Friday, September 30, 2011

Small Events

It hasn't been too bad for our first few days on bedrest. I've gotten to go out a lot due to doctor appointments, so that helps a bit with the stir crazy. It is hard to see the beautiful weather outside and know I have to go back inside, but I'm getting used to it. It's hard, but it's starting to feel normal in a weird way.

We had a scare last night, but thankfully it appears to be nothing. I had a lot of pressure that started Wednesday night and continued throughout the day on Thursday. It was pretty intense and made it hard to breathe most of the day. I knew they weren't contractions, so we just waited it out. I started to have contractions around 2 and had a few every hour - 2 or 3 - nothing to get too worked up about, but Brian had me call the doctor just to check. The doctor was gone for the day when I heard back at 4:00, and the nurse told me to go to L&D to be monitored. I broke down crying and had a little bit of an emotional breakdown when I called Brian. I was honestly afraid to go back there because I didn't want to end up staying again. Clearly, I have some emotional issues from last weekend to get over. He suggested we try to wait it out since we had an appointment this morning at 11, acknowledging that if anything changed or got worse we would certainly go in.

We waited it out. The pressure stayed intense and there were a couple close moments. Around 5 and around 9pm we had about an hour of solid contractions - every three or four minutes, but they didn't hurt - just a lot of pressure and I couldn't breathe. When we went in this morning, I told them everything and we sat on the monitors for another hour. They saw a few contractions on the monitor (nothing like what I had last night, and nothing I would have called a contraction. They felt like pressure, but not contractions), but the baby was good again (still high heart rate - mostly around 170). My cervix is still closed, so they felt good saying that we needed to just keep on bed resting and taking the medicine - of course, should things change we need to call or head to L&D. They're still feeling really good about that negative FFT, which is a really solid indicator that there's no imminent labor, so I think we're really just watching Jellybean and making sure she's ok.

So, it wasn't an uneventful couple of days, but at least we had a good report - not as clear-cut good as Wednesday, but good. The weekend makes me nervous since the doctor's office isn't open (I know we can call, but it makes the likelihood of a trip to the hospital more likely), but it seems we are looking for either a lot of frequent contractions or painful ones (which I thankfully haven't had since Saturday).

I guess the really good thing about bed rest is that I'm freakin' exhausted. These contractions and pressure keep me up at night and make my day uncomfortable (and they just wear me out - it's like doing ab workouts all day without the benefits ;) At least I don't have to worry about what I need to do or where I'm going to get the energy for something. Other than really wishing I could be outside enjoying this beautiful weather or taking Katie to the pumpkin farm or something, we're doing well. Fingers crossed that it stays that way. 31 weeks...we're getting there!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dear Jellybean -

You've been on my mind constantly lately. Of course, you were on my mind for many many months before now, but I've had time lately to really stop and think about you and about us and about everything that has happened.

You are the precious little gift that we never believed we would be blessed to have. During those years of sadness and grief when we lost three of your siblings, we hesitated to even dream that you would come into our lives. We treasured every day with your big sister and started to mourn that little brother or sister that she would never have. When we couldn't even imagine you existing, those were our darkest moments.

But then a series of miracles and angels entered our life and all of them helped bring you to us. Although every loss was tragic, the most recent one was so traumatic that it brought us our new doctor and her wonderful support team. It brought new tests and new diagnosis that helped us see that it was possible to hope again. It brought us careful consultations, lots of blood draws, many ultrasounds and other more invasive tests, but it brought us answers. Those answers allowed us to dare to hope, and that was something we hadn't been able to do for a long long time.

When we saw that first positive line on the pregnancy test, I can't even express to you how overwhelmed we were. My heart wanted to burst with joy at the idea that you would be joining us, but I was so scared. I knew that our first trimester would be three months of anxiety and fear as we hoped that you were strong enough and that we were able to keep you safe. I took the shots and the progesterone and the drugs to counteract the kidney infections. I learned to deal with small pains like bruising and bleeding because the payoff was you. Those small pains and inconveniences don't even come close to measuring up to your amazing little life, and I know we'd do it all again in a second. Every moment of every day was like living with my breath held - would something happen at any second? Would there be pain or another problem that indicated that you were in trouble? I have never prayed so hard or so long or actually given my life over to God. I knew I had no control at that point...I had to simply trust in Him that you would be ok.

And then we saw your heartbeat. Before we went in for that ultrasound, I couldn't breathe I was so scared. Thankfully, the angels that are our ultrasound techs knew our history and had experienced some of it with us, and they quickly looked for and identified your beautiful beating heart there in your chest. Even now, thinking about it, I feel those same tears of joy and relief. You were strong and healthy - even with my genetic problems and the problems my body was having. You were fighting through it all and were growing. I knew you were the little angel we had prayed for.

When I see how happy your sister is when she thinks about you or talks about you, I know that you are the missing piece in our lives. I didn't really know you were missing - I thought that something was, but I had started to believe that I was wrong and simply expecting or hoping for something that wouldn't happen. But now I know that you are our missing piece and you will make us a complete family. You have been so strong and so resilient. Whenever I hear your heart on the monitor, it both amazes and terrifies me. How can someone so small endure so much? When you kick me during contractions, I'm amazed by how powerful you are and how determined you are to fight back.

Knowing what we know now makes all of this so much more amazing and miraculous. The fact that Katie even exists and is the strong and healthy girl she is amazes me - we didn't know anything we know now and we didn't have any of the medical assistance. The outcome could have been so terrible, and we never even knew it. Now, knowing what we do, makes me appreciate all the more what you are going through and how hard you are fighting to grow and develop. A few weeks ago, you were particularly feisty during an exam and the doctor remarked, "Isn't it funny how God sends them to us in a particular order for a reason?" That's exactly it. Katie was our first survivor and you're doing the same - but showing that you're definitely going to keep up with your big sister at all costs.

So, now I sit here and just continue to pray that you will be the strong and resilient little fighter you've always been. I know that my body isn't cooperating and is making it very hard on you, but I know you're strong enough to make it through this. I hope that you'll show us just how strong you are by hanging out until 37 or 38 weeks, but I understand if it's sooner (try to make it to 34, though!). Right now, we've got contractions and pressure and medicine to try to endure, but very very soon you'll be in our arms and we can truly show you just how special and loved you are. You and your sister could not be more treasured in this family, and I just can't wait to have the opportunity to show you that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doctor's Visit

Today I was released from the house and the couch for a little bit so we could go and get checked out at the doctor's. It was really really weird to be out of the house and the car made me's funny how quickly you acclimate to absolutely nothing. I've been having a lot of trouble just moving around because I was totally bedridden in the hospital for four days. Now that I can only move a small amount, I'm not helping the problem, so I can feel myself getting weaker, which is frustrating. Just walking from the living room through the dining room to the bathroom gets me winded. Going up or downstairs takes about ten minutes. This concerns me a bit because it means that the recovery from the C-section will be that much more difficult, but I suppose this should be the least of my problems. Sitting up is also difficult because my head isn't used to not being supported, so I start to get woozy after a few minutes. Overall, it's just a very weird feeling to be so weak and to know you can't change anything. You have to fight all of your natural instincts to walk around or sit up straight or do anything that feels more "natural."

In any case, the doctor was quite pleased that I was so frustrated because she said that means I'm doing everything I'm supposed to. She said that those who find bed rest to be relaxing or easy are clearly not following orders. This is probably the first time in my life that I've actually really listened to a doctor, so this is good news. We did about forty minutes of monitoring and things looked good. I was pretty concerned because Jellybean's heart rate was consistently up at 168-173, and 120-160 is normal, but the doctor said it was just fine. She said it looked much better than she had on the strip at the hospital on Monday, so I trust her. No contractions! Even better. We'll go back on Friday for another monitoring session and another Biophysical Profile, and if all looks good, we'll back down to once a week visits.

She said contractions are to be expected at this point - clearly, preterm labor is something we're going to battle, so they will be back. I'm supposed to call when something is "different." She didn't want to define that my intensity or time or frequency because she said preterm labor doesn't fit patterns, so really, if it feels wrong I need to call. Too often or too intense or too painful would be some examples.

Overall, we're doing well, but it is hard. I'm having a lot of emotional issues with this because it feels like a lot got taken away from me overnight. Don't get me wrong - I'm much happier at home than at the hospital, but I'm not used to feeling so useless or weak or whatever. I can't help with Katie. I can't cook or clean or fold or do laundry. I can't even get my own meals or drinks. It's very hard to just sit and wait - and it feels like wasting time, which I also hate. I also live with a lot of anxiety about "what if?" What if I walked too far and it all starts again? What if I sat up for too long? What if I did something to cause all this? It's all emotionally difficult.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What We Know

Not much. The only thing that seems to be sort of certain (as good as we can get here) is that the fact that my body failed to progress during labor with Katie and that, even after 24 hours of drugs and active labor I only achieved 3cm dilation, may be the very thing that is saving Jellybean. It appears that I was in active labor for a minimum of two full days (not counting however many times prior to going into the hospital I was having contractions), but I managed to remain fully closed and non-effaced in terms of my cervix. The doctor is amazed, but thrilled, by this.

It mostly started on Friday when I noticed that my pad was wet - exactly what happened with Katie when my water broke. I also noticed that I was "dripping" - not leaking, exactly, but not normal. After agonizing for hours over whether to call the doctor (I had just been in to the office at 3pm for another NST and was cleared), the pain and leaking convinced me to call. Dr. told me to head to labor and delivery and we'd figure it out from there.

Major lesson to be learned from all of this: I have GOT to stop assuming any hospital visit is brief and must make it a general rule to always shower and shave before leaving my house. This would be my one greatest regret in a day or so.

Showed up to the packed ER and was taken up to a labor room where they had me get all hooked up to the monitors and started checking for amniotic fluid. I had assumed this was a "yes/no" sort of question, but apparently it's not. They use a test strip and if it turns navy blue - almost black, the nurse said - your water broke. Well, it turned dark blue. But the nurse was unsure. So we did it again - darker blue. Still unsure. I was petrified at this time as they were talking about transferring me to Peoria so I could deliver by Children's Hospital and their neonatal intensive care unit. They did another test on my urine and it was blue but not as blue. I have literally NO idea what's going on at this point and I'm so scared I'm shaking.

Thankfully, my doctor was on call and after the nurse reported these tests, she came in to check it all out. She did an exam to see I was closed but contracting. She swabbed for fluid and looked at it under a microscope and said she didn't see the clear feathering pattern that amniotic fluid makes, but that there was clearly some. We also did a FFT and it was negative - which is very assuring in that your cervix should not have the chemicals needed to dilate for at least two weeks. So, we knew delivery was probably not going to happen unless there was fetal or mommy distress.

At this point, they started all the meds. From Friday night until Monday morning, I was on a continuous drip of magnesium sulfate (to stop preterm labor), antibiotics for baby and mommy just in case, and standard IV fluids. I had this hooked to my wrist all weekend and am now quite sore. Over the course of the weekend, I got to have two injections of steroids to help develop Jellybean's lungs, just in case. Of course, I was hooked up to the standard blood pressure cuff that goes off and strangles your arm every half an hour or so. To counteract the horrid mattress in the delivery room, I also got to have an air mattress added to the stellar comfort of the labor/delivery mattress and some air compression dealies stuck to my legs for a day or so to keep blood clots from forming (no please - no other complications!).

In the morning, after a long and sleepless night, we did an ultrasound to check on fluid levels and the baby. JB was looking good and had plenty of fluid, so we knew things were going well. Her heartbeat on the monitor stayed consistently good throughout most of the weekend, but I was still contracting quite regularly. During all of this fun, you're not allowed out of bed, so I got to hang out with a bedpan all weekend. This was, by far, the most horrible aspect. Having to call someone every time you have to pee and have them stand there while you do so - and it's all just disgusting. I hope never to experience that again.

Saturday night was the worst. The contractions were huge and would not calm down. I was in full-blown labor and crying from the pain. I remember getting very upset with Brian because all of the other women in the other rooms could have their pain meds or whatever because they were delivering, but I had to suck it up and deal. Not cool. I'm not a natural childbirth person, so I was very upset. It was also very hard to know that everyone around us was going to meet their baby, but that we really didn't want to yet (we did, but not - you know.) It was a big night in labor and delivery as they had 3 c-sections in 2 hours (according to my nurse) and so we were very low on the priority list. Thankfully, my doctor was able to run in between surgeries, make sure there was no progress on my labor, and then knock me out with some drugs to hopefully stop contractions and the pain. That's all I remember from that night, and I'm ok with that.

Sunday was long. A long long day of waiting and hoping things would settle down. They did, a bit, but not enough.

Yesterday, we thought for sure it would be a good day and we'd head home. I was taken off the magnesium and antibiotics in the morning and started on Procardia (which I now take every six hours) to see if that would keep the labor away. It would take six hours to know, so we knew it would be afternoon at the earliest. Unfortunately, after doing wonderfully all weekend, JB started to slide. Her heart was not responding as it should and she was not reacting like the good little buddy she usual is. Terrified again, we were told we had to have another ultrasound to check her biophysical profile. Whatever the reason she wasn't well, she did fine on the ultrasound check-up (but it took the Tech FOREVER to wake her up - she was not interested). She was cleared enough and I was cleared enough that we were allowed to go home yesterday evening. That was a major blessing for us. I think in the three nights and four days we were there, I slept for a total of ten hours, so I was utterly exhausted and emotionally worn out. It was so very wonderful to be home.

So, we are at home and resting. I'm on strict bed rest which means I can sit in a recliner, be in bed, or be on a couch. I can come downstairs in the morning and go upstairs at night. I can go to the bathroom. That's it. I found out that I have to use my FMLA leave for work, so I'm going to end up with 2-4 weeks of unpaid leave, which will be difficult. I'm trying not to think about or stress about that or my classes and the subs who are being thrown into this situation. I'm trying not to worry about the dozens on emails I'm getting from students who are confused and concerned because they don't know what's going on. I know it should all settle down in a few days and that will help a lot, but right now I just wait to hear from HR or students or whoever and wonder what the next problem will be and how bad it might be.

We are doing ok, I just have to find a new normal for a while. I will be on strict bed rest at least until 34 weeks. At that point, the doctor may lift some of my restrictions (like, maybe I could walk around the house) if all appears to be well, but the plan is to still try to make it to 38 weeks. We'll see. I'll be heading back to the doctor tomorrow for a follow-up, and I'll let you know any news as it happens.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick Update

I'll give you the whole story later (as I will now have plenty of time to blog any thought that pops into my head), but we are home and seem to be doing well. I am now on strict bed rest and Jellybean has been warned by many many people to be on her best behavior for at least four more weeks.

Thank you so much for your kind words of support. It's always wonderful to read them and to know that someone is thinking about you, but those words made such a difference this weekend when everything was so scary and crazy. I treasure all of those responses and I thank you so much for sending them.

For now: a good night's rest in our own bed. Life is good!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I have been hospitized since last night with preterm labor and possible ruptured membranes. Contractions are slowing but not stopping. Tests on membranes appear good (not broken) but have been inconclusive. Meds and steroids are making me hot, nauseous, and uncomfortable and I just want to cry because I'm tired, sick, scared and I just want to go home. Staying again tonight and I'm completely exhausted in every way. Pray we go home VERY soon and that she stays put for five more weeks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Doctor Update

So, I just got done sitting with the monitors strapped on again for another thirty minutes. Good news: Jellybean looks good. Whew.

Bad news...I don't. The doctor was ok with what she saw, but not feeling good about it. My doctor was gone, so it was one of the partners. She said that if I were her patient, I would now be on bedrest. Thankfully, she cannot prescribe that because I am not her patient. I am supposed to take it easy and stay off my feet and rest as much as possible this weekend. I am also now going to be taking Procardia every six hours to stop contractions and preterm labor. This kinda stinks because it has to be taken every six hours on the I took one at 3:30 - next one at 9:30 - next one at...yup, 3:30am. Suck. I guess I get to set an alarm from now on.

My doctor is on call this weekend if anything new would come up. I hope and pray that the pills take care of all of this and we don't have to do any more of any of this - no more extra monitoring or medication or anything.

And that's the news. We're still avoiding the bad stuff like official bedrest, which is good, but we're dangling on the edge here. I knew the third trimester would be tougher than the rest of the pregnancy, but I'm already worn out and we're only a few weeks in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

60 days!

First, updates:
I called the doctor yesterday but have not heard back; however, I also spent most of yesterday and last night in severe pain with cramping feelings and shooting pains in my pelvis. Therefore, I called again today. Waiting.

Secondly, I was just offered a small role in a show at community players that I would love to take. I'm so happy that they are actually thinking of me now when they have to fill a spot (it's a tough spot - lots of intricate harmonies and whatnot, but it's nice to be thought of), but of course I turned it down. Hopefully similar opportunities will show up in the future :) It just made my day to see that message, though.

I know I usually celebrate when I'm below a number, but we're changing it up this week.

30 weeks by the numbers:

I have now been pregnant for 210 days.

I have given myself 182 shots.

I have had three kidney infections and now take daily antibiotics to keep them away.

I have had ten prenatal appointments and 2 non stress tests.

I have had blood drawn for pregnancy purposes 30 times.

I have taken 112 doses of progesterone.

I have had seven sonograms and five doppler screenings.

I have had three visits to the ER and one visit to outpatient labor and delivery.

I have had one CT scan, which we never ever ever want to do again during a pregnancy.

I have had one gestational diabetes test: negative :)

I have been able to feel the baby move around for 14 weeks now. It's getting gentler as her space gets smaller, but she's still poking around in there.

We have painted five rooms in our house to make things look nicer and cleaner for when we are cooped up in the house all winter.

I have sorted through eight bins of old baby clothes from Katie and tried to separate out all the April/May stuff from stuff we can actually use in November. These items now fill three drawers in Jellybean's new dresser.

Katie has changed Jellybean's name four times. Typically, she wants to name her "Sister," but has also suggested "Peanut," "Jeff," and "Hazel." I don't think we'll be listening to her advice.

Third Trimester Frustration

The one thing I really remember from Katie's pregnancy is how hard this trimester can be. Almost all the time I'm wondering: is that something to worry about? Is that a contraction? Do I call the doctor? Do I go to the hospital? Do I ignore it? It all becomes very very frustrating and overwhelming - especially if you deal with pre-term labor.

I feel like I'm a bit caught in the middle right now between taking care of Katie and taking care of my baby. Last night, I had a lot of contractions over about an hour and a half. They were strong, they were painful, and they were regular and getting closer. After starting out at 7 minutes apart, they eventually made their way down to 2 minutes before I finally took a pill. The pill stopped them pretty quickly, so that's good. Now what? The doctor had said to let her know if something changed - they got stronger, more regular, etc.;however, Brian was at that appointment with me. I interpreted that as, the next day during regular hours, update me. He interpreted it as, at your next appointment, just let me know.

On top of that frustration (which we argued severely about), there's the issue of the FFT. If I do call, it's likely that I would have to go in for the FFT and it sounds like that test has a really high likelihood of a false positive. In fact, everything I'm reading on it says it's far better at predicting who will not give birth in the next two weeks than predicting who will. Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome to get a negative and know I'm pretty well free and clear for two week, but what if that positive shows up? Then I'm on bed rest. I don't have enough sick time to cover the rest of the semester and I wouldn't be able to do anything with Katie - no Halloween, no pumpkin farm, no dance lessons, no going to the park - nothing. How do I choose between making sure Jellybean is ok and making sure Katie still has a mom who can do things with her for the next six weeks?

Obviously, the contractions stopped, which is good; however, what if they started any dilation or changes? Once dilation starts, the chance of your water breaking increases - and that's what cause Katie to come early.

So that's where I am right now. Do I call or not? Do I chance a positive and bed rest? I don't know. I just don't know.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

29 weeks

Another interesting visit today and a lot of new information.

First of all, Jellybean looks great. She wasn't real active this morning, so we could actually see her for a change. She's measuring exactly as she should and we got to watch her swallow, wave, and suck on her fist. It was pretty cool. I'm sorry I haven't posted sonogram pictures (especially since we're on our second photo album full), but the only scanner we have access to is older than Katie and very temperamental and I don't get electronic copies.

After the sonogram, I got my flu shot. And done.

On to the doctor's visit. BP is very good. A bit higher than I normally am, but still good (132 74). No worries there yet. Doctor came and measured and that was all good. Heartbeat was right about 147 - again, very good. Tried to cover all of my questions (I think I remembered them all, but I'm sure I forgot some). I've been quite lightheaded and dizzy lately, so she said I need to eat more protein. I'm ok with this a lot of days, but on MWF I teach from 11-2 and that little span of time seems to throw me off. I don't get a chance to throw anything down, so I try to stock up ahead of time - peanut butter sandwich, cereal bar, granola, yogurt, etc. It's usually a combo meal. After class I throw down a slim-fast quickly just for the protein boost to get me through the drive home, but apparently this is not enough, so I need to figure something else out.

Contractions have slowed down for the moment. I had some spells on Friday and Saturday, but they were only about an hour or so and I didn't have to take any medication. Dr. said if this changes - they become stronger or more regular or last longer, I'll have to come in for a FFT (Fetal Fibronectin Test) to see if the cervix is preparing for early delivery. If I would get a positive on that, I would be on bed rest until the test could be repeated (2 weeks). Another positive? More bed rest. Negative? Back to restricted movement. Obviously, bed rest is to be avoided at all costs, so we're just going to hope for no more contractions for a while.

Also found out that at about 35 weeks we will be switching from once daily Lovenox to twice daily Heparin. This is to avoid any complications should I need to deliver prior to my scheduled surgery. If I go into labor on Heparin, I should be able to have it reversed and be able to stay conscious throughout the surgery. I did find out that if I go into labor and am still on Lovenox, I will have to be put under general questions.

Of course, if we're monitoring me for pre-term labor already and I happen to have positive FFT results or am on bedrest, we may switch to Heparin earlier just in case.

What does this mean? Well, obviously for the health of the baby we don't want to meet her prior to 35 weeks, but now, I also REALLY don't want to meet her before 35 weeks because neither Brian nor I will get to witness the delivery in that situation. I have to say, that would royally suck. I knew there was no chance of a "natural" delivery (going into labor on my own) and I also knew I couldn't have a VBAC, but to take away the option of even being conscious during surgery would be the worst case I can imagine.

I know - I know. It's most important that Jellybean is healthy and that everyone is ok, but it all comes down to that - this is it for me. I don't get to have another child after this (Dr. has advised against it and Brian is definitely against it), and if I miss it, I miss all of it.

So, I need to reduce stress. Eat as well as I can. Relax and not do too much. Pray that Jellybean hangs out in there for AT LEAST six more weeks. I can do this. I've done 207 days so far...63 more...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Non-stress Test

We've had decreased movement over the past three days, so I called the doctor to check on this new development. She's still moving - nudging and rolling - but none of the strong kicks that had been the norm.

It took a long time to get a consistent heartbeat on the monitor (it's hard to keep someone so small within range during the test) and my hand hurts from pushing the monitor into my stomach for 45 minutes, but it appears she's ok. For whatever reason, she's taking a break.

My guess? She's gearing up for something big :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Missing Katie

This is the kind of post where you're free to tell me to just shut up. On second thought - it's my blog. You shut up :)

Katie is off to visit her Grandparents for a few days. They live about 45 minutes away (right near where I work), so it's not like she's just in town, but she's also not obscenely far away. I hate this. Brian loves having the time and everyone I talk to always tells me how nice it will be to have time free from her. They tell me I can relax and take time for myself and just enjoy.

I don't do well with this.

Some have told me that this is a primarily only-child syndrome thing. You get so used to having that one person around all the time that you're lonely and sad when they aren't around. I honestly spend my time just wondering what to do with myself. I cry a lot because I miss her and I just wish she was here.

All of this leads me to a lot of introspection (which I really hate to do) and it makes me realize just how completely my life is wrapped up in my daughter's. Very seldom do I go out or do things on my own or with friends because I want to be with her. Of course, some of this is also due to the fact that we have no in-town family or babysitter, and so we don't regularly go out without her. But I can't just blame my feelings on that. I need to do more to work on being a person without her.

I guess it's good that I'm aware of this fact. I deceive myself by telling myself that it's just because she's young or that it's a conscious choice I make, but I'm not so sure about that. I just hate to miss time with her because she is such a cool little person. And I know this is all senseless right now anyway since I'm soon, hopefully, to be in babyjail with Jellybean and going out won't really be an option for quite a while.

But it still bothers me. Some day I will figure out how to be everything I used to be. I mean, before we had Katie, I was a wife, friend, teacher, and daughter. I did shows at the theater on occasion. I worked out. I shopped (not the best choice always). I did things. I've figured out teacher and mom but I'm either not doing a lot of the others or doing a seriously half-assed job at them. Is that a bad thing? I don't know. I don't know if this is a phase that all moms go through at some point or if I'm just overly absorbed in my daughter's life.

But I feel better for talking about it :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yip yip!

Another milestone -

We are now under 70 days on that delivery counter :) I had a feeling fall would make the time fly by, and so far, it is doing just that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Doctor's Appointment

So - long story short, we don't know what it is.

Thankfully, the cervix is long and closed, so as active as these buggers are (contractions), at least they are not causing any active labor yet. That's the really good news. On the other hand, we don't know if they will or what is causing them.

I sat with monitors on for about half an hour and didn't have any activity. I understand they're trying to see what's going on, but I could have told them there was no activity. The past two days all the activity has been in the evenings...but...well, oh well. They did a physical exam and everything checked out ok (except for the MONSTER bruise on my stomach from the fetal monitors at the hospital).

So, now I get to travel with pills at all times. Should the need arise, I need to take one to try to stop the contractions. With luck, these will do the trick and we won't go back to the hospital for a long time (at least eight weeks). I even managed to get a less scary medication than they had suggested. The one I was given at the hospital (and the one they were going to give me) has really really bad warnings on it. Now, it's the most common medication for preterm labor and they use it all the time, but, me being me, had to know a bit more. Imagine my surprise on Sunday night when I looked it up on the government website and the first thing I see is a huge yellow Warning box saying that it should never be used for treatment of preterm labor due to infant and mother morbidity and mortality. I understand that delivering early is a big problem we want to avoid, but warnings like that make me a bit too nervous.

Obviously, I have to learn to stay off the internet and trust my doctor, but when I mentioned I was a bit concerned about that one she just said, "No problem" and gave me something else (which, according to my searches has the fewest problems but makes you feel like crap if you have to take it). Win one and lose one, I guess :)

In the meantime, I will continue to drink several liters of water a day and stay off my feet as much as possible. Katie is going to visit her grandparents from Thursday until Sunday, so there will be a LOT of downtime this week. Hopefully it's all good.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Nothing new to report (which is good) BUT -

Doctor's appt. tomorrow to follow up and check me out fully (since my doctor was not the one on call this weekend). Please keep me in your thoughts so I don't have to go on bed-rest or restrictions - I need to work for at least four more weeks so I can keep getting paid :) I only have 9.6 weeks of sick leave and there are still 12 weeks in the semester.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Preterm Labor

And so...

We just spent five hours at the hospital trying to find off preterm labor. They gave me some injections to stop the contractions and all appears to be well for now.

It is entirely too early for this kind of nonsense.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wating for Katie - Part Two

Alrighty then...where did we leave off?

Oh yes...let's have a C-section because my daughter is in fetal distress due to the fact that my body is apparently failing at labor and delivery and the pitocin is absolutely not doing my daughter any favors.

This was honestly the most surreal part of the whole process. While I had joked about preferring surgery to what the natural process would be, I had never honestly considered it. I always assumed I was one of those strong, healthy as a horse kind of women who would just push on through it (literally). At this point, I think things stopped being real and I entered a la-la land that I didn't wake up from for a day or so...things get really fuzzy in here and time just squashes everything together.

I remember being totally scared out of my mind because I had never ever had a surgery of any kind before. And I knew I was going to be conscious which was doubly terrifying - what if I felt it or what would it feel like? Thankfully, my doctor (not the best with the bedside manner, but still - the doctor I had seen for the past nine months) showed up and I felt a lot of relief. She assured me it would all be ok and that I wouldn't feel pain. My parents came in to say good luck and what really scared me was seeing tears in my dad's eyes. I know he was scared for the baby (and me), but that's when it all kinda sunk in for me. I watched Brian put on scrubs and let them turn up the pump on my epidural as high as the thing went. And we were off.

It was FREEZING. My memories of that room are very surreal - it was a cold (ANTARCTIC) white room with lots of lights. It was just me and all the doctor/nurse/helper people for a while and I was supposed to help scoot myself on the table even though I couldn't feel half of my body. That was interesting. Then they put on my cap and put up the sheet and finally (it felt like hours later) asked Brian to come in. They told me they'd test to make sure I was numb before cutting...and I waited, chatting with Brian to try to calm down. I finally asked him when they were going to start and he said they were up to their elbows...hmmm...guess that epidural did work well. I assumed they would check with me, but I suppose the lack of screaming was a good indication I was ok. At one point, Brian asked me if I'd like a picture of my insides and I told him it was ok if he stopped watching at that point.

It never hurt, but it was really weird and uncomfortable - especially when they reached in to pry her out. It was like someone was trying to grab my spine and pull it out through my belly button (best I can do on that one). The pressure was really intense. It was dead silent for a moment, and then I heard her screech like a little pterodactyl and I started to cry. The raised her up above the sheet so I could take a quick look and then they whisked her over to the incubator to do all their cleaning and testing. Brian was between me and her, so I never saw any of this - he just kept turning his head to tell me she had two hands, two feet, ten fingers, ten toes...etc. I was too tired to tell him to move his big head so I could see for myself. And then, she and he were gone and I was on my own again.

This part took forever. They had to clean and sew everything up. I was exhausted - it had now been at least 26 hours since I started my labor journey and I hadn't really slept and I hadn't eaten in about 30 hours and I was really really thirsty (deciding immediately after they tell you surgery is necessary that you should have had a drink in the past hour or so is not the best time to figure it out). All I wanted to do was close my eyes and rest, but that's a big no-no in the operating room. They kept making me open my eyes and stay alert. Thankfully, they gave me a nice warm blanket (on my arms and chest), but when the conversation is about weekend plans that don't concern you and you're exhausted, you don't want to stay awake.

Finally, we got to recovery, which was much nicer. Dark, quiet, and much more comfortable. It was really hard to get into the bed because the lower half of my body was absolutely dead. I couldn't help with anything. Two very nice nurses were helping me clean up (one of whom, I found out, was a former student of mine...not the time to run into those people...), and I could finally rest. Then Brian and Katie came in and I finally got to hold her and see her. Her eyes were all gooey with those drops they put in, but I just remember being so awed by the fact that she looked up immediately when she heard my voice - she knew me. They asked me if I wanted to feed her, but I was so tired and drugged I was sure I'd drop her, so Brian did it. She drank 2 milliliters. It was nice to have about an hour to just sit there and stare at her before the rush of family.

My family didn't get to see her until I was out of recovery. One of the things Brian did really right was to let them know I was out of surgery and that we were ok, but he neglected to mention she was in the nursery, so no one saw her before I did. That was really nice. She got to meet everyone and we slowly eased into figuring out what to do with this kid. I was on a liquid diet until Sunday evening (it was late Saturday afternoon at this point), so I was starving, but I made it. I didn't get to shower until Monday and that was WAY better. But Katie had some problems. Thankfully, her lungs were ok - at 36 weeks that was a big concern. She had some light jaundice, but nothing too serious. She didn't however, have full control over how to suck or how to eat. Our best feeding in three days was 5 milliliters. She was eating so little that we were scared.

They took her away from me Monday afternoon to start running some tests for infections/developmental issues/etc. and I have never been so scared in my whole life. I just lay there crying. Thankfully, this was the time Angie showed up to distract me, so that helped a lot. My dad happened to be back in town for a conference and he showed up to see Katie but we couldn't see her because she was going through tests. I have never felt so helpless in my life. I just paced up and down the hallway (clinging to the railing - major abdominal surgery doesn't allow for a lot of nervous pacing) and waited.

We never did find out what exactly was wrong, but the feeding issues continued for quite a while. Gaining weight has never been Katie's specialty (but she's pretty darn good at eating now), and she wore her newborn clothing for the first three months of her life - only barely easing into 0-3mo clothing at 4 months old. She stayed pretty scrawny (no baby fat on this one), but healthy. Thankfully, she has grown and developed normally and we haven't had any other problems, but that was a scary time. That's just one of the reasons we hope to make it all the way to 38 weeks with Jellybean. That, and I would really like a little less drama this time - no earthquakes...long labors...surprise surgeries....

We'll see. They decide, not us, but now you know how we met our adorable daughter and what a process is was. Of course, I've left out all kinds of amusing little anecdotes and stories along the way, but I'm sure there's a time to tell them as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doctor's Visit

The doctor welcomed me into my third trimester today (yes; some may say it's 28 weeks, but she also considered the end of the first trimester to be 12 weeks, so we're going with her on this one) and we had a good check-up. Jellybean is measuring just as she should and had a heartbeat of 150. All good. I did drink the nasty drink and have the blood test, but the results don't come in until Thursday. I was told that no news is good news, so we'll hope to hear absolutely nothing back from them.

In other news, apparently, the nurse/doctor hotline for after-hours is now fixed and there is someone now available 24 hours a day. Yay!!! No more freaking out about whether or not to go to the ER. I also got a prescription to help my restless legs. Sleep is pretty rough right about now, so I'm going to take all the help I can get. She approved short-distance travel (to work, to my parents' house, etc) until Week 35 (unless something comes up, of course), so we'll see. Apparently my plan to work up until the birth may be a bust. I don't mind time off, but what on God's green earth would I do with three weeks of nothing but waiting? That would be tough.

I also asked about the likelihood of an early delivery. This is really on my mind for two reasons. The first is that Katie showed up at 36 weeks, so it's already happened to us. The second is that if I go into early labor and we don't catch it (we don't see it coming) or we can't keep me in labor for a long enough period of time, I would have to have general anesthesia for the C-section and I would miss Jellybean's birth. Brian, being a man, said it's no big deal and the important thing is that everyone is alive and healthy. Well, of course that's important, but I don't want to miss this. I've been working very very hard to get to this point and I want to be able to see it all. The doctor said that while we may have corrected some of the issue that brought Katie early (the shots should be helping with that issue), there is a good likelihood of early labor but that we'll do our best to keep Jellybean in there until 38 weeks. I sure hope we can...36 weeks isn't really that premature, but she was REALLY small and had a lot of eating problems (and wore newborn clothes for about three months). I don't want to worry about her lungs and eating and all that...I want her to be fully cooked and healthy.

So, that's it in a nutshell. Back to the massive pile of grading that I inflicted on myself :) Toodles!

Monday, September 5, 2011


I'll get to the "to be continued" part of Katie's story soon (rest assured: she's here and three years old - it has a happy ending), but I needed to do a quick post.

First: Yes - we are under 80 days on the countdown to delivery :) Woot!!!!!

Second: Tomorrow, I go in for my last second trimester visit to the doctor. I think I enter the third trimester on Friday, so that will be another good day. But tomorrow is the dreaded gestational diabetes screening and I am SOOOO not looking forward to that. Thankfully, it's at 8:30 in the morning, so the discomfort will be brief, but I am definitely leaving the doctor and inhaling a lot of food somewhere.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that we pass the test and don't have to go on the world's worst diet for the next 77 days :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Waiting for Katie

Ok - since some people are a bit new to the saga, I'll take a few minutes to share Katie's birth story (and it's a nice refresher for others) so we can see where I currently stand :)

Katie's pregnancy was rough. That's the best way I can say it. Uncomfortable isn't the word. I was sick and nauseous for almost the entire nine months. There were many nights spent curled up on the bathroom floor in tears - when I wasn't completely exhausted due to insomnia and Katie's incessant kicking. I had three full-blown bouts of the flu in my second and third trimester along with unending sinus infections. I took Sudafed, since that's all you can take, and was simply miserable.

To add to that, my BH contractions with Katie started at about 22 weeks and they were pretty fierce. Often, they would be strong enough to cause me to pull over to the side of the road while driving or they would bring tears to my eyes. It took all my willpower not to want to punch people who asked me how much I loved being pregnant or who told me all about what a wonderful time it was and how I should enjoy relaxing and sleeping right then.

At about 34 weeks, I went in for my regular OB checkup (this is with bad doctor) and found out that Katie had already dropped. I believe the exact words uttered by my doctor as she checked my cervix was, "Oh...that's the head!" Of course, being my first pregnancy, this didn't mean a whole lot to me, so I just went about my merry way.

By this point in time, I decided to stop working. My original plan had been to finish the semester since finals ended May 8 and I was due May 11. I knew I may not make it, but I wanted to try; however, the sickness, lack of sleep, and forty minute drive each way were simply not going to happen too much longer. I needed rest, and so I decided to set my last day at work for Friday, April 18. In the meantime, I made another visit to my doctor at 36 weeks (on Wednesday, April 16) to find I was 1cm dilated and was told I could meet the partner doctor next week when I started my weekly OB visits.

Friday, April 18 was the day of the midwest earthquake at about 4am. I didn't notice it because, for once, I was blissfully asleep. I heard about it all day, but other than a small aftershock in my office around 10am, I hadn't felt much. I had to teach my two classes in the morning and then hang around for a student group meeting at 2. A bit after 2, I had to go to the bathroom and noticed that my pad was a bit wetter than usual, but not much. This was no big deal because who knows how often Katie had kicked my bladder in the past hour. I went back to the meeting and then headed home.

I called Brian on the way home to let him know what was up, and he wanted me to call the doctor, but I passed because it was nothing. When I got home, he made me read everything we could find on water breaking, and it seemed to confirm that I would know that this had happened - it would be a steady trickle and would increase when I lay down in bed. So, I went to lay down for a couple hours. Still nothing significant. I call the nurse line and she tells me to pack a bag and head to the hospital. I did, but I still didn't think anything of it. No big deal. Brian was running around putting things together and packing bags, but I knew it was all ok - after all, I was barely 36 weeks.

When we got to the hospital, they took my up to OB and were about to put me in an outpatient room to check me but decided to put me in a labor room. I felt really bad about this because I was going to mess up a bed and dirty sheets for nothing. But, they got me all hooked up to fetal monitors and checked with that little strip of test paper for amniotic fluid. Yup, that was it. They told us we would not be leaving without a baby. Holy crap. I was also contracting every three minutes and had no idea. We were totally in denial.

At this point, Brian left to get our bags and to get some food. I hadn't eaten since about 11am, and now that was completely off the table. Our hospital didn't allow any food or drink once labor started - so I would let ice chips melt and then drink. We knew we were in for a long labor because I was still only 1cm. They told us the earliest we would see Katie would be the next afternoon and it was about 7pm on Friday night right now. I tried to get comfortable and found that the contractions were getting more uncomfortable. They didn't become really really strong at that point, but they never really stopped. You can watch them on the monitor and mine would hit these really really long plateaued mountains, but they never really went back down into a valley. This constant contraction stuff was for the birds, so I asked for drugs and went to sleep (although not as soundly as my snoring husband). During the night, I had two rounds of "cervix ripening drugs," which consisted of half a pill being smeared on my cervix. Just weird.

The next day, I was up to 2cm. Woo-hoo. This was now over 16 hours after I checked in. They decided to start the Pitocin and I got the epidural - just in case :) I'm not a pain person and felt no need to prove how strong I was; I went for the drugs. Very soon, Katie was going into fetal distress. I had managed to progress to almost 3cm (I was a very slow achiever here) and he monitors had trouble picking up her heartbeat and every time a contraction came, her heart rate would drop severely. At about noon, 17 hours into labor at the hospital, but about 22 hours after my water broke, the partner doctor who I had never met came in and told me I needed a C-section. Awesome.

To be continued...