Tag Archives: too much talk

Readmission

On the evening of December 12, Tristan had a fit of strange little jerks of her knees. By noon the next day, she’d had several more and, on consultation with the nurses in the family, we took her in to the Children’s hospital ER. Going back to the hospital woke a lot of feelings in me I didn’t expect. I had thought, hoped, assumed that once the babies were home all would be well. But all wasn’t well. I was on some level more upset about taking her back to the hospital than I was about the possibility that something might be really wrong.

We didn’t have video of the spells when we first took her in. It was, hands down, the most pleasant ER experience I’ve ever had, in that there was very little waiting around. But the resident and then the attending examined Tris, said she “examined very well”, and thought that the spasms we described sounded like “myoclonic jerks”—usually harmless spasms, like large hiccups. They started a referral to neurology just to be on the safe side and sent us home.

That night, we caught the above video; by this point Tris had had seven or eight episodes in 24 hours. At 10:30 at night we decided to head back. If I thought we’d been seen quickly before, this time was lightning. We just handed the registration nurse the ID bracelet Tris had gotten on the first visit, and were shown directly to a room. The resident and attending from before were still on shift, and considerably more concerned about the video than our descriptions. They showed it to the neurologist. We were assured that he still didn’t think they looked like real seizures, but they were going to admit Tris anyway.

Those words hit like a hammer.

Before that, it was the “everything’s probably fine, they’ll check things out just in case” bubble. After that, it was real.

They took us back upstairs, to the pediatric ward, one floor down from the NICU where we had spent so much time. The same but different. I was stunned, robotic. Going through the motions, while inside My vrai chanted how can I leave her here again???!?” over and over.

More upset, in that moment, about being back in the hospital than about the possibility that something might be really wrong with my baby.

Leaving her there was like tearing my heart in half all over again.

On the other hand, sleeping with only one baby at home was a huge treat.

The next morning felt like a surreal repetition of our NICU lifestyle. I packed up River and a little cooler of pumped breast milk and trudged back to the hospital.

They did the EEG that afternoon. As medical tests go, it’s pretty non-invasive, and I gotta say the funny little head-sock they use to cover all the wires was pretty adorable. And surprisingly stable, which is good because she had to wear it until she had an episode, and I was worried how it would handle nursing, since she often tries to whip her head back and forth wildly.

PICU was like a more chill version of NICU. I was a bit stressed about managing with River there and just me, but on the other hand, unlike in NICU I COULD HAVE RIVER THERE TOO. I could nurse them whenever they wanted. The nurses even held River (not a patient) a few times while I was feeding Tristan.

Tristan, for her part, seemed to fall back into the hospital routine, too, spending most of her time sleeping or sucking on a soother. They hardly ever use their soothers at home, and tend to spit them out after ten seconds when they do. She did enjoy the little fish tank video that plays on a screen above the bed.

And then, a couple of hours into the EEG, while the nurse was on her break, Tristan had her seizure.

It felt weird to be excited about that. But that was what we needed to happen.

The EEG confirmed seizure activity, but not the worst-case scenario, infantile spasms. The neurologist recommended starting an anticonvulsant, and ordered an MRI to see if there was any obvious cause for the seizures. The MRI would be sometime the following week, and if she tolerated the medication well, the neurologist was reassuring that Tris would be home before Christmas.

I won’t tell you the diagnosis was easy to take. Even though it was about as good as it could have been, in the circumstances. I cried. I just wanted to hold Tris and make it better. And the most likely cause of these seizures is brain damage related to the premature birth, so bring on another wave of guilt and maternal failure from that direction.

But I cried through it. Went home. Came back for an evening visit with my husband and Tyo. Cried some more. Bought a one week parking pass. Enjoyed another night of sleeping with only one baby at home.

By the time we came in the next day, they had already done her MRI. We were pleasantly stunned. No brain abnormalities detected, just a remnant of what might have been a minor bleed, probably from birth (so minor it didn’t show up on either of the two head ultrasounds she had in NICU). No tumors (my husband’s nightmare.) The neurologist said she could go home that afternoon.

So I guess we wasted some money on that parking pass.

It’s a mental adjustment, for sure. My baby who I hoped would be perfectly healthy, once we got through the whole NICU thing, isn’t. She might grow out of it, but she might not. But at least so far, it isn’t impacting her brain development, and now that she’s been on her medication for a couple of weeks she’s getting over the sleepiness that is the main side effect in infants. And the measures you have to take to protect kids with seizures are basically the same as what you do normally for infants. So that will be more of a thing later than it is now.

So for now, we’re good.

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Healthy and home

We spent eight weeks in the NICU and there’s a lot to say about that, good and bad, hard and beautiful. There’s stuff I want to say about it, but it’s a long post, and a hard one. I’m not ready yet. Maybe by the time I’m ready, it won’t even matter. In hindsight, it feels like a voyage to the underworld out of a Greek myth (the internet just taught me the word “katabasis“). There’s some trauma wrapped up in there, for sure. But both twins came home by the end of October. Not in time for Thanksgiving as I had hoped (Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Sunday in October) but before Hallowe’en, and before their November 3 due date, at least. In our time there the twins went from three pounds apiece to five; they learned to breath, eat, and even breastfeed. They had no major medical scares, although for every step forward it seemed like there was a half-step back.

First pic of all four sisters together

Having them home is emotionally easier but not practically easier. Sleep is a real issue. And they’re not bad sleepers, as babies go, but they take turns. And the strategy that got us through the first month stopped working in the second.

Getting anything done with a small baby is hard. With two, it’s nearly impossible.

Other than sleep, getting a handle on the bottle feeding we had to do was really, really hard. In NICU I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed the babies more than two or three times a day, for no more than fifteen minutes at a time. Every breastfeed was followed up with a bottle of pumped breast milk fortified with preemie formula powder for extra calories and minerals. They also have to have two feeds of special preemie formula a day. And that was the feeding strategy that we brought home, topping up each feed, formula twice a day.

I had never sterilized bottles before, certainly never prepared formula. It didn’t seem so onerous while we were in the hospital and the prep was all being done for us, but at home it was a massive struggle of constant bottle-washing. And laundry, a whole other issue. Fortunately the twins got the hang of full-time breastfeeding within a couple of weeks, and became less and less interested in their top-up bottles, so at this point we only have to give them the supplements. It still feels like a lot of work, and it’s hard to get out from underneath babies long enough to do it, but my system has improved a bit. I’m still excited to phase it out, once they’re three months past their due date.

Other than those struggles, and a health issue I’ll cover soon, life is good. I spend a LOT of time stuck under babies. Sometimes I’m bored or resentful, or just stressed that I’m surrounded by disaster, but often it’s calm and blissful.

I miss wearing makeup and clean clothes. There’s puke. So much puke.

They don’t fit these preemie outfits any more. They were already getting too small when they came home from the hospital.

Getting to let them just lie side by side felt like such a privilege to begin with.

I have neither the ambition nor the organizational skills to dress them alike at all times, but it’s fun sometimes. I particularly like coordinating but non-identical outfits.

They don’t interact obviously, but they do subtly synchronize, movement, waking, even bowel movements.

I try to nurse both together often, for the time saving as well as the abundance of milk. It’s kind of like the Wild West of breastfeeding—they move their heads around a lot and grunt and swallow air, but it gets things done quickly.

Dresses on babies who can’t walk yet are a little ridiculous and awkward, yet still adorable, especially at Christmas. Those “infant” sized tights are as long as they are, however.

There are some really sweet moments.

The newborn sized clothes are getting outgrown now, too.

Just in the last week or two they’ve been getting interested in their play frame, kicking and batting at the hanging toys, sometimes even long enough for me to eat breakfast.

So yeah, if you need me, I’ll be over here under the pile of babies.

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Too much information

(A birth story. Don’t read if you don’t want gory, nitty-gritty details.)

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There aren’t enough words.

The last few months are too much, and nothing. I could write a book, or not even a paragraph.

The twins were born ten weeks early, at the end of August. They weighed three lbs (1350g) apiece.

It was terrifying, and wonderful.

I don’t know how to find the balance between exhausting, tedious detail, and glossing over everything. Nothing has happened except sitting–in hospital rooms, at home. Everything has happened.

For now, I’ll gloss. They’re home. They’re healthy. They’re over six and seven lbs, respectively. We’re figuring things out. Sleep is elusive. Sewing is nonexistent. Days slide by in a haze of baby feeding, changing, and spit up. I’ve been posting play-by-plays on Instagram, under the hashtag #tanitisisandthetwins , if you’re interested. I’m fantasizing about Victorian baby clothes, and Jalie Clara leggings for me. But mostly we’re just feeding and napping and cleaning things.

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Me-Made May 2019: recap

So Me-Made May is finished! I guess I will be glad to get back those 30 seconds of photo-taking most mornings (I only missed one day), but it was kinda fun to document my gradual shift into maternity wear.

Some outfits were fond farewells.

Others were old standbys that will probably see me all the way through.

There was even one new maternity/nursing specific piece sundress.

Partway through the month I did a major wardrobe edit, resigning a sizable chunk of my (sizable) wardrobe to storage. This freed up closet-space and cut down on the frustration of digging around dozens of items that just don’t fit right now (frankly, some of them may never fit again but I’ll make that call in a year or two). But it was very weird to have only a few options left to get me through the rest of the month. I mean, I still did it and there are three or four pieces I didn’t even wear during the month, but it was weird.

Now that the month of peacocking is over, I’m excited to feel a little more relaxed about outfit repeats. There are dresses that I love that I won’t likely get more than a couple more wearing a in—I want to squeeze those out as soon as possible, without worrying about how long since I last wore them. I never meant to be a subscriber to the “no wardrobe repeats” mentality, but when I have as many clothes as I do now, ordinarily at least, I like to rotate and give everything a turn. But right now I just want to wear my favourites to death before they don’t fit.

That being said, I am definitely planning lots of dorky bump documentation. Selfies weren’t a thing last time I was pregnant, and I have only a very few photos of my first pregnancies.

Winter, 2000, probably about four months pregnant

Much as I might wish it, this does not document my everyday wear in my first pregnancy. (Though it does illustrate the chronic too-short-sleeve issue that led to me sewing my wardrobe in the first place.)

June, 2003. This was taken the day before Syo was born, actually while I was in the very early stages of labour.

Nor does it give me a record of bump growth. Not that my previous bumps were truly massive… I’m pretty sure the present twin bump will dwarf them both. Probably by the end of next month. Anyway, I’m thinking a weekly record, for my own curiosity if nothing else.

You can find the full record of all the Me Made May photos here, outtakes and derp-faces and all, or find it on my Instagram for a slightly more curated feed, with day-by-day commentary.

Anyway, I’m so glad I did it! What a fun way to grapple with my current wardrobe situation.

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Going around again

Because I wasn’t doing anything else with the next twenty years of my life, right?

Our family at present

At the end of February, I had a lapse in birth control. I needed to renew my prescription, I was sick, the weather was terrible, surely a few weeks off the pill wouldn’t come to anything. I’m thirty-eight. The time in life when people work for months if not years to get pregnant. (Yes, I can hear you laughing already)

A few weeks later, my breasts were sore and I couldn’t sleep. Then I was sick (exhausted and nauseous) for a week. I finally made it to the pharmacist for my birth control. It’s so nice that they can prescribe that now! As a precaution, I picked up a pregnancy test. Just in case.

My husband spotted it when I got home and had a little bit of a freak-out. “Take it now!”

“It’s just a precaution, babe.”

“Now now now!”

I went into the bathroom. The second line showed up basically instantly. It doesn’t necessarily count though. You have to wait one to three minutes.

I left the stick in the bathroom and set a timer. Syo (who will be sixteen shortly) got home from school.

The timer went off and we rushed into the bathroom. Two lines, definitely.

“Does that mean pregnant?”

“Yes, that means pregnant.”

“Syo!!!!!! Get in here!!!!”

So that was it. No discussion. No backing out, no second thoughts. Barring unforeseen complications, we’re having a baby. Sometime in November or early December.

A few weeks later I had seen a doctor and booked an ultrasound, and an assortment of other tests. Last time I was pregnant, I was blithely confident that complications were things that happened to other people. This time, I feel like one of the people complications happen to.

A few days ago I had an ultrasound. We’re hoping to improve my rather shaky dates. I’ve never had an early routine ultrasound before—it didn’t occur to me to get any prenatal care with Tyo, other than taking vitamins, until I was twenty weeks along. With Syo I wound up in the ER with heavy bleeding at nine weeks. The only thing I remember from that ultrasound was watching to see if there was still a heartbeat.

This routine ultrasound took a while. At one point the technician had to add a second squirt of goop. I found myself watching her face, wondering if I’d be able to tell if something was wrong. I’m not the best at reading people.

At last she said “ok, we’re ready to give you a look. Now, just so you’re prepared, do you have any history of twins in your family?”

And yes, then she showed me not one, but two little bodies in their little sacs.

In case you’re not quite up on the magnitude of this fuck up, my last baby will be turning sixteen this summer. My first baby will be nineteen, the age I was when she was born, when I give birth to her little siblings. Last time I was pregnant, I was twenty-two, and by twenty-nine I was thinking I wouldn’t want to put my body through that again.

We were always the young parents. That has its downsides—we were poor, unstable, very limited in our means. On the other hand, we were young, energetic, with vivid memories of our own childhood to draw on.

In many ways, our situation now is much better. Older, wiser, definitely more financially stable, if not exactly wealthy. I will have maternity leave from my grown up job—a year’s worth, and while my husband hasn’t been able to work outside the home for several years, he’ll be able to look after a small child or two when I go back to work. There are a lot of good things about us having a baby now, and while we’re no longer young, we’re not catastrophically old either.

If it weren’t for the part of my brain that keeps complaining that we were nearly done. The kids are nearly grown. I thought the next baby in my life would be a grand baby. WTF. I’m supposed to finally be experiencing adulthood that isn’t also parenthood, or at least, is the less-intensive (though maybe no less terrifying) tail off of parenting grown children. However, that’s only one part of my brain, and the other parts are pretty excited about another grand adventure. Those are not the logical bits, mind you.

The girls are happy. They’ve been campaigning for a younger sibling since they were old enough to articulate the concept. My husband is happy. Even my mom is happy. (My Dad, bless his heart, said essentially the same thing he did when I told him I was pregnant the first time: “Why?” Thanks, Dad.)

On the downside, exhaustion has sapped my sewjo big time. I have barely done anything except occasionally go down to the sewing room to putter. I still have to finish my quilt. I also have some class samples to do so I’m sure I’ll get to those. Right now I’m using Me Made May to take stock of what in my wardrobe will function for pregnancy (early and late) and nursing and there may be some desperation sewing later on if this bump keeps expanding at such a prodigious rate. I’d like to say I’ll be up for some cute baby sewing at some point… we’ll see. Especially since apparently now I’ll need two of everything?

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Interstitial Blackwood

I’m in the throes of a Big Project (TM) that is eating my brain and possibly driving me crazy. Did I mention making a suit jacket for my uncle? Yes? I wish I hadn’t. Anyway, I’m not quite ready to dive into that pile of angst yet, but suffice it to say, I needed a break from it.

So today, when I found myself in the sewing room at 8 am on a Sunday morning, with no children in the house and a husband sleeping on the living room couch, I found myself puttering.

First, in a bit of a landmark move, I went through my two giant bins of scraps (plus accessory bags and piles), stuffing the smaller and uglier into my pouf.

Wait, I hadn’t mentioned my pouf! After Closet Case Patterns blogged about their scrap-stuffed pouf pattern, I made one. But I hadn’t really tried to stuff it yet.

Over the course of a couple of hours the pouf went from empty to maybe 3/4 full, and the scraps went from two bins, two grocery bags, and several other piles, to one (albeit rather full) bin.

Believe it or not, this is uncommonly tidy for my sewing room.

It’s a New Years miracle! Freeing up a bin allowed me to pack up some more of the ambient fabric, and actually reorganize the bins a bit, so I was able to get several more bins off the floor and into the wall of stacked bins.

I cut out and sewed up a quick pair of Watson bikinis, a remnant from a piece a friend in Atlanta sent me yoinks ago, which I made into some early loungewear that I’ve since dyed a rather muted purple grey. I’d kinda forgotten how neon the original colour was.

I fussed around a bit more with the jacket.

I swept the floor.

And then, after some pleasant digging through my freshly re-ordered bins, I whipped up a second Blackwood Cardigan. The first on I made, for my birthday, has been in heavy rotation ever since, only limited by the fact that a subset of my outfits don’t work with a burgundy cardigan.

Now I gotta say, the wool I used the first time was a FAR better fabric. This time I picked this pretty piece of knit jacquard, which came in as a factory remnant. The factory remnants Fabricland gets are generally pretty inexpensive, and I guess they’re a “sustainable” option since you’re using fabric that would otherwise go straight to a dump—but they can be pretty rank. They usually seem to be bits the factory has cut around because of staining or some other flaw.

This particular piece had large yellow hand-writing at one end (fortunately on the wrong side) and a linear flaw in the jacquard all down one side, not to mention being cut wildly off grain. The fabric itself is nothing special, either, highly synthetic and pretty much guaranteed to snag almost instantly. But, very pretty.

Underarm flaw—not noticeable.

I was just barely able to squeeze the main body pieces out of the patterned fabric—with only a bit of the flaw along the edge of the sleeve, where it’s very hard to notice.

Wobbly pocket is wobbly. We are going to love it anyway.

I was lucky enough to find a bit of black sweaterknit of a similar weight and quality to make the bands and pockets. They’re both very soft and squishy fabrics, so getting the pocket square, even with steam-a-seam to fuse it in place, was kinda a lost cause. But I’d rather have wobbly pockets than no pockets.

I’m sad (but not surprised) to report that, while very pretty and comfy, it’s definitely not as warm as my wool version. But it was simple and reliable and quick, which is everything the ongoing project is not, and sometimes a dose of simple is exactly what you need.

Happy Sunday!

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