Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Weeks Old

Today Ethan hit a milestone-- two weeks old! He was weighed at our nursing appointment, and has gone up to 6 lbs. 13 ounces. It's not where they wanted him to be at two weeks, which is at his birth weight (7 lbs 2 oz), but at least he's headed in the right direction. We think he might be having a little growth spurt right now, too, because he has been guzzling down milk to the point where we have to supplement with formula just to satisfy his hunger. He started off last week with 1-2 ounces per feeding, and eight feedings per day. Since this weekend, he's been gobbling up 2.5-4 ounces per feeding, and sometimes eats 9-10 times a day. Yikes! On the one hand, yahoo! Eat up, boy! On the other hand, mom needs some sleep, kid! Which is why we have a daddy around, I guess...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baby Stuff: Love, Hate, Want

Now that we are new parents, we are starting to get a feel for what we like and what we don't like in regards to baby supplies and strategies. Here is the beginning of a list of what has/hasn't worked for us:

-- Newborn diapers with an indicator stripe that changes from yellow to green when moisture hits it. Makes diaper checking so much easier, because you don't have to open the diaper or stick your finger in to check for wetness! Huggies "Gentle Care" Newborn diapers are what we've been using; found them at Target.
-- Stroller Frame that fits infant carseats: Several manufacturers make these (Graco Snugrider, Kolcraft Universal, etc.), and they are awesome-- very lightweight, easily fold up and store (only a few inches tall when folded), and the perfect item for a mom who is dealing with post-surgery pains and has a hard time lifting those giant seat & stroller systems.
-- Kimono-style onesies: These are great because they don't need to be pulled over baby's head, they just snap around him. Pulling shirts/onesies on over a newborn's floppy neck is a heart attack waiting to happen, because the whole time you're convinced you're going to paralyze him, so these help you avoid that problem. Ours also had the folding "mittens" at the end of each sleeve to help baby avoid scratching his face.
-- Zippered footie sleepers: Again, zippers help avoid the whole snap on/snap off deal. Very convenient, and the fleecey ones are perfect for winter babies.
-- Cucumber-green tea baby wipes, by Huggies. Our absolute fave! They smell delicious, stay nice and moist, and come in an awesome "pop-up" box. Our sister & brother-in-law just brought us a giant pack from Costco, and it's a lifesaver because we go through them like there's no tomorrow. (PS-- Also very useful for the bathroom, kitchen, car, etc.)
-- For winter babies, long-sleeved/long-legged outfits that convert from "pants" style to "sack" style. For this outfit, you can either button the legs separately and then put socks on baby, or button the legs together in front and back to make a sack-style outfit. The sack is nice for diaper changes, because you just slide it up his body when the time comes, no snapping/unsnapping necessary.
-- Boppy pillow for feeding: This thing is a lifesaver. Sure, you could use a couch or bed pillow, but the Boppy is contoured to fit around your body better, and is a bit firmer to help keep baby propped up correctly for feeding.
-- Footstool for feeding: Again, your knees need to be lifted up a bit higher to prop up baby closer for feeding. A short footstool is perfect.
-- Nuk bottles. We tried several bottles, but for these first few weeks, the Nuk works best for us. Later we may go over to the Playtex bottles with liners, but the Nuk is the only one he can drink from right now without spilling out milk everywhere or losing his latch on the nipple. (Bought from Wal-mart, the only place we could find them.)
-- The small-size diaper bag. Perfect for short visits to the store or mall, when you don't need to carry around a million items. Save the big bags for day-trips or weekend visits, they're way too bulky to deal with on a daily basis.
-- Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker: There’s a foldout kickstand that allows you to stabilize the seat for feeding or sleeping, and then you can tuck it back underneath to use as a rocker. It has a vibration mode and a detachable toy ring with musical pull toy included. Later, when he's a toddler, it can be used as a rocking chair. Pretty cool-- we are using it a lot lately when we need some hands-free time.

-- Onesies or shirts that have to slip over his head. As a newborn, at least; dealing with that floppy neck is a nightmare, so we avoid it as much as possible.
-- Bibs with cute designs, but no absorbency: Better to use a terry-cloth type bib, or a small hand-towel/washcloth tucked around his neck. Those will have much better absorbency and won't let the milk (or spit-up) slide right off the surface and down across you and baby.
-- Socks for newborns: They just don't stay on! The best kind have a significant amount of elastic, but even those aren't staying on our boy's little ankles.

-- Our own Medela electric double-sided breast pump: We are renting one from the hospital for now, and love it. Wish we could afford our own, but those buggers are expensive! I hadn't planned on having to pump so much, but since Ethan is having a tough time latching on and breastfeeding, we are pumping 8 times a day and feeding him that milk. That much pumping means you really need a top-quality pump at home. Best idea is to rent one from the hospital and then see if you're going to need it; ours is $20/week to rent it from Memorial, which is better than spending $280 for your own pump before you know if you'll need it that much or that often.
-- Baby Bjorn or other infant carrier: We love to keep him next to us, but want to be able to do some hands-on activities at the same time. A carrier would be nice, especially because that carseat gets pretty darn heavy after awhile. I'm glad we waited until after he was born, though, because I think it's important to be able to "try out" the carrier first, with baby inside, before making such a purchase. We plan on going to the second-hand children's stores to check out which type we like best before buying.
-- More sleep! The most difficult part of all of this has been lack of sleep. The most helpful gift someone could give new parents is to come over and help out during the day sometime to give them a break-- do some dishes, help with laundry, clean up a bit, maybe take on one bottle feeding (with mom's milk, if possible) during the day to give mom a break and a chance to sleep for at least 3-4 hours straight through... Sleep is the most precious commodity during those first few weeks, and any way you could help give new parents a couple of hours at a time, you would be doing them the biggest favor possible!
-- Massage for mom or dad. The upper back/neck gets sooo sore from feeding baby and bending over so much. We think this would be an awesome baby shower gift for a new parent!

That's all I could think of so far. I'm sure I'll come up with more things as we go along, and I'll add it as we go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ethan's First Doctor Visit

I took him in to meet his Pediatrician, Dr. Truscello, today. He measured well, and then the minute I got him onto the doctor’s table to change him, he decided to baptize the area. And boy, can he store a lot of liquid in that body! I was so embarrassed, and felt totally unprepared—even with my diaper bag, I felt like I needed an extra 2 or 3 hands to get everything taken care of correctly. Luckily, the doctor was running a bit late, so I had time to do a hasty clean-up before she arrived. At least the baby wasn’t dripping wet for his first meeting with the doc! She seemed very nice, and concerned about all of the troubles I’d been experiencing. And then she did his exam, and started saying “Hmm…” while staring at and gently stroking his chest/rib cage.

I started to get a little nervous. She says “Did anyone order a chest x-ray in the hospital?” My heart dropped. I said no, and she pointed out that his chest area seems a bit smaller than it should be; I agree, it seems small—he looks like a little Ethiopian baby, with this tiny rib cage and full belly area. I thought it was just how babies look sometimes, though. Apparently not. She ordered a chest x-ray and asked me to go over and get it done immediately after leaving her office. Good lord, anything else?? Um, yes. She also takes a look at his face and says “Maybe part of the reason he’s been having trouble latching on while breastfeeding is because he has a slightly recessed jaw.” Oy. I mean, I have a definite overbite, but a recessed jaw? I thought it looked pretty normal, but then she *is* a pediatrician…

Anyway, I took him in for the x-ray, trying not to let my mind race around the possibilities (a disorder? a genetic condition? Problems with his internal organs?), and they told me they’d get the results by Wednesday. Oh, good! Only one whole day and night to think about what could be going wrong with my brand new baby… In my stupidity, I went online and looked up information about babies born with narrow chests; wow, was that a mistake. All it does is give a worrying mind more ammo for their neurotic anxieties. It’s like having a DSM-IV or a Physician’s Desk Reference around; you’re bound to find a diagnosis to fit almost any symptom you have, which just makes it all seem even worse than it is. Well, the next morning I was feeding Ethan when the answering machine picked up a phone call from my doctor’s office. She said that the x-ray did not pick up any abnormalities, and that he looked great, and wished us all a happy Christmas. I just started crying and crying, so happy that his x-rays turned out good and that we can stop worrying about it. I said some prayers of gratitude and kissed him all over. Hey, I have to shower him with affection while I can, before he grows up and turns into one of those kids who says “Come on, mom, quit it!” whenever I try to love on him.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Naming the Baby…

After the baby was born, we had to come up with a name. It took a few days, but we managed to decide on Ethan Noel. Ethan had been one of Joel’s favorite names, but I had been reluctant to use it because of its poularity—I didn’t want our son to be the 9th Ethan in his class. We were actually going back and forth between Colin and Isaac for a long time,and I thought we had settled on Isaac Cruz just before we went in to the hospital. But then I mentioned that someone said we should name him with the intials EZE, and Joel was hooked. In the hospital, it came down to run-off between ICE (Isaac Cruz) and EZE (Ethan Zachary)... but I couldn’t do it. I thought it was cute to have a fun name, but not so much for a real name. I didn’t want to be one of those annoying parents who names their kid something “funny” or “cute” and it ends up with both the kid and the parents regretting it.

Anyway, we debated about it back and forth several times, and even filled out the birth certificate with "Ethan Zachary", but when I thought about turning it in, I just couldn't let it go. We ended up choosing Noel, which was one of our original favorite middle names, partly because I really liked the way it sounded paired with Ethan, and partly because Christmas was so near, and partly because it is similar to Joel—his daddy’s name. (Both are pronounced similarly; Jo-el, No-el). And he is truly our miracle baby, and the best Christmas gift I could have ever received, so it all comes together rather nicely, I think. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Baby Feeding Attempts

The first few days after Ethan’s birth were a bit of a blur. We were in the hospital from Monday morning through Thursday evening, partially because I was having so much pain from the surgery and wasn’t walking as easily as they wanted, but mainly because Ethan wasn’t doing so hot. Like a lot of “early” babies, he doesn’t quite have the feeding reflexes down yet. He had a really hard time opening up his mouth at first; he would just clench his gums together until forced to open them. Then, he would arch his tongue up to the roof of his mouth, which makes feeding basically impossible. Breastfeeding was definitely not working… the nurses would end up taking him to the nursery to feed him, giving him formula using a variety of methods (through a tube taped to the fingertip, by cup, by bottle, etc.).

It was the most stressful scenario I could imagine; trying to feed the baby while nurses are basically forcing his head onto me in an attempt to get him to latch; knowing I wasn’t able to give him sustenance; hearing every day that he was losing too much weight and appeared to be getting dehydrated; and all while trying to recover from the surgery. It was too much! Joel and I were both stressing out, and trying our best not to take it out on each other. I felt like I had already missed out on labor and delivery, and now it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed, either. Both of us were getting tired of trying with no results, and just wanted him to get food inside him, even if it meant we would be using formula and bottles from this day forward. It didn’t matter, as long as he was getting what he needed to be healthy.

But, a week later, he seems to be doing much better. We went to several appointments with the lactation nurses at the breastfeeding consultation center near Memorial, and he’s starting to get the hang of feeding. It helps that my milk finally came in, and he has an easier time with that than with the colostrum. I’ve also been using the Medela double-pump that we rented from the hospital, in order to build up milk for use in those middle of the night feedings. We feed him from me first, then from stored milk, and then as a last resort have Enfamil formula in case we need it. For now, he appears to be starting to gain weight, finally—at his doctor appointment on Tuesday 12/23, he had gone up to 6.9 lb—so apparently we’re on the right track!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ethan's Birth Story: December 15, 2008

Part 1: The Beginning…

On Monday, December 15th, I was feeling a bit yucky and decided to take a nice, warm shower at around 10:15 to try to feel better. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up feeling better, because halfway through my shower I noticed vivid red blood streaming down and swirling inside the tub. My heart dropped—more bleeding? Again?? And this time, it seemed worse, somehow—it just wouldn’t stop, and it was much scarier. We hurriedly called the Family Birthing Center and drove over to get checked out. To keep my mind busy, I was thinking of a few totally off-topic and trivial things—like, “Man, I didn’t get a chance to do my hair before we left home” and “The ground beef that just defrosted in the fridge will need to be cooked soon” and so on. We even sent Joel out to go pay a bill and drop off a check just a few minutes after I got admitted to the Birthing Center, which shows either how much denial we were in, or how much we were buying the doctor’s usual “this is a totally typical pregnancy!” spiel.

Once I got admitted, the nurses noticed that I was still bleeding quite a bit, and called my doctor to come check things out. He finally arrived at around 12:30 and did a pelvic exam. He could feel the cervix finally dilating, but also noticed that the placenta was covering the cervix—unless it was a large blood clot, of course. Oh, great! From bad to worse. He could also feel the baby’s head, but was concerned about the amount of blood I was losing and the fact that the placenta was apparently detaching (Placental Abruption). He felt that inducing labor and attempting a vaginal delivery could be dangerous, so he said he wanted to do a C-Section instead just to be safe. I agreed, so he looked at the nurse and asks “How soon can we get her in; is 1:30 okay?” At this point, by the way, it’s 1:00 p.m. The anesthesiologist wasn’t free until 2:00 p.m., so he agreed to wait until 2:00 for the surgery. Considering that it took them half an hour to get me prepped for surgery, I started to get a sense of urgency about this whole situation. That’s because, as I found out later, it was considered an emergency C-section.

I was so overwhelmed with how suddenly things were happening… and all while my husband is out paying bills! My brain felt incapable of processing what was going on. I called Joel and told him to hurry back, then made a few phone calls and sent some texts to update the “phone tree” and let everyone know what was going on. And then I cried. This was not part of the plan!

Plan or not, they prepped us for the C-section. I got a lovely blue cap for my hair, an IV (hey, this one didn’t blow a vein, at least!), and then they took me in for the epidural… yowza. They laid me down on a surgical bed with my arms angled out from my body, like a maternity crucifix, or something equally strange… The epidural let me have the sensations of pressure and movement without feeling pain, which was somewhat like getting dental work done while numbed up—uncomfortable, lots of pressure, thoughts of “Oh my god what are they digging for in there”, etc. And then, after what seemed like forever but was only 12 minutes later, I heard it—the sound of my baby boy, crying loud and clear. The tears started immediately, just knowing he was safe and sound and finally here with us… I was smiling and crying, and then crying while I was smiling, and then laughing and crying… what an overwhelming moment. I knew I would lose it when I heard his voice! Joel was there the whole time, comforting me and taking pictures and video when he could; he was much more involved than I’d expected. He even cut the cord, which I never thought would happen. I was so proud of him for stepping up and being a great support, right from the beginning. I knew he was going to be a great dad, but that he would be such an awesome partner in this adventure was an added blessing.

Part 2: Placental Abruption…

Just after the C-Section, I heard the doctor telling a nurse that it was definitely a placental abruption—a chronic abruption. The next morning, in a haze of pain and meds and lack of sleep, I asked him about it. He confirmed that the placental abruption appeared to have been happening for some time now. The placenta had apparently been tearing away from the uterus little by little; when that happens, it causes bleeding, sharp pains every so often, and even contractions. All of the symptoms, of course, that I’d been bringing up for the past month. Luckily, the placenta was very low in the uterus, and the abruption (tearing away) was taking place low enough to allow blood to slowly drain out rather than building up and causing even more tearing away, which could have lead to a sudden/critical abruption. If that had happened, the majority of the placenta tears away from the uterus and there is a markedly increased chance of hemorrhage and fetal/maternal death. So, all of the bleeding I’d been experiencing since mid-November *did* have a cause, and wasn’t really cervical bleeding or “normal” bleeding, as my doctor had been saying. Ah, vindication! But not really the way I wanted it.

When I got home from the hospital, I did some research about placental abruption. It’s pretty uncommon (less than 1% of births), and even mild/low grade abruptions are highly dangerous for mom and baby— fetal mortality rates are as high as 40%, and maternal mortality can be anywhere from 10-25%. When you “Google” abruptions, you are directed to blogs and comment boards all over the web where women write about losing their babies after an abruption… some of them happening at term (40 weeks) during a regular labor, others happening earlier in pregnancy. Knowing how close I was to losing this baby makes me feel 100 times as blessed to have this child with us today; he could so easily have not survived, and I wouldn’t be listening to him sigh in the bassinet right now. But this also makes me wonder if things could have happened a little differently if my doctor had been more aggressive or proactive when I started having problems with bleeding in mid-November. Instead, he was very laid-back and fairly dismissive of my concerns (“Oh, that’s normal in pregnancy… The bleeding is old blood, probably caused by cervical changes..” etc.). … It really bothers me to think that we were so close to losing this baby. We are just so very lucky to have our son here, healthy and happy and doing well.

Uterine Damage?

Anyway, after explaining how I was unlucky to have had an abruption but lucky to have that specific kind rather than the sudden abruption, the doctor then says “We also found some necrotic uterine tissue, which was strange… I didn’t expect that.” Not what I wanted to hear while laying back in a fog of pain pills and fatigue, trying to process the fact that (a) I have a newborn, (b) I had an abruption that luckily didn’t go bad, and (c) now my doctor is telling me I also had necrotic uterine tissue?? I was too in shock to ask him about it, and he left almost immediately after that anyway. The next day I brought it up, and he said that he excicsed the necrotic tissue and sent it in to Pathology for assessment. Now I’m worried about what this means in terms of future pregnancies… how could this affect my chances of carrying another child in a year or so? *sigh*

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pregnancy: December 9-11

Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Last night, I had the absolute *worst* experience with the Family Birthing Center. It was so shocking to be treated the way I was treated, especially when we've had fairly positive interactions over the past few weeks... in fact, not only has it not been bad, it's been great-- the Nurses are typically very caring, responsive, and sensitive, and we usually end up feeling pretty good about our time spent at the FBC. Well, last night was different; and that was just over the phone!

I had been taking it easy since we got out of the FBC on Sunday, but at around 4:00 or so, I started to get this sharp, searing pain on the right side of my abdomen. It almost felt like my stomach was tearing open, or something. It wasn't completely debilitating, but it was enough that I didn't feel comfortable sitting up, so I laid down on the couch to ease the pain a bit. The tearing sensation would last a few minutes and then ease up, to just feel tender and sore in that area. Then, a bit later, it would start again. It happened on and off for the next few hours, before it occurred to me that this might be related to the problems I've been having recently. Of course, I hadn't seen any of the other things the doctor told me to watch out for (profuse bleeding, no fetal movement, increasing contractions/labor progressing), so I wasn't really sure what to do at that point. After some particularly sharp pains, I went in to use the bathroom at around 8:00 and noticed thick red blood, which was different from the weekend bleeding, but still a bit concerning to me. I mentioned that I'd call the doctor in the morning about it, but Joel told me to just call the FBC for some advice while he went out to fill up his tank. And that's where it all began...

I called the FBC, gave them my name and how far along I am (37 weeks as of today), and then they transferred me to a nurse to speak about what was happening. I felt a bit silly calling yet again, and I said so. What ensued was a conversation with the most rude, insensitive, negative health-care provider I've ever had contact with. Here's the conversation with the Nurse, as I recall:

Nurse: So, what's going on?

Me: Just to give you some history, I've been in & out of the Birthing Center for the past few weeks with bleeding and contractions, and I was just in there this weekend overnight for monitoring because my doctor was concerned about a possible placental abruption...

Nurse: When are you due?

Me: Three weeks.

Nurse: No, what is your due date? I need the actual date, the day you are due, not just "three weeks".

Me: Oh. December 31st.

Nurse: What baby is this for you?

Me: First.

Nurse: Look, hon, I can hardly hear you. Can you speak up, or put the phone closer to your mouth? What baby is this for you?


Nurse: Uh-huh. So, why are you calling in tonight?

Me: Well, I feel weird calling because they told me to call when I have major bleeding or contractions getting stronger, and I don't... but I have been feeling this sharp pain in my side...

Nurse: (Interrupting) Where on your side?

Me: To the right of my belly button, kind of going up and down...

Nurse: (Interrupting) Are you feeling the pain right now?

Me: Well, not as much, actually. It started at around 4:00 or 4:30, but it's been on & off... Sometimes, it was pretty strong, I told my husband it felt like my stomach was tearing open, but then it would go away and just be sore. I've been laying down for the past 1/2 hour, and it's feeling a little...

Nurse: (Interrupting) Okay, here's the thing--next time, you really need to call us when you're actually having the pains. It doesn't do us any good to call after they go away, because then you'll just come in here and we won't be able to see anything and we'll just end up sending you home again. Are you feeling the baby move?

Me: Uh, not as much lately, but the doctor said that's normal as we get closer to the due date. He's really been slowing down and not moving as much lately...

Nurse: (Interrupting) What does "lately" mean? That doesn't tell me anything. How long has it actually been since you felt him move?

Me: Uh, I'm not sure... it's hard to tell, sometimes. I can't really remember..."

Nurse: Okay, have you felt him move in the past half hour?

Me: Um, no...

Nurse: The past hour?

Me: I don't think so, I'm not sure...

Nurse: You're not sure? Do you even remember the last time you felt the baby move?

At this point, I was feeling so attacked and harrassed that I was about to start bawling my eyes out. I told her "Look, I'll call back when my husband gets home" and hung up the phone. And that's when I started crying and called Joel, all hysterical and upset about the way she was treating me on the phone. He was so ticked off! He came back and said that we should go in and complain to the supervising nurse, or at the very least to the doctor the next day, and that we shouldn't let this slide. Nobody deserves to be treated so rudely, but especially when it's a woman with a first-time pregnancy that has already had several complications... I mean, that's their job, right? To assist us, guide us, treat us, and support us medically while we try to get through pregnancy & labor successfully.

I still can't believe that she was so rude to me, and so harsh. I was only asking for advice and reassurance, nothing more. Anyway, I'm going to call in to my doctor and to the FBC this morning to (a) discuss what I was feeling physically yesterday, and (b) report what happened with that nurse. I only hope I don't have to endure dealing with her in the future! I mean, if she can singlehandedly turn me away from going in to the FBC, despite the fact that I might actually need to be in there, then how much more damage could she do when I'm really in labor? I could easily see this woman turning away women who should otherwise go in to the FBC, and thus making things even more scary, problematic, or possibly even dangerous for the pregnant mom and her baby. It's people like that woman who need to re-trained or just leave the field altogether; heck, if you're that unhappy, lady, go work somewhere else!

Thursday, December 11, 2008
Yesterday I spoke with the manager of the Birthing Center about my negative experience on Monday. She was very kind and understanding about the whole thing, and apologized several times that I was treated that way. She said that she would look into it and take care of things on her end, but wanted me to promise that I would call or come in if I ever felt concerned about the pregnancy or the baby. She said that she believes God gives pregnant women a special grace of becoming very knowledgeable about their own bodies... even more so than medical professionals, sometimes. She has been a nurse for 20 years, and said that she couldn't count the number of times a pregnant mom had told her "Something is wrong"-- even when doctors were assuring her that things were fine or couldn't tell anything was a problem via their initial assessments-- and they eventually found out that mom was right, not the physician. She said that I really needed to trust my instincts, and that if I felt something was really wrong, I should definitely just go straight in to the Birthing Center. I'm glad she said so, because at least someone was validating my "feelings" about how things were just not right with the bleeding and pains and so on. If only she were my doctor instead! /:)

I met with the doctor again today. Apparently I'm still not dilating, but still bleeding a lot. Just another waiting game, I guess. Can't wait for baby to get here!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pregnancy: December 1-8, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008
Joel left this afternoon for Sonoma, where he'll be until Friday night. Is it too cheesy to say I miss him already? This week I'm just going to focus on keeping everything calm and relaxed while he's gone, because I can tell you right now that I do NOT plan on having our first baby without him! Keep your fingers crossed that we can make it until Saturday at least...

I'm off work as of today, due to all of this pre-term labor stuff that's been going on. I'm really glad that I can take the time to rest and slow everything down, because I want the baby to have as much time in utero as possible. He needs to fatten up a bit before coming out into the cold December, you know? But I'm definitely getting more and more excited as the days tick by... I can't wait to meet the baby, see his tiny little hands and feet, kiss his little face, and all that good stuff. I'll probably start bawling uncontrollably in the delivery room, just like I did at my wedding; I just get so emotional when I'm at my happiest, I can't help but cry. Oh well, I'm sure they've seen every kind of reaction in the Birthing Center, this'll be nothing new! :)

Thursday, December 04, 2008
This week has been a fairly calm one for me; in fact, on Tuesday night I got in two 3-hour stretches of sleep (yay!), and then last night (Wednesday) I actually made it from about 1 a.m. to about 5 a.m. without waking up *once*! It was like a miracle, only one of those minor miracles rather than the whole water-into-wine thing. Still, it was soo nice to finally have an uninterrupted sleep like that. I haven't slept more than 2-3 hours at a time for weeks now, and usually don't end up sleeping more than a total of 5 hours a night, period, with several wake-ups. Shouldn't my body be trying to stock up on sleep before the baby gets here?? Sheesh...

Speaking of the baby's due date, we still have about 27 days to go for that. We'll see how long it actually takes-- anyone want to start a "Baby Pool"? I go in to the doctor today for my weekly pre-natal appointment; I'm pretty sure he'll take me off the Nifedipine and just let labor progress naturally at its own pace, now that I'm at 36 weeks. The countdown has officially begun! :)

Monday, December 08, 2008
Well, this weekend included another visit to the Family Birthing Center. I swear, those people are going to be so sick of seeing me by the time I finally come in for good!

We made it through the week while Joel was gone just fine, thank goodness. At my prenatal appt. on Thursday, Dr. Altman took me off of the nifedipine and said that we could just let things progress at their own pace from here on out. Joel got home on Friday night, and that was when I finally felt comfortable because he was within reach. :) On Saturday, he & I went out to do some shopping around for a stroller-- we still need to pick up one of those Graco Snugrider frames for the carseat-- and we did a fair amount of walking around. I remember telling him "Yep, those contractions are starting up again; all we need to do is keep up this type of pace, and the baby will be here before you know it!" Oh, Melanie; why did you have to say anything?

That night, I went in to use the restroom at around 8:00, and noticed bright red bleeding-- and a lot of it. I called the Birthing Center, and they told me to come on in. Again. So we packed up the car, and with each step I felt a little more panicky, because I could tell that the bleeding hadn't stopped; it actually seemed to be getting worse every time I moved. When we got there 3 minutes later, the nurses were a bit surprised; I guess they hadn't realized we only live a few blocks away. They thought we called from the parking lot, or sped there at 95 mph, or something. :) I have to admit, it's nice being so close to them, especially considering I keep ending up there so often! Anyway; they asked for a urine sample, and ended up getting a blood sample. Yipes! They hooked me up to the monitors again-- baby looked great and his heartbeat was super-strong-- and then did pelvic exams, only to find out that I'm still not dilating. Tons of contractions, yes; but they are "ineffective" contractions, because they are not resulting in any cervical changes, and labor isn't progressing. Oh, goody! They called the doctor, and he came in on his Saturday night to check me out.

The bleeding was really worrying him, because of the possibility of placental abruption (the placenta starts to separate from the uterus). He did an ultrasound and didn't see any problems, but then you can't always detect a minor abruption on ultrasound... so they attached a fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor to my abdomen and kept us overnight. They also hooked me up to an IV and were actually preparing for the possibilty of a C-section or even labor/delivery, if things progressed in one direction or another. Instead, though, my body started to calm down, and the baby was doing great (there were just a few times early in the evening where his heart rate dipped a bit, but not too bad). Getting any rest, of course, was practically impossible, but at least we were where we could get immediate help if anything bad happened. On Sunday, they eventually let us go with instructions for modified bed rest-- and to take it EASY the next couple of days.

The doctor told me to come back in if there is another session of major bleeding, or if labor begins (contractions get stronger, closer together, and I can't talk through them), but otherwise to just rest at home. It was so weird to be at the hospital and realize, this could be it; this could be the time that starts off with just the two of us entering the hospital, and three of us leaving. :) Both of us kind of wished things would just keep going forward, but I guess it's not time yet. I think the baby is ready, actually; it's my body that isn't getting it together yet! The uterine contractions are constant, but as yet are not producing any cervical changes. We could be at this stage for weeks, really, although I hope that things don't continue like this for the rest of the month. I was so exhausted by all of it yesterday that, even though part of me wanted to just give birth already, another part of me was praying that this wasn't it because I was so tired that I didn't think I'd be able to do it! Well, either way, I'll be at 37 weeks on Tuesday, so we're finally in the clear. From here on out, anything goes. (Did you hear that, body? Come on now, let's work together on this!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pregnancy: November 23-30, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008
Lots of baby movement on Friday, and I am so happy about it. :) While driving over for chili fixin's, I noticed the beautiful Gingko trees with their bright yellow leaves just about to fall, and I felt a sense of peace come over me. Our little boy may come early, or he may not, but everything will be fine and will work out the way it's supposed to work out.

We also finished packing our hospital bags today, "just in case" we end up in there sooner than we planned. We'll be putting them in Joel's car along with the baby bag, a pillow, and some blankets. Then we'll be set up in case we have short notice to get to the hospital! :)

Monday I'll be turning 36 years old, and Tuesday I'll be at Week 35. Wednesday is my next prenatal doctor appt., and then Thursday is Thanksgiving. What a week we have ahead of us! Can't wait to use our new fetal heart monitor and maybe make some recordings of it. Whee, baby stuff is fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008
Today is my birthday! As a friend said earlier, she thinks the greatest gift is tumbling in my tummy right now. :) It's so true... sappy, maybe, but true. I think this is the right time for me, even though it's quite a bit later than I anticipated starting a family, because I'm with the man who will be an amazing father to my kid(s) and who is already an awesome husband. This weekend, for instance, he set up a surprise birthday gift for me-- he drove us to San Francisco to see a special movie (Slumdog Millionaire) that was only playing in the City. It was outstanding, by the Director of 28 Days Later & Trainspotting. Great movie, great cinematography, great action & emotion & music and everything else. I loved it. That would have been good enough, but then the day continued. We spent the day in the City (with frequent breaks for my hips, of course), and then ended up at one of our favorite places-- Amante, in North Beach-- for fish tacos and calamari with bloody mary cocktail sauce. Delicious... it was a great day, and made even better by the fact that Joel set it all up himself, on his own, all for me. I felt so cherished!

And then, Sunday night, he showed his true colors again. I had been having a lot of stomach pain/discomfort, and a sort of sour, hot, uncomfortable feeling all day-- I felt kind of nauseated, like I was going to be sick. At around 11 or so, we finally realized it was probably heartburn, caused by (a) baby compressing my stomach and (b) hormones that relax your esophageal muscles and really open the door for acid reflux/heartburn. Woo-hoo! Joel went right out to Walgreens for some medication so that I would be able to get at least a little bit of sleep. It was seriously one of the kindest, sweetest things he's ever done for me; I was deeply impressed and felt very taken care of, which was both refreshing and awesome. I took the Zantac 75, which didn't seem to kick in for awhile, and then tossed & turned all night while propped up on my pillows. I think I slept for about 3 hours total, which should make for an interesting day today, coupled with the fact that I think I'm coming down with a cold (yucky congestion!). /:)

So now I'm going to start monitoring my diet a lot more-- I found a few lists online of what *not* to eat (citrus, spicy foods, acidic foods, tomatoes, etc.) and what is okay to eat (apples, bananas, bread, milk), and that I shouldn't eat lying down or close to bedtime and should avoid drinking a lot while I'm eating small meals. As if small meals is the problem-- I hardly have an appetite any more, probably because Baby is jammed up against my stomach right now and I just can't seem to eat much at all. Which sucks, really, considering that Thanksgiving is this week! I'll have to do taste-tests instead of atually eat. (Is this a new weight-loss regimen, or what??) Well, maybe it won't be that bad... maybe it'll just keep me from pigging out too much!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I took Monday off after having little to no sleep on Sunday night, and lots of discomfort. After lots of rest and taking it easy, I decided I was ready to return to work on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I also slept hardly a wink on Monday night as well, which started me off on the wrong foot Tuesday morning. I went in to work with intentions of doing a lot of wrapping up-- finishing up projects in motion, setting up some planning/prep for upcoming projects, and getting a sort of "How To" procedural guide for my administrator, who will be taking over when I go out on maternity leave. I was having a fairly rough morning, but we finally made it over to the meeting with my admin. to go over the plans, when BOOM! She gets to witness me breathing through a particularly rough contraction. Slightly embarrassing, but oh well. At the meeting, I shared with her that I was only planning on being at work one more week (through Dec.5), primarily due to these latest developments with the pregnancy. She was very understanding, and I felt a lot more supported about it.

We went back to our office, and I made another unpleasant discovery-- more bleeding. It wasn't quite "blood," per say; after reading up about it some, it might actually be the beginnings of the "bloody show" starting up. (Awesome to read about, I know...) I decided to leave, go home and get off my feet, call the Birthing Center for advice, and possibly go in for monitoring. When I got home and rested, though, everything seemed to calm down a bit-- for awhile, anyway. Until evening, there was no more "show"-- but there was a whole lot of discomfort. Basically, I'm feeling what I can only relate to a combination of menstrual cramps and the feeling you get when you think you have food poisoning-- these intermittent waves of pain and cramping in the lower abdomen, stomach, and lower back areas that make you think you really have to go to the bathroom quickly, except that when you do, nothing happens. I'm also feeling a general sort of aching and tenderness in that whole area, from my stomach down to my pelvis; sometimes it almost feels like I might be bruised "down there" or something, which I'm sure is a completely normal part of pregnancy. Uncomfortable, but normal.

Anyways... I have my next Doctor's appt. Wednesday morning, and hope to find out what's going on. I am so very very uncomfortable right now, and it really feels like things are changing rapidly. A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling pretty great, minus the hip pain when I walked. Now, I'm getting hardly any sleep, was in the hospital twice last week after finding blood, have been cramping/contracting very strongly for the past two days, and feel just drained of energy and achy all the time. I really doubt this kid is going to wait until New Year's to make his arrival. Or at least, if this type of pain and discomfort continue, I HOPE it doesn't keep going for another 5 weeks! Sheesh!

Friday, November 28, 2008
12:30 a.m., Black Friday:
I just got back from 6 hours in the Family Birthing Center. Those nurses over there are sure getting to know my face by now! I'd had a pretty bad Wednesday, and Thursday didn't seem to be going much better-- I was having lots of lower back pain, especially around the tailbone area; cramping; nausea; overall achiness and soreness; and (as usual) a complete inability to sleep longer than 2 hours or so at a stretch. I had planned to go over to a friend's house for Thanksgiving, but ended up cancelling because I felt so unwell. At around 1:00, I noticed that the bleeding had re-started, and this time it was bright red, which scared me. I called the FBC and the nurse suggested it was from the pelvic exam on Wednesday, and told me to monitor it and come in if I felt the urge or if it got worse. So, around 6:30, I did!

Apparently, the contractions aren't letting up; I was having them about every 4 minutes. The nurse gave me a shot of Terbutalene again, but it didn't do much to slow them down; they went to about once every 8 minutes, which was still not quite what they wanted. So, my doctor recommended a new medicine (Nifedipine/procardia), which actually started to work; the contractions slowed to every 12 minutes. As long as I don't have more than 1 every 10 minutes, we're good. :)

I will have to keep taking the Nifedipine once daily to keep the contractions slowed down until our prenatal appt. next week, at which point Dr. Altman will check me out. Today, the nurse who did the pelvic exam said I was dilated to 1 cm, which of course doesn't necessarily mean anything-- I could be at that point for weeks. That is actually good! This boy needs to stay inside and incubate a little while longer. :)

More updates later, after some attempts at sleeping.

Saturday, November 29, 2008
Great news! Joel landed a temp job for the next two weeks, working for an IT employment agency that will place him with a winery doing some pre-Christmas projects. Even though this job is only temporary, it is a great way to get started with the employment agency, and the recruiter has already told him she is searching for full-time placements for him. Woo-hoo! The only down-side to this is that he'll be in Sonoma this first week, carpooling up with other temp hires and staying in a hotel through Wednesday (we think). This means that I *definitely* need to hold off on going into labor until at least Thursday, because I need him to be there when the baby is born! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pregnancy: November 15-22, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008
I just got back from a baby shower thrown by several friends from work... and I'm still feeling the glow of their love and support. In the midst of all of this angst and worry about financial issues, I can see that I'm just surrounded by people who care about me-- about us. It's a great feeling. This must be what "community" means, in a very real sense of the word. The people who come together to help you, make you laugh, give you a shoulder to lean on or lend you an ear, share memories with you, act silly and get serious and all of those other things that make life so full and so rewarding. I need to remember this day when I start getting stuck in my cycle of worrying and stressing out about anything and everything.

Someone at the party brought up a great point, too; she gently suggested that I take it a bit easier on Joel. She reminded me that he's probably feeling a lot of pressure about this situation we're in, too, but doesn't bring it up or talk about it much. She pointed out that while both of us are in the same position in terms of feeling the financial crunch, he doesn't get to feel the closeness and the bond that I have with the baby. He doesn't get to experience this pregnancy the way I am lucky enough to experience it... and here I am, complaining that I won't get even *more* time to bond with the baby later! If Joel does get to stay home with the baby for a couple of months, I think that would be wonderful. He will get the chance to really, fully connect with our son in a way that few dads can. Thinking about it that way really puts things in a different light for me... I'm just feeling so much more positive about it. Instead of "losing" time with my new baby, I'm giving that time to Joel, who in any other scenario would never get the chance to bond with his child like that. Besides, I don't work during part of June and all of July, so I'll have plenty of time during summer to spend full-time with the baby. And that'll be the fun time, too-- 6 months old, ready to swim around and party like a rock star! :)

Anyway... just wanted to share how much better I feel after getting together with so many friends today. It was a rejuvenation of the spirit, and I feel so blessed to have these people in my life. Okay, sappy blog now complete.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Well, yesterday I had a scary interlude... the baby is fine, and I'm fine, but I had some seriously scary moments when I got home on Wednesday 11/19. This week at work, we've been running around like crazy putting the food baskets together-- shopping for turkeys & canned food, organizing all the boxes (for 53 families!), coordinating the food drive, and so on-- and I've definitely been feeling the strain a bit more physically. My hips, oddly enough, have been doing very well this week; my energy level, not so much. Wednesday, we finished up our major shopping for the food baskets, and by lunch-time I knew I was wiped out. My tailbone area started to get painfully uncomfortable, and I decided to take it easy for the remainder of the day/week and get some rest for my body. I drove home with plans to still go out and pick up the rest of the pies for our baskets, but plans have a way of changing.

Before heading out to Raley's for their "2 for $5.00" pie special, I decided to go use the bathroom, and that's when I noticed the blood. It wasn't profuse, or anything, but it was definitely blood. I started to panic and called out to Joel that we had to go to the hospital instead because I was bleeding. He asks me, "From where?" Um... FROM "THERE"!!! He was just in shock, of course, like me, but I have to admit it threw me off a little bit. /:) While we drove over to the Family Birthing Center, I called the doctor. They took all my info and said they'd call back about whether or not I should go in to the hospital. I waited 20 minutes in the parking lot, praying and trying not to burst into tears and gritting my teeth and trying to focus on positive energy instead of the terrible possibilities that were waiting to run through my mind, and then we just went inside anyway. There was no way I was going to wait longer to find out if the baby was okay!

When we got into the Family Birthing Center, they immediately sent us back to a Labor/Delivery Room and hooked me & the baby up to monitors. Finally, I heard & saw his heartbeat, nice and strong... what a moment! I'd been pretty teary-eyed up to that point, but that was where I lost it for a minute. I was so terrified that something horrible had happened, and here was concrete proof that he was still up & at 'em-- it was an almost overwhelming feeling of relief and thankfulness and fear and joy, something that I'm sure many other parents have gone through countless times before.

While monitoring us both, the R.N. noticed that I was having some mild contractions, and that they were happening about once every 5-7 minutes-- way too fast for my stage (34/35 weeks) of pregnancy. After consultation with the doctor, they ended up giving me a shot of terbutaline, which slows down contractions during "pre-term labor" (see http://www.healthline.com/yodocontent/pregnancy/preterm-labor-terbutaline.html for more info). Apparently, it slows everything down by relaxing the uterine muscles, to ease the frequency & intensity of the contractions. Still, it doesn't necessarily work if you're already dilating. "Terbutaline has not been shown to consistently prevent or delay preterm delivery for a significant period of time. Even so, studies have shown that terbutaline can usually delay delivery for at least several days." When the R.N. gave me the shot, I had a great reaction, and it immediately slowed down the contractions. It took me about 20-30 minutes to have another one, which was a huge difference-- before, they were coming in at around 6 every half hour, and they typically tell you to go in to the hospital if you're having contractions at the rate of 6 per HOUR! Yipes! Anyway... the R.N. then came in and did a pelvic exam to make sure I wasn't dilated, and (thankfully) I'm not quite there-- which is good! It means that I'm not actually in full-on pre-term labor, because the cervix hasn't changed yet. I was having contractions, yes, but they're just not sure why. It could have been physical stressors, or emotional stressors, or who knows what else. Sometimes, it just happens like that, same thing with the bleeding.

After checking everything out and finding that both of us were doing fine, they sent us home with a list of things to do/not do and a reminder to take it easy. We also need to keep monitoring the baby's rate of movement and the contractions; if they change (ie, baby stops moving or the contractions kick up again) I need to call and/or come in again. I have a doctor appt. next Wednesday, so he'll also be checking at that point to see how everything's going, and make any recommendations then. I tell ya-- if I could leave work right now, I would. Yesterday's emotional roller-coaster was just way too much for me to go through again! Unfortunately, the whole "leaving-now-would-result-in-half-of-a-paycheck" thing is really keeping me at work, because dropping half of a check would pretty much leave us unable to pay our rent/food bills. Don't get me wrong-- if it comes to it, I will choose the baby first over anything else, and I realize that it's just money, and so on... but it's what we need to survive, too, so I feel like we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'd rather just be at home right now, to be absolutely safe (and to be only moments away from our doctor/the Family Birthing Center), but we'll have to wait and see if we can make this work at least a little while longer.

All in all, I know this much is true: As long as the baby is fine, I'll be fine. Keep sending us good thoughts and positive energy and all the prayers you can spare, because we need 'em!

Friday, November 21, 2008
We ended up back in the Family Birthing Center again last night (Thursday). Apparently, this is becoming something of a habit. :)

For the past few days, the baby had been moving more and more sluggishly, especially compared to the previous several weeks when he moved like he was swimming the Channel or doing a leg press or something. Then, all day on Thursday, I could only feel the constant tightening and hardening of my stomach (Braxton-Hicks contractions), but didn't feel the baby kicking, moving, shifting positions, or anything. In the evening, we sat together and tried to get a movement, but all we could feel were these minute "tap-taps"-- the way the baby's movements felt in the beginning, but much milder than they've been for several weeks. I was getting nervous... by the time we were ready for bed, I was sure the baby was finally going to wake up and start his calisthenics, as usual, but nothing changed. Even when we pressed up against my abdomen, there was no response. Joel got up, got dressed, and said "We're going in."

At the FBC, they hooked us up to monitors again, and though it took awhile, they finally found the baby's heartbeat. It was the best sound in the world. I almost immediately felt ready to fall asleep, as if the sound of that "da-dum, da-dum" was a lullaby set up just for me. They gave me OJ to drink, in hopes that the sugar in it would make the baby start moving-- but earlier that evening I'd had tea with sugar, fruit salad, even chocolate milk, and nothing had changed, so... I was a bit skeptical. Meanwhile, they are also monitoring the contractions I'm having, which are coming at about one every three minutes-- much more frequently than yesterday. What the heck is going on with this kid, does he really want to come this early??

The doctor (Altman) recommended another pelvic exam to check for dilation-- and I'm still not there yet, thank goodness. I still have another couple of weeks before they will give the go-ahead for labor; until then, they want everything to sloooow down. Altman doesn't like terbutalene, though, so we got to skip the shot this time. yay!

We eventually left the hospital with their recommendations to take it easy and rest, and then went immediately to Wal-Mart to buy a fetal heart monitor. You know, just to help us feel better in the middle of the night when we're wondering what is happening and need to reassure ourselves that the baby is still doing well. Call me paranoid, but I'll go back in to the FBC daily if I have to for the next 6 weeks to make sure this baby is healthy and that we're on track. So far, so good, but at this rate I'm wondering if we'll make it to December 31st! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008
So, I'm on to the next little "side effect" of pregnancy. Not that I'm complaining-- I just want to document this so that next time, I'm not surprised or confused about what's happening. It really helps to know that these things are normal and that your body isn't actually falling apart. :)

Starting around Thursday night, I started feeling really weird sensations in my hands. Tingling in my fingers and wrists, sharp pains shooting from my fingers down my arm, difficulty and pain when gripping things (which I noticed when I was trying to sign the hospital forms), stiffness and numbness in my fingers and wrists, and so on. After doing some research on the Internet-- which, by the way, has been a godsend for me during this pregnancy-- I found out that this is basically a temporary case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It's brought on by pregnancy and goes away after delivery, and usually only comes up in the last part of the third trimester. It's caused when my body retains fluids that press on the flexor tendons in the carpal tunnel, compressing the median nerve and causing all of those painful/numb/tingling sensations I described earlier.

The treatment? Reduce repetetive motions, take hand-stretching breaks, shake your hands and wrists out frequently, sleep with arms/wrists propped up on pillows (how the heck are you supposed to do this??), when typing make sure the wrists are elevated, and possibly use a wrist brace if things get really bad.

Wow, am I just reaching for side effects at this point, or what? Maybe these things are happening now because I never got morning sickness or cravings or anything like that... Payback time! ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pregnancy: November 8-14, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008
We just had the best weekend... our friends Phil & Christine came all the way from San Jose to do our maternity photography. It was awesome! I've seen some of the photos on his camera, and they look great so far. Can't wait to see them larger. It was a really cool experience, even though it is tougher than it looks to be a "model." I think that this is going to be one of the gifts I value most... we love photography, and art, and this session was where the two met to celebrate the pregnancy. :) Christine was there as all-around support, make-up technician, photography assistant, and stand-in. Phil did an amazing job with the pictures and never complained once about having to work with amateurs like me and Joel-- just kept clicking and directing and adjusting lights until we actually looked like pros! What a great experience.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Sometimes I find it difficult not to be overwhelmed with sadness when I think about going back to work so soon after the baby is born. I'll probably have to go back a mere 6 weeks after the birth, and I just don't know how I'm going to do it without falling apart. When I think about how much I'm going to miss by being at work during the first, precious months of his life, I can hardly bear it. Yesterday I was sitting in my chair and felt the baby start his calisthenics, and I did my usual "Hey, baby" to the stomach, and then burst into tears. I feel like these next couple of months are the last ones I will have where no one can tell me I have to leave him. Although I know it sounds weird to say it like this, we will never be this close again. After December, we'll be two bodies instead of one, and that means we can be separated, and that we will be separated-- way too soon for my peace of mind.


It's not that I don't want my son to separate from me or be his own person. It's that I can hardly deal with the fact that within a few weeks of his birth I will have to leave him all day and go back to work. I feel like I'm going to miss everything-- all those important, intense, amazing "firsts" that babies go through. And, yes-- I know that women all over the world are dealing with these same emotions over having to leave their child and get back to making money to support that child. Somehow, though, it doesn't make me feel better at all to know that there are lots of us out there who are going to miss their babies all day long.

And mine isn't even born yet! Sheesh, you'd think I would at least wait until he's here to start missing him. /:)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I saw the doctor today and was able to finally get across the type of pain I'm feeling in my hips, pelvic region, tailbone, etc. I mean, it's to the point where I'm having a hard time standing up, walking, or going up/down stairs without pain-- every day. It can get pretty severe at times, like a sharp knife is cutting into me. I end up walking like a 98-year-old, shuffling my feet to cut down on the pain as much as possible; probably looks ridiculous. Anyway, I told Dr. A., and he said that he would approve disability whenever I felt that it had gone far enough and I couldn't take it any more. Yay! And now for the bad news-- it has gone far enough, and I can't take it any more, but I can't afford to take disability and leave work. If I were to leave, my paycheck would drop to half-pay. Half pay? That is so far from what we need that it is totally impossible to even imagine how we would live, especially considering that my paycheck is our main source of income. Joel is thankfully bringing in freelance income, but it wouldn't be enough to cover the other half of my paycheck. All of which means that no matter how painful it is, I'm just going to have to do deep breathing exercises, walk very slowly, and figure out how to keep going at work until I'm basically ready to collapse. Yay? I'm really not trying to be a martyr here, but I have no idea how this is going to work. Seriously speaking, I don't think I'll make it much longer... but how the heck am I supposed to take the time off to rest/recover/not be in pain, when doing so means we'll lose half of our income???

On that note, looks like it's time for chocolate milk. If chocolate can't cure it, what will? ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008
Well, to be depressing YET AGAIN, I signed up for my health coverage for Jan-Dec '09, and it was pretty ugly. I don't qualify for short-term disability coverage because of my "pre-existing condition" (pregnancy), so if I take off *any time* after the birth, it will be covered only by regular disability-- half of my regular paycheck. In other words, I'm scheduled to come back in the first week of March '09, for a total of 8 weeks out. If I actually did that, I could expect to get half of my paycheck for those two months off. Half. You know, because who really needs the other half?? I usually just toss it in a dumpster or use it for papier mache projects anyway, so what's the diff?


And not only that. Oh yes, there's more! My monthly premiums went up by $100, and that's without adding the baby, let alone Joel, to any sort of health coverage. I don't qualify for Healthy Families or Kaiser Children's Health Plan, which both have income guidelines that are just under what I theoretically make per year. I say theoretically because my take-home pay is approximately half of my gross income. In a way, it would be better if I made less money, because at this point I'm going to be spending another $300/month for baby + Joel (at least), which added to the extra $100/month for my own premiums, makes things pretty dicey around here. And then top that off with the fact that I will be taking home only HALF of a paycheck for 2 months, and you can see where we're screwed.

I don't mean to sound so negative, but man oh man... I'm at a loss here as to how the heck we're going to make it.

Oh yeah-- and yesterday at work, I actually broke into tears while walking down the stairs after a meeting. It was very embarrassing, as my coworkers were there and got to witness the whole debacle. They were all very kind and concerned and supportive, but it almost made it worse, in a way. Yes, I was in pain, and yes, it was a touch embarrassing to cry in front of everyone, but it was also a reminder that there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I just have to keep going as long as possible and then recover as quickly as I can and get back to work as soon as possible next year. Otherwise... well, maybe the landlord will take some of our oranges and grapefruit in lieu of rent? Hmm... I'm going to look into it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pregnancy: November 1-7, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008
Well, it's taken about 30 weeks, but I'm finally feeling the "bad part" of pregnancy. Never had to deal with morning sickness, not even once-- never had queasiness, illness, sensitivity to smells, nothing. The most I've dealt with so far is the speedy pulse that happens every so often, and in the beginning when I would get dizzy every time I stood up, or when I was so overwhelmingly tired but couldn't get any sleep-- no big deal, really, when you think about it. Now, however, things are beginning to get a bit yucky. I've been having these severe leg cramps in my right calf-- one time, I woke up screaming and crying from the pain; Joel had to massage my leg for 15 minutes until it relaxed. Then, in the past few days, I've been really feeling the effects of the relaxin hormone coursing through my body. Yay?

I believe that I'm experiencing what is called either SPD (Symphysis Pubis Disfunction) or PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain). Basically, the ligaments in my pelvic region (at the coccyx in the back and the pubic symphysis in front) are loosening due to the relaxin-- loosening a bit too much, unfortunately, exactly at the time when they need to be working the hardest to support my belly and the baby. It causes pain when lifting your legs (climbing stairs, going up and down curbs, getting in and out of bed), separating your legs (entering and exiting the car, bathtub, etc.), and even just walking. There isn't a lot in terms of treatment that's available, mainly some basic avoidance of pain-causing situations, plus stretching, relaxation exercises, pelvic floor exercises, rest, etc. In fact, I'm sure my doctor-- like most U.S. doctors, who scoff at PGP/SPD-- will brush it off as just another normal part of pregnancy. Except that I know that I should be able to at least walk without such severe, sharp, mind-blowing pain. I still have 8 weeks to go, people! How am I supposed to do a regular work-week like this? Sometimes, I can hardly walk from the couch to the kitchen, so how am I supposed to do a normal work schedule, which involves standing and sitting and all of that stuff?

Anyway... I'm going to try contacting a few different options nearby, like a massage therapist who specializes in prenatal massage, and a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy therapy, the Walker Technique, and pelvic pain. Maybe one of htose options will work out. Other than that, I guess it's homeopathic treatments for me, and crossing my fingers that I can make it at least one more month at work!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008
It's pretty amazing... today, I have been pregnant for 32 weeks. I ony have two months to go, or eight weeks-- that's only eight more weekends hanging out with Joel, taking walks or watching "Ghost Hunters" or lazing around on the couch. I only have five more Monday mornings where I have to show up at work, and then it's home to wait out the next three weeks in comfort... And then, finally, we get to meet our new baby boy.

Whenever I think of it, how close we are, how it could really happen at almost any time during the next several weeks (hopefully, after my birthday on the 24th!), it makes me giddy. I am awestruck, just imagining how much my life is about to change, how amazing the birth experience is going to be, how beautiful our family is becoming with the anticipation of this new person joining us...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again-- it's so hard to be at work right now, trying to concentrate on these things that seem so trivial compared to the huge, overwhelming importance of birth and family and home and love. Maybe it's the hormones or something, but I am continually overcome with these moments of joy and serenity, and I want to bask in them-- especially because I realize that someday soon I may be so tired and frustrated that I need to remember the beauty of parenthood (so that I can survive the not-so-beautiful moments!). Anyway, enough sappiness for the night... I'm going to go rest and revel in each kick, each roll, each movement that the baby is so generously sharing with me. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Just a quick note before I pass out--
I've noticed that my belly seems to be losing sensation, as if it's going numb, or something. When I touch my skin across my tummy, it almost feels like touching someone else's skin, or the way your body feels after your arm or leg "falls asleep". Very weird and a bit surreal.

UPDATE: I found out that this is because there are very few nerves along the belly, and when the skin stretches out it pulls the nerves farther from each other, leaving these numb spots in between. There is also more pressure on the nerves themselves from Junior & the ever-expanding womb, which adds to the numbness. All I know is, it is very frustrating to feel the need to scratch an itch on your tummy, and then not be able to feel the relief because you can't even tell you're scratching anything!

Friday, November 07, 2008
So, the baby has been moving a little differently lately. Early on, it was mostly little bumps and thumps, taps and kicks and so on. Sometimes it seemed like he was trying out for some sort of tap-dancing contest, or was practicing his drumming, or maybe even doing some light boxing against the inside of my tummy. Now, however, there is less of that "thump tap bump" type of movement, and more rolling, sliding, and sweeping moves going on. He'll take his "foot" (or whatever) and slide it across my stomach, for instance, or I'll look down and see a huge bump move from just above my right hip all the way up towards my rib cage... it's so weird, and to be honest, kind of feels gross sometimes. Well, maybe not "gross", but definitely weird with a capital "W". Not only does it sometimes seem like an alien is nesting in my belly and starting to remodel or Riverdance or attempt jiujitsu moves, but when those big rolling movements start it also can make me feel kind of queasy (almost "carsick"), if only for a moment. It's like being on a roller-coaster, or driving fast over a small hill-- you get this "whoaaaa" feeling in your tummy as everything moves around internally. Very strange... but somehow, still cool! :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pregnancy: October 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tomorrow I go in for the Glucose Tolerance Test. I don't know why I would be running high on the glucose screen, because I have no other signs of problems, really. I've gained just under 10 pounds so far, and the doctor says I'm doing just fine-- the baby is growing well, and we both seem to be as healthy and happy as can be. I've had some discomfort lately with the ribs-- that kid must be pushing up with all his might against my rib cage!-- and with hip pain after walking around a lot, but other than I feel pretty good. I hope all goes smoothly tomorrow and that I can report back that all is well. :)

Thursday, October 02, 2008
I got through the Glucose Tolerance Test just fine... but came back home exhausted. I found it odd that I wasn't hungry at all, considering that I hadn't eaten since 7:00 the previous night, and it was just before noon when I got home from the hospital. I rested for awhile, and then Joel took me to the store to get one more pair of my favorite maternity pants EVER-- the Secret Fit Belly pants from Motherhood Maternity in the mall. Time for a clothing rave/rant!

I am officially in love with those pants. I have one pair of shorts with the Secret Fit Belly, and I wore them almost daily all summer. I also have a skirt, but that'll come in more handy during fall when I can wear it with hose/tights; it's too hot right now to wear it. This afternoon, I bought my one other pair of pants that can be worn either at work or casually-- and I'm so happy about it. Yes, they are more expensive than I like, but it's soooo worth it. I just cannot stand those other maternity pants with the band that is supposed to go directly across your belly; ouch! uncomfortable! yucky! I also try to avoid the ones that hang out just under your belly, because they tend to slide down and sag in a very unattractive manner; yuck. So far, though, I've been the luckiest woman ever, because my generous and lovely cousin Amy has loaned me her maternity wardrobe, thus saving me HUNDREDS of dollars and many nights of wondering how much longer I can stretch out my pre-pregnancy clothes. I'm so lucky to have such helpful family & friends! :)

Back to the Glucose testing: The hospital called me back in the late afternoon, and it's official-- I'm in the clear! No Gestational Diabetes for me! WOO-HOO!!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
So far, this has been an amazing pregnancy. No real, serious problems to deal with, no morning sickness, no severe pains or anything like that. Just the little things like being tired and dizzy for the entire 1st trimester, and the rapid heart rate when I walk certain distances or go up the stairs, and then of course the hip pain. I am so tired of sleeping on my left side I could cry. My hips are getting progressively more and more stiff, achy, and uncomfortable-- if not downright painful-- and now they're being joined by my shoulders, probably because of the sleeping position again. I just got a "Yoga Mama" DVD, and hopefully that will help me with stretching those areas out a bit, and maybe relieve the discomfort as well.

I've also realized that I am ready to leave work. I would leave this month if I could, and be off for November through March. If only!! I just want to be home right now; resting when I need to, enjoying the moments that are passing by so quickly, treating myself nicely (because who else will, right?) and taking extra care of myself... Is it so much to ask? I guess so. This is kind of why I want to get out of California. I really don't want to have to go back to work right away and leave the baby in day care as an infant; if it is at all possible to avoid it, I will. But where could we go? How would we get there? (sigh) So many questions, so little time to get answers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Things are still going great. I am still in love with feeling the baby move... even when he does these weird rolls and I feel almost-seasick, and even when he wakes up in the middle of the night or at 4 a.m. and decides to start exercising. :) I'm up to about 12-13 pounds so far, of which the baby only accounts for 2.5 pounds or so. It's hardly the amount of weight I was expecting to gain by 7 months, but then I'm new at this, so who knows?

The only thing that has been semi-problematic lately is the hip discomfort & hip/lower-back pain. I know that it is one of those gifts that comes along with pregnancy, but it feels so similar to the pain from the car accident that I can't help but wonder if they are related. I mean, come on; you can't tell me that a history of fractured pelvis, even when it was five years ago, won't have any impact on my pregnant body-- especially when that same pelvis is supposed to widen, separate a bit, flex, etc. for the baby. Hmm... yeah, I think there might be a connection.

Anyway-- I just try to stretch as often as possible, and rest when it starts to hurt or feel "tight" in my hip area, especially on the right side. Unfortunately, it has pushed me into a few sick days that I don't really have left, so I'll be taking a hit in the paycheck this month. Ugh. On the bright side, I have no qualms about taking care of myself, my body, and my pregnancy, even when it means losing some money, so we've got *that* going for us! /:)

Friday, October 17, 2008
Just enough time for a brief insurance rant--
The school district I work for has what may be the WORST possible health benefits/health plans I've ever seen. For example, I currently pay approx. $250/month for my own health coverage plus $100 for dental for me & Joel. Next year, the health plans are changing... if I kept the same set-up next year, it would cost me $450/month. However, I am also going to have a child to cover-- and that, just one more person on my health plan, would cost $845/month, plus $100 for dental. And that's not even covering Joel! If I had all three of us on there, it would be $1142 for health + $100 for dental. PER MONTH!!! Unbelievable! More on this later.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pregnancy: September 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008
At around 5.5 months, I started feeling the baby move, too... it was so awesome! What an unbelievable feeling; and that reverence, that awe, hasn't gone away, either. Every time I feel him kick, or move, or change positions, my brain wants to turn everything off and focus inwards; I stop in mid-conversation, sometimes in the middle of a word, and gaze downwards... it's just so amazing and miraculous and beautiful, and it is turning me into a sappy mess, I can tell you that much for sure! I am so in love with being pregnant, I can hardly express it. I just want to savor every moment of this time, these last few precious months of pregnancy, before I get to treasure our brand new baby boy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008
This pregnancy has been sooo easy, but the last couple of weeks I've started to see some changes. Last week, for instance, I was home from work with hip pain that was making me limp. Probably a combination of pregnancy hormones and a recurrence of my old pelvic injury (the fracture from 2003's car accident)... but uncomfortable nonetheless, and downright painful many times! This past week, I woke up from a bad dream to uncontrollable shaking that lasted around 10 minutes... it was quite scary, actually. We weren't sure if we should go in to the doctor or not, but decided not to because I had an appointment already later that day. At the appt., he was fairly dismissive, and merely said to watch out for it happening again before calling the hospital. Thanks for the reassurance??

Anyway, on Friday I went in for my glucose screen, which came back a little high according to the doctor-- so now I have to go in next Thursday for a Glucose Tolerance Test, which involves fasting and three hours of blood tests. Woo-hoo! That'll tell me/us whether or not I have Gestational Diabetes... which would suck. Keep your fingers crossed!