Category Archives: I'm the Mama

G is for Great

On Saturday Lukas and I went to visit his great grandma.  At 90 my grandma is incredibly vital.  She’s lived a long, full and at times very difficult life.  As I was growing up we weren’t incredibly close but as she’s aged her demeanor has mellowed a lot and she has been pretty involved in Lou’s life.

We’d spent the early part of the afternoon at a birthday party for our god-daughter so by the time we made it to GG’s house Lou was exhausted from skipping his nap.  He wasn’t in the best mood but we did our best to make the most of the visit.  He climbed the hill in the backyard and rolled back down, ate a few cookies and checked out all of the incredibly breakable items that were at his level.  GG was so appreciative of us stopping and spending just an hour.  It was such a nice afternoon.  Those of us with more than five words in our vocabulary had a great conversation – more honest and direct than I would have ever expected.  I felt a little guilty as we left that I don’t make more time for visits like this, especially as my grandma handed me a piece of crystal that my grandpa had given to her and told me that I could expect more, but that she wasn’t ready to part with it just yet.

I wasn’t able to get a good shot of the two of them together from the front.  Lukas was hysterical in all of them, but I just love this one of them from behind.  They had no idea I was there.  89 years separate them.  One is at the beginning and one is nearing the end.  The stories they could tell each other.

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R is for Respect

We’re going to take a break from our not-so-regularly scheduled picture updates so I can share an experience from tonight that made me so angry I am planning to write a STRONGLY worded letter.  Unfortunately that’s as in your face as this nice midwestern gal gets.

I have to start at the beginning.  Yesterday about two hours into the day I got a call from daycare that Lou didn’t seem right.  He’d walk a few steps, fall down, then get back up only to fall down again.  He’d had a rough few nights with what we figured was pain from the FIVE teeth he currently has erupting in his mouth so I thought maybe something worse was actually going on.  Fortunately  I was able to make an appointment with our pediatrician.  It turned out to be an ear infection that was causing his loss of balance.  What a relief!  We’ve been on this train before – five times.  A few days of meds and he’d be as good as new.

I mention the number of ear infections because late last fall it seemed as though we were visiting the doctor every other week.  Bjorn and I both had chronic ear infections as kids and our primary doctor told us early on that they can be genetic.  It’s important to note right now that I have nothing against medication or medical procedures if they are necessary.  At the recommendation of several people we opted to take Lou to a friend that’s a chiropractor at the tail end of his last ear infection.  I’ll admit that I was skeptical, but my sister had chronic migraines in high school and after months and months of doctors trying to help her she finally found reliable relief at the hands of a chiropractor.  To our happiness Lukas’ adjustment helped immensely.  Our doctor had given us the okay to try it saying it might help and it definitely wouldn’t hurt.  Yesterday was our first unexpected trip to the doctor in THREE MONTHS.  A major record for us.

Tonight after work we stopped at my mom and dad’s to say hello.  As we were getting ready to leave we noticed a rash covering Lou’s belly and back.  Knowing that the only change to his routine was the antibiotics he’d been taking I chalked it up to an allergic reaction.  I knew he needed to be on meds so I called the after hours nurse line and spent a frustratingly long time on the phone with a very nice nurse.  After answering what felt like a ridiculous number of ridiculous questions she finally told me that if a kid Lukas’ age presents with a rash after receiving the medicine he was given they need to be seen by a doctor within four hours.  WHY didn’t you tell me that at the beginning of this 20 minute call?

I fed Lukas dinner and we headed to our neighborhood Urgent Care.  After an hour and a half of keeping him from escaping through the automatic doors we were finally called back.  After another thirty minutes in walks the McDreamy wannabe.  All hair, scruffly beard, leather bracelet and arrogance.  I will be perfectly honest, I was tired, stressed and out of sorts.  It’s been a long week.  Lukas was well past bedtime and wanted to go home – he kept handing me his jacket and giving me a look like, “Mom, you don’t even have to open the doors.  Let’s blow this popsicle stand.”  McD Wannabe starts listing off a bunch of symptoms that Lukas has, but are not our primary reason for being there such as eye discharge and ear pain.  I’d told the intake nurse about his ear infection but apparently the doctor wanted to discover it for himself.  Finally I had to take Lou’s shirt off for the doctor to even LOOK at the rash.  He hemmed and hawed for awhile, looked in Lukas’ ears and deemed them “red, but not that bad”, looked at the medication bottle I’d brought in and made a point of saying that HE would never prescribe that for an ear infection which I think was an effort to make him seem superior to our pediatrician whom we trust and respect, rattled off a bunch of medical terms to try and sound smart and then finally wrote a new prescription. 

In the midst of this he left to take a call.  He had to tell me that it was regarding his ‘cardiac’ patient.  I realize that’s important and I was fine with him leaving but the tone was incredibly disrespectful.  I realize an ear infection isn’t on the same level as a heart issue, but my kid is sick and tired.  Would it be so tough to treat him with a little kindness?  The lovely doctor also ripped Lou’s pacifier out of his mouth after he dropped it on the floor and put it back in his mouth so it could be rinsed off in the sink.   He tsked me and said something about it being really dirty in there.  Look, I know.  It’s gross.  This kid also likes to lick our shoes if we leave them by the door.  The pacifier didn’t land with the nub on the ground.  Chances are whatever he would catch from your dirty exam room will get killed off by the amoxicillin you’ve prescribed.

At some point during our conversation I mentioned that this was Lou’s fifth ear infection.  When he came back with the prescription he also handed me a card for an ENT.  He said “with five ear infections he really needs to see a specialist and get tubes.”  Okay.  You’ve seen my kid once.  I’ve asked our pediatrician with every ear infection visit if she thought tubes were necessary.  She doesn’t think so…yet.  We’ll keep evaluating.  If she tells us she thinks they would help we will do it.  She knows him.  She knows kids in general.  I trust her opinion, not the opinion of a random Urgent Care doctor with floppy hair.  At this point I made a HUGE mistake.  I mentioned our visit to the chiropractor. 

This gave McD Wannabe all the ammo he needed to completely irritate the hell out of me.  He started by asking me what my husband and I do for a living.  I’m guessing to make sure he didn’t step on any toes with his next comment (Bjorn thinks he wanted to see how educated we were just so he could determine which level of condescension to use.)  According to the ‘good’ doctor chiropractics were started by a guy from Iowa who bagged groceries.  He also assured me that he was 100% certain that Lukas’ trip to the chiropractor did absolutely nothing to ease his ear issues.  He’s not sure what it was, but it DEFINITELY wasn’t the chiropractor.  The implication was that chiropractors are quacks and I was endangering my child by exposing him to one. 

Fortunately we were walking out at this point.  My hands were full of Lukas and all of our stuff.  Had they not been I just might have clocked him or at the very least made some wild hand gestures.  I instead passed along a very terse, “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion”. 

I know that I am not a doctor.  I know that doctors are well-educated and they have to retain a lot of information.  That doesn’t mean they should be allowed to treat the rest of us like a bunch of shmucks.  We’ve been really fortunate to have understanding, patient and kind practitioners up to this point.   That’s why I can’t accept his behavior.  His rude assessment of our doctor’s choice of medication.  His dismissal of chiropractors.  His judgement of the choices I’ve made for my child.  There is a level of common courtesy and respect that was completely lost on this guy.

Under most circumstances I would just chalk this up to a rough night for all involved but we’ve had more than one bad experience with this particular Urgent Care.  We’ll be taking our copays elsewhere.

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One

Dear Lukas,

On Sunday you turned one.  You spent the day surrounded by people that love you, people that have been an incredible support to your dad and me over the last year.  Our house was bursting at the seams.  We are so fortunate.

Two years ago you were a hope, a constant prayer.  Now you are a running, babbling, grinning boy.  And you are ALL boy.  Anything you can get into, you will.  It’s no surprise that your first word was “Go!” (or Gus, depending on the situation).  From the first time you rolled over to the night you tentatively took your first three steps in your monkey pajamas, you have been on the move and we’re just along for the ride.  You like splashing in the dog dishes, climbing in the dishwasher, sneaking up the stairs if there is even just a tiny opening and pounding on the computer keyboard.  You’re finally showing an interest in books, but only if they have real pictures or moving parts that you can destroy.

I’m often asked whether you take after me or your dad.  It’s a tough question to answer because you are such an equal mix of the two of us.  There are days when I look at you and it’s like looking at myself in a mirror.  You even have the same droopy right eye when you get tired.  Then you laugh and it sounds so much like your dad with the high pitched yelp followed by the Muppet-like heh heh heh.  But you are your own person too.  Curious, energetic, determined, very independent and a constant source of comedy. 

I am incredibly proud of the little person you are becoming.  You fascinate me daily.  You were stronger than your daddy and I put together when you were in the hospital for four days with RSV back in March.  I have never been so scared, but you barely batted an eye while being poked and prodded and you managed to smile when we all needed it the most.  When you started daycare I thought there would be separation anxiety, but you just jumped right into the fold and made yourself at home with a confidence I don’t posess at nearly 30.  I’ve started having you help me make decisions when we’re out and about.  I’ll hold up two items and you’ll look from one to the other and back again.  Slowly, deliberately and then you choose with conviction.  Sure, it’s been toys, t-shirts, placemats and cheese, but you handle it in such a grown-up way.  I just love watching you and would love to know your thoughts in those moments.

I hope that as your mom I have the courage to foster your unique qualities and not try to make you fit any mold, even if that feels like the easiest path.  From the beginning I’ve tried to focus on doing what worked for us, for you.  I think that may get harder as you get bigger, but I can promise that I will always be your biggest fan and source of support.  You bring so much joy to everyone around you and that has been my greatest happiness as a parent. 

Thank you for an incredible year.  My heart is bigger, my arms are stronger and life is brighter with you in it.  I am so blessed that you are mine.

Love,

Mama

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Lukas’ Birth Story Part 2

I am woefully behind on weekly recaps but I thought in honor of Labor Day it would be appropriate to finally share the meaty part of Lukas’ birth story.  Part 1 talked about my nesting craziness and finished with us leaving for the hospital.  Beware.  This is a bit graphic.

We drove to the hospital, chattering a bit here and there, thankful that the driving conditions were good (winter in Minnesota+being very pregnant = constant fear of being unable to reach the hospital).  Jason Mraz’s Beautiful Mess was playing as we pulled into the parking lot.  We walked in through the ER and I excitedly told the attendant, “I’m here to HAVE A BABY!!!”  He didn’t share my enthusiasm and gave us a nod and an eyeroll.  We headed down the hallway, made a quick bathroom pitstop and pressed the buzzer that would let us into the secure birthing center.  We were led into a monitoring room.  By this point I was pretty familiar with these rooms as I’d spent 20 minutes in them every other day for the last two weeks.  The nurse checked me and confirmed that I was about 3 centimeters dilated.  She said she was going to call our doctor and she thought that we would be admitted soon.

Unfortunately that was not the case.  Instead the doctor decided to send us home.  The nurse didn’t seem very confident about that decision but we opted to head home.  They gave me something that was supposed to help a bit with the pain (it didn’t.  Skittles would have worked better.)  It was around 11:00pm by this point and we weren’t too thrilled about leaving.  We got home and Bjorn took a nap on the couch.  I tried to lay down but it was impossible.  I bopped around on an exercise ball, watched an episode of Real Simple and eventually ended up in the tub.  The contractions were getting a lot closer together and much more intense so we called the hospital and they said to come back.  Time starts to get a little fuzzy for me here, but I think it was around 1am.

Of course our luck with the roads had run out on our first trip.  The winds had picked up and there was blowing snow.  The drive was quite a bit slower and I was much less patient.  No Jason Mraz this time around.  I was a lot more tense and just wanted to be up moving around.  Sitting in the car was awful.  My only reprieve was quickly opening and closing my legs at the knee.  Really classy, but it was the only thing that worked.  I leapt out of the car when we got back to the hospital, took my turn rolling my eyes at the desk attendant and pounded the buzzer at the birthing center.  This time they took one look at me and directed us into a labor and delivery room.  A quick check revealed that I was at 7 centimeters.  I was also shaking uncontrollably which the nurse said meant I was in transition.  (I have to say that our nurses were nothing short of fantastic.  Just incredible.)

They worked to help ease my pain.  I told them that the tub had worked at home and that I was open to pain meds and an epidural.  I didn’t have an official birth plan, opting instead to see what happened and respond to it in the moment.  As I mentioned things were pretty fuzzy here.  I was exhausted – at this point I’d been up for almost 24 hours and the pain was really intense.  When contractions came I would stand facing Bjorn starting with grabbing onto his shoulders and eventually putting my hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt and practically tearing them off.  I overheard the nurse say what I thought was, “She’ll have to have two bags of IV fluids before we can give her anything for the pain.”  I started to cry because the thought of waiting for TWO IV bags just seemed unbearable.  The contractions were coming one right on top of another and I was miserable.  Fortunately it was two IV bags before the epidural.  They were able to give me Nubain right away.  Well, once I was able to sit still long enough for them to get the IV in.  That took awhile.  I never did make it back in the tub.

The Nubain made me really, really loopy.  I was laying in the bed so grateful to finally have some relief but Bjorn was giving my medical history and I kept yelling at him (mumbling) that he was getting it wrong.  He wasn’t.  I was mishearing all of the questions.  At some point in here I’m pretty sure I fell asleep.  Then it was time for the epidural.  I was a little afraid of the idea of a needle in my back, but it wasn’t bad at all.  Bjorn took the opportunity to call our parents and conveniently leave the room during this part. 

Bjorn and I both took a short nap after the epidural and the next thing I knew, my mom was leaning over saying hello.  My dad had sent her as soon as they got the call.  Initially I wanted just Bjorn with me, but as soon as I saw my mom I was so thankful she was there.  I guess no matter how old you are, it’s always nice to have your mom when you’re hurting.  My water still hadn’t broken.  I had been waiting and waiting for it and figured that they would have to break it for me.  Surprisingly, my “bag of waters” (I hated that term in our birthing classes) came out intact.  This was enough of an oddity for the nurse to place it in a towel and take it to show all of the other nurses.

Around 8 it was time to start pushing.  Honestly, I kept my eyes closed through most of this.  I think it was a combination of the drugs and the fact that I hadn’t slept.  While I’d had an epidural I still felt quite a bit of pressure and some pain.  I was able to tell when I was having contractions. 

A quick word about pushing.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when people tell you it’s like pooping a watermelon?  They aren’t kidding.

After a few contractions, Lukas’ heart rate started dropping.  They had me get on my knees (not supposed to be possible after an epidural) and hang over the head of the bed.  Bjorn was doing a great job counting, but when he would look down to check on the progress he would slow down.  I only had to yell at him once to FOCUS!  We all got a little comic relief when he told me to “Do it for your ANKLES!”  I hadn’t seen my ankle bones in weeks thanks to all of the swelling.  This over-the-bed position was really uncomfortable and I wasn’t making much process so they rolled me back to my back.  Lukas was still in distress so we needed a vacuum-assisted delivery.  I thought this meant he was big. 

The vacuum slipped off twice.  The doctor told us that if it didn’t work the third time we would need to prepare for a c-section.  Thankfully the third time was the charm.  Out he came.  All 6 pounds, 6 ounces of him.  He had the umbilical cord wrapped around him three times – feet, belly and neck.  They quickly placed him on my stomach and I looked into his eyes.

This was the first time I had opened my eyes since I started pushing.  My very first thought was, “Hey, I know you.”  And that’s the first thing I said to him, “I know you.”  As fuzzy as my memories are of a lot of the experience, this is crystal clear.  I didn’t anticipate feeling that automatic connection.  It wasn’t overwhelming, just…comforting.

Lukas wasn’t crying.  I thought that was a bad thing and related to the rough delivery.  Turns out he just wasn’t much of a crier.  He gave a few little bleats, like he knew we were expecting him to make some noise, even if he didn’t feel like it.  Due to the cord and distress Lukas was whisked away for testing.  They pricked his feet, gave him chest x-rays and ran a bunch of other tests.  He handled it all like a champ, not even a whimper.  There was concern that he might have had a collapsed lung but fortunately that wasn’t the case.  I didn’t see any of this, I had closed my eyes again and was busy being fixed up.

We were incredibly lucky that there had been a scheduled c-section for twins earlier that morning.  The team that had been in charge of the surgery came to our room to help with Lukas’ delivery.  At one point there were 11 medical personnel in our room.  I didn’t see a single one of them.  It was only later when talking about the assistant that helped with my stitches that I found out how scary things had actually been.  My mom commented that, “The Asian doctor looked a little uncomfortable.”  My response was, “Asian doctor?  What Asian doctor?” 

I know there is a lot of debate out there for natural vs. drugs and I don’t fall squarely on either side.  I can see the benefits to both.  I will say that I am glad that I had them for Lukas’ birth.  Not necessarily because of having my pain eased, but because they numbed any fear that I would have experienced as a result of his rough start.  Instead I was able to rest, marvel at what had just happened (When my dad asked me how I was doing, I just kept repeating, “I can’t believe I actually DID that”) and think about hisLukas’ tiny, tiny body and beautiful blue eyes.

 

Tiny Lukas 2

The wait was so worth it.

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Then and Now

2 month doctor’s visit:

2 month doctor

 

4 month doctor’s visit:

4 month doctor

Dr. Langer walked in the room and said, “Hmm, someone is malnourished, isn’t he?”   

Weight -17 pounds, 14 ounces – 87th percentile

Height – 25 3/4 inches – 65th percentile

Head – 18 inches – 99th percentile

I guess he has his mama’s big melon after all!

We ran through the list of milestones (he’s doing everything he should) and when I mentioned that he was rolling from back to belly and she looked at him and said, “You’re advanced!”  It was pretty funny.  Then Nurse Heather commented on the fact that he grabbed at the rotavirus vaccine dropper – she couldn’t get it in his mouth fast enough – she said that they normally don’t do that until six months.  You can’t place to much stock in when they accomplish these things so I am definitely not enrolling him in advanced preschool quite yet.  It’s just good to know that he’s healthy and progressing.

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Digging Out

Today was not the best day. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  I’ve felt it coming for a few days and I just kept trying to push it down and focus on organizing and making lists thinking it would help me feel better.  The truth is that I feel like I’m just not balancing things as well as I should be.  I feel so overwhelmed. 

It wasn’t one thing that set me off, rather the sum of a lot of small things.  Lukas FINALLY slept for eight consecutive hours last night, but I was up until close to midnight picking up the house and shredding (only on Day 2).  I woke up tired, sore and nauseous.  I’ve been dealing with the nausea for several weeks now and it’s really annoying (no, I’m not pregnant again.  I think it has more to do with the massive amounts of caffeine I’ve been consuming.)  I was having clothing issues, forgot my makeup bag and didn’t have time to really do my hair so I felt really ugly.  I had an unfortunate issue with someone at work.  I had a meeting that I really wasn’t looking forward to because I felt like it was going to call my competency in to question (it didn’t, in fact it went pretty well).  In addition to the nausea I developed a headache, sore throat and plugged ears.

Driving to the meeting today I felt like I was drowning.  It was the first panic attack I’d had in a long time.  I made it through the meeting, somehow managing not to dry heave all over the table, and told my boss that I needed to go home because I was feeling miserable.  Alison had taken Lukas home with her so the house was quiet.  I slept like a rock for almost two hours.  I didn’t feel great when I woke up as I had hoped, but I did feel better.  I ate toast for dinner and Lukas was pretty subdued and went down easily after a bath, some rocking and a bottle.  Bjorn is at softball so the house is quiet again.  I have strict instructions to be in bed before he gets home.

Sometimes it takes hitting bottom like this for me to realize that I’m not taking good enough care of myself.  Yes, I want our house to be neat and tidy, I want to be successful at work, I want to keep up with a blog and I would love to have time to read a book or do a little crafting.  But I NEED to eat well, exercise and sleep.  My grandma is spectacularly healthy at almost 90 and she attributes it to making sure she took care of herself.  I need to heed her advice. 

I will dig out of this hole I feel like I’m in.  Making lists will help.  Crossing things off of those lists will help even more.  But first and foremost I will eat my fruits and veggies, drink lots of water, take my vitamins, continue to shred and hit the hay before 11pm.

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Lukas’ Birth Story – Part 1

In early December, a co-worker pointed at my feet and said, “Ooh, your feet are HUGE!”  I’d noticed that my shoes felt a little more snug, but hadn’t really looked at my feet – at 8 months pregnant it’s kind of a difficult task.  Over the next few weeks my feet, ankles and calves swelled to proportions I didn’t think possible.  Cankles took on a whole new meaning.  When even my widest pair of shoes started cutting off my circulation I had to break down and buy a pair of ‘pregnancy shoes’.  I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in shoes I hoped to never wear again, so I ended up with a hideous pair of $12 black plastic slip-ons from Wal-Mart.  Throwing those shoes out was the first thing I did when I got home from the hospital.

In addition to the swelling, my blood pressure started to creep up.  Looking back, I probably should have taken this more seriously, but I was in a bit of denial.  At my weekly appointments my (absolutely wonderful) doctor asked if I was still working and suggested that whenever I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore I should let her know and she would provide a note.  I think she wanted me to go on bed rest once my bp hit 140/90 and I was hitting the clinic twice a week for non-stress tests and ultrasounds but I tried to power through.  By January 9th I felt like I just needed to be done at work.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything and was beginning to worry about going into labor at work or during my commute.  I accepted ‘modified’ bed rest and taking the term ‘modified’ to mean just staying home from work began to nest like nobody’s business.

My first Monday of ‘bed rest’ my sister came to help me with some projects around the house.  We reorganized cabinets and closets and deep cleaned the kitchen.  I woke up on Tuesday feeling really awful.  I had chest pains and was dizzy.  At the insistence of the triage nurse, I had my mom bring me to the ER.  They ran a bunch of tests and I spent almost the entire day in the hospital.  The doctor figured it was acid reflux as all of the test results were normal.  I’m pretty sure it was actually a panic attack.  For some reason the experience didn’t slow me down.  Instead I decided that I needed to take our king size comforter, mattress pad and pillows to the laundromat.  In January.  In MINNESOTA.  Nesting craziness had definitely taken over.  Needless to say, my family was not thrilled when I told them this story.

I can’t remember for the life of me what I did that Thursday.  I’d love to say I rested, watched TV and napped, but I’m guessing even more nesting craziness ensued.  I woke up on the morning of Friday, January 16th at 4am.  I couldn’t get back to sleep so I finished a book I had been reading and watched the West Wing (one of the things I miss most from maternity leave!).  After Bjorn left for work I set off to finish the rest of my to do list.  My plan was to work the first week of bed rest and take it easy during the second.  I was convinced that Lukas wouldn’t be born until his due date, if not later.

I distinctly remember sitting on the bathroom, scrubbing the shower with a toothbrush (what was WRONG with me?) and thinking, “WOW, I am REALLY uncomfortable.”  However, instead of taking that as a cue to REST already, I kept at it, making meals to have in our freezer.  Alison came by again that afternoon to see if I wanted to go to Target.  I had to say no – this is when I should have known for sure that something was up, I would NEVER turn down a trip to Target.  Alison left and I kept cooking.  Just a beef stew left to go.  By 4 o’clock I was completely spent.  Bjorn came home from work and we contemplated going to El Patio, one last time as a twosome.  Unfortunately I just didn’t feel like I could do it.  I sent him out to pick up Chipotle instead (a very regrettable decision, we would soon discover).

I had really been looking forward to watching the season premiere of Friday Night Lights, but as the opening scenes rolled I realized I couldn’t sit still and the discomfort I’d been feeling most of the day was getting even worse.  Towards the end of the show I asked Bjorn to start timing the pains I was feeling.  He thought I was imagining things, but we discovered the pains were coming about 5 minutes apart and were lasting for about a minute.  We called the hospital and they said to come in.  I opted to take a long-ish shower (figuring it would be the last one for a while).  We took our time getting to Hastings.  We even managed to take a few quick self-portraits on our way out the door.

Anna Jan 16

To the Hospital

I still didn’t think I was actually IN LABOR, I was sure I had another week.

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