I never thought I would be the face of something. Something that harms women and children and can even kill them. Never thought something during pregnancy could affect me and my health for years to come. But I am. I am a face. I am a survivor. My babies are survivors. We were affected by Preeclampsia and this changed the whole way we had imagined our world could have been at that point.
I was 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant with identical twin boys. I had endured fertility treatments, a miscarriage, I was 37 years old, and I started heavier than I should. But I was healthy. I worked out regularly all throughout my pregnancy. I went to work everyday. I ate healthy, didn't gain a ton of weight, and everything was going smoothly. Until they were not. I had pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome from about 20 - 22 weeks but at my 30 week appointment things were getting worse. I would run home and put braces on. I would dread doing my paperwork for the end of the semester. And I was just swollen. My doctor did not seem worried so I did not either. It was at this point I stopped working out because my hands hurt so bad and I was determined to push through until winter break when I likely was done with teaching for the year.
At 32 weeks and 3 days I remember going to lunch with my friend and not feeling well. A cramp on the left side, but I had a fairly seamless pregnancy so went with the attitude that some people feel like crap the whole time so all is good. I ran across the street to the docs office and mentioned I did not feel well that day, but again not too worried. They hooked me up for my first non - stress test, everything looked great and then in to the exam to just do a basic check for a twin mom at 32 weeks. That's when things changed. My nurse came in and took my blood pressure it was 150/100. Elevated especially for me. I was a 110/70 type of woman. So my nurse came and checked again, still high. The doc explained she was admitting me but was not too worried, I had some trace proteins in my urine but not bad. She said I would be there overnight, a few days or even a few weeks and then no Matt did not need to come they were just going to do some additional monitoring.
They wheeled me upstairs. I told the nurses in registration not to worry that I was not staying because I had a brow appointment on thursday and plans all week. They got the first of what should have been a 2 shot series of steroids. They were pumping blood pressure meds and started what was a 24 hour magnesium drip. This is when things were changing and getting very fast. My blood pressure cuff rang at 187/120, I asked my nurse if I was having a heart attack. She said no but she is pretty shocked I had not had a stroke or a seizure or felt way worse. My protein levels in my urine were at severe preeclampsia and my blood pressure was not coming down. My doctor came in and said ok one of your boys is going to be an accountant because they are coming in an hour. I was taken aback. No no I was just 32 weeks. I knew they were going to be early but not this early. Could Matt get there? What do you mean? Induction could take days and my blood pressure was out of control. They were coming. I also was starting to dilate and was fully effaced which I had none of that down in my docs office.
Wait, what, excuse me, this is NOT happening. Not happening now. Is my body failing. Am I failing my boys? And I failing everyone? The answer is no but it is still a hard one for me to come to terms with. My babies were coming. They came. They were healthy. They were small. They would be in the hospital as little fighters for a few weeks. It was me that was sick. Sick enough that on my fourth day in the hospital my blood pressure was still high so they gave me medication which was not helping. It made me feel terrible and it kept me in the hospital overnight on new years eve. But at least I was going to be with my boys.
Finally after going home my blood pressure slowly started to normalize. but I felt terrible through most of my sons NICU stay. Sometimes preventing me from being there for them. From staying after I had already been there. It was horrible.
I have known many other preeclampsia survivors. Many in way worse shape that myself and way earlier. I am very lucky that everyone was ok. I was told one of the boys was starting to show signs of distress from it. I will persevere. I will represent. I will show my survivor colors. It can happen to anyone and it does happen a lot!
With mother's day quickly approaching @bumpclubandbeyond tasked me and other moms with the thought of when did you become a mother. I thought it was a pretty good article so I wanted to share with all of you what I wrote:
When this topic came across my computer I was immediately drawn to it and started thinking deeply about when I felt like a mom. Then I realized how hard it is to pin point the day, or the moment that it happened. Our journey has been a ride of up’s and down’s. There was no labor, no placing my babies on my chest, no meeting them for 24 hours because of how sick I was. My twins were born at just over 32 weeks gestation and were quickly whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit(NICU) where I had to try to get in my head that they were not sick babies they were small babies that I could not see for a day so I could get medication on board to protect my brain. Did I feel like a mom sitting in a hospital room without my children? Did I feel like a mom asking nurses if it was ok to pick up my own children? Did I feel like a mom leaving my babies in a hospital when I went home and back for 38 and 40 days? The sad answer is no. I had “Layaway Babies”. Babies that we surely were paying for financially and emotionally but did not get to take home until they could accomplish certain tasks. Tasks that I really could not help them with. They needed to grow.
When we finally took them home and I was attached to a pump while feeding my babies and living on less sleep than ever that’s when it hit. For the previous 5 weeks I did not get sleep because of that darn pump, but I didn’t have tiny humans who needed me to get them fed and clean and happy. I remember late one night or morning when I was feeding the fellas and I started noticing some differences in my identical little boys. When I could tell them apart like no one else and that’s when I was a mom. I was crying in a mess of hormones still worried that I had ruined them forever because of my body falling apart, but I was their mom and we were going to persevere together as a family.
I had done all that I could do to help them thrive and I would never quit on my tiny and mighty boys. They saw me as their mom and it was time that I felt like it too. As time passes I still see them as individual people and tell them apart from their cries, their looks, and their budding personalities. That’s my mom story. My own journey. Our journey together.
Wait, What, where is this in the title? I Have been thinking a lot about life and taking a moment to put things into perspective. To stop and breathe and enjoy the things that I have an maybe not ponder all that I have lost. There have been many tragedies in my time and I try to push on and learn and teach about them but this is not always an option. There are things I will never understand. Things that I will never get over. And things that make such an impact on my heart they change me. Recently I had some of those things come up, They brought me back to a time when my brother passed away or really was murdered. He was 3 weeks passed his 24th birthday when he crossed paths with someone who did not want him around and killed him. No explanation. No story. No witness and no one who ever was prosecuted. I will never understand, never get over it and it changed me profoundly. It changed everyone around me profoundly right down to who I have around me. My parents were forever people who had to do the worst thing ever, bury a child.
I have watched others bury their children and regardless of how this occurred it will never be understood. If it is fast or slow, you expect it, or you don't one can never understand the death of child. And the reality is anyone who is younger than me and passes is a child. It is amazing to me how many people I have had to bury in my 38 years of life. My father has even commented on this factor.
Its days and times like this that my defenses are up. That my passion for other people comes out, and I have to sit and gain some perspective to answer my denials of why. What perspective should I gain? What have I lost? What have you lost? Help a sister out and share. Be in the now. Stop and smell those beautiful roses hidden far beneath the bitter snow.
Now I know I’m a Chicagoan and should know better that we only have winter and construction, but all this winter does not make a girl happy! I’m one who needs to see and feel sunshine, or I drop. I need to get my vitamin D or I may bite someone’s head off. Ok I’m not that bad but I’m pretty over the blahs. Seasonal Affected Disorder or SAD is real! For me it may last all year and I’m managed but for others it’s a winter non sunshine and warmth thing. Appreciate each other. Appreciate what is happening. Get out and do things. Be kind to the ones who need it, and remember there is always a glimpse of sunshine somewhere.
Short and sweet to remind you I haven’t forgotten about you all! More soon!!
In my world I think people think that I have it all together, and man do I have people fooled! I’m a huge fake it til you make it type of girl. I run on empty, I try to be super, I fall apart and hit a wall, then figure out how to do it again the next day. Maybe I’m a mess but I’m your mess now!! And I’m loaded with random ass information that some people care about...or pretend to, which is ok because really I’m just pretending too.
I thoroughly admitted at the beginning of taking on my passion project, my blog, that I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. I’m a work in progress and I have a ton of flaws. It may appear that I have it together but judging from the many missing pieces of this site, I think I’m just faking it and trying to put it all together! I dream of a day when people come to me with what they want to know and my vision is complete. But then what would be the fun?? I’m just a girl trying to stay afloat in a world that seems to want t drown me much of the time. As I tell the man when he plays the lotto we are workers not winners so you better not hang up your boots quite yet!
So ladies and gentlemen I’m not perfect! I am sooo flawed! I do not really have the time to do much, but I want to. Does that count for anything??
Ok have you found that everywhere you go from the doctors office, to an oil change and some store that they all want your opinion? Some I feel get extra points just for mentioning the survey to its patrons? Or do they?? And the real question is how much do you want to know? As my follower you know I have opinions about things but I don’t think all people want to know my honest opinion in detail. Take a recent experience at my car dealer where I get my oil changes. They stick a thing in my car saying I hope you don’t mind but you may receive a survey asking your experience. Then it goes to say if I am going to mark anything except excellent I should call them first. Well do you want my opinion or not? I’m a teacher and scrutiny is placed on my evaluation and before my boss puts I’m excellent, proficient or not profienct he has to chat with me but that doesn’t mean that he’s not gonna mark it the way he feels, right? But are you gonna talk me out of my opinion? Admittedly I’m willing to listen to your ploy to get me to change my mind but if I had a bad experience then I kind of want to shout it to the world because obviously you’re no good. Or that one time sucked. I don’t know. What’s your opinion?? See I ask questions of you all, all the time and no one responds. Should I give a quick plea for opinions? I’d love them but not gonna tell you to give me a call if I’m subpar. I’m gonna ask for feedback on how to make better. I’ll have anxiety but seriously I’ll listen! Thoughts??
So here we are, spring break for teachers and kids. Now what do we do? I have to say and I’ve seen a lot of people saying once they had kids TGIF became TGIM these kids tire us out! Now I’m very lucky to have a stay at home Dad, but still I want to embrace every moment with these tikes. The real question becomes how do I get them out a nd about without ruining their nicely established routine? How can I still see people I never get to see without overwhelming the man too?
I sat with all of my fellas for breakfast this morning and instead of all of us enjoying this meal the twins were showing off their raspberry skills and not eating. Getting mad that we kept saying no. Now on the weekend I feed the boys in the morn as usual then our accepted way is I go back to my room and maybe go back to sleep and let matt do breakfast and such. But I’m up so I like to join. But I’m interruptus mamus! I get on the man at night when I get the boys ready for bed and nurse them and then bed. Well Matt enjoys wandering around at this time and really interrupting the boys who I have established this routine with. We are somewhat attempting to wean though admittedly I’m not ready and I want to find some way to keep this routine after breastfeeding is finished. We never bought the rocker for me to snuggle with the boys at night. We do most things on the couch in the living room. This is kind of the problem. We need to find a space and time that’s ours. I know it’s possible. How do you do it? How do you get your night routine? Do you have a stay at home parent who also covets this time? What’s the balance? Can I find it over this break? Do I wait til summer? Hmmm...wait what to do over spring break??
As parents and really as people we strive to create some semblance of a balance in our lives. Balance as a worker, balance as a partner, balance as a parent, and of course balance as an individual. In talking to many of my parent friends we find ourselves so overwhelmed to make sure our household stays in order and our children are provided for. How do we find that balance. Keeping our minds and bodies and our souls in check so that our children and our circles know that we are ok. As a mom and someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety with a tad bit of a type AAA personality and ADHD, I am always on the move. If I am sitting I have to be doing something. I am still breastfeeding so proper medication is not an option so I have to create balance somehow. I smile to the outside world, but I am constantly struggling on the inside.
Balance? What is it really? Do I have to sacrifice some creature comforts to achieve this well being? Do I have to compromise some of my drive to be balanced? So many questions and yet they will remain unanswered. I alone have to make the decision. A conscious decision to be ok at what I am doing at this current time. A decision that I may just be an ok parent, teacher, and partner for a little bit and that is ok. My therapist asked me if I have ever not exceeded or gone above and beyond in the roles that I play and I quickly responded in a sheepish manner, No. In my bio I even state that. Here is to trying to be ok at being ok. To find happiness and "balance" in this very unbalanced world I happen to live in!
All I can think about right now is the end of the iconic Toys’r Us and Babies ‘r us. Marking another end of what was my childhood. A staple for when I was a kid. Now we didn’t go often but I wanted to go all the time! I have fond memories of wanting an etch a sketch animator and made my dad go with me every week to check if they finally had one in stock. Then one day miraculously it was there only to make it to the bottom of a pile of crap that I didn’t want to play with anymore because it may have been just the thrill of getting it at that point. Who knows but I’ll tell you that thing was not what it was all worked up to be, but I wanted it and it was a mission I won! And only toys r us would carry such a thing. Back then we didn’t have the big box killer stores which I happen to love some of them, but we only had local stores and Toys ‘r us in the 80’s.
There are just a scattering of places and stories I remember vividly from that time in my life but that was one of them. Being a Jewish girl growing up they had the big toy book that I loved to look through and find deals that my mom was soooo not venturing out to get me but it was the best and happiest magazine of the year! All I had to learn was which toy I could cover at that time of year.
There are so many ends of childhood things and with this it is also a place that reminds me of new beginnings for so many people. I registered there. So many of my friends registered there. I could spend a lot of money on a lot of crap to shower my friends new babes and mine. Sad to see things change and quick. I was prepared for some to be closing but not all of them! Oh my childhood! Where will my kids go to covet toys? In the same place we buy diapers and iPhones? The local target or my boyfriend amazon? I guess so. So modern. Too modern. I want my kids to grow up with a happy place that’s all about them. So many are disappearing. Even the small amusement parks are gone being replaced by a giant Costco (another love of mine). Ugh! I guess I will have to find new places. More things to seek out while figuring out this momming and adulting. I’ll make it happen. Where are you going to go?
In my new blogger mind I know I need to post all of the time but man things get busy! People ask and people wait for a new post but sometimes damn work has to take precidence right? I sat pumping in Napa with a service signal of nothing and thought man there is a post here, so I’m going to think back a week.
If you didn’t already know pumping is a lonely life. You have to sneak away to pump and feed your little pups even when you are not there. You have to plan your toxins so your milk is good. Then you have to figure out how to transport it all. I looked into shipping my liquid gold but that’s expensive for the point I am at in this journey. So I froze it and took it home. I admit this time, though lonely, is my time. Time that is quickly coming to an end. Where no one bothers me because, well I’m pumping.
I think back on my last almost 15 months and think of all that time I have been hooked up to my variety of pumps and realize with pride what I have accomplished. But at the same time how much time is going to come back to me. There is guilt and sadness. There is happiness and celebration but at the root it is the end of a journey that I have fought the good fight to have.
I didn’t realize when sitting down to write this that pumping was going to be the post but I guess that’s where I’m at. Life is busy. Change is hard. New things and new norms will have to be created again. My babies are thriving and though this time is coming to a close I have to realize there are other things I can do to keep my time with them. What are they? No idea. Will they remember this time. No. But I will always cherish the good and the bad times and hard times and perseverance that I’ve had for this journey.
But I will get my free periods back to do actual work work and then maybe time to do this, my passion project. But I will miss my time. My bond. To make new bonds with my babies. Hmmmm...
Jenifer Roth is a full time super woman...in her mind! Well she is good at being ok at the all the roles she takes on. Enjoy the ride!