Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blinded Me With Science

I knew what I was getting myself into when The Hubs and I decided to have another baby.  My pregnancy would be full of extra appointments, extra ultrasounds, extra blood work, and constant monitoring.  I was aware it could end with bed rest, hospital bed rest or having another lengthy NICU stay.

However, just because I was privy to the logistics, I was caught off guard by how much I would feel like a science experiment.

I was diagnosed by something called Low PAPP-A, low pregnancy-associated plasma A, early in my pregnancy.  Low PAPP-A is often associated with down syndrome or, in my case, associated with placenta and pre-eclampsia problems.  At 14 weeks, this wasn't the best news I could hear but it didn't automatically mean I would run into problems.  There is not a lot known about why this occurs but it's not an automatic "you're doomed".  "We'll just wait and watch," the O.B. team said.

The radiologist looks for notching on my uterine arteries which can indicate the baby isn't getting proper nutrition and oxygen. Part of my monthly ultrasound is testing the flow of those arteries.  At this point I can read the ultrasound waves as the tech is performing the scan and know whether or not the notching is still mild or if it has gotten worse.

I can pull up my blood labs online and figure out what my protein levels are, my platelet levels, my hematocrit levels, uric acid, creatinine, and liver enzymes.  I know what the levels should be and which direction is good or bad.

I'm constantly on the lookout for swelling, headaches, ringing ears, and seeing spots.  I know the proper way to take my own blood pressure and what good and acceptable readings are.

I'm a fucking science experiment.

Sometimes I feel like I'm not looked at as a pregnant woman but as an experiment as to how long I can stay pregnant with all these variables before pre-eclampsia rears its ugly head.  The hospital is keeping my placenta after birth to study the affects of Low PAPP-A (it's a research hospital who just happens to specialize is Low PAPP-A research), and I've signed a waiver for them to anonymously use my medical records while they study HELLP Syndrome and Pre-Eclampsia and what happens in subsequent pregnancies.

While I'm happy I can do my part with their research, it's sometimes hard and I fall apart.  I'm just a mom trying to complete my family not Case Study 472.  I put on a hard front but underneath I'm afraid of all these conditions and feel like I'm constantly waiting for the other foot to fall.

I'm on bed rest so the other foot has been raised, there's no telling how fast it'll come down.  Maybe I have until 36 weeks, maybe I don't.

Guess they can put that in their notes.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Worst Vacation Ever

Bed Rest: Day 10

I've been on bed rest for 10 days now.  I can't believe it's already been that long and in other ways it feels like an eternity.  I only have 30 days to go.

Being told to stay in bed, relax, read, and watch movies would've felt amazing even just a month ago, especially being the mom to an incredibly active almost-4-year-old.  No laundry? No cleaning? Being able to sleep all day?  Sign me up! But I don't like being told what to do.  You are FORCING me to stay in bed and have someone do everything for me?  How dare you!

It's been an emotional 10 days full of ups and downs.  I swing back and forth between knowing I'm doing the right thing for my health and the baby's health, and then feeling helpless and like a burden to those around me.  Absolutely everything is being done for me from groceries, cleaning, entertaining Munchkin, even down to asking someone to get me something to eat or refill my water.  For someone as self-sufficient as I am, it's so incredibly hard to ask for help let alone so much help.

However, I am determined to give this little girl in my belly the absolute very best start to her life and if that means I have to lay in bed all day and let my mother and husband do everything for me, so be it.  It's not forever; my scheduled csection (fingers crossed I make it that far) is 4 weeks from tomorrow so that's the longest on will be on bed rest.

In the meantime I have oodles of time for things like magazines, books, surfing the internet, online shopping (The Hubs isn't so excited about that one), and catching up on my DVR and Netflix shows.  For example, right now I'm watching White Christmas while updating my blog for you fine people as my velcro cat makes herself comfortable as close to me as humanly possible.

It's not all fun and games though.  I have the habit of over-thinking, obsessing, worrying and with all this time on my hands it's hard not to over analyze everything.  I check my blood pressure probably more than I should.  I worry about the effects of prematurity at whatever gestation I happen to be at the moment.  I think about the date and how LONG 4 weeks feels when my blood pressure can't make up its mind.  I live appointment to appointment and hope my labs keep coming back normal and unchanging.  I pray a lot.

But today is almost over and that's one day closer to having our sweet girl here healthy and chubby.  Every day counts and today is one less day she'd have to spend in the NICU.

Okay, back to White Christmas.  These songs aren't going to sing themselves.  "Snow. Snow. Snow. Snooooooow"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's A Girl

So to start things off, I'm pregnant. I haven't posted anything about it yet just because life has been pretty crazy since finding out in May. Yes I'm aware it's now November.

My first trimester was pretty awful, complete with dizzy spells, a lot of nausea, and almost debilitating exhaustion on top of taking care of a 3 1/2-year-old.  Luckily my mom and sister moved out to Baltimore and were able to lend such a huge helping hand.

Of course the entire time I have been counting down to Munchkin's gestation of 29 weeks 4 days. Waiting. Worrying. Praying. Things continued to go well health-wise and I thought once the gestation passed I would be happier.

Munchkin's gestation came and went and it was such an emotional and surreal day. It was so weird sitting in my comfy brown chair with Munchkin watching videos as the moment in my gestation I gave birth to him ticked by on the clock. I cried at the exact moment; 29 weeks 4 days at 9:26pm.  And yet I was still pregnant. A minute went by, an hour. Wow, I've never been this pregnant. Or this pregnant. Or THIS pregnant.

What I wasn't expecting was the anxiety I have felt since shortly after that day. I'm on borrowed time. I feel like a time bomb with no countdown clock. I'm doing my best to appreciate what I've accomplished and relishing pregnant since this is it for me.

Tonight I sit here, 31 weeks 3 days pregnant. I'm 2 weeks past when I had Munchkin and this little girl is still inside and growing. However I'm on day 7 of bed rest. More on that next time; Lord knows I have a lot of time on my hands now!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Puppet Show

"She's been to the puppet show and she's seen the strings."- Cuba Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell in "Jerry Maguire"

I was just another pregnant lady among thousands in the 29 weeks leading up to Munchkin's birth.  I did the normal pregnant lady things, thought the normal pregnant lady thoughts, focused on my due date, and went about life totally naive to what was coming.

I became a different person at 29 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy.  I was told I was very ill and they needed to take Munchkin out to save my life.  Everything changed in that moment.  My former self ceased to exist and four days later I became a preemie mom.  I became privvy to things I had no idea existed, or I knew they existed on some level but never really stopped to think about what it meant.

I learned things and saw things in the 11 weeks that followed that I never wanted to learn.  I  met people I never wanted meet.  I became aware of just how scary and dangerous pregnancy can be.  I learned just how many things can go wrong in a pregnancy even in the year 2010.  I was almost 27-years-old, healthy, and things like that just don't happen to regular people like me.  But they do.  It did.  And I met so many other moms who were just like me, like you, like anyone and we all ended up in this abyss with barely a moments notice.

So now I find myself in an odd place.  I'm not naive to pregnancy problems and how bad it can get.  I've been to the puppet show and I've seen the strings, if you will, and now we've decided to put ourselves in a situation where we could end up back in the NICU life.  It's a very strange place to be with many mixed emotions but, in a way, I feel better prepared if not a little sad I can't be blindly optomistic.

But optomistic none-the-less, because I'm pregnant. <3 p="">



Friday, August 01, 2014

Blind

“The baby was so beautiful to us, and I look back at the photos of him and it must have been jarring for other people to come in and see him, but to us he was so beautiful and perfect.” - Actor Chris Pratt talking about his son, Jack, who was born 9 weeks premature.

I instantly teared up when I read this story on People Magazine's website about Anna Faris and Chris Pratt's 9-week-premature son, Jack.  There aren't a lot of mainstream stories about preemies and even less that focus on the positive.

This story hit me right in the heart because his sentiments are right on and so well stated.  It used to bother me so much when the first thing people would say about G-man is how tiny and frail he looked.  I even wrote a blog post about it because it irked me so much.  It wasn't my most eloquent post but it was something that really frustrated me to the point I would snap at people who said that all the time.

And now Chris Pratt has gone and perfectly put why this bothered me so much; because I was blind to how other people perceived him.  When family and friends saw G-man's picture posted to my Facebook page, some commented on how tiny and frail he looked, how all those tubes and machines were scary, how they couldn't believe something so small could function.

When I looked at those same pictures I was blind to his frailty, blind to how scary it was that he was literally skin and bones. But I wasn't oblivious, I just saw something different.

I saw my pride and joy, a piece of my own heart outside my body, my beautifully perfect boy; and this perfect boy just so happened to be small and hooked up to machines.  He was my perfect baby boy first and a tiny preemie second.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Munchkin-Ism

Today's Munchkin-ism:

"My knee has a booboo. I tink I need anoder diggle for that."

Translation:

He got a cut on his leg a week ago that he's milking sympathy from and he thinks he deserves another popsicle for powering through.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Crash Helmet

I am the mother of a very active boy; a couch-as-a-launch-pad, falling down, climbing things, curious, into everything active boy.  Some days it's all I can do to keep up with his energy and his physical play, but knowing where he came from it makes my heart happy that he has such a zest for life.  He's creative and inventive and can make a game out of pretty much anything.

I was not surprised when the ultrasound tech told us we were having a boy as I had just KNOWN Munchkin was a boy from the very beginning.  I always saw myself as the mom to a little boy and, boy oh boy, I had no idea what I was really in for.

His physical play makes my heart stop.  He's not a "typical" boy that has no fear; he's very careful when it comes to new situations and will absolutely not jump off something unless he's 100% sure he knows what will happen on the other side.  He's a cautious daredevil.  However he finds himself in situations that leave a mark.  For example, yesterday he was rooting through the coat closet while I was cleaning the kitchen. He got caught up on something and fell onto something sharp and plastic that was on the floor.  Screeching and tears followed.  Oh, and Munchkin was crying and screeching too.  There was blood, lost skin and a frantic phone call to my dad to reassure me Munchkin wasn't going to lose his leg.  Of course Munchkin now wants to know all about his boo-boo and look at it all the time.  Apparently not squeamish at all.  I'll spare you the picture of his knee the morning after.

Motherhood should come with a crash helmet.

Launching himself off the sofa last week