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Archive for February, 2011

I discovered something about hospitals or at least my local hospital. I got a glimpse into what it means to have levels of care. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, we weren’t sure what kind of infection I had. The 3 antibiotic medicines I had taken had not touched it. So, at noon when I entered the hospital, I sat and waited for more tests to be performed. I was admitted to the women’s floor. Life was different on the section I where my room was located. The postpartum section was where I was after I delivered on November 5th. You received juices & snacks any time of the day. The nursing staff was in your room constantly. On the other end of the hall, you could get juice to drink but there were no snacks. The nursing staff was attentive but it took a couple of pushes to the call button. Life was different on this side of the hall.

On the afternoon of my arrival, I waited. Even if they had offered me a snack, they wouldn’t let me have it… will you need surgery? a procedure? no food until we know. Great. Last meal was at 7 am that morning. I was starving.

Finally, at 4:30 pm I was wheeled down to radiology where I was met by an ultrasound tech who took one look at my breast and said, “Oh God, that must be painful.” Thanks for making me feel worse than I already do. They completed a procedure that would give them more information about my infection (hopefully) and I was taken back to my room.

My sweet husband went home to get me some clothes, food, and check on P. It was the first time I really realized how lonely I was feeling about this illness. I was in the hospital…. again but this time without my precious son.

On Saturday afternoon when I was anxious about getting out, B finally admitted to me…. “You are probably not going home today and maybe not even tomorrow. We still don’t know what this is and we have to wait for the culture to come back.” Ugh, a few minutes later, my doctor came in and confirmed what he had said. I had still been running fevers all night and we needed to wait.

Waiting sucks.

Waiting for my son to arrive was a different kind of waiting. There was a joyous anticipation that came with the waiting. His birth would be the result of 9 months of waiting! What was going to come of this waiting? All that accompanied this waiting was fear, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and tears.

I should include here that the week before I went into the hospital we found out that my forty-something year old neighbor had died. He had a really bad reaction to medication he had been taking for years and couldn’t get over the illness. We knew he was sick but we had no idea how sick. That night as I lay in bed, I thought about Tim. We never thought he would die from his illness. What about my own mortality? When B returned that night, I made him have the “what if” conversation with me.

Waiting to hear results. Waiting to be healed. Waiting to find out. It all sucks.

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Not writing on your blog for two months is a serious way to cut your readership way down.  The good thing is that I know this blog is more for me than it is for any of you. I started the blog as a way to record my thoughts and feelings and along the way rediscovered how much I enjoy writing. The pictures and family stories have just become an added bonus! So, I took two months off from writing on my blog.

Yes, I basically took two months off from writing. journaling. anything that felt remotely like writing my feelings down.

Several reasons: 1) getting off the IV infusions meant no longer stopping for 3 hours during my day to “think” about what had happened 2) getting off the infusions meant no longer needing extra hands which means my hands are full of taking care of an adorable 3 month old. 3) I haven’t wanted to write out what’s in my heart and head most days.

I’m grieving. It’s as simple as that and I know that I am. I’ve worked for years with people in grief and have processed the loss of important people in my life. I know it’s grief and there are days I attend to it better than others. I thought I could process it the moment I got off my medication but I couldn’t. I need time and space. So, here I am. My attempt at writing my story and processing some of what has happened.

It’s interesting. I spent 9 months worrying and praying through the formation of my son. I spent some time (although not much) thinking and preparing for the delivery. Piece of cake in my circumstances… no one told me that the first two months of my son’s life would be the hardest. Actually, no one told me from weeks 4-8 would be the hardest.

At week 2 when I was in the radiating from joy and lack of sleep stage, I thought about how I needed to write something about really knowing what self-care meant after having a son. In seminary, self-care was the token phrase tossed around but it’s actually quite important to the life of the minister. And while, I’ll write that piece in the future, my story has a lot to do with the topic of self-care.

My parents came back to spend Thanksgiving with us. Parker was still young and we didn’t want to travel. We had a great time and just as my parents were leaving, I commented to my mom, “I think I have a plugged duct.” She told me to rest, be careful, and call the lactation consultant from the hospital if I didn’t get better. P and I were just getting the nursing schedule into a good place. It had been a little tricky those first few weeks as friends had told me it might be. Solution to a plugged duct? Nurse more. No problem. Our schedule for the week was: nurse, sleep, nurse, sleep (?), warm compress, nurse, etc. You get the picture.

I did call the lactation consultant…. 3 times that week. Each time she would say… really, you should be getting better within 48-72 hours. On the third call, she said, “Oh, you can take some pain medicine for the pain.” and told me what was approved. Yay! I can take pain medicine… so, I down two pills and waited… no relief. I finally realized how much pain I was experiencing.

On an unrelated note, I also fell down the bottom three stairs that night. Thankfully, Parker was asleep next to his daddy on the couch. I was hysterical. I was not hurt. My first thought was, “was Parker in my hands?” but B reassured me he was not. I was really sore the next day but didn’t think anything about it.

On Friday of that week, I was taking P to the pediatrician’s office for a weight check and to check out a “pimple” that had come up on his face that we were concerned about. That morning, I called my ob-gyn’s office to ask about some natural supplements I had heard that would help with the plugged duct. Yes, almost a week of dealing with the plugged duct. The nurse asked if I was having fever & chills which were signs of mastitis and I replied no. It was the same answer I had given the lc’s every time I talked to them. I was not having fever and chills. Still, she decided since it was Friday and I had struggled with this for almost a week, she’d call in a prescription.

We were off to P’s doctor. She was just as concerned about his “pimple” as we were and began treating him for a staph infection. She said we’d need to bring him back the next day and if it wasn’t better admit him to the children’s hospital. It was serious and I lost it. Ugh, it was more than just the news of how sick he was. I felt this wave come over  me and thought to myself: mastitis has arrived. I was sweating and had the chills at the same time. I stumbled back to the car with prescriptions in hand and made it home. B arrived shortly and filled our prescriptions. I called my parents because I knew we needed back-ups that weekend.

Thankfully, P got better almost immediately. But, as he got better, I was worse. I ran a high fever that weekend and resulted in us calling my doctor who we went to see on Sunday. He confirmed it was mastitis and placed me on a stronger medicine. Mom was still here that week and Morgan came to help too. At Christmas, I later admitted to them there were parts of that week which I simply don’t remember. I was running fevers, on medicine, nursing, pumping, and sleeping. On Thursday, we switched medicine again. When Friday came, the day of my post partum check-up, I left that morning knowing I would not return that afternoon.

I still think the only way the doctor got me to willingly go to the hospital was to tell me it was a 24 hour admittance. It was there in his office that he explained I had a decision I needed to make. He shared that I’d be on the women’s floor and Parker could be brought up for nursing. However, we don’t know the source of your infection and it’s quite possible you will need to stop breast feeding in order to heal. I knew he was right but ultimately, he was leaving the decision up to me. Bringing Parker to the hospital didn’t seem like a smart idea either. We weren’t sure where he got his staph infection the first time and I didn’t want to expose him to something else.

Giving up breast feeding was and still is, such a painful decision. I loved breast feeding P and we were just getting the hang of it. However, I knew that my body was broken and needed healing. I cried and cried and cried. I cried for P who I was already missing as I checked into the hospital. I cried for my body which was in such deep pain. That night, I read through my blogs and ran across this quote from a friend , Adam, who is grieving the loss of his two sons:

“So I offer you the same invitation if you’re grieving or simply not connected to your body. Honor it today. Honor what’s going on within you and what God might be saying to you through your body.”

Honor my body. It was a phrase that kept running through my head for the next four and a half days as doctors (yes, multiple) tried to figure out how to best heal my body. They ran tests, gave me stronger drugs, examined me for potential surgery. And, all the while, I was away from my baby for the first time since he was born. Honoring my body was necessary but it hurt like hell and not just physically.

The truth is, it still hurts to think I had to give up the close connection of feeding my son in order to be able to care for him later. Honoring the body isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It wasn’t on December 10th & it’s still not easy today.

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