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!