Monday, October 17, 2011

Dad On Duty

It's after 2:30 AM... and I am hobbling around (from the wear and tear of my high stakes 5th division soccer game) doing laundry. While me being awake at 2:30 AM is not so strange (but that is a separate post in itself), doing laundry at this hour is. You might be wondering what would possess me to do the most boring of housework at this time of night and you would be happy to know that I just cleaned up a vomit-covered baby. Vomit is certainly not my cup of tea, nor is picking up a baby in the dark and wondering why he is so wet and sticky. Though I have to thank the Lord that it turned out to be vomit because had it been poop I might have been the one with the vomit lol.

I did my best to get him, his sheets, and my clothes cleaned up quietly so Cara wouldn't wake up. Sadly, the little man wanted no part of my idea and wailed until I was able to get his paci clean enough to use. I felt sorry for him, but a bath, diaper change, sheet change, and a new set of jammies later he is sound asleep. I will be too once I can take his sheets out of the wash and get them into the dryer.

This is just the latest in the long list of things they don't tell you about in the baby books. Now excuse me while I go shower. The hypochondriac in me is starting to freak out. ;-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Back to school...

Though I know it’s the beginning of summertime and for most of you, school is NOT on your mind, I thought I would share my news that I am heading back to school in August. What a strange transition it will be to return to school! I’ve known for a long time that I want to pursue a PhD, but it’s always been a matter of timing. Then we got pregnant with Baby #2 and we were reminded that it’s never the perfect time for anything, lol. Yet, with the right attitude and with love and support, great timing becomes so much less important. So, I applied for my PhD, deciding that I want to do it now while my kiddos are still small. I have officially been accepted and was awarded a fellowship where I will be doing some research and teaching for the graduate school. For those of you interested in my reasons for pursuing a PhD, I’m posting my Statement of Goals which I sent to the graduate school as a part of my application.

Cara Wallace, LMSW
Statement of Goals

As the daughter of two educators, I was a child with infinite questions. This thirst for knowledge and information has never left me. Since receiving my Masters degree almost five years ago, my mind continues to churn out questions of “how” and “why” and “what if”. I have discovered that for me, simply working as a social worker is not enough. I am seeking to learn more, research more, and contribute further to social service programs and to future generations of social workers. In the simplest form, these are my goals for pursuing a doctoral education.

Throughout my social work experience, working with families has been central. Across multiple positions, I’ve met with families floundering within the healthcare system. These experiences led me to recognize the need for promoting more cost effective programs to help families understand and navigate their options. Healthcare reform continues to be a topic of debate in America, with changes affecting individuals everywhere. Understanding those changes in policy and how they affect individual families is crucial to promoting more effective programs. Beyond looking specifically within the healthcare system, my experiences have also led me to form an interest in family functioning and relationships. During my first field placement as an undergraduate student, I worked with families referred by Texas Department of Family Protective Services to the Catholic Charities Family Preservation Unit. I completed program evaluation research on a Women-of-Worth group, which was designed to improve self-esteem in young mothers. In my current work as a hospice social worker, I see instances where difficulties in family functioning and unhealthy relationships can prevent families from utilizing healthy coping mechanisms. Ultimately, I hope to be able to accomplish further education in the specialized areas of social work in healthcare and within family systems, as well as have the opportunity for greater exposure to research methods. I also hope to develop my own agenda for research, writing, and publication.

I firmly believe that we can’t broaden our scope of assistance without broadening our sense of understanding. Research is the key to further understanding the systems around us. In my current work within hospice, I often wonder what factors contribute to the timing of a person joining hospice services. What causes someone to delay admission and what encourages someone else to seek services as soon as he or she is eligible? If we could look at several factors as they relate to a patient’s length of stay on hospice, we could target our education within the community to help people access the services they need much earlier. One of the challenges within my role is that I am not afforded the time or the resources to be able to pursue these projects.

As stated above, my experiences as a social worker lead me to be interested in family systems in general, as well as in direct relation to navigating within the healthcare system. I have often been confronted with the cost for services and how this affects a family’s decision making process. I have also seen where families want intervention no matter what the cost. Medical intervention and the progression of technology are wonderful things, as the quality of life for many individuals is improved and extended because of these technologies. However, within this age of newer and better intervention, many ethical issues come into question as well. What are the effects of these treatments and how do we regulate these ethical concerns?

In looking more directly at family systems, I’ve often wondered how we can do a better job providing education on healthy relationships. With continued soaring rates of divorce and a culture that encourages us to pursue instant gratification, how does someone learn about maintaining a healthy relationship? One thing that has been important within my own journey is pre-marital or pre-commitment counseling. Yet, what is it that makes this type of counseling successful? Does it make a difference for couples who have attended versus those who haven’t? How can we improve on the services offered to couples based on the findings of specific research programs? Though my interests for research may seem varied, I am ultimately committed to pursuing the opportunity to research topics that can further contribute to social service programs.

My desire to do research arises from my passion for education. I believe it comes from a place of great appreciation for the education and guidance I received in both my undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as the example set by both of my parents as educators. In my current role at Community Hospice of Texas, I have many opportunities to provide education in a variety of settings. As a recognized liaison with Texas Christian University, I have served as a field instructor for undergraduate students for the past two years. I also provide education on Setting and Maintaining Professional Boundaries each month to new Community Hospice employees across all six of our sites. The curriculum presented is information that I compiled and developed. At the request of Arlington Memorial Hospital, I have also presented this material to hospital employees. In addition, I am routinely invited to social work classes at Texas Christian University to talk about the social worker’s role in hospice/healthcare and in providing end of life care. For the past two years I have also been invited to participate in the TCU Nursing Hospice Panel, which is provided for all graduating seniors in the Nursing Department. Passionate about the value of education, I am very interested in teaching within an accredited Social Work Program. A doctoral education can further prepare me for that role, in addition to preparing me as a scholar who will be able to make a significant contribution to the field of social work within healthcare and family systems.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Good Luck Boys!!!

My sports teams must REALLY like my kids!! In Liam's first year, the US Soccer team won their World Cup qualifying group and won a game at the World Cup for the first time since 2002. Now my  little man, Topher, is here and my Dallas Mavs have made a return to the NBA finals. I am liking this!! I think it is time for my boys to finally get their first pieces of Dallas Mavs gear!!


The Art of a Bookcase

We have officially lived in this house since Liam was about 2 and a half months old. He is now 2 months shy of turning two. We still have SO much to do before this house is fully decorated. I don’t even have lots of my pictures hung! **SIGH** One of my projects since I’ve been out on maternity leave with Topher, child number 2, is the wall of bookcases in our front room. Technically this room is meant to be a formal living room, but we are not really formal living room kind of people. Instead we’ve decided to turn this room into our study (hence the bookcases!). Plus the desk we plan to get will soon be getting LOTS of use (but more on this in a future blog post).

My first step in decorating the bookcase was to do a little research and to get tips. So this post is to show off my newly decorated bookshelves and to share the tips that resonated with me most. First, here’s a picture of the finished product (you can click on the picture to see them larger):

Now for the tips….

(1)First, gather up odds and ends around the house that you might be able to use on the bookcase. I gathered up some vases, flowerpots, baskets, a kitchen platter, photo albums, frames, candles, etc.

(2)Think about whether you want to have a theme or color scheme. Though, truthfully I don’t think that this is a necessity. My theme, loosely, is nature. I’ve incorporated lots of flowers and leaves. And I suppose there is quite a bit of red accented throughout.

(3)Don’t forget to decorate the top of the bookcase. Originally I thought about adding additional height to the bookcase, but ends up I’m glad I didn’t so I could decorate the top. Now I have to brag about the metal frame with the flowers. I did purchase multiple pieces to complete the look and only spent around $100 total. The flowery frame piece I got for only $7 after a sale and coupons at Kohl’s. Actually everything I got was on sale.

(4)Don’t be afraid of empty spaces. You don’t want to decorate every space on every shelf. Your eyes need a place to rest as they look around the shelf.

(5)Your shelves don’t have to line up all the way across, though they should have some symmetry. You should have some shelves that are the same all the way across, as well as some differences. I have 5 cases side by side. Bookcase 1 and 5 are set up the same, as well as 2 and 4. The one in the middle is slightly different.

(6)Consider using storage, such as baskets/file boxes, etc for things you want to have hidden, keeping your bookshelves looking clean and pretty. I ended up purchasing these as well.

(7)Don’t feel like you have to put all of your books together on shelves lined all the way across. Break them up by turning them on the side and putting items on top of them. Or fill up half a shelf and add a bookend of some kind. But remember to keep things balanced. If you do use a shelf for lots of books, do the same on the bookshelf opposite of it. I tried to group my books by particular topics. In the shelves pictured here, I have books related to death and dying/connecting with and supporting others (I AM a hospice social worker!) grouped together and photography books grouped on the shelf underneath. I have to note here that after decorating the bookshelves, Will’s comment was that the vase I chose to place with my hospice-type books remind him of an urn, lol. I told him that he is welcome to place my ashes here and add a cork after my death. Though I’m not sure he thought that was funny!

Other groupings not individually pictured are a section of relationship type books, a grouping of Bibles, and books on learning Spanish/travel. I’ve also kept our textbooks together on separate shelves (Will’s engineering/computer books and my social work books). Then I grouped fiction/leisurely reading together. And yes, that is my Harry Potter collection grouped proudly in the middle!!

I do still have some finishing touches to do. I still have an empty shelf on the left. I’m thinking of adding votive candles to that shelf and the one opposite of it (removing the flower pot I have there to the right now). I also need to put some pictures in my frames, lol. I’m still deciding which pictures I want to put in there. Then of course we’ll need a rug, a large desk, and some seating. Who knows when we’ll have stuff done around here, but I’m happy to get things done one project at a time!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Topher is OUT of our bedroom....

...and into our closet! LOL Yes, it’s true, I moved Topher into the closet and tonight is his first night to sleep there. I’m simply not ready to trudge upstairs for middle of the night feedings. Plus we only have one crib and Liam is still sleeping in it. The plan eventually is to move Liam to a new room and his “big boy” bed, but I’m kinda dragging my feet. The thought of Liam being able to get out of bed on his own scares me, especially since he likes to stay up and play at bedtime. But, we were definitely ready for Topher to be out of our bedroom. So, the closet is his new room! Luckily we have a large closet and its separated from our room by our bathroom. Here’s a picture:

These were already here, but I'll show a picture anyways. We put some Ikea cubby holes in our closet for baskets of clothes, toys, baby stuff, etc...

For those of you who are worried about my child being shut in the closet, you can stop worrying. Our closet even has a vent. : )

The one thing missing was the rocking chair for middle of the night feedings. Luckily my wonderful hubby got me one for Mother’s Day! Sadly, the opening to our closet is one whole *size of my foot* smaller than any other doorway. And yes, that is how I measure things. : ) After multiple attempts I realized there was NO WAY it was going to fit through the door. Here’s a picture of my new rocking chair…

Luckily, the rocking chair we have in Liam’s room fits easily through the door! This is the rocking chair my mother rocked us in as babies, and it’s the chair I nursed Liam in. So it’s perfect! And my new rocking chair made its home in Liam’s room for story-, prayer-, and song-time before bed. Here’s a picture of the family rocking chair in Topher’s “new room.”

Fingers crossed we have a great night! Day 2 of daycare is tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Topher's Birth, Finale

Saturday morning, after my contractions slowed through the night, we started pitocin sometime just after 9am. I had my Kindle and read to pass the time and have a distraction. When Liam was born, I labored with pitocin after my water broke for about 8-9 hours before I got an epidural. I was completely internal and hummed through every contraction. So coming into Topher’s birth, I knew that I would likely be internal again. My goal this time: a natural birth with no epidural. The book helped me focus on something, as well as go inward without too much outside interaction. I am a bit fuzzy on the timeline, but I read through the morning and into the afternoon. I actually finished my book. Though, I don’t think I could have read much longer even if I hadn’t finished it. I was definitely IN PAIN! At one point around 2pm or so, Carleen, our photographer (, asked me if I saw the supportive Facebook posts. I responded with three words, “I don’t care.” Yeah, I was in pain, lol. I just don’t think they realized how much. In trying to help with the timeline, I went back to Facebook to read all the posts. Will of course was tweeting updates. : ) I definitely got teary re-reading all the supportive posts. What great friends we have!

Anyways, Tania, the midwife broke my water sometime in the early afternoon. Maybe close to 2pm or so. We all felt sure this would definitely speed things along and bring this baby home!!! I kept thinking to myself, “Surely he will be here by _____.” Fill in the blank with a time. I must have thought it at least 5 different times and sadly, I kept having to push back the number. I have to give a quick shout out to our photographer. She hung out with us ALL day waiting for Topher….she was there about 18 hours start to finish. Talk about a dedicated photographer! : ) Once my water was broken, my pain just kept increasing. I tried to change my position often, hoping it would progress my labor. Will was AWESOME and I didn’t want anyone to touch me but him. Mostly he massaged my back, held my hand, and encouraged me lots. Tania, our midwife, was also amazing. She spent lots of time with me and rubbed my back during contractions and rubbed pressure points in my feet. Another sign my choice to birth with a midwife was the right one for me! At one point she told me I was neck to neck with several other women and we were all likely to deliver soon. Each time she came back I knew that one of the other women had their baby. Finally I told her this made me the winner since I was laboring the longest. Ha. I was much more in control this time around than I was during Liam’s labor. Maybe it’s because I knew more about what to expect. Or maybe because I was in a much more supportive environment. The nurses and midwives were AWESOME. I should talk a bit too about how Topher was doing through all this. His heartrate remained consistently slow throughout the labor. Of course this worried the nurses and they required that my heartrate be monitored as well so they could be sure that the Topher’s heart rate was being picked up at all times. My heart rate was actually about the same as Topher’s. At times it was actually faster. This made the nurses crazy nervous, lol, but they hung with us anyways.

At one point when things were really dragging on, I asked that the pitocin be turned up. I hated that I had to have it, but I was ready to get this kid out and he was taking his time!! They cranked it up and I continued to manage the contractions without any pain meds, though it was ridiculously difficult. Probably the worst part of labor without an epidural is needing to get up and go to the bathroom. Trying to move in between contractions and make it to the bathroom, then dealing with contractions while on the toilet. So not fun…. Plus the fluids they were giving me made me have to pee a lot.

Finally, around 7 or 8pm I was dilated to a 7. I was really struggling at this point and was feeling exhausted. After talking with the midwife we decided to turn off the pitocin so I could get into the tub. Without the pitocin I didn’t have to be hooked up to the continuous fetal monitor. The tub and warm water saved me. The water seemed to make the contractions less strong, but I could tell they were still productive. I grabbed Will’s hand every contraction and my mom would rub my back. At one point she walked off and I yelled for her. Any change in my support threw me off, lol. I definitely wouldn’t have made it through without Will and my Mom. I tried to change my position from time to time, sometimes standing and swaying and others on my hands and knees. I could barely stand to be out of the water much at all though. Every time I got up my contractions became back to back and felt 10 times stronger. I was simply too tired to handle them well, so I would slide back into my comfort zone of the tub. I kept telling myself to relax and I could literally feel Topher getting lower and lower with each contraction. Will thought I was never going to get out. I stayed in the tub for over 3 hours. We simply kept refilling it with warm water and I was literally asleep in between contractions. I kept asking Will what time it was and the clock kept on ticking. Then the unthinkable happened, he told me it was just after midnight. Topher’s birthday was now a whole day later. Man. At that moment, I turned to Will and said, that’s it, I’m getting out of this tub. I felt like the longer I stayed in the tub the longer it would take for him to come. I was ready to deal with the stronger contractions so that Topher could make his arrival. Somehow I made it back into bed. Tania was there to check on me and told me I was dilated to a 9. She told me she was surprised that I wasn’t trying to push yet. I responded with “I could definitely push.” I thought I was supposed to wait for permission, lol. She asked me if I wanted to just try it. So, lying in bed with Will holding my left leg and my right foot pushing against Tania who was sitting in the bed I started pushing. Evidently I pushed well enough that they called for whatever kit they needed for the actual birth. It was finally time. My mom was still in the room and standing just beside me and Carleen had her camera ready for Topher’s arrival. I’ve been told by multiple women that pushing without pain meds is better than just having the back to back contractions. That was so not the case for me. In everything I’ve read, pushing and delivery is also described and “the ring of fire.” Oh….my…..gosh. So true. Worst pain of my entire life. I just needed him to be outside of my body and in my arms. At one point I got to reach down and feel his hair before I got him all the way out. I kept pushing, and crying, so ready for this to be over and so exhausted. I pushed for a total of maybe 15 minutes or so. Topher was born at 1233am. I remember the second he came out. I looked at him and he took one small breath in, and that was it. No crying and no regular breathing. Instead of getting him put directly on my chest, he was whisked away for intervention. Will didn’t even get to cut the umbilical cord. At first I thought, he’s fine. I think I even said it out loud, mentioning how Liam had some trouble at first too. But time just seemed to stop. I closed my eyes and just started to pray out loud. My mom became faint and had to sit down on the floor. I heard everyone talking about Topher; I just kept praying. I finally heard them say he was pinking up and then came the miraculous sound of his cry and I knew he was going to be okay. I didn’t get to hold him for a little while but was so happy to know that he was finally here and was healthy. At one point I heard him say his heart rate was completely normal. Thank God. What a miracle baby he is! He weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was 22 inches long. Those extra 2 weeks inside gave him plenty of growing time! As exhausted as I was, none of that mattered anymore because my sweet Topher was finally here, two weeks late, 16 hours after starting pitocin and 28 hours after being admitted to the hospital. He is worth it all, every bit of pain, worry, and stress. We are so in love and blessed to have a second son join our family. Thanks for letting me share his story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Topher's Birth Story, Part 1

If you’ve ever been pregnant a full 40 weeks, then you know the misery of those final days. Now imagine being pregnant for TWO MORE WEEKS!! That’s how long I was pregnant with Topher, 42 weeks. I ended up having to go back to the specialist group twice that first week past due, just to make sure fluid levels were okay for me to continue being pregnant. Since they were fine, I was given the go ahead to keep waiting. I was obviously looking forward to Topher’s arrival and I was eager to see how the story of his birth would begin. Would my water break first? Would I labor at home, and then rush to the hospital for a quick delivery? I was certain this delivery would be quicker and easier than my first. Isn’t that true for every second child?! Well when my due date came and went, I was still sure that any day or any moment I would be in labor. Yet the clock kept ticking and the days crept by. I even got to the point where I debated using castor oil to jumpstart my labor. Luckily I decided not to. I was an emotional wreck one minute and optimistic the next, knowing it had to be soon. I treasured the moments rocking Liam to sleep those last two weeks knowing he would never again be an only child. I went and saw a movie with my girlfriends, went to lunches with my mom and sister, and made special tea’s that were supposed to help ripen my cervix. I walked, we had sex, and I even drank wine to try to relax my way into labor; supposedly all of these things have worked for OTHER women, but they certainly didn’t work for me!

Originally one of the midwives planned to bring me in Sunday night for a Monday induction, 7 days past my due date. I felt that was too early and had it pushed back to a Wednesday induction. But at my appointment that Monday, we decided to push it back even further to Saturday. Sitting at that appointment I was a wreck. I was frustrated feeling like I was fighting for a birth with no extra intervention, yet here I was making decisions about how and when this baby was coming. What day would I be induced? Would I get cervidil to ripen my cervix the night before? Or we could do a balloon catheter to help me dilate which would hopefully send me into labor. Or what about just breaking my water? Ugh…I just wanted to go into labor and have a baby without intervention…I held out hope. The midwife scheduled another appointment for Friday afternoon where we could decide on doing the catheter (where I could go home and wait for labor) or going in for Cervidil for the formal induction. As this was my second pregnancy, Tania (the midwife) really felt like either one would jumpstart my labor and it would be all I needed. I really wanted to avoid pitocin if possible. At every appointment for the past several weeks, I was dilated only to a one and I wasn’t having any further development, which was awful, because I was having tons of contractions, making me feel they were completely useless. By Wed my contractions were so consistent I swore I was in labor. I even downloaded a contraction timing app on my phone and they were definitely coming every 5 minutes apart. I went and took a shower and told Will I was going to lie down and rest until they were stronger and closer and felt we should leave. Then, when I got in bed and completely relaxed, my contractions slowed and became inconsistent. Ugh, so I went to sleep. It was like this every day, but I stopped timing my contractions much because I figured I would know when it was REALLY time. Plus I was tired of being disappointed when after hours of consistent contractions they would stop, so I mostly started ignoring them.

Finally, my appointment Friday rolled around. March 11. I was dilated to a loose 2/tight 3. Woohoo! This seemed like big news, at least SOMETHING was happening. The midwife felt the balloon catheter wasn’t really an option now that I was dilating some on my own. So, even though she felt comfortable waiting it out until Monday, we opted to head back to the hospital that night for the cervidil. Plus I really liked and trusted Tania (as she saw me both Monday and Friday that week and she was on call to deliver for the following day). I might have been crazy enough to go back home and wait it out the weekend, but at that point I really felt like if we didn’t do something I was actually going to be pregnant forever. Plus, though Will was being totally supportive and giving me the freedom to make decisions, I wasn’t sure he could stand me pushing back the induction date another minute. So, we went home, hung out a bit with Liam and then went to dinner before heading to the hospital. For the several hours leading up to the hospital, my regular contractions were back. I was so used them by this point that though I mentioned them to Will I certainly didn’t worry about them. I joked though that we were going to get to the hospital and I was going to be far enough into labor that we wouldn’t have to have anything at all. Will was less optimistic of this and was simply glad to know that no matter what we were finally going to have this baby soon.

We got to the hospital a bit early, so I insisted we walk around before heading in. When we went back to the car for some of our luggage, I took the stairs. Anything I could do to encourage Topher out on his own I did, lol. We finally made it to the L&D floor and filled out the paperwork for admission. I told them I wanted one of the rooms with a tub, as I was striving for a natural birth and didn’t want any pain medication. Since we had to wait for them to clean a room, they put us in another room to wait. The nurse came in to ask a bunch of pointless questions to complete my paperwork. She was very nice, but spoke with an accent, and I am horrible with accents. I kept looking at Will for assistance on the simplest questions because I didn’t understand what she was saying. HA! Finally we made it to our room and they began to check me out. My contractions were indeed very regular and they didn’t see any need to administer Cervidil. I think I did a happy dance in my head. I was thrilled. I told Will that after all of the waiting Topher was going to come on his own. Summer, the midwife that night, felt we might even have a baby by morning. I was thrilled. I called my mom and told her we were going to try and get some rest, but that I’d call her once I started progressing further. I also called our photographer to tell her the same. But when I went to sleep, my contractions did the same thing they’d done every other night that week. They slowed down and became irregular. So morning rolled around and I wasn’t any further dilated than I was when I left the office visit the day before. Ugh….so much for my happy dance. At this point we were talking about starting pitocin, which would hopefully send me into labor and we would be able to stop it once things really started moving. But we decided to wait until Tania did rounds before starting the pitocin. Since we were sure that things were really going to start moving once that started, both my mom and Carleen, our photographer, came up to the hospital for the ‘fun’ to begin. Little did I know, the fun was going to last another 16 or so hours before Topher would FINALLY make his appearance….

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Topher's Pre-Birth Story, Finale

Though things were definitely stressful after that 16 week visit, we started getting positive news from all the tests that were taken. My blood work came back normal, ruling out the possible autoimmune diseases. The quad screen blood test came back with extremely low possibilities for Down syndrome or Trisomy 18. Of course with the previous sonogram findings, they narrowed those risks to about 1 in 200 or so. However, this simply confirmed our decision not to have an amniocentesis, as the risks for miscarriage with that is also 1 in 200. At 20 weeks I went back to both my regular OB and to the specialist group. Dr. Thigpen, our specialist, released us as all of the previous sonogram concerns were no longer even there. The brain cysts were gone, as well as the bright spots in the bowel and the inconsistencies with his growth. The only thing that remained was the calcified spot in his heart, but he didn’t feel this was something to be concerned with. He looked again at the functioning of Topher’s heart, which was still slow but otherwise did not indicate any problems. He didn’t see any reason I wouldn’t be able to have a normal delivery and didn’t see a need to see us again unless our baby’s heart rate dropped below 100 for a consistent period of time. What great news!

At my OB visit, we spoke again about switching to a midwife group and I decided to switch to the UNT Health Midwife group out of Harris hospital downtown. This way if there was a problem with Topher’s heart after delivery, we were right there next to Cook Children’s. So at 24 weeks I began visiting the midwife group. They were fantastic. They are a group of 6 midwives and you visit with each and then deliver with the one on call when you go into labor. Every time I met a new midwife they’d be taken back by Topher’s slow heart rate, but took it right in stride as they had my records. They never seemed to feel I wouldn’t be able to have a natural childbirth, as my fear was a rushed c-section due to the low heart rate. With each visit I felt reassured I made the right decision to switch.

My pregnancy progressed from there with less stress, though it still proved to be a much more difficult pregnancy than my first. Topher moved a LOT more than Liam ever did. I swear he did complete flips until he got so big flipping was much harder to do. But even then he was always shifting. I have to admit this was actually very reassuring, as it helped me know he was okay in there. However, this time around I was having tons of back pain from my herniated disc, likely because I was also chasing around and carrying my 1 year old. I also developed carpel tunnel in my hands experiencing complete numbness at night and sometimes partial numbness in my fingers during the day. I started sleeping in braces to try to minimize this. These pains were in addition to the normal joys of pregnancy including my favorite, getting up to pee every hour through the night! I have to give lots of credit to Will here, as I had to give up bath time with Liam as it became too difficult to bend down and sit on the floor because of my back. Not to mention my ongoing exhaustion. Working full-time and then playing with Liam took all the energy I had. I never would have made it without Will. I’m lucky to have such a supportive husband who is the most caring father to our children.

I continued to work until Feb 25, the Friday before my due date on Monday, Feb 28. With Liam, my water broke two days before his due date and he was born one day early. As this was my second, I was sure I wouldn’t have to wait past my due date for him either. Boy was I wrong! Stay tuned for my next post which will start getting into the fun stuff...Topher’s birth story!

And just for fun, here are some photos of me while pregnant with Topher!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Topher's Pre-Birth Story, Part 2

Since this was my second pregnancy, I knew a bit more about what to expect from the whole experience (or at least I thought I did, lol). There were things with my first delivery that I wished had gone a bit differently. I wanted to feel like I had more of a say about decisions made during labor and delivery and I wanted to feel like the nursing staff actually supported my decision for a natural birth, rather than looking at me like the crazy woman who would feel so much better with an epidural. I also wanted to know the person delivering my baby, as my doctor wasn’t on call when I delivered Liam, so her partner, whom I had never met, was the one to deliver. So, way before plans of actually having a second baby I knew that whenever the time did come, I wanted to consider using a midwife group. Of course the time came much more quickly than I’d expected. As an emergency c-section baby myself, I also recognized (to me) the importance of being near or in a hospital. With further research I found that there are two midwife groups in the area that deliver inside hospitals. However, before immediately making the decision to go to a midwife group, I wanted to first see my OB, as she is someone that I trust a great deal. So, after having some time to adjust to the news of the pregnancy, which I did rather quickly, we had our 8 week appointment and first sono. I was officially attached to this baby growing inside me and so excited to see him or her and hear the sweet sound of a beating heart.

We did hear a heartbeat that day, strong, steady……and slow. Much slower than the normal expected heart rate, which at this point in a pregnancy is supposed to be about 150-195. My baby’s heart was beating about 115. Everyone seemed pretty concerned by this. My doctor told me that many times babies with low heart rates autocorrect and speed up within a week or two. Though she didn’t exactly say it, I read between the lines to know that for the babies whose heart rates don’t increase, the prognosis is not good and a miscarriage is likely. So we scheduled another appointment for the end of the week, as we were going out of town to Disney World the following week, which also happened to be the week of Liam’s first birthday. I was definitely stressed after this first appointment, but I kept telling myself that no matter what happens I wasn’t in control of the outcome. During that first appointment I also spoke with my OB about making a switch to a midwife group. But with the concern over the heart rate we decided to stick with my OB for the time being. I worked to let go of the control I didn’t have anyways over the health of this baby. At our second appointment, the heartbeat was still there, strong, steady, and slow. So, we booked a third appointment for the week following our vacation. And again, the heart rate remained consistent falling somewhere between beating 105 to 116 beats per minute. Every appointment my own heart leapt at the sound of my baby’s heart continuing to beat. And yet, I continued to read confusion and worry on the faces of the nurses and doctor. When we reached 12 weeks I celebrated, seeing that as a huge milestone for this baby. My doctor told me that she’s never seen a baby with a continued low heart rate continue growing normally. And my baby was growing normally, at a regular rate. I started to feel more confident about this pregnancy, normal even. I began sharing the news with others and just knew this baby was going to be joining us months into the future. I wasn’t even overly discouraged when my doctor told me she’d never expected me to make it to this point and had fully expected a miscarriage. But I didn’t miscarry and my sweet baby continued to grow.

Then we made it to 16 weeks. At this appointment, we had another sono to see if they could get an early look at the functioning of the baby’s heart. They also took measurements to see how growth looked. Walking into this appointment we weren’t expecting everything that happened. Like I said, at this point in the pregnancy I was feeling ‘normal.’ Then they told us our baby, who we found out was indeed a boy, had cysts on his brain, as well as some inconsistencies in his measurements, a calcified spot on his heart, and bright spots in his bowel. We were told that individually each of these things may mean absolutely nothing at all, but it was concerning because all of them combined could mean something more. So, they felt we should see a specialist. Instead of scheduling us a future appointment, we were told the specialist could fit us in immediately. So we headed to the specialist’s office and waited close to an hour to be seen. There we had another sonogram, where they pointed out many of the same things my OB’s office had. They talked with us about possible genetic problems and had us talk with a genetic counselor. They took my blood to run further tests and we discussed potential autoimmune diseases I may have that could cause a heart block or low fetal heart rate. They spoke to us about getting a possible amniocentesis at our next visit. The positives for the day were finding out that we were having another boy and that when looking closely at his heart beating, the specialist couldn’t see anything wrong with functioning. In fact, he was barely concerned with the heart at all, as it looked great and he didn’t think there was a heart block or anything wrong. His opinion was that this baby’s normal heart rate is just low.

But along with that visit came a whole new set of worries. I remember when we were meeting with the genetic counselor Will was completely quiet. I on the other hand poured out questions from who knows where. Emotionally I was in control until we walked silently to the car and then found ourselves lost in tears and worry. We showed up for a normal visit that morning and left hours later with thoughts of down syndrome, trisomy 18, and the risks of amniocentesis. I no longer felt ‘normal.’ But, I also knew that this was a baby that my doctor expected to miscarry, yet here he was continuing to grow, with his heart continuing to beat. Ultimately we decided that no matter what, we didn’t need an amnio to verify anything certain, as it wasn’t worth the risk to us. We already knew that we were going to love this little boy no matter what was going on. The hardest part for me during this time was thinking about the way our lives would change if we had a child with great medical need. Not for us, but for Liam and for this child that we didn’t yet know. Going back and thinking about how I felt that day brings tears to my eyes now. Especially as I sit with this perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boy lying on the couch next to me. I am so grateful for him. I think this is a good place for a break, but the story will continue on later. So please stay tuned. : )

Friday, April 22, 2011

Topher's Pre-Birth Story, Part 1

Wow, this is my first post since my LAST maternity leave! I must apologize for completely neglecting the blog. I’d love to make a grandiose promise for future frequent blogging, but I know myself too well, and can only promise to do my best to update more. : ) I do however, want to get Topher’s birth story down in writing, which I plan to do in a series of several blogs. I must first start by saying that Topher is amazing, and worth everything you read from this point forward!

Before I can tell the actual birth story, I have to talk a bit about this pregnancy, or Topher’s pre-birth. The day I found out I was pregnant I was not exactly elated…I was shocked to say the least. First, I must admit that I am not the best with birth control pills. In the past if I missed one, I would simply take a double dose the next day. However, this go around I was breastfeeding our oldest son, Liam, who was around 10 months old. I was taking a low dose birth control, but if I missed a pill I couldn’t take a double dose because I was breastfeeding, so I simply missed it. Obviously, any smart person would realize that missed pills means increased likelihood of pregnancy. Somehow in my mind though the breastfeeding was like an added protection….ha! Anyways, two weeks before the positive pregnancy test we found out Liam was allergic to penicillin. He was battling multiple ear infections and the allergic reaction landed us at Cook Children’s hospital. Not fun. After that Liam got Hand, food, mouth disease from daycare. Also, not fun. I had just gotten through a 3 month battle of mono myself and for some reason was still feeling sluggish. So, because I had finally just started menstruating the month before (for the first time since Liam was born), I thought I’d take a pregnancy test just to rule that out as a reason for my continued exhaustion. Originally I was sure it was still the mono, but a doctor’s visit the week before told me that I was (finally) over it.

So, back to the test…the second I peed on the stick I swear I started to see the line telling me it was positive. Immediately I threw it down on the floor and covered it up with toilet paper, as if this would change the results. But no, when I finally gathered the courage to look again, there it was…positive. Then came the tears. Yes, tears. I just couldn’t see past my level of exhaustion and my current sick child, Liam. So through my tears I picked up the phone and called Will who was on his way home from work. He immediately heard my distress and thought that something was terribly wrong with Liam. When I was finally able to choke out that I was pregnant, Will couldn’t contain his laughter and laughed all the way home. At the time I didn’t see the humor in the situation!

The day after finding out we were pregnant, Liam got an infection in his hand, possibly a complication from the hand, foot, mouth disease. Either way his hand became very swollen requiring a second trip to Cook Children’s in two weeks. This time we were admitted and had to stay overnight for IV antibiotics. Liam is the kind of child who doesn’t make a fuss about much, so even though he was in the hospital he was happy and playing. In fact, he was so happy he played all night and we got absolutely zero sleep. Here’s a picture that was taken at about 2am.

Adorable, yes, but I have never been more tired! And a trip to the doctor for myself the next day verified that on top of everything else I had tonsillitis. I think Liam and I slept 24 hours straight once we were both home and in our own beds!

Overall, finding out I was pregnant with Topher was certainly dramatic. Little did I know drama was just meant to be a part of this pregnancy. Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share more about Topher’s pre-birth story!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baby Boy #2 Is Here!!

I feel bad just now posting this, seeing as he is almost a month old. But I will cut myself some slack as everything has been going 100mph around here. I won’t get into details of the birth story as I am pretty sure Mrs. Wallace wants to handle that, but I wanted to post a picture and let everyone know that things are going well.


Friday, March 4, 2011

And We Still Wait...

When you are waiting for your child to be born and the due date has passed, no news is bad news. I have no idea how Cara is hanging in there, but I have a feeling if my child does not make his appearance in the next day or so things aren't going to be pretty lol.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Patiently Waiting...

We are patiently waiting on the arrival of our second born. His official due date is today, but there has been no action as of yet. It is a strange feeling knowing he is coming, but not having any idea when that will be. I guess I'm realizing how much I really am not a surprise person. So I continue to do my best to go about each day as if it is another normal day, while anticipating a phone call to come home ASAP. Wish us luck!