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Baby V

V was due Thursday July 20th, and I had been dilated 2-3cm for a couple of weeks. According to our doctor, V’s head was really low and my cervix was “favorable” (I still get a kick out of that term). I had also been having Braxton hicks and occasional contractions for a week or so, so we thought he would come before his due date. BUT…all of that means nothing in labor world, especially for a first time mom, and of course V decided to stay in a little longer. Sunday night I had bloody show, so I thought maybe things were happening. I woke up early Monday morning around 0630 and had more bloody show, and I was having some contractions that were just mildly uncomfortable, but that was nothing new. I walked the dog about a mile and a half and came home and bounced on the exercise ball and watched The Office hoping things would pick up. At that point, my contractions were about 7-9 minutes apart and at times uncomfortable, at times just abdominal hardening. They continued on throughout the day, but I was able to go about normal activities and eat and do things around the house.
Around 1800, I tried to take a nap and could NOT sleep through the contractions, and that’s when I realized things were really happening. James and I walked Fenrir around the block a couple times, and I had to stop walking during the contractions. They were still about 7 minutes apart at that point, so I told James to take a nap, and I would wake him up when it was time. I also really was trying to wait it out until midnight, so we wouldn’t have to pay for an extra day LOL. Around 2200 I got in the shower for about an hour, and that felt so relieving. In retrospect, I wish I would have stayed in there a little bit longer, but I was ready to go to the hospital. I woke James up at 2230, and we loaded up the car. We plugged in my labor playlist in the car, and the first song on shuffle was Closing Time…SUPER appropriate, since the contractions were really hurting at that point. We stopped at QuikTrip so James could get some snacks and Redbull, and I had a contraction in the car that had me WRITHING.
When we got to the hospital (at 1204 Tuesday morning mind you), the nurse checked me, and I was dilated to a 3, 100% effaced, baby was at -1 station, and my waters were bulging. Contractions were 5 minutes apart and PAINFUL, but YAY… I was in active labor. I was so happy that V decided to pick his own birthday. I was a little bit ridiculously obsessed with not wanting to be induced and hoping I would go into labor spontaneously. In my mind there are just so few things in adult life that are unpredictable and unplanned, and I really wanted this to be one of them!
They admitted me to my labor and delivery room and I was able to stand and walk by the bed. After about an hour or two they brought me an exercise ball and I was able to sit on that with James supporting me. The ball REALLY helped and was the most relieving place to be. I was dilated 5-6, but the contractions were becoming unbearable for me. The pain in my abdomen and back was tolerable, but I had this awful (embarrassing and TMI) pressure in my bottom that I could not stand. I asked for the epidural, and the doctor came in around 0500 and placed it. He did a phenomenal job, and I felt AMAZING afterwards. It felt like a warm hug from my mid back down to my legs, and I felt so peaceful and happy afterwards.
Of course, the epidural came with a price, because my contractions slowed down quite a bit afterwards. I had read some birthing stories where the Mom relaxed after the epidural and dilated to 10 right away, and others where everything slowed down. Unfortunately I was the latter and dilated to a 7 after the epidural, but I was okay with waiting and felt great. Surprisingly my waters were STILL bulging and hadn’t yet broken, so at 0800 the nurse checked me pretty “vigorously”, and they finally broke. I still stayed at a 7 and contractions were still slowed down at that point.
At about 1100 I was sitting up high in the bed and frog legged, there was no contraction, no position changes, no apparent issues, but baby’s heart rate disappeared from the monitor. I tried messing with the monitor myself and couldn’t find his heart rate, the nurse rushed in the room and told me to turn on my left side and began manipulating the monitor. She had another nurse come in to help her and they placed me on a non-rebreather and began bolusing me with IV fluids. They finally found his heartbeat, but it was only 64, and they couldn’t understand what had caused it. It didn’t happen during a contraction, and I wasn’t even on Pitocin. I can’t lie this had me hysterical, and I was sobbing and hyperventilating at that point, which I knew was counterproductive to providing baby with oxygen. After being on my side for a couple minutes, baby’s heart rate came back up to around 130, and I was trying my best to take slow deep breaths, and telling myself that was the only thing I could control at that point. Their conclusion was maybe V’s cord was compressed with the way I was sitting in bed.
Dr. Shepherd came in and said they wouldn’t be tolerating any more episodes like that from baby. The game plan was to let me rest for about 30 minutes and make sure V’s heart rate stayed stable, if so they would start me on Pitocin and try to “augment” my labor to dilate me to a 10. If not, or if baby had any more episodes, they would do a c-section. They started the Pitocin at around 1130, and gradually increased it. I refused to budge from my left side, for fear of lying in a position baby didn’t tolerate, so I was starting to feel half of my body.
At about 1330 I was dilated to a 9, and the nurse said it was almost pushing time!!!! Baby’s heart rate was staying in the 130-140 range, and I was watching it like a hawk. The nurse had me lay on my right side with my leg up in the air because the lip of my cervix was stuck, but at 1400 I was fully dilated and effaced and so ready to start pushing! I told myself I was going to push as hard as I could, because I was terrified baby wouldn’t tolerate the delivery. At 1500, baby made his way out screaming, and I was in another world. The moment I saw his little body and heard his scream, I lost it and was crying uncontrollably. Nothing can ever compare to that moment!!!!!! Our baby was here, and he was alive, and he was okay. All of my fears were proven untrue, and God answered our prayers for V to be healthy, strong, and whole. Baby V was 8 pounds 3 ounces, 20 and 3/4 inches and born at 1500 on July 25th, 2017! My husband and our families were so supportive, and our nurses and doctors (we saw 4 different OB GYN’s during our hospital visit LOL) were all amazing. I definitely give St. John’s Women’s Center a 5 star review, they tolerated my 20 family members, and me, and they were so accommodating for everything we needed.
Looking back there are things I would change or have go differently, but at the same time I know everything worked together to bring our beautiful healthy little boy into the world. It was also a huge blessing to have my sweet friend Kaitlyn document so much of our birth story, and I will cherish these frozen moments for the rest of our lives!!!!

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Beautiful Boy

There are a million things I have hoped for and prayed for our little boy. There are countless scenarios and future endeavors I have imagined during these passing months as he forms inside my womb, as if each dream I have of him could somehow be transferred from mind to body. As if my thoughts could become manifest through our shared blood and genetic code…I hope he is healthy and happy and handsome. I hope he loves adventure. I hope he gets along with the dog. I hope and pray that he comes into this world strong and whole…

But above all else, I hope he is kind.

I hope he can fix his eyes towards injustice with compassion. Unafraid, but not unphased. As the world recycles the same chaos, I pray he finds a way to be broken but never bitter. Above all else, I hope he is kind.

 

“Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better.” -John Lennon, Beautiful Boy

Nurses Week

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As a little girl, my very favorite person in the world was my Nana. She was brave and beautiful and bold, and she made me feel special every time I saw her. She let me wear her make up and ride around the house in her wheelchair, and she gave me my first nursing job. My Nana was paraplegic, and I have vivid memories of being unnaturally eager to empty her catheter, or set up her transfer board, or push her wheelchair… and she patiently allowed it.
At the age of 7 or 8 I knew…I wanted to be a nurse, just like my mom. When I was a little older I found out about all the gross stuff nurses did and changed my career goals very quickly, until it started to sound like a pretty secure option again around high school. I wanted to work with children and go on missions trips and save the world. My picture of nursing was giving shots in a tent somewhere scorchingly hot or applying tourniquets to bloody limbs and saving people who were incessantly grateful…. Because people love people who save lives, right? People love nurses… right? So now I am 26 years old, and I have been an ICU nurse for five years, and I guess I’m a little more….aware. There are a million tiny pieces of nursing that no one warns you about. A million tiny facets that medical shows can’t portray. A million unspoken truths that the non-nurses of the world can’t possibly understand. And suddenly, I’m not the little girl emptying my grandmother’s catheter anymore, I’m the scared new nurse who has to start an IV, and the patient is disappointed and angry that I had to stick him twice. I’m not the eager nursing student spending an hour with the sweet old lady who needs help eating, I’m the by default “seasoned” nurse, doing strange and extraordinary things to keep people alive…or kind of alive, I’m not really sure…And most of the people I care for aren’t incessantly grateful. In fact, they’re upset and they’re hurting, and they need someone to blame, and their family members don’t understand why after all these extraordinary things I’ve done…they aren’t better. The million tiny pieces like this are the majority, hurting people and sad outcomes and misplaced blame.
Every so often, there are pieces that are precious and good and reminiscent of all the reasons people become nurses, whether it’s the family member that thanks you for helping their loved one die without pain, or the patient being kept alive by ten machines who walks up to the ICU months later to express their gratitude…but these tiny pieces are rare in comparison.

And then…there are the tiny pieces that are my favorite… and they sustain me…
I never realized these tiny pieces came with nursing, and I never dreamed they would be the most rewarding part…
I’m talking about the other nurses. The nurses that become your greatest friends and inspirations, the role models and the teachers, and the ones who hold your hand through the weird, crazy, jagged, uncomfortable, beautiful insanity that is nursing. Without the family of nurses that forms around you, you are nothing. So thank you fellow nurses. You all are the best part of my profession. You all are the anchor that keeps healthcare human, and you all create meaning during the chaos of protocols and policies and government reimbursements. You all continue to give care that is driven by compassion rather than money, and you all continue to give healing in a place that is broken.

So here’s to my Nana for teaching me my first nursing skills, and to my mom for inspiring me and making this profession her life, so that my brothers and I could experience ours. Here’s to all the other incredible nurses along the way who make this career rewarding and meaningful. You are the best tiny pieces of nursing! Happy nurses week!!!!

How’s the weather?

How strange that one would live at all, in life outside my own

How strange this world exists for others and not my eyes alone

How vast the journeys some will take and never coincide

How small the number of those who look back truly satisfied

How cruel are you to love another

How crazy am I to care

How shallow and how narcissistic to need you here and there

How’s the weather, and how are the kids

How’s your addiction to the pain that you’re in

The open ended questions and pauses and the forced listening

How am I doing so far with this thing called empathy?

The Nose Diaries

When I started writing this, I wanted to describe what she looked like. I wanted my thoughts on her hair and her skin and her body to be known…And then I realized the details of her appearance would only reinforce the problems unnecessarily created by girls and how we view each other. I would be the hypocrite recreating my own problem. So for all you know, she was beautiful or hideous, large or small, perfect or flawed.

I was sixteen years old and had started my first “real job” at a custard shop just a couple of miles from my house. This girl was outspoken, always in your face with her stories and elaborate plans. Her behavior screamed, “look at me, hear me, know me.”

Our first week of working together, she came into the shop that day and started talking about her boyfriend. She told me she had showed him my picture on Facebook. He thought I would be really pretty, if it weren’t for my nose.

This stranger put me on display for an even more distant stranger, someone I had never met and actually would never meet. This stranger decided this was information I should hear or be broken by or be changed by…or have no idea how to respond to.

Ten years later, I don’t remember this girl’s name. I don’t remember where she went or what happened to her, or if we said goodbye or said we would keep in touch. Two things I do remember: she used pureology shampoo, and one day for no apparent reason, she took her chisel and aimed her hammer at my great insecurity, nicking off another tiny piece of my spirit.

 

The nose diaries

Remember my twin bed with the white iron bed frame, the one with the the bars that scrolled and curved to form hearts and swirls, and the golden capped globes on each corner? Remember the peach quilt my aunt pieced together, at a time when silly questions and inquiries into each other’s thoughts had no relevance. I was sitting and he was laying, his head in my lap. I asked him what he was thinking, and he responded by pointing to my nose.

“You’re thinking about my nose?” He nodded. I didn’t press for further questions, because I knew. My nose is big and misshapen, and it stands as a point of distraction or a point of demanding attention. I learned at that moment that I didn’t truly want to know what he was thinking. I learned at that moment that sometimes love means lying. Sometimes love means staying silent. Sometimes the least loving thing you can do is speak the truth….and the ones who respond with cold honesty, without hesitation, don’t love you at all.

Death in hospitals

The most defeating thing about death in hospitals is when the world keeps spinning. Teams come by to work with your dead patient, unaware of the past couple hours they spent fighting or surrendering. Doctors from other specialties come by to assess your dead patient, and housekeeping comes to clean your dead patient’s room and empty your dead patient’s sharps container. All the while you must calmly, quietly scream STOP. PAY ATTENTION. This person was here, and now they’re not.

Intersection

image.jpegI know you exhaustively…

Your movements, your bones, your skin

I breathe you in

I dance in response to your distress

My rhythm is lead by your every heartbeat

I know your past, and I try to predict your future… or change it…or delay it…or alleviate some heaviness from it

I know your veins like the bare branches of trees I climbed in youth

I know your fragility

I feel more responsibility for you than some of your family or dearest friends

and yet…there is no reciprocation in this knowing of you

There is no exchange of burden or sense of exposure on my part

There is no knowing of myself from you…

And this is very intentional

because if I revealed myself

If the single lane road were redeveloped or reconstructed…this would risk our collision…

This would risk my breaking…

And so we continue

I for you, and you for them

No junction of hearts, no intersection

 

 

Mad Men, Mistakes, and Moving On

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About a week ago I was finishing the show Mad Men, and I was blown away by a conversation between Peggy Olson (arguably everyone’s favorite feminist) and her work partner/friendship turned fire love interest, Stan Rizzo. For anyone who isn’t a Mad Men fanatic (why aren’t you…please reevaluate your life choices…go watch every episode now…) I’ll fill you in on the details of Peggy Olson’s character.

Peggy is a 20 something career minded woman with dreams, aspirations, and the tenacity that few people her age acquire in a lifetime. She works her way up from the secretary of the womanizing Creative Director, Donald Draper to become a successful female copywriter and business partner in the company. Peggy has a few love interests along the way, but they always take a back seat to her career. Her first love interest is Peter Campbell, an account executive whose ego and wealthy family give him a sense of entitlement towards everything, including women.

To sum it up…Pete and Peggy have sex..Peggy ends up pregnant…Peggy gains weight and becomes an object of scrutiny and gossip for the whole office…She is criticized by her family…a local priest…and almost entirely alone through the tumultuous and messy process that is having an illegitimate pregnancy in the 60’s (which surprisingly hasn’t changed much today)…She has the baby, gives it up for adoption, and continues her career with many more obstacles as a woman in a predominantly male time period and industry…In episode 11 in the last season of Mad Men, Peggy and Stan have a conversation that has stuck with me and shaken my already confusing views on feminism/woman’s rights/abortion etc… and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The conversation goes something like this…

PEGGY: I guess that’s the secret to your spectacular career, the fact that you don’t have kids

STAN: Well not that I know of…

PEGGY: That’s funny to you because it wouldn’t matter if you did, you could walk away

STAN: I would never do that

PEGGY: But you may not even know, that’s what you said

STAN:  You’re right I didn’t mean to judge

PEGGY: But you did and you don’t understand

STAN: “I had a mother! And she wasn’t great, and I don’t know if she wanted me, so I understand something!”

PEGGY: “But you don’t understand your mother! Maybe she was very young and followed her heart and got in trouble, and no one should have to make a mistake just like a man does and not be able to move on. She should be able to live the rest of her life just like a man does. Maybe you do what you thought was the best thing.”

That line…“No one should have to make a mistake just like a man does and not be able to move on.”

That line is haunting, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. My knee jerk reaction is to agree with it, to rally behind it, to feel the same indignation Peggy feels. Of “It’s not fair and life should be fair and equal!” It is that feeling that makes me completely relate to and understand why people support a woman’s right to choose.

Our society is fixated on second chances, redemption stories, do overs. In fact that’s the main part of Christianity people like and can agree with…the idea of an absolution of our sins complete with the full package of starting over brand new.

Making a mistake and moving on. Just like a man does.

My question is, what kind of world does this become when we foster a society that can move on from its mistakes without dealing with the consequences?

What happens when we create a safe place for people to not take responsibility for their actions?

It isn’t fair that God or mother nature or evolution or all of the above made it so women are the ones bearing children

It isn’t fair that God or mother nature or evolution or all of the above made it so men don’t bear children

But should fairness really be the motive of our decision-making on this issue? The fact that men can move on from the mistake of a one night stand or getting someone pregnant at an economically bad time does not justify them doing so.

Disclaimer***I am not talking about cases of rape/incest/or cases that threaten the life of the mother/baby (these are an astonishing low percentage of abortions that take place in America)***

As a 24 year old female, I have made many mistakes in my personal life, in my career, in my health choices, in my relationships. These mistakes have challenged me and changed me and molded who I am as a person. These mistakes are a part of me, and I carry them with me as a reminder that I am here. I am human. I am strong. I am able to adapt and grow from my mistakes. But none of these mistakes have I been able to erase or undo or abort. And I am glad I don’t have the choice to.

So how do we foster a society that promotes responsibility rather than regret and a quick solution?

Firstly by understanding no female wants to have an abortion. Given the option any female would have rather prevented the pregnancy in the first place.

Secondly we foster responsibility through education and availability of resources. Not by de-funding Planned Parenthood…not by educating our children and teenagers about abstinence and nothing else…not by ostracizing, criticizing, judging young mothers who are pregnant when it’s economically irresponsible or financially and professionally inconvenient.

One of the easiest ways we can promote responsibility is through our own actions and reactions to those teenagers and 20 somethings who are the most vulnerable. Talk to your children. Talk to other people’s children.

Make it your responsibility.

Immediate Results

“Flex your arms!” I told my husband, “Show me your new muscles,” I said excitedly. I was beaming with pride at his new found dedication, hitting the gym 6/7 days a week for the second week in a row. A few days later at home I said the same thing, “Let’s see some results!”

He sighed and laughed, “Sarah, it’s only been two weeks. You don’t even notice results in yourself until at least 4 weeks. Your friends and family don’t notice until 8 weeks. Everyone else doesn’t notice until 12 weeks.”

I didn’t really think much about his statement until this morning when looking in the mirror after a work-out class and feeling just ever so slightly disappointed that I couldn’t see a little bit more definition or a little less inner thigh jiggle. His statement resounded in my head, and it was just like a light-bulb went off, one of Oprah’s “aha” moments…

How many times do we effect change in our lives, becoming disappointed when we don’t see immediate results? We reach out in a relationship, and give up when we don’t feel the return. We put our hearts into work and do our best, then give in to let-down when there isn’t recognition, processes don’t change, morale doesn’t improve, things don’t get better. We implement life-style changes, and our bodies don’t reveal it.

We are very impatient people. Our commitments wane and fade off when our goal isn’t foreseeable, when we can’t reach out and touch it. I’ve started to observe this impatience in my every day life. I love immediate results. I crave them, and I have to fight frustration when I don’t receive them. An internal craze sets off when I don’t get my patients’ lab results back in a time I feel is appropriate. When their medications don’t arrive from pharmacy, I shake my head and sigh in annoyance. When the microwave is running, I stop it 5 seconds early. And I shouldn’t even go into grocery store lines (10 items or less means 10 items or less people!!)

So many times when we execute change, we grow frustrated when the environment or the circumstances don’t mirror that change. What if we changed the expectation? What if we applied that 4 week, 8 week, 12 week, and even longer mentality in other areas of life?

When you feel distant from your spouse, reach out to them and don’t give up when they don’t respond. When you feel disappointed in your lifestyle habits, change them and stay committed even when your body doesn’t follow suit the way you imagined. When your career isn’t advancing or your work-environment is negative, stay true to your goals and keep your positivity whether you see a difference made or not.

Commitment sets apart the people who are truly happy from the people who experience brief jolts of happiness and bottom outs in depression.

James 1:4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.