Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Birthdays and Holidays!

I got exactly what I wanted with my birthday.
1. A day home with Stephen that wasn't spent around ER's or throw up buckets.
2. Solid food that stayed down!

We laid relatively low, which was good for both of us. Stephen as you can imagine is getting caught up in the whirlwind that will be the next four days or so. I think it's especially hard when Christmas falls so close to Sunday without actually being Sunday because that's one more service to do sermons, plans, bulletins and prep for. So our day included a nice nap. :-)

For Stephen's birthday, I gave him a game called Creationary. It's like Pictionary with Legos, but you have to guess what is being built not what is being drawn. It's quite cool and of course, Stephen is VERY good at it. We love playing games either with each other or with a crowd, so it was fun to spend some time enjoying that together. 

Here's a link to it on Toy-r-us...apparently it only has a three star review, but we'd recommend it.

Creationary on Toys-R-US

My birthday present is an all-expense paid date-night to Outback, but in order to enjoy it more fully, I'm going to wait a while. :-)

Yes, my present did just revolve around food.

I did make a difficult decision to cut North Carolina out of our Christmas travel plans. I just don't have the energy and was afraid I'd end up spending much of the time resting away from family anyway. With much of our family looking different not only because Papa is gone, but because Nana moved to a retirement facility (which she seems to be having the time of her life at!), we were going to have to book a hotel, and rent a car so I could get to food and medication when and if I need it. My parents need to be spending their time helping with their parent and it just seemed like an overwhelming production with too quick of a turn around to try to get to Tennessee to see Stephen's family. It also shaved some time off of our travel time as we will get to Knoxville earlier than we were getting into Charlotte.

I hate that I won't be there, particularly because it will be a very different Christmas, but then again, so will next year with a six month old! :-D It's hard to even fathom what life will look like, but I'm sure it will be fun!

I know I always end with this, but seriously - keep the prayers coming. They are sustaining us and getting us through! We hope you have a blessed Christmas wherever that may lead you! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recovery is sweet!


I have fantastic news in that I have not thrown up since before I was in the hospital, which if you're counting with me, means six full days!

I was not however anticipating how long it would take for me to get my strength back. I hear people say it takes them months to recover, but since (believe it or not) my vomitting was somewhat controlled by medication from the get go, I figured I would be better off than those vomitting ten to twenty times a day.

Tonight, I get to fill in for our music director Marsha and play Holden Evening Prayer. I am super excited as I don't often get to do this sort of thing and being as that is where my education, heart and soul really sit I know it will be a good thing both spiritually and emotionally for me. I have practiced the service at home and am able to make it through, but to test my stamina with things like walking, standing and people, Stephen took me to Walgreens last night to pick up my own perscription.

When we first entered the door, it was rather crowded for Walgreens on a Tuesday night. Stephen leaned down and said "Betsy, these are people." To which I replied: "You mean they aren't just healthcare workers?" Stephen: "No, they aren't going to stick you." Betsy:"Oh. huh. wow."

I was excited to actually get to pick out Stephen a birthday card, although I probably could have found a better one had I been able to stand and look a little longer. I could tell I was tired. By the time we got the medicine and got home, it was about 6:30pm and we needed to call Nancy to wish her happy birthday. (It's a wild month in the Friedrich household...a June baby was planned for sure!) We left her a voicemail and unfortunately I didn't stay up to talk later because by 6:45 my eyelids were closing themselves. I went to bed and was out until about 8:00am or so this morning and then had a mid-morning nap until around 12:30pm. Really, I'm a good sleeper and have always needed my sleep, but that is crazy. We're talking hard hours of sleep...

So as you can probably tell, the mundane of the mundane are still very tiring. I'm getting scared about traveling home for Christmas but as long as I still get the go-ahead from the doctor, I'm hoping I can make it.

The frightening thing about HG is that it can rear its ugly head sometimes even when you're doing all you can. That probably speaks to why it was so hard to get it under control in the first place. It makes me nervous I may get sick and not be near any of my doctors or the hospital nurses that have already treated me and know me well. We had such a fantastic experience at BSA, I really admired the nurses there. But as I continue to try to eat more each day (no where near a normal diet, but it's staying down and that's all that counts), I try to live each day in the present and think there is no reason to think I'll return down that ugly path again.

In other random HG trivia...I found out it is believed that author Charlotte Bronte died from HG. Granted that was a LONG time ago, but it's one more reason to give thanks for modern healthcare!

Thanks again to all you who have continued to pray and walk alongside me - figuratively speaking!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hosptial Survived! Home, sweet home!

It has certainly been a week for the record books at the Friedrich household. This baby is full of firsts...the most recent of which was a three day, two night stay at Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital here in Amarillo. I am certainly thankful our call is not out in the middle of nowhere because the nurses and staff and BSA were wonderful. For a break down of the week, here's what happened.

Last Saturday I landed myself in the ER only to return Tuesday for fluids and dehydration. I was to the point where I could not keep any fluids down no matter the combination of medications I tried. I'm not sure I have ever felt so physically, mentally and emotionally spent in my entire life. It seemed no matter what I did or did not do, I could not get myself well.

After our visit on Tuesday we headed to the OB office Wednesday morning. It was suggested I start steroids and upon gazing at my condition (which was me barely able to walk because of dizziness and fatigue) they were willing to go ahead and admit me to the hospital. Stubborn 'ol me wanted to give the steroids a try first with visions of uncomfortable days and nights at the hospital. I could not have been more wrong.

By afternoon and evening on Wednesday it was clear I was not going to be able to make it on my own at home. I threw up every ounce I tried to drink and only managed to keep down one dose (of the three daily I was supposed to have) of steroids. I was admitted to the hospital Thursday morning.

I did not anticipate the anxiety that would be taken away from not having to worry about taking sips every 15 minutes or managing my medications without falling asleep. I did not have to worry about bothering Stephen and he was able to do the funeral he had that afternoon. I think it was a welcome relief for the both of us.

I was immediately put on IV fluids and given two iv medications to help stop the vomitting, one which I had never taken before. It proved to be the miracle combination so far as this new medication keeps food moving out of your stomach into your intestines before it has the chance to become terribly acidic. (The things you learn when you're sick.)

After 24 hours of keeping down IV fluids, I was allowed clear liquids, which tasted like nectar from heaven. Sometimes I wonder if the Land of Milk and Honey was really just jello, chicken broth and water given to starving dehydrated Israelites. 

At some point I was taken off IV medication to make sure I could sustain the liquids while on pill forms of medication. For all the hype about "don't take medicine while you're pregnant", I'm on more medicine than I think I ever have been. However, it is clear that without these medicines, myself and my baby would probably die. It's a daunting thing to think about and it makes you thankful for modern medicine. Throughout all this, baby has sustained a healthy heartbeat and even likes to squirm underneath the doplar. He/she is a swimmer that packs a punch when poked! I was able to listen to the heartbeat once a shift which always made the time more bearable.

By Saturday, much to our surprise I was given the go ahead for solid food. I had half a roast beef sandwich that consisted of the beef, provolone cheese, lettuce and good old white bread. It filled me up like a thanksgiving feast, and I was able to keep it down. Not only that, my nausea was the most controlled I can remember since being pregnant. It's enough to make you sing praises to God for all the things possible through the gifts given to us on earth. Food, water, modern medicine,!

What I had not anticipated is this side of recovery, in part because I was getting to the point where I couldn't imagine life without throwing up. The nurses bid me a nice farewell and said the hoped they did not see me again until June (which I agreed.) It is possible that I could get sick again, but we are hoping this regimen of medicine and steroids will get me through the hump I need to be able to function on my own again.

I did not anticipate how weak I would be. Thankfully, I have never really been incredibly sick during my life. I have lost all my pregnancy weight and about two pounds beyond that, about 7 lbs in all in the course of a week and a half. My body and muscles often feel like I ran or rode my bike on a hard work out after mundane tasks like showering, making a sandwich, or walking from one side of the house to the other.

I had high hopes of making it to church this morning as it's been 5 weeks since I have made it to a Sunday morning service for one reason or another, but the daunting task of walking across the yard and then to the Sanctuary and then talking to everyone made me realize I should stay home. It is easy to want to do something when you're lying or resting...

So far, I rest when I feel like it and make sure something stays in my system at all times. I trust that doing to ordinary things in life are enough exercise for now and know I will continue to get stronger as I can eat more.

Once again, thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I can honestly say I think they were the only things that sustained me at times. I am sure Stephen feels the same. Your phone calls, cards, meals for Stephen and visits were welcome encouragement. I ask that you continue to pray we have found a good solution and that things continue to be on the upswing. I feel as though carrying this child has truly been a group effort and I know we will all cheer loudly when he/she makes his/her grand arrival!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The ugliness of HG

There's a joke going on some of the support boards I've been frequenting for people like me who make frequent trips to the ER and are hearing "duchess" jokes. We had it first. If you're weak of stomach yourself, please save yourself from reading any further. If you want to know more about what this is, and I hope you do, please read on.

All joking aside, hypermesis gravidarum is not a joking matter. In fact, it's not the least bit funny, but if you don't find a way to laugh about it you'll go nuts. It affects as little as 2% of pregnancies and is different from morning sickness. In fact, "acute morning sickness" as it was first being called for Princess Kate could be considered an insult. In fact, we shouldn't joke about her at all, because she may be our saving grace for answers. Someone is bringing this to the forefront and even though this kind of diagnosis is a new thing to me, it's been going on a long time.

I'll admit, I'm not the worst. I'm considered mild. And I'll admit, I'm a complete wimp about it. I'm mild because I only throw up five or ten times a day while on treatment. Like many will tell you, it comes in waves of bad to worse. I'm on an up swing.

Lots of people have picc lines like cancer patients, and many swear by their Zofran pumps. So far, my saving grace has been phenergin suppositories and oral Zofran. You can ask my mother, one time when I had problems with internal hemroids, I had to use suppositories and I called her crying like a mad woman for having to put something the wrong direction in my butt hole. Yesterday, I could have cared less.

Like the IV version, they burn, but they're fast acting and within 10 minutes I'm knocked out and thanking God for not feeling like an instant puke is around the corner. Even though it's cheaper and my insurance is better about keeping me well stocked, I'd rather not take them. Phenergin leaves my skin feeling raw when anything touches it, sometimes even when there's nothing there. I get bad headaches from them and there is no functioning. And puke really isn't an accurate word. I never understood the need for an ugly word like vomit until now. But I have to say, I'll use them any day over enduring what I have the past four days, much less the past 10 or so weeks.

Unlike morning sickness, this can carry on well into pregnancy, so as I welcome my 2nd trimester, I have to say, I'm not as excited as some may feel. In fact, I'm still scared out of my mind to eat, even though I kept down chicken and rice and some crackers.

I hate it when people tell me they hope I can enjoy my pregnancy when I can't help but feel like my body is having such an adverse reaction to it. At the same time, I realize this is a joyful time for some, and I shouldn't take that from them. In fact, there are people much worse than me with HG, who do this two, three and four times, and because HG is different then morning sickness, their body does the same thing every time. I can't imagine doing this with a small child, much less more than one.

You can't take care of yourself and at first, you're humiliated. I never thought my husband would have to bathe me at 28 years old. He graciously even offered to shave my legs because he knows I feel dirty when I don't. When I was at my worst and couldn't make it to the toilet, he cleaned and mopped the floor...on 1 am. Did I mention he's a Pastor, like the pastor, the only one that shows up the next morning to preach and preside? You can add saint to that. Forget humiliation, the help from him is the most amazing Godsend I could ever ask for.

I'm giving your the graphic details, not so you feel sorry for me. I'll make it and so with my child and my marriage. I also don't deal with the intense guilt of having another bio child, because I never felt the need to biologically have a child in the first place, I just wanted to be a mom. I'm asking this so you help spread the word about this horrific condition in pregnancy of which I am only a mild sufferer. If you can help go to for more information. If you hear "duchess"jokes, please correct people. It's not funny, it's serious. She's not pampered (although I wouldn't mind the in house help rather than the hosptial or ER), she's seriously ill and carrying a royal bloodline. I mean, thank God I don't have to worry about that! There's no pressure from anyone for me to have another biological child!

I thank everyone for your prayers. They have definitely carried us through. Don't forget to pray for Stephen in all this. With no family anywhere near, a lot falls on his shoulders. God gives him a steadiness and compassion I will never understand, but am extremely grateful for. If you ever get that feeling when he talks or listens to you that he's really present with you, it's because he truly is and I'll never know how he pastor's and takes care of me. I only give thanks and praise to God whom it's due.

I also thank the people at church who have brought meals, gotten my Rx's refilled, filled in for me in the Christmas pageant and everything else I've had to let go, and otherwise prayed for us. It's certainly not been an easy time, but the people of Beautiful Savior and God's church abroad have rallied around us, and we thank you.

And so, as I close in on 36 hours of vomit free, I say, keep the prayers coming, encourage the mothers in your lives, and stand up to those who think it's just "morning sickness".

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nasty November = Happy December

November started out fantastic with a visit to the family in Knoxville, if you recall the previous post, but things sort of went downhill from there.

We did have a fantastically quick visit at the Wallace Inn in Compton, IL before things started to head down hill. It was great to not only see Heather and Jamie, but enjoy the company of Owen and Thea Peterson as well. For those who don't know, Heather is from our home congregation St, John's Knoxville, as are her parents Owen and Thea. Heather and Jamie met at Lenoir-Rhyne our collective alma-mater. Jamie went to the Chicago seminary and is currently serving Immanuel Lutheran Church which is beautifully situated among windmills and still country life in Compton, IL. We had not seen them in a long time, so it was a wonderful visit even though it was quick.

Unforunately, I came down with a wicked cough and general ill feelings the next day which I blame on the guy that sat across from me on the Skylink in the Dallas airport who didn't cover his mouth. Really, two year olds can cough in their's not hard.

After I got an anti-biotic I proceeded to throw up despite my Zofran (aka, heavenly relief in a pill) regimen. Despite several friends efforts to provide movies, meals and a taste of Thanksgiving, my thanksgiving meal was two bags of fluids in the ER and a diagnosis for Flu B, despite my flu vaccine. The good news: Stephen remained healthy.

About the time I felt like I was arriving to the land of the living again on Monday, I learned my Papa had a bad stroke...and later discovered he was brain dead and would not recover. I'm exhausted talking about it, and a hole will be in my heart for a very long time, but it did help put things into perspective, and seeing family was nice.

A Happy December has come around though, because Tuesday, we got to hear baby's heartbeat for the first time. I healthy 155 bpm. I don't know how you can love something you can't see so much but I can't wait to kiss this baby all over! I wanted to beg the nurse not to move the doplar so I could listen for hours, but turns out baby likes to move! Even though I can't feel it, baby moved under the doplar so we got to hear that too.

I'm continually thankful for Stephen and his willingness to not only take care of me, but make every doctors appointment. Since the heartbeat was rather faint compared to other noises, we didn't record it this time, but the nurse assured us it would be louder as baby gets bigger, so we'll take video of it then. Of course, I don't expect you readers to want to listen hours on end as I did, but it's still pretty darn cool!

Our next anointment is December 21rst, the day after Stephen and I turn 28. I think we both agree the best birthday present ever will be a good report and a happy healthy baby!

We also got in an order of baby's first diapers and they are precious! I can't wait to put it on baby's bum!

This color is called "noodle" but when we find out boy or girl, you can bet we'll get creative with colors. Too cute!