Health & Safety


The Last Six Miles

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 11/3/14 1:29 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Health & Safety, Prayers, Preemie Miracle, pregnancy, Pregnant at 45

I’ve heard that the last six miles of a marathon are excruciating.  Having never run a marathon before I can only conjecture as to why.  My guess is the first twenty aren’t a piece of cake either, but something tells me the excitement, exhileration, and momentum of the first part of the race disappears somewhere towards the end, and that’s when the going gets tough.  Muscles start to fatigue; organ systems start to fail; and the mental fortitude that carried the runner through the beginning of the race starts to waiver in the face of pain.  My boys are distance runners and I’ve heard them talk about running “through the pain”.  I’ve always assumed this meant if they stuck it out long enough the pain would eventually dissipate.  They’d grow numb to it and simply be able to carry on.  I don’t think this is the case with a marathon, however.  It seems that somewhere around mile twenty there is no hope of running “through the pain” and instead the runner learns to run “with the pain” knowing that every step brings them closer to the reward of the finish.

It all sounds awful.

I have the utmost respect for those that endure a marathon.

That being said, right about now I feel like I’m hitting the last six miles of this pregnancy.  None of it has been easy but like every other challenge in life, I’ve done my best to lower my chin and barrel through it.   There is no doubt I’ve left a trail of bitchiness and half-assery in my wake.  So much of what I wanted to accomplish this year hasn’t happened simply because the physical challenges of this pregnancy have prevented me from reaching my goals.  I’ve kind of surrendered to the reality of adjusted deadlines because I know I had no choice but to adjust my expectations.

“You won’t be pregnant next year.  There’s time for that when this is over.”

Last Friday I surpassed my gestational record of 35 weeks 6 days.  That’s when I delivered Logan.  Of course, if you are familiar with my story you know I carried my first pregnancy full term, so in a way it wasn’t a real record.  But, it’s the best I’ve done since my first tangle with HELLP Syndrome and premature deliveries in 1997, so I consider myself to be currently treading in unfamiliar territory.

I haven’t been this pregnant in twenty years.

And, it’s not easy.  My blood pressure started going up two weeks ago.  Nothing crazy high.  Just high for me.  My midwife decided it would be best to begin seeing me twice a week, so I’ve become a regular in the office for my bi-weekly date with the NST machine.  My blood work remains healthy, which is a good thing.  HELLP Syndrome is a three pronged condition that stands for H=hypertension, EL =elevated liver enzymes LP=  low platelets.  So far my liver enzymes and platelet counts have remained normal.

Hallelujah.

But, I’m throwing up.  A lot.  And I’m itching like I rolled in a field of poison ivy.  I’m guessing my cholestasis is back (Cholestatis of pregnancy is a condition I developed with Logan.  You can learn more about it here.)  Tomorrow I’ll talk to my ob about my urge to scratch my face, feet and hands off.  They’ll probably run more blood work and then make a decision as to when to put me out of my misery.  Hopefully it’s no earlier than Friday.  That’s when I’ll be 37 weeks.

Double hallelujah.

Still, I have this desire to finish the race at the finish line.  My due date.  I want to have a giant, healthy baby.  I want to give birth without the presence of a NICU team.  I want to nurse this little boy right after delivery…like it’s supposed to be done.  All full-term and normal.

The last six miles.

I know that we are on the threshold of slam dunking this pregnancy, and even if I delivered this week there’s a pretty good chance our little guy would be healthy.   It’s not like I’m asking for the moon, here.  It really doesn’t have to be a slam dunk.  I’d settle for a measly little shot that rolled around the rim before falling haphazardly through the basket.  After all, two points is two points no matter how expertly it’s executed.

So, if you wouldn’t mind saying a little prayer for us.  I want this to end safely–these last six miles.  I want to finish the race.

I’m ready for the reward.

*****

Three little princesses…

photo (82) photo (80) photo (78) photo (79) photo (81)

 

 

 

“Throwing The Kitchen Sink at This”: A Pregnancy Update

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/29/14 5:59 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Health & Safety, Prayers, pregnancy, Pregnant at 45

Last week was a bit of a milestone for us.

I delivered Ryan at thirty weeks on the dot so every pregnancy since I’ve celebrated passing thirty weeks sans delivery as an accomplishment. When I was pregnant with MK I vividly remember a family dinner where I confidently announced that Ryan would officially be our smallest baby.  I incorrectly assumed that since I carried MK to 32 weeks she’d be bigger.  Imagine our shock when she was actually 2 ounces smaller despite the extra two weeks of cooking time.

Mary Kate, 2008 at a whopping 2 pounds 15 ounces.

Mary Kate, 2008 at a whopping 2 pounds 15 ounces.

As I type this I’m sitting at 31 weeks three days and as much as I’d love to report that I’m cool as a cucumber about the remainder of this pregnancy the truth is I’m a bit jumpy.  Because of my history of early onset of HELLP Syndrome and other pregnancy related complications I’m on what I would call a close watch.  My doctor’s appointments dropped to every two weeks at 28 weeks and last week it was decided that I should be seen once a week for a non-stress tests (NST).  If you’ve read Inconceivable you know I hate non-stress tests because…well… they stress me the hell out.  As far as I’m concerned the notion they are called non-stress tests is an oxymoron.  In my opinion they would more appropriately be called “Let’s-scare-the-shit-out-of-this-pregnant-mother-for-kicks-test.”  I’m guessing that title wouldn’t fit on the contraption they use for the NST.

Anyways, I’ve realized that these last seven weeks are going to be hard.  I’m huge and tired.  Yesterday I schlepped the twins, a stroller, a bag full of crap and a chair to watch MK’s soccer game in 80 degree heat.  By the time I made it back to the car I felt like Chevy Chase in the desert.

chevy chase

 

Getting around is getting challenging.  I need to get better at gaging what I can and really can’t do.

In addition, every ache;  every little abdominal pain; every little twinge of nausea worries me.  It’s all normal–but it’s also how my troubles started during the pregnancies that didn’t end so well. As a result, I’m in a constant state of analyzing my physical well-being with a side of well earned paranoia.  I figure the only way to get through this is if I take it day by day.  Each day will be an accomplishment.  Which sounds like it should be easy.  But my days seem to long.  Really long.  With a lot of physical demand.  Luckily our schedules are going to lighten up over the next two weeks.  I think that will help.  As long as I don’t have the baby before then.

So, if you’ll bear with me over the next 35 days I could really use your encouragement.  My goal is very simple at this point.  I want to make it into November without a delivery.  If I can do that, I will have surpassed every pregnancy since my first.  The icing on the cake would be to deliver a baby without a NICU team being present.  Of course, that would require me to go all the way to 39 weeks, so what I’ll settle for is to avoid NICU time for this child.  If I could just have a baby that is categorized into the well-nursery…well…that would be a dream come true.

My posts are going to come more frequently as I get closer because I need all the hand-holding–real and virtual–I can get.

*****

Rest assured I’m in great medical hands.  In addition to the weekly NST’s I’m having bloodwork to monitor my liver enzymes, platelets, and red blood cell counts.  All of this information will arm my medical providers with the knowledge they need to spot trouble early.  In the words of my doctors, “We are going to throw the kitchen sink at this.” I guess I’m good with that approach even if it is scary.

Of course, if any warning signs appear we will hopefully have time to administer the steriod shots to help with the baby’s lung development.  It worked for Logan.  Hopefully it will work for this little guy, too.

Fingers crossed.

And Then She Said, “Enjoy The Rest of Your Pregnancy!”

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 06/10/14 4:32 PM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog, Cell Free DNA test, Chromosomal Testing, Glass City Parent, Health & Safety, pregnancy

Huh?

I mean it seemed like a dream at the time.  I’d just been given darn near the best news of my life…your baby is chromosomally typical…and before the genetic counselor hung up she said, “Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!

No one has ever said that to me before.

I guess that’s because I’ve never done any prenatal chromosomal testing before.  Given my advanced maternal age, however it seemed prudent to get as much information as we could.  If you read Inconceivable, you know I had an amnio done when I was 16 weeks pregnant with Logan.  The purpose of the amnio was to get an exact DNA match to the his parents.  We wanted to make sure we were handing over the child I was carrying to the correct people.  Anways, you may recall it was not a pleasant experience.  Therefore, I had no desire to lather, rinse and repeat.  That’s why I was thrilled to learn there is a new test that can diagnose chromosomal abnormalities in a fetus and all it involves is a blood draw.

Enter the Cell Free DNA test.  In simple terms, scientists have learned how to isolate placental DNA in a blood sample from the mother.  By studying the placental DNA they can diagnose trisomy 13, 18 and 21 and determine gender.  The test consisted of a simple blood draw and a ten day wait.

The wait was the most painful part of the process.

When the clock struck 5 pm this past Friday and I didn’t have the test results I was beside myself.  It was the tenth day and in my head the results were supposed to have been in no later than that very moment.  Imagine my relief when at 5:10 pm my phone showed an incoming call from Toledo Hospital.  I could hardly breathe.  When I heard the words, “totally normal” I  burst into tears.  Looking back on it, I don’t know what I was so worried about.  After all, Sean and I are perfectly capable of parenting a child with a chromosomal abnormality.  In fact, we would have welcomed him or her with open, loving arms.  I think it must have been the mortality rates that come along with trisomy 13 and 18.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of eventually losing this child.  We’ve had enough loss.

Once I gathered myself the genetic counselor reminded me I’d told her I didn’t want to know the gender.  I assured her that was still the case but impressed how important it was for my midwife to get the gender results ASAP.  “You see,  I signed a release so my midwife can call my baker.  We’re going to do a reveal this weekend… with a cake.  You know, blue frosting on the inside if it’s a boy; pink if it’s a girl.  I want to find out with the rest of my family.”  I thought I sounded stupid.  Honestly, in that moment I didn’t care about the gender.  This baby was healthy.  That’s all that mattered.  (More about our gender reveal here.)

She was happy to oblige and ended our conversation with a cheery, “Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy” –which stopped me cold in my tracks.  Enjoying pregnancy is an oxymoron to me.  My pregnancies are fraught with complications and worries.  Is it even possible to enjoy my pregnancy?

I’ve thought a lot about that since Friday and decided I’m going to give it my best good college try.  I’ve put away my doppler monitor promising only to search for his heartbeat once a week;  I’ve committed to starting to look at little boy paint colors and decor for a nursery instead of being afraid of “jinxing it” by planning;  and I’m going to talk about him without worrying that I’m getting too attached.

I’m going to count this chicken before he’s hatched.

That’s a new thing for me…and I think I kind of like it.

*****

So there is no misinterpretation  as to why we did the Cell Free DNA Test I feel the need to clarify.   We really felt it was best to know if there were going to be any health complications before this child’s birth.  We truly value the benefits of mental and emotional preparation when it comes to challenging medical and emotional challenges.   Knowing would have allowed us to make the best plans for our son  and ourselves prior to his delivery.  If the results had come back positive for a chromosomal abnormality we would have stuck to our personal belief system, carried this child to term and welcomed him into this world as God made him.  That is consistant with our personal belief system.

Key word – personal.

 

 

 

That “Cover Yourself Up Teen Girls” Post…Some Thoughts

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/5/13 1:15 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Communication, compassionate parenting, Daughters, Health & Safety, Little girls, perspective, Prayers, Resilience, twins

So, unless you live under a rock or don’t have access to social media, you have likely seen  the viral blog post written by Kimberly Hall.  It was all over my Facebook feed yesterday and it seems to have struck a chord.  A most unexpectedly divisive chord.

Read Kimberly’s post here.

Interestingly, not every reader thought the article was awesome.  Many took offense and pointed out the dangers of “slut shaming”.  Personally, I didn’t find the article to be shaming at all.  I thought it was encouraging young women to make better choices for themselves.  Frankly, the post read like something I could have written.

That being said, when I was perusing the comments on GivenBreath.com (Kimberly’s blog) I came across a link to a post about the same topic written by Nate Pyle.  It was a conversation that he hopes to have some day with his young son about how women should be “seen”.  The topic is in the same vein as Kimberly’s post, except Nate goes a step further by placing the responsibility to view members of the opposite sex with respect—regardless of what they are wearing—on the person doing the looking.

Please give it a read here.

I worry about the culture in which my three young daughters are growing up.  The all-to-common onslaught of  hyper-sexualized messages go against everything I want for the futures of my children.  I know that it’s my job, as their mother, to raise them in a counter-cultural manner.  In the Savage house we swim against the stream of provocativeness and disrespect that is peddled as acceptable in mainstream society.  So far, so good with regards to our sons, but these three little girls?

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

They scare me.

I know Sean and I have a lot of parenting ahead of us.  I also know our charge to guide them into an adulthood rooted in goodness is going to be a battle.  That’s why I’m so grateful to writers like Kimberly and Nate.  Regardless of whether I agree with them, they share their thoughts which causes me to hone in on what it is I want to teach my children.

I need all the help I can get.

Savage-Carolyn-0030

What a blessing.

****

More from the twins’ two year pictures.  They were taken by the amazing Allie Darr from Allison Darr Photography.  I love Allie’s work.  You can learn more about her photography at her website.

Isabella

Isabella

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

Reagan

Reagan

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

View More: http://photos.pass.us/savageView More: http://photos.pass.us/savageView More: http://photos.pass.us/savage

For Drew...

For Drew…

Yup...that's about right.

Yup…that’s about right.

Happy Thursday…the weekend’s coming!

A Prayer Warrior Request

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 11/13/12 12:24 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Glass City Parent, Health & Safety

I dread moments like this. 

I truly loathe them but I have come to learn that they are part of life’s journey. All of us have unwelcome curveballs land in our lives at one point or another.  One recently bounced into the life of a friend.  Today I’m asking you to hold her in prayer.

As many of you know, I appear every Wednesday morning on a local morning radio show.  Rick and Mary Beth are beloved Toledo radio personalities and I’m delighted to spend time with the every week.  For those of you “out of towners” my segments usually include a mom related story, banter, and lots and lots of  laughing.  The laughing is a given. 

This morning Mary Beth announced she has non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  A recent diagnosis, she’s starting chemo therapy on Thursday.  Mary Beth is hopeful but scared.  As she told her listeners this morning, she was her same spirited self but I could hear the disbelief in her voice.  I can only imagine how surreal it would be to share this kind of news with the world.  Nevertheless, she handled it with grace, humor and determination.  She’s a class act and a very brave woman.

I texted her after her announcement promising support.  I told her about the miracle of the power of prayer. 

 “Prayers works.  I swear.  You will feel them.  I promise.” 

This is something I know.

(Oh…and I may have said something about “kicking cancer’s ass“!  You know…for good measure!)

So, please put your prayer warrior armor on and have my back on this one.  Lift Mary Beth and her family in prayer.  I want her to feel this. 

And, while holding her in prayer please remember all our loved ones fighting similar battles.  The power of prayer can lift all of them, but we need to do this together.  Right now. 

Onward.

*******************

To watch and listen to Mary Beth’s announcement today, click here….and get a tissue.