Friday, May 4, 2012

I Don't Know What to Title This

For about 3 weeks out of the month, I feel like a normal person.  Then some months (thank God, not all) that last 7-10 days before my period are HELL.  I don't even know if I can put in to words just how crazy and miserable and moody I get.  It is so bad that I don't even want to be around myself and sometimes I really feel like I'm going to lose my ever loving mind because I can't escape myself.  I feel a bottomless pit of despair in my heart.  I really feel like nothing ever goes right and that life is just too depressing to live.  I am set off by the most minuscule things. I constantly feel like I am on the verge of a panic attack.  I feel like I can't breathe.  I don't sleep well, so the exhaustion makes it even worse.  I just want to run away.  But I can't run away from the "thing" I most want to run away from - ME.  I really wish that I could go somewhere where nobody else would have to be subjected to this.  I have the most amazing and supportive fiance, but I feel terrible that he has to deal with me like this.  This is not normal PMS.  It can't be.  Or this world would be a heck of a lot more screwed up than it already is if all women felt like this every month.

I just wish I could disappear.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have so many, many, many things to be thankful for this holiday season. I really need to focus on those things more.

Just to name a few....

My family, immediate and extended, who are always there for me.

My kids, two of which beat incredible odds and one that is no longer on this Earth, but taught me so much.

My friends, many of whom I've never met face to face, but just the same consider them friends.

My amazing fiance that never lets a day go by without telling me he loves and appreciates me, usually more than once a day.

Our home that is just the right amount of space for us and that we are making more and more our own.

Health. We are not dealing with any kind of catastrophic diseases or illnesses. (And now I feel like I need to knock on wood.)

I have many other things to be thankful for as well. But even if these were the only things I had to get me through the day, I would be a very blessed individual.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a Preemie World

That's the title of my "retired" blog, which came about during my 3rd pregnancy. I created it to keep friends and family updated on my pregnancy. It was titled something else to start (can't remember what) and after having my 3rd preemie, I renamed it. Before I had my first baby, I never really gave prematurity a second thought.

My dream ever since I was a young girl was to be a mom. But I never dreamed that I would not be able to carry a baby to full term. It was something that never even crossed my mind.

All three of my children were born prematurely. I can probably to relate to the parent(s) of any baby in the NICU because I've experienced every outcome.

My first baby lost his life due to prematurity. He struggled for 11 days, but it was all just too much for his tiny body and he passed away. Zachary was born at 23 weeks 4 days after a "textbook pregnancy". The day he was born, I was having some intense back pain and feeling a lot of pressure (TMI) like I needed to go to the bathroom. I called my OB right before lunch and they told me to come in after their lunch hour. But before my appointment time I had bloody show and my parents (I was at their house for the day) rushed me in. I was 6 centimeters dilated! I never in my worst nightmares thought I could have been in labor. I couldn't believe how tiny Zachary was the first time I saw him. I had barely even absorbed that he was here before he was gone. What an absolute nightmare to have to bury your baby....your firstborn.

My OB was convinced (and convinced ME) that my preterm labor and delivery was a fluke. I was young and naive and took his word for it.

I have also watched a baby, my second born son, struggle through the NICU for 6 long, scary, frustrating, tiring months. Ryan was born at 23 weeks 5 days. He made it one day longer in my womb than his big brother, but I went in to labor also at 23 weeks 4 days with him. My OB kept a close eye on me during my pregnancy. I had regular ultrasounds to measure my cervix and make sure it was not shortening or dilating. I even had an ultrasound in the late afternoon the day before I went in to labor and my cervix looked perfect. By the next afternoon, I was having the same "symptoms" I had as with Zachary. When I called in to my OB's office, the nurse (knowing my history with Zachary) had the nerve to say to me, "You were just here yesterday and everything was fine." I am still annoyed at that 8 years later! I went in and sure enough I was 3-4cm. I was admitted, given medicine to stop my contractions (that I couldn't even feel), and put in bed with my feet more elevated than my head. The contractions stopped, but still the next morning I was 10cm dilated and had to deliver.

Ryan endured so much in the NICU - collapsed lungs, ventilated for 3 1/2 months (almost ended up with a tracheotomy), numerous infections, a bowel obstruction resulting in an ileostomy for 4 months and then surgery again to reconnect his bowels, heart surgery (PDA ligation), and Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and laser surgery in both eyes to help prevent it from advancing. His first month in the NICU was at a local hospital, 20 minutes away. Then he needed the belly surgery, so he had to be transferred to a hospital in Pittsburgh...almost 2 hours away from our house. That was where he spent the next 5 months. It was tough. Thank goodness for the Ronald McDonald House. I stayed there a lot and spent many long days at the hospital, doing all the care I was able to for Ryan. I hardly felt like a mom, though, until he finally came home.

Even once he did come home, it was short-lived. Two weeks later he almost died from congestive heart failure and was in the hospital for three weeks. He finally got to come home, only to end up back in a week later with pneumonia. The poor baby could not get a break. After another 3 weeks in the hospital, he finally came home to stay with no further prolonged hospitalizations.

Today he is a shockingly healthy, active 8 year old that loves life. He does have vision problems from the ROP and a partial retina detachment (in his right eye) and he wears glasses for nearsightedness (in his left eye), but he has adapted very well to the vision he does have. He will amaze anyone with his ability to play basketball and shoot hoops and to hit a wiffle ball. He also still receives therapies (speech, occupational, and physical) to help his development. But 8 years ago, when he was laying in the NICU fighting for life, I never dreamed that he would come out of it all with as few issues as he did. I know of preemies not as early as him that have more severe issues. He definitely (and unfortunately) did not escape his prematurity unscathed.

And then came Brooke. She was one of those preemies that really just needed to grow and mature in order to come home. She made it a whole extra 4 weeks in utero than her big brothers with the help of a cerclage (placed at 12 weeks) and 17P injections and was born at 27 weeks 4 days. I was in the hospital for a week before her birth, fighting preterm labor. I was given the steroid shots to help her lungs. I may not have gotten to experience carrying a baby to full term and a "normal" labor and delivery, but I got bits and pieces of it with her. She was the first one that I got to hear cry in the operating room. They even carried her over to me wrapped up just like a full term newborn with her hospital issued pink and blue striped hat so I could give her a kiss before they took her to the NICU. There was a celebratory mood back in my room with my family, unlike with the boys where everyone was scared to death and in shock. There are never any guarantees, but at least with an almost 28 weeker there is more hope for survival and a good outcome.

Brooke spent 7 1/2 weeks in the NICU. After the 6 months Ryan put in, that seemed like a drop in the bucket. She seemed huge to us at 2lbs. 10oz. after two babies not even 1 1/2lbs. each. She only ever required oxygen through the nasal cannula to assist her breathing. She did have her spells of apnea and bradycardia for a period of time, but that is to be expected in preemies. She took to her feedings pretty well. I kept waiting for something to happen or be wrong with her, but it never happened. She had a very uneventful NICU stay as far as not-quite-28 weekers go.

She is now an active, healthy 3 1/2 year old. She is even on the tall side for her age, which is different for me since Ryan has always been on the small side. You would never guess she was a preemie. She has no (noticeable) effects from her prematurity. Not all 27 or 28 weekers are that "lucky", though. I know things could have been different. Trust me, I know.

So there you have it - my experience with preemies and the NICU. I really feel like I've been through it all. It has definitely made me a stronger person. I've heard so many times from people, "I don't know how you did it". I just....did. I had to. For my babies. I hope that doesn't sound flip, but I really didn't think about it at the time. I did a lot of praying and it really helped me to feel more calm. Three times was enough, though. I don't think I could go through it all again and that's why I decided to have a tubal ligation during my c-section with Brooke. Sometimes it's hard for me to accept that, in a way, the number of children I have was determined by my body and not my heart, but I couldn't put myself, my family, or another baby through yet another NICU stay. I am so blessed with the children I have.

Every baby deserves 40 weeks. Please support the March of Dimes and if you are able to, consider donating.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Letter to Mom

Dear Mom,

I am sorry that I didn't appreciate all that you did for our family growing up. I am sorry for every time I gave you attitude when asked to do something. I am sorry that I did not offer to help more. I am sorry that I didn't tell you "thank you" enough. I am sorry that I took you for granted. I know you felt unappreciated at times and looking back now, I hate that.

We always had clean clothes. We always came home to a clean, inviting house. We almost always (everyone needs a break from cooking once in awhile) had a yummy, hot dinner. We always had the things we needed for school. Most importantly, we always had you.

Now that I am an adult and have a family of my own, I know just how hard you worked and just how thankless a job it can be at times.

I only wish I would have known it sooner. Maybe I would have helped to make your life easier.

Your Very Grateful Daughter

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Reminder

Between my constant state of tiredness (or downright exhaustion) and dealing with the day to day duties of raising a 3 1/2, 5 1/2, and 8 year old, sometimes - ok, A LOT of the time - it is hard for me to really enjoy being a mom. Lately, it seems like any time we try to do any kind of outing with them, it ends up being extremely frustrating and stressful for me because of the near constant whining, fighting, complaining, etc. We took them to Idlewild (a local family amusement park) for Hallowboo the second weekend in October. There was a whole lot of whining, fighting, and just flat-out not listening. It was just not fun. And it made me really question why we take them to do these fun things when they have proven time and again (lately) that they just can't/won't behave. Yes, I want them to have fun experiences and get to do things, but I also think they need to earn those things, to a certain degree, at least. We had been planning on taking them to the Pittsburgh Zoo at the end of October for Zoo Boo or whatever it is they call it. But after the craziness at Idlewild, we decided that we would skip it. And we did. It kind of sucked, but I think it was for the best.

This weekend was a great reminder for me that we CAN go out as a family and have everyone behave, listen, and have a good time. Joe's aunt and uncle sent us money for the kids' birthdays and told us to go do something fun with them. So we decided that this weekend we would take them to dinner and a movie. Yesterday, after Brooke woke up from her nap, we headed out to Toys'R'Us so the kids could do some "window shopping". It was actually a lot of fun, even for me. Joe took the boys to look at the things they like and Brooke and I scoured the "girl" aisles. It's so fun watching Brooke run around checking everything out. She's actually very good about not ripping everything off the shelves and if she does, she puts it back (and will even put things back or straighten things up that she didn't get out or mess up). I think we got some good ideas for Christmas.

We decided on Olive Garden for dinner. I was a bit leery about this because of it not being one of the most kid friendly restaurants (compared to say, TGIFriday's or Red Robin). But Joe suggested it and it is hard for me to NOT want Olive Garden's yummy food once it is mentioned ;-). They told us it would be a 25 minute wait and we decided that wasn't too bad. I think it was probably only about 15 minutes and other than hearing "I'm huuuungry" whines a few times, the kids were rather patient. We were seated and got out the crayons and coloring books to occupy them while we waited for our food. There was no fighting. Everybody sat still in their seats for the most part. They used inside voices. Ate well. It was SO nice. Even the waitress complimented the kids on how well-behaved they were and gave us coupons for free kids' meals (with the purchase of an adult entree) for next time we go! You have no idea how good that felt (okay, if you are a parent, you probably do!).

We had some time to kill before the movie started, so we went to TJMaxx to look at more toys. It made me think about how much of a treat it was to get to look at the toys while we were out shopping when my sister, brother, and I were kids. We never got anything unless we had birthday money to spend or something like that, but we just loved to look. I need to remember this when I'm out with the kids and they ask to look at toys. Usually I just want to get what we need and get out, but is it really going to kill me to let them look at the toys for 10 minutes? No. I NEED to loosen up and try to see things from their perspective more.

(As I am sitting here typing this, the kids are watching Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakel. Our kitten, Crosby, just walked over near Brooke and as she is leaning over petting him, she's telling him, "Thank you for coming." She is a trip.)

We went to see Puss In Boots. When we go to a movie, seating is very strategic. Usually it goes Brooke, me, Ryan, Joe, and Cole. It's just better if the kids aren't seated next to each other....I'm sure you can imagine why. Joe's mom met us there, so she sat next to Ryan with Cole on the other side of her and then Joe. Ryan is not a big "movies kid". He has his favorites (all the Toy Story movies, Cars, Alvin and the Chipmunks 1 and 2, and Despicable Me) and if it's not one of those he is usually not very open minded about it. Right after Puss In Boots started, he told me he wished we watched a movie at home instead. A couple minutes later he was asking for his DS. After asking a couple more times, I told him if he asked again, he wasn't getting it at all today. The movie started out slow, in my opinion, but it did pick up and after about 20 minutes or so he seemed to really get in to it and enjoy it and he stopped complaining. I didn't love the movie, but it was pretty good and the kids definitely liked it. We are all really excited for Chipwrecked next month! There was a preview for it last night. It looks funny....and how can you not love the Chipmunks??

Anyway, all that to say that it was a really great day. Of course, there was the occasional whining and the kids picking on each other, but it was rare. It gave me hope that someday it will be more of the rule rather than the exception. And it reminded me of all the things I once looked forward to about being a mom.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wow, This Blog Has Gathered Dust....

I guess that happens when you don't blog for 6 months....

I've been thinking and talking about getting back to blogging for a few months now. I guess I stopped because I didn't feel like I really had anything to say that was worth reading. I don't feel I am a particularly good writer. There are several blogs that I read on a regular basis and I don't feel like I am on the same level as them when it comes to writing and content. I don't feel like I'm great at putting my words down "on paper" or getting my point across. But maybe if I start blogging again, I will start to feel better.

{This is me being very open and honest.}

Lately I've been having a lot of "down" moments. Too many. I haven't slept well in months. I sleep for usually 7-8 hours a night and I normally sleep straight through. But I have vivid, strange dreams (and sometimes actual nightmares) for what seems like all night. I wake up feeling like a slept maybe a few hours. Sometimes I also will wake up really early in the morning to go to the bathroom and not be able to fall back asleep. I don't function well when I'm tired. I've been extremely moody, short-tempered, impatient, angry, etc. so much of the time lately. I am very snippy with the kids. I get annoyed over practically nothing. I yell way too much. Then I feel bad for acting like that and I get to feeling like everyone would be better off without me. Everyone would probably be a lot happier and carefree anyway. I don't want to be like that. But I don't know what to do to change it. My future sister-in-law mentioned to me that maybe blogging again would help me be able to sleep better. Anything is worth a try at this point. I don't plan on turning this blog in to a big whinefest or post about really heavy things all the time. But I do think it may help me to clear my head a little bit. We'll see where this goes. I haven't had the best track record with keeping up with my blog. I'm not sure if this time will be any different or not.

Joe is great. He makes sure I get a break from the kids to recharge. Honestly, I hate that I even need that. He is for sure the "fun one". Don't get me wrong, he disciplines as well, but he is definitely the laid back one and he is great at playing with the kids. I can't seem to relax enough lately to do much of that. I also feel like the behavior of the younger two leaves a lot to be desired. They are 5 and 3 years old. I keep trying to remind myself that when Ryan was 5 and 6 that I felt the same frustrations over his behavior. He is like a different kid now, for the most part. I just really feel so hopeless at times and like these 2 are never going to get it. Brooke is a champion button pusher. She also picks up any and all bad behaviors from the other two, which is extremely frustrating for me. It just feels like a vicious circle at this point and like they are "winning". Sometimes I don't think I was cut out for this...being a mom. I feel like they deserve better.

Some days I deal better with the tiredness than other days. Then there are days (like today) where I just feel completely exhausted and drained. So I think I am going to go to bed really early. Hopefully it will help, but it doesn't always.

Nighty night.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Baby is THREE Years Old!

::::sneaking back in here, pretending it hasn't been almost 2 months since my last post::::

On March 26th, 2008, after battling preterm labor for a week (it seems like it was much longer than that) daughter was born.

Brooke Elizabeth entered the world 3 months early, weighing only 2lbs. 10oz., but after having two 23 weekers that weren't even a pound and a half each, she truly seemed huge to me. And getting to hear her cry in the operating room moments after the doctor pulled her out was one of the best moments of my life and one of the best sounds I've ever heard. I didn't get to experience that with either of my boys. I also got to see her all wrapped up in a hospital blanket wearing the standard blue and pink striped hat and give her a kiss before she was taken to the NICU, where she spent the next 7 1/2 weeks (which seemed like absolutely nothing compared to the 6 months Ryan spent in the hospital). I will admit that I spent those 7 1/2 weeks waiting for something scary to happen after all we went through with Ryan, but it never happened. All she had to do was grow, learn to bottle feed, and grow out of her apnea (forgetting to breathe) and bradycardia (heart rate drops)....typical preemie "stuff". She's never really been behind in her development and now I think is even maybe a little above the average 3 year old, especially when it comes to her verbal skills.

She is strong-willed, independent, stubborn, funny, and sweet. She loves her baby dolls and books, Super Heroes and Disney Princesses. She loves Toy Story. She loves to eat and is always hungry and asking for a snack or for me to make breakfast/lunch/dinner, but she is still a skinny little thing. She loves going to Sunday school and her Wednesday night class at church. She likes to talk on the phone and will sometimes bring it to me and say, "I need to talk for Nanny" because that's who she usually talks to on the phone. She is so excited for her birthday party and can't wait to go to it (we're having it at my mom and dad's next Saturday).

(She loves Jake, the cat, too!)

In some ways I can't believe she's already 3 years old, but on the other hand I can't remember what life was like before she was here!

I love you, Brookie!