Archive | February, 2013

Wishing it away

28 Feb

I’ll return to the daycare hunt story tomorrow, but for today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind nearly constantly since Tuesday.

It stemmed from a comment from Belle, that was so on the nose and astute that it took me aback. On my ultrasound update post, she wrote, “Hang in there and try, hard as I’m sure it is, to enjoy this and not wish it away.”

After I read it I knew immediately that she was right. I have been wishing this pregnancy away. Not wishing Turtle away, but wanting desperately for this time of uncertainty to pass as quickly as possible. I find myself looking at the calendar and lamenting how many months are left between now and June. I find myself telling people that time is passing too slowly.

I wanted to be pregnant for so long but now I just want my baby to be here. I just want to have him out of me and in the hands of the doctors who will fix him. I want to be spending time healing him, not just “waiting around” for him to get here. I’ve compared it to knowing you have a mountain you must climb but having to wait to begin climbing it.

And that just doesn’t jive with my personality type. I don’t sit on problems. If something is bothering me, I’d prefer to address it head on. I need to talk things out immediately. I need to make a plan and then take action. It feels like, my son is broken. I cannot sit idly by knowing that. I want to make him better as quickly as possible.

But I realized on Tuesday night that what I’m doing right now is part of the process of healing him. It’s giving him as much time to grow and mature in my belly before we put his body through the stress of surgery, central lines, etc. The more time he has inside, the better his chances of healing well and healing quickly will be.

Everything is out of my control. Completely. And I’m trying my best to make my peace with it. I’m trying to trust that whatever happens with his dilations is for the extremely capable doctors we’ve chosen to worry about. The only thing I can control is taking the best care of myself, body and mind, that’s possible. In that way, I am taking care of him. I am helping him. I am healing him.

I have been wishing my pregnancy away. I admit it. And I didn’t really realize it until Belle said that, which I’m not even sure how she picked up on it because I didn’t think I had touched upon it very much here on the blog.

It really bothers me that I’m wishing it away, considering what a miracle it is, considering it might not happen again, and considering how long it took to get here. Considering that this is Turtle’s pregnancy and it’s fleeting and I’ll have him outside of me for the rest of my life (universe willing) but only inside of me for the next few months.

Regrets. We all live in fear of them, though I have certain regrets that I’ve made my peace with. Mistakes I made in the past that I wouldn’t do over again, but I understand why I made them and I accept them and myself for making them. But this is a big one, one that would be really hard to get over.

When I got married, I made a painstakingly conscious attempt to BE PRESENT on my wedding day. To treasure and enjoy every moment. And I did. I was there that day. I experienced it all. It wasn’t a blur. I remember almost every part of it.  I want to do the same thing with this pregnancy but it’s much, much harder given the circumstances, and the fact that you can be present for some of the time but I don’t think you can sustainably live in the moment all the time without a great deal of practice and meditation.

Still, I think I owe it to Turtle, and myself, to try harder. Right? Or am I being hard on myself? Am I overanalyzing, as I tend to do? I really don’t know anymore.

The daycare hunt, part I

27 Feb

We started looking for a daycare option for Turtle fairly early – during the fourth month of pregnancy. I had heard they book up early, especially for infants, and I wanted to have the option to choose between different programs, not have to settle for whatever was available.

Going in, price was obviously a huge concern and factor. But we also wanted a place that was clean, organized, and where we felt the care he would be given would be loving and individualized. I was open to both daycare centers and home daycares. I figured the daycare centers would be more structured and perhaps more reliable, while the home daycares would be more loving and perhaps more affordable.

I started by calling a bunch of local daycare centers. I had a list of questions which I’m happy to share with anyone who is starting this process. The idea was to get a sense of their program and especially, their availability, hours, and cost. I also called one home daycare provider who had been recommended by a friend of a neighbor. Once I gathered all this information, I narrowed down the list to the daycares we wanted to tour.

We started with four daycares: three centers and one home. We had a high-priced center option, a mid-priced one, and a low-priced one. The home daycare was affordable and I figured I’d know immediately whether I was even comfortable with the home option by touring this recommended one. I’ll admit at this point, I was a bit biased toward going with a daycare center vs. a home daycare, because it seemed more organized and cleanly.

DH and I both took a morning off and went on the tours. First we saw the mid-priced center. I didn’t mind it but DH got a weird, nervous vibe from the staff and felt it wasn’t as clean as we would have hoped. Next we saw the high-priced one and DH felt much better. It was far more organized and they were obsessive about cleanliness. The babies were working on a little art project with paint brushes and vanilla during our tour. I liked this center but, aside from the top of the budget price, I had my reservations.

We then saw the low-priced center, which we both absolutely abhorred from the minute we walked in. They were feeding the babies delivery pizza for lunch with canned green beans. To tell the truth, this completely turned us off. The rooms were small and babies sometimes have to share cribs. They also couldn’t guarantee a space for him and wouldn’t be able to tell us if space was even available until JULY – a month after he was born! This was automatically off the list, although it was conveniently located near home and extremely affordable.

Finally we saw the home daycare. It was… okay. The provider was alone with about six kids and seemed a bit stressed. Her house was big and was jam packed with toys and activities everywhere the eye could see. It almost looked like a daycare center in a way but I found it overwhelming. It didn’t scream cleanliness either and the woman seemed a little “rough around the edges.” Not unkind but not overly warm and welcoming either.

We left this day of touring not really feeling comfortable with any of the options. We had it narrowed down to the high-priced center and the home daycare. The center was not conveniently located and was expensive. It was very clean and organized, but I felt it was clean to the point of hospital-like sterility. They had florescent lighting in there that could not be dimmed for nap time. It was also open-plan, so the babies were in the same space as the loud and rambunctious toddlers. Something about this rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like he’d be spending so much of his early weeks and months in a sterile, hectic, florescent hospital setting and didn’t want that to continue in his day-to-day care.

Yet the home daycare wasn’t clean enough. And while it was conveniently located and affordable, we still didn’t feel he’d be receiving the warm, loving care we were hoping for. I decided to check a few references for the home daycare while also calling a few others. I talked to the friend of the neighbor who had recommended the home daycare and she was very honest in saying that she felt like the provider took on more kids than she should have and that she felt her daughters didn’t exactly receive the most attentive or individualized care as a result. That was kind of all I needed to hear to decide that the home daycare wasn’t right for us either.

So back the drawing board I went…

Ultrasound update

26 Feb

As often happens on ultrasound mornings, I woke up nervous. I hadn’t felt Turtle kick much at all in the night and over the course of the morning, barely felt him at all. Awful thoughts went through my head and I admit I let my fears run a bit rampant.

Was it all for nothing? I’m not sure, but Turtle is fine. His growth is still on track. He weighs 1 lb. 7 oz. His heartbeat is 148 bpm. That’s the really good news.

The dilations are still there. There are many of them. The biggest one is up to 1.42 cm, up about .2 cm from 2 1/2 weeks ago. Dr. Kind explained that this likely means the hole in his belly is on the smaller side, which is causing things to constrict. While a small hole can be better in terms of repairing the defect, and it might help make sure no other organs slip out and are exposed to amniotic fluid, it can mean more damage to the bowel if it is constricted.

Still, we’re not in worrisome territory… yet. The dilations could stay the same, grow, or shrink. It depends on whether the hole gets bigger as he grows or if the bowel gets re-situated in a way that allows it to be a bit more free.

Despite all this, Dr. Kind still says for now to plan on a vaginal delivery and going to term. We want to keep Turtle in there as long as possible and will only deliver early if the growth slows dramatically or the dilations get much worse. He said we don’t want to add prematurity to the list of things Turtle and his doctors have to contend with once he’s born, if we can help it. And unless the bowel looks dangerously dilated, to the point where they feel it will be damaged during a vaginal delivery, we will move forward with that (aside from all the other factors in regular births that necessitate a C-section).

DH left the appointment feeling good but I still feel nervous for all of these unknowns. I want more than anything to “stay positive” but I feel in a way that I don’t know how to be. How can I be positive when there are so many unknowns? I ask. He says there are always unknowns. He never sees the need to worry until we have something to worry about. In my mind, we do have something to worry about  but he’s right in that, the things we have to worry about are still just possibilities, not realities. Until they’re realities, he’s not worrying. Much.

I continue to worry. Much. I can’t help it.

Ultrasound tomorrow

25 Feb

We have another ultrasound with Dr. Kind (MFM OB) tomorrow and of course I feel nervous once again. I know Turtle is still alive and kickin’ (literally!) in there but I’m very worried that the bowel dilations we last saw have grown and/or multiplied. I’m also keenly aware that at some point his so far stellar growth (usually measuring a few days to a week ahead) will at some point start to taper off, most likely, though I don’t think that’s coming until after we reach at least 30 weeks.

I always thought that the knowledge of his gastroschisis would get easier to deal with as time passed but in some ways, it’s harder. I’m falling more and more in love with this little being in my belly as I continue to make plans for him, buy things for him, create a space in our home for him. And as all those things happen, it gets more and more painful to think of the challenges that face us all in the weeks and months ahead. He’s so much more real now than he was at 11 weeks when we first found out.

I’ll be sure to update once we get back but in the meantime, I’ve uploaded a few new ultrasound pics to the Turtle page, including one where his gastroschisis is visible from our last scan at Children’s back in January. The tech actually apologized to us for getting it in the pic but I don’t know why. It’s part of him and we love him and we don’t want to be shielded from anything. If anything, I’m glad we have at least one ultrasound picture to keep where it is visible. There’s also a new bump pic from last week. I think I was looking particularly large that morning but I guess that’s how I really look these days!

Flicker of light

23 Feb

24 weeks today. That’s the big milestone, the one everyone looks forward to.

Viability. The approximate point at which a fetus has around a 50/50 shot at surviving outside the uterus. Though some babies born before 24 weeks have survived, and many born at 24 weeks have not (the chance for disabilities remains high at this point), at least you’d have a real shot. Viability is the flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.

After this point, chances increase greatly each day, and by 27 weeks gestation, >90% of babies survive.

Of course, for a baby with gastroschisis, I’m not sure how much of this applies. It could be the same (Turtle’s weight is still perfectly on course as far as I know), or it could be vastly different. Hopefully we won’t ever need to find out, though my fear of going into early labor remains ever on my mind.

Today is a big day because it feels like the real possibility of having a living child is within our reach, or at least closer than it has ever been before. And with each passing day, it gets closer, and closer, and closer. Soon we will be able to grasp it and that will be incredibly surreal.

I look around at my quiet Saturday afternoon house. Cat crunching on his food in the kitchen. A kettle on the stove. Husband shuffling around laundry upstairs as he prepares to paint the baby’s room. Our baby’s room. The room in which our baby will sleep one day. Our baby. Sleep. Room. Baby. Wow.

The pregnancy symptoms no one talks about

20 Feb

When I finally got pregnant, the last thing I was worried about were pregnancy symptoms. Like any infertile, I was of the opinion that any and all symptoms as the result of a growing pregnancy would be a joy to experience. I pictured myself puking with a smile on my face and definitely uttered the phrase “bring them on!” more than once.

Then persistent, all-day nausea and frequent barfing knocked me out up until about the 18th week of pregnancy and I stopped thinking pregnancy symptoms were the best thing ever. That said, now that my nausea is finally gone and I can operate and eat more like a normal person again, I find myself feeling like I can tackle any other symptoms that come my way. And of course at now 23w4d, I’m dealing with lots of symptoms.

You know all the regular ones: swelling, check. Hunger, check. Tiredness, check. Stretch marks, double check. These are ones I was expecting and really, could not mind less.

But there are so many other things I’m experiencing that I had NO idea were coming. The things no one seems to talk about, or at least that I never heard of. So, not in the interest of complaining, but for the purpose of informing (for those yet to become pregnant) or even comparing (for those who are or were), I’m going to get real up close and personal on some of these unexpected, unpleasant and frankly, embarrassing symptoms.

First off, boobne. That’s right, acne on my boobs. I never experience this before and it’s very different from facial acne or even backne. Boobne is its own special form of acne. The bumps are very small red bumps that appear all over the tops of my boobs and lower chest. I sometimes have to watch how low my shirts are to hide the boobne which I just find downright unattractive.

Speaking of boobs, you hear about how they get bigger, more sensitive and how they get criss-crossed with deep blue veins. I’ve got all of that loveliness going on. And you also hear about nipples darkening, but have we been talking about nipple widening? Because that’s happening. As in a dusting of dark pigment flecks now surround the perimeter of my already fairly large nips, effectively blurring the line between nipple and boob. Lovely!

And we know how some combination of pregnancy hormones and prenatal vitamins can make your hair (on your head) grow longer, thicker, shinier (none of that has happened for me btw). But I am experiencing record hair growth in other areas! For example, my chin. Where I used to have one lone black hair that I’d take care to keep plucked. Now there’s an army setting up came there. And my “happy trail” has come in full blast. My belly is covered with hair, actually, and along the trail, they’re long, black and oddest of all, STRAIGHT! I’ve got some down there hovering around two inches long or more. Same goes for the nether region. Long and straight and more of it. Very odd.

BO is a big problem. You might have heard how during pregnancy you have frequent “discharge,” for lack of a lovelier term, down south. What no one told me is that it can get quite smelly. I have to wash my few pairs of maternity leggings all the time, as in after just one wearing (I used to go two or three wearings between washes, easily). Underwear must be changed daily, if not multiple times per day. I do my best to manage this by going commando at home and to bed (airing things out) and also buying some odor-killing feminine wipes to keep as fresh as possible between showers but it ain’t easy. I’m getting concerned for delivery, whether I will smell down there and if the hospital staff and my OB will judge me.

And deodorant is MUST now, whereas before I could easily skip a day and no one would be the wiser.

Again, not complaining here, just looking to inform and maybe get some reassurance that I’m not alone! As much as I’ve watched with shock and horror as my body has shown me a side of itself I never knew possible, I’ve also gone through it knowing it will be so worth it and more to have a baby at last. Bodies are temporary and ever changing anyways. That’s not to say it isn’t hard watching these changes, no matter how long it took to get here. I really struggle with feeling sexy and confident during our ever dwindling bedroom times. I hate seeing the scale climb to new highs every time I step on. I worry about how I look at work and how I will look on the day of my shower.

Overall, my self confidence has definitely taken a hit. And that goes directly again the gorgeous, glowing, ever confident images of pregnancy we see portrayed in the media and by celebrities (damn you, Gisele!). The truth I’ve learned the hard way is that pregnancy can be ugly, unseemly, and downright repugnant at times. But it’s still a rite of passage and one I’ll never take for granted.

Now, pass the perfume and the razor!

Dear Turtle

16 Feb

Dear Turtle,

Today, I am 23 weeks pregnant with you in my belly. Daddy and I tried for a long time to have a baby so every week is getting more and more exciting for us.

This morning I SAW you move for the first time ever. Your kicks were feeling so strong I decided to lift up my shirt and check it out. And then – boop! You kicked me again and I saw my belly jump. I love every time I feel you move or kick me. A wave of relief and joy washes over me every time, knowing that you’re still growing and playing around in there. Keep it up!

For Valentine’s Day last week, your grandparents, my parents, sent you some gifts. One gift was a bib from the Paula Dean store in Savannah, Georgia. Paula Dean is a famous Southern chef and the bib says, “Feed me, ya’ll!” We think it’s the cutest thing. Pops also sent us a CD of classical music to play for you. I think you are just starting to hear, so I’m going to try playing some of the music for you soon.

Yesterday, I think we finally found the lady who will be taking care of you during the day while Mama and Daddy are at work. We looked long and hard to find this lady because we wanted to find just the perfect person for you to spend your early years with. Her name is Sue and she lives near the water and she has a big shaggy black dog.

You’ll be used to dogs of course because our Ava can’t wait to meet you. We are pretty sure she knows you’re coming because she’s been acting very differently since Mama got pregnant with you. She has been one of the greatest joys in our lives as we’ve waited for you. Everyone who meets her says she’s the sweetest, calmest, best behaved doggie they’ve ever met. We can’t wait to see you grow up with her and know she will take the best care of you.

We also have a cat you’ll meet, Milo. He is so funny. He loves to talk to us and to the birds outside. He is obsessed with Ava and will cry by the window every time she’s outside. Sometimes, he bites us. But he is so gentle with Ava, we think he’ll be just as gentle with you. Last night he wanted to cuddle with me but my belly is getting too big. So he curled up on the arm of the sofa and rested his head on my arm.

When you’re first born, we’ll be spending a lot of time in the hospital. You’ll be receiving the best care from the best doctors and nurses and though Mama and Daddy will worry, we know you’re a strong and brave little boy who will overcome everything. Mama may not be around to kiss and hold you very much right after you’re born, because I’ll be in a different hospital than you. You’re going to one of the most special hospitals in all the world, built just for babies and children! Even though I won’t be there very much, I’ll be thinking of you constantly and my love will be all around you, always. And Daddy will be there to hold your hand until I get there.

But let’s not worry about that for now. Our job right now is to stay healthy and keep growing! And even though I am counting down the days until I get to meet you, I want you to stay inside my belly and keep growing as long as you can.

All my love,Mama