Archive | May, 2013

36 weeks

18 May

Holy cacao. We made it. It feels a little bit like reaching the finish line, though I know we still have miles to go before we’re both truly healthy and safe. But 36 is still huge. For us, it’s the second to last week turnover we’ll see, and it means that, come hell or high water, we WILL be meeting Turtle in 10 days or less.

Being on bedrest in a hospital is a funny thing. In one way, it’s every paranoid pregnant infertile’s dream. Imagine having a nurse just the push of a button away for every strange twinge and ache. Imagine having your vitals taken every four hours, including hearing baby’s heartbeat. Imagine daily NSTs to know if baby is okay and if you’re contracting.

On the other hand, your world is very, very small. Little things become huge things, like the personality of your nurse on duty and the way she does things. You get particular about the way your curtain is drawn, the angle of your bed, how high your window shade it. It’s like being in a very nice, caring jail, or getting locked in a hotel room (yet others can come and go).

Thank you all for your comments on my last post. It’s hard to believe the ride we’ve been on, and while I’ll never say anything like it’s unfair that we’ve had to deal with so much, I am starting to seriously struggle with those who not only get pregnant without difficulty, but who then go on to have perfectly easy pregnancies and deliveries and take their babies home from the hospital a few days later. I know their are much tougher roads than ours, which is why I’ll never talk about fairness. But there are also plainly much smoother ones, and I wouldn’t mind being on one of those.

But we’re not. We’re here and this is happening. I still can’t believe it, even as I feel his round head push up against the top of my belly for the millionth time, that there’s really a live human baby in my belly that’s going to come out and then be my baby forever. And when you put it that way, how can you not feel anything but lucky, how can these two weeks not feel like anything more than a blip on a radar screen.



15 May

Well, I’m not really sure where to start. How about the present: I’m currently sitting in my home. My new home, that is, at the hospital. I’ll be living here until Turtle is delivered, which hopefully will be two weeks from yesterday but could really be any time.

Yesterday I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. The day before I left my house thinking I was just going in for a quick check up and would then head to work. But an unexpected high blood pressure reading and the presence of protein in my urine meant a trip to triage at the hospital. From there they admitted me for a 24 hour urine collection and monitoring. The results were high enough to diagnose me with preeclampsia and tether me to the hospital for the rest of my pregnancy.

I know it’s good I’m here. I know it’s the safest possible place for me to be. Still I’m struggling with dealing with yet another complication. I never thought to fear for my own health with this pregnancy. I was worried about Turtle. His bowel dilations and potential blockages due to the gastroschisis. Not me. I’m struggling with having to spend the first two weeks of my precious maternity leave just hanging out in the hospital. I’ve never spent a night in a hospital, much less lived in one.

So that’s that. My parents are driving up today, which will allow my husband to spend the nights with me here. It’s been lonely without him the last two nights and I cried like a baby before he left last night. I miss my dog. I miss my life… Before it all got so complicated and scary.

Hospital bags: check!

7 May

We managed to get our hospital bags about as packed as possible (save for a few last minute items) this weekend, which felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. I am not sure why but the idea of packing a hospital bag was so daunting and anxiety-inducing to me. I didn’t know what to bring, didn’t want to bring the wrong things, not have enough of something or bring stuff in vain. There are a million “what to pack” lists out there but ultimately it seems so subjective.

Bag of choice: LeSportsac overnight bag

Bag of choice: LeSportsac overnight bag

For the most part, the purpose of packing a hospital bag is to have the comfort of your own things, which helps to humanize the experience a little bit. Packing a hospital bag is the same as packing any overnight bag, you need mainly need clothes, underthings, toiletries, shoes, and a few extras like a camera, pad and notebook, perhaps a book, etc. With this bag though, you just have to take into account that you’ll also be giving birth to another human being and undergoing some major physical changes while away. No big deal, right?

Maybe I was also stressed out because I’m not sure what’s going to happen after I’m discharged, if I’ll just go straight to Children’s and start living there (we can be in a dorm there while he’s in the NICU) or whether I’ll go home to sleep/recover. It’s still unclear and that’s just something we have to play by ear, but luckily my parents will be here to help manage these details. So I decided just to pack for my hospital stay, planning for a four-night c-section stay since we’re just three weeks out now and Turtle still hasn’t turned (and I just have a feeling he won’t).

So here’s our packing list:

For me
-Copies of birth plan on colored paper
-Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, face wash, mousse, nail file, eye drops, pads, lip balm, razor, makeup remover, loofah
-Hair stuff: brush, straightener, hair ties
-Maternity or larger underwear (4)
-Bras (2)
-Bathrobe (1)
-Nightgown (1)
-Slippers (1)
-Flip flops (1)
-Socks (3 – 1 comfy, 2 regular)
-Book to read
-Discharge outfit – maxi dress, chambray shirt
-Comfy pants (1)
-Comfy shirts (1)
-Additional dress

For Hubby
-Pants (2)
-Shirts (2-3)
-Comfy pants (1)
-Sleep shirt (1)
-Flip flops for shower (1)
-Shoes (1)
-Underwear (4)

For Turtle
-Hats (3)
-Socks (4)
-Snap shirts (3)
-Swaddling blanket (1)
-Soothy (1)
-Baby legs (1)

-Laptop/charger/internet cable (for spotty wi-fi)
-Phone chargers

Packing for a c-section is easier in one regard because you don’t have to bring birth aids like relaxation items. But on the other hand, you do have to pack things that allow for your incision to heal, hence the dresses, nightgown, robe, etc.

Hospital bag toiletries

Hospital bag toiletries

Here are some things I did to make the process easier: first of all, I made a list based on what I thought would work for me. I also bought almost all new things for the bag, so I wouldn’t have to worry about packing things that I currently use every day. All my toiletries are travel sized, either bought for the bag or picked from my stash. I went out and bought travel eye drops because I heard your eyes can get quite dry in the hospital. I even bought a new loofah and packed my spare razor. The only two last minute personal care items are my straightener (not buying another one of those!) and my hairbrush (I only have one).

Pads and comfort items for Turtle

Pads and comfort items for Turtle

I read that it can be nicer to have your own pads for the post-birth bleeding vs. using the hospital ones so I bought some Always heavy duty overnight ones and packaged them together in a freezer bag. I also put all of Turtle’s things that have been washed with special baby detergent together in a bag. Almost all of his needs will be met by the hospital, so these are mostly just nice little personal things to have for him. He definitely needs to have some cute hats for the 10 million pictures that will be snapped of him.


Discharge outfit: maxi dress (new, Target), chambray shirt (old, Madewell)

In terms of technology, we decided not to bring a separate camera and just keep it easy with iPhone pictures that can be easily sent around and shared. I do want to bring a laptop so I can blog, we can watch Netflix (our hospital room actually has a VCR, if you can believe it!), etc. But for the most part, our smartphones will be our main devices for calls, pictures, blogging, listening to music, sharing picture/information, etc.

Don't forget the obligatory hospital cat, I prefer an orange tabby with a 'tude

Don’t forget the obligatory hospital cat, I prefer an orange tabby with a ‘tude

Some things we didn’t pack that others recommend include pillows and blankets. We have very large, heavy, memory foam pillows that would be a pain to lug to the hospital, honestly. Things like cash and coins can be obtained at the hospital, as can snacks. All breastfeeding supplies will be supplied by the hospital. A few things aren’t on this list because they’re always in my purse, like my makeup, ID, insurance card, etc.  Overall, we’d rather have the bags be on the smaller side so they’re more manageable when the time comes.

All done! My bag and DH's bag

All done! My bag and DH’s bag

All we have left to pack now are: copies of the birth plan, hair brush and straightener, Turtle’s notebook and pen, and our laptop bag. It is some small measure of comfort knowing that almost everything is either available at the hospital, or at a nearby drugstore. You can survive even if you don’t bring anything to the hospital at all. But having your own stuff make the process that much easier.

Do hospital bags stress you out too? What are your hospital bag must haves? Anything I’m missing?

ps. Our weekly ultrasound looked pretty good yesterday and we’re good to go another week. Still on track for a 5/28/13 Cesarean birth as Turtle still has not turned. I’ve completely made my peace with it and now just can’t wait for him to get here, however he is meant to arrive. Thanks all for the kind words about Turtle’s 3D picture… they honestly made me blush like a proud mama!

34 weeks

4 May

This is an insane milestone to me. Every week now feels like a triumph. We’re two weeks away now from totally safe to deliver, and three away from full term. But even if we had to deliver now, I feel he would be okay. And that’s a crazy thing.

Two days ago, I started feeling some things that made me nervous. Turtle had hiccups already three times by lunch time and I was feeling really crampy in my lower belly and in my back. I didn’t think I was going into labor but I was scared something was going really wrong with his gastroschisis, which was causing him to reflux and my amniotic fluid to skyrocket, hence the cramping.

So, I left work early, DH left work early, and we returned to my MFM OB’s office for the second time in four days. All was fine. Turtle’s dilations looked stable (from Monday) and my amniotic fluid actually went down a little, back into less worrisome range. A transvaginal showed my cervix at 2.4, which is pretty much right on track for where I’m at. It was tight and closed during my first ever internal exam (ow ow ow!) (and also, done by the u/s tech?). The NST looked fine. I did have a few light contractions I couldn’t feel but they said those could have been triggered by the internal exam.

So all was basically fine, and I might have been feeling a little silly about the whole thing but the trip was so worth it because we got the best ever 3D picture of Turtle. It almost felt like we were meeting him for the first time. I’m telling you guys, we were in awe and we can’t stop starting at his beautiful face. And his chubby cheeks! And his kissable little lips! This is prenatal bonding on steroids, and now I’m feeling just so in love with the little man in my belly and beyond excited to meet him (posting to the Turtle page for those who are curious).

This weekend, we are packing hospital bags. I need to go out and buy granny panties, a nightgown, a maxi dress, and some toiletries. Once we get them together I’ll be sure to post our packing list. I also drafted a c-section birth plan (did I mention, Turtle is still breech?) that I want our doula to review before our appointments on Monday. Once that’s finalized, I’ll probably share it as well, if peeps are interested.

Won’t be long now. Not long at all.

(ps. Thanks all for your super kind words on my last couple of posts. It’s been one of the rockier weeks but we’re hanging in there!)

Right now

2 May

I listened to a really beautiful new RadioLab this morning about an infertile couple who finally conceived via donor egg, only to have their daughter born at 23 weeks 6 days. They touched on so many things I could relate to directly. The pain of infertility. The scariness of being a parent. The uncertainty of the concept of viability. The insanity of the NICU. They even briefly mention a baby with gastroschisis.

So maybe I did cry a little a lot all the way into work, and then stopped to pee and treat myself to a iced caramel macchiato because shit, this is hard right now. Two nights ago I completely lost it and wailed to DH about how terrified I am and how sad I am that my tiny, helpless little baby has to face so much the moment he’s born. DH asked me what my worst fear was and I said it’s that Turtle will die. Right, isn’t that obvious? That hasn’t even crossed DH’s mind, it’s not even one of his main worries. He’s such a rock and he cooks and cleans for me and handles everything so well and I swear, he’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received. I hope my son is just like him.

But honestly, that podcast gave me hope. Babies are so amazing and strong. They talk about how sick babies demonstrate their will to live. I know Turtle has that will and he will fight (even though he doesn’t even know the wonderful life we have planned for him) and he will be okay. One day we’ll go camping with him. One day we’ll take him to New Orleans and lift him above the crowds onto a ladder chair and let him catch the Mardi Gras beads. One day we’ll feed him injera and talk about Ethiopia, where his father was born, and another time, he’ll sit around a table with his two amazing uncles and his Russian grandmother will feed him blinchiki for breakfast. There will be reading, so much reading, and so much singing.

At one point early on in the podcast, the father said that having children means embracing a future that you can’t control (cue the first round of tears). I can’t think of a better way to describe it.