Archive | March, 2013

Back to reality

28 Mar

I think we’ve been living in a fantasy world these past two weeks since our last ultrasound (which was overwhelmingly positive, perhaps our best ever this pregnancy). For the past two weeks, it’s felt like everything will be okay and we can breathe a little and enjoy the pregnancy and forget, at least a bit, about the trials that await us.

Today’s ultrasound was splash of cold water in the face.

I don’t have any growth to share, because they didn’t check it. They were solely focused on looking at the bowel today. And things have taken a turn. At our last ultrasound, the dilations had not grown. After weeks of growth, they were holding steady around 1.5 cm, comfortably below the 2 cm threshold we were told was the point at which we would start to worry about them. We fervently hoped that this meant any constriction of his bowel had leveled out and no further damage was being caused.

Today, they were bigger, and one, or perhaps a few (not exactly clear on this), is over 2 cm. Dr. Kind said he saw one at 2.4 cm. This was what we had been dreading and I didn’t know what would happen.

Here’s what happened: he called Children’s Hospital. He wanted to talk to “our” surgeon (the one assigned to our case) about, I’m guessing, what to do in this situation. This pretty much scared the living daylights out of me when he went to make that call. He came back from connecting with the surgeon and said the surgeon said to “do nothing.” He said this happens and you just have to watch and see what happens, essentially.

Which – we knew. We knew there was nothing they could do now. Dr. Kind made it pretty clear that if they delivered him now, he’d die. Vast prematurity plus gastroschisis, he just couldn’t live, he said. In fact, the earliest they’d want to deliver me would be 36 weeks. This gave me the feeling that if I don’t make it to 36 weeks, Turtle doesn’t have a very good shot at life. 36 weeks! Forget viability, 28, 32. 36! That’s seven weeks from Saturday.

Saturday, my shower. I kind of collapsed into a mess of tears leaving the office, thinking about all the plans we’ve made. How I’m scheduled to get my hair and make up done, how we’re unveiling the nearly complete nursery. All these things for a potentially very sick baby. It hurt so much. It still does.

DH and I went outside and I cried into his shoulder and he was strong for me. And then we went and sat in my car while I continued crying and we just coped with what we had learned. Or not learned, as it was. We still don’t understand the point of going through this dilation monitoring roller coaster if there’s nothing that can be done at this point. He’s either going to make it to be at a viable point for delivery or he’s not. And if he does, he’s either going to survive all of the surgeries and we’ll get to take him home, or we won’t.

This is the risky tightrope we must walk in order to have a chance at building our family. And I hate that part of me that shouts, but it’s not fair! Because I know life is not fair. Shitty, horrible, unfair things happen every single day and as far as lots in life go, I still think mine is pretty good.

We sat there in the car and began to get mad at ourselves for living in this fantasy world these past two weeks. For hoping, basically. For letting our guards down. We should always have a defense up, we agreed. But then no, we said. Why shouldn’t we hope? Why shouldn’t we have faith? We’re still figuring this out.

But in the midst of that discussion I realized that we need to go full force ahead. I’m going to celebrate this baby on Saturday with a smile on my face and my head held high. Because even if this story doesn’t end with a relatively healthy living baby of ours, I want to know that we loved and cherished everything along the way. That we believed in him and we celebrated him. I think I would regret not doing this much more than I would regret doing it.

Just need to make sure I get a few more tears out before Saturday comes. Wring myself and hang me out to dry. I’m determined to make it as happy as possible.

The big test

27 Mar

I’m glad our childbirth class is coming up in a few weeks because I’m definitely starting to feel anxious about birth. I always thought it would be something I’d be so excited for but now all the unknowns are haunting me.

Part of this anxiety definitely has to do with the gastroschisis and not knowing whether I’ll have to be induced or not, and whether that induction will lead to a C-section, or if they’ll decide to skip trying for a vaginal birth altogether and go straight for the C-section. I think if I knew for sure, this is what it will be like, I could totally make my peace and find comfort with whatever the situation, but as it is, there’s no way of knowing.

Not that anyone ever really knows and even the best laid birth plans get tossed all the time. Right now, Dr. Kind is saying we have about as much chance of C-section as anyone entering into a hospital birth has.

In my dream world, the one I was living in when we first started trying, we’d give birth at home with a nurse midwife and possibly a doula. We had even met with and chosen a nurse midwife when we first started trying for real, because of course I’d be knocked up quite quickly and wanted to start receiving care in my home from the beginning. I was even thinking of not having any ultrasounds!

Thankfully, that’s not how things turned out. Because if we never had an ultrasound, we’d never know about Turtle’s gastroschisis, which could have been devastating for him. I did read on a forum somewhere about a home birth situation like this, where the mother never had an ultrasound and did not know her child had gastroschisis. They didn’t know what to do when he was born, so they wrapped his intestines in towels and called an ambulance. Those towels, and time it took getting to the hospital, ended up doing grave damage to his organs and lasting problems the child will be dealing with for a long time.

It’s crazy to think of my MIL, who had all of her pregnancies in Ethiopia in the 80s, never once had an ultrasound. Luckily, all her boys were strong and healthy (as Turtle will be!).

When we first got pregnant with Turtle and I was trying to figure out an OB situation, I did decide on a hospital birth, just because of all of the scares of early pregnancy we had had up to that point. But I chose a local hospital with whirlpools in every birth room and most births attended by a nurse midwife unless they needed an OB. It felt like the best of both worlds.

Obviously we had to give all that up and are now looking at a full-on hospital birth at a fairly big hospital farther from home. I’m reading for the second time Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and while I really do feel like I could have a natural birth, I don’t know if it will be possible in a hospital, especially with all the stressors of this birth. Knowing he will look different than most babies, worrying about his health, knowing I won’t get to hold him and that he will be whisked off in an ambulance right away. She talks a lot about how the climate in the birth room and the fears of the mother directly impact dilation. In an ideal setting, I could probably do the natural thing, I really believe (however naively) that I could. But in this situation? I don’t know if it’s even possible.

And to be honest, pitocin scares the crap out of me. I’m scared of those induced contractions. I understand they can be way more intense and last longer than natural contractions. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take the intensity of them. But if I can’t, then I have to face an epidural, which also scares the crap out of me. I don’t want to be numb and I understand lots of women have lasting back problems from them. I don’t even want to labor from a lying down position in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors and IVs. But I know all of these things could very much be in my future.

C-sections scare me too. My body being cut open, having to recover from major abdominal surgery. A section would keep me in the hospital for longer, away from seeing Turtle for longer. I don’t want this. And yet… there is a kind of flip side in knowing your baby will be swiftly removed from your body for you, without having to go through the whole, you know, pushing a baby out of your vagina. I look at my big belly, that’s only going to get bigger, and wonder how the HELL that’s going to happen.

And yet, I want to have a vaginal birth. I want the full experience. Will I feel like less of a woman or less of a mother if I don’t get that experience? Both options are scary, frankly. The only thing, ironically, that doesn’t scare me, is the idea of going in labor naturally, and laboring in a calm, free environment, but that probably won’t happen for us.

This has to be the ultimate culmination of the “letting go” lesson infertility has been trying to teach old Type-A, uptight, super-planner me. This is the big test in learning how to be okay with whatever will be. WHATEVER will be. Will be okay. I’ll be okay, and he’ll be okay and we’ll all be okay and we’ll be together. The journey will be what it will be. All we know right now is that it will be ours. Me, and DH’s and Turtle’s.

And that will be beautiful. That will be wonderful.

28 Weeks

23 Mar

Every Saturday morning I wake up with a smile. Not just because its Saturday, but because it’s my milestone day. Every Saturday means we’ve survived another week and that we’re one week closer to meeting our boy face to face.

Twenty eight is an auspicious number in my family. My mom and dad were both born on 28s. I always though it an amazing coincidence and a good sign that two people in DH’s family were also born on 28s.

Week 28 is when you reach an even stronger point of viability, though of course I take those viability stats with a grain of salt given our condition. Still, it’s nice to know we’ve reached a point that would be considered on the safer side in a normal pregnancy.

I haven’t been updating much because there hasn’t been too much to say. I feel mostly great, other than some minor sciatica, swollen hands and feet, and the extra effort required to maneuver my enormous body around. (Side note: I’m typing this from the pedicure chair and another lady just asked me when I was due. When I said June. She was like wow – you’re big!)

I don’t mind being big though. The bigger the better, I say, because I want Turtle to be so big and strong when he’s born. My body is showing the signs of all this growth though. I’ve got full on deep red tiger stripes from my bottom, wrapped all the way around my hips and across my lower belly like a band.

While not pretty, I accept my stretch marks as a sign that Turtle is thriving. Other than brief moments of “belly envy” when I see beautiful big stretch-mark free bellies, I wear them with pride.

This week, we’ve got another check in ultrasound with Dr. Kind on Thursday and I’m very much hoping for another good report ahead of my shower on Saturday. We’ve got friends and family coming in from all over and I’ve been promised a cake, so it should be swell. I’ll be getting a haircut and some makeup done with my girlfriend in the morning. First pampering (other than this pedicure) in a long time.

I think I’ll look back on this time as my favorite part of pregnancy, feeling mostly good, creating the nursery with love with DH (pictures to come when it’s finished), and looking forward to my shower next weekend. All is as well as can be right now, and even though it feels a little like the calm before the storm, I’ll take it.

Clear!

15 Mar

Just got the call from my OB’s office that the results of our glucose tolerance test were normal!

This is such a relief. I had a feeling everything would be okay, just because we overall had a positive day of checkups yesterday, but I’ll admit my heart rate accelerated a bit when I saw my OB’s office calling just now. While I know gestational diabetes isn’t the end of the world, it’s definitely an added stressor that I know I don’t need for the next 13 weeks.So, one step down, many more to go.

Next up we have another ultrasound with Dr. Kind (high-risk OB) in two weeks, and then just after 30 weeks (a week and a half later), we’ll go back to Children’s for another ultrasound there, another meeting with the surgeon assigned to our case, a tour of the NICU and perhaps a consultation with one of their lactation specialists. We’ll also have another ultrasound with Dr. Kind that same day and a regular 4-week check up with Dr. Caring (delivery OB) that same day. Then that night, we tour the delivery wing of Beth Israel. So needless to say, it will be a FULL DAY of meetings, appointments, tours and ultrasounds. Quite the kick off to the home stretch of this pregnancy!

I’m so incredibly lucky to have a job that understands what we’re going through with this pregnancy and is so flexible and easy going when I tell them that I have yet another appointment to go to. DH’s job has also been pretty understanding and he’s been able to come with me to nearly every appointment, including yesterday’s test. I probably wouldn’t have downed the whole glucose drink in time without his encouragement (“C’mon, just drink it!”). I later learned that the lab once had a husband who insisted on drinking the drink along with his wife, just to get the “full experience.” I told DH he was lucky I didn’t know that ahead of time or else I would have made him drink it too!

Loose change (26w5d)

14 Mar

A few updates for today…

-27 weeks (3rd trimester!) on Saturday. Bananas.

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-Glucose fasting test this morning. Thank heavens that’s over. It wasn’t that bad, and yet it also sucked. The drink was clear, not orange, and tasted like Sprite (lemon-lime), but flat and syrupy instead of bubbly and refreshing. Results tomorrow, fingers crossed.

-Ultrasound went well, additional details and some new pictures are up over on the Turtle page. The bump actually looks smaller here than at 23 weeks. It’s got to be a little bigger because my stretch marks are out in full swing and I’ve gained about 5-7 lb.s since then, but it doesn’t really appear so.Here’s DH’s artistic interpretation of the bump pic:

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-Nursery decoration is in full swing. We’re assembling the crib today. We’re going shopping for other furniture (namely a bookshelf and dresser) at Ikea this weekend. Hoping to have the room around 75% done in time for the baby shower.

-The baby shower! Is two weeks from Saturday. Family coming in from all over, friends coming in from all over, just going to be a low key affair at the house but I am so. excited. to celebrate this little life.

That’s all for now, folks. I know it’s pretty boring, but I kind of want to keep it that way!

“The room”

11 Mar

It’s a well known concept in the infertility world. Most any infertile will know what you’re talking about if you mention “the room” (and no, I’m not talking about the panic room we all wish we had when our temps start to dip or at the first sign of spotting).

I’m talking, obviously, about the baby’s room. Or the would-be baby’s room, if we ever get there. The guest room/office/storage room/whatever-I-can’t deal-with-it room that many of us have in our homes. The one we put off decorating because we hope it’s destined for a greater purpose. The one we sometimes avoid altogether, keeping the door permanently shut on the gaping, vacant reminder of the emptiness of infertility.

This weekend, my Dad flew up to help DH wallpaper the ceiling of Turtle’s room. It didn’t hit me until last night, when they were all finished and cleaned up. I was looking at the painted walls and up at the wallpaper and around at the empty room that is fully ready to be decorated and I realized, this is no longer “the room.”

This is now his room. It is for him. It is a labor of love for him, as everything has been up to this point and will continue to be. The room has taken on a whole new persona, the room is fulfilling a destiny that it was meant for, yet one I didn’t know if it would ever, ever reach.

I am going to blog about decorating the nursery, eventually. When it’s all done, with pictures, I promise. But for now, I’m just appreciating, almost reveling in, the change that has come over the room.

If those walls could talk, I believe they’d just smile.

New plan

6 Mar

Yesterday I made the mistake of venturing back into the interwebs in search of more information about gastroschisis. I had been feeling a lot of anxiety about all the unknowns and figured it might help to read real life stories of people who have been there, so I know more of what I can expect.

Big mistake.

First I read about a mom who got to have a vaginal birth, hold her child briefly after delivery, and visit him in the NICU within hours of his birth, and I found myself feeling sharp pangs jealousy since none of those things will likely happen for me. What’s more, they got to go home in 30 days. Four weeks. Virtually unheard of for a gastroschisis baby.

Was it silly for me to feel jealous of this woman? Completely. Her child still struggles with stomach problems and beyond that, anyone who’s walked this road is someone to embrace, not envy. But I couldn’t help but look at her story as the best case scenario that I likely won’t have and that hurt.

Then I read about a mom who had to be in the hospital for 5 weeks before her C-section, due to low amniotic fluid. She wrote about how her baby girl did have some dilated portions of bowel outside the belly and how thankful she was for that because she had heard that when the dilations are inside, you’re looking at a much more serious case of gastroschisis.

Awesome. All of our dilations are inside and this was the first I had heard that that might be bad.

Then I found a gastroschisis support group that was started by a mom who’s child died due to complications from gastroschisis. I read her whole story. I read how some of the very same complications we’re looking at with Turtle’s dilations lead to multiple surgeries which ultimately lead to her son’s death. I read how she was in one of the best hospitals for gastroschisis in the country when this happened.

Holy shit, I thought. Forget having to spend six months in the hospital instead of three. Forget having to worry about shortened bowel syndrome. He might not survive this. Not all babies do. That’s just a fact. Does he have a really good shot? Sure. But he could die. And I know any newborn can die due to all different kinds of unforeseen factors but this challenge is on top of all of those things that every baby faces.

Cue terror. Cue feeling silly for getting obsessed over which freaking lamp to buy for his room. Cue getting mixed feelings for my upcoming baby shower that I had previously been so excited by.

Enter the what ifs. What if he never sleeps in that room. What if we never use all those wonderful shower presents. What the hell will we do with that crib and that pack n’ play and that stroller and all those things that were meant for him.

Admittedly, I was spiraling and this was just late yesterday and I still kind of am. But I did remember last night something I realized during my last freak out, way back… last week. When I looked at the tattoo on my wrist, written in my husband’s handwriting, that says AMOR VINCIT OMNIA. Love conquers all. It’s kind of the slogan to our relationship, if a relationship can have a slogan.

Ten and a half years of deep-seated, unconditional love and partnership. We’ve survived distance, depression, an eating disorder, anxiety, and just the natural changes that occur between the ages of 17 and 28. We’ve changed, our love and devotion to each other has not and will never. I know this. I may not be a religious person but I have faith in us, and faith in the fact that we can face anything together. Even if the worse happens. Even if worse than I can ever imagine happens, we have each other. I will not be alone. And our love for each other, and our love for Turtle, and the love of our families and friends will get us through.

So here’s the new plan:

1. Stop reading shit. It’s not helping. The truth is we won’t know what we’re facing until we face it and we’ll just have to deal with it then.

2. Believe in Turtle. Because only good will come of that and he. is. amazing.

3. Love conquers all. But I already knew that.