Monday, June 29, 2009

I left the hospital, for the first time in 14 days, one year ago today.

It was a strange feeling to walk out of those doors. To leave the nurses and doctors who had been my constant companions for so long. But we left with so much hope. We left knowing that some day we would be leaving for the last time with our son in our arms. We didn't know that day would come so soon or be so sad but we knew it would come.

I was so glad to be able to leave that day. But I would have stayed in that hospital bed for the rest of my life if it meant I could have my son here with me.

Just a quick note about this weekend, Logan's birthday was a very peaceful day for us. A hummingbird flew right up to Doug that morning and when we did the balloon release a big black butterfly flew all around us before landing in the garden.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

I had been in the hospital for 11 days (having small contractions off and on that were controlled with different medications) when I went into labor. It was around 7:30 or 8pm when the contractions started and Dr. H started giving me the first of many labor-stopping drugs. She had told me the first day that she admitted me that when it's true labor there's really no way to stop it but the only way to determine if it's true labor is by trying to stop it. When the nurse checked me she said that I was possibly even less dilated than I had been when I was admitted. We took that as a great sign and I tried to relax and even sleep. As the contractions continued, Dr. H tried more drugs. Finally, I was given delalutin. That one made me woozy. I could only talk in one or two word sentences and I would wake myself up mumbling. According to the monitor the contractions seemed to stop and I was in no shape to explain whether or not I was feeling contractions. I honestly think that I was because I would wake up every few minutes but I had no sense of time so it was hard to tell the nurse. My parents even asked Dr. H if they should call Doug up to the hospital (he was in Troy at the time) just in case. Dr. H's opinion was that even if I was in true labor I wouldn't be delivering until the morning so the best thing to do was let Doug get some rest and for him to come the next day if I was still laboring.

Then around 2 or 2:30am I told my mom that something had changed. I felt a lot of pressure and like my body was pushing on it's own. She got the nurse and as soon as she checked me she said, "It's time to have a baby". Then, chaos. Labor and Delivery nurses, Dr. H, and the NICU nurses and nurse practitioner came running. My room filled with people as my nurse began to instruct me on how to not push and then how to push when the time came. You see, I'd never gotten the chance to go to Lamaze class so I was learning as I went (while on the crazy drugs I might add). My doctor got ready and she and the nurse were telling me "push hard because we don't want baby sitting in the birth canal too long" and then "push gently because we don't want to hurt baby". It was extremely confusing, especially because of the meds. But after 2 or 3 pushes, out came the baby and the first thing I hear is "It's a boy" coming from the nurse and then my doctor saying "It sure is".

My parents had called Doug and told him to come to the hospital a few minutes before I actually started pushing and he decided to call back to remind us about the camera. It was too late and my dad told him that he had a son. Doug was shocked along with the rest of us. We had forgotten all about the camera. Dr. H and all of the nurses were shocked by how quickly I had fully dilated and that the baby looked so healthy.

Logan Wayne Gooden was born at 2:42am weighing 1 lb. 10 oz. and measuring 13 in. long. After about an hour I was taken to the NICU to see Logan. Because Doug was not there yet my parents decided to stay outside so that Doug would get to see him first. So I was in there by myself.

You have no idea how incredibly strange it was for me. To be honest, I didn't feel like I had any connection to this little baby laying in front of me fighting for his life. They could have been showing me someone else's baby and I don't think I would have known it. You see, I don't think I had truly realized that I was having a baby yet. When I was admitted to the hospital I was feeling sporadic movement but not the pokes and kicks of a full-term baby. Then I was told that I was having a girl. We had been calling this baby Emily for over a week. And on top of all of that I was not able to hold my son or touch my son before he was wheeled away. I was given approximately 2 minutes to look at him but as I've said already, I was on some crazy drugs. So when I looked down at this tiny little baby with all his boy parts just hanging out there, I didn't have any real attachment to him. I knew in my mind that he was my son, but that "motherly love" just wasn't there.

While I was standing there looking at him a doctor I had never met was telling me all the good things (just one hour after Logan was born, he was receiving no oxygen, only breaths through the ventilator, which was a very good sign as far as his lungs were concerned) and the bad things we would be looking for (brain bleeds, the need for blood transfusions). She explained that there could come a time when we would have to decide whether or not to continue treatment. The nurses were talking to me too, having me take pictures and taking pictures for me of my hand with Logan to show how small he was.

About an hour later Doug got to the hospital and we went in to see Logan together. We had to give the NICU phone numbers to be able to reach us and we were each given bracelets allowing us to go into the NICU.

I stayed in the hospital until Sunday afternoon. We would go visit Logan as much as possible but I did a lot of resting in those first few days. I had been planning to breastfeed and the NICU nurses said that would be the best thing for our little baby but obviously he wasn't ready, so instead a lactation specialist was sent to my room to show me how to pump and every three hours I went and delivered milk to the NICU. On Sunday Logan got his first meal of breastmilk, pumped directly to his stomach through a feeding tube. Things seemed to be going so well.

And to tell you the truth, I relaxed a lot. I had been so terrified that something would happen to cause the baby to die before it was born that knowing that he was born alive and was now in good hands made me feel so safe. The doctors continued to remind us that things could change for the worst in a moment but instead they just kept getting better and better.

And just so you know, I did finally get my "motherly love" on July 1, when I got to hold him for the first time. It was an AMAZING feeling!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

23 Weeks 2 Days

One year ago today, at 23 weeks 2 days, I went to see my OB. I knew something wasn't right but expected it to be something minor.

When Dr. H came in to see me the mood was very light. She measured my uterus and used the dopplar to let us hear the baby's heart beat. Then she went to examine me and said words I will never forget "You are 3 - 4 cm dilated, we're going to the hospital". Everything from that point on was a blur. I went to call Doug and realized that I had left my phone in the car. My mom ran to the car while I was taken (very quickly I might add) into the ultrasound room. Because they thought I was leaking amniotic fluid we were glad to see quite a bit of fluid still in the sac. I was then taken back to the exam room to wait for the paperwork so that I could be admitted to the hospital. Sitting there, I called Doug and told him to come to Birmingham. He was only an hour away but it felt like forever before he got there.

My mom was with me as I was wheeled to the hospital, begging the nurse to tell me if my baby was a boy or a girl. I was immediately given an IV filled with magnesium sulfate to stop labor, a steroid shot to help the baby's lungs develop, antibiotics because of the infection in my uterus, and a catheter because urine output has to be monitored when you are on magnesium.

My dad beat Doug to the hospital and for whatever reason, seeing him walk into my room made it all so real. So real, in fact, that I had to ask him to leave. The doctor came to see me, probably more than once that day. I was told that no one knew the sex of the baby but that because of the amount of amniotic fluid they believed that it was the infection causing the leakage. I was also told that I would be on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. It was explained to us that if we didn't make it to 24 weeks in the pregnancy, there was virtually no hope for the baby but that every day after 24 weeks was a huge victory.

Throughout the next few days, the situation changed several times. After another ultrasound in the hospital I was told that I still had enough fluid and that I was having a baby girl who we named Emily Rebecca. There was a point where my doctor even talked about releasing me to my mom's house, just 10 min. away, where I would still be on bed rest, but not in the hospital.

That never happened. A few days later, at another ultrasound we found out that all of the amniotic fluid was gone. It was determined that I had been leaking fluid the whole time and that now it was empty. I was told that the fluid could build back up but the chances were slim. Dr. H decided that the best course of action was to keep me in the hospital where I could be constantly monitored. If at any point my health was in danger the baby would have to be delivered, but in the meantime, the best thing for the baby was to be inside of me, growing as much as possible.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Losing him

One year ago today was my husband's first Father's Day. Although we didn't know it at the time, it was also the day we started to lose our son.

The problem started in the middle of the night. I can remember sitting in our bed and crying, praying "please don't let me lose our child on Father's Day". I thought about waking Doug up and having him take me to the hospital. Maybe I should have. But I didn't, I convinced myself to get some rest since I wasn't in any pain, there was no bleeding, so surely everything was okay.

When I did wake up, I read my pregnancy book, talked to some people and decided that it was most likely a very minor issue, something that happens to lots of pregnant women. Doug and I relaxed that day. We really didn't do much of anything. Never knowing that our lives would change forever the next day.

If I had it to do over again, I would have had Doug take me to the hospital that night. It's not that I think it is my fault that Logan died. I honestly don't think going to the hospital that much earlier would have made a difference. Because if it had been in God's plans for Logan to live on this earth, he would be here now. That was not God's plan. I don't know why, although I wish I did. However, I think some of the what if's would be gone if I had gone in earlier. We might know, more difinitevly, what exactly happened that caused the premature labor. Knowing that, might ease some of the questions that will come with a subsequent pregnancy. And if we had gone that night, my husband would have been with me.

But we didn't go. We spent a peaceful day at home, the last day we would spend there together, as a family.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One year ago yesterday I had my fourth ultrasound. The morning of my 18 week ultrasound I had drank orange juice for breakfast (I truly craved it during the pregnancy) and during the ultrasound we found out that it made the baby pretty active. In fact, Logan moved around so much the technician could not get good pictures of his heart. So they made me an appointment for the next month and told me not to drink any orange juice. Doug and my parents came with me. It was the first time my dad had seen an ultrasound and he was really excited to see his grandchild.

Little did I know at the time that exactly one week later I would be admitted to the hospital. Looking back, it was the calm before the storm. You see, for whatever reason, early in my pregnancy I was terrified that I was going to miscarry. And before I even got married I had fears of infertility. So when I got to see that little baby, moving around (even giving us a thumbs up one time) I felt like the time of worry was over. Little did I know, it was just beginning.

When and if I get pregnant again, I know I will worry. I've already noticed the fear of infertility (see previous sentence), I will fear miscarriage early on, then will come the fear of the cerclage surgery that I will have performed, and the slight risk of infection or delivery at 12-13 weeks. Next will be a fear of a fatal diagnoses (such as Trisomy), pre-term delivery and stillbirth. And even if I make it full term and my child goes home with me healthy, there's still SIDS to worry about. All of these are things that happened to women in my grief support groups and the sad part is that there are many more worries I didn't bother to mention.

How I wish I could be a naive pregnant woman again! However, I'm not saying all of this to take away anyone's naivete. I'm saying this to point out that even for me, worrying is pointless. It's pointless because the truth is that every life (from the tiniest little bunch of cells to a 100-year-old man) is in the hands of God. We can't spend our whole lives worrying, we just have to trust Him.

Take my worries for example, if I allow them to, they could take over my life. Because the fact is that as a child grows, the bad things that could happen to them only multiplies. It never decreases. Even after the risk of SIDS goes away, there's plenty of other things that can happen to a child.

But if we put our faith in Him, we can live without the fear. It's an extremely hard thing to do, completely trusting in God and His plans; but it will provide peace in our lives. If we put our task to the Lord in prayers, He will help rid the worry from our hearts.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Doug and I like pets. Total we've had 3 firebelly toads, 1 pacman frog, 1 chameleon, 1 betta fish, 2 leopard geckos, 1 bearded dragon, 3 cats and 2 dogs.

While we love each and every one of our pets, the dogs ("our girls" as we call them) have become like children for us. They are spoiled. We got Callie from a pet store in town and Bella was given to us because as a puppy she was a biter and was biting the one-year-old daughter of her previous owners.

Lately I've been watching pretty much every episode of The Dog Whisperer. Our dogs are not BAD but they're not always good either. Bella likes to run... out the door... into the street... and make us chase her. She also likes to chew... everything. Her favorite pasttime lately has been to get "the cool stuff off the table" (ex. my orchid). We've even come to believe that she is pushing the chair out from the table to use it as a step.

Callie is a barker. She barks at the neighbor's dogs, the vacuum cleaner, a trash can that has been blown over. She also wants to stay outside all the time... in the rain. When we call her to come inside she likes to hang out at the very back of the yard and wait for us to resort to getting out treats to get her to come inside.

So I've been watching Cesar Millan and I've been listening. I've been trying to implement his practices into my life. Exercise, discipline and affection, in that order. I've been getting up every morning almost every morning at 4:30am to walk the dogs and taking them for another walk in the afternoon. I'm practicing my "Tsst" and the perfect touch. I'm noticing my energy (whether I'm being calm assertive or just frustrated). And I'm seeing a difference. It's not going to happen overnight. But when we are on walks and I ask the dogs to sit because a car is coming they do it. (Well, most of the time anyway.) Last night while Doug and I were laying on the bed reading our Bible reading Bella went into her kennel and laid down instead of jumping up on the bed.

I can make them better dogs if I provide them what they need. And the amazing thing I've come to realize through all of this is that God ALWAYS provides us with what we need. He never neglects to walk us for one hour of extra sleep. He never stops throwing us the ball and letting us bring it back, no matter how tired His arms are. He provides us with all of the exercise in faith that we need.

In the Old Testament there is a lot of talk about discipline too. There's a lot of sections about the punishment the Israelites will receive if they break God's laws. I happen to believe in a merciful God so some of this reading is hard for me to swallow. But I think the main thing is that God does discipline us, but not quite in the way the Old Testament talks about. I think God's discipline is more like Cesar's. Cesar doesn't hit the dogs, he doesn't yell at the dogs. But he does provide rules, boundaries and limitations for the dogs and corrects them when they overstep. He "Tsst's" them or touches them to remind them of the rules. And I think that's how God works. He set up rules in the Bible. The Ten Commandments is an obvious one but if you look closely pretty much the whole Bible sets up rules, boundaries and limitations for us to follow in life. And when we start to overstep he reminds us. And helps us refocus and behave.

And always there and present is the affection he bestows on us by way of His blessings. Our family, our friends, our pets, our homes, our jobs, and so much more.