Sunday, March 10, 2024

I'm Back (on Substack).

Long time no blog, to say the least. So much has changed in my life since I last wrote, including that I have a new job. With everything that's different now, it felt right to start fresh with writing at a new place. I'm now writing on Substack, hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Things are Weird Right Now

Much has happened since I last posted. Most of it isn't particularly good or happy. Before anyone gets too worried, everyone in my family is physically healthy. It's not that kind of bad thing...

I've been following the Instagram account of a psychotherapist who is also a birth trauma survivor (@thebirthtrauma_mama) and listening to her podcast. One of her comments in a recent episode is highly relevant to what's been going on in my life lately: If you don't take care of your trauma, your trauma will take care of you. (I think I'm paraphrasing somewhat, but the gist is there.) 

I'm currently on medical leave from work. It's complicated. I'm definitely still processing everything since LB's birth, and I'm getting a lot of therapy and working with a psychiatrist. 

The entire situation wasn't that dramatic in some ways, I've still been able to care for LB quite happily, even in my worst times. But there've been days where walking around on sidewalks near typical NYC traffic - or even suburban car traffic in my somewhat quiet town - made me repeatedly flinch, feel the physical effects of fear. It's all been a lot. I feel like a mess. 

That's an awkward segue into saying I highly recommend the podcast series "The Retrievals." It's about a Yale-New Haven Hospital fertility treatment clinic where a nurse repeatedly diverted fentanyl intended for anesthesia for patients, refilling the vials with saline. Obvious content warnings apply, given that premise. 

By its nature, the subject matter can be extremely triggering. I personally recall reading a long-form article about this situation that included interviews with many affected patients back when I was pregnant. I remember that I found it viscerally painful to read about their experiences and pain. The podcast treats that side of things with a gentle hand. Given my current condition, I'm extra-sensitive to detailed descriptions about gynecologic or obstetric procedures that don't go well, but I didn't feel triggered in that way by this podcast.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Life Lately: Needlepointing

via Unsplash

Long time no blog, yet again! The transition back to full-time work in the office as a new mom has, naturally, been challenging. It leaves relatively little mental energy for writing about anything really, or even for thinking about clothes and accessories (much less shopping for them). Though I do shop - a lot - for baby supplies, things for the household, and also for my very recently acquired needlepoint hobby.

I've long been curious about needlepointing because a few bigger bloggers out there that I'm aware of are very into it. I only started needlepointing around two weeks ago, and I've found that it can be a relatively straightforward hobby to jump right in to. It's essentially paint-by-the-numbers using thread, and the most basic stitches are quite easy to learn. 

Given how mentally and physically exhausted I get by the end of each day between commuting, work, caring for LB, and other house chores - I'm often too tired to even watch television and follow a story that way - needlepointing feels like a particularly suitable hobby for me at the moment. I find the repetitive motions comforting. It's also fun to feel like I'm creating something, even if it's only in terms of executing someone else's design or art. 

Please note that this portion of the post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

Because many of the needlepoint canvases one might like to start with are hand-painted, it is a fairly expensive hobby. This was my first canvas, which I bought as a kit including thread, a project bag, and a seam ripper for $65. With that and a pair of embroidery scissors and a magnetic needle-minder, I was all set to get started. In this hobby, one will mostly be shopping from small businesses and/or directly from the artist who designed the canvas, so that's nice at least. 

In other news, I was recently able to discontinue blood pressure medication at a little over seven months after LB's birth. I'm told that, in theory, the lingering hypertension caused by preeclampsia should end by around six weeks postpartum. In practice, many patients end up on blood pressure medication for quite a long time after, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. 

I've made no significant lifestyle changes since LB was born, whether in terms of diet or exercise, and for the first four or five months I required significant doses of blood pressure medication to control my hypertension. After that point, I started to need less and less, until I was finally able to wean completely off very recently. 

It's good to be off the medication because while the side effects were manageable, they were also quite noticeable throughout the day. During the weaning off phase, I would often get sudden bouts of fatigue and occasionally felt dizzy. I also got a persistent dry cough from an ACE inhibitor I tried towards the end, and that can actually take weeks or months after discontinuing the medication to fully go away. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

More Information is Better

via Unsplash

Big content warning on today’s post for discussion of various pregnancy complications, some potentially fatal. As always, this comes with a disclaimer that I am not a medical professional, so my understanding of these conditions is only that of a patient doing her best to get educated   

One of the many challenging things about my birth experience and hospitalization was a feeling that my OB-GYN practice really dropped the ball when it came to explaining any of the factors that started making my pregnancy with LB high-risk. When it came to gestational diabetes (“GD”), COVID, gestational hypertension, the labor complications I encountered, postpartum preeclampsia, and what to do or expect when I still needed blood pressure medication after my six-week postpartum appointment, I got basically no explanation about the implications of any of those things from the doctors in their group. 

With regards to the GD diagnosis, my OB did at least refer me to the Maternal-Fetal Medicine (“MFM”) specialist at the major hospital system where I would deliver. The hospital had a structured GD program to ensure I could get all my questions answered promptly while receiving closer monitoring of my blood sugar results. There was no such help for any of the other things. 

Additionally, communication from my OB’s office about who exactly I was supposed to contact to get enrolled with the hospital GD program was almost nonexistent. I got a referral for that first conversation with the MFM, but no other guidance. I only learned weeks after my diagnosis that the OB-GYN actually intended to refer me for continued monitoring throughout the rest of the pregnancy, not just for a one-off conversation with the MFM. I then needed to call (and MyChart message) around at the hospital myself to figure out who I should talk to.