Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Full Circle

When Tate was born, there were many people I wanted him to meet, but the nurses from the 7th floor were way at the top of the list. More than anyone except Kevin, they were a part of my pregnancy. Every day for 62 days they listened to Tate's little heart beat and watched our strip on the monitors, diligently looking for any problem. They watched him kick and saw my belly finally getting big, and as the weeks passed, they grew more and more invested in my son. The night before I was discharged two different nurses teared up saying goodbye because they didn't believe I'd bring Tate back to meet them. I knew they were worrying for no reason and promised we'd be back, and this week I was delighted to be able to follow through on our promise.

Watching those ladies glow as they cuddled with my baby boy has been one of the highlights of Tate's short life. While they fought over who'd gotten to hold him the longest, we chatted, and I realized for the first time that they aren't just being modest when they refuse to admit they had any part in Tate's healthy birth. They genuinely believe that's true. They see the part that I played, which was admittedly the defining role, but they don't see how much impact they had on my ability to do what had to be done. It wasn't just bringing me pills or filling my water jug a million times a day. They took the time to really get to know me and talk through my fears, both about the pregnancy and about eventually being Tate's mom. They didn't have to let me into their lives by sharing their own heartbreaking and difficult pregnancy stories or their own fears about motherhood, but time and time again, that's exactly what they did. Tons of other people played a part in my surviving those two long months, but day in and day out it was those nurses who encouraged me to keep going and convinced me I was even capable of doing it.

I doubt I'll ever be able to convince them of just how big a role they had in Tate's safe arrival, and they'll probably never really grasp just how much we love them... but we'll keep visiting. Tate will know that he's a miracle, and he'll also know that these women were a huge part of making that happen.


Tate and Caryl


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Ten days ago, we met Tate. These days have flown as I’m told they will continue to do. Here we are at the end of the first holiday with him as part of our family. We could have gone to see family an hour or so away, but we ended up staying at home. We sat around holding out little boy. We took a quick trip up to the hospital to visit the nurses who kept A and Tate safe for so long. We had a sad little Thanksgiving dinner prepared by yours truly. Chicken, rather than turkey, some mashed potatoes, green beans, and store bought cherry pie. Tate interrupted the eating with a little bit of screaming, but he calmed quickly after getting to join us at the table. It was a truly great Thanksgiving Day. Our list of things to be thankful for is extra-long this year.
The people that were part of Tate’s safe arrival still stick with me more than anything. There are more than I could list, and I still haven't been able to come close to thanking for their kindness and sacrifice. I won’t forget what our families did. I won’t forget the Sawyer’s taking a part of so many of their days to take care of Mags, and Blake’s willingness to give up his own comfort to bring us the saddest news of the stay. I won’t forget Suzanne’s presence in the hardest times. I won’t forget those nurses. The long hospital days are fading away quickly now that Tate is in our arms, but those days changed me more than I even know yet.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The End

Today Tate is one week old. He came early just like everyone thought, but rather than 25 weeks, he hung out until 39 weeks and 5 days. 2 days rather than 15 weeks. No one could have hoped for a better outcome.

Much like the rest of the pregnancy, labor and delivery went nothing like we'd planned. My labor didn't progress normally... it was crazy fast (which isn't all that shocking considering we'd spent months trying to slow it down). Tate did ok until the end, but then he decided we all needed one more good scare. His heart rate dropped for several minutes, and everyone quickly moved into emergency mode. My doctor was called back from her office. The nurses (including one of my favorites from before who had just stopped by to visit on her way home) raced to get everything ready and called in specialists in case Tate continued to have trouble. It became apparent that time was up: Tate was going to be born right away, one way or another. Luckily, he cooperated, and we didn't have to be rushed into an emergency c-section. A little over 4 hours after getting to the hospital, baby Tate was crying in my arms, and two days later he was discharged with me.

Back on August 4th, the sweet nurse who took care of me that first night told me we were going to make it through this part and Tate would come home with me instead of going to the NICU and then all the hard stuff would be worth it. At the time I doubted her. I didn't believe Tate would ever make it to term, and even if he did, I wasn't sure how I'd feel by the time my miserable pregnancy was over... but she was right. Between the constant nausea, extended hospital stay, and complications at the end, pregnancy was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, but sitting here trying to type with Tate resting on my chest, I have no doubt it was all worth it. Our son is safe and healthy and absolutely perfect, and unless we tell them, no one will ever know what we went through trying to get him here.

After months of sickness and fear, the hard part is over. Yes, we're now sleep deprived and have less freedom to do whatever we want as we've been warned for months, but our Tate is here. After years of hoping and praying for a child we weren't sure would ever come, we will celebrate this Thanksgiving with our brand new, healthy baby boy.


Monday, November 14, 2011

A New View

This morning, we were on the old familiar drive down 75 to Forest Lane. Instead of turning into the Entrance A, we drove all the way around to Entrance D. Instead of it being me by myself, I had A riding/reclining shotgun. She was in a lot of pain. Contractions started early this morning and didn’t let up. After almost 40 weeks of waiting, 9 of which were spent here at the hospital; at 10:25 this morning, November 14, 2011, we met our little boy, Noah Thomas Berkline, better known as Tate. He weighs in at 8 lbs. 1 oz and is 20 ¾ inches long. He has a little bit of blondish hair. He has a cry that will be keeping us up many nights, and a lip quiver that will no doubt make us laugh.
So now, here we are. Another day, another huge change. We are in the room directly above the room Adrian spent 9 long weeks in. The view through the window is just about the same. The pull out couch is just as uncomfortable. Society Bakery is still in the atrium selling cupcakes (of which we have already partaken today). Everything is pretty much the same, except when I look in front of me. Now I see my wife holding the boy we, along with all of you, hoped and prayed would make his entrance into this world just as he did. He made it to full term. According to the pediatrician, he couldn’t be healthier.
We are extremely blessed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time Flies

In the span of Tate’s life thus far, everything has been a rollercoaster. First off, there was the elation of finding out that he was coming in the first place. We were there at the top of the big first hill of the rest of our lives. From there, the reality what that would mean set in. We had our last hurrah trip to Europe that started in Paris and ended in nausea. The ups and downs of the next few months were slow. Tate’s presence was felt only through the slow acquisition of baby items and that constant nausea. We flew through those months.
Back on the day this blog started, we had worked out way through t to the top of the biggest hill we had ever seen. Back then, it felt like the track was ending, and we’d be flying off the edge. Looking back, we are blessed to be able to say that we stayed on the track. The ride seemed long at the time and had some scary twists and turns, but we made it. We had help and prayers from tons of amazing people. Now it already seems like that was all forever ago.
These past four weeks have been remarkably normal. A was still on bedrest those first two weeks, so that meant she got to be wowed by my incredibly advanced cooking skills, and we found what we could to keep her comfortable. I came home every day to make lunch and fill up the same old insulated mug she used at the hospital. We finally bought a piece of patio furniture to give her a comfy place to sit for some outside time. We relocated the couch for optimal left side tv viewing. We kept a steady supply of Sonic ice around. We bought a slingbox (which we probably should have bought while she was actually in the hospital). All of this was to keep the number of steps as low as humanly possible.
These last two weeks have seen A up and about quite a bit more. She’s getting her legs back under her, which has also been a huge blessing. We still haven’t made it further than 10 miles from the house (a situation that in the past has tended to make me stir crazy), but it’s been nice to get to have these last few weeks of just us. It’s sort of been like old times. Saturday’s spent trying to find the best something in Dallas (This week it was fried chicken, and we just ended up a Babe’s again). A nice weekend nap here and there. More than one trip to get ice cream.
Now it is all just another waiting game. It’s a different kind of patience now. This time it is for our little boy to be here. After months of worrying about him coming too early, now we get to think about what it will be like to finally meet him and to finally hold him. There was a time in the not too distant past when that was scary to me. After these months of worrying about all of the things that could have gone awry, it’s great to be sitting here able to say that I’m ready for the next set of challenges.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Almost There

Today Tate is officially full term. After all the weeks of restrictions and medications and fear, I get to spend this day cuddling with Maggie and waiting on Tate, not at Medical City. It's going much better than we originally imagined.

The past two weeks have been relatively uneventful, hence the lack of posts. I'm allowed to move around more, but my muscles atrophied so much during the eleven weeks of bed rest that I can't do much without getting sore and tired. Every day is a little easier, but my doctors say it will be months before I totally recover. I still see my primary doctor weekly, but now my appointments are like every other pregnant woman's appointments... not that much happens. Life is pretty boring for the first time in months.

And so, now we wait. Tate could be here any day, or it might be several more weeks. Either way we're almost there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Normal Again

Today I made my first trip back to Medical City.

It was incredibly weird being back on the other side, walking in to a regular appointment like all the normal pregnant women. For the last two months, any time I was outside of the Antepartum Unit it was blatantly obvious that I was one of the "sick" people. I rode in a wheelchair. I wore hospital bracelets and pajamas. I watched the other people walk around, but I clearly wasn't one of them. Today I was, or at least that's what anyone would have thought looking at me.

The walk from the garage to the office (which is in no way long) was by far the longest I've walked in ten weeks, so by the time we got upstairs I was exhausted and sore. The actual appointment was uneventful and lasted maybe fifteen minutes (which gave me just about enough time to recover for the walk back to the car), and then, unlike the last time I was in that office, I got to walk out! We stopped at Chick-fil-a on the way home to celebrate, and I got to eat fresh, unsoggy french fries for the first time since July. It's such a little thing, but these days things like crisp french fries are hugely exciting.

As of tomorrow Tate will be 35 weeks, and I'll be allowed to move again, at least a little. Judging by today the transition won't be easy. Three hours later I'm still completely exhausted from the brief excursion to the doctor's office, but at least I'll have time to build back a bit of stamina before Tate gets here. Hopefully he'll wait two more weeks...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Home

We're home.

I thought that if we finally got to this day I'd have lots to say, but as I've laid here all afternoon, not much has come to mind. We are obviously incredibly thankful that this day even came. When I look back at old posts and think about all the stress of the month of August, I sort of feel like a drama queen, but the fact of the matter is, I wasn't creating drama. All those risks were real. For MANY weeks, even well into September, everyone was nervously waiting for the day that the treatments would stop working and we'd be transferred back to labor and delivery, not the day I'd be discharged. It's only been in the last week or two that things really settled down and everyone started seriously discussing the possibility of going home... and now we're here.

The first day home has been relatively uneventful, spent primarily laying on the sofa while Kevin works on things without me and Maggie watches anxiously to make sure I don't leave again. Aside from location, my job hasn't changed. I'm still on strict bedrest, still taking the nasty meds to keep contractions at bay. In another week I'll be allowed a little more freedom (and already asked for permission to go get my hair cut), but anything that requires much walking or standing will still be off limits. Getting to go home was a big step, but the next few weeks will still be challenging... in some ways more than before. It wasn't so hard being compliant at the hospital most of the time, but it's much more difficult now that I'm so much closer to freedom.

At any rate, Tate is still doing great. He's growing just like he should, and the latest guess at his weight is 5 1/2 pounds. He wouldn't let the doctor get a good look at his face today, and since we're officially done with the weekly high-risk appointments, it's likely we won't get to see him again until we see him in person. Only a few more weeks to go!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Bunch of Nurses

When Adrian arrived on the 7th floor at Medical City, we were terrified. How would we handle Tate being premature? How would we handle her being stuck here, and me having to handle the house and work? How would we handle sonograms and monitors and blood tests? How would we handle the food? Could we both keep it together long enough to do what was best for Tate? Starting with that first night, a large portion of our question started being answered, and those answers would continue coming every day for two solid months.
Way back on August 4th, I had to go home to take care of Mags and try to get some things in order while leaving my shy, terrified wife alone here in the hospital. She took some medicine to help her sleep, but it had the opposite effect. She was alert and alone. A patient, caring nurse whose name A didn’t remember in the morning stayed here in the room with her for a long time to keep her company and assure her that everything would be ok. Now after all this time, Tracie still comes in every night she’s here, whether she is A’s nurse or not, just to see how things are going and keep us entertained.
On the morning of A’s first sonogram here, we were again scared. We didn’t know the doctor past a quick meeting on the day she was admitted. We were worried that the sonogram might reveal after a couple of bad ones in a row. A spunky, redheaded nurse came to take A to that first sonogram. She kept the mood light with a great sense of humor. She picked on the doctor a bit, and things didn’t seem so scary. Tara gets the award for best wheelchair picker even though she lost to A in today’s day long water drinking contest.
On the first couple of weekends we were there, we were still adjusting. Those were definitely some rough days. There was no routine and nothing good on tv. A chatty, fun nurse would come and visit far more than she had to. She spent tons of time getting to know us and helping us get adjusted. I specifically remember a tough time early one Saturday night. I got back to the hospital after a quick run out, and there was a nurse sitting in a chair next to my wife’s bed, holding her hand; showing empathy that I didn’t know existed. In the last week, she has made it her mission to toughen us up and prepare us for parenthood. Mostly, Deeanna has succeeded in reminding us that you can’t make up truly caring for people.
Aside from a select few, the nights of sitting at the hospital run together. The monotony of the nights always begs for something different. TV can’t make up for some great stories. One nurse has always has some great ones to tell. Her first reminder has always been for A to take her vitamins, but after that, she always sticks around to make us laugh. We’ll always remember Patty for being a lot of fun, and we won’t forget our vitamins.
One Sunday night a couple of weeks ago, we had a bit of a scare. A was having some contractions that were more intense than any she had experienced. A nurse that is particularly calm was assigned to A that night. She hooked A and Tate up to the monitors, and assured us that no matter what was happening, they’d be ok. Even though we were terrified, she didn’t show one bit of panic. Diana was the perfect nurse for that night.
We had been there a while before A was assigned to one of the nurses. Once she was, we quickly struck up a conversation of a place near and dear to both of us, College Station. Her kids are about our age and are Aggies. She made sure we were comfortable and had everything we could possibly need. She is quite the crafty lady as well. Tate will be well decked out in the awesome striped shoes and bib she made for him. Thanks to Caryl for her craftiness and kindness.
I could go on for pages about these and the other nurses and assistants of the Antepartum unit. These words don't do them justice. They will hold a special place in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We couldn't have made it this far without all of them. They've made it possible for me to go to work in the mornings and go home at night. I have known that A is being well cared for by a group of people that aren't just good at the clinical side of their job, they care about and love my wife and son.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Statistics

I've been running around too much to keep perfect numbers, but in the last 60 days, I've:
  • Slept on this lumpy, pull-out couch somewhere around 15 nights (and parts of 20 or so days)
  • Called or sent an email each of the 45 nights I've gone home letting A know that I'd made it home
  • Hit up the Chuy's takeout counter at least 10 times (and many other takeout counters at least once)
  • Bought 9 weekly parking permits
  • Watched 3 1/2 seasons of Mad Men (and probably more episodes of Say Yes to the Dress than that)
  • Gone down the hall to get water and/or ice no fewer than 100 times
  • Told Maggie how much A misses her every day for 60 days
  • Been outside of a 10 mile radius of this hospital room 0 times.
As long as all goes as expected, I'll should be taking my wife home in two days. We've been through enough to know not to take that for granted, but we can't help but be excited. She'll still need to take it easy for at least a few weeks, but we'll be back to living in the same place. Maggie has spent the last 60 days waiting patiently for A to walk through the door She'll be so excited to have her best friend home, and I will be too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Week to Go!

I just told my nurse that I knew I should post something because it's Tuesday, but I've run out of ways to say the same thing every week. She laughed and said that if she was writing, she'd just say, "Ditto," and be done. I'm not sure that's a workable solution for me, but getting bored with writing the same things every Tuesday is a pretty good problem to have.

Today everything was basically the same. I've officially gotten good at accepting that the measurements don't matter that much, but it's also a lot easier now because the risks of preterm birth are smaller. We're down to the final stretch... just over a week away from the ultimate goal of 34 weeks, and all signs suggest we'll reach it. Obviously 37 would be even better, but once we get to 34 we're outside of the window for most all significant problems we could have faced had Tate been born when we originally thought.

This week life has veered slightly back towards normal. I'm allowed to sit up and move around a little more, and Kevin takes me for a wheelchair ride every afternoon which gives me a little time outside of our lovely hallway. I've spent the past two days picking out clothes for Tate since we have nowhere near enough, and last night I entertained the night nurses with glow bracelets (which they actually wore all night long!). If you take out the hospital and the wheelchair, it's been a pretty normal week... picking out baby stuff and laughing with new friends. It's still different than what I always imagined this time would be like, but I don't mind so much anymore that this will be our story. There are some pretty awesome parts that wouldn't have been there if I'd gotten my way.

Soon life will change again. Before we know it, I'll be home, and not too long after that we'll finally get to meet Tate. Life at the hospital will be a distant memory, except for when we come back to visit the women we've grown to love who've kept us safe for so long. We have so much to be thankful for and even more to look forward to... only one week to go!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

32

Four weeks ago, I picked up a cookie cake at the mall. On it, was the simple, unpunctuated declaration that Tate was 28. The cookie company people probably didn't realize that 28 was in reference to weeks rather than years, and they certainly didn't realize just how exciting it was. That day was one that I will never forget. Everything else seemed far away, but that day we celebrated that Tate's brain and several other vital organs were developmentally at a point where a lot of major risks of premature birth had passed.

From that day, the milestone was 32 weeks. That would represent the point where just about everything aside from his lungs was developed. As recently as last week, we thought that today might have to be more about a tiny boy hooked up to machines fighting to grow rather than another celebration of a boy that we haven't met. I still can't quite believe it, but according to the cake (again lacking punctuation worthy of the excitement), Tate is 32 weeks old. I won't forget today either. Two out of three milestones down. We celebrated with Chuy's and that big chocolate cake complete with a rainbow.

On to another day. Like always, we have to continue a day at a time. That final milestone of 35 weeks looks and feels more possible than at any point in the last 7 weeks, but we aren't going to take anything for granted. Getting to today is just another of many in a long string of amazing blessings.

Things I'm Thankful for Today (Other than 32 weeks):
1. Tasty, cheap cakes from Costco.
2. Getting to share today's celebration with the nurses. They deserve more than just cake.
3. A quiet week (so far) of being on call at work.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Bit of a Rainbow

As always, this morning I had my weekly sonogram. It should have been quick because the doctor did a more in-depth one last week, but I got "lucky". A new nurse and a student nurse were here to observe, and since I was the only person scheduled for today my doctor took a little more time than usual explaining everything to them. I could have done without the extra eyes, but it did mean an extra picture and more time watching Tate. I guess it was a decent trade off.

This week the news is good. Tate was great as always, and we got to watch him swallowing (which gave him the hiccups... not his favorite). He was also wide awake and wiggly as opposed to his normal early morning sleepiness which made things a little more fun. The doctor was encouraged by all of my measurements too. No one knows why, but things are actually looking visibly better. At this point, the general consensus seems to be that we're going to safely make it past 34 weeks and head home still waiting for Tate to arrive, but even if we don't, tomorrow we'll hit 32 weeks and enter the zone of relative safety. Chances are now good that our son will be born healthy. That's amazing.

Tomorrow we're going to celebrate Tate's latest milestone with lots of yummy junk food, but for now I get to keep waiting. We're getting so close...

Not his most photogenic moment, but he's certainly getting big!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Other Boys

Many of you know that for the past two summers I've gotten to hang out with two super cool preteen boys, Max and Patrick. I met my precious Patrick at church back when he was just a bouncy kindergartner, obsessed with pizza and Spongebob, and I've been blessed to watch him grow into a fabulous fifth grader who now prefers drawing and Pokemon but still loves cheese pizza as much as always. Over the years of working with him, I also got to know his parents and his awesome big brother, so when his mom emailed me one spring asking if I knew anyone who would want to be their summer babysitter/tutor, the answer was easy: me! For two years now I've gotten to drive the boys around, attempt to make them do school work, and feed them lots of junk food, and they in turn entertained me with their witty humor and kept me from going insane from boredom during my time away from school. It has been the best job in the world.

We love the Pipers and are thankful every day for what their friendship has meant to us over the past few years, so yesterday we were heartbroken to hear that my dear friend Ann and her sweet boys had lost their husband and father, Matt. It's hard to swallow because it makes no sense and feels very unfair, especially considering some of the other trials their family has dealt with lately. This is yet another time that I wonder where God's goodness is in a hard situation, but I take comfort in knowing that somehow this is part of his good plan. He's still there. Our friends are not alone. We don't understand why this had to happen, but we know there is still hope.

Today we are thankful that our precious boy, Tate, is still safe, but we ache for Ann and her boys, who I love like my own. Today our prayers are with the Pipers, and we ask that you join us in praying for their comfort and peace in the midst of this storm.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Us

We met the very first day that we were both in College Station. She was a tall, quiet, beautiful girl from Louisiana. She was at A&M on scholarship studying Petroleum Engineering. I was a tall, shy, goofy looking guy from Southeast Texas. I was at A&M on mostly my parent’s dime studying Computer something. We didn’t talk much, though we did end up seeing a lot of each other that first year at school. It wasn’t that we set out to see each other; it was incidental contact. She became good friends with my twin sister. My sister and I shared both a car and a residence, so I had to see that beautiful girl quite often. Revisionists’ history says I was pretty mean that year. I don’t recall such things.

A year or so down the line, a boy from Laredo was in the picture for my sister. Adrian wasn’t around quite as much with Karla being so occupied, but I still saw her somewhat often. Over the span of Christmas break our junior year, we started seeing quite a bit of each other even though. Classes were out. Movies needed to be watched, and cheesecake needed to be made. Just before we both left for Christmas, it worked out that a group of people was whittled down to just the two of us. We went to see some Christmas lights and then I got to buy her some ice cream. By the time we got back from Christmas break, we stepped it up to dinner at the Cotton Patch CafĂ© and Putt-Putt. The next few years flew by. We watched lots of bad movies. She took a job in Hearne while I finished up school and moved here to Dallas. I asked her to marry me on a poorly planned April Friday a few months later, and we were married that July in a chapel less than a mile from where we first met.

Here we are now. Living in the Dallas area. Six years of marriage. Bought a house. Adopted an awesome mutt. Done a good bit of traveling. Eaten out way too much. There have been a lot of highs and lows. We’ve both changed a lot since those early days in College Station. I love my wife more than anyone in this world. She is a smart, funny, beautiful person. She is amazing with kids. She may be quiet in a room full of adults, but give her a bunch of 5 year olds, and she lights up. Her sarcastic wit makes me smile. She keeps me on my toes, and I love her so much. I’ve missed having her at home almost as much as she’s missed being home. She continues to do an amazing job with being here at the hospital. We are on the downhill side.

Thanks to her persistence to keep Tate safe and God’s grace, our family is still just me, A, and Maggie. We get to know Tate a little better every day. He has his tendencies that make us laugh. Our little boy brings us so much joy already. We continue to realize what a blessing it is to have not seen him yet. On to week 32.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 40

After a rather stressful half day filled with concerning new symptoms, the weekly checkup is over ahead of time!

Although we're still not clear on what has caused the newest complications, the news from this afternoon's sonogram was great all around. Tate is still measuring right on track, weighing in at a whopping 3 lb 14 oz, and surprisingly, my measurements were the best yet. Based on the past couple of days, I'd prepared myself for a bad report, and judging by his response upon looking at the sonogram, my doctor hadn't been super hopeful either... but we were both wrong. Against all odds, everything was fine.

Tonight I'm thankful for our 40th completed day. Not so many hours ago there was a very real concern that Tate might be here by now, but instead we get to keep counting tomorrow. Since everything has settled down for now and the sono looked good, there's a solid chance we may still make it to 32 weeks or beyond. I'm also grateful that for the first time in three weeks, my favorite nurse was here today when things went bad. She's still here in fact, working a 16 hour shift. I certainly couldn't do her job, but for my own sake, I'm really glad she showed up this morning!

We're only one day away from 31 weeks now, eight days away from the next big milestone of 32 weeks. After today, I'm thinking these may be the longest eight days of my life...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An Empty Room

The transformation of our guest room into Tate's room is one of the projects that is going on at our house right now without much help from me. My family finally got the shutters down and blinds up when they came. A's parent's have taken up the project from there, leading up to what you see today. The room is an empty shell, ready to become a little boy's room. Gone is the bed that I liked to nap on, the bookshelves that held all manor of crazy things but few actual books, the stacks of cds that grew on the desk in the corner, and the Christmas decorations, old computer parts, and various other sundries that filled the closet.


Over the next few weeks, it will become our little boy's nursery. The blue paint that is in the cans on the floor will be going up on the walls. Curtains are being made with cartoon animals on them. A crib, changing table, glider chair, and who knows what else will be taking up the floor space. Hopefully the rug we ordered will make it soon. Chances are a couple of T's, an A, and an E will find their way onto the wall, along with some other colorful, fun pieces of art. I'm not very good at picking that sort of stuff, but A's been working on finding some.

It was kind of strange sitting in the corner of this empty room thinking about what it is about to become. I was completely alone. It was silent except for the sound of the camera shutter. Before long, the room will be full of life. A will be sitting in her glider right there in the corner. Tate will be sleeping in her arms. It will be a good silence. I'll get to take that picture too, and the shutter won't even echo.

This chapter continues to be a long test of our endurance. The plot has stalled out and is highly repetitive. Not as many characters have been in and out. We still have no idea how much time is left in this particular section, but we remember that the longer this one goes, the easier the next one will be to get through. The part that includes the big chair and the beautiful woman and the tiny baby will be amazing. I just have to be patient. We're getting there. Slowly but surely.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 Weeks

Yesterday was sonogram day, and as always my doctor pronounced everything unchanged. I'm slowly getting better at accepting that unchanged can mean a lot of things, all of which are fine for now, but it's still not easy. This week was one of the weeks that unchanged actually meant worse. I took the news better than some weeks, but I'm definitely dreading next Tuesday.

Today we finally hit 30 weeks. Although the sonogram wasn't great, everyone still assumes we'll be here awhile longer. It's just becoming more likely that the next few weeks will involve more restrictions for me which I would really prefer to avoid. Most of the time I have to force myself not to think about what could be ahead because if we get to that point, I'll have no real choice but to comply even though it will totally suck. Luckily, Tate was particularly precious during yesterday's sono: all curled up in a ball, sleeping, with his tiny hand rubbing his eyes. When I see him looking so real and human it's impossible not to love him, and that makes the hard stuff seem a little more bearable.

This week is shaping up to be long and boring. No going outside. No visits from Maggie, and hopefully no visits from Tate. Just waiting and hoping that next week things look better, not worse.

Monday, September 5, 2011

One Month

I can hardly believe I've been in the hospital for an entire month. It's certainly not because the month has flown by. I've done this for so many days that at times it's hard to remember life was ever different, but this is so far from something I thought I'd have to deal with that it still feels foreign most of the time. Other people do this. Stronger ones. Not me.

For the last week or so I've been exhausted with it all. Luckily the week has been fairly low stress because I don't know how well I would have dealt with another week like the last one. Unfortunately, being in bed is finally starting to wear on me. It took a month, but now my legs pretty much constantly feel stiff and weak. I'm losing patience with the miserable side effects from the medication I'm on to prevent contractions, and most of all I'm tired of being "reminded" that I should just think about how I'm doing what's best for my baby any time I say anything even vaguely negative, even if I'm answering a question (like about the side effects of the meds, for instance). Unless you've done this yourself random nurse, you don't get to tell me how to feel, thanks. Incidentally, the one doctor who HAS done this herself never criticizes.

Assuming nothing changes, Wednesday will mark the halfway point of my hospital stay. As long as I don't develop any new complications, my doctor has said I'll be allowed to go home once we reach 35 weeks. Since I was admitted at 25 weeks and 1 day, that works out to exactly 10 weeks, and we're 2 days away from the end of week 5. It's easier to think about when there's an end point. Only 6 more sonograms. A little over 5 more weeks. Things could still change at any moment, but it's fairly unlikely that the change would result in me being here longer. At least for this part, there is an end in sight.

We're almost to 30 weeks (wow!), and tomorrow we should find out if we're likely to make it to 31. Here's to hoping everything stays the same...


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another Week Down

It's been a quiet, slow week at the hospital. Tomorrow marks a full month since we arrived. The month has flown for me. With being up here mixed with work, food and grocery runs, some short times at home, and everything else that goes along with it; it seems like yesterday that we started all of this. I don't think I could make a half day out of the amount of time that I've spent at home aside from sleep and getting ready for work. It's a whole different story for A. The month has been long. She hasn't clocked an hour total outside of the walls of this room. Her 20 minute visit with Maggie earlier this week was the first time she's even left the hallway.

This difference is part of what makes this hard for me. The pace for me outside of these walls is so fast that I don't have the time I need to to slow down and rest. The hospital room is somewhere that I slow down, put away all that is going on outside, focus on my wife, and get some of that much needed rest. For her, the hospital room is a cell that sometimes seems to be getting smaller. Resting 24/7 isn't all it's as great as it sometimes sounds. She'd love to feel the normalcy of being out and about and running errands. I'd love to spend some nice, quiet days at home. This is probably the first time in our marriage that these roles have been reversed.

In the end, I'm going to do what keeps my wife and son safe, comfortable, and feeling loved. As we push into month #2, some things are going to continue to get harder. My pace isn't going to do much slowing down. A's pace isn't going to do much speeding up. We look back and are thankful that we've had the month that we have. We still haven't met Tate. He's still growing, and through this, so are we, even though we might not want to.

Things to be thankful for:
1. Going back several days, but I am extremely thankful for my buddy Mike. Tuesday got busy at work, and I didn't get the details of Maggie's visit with A worked out until very late. He dropped what he had planned to come help me out and made the day work.
2. The takeout counter at Chuy's in Plano. I've visited it many times this month, and they always get stuff ready quickly. I'm pretty sure they know me by now as Deluxe Chicken Quesadilla with Just Chicken and Cheese Guy.
3. Baseball season. The half inning of the Rangers that I tend to catch a day has become my nightly wind down routine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Once Again...

Today was sonogram day, and luckily for me, it started early. When the night nurse woke me for my 6:00 am meds she asked if it was my sono day because instead of the already early 7:00, the doctor would be here at 6:15. She seemed to think that would be a bad thing, but I was thrilled to have 45 fewer minutes to wait for whatever news the day would bring.

Like everything else here, the sonograms are becoming routine. It's worked out that a different nurse has taken me every time, but the doctor is getting to know me well. When today's nurse asked if I was shaking because it was so cold, he answered her before I could. He knows I get nervous, and he's even started making attempts to distract me when the nurses don't. Turns out he's not such a bad guy once you get to know him.

Once again, everything looked good, and this week that meant something hugely exciting: a visit from my Maggie who I've missed desperately for the last 27 days. I had to wait all day for Kevin to figure it all out and get here from work (and by the end of the day I was getting very impatient!), but it was totally worth it. Even though we didn't stay out long, I got a few minutes with my precious dog and was able to breathe fresh air for the first time in weeks. I couldn't have been happier. Today was a fabulous day.

Tomorrow Tate will be 29 weeks... funny how it feels like he's getting so old. :)



me, Mags, and the wheelchair!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frustration

This weekend was awful.

It all started last Monday when my doctor came in and said I'd have to do my glucose test at the end of the week. Despite the fact that everyone here told me I was wrong, I knew I'd fail. All week long the cloud of dread hung over me, and all week long people got more and more annoyed when I wouldn't listen to their assurances. Then they got the results from the lab, and suddenly everyone was quiet. I'd failed just like I said I would.

I've heard more times than I can count that many people fail the first test, and it's not something to be upset about. I get why people kept saying that, but to me it WAS something to be upset about. I hate needles, and even if I passed the second test, it meant going through a lot more blood draws. I also heard many times that the worst case scenario would be a restricted hospital-only diet and four finger pricks every day for the next two months. No big deal! I'm not clear on how that was supposed to sound positive to anyone, but to me it sounded awful, certainly much worse than if I'd faced this as my only complication and was dealing with it at home. On top of all the ways my life has been restricted thus far, I was now looking at losing the one piece of my old life I'd been able to keep. To me it was a very big deal.

The other hard part of the past few days has been all the comparisons, as if hearing stories worse than mine should make my issues not matter. Are there other people here in more dire situations than me? Absolutely, but it's not like things are all safe and fine for us either. We're almost to 29 weeks which is much better than 25, but it's still a long way from safe. We've been blessed to make it this far, but things could go awry at any moment. And I live at the hospital! Obviously I've got some problems too, so I certainly didn't want to add another to the list...

It's been a very frustrating time, but for now all of that is over. The results today were good, and aside from a very sad looking arm, all is well. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up to another sonogram, so it's quite possible that in a few hours we'll be facing some of those more serious complications... at least we had a little while to relax.


Results

This morning started a little rough. It was dark and gloomy outside. When I got here, Adrian had already been stuck three times in an attempt to draw blood once and drank her large bottle of Glucola. We sat here waiting. Every hour, on the hour for the next three, they came in to draw more blood. The final hour was especially nice for A as they had an intern doing the sticking.

By around 10:30, all blood had been drawn, and the sun was starting to peek out of the clouds. The nurse had come in to check on A, and said that the results from the first two draws were looking promising. Still, it was a long couple of hours waiting to hear the final results. I finally left to go grab some Chickfila for A. Just after I got out of the garage, my phone rang. It was A. There was a short pause in her voice, and my heart sank for a second. The jubilation and relief that came with the words "I passed!" is hard to describe. It definitely had my allergies acting up again for the millionth time in the past few weeks. I couldn't wait to get those nuggets and get back to give my wife a big hug.

We know that Gestational Diabetes is something that a lot of people deal with in pregnancy. It wasn't the end of the world, but the possibility of adding another thing onto the pile of complications was a hard thing to stomach. It was a huge weight that was piled onto our shoulders for the past week, and that weight is gone now.

Thanks for all of your prayers.

Things to be thankful for today:
1. The obvious. No special diet and no extra needles. The road looks a lot brighter than it did a few hours ago.
2. A giant Elmo balloon that is here in front of me. One of A's friends' daughters brought it up for A on Friday near the lowest point of the weekend. It was tough to see his goofy smiling face then, but now, it is perfect.
3. Realizing that the Chickfila on 635 is quite a bit quicker to get to from the hospital than the one on 75.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Little Bit of Bad News

A couple of hours ago, we got a little bit of bad news. They ran a glucose test on Adrian this morning, and the results weren't good. They are going to have to run the more complicated test on Monday morning. It's a somewhat common problem, but piled onto everything else, this news is about the biggest gutshot we have had since the day we ended up here. It means more needles will probably be involved. It means that my evening and weekend routine of bringing her outside food is in jeopardy. Some of the last remnants of outside normal that have helped us with hospital life might be going away.

This has been a tough, tough pregnancy. From the 24/7 sickness in the first two trimesters to now, our toughness has been tested. A's especially. I'm proud of the way she has handled it. She's been a trooper and has shown me how to keep things going. This latest change is testing her as much as the day we got here though. Please pray with me for comfort for her, and that she will feel loved. Please pray that she'll find some extra strength and courage to keep chugging along this hard road today. This isn't the time to worry or comment about test results or what may happen next week. Just please pray that she'll find comfort in the situation today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Non-Birthday, Tate!

Just under three weeks ago, we had no idea what today would look like. Would we have already met Tate? We hoped and prayed that we wouldn’t, and asked you guys to do the same. There is a small brightly colored index card sitting on the table next to A’s bed. The card was part of the neonatologist’s discussion with us the second day we were here. Week by week, it showed two things. The top row was the likelihood of Tate surviving if born at 24, 25, 26, 27, or 28 weeks. The bottom row showed the likelihood of him being born without major problems with lung or brain development. In those numbers, one thing was very clear. Getting to week 28 would be focus #1.
We still have a long road ahead, but today, we celebrate that milestone. 28 weeks. We celebrate a boy who we haven’t met yet, and a God who is faithful. We have been blessed beyond measure. If you’re in the area of Medical City this afternoon, drop by for a visit, have some cookie cake, and celebrate Tate’s non-birthday with us. If you want to come and don’t know your way up here; let me know, and I’ll get you directions and the room number.
Thanks for all your prayers and help these past three weeks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Good Day

Today is a good day.

The past couple of days were extremely hard. Part of what makes being here bearable is having the regular nurses around, and this week there have been lots of floaters. The random people are totally qualified, but they do things differently and are far less personable. It makes sense. Why would this person who knows she's unlikely to ever see me again care to get to know me? I understand why they behave the way they do because it's exactly what I would do in their situation, but understanding doesn't make dealing with it any easier. Most days my nurse is the first thing I see when I wake up, and until Kevin gets off work she's often the only person I talk to... so when the person who comes in to wake me up is unfamiliar, I know immediately that the day is going to be rough.

Yesterday I woke up dreading another floater, and sure enough, that's just what I got. She actually tried harder than most to be kind and understanding, but Monday isn't the day to offer me a list of random ideas to improve my mood. I was extremely stressed about today's sonogram, so what I really needed was reassurance. The only problem is that since this woman had never met me, she had no clue what to tell me or any background to suggest that reassurance would even be appropriate. For all she knew my fear was justified. At any rate, her attempts to be helpful ended up being more upsetting, and by lunch time I gave up and resorted to sleeping just to avoid talking to her for awhile.

Luckily today more of the regular people are back. Of course, it's also sono day... which has turned out to be filled with good news. Since tomorrow will be 28 weeks, the doctor took a more detailed look at Tate, and he was great as always. He's measuring pretty much right where he should except for his extra long legs (no surprise there!) and now weighs 2 lb 10 oz. My measurements were good this week too, showing another week of no progression. While there is a small chance that there could be signs of improvement, no one seriously expects that to happen, so continued stability is very exciting.

Tomorrow, on the last day of week 3 in the hospital, we'll reach our first milestone of 28 weeks. On August 4, this day felt unimaginably far away, but it's finally here. I can't wait!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday

Mondays are full of uncertainty. Tuesdays are sonogram mornings. After two of them so far, we don't know whether to be excited or terrified. The bed rest is still doing its job. Nothing has gotten worse since A's been here, and we are very close to the important milestone of 28 weeks The first week of sonograms showed a small improvement. After things had gotten significantly worse over the span of the previous week, this was amazing, encouraging news. The second week wasn't necessarily good news, but it wasn't bad news. It was basically no news. Things were a little worse than the week before, but definitely not as scary as the day A was admitted.

We again don't know what to expect tomorrow. The uncertainty is a huge part of what makes this tough. It's been a somewhat rough last couple of days. It hasn't been Tate. He's been a good little guy. The room is wearing on us both a bit. It's been very quiet and a bit lonely. They've been on a gap in the nurse rotation, so some of the familiar nurses have been gone and floating nurses have been here. The floaters haven't been bad, but that familiarity with the regulars that I talked about the other day was nice. Even with plenty of nurses in my family, I have never quite appreciated them as much as in the past few weeks. Weekend TV is pretty bad. Karate Kid 4 really didn't seem that good any of the many times it was on, and you can only watch so much Say Yes to the Dress and 48 Hours Investigates.

With as long as we'll hopefully be here, there will be plenty more ups and downs. Lots more fun days and hard days. Lots more sonograms and bad TV. Lots more good news and in all likelihood some more bad. Please pray with us for tomorrow. Pray for good news. Pray that Tate will behave and that there will be no change with anything. Pray that we will be prepared for whatever they say. Pray for patience and perseverance with the hospital bed. We constantly remember that staying here is what means that Tate will be healthier and stronger when we meet him. In the long run, this is a blip in time. In the short run, it feels like it might never end.

Things to be thankful for:
1. The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. After some random mention of it on TV, A and I watched it over the weekend. Great, cheesy fun.
2. Weekly parking passes.
3. Brownies. Both from Whole Foods and day old ones from one of the nurses.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hard Days

Today’s been one of the hard days. One of the days where it feels like there is no end in sight. I never mind meandering paths to get to places, but I hate feeling like there is no direction at all. Today is one of the days that under normal circumstances, I’d either sit around and watch tv or maybe take off on a Half Price Books trek and listen to a lot of moody music. Instead, I can’t be that selfish, impulsive Kevin.
I know the direction and the goal. A healthy wife and a healthy baby boy. I know my role right now is to keep things together and moving forward. I have the easy job.
Today's three things:
1. Music. Get Lonely by The Mountain Goats happens to be the album in particular today.
2. A laugh
3. A sunny day. Yeah, yeah, I know it's been this way for a long time, but the sun feels especially good today.

Friday, August 19, 2011

On to Week 3

Tate's first big milestone of 28 weeks is now five days away. Only five. That sounds so much more manageable than 20. Next Wednesday we'll be having a party to celebrate.

My first big milestone has actually already passed. I don't completely understand why the first two weeks were considered such a critical time, but from the beginning my doctor has been all about getting through the first two weeks... and we're officially done! This morning when she came in she informed me that her new goal is to have me here long enough to meet every doctor in the combined Dallas and Plano offices of her practice. Since I only see other doctors on weekends and she was on call last, I'd have to be here six more weekends before I'd hit all eight doctors. She was halfway joking, but even that is a big change from where we were. No one was joking two weeks ago.

So it looks like life is calming down. There's far less discussion of the next few days and far more discussion of preparing to be in the hospital until October when Tate would be 35 weeks. The constant stress of the first few days has mellowed into a predictable routine of monitoring and medications, and in many ways, I feel more secure now than I did before all of this happened. I'd just prefer to feel this safe at home...

Tomorrow starts weekend number three, and I can't say I'm looking forward to another boring Saturday... at least we're getting closer to our goal.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Familiarity

A and Tate have had a good last couple of days. She's settled in to her cheerful room, and he's behaving. Thanks to my job and the Sawyer's, Maggie and I have settled into a pretty nice routine too. We both miss A at the house, but she continues to amaze at her 24 hour job here at the hospital. I've explained A's job to Maggie. She understands and said she'd do her part too. She keeps the yard clear of pesky squirrels during in the morning and the house safe and clean in the afternoons.

Today marks two weeks of hospital life for A, and to a lesser extent me. In two weeks time, A's seen the hallway twice. I've learned my way around here pretty well. The nurses know when I'm coming and going. The guy down down in the cafeteria now knows me by my ice cream purchase. The lady at the parking pass place remembers how to spell my last name. The parking lot attendants don't say "Have a nice evening" when I leave around 5:00. They know they'll see me again before the night's over. I'm able to give elevator advice to the newbies who can't seem to figure out how to get to the 8th floor.

For a guy who thrives on variety and tends to like to remain anonymous, this routine and familiarity feel good. It means that A and Tate are in good hands. The longer we are here; the more familiar it will become. The more familiar it becomes; the bigger and stronger Tate is getting.

Today's little things:
1. A's bumblebee and 5:30 Rocks parents. A loves her kiddos. Seeing some of her former students and girls from her small group has been a huge lift.
2. My aircard. It's letting me spend more time up here while still being able to get work done.
3. I got the desk that was in Tate's room sold. One more step down towards getting his room ready.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Faithful

The nurses who work in this unit have said since day one that there would be moments when I'd fall apart. I'd assume that's common for any hospital stay, so I can't say that I doubted them. Of course, it has quickly proved to be true... yet, somehow it still surprises me when it happens over and over again.

In general I'm a pretty cheerful patient. My two main nurses call me "Sunshine," and for once it actually fits... until I hit a wall. The past few days that's happened a lot, and this afternoon was no exception. I'd hoped for better news this morning, and after a few hours of contemplating the news I actually got, I was feeling overwhelmed with knowing that after a week filled with uncertainty I'll have to do this all again next Tuesday.

And then, just like every other time I've thought I couldn't do this for one more minute, God provided an out. Last Tuesday it was a surprise sono. Saturday it was a nurse who took the time to chat with a woman she barely knows. Today it was a mom and three of my former students who arrived with flowers, cards, and cookies along with their precious smiles.

By the time they left I felt refreshed and ready to do this for another week, but about an hour later I was surprised again by one of the girls from the small group I lead at church with notes from my group and sweet verses she had written down for me to read when I get scared. Then not too long after that another Bumblebee showed up with her mom. The day that started out to be discouraging turned out to be one of the best so far, filled with children I adore.

I haven't always believed that God is truly faithful and often struggle to accept that I really matter to Him, but when I look at how the past three weeks have played out, it's harder to argue my point. Nothing about this situation is fun, but Tate and I are safe. Yes, it's hard to be me right now, but every time I think I can't do it anymore, He provides a way to get through, even if it's as small as a kick to remind me why I keep going. I would have preferred He keep us safe in a different way (like perhaps a normal pregnancy), but He's been faithful in big ways even though this is hard.

My nurse will be here any minute with my last meds of the day, so day 13 is almost over. Tomorrow Tate will be 27 weeks and still hanging out in my belly... on August 4 we never thought we'd make it this far.

Another Tuesday

It's Tuesday which means it's officially my most dreaded day of the week. I absolutely hate the weekly sonograms, and I'm pretty sure that's not going to change. This week was far less stressful than last thanks to the distractions provided by my lovely nurse, but it's still scary to know that the course of our lives could change in a split second based on the results.

Today the results were good: everything is basically the same which means no new restrictions (yay!). The high risk doctor is confident that we'll make it another week, probably further, and suggested a 28 week party for next week to celebrate our first big milestone. My regular doctor was even more positive, pointing out that the fact that things are still stable even though the baby is now two weeks bigger is great news and bodes well for the next two weeks. It's definitely refreshing that no one speaks in terms of days anymore. It's always weeks now, often multiple weeks, but it's a little discouraging to think about just how many weeks we have to go.

I know I should be super excited about another good sono. Everyone else is, and I know they can see that I'm not because they keep telling me what great news it was. Part of the problem is that although the doctors say I'm stable, I'll never be completely stable. Measurements will always change from week to week, and since I'm me, I remember exactly what the measurements were before and know without being told if they are better or worse. I'm not good at accepting that anything within a certain range is considered ok. I want same down to the millimeter, or I want better, not a few millimeters worse. Last week stable meant a few more millimeters. This week stable meant a few less. It's hard not to worry that next week I'll be looking at another smaller number.

But for this week all will stay the same, and for that I'm thankful. Another week for Tate to grow, and selfishly, another week with no IV (HUGE fear!). At least I'm not at staff development!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekends

I've learned a lot about hospital life in the past eleven days. In some ways it's sort of the opposite of life at home. Days are easier than nights, and weekdays are far more bearable than weekends. My emotions run high or low with very little middle ground, so it's easier to become overwhelmed. I'm essentially trapped in my bed, dependent on others for most things and isolated from the outside world, so having the right nurse is everything. It's a unique situation, but for the most part I've adapted enough to make it work... most days anyway.

Yesterday was hard, probably the hardest day since the day I was admitted. It was cloudy outside, and since Kevin spent much of the day sleeping, I spent much of the day alone with my thoughts. I never cease to be thankful that I'm here where I know I'm as safe as can be, but during those hours of staring out at the dreary day it was hard not to think about the unfairness of it all. The vast majority of pregnancies are relatively uncomplicated, and of the women that do experience complications, only a very small number will be faced with this sort of extended hospitalization. Many of those hospital stays are caused by things the women could have prevented had they followed their doctors' orders earlier, but in my case, there's nothing I could have done differently. I would never ever EVER consider not doing what my doctors say, so I have no desire to leave this bed... but sometimes I wish I could just be one of those average women who doesn't have to worry every time she moves.

My nurse came in yesterday at a particularly low moment, and after crying with me for a few minutes, she cheered me up. She told me how great I'm doing so far, even on the hard days, and how sure she is that I'm going to get more good news on Tuesday because I DO follow the rules. Then in another reminder of just how different things are now, she encouraged me by pointing out that if we reach our first goal of 28 weeks with no progression, I'll probably get wheelchair privileges (occasionally someone could push me downstairs to go outside) which would mean Maggie could visit. It's the sort of thing that's only encouraging in a very specific situation, but for yesterday it was the perfect thing to bring a smile to my face. She stayed and chatted with me for almost half an hour until I was feeling less overwhelmed by reality, and by the time she left I was ready to face another long night. It's too bad she can't just be here every day...

I'm excited for tomorrow when I know things will get easier again. Today has been totally fine, but when all the rest of you are back at work tomorrow my job will seem great! For now I'm holding onto the fact that because I'm here, Tate is still safe and healthy. This may not be fun, but it will be worth it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lazy Day

Things are going well. Tate is checking out well on his daily monitoring. He still likes to hide a bit and has been known to fall asleep while they want to check him, but everything is looking perfect. A is getting gold stars for her compliance, cheerful demeanor, and colorful room. She makes the nurses laugh.

A lot of my rushing around is done for now. Starting today, the marathon portion of this race started for me. It made for a weird day. For the first time in a week and a half, things were slow. I've spent most of the day here at the hospital. The phones were quiet. Other than a short visit from A's parent's, it has been just the two of us today. I ran out once to grab some breakfast and then later in the day to grab a shower and some dinner for A. I need to fight the urge that I have to always be on the move and enjoy today for what it was. A lazy Saturday.

Today's things to be thankful for:
1. Naps. Probably caused by equal parts of a busy week plus me trying to read a book about the bond markets, but I dozed off several times today.
2. A clean house. After my parent's earlier in the week, and A's parents this weekend, the house is cleaner than it has been in ages.
3. The 3M corporation. Without their post-it notes, this would be a different room.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Easy Job

Week 2 is off to a fabulous start. My current favorite nurse will be here for the entire weekend. When my doctor came in, she cheered because we're halfway through the most dangerous two weeks. I'm finally settling into enough of a routine that I'm sleeping through the night (at least until they wake me up for my meds), and I've spent the last 30 minutes or so watching Tate roll around in my belly which is pretty amazing to see. It's been a great Friday so far.

I'm starting to think that I've really got the good end of the deal in this whole situation. Yes, I'm the one stuck in bed, but I don't have a lot to worry about. Someone takes care of me every minute of every day. I don't have to deal with the pressure of providing for our family or trying to tie up all the loose ends that I unintentionally left behind. Don't worry... I'm not in denial. I fully grasp the implications of what's to come, but if the shoe were on the other foot and Kevin was the one laying in this bed... I don't think I could be the other person. That job sounds WAY harder!

My life has completely changed in the last eight days, but it's really turned out to be a pretty good change. Even though Tate's behaved well and stayed right where he's supposed to, I became a mommy late last Thursday. When I was admitted that morning I was still regular old selfish me. I'd heard other women talk about how much they loved their unborn children, but I felt nothing. It's hard to explain, but he just didn't feel real yet. So when I cried for hours straight, not one of those tears was for my child. I cried because of the pain and discomfort I was going through. I cried for the freedom I was losing. I cried because I was scared for myself, not for Tate. It was completely selfish. Then my doctor came in and explained the magnitude of what was happening and that she was seriously concerned that this baby would be here in a matter of days, and I finally understood what those other women were talking about.

What I do isn't fun, but it doesn't matter anymore. There's only one possible response. I follow the rules and deal with painful shots and uncomfortable exams because it's the only thing I can do to help keep my son safe. When I hear his little heart beating and watch him kicking inside my belly, it's easy to do the right thing, even if I know it means putting myself through something I'd rather not go through. He's real now. He's part of me. He's my Tate, and he matters more than my selfish comfort. I definitely got the easy job.

Only 12 more days until 28 weeks. We're almost halfway there! I can't believe how quickly the time is going...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cracked

Today was the first day I really cracked. Coming into today, I had an idea of what I wanted Adrian's birthday to look like. I've always liked to surprise her, and I was wanting today to be a day full of calm surprises. I didn't really succeed on much of my plan, and I was somewhat upset about it.

While waiting at the to-go counter at Chuy's to grab A's birthday dinner, I read a Facebook post where she mentioned what she was thankful for today. It snapped me out of my daylong funk and caused my allergies to act up a bit. She had a great day. She felt loved. Tate is staying put. These days are precious.

Happy Birthday my love. I'm so proud of you.

26 weeks and 1 day...

Today was my 30th birthday. It was also day one of my second week in the hospital. Not exactly how I imagined this day would go...

That said, it's been a great day. Tons of people have been in and out of my room. I had Society Bakery cupcakes to share with everyone. I've gotten more birthday wishes than I can count and some very sweet notes and gifts. Aside from being stuck in my hospital room I couldn't have asked for more, and I feel very blessed.

At this point, there's not a lot of daily news. My doctor visits every morning to check in, but we'll mostly be waiting for my weekly Tuesday sonograms. As far as anyone can tell things are still going well, and considering where we were a week ago, that's very encouraging.

Anyway, I'm exhausted (yay!), but we're another day down. Tate is 26 weeks and 1 day old now, and I'm 30. Very thankful that we won't share a birthday!

Birthday Scheming - Plan B

So technology has bitten me so far today. I couldn't get the hospital wifi working with my grand idea, so now I've moved to plan B.

One of Adrian's birthday gifts is a digital picture frame. This particular frame has an email address AdrianAndTate@kodakpulse.com . Anyone in the world can attach a picture to an e-mail sent to that address, and it will show up. My plan was to have that thing updating throughout the day with pictures from whomever felt like sending them. Now with plan B in place, the frame is sitting here at my house. It will still receive email all day. Later tonight, I will bring it back up to the hospital updated with whatever you folks might want to send to it. I'll probably be taking it offline sometime around 8:00 tonight and bringing it up to finish off her birthday. I wanted A to have as many visitors as she could stand today, and I was hoping this might be a fun way to get some folks right to her room who otherwise might not be able to visit.

If you get a sec, take a quick pic and send it to her frame. I want her to have a lot to see and smile at later tonight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hurried Shopping

Today was a crazy day for me. I didn't make it up here to the hospital for the first time until around 4:00 this afternoon, making it my longest stretch away since we arrived at 8:45 last Thursday morning. I didn't really like being away that long. I get to enjoy time with my amazing wife, and things slow down. My time outside is mostly hurried. I've been doing a lot of running around. I get home, play with the dog, eat a little bit of food, and then usually have something to pick up at the store. I run through the store, picking up things that are typically outside of my realm of expertise. Admittedly, the only shopping expertise I have exists at music stores and Half Price Books.

I got some really funny looks in the Target lingerie department while holding my cell phone in one hand and a pair of purple striped pajama pants with the other. The funny looks were probably because I was holding the pants up to my waist trying to figure out if they were long enough for A. I bothered a sort of creepy old cashier lady in the Dillard's hosiery department trying to find slipper socks. She couldn't find any. I had an electric toothbrush whose on button was much easier to access while still in the package than the off button. Under the stare of a concerned Target employee, I finally got it turned off after a minute or two of fumbling. I searched every possible store at the intersection of Park and 75 for a light-weight, twin-sized down comforter. Just in case you are curious, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Dillard's, and Nordstrom Rack are not the place to find one. Macy's is your best bet. All in all, I think I've been pretty successful in my shopping endeavors. I don't know if A would completely agree, especially with the one trip that involved me returning with a bag full of new clothing items....all of them had stripes...none of them matched.

Today's things I'm thankful for:
1. Raegan, Rachel, and Alexa. These three, plus a couple of teacher's from A's old team with an assist from Alexa's laptop, took time out of their schedule to help me pack up A's classroom this afternoon. I would have done a much worse job, and it would have taken much longer without their help. I would have attempted to pack up 6-ish years of school gear in two large baskets.
2. Our families. My parents, sisters, brother in law, niece and nephew are in town today and tomorrow. A's mom and dad are coming tomorrow night, following up a visit from her sister earlier this week. They have all already done so much from afar, and been so patient with me as I've been trying to get things settled.
3. It's 10:18, and I don't have to leave this couch tonight. My dad is staying with Mags, and I get to stay with A.

Please check back here first thing tomorrow morning. It's A's birthday. If technology agrees, I have an assignment I'd like for people to help with in celebrating my favorite girl turning 30.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Surprise!

This morning my nurse woke me up an hour early and announced that the high risk doctor was here ready to do my weekly sonogram. I knew that was going to happen and was totally prepared (in other words, filled with dread)... except it was supposed to be Thursday. Since it's not like I really have any choice, I climbed in the wheelchair and let her push me down the hall, but I was totally freaking out at this sudden turn of events.

See, most pregnant women think sonograms are great. Those are the people that don't consistently get bad news. It IS fun to see the baby, but particularly right now, the stress of wondering what they might find crowds out that little bit of fun. So by the time she'd gotten me set up on the table I was shaking uncontrollably. I was by myself with a woman I'd just met this morning and a doctor I've seen for less than twenty minutes, and I was about to find out if anything had changed. I was terrified.

As it turns out, the news was good! The doctor did another check of Tate's heart since that stinker refuses to behave during his daily monitoring (he prefers kicking the monitors then moving out of the way), and everything still looked great. Most importantly I was unchanged... which is HUGE since the change the week before had been significant. For now it appears that what we're doing is successful, and everyone is hopeful that we're going to get another week.

Today has been fabulous, and after five long, hard days I really needed this one. Several people have commented on my positive attitude, and I'll admit, even I'm pretty surprised at how well I've been able to focus on the good. It's not my natural response, and after yesterday I was worn down from the complete helplessness and lack of answers. I needed something hopeful to hold on to, and although a surprise sono wasn't my idea of a good way to start the day, God had a better plan. He gave me just what I needed.

Tomorrow will be 26 weeks! 15 more days to our first milestone, and for the first time I'm actually hopeful we'll get there...

The secret is out!

Until this week it wasn't that hard to keep our baby's name secret. People would ask, but aside from a couple of very persistent relatives, everyone was accepting of our plan. A few people even turned it into a game, and I have to admit, it was highly entertaining to hear all the guesses. No one ever even got close.

However, one of the first things I learned about being in the hospital is that everyone wants to know your baby's name. I'd assume it's because it makes the conversations more personal. It definitely has for me. It's one thing to hear someone talk about threats to the baby or the fetus. It's another altogether to hear them talk about my Tate.

Our baby boy's name will be Noah Thomas, but we're going to call him Tate. I know it's a bit of a stretch as a nickname, but you know what? No one's going to criticize my choice of name at this point! I've always loved the name Noah, and Thomas came from the name of a dear friend. But for some reason Tate just fits better. For awhile I wasn't sure, but the more I get to know this child, the more certain I am that we've chosen correctly. His name will be absolutely perfect.

It's time to stop typing and let them hook up all the monitors, but now the secret is out. I'll definitely be writing more later... this morning has totally rocked. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Adapting to my New "Normal"

Day five is almost over.

Just saying that is a little surreal. I should have spent today getting ready to go back to work, but instead I'm almost a week into an indefinite hospital stay with no idea what's going to happen next. The weirdest part is that this already feels normal.

My hospital room is becoming vaguely homey, and I'm settling into a routine. The course of the day is all determined by the time I spend hooked up to fetal monitors as soon as I wake up. If baby is behaving, I'm free to start my day. If there's any sign of a problem, I stay on the monitors until things settle down. Those first 30 minutes are the most stressful of all, but once the doctor gives the all clear the weight is lifted... at least most days, at least for awhile.

Today the anxiety never totally left. While this has become familiar and far less scary than the first miserable 24 hours, it's just starting to sink in that "no bad news" is about as good as it's going to get. I think I want someone to sound hopeful that five days in everything is still going well, but the reality is that things could change at any moment, without any notice. I have to find hope in getting no bad news, and today that didn't feel like enough.

But, at least for now, we're one day closer to the ultimate goal and only one day away from 26 weeks, and although I'm not feeling quite as peppy, I'm thankful that tomorrow I get to do this all again.

Back to Work

I made it back to work for a little over half the day today. I may give my bosses a hard time every once in a while, but they are all class acts. We've got so much going on at work that it isn't a great time for me to be in and out of the office, but their understanding is making this time a lot easier to manage.

We're still working on what normal looks like. I don't quite know when or if we'll find it, but that's ok. Last night, I slept here at the hospital since one of Maggie's two favorite nannies drove from Oklahoma in an un-airconditioned car to stay with her (Her other favorite gets here late on Thursday). I won't be able to be here every night of our hopefully long stay, but I truly enjoyed being able to. The couch isn't the most comfortable, but it's just about long enough for me, and you can't beat the location.

We called our families yesterday and let them know what our baby boy's name is going to be. We were going to keep it a secret until he was born, but decided that we'd spill the beans yesterday. You might get it out of A one day before too long, but probably not today.

Today's 3 Little Things:
1. Maggie had great company last night while I got to stay with A.
2. Even in inconvenient times, my company believes that family comes first.
3. The couch at home is 11 minutes away from the couch in the hospital room.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who would have thought...

This week I have much to be thankful for.

If you'd talked to me before Thursday, I'd have said something very different. For a number of reasons I won't go into, summer had been hard, and although it sounds really callous and insensitive, I was sick of being pregnant. I know that there are tons of people who would have given anything to be in my position. I was one of them for years, but from the other side, pregnancy has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. I've been sick for months, and even before things went bad, I constantly worried about my baby. Not exactly fun.

So I wasn't feeling so thankful. I was actually a little bitter, but by Friday afternoon that had all changed. It seems counter-intuitive that as my life was falling apart I started feeling LESS bitter, but that's how it's worked out. Maybe it's because there's so much that's bad and scary that I'm now overjoyed at every bit of positive news, but I think the change mostly came when I realized how much worse the situation could be.

The thing is, I had NO obvious symptoms of preterm labor. It's not like I went into the doctor with complaints that would lead to this diagnosis. I felt totally fine, and if she hadn't wanted to double check a totally separate issue, no one would have ever known anything was wrong. I would have gone on doing all my normal stuff, including going back to work with a new set of kindergartners... right up until it was too late. Luckily, that's not what happened.

And because of that one decision, we have an almost endless list of things to be thankful for. As of now, the medications I'm on are keeping things totally under control (as far as we can tell). We've been able to postpone delivery long enough to allow the steroids to take effect which gives our baby boy a huge advantage if he is born this week. I'm safe and sound and watched over by some fabulous doctors who will be able to immediately intervene if something else does go wrong. When I think of what could have been... going into labor way too early while at school or even out of town, far from help, having no clue what was happening or why... this is SO much better than that!

Now for some specifics prayer requests...

1. Statistics say there's a 50/50 chance this baby will be here before August 18, but there's no way to predict which 50% I'll be in... which is hard to accept. Pray that I can let go of the statistics and focus on the fact that as of now all is fine, and my baby is staying put!

2. Pray that the medications I'm on to prevent contractions will continue to work with no further dose increases. Keeping this under control seems to be the biggest focus for now.

3. Pray that we make it to August 24 when Baby B will be 28 weeks. Obviously longer is better, but even just 28 weeks would be HUGE!

I'm off to continue my very busy schedule of laying in bed and watching TV... you know you're jealous. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Plans

Once we found out we were going to have a baby, I knew that things were going to have to change. Me time, me money, and me mindset would have to change. Not as many trips, not as many concerts, not as many restaurants. I had sort of planned out a last hurrah leading up to November. For August, I had an extra day and a half packed on to a business trip to San Francisco. I was going to make sure to hit up Amoeba Records and Tartine and Golden Gate Park and as many of the other places in one of my favorite cities in the world. For September, I had already bought some nice tickets to see one of my favorite bands. They came in the mail on Thursday. Two of my favorite bands happen to be playing here that night, so I was trying to figure out if I could reasonably make it to both. I wasn't sure what October held, but I was sure something fun would come up. At the very least, I'd be heading down to an Aggie football game or two. I was slowly getting things together. I was working on getting the house refinanced. I was slowly getting things set up and ready for a baby around the house. All in all, I was mostly focused on me and how my life was going to change.

Since Thursday, every one of those plans has changed. The trip will be canceled on Monday. The concert tickets will be up for grabs. (Anybody want to buy 4 pretty good Explosions in the Sky tickets?) Aggie football tickets will be given away or sold. My focus has had to shift from those things I wanted to complete before my life changed to making sure that I am doing everything I possibly can for my wife and our son.

Over these last two days, I have been so thankful for people who haven't been as focused on themselves as I have been on me. You people have been nothing short of amazing. Tons of people have offered help in any way they possibly can. I'm having to forgo my normal reaction of saying I can do it myself and accept. Our families and friends from home are amazing, but they live hours away from here. They will do anything we ask, but the little things that folks around here have done and offered to do give me such a peace. This love has been working hard on my selfishness and pride.

Today's Three Little Things to Be Thankful For:
1. Adrian got a good night's sleep last night.
2. A call I received last night from a friend that I have not done a good job of keeping up with. In that selfish, isolated mode I tend to operate in, I let relationships with people die on the vine. I really appreciated his reaching out.
3. I bought a Kindle a couple of weeks ago on a bit of a whim. It has been a nice, convenient way to pass the time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

So it's not as bad as I thought...

A week ago I went to the doctor for my routine 24 week checkup. As far as I could tell all was well, so it should have been no big deal. In fact, as I was walking out the door I quickly grabbed a dollar for the parking garage. Just one because there was no way I'd be there more than an hour. Little did I know how wrong I was...

By the end of that appointment, for me, everything had changed. My doctor didn't give me any official restrictions, but even through her typical calm demeanor I could see she was clearly concerned. That was only reinforced when she scheduled a follow up for yesterday rather than the end of the month. What little confidence I'd mustered that things would turn out ok was gone, and despite the fact that pretty much everyone around me thought I was overreacting and the next appointment would be fine, I knew there was no going back. Every time I moved I was scared something would go wrong, and I knew that fear wouldn't diminish no matter what the outcome of the next appointment. Selfishly, my absolute worst fear was ending up on hospital bed rest away from Maggie for as long as 15 weeks. I was sure I couldn't bear it.

Unfortunately, my fears were less off base than usual.

So here I am, laying in bed, and it's not as bad as I thought. Don't get me wrong, it's not fun, but it's completely bearable... the being in bed part that is. The missing Maggie part is wretched. On the upside, I'm learning a lot. Apparently I'm the exception to the rule in that I'm horribly concerned about possible outcomes for my baby and terrified to get out of bed. The neonatologist came in this afternoon to fill me in on what life's going to look like if this little one insists on coming out this week, and the first thing she said is that she's usually called up here to chastise non-compliant mothers who are sure that everything will be fine rather than to calm down an overly anxious one. I'm pretty sure I actually laughed out loud because my immediate thought was, "Who on earth are THOSE people?" Even now, hours later, I find it completely absurd that there are women who could be told their babies might be born at 25 weeks and be anything less than horrified, but she promised they exist.

Nonetheless, meeting the super awesome baby doc was the highlight of my week. Yes, it would be bad if he's born now, but it's not as dire as I originally thought. And there's a good chance we'll make it at least another week or two. If we make it to August 24, there's a 91% chance that IN THE LONG RUN, he would have no major complications. Yes, his life would start with an extended stay in the NICU, but there's a really good chance that eventually he'd completely catch up. She also said that when it comes to developmental delays, our impact as parents will be greater than any impact she can have as a doctor. Looks like all those years working with my little ones are going to pay off!

So today I'm hopeful. It's one more day towards 26 weeks, and although the odds aren't good, each day without further progression is a good sign. Hopefully we'll be counting for a long while.

And just for you Suz... the three things I'm thankful for today:
1. When I blindly chose a doctor long before I was pregnant, God guided me to someone who I adore, and she was able to admit me to the hospital rather than the obnoxious high risk guy... meaning I get to see her daily rather than him.

2. She just so happens to be at the only hospital in the area that will be able to care for both me and our baby, regardless of what rare or obscure complications he has. Many women in my situation would have their baby whisked away to another hospital immediately after birth. I won't have to worry about that.

3. I've gotten so many texts and emails of encouragement that I'm having a hard time keeping up. I've felt very alone recently, but today I feel immensely loved.

Until tomorrow...

Day 1

Today's the day after everything changed. I'm sitting here in a hospital room watching my wife go through the hardest thing she has ever gone through. She has hardly slept in the past 30 hours. Emotions range from scared to lonely to angry to content. Our baby is 25 weeks and 2 days old. He is healthy in every way for a baby that young. He's spunky. He likes to kick the monitors. He likes to hide when they try to take his picture, just like me. There are no problems except that the biology of the current situation says that he might be introduced into this world earlier than would be ideal.

We don't know what the next days, weeks, months, even years will hold. We are standing at the front end of something that we don't know how to handle. We've got to figure out what the new normal will be. It will changed daily.

People have been amazing so far. Our family has been ready to drop anything they have going, drive for hours, and come help with anything at a moment's notice. Friends and coworkers have been ready with a kind word and offers to help in any way possible. Yesterday, completely out of the blue a dear friend of Adrian's was able to make it over here to comfort and bring a smile to Adrian's face as she was adjusting to the news and her room and her bed and the situation. I don't think that God could have put a better person in this room with her yesterday.

She left an assignment on the dry erase board here in the room. Adrian needs to list 3 things she is thankful for....every day. There are big, overarching things that we can be and are thankful for, but I want to keep track of some of the small ones.

Here's my 3 things for today:
1. Suzanne was able to come to bring the kind of encouragement A needed yesterday afternoon, and keep her company when I ran home to grab some of Adrian's things.
2. The night nurse was amazing. She comforted my scared and lonely wife while I was at home getting some rest and checking on the dog.
3. Speaking of that dog, she was perfect yesterday. A loves Maggie so much. A was so worried about her being inside alone for so long. Seeing her sitting on the couch waiting patiently for us to get home made me smile after a long, hard day.

I'm starting this to get updates out to friends and family and keep everyone in the loop. I'll be posting whenever we have news. We really appreciate everything that everyone has and will be doing. We feel very loved in this hard time. Please keep us in your prayers.