Saturday, January 30, 2010

Worth it

It's a good thing he's worth it.

If you've noticed the new grey hairs and wrinkles I've acquired in the last two years, its not old age. I'm a few months shy of 29! Nope, I've got one word for you - Bennett.

Worry. Bennett. Worry. I'm starting to think they are synonyms.

He's happy. He's progressing. He's relatively healthy. But still, I worry. I can't help it. I'm his mommy.

Having a child with special medical needs sure takes a lot of you. I should be grateful, because I know others face much bigger challenges than we do. But we deal with a lot.

I keep a medical journal for Bennett. Here is what's been going on lately:

12/30 - Bennett Synagis shot.
1/7 - Bennett appointment with pulmonologist - she's not a happy doc, ordered sweat test and another increase in calories.
1/25 - Sweat test for cystic fibrosis at Childrens National. Negative!!!
1/29 - Bennett Synagis shot. Nurse Prac worried because no weight gain in past 3 months. Conference call Monday morning, most likely a GI an Endo consult.
2/1 - Speech therapy - still delayed but progressing along well at his own pace.
2/12 - Bennett starts wheezing in the morning, but nightfall he's back on oral steroids.
2/13 - Bennett barely made it through the night without a trip to the ER and that is WITH the steroids - take him to the Pediatrician and she gives him Atrovent which opens him right now. He has a sneaky ear infection, so she prescribes him antibiotics for that too. Phew - we escaped the dreaded hospital again! Score!
2/16 - Weaned Bennett off the oral steroids.
2/23 - Took Bennett to the Pediatric Gastroenterology Clinic at Johns Hopkins. The doc who saw him said we're doing everything right - adding in extra calories and fats and trying to eek in every calorie we can. So, he ordered a TON of bloodwork to try to see what the heck is causing Bennett's Failure to Thrive. Plebotomists were incompetent and dug in his arm for several minutes before determining they couldn't tap a vein. So I have to take him back. Lovely.

Everyday, we spend 40 minutes giving him breathing treatments. Everyday, I measure out his medications. Everyday, I mentally tally up how many calories he's eaten.

Its so much. Unrelenting. I thought that if I make it far enough along in my pregnancy, he'd be fine! I made it 30 weeks! Six weeks past my complete rupture and nine weeks past the point when I started leaking fluid. Everything I've read says 30-weekers tend to have very few long-term medical issues! Most outgrow the effects of prematurity by age two.

Not Bennett. Like my friend W said - they don't have a growth chart for Bennett's special circumstances. Nor is there a "What to Expect." I never know what to expect. When I go in expecting great news - I am faced with disappointment. When I go in with a laundry list of worries, the docs gush about how great he is doing. I never know.

Screw law school. I should have gone to medical school. Maybe then I'd feel more qualified to be a mother to this precious little miracle.

Its a darn good thing he's worth it! Worth every bit of it.

On a side note - Bennett went poopy in the potty for the first time today!!!! GO BENNETT!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hamster Wheel

Since beginning my "Get Fit Challenge" at the beginning of January, I've been running about three days a week on the treadmill. (I can't run outside when its cold, my lungs close right up!) When I started, I was struggling to just eek out two miles! Now, I'm up to a solid 5 miles!

I have historically hated the treadmill. Its boring. And I swear its harder than running on a regular surface. But I discovered treadmill interval routines, which have transformed my treadmill experience! Intervals are great because they keep your mind busy, shake things up, and keep your body guessing so you don't hit a plateau! Plus, its been shown that increasing and decreasing intensity burns more fat!

So, I thought I would share some of the routines I've made up with you!

5 Miles in 60 minutes

Speed(mph)/Duration (min)
3.5 / 2.5
4 / 2.5
5 / 5
4.5 / 2
5.5 / 5
5 / 2
6 / 5
5.5 / 2
6.5 / 5
5.5 / 3
6 / 5
5 / 3
5.5 / 5
4.5 / 3
5 / 5
4 / 3
3.5 / 4

My treadmill says I burn about 745 calories doing this, but I think its probably closer to 600-650, but still! You can decrease the intensity of this routine by shortening the higher speed intervals or by increasing by .5 mph and decreasing by .25 mph. Or, you can increase by shortening the rest intervals and moving up the speed faster! Or by repeating the higher speed intervals or going even higher than 6.5 mph (my shortie legs don't go much faster than that). But it definitely keeps your mind busy and slowly increases speed so you can go faster and longer!

Try it! And if you like it, come back next Sunday for another routine!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I WILL Survive!

Phew, another long work week tucked behind me! I guess you could tell from my conspicuous absence here that I've been a little busy. Yeah, that's an understatement. I worked more in the last two weeks than most people work in a MONTH. Insane.

Don't get me wrong, its good. But tiring. I just focus on the fact that this won't last forever. Ebbs and flows.

I've had so many great thoughts (well, I think they are great) in the past week to share, but haven't had a chance to. But I do want to share this article with you before I leave to embark on my busy weekend (mom, you gave the wrong middle name, it should have been "busy"):

The Test of Time: A busy working mother tries to figure out where all her time is going

I was whining to my dear friend AA about my lack of time yesterday and she sent me this great article. I could definitely relate to the author!! Tempted to start a time journal to see how much leisure time I have :)

How was YOUR week???? Please reply! I sometimes feel like I'm talking to myself here, but I see you reading!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Business of Being Born

Last night, I hosted a viewing party for the documentary The Business of Being Born, produced by Ricki Lake. A group of wonderful, intelligent women gathered in my home to discuss the state of obstetrical care in America over appetizers and wine (for those of us not knocked up!).

While my shrimp appetizer didn't come out quite as planned (read: you had to have jaws of steel to chew it, but the lemon aioli was to die for!), I felt like the rest of the night went off perfectly! Seven women from all different backgrounds and experiences gathered together to discuss a topic that affects nearly every woman at some point in her life.

The mission of the film was to address this question - "Should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as as a potential medical emergency?"

The film did an amazing job of highlighting what, unfortunately, has become birthing status quo in America - a healthy woman comes into the hospital for what should be a completely normal delivery, but is pushed into undergoing a series of interventions, that lead to more interventions, that ultimately lead to cesarean section for one out of every three births, and other unfortunate results. The snowball effect.

I've posted my birth story with Carter before on here, but I am the poster child for the snow ball effect. Because of that experience, I have become passionate on the issue of child birth, and believe that every woman should strive to keep the process as natural as possible! I definitely believe in modern medicine, and know that there are times when interventions are necessary (i.e. my cesarean with Bennett), but for the vast majority of women, all they need to do is let their bodies do what they are programmed to do!

As the film highlights, "In America, midwives attend less than 8% of all births and less than 1% of those occur outside a hospital. At the same time, the US has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world." Wow. "The five countries with the lowest infant mortality rates in the March of Dimes report -- Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Finland and Norway – midwives were used as their main source of care for 70 percent of the birthing mothers." Interesting.

What pains me is that birth interventions have become so common place in our country, that most women don't even question it anymore. By way of example, let's talk about the use of Pitocin - a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin used to cause contractions. A survey done in 1998 showed that approximately 81% of women are given Pitocin to either induce or augment labor. However, the studies consistently show that Pitocin only helps in 3-5% of labors! Overkill much? So, what is the big deal, you ask? Pitocin has been shown to cause harder, longer, more painful contractions, that over the course of labor puts more and more stress on the baby, which in turns often causes drops in the fetal heart rate. Pitocin requires continual electronic fetal monitoring, which restricts a woman's ability to move during labor, and consequently, her ability to cope with pain. Pitocin also increases the risk of cesarean delivery. Half of all first time mothers induced with Pitocin will end up with a cesarean. I've also recently read some academic papers that are questioning a link between the use of Pitocin and the increase in the rate of Autism, but no major studies have been done yet on this issue, to my knowledge.

If you get Pitocin, you pretty much are stuck with getting an Epidural. (I tried to go without an Epidural for 13 hours while in labor on Pitocin, and let me tell you - it ain't pretty). Over 60% of women in labor in this country get an Epidural anyway (and in most metropolitan areas, that rate is as high as 95%). An Epidural may seem heavenly at the time, because yeah, labor hurts. But let me tell you why its not a great idea - if you have an epidural, you are numb from the waist down; which means you are very limited in your ability to move and get into optimal positioning for birth (i.e. NOT on your back!). Epidurals have also been shown to lengthen and stall labor, and is the single most common factor shown to cause "failure to progress" because it slows the release of oxytocin (which means you'll probably get Pitocin, if you haven't already). And what really sucks is that in 20% of cases where an epidural is given, it either fails completely or partially! Plus, the medical risks are nothing to laugh at: fetal heart decelerations, maternal hypotension (low blood pressure), increase rate of forcep or vacuum assisted delivery, chronic pain at the injection site (mine lasted 6 months after Bennett!), prolonged epidural headache, increased risk of pulmonary embolism, and more. Yet, how many doctors give you a run down of these potential risks before agreeing to administer an epidural? I doubt very many.

The plain truth is, MOST woman (93-95% depending on which study you look at) can have a completely natural, uncomplicated birth. The fact is that we ourselves complicate our own births. We are causing the increased rate of fetal and maternal death, and other poor consequences associated with these interventions.

It makes me so very sad.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Before and After

Before, he was a baby, with long soft curls.

After, he was a little boy. The last vestiges of infancy shed.

But still the same amazing soul, with eyes penetrating upon the Earth they set out to explore, yet imparting a wisdom and knowledge far beyond his years (er...months.)

Yep, I did it. I got up the courage to cut Bennett's hair. As much as I loved his baby curls, his hair was starting to fall into his eyes and he was beginning to look a little shaggy. I'm gonna miss his babyness. But, I have to say, we are enjoying his new "little boy" look too! I think his eyes really POP now - even more than before!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bennett, Bennett, Bennett....

I took Bennett for his pulmonology appointment today. His last one was 6 months ago. At his last appointment, she prescribed him an oral steroid to take whenever he was starting to have respiratory distress and his rescue meds weren't keeping him clear at least 4 hours. The goal was to try to keep him out of the hospital as much as possible because the last two times he was in (May and July), she believes they misdiagnosed his BPD (scarring in his lungs) for pneumonia since they look so similar on x-ray. Well, as you know, he hasn't been in the hospital since July BUT we've had him on four rounds of the oral steroids then. Basically, whenever he gets the slightest cold he ends up needing it. She really wasn't happy with this and said this is way too much steroids for a baby to be taking and a signal that his condition is not well controlled. She also heard wheezing in his lungs and I told her that whenever he's running around and really active, he will get very short of breath and wheeze. She wasn't happy with that either. So, she is doubling the concentration of the inhaled steroid we do in his nebulizer twice a day. Hopefully, this will keep him more open and its less dangerous than the oral steroids.

She also wants to get him tested for Cystic Fibrosis, since he shows several signs of having it - poorly controlled asthma, difficulty growing (more on that in a minute), and excessive amount of bowel movements (he seriously poops 5 times a day). I told her that I tested negative for the gene, but she said that they are discovering new strains that aren't detected by the test they give pregnant women. So, we're going to be taking him for a sweat test to see if possible he has one of those strains of CF. Man, I really hope not. I'm seriously sick to my stomach thinking about it. Anne - HELP!?!

Now, as for the growth, she isn't happy with that either. He was 9kg exactly, which puts him just shy of 20 lbs. He was 29.5 inches long (they use a board that is sooo much more accurate than the line drawing Peds do in the office). Of course, he is still under 1 percentile, but the troubling thing is that he fell from 50th percentile in his weight-to-height ratio at his last visit to between 10 and 15th percentile this appointment. In other words, he's gotten skinnier. Technically, he is failure to thrive. But because of his underlying health conditions, she wants to give it some more time before she officially diagnoses him, to avoid stigma, particularly during school years. addition to pushing Pediasure, we are now supposed to up his bottles from 2 a day to 3 a day and fortify his whole milk with the instant breakfast mix stuff to add calories and nutrients.

On a positive note, she said he is clearly VERY happy. And she was very very pleased with his physical development and was glad that he was getting speech therapy because she could tell just from hearing him that he had low tone in his mouth.

So, there ya have it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Be it hereby resolved

Happy New Year! I love new beginnings! Not only do we have a new year to celebrate, but a new DECADE!!!!

I'm a New Year's Resolution junkie. Well, I'm a goal-making, planning, type-A junkie, period. Last year, my Resolutions spanned two pages, typed. It was basically a comprehensive plan of how to make my life perfect. No wonder I didn't accomplish more than a fraction of what I had set out to do over the past year!

This year, I've got a better plan! Instead of making an exhaustive list of everything that needed to be worked on in my life, I decided to focus on three. That's a tad more digestible, no? I looked at my life, and tried to figure out what three changes would make the biggest impact on improving my life.

First, I decided that getting into shape would probably make the single biggest improvement. I would have more energy, focus, stamina, and confidence!

Second, I decided that I needed to schedule time with God every day. Up until now, I only read the Bible or wrote in my prayer journal whenever an opportunity conveniently arose. Well, you all know how often opportunity and intention so perfectly come into convergence... I know that by focusing on my spiritual health, I will be renewed and refilled daily. That will outpour into every other area of my life!

Third, I will launch my own business this year, in conjunction with my two business partners. Early last year, I came up with an amazingly clever idea for a product that will benefit every mom! Even better, my partners and I could pretty much design and create this product completely from our (and our amazing hubbies') own resources and talents! There really is no excuse for not getting this business off the ground and running! So, this year, I will make it happen! Having the extra income from what I know will be a thunderously successful business would definitely help in so many ways! (By the way, I'm purposely not divulging the details of the business just yet. Rest ye assured, you will be the first ones to know and sample the goods when we're ready to launch!).

But, making goals is only the start. It doesn't do much good unless you actually execute them! Borrowing from Tony Robbins (one of my favorite motivational speakers!), I created a MAP - a Massive Action Plan. First, you clearly define the goal with specificity. Then you create a plan - every step, big or small, that I need to take to accomplish that goal and when I am going to complete each step. Here are my MAPs:

Resolution 1: Get in shape - 120 lbs by my birthday! (April 13)
* I scheduled all my workouts through April on my calendar.
* I am committed to getting up early in the morning to workout. I've learned that if I don't do it first thing, it just doesn't get done!
* I took my measurements and before photos so I can measure and track my progress.
* I have a program on my iPhone where I can journal my workouts and eating so I can see how well I'm doing over time.
* I've defined healthy eating limits and have made meal plans full of healthy foods. Every Sunday, I will go to the grocery and do all the prep work for all my meals and snacks so there are NO EXCUSES.
* I've established prizes to reward myself when I hit each goal - New tennis shoes after I've lost the first 5 lbs; a "Girls' Night" at the Melting Pot after the first 10 lbs; a trip to the salon for a new hairdo and manicure and pedicure after I've lost 15 lbs, and after I've hit my goal of losing 20 lbs - I'm going to buy myself a new spring/summer wardrobe! Now if that doesn't motivate me...

Resolution 2 - Grow Spiritually.
* After I finish my workout each morning, I will spend 20 minutes reading the Bible and doing my Bible Study program, and praying.
* I loaded up my iPod with new spiritual music!
* Each day while I eat lunch, I will read my daily passage (they are super short) from Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now Devotions which I have loaded on my iPhone Kindle to make it super easy!
* I bought Ace the Love Dare Couples' Daily Devotions book (based on the movie Fireproof) for Christmas, and each night before bed, we are reading through that day's devotion and discussing. This is not just great for me personally, but also for us as a couple!

Resolution 3 - Launch my business by June!
* I made up a step-by-step process for developing the product and a time table for doing so.
* I have scheduled two hours each week where I will completely devote myself to this project!

I have also scheduled on my calendar a time each month where I sit down and review my progress on my resolutions and track my progress. I know that unless I keep this in constant focus, I will gradually lose steam over the year! I've very excited for 2010 and for the BIG changes I am making this year!

What are YOUR resolutions?????