Archive | March, 2012

“So Much Better” – Legally Blonde the Musical

30 Mar

“Yes that’s my name in black and white, maybe I’m doing something right…”

On March 27th I was extremely excited to see myself on the front page of the newspaper and could not help but think…how did I get here?  Exactly 100 days ago today, I was a crying big hot mess cursing the world for putting me into this predicament of confined hospital bed rest.  How could this be happening to me?  Why can’t I just have a normal pregnancy?  What did I do to deserve this?  Luckily, my dramatics didn’t last very long and instead of getting mad or depressed, I quickly knew that in order to survive I had to get my psyche in check.

Initially, my intentions were self-serving because I instinctually knew that I had to talk to others going through my exact dilemma in order to gain some sort of relief.  As mentioned in previous blog posts, I reached out to the other women on bed rest here at the hospital and put together a private Facebook group so that we can all talk together.  That small act of starting the group morphed into an amazing forum to help not only myself, but all of the other women who were hungry for that same connection.  A similar phenomenon happened with my blog since I had started writing it to have an outlet for all of my feelings and to inform family and friends about the latest news regarding me and the twins.  Other than the Facebook group, I was also connecting to women on different online support groups where I shared with them my blog website.  Little by little, I began to get more followers and women who I had never even met before living across the country and in other countries, were leaving comments and telling me their own stories of bed rest and high risk pregnancy.  I started to feel less alone knowing that so many other women out there were dealing with the same issues.

In addition, word started getting around to the hospital administration about my blog and Facebook group.  Eventually the marketing director of the hospital came to visit me because he thought that my story was newsworthy and loved the fact that patient morale and well-being had improved in the maternity ward.  I was surprised to hear that what I had done was of interest to the media but at first I didn’t get too excited since I was not sure what would really come of it.  I was then contacted by the hospital’s public relations representative so that she could get more information from me in order to pitch the story to the press.  Before I knew it, she had lined up an interview with the Ventura County Star newspaper which is a very popular and well known news source where I live.  They came by to interview me and take pictures which was very fun and I still could not believe this was all happening.  The reality didn’t really sink in until I got confirmation of when the story was coming out but I had no clue where in the paper the article would be located.  I figured I would be tucked away in the health section somewhere and even told my husband to flip through the paper before buying it to be sure I was even in there.  To my surprise, I received a text message from him with a picture of the front page and my jaw dropped. Again…how did I get here?

The bottom line is that we all do extraordinary acts which may start out as just plain common sense in our minds.  I had no idea that this seemingly unpleasant experience would change from a negative interruption of my life into a positive life changing event. The newspaper article was a great platform to get my story out and hopefully others who read the article will start their own Facebook groups or blogs if they are in similar situations.  It is easy to lose focus and slump back into the “woe is me” frame of mind but it really doesn’t help anybody.  Once I began to see the positive outcomes that were manifesting, it gave me such joy to know that so many others were happier and felt support because of what I had accomplished.  Even though I have done a lot of things over the past 100 days, in about a month, absolutely nothing will compare to the miracle of bringing two new lives into this world.

*The song “So Much Better” is from the 2007 Broadway musical Legally Blonde the Musical which originally started out as a popular non-musical film in 2001.  In the song, the character Elle Woods just found out that she got accepted into a very important internship after working extremely hard in her classes at Harvard Law School.  She originally went to Harvard to follow her heart and try to re-kindle a romance but then got serious about her studies and overcame some major obstacles.  Like Elle, my journey started out in a completely different direction with me just trying to cope and make sense with what was happening.  Then I began getting serious about keeping a positive attitude with a focus on helping others.  By doing so, I started feeling “so much better than before” and if my lungs were not being smushed by the twins, I would sing that extremely long note at the end of the song!

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“Someone Else’s Story” – Chess

25 Mar

Initially when I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, I really had no idea how close I came to losing my twins.  I knew the situation was serious enough for me to be admitted into the hospital, but I felt like I was well taken care of and the issue was at least under control.  It was not until I began to research my condition that I realized just how lucky I was to have a doctor who was able to stop a disaster from happening.  In doing my research, I found out that a normal cervix during pregnancy should measure 3cm or greater but mine had shortened to just 0.8cm!  If left untreated, I would have gone into full preterm labor probably in the next week and given birth to babies that were not viable to live outside of the womb.

My first instinct when I started my bed rest journey was to seek out support from others in the same boat as me.  Right away, I created the private Facebook group to speak with the other Moms on bed rest in the hospital, and then I branched out to all sorts of online support groups which were specific to my exact condition.  I soon began to discover that within these groups, I was a minority since this was my very first pregnancy and I had no history of miscarriage or stillbirth.  More often than not, an incompetent cervix is usually diagnosed only after a woman has gone through one or more losses because it is not caught soon enough and some doctors don’t include this test during exams.  I was extremely fortunate to be under the care of a high risk doctor (due to being pregnant with twins) who routinely checks for this condition between weeks 18-20.  I was actually looking forward to my 19 week ultrasound mainly because the sexes would be determined, plus the doctor would be doing an anatomy scan where all of the body parts and internal organs would be measured and examined.  The excitement would soon turn to fear once he informed my husband and I that there was bad news.

With such a shocking diagnosis and treatment plan, I selfishly kept thinking about how miserable the next 4-5 months would be at the hospital stuck in bed all day and night.  But as my research started, I began to shift my thinking outward and fully empathize with all of the stories I came across where women had been through the unthinkable nightmare of losing their babies.  How could I possibly complain or feel bad for myself?!?  So many women would give anything to be where I was if it meant their babies were still safe and inside their womb.  Everyday that I am here is truly a gift and as the days, weeks, and months roll by, I can’t help but feel incredibly fortunate that I have gotten this far.

One particular story I recently found online really hit home for me because just two days after I was admitted into The BirthPlace, this other woman Cori, was admitted as well for the same exact condition.  In her own blog, she writes about how it was discovered that she had an incompetent cervix and a cerclage procedure was scheduled on the same day that I was going to have mine…Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately for Cori, her water ended up breaking before the procedure could even take place and nothing could be done at that point to save the baby.  Reading this tragic story, I started thinking that as I was being wheeled into the operating room, this poor woman was already at the end of her journey knowing that soon she would be delivering her baby that would not even get the chance to live.  Later that evening, I was recovering from surgery with the new possibility of delivering full term babies while just a few doors down from me, Cori was holding her angel in her arms and saying goodbye.  As I near the 100 day mark, it seems like a very long time to be stuck in the hospital but I bet Cori or any other woman who has suffered a loss would gladly stay in the hospital over 200 days if it meant saving their baby’s life.  Bed rest can be a very stressful and unpleasant experience for most women, but focusing on these kind of stories can really help put things into perspective and completely change your attitude…I know it definitely changed mine.

*The song “Someone Else’s Story” is from the 1988 Broadway musical Chess which has music written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA with lyrics by Tim Rice.  The song is actually about a marriage coming to an end but the message in the song is that the woman experiencing this loss wishes her story was not her own.  I am sure that women who have experienced losing their baby certainly wish that this incident did not happen to them.  Originally, when I found out I would be on bed rest for several months, I really hoped that this could have been someone else’s story.  But now, I am beyond grateful that this is in fact my story after reading about countless women who were not as lucky as I.  This lesson really makes me count my blessings and be utterly thankful that I have made it 95 days in the hospital with hopefully more days to come.

On my way to surgery on Christmas Eve

 

 

“A Quiet Night at Home” – bare: A Pop Opera

17 Mar

There are certain aspects of pregnancy bed rest that are just so ironic when I think about what my new life will be like once I deliver.  I will be going from such an isolated, quiet environment to raising two newborns all at once.  Trust me, I am taking full advantage of this alone time to catch up on reading, watch all the movies in my Netflix queue, and of course write this blog.  But even with these activities to take up my time day after day, bed rest can still be a depressing experience due to the lack of human contact and solitary confinement.  Thankfully, I have created alternatives for myself by starting the Facebook group with the other moms on bed rest and also encouraging friends and family to visit.  Regardless, this experience is definitely in no way a vacation, and having this much time to myself mixed with my lack of freedom sometimes makes me feel like a prisoner.

Just think about it…there are 24 hours in each day.  If I sleep about 8 hours a night, for the remaining 16 hours I am pretty much by myself.  Yes, there will be the occasional visitor and my nurse checks in on me as well, but in general I am alone way more than the average person is on a daily basis.  Definitely a huge change from my old life where I interacted with dozens of people per day.  Being here three months now, I have gotten into a routine and this lifestyle change is not as challenging as it was before.  With a little more than a month to go I have started focusing on what life will be like outside of room 2524.

Is bed rest a nice break before the craziness of being a new parent takes over?  Or does bed rest cause more of a shock to the system going from one extreme to the next?  These four months in the hospital will soon become a blur as I spend the next 18+ years caring for these twins wishing that I could get some of that alone time back.  The bottom line is that no matter how unpleasant this solitude is sometimes, there will probably be many times in the near future when I will realize that I took it for granted.  That is the nature of the bed rest beast.

But as I think back to the many hours of time with me, myself, and I (approximately 2,088 hours at this point), the big picture looks better and better.  When I am in the thick of being alone, it is hard to get out of that funk and look on the bright side since so many thoughts and feelings take over my brain.  Although looking back, I have been very productive and many things that I was able to accomplish here, would not have been possible if I was just home living my life as a normal and busy pregnant woman.  For instance, I was able to spend good, quality time putting my baby registry together online by researching which products had the highest reviews and ruling out what were absolute necessities.  Also, I have been able to read a bunch of books on baby care which I would not have had the time for once the babies were home.  Most importantly, being alone has given me the chance to really focus on the new lives growing inside of me.  Since I am constantly laying down, I have the advantage to feel all fetal movement without any distractions.  I can just stop whatever I am doing to watch a foot protrude against my skin and feel the interactions between both babies as they fight for space and kick my ribs.  They constantly remind me that in actuality, I have never been alone since being confined to bed rest!  The twins have been with me through this entire journey and continue to remind me to focus on why I am here and not what I am missing out on in the real world.  It is way too easy to take the “woe is me” stance when put in this situation but early on I realized that was not my style nor was it productive in any way.  I have so many things to be thankful for in my life and when I finally leave this hospital, I will have two more blessings to add to the ever growing list.

*The song “A Quiet Night at Home” is from the 2004 Off-Broadway musical bare: A Pop Opera, which is a powerful musical that deals with how sexuality and religion can sometimes be at war with each other.  The main story revolves around two gay high school students in a secret relationship at Catholic boarding school and the issues that arise in their world.  The song itself is sung by the character Nadia who is the overweight sister of Jason (one of the main characters in the secret relationship with his roommate Peter).  She is often the outcast because of her looks and this song sums up her feelings about being isolated from her peers.  Like Nadia, I have been in that sad place of feeling like I was missing out on life by being stuck at the hospital.  My feelings have definitely changed as time has gone on because I put the focus on what I could control as opposed to all of the things I couldn’t.  So as I get closer to the end of my bed rest journey, I have accepted the quiet for now but fully look forward to the lack thereof once I get home with my two little rib kickers. 🙂

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Just some of the baby books I have been reading

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Quiet time with a therapy dog

“I Know It’s Today” – Shrek the Musical

11 Mar

Guest blog post: I received another letter from my husband Brett which I wanted to share again in my blog. The first letter I shared was written at the very beginning of this crazy journey and now this letter gives a more in depth look at how this separation has been affecting Brett for almost three months now. For instance, on top of everything Brett is already handling on his own, he also has to prepare for the twins arrival and get the entire nursery set up.  Thankfully, friends and family have helped out but this is just one more example of something that the two of us should be working on together, but can’t.  I keep telling people that even though my life has changed dramatically since I was put in this hospital bed, my husband’s life has been equally changed in a unique way.

Dear Sweety Cat,

I can’t believe it’s spring-ahead Sunday already — week 31!  It feels like it was just last Sunday.  Sadly, I know for you, this is not the case.  For me, on the other side of our separated lives, time seems like a blur because I am running so fast. I try to sneak in selfish moments of relaxation whenever I can, as that is all I am craving these days.  Sometimes all I want to do is lie in bed for days like you, and sleep, and all you want to do is lead my life, running around, outside of your Rapunzel tower.  I mean, that’s sort of how it is for you. “The Maiden in the Tower,” but with constant beeping sounds, stale recycled air, and hearing delivering mothers screaming because they don’t want an epidural. What a weird life.

We’re now 81 days into this crazy chapter of life living apart.  I have driven over 2,500 miles to visit you, slept in your room 32 nights, and we’re practically family with the nursing staff since they know us so well.  You are “sitting on your eggs” while they develop, and I am running around — working in my new office in Santa Monica, taking care of the four cats in Agoura Hills, as well as all the other nonsense that keeps our lives going.  I ran out of the house so quickly the other day, I completely forgot to bring with me my Burke Williams gift card that you got me for Valentine’s Day.  I had to postpone Friday’s much-needed spa appointment until next Friday.  Oh well.

So what is it like in my shoes?  For one thing, it’s not nearly as painful and isolating as what you are going through, but probably equally as interesting.  I tell the story of why you are living in a hospital every time I meet someone new, or when someone asks how you are, or what’s going on in my life.  Everyone’s reaction is the same: surprised, empathetic, and bewildered all at once.  “Oh wow, a girl and a boy — you’re so lucky, an instant family!”  It’s really an amazing reaction.  I wish you were present to hear everyone’s excitement for us.  It’s like when you tell someone you got into a really great university, and they are so excited for you.  It’s a very nice feeling.

Last night at the party I went to, I brought you with me on FaceTime and I had a virtual date.  That was unique. You sort of got to be there, and for about 30 minutes I felt complete again with my other half — albeit electronically.  If this is how technology is today, what will it be like when the Ziggies are our age?

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for over a month now.  This has been the most challenging, most exciting, most adventurous, and most different part of my life.  No doubt.  I have a new circle of business colleagues, I bike to work, I visit you everyday in your tower, and I am truly blessed to have two healthy babies about to enter our lives in a matter of weeks!  My parents are incredibly supportive and present in our journey and provide you with the nurturing love and support you need to get through this time.

I can’t believe we’re nearing the end.  It’s going to happen soon.  I can’t wait for you and the babies to come home.  Our kitties miss you so much!  I miss you even more.  This has been arduous at times, but I know it will be so worth it in the end.  I know we have been incredibly strong throughout all this, and I know we will be incredible parents.  We’re doing it, we’re doing it well, and we are unstoppable.  I love you so much!  Keep being so amazing and strong!  You are an inspiration to so many people, including me.  You motivate me to work so hard.  This is the beginning of a beautiful chapter.

Love,

Sweety

*The song “I Know It’s Today” is from the 2008 Broadway musical Shrek the Musical which is based on the popular animated film from 2001. In the song, Princess Fiona longs for a prince to come find her but the years keep rolling by with no luck and she gets very tired of waiting. As Brett mentions in his letter, I am very much like “The Maiden in the Tower” waiting to be set free. But unlike Fiona, I have my prince and even though I have endured many days of waiting to go back to our life together, I know the finish line is near. The babies keep getting bigger and my due date is fast approaching. Knowing that I have already endured almost 12 weeks here on bed rest, what’s another 6? It will be so amazing when I can actually say for certain ” I know it’s today” and meet my babies for the first time.

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Brett's pile of nursery furniture

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Brett putting together one of the cribs

“You Can’t Stop the Beat” – Hairspray

4 Mar

When I was first admitted to the hospital, I quickly realized that a lot of fun plans would be cancelled due to the circumstances. Many of these plans had to do with things I was looking forward to while being pregnant for the first time. I had witnessed several family members and friends have beautiful maternity photo shoots, enjoy baby showers thrown in their honor, and attend child care classes with other young parents-to-be. I wanted all of that so much and had already put plans in motion to get those same experiences for myself until of course, life was put on hold. I called to cancel the child care classes that were already scheduled and all baby shower plans were cancelled as well for the time being. I was also really looking forward to doing a maternity photo shoot in my third trimester but now that would be yet another item added onto the quickly growing list of “not possible.” But luckily, I am not one to easily surrender when told “no you can’t.”

Obviously, some of these first-time pregnancy experiences are truly not able to be pulled off while I am stuck in bed so my focus went to the ones that had potential. First order of business was to adjust the baby shower plans and see about having some sort of party at the hospital. There was a social room down the hall which I found out has been used for this purpose before but it was quite small. The solution…have a small guest list for this baby shower and plan a bigger event after the babies are born. Now that the wheels were in motion for this item, the next problem to solve was to find out how to have a maternity photo shoot at the hospital. I discovered that there was a photographer contracted with the hospital who did newborn photo shoots so I emailed them about the possibility of a maternity photo shoot. They said that it could be done and I got a session scheduled right away.

The actual photo shoot was interesting because I could not leave my room and there were not many places to get good shots or lighting. The photographer was very creative and able to manipulate a lot of the pictures to make it look like Brett and I were no where near a hospital. We were not out in a beautiful field like how I had imagined the original photo shoot to be before landing in the hospital, but the mission was accomplished to get pretty pictures of my big belly while I still had the chance.

After a couple months of planning by the “committee,” my hospital baby shower finally arrived! I got permission to lay down on the couch in the social room so I didn’t have to be on a gurney. The room was nicely decorated and it was so great to see close family and friends all together for the occasion. Unfortunately, one big upset which occurred was that my Dad flaked last minute. He was all set to go to my baby shower and I even arranged a ride for him to ensure he would get there. From the start it was very hard to get him to agree to go since he does not like being at hospitals and he is kind of socially awkward. He would like nothing more than to just stay at home and watch TV since human interaction is not really his thing. My Dad would actually do pretty well on bed rest…maybe he is secretly jealous of my situation? To sum him up, he is not a very normal Dad and has only visited me once since I have been at the hospital and that visit lasted five minutes. I really wanted him at the baby shower but he lived up to all expectations and was a no show once again. It’s hard enough not having my Mom around during these special occasions but then my Dad chooses to opt out which just sucks. Regardless of this disappointment, I decided to not let it bother me and to just enjoy the party without him there.

The whole baby shower experience for me was very special not only because I thought it would not be possible for this to occur, but also because I got a little taste of my old life. I put on real clothes, make-up, straightened my hair, and most importantly, got to leave my room for a couple of hours! It did take a lot of energy to get ready and by the time I got to the party, I was very tired. Luckily, everyone was helpful in making sure I was comfortable and deep down, I was just so happy to at least be able to have a baby shower experience in spite of my physical condition. Overall, being on bed rest has forced me make a ton of sacrifices but I have been able to come up with creative alternatives to feel more in control and normal. It is very easy to start feeling sorry for yourself while at the hospital but I am all about coming up with solutions to problems instead of complaining about them.

*The song “You Can’t Stop the Beat” is from the 2002 Broadway musical Hairspray that originated as a John Waters movie in 1988 (another one of my favorite movies when I was growing up). This song is the big energetic closing number that shows when you really want something, nothing can get in your way. It is a very inspiring song that makes you feel unstoppable and it definitely helps me get motivated to make a difference when things are not going according to plan. Now my only goal is to hopefully make it to 36 weeks which is only 6 weeks away! I just have to hope that the twins share that goal and keep the beat going.

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Maternity photo shoot

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Getting ready for the baby shower

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Hanging out on my couch at the baby shower