Archive for the ‘fears’ Category

Evolving PG Feelings

I was thinking the other day about how my feelings about pregnancy – or, more specifically, getting pregnant – have evolved over time.

Of course those feelings started out as they do in most women – Oh, please God, NO! Not Now! Anything but this! Not now!! …PHEW!

Then, things changed after I got married and we decided to start “trying”. The first few times I POAS*, it was actually kind of weird – like I was being bad or something! I spent so long trying to prevent two lines, and now I was hoping, excited, and almost craving them to appear.

When I got my first positive, I was over the moon excited! We were starting our family! Wow! How amazing is my body to be able to do this!? I wonder if it’ll be a boy or girl? What names will will we choose? How will we decorate the nursery?

Then, it happened. I had a miscarriage. Dreams crash and shatter.

We picked up the pieces and started “trying” again. This time, waiting to see those lines appear isn’t exciting. Instead it’s nerve wracking. What will happen this time? Will it happen again? That ignorant bliss of getting pregnant the first time after deciding to try is washed away forever.

That story ends happily with the birth of Evan, but with some unexpected hardships shortly after.

Then a few years later we decide to “try” for #2. This time waiting for the lines isn’t exciting either. It’s more filled with thoughts like “are we sure?” or “what are we doing?” or “is this a mistake?” or , but also — “woah..family of four!?” and “we’ll be complete!”.

Then, it happened again. I had another miscarriage. Sadness takes over and and hopes dashed.

So, back to “trying” again and waiting for those lines is nerve wracking again, but for so many more reasons. Will I have another miscarriage? Are we doing the right thing by adding another child to our family? Can we handle it?

Then, Carter arrives, safe and sound in a perfect-for-me birth. And then, my brain bleeds. Stroke, caused by pregnancy.

We were never planning on having a 3rd anyway, but now that choice has been taken away because I would be at risk of having another stroke. Even without Evan and Carter depending on having a mother, that’s not a chance I’d be willing to take.

So, now at 35, my feelings about getting pregnant are back at square-one again: scared shitless. But for much different and “weightier” reasons. Not because it would put a hamper on my life, or put things on hold for a bit, but because it would literally mean a choice between life and death — either mine or the baby’s. That’s not a decision I want to make.

*Peed on a stick – sounds so much nicer as an acronym, don’t you think?

Kayaking

This past Saturday I had my first kayaking lesson, and it was awesome!
I’ve been in a kayak before, but it was more of a tourism thing, and we didn’t learn any specific stroke or technique. I remember enjoying it, though, so I thought it’d be fun to give it a try for real.
Saturday was a gorgeous day – sunny and not too hot. We learned about the different types of kayaks and paddles, and then we all tried out a few kayaks before deciding which one fit the best. I was in a sea kayak, which tend to be longer and have higher cruising speed than white water kayaks, but can be harder to turn.
After some more land-based chatting, we each got into our own kayak and off we went. We learned a few different strokes: forward, backward, draw and sculling draw (to move sideways), the sweep (to turn in place), and the stern rudder (to turn while going forward). We also learned how to raft together our kayaks for safety purposes.
We spent a lot of time practicing, which was amazing. I loved being on the water in my own little kayak-bubble, concentrating on my movement and technique, and enjoying my surroundings.
At the end of the lesson, the teacher demonstrated the wet-exit – basically how to get out of your kayak safely if it capsizes.

Gotta say, I was really nervous about it. I’m not a huge fan of putting my head under water, especially when I’m in something. But, after three attempts at rolling the kayak over*, I went under and got out pretty quick. 
Looking forward to the next lesson in a couple of weeks!

*It was actually nice to know how hard it was to tip it over!

Disappointment

One annoying thing about blogging under my real name and sharing my posts to Facebook is that there are things I cannot write about without catching shit from someone.

There are some things going on right now that are making me very frustrated and disappointed. They are hard for me to deal with, because there is a possibility of confrontation, which (if you’re a long-time reader of my blog) is very scary for me. But, if I don’t do something about these things soon, I will continue to be taken advantage of.

Being an adult sucks sometimes.

Clean Bill of Health

Since Evan’s scare when he was a month old, we’ve been taking him to follow-up with specialists. This hasn’t been fun, since they were talking about some serious stuff when he was in the hospital (developmental problems, liver problems, genetic deficiencies, etc.).

One of the specialists was a pediatric neurologist. When Evan was in the hospital, he had to endure (among other things) a CT-scan, an MRI, and a 48-hour EEG (30 electrodes glued to his head for two days). They found nothing wrong. So, just to make sure things were okay, Evan had a follow-up appointment with him at the beginning of June. The doctor took one look at him — sitting, playing, being a normal kid — and said there is absolutely nothing to worry about, he’s dead on developmentally for his age, and we never have to see him again. YAY!

Another specialist, a pediatric gastroenterologist, was a bit of a different story. During Evan’s hospital say, he just happened to get some blood work done because he had high bilirubin (jaundice) levels when he was born. So, they repeated that test at the hospital and found they had gone down substantially, but were still elevated. This doctor proceeded to explain to us that high bilirubin levels could cause staining of the brain which could lead to developmental issues, etc., etc.. Needless to say, we were freaked out. Good thing we both have good heads on our shoulders, because we asked him if that was the leading cause of elevated levels. It turns out that, nope, that’s not the case — it’s more likely due to breast milk jaundice and will go away on its own in a month or two.

Sigh. Gotta love doctors sometimes.

Anyway, we ended up having to take Evan to this doctor every month (sometimes twice a month) since then. His jaundice levels did go back to normal after a couple of months, as expected, BUT his liver enzymes were ever so slightly elevated. Last time, in April, they did some blood work to test for common liver problems (Hepatitis, for example), and all came back negative, but his enzymes were still out of the normal range.

Today Evan had another appointment. Of course, the doctor started talking about doing genetic testing, liver biopsies (which have a known mortality rate in children), and other things if Evan’s levels weren’t normalized this time. Part of me freaked out, but after talking to DH about how this guy tends to jump to the scariest conclusions, we decided to see what the results were before going off the deep end.

And, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, all is well!

So, FINALLY, we can forget about the whole ordeal back in November and know that our little man has a completely clean bill of health! YAY!

Scientiae: Change is the Only Constant

After some discussion, it’s nice to see that the Scientiae carnival will continue this year! Instead of doing monthly posts, the carnival will be done quarterly. I hope there are many contributors, both old and new, this year!

The first carnival of the year is hosted by JaneB over at Now what was I doing?:

A truism widely used in one of the fields my research area touches on (way to be vague?) is: Change is the only constant.

A recent post by Biochembelle has influenced my post today. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know that my PhD experience was not stellar (to say the least). Looking back, I can see now that part of it was because I could not accept my mindset changing about my career.

When I graduated from my bachelor’s degree, I had no idea what I wanted to do. So, I took a job as an inside technical sales person for an industrial electric motor company. That lasted all of two months. At that point, I decided to go back to school, go back to astronomy, and get a masters. During that time, I loved research. I loved the people, I loved the subject, and I was having the time of my life. So, it was just natural to continue with a PhD with the future goal of becoming a tenured professor.

I moved across the country and switched fields. The first six months were okay. Not great by any stretch, but I attributed it to being in a new city with new people and studying something completely different. All of a sudden I didn’t have any close friends nearby for the first time in my life, and I had no idea what I was doing in my research. On top of that, a paper came out basically scooping my PhD project, so I had to start from scratch.

Things continued to get worse. I would get into these funks that lasted for days or weeks, hating my research and hating my classes. But, when I talked to other students or professors about it, everyone said they feel/felt that way during their PhD. Everyone convinced me that being miserable and frustrated all the time was perfectly normal. Clearly, they didn’t have a grasp of my particular situation. At one point it was so bad that, after a melt-down in our living room, my now husband suggested I see a therapist.

I knew I wanted to quit. My husband knew I wanted to quit. My therapist knew I wanted to quit. But, I just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t about letting other people down, though that was part of it. It was really about seeing myself as a failure. It was about finishing what I started, because I didn’t want to be one of those people who were never happy no matter what they did.

So, I pushed through. I finished my research, wrote up my thesis, and couldn’t be done fast enough. I was so incredibly happy when the committee told me I passed. Not because of the accomplishment (I couldn’t even stand to be called “Doctor”), but because it was finally over. I could move on to something I enjoyed.

I knew very early on that I no longer wanted to do scientific research at that level, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. I couldn’t accept that I had changed my view about research and about becoming a professor. Looking back, I would have to say it’s one of my very few regrets in life that I didn’t leave my PhD.

In the end, I do think I’ve learned from the experience. I now allow myself the option of leaving or quitting or giving up. I try not to do things I don’t want too (within reason, of course – we all have obligations and responsibilities that must be tended too!). Two years ago, if I had the problems I did with breastfeeding Evan, I would have just kept going, being miserable for months. Instead, I gave myself a specific time-line: if it wasn’t working after a certain amount of trying (six weeks), I could move on. And you know what? It worked. I was able to give it a good try. It didn’t work, so I stopped. No guilt (okay, some, but not as much as I thought), and things got so much better so much faster.

So, here is my advice to anyone out there struggling with something – be it your job, your relationship, or some other facet of your life: give yourself a specific time-line (don’t say “well let’s see what it’s like in a while”; say “I’m giving myself until July 1st”), give it a fair chance during that time, and if it doesn’t work out, change the situation. No guilt. There is nothing wrong with changing your path. In fact, it can be quite liberating!

Upcoming Transition

DH goes back to work on Monday. I’m scared – how am I going to do this on my own?

Okay, so thankfully I won’t be totally on my own. My Mom arrives on Friday and will be here for three weeks. I’m hoping it will be a nice step between both DH and I being home and me being home by myself come January.

Still though – it scares me that I’m getting closer to being on my own. My big worry right now is the feeding. Evan is getting fed primarily by the bottle, and I am pumping. That means I’ll need to find time to pump when Evan is not preparing to eat, eating, or screaming/trying to calm down after eating. Right now, DH is usually feeding him or holding him while I do it. Evan seems to have a radar to the pump, and practically every time I try it when he’s sleeping or calm, he starts crying/screaming/etc..

I worry about other stuff too – like how am I going to console him all day long? DH and I switch off so we can get a break and eat, have a shower, go to the bathroom, and do simple chores around the house. How the heck am I going to do it all on my own? I can seriously see it coming down to me having to choose between having a very quick bite to eat (i.e. a granola bar) or brushing my teeth.

I’m sure we’ll figure out a new normal, but right now I’m frickin’ terrified!!

Another Update

Well, nothing has been found with Evan so far. He had tests done on his blood, urine, and spinal fluid to check for infections, and those all came back negative. His jaundice levels are still elevated for what they should be, so they are keeping an eye on it to make sure it keeps going down. They will also do an ultrasound of his liver and spleen today to make sure those aren’t a factor. Elevated jaundice levels are quite common in premature, breast-fed babies, so we’re not particularly worried about it, and the doctors don’t think it had anything to do with the seizure-like activity we saw.

To determine whether the episode was a seizure, he had a short (25 minutes) and long (48 hours) EEG done. The short one came back normal and we are waiting for the results on the long test. He is scheduled to have an MRI done tonight to look for any developmental issues.

So, we’re basically waiting for results right now (like always, it seems). If those tests (EEG, MRI, ultrasound and blood tests) come back normal – and we should find out tomorrow – then the episode will be attributed to him breathing in fluid after spitting up and we’ll most likely be discharged. Fingers crossed this is the case and we can go home soon.

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