Saturday, June 25, 2011

22 weeks, 2 days

I am starting to really get anxious...and I don't mean all in the good way.

I had my 22 week appointment on Friday. I started the day off extremely nauseous. While I was getting ready to leave my house for the 45-50 minute drive to Ypsilanti to the doctor, my hair straightener was warming up in the bathroom and I was pouring my cereal for breakfast, I took one small bite and got this overwhelming feeling of YUCK! I was deep breathing to try to ward off the gag reflex as I made my way to the bathroom. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was getting hot and dizzy. I decided it was better for me to lay on the couch and remove some of my excess clothing -- it was a cool and misty day after all, so I was bundled with long jeans and a long sleeved shirt. As I lay there, breathing heavily and moaning, Shaun stared across the room at me in wonder. "Are you okay?"

"Um, no, I am gonna puke," I tell him.

"Do you want me to cancel the appointment? We are going to be late if we don't leave soon."

I thought about the anxiousness I had been feeling over the last week. I had been contracting a lot more than I thought I should, I had this scraping feeling near my pelvic area, and my friend's who work at St. Joe's just told me that the lead doctor in the practice was no longer apart of the practice and the helicopter service was being merged with another hospital. Plus, it had been a long 3 weeks since I had last seen the doctor. "No, don't cancel. If I am late and they don't let me in, then I will probably want to go to the hospital anyway, since I am feeling anxious about these contractions and excess movement I have been having. Give me a minute to sit up slowly and regain my composure and we can go."

The next few minutes I was certain that I wasn't going to be able to make the almost one hour drive without barfing, so I asked Shaun to find something to take with us for a vomit basin. He found a small waste basket from our computer room to lug along. Slowly, I got up, redressed myself and shut off my hair straightener before leaving.

I managed to will myself to drink the 16 ounces of water one hour before the appointment so the technologist could have a full bladder for my ultrasound. And luckily did not need to use the makeshift basin in the car. We arrived 7 minutes late, but the receptionist did not mention my tardiness, just signed me in as usual.

The ultrasound began and we saw once again our little boy who was growing as he should. The sonographer pointed out that he was a footling breech, which explained to me why it felt as though he was trying to dig his way out of my uterus. One of his feet are hanging down by my cervix and his head is up near my lungs.

Here are my notations for his growth at 22 weeks, 1 day:
Placenta: looking good along the back of the uterus
Heart Rate: 153 beats per minute
Cervical length: 3.1 mm (this is good as long as it is over 3 mm).
Head circumference: 19.55 cm
Head length (BPD): 5 cm
Femur length: 3.8 cm
Abdominal circumference: 16.9 cm
Amt. of amniotic fluid: plenty, we will begin measuring this starting the next ultrasound
Weight: 1 lb, 1 oz
Measuring due date: October 31, 2011 (within a week of the ovulation due date, so due date will remain the same -- October 27, 2011)
Mom weight: 139.8 (up 3.4 pounds from last visit...yuck, gotta get this under control)
Mom BP: 102/78
Mom Pulse: 90 (yep, still anxious and nauseous)
Mom O2: 99

I knew I was going to be meeting with Dr. K., the one doctor in the practice that I had not met with yet. She walked into the room with a bright smile on her face and introduced herself. She stated she had heard my name and knew about me but couldn't believe she had not met with me yet. I just started talking, telling her about my nausea and all the other things I had mentioned. Finally I slowed down and took a deep breath and asked her pointed questions.

Me: I have been contracting significantly these last few weeks, do you think I should be monitored?
Dr. K: Any time you want, call us and talk to us about your concerns, and we can send you to triage and have it checked out. It is okay to be anxious after your losses.
Me: Well, I live an hour away, so I don't want to come to triage for nothing. But, I felt my cervix a little lower this morning and it felt like it might have a fingertip opening to it.
Dr. K: Would you feel better if I checked you?
Me: Could you, please? Also, I heard that Dr. B. is gone. How will the office be restructured?
Dr. K: nothing you need to worry about. There will be a doctor on call and one in the office every week.
Me: So, you and Dr. W. will split the duties 50/50 now instead of 40/30/30 before?
Dr. K: yes, and we have a midwife you may see at your office visits sometimes, and we have another doctor in here who will work minimally, but you probably won't see him much.
Me: So, since you have heard about me, I guess you know my history pretty well.
Dr. K: Yes, I have read over everything you have provided to us, including your previous pregnancies and doctor reports regarding that, but don't want you to have to relive all the details of your losses by having to share it once again with me if you don't want to. But, if you want me to know anything more specific, I will let you share whatever it is you want to share with me.
Me: Good, and I don't need to share anything else right now, but may want to at future visits. If I have a bleeding emergency, will it be quicker to send a helicopter or for me to drive to St. Joe's.
Dr. K: Good question. But, you will need to go to your local hospital first even if you want a helicopter to pick you up, they won't pick you up at your home.
Me: I know, but my local hospital was not equipped to deal with my emergency even when I was admitted in the hospital the last time, so I would like to be transported somewhere I could get an anesthesiologist immediately.
Dr. K: Understandable, but think positively that you are not going to have an emergency this time. Do you think you need to take something for your anxiety? Like Zoloft?
Me: I have been doing okay with my anxiety and don't think I need meds. I just have been worried a little more this week.
Dr. K: well, let us know whatever we can do to help you get through this pregnancy. It is going to be okay and we are monitoring you so very closely and want you to be able to enjoy this time and feel okay about it. So, if you think you need meds, please let us know and tell us what you need to feel more comfortable. Speaking of which, have you talked with the other doctors about your delivery.
Me: Well, I was told I couldn't deliver until 39 weeks and that the safest way to do so was by c-section. What do you think?
Dr. K: I always think vaginal deliveries are best except when there is a possibility for uterine rupture from prior surgeries. Plus, you need to not go full term, so I would not recommend induction, but if you were to come in to the hospital at 5 cm dilated at say 35 weeks and you were strong into labor, then we would see how it goes and let you deliver, but at this point, I would suggest a c-section at 38 weeks. Is that ok?
Me: um...yes, ok by me.
Dr. K: good. Cause I just scheduled it for October 13, 2011 at 8am.
Me: um...hmmmmm....ok! Are you going to be the doctor on call that week and deliver me?
Dr. K: yes, that is me. And then you will see our new doctor on Friday morning rounds, but me for the most part. Is that ok?
Me: yep. Ok.
Dr. K: Now let's talk about the potential for gestational diabetes. What do you think about just taking a few random fasting blood sugars at home and a few random 1 hour after meals and tell me if you see any more than a couple highs or detect any patterns instead of having to drink the glucose and doing the 3 hour test again?
Me: Um...ok. But, my batteries in my glucometer are dead.
Dr. K: Well, get some new batteries, and we will give you a script for some test strips. Now, you don't have to do all the blood sugars, but just randomly test them and let us know at each visit what you did.
Me: Ok.
Dr. K: your ultrasound looks good, your cervix is high and closed tight, and I think you are doing great. Now, when would you like to come back again?
Me: When would you like me to?
Dr. K: Whenever will make you feel more confident and comfortable with this process and reduce your anxiety. Was 3-4 weeks too long between visits?
Me: yes.
Dr. K: Ok, then, what if we have you come in 2 weeks from now and do a nurse visit where she will check weight, blood pressure, baby's heart rate and answer any questions from you and if you need to see the doc, we will be right here. And then in 4 weeks you can come in and have a growth ultrasound and then see the doctor. You can alternate every 2 weeks between doc and nurse and then at 32 weeks we will be seeing you twice a week; one for ultrasound and one for NST. And we will deliver you at 38 weeks. But, if you say you can't stand it anymore at 36 weeks, then we will deliver you then, too. What do you think about that?
Me: Perfect.

The visit was over. I scheduled my nursing visit for July 7 and the next ultrasound for July 21. WOW!

I didn't tell the doctor this, but I had been secretly hoping that I would deliver on October 13. On that day, 11 years ago, was the day my mother died. Shaun thinks I am crazy superstitious, but whatever. I would like to honor my son by sharing with him that he was born on the day of his grandmother's death. I feel like this is a great thing as this would solidify this day as a day of happiness instead of a day of dread. However, when my mom died it was Friday the 13th, so I am ultimately glad that this year October 13th falls on a Thursday. :) Ok, Shaun, you are right. I have a little superstition. hehe. I do know that this is not a set in stone date. If for any health reason it is safer for baby boy to come sooner, I will not hesitate to have his birthday be in late September or before October 13. But, under no circumstances do I believe he will be born after this date. So, here it is. In 16 weeks or less, baby boy Plato #2 will arrive. And, I am anxiously awaiting his presence. Both nervously and courageously.

Father, I thank you so much for a very patient doctor who is willing to let me have a little sense of control over this pregnancy to feel confident in my ability to deal with it. I thank you for the changes that have been made in the office that at first seemed to be a burden on me, but has turned into a blessing. I thank you for giving me a glimpse of hope amidst the scariness of this pregnancy by infusing my mother's birth date to Heaven into the potential birth date of her grandson. I thank you that you are forever in control of all the circumstances and outcomes of this pregnancy and all the rest of everything.

I pray that you continue to provide solace and blessing to Shaun and me during the next 4 months and beyond and praise you for your provision with Shaun getting a job this week despite the threat of unemployment being depleted. I praise you that your perfect timing have been proven over and over again and I ask that you continue to astound me with your presence. I thank you and praise you every moment.

I pray Lord for my friend's babies that I blogged about earlier this month and ask that you continue to help them heal. But, praise you from the mountaintops that both of them are home and thriving!!! I pray that you continue to show yourself faithful and merciful to their families by giving them HOPE through your son Jesus and showing them miracles in their everyday advancements. Praise you for a job well done, once again, Great Physician.

I pray all this and much, much more in the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

20 weeks, 3 days

This past week has been emotionally draining. With a friend's newborn baby boy in the NICU after his surgery last week, and another friend's 2-month old baby girl having surgery a couple of days ago for the same rare disease, I was just about spent. I can't say that I am particularly close to either of these friends. We are acquaintances in the sense that we don't see each other regularly. In fact, I hadn't met with my first friend face to face since several years ago when she started attending a different church. And the other friend and I are bonded by the loss of our previous children, having met each other in a support group. So, Facebook has made it easier for me to be in contact with people I might not otherwise have a face to face relationship. And for this I am grateful, but will keep their names obscured for the sake of the parents privacy.

So, when baby girl was born 2 months prior, I visited her and her mom in the hospital a day after birth. She was so precious, but was having trouble feeding. Days later she was in the NICU and it was discovered she had a rare genetic disease affecting her bowels. She was able to go home within a week when she passed stool on her own, but the doctors knew that soon she would need surgery. I prayed for her and her family the entire week she was in the NICU until her mom was able to bring her home, happy and seemingly healthy.

And when baby boy was born two and 1/2 weeks ago, I was stunned that he too had difficulty with feeding and pooing. He was taken to the NICU and was determined to have the same rare genetic disorder, but was forced to have surgery that day. Immediately I was drawn to prayer. I lifted his little body up to the one who is the Great Physician, certain that He would heal him and bring him home to his mommy. It was the least I could do, I thought, as so many wonderful people had prayed for me during my time with Ethan in the NICU.

And when I asked my baby girl friend to pray for this family too, she gladly agreed and let me know she was meeting with the surgeon this week too.

On Wednesday, I received a message on my answering machine from a support group leader who was sharing with me that baby boy was having complications from surgery and would need to have more surgery. That call shook me to the core. I fell to my knees, begging, weeping, pleading with God to surround the family with his angels and give them peace as they underwent yet another trial. I could not stand to know that this family was enduring more than I thought they could bare. I had never interceded like that in my life. It felt as though God instructed me to pray, stabbing me in my heart, pulling at all my fears at once. The overwhelming need to cry and sob and beg and plead on their behalf took me over. I was in the moment, with God, and asking him to be all that they needed.

It was great to hear news that he had made it through the surgery ok, but sad to know that his recovery time was to be weeks.

The following day, I learned that baby girl was due to have the same surgery as baby boy had the week prior. Knowing what I knew about baby boy, I again interceded with the same intensity that I had previously with baby boy. It is so hard to do anything else. So I will pray. Baby girl's surgery went well and will have some more recovery time.

But, what I learned this past week is no one is exempt from these trials, babies are complex and God is amazing with timing. I cannot describe really how this timing all seemed to work together, but from the way I view it, it has been entirely too perfect. I cannot wait for the day I see baby girl and baby boy crawling and playing with one another, happy and healthy.

And so this week I wept. I wept for remembering my time with a baby in the NICU. I wept for the babies who underwent surgery and NICU stays. I wept for the moms and dads of these infants. I wept for those who are currently pregnant awaiting a healthy newborn. And I wept for those who are still surviving infertility. Yes, I haven't forgotten about you.

People have said that once I was pregnant and expecting I would forget all about the time and torture it took to get here. I assure you, I have not. 6 years ago I was pregnant with my first son. 5.5 years ago I delivered complicatedly my son and within 5 days he died. For two more years I was instructed not to get pregnant so as not to put more risk to me. For an additional 1.5 years we feared another pregnancy. Once we began trying, 6 months passed without a period. 6 additional months passed inducing a period with medications that made me wacky. One month after consulting with a fertility specialist, I achieved and miscarried a second pregnancy. 4 months and no pregnancy later, we decided to endure hormone shots and achieved pregnancy again, only to miscarry my baby girl 2 months later. And for the next grueling 3 months figured that our time to conceive and carry a child to term had ceased, only to find that we were finally expecting a healthy baby to arrive. I feel like I have been trying to have kids for 6 + years. This is the longest pregnancy in the history of the world, it seems. I cannot forget the countless hours I prayed for and wished for and pined for a healthy baby and even though I carry one in my womb, I know too well the hundreds of things that could go wrong. I know too many people who continue to have trials despite surviving others. So, I remember you, my infertility sisters who are still on the journey to achieve pregnancy and I applaud you for still trying. Don't give up and keep trusting that the God who loves you will provide! If he put that desire in your heart, he will fulfill it. BELIEVE IT!!

I close today with a prayer for my NICU babies and for my infertility friends: Father, I pray for baby boy and baby girl who continue in their recovery period after surgery this past week. I pray that you bring peace to the families, strength to the infants and a complete full recovery of them both. I pray for your provision of the other details surrounding the other family members and ask that you be present with them at all times. I pray also for my infertility sisters that you give them glimpses of what you are trying to do within them to bring them the family the so desire. Give them wisdom, good doctors and perseverance despite years of trying. I pray that they achieve pregnancy soon. I pray all this and more in the mighty name of JESUS! AMEN!

Friday, June 3, 2011

19 weeks, 1 day

Oh, the joy of pregnancy. I adore it. Life within me. It is especially affirming when I think I know that baby is kicking daily and the back is up against this side or the head is pounding on my pelvic bone, etc., and then the ultrasound confirms my thoughts. I am in LOVE.

Yesterday was our BIG ultrasound. Thanks to my losing Ethan, I am blessed with many ultrasounds this pregnancy, but this was the main one. The one that proves health and all body structures present and the presence or not of a penis!

My husband was able to get out of a couple of hours of clinicals to go with me. The appointment was in the late afternoon. It has been super important for us to know the gender of the baby so we could finally talk about names. For some reason, Shaun refuses to discuss serious names if he is unsure of the sex.

The day was beautiful. The sun shone bright amidst a clear blue sky with a light breeze. After an hour's drive to the doctor, we proudly walked in the office. There were several visibly pregnant women there, all waiting on ultrasounds as well. Since this is a high risk office, there is no measuring tape to guess baby's size. Every one has a more accurate ultrasound to assess baby's health.

We met Francie, a distinctly different ultrasound tech from the Francie at the U of M fertility office, but her namesake nonetheless. This dark haired lady hurried me onto the table and dug in with her probe. With my notepad in tow, I asked her to please explain what she was seeing and share with me the details. My list looks like this:

u/s sonographer: Francie
measuring: 19 weeks, 1 day
weight: 275 grams
Placenta: looks good, homogeneous, no clots or sub-chorionic hematomas
Umb. Cord: insertion is good, 3 vessels all flowing
heart rate: 144 beats per minute
Heart: 4 chambers, valves operational
Right and left ovaries: both 2.4 mm, back to normal size
cervical length: 3.5cm (perfectly normal)
anything unusual? Nothing found
10 fingers, 10 toes: YES!
head circumference: 16.22 cm
head diameter: 4.21 cm
femur length: 2.94 cm
abdominal circumference: 14.12 cm
Presence of 2 kidneys, kidney arteries, lungs, amniotic fluid, arms, legs, and a PENIS!!

We were so excited. All in all the ultrasound took 35 minutes. As soon as she revealed the sex, she had me leave the room to empty my bladder so she could see my cervix as baby's head was stuck down there. She turned the lights on, and Shaun was grinning. Probably the biggest grin I have ever seen. Similar to the grin I saw him have when he held Ethan for the first time. Even though we knew at that time that it was 90% likely he would die, Shaun smiled proudly for the camera. I knew he wanted a boy. Almost as much as I wanted a girl. I smiled, too, and said, "well, I guess we are having more kids." I thought if I got a girl, then maybe I would be done with this roller coaster of infertility and pregnancy. I guess not.

The rest of the ultrasound continued and then it was time for the doctor appointment. Luckily I brought with me a copy of a website detailing the exact sizes everything should be so I could compare notes. Every single thing was right on the button. Not a single measurement was off by a couple of mm. Shaun took note that baby's upper lip seemed to be sticking out as far as his nose, "He's gonna be able to stick his tongue out and touch his nose like his mama!" Not something I am currently proud of, but I do have an uncanny ability to do this. Hehe!

I only gained 2 pounds from the last visit 4 weeks ago and that brings my total weight gain to 12 pounds since ovulation day....136.4. Yikes. I finally admitted it. My goal is to stay under 150. That was my starting weight with Ethan's pregnancy. I was much more of a chunkier girl then, and I worked hard for 5 years to bring my weight down, don't want to ruin it now. Blood pressure is low: 100/62 and doctor seems to think I will be getting dizzy over the next few weeks as my blood pressure may drop even lower. She is confident that everything is going great and recommended that I visit her again in 3 weeks. So, next ultrasound and appointment will be June 24 @ 10am!!!

I am so blessed. I wrote in my notebook as we sat in the waiting room in between the ultrasound and the doctor . . . SO OBSESSED WITH THIS LITTLE BOY!

Father, Thank you so much for a calm visit, a healthy baby and a beautiful dream coming true in our 2nd son. We are beyond blessed and ask that you continue to bless this pregnancy. Give us the strength to endure the next 20 weeks, and to bring home this healthy robust young boy to his EARTHLY home!

I pray for my friends who have just given birth, that you continue to show them how much of a blessing they have received. I also pray fervently for baby Sutton who is undergoing surgery at this moment for a bowel obstruction. At only one week old, I beg that you keep him safe, make him healthy and pull him through surgery with your tender loving arms and place him back in his mother's arms. I pray that you allow him to heal quickly so he may go home with his mama as early as next week.

Thank you so much for the blessing of friendship and for so many people you have placed into my life to mentor, to learn from and to love. We ask all this in Jesus' name, AMEN!