Ernest Hemingway:

As Ernest Hemingway once said...
'All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16, 2008

Our lives were turned upside-down one year ago today. I was 19 1/2 weeks pregnant. Hubby was brewing a batch of coffee stout in the kitchen before dinner, and I decided to take a bubble bath. Upon getting out of the bath I noticed a strange, watery discharge. I wrote it off until it happened again in the bedroom, going completely through my underwear. Gross, and definitely unusual. I called my OB and his office said to go to labor & delivery because it was Sunday and there was no way to tell what was going on over the phone.

We went, expecting to get checked out, maybe an ultrasound (we'd only had one at 9 weeks and only I got to see it), then be sent on our merry way. We were grossly unprepared.

L&D determined that the discharge was amniotic fluid, thus concluding that my bag of waters had broken. pPROM - preterm, premature rupture of membranes. I was confused. Isn't that usually a big gush? Not a few drops. It could be a small break, though. Either way, not good. I was hooked up to a contraction monitor and it detected activity. Contractions. Seemingly alarming ones. I noticed them, but they weren't awful.

The resident told us we'd probably have the baby that night. When water breaks and contractions are happening, it's definitely not good. She prepared us that when a baby is born at this point it won't live. It might take a breath or two, but that's it. She even had an NICU doctor come and talk to us.

They gave us a moment alone. We cried. I don't think the gravity of the situation had even hit me yet at that point. How can a baby be born at 20 weeks? Actually, I think technically anything before 20 weeks is still considered a miscarriage, even if the babe actually takes a few breaths when born. It was incredibly surreal. I don't think I could get past the fact that the baby was completely fine. It was my body failing. Everything was totally fine other than the contractions (which didn't hurt, but were registering on the machine) and the presence of amniotic fluid on my cervix.

We didn't know the gender, but we talked about what we would name the baby. We decided on Lee, which was my maiden name, because it would work for a boy or a girl. We were so innocent. We didn't know anyone who had lost a baby due to premature labor. We barely even knew what that was.

It was a long night. The contractions lasted all night long, some worse than others. I was pumped full of IV fluid as well as water, and didn't sleep well 1. because my body was failing my baby and was going to kill it even though as of now it was perfectly fine and 2. I had to pee every ten minutes. My parents came for a while, then we sent them home.

We had a great nurse. I remember her name to this day. She had a 'good feeling' about us. She'd seen many moms whose water had broken go on to deliver perfectly healthy babies. She pumped me full of water, and made me more comfortable. It meant a lot.

In the morning things were the same, only my contractions had all but stopped. My doc came by, and of course, gave us a grim outlook. A maternal fetal medicine doc came by too and did the same. We had a 10% chance of carrying the baby to term. If we could make it past a week without an infection (commonly happens with broken water) things would look better, but for now it was bad. It was so hard. The baby was totally fine. My contractions had stopped, and there wasn't any more leaking. But still doctor after doctor warned us not to get too comfortable, that our baby would most likely be born and die.

Another resident came in and told us if it were him in this situation he'd choose to end the pregnancy. Of course we couldn't do that at St. John's, but another hospital would do it. The baby, if it made it to viability, would most likely have lung problems, and problems with its legs and arms, just to start. With little fluid there isn't much room to move and grow properly. We were devastated, but ultimately decided of course we couldn't do that. I think he upset us the most. Looking back I'm a bit miffed he came in there and did that to us. We never even had an abnormal amount of fluid.

We had a few visitors. My poor sister, who was 18 weeks pregnant at the time, came by. I felt so bad for her - at that point we both gave up our happy, normal pregnancies, me for obvious reasons, her because all innocence was lost. She knew what could happen, and I'm sure worried about it for a while. She couldn't even speak. She could only hug me with tears running down her face.

We had another ultrasound before being moved to the antepartum floor. It was great again, normal amounts of fluid, babe was fine. We had so many people come by and prepare us. We were told that best case scenario, if we made it past a week, we'd be sent home and I would be on bedrest. Then at 24 weeks, when baby was viable (but still extremely critical), I'd come back to the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy so they could monitor things and give me steroids to help develop the baby's lungs if labor seemed imminent. So many different nurses came by. They helped prepare me for the later hospital stay.

We had to call work, which was hard for me. I had to prepare my bosses that I'd most likely not be back until after the baby was born. They were so great and understanding - I work for a couple of really good guys. I called my close friends too. My best friend in Chicago was so great. She sent me so many care packages while I was home on bedrest, and brought her daughter over to visit. I'm a lucky girl.

We stayed for 4 days, and our scan on the last day was just as good. Baby was totally normal, fluid looked great. Our high-risk specialist was pleased, but still very cautious. We were to go home, take my temperature every few hours, and watch for signs of infection. I was put on moderate bed rest, which ended up being couch rest really. I could get up to shower, make my lunch, and use the bathroom, but other than that I was to take it easy. Luckily I'm very good at being lazy. I offered to work from home, but my bosses wouldn't hear of it. I'm so grateful for disability insurance - if you don't have it, get it. It's so important. I don't know how we would have coped without it.

Those first few weeks were scary. I had a tiny temperature (totally normal fluctuation, but still) a few times and freaked out, of course. A few times I thought that was it, I was at the end. But we kept on trucking. I did so much research on the internet, and found out that vitamins C and E can help strengthen the bag of waters, so I started taking those (after talking to my doc of course). We had an ultrasound every week for a month to make sure the fluid was okay, and every time it was. I think my docs would have released me from bedrest except for a bout of contractions again around 22-23 weeks. I was put on some meds to control them, but really, they lasted the entire pregnancy. I think I spent the last half of my pregnancy timing contractions.

Our families and friends were so wonderful. My mom and dad came once a week to clean, do laundry, and have lunch with me. My sisters came by to visit, and hubby was awesome. He cooked, took care of me and the hound, and never complained once.

I was on moderate bedrest for 3 months. I remember my older sister asking me my goals for the pregnancy. How long would I like her to stay inside? I said 28 weeks. If we made it that far I'd be happy. 28 weeks came and went. Then 32, then 34, and so on. At 34 weeks I was allowed to go back to work part-time, which was nice, if only to take my mind off of things.

She ended up entering the world at just over 39 weeks (after weeks of pre-labor, I swear). Quickly. My water broke for real at 2:30, and she was born at 8:01. The Beezer isn't one to do anything slowly, we've since found out.

It's surreal to look at my gorgeous baby girl and remember what happened. Almost as though it happened in another life. Sometimes I think about that dumb resident who advised us to terminate. What if we had listened to him? I think our doctor would have talked us out of it, especially in light of the fact that she never had low levels of fluid, but still. It's horrifying to think about.

I've read so many stories without our great ending. Babies born too soon, lives changed forever. I honestly can't imagine anything worse, except for losing a baby at term. Now that I know what can happen, and what does happen, it makes everything so much more real. I really had no idea back then, and it's probably best that I didn't. We are so lucky. I know that every time I see her amazing face. I'm so glad my sister didn't have to deal with it too, if I had lost Beezer. How different our lives would be today if she had a healthy baby girl and we didn't. Oh my gosh, it's devastating to think about. I can't think about it too much.

It's funny though. Despite the life-altering glitch, I loved being pregnant. I actually loved sitting my big butt on the couch all day. Maybe it was easier because I knew I was doing it for someone else, not me. Probably not. I'm lazy. And proud of it. Well not so much anymore, babies cure you of that real fast.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the train to japan

So we have this client. He's 75, and his wife died in 2006. Since then he's had numerous problems...among them a stroke which left him without much use of his arms. He can use them, just not like before.

He has a small life insurance policy. He's had it for a while, since '98, so it's been building cash value since then. Long story short, he took out a loan after his wife died to help pay for the funeral (he's never had a lot of money, but enough to get by). With the market being like it is, and with the loan interest that's been piling up, the policy is on the brink of collapsing (not enough cash to cover the loan interest).

We helped him last year to fix it a little, but this was before the market turned to shit. So now I'm in the process of helping him fix it a little more. Basically his kids want the policy to be kept alive so they can have the death benefit when he dies. Now I don't know the full situation, but I do know they're helping him pay for it a little, so it's not as bad as it sounds. It's not as if he's throwing money that's needed elsewhere (to help him eat, for example) to keep this alive just for his kids. I think it's more of an issue of it being sucky that he's had it for so long and put so much into it that to let it collapse would be a shame. A couple thousand is worth the amount of the death benefit.

Normally this would be a pain in the ass. He's a small client, and he doesn't really get what's going on. And this is time consuming. But he is the sweetest, kindest, most soft-spoken man in the world. Every time we speak the TV is on in the background - usually an old movie of some sort (he must be going deaf too, it's loud). I imagine him sitting in a dim, wood-paneled room. He's in an old, ratty, beat-up recliner, maybe with a TV tray set up next to it to hold a drink or the remote. I imagine he sits there all day watching TV, occasionally getting up to get some food or use the restroom. It literally breaks my heart.

I want to be able to reach through the phone and give him a hug. I want to go over there at least once a week and help him with his bills, cook for him, or just keep him company. Unfortunately he lives 3 1/2 hours away. For all I know his kids do this for him.

Maybe it's the fact that I really only knew one grandfather, and he's been gone for five or six years now. I used to go to his nursing home once a week and eat dinner with him. He would tell me stories about how he took the train to Japan. I loved indulging him. He was a hard man, but so very sweet in his old age.

Maybe it's this strange affinity I have towards the elderly. I love them. I've always had a good time with them. I volunteered in a nursing home a couple of times, and really enjoyed going room to room and listening to their stories. I contemplated taking my hound to the home where my grandpa lived to visit; greyhounds are really good for this, they like nothing more than standing there and getting pet. His nursing home is Catholic, run by nuns. It opens its doors for anyone who needs it, whether they can pay or not. I like that. Of course now I don't have the time. Or maybe that's just an excuse. Maybe I should take the Beezer with me, they'd probably get a real kick out of that.

Maybe it's the disdain I see for the elderly in today's society. No one values them. They're put in nursing homes, forgotten. Treated like children. The elderly used to be respected; we looked to them for advice, learned from the mistakes they made. Not anymore. It's disgusting. Of course people today are rude towards everyone, not just seniors.

This post ended up somewhere I didn't expect. I miss my grandpa and his silly stories. I wish I could do more to help our client. I want to volunteer in a nursing home. I hope I can make that happen.

Monday, March 09, 2009


I am missing a pair of pants. That's all I can say - what the eff? I don't lose clothes. I am meticulous when it comes to my clothes. I know where every item is, and everything has its place. Did I mention I'm a bit OCD? Apparently it runs in the family.

The pants in question is a really cute pair I got last year on super clearance at the Limited. I'm always proud of my super clearance clothes (especially there since there's always a $15 off coupon), even though I get everything on sale. I refuse to pay full price. I truly 100% believe they don't expect you to pay full price. It's so inflated.

Anyway they're cute, and I miss them. They're brown chinos. Super thin, super comfortable, look good with dressy shoes or with tennies (who am I kidding, I don't wear dressy shoes outside of work). I've looked everywhere. They're not with my work clothes, with my casual clothes, or in any of my drawers. I even looked on the floors of my closets (because even though I'm super anal about the racks, the floors are fair game for any type of crap that needs hidden quickly). No luck.

I'm mystified. Where the eff are they? Did I mention that I do not lose clothes? I don't share clothes either, mostly because none of my close friends are my size. Otherwise I'd be all about sharing clothes. I did, however, lend my maternity clothes to a friend recently. I wonder if I accidentally packed them in there. I should check with her.

This is driving me crazy.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

spring is almost here

I am so excited for my day off tomorrow (I thankfully don't work on Fridays). I'm usually excited because I get to spend the whole day with my monkey girl, but I'm extra excited for tomorrow because it's going to be in the 70s. So even though monkey girl has a doctor's appointment, we can walk because it's warm and close. I love walks (and need them desperately - go away belly pooch!), and so does the monkey. She's a nosy girl, just like her mama.

Last year I missed almost every bit of spring because of couch rest with the monkey. I could go outside on occasion, and did have the windows open as much as possible, but it wasn't the same. I love spring and fall. If the weather could be between 65 & 75 every day of the year, I would be such a happy girl. So because I missed it last year and the monkey wasn't really able to enjoy it in the fall, we're going to get out as much as possible.

We're going to go to the zoo, the botanical garden, to the many parks around our house. We'll go everywhere. The hound loves it too, so we're all set. We have a new umbrella stroller that's way less bulky than the stroller that came with our carseat. We'll have it worn out by next winter.

Did I mention I'm excited? Cause I am. Bring it on, spring.