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Heather's Parenting Journal

Entry One ~ April 2, 2006
~ Hang in there!

The weeks since Isabella's birth have just flown by. And they've been packed with their share of trials.

Isabella is wonderful. She is a happy, content, easygoing baby. Alex and Maria really love her and Sydney is getting used to her. As of today she is loving on Isabella and being a good big sister, but she had to grow into that role over these weeks. Sydney has latched onto her pacifier and blanket as a means of security. I'm slowly working on the pacifier, but will be taking it away within the next few months for good. Right now it is sheer comfort to her and I'd hate to disrupt what is not broken right now.

Let me catch you all up and start from the beginning. Isabella was born on February 7, 2006. It was wonderful labor and delivery, no complications and she and I went home after the recommended 2 days in the hospital. The first week was fine. My husband was home taking care of all of us. I had many friends bring dinners over and I had the chance to rest. I enjoyed the Olympics and watched more TV than I ever have before since someone else was always taking care of the kids and I was told to sit and rest.

A week later, when my husband returned to work and my mom came in town to help me, I began getting these awful headaches. By Monday (six days since Isabella's birth) they were bad enough I called my OB. They had me come in and checked my blood pressure. It was fine, but just in case they ran blood work too.

Tuesday morning a nurse at the doctor's office called me and told me to stay near the phone. She said my blood work was abnormal and the doctor would be calling me shortly. He called me within minutes of talking to her and told me I had pre-eclampsia (postpartum) and to go immediately to the hospital. I went to the hospital, and they admitted me for observation overnight. I was strictly forbidden to do anything by myself for fear I would have a seizure. The nurse even nicely scolded me for walking Isabella around the room because she was crying. Isabella was breastfeeding so she had to come. And since I was the patient, not her, my husband had to be the authorized caregiver for her and room with us on the couch. The next morning, my blood work was taken once again and it showed my body was fighting the pre-eclampsia. The doctor preferred to allow my body to fight it, then administer the medicine to correct it. I guess the medicine would make me feel really sick and I would have to stop breastfeeding for a short time (something I strongly did not want to do). So, he sent me home to rest. I scared my husband and parents half to death, but am happy to report I'm doing fine today.

Upon returning home from the hospital, my mom decided to take the other 2 girls (Maria and Sydney) back to her house to allow me to rest since I still had pre-eclampsia. It was a whirlwind of a day for them as I returned from the hospital and mom packed up the girls and drove directly to the doctor's office to meet my dad who was undergoing a prostrate biopsy due to an abnormal exam he had the previous week. So, I'm at home resting and my parents have my girls when they get the news that dad has cancer. Thankfully the cancer was caught early, but we are still waiting on the surgery to remove it.

My parents said the girls staying with them for the week was a simple blessing and distraction for them from the serious news they had been given. When the girls came home, I thought things were finally back to normal, or as normal as they could be under the circumstances. But, Maria woke the next day with a cold and by the weekend was wincing in pain and complained her ear hurt. I took her, along with Sydney, Alex, and Isabella to the doctor). She had an ear infection. This was her first ear infection ever. In fact she has never even had a 'sick visit' at the doctor's before. So, that was the beginning and the 'bug' that was passed through our house. Sydney was the next to get an ear infection. Then I got a sore throat and runny nose. Alex began to feel a little under the weather. Finally, Isabella who had stayed healthy for the first month, caught the 'bug.' Since she was so young, it turned into RSV.

I took Isabella to the Children's ER on a Wednesday night after noticing her lungs retracting air when she nursed. I got a small glimpse of one of my biggest fears; to feel completely helpless while your child is sick. Isabella had a slight fever, so being 4 1/2 weeks old she had to have the million dollar make over. They started with a probe down her nose to test for RSV, which came back positive. Since she tested positive for a virus in her system, the doctor wanted everything else tested since an infection in an infant can take their little bodies over so quickly. Isabella had 2 IV's started, but no fluids given. They took blood from them. Then she had a spinal tap. Next, they obtained urine sample to test for infection. And finally she had chest x-rays. I've never seen my daughter scream so hard or be in so much pain. Only my faith and the fact I had to keep it together for her kept me standing. They admitted Isabella and she ended up staying in the hospital 5 days. I stayed by her side every minute for the first 3 days and then Brian relieved me to take care of her during the day on the weekend.

RSV progressively gets worse before it gets better, and Isabella was on oxygen and had a feeding tube. Thankfully, I pumped to express my breast milk and they fed her breast milk through the tube. The pediatrician who cared for Isabella honestly believed that was the best and only medicine for her. They say a mother's body will produce the antibodies necessary for good health of her baby and I was fighting a similar cold. The hospital was fantastic and the staff was wonderful. I stayed and watched over Isabella. Since I was breastfeeding, the hospital fed me. Honestly, it was pretty good too. I had a menu to choose from and everything. The nurses would check on her and bring me as many drinks and snacks I needed. Isabella is home now. She is completely over the virus and has no signs of the infection.

While I was in the hospital my mother-in-law found out she has an aortic aneurysm. I don't have too many details to report there, but it was yet another 'worry' for our family. She is still visiting doctors and sees a vascular surgeon next week. I can tell she is scared and if you knew my mother-in-law you'd know nothing ever scares her.

Well, are you still with me? With all that has happened in the short time since Isabella's birth, I began to experience a slight bit of postpartum depression. The doctor said I was hit with changing hormones and many frightful things all at once. She was not surprised I felt a little overwhelmed. I was not incapable of taking care of my newborn nor did I feel any suicidal tendencies, but I was having anxiety and worrying about the smallest things. For instance, I was completely stressed about doing my laundry or cleaning my house. But yet, I could not muster up the energy to do anything about it. I was weepy and could cry at the drop of a hat. I felt as if I had dug a hole so big I honestly did not know how to get out of it. I also found it hard to play with my kids and simply smile. I am usually a very happy, positive person and these hormones were not allowing me to be myself. The doctor gave me the option to try a little Zoloft or just try to get over it on my own. Since we still have cancer surgery for my father in the near future and I don't know what is in store for my mother-in-law, I decided I might need a little help. The smallest amount of Zoloft worked almost instantly. It was probably a placebo effect since the drug is supposed to be in your system for 2-3 weeks before it has any effect. But, anyhow, I am glad I feel like myself once again. My kids enjoy the playful, happy mom once again who is not stressed over tiny details. Even the past 2 weeks that my husband has had to work 7 AM to 9 PM has not even bothered me. It was like being a single mom to 4 young kids, but I handled it with no problems.

Even with all the things that have happened these past 7 weeks, I have many things to be happy about. My pre-eclampsia is gone. My dad's cancer was caught early. Isabella only suffered from RSV and is now healthy. I am blessed with my 4 beautiful children. I love my husband more and more every day. My home is full of love. And I have wonderful family and friends to help me through the trials. As spring is blooming and Easter is around the corner, I feel things are going well.

Talk to you all next month!

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