12 February 2014

Tri-tanic 2.0

so, theres this new thing brewing...im cooking another human being. heres the low down...

in what can only be described as a move made by crazy people, we had tried a few times 2012 (while in the process of planning the move to finland). the universe concluded that that plan was asinine and possibly dangerous and was not willing to engage in such potential chaos. and a hearty thanks for that.

later, there were two things (maybe three) that motivated us to make the decision to try again, under more sane conditions. one: we found we really like finland and would like to make our life here. two: discovering that gluten was stealing all my energy, and then being able to regain that energy allowed me to finally understand how any parents in the world can possibly want to go back down the gauntlet. and lastly, maybe 2% of a motivation, was finding this greeting card at my now favorite finnish artists market stand in the spring of 2013 (before i was contemplating a second kid). the image was so beautiful and it was staring at me. i thought id be able to part with it once a friend with one kid became preggo with her second, but i couldnt think of who i could entrust to cherish such an image (they would need to have it professionally framed and mounted in a place of prominence in their home. as i intend to do). lol. so i kept it.

(the inspiring picture by viivi kemppainen)

anyway, we tried for a few months in the fall of 2013 and were down to the last attempt we were going to give for this second child idea. basically, ever. and that was okay with us since we hadnt pinned our future familys hopes and dreams on it. things would be fine either way.

then on the day i was expecting my period. nothing. i had cramps, but...nothing else. okay, weird. next day, expecting it...nothing. except cramps. okay. well, now its a holiday in finland, everything is closed. there is one 24-hour pharmacy in the city that is open and dave is heading to california for a week-long meeting tomorrow. it would be nice to have this information before he goes. so, after a two hour round-trip with X on public transit, i come back with some pregnancy tests. i pee on one. its positive...o...kay. this does not seem real. i decide to save the second one for the next day so that maybe the situation will have changed, or the test results will sink in more if i have two different days of results. well the second one was positive too. so, i guess we're looking at a due date around my birthday in august. and just like that, our life is being re-written. we'll see what comes.

first symptoms i noticed: feeling a bit dizzy and having a strong sense of smell. also, i was bloated right away. nice. that early mild cramping also went on for days. and when heartburn and nausea arrived early on, i recalled just why i hate pregnancy so much. in the beginning too, it was very easy to overeat and feel yucky. and the nausea came on most strong after lunch and continued on through to bedtime (at least this kid seems to give me relatively calm mornings). a big change from being pregnant with X, is that im craving salty things, BURGERS, pizza, and other fatty junk food. sweet things make me nauseous.

(key) preggo dream: dave and i were on a cruise ship and i asked to speak with the captain. i then asked him the name of the ship. he said it was named 'dylan'. i said i thought all ships were female (though, to be fair, in my world dylan is a perfectly reasonable name for a girl). he looked right at me and said 'its a boy...its the titanics brother'.

well shit. slap me with a more up-front warning why dont you universe. thanks. and, well, i guess thats the best description for the situation that can be made anyway. X nearly sunk me on her maiden voyage, though thankfully there were survivors, and those survivors certainly have an epic story to re-tell. now, i also looked up the titanic to see if it actually had other 'siblings'. and indeed she did. an older sister, the 'olympic', had a stable, decades long career. and then there was the younger sister, the 'brittanic', who as fate would have it, sunk as well, near greece, a year after launching. the positive angle to that fact, though, is that there were only 30 lives lost (as opposed to the titanics 1500+ deaths). bring on the easier baby?

flu season: so, once again, this winter there is an H1N1 outbreak scare. hey, cool, the last round of the H1N1 scare was...the winter i was preggo with X. awesome. and because we were going to travel to the US, i chose to get the flu shot this year, whereas perhaps, otherwise i wouldnt have. thankfully the shot here is the same as the US vaccine cocktail and included H1N1. and, our family decided to be plagued with all sorts of disease in the month of january and february so its the luckiest thing that i got that shot.

1st appt (10 weeks): so finland was ranked the best place in the world to be a mother/infant in 2013. they must be doing things right. when i called for an appointment, i discovered that they dont even want to see new moms until they are 8-10 weeks along. there was no interest to rush me in for a confirmation blood test. the fact of no period and a positive pregnancy test was fine, and so the wait until 10 weeks for my first appointment began.

at this first appointment, there was just basically lots of information and forms to fill out. i did a finger prick test to check hemoglobin levels (normal), a pee-in-the-cup test (the litmus said that maybe i had a small infection [i had a cold] so i was referred for a further lab pee test), blood pressure check, and (the dreaded) weight measurement. thats all. i got an appointment for the 10-13 week ultrasound, and my next office appointment at 22 weeks! now, for first time moms, there are a few more regularly scheduled office visits, but if you are on your second or later child, you get these long gaps where you arent seen for the routine check-ups. i think thats great. if things are going normal and healthy, i dont need to be measured and weighed a billion times, it just creates waste (time, money, resources), and potential worry in my opinion.

also, most of the early visits are with a public health nurse. i dont think i see an actual doctor until maybe 24 weeks or something? after the second/last ultrasound. and then i think you see the doctor more frequently toward the end. i also saw mention of midwives, at the hospitals, i guess. as in, maybe everyone labeled as a normal pregnancy gets a midwife and ob/gyn type of doctors are only given to the more risky patients? not able to confirm that.

labs: pee test (to check out that possible infection mentioned at my appt) and blood tests (to detect the risk of downs and other anomalys, as well as to check for things like toxoplasmosis [since we have a cat] and a few other things).

first ultrasound: i had to go alone since it was after X got out of daycare and no kids were allowed, dave had to stay with her. the hospital i was assigned to for the ultrasound was the farthest one away (since we needed it to be very soon because we were traveling to the US during the other part of the time frame), so i had a 1 hour bus ride. the place was confusing and under-construction but the staff were friendly. i needed the help of several people to guide me to the waiting area, but i eventually made my way. the technician was kind and informative and helpful. i got 5 pictures and my the next ultrasound appt made (at a different, closer hospital) and i went on my way.

(it was nice to actually get a picture to take home this time, since they werent offered when i had the ultrasound for X)

end of first trimester: im finding this nausea/heartburn pattern to be different. it seems to want to stick around much longer, but it isnt as intensely horrifying as it was for X. it still wears on my patience though. im finding that i now have almost no cravings, but aversions to sweet things for some reason and corn based things make me feel yucky. which pretty much sucks since i cant have gluten and i love mexican food. what i have found, oddly enough though, is that my symptoms seem to be somewhat alleviated by vegetables (and sometimes red meat) and exercise. there are even times when i find brushing my teeth after a meal makes the nauseating taste in my mouth subside. what a darn healthy baby.

08 February 2014

Failure to launch in florida

alternate entry title: 'family, phlegm, and feces in florida' 

oh how i had wished this trip would be relaxing. it was a u.s. vacation where i had FINALLY made NO plans, scheduled nothing, except which days we would be staying at my moms house and which days we would be further south visiting with daves family. we had no expectations except to relax and have fun and let X be with her extended family. we had had lengthy months of grey and gloom in helsinki so really this trip was poised for greatness right? unfortunately...wrong. and it had everything to do with health problems. we had all gotten sick in the weeks before the trip (dave terribly so), but i had actually thought we were going to have overcome all that by the time we took off. nope, in fact X had all kinds of unfortunate 'firsts' on this trip and no one got anything remotely approaching sleep or rest, least of all me. well, i guess theres always next time...

(early morning take off for berlin and then miami...the look on Xs face should have warned me...'are you SURE this trip is a good idea?')

1/28 (tuesday): so the night before our eeeeeearrly morning flight, X was up all night with a relatively new coughing problem. it got bad enough that i gave her a second round of cough medicine somewhere in the wee hours of the morning. i think it was an expectorant (it was finnish and i had recently gotten it, so i didnt know everything about it) because it made her cough even more, in fact, it 'helped' a bunch of mucus as well as all of her dinner to come up all over her and her bed. her first 'vomit' ever. awesome. she wasnt phased though. i had to clean everything up and do mid-night laundry load because i couldnt leave soiled sheets in a pile for our cat/housesitter.

aaaaanyway, she finally slept after that, meaning i got maybe 3 hours of sleep that night. we then woke up before 5a and got to the airport. just after boarding the first flight, X was still coughing, and again coughed so much she gag-spit-up mucus before we even took off. we got to use an air sickness bag. a panic attack then ensued on my part. it was not a great flight, but thankfully short. then, the berlin airport was a piece of shit. we had no time to run in to the pharmacy to get X anything, let alone get her some kind of gatorade-type drink to replenish all this loss of fluids, and her digestive system was still bothering her from whatever she was still getting over from a few days before this. then, our miami flight was unfortunately cramped (no thank you for the lack of leg room air berlin!) and i basically had to stay awake giving 11 hours of tummy massages. oh, i was sooooo tired. thankfully, miami was hot and sunny. however, the enjoyment was short lived on our tiring and grumpy drive north out of miami to our hotel in stuart. along the drive, we had dinner at moes and finally slunk into our beds for the night at monterey inn and marina. alas, no one actually slept because there was still a lot of coughing and a very tired child screaming.

1/29 (wednesday): due to the time zone changes, we woke up at 5a. kindly, the marina we were staying at looked like this in the morning. beautiful, calm, quiet, serene.

then, once the stores opened at 7a we hit a publix grocery store and a panera for breakfast and drove the rest of the way north to my moms. we got acquainted at marmee and pals house (they had moved since the last time we visited) and settled in. X really enjoyed the short walk around their little pond out back (they had sandhill cranes and egrets and turtles as visitors). we had a nice lunch at their favorite local middle eastern restaurant, visited the small 'farm' that one of als kids has (X got bit by the donkey and hasnt stopped talking about it since), hit the library for a stack of books, and finished with dinner at home. phew!

1/30 (thursday): we woke up at 6a, having had a night filled with lots of coughing from the kid. i might have slept a few hours, but only in the beginning of the night. and we were also greeted by a full day of rain. thanks florida! we went shopping at target in the morning (we wanted to fill a suitcase with cheap american staples to bring back with us) and hit panera again for food. when we got stir crazy, we walked around the backyard pond in the rain. then we had a tasty and unusual gluten-free waffle sandwich lunch from the bald strawberry. yum. to get outside during a break in the rain, we stopped in at erna nixon park and its tiny nature center for a damp and chilly, yet nice walk. lastly, we hit the library again and went home for dinner. als middle daughter and her partner came over to eat with us, they were prepping for the imminent arrival of their baby girl.

(as long as i dont have to walk in these swampy forests during the height of summer, i do think the foliage is beautiful)

1/31 (friday): we again 'woke' up at 6a after having gotten hardly any sleep. the coughing was just not clearing up and the poor kid and i were not able to get a handle on things. we ended up wasting the morning trying to get her a nap, since she was so tired she was just unable to behave or participate in anything. after mildly succeeding, we had lunch at home. oh, and did i mention we were still hanging out under a massive rain cloud? stir. crazy. but, we looked at the radar and saw that further south the rain was lighter so we got in the car and drove to the archie carr sea turtle conservancy. it was a nice little place, and best of all...the rain was not there and the beach smelled divine. we then got in the car and drove a bit more south to play at vero beach. its been a long time since i was so thankful to be on the beach.

(snacks on the sand; sand castles with marmee)
(trying to get her to put her feet in the water)
(but running away was more fun)

2/1 (saturday): we spent the morning at home and then dave and i got out for our one and only date (not that others werent initially hoped for). we went shopping (for bathing suits) and had lunch at the mansion in downtown melbourne. dave was very pleased with their awesome beer selection. when we got back we visited with als oldest daughter, amy, who had popped over to see X and then we went to melbourne beach for some swimming. unfortunately, by now there was something starting to really affect Xs mood and behavior. she wasnt having any fun at the beach. puzzled, we grabbed some da kine diego burritos on the way home for dinner.

(lunch on the terrace)

2/2 (sunday): its hard to say if the nights 'sleep' was worse than previous nights, but it wasnt good. we spent the morning on a semi-successful shopping trip and attempted to get the kid a nap in the car. then we had a bbq with als family and daves parents also drove up from where they were staying in stuart. during the party we discovered X had a fever, then, later she was complaining that her tummy and bum were hurting her so much that we realized we had to go to the walk-in clinic in the morning (as an fyi as it relates to this story, X hadnt pooped since wednesday, 5 days ago, which was a 'first' for her. she had always been regular. however, this length of time isnt independently dire for kids, its around 10 days and/or with other signs that you start worrying).

2/3 (monday): we spent the morning at the nearby walk-in clinic. thankfully service was fast, but we were there a while, and left traumatized. i was SO tired and anxious at this point (i was now solidly on 3 weeks of perhaps worse sleep than the newborn days, since X had been sick for about 2 weeks, in varying degrees, before we even left) that i wasnt able to be the best health advocate for my kid, plus, none of these problems were typical for her, so i wasnt even sure what my feelings or instincts were, or what to expect as treatment or diagnosis options. since she still had her awful cough (though it was finally getting better) they were also worried about that on top of the fever and the constipation. in the interest of a bit of privacy and in an attempt to at least partially erase the details from my mind, i will simply summarize the conclusions from the visit: we exposed X to her first ever intentional radiation in the form of chest and abdominal x-rays, she got her first ever diagnosis and 'treatment' of an impacted bowel, as well as her first ever diagnosed ear infection and it happened to actually be a double infection, and finally, we left with her first ever prescription of antibiotics (thankfully they said her chest was fine). on top of the complicated web of these new health outcomes i was now worrying about her reaction to the meds since both dave and i are allergic to penicillin, and she was given antibiotics that were in the penicillin family (yes, we had mentioned our allergies to the doctor).

so, we went to the pharmacy, came home with the new antibiotics, gave her some and watched her immediately vomit it and her small snack back up. awesome. then we called the walk-in clinic looking for some new meds. they did not get back to us with a new prescription until the following day.

to take our mind off of things, we went for a walk at turkey creek and had my most favorite comfort dinner of beans and cheese. we finished off the day with a library visit for new books.

2/4 (tuesday): the new medicine was supposed to be at the pharmacy in the morning, but it wasnt. it finally arrived later. thankfully, when we gave her some there was no vomiting! minor victory. we stayed around the house all day because X was still uncomfortable and she was kinda yowling about her bum the whole time. poor thing. she got to play a lot with marmee and pal at least and then we went over to amys house for dinner.

again, in another attempt to be brief, the kiddo finally pooped on her own (first since wednesday) before we went to bed and was much more like her normal self. but the relief was short-lived. she woke up 3 traumatizing (for all) times to go some more, but then she finally slept soundly.

2/5 (wednesday): this morning we woke up cautiously optimistic, bushwhacked yet somewhat relieved, but, unfortunately, basically just done with this whole vacation. and yet, we still had more to go, and more discomfort was to come. as we packed to leave my moms house X got her final playing in with marmee and pal.

(parting shot; insta-nap in the car surrounded by her comforting 'friends')

on our drive south, the kid dozed and we stopped at the vero beach shopping outlets, but there was nothing really of interest to buy. so we drove on to stuart and met the whipps at their pirates cove resort. it was by the pool at the resort that we all got to meet daves half sister, jenny, for the first time. its a little bit of a long and foggy story but she is the daughter of daves dad from his first marriage 40+ years ago. jenny and her family were very kind, and helpful, and eager, and grateful to have us in their town. it was a nice experience to meet her, and one which we hope to repeat in the future.

and, because there was a pool, X and grandma went swimming and then we all had lunch in the whipps hotel room. after eating, we had some special fun, grandpa had bought some shrimp bait so we walked down to the resorts marina and X, grandpa and aunt megan fed the begging pelicans shrimp and fish bits (a chartered fishing boat had come back with its catch and one of the guys on board was cleaning and gutting fish at the cleaning station in front of us).

after all the excitement, we took a relaxing drive so X could nap, we stopped off briefly at bathtub reef beach where dave popped out to look around before the rain came in. then we checked in to our hotel and went to adorable downtown stuart to the really lovely stuart coffee co for some cold drinks and quiet time. our evening ended at jennys home for a family meet-n-greet and homemade dinner. jenny, her husband darren and her son richie are very nice people and were very excited to have more family and to have had the chance for them all to gather in the same place at the same time. it was a nice night.

(whole family, minus darren, but including pups maddie and mikki)

2/6 (thursday): in the morning X and dave went swimming in the hotels outdoor heated pool while i ran out to the importico bakery and nearby goodwill (SCORE! i got a mountain of gorgeous used hardcover childrens books for $4, total!). then we met up with the whole family for lunch on the patio at crawdaddys and related bourbon street bbq. unfortunately for us, X was having a particularly hard time due to her bum, it was bothering her anew. so, we went back to our hotel quickly to relax. there was more swimming and errand running (best buy, drug store, a thrift store for more books), followed by a take-out dinner of thai food that was brought over by daves parents and sister megan. it was nice to have the down time in our own hotel area and have dinner brought to us. later, we were able to make a quick venture out for dessert in downtown stuart for frozen yogurt at hoffmans.

(those water wings make her an independent swimmer. she was going kicking all around that pool!)

(some evening reading of the new thrift store books)

2/7 (friday): we said goodbye to family at a lovely breakfast and breakfast place called osceola street cafe. the food and location were great, we ate peacefully outside and were able to have a nice parting memory of such a hard trip. and then, it was time to pack and drive back to the miami airport. ack, i hate that place. we had a much easier long flight back this time though but we were so so tired when we got home. as if being sick and sleepless for the past 3+ weeks wasnt enough, coming across all those time zones is like purposely getting yourself sick for a few days. yuck.

*sidenote: Xs bum saga did not end until 6 days later, at the childrens hospital in finland. a few more details are included in the 'x-files: 4 years old' entry (still to come).*