Monday, March 19, 2007

 

Long overdue birth story, part 1

First off, I just want to say that Maxine is great! She is a super baby. And I am growing into motherhood. It is exhilarating and exhausting, but all worth it!

To really tell my birth story we need to go back to my last OB appointment before Maxine was born. On December 27 I went to the OBs for my 38 week appointment and an ultrasound for size issues. I had been 70% effaced and 1 cm dilated for a few weeks…..

The ultrasound was first. The technician told me that the baby was so big that she was out-of-range on the size charts, one of the biggest she had seen. Then came the OB appt. It was with an OB that I had not met yet, and one of the males in the practice (I have issues with male OBs.) He then proceeded to tell me that I would be unlikely to deliver the baby vaginally and that I should schedule a Cesarean. After much crying and calls to Mr. M and my mom I reluctantly scheduled one for January 10th, a few days after my EDD. In the meantime I contacted my doula and we discussed ways to “get things moving” and that if I wanted to, I could deliver vaginally.

I was so confused at this point. I really wanted to deliver vaginally, but now I was worried about the health of the baby. The estimate was that Maxi would be about 10 pounds and the OB was worried about shoulder distocia. After all that I had been through to get to 38 weeks, I was not prepared to risk the health of my baby. In the end I decided to push back the date for the Cesarean, and hope to try labor, but know that if something went wrong in labor I would opt for the Cesarean.

OK, now it is January 1st. Mr. M and I had spent a quiet few days at home. I was REALLY big and REALLY uncomfortable. Peeing every 2 hours and barely moving. Now that I know how big the baby was, I understand why I was so uncomfortable. I mean I was crying I was so uncomfortable. Anyway at 6 PM Mr. M went into the ally to put out the trash cans for the next morning. I was putting around the house collecting newspapers for the recycling. I went to give him more paper for the recycling when I noticed that there was a man with a GUN at Mr. M’s back in our back yard. I cannot begin to explain the thoughts going through my head. The most prominent thought was that Mr. M was going to get shot with me 39 weeks pregnant and that I was going to have to raise our beautiful baby alone.

Mr. M calmly asked me to go into the house and get all the money out of our wallets. I was shaking and petrified, but tried to find the phone to call 911. I did not have time to do that though as the assailant marched Mr. M at gun point into our house right to the middle of the living room where I was trying to call 911 and get the money. The guy took the phone and hung it up and asked me where the money was. Here is the kicker, between the both of us, we had 2 dollar. Yup, only 2 dollars. I begged the assailant to take our credit cards, computer, anything he wanted. I was petrified that he would think I was lying about the money and hurt Mr. M.

This all seems like it took forever, but in reality, it was over in a few minutes. During this whole incident one of our dogs was going crazy barking at the guy. She goes crazy when there is someone in the house she does not know. We think between being so big I looked like I was going to fall over and the crazy 25 pound dog at his heels, the assailant left with our 2 dollars out the back door and back through the ally. We then called 911, the police came and it was over.

The police did want to call an ambulance for me. I think they thought I was going to go into labor that moment….turns out they were not that far off!

That night we went to bed still pretty shaken up by the events. I could not sleep. I just kept seeing Mr. M with a gun at his back in our living room. At 3 AM I got up to go the bathroom. I peed a little and when I stood back up more fluid came out. I thought, great, now I can’t even pee right anymore. So I sat back down, nothing. Stood up, more fluid. I did this 4 or so times before I realized there was some blood in the fluid…holy shit my water broke! Woke up Mr. M and we both wondered what to do. I knew the OB would want me to the hospital, but I did not have any contractions. I called my doula and she told me to get some sleep and in the morning take a long walk to jump start my labor. Right, like I could sleep at all.

At around 8 AM we took an hour long walk with the dogs (now our heroes), still no contractions. Then I pulled out the breast pump to try some nipple stimulation. OK, not only did that not work, but it hurt like hell. Now it was around 11 AM, my doula told me I could stay home a bit longer, but the OBs office (I had called at 9 AM) wanted me in the hospital. I am sure I could have stayed home longer, but now I was worried about the baby and wanted to be in a safer place, so we headed in.

We got to the hospital around 1 PM. Around 2 PM the OB checked me. I was still only 1 CM. She also did an ultrasound to check my fluid because the swab test had been inconclusive for amniotic fluid. Turns out I still had most of my amniotic fluid, but there was an area up top without any. She thought I had a tear of my sac at the top of my uterus, but it was a slow leak. Since the baby looked fine, we decided that I could have a few more hours to try and get my labor started before we started pitocin. But it was no use. Around 4 PM we started pitocin.

At first everything was OK. I had contractions, but I could handle them. The OB was unimpressed; she was looking for a much more vigorous labor pattern. This is where things started to go FAR away from what I wanted. My labor plan was all about a labor and delivery with as few medical interventions as possible….

Over the next few hours I had an amniotomy, an internal pressure monitor, and LOTS of pitocin. Finally I was in a more active labor pattern, but now the pain was unbearable. I was in so much pain that I was suffering. I lasted about 2 hours and eventually became dissociative. I begged for the epidural. I was only 3 CM, but I knew that I could not handle the pain.

I had the worst anesthesiologist ever. It took him 5 tries to get it in and told me my spine was curved. It was awful, but compared to the pain of pitocin-induced labor, it was nothing.

The immediate pain relief from the epi was WONDERFUL. But now I had so many tubes in and out of me: an IV, the epi, the internal pressure monitor, the external fetal Doppler, and the very fun catheter. So not what I wanted.

We slept on an off through the night. Mr. M was on the floor since he insisted the doula keep the chair, poor guy. I also got sick at this point and was vomiting every few hours. The nurse eventually gave me some anti nausea meds which made me really drowsy. I kept dilating, although slowly. Then I stopped. I ended up at 8.5 CM and was there for 5 hours. It was now 10 AM and I was now really uncomfortable. I was exhausted and felt really fuzzy. I had not slept that night or the night before and I was done. I had also been stuck in the bed since 7 PM the previous night and while the baby was fine, she had been without amniotic fluid for 31 hours. It was pretty clear a vaginally delivery was not in the cards. I asked the OB how quickly she could get me into the OR for a Cesarean.

On one hand I was desperate to get the baby out. I needed to make sure she was OK. But when we made decisions about how I was going to labor and deliver, the one thing I had said was that I absolutely did not want a Cesarean. I was disappointed in myself that I could not do it. I definitely felt like a failure, but knew the C was the right thing to do at that time.

Everything happened really quickly from there. A new anesthesiologist talked to me while a nurse shaved me and the OB walked in and out of the room. I felt very exposed, but I was so out of it at that point, I hardly cared. Then Mr. M got his scrubs and I was wheeled away.

Once in the OR I was moved to the operating table. That was not an experience I want to repeat. My legs were numb and I was tipped this way and that way to get me from the bed to the table. I seriously thought I was going to fall. Then Mr. M came in and it was started.

At 11:13 AM on January 3rd my long awaited baby was pulled out of me. The OB held it up for Mr. M to see and he told me we had a girl! I don’t remember a lot of the details at this point, but I do remember the sound of surprise in Mr. M’s voice, we were pretty convinced that we were having a boy!

Then they took her to be cleaned and weighed and told us that she was 11 lbs 8.7 oz. Unfortunately her size meant she had some health issues and I was barely able to see her before she was whisked off to the NICU. I told Mr. M that he was to stay with the baby the whole time, do not leave her side.

They closed me up and I was wheeled into recovery. Thankfully my doula was right there and we called parents to let them know. I was a mess though, shaking uncontrollably and crying. I wanted my baby.

Next up: the NICU and the aftermath!

Friday, January 12, 2007

 

Arrival


I am happy to announce the birth of our daughter, Maxine Ruth.

Maxine weighed 11 lbs 8.7 oz at birth and was 23 inches long...no that
is NOT a typo. And I am not sure how I grew such a large baby (I am only 5'2").

She was born on January 3, 2007 at 11:12 AM via cesarean section after
32 hours of labor....needless to say it was a bit of a long ordeal.
She spent 4 days in the NICU due to some glucose level, infection and
jaundice issues. But Maxine is doing great now. and we are so in love with her!

I hope to get you all the sordid birth story....but for now I need to sleep!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

 

Almost there

It is 5:30 AM on Tuesday, January 2, 2007. I noticed that my water broke a few hours ago at about 3 AM. Mr. M is trying to get some rest before the real show begins.....I cannot seem to rest.

I hope to have some great news in mere days!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

 

Typing in a haze of exhaustion

I have not forgotten about this blog and all of you wonderful ladies in my computer (that is where you live, right?!?!) I am simply too exhuasted to do much more than for which I am currently responsible. Work is a bit difficult right now and my boss left, so my transition to maternity leave got a whole lot more complicated. The class that I teach will be done in 3 weeks, and that cannot come soon enough. I think if I was not teaching, the fall would have been easier. I accepted the offer to teach again this semester in March, who knew I would be 8 months pregnant towards the end of the semester?!?!?

I am 32.5 weeks right now! It is great, but I am ready to be done. I am apparently carrying a huge child. Several women have asked me if I am having twins. (Is it ever appropriate to ask that?) And by ultrasound and fundal hight I measure 3-4 weeks ahead. I keep telling the OBs that we "grow em big" in my family. I was a nice round 10 pounds! I have ample hips though and I am not too worried about a 10 pounder. The doulas we hired are keeping me sane about this and helping me deal with the OBs who are itching to slice me open or induce me before my due date (Jan 7)...neither of which I want.

I am still working through how I want to deliver. Of course my ultimate goal is a healthy child, but I hope to be able to accomplish that with as few medical interventions as necessary. I am excited to work with the doulas and I hope they can help guide me to make the choices I want for me and my child. I am thinking about going epidural free.....we'll see.

We finally ordered nursery furniture, that was a cirus. I kept putting it off. I am not one for the evil eye, but I still felt like I was tempting fate. No matter, it is done. And with my mom's help I have all the essentials for the firth few months. To be honest I am not really sure what all that is, but there is a big pile of baby stuff in the soon-to-be-nursery. So slowly we are getting there.

Mr. M and I are starting to freaking out about what it means to be parents. Getting and staying pregnant were such consuming activities that I am not sure we really understand what awaits us on the other side. Maybe you never do though, until you get there!

Anyway as soon as class is done I hope to have more time to blog and such. I have so many things to say. And I am hoping to convince my OBs to put me out to pasture a few weeks before the due date. We have very generous disability and maternity policies at my work and it would be a shame not to use them to their full extent...right?!?!?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

 

Now for something completely lighter

Your belly button is not something you think about all that often…well I don’t think about mine very much. But when you are pregnant and start to grow, you notice it. And I have noticed that I have what can only be described as the world’s deepest belly button. At 27 weeks, I still have a pretty substantial belly button. Seeing other women’s “belly shots” they seem to have a flattened if not “popped out” belly button by this stage.

I have grown a whole bunch too, but it is still very present. And I know that it is getting stretched out because the holes from an old navel piercing (long story) are now outside of the remaining belly button. Who knew (and really who cares?) that I have/had such a deep belly button? I would give you a picture, but due to previously mentioned stretch marks, it is not a pretty site. Maybe I won’t get that cherry-on-top look?


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

 

Remember me?

Oh hello there, remember me? No you say? I have not updated in SIX weeks???? Bad, bad orange-baby! I am very sorry. I have thought about posting a million times. (OK maybe not a million, but a bunch.) What has kept me away? I am completely overwhelmed with my full-time job, I teach a graduate level course in the fall semester at Georgetown and oh yeah, I am pregnant in my spare time. By the time I make it to Friday I am a zombie. I might as well not work on Fridays given that I stare at my computer and will myself to work….rather unsuccessfully. And then I crash all weekend to start over on Monday.

The pregnancy is OK. But for some reason my anxiety level about it has only escalated. I was thrilled to make it to 24 weeks, so-called viability, until I looked up the stats on viability. At 24 weeks there is a 50% chance of survival and even then a very high rate of health and developmental problems. At that point 24 weeks did not seem like such a great milestone.

As the weeks go by in this pregnancy I seem to get more anxious. I think that every week I go I realize that I have more and more to lose. We are starting to accumulate baby things and that freaks me out. I was in the store with my mom about a month ago and we had a full cart of lovely baby things and I totally melted down before we got the check out. How could I buy all of that stuff? What if the baby died…what would I do with it all? So we left the store only buying a few onesies and a package of blankets. I am not sure this is normal.

And I have been really anxious about clearing out the room that is slated to be the nursery, but I refuse to buy actual baby furniture to fill it. So now we have this empty room in the house. (And trust me when I say anxious about emptying it, I had more than one melt down AT Mr. M about getting off his ass and working on sorting years of accumulated stuff to get it empty…he is a world class pack rat.) Is any of this normal?

My cervix seems to be behaving. It is getting shorter it seems, but only really slowly. It is about 2.6 cm now, which I hear is fine, but it still really worries me. I am supposed to watch out for preterm labor, but I don’t really know what that means. EVERYONE tells me I will know it if it happens, but I worry that it will be too late at the point where I have PTL symptoms. And I worry about bed rest, but I am so GD tired right now that I would welcome the respite from work. So my cervix and state of my uterus make me anxious.

But here is the kicker, and one reason I have been reluctant to update in a while…..turns out I do not like being pregnant. I am sure some of it is this anxiety of which I speak, but some of it is actually not liking the physical state of pregnancy AT ALL. And how can I tell you wonderful ladies struggling to conceive and carry that oh guess what I hate being pregnant. (What an ungrateful whore!) I am having a hard time reconciling wanting this baby more than I have ever wanted anything and the reality that I simply do not enjoy being pregnant.

So read on at your own annoyance.

Let’s start with the hips, mine are killing me. It hurts to roll over in bed, but if I stay on one side too long I wake up in pain from being on one hip too long. And if I sit too long it hurts to get up and walk. Sleep is difficult at best. Last night I woke up at 2 AM with the worst heartburn I have ever had. Yes, heartburn is practically a constant no matter what I eat; even drinking water can give me heartburn. And speaking of eating, I am still feeling nauseated much of the time. I vomit rarely, but I never feel great. Instead of cravings, I have an ever growing list of foods that make me queasy. Oh and my hands stopped working. No, seriously, I drop everything! I thought that came later in pregnancy. And when you are having a hard time bending over to pick up something, the dropsies are really annoying! I don’t feel cute either, I feel fat. I always think the pregnancy belly is so cute on other women, but I don’t see that when I look in the mirror. And I have awful stretch marks. I have only gained 15 or so pounds at 26 weeks, but it feels more like 50.

But I can handle all of those things. The thing I cannot handle is that I have THREE MORE MONTHS. That thought alone reduces me to tears. I have no idea how I am going to do this for three more months and I hear the physical effects get worse! The anxiety alone is going to make me go (more) crazy.

I thought that when I finally got to the third trimester (5 days away) that I would feel confident that we would actually be having this baby. So why don’t I? And I am pretty sure that is not normal.

I have decided I feel this way for a few reasons:
1. I am off my SSRI, which also helps with anxiety, and have been since I found out I was pregnant. I already have a script ready to go the minute I pop out this kid (hopefully).
2. Since starting this journey in August 2004, I have been pregnant 4 times (this being the 4th) and I do not yet have a live baby. I know all of my losses were in the first trimester, but since it has never worked for me I have a hard time equating pregnancy with live baby…..even at 26 weeks.
3. When the first trimester is so filled anxiety I think it makes the whole pregnancy seem longer. Those blissfully unaware women (no IF, no RPL) I have spoken with mention that they did not start feeling pregnant until they started to show or feel the baby move. I have been so aware of this pregnancy from the moment I got the positive test….I think that makes it a longer 9 months.
4. Not all women like being pregnant, even if they tried for years and endured multiple miscarriages. Just because it is hard fought for does not mean you will love being pregnant.

I just cannot believe that I have made it to 26 weeks and I cannot believe that I have 14 more weeks to go. I am having a very difficult time reconciling those competing feelings. And I feel so very abnormal.

Other posts percolating:
1. My annoyance with my OBs office.
2. Feeling scooter move.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

Of Metros and Race

I was surprised how many of you were interested in my morning commute story. I am afraid it will not live up to the hype at all…

Mr. M and I live in Washington, DC a little under a half a mile to the nearest metro, a nice walk when it is not 100°F and insanely humid outside. Sometimes I walk to the metro; sometimes Mr. M gives me a ride to the metro. In the summer, he most often drives me to the metro and that is where the fun really begins.

I usually get on the metro around 8:30 am. It is pretty packed still at that time and there are no available seats left. When I was in my first trimester (and not visibly pregnant) the ride was terrible. I had to stand and I was nauseated and well, it was not fun. I assumed that as I became visibly pregnant I would no longer have to stand. I assumed that folks would generously offer a seat to me. And yes, I am visibly pregnant now, but seats have not materialized for me. Some people look right at me, RIGHT at my belly and look back down. Some people are clearly too busy being important and reading the Post to even look up, or so it seems.

No, I am not disabled and pregnancy is not a disability. I do have mixed feelings about being outraged by this situation. Part of me feels that I am only pregnant and who am I to command a seat? But there is another part of me that is so disappointed with our society that NO ONE offers a visibly pregnant woman a seat. There have been times when I have seen an older person or a person with crutches not offered a seat either. It is so sad really. How has it come to this?

I have started taking notes when someone does offer me their seat. I have a little notebook and I note their gender, age and ethnicity. So far the only people who have offered me a seat are white men around 40-50ish. This I find interesting.

[First a disclaimer, it is hard to write about this without offending anyone. I can tell you that I am not racist, but inevitably I might write something in a way that would make you believe otherwise. We all hold some prejudices and stereotypes, but I truly believe myself to be open and accepting and not a racist.]

Washington, DC is 60% black, 30% white and 10% Hispanic. Racial tensions run high in DC between blacks and whites. It can’t help that Mr. M and I are among the groups of young, middle class whites that have moved into neighborhoods that only 10 years ago were predominantly black. This phenomenon called “gentrification” (isn’t that an awful term?) has resulted in a huge increase in property values and property taxes. The results have been that families which have lived in these neighborhoods for over 50 years have had to move out, or want to move out. It is a very sticky situation.

Most of the racial tensions I experience on a daily basis are between black and white women. I have always thought that women are less tolerant of other women in general, and in my experiences this is exacerbated when there are racial tensions. Black and white women in DC are totally dismissive of each other. I think that many black women think white women to be entitled and self-important. I think many white women think black women to be rude and lazy. I cannot tell you how many times I have been cut in line at CVS (convenience store) by a black woman. I have no idea why this happens, but trust me when I say that it does. (Another aside, all the kids on our block are black. They are great kids and we enjoy hanging out with them. One of the families however, forbade their kids from talking or hanging out with us. We found out later it is because we are white and Jewish and therefore not a good influence on their kids.)

The metro stop I get on in the morning comes from a predominately black area of the city. No black woman has ever offered me a seat. I am not saying that it will never happen. Maybe I am over analyzing the situation, but like I said, I am running my own little sociology experiment and noting who offers me a seat in the morning. I am eager to see my results in 4 months.

In the meantime I stand on the metro for about 20 minutes in the morning. It is not awful, but as I get larger my balance is not the best and my hips hurt. I do worry about falling, so I hold onto two poles. Once I did ask to sit down and I got the dirtiest look from the woman and all of those around her. It is just not worth it yet. As I get larger and larger, we’ll see what happens, and what I do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

TISC, part deux

Well the peri appointment was very, um, anti-climatic. She was very matter-of-fact, and not at all impressed with my cervical measurements.

She did a scan of scooter first, s/he still looks great. Then she did a transvag scan of my cervix. (I wish I had stated a count of how many folks have seen under the hood and or performed a transvag scan on me since this journey began….I think it is an impressive number.)

Anyway the short of it is (get it, short, cervix? I kill me.) Is that my cervix, while shorter than average is stable and not in the “danger zone.” The measurement varies, depending on the angle, between 2.7 and 3.1 cm. They like to see it over 3.5 cm at this stage, but don’t take action until it is under 2.5 cm. So there seems to be this large grey area where they keep an eye on it, but don’t do anything. It is not dynamic and again there is no funneling or opening at all. So not “normal” but not so “abnormal.”

Really, I am relieved. I did not want a cerclage, which carries a whole set of risks. I do feel like I overreacted a bit. But I am super glad I went with the second opinion and hopefully the cervix will stay the way it is.

Thank you for all of your support with this fun diversion in my pregnancy. We will go back to the regularly scheduled program. Next time I will tell you all about my morning commutes….so fun!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

 

TISC

My cervix is shortening. I have named it The Incredibly Shrinking Cervix, or TISC for short. Last Friday it was 3.2 cm and yesterday it was only 2.7 cm. How fun. OK, not really fun, mostly there were tears.

My OB and I went through a long list of options:
1. Wait it out the weekend, get measured again on Monday and get a cerclage on Tuesday when she is in the hospital.
2. Wait it out a week and then re-evaluate
3. Go on bed rest for the next 20 weeks. (She mentioned to me several times that in Europe cerclages are not done; it is bed rest for the cervically incompetent. But why should this matter to me, and my treatment?)
4. Get a second opinion from a peri at Georgetown right away.
5. OK there were more, but I can’t remember them now.

The great thing is that my cervix is still closed and hard and there appears to be no funneling. This makes my OB wonder if it is even cervical insufficiency or just a randomly short cervix. She said that maybe it is just settling at a good length for me. I don’t understand this…..2.7 cm is abnormally short for 19 weeks. And every time I go in for a measurement it is shorter than it was before. At what point do we say, OK this thing is definitely TISC, not just randomly short???? I was pretty frustrated that my OB could not (would not?) tell me what to do!!! I do like my OB and I think she was just trying to keep me from totally freaking out, but at one point she said that maybe they are just over treating me and this is not even a problem. BUT YOU ARE THE ONE WHO TOLD ME I NEEDED BI-WEEKLY MONITORING SO THAT WE WOULD KNOW IF MY CERVIX STARTED TO MISBEHAVE.

From my menu of options I opted for #4. My OB called the peri who said there was no need to spend the next several hours in L&D and that she could see me in her office on Monday. I am happy with that. I figure by Monday it might have shrunk some more and we can work out a plan.

I am only half way through this pregnancy. It is going to be one loooooong pregnancy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

 

Two Years

Today is my 2 year wedding anniversary to Mr. M. It sounds like a total cliché, but I really don’t know where the past two years have gone…..

We met a wedding of a mutual friend July 4th weekend in 2001. I was in St. Louis working on my Ph.D. and he was working on a political campaign in New Jersey. We hit it off immediately. We danced, talked, and generally stuck by each other all night. The next day I drove back to STL with my friends. I told them it was crazy how much I liked this guy, but that a relationship would never work given the distance. Some of my friends encouraged me to pursue it and some encouraged me to move on.

We had exchanged phone numbers and emails at the wedding and within a week we were talking on the phone almost every night. After about a month I invited him to come visit me in STL. I figured it would either work or not, but we had to figure it out. He came! The weekend was great. It had stressful moments to be sure, but we realized that first weekend how much we liked each other and wanted to pursue a relationship.


Next it was my turn to visit him. A month after his visit I flew to DC where he maintained an apartment and we had another great weekend. He dropped me off at the airport on Monday September 11, 2001 to fly back to STL. My flight was diverted to Cincinnati, Ohio. Everyone on the plane was totally freaked out. We were hearing reports of hijackings, bombings, all out war practically. It was really hard to get through to loved ones because everyone and their mother were on their cell phones. After getting through to my parents, I finally reached Mr. M. He was on his way back to New Jersey and was caught in a huge traffic nightmare due to the attacks. He was stopped on the side of the highway. When I finally got through to him he told me how worried he was about me and that he loved me. While September 11 was a terrible day, it was also the day that Mr. M and I realized how much we meant to each other already.

A year later I finished my degree and moved to DC. After finishing a political campaign in Las Vegas he moved in with me a few months later. A year after that we were engaged and then married the next year.

We started trying to build our family right after we got married; literally on the honeymoon we stopped using birth control. I thought it would be easy (HA!) I did not think we would be testing our new marriage with recurrent miscarriages. This is probably why many couples decide to wait a year or two to start trying to conceive. But I can say that the past two years have made me realize what an amazing husband I have. Maybe I would have come to this realization without the miscarriages, but I think that the adversity really has brought us together in a way that might have been different without it.

I cannot imagine going through life without Mr. M at my side, and thankfully I don’t have to.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

 

Did it have to be this way?

I am frustrated, and tired. All in all this pregnancy has been healthy. I have been a complete wreck the whole time, but my OB insists that it is a normal pregnancy. Until now….maybe.

I had a cervical monitoring ultrasound yesterday. First let me say that scooter is fine. He is measuring great, no abnormalities, moving all around. My quad screen came back great too. My first miscarriage was an anencephaly, so I have been worried about other neural tube defects with subsequent pregnancies. Well my risk of spina bifida came back at 1:10,000 and the brain looks good, so I am relieved on that score.

But (and you knew there was one) my cervix might be shortening. It is measuring 3 cm. 3 cm is the MINUMUM measurement for a cervix at this stage of pregnancy. Further, at 13 weeks it was measuring 3.8 cm, but that was not a transvaginal measurement and the one yesterday was transvag (not a great comparison). At 14 weeks it looked like it was measuring over 4 cm, but turns out my uterus was contracting a bit during that measurement, so it is a totally inaccurate measurement (why did the sonographer not wait until the contraction was over to do the measurement???) So my cervix could be shortening, or it could have been short the entire time. It is tough to compare the measurements from this week and the prior two. I go back in two weeks for another measurement.

Needless to say, I am totally freaked out. I finally seem to have a genetically normal fetus and now my uterus is not behaving. Even if my cervix is not shortening (please, please, please) it is short for the gestational age. My OB said that if I were a normal OB patient she would not give it another thought, but the point here is that after 3 D&Cs last year my cervix might not be up to the task of a full-term pregnancy.

Good news is that there is no funneling or opening, and by manual examination, my cervix is hard and closed.

My OB told me to call if I feel pressure. I don’t know what that means, but she told me I would know if there was pressure. But my google MD taught me that with cervical insufficiency the cervix changes without symptoms. So which is it?

I already had an OB appointment scheduled for next week, so I will get another manual examination at that point. I have another ultrasound in two weeks, but that is a long time to wait for another measurement.

I just wanted easy. I am frustrated, tired, and now really worried. I was already anxious enough. And I was just starting to feel OK about this pregnancy and let my mother start planning a baby shower. How silly of me.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

 

For every action.....

I did not always want to be a mother. Wow, that looks weird on a blog that is all about trying to get and stay pregnant…..

In college and even in graduate school I was just not sure about the family wanting. Looking back, I know it was partly naiveté, but at that time in my life my goals were to be a kick ass scientist and run my own research lab. In some respects these goals are incompatible with having children (as I saw it anyway.) Doing research in a lab for 60-80 hours a week it was difficult to see how I would ever fit in children. And there was the factor of not wanting to compromise my career success with such messy and time consuming things such as children.

About midway through my degree I had a spectacular breakdown. I realized that I was on this path and had these goals and oh shit, I was wrong and very unhappy. I started to hate being in the lab and doing the research. And then I realized that I did not actually want to run my own lab and what was I going to do with my life?!?!!?

I thought about dropping out of school. But that was not going to help me figure out what to do with my life. I was only 25 and I had time to finish my degree and find a new path. It was probably at this time that I began to realize that I did want a family. I had always wanted a husband, but now I wanted the children that would so easily come along with that (ha!) Then I met Mr. M the following year and I just _knew_ I wanted to make babies with him. (In that time I also found a career in science policy that I love and learned to accept my years spent tortured in grad school.) We waited until we got married and started for that family right away. We all know what happened over the next 2 years, which brings me to today (By the way I am 31.)

I am a few days shy of 17 weeks. YEAH!!! I am starting to believe that come January there will be a baby orange. (Not confident enough to shop yet, but I am taking small steps…) And I am now beginning to understand that there are always consequences to decisions we make in life.

I was scheduled to go to Egypt in 3 weeks to start-up a new project. When I asked my OB about this she gave me this look that said “are you stupid or crazy?” Mr. M practically laughed out loud at this interaction. The OB is concerned that after 3 D&Cs last year my cervix might be a problem. I think I have mentioned that women in this situation are monitored every 2 weeks for cervical integrity. So far my cervix is rock solid and really long….but I guess that can change quickly (although I don’t fully understand the conditions under which that could happen.) My OB's concern is that if my cervix does give out and I am in Egypt, I might be, well, screwed.

I have waited too long and worked too hard for this pregnancy, I would NEVER do anything to jeopardize it, so of course I cancelled my trip. But boy do I have some pangs. I worked hard to get where I am professionally and I want to succeed. I want to direct this project, not just coordinate aspects of it from my desk in DC. I know it is possible to work and be a mother and I do plan on coming back to my job after Scooter* is born. I just now know that my work will forever be different. I won’t be the globe-trotting, project manager that I envisioned myself to be. I will be the hard working, project manager based in DC. I know this is what I chose and that in years to come things will be different. But it doesn’t make it less hard to see some aspects of my career moving out of my reach.

Don’t misunderstand; I know that in the end I will rather have my child than a hundred work-trips to Egypt. I am just realizing that maybe at 25 I knew more than I thought I did. You really can’t do everything. You make choices and hope that you can deal with the consequences.

...equal and opposite reaction

*we are not finding out the gender, and so have named “it” scooter. I hated calling it "it."


Monday, July 10, 2006

 

No, I am Not Kidding

Last week Julia at Here be Hippogriffs posted about her mother-in-law (it is deleted now). I read the comments with great delight. Who doesn’t compare their situation to others? But I did not have a great story to post in the comments....yet.

My in laws are not perfect certainly, but they are fine. They are caring, loving, generous, and concerned about Mr. M and me. They have called every week during this pregnancy to see how the weekly ultrasound went and how the pregnancy was going in general. They are a bit stifled emotionally, and usually prefer to show affection with money and goods, but they have been really cool during the miscarriages and pregnancies.

But they are also very judgmental. I am used to hearing my in laws disparage people for being fill-in-the-blank…..(fat/poor/ignorant/stupid). Mother-in-law has judged me in small ways, but on the big things, it appears she thinks I am “doing OK.” She loves that I have my PhD, that I have a successful career; I got bonus points for having normal parents, etc. Generally, since she approves of how I live my life—and taking care of Mr. M is a part of that—I have been spared more biting comments.

Until this weekend…..

Mr. M’s clan converged in Stroudsburg, PA for reasons that are not important, but know that I was STUCK far from my home with all of them. (They all know I am pregnant.) After dinner on Saturday night we were sitting back and chatting. MIL was asking how I was feeling, etc. Then she looked at my belly and said “you know, with all three of my boys my pregnancy weight never got above 125.” My jaw went slack. Mr. M reminded her that they were all one month premature, she did not come to the conclusion to which Mr. M was suggesting she come. She went on and told me that she NEVER showed until the 7th month at the earliest. Um, thanks.

I mean, seriously. I have not seen 125 since high school. I am not fat, but neither am I skinny. I could lose some weight, but all my doctors are fine with my weight. My OB has said nary a word. And my mother assured me that by 12 weeks she was busting out and could not hide being pregnant any longer. So I don’t feel as if I am a freak here.

Later on that night I was trying on a sweater she is knitting me (planned pre-pregnancy.) It is now a bit tight across the boobs and the belly. I told her that I have really only gained about 3-4 pounds, which is perfectly acceptable for 14 weeks. I don’t know why I did it, I should have been stronger, but I thought if I could let her know that I am really doing OK. She just half grinned at me as if I was fibbing.

The more I think about these interactions, the more upset I get. I wish I had said something at the moment to let her know that what she said to me was not OK. Now it is too late. A part of me wishes that she says something similar to me again, so I can make sure she knows it is inappropriate and well, mean.

What do you think? Over-reacting?

Friday, July 07, 2006

 

Please pass the milk and honey

I have arrived. I am 14 weeks pregnant. By most standards, I am in the second trimester…my first time. It is strange. Not sure what I expected, a parade perhaps?

I did have my own parade once. In grad school my friends and I threw elaborate parties for each other upon passage of our qualifying exams. After weeks and weeks of preparation and studying, we felt as if we deserved the best, and lots of alcohol. I took my quals a few weeks after the Pope visited St. Louis (where I was in grad school.) Anyway after watching the Pope mobile go by my apartment, I turned to my friends and causally said, “I want to have a Stephanie-mobile and parade in my honor….snort.” Well that is what I got, complete with a crown and flowers, a la the Queen, or Miss America. It was very funny to walk down the street and wave at folks. We got some honks. Yeah, big dork here…. But what would you expect from a bunch of future Ph.D.s in Cell Biology?

Anyway, there was no parade upon entering the promised-land-second-trimester. Frankly, I am still waiting for the nausea to go away. Who the heck said those pesky first trimester symptoms would be diminished by now?? Those damn pregnancy books lie I tell you, LIE!

The dopplar now works as well, so I rented one. But that brings its own set of issues. It is great that I can find the little heartbeat when I need it, but I worry about not finding it. I mean what the heck would I do if one day I could not find the heartbeat? So I use it pretty sparingly, only when the need to know out weighs my anxiety of using the damn thing.

I told my bosses as well this week. My stomach is, well, out there. Can’t hide it any longer. It is very strange to have people know and congratulate me. I still feel like a fraud in many ways.

The other night we were watching TV and Mr. M casually leaned over to me and said, “I am really excited.” About what darling…the Red Sox being 4 games over the Yankees? The new season of Entourage? “No,” he said, “I am excited about becoming a dad.” GULP. Did that ever make it real.

Is that is what going on here? What if I can’t deliver on this? So many things can still go wrong. There is my cervix to worry about, huge blood clots can choke off precious blood supply, cord accidents, and ahhhh. So I guess the promised-land-second-trimester has not really changed much. But I am glad to be here.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

 

From the Ethers, an Update

It has been brought to my attention that I have not updated in a bit. I have thought about it, composed a few posts in my head….but they never made it to the ol’ blog. I honestly don’t know what to write. No, no things are fine in my uterus (as far as I know.) That is the issue though; I feel that anything I write would border on gloating. I feel guilty for being lucky…..and I know that is all it is. I have been lucky with this pregnancy.

In fact, I have not even been prefect in this pregnancy. With my other ones I never drank, or colored my hair, or (gasp) ate deli meats, some of those taboo activities in pregnancy (according to the pregnancy Nazis anyway…”What to Expect when you are Expecting” that book is awful.) Indeed, I have had one wonderful glass of wine every Friday night for Shabbat this pregnancy, and 2 on my birthday. I had my hair high-lighted at 11 weeks. I even ate a deli sandwich the other day. (This last one was not really my choice though, I was trapped in a seminar, there was nothing else and I was starving…really, starving.) I just decided with this pregnancy that I was going to be less crazy. Seeing as how being uber-vigilant did not help in the past, I thought, what the hell. This, I think, proves my luck hypothesis.

Things are fine though. My NT scan was great. I am still waiting for the blood work, but based on the NT measurement, I am not worried. I did find out that I have an anterior placenta. It is not a problem, but the Doppler won’t work for a bit with me and I will feel kicks later than expected.

I also discovered that this is considered a high-risk pregnancy due to the 3 D&Cs last year. Essentially, it boils down to needing “cervical surveillance” every 2 weeks. So I will go for internal exams and ultrasounds on alternating 2 weeks intervals. This does worry me a bit, but I am pleased with the extra monitoring.

I am still feeling sick, and really I am tired of it. I do look forward to the morning when I can brush my teeth and not vomit. I no longer fit into my pants. I think this is early, but my mom said she and my sister both showed early. I think some of the women in my office are wondering, or people think I am getting fat. If I make it through the weekend I will start telling folks after the 4th of July.

I almost cannot believe I am a few days from the second trimester. I still think every time I go in for an ultrasound we are going to see the worst. I wonder what the miscarriage rates for a second trimester loss are. These thoughts have been balanced with thoughts of actually having a baby in January. It is strange, but I can go from DBTs one minute, to thinking about names the next. I have already decided which stroller I want (Bugaboo Chameleon) but I am too afraid to think about fixing the back room into a nursery.

Overall I am well though. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. I know it is luck. I want everyone to experience this luck.


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