Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Up in the Air

There is not too much to report on Agnes since a few days ago, other than her overall condition appears to be stable and slowly improving. Yesterday she did very well maintaining a body temperature without the hot air blanket or the medicine that assists with perfusion. She is also in process of weaning down the hard-hitting narcotic pain killers. She is also clear of the intestinal infection that caused some swelling and “free air” in her belly. Her lungs sound back to baseline for her, which is to say they are stiff and slightly diminished on the left side, but at least she’s back to “normal.” She is happy on her home ventilator.

But today they decided to try stimulating her guts by starting tube feeds at a very slow rate, and she didn’t like it. She spiked a temperature and some formula seeped back out to her stomach where it appeared in the suction tubing. I guess that’s the nice thing about Agnes’ G/J tube: you can feed her guts while leaving the stomach open to suction, which helps prevent throwing up. So Agnes demonstrated an intolerance to food, so they stopped feeding her. I’m not sure what the plan is for restarting.

Plus it is not clear whether her shunt is actually working or not. I do believe that it was functional at the time of the CT scan a few days ago. But in the meantime, the neurosurgeon tapped off some fluid and that procedure demonstrated a very high level of pressure in Agnes’ ventricles. Plus today she was very sleepy. So…I guess we’ll see on Monday what the next CT scan shows.

All in all, we are still in a grey area. Agnes did improve her condition since last week; she is like a new baby! We are grateful for that and happy that she didn’t die. But as we go on, it is not clear whether this recovery is lasting, or if she is on her way to a relapse. We are very conflicted about how to proceed here. We were sad she was dying, but also a bit relieved that she wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. Now that she got better, it feels as if we are traveling the same road again, the road of suffering. The fact that Agnes did recover is a miracle and the mid-week news that her shunt was working felt like another miracle. Those events happened and many people derived spiritual benefit and faith, and trust in God because of those events. Now we know that thousands of people are praying to saints and to God on behalf of Agnes and our family, which is amazing. Even if Agnes takes another turn for the worst this weekend, that extra week she was here brought boundless grace to thousands of people. Who knows what she will do from this point forward, but every day she is here is a gift and an opportunity to draw close to the Lord and experience grace.

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Agnes’ Tricky Shunt Surgery: UPDATE

Agnes’ shunt surgery yesterday afternoon was successful. The surgeons were able to place a V-A shunt on Agnes’ left side without a problem. This morning they sent Agnes to do a head CT scan just to check up and everything looks like it is working.

Of course, the big unknown factor is Agnes’ pulmonary hypertension and whether the pressure in her heart will prevent the shunt from draining properly. This may take a while to develop fully, but things appear to be working at this time. My feeling was that if the shunt didn’t fail right away, we have a pretty good chance that it will continue to work. Agnes has been more awake today and she got mad a few times, and the shunt still appears to work, so I ¬†am encouraged.

In other good news, Agnes got back on her home ventilator today, her tube feeding is back to her normal rate and schedule, all her home medications are going without any problems, she is tolerating routine care like baths, diaper changes, and trach care. Her incision sites still look gross of course, but they are healing according to expectations. Her belly is soft again, though still a bit more distended than what her normal should be. No one is concerned because that distention she had was more than likely shunt-related, and now that issue is resolved. It will take a little time for her fluids to balance out again with all the recent changes in shunts and other drains.

To top off the surprising news, we were told today that Agnes will move out of the PICU and up to the regular floor for trach and vent dependent children. This is mostly because the PICU is full to capacity and they need Agnes’ room for an incoming, critically ill child, but it is all because Agnes continues to improve and the PICU isn’t doing anything for her that she can’t get on the regular floor.

And finally, word on the street is that Agnes will come home next week. Like, early next week. Like, if she continues to do well and the shunt appears functional, and all the home care gets organized, she could be home for the New Year. Whoa.

We were expecting Agnes to have a Nissen wrap surgery this admission, as well as an I.V. port installation, but those two things now seem to be optional at this point. The intensive care doctor is convinced that Agnes’ recent gastro- problems were a result of the extra fluid in her abdomen, and now she is tolerating food well, and everything seems to be normal in that area. So, a Nissen is not indicated. As for the I.V. port, that may be something for Agnes in the future, but it is not emergent and can definitely be scheduled if and when the need arises. Plus, the neurosurgeon wants Agnes to have a chance to totally recover and heal from the shunt surgery, so we’re looking at weeks at least if we decide she needs the other stuff sooner rather than later.

So.

Big news.

We are shocked still, and we can’t even feel excited or happy because this is so unexpected. I am convinced there was some miracle here. The story changed way too quickly to be entirely medical. Someone out there must be a really fervent pray-er. Or some saint intercessor is very powerful. I guess we’ll never know the agency of this miracle. God is good.

Thank you all for your prayers. Obviously they are working!

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Agnes’ Tricky Shunt Surgery

So on Tuesday, the neurosurgeon and the general surgeon went into Agnes’ surgery together to place a V-A shunt through her right side jugular vein. When then assessed the location with ultrasound, they were not pleased with what they found. The jugular vein is more or less destroyed on that side because of the heavy-duty I.V. Agnes had while inpatient at the NICU, so the surgeons were not able to thread the shunt through on Tuesday. There was another possibility on the right side of Agnes’ body, another large vein that would be a less direct path for the shunt, but still acceptable. So they assessed that location, and they were unable to thread the shunt in that vein as well, for whatever reason. Agnes has always been a difficult gal to stick I.V.’s or draw blood, and I’m sure this was the same kind of problem. With one thing and the other, it took them 2 hours to get to this point in a surgery that should have taken just over one hour.

So the surgeons decided to give up and leave Agnes’ shunt externalized. They did look at the veins on the left side of her body while she was sedated in the OR, just to preview other possibilities, and they thought there were a couple promising sites, but they didn’t want to go for in on Tuesday. Agnes was in surgery for an excessive length of time, with a whole parade of surgeons and other assorted characters in and out of her operating room. Her neurosurgeon didn’t want to take the risk and install a brand-new left side shunt only to have it become infected due to the semi-chaotic circumstances of her surgery. They are so careful to do everything sterile, but mistakes can happen, especially when there is so much going on around you. So, they will put the new left side shunt in tomorrow (Thursday) at 12:00pm noon.

Obviously we wish the Tuesday surgery had been successful, but at least they did not give up on the V-A shunt idea. And at least they didn’t put the shunt in a less than favorable location only to have it fail right away. That’s looking on the bright side. Tomorrow they will start fresh, with their goal in sight, and hopefully the surgery will be quick and they can do what they need to do without any more funny business.

12:00 noon Thursday. Agnes’ shunt surgery. Praypraypray that it works out!

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Back For More

Today we had a big Family Meeting that included Jeremy and me, many people from the Palliative Care team, the attending PICU doctor and a PICU Nurse Practitioner, and the neurosurgeon and his Physicians Assistant. It was a full conference room.

We talked about a few major items.

Smiling in her sleep.

Smiling in her sleep.

1. Agnes’ shunt. This is the determining factor for her, going forward. It will be what limits her progress and dictates what further steps need to be taken. Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:00 noon, the neurosurgeon will replace Agnes’ current shunt with a V-A shunt, which will drain Cerebral Spinal Fluid directly into the right atrium of her heart. This type of shunt is already not a super good choice, and in Agnes’ case it could fail right from the get-go, because Agnes has increased pressure in the right side of her heart due to pulmonary hypertension. The pressure difference may not be great enough to allow the shunt to drain properly. If this turns out to be the case, we could know within a few hours to a day that the shunt will not work. If the pressures are kind of borderline, it might take a longer period to know whether the shunt will work or not. Or the shunt may work indefinitely. The neurosurgeon could not make a prediction. My personal feeling is, if the shunt does not immediately prove to fail, I think it has a pretty good chance of working out long term. That is not based on any medical facts, just my own gut feeling.

2. What happens if the V-A shunt does fail. There are two more obvious solutions for shunt placement. When I say “obvious,” I mean for a neurosurgeon. No one else has heard of them and there are a list of reasons why. The first alternate option is to drain the shunt to the gallbladder. The final option is to put the shunt in a major vein in the head. The gallbladder option may work for Agnes if needed, but it has some of the same concerns as the V-A shunt, infection risk and inability to place extra catheter. The brain vein option is not really available because as Agnes’ neurosurgeon put it, if the shunt doesn’t work in a major vein in her chest, what makes us think it will work in a major vein in her head? If those shunt options are exhausted, there is really no where else to go and we would be at the end of the line.

Her smiles are so sweet!

Her smiles are so sweet!

3. How close are we to the end of the line. As I said before, it really is dependent on the shunt. Agnes does not have any terminal condition at this point. Her respiratory failure and pulmonary hypertension are being managed with significant yet not extreme measures. There is no reason to think at this point that her conditions–apart from the shunt–cannot continue to be managed. There are a few other interventions that are possibly in Agnes’ future, such as a Fundoplication (Nissen) wrap to prevent reflux and a permanent I.V. port to facilitate access for medicine and blood draws. Those options will be open for discussion once Agnes has a chance to recover from the V-A shunt surgery. In the meantime, Jeremy and I have made it clear to all the doctors that all available methods are to be used in preserving Agnes’ life. We can revisit the question later if we start to feel like things are being done to Agnes rather than for her.

The meeting was good to have, even if no new information was uncovered, just to get all the teams on the same page. And now they all know they are supposed to do anything if Agnes has a crisis. I feel good leaving things at that point for now.

For a prayer request, could you please pray that the V-A shunt works? That seems to be the cutoff between not-extreme and extreme care. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Saint Agnes, pray for us. Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.

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7 Quick Takes: October 4

Hi y’all. Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary, as per usual on a Friday.

1. Yesterday in my haste to write a quick blog post before bedtime, I forgot to mention a Cool Thing. Fr. Michael Gaitley asked all of us at the talk to pray for him as he is traveling to Mexico to meet with super-wealthy benefactors with the hopes that someone will finance the translation of 33 Days to Morning Glory into Spanish and then support giving away millions of copies for free. He said this project has recently launched in the U.S. and it has been extremely successful. Like, they printed a couple million Spanish 33 Days, and the books have been available for a week, and they only have a few thousand left. Successful. And Fr. Michael wants to do the same thing in Mexico. So maybe all y’all can pray for him too!

2. And the other cool thing is that Fr. Michael will have the opportunity to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe up close and pray with her. And, he promised us that he would pray for Agnes when he sees Our Lady! He really did offer a beautiful blessing for Agnes when we met him last night. I feel more at peace about Agnes’ surgery.

3. I really hope Agnes’ hospital stay next week is brief. I don’t know how I will handle another month-long stay. Last time I started to pull away and feel disconnected and detached from Agnes and I don’t want that to happen again. Although, I will say the one bright side to her going to the hospital is that I can focus on Stephen when I’m at home, and go to bed before 11pm. But those are not sufficiently brights sides to make me long for an extended inpatient visit. A few nights would be more than enough.

4. My big plan for tomorrow is to bake some cookies. I haven’t decided which kind yet. I really like cookies, but those pre-packaged cookies you find in the cookie/cracker aisle of the grocery are just a waste of time. They don’t really taste like anything, they last forever after you open them and that’s no good, they’re expensive, and they don’t even look real. I just can’t bring myself to eat them. The only thing going for them is they are sweet. So, tomorrow I will make lovely homemade cookies! I want to really enjoy my fats and sweets if I’m going to spend calories on that portion of the food pyramid.

5. I grew up with the food pyramid and I will always think of the food pyramid no matter who comes along and shows me a color-coded plate. That is all.

6. Minor miracle today: I got Stephen to take a nap! He was up very late last night with grandma and grandpa while Jeremy and I went to the talk, but he still woke up around the normal time. I’m glad he took a nap like he never does; he really needed it! Plus, I got to doze a little with Agnes as well. Win win win. Wins all around.

7. So I guess some symptoms of hydrocephalus are sleepiness and irritability, which could explain why Agnes is either asleep, or cranky-pants. Nothing I did today calmed her down, except holding her in my arms. Then she would fall asleep, but she woke up again as soon as I laid her back in bed. Stinker. Hopefully the shunt will help her be more even-tempered. Although, I’m not sure how I will be able to handle a more wakeful baby and Stephen both! I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Read more quick takes at Conversion Diary!

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Top Ten

I find my blog’s “dashboard” to be very interesting. I especially enjoy reading the column that tells me which of my blog posts are receiving a lot of traffic on any given day, and for the whole week. Sometimes I am surprised at which posts show up in the list. Just for fun, I clicked through and looked at the list for my most-viewed blog posts in the history of the blog. A couple of them surprised me! Here are my blog’s top ten posts since I began writing in February 2013.

10. What I Wore Sunday: June 9

Thank you, Fine Linen and Purple for hosting this link up. I always get a ton of traffic when I participate! And thank you, other bloggers, who take the time to visit my corner of the webs. I appreciate it greatly!

9. A Hard Day

Having a baby in the hospital is really stinkin’ hard.

8. What I Wore Sunday: May 26

From our second week going to Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church. Also, Agnes starts to fail her prenatal tests.

7. What I Wore Sunday: June 16 Baby Eve!

The day before I went in for my labor induction! Nervous nervous…

6. What I Will and Will Not Miss

This surprises me, making the top ten. I wrote this when we were getting ready to leave New Mexico.

5. Ventriculomegaly Update

The third installment of Agnes’ prenatal saga.

4. Chimayo, New Mexico: Holy Dirt

This post shows up in the “top posts” list every week. My family made a little pilgrimage to Chimayo to pray and collect some holy dirt.

3. Agnes, Woman of Mystery

This is a really good one, folks. I can see why it’s top three. And I’m not just saying that because I wrote it.

2. Agnes Makes Her Debut!

Who doesn’t like an exciting birth story?

 

and the number one post of all time….

1. Ven-TRIC-u-lo-MEG-a-ly

This is from when we first found out about Agnes’ condition at the 20 week ultrasound. I can see search engine terms that bring people to my blog, and this comes up a lot. If you have a kid with this, you are absolutely not alone!

 

Thanks everyone who reads my blog. I started writing to help myself appreciate the day-to-day ups and downs and to recognize blessings in my life that might not be obvious at first. This blog has helped me to do that, to put events into perspective, and to organize how I think and feel about what happens in my life. I love that I have been able to touch people with my stories. I love that my blog has been a resource, however minor, to other moms and dads who have special needs children. It is so worth it to me to keep writing!

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Baby’s First Bath Time Photo Shoot

It’s really hard to give Agnes a bath. I remember Stephen being hard too, maybe requiring four hands at first when we were inexperienced. He really hated baths at first, and he would flail his arms around and cry and cry. Agnes is difficult for a different reason. She is so floppy and doesn’t resist enough with her legs and arms when she is in the tub. We are still using that tiny pink tub they gave us from the hospital which is useful because if forces Agnes’ butt to stop sliding away from me when I’m trying to wash her head and torso. She is really slippery! She doesn’t fight much during the bath, and she doesn’t cry; she just looks around with a shocked expression and flops and slides all over the tub. I almost want to hook her arms over the edges of the tub to keep her from sliding around so much. I wonder if she would tolerate that?

I managed to get a few decent photos after the bath.

See her pretty eyes?

See her pretty eyes?

She's staring, bewildered, at the overhead lamp.

She’s staring, bewildered, at the overhead lamp.

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Now to hide some news down at the bottom of post, we had a follow-up with the neurosurgeon today. He is monitoring Agnes’ enlarged ventricles to see if/when they start to grow at an alarming rate. Well, I guess things in Agnes’ head are starting to show signs of pressure. Her head circumference has made a little jump, and so have the ventricles. She has another follow-up in a month to see what’s going on, but if the ventricles keep swelling, she will need a shunt. This is not surprising to me but of course I hope she doesn’t end up needing a shunt! She has defied expectations before, but my personal feeling is, she will need a shunt at some point. I learned that shunts are a more or less permanent installation totally inside the body. The shunt drains fluid from the brain into the “belly” which I forgot to ask if that means her stomach, her intestines, or just into tissue that is not an organ. She would need periodic check-ups to make sure the shunt continues to operate normally, but it sounds like a one-time surgery unless the shunt fails for some reason. The neurosurgeon did say that some babies who need shunts do outgrow the need, but that’s mostly premature babies. I think because Agnes’ ventriculomegaly is part of her special chromosomes, she will probably need to keep her shunt should she end up getting one. Only time will tell if she will need it.

Also in other news that is more positive, Jeremy and I did the same blood test as Agnes to determine if other children we may have will be at an increased risk for abnormal genetics. The results say: No! Agnes’ dealio was a totally random occurrence, and any future children we may have will not bear an elevated risk of Something Strange.

So…I’ve been thinking–and this clinches it for me–Agnes must have a really important reason for being here and for being the way she is. Her God-given mission must be super important. I don’t know if she has already done it, or if she’s waiting to impress us, but I plan to watch out for something amazing!

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Agnes, Woman of Mystery

IMAG0148It’s been awhile since I posted because so much has happened so fast. Agnes went to surgery for her intestines, then she went to another surgery to install a long-term secure I.V. called a Broviac. This kind of I.V. goes in through the scalp and threads through a major artery in the neck and into the heart. It’s way more stable than an I.V. in a foot or arm vein because it uses a major vessel rather than a peripheral vessel. So, Agnes has been pretty much unconscious for almost a week, recovering from her various surgeries. The doctors decided to not remove her ventilator tube on Monday as originally planned because of the Broviac surgery. It was a bit of a surprise that she needed it, but the docs couldn’t use any of the other I.V. methods with Agnes for one reason or another.

Jeremy and I met with the geneticist on Monday. All of Agnes’ problems appear to be related because of an anomaly with her chromosomes. Sometimes there is an issue with the development of a fetus, or even as far back as the egg and sperm forming, and the genetic material gets funny. This can happen randomly to any baby, and Agnes is the lucky winner in this instance. In her case, she has some extra genetic material on one of her chromosomes. This is no big surprise to Jeremy and me; since we first found out about the ventriculomegaly, we’ve known that the most common cause of that condition is a chromosomal or genetic issue with the baby. We were even prepared back at 20 weeks to learn Agnes would have Downs Syndrome. Well, she will have something. The exact duplication of genetic material that Agnes has can’t be labeled by a specific syndrome or condition, which we learned from her nurse happens about 50 percent of the time. The geneticist was able to give us some predictions about Agnes’ future based on similar cases, but her specifics will only be revealed in time.

The doctors are concerned about Agnes’ long term outcome, but at the same time they can’t give us many solid ¬†predictions because Agnes is a unique individual and her case is one-of-a-kind. Based on the similar cases the doctors have in their literature, they can tell us that Agnes will have multiple health problems, and she will have developmental delays. The geneticist can’t say how severe the problems and delays will be; that will only be revealed in time as Agnes grows older. He was able to say that Agnes’ outcome depends on the severity of internal issues that are discovered. She did have the mal-rotated bowels which were repaired, and the mild ventriculomegaly. So far her heart looks pretty darn good, and she has only shown a little trouble breathing on her own. Agnes has responded to physical therapy to help improve her poor muscle tone and contracted joints in fingers, wrists, and knees. We still don’t know if she will tolerate feeding by mouth because she has been given very little food the whole time she’s been born. And there is still lots of uncertainty about her airway and lung functions. But, a lot of the early signs do offer hope for a more positive long term outcome in Agnes’ case.

I know our situation has potential to be very grave. The neonatologist taking care of Agnes told me that a baby in the NICU several years ago with a similar diagnosis did fairly well, living to age 13. I don’t know if that is supposed to be encouraging or a “be realistic” bit of information, but I don’t fault the doctor for sharing it with me. Any amount of time Agnes can be with us is a great blessing. I’m realistic about her condition, and I’m prepared to accept it whether she lives 13 days, 13 years, 30 years, or longer. Of course, I hope she lives a long long time!

I do believe wholeheartedly that Agnes is a great grace in our lives, no matter how long she lives or what condition she is in long term. She is already an apostle, bringing many people closer to God in prayer. Because her condition is so mysterious, she is bringing us the opportunity to continually offer prayers and always trust in God’s will. Agnes is giving us the opportunity to be mindful of the Blessed Mother’s close presence at every moment.

Agnes is teaching us patience and acceptance. She is teaching us about the miracle of life and how every person has special gifts and a particular mission to accomplish on the earth.

It would be nice to know more about Agnes’ prospects for the future, but I almost prefer it to be unknown. This way we have more opportunity to be hopeful and trusting in God. There is more opportunity to recognize the small miracles. Like today: the doctor just decided to reduce Agnes’ ventilator rate and all but promised the vent tube would be removed before the weekend! This was a great surprise, and I have no doubt in my mind that it was the result of all the prayers that went up last night on Agnes’ behalf. This is proof that now is the best time for prayer, even more so than before!

So, this week has been really difficult and stressful on the family, but there is a mix of upsetting and hopeful news. Of course I’m very scared about my future with a special needs baby, but Agnes is giving me the opportunity to rely on Mary and the Lord for strength. I can continue to be hopeful because things will change from day to day, and I believe in the power of prayer.

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What I Wore Sunday: June 16 Baby Eve!

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple as usual on a Sunday! Head over there to read the other linkers-up. Link-uppers. Linkers. Whatever.

100_1680Let’s talk about my clothes first, this week. This is the big billowy dress my mom bought for my birthday a couple weeks ago. It is really lightweight and comfortable. Today is also my last chance to wear a dress for awhile since I intend to nurse Agnes when she makes her debut tomorrow. My mom bought the dress from a catalogue, maybe Woman Within or Romans or something. I’m not really sure.

I’m also wearing my brand new authentic Spanish mantilla! My in-laws just returned from a whirlwind trip to Spain and Portugal, and they were kind enough to bring me a mantilla in black lace. I have the little white lace one that I made, and I wear woven scarves a lot too. I’m really excited to wear a real mantilla from Spain! The lace is super soft and drapes nicely around my face. I did pin it to my head with bobby pins to prevent slippage. I really like that it covers my shoulders and arms as well. The shape is not what I expected–it’s a long narrow rectangle rather than a square or semi-circle–but it is a really convenient shape for wearing on the head. Because it doesn’t hang down a lot in back, it slides off less easily than a wider piece of fabric would. It still slides a lot if I don’t pin it, but the shape does help in that department.

And I’m wearing my black Minnetonka Moccasins. I promise, I do own other pairs of shoes. But why mess with perfection?

Stephen was excited to stay outside for a few minutes when we got home from church. He adores blowing bubbles. He is wearing a thrift store shirt, thrift store pants, and his new sneakers with lights on the sides that flash when he walks. They’re size 9 toddler shoes. Holy moly.

 

Today Jeremy, Stephen and I were officially welcomed as new parishioners at Holy Ghost! Fr. Sal made an announcement at the end of the liturgy, and gave us our welcome present: a box of donation envelopes! It was cute. Then we all went downstairs for cake. No, the cake wasn’t for us; it was to celebrate Fathers’ Day, but everyone was allowed to enjoy it, even the mothers and the babies.

2013-05-21 19.56.46Today is also my last day without an infant. Tomorrow at 8 a.m. we go to the hospital for my induction. I’m really nervous about it, and I’m afraid that every decision I will want to make about my labor will be taken away from me for medical reasons I don’t know about, or because something comes up that makes what I want an impossible course of action. I’m nervous because the labor will be induced and my body will be forced to comply with the doctors’ wishes that labor begin at a specific time and progress at a certain rate, and nothing will be allowed to unfold naturally. I’m nervous because the neonatologist told me a team of specialists will descend as soon as Agnes pops out. I think he thought he was being reassuring, telling me a lot of doctors will be around to make sure Agnes thrives. But I’m not reassured. All I want to do is snuggle Agnes on my chest and let her try to nurse. I don’t want her to be whisked away to the NICU and stuck with an I.V. and tubes. I’m hoping and praying she defies all the expectations and arrives screaming and flailing her limbs and otherwise being a completely normal newborn. I’m also hoping and praying I can keep my head in the game and do what is necessary. I’m just scared that I will mentally “give up,” especially if the doctors take away all my choices and decision-making opportunities.

I’ll probably see y’all in a few days, after the excitement dies down. Unless labor goes really fast and Agnes debuts by lunchtime tomorrow! Then I might be able to post tomorrow, especially if the locust swarm specialists take her away for testing.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Saint Agnes, pray for us. Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.

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7 Quick Takes: June 14

Linking up with Jen and all the other party people at Conversion Diary for the weekly quick takes. Go over there if you like to partay.

1. After spending the night in the hospital because my doctors take not the tiniest chance with the health of my unborn child, I am happy to be home for the weekend. Agnes was monitored constantly overnight, and she turned in a “reactive” performance on the heart rate. That was a good thing, too, because the follow-up BPP I did this morning only scored a 6 because Agnes refused to practice breathing during the 30 minute ultrasound. She still netted a score of 8 out of 10 with the reactive NST plus the BPP, so I was discharged with stern instructions to call immediately if anything worrisome happens over the weekend. As you can imagine, I was not a happy camper laying in that awful hospital bed with a sweaty, bedsheet-wrinkled backside, imagining myself beginning an induced labor on Monday morning after an entire weekend of laying in that awful hospital bed–paradoxically not being able to sleep–with a progressively more wrinkled and sweaty backside to keep me company. So I am very relieved to be home.

2. My hand is really sore where they inserted the XL size I.V. amidst great dramatics on my part. I asked, “do I really need to get the I.V.?” and the nurse said, “it’s in case you need an emergency c-section, but I guess you don’t have to have it in now.” And I said, “I’m confident Agnes will do great and nothing will happen, so I don’t think I’ll take the I.V.” And the nurse said she would let the attending resident physician know. Then the attending resident physician came into my room and told me all the patients get one and it’s not optional. Fine. Sheesh. And now my hand is really sore, right in the same place they will insert another XL size I.V. on Monday. Fun for me.

3. I made a lasagna for dinner tonight, which is what I had been planning to make last night. I really liked how it turned out; I followed the recipe on the side of the noodle box except I added a secret special ingredient: cauliflower! I had half a head in the fridge that I really wanted to use up, so I sliced off the florets only and cut them into teeny-tiny pieces. Then I mixed the cauliflower into the ricotta/egg/parmesan mixture thinking it would masquerade as cottage cheese curds. It worked out really well, though some of the vegetable pieces were a bit crunchy and tasted like cauliflower. I didn’t fool my mom, but she admitted that it “wasn’t too bad” which I choose to accept as positive feedback. If I do this again, I’ll cut the cauliflower even tinier so all the pieces soften and lose the crunch.

4. Two more days infant-free! Agnes will be born on Monday. I have a scheduled ¬†appointment to start the labor induction at 8 a.m. How’s that for a start to the week? Actually I’m glad it’s an early start time. Hopefully I won’t be laboring into the night, and since drugs are assisting and this is my second childbirth, it could go fairly quickly. I think the doctors want a quick labor just so Agnes doesn’t have to cope with contractions over a long time frame. I would be cool with that, too!

5. Stephen is singing in his room. I put him down for the night about 30 minutes ago and he was quiet for a while, but he is clearly not asleep. It really sounds like singing. Or whimpering to a tune. Or something. Whatever, he’ll fall asleep eventually.

6. I bought off-brand oreo-type cookies at the grocery store on Tuesday because I was a pregnant lady craving oreos. I ate a few of them. Now the package is nearly empty! How did this happen? And I’m being serious here; I really did only eat a few of them–6 or 8 cookies, tops. What a world we live in, where a pregnant lady’s pregnancy-craving cookies just disappear…

7. I talked to one of my OB’s about Cytotec, and I guess I’ll trust the docs on this. She said they’ve been using it for years with no problems, and it works. Also that there are no methods that don’t have side effects. She told be about the alternatives to Cytotec, none of which sound as effective or easy or non-invasive. I have to trust the doctors to have my best interests and my baby’s best interests in mind. Maybe my cervix will have done enough effacing by then that Cytotec won’t be necessary, but if it is, I will use it.

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