Pregnancy and a Pandemic

We had a bit of a scare last week. Aside from the pandemic itself. At 34 weeks pregnant I started having contractions. Which coincided with some other preterm labor symptoms. I shall spare you all the specifics of my cervix. But thankfully, things have settled down a little bit.

When I got pregnant, I was faced with an ominous feeling that I hadn’t really prepared for. My first son was born at 35 weeks 0 days. And because of that had a required stay in the NICU. That turned out to be an incredibly traumatic experience. I hesitate to use the term “PTSD” simply because I think that it is perhaps a bit too dramatic for what I’m experiencing. But it may be close. In a previous post I wrote about the hysterical crying I experienced throughout my first and second trimester. Every time I thought about going back to that hospital, about delivering my baby, about what “could be” it sent me into a spiral of fear and dread the likes of which I’ve never felt. And while I’ve stopped crying because of those fears, some new ones have taken their place.

As the news spreads and the cases in the US grow, the Covid-19 pandemic has started to takes its toll on my psyche. The past couple of weeks have been worry on top of worry. It has been formidable. It’s such a futile thing, isn’t it? Worry. But, we can’t help it. I think some of us are more susceptible to it than others. Predisposed perhaps. Whether by upbringing, or anxiety disorders. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t really make a difference. It is just as futile.

So, the catch 22 here is..

We needed to get to 35 weeks and 1 day. That has been the goal for a long time. About 9 months to be exact. 35 weeks and 1 day is the cut off for a mandatory NICU stay. Wednesday, April 1st was that precipose. I even had a premonition that the baby would be born on that day. Last week when the contractions and other things started, I tried to will it to not happen. I needed more time. I needed April 1st. I know that I can’t control things with my mind, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. “If I don’t pack my hospital bag, he won’t come.” It sounded logical, and so it became a theory I put into practice. Needless to say, it worked. Coincidentally….

And here we are on the other side of it by 2 days. Now, I found myself, not necessarily hoping I’ll go into labor, but kind of. The cases of Covid -19 in the state of Maine are growing steadily. There was a large spike today. I live in the most populated county, with the most cases, and will be delivering at the biggest hospital in the state. I’ve been going to the doctor at least once or twice a week, each time asking for status updates on the hospital. The most unsettling thing I think is hearing the answer ” I don’t know” when asking a seemingly easy questions. And it being followed by “it changes every day” as to a policy or procedure.

My worries are that my husband won’t be allowed in. That if we wait too long, that I’ll have to deliver this baby alone. Obviously doctors will be there, but… You know what I mean. The thought of that is hard enough. But if push came to shove (hah!), I’d manage it. The real worry; the deep down, bowl me over fear I have is everything after delivery. What if the baby has to go to the NICU? Will my husband and I be able to see him together? Will only one of us be able to? Can we take turns or is it only one of us for his entire stay? Or better yet – Will we be able to see him at all? Several people in my office building have confirmed cases. The two week self-quarantine period we were on has passed, but is that up to their ever changing standards? What will happen between now and whenever this baby comes that could change the policies of Maine Medical Center and stop us from seeing our baby. And there are so, so many other questions… See? Futile.

So, This is where I’m at. These are the things thoughts that have kept me restless lately. We’re all going to come out of this with our own Pandemic story. And I think mine will be a lot like many others. There’s nothing extraordinary about it. But I find it helpful to write it down.

I’m going to go pack my hospital bag.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Danishes

I received a lot of comments about pictures of these danishes on social media. I haven’t posted a recipe in a while so I thought I’d share this one.

The most frustrating part of finding recipes online is the long, drawn out stories that coincide with them. Well, today you’re in luck. No story here. I’m pregnant and wanted a danish. So I made some. Below should be easy enough to screenshot and save to your phone. Because we all know that’s what we do when we find a recipe we want to try. Am I right?

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 2 rolls crescent dough
  • 1 package cream cheese, 8oz
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 4 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Melt butter, mix in brown sugar
  • Do not separate crescent rolls. Instead, cut 8, 1 inch thick slices. Lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet facing up so you can see the layers. (1st picture)
  • Using the back of a spoon, take some of the brown sugar/butter mixture and press gently into each slice of dough. Try turning the spoon back and forth. This will create a well for the filling and coat each danish at the same time (2nd picture)
  • If you have left over brown sugar mixture, brush the remaining amount in each danish
  • Combine white sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice, and 1 tsp vanilla with hand mixer
  • scoop cream cheese mixture into each danish. About a tablespoon full. (3rd picture)
  • I used Stonewall Kitchens blueberry preserves in this recipe but I‚Äôm sure any would do. I used about a teaspoon in the center.
  • Bake for 16 minutes
  • Mix confectionery sugar, milk and vanilla with fork to get out clumps.
  • Once danishes are slightly cooled, brush glaze over each danish.

Anticipation.

What an odd thing, antipacation. It has so many different connotations. The anticipation of Christmas morning as a kid, and even now as a parent. It evokes a sense of excitement, something magical. But anticipating news from a doctor’s office comes with a certain sense of dread. It can be good or bad, and either way it feels just about the same physically. But no matter what, I can’t say the word without hearing Carly Simon’s voice. Antici -pay -ay -tion.

My husband and I are expecting our second child in May. Our first son, Nikola, was 5 weeks early. And because he was so early he had a mandatory stay in the NICU. Couple that experience with a tough couple of days in the maternity unit and it has led to an unexpected reaction on my part.

This second pregnancy wasn’t planned necessarily. While my husband and I wanted a second child, this one came a bit sooner than we had discussed. And at the first hint of those telling symptoms, I started to feel something emotionally that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. At first, I was in denial. I didn’t take a pregnancy test for days even though it was clear I was expecting. That should’ve been my first clue that something was up. Eventually I did, and while there was certainly excitement, it came with an overwhelming sense of trepidation.

Every mother has a birth story. And most love to tell theirs. I do not. If I try, I leave parts out. Either because of modesty, or because I’m already crying too hard. At our first doctors appointment, I cried hysterically. And then at our second, and third. I tried so hard to communicate to my doctor what I was feeling. He would try to assure me that it wouldn’t be the same this time. But to no avail. My crying continued far beyond the doctors appointment. It was every night, and throughout most days. People would want to talk about the baby, and I’d stop them. Just the thought of going through what we did last time overwhelmed me more than I could have ever fathomed. The anticipation of it all….

And so that’s where I’ve been mentally. Trying to turn the anticipation of this momentous event that will forever change and shape our lives, from bad to good. It’s been a long road, 6 months to be exact, but I think I am almost there. And because of that, the fog I’ve been walking in has seemingly cleared, and I was able to do this post. It’s incredible how much weight an emotion like that can carry. And you only truly realize it once its lifted.

Extra-Ordinary Love, part 2

Nikola has always been an affectionate baby but lately he seems to have an agenda when dolling out kisses. He has learned that if he gives you a kiss and then asks or points to something, he’s more apt to get it. Whether it be a set of keys you’re fairly certain he’ll lose or if he wants you to play Baby Shark for the umteenth time. With his chubby little hands, knuckle dimples and all, he’ll grab either side of your face and pull you towards his. His mouth open as wide as a largemouth bass. And then, there it is. The kiss that makes you melt, over and over again.

He knows exactly how to manipulate your heart strings. He is smart and perfectly mischievous in the most adorable way. And it’s one of the things I love most about him.

The most masterful linguist, the most articulate wordsmith, wouldn’t be able to scratch the surface of the feeling that is loving your child. It is indescribable in every way. What it means. How it feels. It’s depth, It’s reach. It’s pull. All of it. It is entirely different from every other kind of love that exists. And I understand how incredibly lucky I am to feel it all day, every day.

You don‚Äôt know what unconditional love is. You may say you do, but if you don‚Äôt have a child, you don‚Äôt know what that is. But when you experience it, it is the most fulfilling ever. ”    Regina King

THE CRYING HANGOVER

IMG_5134

This is our view from Nikola’s room at The Barbara Bush Children’s¬†Hospital. ¬†Our baby was admitted this past Thursday because of a mysterious fever, rash, fussiness combo. ¬†Since becoming¬†a mom I have googled everything under the sun related to babies, but this one was too scary. ¬†Their initial concern was Bacterial Meningitis. ¬†It takes 48 hours for the results from the spinal tap to come back. So while their concern is immediate, the results are not. It has been a long couple of days. ¬†When he was born and in the NICU things were tough. ¬†But at no point was he in pain. ¬†This time, that hasn’t been the case. ¬†So many tests, pokes, and prods. ¬†It took more than six hours for the doctors to collect all of the different fluids they’d need. ¬†Nikola cried most of that time. ¬†And so did we. ¬†The feeling you get when your child is in pain is just as indescribable as the amount of love you have for them. I had to prop myself up against a wall, the crying was uncontrollable. Hence, the crying hangover. ¬†I haven’t had one since I had to leave the hospital without him when he was born. ¬†And before that, it was my brother’s accident. ¬†They are every bit as awful as the ones induced by alcohol. ¬†Just a lot sadder.

But we got some great news a little while ago. ¬†His Doctor came in and said that everything had come back negative. ¬†They don’t know the exact cause of the fever but are considering it a viral infection most likely picked up at daycare. ¬†Effing daycare. ¬†We should be able to go home later today.

IMG_5136

 

A few people have asked lately if I was still blogging. ¬†During the pregnancy I had terrible pregnancy brain, I could barely form sentences let alone put together a coherent¬†blog post. ¬†And since giving birth, well, I’ve been a little busy.

But more than either of those reasons I worried I didn’t have anything to say. ¬†I thought that my experiences and opinions weren’t of value because I’m so new to the role of Mom. ¬†But all of the¬†research I’ve done for everything from best diaper bags to infant cognitive milestones has largely been based on a matter of opinion. ¬†Even doctors opinions differ. ¬† ¬†To our great frustration, I might add. ¬†Just today we’ve been told that he’d be going home at 1 and then were told that it would be 6. An RN just came in 15 minutes ago and mentioned something about tomorrow. ¬†Nothing has changed in Nikolas condition throughout the day, just the doctor at shift change.

So maybe my opinion on Dr. Brown’s bottles would be of value to someone. ¬†Or maybe sharing our experience of having a baby in the NICU or even the experience we’re having now could help someone. Somewhere. At some point.

So, let’s try this again. ¬†Back to Blogging.

 

 

Pregnancy and the accompanying‚Äč anecdotes.

I’m pregnant. ¬†After 2 years and 11 months of trying, my husband and I finally got a positive pregnancy test. ¬†We spent a lot of money on sticks that I had to pee on, went to doctors, had fertility tests (all came back fine), and even tried in vitro. ¬†All with no luck. ¬†But, as of 2 days ago, we are 17 weeks pregnant.

We found out the¬†morning of October 11th. ¬†The day we left for our trip to Macedonia. ¬†I was about 5 days late at that point. ¬†I’m a superstitious person and after not just months, but literally years of getting excited every 28 days, and taking a test early only to be disappointed, I resolved to wait. ¬†Wait until I was really late, like reeeaallly late. ¬†I didn’t want to jinx it. ¬†My husband Kruno was getting more and more excited as those late days passed by. ¬†When I did take the test, I didn’t tell him what I was doing. ¬†It came back positive almost immediately. ¬†I called for him to come to the bathroom. ¬†Drudgingly, he came. He thought I needed him in to kill a bug. ¬†I showed him the test and excitement ensued.

The last 17 weeks have been enlightening.  I learn something new every day.  About my body, my abilities or lack thereof, and places I can, all of sudden, no longer comfortably reach because of my growing size.

And with every minute of research I’ve done since that positive test, I’ve become more and more aware that I know nothing about pregnancy, labor, and perhaps even babies. ¬†And I’d like to share with you all some of the more interesting¬†revelations I’ve had.

 

WHATS HAPPENING TO ME???

This question came early and often.  Google became my most used app.  How could I have been so clueless?  In movies and TV, pregnant women are portrayed in a certain 10c18pway.   Emotional. Vomiting, Bitchy.  I thought I was mentally prepared for all of it, but the other symptoms and the pure intensity hit me like a wrecking ball

I get so emotional, baby…

The first to¬†rear its ugly head was the elevated hormones. ¬†I’m an emotional person to begin with. ¬†But I naively thought “How much worse could this get?” ¬†Well… Let me tell ya.

Every emotion I feel, I feel it times a hundred, maybe even a thousand. ¬†If I’m sad, it borders on devastation. ¬†If I’m angry, watch out. But the most notable change is that I am loving harder. ¬†I love people HARD. ¬†Wicked hard. Over this past holiday, I looked at my young nephews, I just wanted to grab them and not let go. ¬†I wanted to look them square in the eyes and say sternly ” I love you, dammit!” ¬†(Picture Rhett Butler saying that to Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the wind”. But, I thought better of it. ¬†The boys are young and I didn’t want to scare the shit out of them.) ¬†And when I left my grandmothers house to come back home, I cried for a long time. ¬†She lives just a few hours away. I can go see her any weekend. ¬†And as I’m typing this, thinking about how much I love these people and how much I miss them, I’m crying. ¬†I’m a mess.

And my crying has changed. The act of it itself. ¬†These crying spells last forever. ¬†My tears have even gotten bigger. ¬† The amount of fluid that is falling from my eyeballs is astounding. ¬†My tears are the size of nickles, I kid you not. ¬†Isn’t that weird? ¬†Has anyone else experienced that while pregnant? ¬†And because of all these things. ¬†The dehydration from the size and quantity of tears, and the ease at which I cry, I have had to completely change how and when I view things. ¬†For example, I’m spending far less time on Facebook these days. ¬†I used to love watching the heart-warming videos. that would populate my newsfeed. ¬†But no more. I can’t risk it. I also haven’t been able to watch several episodes of “This is us”. ¬†I watched a few at the beginning of the season, but when I saw the previews of the one where Kate has a miscarriage, all bets were off. ¬†Now the second part of the season is supposed to start and I’m in a pickle. ¬†Do I devote an entire day to catching up on the season? ¬†Let’s do that math: ¬†4 episodes I missed = 4 hours of viewing. + 2 hours of crying time (conservatively) + 1 hour of recuperation to let the puffiness in my face dissipate. ¬†That’s a big commitment.

 

My body is a wonderland

No, no it isn’t. ¬†While it is mystifying me these days, I don’t think that’s what John Mayer meant. ¬†You can read Pinterest posts, join the community group chats in your pregnancy apps and read “What to expect when you’re expecting” all you want, but I guarantee you, something is going to happen that will throw you for a loop. ¬†From my albeit brief experience, I’ve come to realize that it’s important to use the mentioned resources as merely a guideline. ¬†Most of my symptoms have occurred earlier than normal.

 

One of the most notable and noticeable changes were that things errrr… grew a bit quicker than I would’ve expected. ¬†Below is a screenshot of a conversation I had with a group of friends about my husband noticing a change.
Pregnancy convo
My clothes got tighter right off the bat. ¬†And I thought “Ok, no big deal. ¬†This was expected ¬†I’ll go buy some new clothes.” ¬†But it isn’t that easy. ¬†Nothing fits right. ¬†Nothing. ¬†I’m not big enough for maternity clothes, but my stomach is too big for regular clothes. ¬†Everything I own at this point is frumpy. ¬† ¬†And because of the heightened emotions, the ill-fitting clothing sends me into a spiral of self-consciousness and frustration. ¬†There are days that I can’t even look in the mirror before I leave for work. ¬†Those days are the “Fuck it” days. ¬†And they are happening more frequently as the pregnancy progresses.
One other thing that I started noticing recently was my walk has changed. ¬†I used to have a confident stride. ¬†I don’t know why considering how clumsy I am, but I did. ¬†I used to be able to comfortably wear heels up to a certain height. But that’s all gone now. ¬†As the day goes on, and I get to feeling less and less comfortable, my walk transforms. ¬†Slowly, subtly, into a waddle. ¬†At work by 4 pm, as I go to and from the printer I notice my body shifting from side to side, with a brief but significant settle in each step. ¬†I will immediately correct it, but I know deep down that it’s going to come to a point when I’m no longer am able to. ¬†It is inevitable. ¬†The waddle is coming.

Don’t you, forget about me

“Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most”. ¬†Mark Twain must have stolen this from his wife when she was pregnant. ¬†People talk about pregnancy brain often. ¬†But nothing prepares you for it. ¬†I am not just forgetting things, but I’m thinking I do things or say things that I don’t. ¬†“Didn’t I tell you that?” has become my most used sentence recently. ¬†A few weeks ago I had mentioned to my boss that I had forgotten to text some family members back recently. ¬†She was understandably concerned whereas my job is mostly following up with clients and remembering things. ¬†I assured her that I only let it affect my home life. ¬†And that is the truth. I noticed that this was starting to happen, so the moment I leave work, I totally shut off my brain. ¬†So far, it seems to be working. While this doesn’t thrill my husband, it’s a sacrifice we’ll have to make until I figure something else out. I haven’t written a post in a really long time. ¬†Not because I didn’t have anything to write, or I was too busy. I have been conserving all of my brain cells for work. ¬†This post, in fact, has taken an exceptionally long time. ¬†I’ve been storing up for weeks to finish it. ¬†Now, I’m no neurologist but I think there might be some logic to it.

The end

While this is only a short list of the symptoms I’ve experienced, these are what has struck me as funny. ¬†I think it’s important to keep levity at the forefront. ¬†Because what awaits us at the end is going to be the most momentous experience of our lives. We are so excited to be parents and I am excited to share our little stories throughout the process. S