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Shutterfly Christmas Cards (Sponsored post)

Is it really that time of the year again already? I can’t believe how fast 2012 has gone by! I’ve barely been able to keep up!

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I have to start thinking about Christmas cards and this year we have another member of the family who will be celebrating her first holiday season.

Of course, Shutterfly is my favorite place to order Christmas Cards for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, their picture quality is fantastic. My images print exactly how they look on my computer screen and the colors and clarity are never distorted, which is a problem that I have had when using other companies in the past.

Shutterfly also has an amazing selection of designs that will compliment any family photo and they are always offering great deals on their Special Offers page to help you spend less and save more money for presents!

I’m still waiting for our recent family portraits to work on my final card, but I have been trying to narrow down which design I may use and so far here is one of my favorites:

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Fighting for my rights as mother.

When Daegan went into the hospital a few weeks ago, I left my two older boys with my husband’s parents.

But, because I am exclusively breastfeeding my 6 month-old daughter and I knew that Daegan was going to be hospitalized for at least a few days, I took Novalee with me when Daegan was transferred an hour away.

That first night, around 10 p.m., the nurse on duty came into his room to check his blood sugar and potassium pump. As she was leaving the room, she glanced over at me rocking Novalee and asked, “Is someone coming to pick her up?”

When I told her no, she informed me that the hospital does not allow anyone under eighteen to stay in the pediatric patient rooms overnight.

I explained to her that I was keeping the baby with me because she’s nursing. She said she would ask her manager if they could make an exception to the policy.

When she returned, she said that the charge nurse would not allow Novalee to stay. Instead, she offered me a room in a building adjacent to the hospital for $22 a night.

The catch was that I would have to leave my sick, 18 month-old son alone, overnight, in the same hospital that my grandmother had died in a year and a half earlier.

I couldn’t do it.

That’s when things got ugly.

The nurse in charge of the overnight shift came and explained that there was no way the hospital would allow me to stay with my son and my daughter. And while I understood the hospital’s need to have the overnight policy in place for liability reasons, I found it unreasonable to expect a mother, dealing with the stress of a sick child and an unexpected out-of-town hospital stay, to be forced into choosing between my babies.

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If I wanted to continue feeding my daughter, I’d have to leave my son’s bedside.

I tried my best to be reasonable. This wasn’t a case of not having a babysitter. I’m a nursing mother with an infant that needs to be fed (and that won’t take a bottle). I explained to them that I would be willing to sign a waiver of liability. They argued that by staying on the floor overnight she would be exposed to contagious illness. I pointed out that her brother did not have a communicable disease, and that she was no more exposed during the evening hours than she had been earlier that day. If anything, it’s less of a risk at nighttime because I’m not out in the hallways with her.

The nurse refused to back down, and because I felt like the hospital would rather me take my focus off of my sick baby and spend my energy worrying about how my daughter was going to get fed, I told her I wanted my son to be transferred to the closest children’s hospital. One that I knew would not try to split up my children and I in the middle of the night.

Without having any valid reasons, she told me that I couldn’t have him transferred, so then I said that I would sign him out of the hospital and transfer him myself. (At that point, he had been stabilized so there was no danger in moving him to another nearby hospital.)

What the nurse said to me next was so beyond ridiculous, that I still can’t believe what I heard. She said there was no way I would be allowed to leave the hospital with him and that basically from the moment the ambulance brought him in, he was in custody of the hospital and that they were in control of all of the decisions involving him and his care.

According to her, I had relinquished all my parental rights as soon as we walked through the door.

I wasn’t intimated by her load of crap the way she had hoped I would be. I told her flat out that there was no way any parent in their right mind would ever admit their child into a hospital if it meant they were handing over custody to that institution. I requested to speak to hospital administration immediately.

The charge nurse left, and for the next several minutes I was nervous that she might be calling security to come and escort me out. While I waited, Daegan’s night nurse came by to check him and she apologized profusely for what was going on. I felt bad for putting her in such an awkward position. She couldn’t do anything to resolve the issue and she understood why I felt the way I did.

Eventually, Nurse Ratched came back and said that because it was now almost midnight, the hospital would allow Novalee to stay. She explained that “Social Services” would be by in the morning to come up with other arrangements. I’m still not sure what she meant when she said that (nobody from “social” anything ever visited my son’s room) unless maybe it was a last-ditch effort to rattle me.

The hospital’s tone had completely changed by the following morning. The pediatric unit’s nurse manager came by and apologized for the charge nurse’s bullying. She explained that hospital policy is flexible in our situation and that because Novalee is a nursing infant she could stay in Daegan’s room for as long as needed. In fact, once he was discharged, the manager said that if we ever were back for another stay and encountered the same problem we could talk to her and she would fix it immediately.

So, one less thing to worry about. Especially since, unfortunately, there could be another visit there for us in the near future. At Daegan’s last visit the doctor diagnosed him as being hyperglycemic. However, considering what has happened, it’s more likely than not that Daegan is Type I diabetic and in the “honeymoon” phase after receiving his first dose of insulin at the hospital.

That means that when and if his blood sugar levels start to rise, he’ll need to be hospitalized again.

And on another note, thank you for all the comments of support and well wishes for my boys right now. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to respond to each individually or to comment on my usual blog reads in return, but I really appreciate all the thoughts and prayers that come our way. The medical puzzle we are in is quite complex and we still have many more questions than answers, but I do have more updates that I hope to post soon.

Daegan @ the hospital.

Tuesday, Daegan was tired. He had trouble staying awake all day and that night he went to bed earlier than usual. He didn’t even make it to dinner.

Wednesday morning, Daegan woke up late.

Really late. I actually had trouble waking him up and it was almost 11 before he was awake enough to eat breakfast.

When I pulled him out of his crib, he was extremely hot to the touch and a thermometer confirmed he had a fever.

After he had eaten, he started throwing up. His color was terrible, his skin had turned an awful shade of gray and his lips were purple. His breathing was slightly labored.

I considered just keeping an eye on him at home, but ultimately I decided to have him checked out by a doctor. Because his pediatrician closes early on Wednesdays, I had to take him to the immediate care. After evaluating him, the doctor there recommended that I take him to the emergency room.

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I started to get a little more worried at that point. We went to the ER and he was given an IV for hydration. They ran blood and urine tests, and ordered a chest x-ray.

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His blood glucose level came back in the high 300’s and he had sugar in his urine, telltale signs of Type I Diabetes. He still had a fever and his white blood cell count was elevated, so the doctors suspected he had some sort of infection.

After the initial test results came back, the ER doctor decided to have Daegan transferred to another hospital an hour away that had a higher level pediatric care unit. .Before the transfer, Daegan was given a large dose of long-acting insulin to help lower his blood sugars.

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I followed the ambulance to the other hospital. When we got there, the paramedics wheeled him up to his room on the pediatric floor. It was interesting to see how they transport small children, they actually strap their car seats to the stretcher.

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That night, Daegan’s blood sugar dropped dangerously low twice. The pediatric endocrinologist seems to think that he received too high of an insulin dose and that he should have been given a short-acting insulin versus the longer-acting version.

Additional blood work also revealed that his potassium levels were low as well, so he was put on a potassium pump overnight.

Since then, Daegan’s blood glucose levels seem to have been slowly improving on their own, without any additional insulin. As of now, the doctor is diagnosing him as pre-diabetic and we are now going to be monitoring his blood sugars regularly.

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Hopefully his levels will remain normal. However, since Daegan has just been diagnosed with Pituitary Dwarfism, the doctor warned us that the growth hormone treatment he will be starting in the next few weeks can affect his blood sugar and could cause him to become a full-blown diabetic. Also, any type of illness or infection could have the potential to cause an autoimmune response that may further impair his ability to produce adequate amounts of insulin.

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It seems like for now can just hope for the best, but expect that at some point he will become insulin-dependent.

As of right now, we are still at the hospital. The plan is to be discharged by the end of the day so we can get home and be done with this unexpected three day “vacation”.

Shutterfly’s Long Live Summer Contest

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• Grand prize: trip for 4 to Bahamas, 4 nights, family photo shoot

So get your camera out and get snapping!

Never-ending Story.

Just when I think that I’m starting to get to the bottom of all the kids’ medical issues…

there’s another diagnosis.

Another concern to address. Another problem that needs to be fixed.

We are still waiting on the results of Daegan’s second stim test, although at this point we’re pretty sure the outcome will be the same as Bronx’s.

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In the meantime though, his ophthalmologist has determined that he is farsighted and that his vision has gotten worse in the past six months.

That means our little guy, at seventeen months, is now sporting glasses.

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He won’t be the only one with eye wear in the house for long though. At Kamryn’s kindergarten vision exam, we found out that he is also extremely farsighted. He will be getting glasses soon as well.

Daegan is still in developmental and physical therapy. While he is making amazing progress with his therapists, he still isn’t walking. He recently was fitted with small braces to help better align his feet and ankles. They have Elmo all over them, so we have started referring to them as his “Elmos”.

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Bronx is still receiving his nightly injections of growth hormone. We recently found out that he also has Sensory Processing Disorder, a diagnosis that finally helped us understand all of his unusual behaviors. He is working with an occupational therapist as well as a developmental and a physical therapist to help with the SPD and to address some other delays that are most likely related to his dwarfism. He has just been fitted for a set of “Elmos” too…although he opted for the Batman design so we will probably be calling them his “Batmans”.

Obviously, with all of this comes countless doctor’s visits and therapy appointments, and that’s not counting all the routine vaccinations, well-baby checks, or anything else we may have going on around here. Our days are so overscheduled it’s ridiculous. I have to keep everything on a paper calendar and in my iPhone just to keep it all straight. Even then, I have still had problems with double booking or missing something entirely.

At this point, I’m amazed that I can get anywhere at all…

Even if it’s always five to ten minutes late.

Broken Babymaker.

A few weeks ago, I found this waiting in the mailbox.

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The results from hubby’s post-vasectomy semen analysis.

And according to the highlighted portion, (the clinic did that, just to make sure we didn’t miss it, I guess) the procedure was a success.

It’s official.

His boys are no longer swimming.

Good thing too, because if they still were, I’d probably be knocked up again by now.

Just thinking about that makes me feel a little panicky.

I’m overwhelmed enough as it is.

Unfortunately though, I think this means I’ll finally have to give up my POASing experiments for good.

Pituitary Dwarfism.

I know that I haven’t blogged in quite awhile.

Trust me, I have a really good excuse.

We have been busy with an array of medical appointments, testing, evaluations and therapies for Bronx and Daegan.

It’s been completely overwhelming.

Daegan is currently undergoing testing for Pituitary Dwarfism. Despite the fact that he is following the same stunted growth pattern as his older brother, the endocrinologist’s office initially didn’t want to test him at all.

They didn’t offer any valid reasons for not wanting to test him and after I insisted (based on the fact that his preliminary blood work showed the same low IGF-1 factors that Bronx had, but with even lower numbers than Bronx’s) the office eventually relented and the doctor agreed to run the tests.

Testing for this condition is a lengthy and difficult process. Especially if you have had to watch another child endure it. It requires two separate stimulation tests, both of which involve a one-day admitted stay in the pediatric unit at the hospital. During that stay, the child has an IV placed, is given a drug that stimulates the release of growth hormone, and then the hormone levels are tested every half hour or hour (depending on the test) with a blood draw.

Since small children love being poked with needles and having their arms immobilized with IVs, you can imagine how much fun all of this is. Add in the fact that the kid can’t eat from after midnight the night before up until after the testing is completed, and you have the makings of a day straight from childhood hell.

The worst part is you have to do it twice.

After both of those those tests confirm the diagnosis, then the child has to undergo a sedated MRI to rule out any structural pituitary abnormalities.

If you ever want to see a temper tantrum on steroids, try seeing what a toddler is like after waking up from sedation. After Bronx woke up from his MRI, he was completely disoriented and irritable. To the extreme.

I never seen a kid act like that ever. And I dread how Daegan will react after his MRI, which looks like it may be inevitable at this point.

Because, yes. After completing his first round of stim testing, we were advised by his doctor that he had failed it.

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By a significant margin. The cutoff levels for this particular test are supposed to be 10 or higher.

Daegan’s levels topped out at 3.65. His other levels were in the 2’s and even 1’s.

He’s going for his second round of testing in the next few weeks, but it looks as if the boys are heading for the same medical diagnosis.

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire

Monsters are a big deal right now.

There all over the place. In movies and on television.

Try as you might, you can’t escape them.

Which might not be a problem if like me, your kids (or your husband) are into all things that go bump in the night.

But if you have monster fans that are a little too young for the teen melodrama of Twilight saga, or for the extremely terrifying Walking Dead series, there is an alternative.

Welcome to the world of Horrid Henry. No, he’s no monster. He’s just a mischievous boy with a knack for causing hilarious hijinks.

And sometimes those misadventures involve monsters.

I recently received a copy of the latest installment in the Horrid Harry books for review, and at first my oldest was a bit apprehensive when I suggested it as a bedtime story. This is because even though he likes monsters, he still gets freaked out over the scary stuff. However, much to my son’s delight, the monsters in this book aren’t scary. Just funny. My husband read him one of the four different short stories in the book each night this past week, and often I could hear them giggling together at the silly antics of Horrid Henry.

From tormenting his annoying younger brother to waging his own personal war against sauce made from vegetables, Horrid Henry is a wickedly wonderful delight for children everywhere.

My son (and my husband) included.

Official Diagnosis.

I stumbled across something interesting a few days ago.

I was sorting through some medical paperwork and I came across a lab order for some blood work that Bronx has to have done before his next endocrinologist appointment.

Listed on it was my son’s official medical diagnosis.

Pituitary Dwarfism.

Basically, his pituitary gland does not produce enough growth hormone and because of this, he doesn’t grow properly.

This isn’t really new information, but the medical terminology is.

And it turns out that, unfortunately, pituitary dwarfism does have a tendency to run in families.

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Not surprising for us, since Daegan seems to be following the same growth pattern as his brother.

That, and his recent initial blood work has shown the same red flags that Bronx originally had.

Which is why I will be spending next Thursday on the pediatric floor of the hospital keeping my little Dae-Dae company as he begins his first round of those awful stim-tests.

Fun stuff.

Moment of Truth.

Has the suspense been killing you?

Me too. And don’t even ask about all the hyperventilating my husband has been doing.

It’s been quite the roller coaster of emotions around here.

My best friend told me that the test looked exactly like her last early BFP.

In fact, that conversation (via text) went something like this:

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And my online poll has topped out at 103 positive votes and only nine negative.

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The masses that have seen my HPT are betting that I am indeed pregnant again.

And I have to admit, since the line, although faint, came out looking completely solid and pink, it’s hard to fathom that it could be an evaporation line.

Like I said before, up until the blue-dye mayhem that occurred a few weeks back, I had never seen a real evaporation line in my entire life.

What is equally compelling is that all my truly negative tests from the same box taken weeks before have still stayed negative. No evaporation lines whatsoever.

All this evidence was staring me in the face and making me nervous. I started to feel nauseous.

Anxiety, right? Or …was it the beginnings of morning sickness?

I know some of you suggested I head straight to the doctor for a blood draw.

But, the thought of having to ask my OB for a beta was nerve-wracking. I could not face him a mere two months after giving birth to my fourth child in four and a half years to request a pregnancy test.

The possibility of Duggar jokes and “Are you crazy?” lectures made me cringe.

And forget even thinking about what I will do if I have to head back there in a few weeks for my first prenatal appointment. Especially since, at my six week postpartum visit (four weeks ago!) the doctor had warned me about the vasectomy not being immediately effective.

Oh, the shame!

I went out and bought more tests.

And then I waited another excruciating 48 hours.

Only to find out that this:copyright - suburban princess diaries

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is the most positive-looking negative test I have ever seen in my life.

Yes, Virginia. This is an evaporation line.

On a pink-dye, First Response Early Result.

Contrary to popular belief, they do exist.

Can someone tell me why now, after a decade and hundreds of non-problematic HPT’s, I have seen two crazy evaporation lines in the past two weeks?

Must be really bad luck.

Which I must have in spades right now, considering I’m sitting here typing this post with a massive head cold, a 101 degree fever and a painfully raging case of mastitis.

(un)Lucky me!

Evaporation Nation

A few weeks back, I had a bad experience with an awful blue-dye HPT.

I had never had an evaporation line on a pregnancy test before, and despite all my BFP’s, I have had many negative tests in the past.

Which is why the blue evaporation line I saw really messed with my head.

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I mean, come on! It’s even blue!

The pink-dye tests I took later, confirmed that the blue-dye monster was indeed negative.

Crisis averted.

Fast forward to two weeks later. I start waking up nauseous, I start having weird spotting issues, I start feeling like…

…like I might be pregnant?

Under normal circumstances, I probably would have pushed the ridiculous idea right out of my head. It was impossible, really. My husband had a vasectomy and we are getting farther and farther past the window of residual sperm lingering behind. I just had a baby nine weeks ago. There is no way that I could be back in the fertility game this soon.

Except, it has happened before…well, the ovulating soon after childbirth part, anyways.

Maybe it was just really improbable, but not totally impossible.

I had one First Response Early Result (FRER) leftover after confirming the blue-dye test disaster, so I took it.

Seriously, it was practically begging me.

And it looked as negative as the others, so I tossed it.

Only to go back later (I know I shouldn’t have…but rules, shumules!) and find a line.

It was way over the 3 minute time limit, so I wanted to call it an evaporation line and move on with my life.

Except, while the blue-dye tests are notorious for evaps, they aren’t so common on the FRER’s.

I have never seen one. And I’m assuming by now that I have probably taken at least a hundred of them over the past decade. And not all of them were positive.

Unlike the blue-dye tests, which before a few weeks ago, I had taken maybe three in my entire life. And all of them were positives.

I did what any POAS-aholic would do. I busted out my old tests from two weeks ago for comparison. (Why I save these things, I don’t know! It’s so weird…although I bet I’m not the only freakshow out there.)

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The bottom test was my negative from the blue-dye fiasco. A true negative test, with not even a hint of a line, evaporation or otherwise - a whole two weeks later.

At the top is my recent test, about a day after it was taken, with a faint line.

I wanted to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, and I wanted to see if anyone else would consider this a positive over an evap. So I posted it on a HPT voting page.

Obsessive, I know.

So far, here are the results:

copyright - suburban princess diaries Same test as the one above, just zoomed in and photographed in my other bathroom with different lighting.

As of right now, 87 people think I’m knocked up.

I’m still on the fence…

SpermCheck Fertility – Review & Giveaway

**This giveaway is now closed**

Now that my husband has had his vasectomy, and the post-op blue-dye pregnancy test panic is behind us, you may think that my bathroom science experiment days are over too.

But, you’d be wrong. I’d never pass up the chance to put on my (imaginary) white lab coat and glasses and start testing.

Although, until now, I have always had to the be the guinea pig.

Thanks to SpermCheck Fertility, that is no longer the case.

SpermCheck Fertility is a new, at-home sperm test for men that can detect if a man’s sperm count is within the “normal” range (above 20 million sperm per milliliter). The test is FDA approved and is 98% accurate, just as accurate as lab results!

However, being the skeptic that I am, I had to see it to believe it.

I had Matt take the test four weeks post-vasectomy. He still had another four weeks to go until he could return to the doctor for a follow-up semen analysis, and after the seven week post-partum pregnancy scare we had had just a few days earlier, we were anxious to see if his sperm count had been affected by the procedure yet.

Because, as we have learned, it can take awhile for those little swimmers to clear out after the big snip-snip.

The test is not quite as simple as a pregnancy test, and although it involves a few more steps, the instructions are easy to follow and the results are fast and clear (no ambiguous evaporation lines!)

Even though the test is intended for couples who are trying to conceive, Matt and I used the test to check if his vasectomy had started to take effect. I also thought that because of our situation, this would be a perfect way to prove the accuracy of the test results. Back in 2006, Matt did undergo a semen analysis through his doctor’s office after we spent almost a year trying to conceive with no success.
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Obviously, those results were accurate. We found out we were pregnant with our first child two weeks later.

And now, after fathering four babies, I’m pretty sure my husband is considered to be a man of proven fertility.

Which is why a result like this could only mean one thing:

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The vasectomy must be doing something…because that’s a negative, Batman.

Of course, we will have the official lab reports to back this up in a few more weeks, but I think it’s safe to say that this is an accurate result.

I was amazed that this kind of test could be done in the privacy of our own bathroom. It could be a valuable tool for couples who are having trouble conceiving. I only wish this test had been around back in 2006 when I sent Matt to the doctor for his fertility testing. It would have saved him the inconvenient and slightly embarrassing trip to the doctor, not to mention the expensive lab bill.

The test retails for $39.99 and is available at Walgreens stores, or online at and

Or you can enter my giveaway and win a SpermCheck Fertility Test for the lucky man in your life!

To enter: Just follow me through Google Friend Connect and leave a comment below! (This giveaway is open to U.S. residents, 18 and older only, please.) I will draw a winner at random after the giveaway ends on May 1st at 12:00 am EDT.

Make sure to put your email in your comment so I have a way to contact you if you win.

And sorry, there are no extra entry opportunities. I like to keep it simple!

Good luck!

And, after you enter the giveaway, you should check out this segment from the television show, “The Doctors” featuring the SpermCheck Fertility Test.
Because, like I said before, Dr. McDreamy Dr. Travis Stork would never steer us wrong, ladies.

The Thin Blue Line.

Four weeks ago, my husband had a vasectomy.

Funny thing though. Despite what you might assume, vasectomies do not equal immediate sterility.

It actually can take a few months for a man to clear out all the remaining sperm.

Since I just gave birth, we assumed that this wouldn’t be a big deal because chances were slim to none that I would ovulate before his sperm count dropped to zero.

In theory, we were thinking that I would probably become fertile right around the same time that he became completely infertile.

So, we did something stupid.

Several times.

And two weeks later, when I started experiencing symptoms similar to the ones I had when we discovered I was pregnant with Novalee, we started suspecting the unexpected.

So I ran out and bought a box of pregnancy tests.

3 minutes later, I was looking at this:

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An ever-so-faint, but undeniably blue test line.

A line that even my husband, the doubter of barely-there lines, could see.

He stomped out of the bathroom, swearing under is breath.

I just stood there in shock. Thoughts racing.

Is it even possible to be pregnant again with a seven-week-old baby who exclusively breastfeeds and a husband who is three weeks post vasectomy?

The odds had to be akin to winning the lottery, or getting struck by lightening.

So we waited to test again. 48 long hours later I took two more tests.

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Both of which were clearly negative.

So what happened?

Those evil blue dye tests happened. They gave me the mother of all evaporation lines. One that appeared within the test’s time limit and that was blue. (In contrast, most evaporation lines are gray and appear well after the time limit.)

Easier to mistake for a false positive than an evap.

I have heard rumors before about the blue dye tests being notorious for evaporation lines from hell, but I had never seen an evap look like that.

And the last time I thought I was looking at evaporation lines, I ended up actually being pregnant. The lines had been ridiculously faint positives.

Although, those had been pink-dye tests.

The moral of the story is that blue-dye tests are obviously capable of lying and can’t be trusted.

If you find yourself in a bathroom with a box of those little tricksters, proceed with caution.

Shutting Down the Factory. Forever.

The last time I wrote a post like thisplans changed.

I meant to take those birth control pills, I swear.

I am happy I never got around to it, though. If I had we wouldn’t have been blessed with our little Novalee.

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And who knows? Maybe we never would have had a little girl if I had went on those pills.

Maybe it was luck…or divine intervention.

Whatever it was, Matt and I had made a deal with each other when we found out we were expecting our fourth child.

If it was another boy, we would (eventually) try one more time for our elusive girl.

And if it was a girl, I’d let Matt get a vasectomy.

When the ultrasound revealed that we were having a daughter, the fate of Matt’s sperm was sealed.

An hour after she was born, Matt was on the phone with the urologist’s office, making an appointment.

Much to my dismay, four weeks later, I drove him to the clinic for the procedure.

Crazy as it may be, I tried to talk him out of it.

I know I should be relieved that I will never have to endure another rough pregnancy or another excruciating labor and delivery.

Actually I am, but…

there is this small part of me that is sad about closing this chapter of my life. I’m not even thirty yet. I don’t feel like I should be finished having children already.

I don’t feel like I am ready to be done.

Especially since little Novalee is growing so fast. It’s bittersweet knowing that she is our last baby.

Then again, after spending the past five years in a sea of poopy diapers and spit up, a huge part of me is looking forward to what lies beyond the baby stage.

My husband is right. We have to be done.

After all, there is no more room for car seats in our van and I refuse to drive a bus.

Naming Novalee.

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Since a few of you asked how little Novi got her name, I’ll share the story.

Back when I was pregnant with our first, we decided on both boy names and girl names.

That was, of course, before we found out we were expecting our first son.

So, a few months later, we came home from the hospital with Kamryn Tristan.

And our two girl names…

Aurora Novalee 


Alexia Berlin

…went back on the drawing board.

What’s interesting (or perhaps even lame, really) is where those names originated.

Movies. All four are straight out of Hollywood.

If you can’t guess where they came from…

Aurora - The princess from Sleeping Beauty.

Okay, that was an obvious one. Especially if you’re a Disney fan.

Alexia - One of the sisters in the movie Wish Upon a Star, starring Katherine Heigl and Danielle Harris.

This one is more obscure, but still a Disney movie.

Novalee - Novalee Nation, the girl who lived in Wal-Mart, in the book-turned-movie, Where the Heart Is.

If you haven’t seen this film, rent it now.  Better yet, read the book.

Berlin – Kevin Spacey’s student in The Life of David Gale.

Despite the fact that the character in the movie was a scandalous liar, the name still struck me as quite pretty. And we already had ventured into place-naming territory when Bronx was born, so Berlin didn’t seem too unconventional for us either.

And let’s face it, bad connotations don’t really hold much weight for us. Especially with locations.

After all, Bronx isn’t known for being the nicest borough in New York.

After we had two more sons, it didn’t look like the girl names we’d chosen had much of a chance of ever getting used. The odds were against us, as Matt’s family hadn’t seen a girl born on his father’s side in almost 35 years.

But then something amazing happened.

We had a girl.

After the ultrasound confirmed the good news, Matt assumed we were going to go with one of the names we had originally decided on.

I, however, was ready to crack the spine on the half of the baby name book that had remained pristine for the past five years.

I didn’t want to overlook any possibilities.

I spent hours pouring over the crisp, clean, white pages in the girls’ section, highlighter in hand, determined to find the perfect name for our princess.

Only to come to one conclusion.

I really, truly loved the names we had already decided on.

Except, I loved the middle names a little more. They were more unique.

It was then that our baby girl became Novalee Berlin.

We also discovered, thanks to my baby name research, that Novalee means “new field”.

Appropriate since she was our first girl after three boys.

It also, in some books, means “butterfly chaser”.

I love how ridiculously girly that is.

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Back to the Bronx

After two years of searching, we finally have some answers.

After seeing multiple specialists and enduring endless tests, Bronx finally started getting closer to having a diagnosis when the initial labs and x-rays ordered by his endocrinologist came back with red flags when he went for his first visit last November.

That led to even more testing.

More specifically, testing to check for growth hormone levels, which consisted of spending an entire day at the hospital. During the stay, Bronx was injected with a drug to stimulate his growth hormone response and then his blood was drawn at regular intervals over the next several hours through an IV.

He went through two awful rounds of this using two different drugs. We spent one test day on the pediatric floor of the hospital and the other in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

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Long story short, he failed both of those tests.

Then he underwent a brain MRI to rule out any pituitary abnormalities. Thankfully, the results for that came back normal.

And now we finally have a diagnosis. A solid explanation for why our little man just won’t grow.

Bronx has Growth Hormone Deficiency.

Unfortunately, because Bronx’s body does not make enough growth hormones to grow on his own, we had to start giving him nightly growth hormone injections.

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Not exactly something we wanted to incorporate into his bedtime routine.

Bronx isn’t too thrilled about it either.

The worst part is that he will have to continue these injections until he stops growing, which may be for next twenty years or so.

Poor kid.

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Right now, at 2 1/2 years old, he weighs 21 pounds and he is 32 inches tall.

He just started the injection treatment.

It will be interesting to see how his growth picks up once these hormones start working.

Super Nova(lee) – part deux

(If you haven’t read part one, yet … click here.)

February 14th. Valentine’s Day.

That morning, I woke up cramping.

It wasn’t long before the pain had me rolling on the floor.

I woke up my husband. He called his dad to come over and watch the boys. When he pulled up, I dragged myself out to our minivan and tried to get as comfortable as I could in the passenger seat. I yelled at Matt that if he didn’t hurry up, get in and start driving that I would have to call 911.

At the time, a little voice in the back of my head thought that maybe my threat to bring in a brigade of paramedics was a bit melodramatic.

In retrospect, 911 might have been a good idea.

Matt got us to the hospital at 5:46 am.

Roughly 36 hours after my epidural was taken out and I was sent home.

I was wheeled up to labor and delivery, where an initial check revealed that I was six centimeters.

I was screaming for the epidural at this point.

Ten minutes later, after putting in an IV to start fluids, the nurse checked me again.

She announced to another nurse that I was now at eight centimeters and my bag of waters was bulging.

When I heard that, I knew that there was no time for me to get an epidural.

I started screaming for them to give me some pain medication in my IV line instead. Anything they could get to me quick enough, just to take the edge off.

But there wasn’t even time for that.

Just moments later, my water broke and almost immediately after the baby started crowning.

The nurses were panicking (and telling me not to push), the hospital’s on-call doctor was just walking in the room (still half asleep) and my OB-GYN was still in route to the hospital.

The baby was delivered with a single push. She came out so fast that the nurse barely had time to catch her head and her body actually landed on the bed. In fact, right before I pushed her out, the nurse had noticed I was lying halfway off the bed, and she had yelled out to one of the other nurses that if she didn’t roll me over the baby would have fallen out onto the floor. No joke.

28 minutes after arriving at the hospital, at 6:14 in the morning, Novalee Berlin was born at exactly 37 weeks gestation, weighing 5 pounds 10 ounces and measuring 18 inches long.

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My little Valentine’s Day lovebug…

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I still can’t believe how fast she arrived.

Seriously, if we had left the house any later, I probably would have given birth in my minivan.

Super Nova(lee) - part 1

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This is not a birth story for the weak.

And I don’t say that because I’m about to recount all the messy details of my most recent childbirth experience.

As a courtesy, I’m leaving out all the bloody stuff.

But, if like me, you were not aware that labor is a process that can go on for days or even weeks, you may not want to read on.

Unfortunately, this was not my first experience with a prolonged early labor.

I spent a week in the beginning stages of labor with my last baby and this time was no different.

It started on a Tuesday. I was still preterm, contracting every eight minutes for several hours. On my doctor’s advice I went to the hospital where we discovered I was dilated a centimeter and almost completely effaced. Eventually the contractions tapered off and I ended up back at home.

By Saturday, I started contracting every two minutes. At the hospital, we found out that I was almost halfway dilated now. The contractions were getting pretty uncomfortable, so the anesthesiologist came and administered an epidural.

The nurses brought the baby warmer into my room. They put diapers in the drawer on the hospital bassinette. They even fingerprinted me for the hospital birth certificate.

Matt called our parents. It was show time.

Except…it wasn’t. After a few hours the contractions started slowing down.

And by Sunday morning, my labor had come to a screeching halt.

The entire situation was getting pretty frustrating. I was exhausted and still contracting (the epidural was turned off by this point because the doctor suspected that it might have been what stalled my labor), but nothing was happening. And because I was only 36 weeks, my OB did not want to do anything to speed things along.

I was okay with that. I really did not want to be induced and I didn’t want to give birth to a baby whose lungs might not be ready yet.

Although, I was irritated that my body was dragging this out and making me so miserable.

That evening the doctor came into my hospital room with three options, :

Option 1) I could stay in the hospital and wait for things to start back up on their own.

Uh, thanks…but no thanks.

Option 2) I could have an amniocentesis performed to see if the baby’s lungs are mature. The results would be back in a week and then, if the lungs were ready, the doctor would induce.

Again, no deal. There were way too many down sides to this plan. First, the procedure isn’t exactly non-evasive and there are risks. Not exactly something you want to just automatically volunteer to do. Second, I knew that my labor was probably going to start back up before the results would even get back, which would make the amnio pointless. Finally, even if the baby didn’t arrive before the results came back, there was still a slight chance that the test would show that her lungs were not ready and that would mean no induction. Back at square one only now I’ve added on the fun of a large needle to the belly.

Nope, nope and nope.

That left us with only one other option.

Option 3) Lose my precious epidural catheter and get sent home.

It was really the only realistic option, but it was almost just as crappy as my other choices. The lesser of three evils, really. I actually cried as the nurse took out my epidural because I knew, being as close as I was to having this baby, that when my labor started back up again I was not going to have time to get another one.

And after already enduring two horrendously painful childbirths, I really wanted to avoid a repeat experience.

So I went home feeling like a ticking time bomb and entered the record books as the woman who was the closest to giving birth and ended up leaving the hospital still pregnant.

Seriously, who gets sent home after getting an epidural?!

Nobody. Except me, of course.

To be continued….

Be Mine.

Arrived 3 weeks early, on Valentine’s Day:

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The most amazing present. Ever.

my unintended absence.

This one post has taken me over a month to write.

Things keep happening, and I haven’t been able to sit in front of a computer long enough to blog.

For instance, in the past month I have been hospitalized three times.

The first time, I spent the last hours of 2011 in the Labor & Delivery unit at the local hospital, being treated for more preterm labor.

Preterm labor that was triggered by another freaking kidney stone.

Surprise, surprise.

Since then, I have passed two more kidney stones.

Unfortunately, my medical issues didn’t end there.

A few weeks later, I ended up back at the hospital for a three night stay with a stomach virus that left me and the baby dangerously dehydrated.

While I was being treated, my blood tests started coming back strange and the doctor began to suspect that I might have a blood clot.

He ordered a CT scan and, thankfully, the results came back normal.

Then just last Tuesday, I was back in for more preterm labor.

And now I’m far enough that the doctors won’t stop it, but I’m not yet at term, so they won’t help it along either.

So I’m stuck in early latent labor limbo: contracting, effacing, dilating and feeling totally miserable.

At least this means I’ll probably have another lightening-fast active labor.

If that isn’t enough insanity, there has also been a bunch of stuff going on with the kids. Daegan just celebrated his first birthday and Bronx finally has a preliminary diagnosis. (More about that in an upcoming post.)

Needless to say, it’s been busy around here.

And that’s something that isn’t about to change anytime soon.

Especially since we are probably only a few days away now from having another baby in the house.

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