Liam Charles Packard birth story

I woke up at 1:15am on June 6th with painful contractions. The contractions came at regular 10 minute intervals but did not speed up nor increase in severity…so I knew I needed to just sit pretty and wait. I was somewhat bummed that I was missing out on what would be my last good night of sleep as the contractions were so painful I couldn’t sleep through them. At 4:30am I got up and put together the hospital bag. I noticed the birds started chirping that early and it was going to be a sunny, warm day.

The irony of my body starting contractions on it’s own was that June 6th was my scheduled induction day. I had actually prayed that my body would go into labor on it’s own and it seemed Heavenly Father was answering my prayer. And that we were also going to go through with our scheduled induction. At 6am I called Labor and Delivery at St. Mark’s hospital to find out when they would have me come in. When I called, they said they were really busy and I needed to call again at 8. By that time in the morning I was tired enough that I was able to doze until 7:30am. At 7:45 Labor and Delivery called me and asked if I could come in by 8:30.

We packed up, gave last minute instructions to Grammy, and I quickly made a bagel with peanut butter and we were off! Once we got the hospital, my contractions had increased to about every 7 minutes but I could still talk through them. The nurse checked my cervix and I was 4cm dilated and 70% effaced. They hooked me up to an IV and after a bag of saline, added Pitocin to increase the frequency and intensity of my contractions. Man, this is when it really started to hurt! I kept asking Chad to come and massage my back through each contraction as I had back labor this time. I tried to put off an epidural for a little bit because I know epidurals can slow down labor. I tried using the labor ball but it wasn’t super helpful. Pretty soon I was done being in intense pain, especially as the contractions came more and more quickly. I asked for my epidural but the anesthesiologist was in the middle of a c-section. The nurse informed him to come give me my epidural next but as soon as he finished that c-section, he was off to another! So I had to labor about two more hours without my epidural! I was in intense pain and the nurse suggested I take a dose of Phentinol for the pain while I was waiting. This made Chad and I nervous as back in October they gave me Phentinol when I was in the hospital with my ectopic pregnancy and crashed. We knew logically that I went into shock because my tube burst and I was losing blood but it still made us a little nervous. But I was in so much pain at this point, I was willing to try. As a compromise I asked for half a dose.  That did the trick and I was able to endure another 45 minutes of labor waiting for my epidural.

Side note, Chad is an anxious person when it comes to labor! He was super vigilant watching baby’s heart rate on the monitor the whole time. Anytime baby’s heart rate dropped at all he’d tell me to shift positions.

Finally the anesthesiologist came and proceeded to set me up for my epidural. This was probably the scariest moment of labor because based on how the anesthesiologist placed me, baby’s heart rate dropped into the 90s. They gave me oxygen and then had me position myself a different way and baby did fine. I felt really great after having my epidural. My pain was gone and my mood quickly improved too. The only thing I wished was different was I wish he hadn’t given me so much as when I became complete, I couldn’t tell it was time to push.

With my epidural on board, Dr. Watts came in and broke my water and they turned the Pitosin up to full throttle to move things along. I could barely feel a thing and baby’s heart rate stayed great through that. Not too much time later, the nurse came in and asked if I felt any urges to push. I didn’t, but asked that she check me anyway. She checked and exclaimed, “You are complete and a +2! Don’t push! We want to get the doctor here!” Within minutes Dr. Watts was back in the room and I started pushing. They had a hard time tracking baby’s heart rate during this part of labor so they put a pulse monitor in his scalp as I was pushing. It only took about 4 contractions worth of pushing and baby was here! He arrived at 2:28pm.

After sucking out his mouth, he quickly started crying. Chad immediately started crying and forgot to take photos. I had to prompt him several times to start taking photos. They put baby on my stomach and I felt it warm, sticky body as he squirmed and cried. I started crying too.

Baby weighed in as our biggest baby: 7lbs 8oz. He was 19 inches long. His APGAR scores were 8 and 9. When they gave him back to me, I immediately started breastfeeding him. He latched like a total champ! I was really impressed. He ate for over half an hour within his first hour of life!

Baby and I stayed at the hospital for two nights. I was feeling great and ready to go home the next day but they recommended a little extra monitoring for our baby. He failed his first hearing test and if we stayed a second night they could just run the second test the next morning. It was nice to take advantage of the nursery services so I could get some stretches of sleep. Baby struggled both nights with the middle of the night feeding. He had a sour stomach and it took 3 hours each time to get him to eat. When he did eat, he ate well. I felt bad for his sour little stomach.

The second day, Chad and I pushed ourselves to decide a name. We went back and forth between Everett and Liam. Finally, we decided on Liam. We like the meaning of Liam: Strong willed warrior and protector. We also like that it’s Irish. Ireland has a special place in our hearts as it was on a vacation there, over 8 years ago, that Chad and I decided to start our family. It feels fitting that our “Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow” has an Irish name and is the completion of our family. We always knew his middle name would be Charles, after his angel big brother. It’s a way to honor Charlie and also acknowledge Charlie’s impact in our family and the reality, on the very existence of Liam. If Charlie were here today, we would not have had Liam. I also strongly believe that Charlie will protect and watch over Liam so I love having Charlie’s name be part of Liam’s name.

Liam’s sisters love their little brother! Cami was a bit scared of the baby at first and didn’t want to touch him. But very quickly she warmed up to baby and both girls are eager to hold him and love on him. Hailee was over the moon to meet him and is so thrilled to have him.

We are home now and it’s nice to be back in our house. It’s also hard. Last night was our first night home and I got VERY LITTLE sleep. The owlet wasn’t working quite right so we didn’t have a monitor on him. As a result I was an anxious mess, trying to stay awake to hear him breathing all night. By the time morning came, I was a tearful mess. I predicted this, as this happened with Cami. It’s so hard having a newborn, and then obviously  even harder with our history of loss. I pray sweet Liam gets to stay in our family and we can raise him with his sisters. I feel hopeful that will be the case. But I am also scared, naturally. I’m not letting that fear interfere with the lovely moments of cuddling my sweet newborn and enjoying breastfeeding him and kissing his fuzzy soft head. We are definitely smitten with our little “golden boy!”

 

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35 weeks with our last rainbow

This last week caused some anxiety as my belly is measuring small for my gestational age. As a result, Dr. Watts sent me to get an ultrasound at the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic downstairs. We had that ultrasound yesterday.

And baby boy is growing just fine! In fact, baby boy is measuring in the 86%. The doctor we saw asked if I had gestational diabetes, because he is that big! What a relief! And also, because I’m just so anxious with this pregnancy anyway, now I’m worried about him being too big! The ultrasound tech commented that this baby was on it’s way to being a really big baby that would be hard to deliver so it’s a good thing I usually deliver at 38 weeks! I agree! Glad I deliver early…but what if I don’t?! I need to meditate more…too much anxiety.

Other good news from the ultrasound is that the baby is head down! So I should be able to have a vaginal delivery! 🙂

But seeing baby on ultrasound and seeing how he is growing perfectly and strong, made me feel like crying. Both in a, “I’m so excited to meet him!” way as well as, “This feels so vulnerable!” way. From the ultrasound 3D pic, little boy looks a lot like Charlie. But this little boy also has fat rolls and a bit of hair on his head!

I feel so eager for him to get here so I can hold him in my arms and snuggle him! I am simultaneously so nervous about him getting here! So much has happened in this pregnancy so it’s hard to rest easy. On the other hand I keep thinking of what a miracle this baby is and hope there is meaning in that.

I love this little one so fiercely already and I pray he gets here safely and joins our family!

It’s a boy!

I am inclined to think of this baby as “The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” This baby will be the completion of our family so it seems perfectly fitting that he be the Pot of Gold!

While I was at my OB appointment a few weeks ago, I asked my doctor to do an ultrasound and check for gender. Based on that ultrasound he said he was 75% sure it was a boy. I’m glad I had that first revelation that I could ponder on for several weeks before the confirmatory 2o-week ultrasound.

My first reaction to learning I was having a boy wasn’t positive. The thought I had was, “That doesn’t seem fair.” I couldn’t quite articulate or understand why I felt that way. But I think I had this belief that “the Universe can’t send us another boy and think that makes everything all right.” While I know this boy doesn’t replace Charlie, I somehow felt we shouldn’t have a boy in this life. That our life somehow always needs to represent our loss.

When we saw the baby at the 20 week ultrasound, my feelings changed. I found myself feeling genuinely happy. I was also happy to see Chad so happy. And of course, most important, was that the ultrasound didn’t see any physical problems with our baby and he is growing strong and healthy!

I was especially excited to surprise our girls and the rest of our friends. After the ultrasound we went to the Sweet Tooth Fairy and I ordered four cupcakes with blue frosting inserted in the middle. They looked like normal cupcakes on the outside but the colored frosting on the inside would reveal the gender of our baby.

Later that afternoon, after Hailee got home from school, we brought out the cupcakes. The girls were so excited! Although I think Cami felt somewhat confused. We filmed the girls biting into the cupcakes and finding the blue frosting. Hailee’s excitement was the best as she exclaimed, “We are having a brother!” We used the video to tell our family and friends (and social media) our news.

Everyone is really excited for us. A lot of people are also being sensitive and thoughtful as they inquire how we feel about having another boy.

I still feel really happy. I know this is going to be quite messy and hard. I know the trauma memories will be stronger. I am worried this little boy may look like his older brother and that will be messy if that’s the case. But I also hope and am looking forward to raising a boy! I’ve always wanted to raise a boy! While I don’t feel I’m missing anything with my sweet tom-boy, Hailee, it’ll still be great to experience raising a boy. I am hopeful this little guy will live. I feel his story is incredible and he is a miracle. I feel as a result, he “should” live. But I am also very aware there are no such things as guarantees. I am trying not to jump too far ahead in the future and stay present. Now that I am past the first trimester and no longer feel miserable and sick, I am trying to soak up and enjoy my last experience of growing a baby.

As I write this, little man is kicking around in my tummy. He’s a very active baby and I love it. I am loving him.

First sex talk

Hailee and I had the first version of a sex talk this week. I have to say, I wasn’t exactly “prepared” for this conversation and navigated it as clumsily as you would imagine someone unprepared would.

Hailee and I were snuggling one morning, as we were waking up for the day. Suddenly Hailee asked, “If I kiss a boy for a really long time, will I get a baby from that?” I laughed and said, “No, kissing does not make babies.” Then of course she asked, “Then how do you make a baby?”

Um…ok…let’s think about how to approach this.

“So first of all Hailee, you have to grow up. You know how I have my periods?” Hailee nods. “Well, you have to have periods in order to be ready to have a baby. And boys have to be grown up too to have babies.”

Hailee seems to be following this ok. Then I get to the “messy” part. “And then, when you want to make a baby, a boy and girl share a ‘special hug.'”

Hailee, “So, Tevin and I hug all the time. Will that make a baby?”

“Uh, no. When you have this Special Hug, you don’t have any clothes on.”

At this Hailee started giggling. And that’s where it ended…for now. Phew.

Femara cycle 1

Today is a fuzzy socks, sweatshirt, and pony tail kind of day. Emotionally, I’m doing ok but I’ve felt a swirl of thoughts and confusion and felt the need to “bunker down” so to speak and have some quiet, introspective time. So I just sent Chad and the girls off to church while I stay cozy at home, smelling the new fall candle I lit this morning.

Pregnancy chances aren’t looking good this month. I am on day 14 of my cycle and my ovulation kits continue to record “low fertility.” I have been taking the kits since day 9. I experienced what I believed was ovulation pain on day 10, but the kit (that’s over 99% accurate) said I must have made that up. Or the pains I thought were ovulation pains were indeed some other pain? I go in for an ultrasound tomorrow to see what is going on and if I will ovulate or not.

This is a weird experience. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m fighting my body. It feels like we aren’t on the same page and I’m trying to force something it is no longer willing to do. I mean, they gave me a fertility drug and I’m not ovulating! How stubborn can my body be?!

As I experience this, it’s easy to really quickly become hopeless. I know that hopeless feeling is premature. We’ve only really BEGUN the assisted fertility process, but it feels like a struggle and it feels overwhelming. I’ve started to wrap my head and heart around the idea that the family that we have right now is the family that we will have. I can start to identify myself as a mother who gets to dedicate her time and energy to raising two spirited daughters. And those two girls need my time and energy.

The life I have right now is not a bad life. Not at all. It’s a beautiful life. And a lot of the time I don’t want for it to be different (with the exception of wishing Charlie were here). But then I think of never getting the opportunity to give birth again. Of never nursing my own baby again. Breathing in the intoxicating perfume of a newborn. Of having that third child in our home that I always fantasized I’d have, and I feel persuaded to pursue this fertility journey.

It’s a weird, lonely journey. I feel, for the first time in my life, that I can relate to women with fertility struggles. People close to me in my life know what we are going through, but it’s strange to carry this experience, silently and invisibly. Whereas people saw, held and knew Charlie and his loss is an overt, visible, concrete loss. It’s something I can speak to, if I chose, and it’s something people quietly acknowledge. But this…it’s just a loud silence. It’s a loud QUESTION MARK. It’s a huge unknown and feels like limbo. I can’t move forward emotionally, because I don’t know what moving forward emotionally looks like. Does it look like grieving this ambiguous loss and the dreams I had for the children I would raise? Does it mean refocusing my emotional energy on the children I have now, and not on the child I don’t get to have? Or does it mean continuing to hope and believe that we will get another child? It all just feels really messy.

The good news is, whatever happens (or doesn’t happen), I feel and believe, I am going to be ok. We are all going to be ok. We will live our life meaningfully and it will continue to be GOOD.

 

Femara

Our fertility journey continues. Three month of un-assisted trying has not yielded a pregnancy. So we take the next step up the fertility ladder: Femara and IUI.

Last night I felt pretty panicky about this. This feels like truly “leaning in” to this experience. Both Chad and I continue to feel somewhat ambivalent about it all. We feel at our capacity with our girls, and they aren’t easy. After a hard trip with them over Labor Day to California to visit the beach, Chad and I had a serious talk about whether we really should try for another child.

A week after that conversation, here we are starting medication and embarking on a $400 procedure to try to get pregnant! It feels like a big emotional step. Both Chad and I agree that we would regret not trying for another baby. I think we’d feel as complete as we can feel after our loss, if we got to have one more child. So we feel good about pursuing this. But we never imagined we’d be in a place where we’d need medical assistance to get pregnant.

That feels intense to me. If you know me, you know I don’t like medication. I don’t even drink caffeine anymore. I very rarely take pain medication unless I’m in a lot of discomfort. So coming from that place to putting myself on serious drugs, feels scary. And the drug they put me on, Femara, is technically a class D drug. It is known to cause birth defects in rats and so contra-indicated for pregnancy. The rationale, however, is that you don’t take it when you are pregnant. You only take it on days 3-7 of the cycle and it is supposed to promote my follicles to grow and mature better. By the time an embryo implants, the medication should be mostly out of my system so shouldn’t adversely affect the fetus. That’s the idea anyway. This medication hasn’t been approved for the use of fertility but it’s been used for almost 20 years “off label” for that purpose. But still, taking a medication that puts a fetus as higher risk for birth defects FREAKS ME OUT. This medication also increases the likelihood of having multiples. I think that would put us over the edge! We just want one more baby to round out our family. I’ve learned that life doesn’t listen to what I want though.

That’s the other part of this that feels so vulnerable. Four miscarriages later, I am struggling with feeling hopeless that we’ll have another baby. There are moments when I feel more than fine with the girls we have here with us now, and moments when I feel like our family, as it is, is all we can handle. But then there are times when I ache for another baby. It feels cruel that after all we’ve gone through, we don’t really get a choice if we get to have another baby. We might not be able to and that’s the reality. How many miscarriages am I willing to go through to reconcile myself to that fact?

That’s all my rambling for today. I took Femara, the first dose, today, so here we go. Deep breaths and honest prayers.

 

Almost cancer

Today was a scary day. This summer my amazing mom discovered she had breast cancer and quickly got a bilateral mastectomy. She is recovering well and we don’t yet know if she will need chemo.

About the same time she went through all this, I noticed a lump in my own breast. I hadn’t paid much attention to it because a lot has happened to my breasts with three pregnancies and miscarriages this last year. I figured my breast was just settling after another miscarriage. But the lump didn’t go away. And then while we were on our Alaskan cruise, it actually started to hurt and bother me.

I decided it was time to take action and get it checked out. So this week I called my OB to schedule an appointment. I was pretty surprised that they got me in to see him THE NEXT DAY. I guess, “I have a lump in my breast” are the magic words to say when you want an appointment STAT! I’ve never seen my OB that fast except for a miscarriage!

When I went to my appointment, I was hoping that my OB would reassure me that nothing was wrong and that I was exaggerating what I felt to be a lump. Instead, he felt it and immediately confirmed that it was a lump. He also recommended I get a mammogram…like immediately. The nurse, who I also consider a friend, after all the years I’ve known her, immediately got to work on getting me an imaging appointment. Meanwhile, as a result of their reactions, I found my own adrenaline pumping and my anxiety beginning to throb. My blood pressure registered at 147/90, which is quite high for me (I’m usually a balmy 110/75).

20 minutes later I was sitting in the imaging department, wondering to myself, “Can this be real? Am I really getting a diagnostic screening for breast cancer?” It felt surreal and also pretty scary. I began to realize what my mom must have felt when they found her lump.

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The nurses and ultrasound technicians were SUPER nice. They were so caring as they showed me to a locker room that makes you feel like you should be changing into robes for a relaxing massage, instead of getting your breasts compressed like pancakes in an imaging machine!

Due to the location of my lump (close to my right armpit) and my age (still 34 years young people!) the radiologist wanted to do an ultrasound first and then decide whether a mammogram was necessary.

The ultrasound did indeed show “spots” where I felt my lump. In fact, there were several spots. But the ultrasound technician was quick to reassure me that my lumps were actually cysts, NOT tumors. She said, “I shouldn’t tell you this, the doctor should be the one to tell you this, but I’ll tell you first, those are cysts!” And when the radiologist saw the images, he also confirmed that I simply have a “cluster of cysts” and nothing to really worry about. The cysts look HUGE on the ultrasound machine and the technician wrote down 4 cm on one of the images and I freaked out. She reassured me and said the 4 cm was about location of the cyst, not 4 cm big! It’s only 1.5cm big. But cysts…as cysts do…can change size, which is probably why I’ve noticed them lately.

The only thing that they want to do is follow up with me in 6 months to keep an eye on the cysts. As the technician put it, “We need to make sure the cysts keep acting like cysts and aren’t a tumor in disguise.” But beyond cautioning me to continue to monitor for lumps, they gave me a green light to simply move on with my life and not worry about it.

Phew!!! That was a pretty nerve wracking afternoon.

I am waiting to hear if my mom has the BRCA gene that causes cancer. If she does, then I need to get tested for that too. But besides that, I am very happy to just move on with my life!

I was slightly shaking when I arrived to the imaging department, overwhelmed by nerves and the possibility of what I would find out. I found myself also shaking afterwards and realized how worked up I must have been about the whole situation. While I felt very relieved after that appointment, I also felt sympathy for the women who attend those appointments and don’t get to feel relief. It so easily could NOT have been cysts and I would be facing a very big and different life challenge. I’m grateful that for now, that’s not the challenge I need to face in my life. My heart goes out to the women who are facing it. My respect for my mom’s bravery through all of this has also increased as a result of today.

When I came home, I fell into Chad’s arms and said, “I almost had cancer today.” I hope a day like today doesn’t repeat itself any day soon!