Athleta

Some of you may have noticed my mug in Athleta’s October catalogueūüôā

I wasn’t sure if I was going to post anything about it because the catalogue shoot happened in mid-April before Peter and I landed in the hospital. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about the photoshoot while I lay in the hospital bed willing Peter to stay inside.¬†Part of me felt like an ass for doing it and highlighting my post-cancer pregnancy. Stupid girl, you let your guard down, now this terrible thing has happened — that’s what you get…. (oh, the psychology of it all).

I was so superstitious this summer, it’s not even funny. So I decided to keep mum about it.

Thankfully Peter arrived safely (save this whole jaundice issue we’re currently working through) so I suppose there’s nothing to jinx anymore (though with my luck, I’ve learned to never say never).

Here’s what I can say at this very moment in time: There IS bold, beautiful, messy¬†and joyful life in the wake of cancer. Yay!

As always, please think before you pink…….


Here’s a link to the current Chi Blog post about the photoshoot.¬†There may be another¬†post about me at some point in October. I exchanged emails with their social media person while I was in the hospital. I’m a little afraid my comments were incoherent since I was so preoccupied with bed rest and all things pre-term-labor-related. If they happen to post something I’ll be sure to link to it here for you.

 

Joy & Pain

Last week was hands down the craziest week of my life to date – and I’ve encountered my fair share of crazy in this life!

[For those of you who are Facebook friends with me, some of this will be familiar to you, some of it will be new info.]

One week ago we welcomed Peter into our family. His birth was incredible and beautiful and everything this momma could’ve wanted after such a difficult pregnancy. It was a celebration all around because we basically know all the nurses and doctors at CPMC at this pointūüôā

The very next day (about 12 hours after I gave birth) we got a call from Nora’s daycare that she fell down and had a bad cut on her head. Paul left Peter and I at the hospital to pick her up and take her to our pediatrician. ¬†He didn’t even see the doctor! As soon as he walked into the office, the nurse took one look at her and told Paul to take her straight to the pediatric ER at the hospital I was at and to wait for a plastic surgeon to stitch her up.

Long story short, they spent the day in the ER, Peter spent the day in the nursery and I went back and forth between post-partum and the ER visiting all my babies. It was exhausting as hell. My body was not happy.

I was so emotional as it was – it hadn’t even been 24 hours since I was pregnant and on bed rest – now I’m having to watch my darling girl get glassy eyed and dazed from ketamine, while my brand new baby lay in the nursery without me. It was more than I could handle.

I had to leave the ER and go back to my room to snuggle Peter.

I went back to the ER when Nora was coming to – and watching that was even worse. She was just starting to get her words back and was writhing around. I cried and left Paul to watch over her until she was back to normal. I couldn’t physically contain her body as she writhed around so Paul took over and comforted my sweet Nora and made her feel safe.

Sidenote: Paul is the best father in the world. I don’t know what we’d do without him. He takes such incredible care of Nora.

So after that traumatizing day, you’d think things would finally settle down for our family. That’s what we thought too!

Wednesday morning the well baby pediatrician discharged Peter but told us he had a slight case of jaundice. He was confident that Peter would feed through the problem since we’re bottle feeding him donor breast milk from the milk bank on demand (the idea is to keep him eating so he pees and poops all the bilirubin out).

We followed up with our regular pediatrician the next day. She too told us the same thing – he’d likely feed through it since we’re giving him as much bottled breast milk as he wants. But he was looking really red (and if you pressed on his skin it would come back yellow) so she wanted us to come back in the next day.

At Friday’s appointment, I told the doctor how I was having trouble keeping Peter awake for full feeds. He kept falling asleep during his first burp break and wasn’t increasing his volume intake of milk. He’d also lost more weight (down to 6.5 from 6.14 at birth). She told us to head to the ER to have labs drawn and take any additional steps, if necessary.

For the second time in one week, but with a different child, we went to CPMC’s pediatric ER. The staff were wonderful and asking after Nora.

The on-call doctor wanted to test Peter’s bilirubin levels and asked if we wanted to draw from the vein or do a heel stick. I opted for the heel stick assuming it was less invasive and painful for Peter. Ummm, not sure about that decision. The heel stick is cruel. I was in so much pain watching them milk his little heel for two vials of blood. All the while he was wailing in my arms. I felt so helpless. Then I realized that they did 4 or 5 heel sticks on him when he was in the well baby nursery (to check his blood sugar b/c I had gestational diabetes and to do his newborn state screening). Ugh, the tears welled up in my eyes.

It felt like an eternity before the results came back. We found out his bilirubin level at 3 1/2 days old was 21.8. The thing about bilirubin levels is they’re assessed based on the number of hours old your child is. So, 21.8 in a 10 day old is very different than 21.8 in, say, a 2 day old. It’s sort of a sliding scale. His number was high enough to classify him as “high risk” so he¬†was immediately admitted to the NICU and started on full blast phototherapy. He had the overhead lights as well as the blanket. They kept him from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. It was very difficult to come home without Peter on Friday. I felt so empty.

His level came down nicely from 21.8 to 14.2. On Saturday afternoon, they removed the overhead lights and just had him on the blanket. His levels still decreased – but not as dramatically. By Sunday morning it was down to 13.7.

Once again we were discharged and told to keep an eye out for listlessness, decreased interest in eating, not stooling or peeing etc. We had another follow-up with our pediatrician today and we’ll go back in again on Wednesday. All is looking good at this point.

I’m trying to be brave and strong but I’m terrified for my baby. I know in my heart he’ll be fine and we got him under the lights at the right time. But of course, I still worry that there may be some long term impact.¬†Our pediatrician said had we waited any longer, he may have need a blood exchange or worse, he may have had brain damage. A super scary statement, but the moral of the story is he got the attention he needed, when he needed it. Very grateful our pediatrician monitored him so aggressively and will continue to do so.

So, that’s an overview of our insane week. Filled with the highest of highs for a parent as well as the heart aching lows. I pray that the rest of the ride will be smooth from here…

 

Happy Birthday!

We welcome with so much love and joy, Peter Vikram Sieminski

Born at 10:25pm on September 19, 2016

Weighing in at 6lbs 14ozs and 18 inches long

We’re so proud of our 36-weeker. He didn’t have to go to the NICU and is happy and healthy in the well baby nursery. So many blessings!

Nora is coming to the hospital later today to meet her brotherūüôā Here we go………

36 Weeks, Cholestasis & Induction

Yesterday I hit 36 weeks. Holy cow I feel so lucky to have made it this far.

While yesterday was a huge milestone, today is even bigger. It’s our last day hanging out with Nora before BBS arrives because…..I’m being induced tomorrow :0

A few weeks ago we scheduled my cerclage removal for tomorrow,¬†Monday, the 19th. I’ll be 36 and 2 when the stitch comes out. But my doctors were torn on when I’d actually go into labor. My OB thought I’d go that day, while my MFM thought I’d go a few days later.

We don’t need to guess anymore because they decided as a team to induce me after the cerclage is removed (assuming I don’t go into labor only own). That’s nearly 14 weeks (3 1/2 months) of bed rest for BBS and I. Wow!

You might be wondering why they’d induce after I’ve¬†come this far. Late last week it was confirmed that I developed¬†cholestasis of pregnancy. ¬†About 10 days ago my entire body started itching like crazy. At first it was mainly my hands and feet, but then it spread everywhere. 4 benadryls + an ambien couldn’t make me fall asleep through the itching. It was horrible.¬†I called my OB’s night nurse and told her my symptoms. The next day my doctor sent me for lab work to test my liver function and bile acid. The results came in confirming the condition, UGH. Below is a quick overview of what Cholestasis is.

According to What to Expect:

Cholestasis is a liver disorder that most often occurs late in pregnancy, typically during the third trimester. While it ¬†occurs in just one to two pregnancies in 1,000, it can cause complications in your newborn ‚ÄĒ which is why it‚Äôs important to recognize the symptoms and talk to your doctor if you think it might be affecting you. Fortunately, early diagnosis and active management by your doctor can help ensure you and your baby have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

A quick biology lesson: Bile, excreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, helps your body break down fats into fatty acids that your intestines can absorb. Cholestasis is a condition that slows down the normal flow of bile into the gallbladder, causing a buildup of bile acids in the liver ‚ÄĒ which in turn spills into the bloodstream, causing intense itching. Possible causes include:

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy (especially in the third trimester): Extra estrogen can increase cholesterol levels in bile and decrease gallbladder contractions.

Gestational diabetes: This disease is often associated with a higher risk of cholestasis.

Genetic disposition: If an immediate family member has had cholestasis during pregnancy, be sure to tell your doctor.

Gallstones: A collection of small stone masses in the gallbladder caused by imbalances of bile (pregnant women are also more at risk of gallstones due to increased estrogen levels) can also be the cause.

With regular prenatal care and monitoring, your baby will likely not be affected during pregnancy and after delivery. Studies have found little increased risk to babies when their mothers have only mild cholestasis and low amounts of bile acids. However, in cases when maternal bile acids are higher, cholestasis can increase baby’s risk of a low birth weight, a slightly lower¬†Apgar score, lung immaturity and¬†preterm delivery¬†‚ÄĒ which is why early diagnosis and treatment are so important. In extremely rare cases, stillbirth is a risk, though it may be prevented if¬†labor is induced¬†before week 38.

I can’t believe I’ve managed to add more goddamn¬†lemons to my pile. But there you have it. Because this condition can put BBS at risk, we’re opting to induce at 36 and 2. In a perfect world, we’d wait until 37, but BBS’s non stress tests have been a mixed bag. So we’re choosing to be safe than sorry.

So this is it my friends. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your love and support on this journey. Please send your continued good vibes my way – pray for an uncomplicated delivery and that BBS makes his debut healthy and happy.

I’ll post more once he’s born. But please be patient with me. Even though I’m being induced, he might not arrive until Tuesday. And even then, we’re going to want some family time to process this whole journey. If BBS goes to the NICU I expect that we’ll be quite busy with that – but I’ll do my best to post updates here for you all.

With all my love and thanks!

I heart how Maisey’s lurking in the corner of this pic. Haha

Day 80 Update

I’ve been on bed rest for 80 days and I’m 33 and 5 today! This is the 4th calendar month I’ve been on bed rest for – crazy.

This week’s appointment went well. Baby and cerclage both look good.

On Saturday¬†I flip to 34 weeks – a day I never thought we’d see. I’m starting to believe we may actually weather this storm.

Upcoming milestones:

Ring in September – That’s today! Milestone metūüôā
Dr. Yee OB appt – Sept. 2nd
Flip to 34 weeks – Sept. 3rd
Prenatal massage – Sept. 5th
Below Deck season premiere – Sept. 6th
Flip to 35 weeks – Sept. 10th
Dr. Katz MFM appt – Sept. 12th

 

Trip Down Memory Lane

Update: We’re still chugging’ along (knock wood). My next ultrasound is on the 30th. Fingers crossed everything remains stable until then.

As BBS’s impending birth becomes more real to me, I can’t help but think back to when Nora was born. So much love. Love like I’ve never felt before.

I, like all second time parents to be, am worried I couldn’t possibly love another tiny human as much as I love Nora. But, after what BBS and I have been through, my love for him is already immense and it’ll just keep growing from here. I can’t wait to meet him (well, you know what I mean – I can’t wait for him to be done cooking and then meet him!). ¬†I’ve been so heads down and focused on the immediate task at hand, that I lost sight of the joy in carrying and growing another human life. Don’t get me wrong though,¬†I only allow myself to enjoy it in measured doses for fear of jinxing everything. Some of the fun things I’ve done recently are¬†ordering decor for BBS’s¬†nursery and personalized thank you cards for him. It’s been really nice to feel happy instead of scared and worried.

In the meantime, I never published Nora’s entire newborn photo shoot. There are lots of duds in there for sure – but I don’t even care anymore – I’m overwhelmed by love (and pregnancy hormones!) and want the world to see them all. ¬†Hope you enjoy (esp the few that include Maisey — she’s such a character)…

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(Photo credit goes to Kim Lind Photography)

 

 

And on the 53rd Day…

I went home.

After 7 1/2 weeks on hospital bedrest, I’m heading home. BBS is still safe ‘n sound in utero. So my doctors are letting me take this party back to my own bed. I’ll still be on strict bed rest at home, but at least I’ll be home.

I’m so happy that I’ll get to see Nora on a daily basis. She only came to visit me on the weekends because I felt it was important for her to maintain her routine and have stability during the week. I wanted her to go to the park and run around outside everyday, not come to the hospital and sit couped up in my room. The upside to all this craziness is that Paul and Nora have enjoyed an incredibly special two months together. Their bond has been cemented and then covered with tar for good measure! And, extra little bonus, Paul can now do a mean ponytailūüėČ

But truly, not seeing Nora regularly was the absolute hardest thing  for me to deal with. I had to emotionally shut down during the week in order to cope with her absence. Thankfully BBS is an extremely active kiddo. So his kicks, punches and rolls served as a reminder of WHY I’m sacrificing. His life and health far outweigh my own ache and long for Nora.

Whenever I feel down about this process, I force myself to refocus by recalling how far I’ve come. When I was first admitted, my doctors fully prepared Paul and I to lose BBS. Upon admission, Dr. Katz gave me three choices (1) do nothing and allow my body to finish delivering BBS and he would pass away, (2) take medicine to purposefully end the pregnancy and try to get pregnant again at a later date or (3) do everything medically possible to save BBS knowing there are zero guarantees. I was alone at the hospital when given these choices because Paul and Nora were still making their way up. For me, the conversation was surreal but not scary. I think I may have even laughed at the first 2 choices (perhaps a nervous habit? or maybe a sign of how naive I was about how bad my situation was?). Number 3 is what I chose on June 14th and I continue to choose today. No brainer.

Perhaps one day I’ll blog about the insanely tough conversations we’ve had with the neonatologists and about the stats of my ever shortening, basically non-existent cervix. But not today. Today I focus on the next stage of the fight. I’m not to the finish line yet.

I have very mixed emotions about leaving. Mentally, I like knowing that the doctors and nurses can spring into action within seconds should anything go down. But I have to remind myself that I’ve been super vigilant thus far and I’ll continue to be equally, if not more so, at home. Emotionally, I lose a bit of confidence every time someone says something like “What?!! You’re going home? Are you sure that’s a good idea? Whose decision was it? Well, don’t overdo it at home.”

Ummm, thanks for basically saying you have zero confidence in me. It’s insulting and undermining. I’m the one who has fought every second of every day for the past 53 days to keep my child alive and safe. I’m the one who lays in bed all day long. I have constant heartburn because I eat my meals laying down. I have the beginning of bed soars on my thighs because I lay all day. I worry every.single.time I get up to go to the bathroom. Trust me, it’s me who knows more than you what’s at stake here. I realize that you say these things out of concern, but you’re effectively saddling me with your own fears. Please stop putting me in the position of comforting and reassuring you.

The reality is that I will go into labor one day. Whether that happens tonight (on the very night I arrive home) or one month from now is irrelevant because it won’t be my fault. It won’t be because I walked to the bathroom in my home instead of festering in the hospital and walking to the bathroom there. It won’t be because Nora jumped onto the bed to read a book or snuggle with me (newsflash she does all of that when she visits the hospital). It won’t be because I walked into the kitchen to get a water refill. It won’t be because I did or didn’t do anything.

Next steps/milestones: Tomorrow I’ll hit 30 weeks which is a HUGE accomplishment and something I plan to celebrate with Paul, Nora, Maisey and BBS. I’ll have an ultrasound Wednesday the 10th. They’ll measure the baby and check the cerclage. Dr. Katz will look at the results and determine if I can stay at home or if I need to come back in.

Sorry I went so deep with this post, apparently I had a lot of pent up emotion…

Final spin on the monitors before being discharged