Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In Memorium


You often hear horror stories about mother-in-law's who are mean, judgmental, cause issues with the marriage, etc.

I never had to worry about that. From the day I met Sandy Burr, I knew we weren't just going to be related through marriage - we were going to be friends.

Someone recently said to me "it seems you were very close to your MIL... how come?" And I realize I couldn't exactly answer that question. Was it because she didn't fit that "stereotype" of a monster-in-law? Maybe... but it was more than that. I felt comfortable talking to her about anything; we laughed and joked. The simple fact that for so long she was the "only woman" in the lives of her son and husband could have made it very uncomfortable for me; but instead she viewed it as a "comrade in arms" - now two of us could gang up on those guys instead of being on the receiving end of their teasing.

When Wes and I got engaged, I wanted to make sure that both moms felt included in the planning. It wasn't easy, since Sandy and my own mother each lived 2 hours away, but I made sure to include them. Talked about the types of cake, shared ideas on our theme, our colors, what we wanted for toasting glasses or cake toppers, what I was going to wear / use from my own parents wedding (like the tiara from my mothers veil and the cake topper they had)... Sandy was as interested and excited about the planning as my mother was and that made me happy. I remember the day we went to look at toasting glasses and I couldn't decide between the Celtic knot champagne glasses or the Scottish Quaich (a single cup/bowl with handles that was shared between the married couple). Sandy made me leave the store while she made a purchase... and came out with both. When I cracked a joke at my father-in-law's expense while they were ordering the tuxes ("I'm a "Senior"" (explaining to the woman his name was the same as Wes')... I responded with "You certainly are."), she laughed the hardest.

The summer before we were married, I ended up in the hospital twice for my esophageal issues. My folks made plans to come down and stay for a few days so they could spend time with me there and comfort / keep my mind occupied. But Sandy and Wes Burr came over as well. That meant a lot to me. When Wes couldn't take me to an appointment down in Baltimore, his folks drove up to take me down to the appointment, then back home and Sandy helped take care of me that day, even declaring at one point that I was not a very patient patient and "reprimanding" me to take it easy while I was recovering.

We had the same taste in books and music and TV shows.

When I was out in Pittsburgh and miserable out there by myself, Sandy was one of the people I called when I was feeling particularly down and frustrated. She helped get us back on our feet financially, so I could come back home with her son and not have to worry about things.

And then the first cancer came. I knew (possibly even before her son) that she was going for some testing. I didn't know at first what it was for, but it didn't take me long to figure out. And through her treatments and hair loss and numerous appointments I tried to be there for her as best I could, joking and helping keep a smile on her face. She was one tough woman and when the treatment showed to be working we breathed a collective sigh of relief.

And she cheered us through each infertility treatment... supporting me through each failure and each successive attempt. And when we finally succeeded, she smiles and cried with the rest of us.

Then the second cancer came. I remember the day we found out, Wes and I were both in tears, wondering if she would even see her granddaughter born. The last months of my pregnancy were tough on me, but Sandy still called me at least once a week to see how I was doing, how the baby was doing... all the while going through her own treatments. And I held out hope that not only would see Morgan born, but she'd be around for a long time to watch her grow up.

And in December... she was there with the rest of the family to welcome her first granddaughter and hold her shortly after her birth.

Morgan seemed to grow leaps and bounds and all her little outfits were grown out of almost as soon as we got them. So during one visit Sandy decided we were all going to Babies R Us and buying new clothes. Wes and his dad wandered off with the baby and Sandy and I started picking out clothes. Morgan was only about two or three months old at the time, and Sandy was so excited she wanted to go over to the toy section next. I laughed and said we didn't need to do that, since Morgan wasn't really playing with toys just yet and we had plenty of time to spoil her with new toys.

Unfortunately, no long thereafter we realized the treatments did not work. The tumor was larger and inoperable. My biggest regret right now is the fact that I didn't let her go and buy the store out of all their toys like she wanted.

It's weird how one's mind focuses in on something so insignificant as "baby toys" and holds onto that as their biggest regret.

But the truth is, it's not even about the toys. It's everything - Sandy won't see her first birthday, her first recital, her first day of school, first dance........ the list goes on.

If you've read any of my blog, you know basically how I feel about Life and Death - the Afterlife and Rebirth/Reincarnation. So... I know Sandy will never truly leave us. And, in some way, she won't miss all these things. But sometimes the concept of the "incorporeal" and the "guardian angels" doesn't cut it for me. I wanted Morgan to grow up knowing all of her grandparents - something I did not get a chance to do. I wanted her to be excited about going to see Grandma Sandy, with whom she could do no wrong and be spoiled rotten.

The day after Sandy's passing, we returned from their home (which felt strangely empty without here there in the kitchen, telling me stories about the broken fork or how her grandmother made this or that from scratch) and I went about my evening routine of putting Morgan to bed. She was particularly restless and kept pulling away while I was nursing, sitting straight up in my lap to look at a corner of the nursery, wave and "talk". I had to laugh. I knew Grandma Sandy was there, waving and smiling and distracting my baby just so that she could say "hi."

My heart is heavy with missing her. And I know I can never do justice to her memory. But I'm going to try my best, because she deserves that and more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

*heavy sigh* "I have been up all night," I thought to myself, "I wonder when it really is time to call the doctor?"

My induction had been scheduled for Tuesday, December 11th. So, of course, Friday, December 7th, I start contracting like crazy. Uncomfortable enough that I cannot sleep. Finally, around 5am, I give up and call the doctor's line. Within 15 min, the doctor on call calls back and, after hearing how far apart they are and how long it's been going on, suggests it's time to go to the hospital. I wake up Wes "Honey, Dr. W says it's time to go to the hospital, wake up." Incoherent mumble, I take as "ok". I go downstairs to pee for the millionth time and then back up to get dressed and grab my bag.

Wes... is still asleep.

"Hon... I'm not kidding. This is not a drill. The doctor says go to the hospital." That sort of gets him moving. Though slowly. *grin*

We get to the hospital (after making him stop to grab a quick bite). I'm taken into a triage room. Doctor on call comes in to examine me.

"You're only 2 cm dilated. You can go walk around the hospital for 2 hours, then come back and we'll check again."

... Walk? Two hours? /sigh So... we walk. All over the damn hospital. For two hours. I go back to triage.

"You're... 2 cm dilated. Go home."

Back home we go. Contractions had settled down, so we chalked it up to "false alarm." I could have walked more around the house to see if we could get them going again, but I was damn tired. Off to bed I went, with instructions to Wes to make sure he eats something and wake me up at 4.

I wake up on my own a while later, and proceed to walk around the house. Contractions don't seem to be coming any faster/closer... but definitely harder.

"Nurse said to come back if they get more intense... they ARE more intense." Back we go... 12 hours from the first time we went in.

"You're 2 cm dilated. The doctor on call can give you something to help you sleep OR you can walk for 2 hours and come back."

I was already there... I chose to walk again. At this point, they were coming faster and quite painful. It was all in my back - and like they say, back labor SUCKS. As we walked down the first corridor, a woman on her cell phone looks at me and says "You in labor? Try the stairs in the lobby... that's what did it for me."

So... down the hallway, up the stairs, pace the hallway, down the stairs, finish the trip to the other side of the hospital, reverse the direction and repeat.

It got the point where the contractions were coming hard enough I had to keep stopping and leaning on a chair to rest and catch my breath. Passerby looked at us sympathetically... and we'd smile and continue on our way.

At the hour and a half mark, I was on my way back towards triage when something "popped". I stopped as two women (one very pregnant as well) passed us. "Uh... uh oh."

"Did your water just break," commented the one woman as they turned back around.

"Uh... I don't know." "Well... you're not wet." (strangers in hospitals make odd observations I realized). "Well, no," says I. "But I do have a pad on." (Let me interrupt to say... if it had REALLY broke... a pad would have done zilch... just sayin').

Back to triage. Nurse on duty: "You're back early." "I think my water broke." Nurse looks at me slightly skeptical... "Well, let's check." Back up on the table I go. She checks. "Well... you're still not really dilated, but it looks like your waters are at least leaking... you'll be staying, we just need to do a test to confirm." Test comes back positive for amniotic fluid... I have earned myself a hospital stay!

I get admitted. Contractions are really coming hard and somewhat painful now. Nurse in L&D says "Do you want an epidural?" Me: "Uh... YES.""When do you want me to call the anesthesiologist?" "Five minutes ago?" She laughs and goes to get the doctor.

If you have never had an epidural before (I have coincidentally for a previous surgery, so I knew what to expect), let me just say it's a tad nerve wracking. They are sticking a needle... into your spine. You have to stay very still. This is quite a task when you're having contractions. And... it still hurts a bit. But, once it's in and the medicine is flowing... AH... Better living through chemistry, as my father-in-law would say.

At this point, there was a lot of "wash, rinse, repeat." I was hooked to monitors to check on baby's heartbeat, my BP, my contractions. I was checked every couple hours by a nurse or a doctor. Wes slept (like the dead, I might add). I dosed as I could but mostly just rested waiting for the Big Show.

At one point, the next day (Sunday), the doctor on call came in and decided things just were not moving at all (they had me on Pitocin, but the baby was not moving down, I was dilating very slowly and I think this doctor was honestly just tired of waiting. LOL). She declared she was breaking my waters. I am thankful I did not see the instrument used to do so until AFTER she did it. Numb legs or not, I may have gotten up and run away. BUT - there was no pain, just an odd "popping" sensation. And then I was wet. VERY VERY wet. Wes, strangely fascinated, couldn't seem to look away, despite the fact that he declared it quite... aromatic. And sort of gross looking. Nurses crawled out of the woodwork to change me, change the bedding, and clean up. It was pretty darn amazing how fast they work. At that point, I kept leaking a lot and they had to change the pads under me every so often. But still... no pain.

Now the baby is too high and can't come down because there is no fluid cushioning her. So... they add fluid, increase the pitocin and put on an internal monitor. At this point, the on call doctors also switched.

Wes informs me that the troops have started to arrive. However at this point things have started to change. I'm having very bad pain in my back on my left side. I finally give in after crying to Wes that I "just can't do this" and let them call the anesthesiologist back in. He pushes a stronger dose of medicine right into the epidural line and rolls me over to my left side. I instantly start to feel better. He leaves; and I instantly start to feel lightheaded.

"Uh... didn't the nurse say I was to let her know if I was lightheaded?" Wes runs out to tell her, but she was on her way in... the monitors showed my BP rapidly dropped. Back over to my right side, pushed a TON of fluids into me and propped me up some. BP stayed lower, but not as dangerous as it was. I decided I didn't want to see the rest of the company who was waiting for me.

I was scared. The last time a medication caused that sort of reaction, the next reaction was vomiting and having trouble breathing. The pain came back on the left side and the next hour or so was spent trying to keep my BP up, while at the same time getting me semi on my left side to get the medicine to the right spot. We finally managed it and I started to feel much better.

I finally asked Wes to bring my mom in. I knew the baby was going to not be much longer, and there was just something about wanting to have my Mommy there when I wasn't feeling the best. She came in, surprised as how little pain I was having. I explained to her that I wasn't feeling any pain, but that the contractions were hard enough I still had to breathe through them. It was nice having her there for a few minutes; the BP reaction really frightened me and it calmed me back down to have here there. But, I also knew it was about time to get down to business.

When she left and the doctor came back in to check on my progress he said to us there was a 75% chance he'd have to do a c-section. This was the last thing I wanted to hear after going through all this and knowing how my body reacted to surgeries. He left after increasing the pitocin again and said he'd be back to check on me.

"80% chance of a c-section," the next time he came in. I wanted to cry, but held it together... "Well, at least I'd get two more weeks on my disability to be home with her if they did a c-section," I told Wes.

The third time the doctor came in I expected to be wheeled to the OR. "Well," he says, "We're gonna push now."

Wait... we're gonna WHAT? Yup. He decided he was going to let me try to push. She had come down far enough that he thought we might still be able to deliver her vaginally.

Let me just say... it wasn't the contractions (once I got the epidural and the back pain under control). It wasn't even the pressure and the pushing. The "gross" factor of giving birth doesn't phase me too much (though I was a little embarrasedabout some of it; overall, I've been through enough medical stuff that bodily functions in the arena of a medical process does not really bother me too much anymore). What really got me was holding my breath. Yup. I had to hold my breath for ten seconds while bearing down. Hardest thing I may have ever had to do in my life. It sounds silly, but there you have it. Hardest part of labor for me was holding my breath for those 10 seconds while at the same time pushing a small human being out of me.

Forty-five minutes later (after hearing the "here's her head, dad. Do you see?" and getting to touch her crown as she started to emerge), I gave one final push and she was out. Doctor and nurses were all amazed because, as a first time mom, they said they didn't usually have such a small amount of time actually pushing. Apparently sometimes that phase alone takes hours.

But then we had one final little scare... they whisked her away from me to clean her up and get the meconium out of her mouth & lungs. I heard these words, but I didn't know what that meant. All I knew was that my little girl was on the far side of the room, I couldn't turn to see her because of how I was hooked up and I was still working with the doctor for the delivery of the placenta and I couldn't hear her cry.

I could hear the pediatricians and nurses talking about needing to get her to cry. I could hear a bit of a whimper like a small mewling kitten. But I did not hear that big lusty cry you hear in the "movies"

They had Wes come over and take a picture of her on his phone, so he could show me, but all that did was make me want to hold her more. I started to cry a bit... I was scared again. Wes held my hand. But then finally a nurse brought her over to me to see if I could get her to latch and maybe give a good cry then. And finally she did. And it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life.

There is nothing like those first few moments holding your newborn. Nothing I write here can even begin to explain how I felt. But, these pictures come close:

At 3:17 pm on December 9th, 2012, we welcomed Morgan Amelia Burr into our lives. She had already wormed her way into my heart the last nine months, but now I could share her with the rest of those I love.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ok... still not Morgan's "birth story" but this one needs attention tonight.

This has the potential to be a trigger. Please do not read if you're easily upset.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

September 2012 was the last time I wrote.

Wow... yeah... being pregnant makes time get away from you in those last months. Being a mom doubles that...

I intend to write here when I can - document the wonders of Motherhood, so my wee little brain doesn't forget them.

Because they're important. Because that time goes so fast and I don't want to forget a single moment of it.

I plan on starting with Morgan's birth story. Two things you should know here, dear reader:
1. I'm starting here because my last trimester was very difficult for me and stressful and filled with pain and doctor's visits and anxiety. I don't want to remember that... I want to leave it behind now that Morgan is finally here.

2. I will not include ALL the details, but be warned, I'm also not going to sugar coat it all either. Labor and birth are a messy business. Given my medical history and some of the late pregnancy complications, my story is also full of some anxiety and worries. These are important for me to remember though - and maybe even important for anyone who wants to know everything about everything (I wish I had known some of this; it may have made it less stressful on me).

But... it IS a beautiful story, IMO. Because, in the end, at 3:17pm on December 9th, 2012, we were blessed with the arrival of Morgan Amelia Burr. Our lives have been changed and turned upside down... and I couldn't be happier about that fact.