Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Next: Part One

We spent New Year's Eve the year with boy J., girl J. and their daughter C., who I mentioned in this post. C was born in June after Aidan died. She is now a very advanced 18 month old who already knows many of her letters and is close to being potty trained.

Impressive as hell, right?

Anyway, since they have done such an awesome job of turning baby #1 into a smart little toddler, J. and J. have announced that they are planning on trying for baby #2 at the end of this month.


Now, while I am genuinely happy for them, and look forward to the day that I can meet J. & J.'s second amazing offspring, I can't help thinking "here we go again". Hearing about others pregnancies and births doesn't carry quite the same sting that it did for most of 2010 and 2011, but I do still feel a little twinge. Not because I necessarily want to that to be ME right now...but because I don't know if I will ever have that opportunity again.

It really hit home this morning when Brian dismantled the bassinet that we had set up in our room. Kaia's time as a newborn is over. She might be my one and only (living) baby and she's already growing up and moving away....right down the hall to her own room of course...but still...

Part of my sadness about her being in the cast is that she's not my squishy baby right now. She's heavy, and awkward, and cuddling with her is kind of like cuddling a brick. I'm just sad that if Kaia is the only baby I ever get to raise, we will have spent 19 weeks of her first year (over 1/3) having to love on her via a hospital visit or through a cast.

Knowing the difficulty we had in having a family is probably why I get asked "are you guys planning on having another child?" in such a hushed and solemn tone of voice. People want to know, and I don't mind them asking...however...

I really don't know how to answer this question.

Actually, no that's not true. I DO know how to answer this question, but it involves launching into a long complicated pro/con discussion that goes a little something like this:

I would love another child. I always wanted at least two (living) children and I currently haven't met my intended quota. However, after two disastrous pregnancies, we are understandably a little hesitant to leap into that unknown.

If we are looking at it in terms of MY health, then I feel confident my body could handle another pregnancy. My heart did well in both pregnancies, and my cardiologists were impressed with my recovery. I could currently use a whole lot of toning and strengthening and some cardio, but that's nothing getting back to work, the gym and chasing Kaia around when she can walk won't cure. I don't know how long I would want to put off another pregnancy in terms of my heart. I'm going to be 30 this year, and I think the younger I am when attempting a pregnancy the better. So if this were the deciding factor, I'd say we'd be trying for baby #2 within the next 2 years.

Oh, how I wish that were the only consideration...but alas...

If we are looking at it in terms of the prospective baby, then that puts a whole new spin on things. We currently have NO idea why I developed a Breus mole placenta in both pregnancies, which probably led to my water breaking WAY too early in both cases. The first time, my team of doctors considered it a fluke...the second time they pretty much shrugged their collective shoulders and said "huh, well maybe it's genetic". Yeah great, awesome deduction guys! We just don't know how 'heritable' this condition is. ie: how likely is it to happen again? 100%, 50%, 10%? Also I don't know if we can do anything to modify this risk. Certain supplements I could take? Certain medications? Certain medications I should STOP taking? I think I'd like to talk to Dr. K., the placenta specialist again, before any decisions are made, but my feeling is that any pregnancy we embark upon will be done with the caution that 'it might happen again'.

And, I don't know if we could handle that.

How could I embark on another pregnancy with the knowledge that there is a certain (small, medium, large, extra large?) chance that pPROM could happen again, causing the possible death/disability of theoretical baby #3? Is that fair to the baby? Is that fair to us? Brian and I and our families still have such sadness in our hearts for Aidan. We feel such loss for him and for ourselves. How could I chance that again?

Of course, if they had told us after Aidan was born that we had a good chance of having another pPROM caused by a Breus mole, then we may have decided against any future pregnancies. In which case we would not have Kaia. She has brought such light and love into our lives, and despite a few set backs (prematurity, her hip), she is a very healthy, happy girl. So, how could I NOT chance that again?

Then there is the physical toll that pregnancy took on my body other than my heart. I think my current back problems still stem from all the bed rest and the strength that I lost during that time. I remember on the night before Kaia was born, when they told me I was going for my C-section within the next 12 to 24 hours. In amongst the 8000 thoughts that were flying through my head was this one: THANK GOD, TOMORROW BED REST ENDS!!! I'm NEVER doing this shit again!!!!

But if I was pregnant again and things went the same way my last two pregnancies did, how could I NOT agree to do bed rest? How could I deny the best possible care for theoretical baby #3 that I did for Aidan and Kaia? I don't know if bed rest was what got Aidan to 23 weeks and Kaia to 32 weeks, but it probably didn't hurt. Both Brian and I know, that faced with that situation again, we'd probably do the same thing. Emily in bed doing next to nothing (and relying on EI for money). Brian at work and doing all the chores and having to shoulder a large part of the financial burden. Only this time we would have Kaia to consider. Not sure how mommy on complete bed rest for weeks on end with a small child would go, but I'm sure it would only complicate matters.

The main issue I have is that we don't know why it happened, twice. Once could be a fluke, twice and I begin to question if something is wrong with us. But if something IS wrong with us...what IS that something?

Is there something wrong with my baby-making parts? Does my heart affect blood flow in a way that causes pPROM? Does my short luteal phase point to a deeper problem that is, as yet, undiscovered? If we put our genetic material into another person via surrogacy, would that make a difference? It seems like a hell of an expensive shot to take, and I don't know if I could, in good conscience ask another woman to risk that for us.

If it is strictly genetic and the 'vessel' doesn't matter could those embryos with self-destructive placentas be 'weeded' out with pre-implantation diagnosis? If that was possible, then we could start saving our pennies for IVF. Or, if it's one of us that carries a 'defective' placenta making gene, then maybe we should consider either sperm or egg donation. Not sure about those logistics in Canada, and not sure how I feel about our child being genetically linked to only one of us, but it would be another avenue to consider.

Or, if the problem is genetic, and we can't figure out a high tech way around it and we don't want to risk another placenta going 'kaplooie', then maybe adoption would be right for us.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider. I would LOVE another baby some day, and a chance at a 'normal' pregnancy. But, unlike J. & J. who seem to be focusing solely on the financial and organizational logistics of having a second child, I feel like we have a lot more to consider.

And a hell of a bigger risk to take.

People rarely solicit advice on their personal blogs, but I'm going to do just that. Pretend you're me. Would you risk it again?

Monday, January 16, 2012


1 1/2 weeks in cast, 11 weeks to go.

While Kaia is adjusting fairly well to cast-dom, I must admit I'm having a harder time with it. I hate seeing my baby wrapped up in fiberglass (casts are now made out of fiberglass and lined with a soft padding rather than plaster). I hate that she is no longer squishy and cuddly and it bothers me how difficult it is to change her. We have had a few poo-splosion and honestly, they suck. I change her bum many more times per day than I use to pre-cast, but I know that sometimes she has leaks and it BOTHERS me to NO END that pee and poop may at this very moment be sitting next her delicate baby skin and I can't CLEAN IT PROPERLY!!! I can do nothing but try to shove the diaper as far as I can up the hole left open around her lady parts and wipe the inner cast lining that I can reach like crazy when the diaper leaks.

The big problem is that the cast comes up so high. Kaia can chew on the on top part of the cast. It stretches from under her arms down to her ankles with cut outs at her belly and her diaper area. I've seen other babies in spica casts and their casts don't come up nearly so high. I don't know why Kaia's is so large, but it's something I want to talk to them about when she gets her cast changed on February 13th (the cast gets changed once at the half way mark). It probably had to be that high to stabilize her hip, but damn if it doesn't make EVERYTHING so much harder. It's so high, she can't put her arms down to her sides and I can't comfortably breast feed anymore. Not that we breast fed a lot, but usually once or twice a day I'd let her have a bit of a we're strictly on bottles because I can't hold a stiff 7 kg kid at breast height for any length of time. Kaia is wickedly heavy in the cast and she can't lay on her side on a pillow as her legs stick out in frog position.

My back has been the other big issue. I've had a sore back for months now and I think I'm really going to have to go for some chiropractor or physio help. The jump that Kaia had from 6 to 7 kg overnight didn't help matters, and it puts a lot more strain on my back now that she's so stiff. No longer can she 'meld' into my body like babies do when you hold them. She's basically like an armor clad starfish.

I know I'm going on and on about this, but in my real life people don't really seem to get it. Even Brian is like "it's not so bad". Everyone keeps saying things like "well it's only for a few months" and "at least it's not life threatening" and "it's a good thing she's a baby, she won't even remember it". My answer to the first is that a FEW MONTHS is a very long time when it's something you have to deal with every single minute of every single day. The cast wouldn't be as bad if we could remove it, even for short periods, but it's a constant thing that has changed many of our daily routines with her.

And yes, of course I'm glad it's not something life threatening...because OH YEAH, we dealt with that LAST YEAR!!! And it was AWFUL. So yes, I understand life threatening, and yes, I'm glad this isn't, but I don't think it's too much to ask to have the words 'normal' and 'healthy' attached to your kid rather that "dislocated left hip".

The one that really gets me is the 'good thing she's a baby' comment. Because yes, it's SO much better that she can't tell me what is bothering her (sarcasm) and I have to guess from the intensity of her whining how serious it is. It's like people think babies are somehow unaware of their environment and 'get use to things' easier than an older child or adult. Honestly, I think that's baloney. Kaia has definitely been more crabby and fussy since going into her cast, and it's not like I can explain to her why she's in it or how it's helping her. All she knows is she can't move her legs and she can't reach her toys like she use to and mommy no longer breastfeeds her or is able to hold her close. Being immobile sucks at any age, which I feel particularly sympathetic to (HELLO BED REST) and causes your body to hurt in ways you never thought possible.

I also wonder what the cast is doing her her psychologically. Maybe nothing. But I wonder if it will affect her mood or personality down the line? I know being in the hospital affected me a lot as a child (although I was older), so whose to say 3 months in a body cast before the age of 1 won't 'scar' her mentally.

Anyway, I know we'll get through it. It's not like we have a choice. It just feels like a very long time, especially now that winter has really set in here. There are no holidays or family parties to look forward to, and I'm fairly house-bound with a heavy, poopy, crabby baby.

Doesn't that sound like a party?


The above was written on Saturday. I never get my posts up the same day I write them anymore as I get interrupted by Kaia demands before I have time to proof read or spell check, so I figured I would update in the same post and let you know that we've found somewhat of a solution to the poopy problem.

Yesterday Brian bought a whole box of puppy 'piddle pads'. You know the thin plastic backed absorbent sheets that you use while house-breaking your dog? Yeah those. Brian had the ingenious idea to cut them into 8ths (so they are about 4 inches wide) to act as a 'runner' down Kaia's back to rest between her and the lining of the cast. We tape them lightly to back outside of her cast, then thread them down the back, absorbent side towards her skin, where they emerge from the poop hole cut out in the cast. Then the diaper gets shoved between the piddle pad runner and her bum. If she happens to have a poop that shoots up her back, it lands on the runner and not the cast! We've been sticking with this set up for over 24 hours now and I haven't had to wipe poop out of the cast once. YES!

Also, I made a chiropractor appointment for tomorrow. I'm excited to hopefully get rid of this awful back pain.

And now for some pictures which someone asked for.

The first two pictures are of Kaia 'undressed' except for the diaper shoved in her 'diaper hole'. A larger (size 5) diaper goes over the whole thing to help contain everything, although it doesn't get dirty that often. The second two pictures are her in my new favourite outfit. Brian got her these knock off Baby Legs for Christmas and I love how bright they are. And yes, it does look like Kaia has giant Dolly Parton boobs when she's dressed. Since clothes have to stretch to fit over the cast she's in size 6 to 12 months even though she's 4 months corrected and prior to the cast was just outgrowing all of her 0-3 month clothes.

Without further ado, Kaia, in all her cast glory!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spica Hell: Suck fest 2012

Cast day 5.

Every year for the past few years we seem to get lobbed a shitty circumstance that is totally out of the ordinary to what other people 'generally' have to deal with and Brian and I and our families have to navigate through it and hope like hell we can hold it together.

Now so far, the spica cast hasn't been quite the same hell that a dead baby (2010) and an endangered pregnancy and subsequent 50 day NICU stay (2011) was...but hey, we're less than 2 weeks into January!

Last Friday Kaia went in to surgery at around 11am. Brian and I found this step more stressful than we had anticipated. I was awake since 3:15 that morning because I couldn't sleep and we had Kaia up at 5:45am to eat her last bottle before she was "NPO" (nil per os = no food, a fancy way to describe torture to a baby). It was really weird walking into the hospital where I work and being the parent of a child having surgery. One of the nurses I use to work with was the first person I saw walking into the day surgery unit where Kaia was scheduled that morning and I hadn't seen her since I left the NICU in 2010. She didn't know about either Aidan and Kaia, so after regaling her with that long story (and almost having her in tears), she made a big fuss about how cute Kaia was and how this spica cast thing won't come close to the ordeals we've had in the past.

True...I guess...but it's still pretty sucky.

After Kaia's surgery we were whisked down for an urgent MRI. Apparently Kaia had woken up from the anesthetic in the recovery room screaming, and they were afraid something was wrong with her hip position. However, the MRI went well and the hip is in place in the cast. Now we just have to wait 12 weeks and hope that her pelvic bone grows sufficiently around the ball of her femer creating a working hip.

We brought her home the next day (Saturday), and it's only today (Tuesday) that Kaia seems more herself. Last night was the worst night yet. She was SO upset and cried from about 10:30pm to 1:30am and finally fell asleep only after we dosed her with the morphine the hospital gave us a prescription for. Kaia's never been exactly 'easy' to settle at night, but this was TOTALLY over the top. I was one dose of morphine away from calling the orthopedic resident on call at the hospital and yelling at him "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY SWEET BABY?"

Let's hope tonight's a better night and Kaia returns to her happy normal self.

Cuz if not, this is going to be a LOOOONNNNGGGG 3 months.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year

We started the New Year off right last night by having our friends J & J over and their daughter C, who is 18 months old. It was a lot of fun and I had a good New Years. Much better than last year, where I was 5 weeks pregnant, had an ear ache, was afraid to take Tylenol and couldn't wait to pour myself into bed.

We've really made the most of the holidays this year. On December 27th we packed up Kaia and all her crap (3 small bags, 2 giant suitcases, 1 stroller and car seat and a partridge in a pear tree) and traveled 6 hours in the car to visit Brian's grandmother, returning home on the 29th. Grandma is 90 and in the hospital. Brian hadn't seen her in 5 years, I've only met her a handful of times and she's only seen pictures of Kaia. After my grandmother died this past summer, we felt it was important for Kaia to meet her last remaining great-grandparent. I still feel badly that I never went to see my grandmother in the hospital after she broke her hip and before she died, so as much as it was a lot of work, it was worth the trip to make Brian's grandmother's day.

Kaia had an excellent (and busy) Christmas Day. Didn't get much of a nap, but what kid does on Christmas? She got lots of toys and clothes and a rocking horse to use when she's older. We did put her on it and got this face:

And this one:Kaia has really found her voice the past few weeks. We now get screeching and babbling and even some real laughter. She really likes it when she has the hiccups and you imitate her by making 'hiccup' noises. She thinks it's hilarious and so do we.

Now that it's officially January, we are in countdown to cast day. It's only 5 days away. I'm hoping it's going to be easier and less stressful than I'm fearing. It's just that the cast feels so intrusive. Like it will change everything we've gotten use to and feel comfortable doing with our baby. She will have to be diapered differently, sleep in a different place, won't fit in the same clothes, and we'll need to buy or rent a car seat that will fit her. We won't even be able to carry her the same way. She can't be held under her arms; we have to pick her up under her cast to avoid it pulling down on her body. I'm trying not to worry about it too much, but it's hard now when cast day is so close. I'm sure we'll get use to just that it sucks that we'll HAVE to get use to it.

Despite this cast business, I must say I feel more positive and upbeat looking forward to 2012. I have so much to be grateful for and am looking forward to learning about Kaia's personality as she grows. I'm hoping this year will bring us a more peaceful, routine lifestyle. I hope we will feel calmer, happier, more prosperous and less stressed and sad than we were for most of 2010 and 2011. So far, it's looking good!

Onward 2012!