died, and my body hadn’t realized it yet. I was still sick and throwing up because my body was supporting a baby that had died 2 weeks earlier. It could be another month before my body caught up with what we already knew; our baby was long gone. I remember being aware of a strange high-pitched noise. It took me a solid minute before I realized that it was me. I was the thing making the painful noise, because I was in inexplicable pain. We scheduled the procedure for the following morning, and I took a week off of work. The worst of the aftershocks came in the immediate weeks to follow although now and again, I feel the emptiness of that loss almost as acutely as I did that day.

“Her forehead is very prominent, and I feel the ridge you mentioned. We need a stat CT scan.” And there went my “peaceful” introduction to parenthood. Darcy was 5 weeks old, and at her first real well-baby check-up when our pediatrician made the aforementioned statement. She was diagnosed with craniosynostosis less than 2 hours later, and we left the “well-baby” appointment with a new appointment with a neurosurgeon in 2 days time. My beautiful baby girl was going to have her scalp peeled back, skull removed, bones cut into pieces, and then jigsaw-puzzled back together with plates and screws. It was devastating. I, like any new parent, felt like my daughter was beautiful and perfect, and yet I was hearing that her forehead was too prominent, head too narrow, and it was all caused by an eventually brain-damaging birth defect. Unless, that is, she got her skull cut into pieces and put back together in a better, less brain-damaging way.

This isn’t some cutesy post to tell you how much “God grew me through each scenario” and “How grateful I am.” Now, I AM grateful for these experiences, I did experience growth, but if there had been another way, I would have taken it. I would taken that other, easier, gentler way in a heartbeat. I have experienced deep and real and life-changing hurt in my life. Hurting or being hurt by others, experiencing great loss, or being given more than you can possibly handle isn’t some right of passage to get awarded a “Hey! You made it!” medal. I don’t really think God works like that. I do believe that God makes good out of bad. I know God makes good out of bad. I just don’t think he causes the bad. God didn’t turn everyone against me or abandon me. God didn’t take my baby. He didn’t “give” my daughter craniosynostosis, either. But He did bring beauty out of our suffering. He met me in my suffering, and when I felt like my world collapsed around me, He was unchanged. He was still good.

Romans 5:3-5 states, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Now, I straight-up struggle with the “rejoice” part. Maybe when Jesus comes back and I’m all sanctified, I’ll rejoice at my past sufferings. But, I won’t be fully sanctified until Jesus comes back, so for this life-time, I’ll probably just have to be content to struggle with that. Anyway, throughout my life and my “big experiences,” I have grown in perseverance, and character, and hope. I’ve been blessed by such incredible people who have crawled down to my low, crumpled state and just loved me and stayed with me, especially when I felt utterly unlovable and unworthy. I have had the opportunity to offer comfort to other mamas who have experienced loss through miscarriage. I’ve been able to reach out to mamas of craniosynostosis babies and tell them that there is light and life on the other side of that scary diagnosis. It’s a goal of mine to reach and help as many as I can. In fact, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 sums it up rather well, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Because of my suffering, I can be a tool of God to help others who are suffering. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that I too can experience the comfort of those who have battled the “ugly” before I’ve had to. I’m thankful because I’m going to need their comfort in the weeks and months to come. Unfortunately, I’ve been given more than I can handle once again, and once again I’m scared and I’m angry and I’m numb. As you can see, I’m really not all that original in my feelings. One day, I wake up and I’m okayish and I think it will all be okayish. The next day, I’m a rollercoaster of all the big feelings. It’s actually annoying how regular my emotions are. Anyway, we’ve named our baby boy Clark Elliott Rayner. Baby Clark has some issues that have become apparent through our ultrasounds. While we don’t have all the answers yet, he has two ultrasound anomalies that make an underlying chromosomal abnormality more likely than not. Today, our new high-risk physician confirmed the findings; club foot and skull deformity. The skull deformity could be craniosynostosis, or maybe not. Our high risk doctor couldn’t say for sure. I won’t lie. It’s been very, very hard to hear that something is wrong…again. I am prayerful and hopeful that God will heal my baby. I know that He can. But I also know that He may not. He. May. Not. And that’s going to have to be okay. Ben and I have so many things to think about right now, and are learning as much as we can in an effort to anticipate Clark’s medical needs. I will update as I can. Until then, love to all. ❤️ 

The hard stuff is HARD, man. Life in 2017, so far

And why I’m making some changes so the rest of 2017 looks different.

So, the last few months have been HARD. In fact, I talked to one of my very best friends yesterday for 20 minutes, and so much of my bluster just falls away in the first few seconds talking to her because I can tell her anything. She is really a jewel, y’all. We haven’t caught up in a while, but it was refreshing to just say, “Life has sucked, Meg. I’m a mess,” and she’s all “Yeah, I’ve been worrying about you, and here’s my junk, too.” And I am so thankful for friends like that because they are the best. So, in the effort of being transparent without being a total over-sharer, here’s what my life has looked like recently, and why I have made the decisions that I have.

Ever since I started this grad school program, my life has been so rushed and unpleasant. I know that it’s the hard that makes the pay-off great, but I have felt miserable, overwhelmed, and even depressed more times than is healthy. My daughter didn’t even want me to hold her because I was such a stranger to her due to my insane work/study/adult schedule. See, I worked my required three-in-a-row, 12-hour shifts every other weekend, which meant I didn’t see Darcy at all for three solid days. The rest of the week and my weekend “off” I spent immersed in my pharmacology book to cover 16 weeks of material in a 7-week summer school class. Darcy would actually scream when I picked her up, tried to feed her, or god-forbid take her out of daddy’s immediate radius. Consistently she did this. Like for weeks. It was a combination of frustrating and heartbreaking, and it was MY fault. So on top of insane stress, I now could pile up buckets of resentment combined with a nasty dose of guilt.

A change was needed. Because on top of the crap scheduling of 12-hour shifts and working/giving up EVERY OTHER DAMN WEEKEND, working while short-staffed with hard assignments was exhausting. After one shift in particular, I came home and my husband said, “That’s it. You’re done. Apply now.” I did, and now I have my weekdays after 3:30pm, every weekend, every holiday, AND every summer. Thank the LORD! I will miss my awesome coworkers, but I cannot change the fact my husband is in engineering school, that I must work full-time to keep insurance and a paycheck coming in, that I have a busy 16 month old who needs her mama, that I am in grad school, and that I am pregnant. Those things that do add to my overall crazy can’t really change and I wouldn’t want them to (except the school). Lets make that clear. But my job could change and did.

At this point I want to say how THANKFUL I am for my husband. He is under a lot of stress with school, his internship, and being a daddy and husband. He has been a solid rock of amazingness the past few months while I’ve taken on what feels like the world (I’m dramatic, so sue me).

Ben really is amazing, though. He cooks, is an incredible hands-on dad, and he says really sexy things like, “Good morning, beautiful. I made coffee, and my mom is watching Darcy tonight, so we can go on a date,” or, “I didn’t cook tonight, but the pizza will be here in 20 minutes. Go take a bath.” Swoon. Just like that and once again I’m a goner for this man. To any un-marrieds reading this: marry someone kind. I can promise you that it is the most important quality in the entire world when choosing a spouse. I know that some would tell you that finding a man who is a Christian and loves Jesus is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER, but as I am married to a Jewish man, I can tell you from my experience that it is not true. Yep, controversial words for a Christian woman to say, but I grew up hearing that your marriage is “doomed” without Christ, and that you will suffer great despair if you are “unequally yoked.” I will further address this on a future blog, and I know it will be met with some pushback, but I can only write with complete honesty if I’m writing from my perspective and experiences. It’s not my intention to offend anyone, but I wish to offer authenticity and a worldview blog-readers can respect if not agree with. Love to all.

Mommy wars and how I’m basically Switzerland or whatever other country doesn’t care.

Before I get into the beef of this blog post i.e. “mommy wars,” I want to explain something that few people who are truly close to me understand. I AM extroverted and friendly, yet not. Yet, NOT. Like I love meeting people, but I don’t necessarily want to sit down for a long conversation about life and the meaning of it with them. Ever. I can go without talking to my best friends for months and see no issue with that. Nothing has changed, we’re still besties, I just don’t feel the need to hash out every detail of our lives on a daily (or monthly) basis. I have the best friends you could ever ask for. They get me. We pick up right where we left off, always. I really, really love them with all of my heart, and I. Don’t. Need. New. Friends.

So being an adult who doesn’t like to meet, fall in friend-love, and share a halved-heart “best friend” necklace with new people can actually be awkward when you become a mom. Suddenly everyone tells you that you now NEED mommy friends. So people will seek you out when they see you have created a tiny human to become “mom friends”. Yikes. When I drop my daughter off at daycare, other moms smile at me and brightly say, “Oh Darcy just looks so cute today!” I smile and keep walking. I don’t even know any of the other kids names. I mean, if I responded honestly it would sound like, “Hey um…uh…oh-Nolan’s mom. Nice to see you (kind of). We’re never going to get coffee or set up play-dates, but I’ll see you around when I drop Darcy off. Have a good one!”

Now that you know this about me, it will make sense when I tell you that I do NOT get involved or feel victimized by these mommy wars. What are mommy wars? It’s the crunchy moms versus the non-crunchy versus the super “educated” versus the laid-back hippies. The amount of articles detailing specific hot topics are endless. Don’t bore yourself with them.

I personally breastfed Darcy for 10 months. Then I got a sinus infection, and felt like total crap and took meds that dried up my supply, so I abruptly weaned her. ANDDD the formula I transitioned to was so expensive that I switched her over to a Walmart brand formula for her last month. She’s still alive, so whatever. Darcy went to her own crib in her own room at 2 weeks old. She was the noisiest baby EVER, and I needed sleep, and I kicked her out. As a result she sleeps 12 hours every night in her crib by herself. Sorry, not sorry, Darcy. I gave her peanut butter at 4 months old (the horror), never made her baby food, and I don’t think she’s ever had organic anything. I may be from Mississippi, but I don’t particularly care for smocked outfits. Sure, Darcy has a few, but you won’t see me on mommy facebook pages offering exorbitant sums in an attempt to outbid another mom searching for the “OMG—perfect zoo bubble!!” Same goes for that damn cookie-print blanket that I saw some facebook crazy trying to sell for $200. What in the actual hell? Is it actually made of gold? Seriously, I don’t understand. Someone feel free to enlighten me.

I am so far from perfect. I question myself as a mom all the time, but I NEVER question myself because of something another mom says or does. I think the pinterest-worthy birthday parties with the exquisite backdrop and perfect fondant cakes are beautiful! But Darcy won’t be getting one. It’s just not in me to get that together when she is happiest shredding wrapping paper and eating dog food. I love seeing pictures of such beautiful photo shoots chronicling the growth of baby whatshisname. Darcy on the other hand has had exactly one professional photography session. It happened when she was 10 days old, and it could very well be the only one she ever has because I am just not good at planning and orchestrating those kinds of things. I won’t even say “mom fail” because I don’t view it as a failure. I just don’t really care.

All I really want to say is that parents should parent confidently. If breastfeeding just isn’t for you, and you choose to formula-feed your baby, awesome. Go you! If you make your own organic baby food, cool. If you have a professional paparazzi follow your child around for life to capture every life moment you probably need therapy, but I bet you’ll get some awesome pictures. If you spend thousands of dollars on baby clothes I will side-eye you, but I also accept hand-me-downs. If you don’t vaccinate your child, I personally think you are an idiot. Whoops. That’s judgment. Won’t apologize for that one, though. Love to all you crazy mamas. Tell me how you parent!