Our sweet little baby Joseph Thomas arrived yesterday
The Feast of the Annunciation
7 lbs. 4 oz., 19 inches long
Unfortunately, he has some breathing problems (unrelated to my medical issues) that mean that he requires NICU care, and is now being transferred to a NICU at a different hospital with better facilities. Even more unfortunately, I have to stay here at the delivery hospital until we get my blood thinners under control. I haven’t even seen him that much since he’s been born.
Hallie keeps sending me encouraging texts telling me I’m being so strong. I’ve been meaning to follow up and ask her for some examples of what “not being strong at all” would look like. Because I’m pretty sure that that’s what I’m actually doing.
Needless to say, this is a stressful situation for all involved, so we appreciate any prayers you can offer. Thanks again for all your wonderful support.
I’m sitting in my hospital room and have about 18 hours to kill until anything noteworthy occurs, so I thought I’d do a brain dump of updates for those of you playing along at home (if one more crazy thing happens I half expect to hear someone shout, “BINGO!”).
Here’s what’s new:
- As I mentioned on Twitter, I had The Insane-O Vein Procedure on Friday, but did NOT get a filter. The doctor realized that my lumbar veins are huge, so there’s no point in putting a filter in that one main vein — my heart and lungs still wouldn’t be protected, since clots could just go through the other veins. So it’ll be a filter-less delivery.
- Unfortunately this realization occurred after the tube with the filter was down right by my heart, so I underwent the entire procedure.
- Here is my verdict on whether or not the filter placement procedure is “no big deal”: LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Ahem. Allow me to explain: If you are not nine months pregnant while having it done, I’d imagine that it is indeed no sweat. But here’s how it goes when you are nine months pregnant:
They took me into a huge surgical room that was stocked with equipment like it was a NASA control center. I had to lie completely flat on a narrow board. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But wait! Remember that I am 38 weeks pregnant and my breathing is already compromised from pulmonary embolisms. So when I lie completely flat on my back, the result is that I feel like I am suffocating (and, in fact, I kind of am). Then they put oxygen tubes in my nose. Logically, I knew that this would help me get air; but when you have foreign objects in your nose, your body has a physiological reaction of thinking that you’re being prevented from breathing. So more signals from my body that basically said, “HEEEEEELP! YOU ARE SUFFOCATING TO DEATH!!!!!!”
And then it got worse.
Because they had to go in through my neck, they took a large roll of tarp-like paper and covered the entire area around the entry point, leaving only a hole where they’d do the incision. You know what part of my anatomy is included in the “entire area” around the entry point? My freaking face. They put a circular bar above my head for the paper to rest on so it wouldn’t touch my face, then covered me to the top of my head, leaving only a small opening where I could see out. It was like being zipped into a body bag.
So now I had: 1) a heavy baby basically sitting on top of my 2) already-compromised lungs, 3) my hands were immobilized by my side, 4) foreign objects stuffed in my nose, and 5) my head was covered by a tarp that was just inches away from my face. Did I mention that I’m 6) very claustrophobic?
The result? Total freak-out.
Now, for all of you who’d been praying for me, this is one of the many ways I believe that your prayers worked: As I
whined about mentioned, this procedure was supposed to be done in a hospital with no labor and deliver facility, which means they would refuse to give me any sedation whatsoever. At the very last minute (last minute as in 6:00 PM the day before the procedure), a bunch of craziness played out that moved it to being with a new doctor at my usual hospital. These folks were much more comfortable with everything since this is where my OB is, and so they had no problem giving me plenty of sedation.
The drugs didn’t knock me out, but they made me feel like it was just delightful to be suffocating to death. If I hadn’t had them, I am certain that I would have had a full-on panic attack. It was truly one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
- The night before the procedure we were watching One Man Army, a reality show where men compete in various tests of strength and endurance to see who has the most elite warrior skills. There was a challenge where the guys had to use a hacksaw to get out of a small box while it was filling with cold water. The hacksaw part wasn’t hard; the test was to see if they could keep their wits about them even while it felt like they were drowning in a coffin.
I commented to Joe that I’d like to try that sometime (in safe conditions like the reality show contestants were in, obviously). Sort of like how some people like to undertake physical challenges that test their limits like marathons and mountain climbing and all that other stuff that cannot be done from a desk chair and therefore I know nothing about, I sometimes I like to test myself psychologically. Like, I always thought it would be interesting to be water-boarded for a couple of minutes. I wondered if I would be able to reason my way out of any suffering, and I’d be all like, “See, I’m chill! I used the power of LOGIC to tell myself that there is no real danger here and I’m not really drowning, so therefore I’m juuuuuuuust fine.”
I got my opportunity to have a small taste of all that on Friday during the procedure, and now I know: I would be the biggest, most hysterical, freaking-out wimp in the world in any of those situations. If it is even possible to keep calm when you have multiple physiological indicators screaming at out that you’re suffocating, it is far, far beyond my capacities.
- Anyway. What else?
- I’m reading In the Heart of the Sea, the ultimate book for making you say no matter what your life circumstances, “Well. It could be worse.”
- I’m here in the hospital a day early so that I can be on IV heparin (blood thinners).
- It’s evidently quite a remarkable thing to have a patient on heparin in labor and delivery. The L&D nurses keep having to run over to other parts of the hospital to get supplies, since it’s rare that anyone would ever want a woman’s blood thinned any time near childbirth.
- When the nurse finished getting me set up, she paused before leaving and said, “I’m so sad for you that nobody’s here with you!” I got some comments along those lines when I was in the hospital for the pulmonary embolisms too: I was here for quite a few days, and was alone the majority of the time. It was all fine with me. I didn’t watch TV either. I was totally happy to read and lie around in silence by myself. This isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time?
- We’ll stop blood thinners tomorrow (Monday) morning, and then we’ll induce labor. I’ll have to be totally immobile since I’ll need these crazy boot things on my legs to try to prevent clots from forming, so THE EPIDURAL HAD BETTER WORK THIS TIME (I thought the Epidural Fates might be able to hear me better if I used caps lock there).
–> I’m guest hosting the Five Favorites meme over at Hallie’s place today, so come join me over there! <–
Five Favorites (hosted by Hallie, originally the brainchild of blogging mastermind BooMama) is where bloggers share five of their most helpful discoveries — the items could be anything from products to prayers to TV shows. These are always fun posts to read, so I’m glad to be joining in this week! I’ll even explain the existence of this picture:
“But wait!” you say. “Aren’t you supposed to be preparing to have foreign objects inserted into your neck today? How on earth can you be messing around with blog posts at a time like this?”
Yes, well, about that: it’s been rescheduled for Friday. With all of the upheaval around this procedure, I’ve felt like Charlie Brown trying to hit Lucy’s football, only if the football were filled with explosives or live wasps or another material that would cause something terrible to happen to Charlie when he kicked it.
But wait, it gets crazier. I called the vein doctor again to confirm the new date, and the following conversation ensued. (He is a very kind man with a touch of a lovely Southern accent, so you have to picture all of this being said in a smooth, soothing voice):
Me: Sorry to bother you, Doctor! Just wanted to check to make sure that Friday is the new date.
Doctor: Yes, that’s correct. We thought it would be better to do it closer to delivery.
Me: I know there was some concern about anesthesia and its impact on the baby, since the hospital where we’re doing the procedure doesn’t have a labor and delivery ward. Were you able to touch base with my OB about that?
Doctor: I did talk to him, and we came up with a solution.
Me: A solution, you say? Oh, hurray! I love solutions! [Sound of foreboding music mysteriously begins playing behind me.]
Doctor: We thought we could go ahead and do it without any anesthesia or sedation.
Me: Did you just say, “WITHOUT ANY ANESTHESIA OR SEDATION!!!!”?
Doctor: Yes. That’s a great solution since then we won’t have to worry about the impact on the baby.
Me: [Drops phone, goes into convulsions.]
Doctor: I don’t think it should be too painful. I’ll just make the incision in your neck, then once we insert the tube carrying the metal filter into the vein…
Me: [Hears nothing else. Now curled into the fetal position and losing consciousness.]
I don’t think I could possibly articulate my feelings about this situation better than Rebecca Fletcher did when she commented on my last post:
After reading the details of your procedure…I don’t want to live in this world anymore.
I will note, though, that the battle is not over yet. I made a few comments to the nurse like “I sure hope I don’t start violently shaking and screaming profanity in the middle of the procedure, as I am wont to do when I’m nervous and in horrible pain!” and “If a patient were to find a five-year-old bottle of Vicodin in the back of her medicine cabinet and take a couple before the procedure, would the doctor know? — just theoretically”, which I think may have inspired them to take a second look at this decision.
(For those who asked why this must be done before delivery, it’s because I’ve been put on the Snakes on a Plane life plan for 2013 where everything must be difficult in increasingly bizarre ways. Oh, and also because the doctors are worried about more clots coming loose and/or forming during labor and in the postpartum period.)
But anyway, enough about Unanesthetized Medical Procedure Friday. Head over to Hallie’s to hear about why I’m considering naming this baby Fujitsu Scansnap!
I think I had a mid-life crisis a few months ago.
It was a weird experience, because I didn’t see it coming. Ever since my conversion I’ve had this unshakable sense of peace at the foundation of my life, a sort of root-level happiness that I never knew was possible. Yeah, things are hard, sometimes really hard, and I whine now and then (okay, a lot), but all of that stuff has to do with day to day annoyances. When you look past all that, I’m actually deeply fulfilled with this crazy existence of mine — after all, life doesn’t have to be easy to be joyful.
So I was caught off guard when, one warm afternoon last fall, I found myself riddled with stress and panic at the thought of turning 36.
It was one of those moments when information that I already knew well suddenly struck me completely differently than it had the first thousand times I’d thought about it: a nurse at my obstetrician’s office asked how old I would be when the baby is born, and I answered casually, “Thirty-six.” She left the room while scribbling notes on my chart, and I was left stunned, sitting rigid in the chair as if I’d just received some grave diagnosis.
“Thirty-six? Thirty-SIX?!?! My thirties are mostly gone! Forty is just around the corner! I’M SO OLD!!!!”
Now, I realize the ridiculousness of a 36-year-old thinking that she is old, and I’m sure I will laugh heartily if I re-read this in 30 years. It’s not even that I think that 36 is old, objectively; I just didn’t realize that that’s my age. I guess I’ve been so busy for the past half decade that I never really noticed that I was out of my 20s.
But whatever. No big deal. I tried to brush it all off as soon as I left the doctor’s office, assuring myself that I must just be in one of those moods where everything seems overwhelming and horrible. (Just that morning I had called Joe to wonder loudly if life is even worth living anymore, which resulted in an awkward silence when it came out that the question arose because we ran out of butter.)
The hours turned into days, my mood improved, and yet I continued to be plagued by some unsettling feeling about my age. I’d be going through my routine, feeling fine, and then — boom — that I’M GETTING OLD! feeling would slam into me and leave me reeling.
I tried to get to the bottom of this weird new anxiety, but had little luck. I went through this mental process I often turn to in times of stress, where I think through possible explanations and try them out like trying keys in a lock. Yet this time, none of them fit: Anxious about mortality? Nah. We Catholics think about death all the time, and I’m fairly comfortable with the knowledge that my life on this earth won’t last forever. Worried about looking older? I’m not immune to bemoaning new gray hairs and wrinkles, but it doesn’t bother me that much. Missing the “freedom” of youth? Oh my gosh. I was never more of a slave than when I was supposedly living the high life in my 20s. Do not want to experience that again.
I walked around like this for days, maybe even weeks: stressed about my age, stressed about the fact that I was stressed, and stressed that I couldn’t analyze my way out of my stress about being stressed. (Yeah. It’s hard to be me.) Then, finally, it hit me, and I understood what was at the root of my anxiety.
The ah-hah moment came when I stumbled across an old DarwinCatholic post, in which Darwin makes a profound point about our little daily choices adding up to create a life – specifically, that if our choices are poorly thought out, it may not be a life we want to live. He analogized it to constructing a building:
The house or office you are sitting in was built according to a plan and a purpose, a purpose from which it is now only able to deviate to a limited extent. My house cannot suddenly become an office tower, though it has an office in it. My office building would make a very poor house. But they are built knowingly, according to a plan. And yet, our lives seem often constructed to a purpose without the architect knowing that he is in constructing something with walls and doors — an edifice which will suit some ends well, and other poorly. Individual choices pile up unto some particular type of life, and once that life is built people sometimes find it is not, in fact, the kind of structure they want to live in.
After reading that, I got it.
People probably experience mid-life crises for a variety of reasons, but, for me, what happened was that I looked up and realized that my building is well on its way to completion. Even though I am happy with the way it’s turning out, it was startling to realize how much of it is done. Last time I checked, it was still a bare foundation with endless possibilities; it now has a definite design, a clear trajectory. Many of the choices I have already made rule out other, future choices I might have once considered. As a 36-year-old mother expecting my sixth child, it’s extremely unlikely that I will ever be a top makeup artist or ascend the Seven Summits or become a professor of physics. It’s not that I care that much about doing any of those things, but when I was 20, they were all options.
Now, they are not.
It was when I internalized that fact that I realized that the pain of my mid-life crisis was, at its root, fueled by my attachment to options.
I’ve long given lip service to the idea that the secret to life is seeking God’s will on a day-by-day, even hour-by-hour basis. Ever since I read the (incredible and life-changing) book He Leadeth Me, I have been a big believer in this idea that the most important way to be fulfilled and have an impact on the world is simply to ask God what he wants you to do right here, right now; to rest in the knowledge that God always has something important that he needs you to do, no matter your age or your physical abilities or your circumstances, and that it’s probably more exciting than your own plans anyway.
But believing something and living it are always two different things, and it wasn’t until my little mid-life crisis that I realized just how much hope I placed in having options. Rather than resting in the life that God has given me, and trusting that he’ll give me whatever opportunities I require to do what I’m meant to do in this world, I still relied on having lots and lots of choices for the future in my back pocket (you know, as a backup, just in case God dropped the ball with his plan and I had to take over).
And when I realized that many of those choices were gone now, with more disappearing with each passing day, it was a startling moment of coming face to face with my own attachments.
As I would find out a few months later when my health took a dive, this happens in other areas of life as well: in addition to time, you often don’t realize just how much you rely on things like power, money, or (in my recent situation) health until you don’t have them anymore. I always thought that my hope for a truly fulfilled life rested in God alone. Now I see that the breakdown was more like: 30% hope in God, 30% hope in robust health that allows me to engage in activities of my choosing, 30% hope in having plenty of time to do all sorts of other stuff in the future, and 10% in having the resources to make it happen. As we age, those other commodities dwindle — a 110-year-old doesn’t have a whole lot of health or time or resources, for example — and only God is left.
At least for me, a mid-life crisis is nothing more or less than a realization that every day brings us a little closer to that point when all we have left is God, and that we may be closer to that point than we thought we were. It sounds kind of depressing, like something I’d shout into the phone at Joe at 3 PM when I’m exhausted and the baby won’t nap and someone just spilled yogurt on the wall (“ALL I HAVE LEFT IS GOD!!!”), but it’s really quite inspiring. To go through a mid-life crisis and to come out the other side is to go through a process of purification, in which you accept the things that are gone, and realize that they were were never the source of true happiness to begin with.