My Movember Story: Back in 2009, I was concerned about the fact that I was peeing over 10 times a day, and the urgency was high and frequent. After months of not having it checked out, I finally decided to make an appointment and ask my doctor. She said it would be rare at 29 years of age if anything were wrong with my prostate, but recommended we give it a check. She did, and noticed inflammation and referred me to a proctologist.
Over the course of the next few months, I went in for several sessions where they did numerous tests, including probes and ultrasounds and were ‘concerned’ with their findings.
After waiting a further 2 weeks for results, I was finally advised that it was fortunately only a case of prostatitis and nothing more serious, and I was subsequently prescribed antibiotics.
Suffice it to say, it scared me to the core.
Ever since I’ve been spreading the word to friends and family to get tested and make sure you visit your doctor for regular physicals, as I do on an annual basis. Since joining the Movember campaign, I’ve been further speaking out about the cause, and ensuring us guys are aware of some of the diseases that are common for men.
Now as a new father, this charity hits home that much more.
As dads we have the duty not only to ourselves, but also our new additions. The duty for us to stay healthy, active, and aware in order to be around for our partners and children for many years to come.
About the Movember Campaign: From its beginnings in Australia in 2003, the Movember movement has grown to be a truly global one, inspiring support from over 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world.
Movember’s success can largely be attributed to the strength of the global community. Regardless of the city in which we live, we’re part of something bigger, united by a commitment to help change the face of men’s health.
The Movember website highlights the cause:
The state of men’s health is in a crisis. Simply put, men are dying too young.
Gender is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and life expectancy. For men, this is not good news. On average, across the world, men die 6 years earlier than women.
Moreover, poor mental health affects men more than women: three quarters of suicides are by men. The World Health Organization estimates that 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year. That’s one every minute.
The impact of prostate and testicular cancer on lives is substantial, with prostate cancer being the second most common cancer in men worldwide and the number of cases expected to almost double to 1.7 million cases by 2030.
Yet this gender-based inequality in health has received little national, regional or global acknowledgement or attention from health policy-makers or healthcare providers. This is exactly why the Movember Foundation focuses on men’s health. This is why Mo Bros and Mo Sistas from across the globe become a united voice every Movember, bringing vital funding and attention to the hidden men’s health crisis.
This is not just an issue for men. In order to tackle the problem and work towards a world where future generations of men are not faced with the same issues as today, we need to take action at both an individual and community level. This means engaging men and women, businesses, sporting groups, community organizations, governments, health policy makers and healthcare providers in the efforts to reduce the current gender inequality in health outcomes.
New for 2015 is the MOVE challenge. MOVE is the Movember Foundation’s 30-day fitness challenge to get active and raise funds and awareness for men’s health. Whether it’s a morning work out, a quick jog at lunchtime or an hour at the ping-pong table, no MOVE is too big or small.
The Movember Foundation is a global charity raising funds and awareness for men’s health. These funds deliver breakthrough research and support services to allow men to live happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising more than $676 million and funding over 1,000 projects through impact investments, focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity.
The Foundation runs awareness and fundraising activities year-round, with the annual Movember campaign in November being globally recognized for its fun and innovative approach to raising money and getting men to take action for their health. During Movember, men are challenged to grow a moustache or to make a commitment to get active and MOVE, both of which are about real action for health and are done to spark conversation and raise vital funds and awareness.
Please help me with my fundraising goals, or better yet, sign up, grow a mo, raise funds and awareness, and help change the face of men’s health!!
Our day was the literal rollercoaster of emotions – from being anxiety riddled while waiting on Becca’s major surgery, through to happiness and elation over the birth of our daughter, and then down to concern and panic over Charlee in her current state.
Seeing a loved one in an intensive care unit is heartbreaking. Seeing infants in such a situation is all the more painful and traumatic.
The specialty care nursery is what’s known as a Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They provide care to infants born at more than 32 weeks’ gestation and weighing more than 1500 g who have physiologic immaturity such as apnea of prematurity, inability to maintain body temperature, or inability to take oral feedings.
This was Charlee in a nutshell… or rather, in an incubator.
With Charlee moved to the SCN, I was asked to come by and speak with the nurses there while registering for a card to access the room. Becca waited back in our room, as she was still on Percocet and other pain medication, having literally just had major surgery no more than 12 hours ago.
The nurses advised that we were going to be on a strict feeding schedule to try and bring Charlee’s blood sugar levels up while they were being supplemented via IV. This would involve us arriving bedside for Charlee around the clock, every 3 hours for feedings, however in our reality, this meant the following:
Having been upgraded to the deluxe suite (in which we would no longer be sharing family bonding times with our infant), we found ourselves at one of the furthest points from the specialty care nursery. Becca was having difficulty sitting up in bed, let alone the fact that she was unable to walk or even use the bathroom at this point (TMI, but she was still on a catheter, which was to be removed just before our first initial visit).
Fortunately for the first of our feedings slated for midnight, Becca was given the use of a wheelchair. After struggling for about 10 minutes to comfortably get Becca into the chair, I slowly wheeled her into the SCN for feeding.
This attempt unveiled a few issues.
Firstly, the IV that Charlee had in her left hand, limited the number of comfortable positions for breastfeeding – an issue that had not been present in the recovery room when she was latching so well.
Second, Becca’s recovery from surgery also lent itself to make even the most basic positioning for Charlee incredibly painful.
And last, Becca’s milk had not come in yet, so even the limited amount of colostrum was tough to get to Charlee and once in her, it would need to make a fairly large impact to her blood sugar levels.
Be that as it may, we pushed through, and Becca and I were determined.
After an hour of feeding – some attempts resulting in just soothing more so than feeding, but other times quite successful), I wheeled Becca back to the room for a rest before starting at it again.
It was 1:30 in the morning when we returned to the room and 2 AM by the time I got Becca back in bed. Forty five minutes later the alarm went off and it was time to start at it again.
This time however, Becca needed to pee. We managed, but it took time and was incredibly uncomfortable and by the time we were done, I couldn’t find the wheelchair.
I hailed the nurse down in the hallway, and she advised that there was only one wheelchair for the floor and we couldn’t keep it for ourselves. Becca was going to need to walk it.
For an able bodied person, we’re talking a 2 minute walk – literally.
For someone who has just had major abdominal surgery within the last 24 hours, much longer.
We arrived at the nursery around 3:30 and were greeted by the nurse ripping into us about how important it was to stay on schedule and that the baby depended on us for this so she could get nourishment.
Not the guilt trip we were looking for.
I held in my frustration, and Becca went about feeding Charlee again.
This time the walk back after feeding, got us to the room closer to 5 AM. This time I set the alarm for 5:30, and after an impossibly short sleep, we were up and at it again.
Becca gradually healed more and more, but her progress depended heavily on pain medication that needed be administered by the main nursing team in the maternity ward. The same nursing team that were late to every checkup for vitals, impossible to reach, left us in recovery for 7 hours, couldn’t adjust the temperature in our room, served Becca solid food twice when she was not allowed it, neglected to place an order for a liquid dinner until after the kitchen closed, and also insisted on hoarding the one and only wheelchair.
We continued back and forth like this to the SCN approximately 48 times over the next 3 days.
We were exhausted, physically and emotionally.
Meanwhile, in the SCN, Charlee was doing ok, but for a span of 18 hours, I could not hunt down an on-call paediatrician to find out what the plan was with my daughter! As far as I knew, she was tapped into an IV until her blood sugars levelled, but how could we tell, and what were next steps?!
Finally I found a paediatrician who advised that the plan was to continue feeding Charlee breastmilk and supplemented breastmilk from pumping, while at once weaning her off the IV watching carefully to ensure that her body temperature and blood sugar levels stayed constant (above 36.6 degrees for her body, and above 2.6 (or ideally 3) for her blood sugars).
As the feedings continued we began to see a light at the end of the tunnel! Low and behold, Charlee’s body temp and blood sugars were staying strong and we watched the IV level drop from 11.5 millilitres per hour, to 10.5, 9.5, and all the way down to 2.5.
But then suddenly, a dip.
Her body temp dropped and her blood sugars fell to 2.5 – not what we wanted.
The nurses discussed with the paediatrician and it was decided to bring her back up to 3.5 ml/hr.
Another feeding session. Another measurement. Another dip.
She was brought back up to 4.5 ml/hr and the incubator temperature was cranked to 33.5 degrees.
We were at a loss – why wasn’t this working? What were we doing wrong? Charlee’s other vital signs were immaculate and she was otherwise a perfect little baby, albeit a tad jaundiced. What was going on??
Doing the math at that point, we realized that the expectation was for Charlee to wean off the IV down to zero, and then have 3 successful feedings off IV, out of the incubator, and still generate the appropriate body temperature and blood sugar levels. If we were at 4.5 ml/hr and they were reducing by 1 ml each time…. with the feedings 3 hours apart, we were talking 8 feedings, or a full 24 hour cycle.
Saturday night was probably the worst feeling. Becca’s pain levels were high, and the nurses in the main ward versus those in the SCN were continuing to be very inattentive and uninformed. Becca needed her pain medication in the short window before attempting to walk down the hall for feedings otherwise she would be in excruciating pain. That night, the nurses opted to double Becca’s dosage at midnight to “help alleviate” the pain.
While Becca may have seemed fine for the actual feeding, when that medication wore off it was like dealing with a heroin addict being forced through rehab. She was vomiting, and in pain, with nothing I could do but hold her hair back, find her a plastic bag, feed her some water, and help coach her through the discomfort.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
We kept muscling through the walks, the feedings, the heartache of not being able to stay with our baby, and the frustration of not being able to get proper, timely information.
When we look back, we kind of realize the irony of having the healthiest baby in the NICU. The healthier you are, the less priority you have there, and hence our predicament.
And then something oddly miraculous happened Sunday night.
First off, during one of our routine feedings, Becca noticed that her breasts were much fuller, and she was definitely getting more food out into Charlee. We even did a test and weighed Charlee before and after the feeding, and she gained an incredible 45 grams in one sitting!
As Becca and I finished a feeding in the late afternoon, we said our goodbye’s to Charlee and headed back to the room. While we were gone, just as Charlee was settling in at her usual levels of 4.5 ml/hr of glucose being pumped into her veins, the IV started to malfunction.
Normally this would be a sign of worry, but our nurse kept a keen eye and ran some impromptu tests on our little energizer bunny.
When we returned 3 hours later, she advised that IV’s in tiny bloodline’s like Charlee’s, can have a tendency of failing and needing to be replaced. However for the window of time that Charlee was without the IV, she miraculously kept her body temperature at 36.6 degrees, and her blood sugars at 3.5… all on her own!
The nurse then went on to say that we no longer needed to wean and we could jump straight to the three IV-free feedings needed to satisfy the paediatric staff and send our little Charlee home!
We were elated!
But wait… it got better!
Our obstetrician came by for a check up on Becca and advised that she was all clear for being discharged. We could finally leave our deluxe suite of horror. Our angelic nurse then advised that she had secured a room for us inside the actual SCN, where they usually house out of town parents who need a place to sleep and monitor their child.
Faster than you could say “cheque please!” we were bagged and shlepped down the hall, into the SCN, and into our new room.
If things couldn’t get any better, would you believe they even took our baby out of the incubator, and brought her into our room for the very last feeding? Everything was turning up Charlee!
One sleep later, and 6.5 hours of paperwork (not even kidding), we were finally discharged from the NICU, and I wrapped up our little Charlee in her brand new car seat to take her to her real home.
The last four days were some of the most trying on our souls. The combination of lack of sleep and the emotional turmoil of dealing with a baby in the NICU is overwhelming.
I am very much aware that in spite of all this, we got off easy. As I casually mentioned, Charlee was the healthiest baby in the NICU, and several times our nurse rotation mentioned how they rarely get to see babies that big in the SCN. Charlee’s neighbouring incubators had premies weighing as little as 3 pounds, and several times there were emergency situations that had our nursing staff running in all directions.
I have many takeaways from this experience.
First and foremost, it’s ok to ask questions, push buttons, and hound people down for information. This was my child, and my priority, and I had to put at least one nurse and paediatrician in their place to remind them of that.
Secondly, if you’ve ever needed to have a situation that tests your relationship, this is one, and not to toot our horn, but I think we passed with flying colours.
I cup fed my baby, while Becca slept. She fought pain and frustration, with emotional anguish, yet kept it together and never lost her beautiful nature. One morningI woke up late, around 3:30 – 30 minutes past our scheduled feeding time and flustered as I thought I had slept in and not woken Becca.
I found this bedside:
That, ladies and gentlemen, is love.
And it’s with that love that I now will be raising my beautiful daughter and beginning a phase in my life that I’ve been anticipating for years.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Stay tuned for the third and final part, Hello Charlee, My Name Is Dad – My first week with baby
Here we are in week 37, and suffice it to say, it’s been another eventful week.
Having determined the week before that we have a breech baby on our hands…. er… on board… we’ve been elbow deep in stretches, inversions, moxibustion sessions, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and obstetricians visits. We’ve been swimming and walking, stretching and flexing, talking to baby and playing her music, but alas, our baby doth not wish to turn.
As week 38 nears, we know that the window for baby turning is getting smaller and smaller, as baby herself is getting bigger and bigger. I’ve read that baby can be growing as much as an ounce a day, and judging by the sneak peak ultrasounds we’ve seen, our baby is carrying it mostly in the head and bum, just like her father.
I’ll tell you one thing we figured out, albeit a tad late – for all of you expectant fathers whose partners are not enjoying the heat nowadays let alone the back pain from pregnancy, go for a dip in a local pool. We have one around the corner, and as Becca puts it, you’re weightless to the point where you don’t even feel pregnant anymore. It’s a nice relief after shlepping your little zygote around for the last 8 months.
Breeched babies supposedly can take the opportunity to roll into proper position during a swim, but sadly this wasn’t the case for us.
We’ve determined that at this point, we are down to 3 options and therefore had a fairly major decision to make.
Option the first: Continue with a breech birth. While historically, this was frowned upon, as more doctors gain better familiarity with the process, there are more successes. With that being said, the risk associated with breech births is such that we are not comfortable putting baby in that position (pardon the pun!). In a breech birth scenario, there is the possibility for baby (and mum) to suffer complications, and an emergency c-section would need to be performed. Not the most risk averse approach.
Option numero dos: External Cyphalic Version aka “Version”. Becca got a sneak peak of the version technique and it was NOT comfortable. Recognizing that Becca would have a spinal anesthetic, she would not feel the pain, but the idea being that with the relaxant administered, the doctor can physically manipulate the baby and turn her, followed quickly by inducing labour, and Becca pushing out baby naturally soon thereafter. Again, the number of complications that can arise including but not limited to a sudden drop in baby (or Becca’s) heart-rate, followed again by an emergency c-section, are potential happenings that push this beyond our risk tolerance.
Our third and most reasonable option, is the scheduled c-section. As the OB iterated, this option lends itself to be the most straight forward and risk averse option as it allows us to schedule the surgery, have our midwives on hand, provides Becca with the ability to have skin to skin with the baby immediately after birth, and we should be out of the hospital within 24-36 hours. Since we are with midwives, they actually have extra visits that they’ll do postnatally, along with the wonderful support from family and friends, we should be just fine.
It’s an oddly appealing option as it falls in line with our desire to be organized to the point where we now can literally schedule our baby’s birth. The unknown is now a bit more decided.
Time to update the baby betting board at work and take the win!
All of these options still have the caveat that baby may still turn! We are not relenting and will continue the stretches and moxibustion up until the newly scheduled date. Just before the operation, the doctor will check and again, and if baby has actually turned, we head back home and wait for labour pains.
I, myself, was a c-section and so my mother can relate first hand accounts of how things were… 35 years ago. Friends just had a cesarian and all seemed well, but Becca is still concerned at the prospect of being under the knife, as she has never had major surgery.
I’ll give it to our OB for being one of the most pleasant, reassuring, and professional individuals that we’ve met throughout this journey, and the fact that he will be there performing the surgery is much of the reassurance we need.
As all of this information has come available, and the final pieces of the pregnancy puzzle have fallen into place, our week together off work has continued, and low and behold it would appear that the next phase of pregnancy has kicked in, in parallel…
Without further ado, here are the 5 key indicators in the Goldberg/Wong (aka Wongberg) household, which have led me to this conclusion:
1. The nursery is complete… finally… and strangely, quickly all at once
2. We have a bag packed, nay, a suitcase packed, and it comes with us in the car, just in case Becca goes into labour while we’re in line at Costco or snacking on Bao’s at the CNE.
3. The dog has a bag packed – not even kidding.
4. We are cleaning the house… constantly… On one hand it’s very clean, on the other hand, at this point I think it would be quicker just to shave the dog, but I digress.
5. We have blanched 30 pounds of food so that we can quickly prepare healthy meals while taking care of baby… or in case of a zombie apocalypse.
Becca is an incredibly strong woman, and the fact that she’s muscling through all of these chores, while staying so positive and wonderful, is truly a gift. I’ve read stories of women undoing knobs from drawers and cleaning the screws, so I would say we’re doing just fine.
All signs point to birth as being the next stage in our pregnancy or in bloggers terms, one more blog entry away.
I’m sure next week I’ll have even more to talk about including my last day at work and what other expectations I have of what the future may hold.
Until then we’ll probably be adding to the nesting list above… in fact we just got back from doing #6 – canning tomato sauce, and pickling beans and cucumbers…
I think our shelter is finally ready – bring on the walking dead!!
Yes, I realize that rhymes… my talent knows no end.
I’ve also discovered new talents such as setting up planks of wood lined with blankets and pillows in order to invert my pregnant partner and turn our breeched baby.
It’s been quite the week.
Up until now, every time someone has said, “how’s Becca?”, or “how goes the pregnancy?”, the response has been,”excellent…touch wood” – evidently one should not merely say ‘touch wood’ without actually touching wood, but I digress.
3 weeks back, during a visit to our midwife, a thorough prodding and poking was underway, when the midwife stated that she wasn’t confident that the baby was facing the right way; that is to say, she had a hunch that our little one was breeched. She asked for us to hang in there until our appointment the following week wherein she would check again, and if still unsure, would send us for an ultrasound.
The next week when we arrived, more poking, prodding, pushing, and pressing, and yet again, the midwife was unconvinced.
“I’m 95% sure that just a boney bum I’m feeling, but let’s book an ultrasound just to be sure.”
Becca and I needed to know immediately, so we booked the ultrasound for that afternoon. We were as confident as the midwife that our baby was seated just fine, heck, everything was going so smoothly up until this point.
Finally at the ultrasound clinic, the technician brought Becca in and shortly after called me into the room. She showed us the baby’s spine and feet and hands, and stated quite firmly that the boney bum we had been feeling was indeed our baby’s head.
It’s referred to as a Frank Breech, we soon found out, where the baby’s bum is wedged in Becca’s pelvis, while his or her hands and feet are doing some fancy yoga pose.
We were both caught pretty off guard.
How big a deal was this?
What can we do?
The ultrasound technician reminded us that the most important thing was that baby is healthy; understand that this is first and foremost in our minds, and we are grateful.
Frozen for a moment, we collected ourselves and decided to head next door for a bite to eat as we hadn’t had a meal since breakfast and Becca had mentioned wanting some poutine.
We ordered, sat down, and then yours truly decided to google…
Let me tell you, as someone working in Healthcare, I can attest to the fact that you should NEVER USE DR. GOOGLE, but alas, I didn’t know what else to do.
I started reading off stretches, exercises, techniques, percentages, and then finally started discussing muscle relaxants, ECV procedures and c-sections.
When I looked up, Becca’s eyes opened wide, and she made the tiniest “oh” sound, and then burst into tears.
I relive that many times a day.
I’ve never seen her cry this way.
It broke my heart in a way that I never want to feel again. It reminded me that my commitment to her is to never allow for her to feel that way.
I love Becca so much and I do everything in my power to make sure she is safe from pain and harm.
Leading up to the labour, I’ve often thought about how I’m going to handle seeing my partner in pain. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is something that needs to happen and after our baby arrives, all of the pain will go away and be long forgotten.
The potential for a c-section is not comforting, regardless of statistics that I’ve read highlighting that for Canada one in every four births is by c-section, and in the US it’s one in three.
I think of the irony that we had just emailed out our birthing plan to our families, and made special mention that this was what we assumed would happen, though “baby may have his or her own plans”.
Was that ever true!
So here we are now, 5 short days away from our 37th week of pregnancy. I’ve taken the week off of work to help Becca get inverted for 15 minutes every 2 waking hours. While lying upside down on a plank balanced against the couch, we put cold packs at the top of her belly, so baby will move away from it, and play music through our belly buds towards the bottom of her stomach so the baby will gravitate towards the sound. Surprisingly, we’ve determined that my voice works better than the music, even though we were skillfully playing “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (“Turn Around”) by Bonnie Tyler. Guess my own personal rendition of “Turn, Baby Turn” to the tune of “Disco Inferno” is more of a crowd pleaser.
We also visited our RMT for some acupuncture and bought a Chinese herb called Moxa with which we do something called Moxibustion (Moxa + combustion), where we affix the herb to Becca’s pinky toe and burn it.
Next up is a follow up midwife appointment tomorrow to see if anything has changed or improved. If need be we have a chiropractor appointment on Tuesday for them to do what’s called the Webster technique, which will open up Becca’s pelvis and help with the turning attempts.
Lastly, if all else fails, we’re going for a consultation with a doctor who is well known for his ability to turn baby’s through a technique called ECV (External Cephalic Version), which is pretty much the last ditch effort before we start discussing having a c-section.
We are very determined people, and so we are confident that we’ll do whatever we can to turn this baby and get back to our birth plan. If we end up having to go down the path of a c-section, at least we’ll know we’ve tried everything in our power.
Unsurprisingly, I was a breeched baby too, and my mum had to have a c-section. She doesn’t let me live that down… or the fact that she gained 67 pounds… sorry mum 🙂
If Becca has the c-section, I’ll make sure we don’t blame baby for it. After all, he or she will just be taking after their father!