Pregnant at 45


Twas The Night Before…

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 11/11/14 9:05 PM
CATEGORIES: Blog, pregnancy, Pregnant at 45

Sean and I are about to welcome our sixth child into the world, and with the exception of the twins (who were generously carried by Jennifer) we have never known we were about to become parents the night before it happened…

Until now.

So, here I sit watching my giant middle roll like a tidal wave knowing that tomorrow instead of seeing his feet protrude from my sides; instead of feeling his fists punch me in the bladder; and instead of rubbing my belly so he knows how much I love him; I get to kiss his toes, hold his hands, and cradle him in my arms.  To say we are excited is quite possibly the greatest understatement of our lives.

Now being the worrier I am I need you to do me a favor.  This little guy is coming a tad earlier than anticipated and although statistically he should be fine, you know we have a history of ending up on the wrong side of statistics.  So, could you say a little prayer for our boy?  He will be 37 weeks five days tomorrow and due to my creeping blood pressure our medical team has decided to pull the trigger.

Best to do it now, before you get sick.

My c-section is scheduled for later in the day and seeing as how my body and anesthesia don’t get along all that well, Sean will be doing the updating.  Expect the news around 6:00 pm EST.  In the meantime, keep all of us in your prayers.

We need every one of them we can get.

Stay tuned.

Tomorrow’s going to be a good night.

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)

 

 

 

The Name Game…Part Deux

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 10/14/14 9:24 PM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog, pregnancy, Pregnant at 45, Recipes

I received an email today from a loyal reader asking me if I’d gone “off the grid”.  It made me chuckle because I’m not exactly “off ” the grid.  I’m more like “under” the grid.  And, the grid isn’t so much a grid.  It’s more of an onslot of book edits,  a pile of laundry and never ending doctor’s appointments that seem to be usurping my schedule in a way that isn’t allowing me to spend the time in this space that I’d like.  Plus…I’m friggin’ tired.  And I’m huge.  I’m probably tired because I’m huge.  Or maybe I’m huge because I’m tired.  It’s a chicken/egg thing.

Bottom line is I’m alive…my pregnancy is well…and  I’m profusely sorry for leaving anyone hanging.

I do have to say I always love it when one of my readers notices I’m missing.  It makes me feel safe because sometimes I actually wonder how long it would take Sean to notice if I was MIA–he’s a busy guy.  It’s good to know Debbie Schaaf has my back.  Thanks, friend.

*****

This past weekend Sean and I attended my cousin’s wedding in Chicago.  It was a quick overnight trip that gave us some alone time to talk about important stuff.  Like, how the hell did I end up 45 and pregnant.  (The miraculous conception of 2014 is still baffling to us.)  And, since the inevitability of this little guy is really starting to sink in, we’d better figure out what the heck we’re going to name him.  Because he needs a name.  And we’ve got nothing.

Sean and I have a history of not giving the topic of names for our children due diligence.  I think our lackadaisical attitude about baby names started with the best of intentions.  When I was pregnant with our oldest Sean refused to discuss names before he was born.  “You wouldn’t name a dog before you saw it.  Why would you name a kid before you saw it?”  This was Sean’s mantra and I went along with it assuming that I’d develop a short list of favorties and surely after he witnessed the pain and agony of childbirth he’d let me name the kid whatever I damn well pleased.

You know what?  I was right.  Our first son entered this world shortly after I ripped a belt loop from Sean’s jeans during transition labor and out of respect–or possibly fear–Sean let me name him.  No questions asked.

Naming Drew was easy. I’d loved the name Andrew…shortened to Drew…my entire life.  That being said, we still managed to dodge a bullet that evening after our L&D nurse gently pointed out that we should consider our son’s initials before we went ahead with Andrew Sean Savage.

That’s why he is Andrew (because I’d always loved the name Drew but wanted a saint’s name)  John  (after Sean’s dad and also because we didn’t want his initials to be ASS) Savage.

Naming our second child followed a similar pattern.  We didn’t know our baby’s gender but I knew if it was a boy we’d be going with another name I’d spent my high school years scribbling on the back sides of my notebooks.    Again, Sean wouldn’t discuss the name during our pregnancy.  And, again, after nearly losing my life during an emergency c-section I was granted unchallenged naming rights.

That’s why our second son is Ryan  (because I love the name) Sean  (because I love his daddy)  Savage.

Mary Kate’s full name is  Mary Kathleen Savage.  She is named after Sean’s mother which was truly a heartfelt gesture that conjured all kinds of warm fuzzies until my mom came to the hospital and asked me a trick question.  “Um…Carolyn, did you pick Mary Kate because you liked the name or did you pick it because you wanted to name her after Sean’s mom?”    

I was like a deer in headlights because I honestly didn’t know if there was a satisfactory answer.  After a few second hesitation I threw a hail Mary and went with, “Uh…we liked the name?”  Which seemed to do the trick.

It’s also why one of the twins is named Reagan (after the president) Linda (after my mother) Savage.

As for the other twin’s name..  Well that’s where our lack of appropriate planning bit us…or me…in the arse.  First off let me rattle off a couple of excuses.  Naming twins is hard.  Naming twins of the same gender is harder.  And, lastly naming babies when there’s a third party with a well-earned equal vote makes the process kind of crazy.  You see, we gave Jennifer a say in the girl’s names.  It only seemed fitting.  She was birthing them so she got a voice–and a veto.

Here’s the thing.  She and I were always in agreement.  Sean was the fly in the ointment.  We liked Harper.  Sean said no.  Sean liked Stephanie.  We said no.  We all liked Reagan but couldn’t agree on an equally balanced name from the contemporary genre.  As a result, I scribbled out a list of ten favorites on the back of a Lowe’s receipt about an hour before Jennifer’s c-section and we agreed to reconvene once her anesthesia had worn off and the good drugs had set in.

It seemed like a decent plan until Baby B, who was full term and weighed a whopping 6#15 ounces refused to breath after birth.  Gone were the visions of all of us sitting in Jennifer’s postpartum room contemplating names, replaced instead by an emergency transport team that worked quickly at moving our baby girl to a hospital with a NICU.  It was an unexpected and very chaotic development that somehow ended in Baby B being given a name that wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

Hence, she is named Isabella (I have no idea why) Jennifer (after her guardian angel) Savage.

So…fast forward to crunch time.  We are T-minus six weeks and counting.  Sean and I have kicked around a few possibilites for this little guy but nothing has really resonated.  Drew and Ryan think they get a say, but so far all they have come up with is “Steele”.  Um…not happening.  They’ve accepted the fact that their first suggestion has been vetoed but continue to insist their little bro has a name that is a little “kick ass“.

And that, my friends, is where you come in.  Sean and I are looking for a little inspiration.  Give us your best…your most distinguished…most creative and beloved suggestions.  And don’t forget…the name has to be a little “kick ass” too.

There are bonus points for explaining why the name is so awesome.

Okay…go.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

*****

A few recent pics from our family.

Drew ran against his high school teammate at a recent college cross country meet.  So fun to see these boys later in life.

Drew ran against his high school teammate at a recent college cross country meet. So fun to see these boys later in life.

 

Ryan is nearing the end of his senior cross country season.

Ryan is nearing the end of his senior cross country season.

Took our girls..again...to the Gust Pumpkin Farm right up the road.  We have some serious bunny love going on.

Took our girls..again…to the Gust Pumpkin Farm right up the road. We have some serious bunny love going on.

DSC_0147

Big brother came to watch MK run her last cross country meet.

Big brother came to watch MK run her last cross country meet.

Daddy was super proud.

Daddy was super proud.

 

Me and my great Aunt Angie at my cousin's wedding.  Aunt Angie is my grandmother's baby sister.  I love seeing her!

Me and my great Aunt Angie at my cousin’s wedding. Aunt Angie is my grandmother’s baby sister. I love seeing her!

 

My baby cousin and my baby bump at the wedding.

My baby cousin and my baby bump at the wedding.

Sunday morning we woke to the pitter patter of the Chicago Marathon passing our hotel.  Awesome sight.

Sunday morning we woke to the Chicago Marathon passing our hotel. Awesome sight.  Awesome weekend.

 

If you are looking for the recipe for candy corn bark I talked about on 101.5 The River with Rick and Mary Beth click HERE.

“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.

Considering Being A Human Boob: Looking for Nursing Tips.

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/15/14 11:59 AM
CATEGORIES: Blog, Choices, pregnancy, Pregnant at 45, The Babies!

It’s time to face the music.  It’s not that I’m trying to avoid it.  It’s just that I have so many other balls in the air right now the actual task of preparation for this baby keeps being postponed.  My goal is to have all of my Christmas shopping done and wrapped before October 15th.  (My friend Amy would be SO proud.)  This week I have to clean out my entire garage–and when I say entire garage I mean ENTIRE garage!  Meaning by next Monday my garage has to be empty.  As in there can be nothing in it.

Because we are a little crazy we figured this would be a good time to undertake a major addition and renovation to our home.

Because we are a little crazy we figured this would be a good time to undertake a major addition and renovation to our home.

We are dropping our master bedroom into our existing garage and building a new garage onto the side of our house.

We are dropping our master bedroom into our existing garage and building a new garage onto the side of our house.

As a result, everything in that garage has to go in here...or into the basement.  May the force be with us.

As a result, everything in that garage has to go in here…or into the basement. May the force be with us.

So, baby prep has to wait.  Except I know that putting it off isn’t the wisest of decisions given my history of shaving a few weeks…or months…off of my pregnancies.  I’m really hadging my bets with this little guy, however.  Given how well I’m doing combined with the fact that I’ve had a very stern discussion with him about how he must wait until at least November 2nd due to his sibling’s schedules, I figure I’m kind of safe.  So far he seems like a pretty compliant boy.

Of course that could change at any moment.

Cue anxiety.

So, I’m dipping my toes into the waters of preparation.  Nothing crazy like recollecting all my baby gear that is in my friend Tracy’s basement, or God forbid buying baby clothes!  I need to start slow.  I figure doing a little research and reading is more my speed at this moment.  As a result, I’m looking for some informative resources about breast feeding.  I need a starting point.

Now, before anyone goes all willy-nilly in this space about the glory of nursing I want to provide my personal background on the subject. I’m not a rookie…but my experiences have been unique.

Baby #1 –  Drew was born full term and was formula fed.  At the time I made the decision to forego breast feeding for multiple reasons.  I was going back to work the minute he turned six weeks old; I wanted Sean to be able to bond with Drew through the act of feeding him; and, at the time, not a single person in my immediate family had done anything but formula feed.  It was the norm.  And, I’m happy to report that 20 years later he seems just fine.

September 1994

September 1994

Baby #2 –  Ryan was fed nothing but breast milk for his first six months of life.  I decided to nurse Ryan when I delivered him at 30 weeks gestation due to HELLP Syndrome.  Preemies notoriously tolerate breast milk better than formula.  Their under developed digestive systems need the gentlest nourishment nature has to offer.  However, I quickly learned in the NICU that the act of nursing takes a lot of energy on baby’s part.  It’s harder to suck milk out of a human nipple than it is to suck it out of a preemie bottle nipple.  So, I made the decision to pump the milk into bottles for him and never went back.  Ryan was never put to breast.  It was a lot of work but it was worth it.

Ryan at birth in the NICU.

Ryan at birth in the NICU.

Baby # 3 –  Mary Kate was eight weeks premature due to a milder case of HELLP Syndrome so I followed the same pumping regimen that I used with Ryan.  Interestingly, protocols had changed between 1997 and 2008.  So, not only did MK get breast milk, but the NICU insisted on mixing a specially prepared formula in with the breast milk to increase her caloric intake.  She did gain weight faster due to the added formula so we maintained that regimen for six months.  As a result, she was never put to breast.

Mary Kate, 2008

Mary Kate, 2008

Baby #4 & 5 –  Reagan and Isabella were delivered by our friend, Jennifer, who served as our gestational carrier.  As a result, they were formula fed with the exception of the ten days that Isabella was in the NICU after birth.  Her admission was extremely unexpected because the twins were full term, but nevertheless she had breathing problems.  It was then that Jennifer went above and beyond and pumped for her.  Isn’t that awesome?!?!  I just had to slip in this tidbit of informartion about Jennifer because it demonstrates what an awesome first mother she was to our daughters.  I will be forever grateful for what she did for our family.

Reagan and Isabella, 2011

Reagan and Isabella, 2011

Although two of my children have received the benefits of breast milk I have never had a traditional nursing experience and I want one.  I think.  Let me say I’m not hellbent on nursing.  I’ll do what works best for our son and our family, but as of right now, with no indication of him showing up early, I’m thinking I’d like to try and nix the bottles and simply breast feed.  There are some aspects of that decision that make me very nervous and that is where I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Intake

First, I’m nervous about not knowing exactly how much my child has eaten.  With bottles I could measure, record and track the number of ounces consumed at each feeding. And I did.  Neurotically.   The idea that I’m just supposed to rely on my child having wet diapers makes me uneasy.  Thoughts?

The Human Boob

Second, I’m nervous about being relegated to nothing but a human boob.  I have five other children who need my attention and I have visions of being on the couch all day with a baby hanging off of me.  I would love to hear from some moms who have managed to exclusively nurse and meet the needs of the rest of their brood.  Are there any tricks?  Equipment that was helpful?  Please share.

Bonding with Dad

Sean loves feeding our children and I love the bond that is created between him and his child as a result.  If I exclusively breast feed how do we foster that same bonding experience for him?  I’m especially curious if anyone has successfully pumped and nursed.  I’m wondering if I can pump a little into a bottle and let him feed the baby every once in awhile without causing massive boughts of nipple confusion.

The idea of not having to deal with bottles is very appealing to me.  The idea of bloody, cracked nipples: being the only one who can ever feed this child rendering me exhausted; and boughts of mastitis scare the crap out of me.  That’s why I’m asking for some feed back.

And, on that note…I don’t want this discussion to denegrate into a “breast is ALWAYS best” discussion.  Like I already wrote…I’ve formula fed and it was just fine.  To each his own.  I’m specifically looking for some resources that I can read so I know kind of what to expect.

Thanks in advance as always.  I will truly appreciate all of your thoughts and advice.  After all,  it was solicited.

Now….Go!