Writing . . . I love it. But writing doesn't always come easily. I tend to be humerus in all life matters, including my writing. So when it comes to the hard stuff, I find myself becoming a recluse from all I love.
And what has turned me into a recluse this time, you ask? Well, where do I begin?
Anxiety I suppose, is what pulled me down this time. And with the anxiety came some postpartum blues. I like to say blues, because I do not have a diagnosis of postpartum depression, nor do I want it.* And, I'm not always blue. Only when the anxiety gets bad. But the anxiety and the blues really pull me down, and I stop doing all the little projects I love. I need all my energy to be a momma and wife, and be as present as I can with family.
The anxiety this time though, was brought on by something unlike anything I have ever experienced. Something I needed to find control over, but didn't know how. I still don't really know how. And, I'm still trying to find my place in it. My sanity. My strength. So despite the urge to remain a recluse, I'm pushing myself to get back out there. To write. Because hiding is not doing me any good.
We have three children. Our youngest son, B, is now 3 1/2 months old. So young, and yet, he feels like he's always been ours. He is so special, so unique.
He was our surprise pregnancy, and a big surprise at that! The surprise pregnancy that defied the odds, because I don't get pregnant easily (needing medical intervention for our second) and because he was created from an ovulation that occurred around day 29 (for those who don't know much about a woman's cycle, a traditional cycle is 28 days long with ovulation, the part of the cycle that creates baby, on day 14; and the further out the ovulation, the less likely an egg will be healthy enough to create life). His presence definitely shocked us, but his will was to be here in our lives. And I thank God he is!
When B was born, we had some struggle with breastfeeding. He lost a borderline acceptable amount of weight after he was born, and took exactly two weeks to gain it back. Just reaching the marks for what is expected of a newborn. I had so much pain with breastfeeding though, and thought I was doing something wrong. Naturally, I also blamed myself for poor milk production and decided this contributed to his barely-meeting-the-mark weight gain.
I finally reached out to lactation consultants for help, and discovered Mr. B actually had some things holding him back. He had a recessed chin, as well as a tongue tie and lip tie. We spent a good amount of time working on these things, to improve latch, and improve feeding. I was also given tasks to complete to improve milk supply and decrease the pain I was having from breastfeeding. All the while, I kept getting concerned questions and comments from members of our healthcare teams about his noisy breathing. At my follow up appointments my doctor and the nurses asked me if he "normally breathes like that". B's primary care doctor asked if he ever turned cyanotic (blue, pale, purple). The lactation consultants asked me if he had been diagnosed with laryngomalacia, for which I replied, he had not (and I truthfully didn't even know what that was).
Folks, I'm a RN, with a masters degree in nursing education. All of my education, it seems, did not prepare me for any of this! I do not specialize in pediatrics. I do not know much about lactation. All I knew was: I'm a mom, trying to breastfeed, and I have a baby who is noisy all the time and struggles with nursing.
We did all the mouth work for Mr. B to make his latch better. We did massages, and followed nursing techniques. We continued to follow up with lactation. B's weight percentile continued to decrease. We got referred to a nurse practitioner who specializes in lactation. She released his upper lip tie and tongue tie, which improved his mobility. His latch improved slightly.
But B's weight gain continued to be slow, and he continued to drop on his weight percentiles. His doctor became concerned. And we revisited his noisy breathing. We discussed his inability to stay latched while nursing, or when given a bottle. And his choking while eating, along with his need to pause to catch his breath. So she referred B to the children's hospital in our area to see an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose Throat doctor).
After a long week of waiting for a referral to go through, I got B in to see the specialist. A resident doctor and med student came in to evaluate him, then left to consult with the specialist we were scheduled to see. A nurse came in shortly after and asked us to follow her into a larger room, where the Otolaryngologist met us. He scoped B to assess his airway for laryngomalacia. This means, he took a tiny camera, on a bendy tube the size of a spaghetti noodle, and went up B's nose and down his throat to look at the tissue around his voice box. B, in fact, did have laryngomalacia. This is basically extra tissue that closes near the voice box that creates noisy breathing. When it is bad enough, it can cause difficulty in breathing and/or difficulty eating and poor weight gain. The specialist explained that 90% of babies who have this do not need any intervention, but 10% who have difficulty breathing or poor weight gain end up needing surgery. The specialist and I decided to continue to monitor B for another month and reassess. I was informed to call and return sooner if things got worse.
I was relieved. I never want any of my children to have surgery. Ever. While the procedure may be simple, he is a tiny human. And anesthesia is scary!
My husband and I talked about whether we should move forward with surgery. We talked about our fears, the benefits and the risks. We learned this medical condition gets worse between 3-6 months, not better. And, like a great dad and amazing husband he is, he helped me accept the inevitable. B would need to have surgery.
About the same time we saw the Otolaryngologist, B did start working harder when breathing. He had been retracting under his ribs for about two weeks, something I attributed that to his skinny little body from poor weight gain. Now though, he was pulling in the center of his chest, between his ribs. And the pulling kept getting worse. He also started flaring his nostrils. Then he started doing the thing that really unnerved me; he would appear to be taking two or three breaths but would not pull in any air. And this continued to be a more frequent occurrence. I can tell you though, with much relief, that he still gets good oxygen saturation (monitored by our little Owlet** - an at home pulse oximeter) and he has not turned blue!
Despite our positives, the breathing became a concern. And when he was at his primary doctor's office for a weight check, she showed concern for his breathing too. She felt like intervention (surgery) was now necessary.
So we canceled our summer camping trip to Canada. And we called the Otolaryngology clinic to get B back in sooner than scheduled. We were able to get him in the day after we called. And suddenly I was signing consents for surgery, and setting a surgery date for seven days out.
And that leaves me where I'm at now. Laying in bed, listening to B snore, and peaking at him every time he pauses. Waiting. Feeling anxious about the surgery that will take place Saturday. Three more sleeps, as we would tell our oldest child.
The anxiety over his weight gain, and all we have done to help support him, has been difficult to say the least. The added anxiety of his breathing difficulties has made it worse.
The surgery should help him a lot, though he will still struggle with his latch. But surgery, even with benefits outweighing the risks, seems so frightening. And I still wonder, are we making the right choice? Will he be safe?
I have so many questions. And I feel like there's so little I have actual control over. I am learning to trust, be positive, pray, and rely on others. I am remembering we are not alone. We feel the love there is for us.
So I write. Because things are not always perfect. Things are not always humorous. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's really hard. But life continues, and it is truly what you make it.
* Postpartum Depression is real, and should not be ignored. If you think you may have the baby blues or postpartum depression, please reach out to your healthcare provider.
** The Owlet is an at home baby monitor. It is a product to use in conjunction with safe baby sleeping practices.
Update: Baby B is doing well! I will follow up with a recovery blog post soon.