Sunday, November 26, 2006

Four years ago today...

I became a mother. My water broke at home, then I spent 17 hours in pitocin-labor hell, without progressing. I was told that my baby's head was probably too big to pass through my pelvic bones, so a c-section was indicated. I had been vocal about wanting a natural childbirth, but once there seemed to be medical evidence that I needed the surgery, I let go of my desire and agreed. I learned later that Becky's heart rate dropped quickly while they were prepping me; Jim almost missed seeing her be pulled out. It turned out her head was small enough, but she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, AND she was holding it. She wasn't doing well at the moment of birth but I didn't know anything was amiss, except that I hadn't heard her cry, and Jim said he couldn't see anything. (He'd seen this tiny purple girl come out and knew something was wrong but wisely said nothing to me.) Then she did cry and I relaxed; everything was fine now as far as I was concerned. The nurse brought her over for a kiss before taking her to the nursery.

It wasn't until seeing her that evening and speaking to a pediatrician the next morning that I learned that she had been in distress and had aspirated meconium. When Jim and I first saw her, she was full of iv's and monitors, laying under a lamp. It was surreal, so far from the picture I'd had in my head of what our birth-day would be like. Fortunately, every time I came to see her in the nursery, another monitor had been removed, and I was able to feed her a bottle after a day or so. I really wanted to nurse her, but her throat was so raw from suctioning that she had no interest in sucking for a while. After 3 days a lactation consultant worked with us; again Becky wasn't cooperating and I was crushed. I came back for her next feeding, and this time a wonderful nurse sat us down together and said "let's just bring her to the breast and see what happens". That miracle girl latched on and sucked for 20 minutes. I was so full of joy and knew that we were going to be all right. I ended up staying in the hospital due to high blood pressure, a legacy of childbearing that I still carry, but they let Becky stay with me for the last 2 days so I started to really feel like a mama.

She was a fun, easy baby from the start; a great nurser and good sleeper. We found that we were more laid-back parents than I'd thought we (okay, I) would be, which really helped her to be less fussy. Her first year passed in the blink of an eye, then her second, and now her third and fourth. Becky is funny, smart, sweet and loving. She loves fun and has a very infectious laugh. Right now she's perfecting writing her name and is making strides at day care in terms of coloring and other skills; Jim and I have been amazed at how she's progressed. She remembers EVERYTHING and asks a lot of questions. We talk about deep subjects like God and the earth, as well as lots of silly topics. She's in love with Diego on Noggin, and learns a lot from him too. (Did you know that baby penguins can't swim until they get their swim feathers?)

She's been a fantastic big sister to Carly; the moments of jealousy of having to "share the limelight" are few and are overshadowed by her obvious love for "her baby". They now play together, rolling around on the floor hugging and giggling. To Carly, Becky is the sun and the moon and it's easy to see why. I feel lucky and honored to be her mommy.

Bitter, sweet and an adventure

On Monday, I attended the funeral of S, a coworker who died of colon cancer. She was diagnosed with her cancer around the same time I had my kidney removed. Unfortunately, surgery could not remove her entire tumor. She endured chemotherapy and a lot of pain, especially at the end. She was only 54 years old, and was a kind and generous woman. We'd talked a few times about both having cancer; I always felt a little "guilty" that I have done so well since my nephrectomy. It's not that I don't deserve a good outcome but it seems unfair somehow that everyone can't have a good prognosis. She will certainly be missed by many people.

The week got happier and more hectic for us. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year, and had a total of 21 people there throughout the day, though not that many at any one time. As usual, I didn't get enough done ahead of time (read, housework) so was completely frazzled by the time people were scheduled to arrive. Once they did, though, I calmed down and we all had an enjoyable day. My turkey came out as juicy as I'd hoped, and everyone brought something so we had a ton of food. We celebrated Becky's birthday at the gathering; she didn't mind sharing with the holiday, especially since she got nice gifts from her relatives. I'm still cleaning up today (Sunday) because we've not been home a lot since Thursday, but it will all get done at some point.

I took Friday off work and the girls and I trekked downtown to see Jim, who did have to work, and have lunch with him in the hospital cafeteria. They both enjoyed the trip, especially Becky, who has announced that we need to visit again soon. Lunch in the caf was a big hit, though the grilled cheese sandwich was not to B's liking (what do you mean, there are 3 kinds of cheese in there?). She loved the pierogies, and told me that they are as good as mine. They looked to be just like mine, that is, Mrs. T's!

Then Saturday we went on a driving adventure. My mom had a cousin, B, who has kept in touch with my sister and me after my mom died in 1994. B has 3 adult daughters and several grandchildren, spread across the country. Sis got to go visit B in October, and learned that she was going to Cincinnati to spend Thanksgiving with her middle daughter and family. Sis, BIL and nephew were going to KY to see BIL's mom so they decided to stop by my cousin, S's house on their way back through on Saturday. Sis and I talked and decided that Jim, the girls and I would drive down to meet everyone. Jim wasn't thrilled about the idea of a day in the car, especially with Carly, but he understood that meeting more of my family was important to me. We left the house with videos for the girls to watch on a portable DVD player they'd received for Christmas last year, as well as some other toys, and set off. The trip down went fine; the girls did watch some videos and napped for a while. We only stopped once, to get a bite to eat and let everyone stretch their legs, and arrived as S's house at lunchtime.

They have a lovely home outside Cincinnati, and made us feel welcome as soon as we arrived. We all had sandwiches and talked for a few hours, making sure to take some photos of one another. I learned that my mom's tradition of always making angel food cake for our birthdays had family roots... her aunts all made angel food cakes for family gatherings of all kinds. One of my cousins who was there said there would always be multiple angel food cakes. S and her husband have two adorable daughters, who are 9 and almost 6, and who were adopted from China. The older daughter played games with my nephew (who is 6 1/2) and the younger daughter played princess dress up with Becky. Carly fell in love with their puppy and had a general good time toddling around. We finally left Cincy in the late afternoon and met our good friends in Columbus for dinner and a quick visit. We didn't get home until about midnight, and Jim and I are pretty tired today, but for me it was well worth it to get to spend time with family who I have not gotten the chance to know.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Catching up

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. My job has been crazy-busy all month so even when I have time at home, I don't have energy. On the job front, I start my new job officially on January 1. However, there are lots of projects going on that I need to be part of, so I am attending a lot of meetings. Unfortunately, my current boss hasn't decided yet who is getting my duties of my current job, so I have nobody to offload any tasks to. This has caused me to get very behind on everything. But I just can't put in a lot of extra hours; there is too much going on at home. So I'll do what I can and pray that I'm not missing anything big. Bleh.

We had Carly's birthday party on the 15th and a good time was had by all, especially the birthday girl. We've seen big changes in our baby girl over the past couple of weeks. She's been taking a few tentative steps, and over the weekend started to actually cover some distance before falling. She says hi and bye a lot, and tries to wrestle the phone from me to say hi to whoever is on the other end. Jim pointed out that the seemingly random sound she makes at meals is actually "thank you" or in her verbiage, "enkoo". I asked her on Friday if she had a good day at school and she nodded. She will also nod or shake her head when asked if she wants more milk, etc. She was also really angry at supper that night; turns out she wanted to serve her macaroni and cheese to herSELF and not have Mommy give it to her. (She had been super crabby so I was holding her on my lap and feeding her.)

Becky's birthday is coming at the end of the month and she is beyond excited. This Saturday she is having a party for her daycare friends at Chuck E Cheese. Oh joy. Actually it should be pretty fun. Then, we're having her family party at Thanksgiving dinner, which will be at our house for the first time in several years. She was excited about combining the two parties so I figured it would be fine, even though I promised myself in the past that I'd never let her birthday be overshadowed by the holiday. Next week she will start transitioning from her current room at day care, Young Preschool, to the Preschool room across the hall. Her current teacher mentioned to me today that she doesn't think Becky wants to move rooms yet. I asked Becky in the car if she wants to move to Preschool. Her response: "oh yes! They have a lot of neat things in that room!" lol So I think the teacher was projecting a little. It doesn't hurt that Preschool is $11 less per week... that will be nice. Next spring when Carly moves to the Toddler room we'll see a $17 a week savings. Hey, maybe we'll start getting those credit card bills paid off. :-)

My health status has been fine, yet an ongoing saga. In my last post I mentioned my great CT scans and my oncologist's good attitude about them. My happiness over these results lasted all of 5 days. The next week, I had a regularly scheduled followup with my urologist, Dr. K. He read my scan reports and said that he felt that we need to biopsy the enlarged lymph node in my abdomen. Since I am young, we should be treating agressively, and so forth. Now, in June, when my lung biopsy was ordered, Dr. R had mentioned the possibility of also biopsying the node in the abdomen. However, he said that he didn't think it was necessary at the time, and since he doesn't like introducing sharp objects around vital organs, he would not recommend the procedure at this time. Since the lung was negative, he never mentioned the node again. (By the way, I was talking to my dad's fiancee, to be known from here on out as Stepmom, about my tests. She reminded me that my dad had a lot of nodules in his body that came up in scans but were benign. He was just a "nodule guy". That made me feel a little more relaxed.) Anyhow, Dr. K said "with all due respect to Dr. R we need to do this biopsy". That statement made me somewhat angry. I felt like the biopsy was being ordered more as some kind of assertion of power more than as a necessary test. Dr. K gave my information to the scheduler and told me they would call me. He did mention that the radiologist might not agree to the procedure, and I wasn't surprised, since there is a considerable amount of "fluff" between my skin and the node.

This was on the 4th. Everyone in my life who knew what was going on bugged me about when my biopsy would be. Myself, I was dreading it. A biopsy means missing a day of work, being in pain, feeling anxious, and the possibility of 1) them hitting an organ, causing hemorrhaging and immediate emergency surgery, and/or 2) a bad result. Plus, I was feeling doubt... what if it is cancer? Then should I be mad at Dr. R? So, I emailed Dr. K and his assistant early the next week. He said they were still working on scheduling it but I would hear from them.

I ended up taking that Friday (the 13th, no less) off work. Carly's one-year well check was that day, I had scheduled my first mammogram for that day (more on that later) and I wanted to work on getting ready for Carly's party. Later in the afternoon I was on the phone when I heard a call on my call waiting, which I let roll to voice mail. It was the scheduler from Radiology! I called back and learned that the radiologist had canceled the procedure, and that Dr. K's office would be calling me. They still haven't called, despite an email from me last week. I'm not concerned but more than a little annoyed. I have felt the stress of this uncertainty all summer, and have unfortunately used my eating habits as a coping mechanism... which of course has only succeeded in bringing me back to my highest non-pregnant weight ever. I'm frustrated that this stress continued needlessly. All in all though, as long as I don't get bad news, I can't really complain too loudly.

Jim and I did face reality, by finally meeting with our estate attorney last month and signing our wills. This is never a fun task but it feels good to have things in order.

So on the 13th I also had my first mammogram. That was fun... not. Actually not *that* bad but certainly not pleasant IMO. The tech ws very nice though and I was in and out quickly. The next Tue I got a call from my doctor's office. They saw something on the film. "It's likely just a calcification but you need to have it checked." WHYWHYWHY?!?!? I swear, nothing is easy for me lately. Of course, I couldn't get the retest done at the office near my house because they don't have the needed equipment for the test. So the nurse says, the Breast Center will call you; if you don't hear from them by Friday, call us back. Friday comes, no call. I call my doctor's office back. The nurse I speak to says, "you have to call the Breast Center yourself." NO! I DO NOT! I was told that they would call me and to call back on Fri if I hadn't heard!!! So she starts reading my chart over the phone... the chart reads almost verbatim what I have just said. Then she says, "well, do you have the phone number for the BC?" Nooooo... because again, I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO CALL THEM. I'm not yelling at her but speaking verrrry firmly. So she tells me that she will call the BC herself and have them call me "because you need to have this checked." NO SHIT, SHERLOCK'S SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been on pins and needles all week waiting for this call. Of course, I grab the phone every time it rings the rest of the day, but no call. No, of course not... they called my house, even though my work phone number is on my electronic chart. Of course, nobody was there when I got home and it's Friday. So I left the woman a message to PLEASE call me at work on Monday. She called back; I can come down to the hospital (where I have to pay for parking and shlep across the street) or the extension to the BC that is <5min from my office. I voted for B even though I'd have to wait a week or so longer for an appointment. The good part about this focused mammogram is that the radiologist reads it while you wait, so you know the results before you leave.

That appointment was last Friday. I arrived, changed into my too-small gown (grr) and waited my turn with an older woman and one in her 30s. After their exams, both were visited by the tech, bearing a piece of paper and the good news that everything was fine. I went in and got squashed again (and boy that hurts worse than the regular mammo) and sat to wait. I thought, if the radiologist comes out, I'm screwed. Fortunately the tech came out with the message "benign calcifications, see you next year". Thank God!!! What a relief. I joked with Jim that it is my right breast that has the calcifications because that breast was always my better producer when I was nursing and pumping. :-)

I'm sure I've forgotten something here, but you all are probably asleep or have bleeding eyes for now, so I'll head for bed now. And I will try to post again sooner.