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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rumors and Feelings

I am so hurt.  I was so excited to get back to Guam, and since I've been here, I've been told things that were said about me when I was gone.  Not only are these things absolutely ludicrous, but they are so insulting.  At first I laughed because the first rumor I heard was so stupid.  I couldn't believe someone could even come up with it, much less repeat it.  But the rumors I've heard more recently just hurt me.  They are also absolutely ridiculous, but to think that people who I thought were my friends would say these things breaks my heart.

I told myself that I was going to let it roll off my back, and not even give a response.  But the more I think about it, the more upset I get. So I AM responding.

First rumor: Katie Beth came early because I drank NyQuil throughout my pregnancy.

How it's false: I had Katie Beth 7 weeks early due to HELLP syndrome.  You can look it up.  It is similar to pre-eclampsia, only much worse.  My liver was shutting down and my blood pressure was sky high.  Even if I did drink NyQuil all the time, which I did not, it wouldn't have caused either of the two main symptoms of HELLP syndrome.

Rumor: Katie Beth came early because I was still working out hardcore, I was mowing my yard, and I wasn't eating enough because I didn't want to gain weight.

How it's false: Working out - Umm.. Yeah.. I still went jogging while I was in Hawaii, which wasn't even very far into my second trimester.  Once I got to Guam, it was simply too hot.  The only "hardcore" exercising I did was Jason and I would go for walks after dinner.  That isn't very hardcore.  I did mow my yard.  It isn't much work, ladies.  I would do it in the morning before the heat became unbearable.  I never, ever once pushed myself too hard.  In fact, my Dr. was extremely pleased with me for continuing to exercise because I got diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.  Exercise is the one thing they tell you to do, as well as controll your diet.  Speaking of diet...

Not eating - Are. You. Kidding. Me???  Clearly the person who started this rumor was never around me. I ate like a horse. I ate all day every day.  I am so incredibly sorry that I didn't gain the weight most people gain during their pregnancies.  Oh wait.. No, that's not true either. My Dr. advised for me to gain no more than 15 lbs the entire pregnancy, because I was overweight to begin with.  I was perfectly on track to do that when I left Guam.  Five days before Katie Beth was born, I had gained 10 lbs.  The day she was born, I had gained 19.  I gained 9 lbs in 5 days because of water retention.  Another symptom of HELLP syndrome.

Rumor: I forced myself into labor because I was told that Jason wouldn't get Paternity Leave since I was in Mississippi.  So, naturally, I forced myself to go into labor early so that he would get emergency leave.

How it's false: Again, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  I was fully prepared to have Katie Beth without Jason's presence.  It hurt me so much, but I knew that going home to Mississippi was what I needed to do. (And, by the way, thank God I did!!)  I had every Power Of Attorney a girl could need to have a baby without her husband present.  But beyond that, and beyond the fact that I didn't go into labor AT ALL, much less on purpose, what kind of woman would sacrifice the health of her unborn baby just to get her way?  Is that truly what some of you think of me?

Most of you will never know how many nights I spent crying myself to sleep because I couldn't take care of my baby.  She was in an incubator 20 miles away when she should have been in my arms.  To think that any woman would do that on purpose is not only hurtful, it's shameful.  Yes, I was incredibly sad that Jason wasn't home.  But that was totally eclipsed by the fact that my baby was in the care of nurses, and all because my body wasn't well enough to keep her healthy in the womb.

I didn't advertise those feelings because I was trying to stay positive.  That Katie Beth was so wonderfully healthy was a miracle, and I chose to focus on that instead of all the "what ifs".

I don't care to know who started these rumors.  Clearly this woman or these women are not my friends.  If anyone who heard these rumors was my friend, she would have squashed it immediately.  But you know who you are, and shame on you.  I hope you understand how truly hurt I am that these things would be said, when they could not be further from the truth.
Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reflux Sucks

I guess bits of Katie Beth didn’t get the memo that she wasn’t supposed to be a preemie.  We have been struggling with acid reflux since the day she came home.  Reflux is common in babies nowadays, but it’s worse in preemies.  Their little gastro-intestinal systems just aren’t ready for the real world, I guess.  I wonder why it’s more common now than before.  Or maybe it isn’t really more common; maybe we just know what to call it.  Maybe thousands of babies who were called colicky just had reflux.  That would make sense considering that reflux rears its very ugly head at about 2 months, peaks at 4 months, and is over around 6 months.  So to all of you who were called colicky, you may have gotten a bad rap!
For over a month I tried Zantac and it never worked.  A lot of times I think it made her spitting up worse.  To test that theory, I stopped giving the Zantac on a Sunday, and she didn’t spit up again until Wednesday.  Even though she wouldn’t spit up, there was also the problem that she wouldn’t eat enough.  Poor Katie Beth went from eating 3 – 4 oz every 3 hours to only eating 2 oz. And let me tell you, those 2 oz were a struggle. 
Every meal was a fight.  She’d push against me, arch her back, scream, cry, and turn away from the bottle.  And that was just meal time!  She had to sit up-right for at least 30 minutes after every meal or she’d spit the entire thing back up.  But that really didn’t matter because you couldn’t lay her on her back anyway or she’d get the hiccups within 1 minute.  So she did a lot of sleeping in her bouncy seat, and when I was so exhausted I couldn’t take it anymore, on her tummy.  Yes, it’s true that babies aren’t supposed to sleep on their tummies.  Babies with severe reflux, however, are sometimes only able to get any sort of relief on their tummies. 
The night after I had finally convinced her pediatrician to give her Prevacid, she slept for 5 hours.  The next week she slept for 6, from 12:30 to 6:30.  The night after she did that for the first time, my sweet baby finally slept all the way through the night!  People kept telling me how one morning I would wake up in a panic because I hadn’t heard her.  I thought it was a myth that veteran parents tell us newbies to give us hope.  Nope!  It really happened!  I jumped out of bed and scrambled for her crib to find her sleeping soundly.  I placed my hand on her back to make sure she was breathing and she arched and squirmed.  She was annoyed at me for waking her up! 
She’s been on the Prevacid now for 3 weeks, and she’s doing a lot better.  She’s back up to 3.5 – 4 oz for every feeding, which is age/weight appropriate.  Ah, weight.. I have been obsessing over my daughter’s weight like a mad woman.  In the 4 week span where she wasn’t eating enough, she only gained 1 lb and 2 oz.  That is not enough for a baby as young as she is.  At her age, she should be gaining 1 lb every two weeks or so.   Her rate was roughly 4 oz a week.  Since then, however, we’re up to 5 oz a week.  At her last appointment she weighed in at 8.15!  So we’re getting there.. one Prevacid solutab and bottle at a time.
Friday, December 17, 2010

Travel Blessings

Sometimes one just has to sit back and realize how truly blessed he or she has been.  I feel that way about my life in general, but this trip has been one blessing after another.  It’s as if God Himself wants us to get back to Guam, I swear.  Here’s how our trip went:

The coolest question one can be asked at an airport ticket counter is “Are you military?”  I’m a dependent, yes.  “Are you traveling on orders?”  Here I pause…  No, technically I am not travelling on orders.  I do, however, keep a copy of Jason’s orders with me, as well as a copy of everything else I need to exist as a military spouse. Well, my flight was going to Hawaii and the orders say Guam….. Sooo… “Yes, I have this letter stating that we are to be moved to Hawaii.”  It’s totally not the same thing as orders. It’s the letter I have to use to sign up for housing in Hawaii, that states that the boat is moving there.  Did she know that? No. Did I get 2 free bags? Yes. You also get to check 1 baby item for free, so that took care of the Pack N Play.  Here is Blessing #1.

We got to the airport, and after saying goodbye to everyone, it was time to go through security.  I let the first TSA agent know that I had a few bottles of formula, and she told me that I would have to go through the pat-down process because of all the liquids.  Whatever.. I didn’t really care.  She warned me, and I had a feeling it was going to be like that.  Well, I didn’t mind doing it, but good grief!  It took forever!  Because I had roughly 40 oz of liquid in my carry-on, I had to be patted down, and every single item I was carrying on had to be looked through.  They went through each compartment of each bag, and all over both the carrier and the stroller with this little wand that was supposed to detect whatever it was they were looking for, I guess.  If every person of suspicion were to go through that process, we’d be safe for eternity.
On the SkyLink at DFW

On Flight #2  - You can see how she hates flying.
See how stressed she must be?

Ok, I got to the gate and the lady let me know that no one had purchased the seat beside me, so I would be able to take Katie Beth in her carrier instead of gate-checking the carrier and having her sit with me.  (Blessing #2).  Flight #1 went off without a hitch.  She didn’t even fuss because of the change in air pressure.
We got to DFW where we had a 1 hour layover.  It wound up being just enough time for me to get to our gate, change her and get her carrier and stroller gate-checked.  This was going to be a full flight, so she would have to sit on my lap.  I had the aisle seat, and I had sat down next to a lady who was in the window seat.  There wasn’t anyone between us.  You can bet that I prayed as every single person walked past us.  “Please don’t sit here, please leave this seat empty.”  Blessing #3.  Though it did kind of suck that I hadn’t brought her carrier, it was nice to be able to have some space with all of our junk.  Flight #2 went well, but she did get just a little fussy with having to stay on my lap.  The flight attendants were so super sweet about holding her when I had to go to the restroom.  I thought I’d be able to manage not going, but a 4 hour flight is a long time!
Wardrobe change in Seattle

On the Tram thingy at Seattle Tacoma

We got to Seattle where we had a 2 hour layover.  That turned out to be enough time for me to change her, change her clothes, feed her a little, and even grab a bite for myself.  Yay!  We got to our gate for the flight to Honolulu.  They were announcing that the aircraft had changed, and we were now on a larger plane, but with fewer seats.  Why do they even make those?  Now the flight was overbooked by 8 people.  So there was no way I could hope for an empty seat next to me, nor could I purchase a seat for her.  “You should treat yourself and upgrade to First Class!” the ticket agent says.  “Oh, sure..” I thought.  But how much are upgrades?  “Our first class has a lot of empty seats on this flight, so I can offer it to you for $200.”  Are you kidding me??  $200 to have a huge seat, lots of space, and be able to lie back during this awful 6 hour flight?? – Orrr.. Is this Blessing #4??  Yes, please!  I have to say, that I never want to travel any way ever again.  First Class is everything I hoped it would be.  We sat down and I was offered a Mai Tai.  There was a pillow and blanket waiting in my huge seat.  They served dinner and drinks and waited on us just like we were favored house guests.  I’m telling you.. I’ll never go back to Coach.
In First Class!

Mai Tai's and loungy seats. This is the life!

One of our boat’s new spouses contacted me a few weeks back to let me know that she was in Hawaii, waiting on the boat.  She offered airport runs for anyone who might need it.  Well, I took advantage, but only after I had spoken with her a few times and knew that we would hit it off.  Blessing #5, Athena was waiting on me at baggage claim in Honolulu.  She even had some pretty leis for Katie Beth and myself.  So sweet!  She helped me with my ridiculous amount of luggage, and drove us to the BOQ where I was staying.   (Insert for randomness – I stayed just 2 doors down from the room where Jason and I stayed for 3 months back in the Spring.  It was like going home, I swear.  But it was really weird to be in there with Katie Beth, and not Jason.  Though now that I think about it, it just felt like a duty night.) Anyway, I can’t wait to get to spend more time with Athena.  I really do think she and I are going to be good friends.

I got settled in to the room, and as I was unpacking KB’s Pack N Play, I decided to call the flight recording at Hickam.  Keep in mind that I was calling the recording religiously for the past week in Mississippi, and there had only been 2 flights to Guam in that week.  I was so nervous before I left home!  Anyway, I called the recording, and they have announced a flight with a roll-call time of 1125 the next day.  That is perfect, except I’m now regretting having put the Pack N Play up at all.  That thing is a monster to get zipped back up in it’s case!  We both slept well.  I showered and we got ready to head for the terminal.

Hanging out the next morning
What I’m about to call Blessing #6 should really just be an everyday thing, but since it’s not, it’s Blessing #6 – my super helpful and friendly cab driver. I didn’t have to lift a finger other than to get Katie Beth’s seat buckled up and get her in it.  Same thing for unloading; all I had to do was go and get the luggage cart, and he even loaded that up for me. He did all of this with a smile on his face.  I was so happy for a friendly person! I’ve had some awful cab drivers in the past.
Chilling in the AMC terminal at Hickam

On the bus that would take us to the plane
I went in to check us in for the flight, and I asked how many seats were on this one.  53 firm seats!  Woohoo!  I knew that even though we were flying Category 5 instead of Cat 4 like we are accustomed, we’d make the flight. So there’s Blessing #7, especially when you consider this: I knew that I had been calling the recording for a while and only 2 flights had been listed.  I found out it was a bit worse than I even thought. I met this girl who had been home visiting family (in Tylertown, MS of all places in the world). She had been stuck in Hawaii, trying to get a flight back to Guam for 10 days!  She even slept in the terminal for 6 of those nights so she could avoid having to pay for a hotel. She finally made the flight that I was on, and she was so excited.  She went on to tell me that she had been told that this one, and the one leaving later today (with only 15 seats) were the last 2 flights before Christmas.  Holy Moly! I made it JUST in time!

Katie Beth's first Space A flight
So here I sit on the plane, with just a few more hours before I’m back in my own bed, in my own house.  Katie Beth is asleep on a couple of blankets on the floor in front of me.  That’s the best perk about Space-A travel, by the way; getting to stretch out!  She’s been out for over an hour, which would never ever happen in her carrier.  I’m glad too; she needs the nap.  Jess is picking us up at Andersen this afternoon, where I’ll have to run to the Exchange and buy a crib mattress for my little Pumpkin.  She’ll get to sleep in her own bed for the very first time tonight!  I know she’s as excited as I am!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How I feel about it

Far From The Home I Love - Fiddler On The Roof

How can I hope to make you unterstand
Why I do, what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land
Far from the home I love?

Once I was happily content to be
As I was, where I was
Close to the people who are close to me
Here in the home I love...

Who could see that a man would come
Who would change the shapes of my dreams?
Helpless, now, I stand with him
Wtaching older dreams grow dim.
Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,
Wanting home, wanting him,
Closing my heart to every hope but his, 
Leaving the home I love.

There where my heart has settled long ago
I must go, I must go.
Who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so
Far from the home I love?

Yet, there with my love, I'm home.
Friday, November 12, 2010

Forever Friends

Since it's the time for thanks and all, I've been thinking about what I'm really thankful for.  Since I'm home right now, being thankful for my closest friends comes to mind a lot.  I do have ladies on Guam that I like, and some that I could call for dinner plans, and I've made one really good friend out there that I know I could call in the middle of the night if I needed her.  But nothing beats the feeling of a friend that you've had forever, who knows the worst parts about you and still loves you.  I've got a few of those here, and this blog is for them.

Thank you for knowing things about me that you'd never tell anyone else, much less hold against me.  In fact, thanks for knowing the worst parts of my personality and still loving me.  I can be obnoxious, judgy (not judgmental, judgy), neurotic, and snotty.  I know those things about myself, and I fully accept them.  There are probably more bad things I could add to the list, but I'm choosing to not do that right now :)  I so appreciate that my best friends accept me just like I am, neuroses and all.

Thank you for being there when I was sick and KB came so early.  And I don't mean just the ones that were there in body.  I mean thank you for being pushy and making somebody keep you up to date on what was going on.  I mean thank you for not listening to me when I told you there was no reason for you to come to the hospital - that I was just fine.  Little did I know how NOT just fine I was, and the fact that you basically ignored me means a lot.  It means that I have friends who really love me, and that means more than any of you know.  I never thanked you for that, so I'm saying it now.  Thank you!

Thank you for keeping on top of me when I get busy with life in Guam.  I'm not the best at making phone calls, especially with the time difference.  But you girls are so good about poking at me and saying "Hey, I haven't talked to you in a few weeks.  Your ass better call me!"  Even when I don't call, I'm keeping up with each of you, and thinking about you.  I just get so busy that things get out of hand.  So thank you for pushing me!

Thank you for being Katie Beth's aunties.  You've all been so sweet to us, and so loving to her, that I can't even thank you enough.  You probably don't realize what a huge help it is to me when you do something as simple as offer to take her while I finish eating.  Just holding that baby makes you a great Auntie!  But all of you loving on her like you is so precious to me.  I'm so happy that she'll grow up surrounded with so much love.

Also, thanks for the little bits of moral support, advice, etc.  Sometimes I feel like I'm totally lost on this Mommy thing, so it's nice to have friends who have already done what I'm doing.  I'm also super glad that KB will have a few "friends" around the country.  She may not realize it, but having friends in different parts of the world makes her a pretty cool kid.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

You gotta leave your behind in the past.

Isn't that how Pumba put it before Timon corrected him?  It's been a while since I saw The Lion King, but I'm pretty sure it went something like that, and boy is it true.

So much has changed in my life in the past two years, I can't even begin to list it all.  The major thing, obviously, is Jason.  I mean, my life did a 180 in just three short months (And thank God it did!).  Not only did God send this amazing man back to me, but in doing so, it got me out of here for good.  Never ever did I see myself married to a Sailor and living in Guam.  It was more like, married to a high school history teacher and living in Brandon.  It's funny how God has such a grander plan, and you never ever know how it's going to work out.  I'm rambling..

Anyway, being home brings a lot of things to the surface for me.  There's a memory on every corner around here, and not all of them are associated with good feelings.  There are things that I did and can't take back, and there are things that were done to me that still hurt.  I wish I was one of those people who could honestly just move on and get over the past.  But I'm not.. nowhere close.  Case in point: I've searched for my elementary school best friend on Facebook for years now, when we haven't actually seen each other since we were 12. * In case someone knows her, her name was Kim Thompson and she left Pearl to go to St. Andrew's after 5th grade.  Somebody find her for me :) *

My point is, when I'm not home these things don't bother me nearly as much.  Since I can't drive past my former best friend's street, I don't think about her.  I don't wonder how her life is going, or what she's doing.  She's a former friend for a reason, and it probably needs to stay that way.  Some people just aren't good for other people, and that is definitely the case here.  But I still wonder.  I don't have to do that in Guam, and I prefer it like that, I think.  I can't be the only person who feels this way.

And now I just want to say that I hope KB listens to me when I tell her someone is bad for her.  It will happen.  If she's anything like me, she'll spend her life thinking she can fix the unfixable, and they'll eventually bring her down to their level.  So for future reference:  Katie Beth, your mother is a font of wisdom and you should listen to everything she says, even though she will NEVER tell you the stories that caused her to gain such wisdom.
Saturday, October 23, 2010

Home is where the heart is

So Jason is gone again, and I sit here annoyed with myself that I wasn't home with him for the past week.  I'm not going to complain that I am home with my family and friends.. that would be extremely obnoxious.  But it really bothers me that I will never be able to have both my husband and my family (to include my best friends).

During a phone conversation the other night, Jason told me that he had calculated all of the days we have between now and sometime in April when he will return from his last mission with this command.  Of the days left, he calculated the ones we will have together, those where we will be apart but able to talk, and those where he will be underway.  I don't know what all of the numbers added up to, but he said that we will spend 68% of our time apart between now and April.  68 percent.  Marriages aren't meant to be spent apart, much less 68 percent of the time.

I am so proud of what Jason does, and I'm even more proud of how he feels about what he does.  Being in the Navy, and being a Submarine Officer isn't just a paycheck to Jason.  He genuinely loves his job.  He doesn't always like the climate in which he works, and he usually hates the amount of time he spends at work, but he loves the work.

To be fair, I love the Navy life.  I love everything about it except the time we spend apart, and the fact that there will almost never be a time where we live close to either of our hometowns.  I know that isn't a big deal to most people.  If my family wasn't in my hometown, it wouldn't be to me, either.  I definitely don't have any emotional ties to my high school or anything.  I am, however, extremely attached to my family and to the friends I have here.  In fact, I don't think I'm attached like most people are.. I think my family goes above and beyond with the closeness thing.  Even while in Guam, I talk to Mom almost every day, Mammaw a few times a week, and Dad at least once a week.  I miss them so much while I'm a gajillion miles away.

But the flip side of that is Jason.  I learned last Fall that my real home will always be where he is.  If he decides to make the Navy his career, and drags me all over the globe to do it, so be it.  If home changes every two years for the next sixteen, fine.  If our kids never make lifelong friends because they move so often... Well, I just hope they don't resent us for it.  In fact, I hope they appreciate the fact that they will have passports before they even eat solid food.  Katie Beth's is actually already applied for, when I didn't get my first passport until I was 22!

All of this to say, I miss my husband and I'm sad I wasn't in our home when he got there.  I'm grateful for the time I get to spend with my family here.  I'm even more grateful that Katie Beth will have good relationships with her grandparents and great grandparents because we will come home often.  But I really miss my husband.
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Coming To Terms: A Mommylog

Disclaimer:  It's all about breastfeeding.  Feel free to stop reading now if it makes you uncomfortable.

I really, really wanted to breastfeed.  I'm not going to sit here and preach the benefits, because I'm pretty sure most people who care already know.  From the very beginning, formula was never an option for me.  I never considered what kind of bottles I would use, or which formula, or any of that.  I was going to breastfeed, and I would pump to build a stash so that when the time came, someone else could actually feed her.  I had my breast feeding pillow picked out, the storage system picked, the pump.. the whole nine yards.

When Katie Beth was born early, the ability to bond with her by breastfeeding within the first few hours of birth was taken away.  Oh well, things happen.  I was disappointed, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn't still be able to nurse my baby.  Well, since she was so small, that was not possible for the first few weeks, so I started pumping.  It made me feel better that, if nothing else, KB was getting my milk from a bottle.  I still fully intended to breastfeed.

Well, here we are 6 weeks later, and KB has yet to latch more than once.  The one time she did manage, she fell asleep after just a few minutes.  We've tried almost every day, and almost every day it turns into a fight.  Consider this:  Newborns eat every 3 hours.  So, at 9 am KB gets hungry and we attempt to breastfeed.  The fight here lasts about 20 minutes.  At 9:20 I stop and go warm a bottle.  That takes 5 minutes, and then KB takes about 15 to eat.  So we're at 9:40, then burping and changing take us to 9:45.  I have to get her settled back in wherever, so lets just say we're all the way to 10:00.  Now that she is settled, I have to pump to keep up the supply of milk she's getting.  That takes 20 minutes, minimum.  After I finish pumping, get the milk stored and bottles washed, etc, I'm at 10:45.  And it's time to repeat just over an hour later.  Talk about exhausting

So as of today, I've decided that I will exclusively pump.  My wonderfully loving husband bought me a crazy awesome breast pump that should make my life a little easier.  (I'm currently using a rental, which is due back this week.)  It's been really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that we won't actually nurse.  She'll still be getting all the benefits of breast milk, but I'm sad that we won't have the bond - and lets face it, convenience - of breastfeeding.

I don't know.... Maybe I should find a support group for this or something.  I feel like I'm giving up on KB, and that makes me a bad parent.  I just don't want to make myself crazy.  I'm also scared that this is some slippery slope.  Like, if I "give up" on her now, what's to keep me from giving up pumping in 2 months?  I'm pretty positive that formula would be so much more convenient than sitting down to pump for 20 minutes EVERY three hours.  That's so far from where I wanted to be, and that makes me really sad.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rambling thoughts on my first real week of Mommyhood.

I thought my life would get a little easier when Katie Beth came home from the NICU, and in some ways, it has. I'm not driving all over creation anymore just to see her, but I am getting a lot less sleep.  People constantly say "Sleep when she sleeps!".  Dude, if it were that easy, I'd be all over it.  She tends to sleep a lot during the day, and negligible amounts of sleeping are done at night.  I just have stuff that I need to do during the day!  Granted, not as much stuff as I'd have to do if I were living on my own right now, but still.  Good gracious, that makes me think how grateful I am for being able to be home with my family during this time.  I would be a crazy mess if I was in Guam and didn't have somebody helping me with her.

All the time I think "How do single moms do this?"  Seriously, you girls have got my respect for life.  I am the one up with Katie Beth most nights, but when Mammaw gets up in the mornings, she takes her from me for a few hours so I can sleep.  Also, since I am here at home, I'm not the only one who can cook or clean.  I can't imagine having to be up with KB all night, then go to work at some job all day.  For that matter, I can't imagine not being able to sleep for a few hours because I have to watch over her all day.  My head hurts just thinking about it.

Katie Beth still hasn't been able to latch but once.  That is getting frustrating, but by God, I'm still trying.  There won't be anything in the world for my baby better than my own milk.  I also really don't want to buy formula.  It won't be as good for her, and I'll have to pay for it.. So WHY would I want to do that?!  Pumping and then feeding from a bottle is annoying, but its apparently what I have to do for right now.  She's growing so big and strong, that I know I'm doing something right.  Now if she would just sleep during the nighttime hours, I would be doing really great.

On the personal front, I've gotten back down to pre-pregnancy weight.  I'm pretty sure that breastfeeding is the reason that's happened so fast, too.  It was only a grand total of about 12 lbs after I lost the water weight, but I have lost it in just a month.. That's pretty awesome if you ask me.  Now I just need to lose about 15 more, and I'll be down to pre-college weight.  How awesome would that be??  Jason won't know what to think when he sees me in December!
Monday, September 13, 2010

Now That He's Gone

Now that Jason is underway and isn't here to read what I write, I'm going to write about him.  These past three weeks have opened my eyes even more to how truly blessed I am to have a husband such as he.  Not only has Jason been strong in a very emotional situation, but he has been my foundation, too.  I honestly don't think I would have made it through those first two weeks without him holding me up.

The first time Jason and I dated, in the fall of 06, he got serious pretty quickly and it freaked me out.  We had only been together maybe a month when he asked what size ring I wore.  I was still hung up on someone else, and to be honest, I wasn't used to being treated the way he was treating me.  I was used to being pushed away, not chased after.  I liked the game in it all, and there was no game with Jason.  He was up front with what he wanted, and he wanted me.  So I broke up with him.  I remember calling my mom and telling her what I was about to do, and she told me how crazy I was.  She called me out on pushing him away because he wasn't doing the pushing himself.  "You just want what you can't have."  Yep.

October 06
Jason didn't talk to me for a very long time..  Like, two years.  Apparently, he wasn't accustomed to being dumped.  When I finally got him to speak to me again (over Facebook, of course), I knew we were going to get married.  I specifically remember telling a friend that Jason was the one that got away, and I fully intended to get him back.  Get him back I did.  He drove to Jackson to see me again for the first time on New Years Day 09.  By the next afternoon we were officially together (like, Facebook official.. serious stuff) even though he was going to Guam in only a few months.  He told me he loved me the next night, and I knew I loved him, too.  I knew I loved him two years before this, but hey.. better late than never, right?  When Jason left to go to Sub School in Connecticut three days later, he told me to start looking at rings and give him an idea of what I wanted.  A week later I flew to CT and hung out with him in Groton for 10 days, where I got to meet all of his buddies from Power School and Prototype.  Then came Valentine's Day in Groton, and then a month later I made the road trip down from CT to meet his family in TN.

January 09

The very first time I partied with Navy boys.. What a long night!
Valentines 09
Road trip from Connecticut to Tennessee - Fun times!

The rest of that story is that we were married 95 days after seeing each other again for the first time.

Jason proposing.  Somehow, he and my best friends managed to keep the secret, so I was floored.
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick
Jason is probably the most patient man I've ever met.  I mean, seriously, he puts up with some crap from me. I can be difficult, as a few exes will readily attest, and he just deals with it.  I've honestly never felt loved the way he loves me.  He's strong when I need him to be, and when I need sensitive, he's that too.  He never let me see him pause with everything that went on with myself and Katie Beth, though I now know he did.  He knew that I needed him to be strong so I could be strong, and so he did it.

New Years Eve 09
I got to actually watch Jason fall in love with our little girl, and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  The first time he held her, she got a good grip on his finger, and he told her that she was beautiful and that he loved her.  I have never been so happy in my entire life as I was watching my love meet our daughter.  After that, he stepped right into Husband and Father Of The Year mode.  He changed diapers, he burped and fed her, he read her stories and rocked her to sleep.  When we got home, he took care of me too.  He helped me shower, got me snacks, kept me comfortable when I wanted to cry.  Then when I did cry, he cried with me.

Katie Beth meeting her Daddy
I am one of those "Everything happens for a reason" people.  I'm pretty sure God knw that I would never have been able to handle this NICU situation alone, so when He decided that this was going to happen to my body, He sent me someone who could handle it for me.

I always miss Jason when he's gone, but this time is a little harder for me.  I know he loves his job though, so I can handle it.  Now I just have to keep him away from this blog once he gets home, and trust me, I'm counting the days.
Friday, September 10, 2010

"Don't tell her she's a preemie"

Almost every time we talk to Dr. Owens, KB's neonatologist, that's what he says.  "Don't tell her she's a preemie.. She doesn't know!"  The first time he said that, and he explained how amazing it was that she never had to be placed on oxygen, I thought he was just being cute.  Turns out, he's kind of serious.  Katie Beth really has been our little miracle baby, and we didn't even realize it.

I didn't know a lot about preemies three weeks ago. I mean, why would I, right?  Katie Beth was born at 33 weeks and 2 days.  She should have been far closer to 4 pounds than 2 pounds, 11 ounces.  But since she hadn't grown in utero for three weeks, thats what we got.  Her size alone should have dictated the need for oxygen, but nope.  She came out breathing and screaming just like a 33 weeker should, despite her tiny size.  Amazingly, her lungs were perfectly formed even though we didn't have time for me to get steroid shots.

The next little miracle was that she was able to take a bottle on the second day.  Granted, she could only take 2 ml of milk, but still... Katie Beth has only been on a feeding tube for a total of 3 days since she's been here.  Those times were because she got worn out trying to take the bottle.  Now that she's stronger, she's eating like a little champ!  She's up to 45 ml of milk per feeding, and she's also starting to nurse.  She is still small for nursing, so that part is taking some work.

Thirdly, Katie Beth has only had one sleep apnea episode in the 17 days she's been here.  That's really impressive for such a small preemie.  Sometimes they just sort of forget to breathe while they are sleeping.  Sometimes they have to be put on oxygen if that happens, but KB didn't.  The nurse just had to sort of wake her up, and she was fine.  The consequence of having sleep apnea episodes is that it pushes back their go home date.  KB isn't getting ready to come home quite yet, but if she was and she were to have an episode, it would set her back 7 days.

There are a slew of other problems that most preemies have that KB has never experienced.  Most preemies have problems with reflux, and can't keep their milk down.  Not our Pumpkin.  Some preemies have seizures, and we've been so blessed that she hasn't.  This little girl really is our miracle baby, and we are so very proud.    Again, I want to thank everyone for the prayers and thoughts.  Jason and I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love for us and for Katie Beth.
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Armpits and Breast Pumps

I always knew that parenthood changed people.  I never thought I would be an exception to that rule, but I didn't spend much time thinking about it at all.  This past week has opened my eyes.  I find myself getting really excited about having a few minutes to take a nap, or watch an entire tv show.  I completely forget about things that used to matter to me. Case in point:  Two days ago, I was sitting with Jason and my brother, when I noticed how incredibly hairy my legs had gotten.  Granted, I was 1 week post surgery, so it made sense.  I commented "Wow, my legs are hairy!"  "Yeah they are," Jason said.  I said "Well, it's not like I've had a lot of time to think about it, and I can't even bend over to shave them!"  Jason responded with, "Maybe.. but what's your excuse for your armpits?"

Now don't think my honey a jerk.. He was being funny and I laughed so hard!  I hadn't even thought about my armpits!  I mean, I have definitely showered since I got out of the hospital, but somehow I had completely neglected my poor under arms.  I can't believe I hadn't noticed.  WHO does that?!  I finally understand how so many women "let themselves go" after having a baby.  I don't want to sound like one of those women, but I feel like I have so much going on, that some things can't matter for a little while.  I feel like I wake up, pump, eat, drive, feed the baby, and repeat this 2 or 3 times a day.  It's amazing how much this little girl has changed my life in only 9 days.

To my friends, please don't be upset if I come across as short in a text or phone call.  I don't mean to be rude and push you away.  With so many people who love us, it has gotten hard to keep up with updating everyone on how Katie Beth is doing.  I'm definitely not complaining about being loved, and in fact it makes me feel wonderful that so many people care.  It's just gotten a little hectic around here.  I know everything will settle down soon and I'll wonder where everyone went.  Anyway, please forgive me if I come across as rude.. I promise I don't mean to, and I'm usually just really, really tired and stressed.

I can't wait until this baby girl is home and gets to meet all the people who have been praying for her!
Monday, August 30, 2010

The Day We Became A Family

Disclaimer:  This is sure to be long..

On Saturday, August 21, I spent the day catching up with some of my best friends.  I met my brother for an early sushi lunch, met Ben for a late salad lunch, then met Jen and Lessa for a late dinner.  That night, the most painful experience of my life started about 2:30 am.  I jumped out of bed when my chest started hurting.  I don't mean that I kind of woke up with chest pain, I mean I physically jumped out of my bed, thinking "What the hell is wrong with me?!"  I had never had indigestion before in my life, so I had no idea that it really isn't supposed to be that bad.  I read a few articles online about home remedies and gave them a shot.  The one I read over and over again was a table spoon of baking soda in a couple of ounces of water.  I tried that along with a few others, and a few hours later, I tried it again.  The second time, I wasn't able to keep it down, so for the first time this entire pregnancy, I ran to the bathroom to throw up.

While I was throwing up, I assume I pulled a muscle in my shoulder/chest area.  For the next two hours, I thought I still had indigestion, but it was muscle pain instead.  I finally fell asleep about 7:30 that morning.  I spent the rest of Sunday in and out of bed with chest pain, soreness from throwing up, and what I thought was a migraine.

As it turns out, all of those symptoms are signs of pre-eclampsia, and I had no idea.

The migraine persisted on into Monday, as did the sore shoulder.  Again, I thought this was from getting sick Saturday night, so other than taking a bunch of Tylenol, and finally a few Aleve, I thought nothing of it.  On Tuesday morning, I woke up really excited about meeting my new doctor and getting to see KB again.  I went into Mom's room and mentioned that I still didn't feel well, and the migraine was still hanging about, on top of now having small contractions in my back.  She just told me to tell the doctor, and that was all that was mentioned.

I got to the doctor's office, and the nurse took me back for my vitals.  Sorry if this is too much information, but the first thing I noticed was that my urine was extremely dark.  I'm a clear urine kind of girl, so this was enough to raise my eyebrows.  Next, the nurse took my blood pressure, which has never been high a day in my life.  "Hmm.. Your blood pressure is really high" she says.  She tests it again, twice, and then looked at me like she was worried.  I mentioned the headaches and back pains, and she took note of it.

My very first appointment with Dr. Kellum went a little like this.  He walked in the room, and started chatting with me.  After a minute or two, he asked if I felt puffy in my face.  I didn't think so.  Then he asked if my legs felt swollen.  I didn't think that, either.  So then he proceeds to tell me that there was 4+ protein in my  urine, which is really not good, especially coupled with my high blood pressure.  I said "My mom got pre-eclamptic with me, so I've been worried about that this entire pregnancy."  His response was "You're definitely pre-eclamptic.. here are your options."  He went on to explain how he wanted me to have an ultrasound and then be admitted to L&D at Woman's, and they were going to run some tests.  If those numbers came back "wrong", then it was quite possible we'd have a baby by the end of the week.

I was shocked!  This pregnancy has been so easy for me!  I haven't had the slightest complication.. not even nausea!  My first question, of course, was about Jason.  I wanted to know if we would have enough time for Jason to be able to get home before he induced labor, IF it came to that.  He said he thought so, but it may not even be necessary.. wait to call him until we see the numbers at the hospital, he says.  Ok, so instead I began making my family phone calls.  Mom, Dad and Mammaw were all put on alert, and I went down for my ultrasound.  The first thing the tech mentioned was that my amniotic fluid was indeed low, and that wasn't good.  Then she went on to say that Katie Beth was measuring three weeks smaller than she should be, and was only weighing around 3.5 lbs, when she should have been closer to 5 lbs.  That's really not good.  At this point, I had a feeling I wouldn't be released from the hospital, so I called to have Mom meet me there.

I got admitted, and the nurse comes in to check my blood pressure.  180/96 is apparently very, very bad.  She took some blood, and then said she'd come back with the Dr.  Dr. Kellum came back around a bit later, and said that we didn't have days to wait on this baby (which translated to: Jason won't be here).  With my blood pressure steadily rising, and the amniotic fluid being low, he wanted to take her that day.  He gave me about 4 hours to get whoever I needed to the hospital.

About 30 minutes later, Dr. Kellum came in the room with a really serious look on his face.  He explained that I was no longer being diagnosed with Pre-eclampsia, or even Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (which is really bad in itself), but his new diagnosis was HELLP syndrome.
H- Hemolysis
EL - Elevated Liver Enzymes
LP - Low Platelets
So, this is really, really bad.  We're delivering in 30 minutes.  So, in a matter of 5 hours I have gone from "Hi, Dr. Kellum, nice to meet you, I have a pretty rotten headache" to "Oh, I'm about to be a mom."

I called Jason back, and he had been in touch with pretty much everyone in his command... at 4 in the morning.  Good times ;)  I gave my mom strict instructions to be on the phone with Jason while the baby was born, and they took me to surgery.  They had explained that because of my low platelets, they would not be able to keep me awake during surgery.  No spinal for me, straight to general anesthesia.  I was pretty sad that I wouldn't be able to see Katie Beth the minute she was born, but I didn't get much of a choice.  So, because I was going completely under, Mom couldn't come in the room with me.  Oh well.. at least now she will be able to be on the phone with Jason.

Katie Beth was born at 3:28 pm on Tuesday, August 24th.  One of the nurses took the phone from Mom and ran back into the room so he could hear Katie Beth crying.  He was actually able to hear her the same minute she was born, and that means a lot to me.

I woke up about 30 minutes later, and my first question was "How big is she?"  I was so scared for this baby girl.  I honestly remember thinking right before I fell asleep on the table that I didn't care about what happened to me, just please let that baby be ok.  When they told me she weighed 2 lbs and 11 oz, I started crying hysterically.  That is so small!!  The nurses assured me that she was perfectly healthy, just really small.  They said she had not needed oxygen at all, so that means her lungs were fully matured.  They told me that she came out screaming, which is also a good sign, and that Jason had been able to hear her.  All of that made me really happy, but then they brought her to me.  I can barely remember actually holding her for the first time, but I remember thinking that she looked like her Daddy.  Apparently everybody else thought so too.

This is what 10 lbs of extra water in my body looks like.  Not pretty.

The next 24 hours are a huge blur and seem more like a dream.  I was on Magnesium to bring my blood pressure down, so I wasn't allowed anything by mouth.  I turned into a very irritable girl because I wanted water so bad, but that pretty much didn't happen for the next 24 hours.  The nurse was nice enough to bring me some ice late the first night, and later the next day, but that was it.  The nurses were the best I could have asked for.. They were extremely patient with me, and I know I wasn't an easy patient.  I was just so mad that I couldn't have any water, and then that everybody else was getting to hang out with my baby and I wasn't.  By everybody, I really just mean Mom and Dad, since they were the only ones allowed to go back, but still... I was mad.

Aquarium Baby 
I finally got to see Katie Beth late on Wednesday.  I couldn't believe how incredibly small she was.. It was hard, but I was so happy to see her.  Later that night I got moved to my own room, and life became a little easier.  I got taken off all the medication, and was finally allowed some water!  This was reason for celebration, I tell you.  Broccoli cheese soup from McAllister's never tasted so good, and a shower never felt so good.  Well, except for that whole thing about how I was hardly able to stand, and Mom had to help me.. but it was nice anyway.

I was able to feed KB myself on Thursday  morning, and that was awesome.  I was finally fully "awake", so this is my first real memory of her.  Jason was flying in from Guam, and I couldn't wait to see him.  He got to the hospital about 6 pm, and we went straight to the NICU so Daddy could meet his baby girl.  Then we got my brother to pick up some Newk's for us :)

I was discharged on Saturday morning, and it has all been good since.  Katie Beth hasn't gained much weight yet, but she is back to her birth weight, which is good.  Her feedings increase every day, and she is up to 26 cc's of milk per feeding.  That's pretty incredible since last Tuesday her little body could only take about 2 cc's per feeding.  Jason is an amazing Daddy.  He feeds her, burps her, everything that I do.  We can't wait to have her home, but it's going to be a few weeks before she's ready for that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I've been home for about 48 hours now, and it's been lovely.  The trip home was amazing!  Hats off to the 172nd Airlift Wing for making sure a girl flies comfortably!  I'm sure there are other flight crews that are just as hospitable and accommodating, they just haven't had a reason to take special care of me.  It definitely helps that these guys know my Dad and Uncle John.  They put me on the plane first, made sure I had a good spot, and then took me up into the cockpit for take off and landing.  Landing was possibly the coolest thing I've done in a while.  We were about 30 minutes out when they took me up, and it was about 8:30 at night.  That panorama view of the sky was just awesome, especially with the street lights and such.  The extra pilot was sitting beside me, and he pointed out all the big cities on the way into Jackson.  He pointed out Monroe, and then Vicksburg, and you could see Jackson's lights on the horizon.  So neat!

Being home has been great in itself, too.  I don't know what the difference is, and maybe it's just that I'm being more active, but my sugar levels have been lower since I got home.  Like, a lot lower.  I've been way below my cut off number for the past two days, but eating what I want.  Maybe I'm just making better food choices, but it doesn't seem like it.  Who knows.. Maybe my body just responds better to being near my family.

I miss Jason terribly, but I'm lucky enough to be able to talk to him for a few more weeks still.  The boat is going underway soon, but Jason is staying behind to finish a school.  That works really well because he'll still be there when I see the doctor here for the first time next Tuesday.  I'm going to ask about all the important things, but especially about when we can have this baby.  She was measuring a week small at 29 weeks, so I'm interested to see if she is still.  If she is, the likelihood of Doc being willing to induce will probably be small.  I hate the thought of being induced, but if Jason is only allowed a couple of days to be home, I'll do it.  He wants to wait until after I see my Doc and get an idea before he approaches the Captain about time off again.

I've gotten about half the things done I needed to do in order to have Katie Beth here.  I've gotten my address changed with DEERS, and got an appointment made with the OB I want to use.  I went today to make sure I had the referral letter from my new PCM but the lady I needed to speak with wasn't there.  There is so much red tape to this, that I don't even want to write it out.  Suffice it to say that my appointment is Tuesday, and I really hope they don't try to charge me instead of TriCare.  Blah.
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Space A Adventures

I'm becoming a pro at Space A travel.  I think I'll know all there is to know about it by the time we are done with this tour.  After that, I'll likely never get to travel for free again since we all know how often Submariners get leave.  (Civilians can read that as: Never).  So here is how my 7th Space A journey went.

There were supposed to be 2 flights leaving Guam for Hawaii on Sunday, so I was packed and ready for them.  The last time I called to check the recording at Andersen, however, there was only one flight listed, and it had a show time of 0540.  You're supposed to be there early to make sure you're signed up, so I was going to have to be there at 0500... Which, when you live where we do, that means leaving the house by 0415.  FUN.

I wasn't able to sleep anymore by 0330, so I just got up.  I let Jason sleep a few extra minutes, and we got out the door by 0410.  I was pretty sure I had everything.. We got almost to the gate, and I remembered my jacket. Military cargo planes (which I thought I'd be traveling on) are notoriously cold, so this was not ok.  We went back for my jacket, got off base, and Jason realized I'd left my pillow.  We were already running 15 minutes behind by this time, and we still had to stop for breakfast, so there went my pillow :(

We finally got to Andersen by 0515.  I went to check in, and the chick informed us that they couldn't release a seat count until roll call.  Brilliant.  It's 0515 and Jason is supposed to be at work by 0600.  He called and got someone to stand by for him (Thanks, Bueno!) so he could hang out with me until/if I made roll call.  They finally started roll call at 0615, and announced only 15 seats.  I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it since there were two families in Category 2.  In fact, Jason had left my luggage in the back seat because we were that sure I wouldn't make roll call.  They got through Category 2 with only 4 seats remaining.  Nobody was in Cat 3, and I was the first person signed up for Cat 4, so I made it!  NOTE: If you're going to fly Space A without your sponsor, sign up a month in advance!!

I felt really bad for the two families behind me, though.. Both families had 4 people, and there were only 3 available seats.  I almost gave up my seat so they could fly, but my thought process was this:  #1, the flight leaving Guam on Monday is a C5, and those are not such reliable flights.  For some reason they always get delayed or cancelled altogether.  I didn't want to risk not getting here in time.  #2, If they had signed up far enough in advance (like I did), they would have been ahead of me.. So.. Sorry :(  If I had known then what I know now, that family would be enjoying the Hawaiian breezes by now.

Anyway, so I made roll call, and Jason stayed with me to get my luggage checked.  I walked with him back out to the car where I proceeded to hold my tears in until I'd turned and started walking back.  I'm sick of that man seeing me cry, so I managed to get to the terminal bathroom before I lost my mind.

On to the plane!  So, let me just say, if I am ever able to choose again, I will NOT fly on a KC135.  I am accustomed to flying on a C17, and I don't mind the C5.  For future travelers, here's what matters:  C17s are the bomb.  They usually have extra space so you can lie down, walk around, whatever.  C5s typically have air line type seats, so they are pretty comfortable, just not very spacious.  KC135s, apparently, only have jump seats, and are incredibly small.  The luggage of 15 people takes a lot of space in the 135, which is not a cargo plane like the C17 and C5.  The 135 is an aerial refueling plane, so it was NOT built to carry lots of stuff.. or people.  There was exactly enough space between my jump seat and the crate of luggage for me to stretch my legs out.  The crates were right in the middle of the plane, so there were just two lines of seats on the sides of the plane, and then the crates in the middle.  So what this means, is that there are effectively two aisles for people walk up and down to get to that one bathroom near the cockpit.  Therefore, propping your feet up to sleep is a no-go.  Lying down in the aisle is a no-go.  Besides being incredibly tiny (I'll post pictures of the different people so you can compare), the 135 is not well ventilated.  While my upper body was actually sweating, my feet were freezing inside my socks and running shoes.  Needless to say, seven hours of this was more than a little uncomfortable.

We landed in Hawaii, and this particular plane was going to head on to Pittsburgh today.  Jason and I considered me staying over night here, then taking this flight on to PA and getting a commercial flight to Jackson.  The cost of a last minute ticket to Jackson would be almost the same as the cost of spending 4 days in Hawaii with a hotel and rental car.  After 7 hours on that tiny old plane (I shall refer to the KC135 from here on out as the Pterodactyl), there was no way I was prepared for any more flight time on that one.  Then I heard the crew mention that the flight to Pittsburgh was 10 hours.  Ha!  No thanks.  I'd rather spend a week in a hotel room in HI than 10 hours on the Pterodactyl.

C17 - What I'm accustomed to flying on

C5 - Just so you can see just how BIG these bad boys are
The KC135 - See the difference???  SO small in comparison!

So here I am.  There is a cargo plane going straight to the Air Guard base in Jackson on Wednesday.  My uncle is awesome and has been keeping up with this plane and crew for me.  I know it's going for sure, and on top of that, it's going straight HOME.  This never happens in the Space A world.  No commercial flights for me, just military hotel rooms.  I don't think I'm going to rent a car while I'm here, either.  The BX and Commissary are less than a quarter of a mile away, the gym is right across the street and has a pool, and the terminal is about a half mile away.  I'm still pretty capable of walking, so that's what I'm doing.  I mean, I'll call a cab to take me and my luggage back to the terminal, but for a few days, I'll be fine hoofing it.

Grab my button...

The Sub Wife Life