thirty-four

Turning another year older barely scratched the surface of my mind this week. After spending two days in the hospital because of the early signs of preterm labor, and just being released yesterday, I was more elated that I would not be spending a birthday at the NICU with my child.

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I lay in bed, the early signs of morning peeked through my blinds as baby stretched inside, the best birthday present i could’ve received so far. Keith was already up, getting ready for work, the sound of rustling paper clueing me into the fact that he was probably in the dining room wrapping my gift. God, i am such a blessed woman, i thought to myself.

As i sit here trying to wrangle in the last thirty-four years of my life into a single thought, I am grateful for my journey’s complexity. I have always desired wisdom. I prayed for it at seven after I heard the story of King Solomon asking for it. I truly believe God honored that request because over the years of success and failures, I have often been told by young and old that I am wise beyond my years and I am deeply humbled that God blessed me in this manner. The year preceding my thirty-fourth birthday has taught me one valuable lesson--uncertainty is inevitable.

Resting in the Uncharted Territory

I remember when Isaac was born and Nanna called to tell me that everything was going to be okay and that Isaac would be fine. You’ve been a good Christian girl all of your life and followed the Lord, she said.

I cringed in silence at her words.

There was something so formulaic about that statement. If all things are good, I am right with the Lord. If all things are not so good, then I immediately must “figure out” what the root of my suffering is. I knew God wasn’t one-dimensional or severely conditional. He made the sun to shine and rain to fall on the unrighteous along with the righteous (Matt 5:45). But when Isaac died after weeks of petitioning to God for a miracle, I realized how deeply rooted I unconsciously was in the “prosperity gospel” understanding of God.

I didn’t have him all or even mostly figured out. His unknowings actually unsettled me. It nearly broke me to suddenly feel so distant from God, and I thought for sure that I would receive further punishment for entering a season of darkness and stillness. I knew the landscape of God’s obscurity existed, but to go and abide inside of His unknown parts without ever having them revealed to me, terrified me.

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I am not sure when the transition actually began--somewhere in between Isaac’s passing and our failed attempts to try to conceive again--but I found myself wading out into uncharted waters. I thought that the lack of control and foresight would consume me and wash me away, but I found myself tethered. Tethered to the parts of God I had come to know and trust. His grace, His faithfulness, comfort, and peace. I slowly relinquished control in those tumultuous moments, letting my spirit sink into His deepness. I began to let go of my need to know when, where, and how.

I am still a planner. Still a “figure it out” person, but my hope is that this year I’ll continue to loosen my grasp and find peace in the unknown.

preterm labor scare

you’re showing signs of contractions, the nurse practicioner informed keith and i late last night. we are going to run an ffn (fetal fibronectin) test.

Glad we came in i sighed to myself.

i knew what an ffn test was meant to find. in my quest to understand about having an incompetent cervix, i stumbled onto this ffn test. It was made to detect the possibility of preterm labor as early as two weeks out from labor. A test resulting in a negative reading said I had a 1% chance of giving birth within two weeks. A positive meant that probability shot up to 99%. Yeah. You know which one we were praying for.

pretermlabor

the test took an hour. We passed the time with reflection, concern, and keith getting major brownie points with the nurses for his attentiveness to my needs and bed pan. we had come into triage expecting to be discharged within the hour. I had some continuous cramping that had rolled in from the previous day along with cervical irritation. At the very most, i thought it was an infection due to the cerlcage and at least just growing pains. Our thoughts were sober, free from the drunkenness of anxiety for the first time in this pregnancy. as we waited to be called, Keith even talked shop with a former contractor from his company.

the nurse returned, her bright blue eyes dimmed by the shadow of her long lashes. So we are going to admit you for observation for the next forty-eight hours. Your test came back positive.

my brain went numb. inebriated with flashbacks to when i was told i had an incompetent cervix. 

now there could be a possibility that a false positive could be attributed to your cerclage, but right now we are going to start prepping baby with steroids, magnesium, and antibiotics just in case.

ffntest

frustration. disbelief. concession.

i was already starting to prepare myself for nicu life again. I didn’t want to be read the chances of survival. I didn’t want to hear about c-sections. I just wanted to grieve. Not the loss of my child, but the loss of a dream of having a full-term pregnancy. Of hearing baby take his first breaths. Of bringing baby home days after delivery. We should document this moment. This space. I said to keith. It went so quickly the last time we found ourselves here.

the last fifteen hours have felt so fragile and grueling. My cervix was scanned and my cerclage was examined. When the doctor came in around 8 am this morning with the mfm specialist, i was groggy from all the meds and hormones i was on. I didn’t know what to expect. Cerclage looks good. The contractions have subsided. Your cervix is closed and maintaining its length from last week.  we are going to give you your second dose of steroids and hopefully discharge you tomorrow. Any questions? 

keith was holding back tears. I was holding back the urge to fall asleep after hearing this relieving news. After the emotional rollercoaster we went through in less than twenty-four hours, I didn't want to return home being on edge again for the next eight weeks till we got the cerclage out. i still had questions, like why did this happen? how did this happen? and could this happen again?But all I could mutter through the drowsy effects of magnesium was,

may i go pee?


 to learn more about fetal fibronectin tests, visit ffn tests

Pregnancy with a Cerclage

Pregnancy without any complications already has its own woes. Morning sickness. Constipation. Sore and sometimes bleeding gums. Your body becomes a leaky faucet of information that our middle school health classes did not prepare us for. thankfully there are resources just about everywhere that can help you decipher its code.

black mother

When you are essentially “tied up with string” with a cerclage, there is almost no manual that can help explain what you are supposed to be feeling or experiencing throughout your pregnancy. If your incompetent cervix was caught before it was too late and you were given an emergency cerclage, your life becomes all about how long your cervix is and making it another week with baby safely inside.

with a preventative cerclage, i had more cervix to work with and thought i would be able to breathe for the rest of my pregnancy. but every time i have had my cervical examination and have been told everything looks amazing (well thank you, i reply with a coy nod. I do my best),  the but what if lingers in the back of my mind.

Having a cerclage has not taken away the trauma i experienced, and unfortunately, i think that anxiety has heightened my level of concern over the normal pregnancy symptoms. I try not to stay there for very long. That thought can easily ensnare me. But it is there.

I was afraid to move because i was certain i would break the stitch. My uterus suddenly became more irritable, and i found that i could not sit, let alone stand, in the same position for longer than twenty minutes without it tightening up.

Every time baby decided to dance on my cervix, i instantly felt the stitch.

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There is a greater risk of infection because the stitch is a foreign object that my lady bits are trying to annihilate continuously. So, I am constantly drinking water, taking probiotics and everything else under the sun to avoid having to deal with an infection.

I have to be aware of any cramping I feel because the last thing anyone wants to happen is for me to go into labor while i am still stitched up.

Then there is the question of doing the doo.

Yeah. it just. got. real.

You can go on any forum that has cerclage as a topic and i can almost guarantee you that most of the mothers with a cerclage were afraid to poo for fear of breaking their stitch. the word on the street is: let it come when it comes. in the meantime, there is always good belly or colace.

Baby is still here. I am still here, taking it one day at a time. Surprising myself by stepping out of my traumatized state to enjoy the days when i can load the dishwasher, or make it fifteen minutes in publix, or yes even take a poo. Yes, the anxiety will still arise at any given moment, and i have to walk through it and not pretend it isn’t there, but my biggest fear is that i will let my loss of isaac consume me to the point that i cannot even enjoy the tiny strength of this new life growing inside of me.

Waiting to Exhale: 28 Weeks Pregnant

Yesterday was a dream deferred, but today hope is restored.

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Baby is moving around a lot. At night when I am in between potty breaks and sleep, I will lie awake just to enjoy every kick and hiccup baby offers up to me. It feels like I am in twilight. That space between dreaming and reality. The thought that this human being is actually getting bigger inside of me, just blows my mind every time I stop and think about it. Opening eyes, learning how to breathe, getting smarter, all happening right now inside where I cannot see.

I am still pinching myself that I have made it this far, yet realizing just how close I was to this point with Isaac. Twenty-eight weeks seemed so far off. The third trimester seemed unattainable. Yet here I stand, less than ninety days away from achieving a dream I thought would remain a dream.

started the third trimester with physical pitfalls.

After taking a surprisingly painless and lump free injection last Tuesday, the following day I was hit with a wave of nausea. I know it is because of the injection, because usually about one or two days before my weekly shot, I start to feel better. The correlation between my nausea and the progesterone shots have been nothing new for me, but Wednesday was probably the worst I have felt since starting the treatment.

Normal symptoms

  • Stuffy nose (made even worse by it being allergy season)
  • Occasionally sore gums
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Round ligament pain that is out of this dimension
  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Peeing all the livelong day
  • Braxton Hicks
  • Swelling in my right leg (mostly ankle)

Makena symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tightness and swelling at the injection site (my bum)

I swear, on paper, I am a one hundred year old hospice patient.

Out of all of the symptoms, round ligament pain continues to be the contender! I laid in bed for almost an hour after waking up one morning, and by the time I was able to get up and function, I was visibly bigger than I was an hour before. Has anyone else ever felt their baby/uterus getting bigger while they were in the middle of something? I have heard it usually happens at night while we’re asleep, but I feel the burn throughout the day. My stomach feels like Mary Poppin’s carpet bag--always full, yet never satisfied.

The feels

I was hyper-emotional this week. My insecurity over my changing body has really surfaced this week. Sunday, while looking through photos Keith had sniped of me, I criticized his inability to ever get a decent shot of me. His response was one of frustration. Because you won't even give me a chance to take a picture of you. I end up rushing or taking pictures of anything just to get a shot of you. He was right. I can't entirely blame it on my pregnancy, but I think it has gotten worse since becoming pregnant.

Nesting has also left me feeling defeated. Lethargy and physical restrictions plagued me on the daily and very few items have been checked off on my list. I pushed myself to be as productive as I possibly could without overdoing it. I even forced myself to hire someone to professionally braid my hair so that I have one less thing to fuss over for the next two months. Technically I have twelve weeks left of this tour of duty, but when I consider that most of the to-dos involve heavy lifting or loads of energy to complete, I really only have twenty four days because I have to wait for the weekends to get anything done with Keith or my sister.

Overall, I am relieved to finally be in the third trimester. There are plenty of things that still need to get done before this baby comes and I am hoping that the major to-do lists will keep my mind off of this last leg of the race creeping by.

For those who have been pregnant, what in the world did you do to keep yourself from counting every second till baby came?

Project Layout: Nursery

My main concern has been the nursery, because practically it just needs to get done. I have been “working” on this nursery ever since Isaac died. It was part of my need to complete some part of my former pregnancy. I got distracted along the way and slowly it became the isle of  unfinished projects.

  this was the nursery about a month after we buried isaac.

 this was the nursery about a month after we buried isaac.

Being pregnant with a cerclage and receiving shots of hormones that make me extra fatigued and nauseous have limited my ability to actually spend a lot of time in this room. Thankfully, my little sister offered to come down once a month on weekends to help me tackle my endless nesting list. It helps that my sister works on the design team at her local Ikea, so we took a trip to my Ikea store and she helped me pick out  a few items that would aid in organization and displaying items around the room.

Keith and I spent the previous weekend organizing the dresser, cleaning out the closet, and building the storage bench (here). My task this week has been to figure out where everything else will go. My second biggest problem area has been how to fill the wall space. I didn’t want a ton of stuff on every wall so I was going to have to be extremely intentional with what went into that room. I also wasn't trying to give this room a "baby" feel. If I was going to be spending everyday in here, this needed to feel like a retreat (I already want to be in this room over my bedroom). Here are some things I did to keep the process manageable.

 the furniture layout i finally settled on after adding the bench to the nursery.

the furniture layout i finally settled on after adding the bench to the nursery.

First, I knew I wanted the main colors to be neutral (blacks, whites, beiges, and browns). I know minimalism has a tendency to be creeping on these colors lately, but I felt it anchored me and the room. And it can really give you the ability to bring natural materials into the space. All of my main furniture--crib, seating, dresser--revolved around these colors. Shortly after Isaac’s birth, I was sweetly gifted with the major items from family and people in our past and present communities. All of it happened to be Ikea so I thought, why not stick with it. I snagged a deep wine colored rug from there (seriously I could fall asleep on that rug) and slowly began to develop a theme for the room. Boho Africana (or Wakanda Forever now that I have seen Black Panther).

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Next, Ashante and I began categorizing all the objects in the room by color. It was easy to see what our dominant color palette was. Greens, Yellows, Blues, Oranges, and the neutrals. This included pillows, books, small decor items, frames, artwork, linens, toys. Everything that was going to be on a wall, shelf, or displayed on a piece of furniture. With everything grouped by color, I could also see the variety of textures I was working with, what I had too much of or too little of. Seriously, doing this helped my pregnancy brain so much.

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nursery ikea crib

Lastly, my sister sketched out different layouts for each wall of the stuff I knew I wanted up. Once I decided on something, she began drilling everything into place. Window shades went up (still trying to find the perfect curtains for the main window), shelves mounted and art framed. I don’t want to dive into my decor on this post since its not quite done yet, but I am already really pleased with how far the room has come over just two days.

still have another side of the room to work on, so Keep a lookout for my progress!
what are your best tips for decorating a nursery?