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 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! ;)

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