I would like to just provide a disclaimer that I mostly blog for myself. Not as an excuse, but as an explanation. I like the exercise in writing for the idea of an audience (when I write in my journal, the images of my future descendants doesn't work. They're going to hate me, and what is usually chicken scratch and disjointed ideas and large gaps in between entries is going to make them crazy. I'm a little sorry, but also I'm over it. #sorrynotsorry kids.). So putting info up on a blog is a much better mental exercise for me. Even if no one were ever to read it, I'm still usually pleased with myself when I'm finished and have managed to remember so much because I've taken the time to pull out ALL of the memories and put them together in a logical, sensible, follow-able manner.
Now, when you live thousands of miles from family and friends that want to know what's going on in your life, and there actually is an audience, there's not any more pressure on quality of writing, just on quantity of details. The longer I wait to write a long story, the more details I have perhaps forgotten, but also the more details accrue in the passing of time. So I've been in a catch-22 of writing about Oxford, Oslo, and now Berlin, and everything in between because there's so much that has happened since I last wrote that it's overwhelming, but as I wait longer there's ever more to cover... Yes, my self-induced stress is making my life rough. Don't mock.
So in attempt to get caught up, there are going to be some readers' digested versions that are then readers-digested again before they end up here. I'm a little sorry about that, not to any readers, but for myself, because so far this organized chaos is way better than the chaos in my journal.
First, Oslo. I started writing about Oslo getting here well before he was even here. And almost a year later, I'm trying to finish it up. It was the crazy start to a lot of adventures. So I might as well start there. Maybe, someday, when the details don't matter or aren't interesting anymore, other stories will follow. Don't hold your breath.
It was absolutely terrifying. The first doctor who suggested the broken amniotic sac looked at an ultrasound, pointed to the lack of fluid, and said, "I hope that I'm wrong. This ultrasound image isn't very detailed, and I really hope that it's the lack of detail that I'm seeing. But I'm afraid you'd better prepare yourself for the worst." While I waited through the more detailed ultrasound, I was waiting for the doctor to say, "Oh, everything is fine, you just need some antibiotics. No worries!" To this doctor's credit, he was just as kind as he said exactly the opposite. Every doctor had to give me the very difficult truth of what would happen if I went into labor anytime in the next three weeks, and at the same time, tell me there was nothing to do but wait and see what happened.
Being without Jeremy for the first 36 hours was also a lot harder than I thought it would be. I certainly had visitors (I had 40-something members of my extended family in town, so... duh.), and of course my attitude is always, "I've got this, no big deal," but this was different. The night before Jeremy landed, another doctor came in to talk to me to tell me that even though the situation wasn't promising, there was always hope, and he'd seen a lot of miracles. As soon as he left I started bawling. Miracles or no, I was scared, and I didn't want to do it by myself.
When Jeremy did arrive, I found myself finally embracing the good signs, of which there were quite a few. The fact that I'd made it a week without really noticing anything was wrong was great because it meant there weren't any signs of labor. Then I made it through the weekend at the hospital sans contractions. The baby still appeared to be growing normally, and was actually measuring (weight-wise) a week or two ahead of schedule. This was all promising because, really, there's nothing anyone can do about it but wait. There's no surgery that can be performed or medication that can cause it to heal. Basically, I just needed to wait for signs of infection or labor, and hope for the best.
Jeremy and I debated for the next few days whether we were going to stay in Texas or fly back to Oxford, and with a million different factors weighing in, finally decided to fly back to the UK. One doctor suggested that if we were going to do it, making the pond jump before we hit our unborn's brink of viability was really the only time. We went to the doctor when we got back to Oxford. She told us what to watch for and when to come back to the hospital, and I was admitted at the end of the week for blood loss. I stayed for a few days until I was stable again, went home, and was back a week later. After a few days of still not being stable, my doctor said, "I think you're here for the long haul," which was really, really hard to hear. It had only been the start of my second full week living in the hospital and I was going a little crazy. Every time I had a major gush of blood they brought me across the hall from the delivery rooms for monitoring. I'd spend a day or so there and then be brought back to the maternity ward. A few times a day I waddled down to the monitoring room to listen for contractions and monitor the baby's heartbeat. I was hot, I was exhausted, and the normal discomfort of pregnancy was amplified because I'd lost my cushion around the baby. I really would've just slept through my time at the hospital except that a nurse or midwife came in every few hours to check my vitals, give me antibiotics, or just make sure I wasn't losing blood.
I did have a number of visitors (despite the somewhat insane restrictions on visiting hours - 3-4PM and 6-8PM. The only exception to that rule was Jeremy, not Berlin). While I was in the hospital Jeremy's sisters came to visit the UK, so when I had energy I would go to the park across the street from the hospital and sit and chat with them. And outside of my desire for contact with the outside world, it was pretty life-saving that they came because Jeremy was trying to finish his MBA program and run around after Berlin in addition to making sure I was feeling loved every day. So as crazy as everything was, it went as smoothly as we could've ever hoped for.
But one of his sisters came and went while I was still in the hospital. I couldn't believe I'd been in the hospital so long. On the day I reached 29 weeks, August 4th (the DAY my sister-in-law left, of all days), my doctor came into my room and said, "We're going to send you home today!" They decided I was stable enough to be away from the hospital (since we lived only a couple of miles from the hospital) and they were aware that I was probably going crazy. I was so excited. So excited that I slept for the first 12 hours I could in my own bed. The next day I slept again, had a few hours of being awake and coherent, but was ready to go to bed with everybody else because I was, once again, exhausted.
Don't worry, I was only home for 36 hours.
I woke up at 4AM, and I was so exhaustedly out of it that it took me several minutes to be conscious enough to realize I was having crazy contractions. (I had had zero up to this point. Zero. Not even Braxton Hicks contractions.) We called an ambulance, an experience which turned out to be thoroughly foreign and confusing. The operator asked Jeremy if she could talk to me, and then she ran me through 20-questions before the paramedics arrived (including "Is the baby crowning? No? Are you sure? Can you have your husband check?"), and then once the ambulance arrived, three paramedics were sitting in our living room asking me further questions for what felt like forever while I was sure I was going to deliver the baby on the couch. Then their supervisor showed up, only stayed for a few minutes before deciding everything was some sort of satisfactory, and then several more minutes after that we eventually went downstairs and got in the ambulance, a ride which was about the most uncomfortable I'd ever taken in my life (not even including the contractions part). Next time we have a baby and don't own a car, we're calling a taxi.
Everything after that went pretty quickly. I was all for an epidural the second I got there, but since I was only at a 3 it seemed we had plenty of time to wait for the anesthesiologist, who had been notified I was ready for her but she was working with other patients, so I was somewhere at the bottom of the list. But there wasn't really time to wait for the anesthesiologist anyway. Oslo made his appearance less than an hour and half later at 8:25AM, weighing a whopping 3 lbs 9 oz.
The first week was probably the craziest. They were the most concerned about his lungs (my water broke right in the middle of the most important weeks for lung development), and he had a torn alveolar sac that meant that air was leaking into his chest cavity and making his blood pressure go crazy. But with the help of a chest drain and faith and blessings, it healed. He had taken his own first gasping breaths and x-rays showed that his lungs seemed fine, just little and needing more time to grow. He was on oxygen and air pressure to keep his lungs open for almost two months, had a jaundice lamp to help his bilirubin levels, but almost everything else appeared to be normal for his age. Before he could come home from the NICU he had to reach a few benchmarks, like being able to breathe on his own, and he had to prove he would consistently gain weight eating out of a bottle instead of a tube (his cleft lip and palate meant that he couldn't nurse, and the doctors wanted to make sure it wouldn't make the fact that he was born so little any harder). He came home in October, a week before his due date, and he was already 8.5 pounds.
Oslo Larry Lindström, 10 weeks old, the day before his due date.
Since then, we've mostly just been watching him grow. He's doing well. He's weighing in a normal range for his age group, and he's enormous for his corrected age group. The regular follow-up doctors appointments finished in December. He's developing normally. He did have his first cleft surgery, and everything went really well (minus him pulling out some stitches in the recovery room, but. What can you do). He's a little champ. Sometimes it's a little crazy that we've had him here so long, and other times it's fun that in some ways we got this baby phased slowed down by a few months. I've been shortening this story to, "he was just really excited to be here!" Most days, that still seems true. Occasionally, though, he reminds us that he is, in fact, tolerating us.
[title from little bit better by sherwood]