The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Monday, December 29, 2008

When life hands you lemons...


You may have a baby!

Again, we're moving further into fruit sizes that trouble me.

I wonder who came up with using the produce aisle specifically as a measure of fetal size, especially because it can be so variable, depending on time of year and region where the fruit originated. I'm guessing there are many other things (even in the grocery store!) to compare with. I saw at least one that used "jumbo shrimp" for a week or two ago, but why not... a golf ball, a baseball, a deck of cards. Or even a whole set of things that men specifically could relate to!

We've decided that now, because it's week 14, and we're safely into the start of the second trimester we're going to start telling *everyone* who didn't already know! We're going to start with Kevin Smith, of course, because without him...well, Craig and I wouldn't be at this particular party! And from there we'll branch out to the rest of our circle of Worldwide and local friends.

Christmas Eve I managed to only wake up ONE time and I was ecstatic about it Christmas Day. So for now you can just imagine that waking up every two hours at night is continuing like that until I say otherwise, and I will cease to bitch about it going forward. (Thank God for nap time!)

Otherwise I still don't "feel" pregnant. Except my pants are at this weird stage where they're too tight, but I don't yet feel like I'm ready for maternity-wear.

To ease my mind I bought one of those hand held fetal Doppler devices for home use on eBay. Craig and I were able to hear the baby's heartbeat with it on Saturday night and it was very, very comforting to me. Slowly, but slowly, this baby is starting to feel more "real." I'm thinking that when we go for the next ultrasound at 20 weeks (the "big" ultrasound as they say) and Blobby starts to look like a person instead of a growth, that it will somehow then really sink in more. Or maybe when I'm able to feel the baby move, my brain will make that connection.

Some people say, though, that they don't really have a connection with the baby until after it is born, and even then it may take weeks or months. I don't obviously know yet how I'm going to feel, but we'll wait and see. (Like we had a choice.)

I will admit I'm starting to feel more excited now that some of the danger is gone and I'm not so worried about miscarrying again. But I still don't feel that same level of excitement and happiness that I felt last time. I'm slowly letting go of the guilt for that, as I definitely want my happiness back. Everyone tells me it's "normal", but that sounds like such a cop-out.

In the meantime, I'm trying to think as many cheerful thoughts as possible and I'm trying SO hard to be less cranky all the time. Which is no easy task considering I'm not sleeping. However, by the time this pregnancy is through, Craig should be eligible for canonization.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peach baby, peach baby...


Do doot, do do do doot...

I apologize for skipping week 12, as we were in Atlanta for a mini-vacation. But week 12 was kind of an uninteresting fruit anyway, as it was a plum. Didn't we just see "prune" two weeks ago?

We are beginning to move into the relative sizes of things where I'm starting to be concerned.

"HOW big, you say?"

"And that's going to come out of WHERE, you say?"

You get the idea...

So far I've decided pregnancy is not "fun."

It's been 13 weeks of boring waiting for things to happen. Waiting to ovulate, waiting to be able to test, waiting for test results, waiting for the doctor to tell me, "You look fine. Come back in 4 weeks.", waiting to lose my mind waiting...

Also, I would love to reclaim sleeping through the whole night. It's been a good 4 months since I haven't had to get up multiple times during the night (thanks Desmond, too, at first) just to empty my bladder so I can go back to sleep. I don't even remember what it was like at this point to sleep an entire eight hours. Some would say that it is preparing me for the trials of motherhood. To that I say, baloney. I've got a LONG way to go until then. I should be storing up on sleep now instead!

I've developed daily headaches and neck aches, which I've discovered are "normal." I've got stabbing and cramping pains in the appropriate areas above and below the belt, and all my husband can say is, "Wow, pregnancy has got to be so strange."

If I'm not nauseous, or can't eat something that was once good, I'm exhausted and need a major nap. (From all the "not sleeping" at night, you see.) I'm not allowed to do *anything* or eat all sorts of interesting things I DO want to eat, or come in contact with anything even remotely hazardous.

I feel small, and vulnerable, and unsure of myself, and I don't think I've felt this way since I was about 12 years old.

And I don't like it. At. All.

What happened to the brave, strong, independent, smart me?

Someone please tell me it's all worth it.

No don't, because that's just what I expect you to say, and what everyone says, and that they'd do it again in a heartbeat, blah blah blah. But I suspect that those are all the post-partum endorphins speaking. You know, the ones that make it possible for people to even THINK about having children again, and thus perpetuate the species... Nature's rotten little joke.

More perhaps when I'm in a better mood...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Lime is in the Coconut!


Rounding out week 11, the baby is key lime-size! I can't believe how fast the cub is growing in there! The uterus is about like a grapefruit-size...or a coconut maybe?? Hence all the singing in my head about how I'm going to relieve my "flipper ache!" (See the link in the title if you have no idea what I'm talking about!) Of course, the baby doesn't have flippers any more...(I hope!)

Today's visit to the doctor was quick, but extraordinary!

We got there on time, (though it was raining like mad), got brought right back, the nurse checked my weight and bp (thankfully back to 110/70!) and we were put right in the exam room.

Then another nurse came in with the hand-held Doppler that looked for all the world like a walkie-talkie with a microphone attached. She said, "I'm going to try to hear the heartbeat, but it's kind of early and we may not be able to find it, but we'll try! If we can't find it, the doctor will do a pelvic..." So I hopped up on the table and she said, "Okay, since it's early I'm going to have to go low, like near the hair line. You're going to think I'm listening to your bladder!" Luckily, in anticipation of this (hopefully) being what they were going to do today, I wore the stretchy pants!

So I laid back, and lowered trou, she squirted on the (cold!) ultrasound gel, and started with the transducer kind of low. It sounded at first like one of those white-noise-generator ("sleep machine") rainstorms, and she apologized for there being a lot of static on her device today. Then there was a slow heartbeat at my right pelvis near the femoral artery/vein, which she said, "There's you..." and she kept squishing around...

Then somewhere near the middle-right was THE distinctive, faster, wush-wush-wush sound, and the nurse nodded her head and said, "There. You hear it?" And then I laughed out loud, which messed the whole thing up, but the nurse laughed too, (and I'm sure that's not the first time that's happened!) So she said, "Let's see if we can find it again!" A little more squishing and she found it again more to the left, and I could see her nodding out of the corner of my eye.

I was grinning like a fool, but I tried to hold still. She found it in one more spot, and seemed pleased, so she stopped. She wiped me off and grabbed my hand to help me up (which I thought was cool -- obviously not her first day with preggos!) gave me a big smile, and said, "Good! It should be even easier next time..."

As the nurse walked out, the doctor walked in and said in a loud voice, "CONGRATULATIONS!" and shook our hands. He could tell we were thrilled, and he seemed pleased that everything was going well. I said we were fine NOW, of course, because I really needed that confirmation that everything was okay. I had been cramping kind of badly the last couple of days, but there was no blood, so they had told me not to worry when I called the office. But of course telling me not to worry, and me actually not worrying are two entirely different things.

He told me it's very normal after a loss to feel anxious about everything, and be worried about the progress the whole way. I confessed that I had been dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety and guilt still over the last pregnancy, and he asked me why I feel guilty. I had trouble articulating it. Finally I managed to get out that I feel like if I had only done something better, or more right, or tried harder that baby would have made it.

And he looked me dead-on serious and said there was nothing I could have done to have that baby come out okay. He said 99% of the time, it's just a chromosomal abnormality that is incompatible with life, and no amount of anything I could have done would have fixed that. There is no reason at all for me to feel guilty. And I told him I know that in my head, it's just a matter of convincing myself. I admitted that I tend to be hard on myself, and he said I have nothing to feel guilty about.

And then he reminded me of something, which I thought it was very sweet of him to say. He said:
"It is not man who gives life."

And I found that very comforting. He said that part is not up to us. But then he also said, "By the same token that means if everything goes well, you can't take credit for that either!!!" Being reminded that it's not up to me, and that I have to give up some of that control sometimes, somehow just made me feel a lot better...

With that, he said, "Great! Let's see you again in four weeks, and then four more weeks after that is the BIG ultrasound!" (meaning we get to see the much bigger baby, and possibly find out gender!)

They repeated my prenatal blood work before I left, because they hadn't taken any since the last pregnancy and it's time to start checking up again (which I hoped they were going to do) and happily we split back out into the rain!

I've been on a high all day because that visit was very quick, but somehow very satisfying. I feel like I can relax a lot more now, because here we are nigh on week 12, and everything seems to be going like it should! We're feeling safe, and happy, and I think we're ready to start telling people. Craig told everyone at his job today, and I think I will bring it up on my next team call at work too. The next person I think we should collectively tell would be Kevin (Smith) because, well, without that guy, we wouldn't even be at this point today. I'm just trying to think of the right way to tell him...

To celebrate, we went out for a very delicious and well-deserved dinner at 131 Main. And now we're looking forward to a nice getaway in Atlanta next week with no worries. I'm sure at this point, being the holiday season, the time will fly by until the next appointment on Jan 12th!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thursday! Thursday! THURSDAY!!!


So once again our shared life is in a holding pattern with everything hinging on a specific event. There seems to be once such event every year or so, at least for us. Two years ago, it was "Once we get married, we can do X, Y and Z". Last year, it was "Well, once we buy a house...".

This year, everything seems to be contingent on how things go on Thursday.

More about that in a minute. First off, I'd like to apologize for my long absence from this blog. I've had a few ideas brewing in my head since the loss of baby 1.0, but haven't been able to successfully birth any of them (no pun intended). Many of Kathy's blog entries have come about, at least in part due to conversations she and I have had, so rest assured I've been here in spirit, as much of a cop-out as that may be. Hopefully Thursday will bring with it a marked return to blogging for me.

Ahh, Thusday. Thursday will be, for all intents and purposes, our 12 week checkup. This will mean several things to us (and some to you as well):

1. 12 weeks will mark the end of the first trimester, and with it, the period of time when spontneous miscarriages (like the one we experienced last time) become significantly less likely to occur. In other words, we're not out of the woods, but we'll be well on our way.

2. This will be the date on which we've already decided that we're going to tell most people we're going to have a baby. So if you're just finding this blog now, congratulations: you have a few dozen entries' worth of backreading ahead of you. If you somehow found the blog ahead of time, like the disclaimer says, try to at least act surprised.

3. I know that hitting the 12 week mark without major incident will go a long way toward improving Kathy's state of emotional well-being. There's nothing like losing a child you didn't even know you could have in the first place that better exemplifies the phrase "all bets are off". Once we get over this hurdle, we can stop holding our collective breath and start getting real with things like preparing a room for the kid and begging for supplies.

Thanks to all those of you who've taken this journey with us so far, and a hearty welcome and preemptive "thank you for your support" to those just joining (or about to).

Who knows what the next year will bring? For now, though, I'll be content just to find out what Thursday has in store for us.

For the record, I'm optomistic.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Moving along


Week 10 Baby is now moving into the "fetus" stage (or foetus, if you like your Alphabits with extra vowels), has completed the development of all the major organs, and is now past the stage where any congenital malformations are most likely to happen. Yay!

I think whoever came up with the comparison of "prune" for the week 10 baby was having a joke at the state of first-trimester preggos, as it is a well-known fact that constipation can be rampant right now. Because otherwise, why would you pick something so shrively and unappealing (and which rather resembles a big turd?!) I've heard other comparisons though, like walnut, or a kumquat (what??) But I appreciate a good joke. I'll stick with prune!

Which brings me to another thought: why is it that they never tell you about GREAT things that will happen to you during pregnancy. It's all things like constipation and acne and morning sickness and sleeplessness and having to pee all the time. Or, "You may notice that your pants are starting to get tight and uncomfortable," and "Your breasts are probably extremely tender and feel like rocks." Why couldn't it be, "You may notice that your teeth are slowly getting whiter!" or "You may notice that your farts now smell like roses!"

However, everyone tells me that the second trimester is the "magical" one, where the bizarro symptoms clear up, and you learn the gender of the baby, and you can feel the baby move so you're not worried about how the little one is doing ALL the time. Just a few more weeks...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ho ho ho...


Green olive!

Or something much cuter. That baby is almost an inch big already. But I'll let you read the facts for yourself. As with any of those pictures, you can click on them and read more about how the little produce is developing! (I would tell you all about it, but I need a nap...)

My appetite is back with a vengeance, though I still have the wicked food aversions, (lettuce? yuck!) and I can't eat nearly as much as I used to so we have a lot of leftovers.

Other than that I'm taking this week off work to get some things done around the house before Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays. Though mom is already insisting on bringing everything reheatable so I don't have to cook more than the turkey! (Which is just as well, as I am SO TIRED right now.) I hope the baby likes turkey, or I am going to be SO SAD, because I love it.

I have much to be thankful for this year, as every year. I plan on taking a little of my time off on Thursday to just sit and think about the many ways in which I have been blessed the last 11 months, and then enjoy the day with loved ones. I really look forward to family get-togethers, because my family ROCKS. That in itself is something to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Panic! At the Doctor


SPOILER: This story has a happy ending, in case you are now afraid of reading further because of my silly title.

Yesterday I woke up feeling crappy. But not in the good way. It wasn't the pregnant way. In fact, it was just the opposite. Where the last few weeks, the boobs had been KILLING me, they hardly hurt at all, and they had hurt slightly less the day prior. My appetite had returned. I was still getting up to pee 4+ times a night, but that was about the only thing making me still feel pregnant.

As an alternative, the last few days I've had killer lower back pain. It kicked me right in the coccyx. It wasn't sciatic nerve pain (which is supposed to be "normal") because I've had that, and what I've got wasn't it. And I've had some weeeird cramping, like if I didn't know better I would have assumed I was going to get my period any moment.

So, being in a foul mood with all those things combined, I placed a somewhat aggravated call to the doctor's office, where I spoke to a nurse. She said, "Oookay, why don't you come in for an ultrasound and talk to the doctor..." Because I live close, she scheduled it for about an hour after the call!

I got there early, which meant a bit of a wait. I ended up getting the same sweet little ultrasound tech who did our "second opinion" ultrasound with the miscarriage. She realized she had scanned me before and I said yes, but we're really hoping for better news this time!

I felt doomed. I had this feeling like I KNEW everything was going to be wrong, and the baby was going to have passed, and I was going to be back where I started, except months later. I worried about how I was going to tell Craig, (he couldn't come with me because of the short notice and work,) and how I would tell my parents after I hadn't even told them I was pregnant yet, and how to tell our families...

I got up on the table. For me, there's a terrible moment of anxiety the moment the wand goes in, and the little grayscale blobs start to take shape on the screen. Because there's that big black spot with the little gray blob in it, but...is the blob okay???

The tech said, "There's the heartbeat..." and I said, "You know, you guys keep saying that, but I just don't see it." So she zoomed waaaaay in for me, and there it was! Flicker flicker, like a little LED flashing on and off. Wheeee! Blobby was just fine!

(I dig that little arrow with the word "baby" above it, in case you couldn't tell what that was!)
She told me the left end is where the head is, (so the other end is the rump end, natch) and the black spot in the middle of the left end is where the brain and such will be growing!

She turned on the Doppler so I could hear the sound and there was that shew-shew sound but it was so faint. She tried repositioning, and she just had a hard time getting a measurement because someone in there wasn't cooperating...

I told her I was also experiencing some pain on my right side, so she poked around for a while and checked out the ovaries too. She explained the things we were looking at, and I was fairly amazed. She said ovaries are pretty much the most difficult thing to find and distinguish with the ultrasound machine.

Before she wrapped up, she said, "Let's go peek at the baby again, and I'll print you some pictures." She was able to pull up the heartbeat better this time, and it came in at 171 bpm, which is just perfect.
(Can you see the little brackets in the middle of the dotted line through the baby? That's where the heartbeat flicker is! So tiny! No wonder I couldn't see it in microview.)

She said the little berry was actually measuring 8 weeks 4 days, which is a little ahead of schedule, but I don't care because it means it's growing!

So with my new pics in hand I trotted off to see the doctor. When he finally came in he smiled at me and said, "What's going on?" in that delightfully southern charm way that he has, and shook my hand. I said, "Doc, I think this baby is going to worry me every damn day until I have it. And probably after too." And with a smile he said, "Probably for the rest of your life!" I agreed, but I added, "At least then it will be on the outside and I can actually DO something about it!"

I told him about my symptoms going away, and he said they're supposed to do that, so I shouldn't worry. He confirmed I was taking my baby aspirin every day. I told him that the tech saw some kind of hematoma on my scans, and he looked them over and said he wouldn't worry about it; it happens often that there's a small hematoma where the placenta and the uterus meet because of implantation, but it usually just goes away, and he wouldn't hardly call that a hematoma. He also told me it was my corpus luteum giving me pain on the right, and that should go away too. (That's what I hoped it was, because I was pretty sure I had ovulated out of the right side!) He said, "You've got a good-looking baby in there, with a good strong heartbeat! See you in 3 more weeks!"

Fears smited, seeing the baby again, and having a positive chat with the doctor...I left there happy! I'm so glad I went because now I KNOW we're past the point we got to last time, and I no longer have that nagging doubt in the back of my mind that was keeping me awake nights. We went out for Japanese last night to celebrate! (No sushi for me, though...)

I was so happy with the outcome that I caved in and told my parents. They deserve to share the happy news too, and I just didn't think I could hold it until Thanksgiving! Of course they were elated, and now my sisters are relieved of their secret-keeping obligations...

Friday, November 14, 2008

I feel about like this...




Guess which one is me!

It's hard to to just spend my days gestating and not feel concerned about every little thing. And Craig has no option but to just hold my hand and help me feel better as best he can...

I have so many things to do, but I'm anti-motivation at the moment. I just want to go lie down, mostly!

And I am seriously craving an egg roll.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If they name him "Ronald"...


The Charlotte Observer is reporting today that someone abandoned a baby in a McDonald's bathroom this morning. I don't think I have to comment on the sad and wasteful aspect of it, when so many try so hard to bring a baby of their own in the world, and others are just literally throwing them away... I'm hoping that baby will have a better shot at life than if it had stayed with those miscreants. Maybe grandma or someone will come forward, because I can't believe it would go unnoticed: one minute you're 9 months preggo, the next minute NO BABY?

In my own news, the nausea has subsided a bit today, and I actually feel like eating! I had a bacon egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast! (Though the baby has liked breakfast food this whole time.)

Top things I'm craving this week:

TOMATOES -- fresh ones, with just a little salt. Mmm, mmm, mmm. I might move on to pico de gallo a little later today for variety.

Complex carbs -- pasta, mac and cheese, and POTATOES (hash browns, mashed, fries.)

Tomatoes and potatoes? My baby likes to rhyme!

Roast beef au jus -- I would kill for a French dip, but I know that meat would have to be nuked beyond recognition before I could consider it "safe." So I am sating the need with French onion soup from a can...

I never got that sushi dinner I wanted before I got pregnant again. So we will go out one night and have the other things on the menu that are okay: miso, udon, tempura, and maybe I can throw a cucumber roll in there or something too!

(Did I mention that I'm probably the only whacko lady on earth who LIKES her nausea? It's a sign to me that things are at least okay... Maybe it will come back soon!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Go baby, go


Well, we went in for the post-positive-pregnancy-test ultrasound today at 7 weeks. (They gave me one early because I had a miscarriage last time...) I was quite nervous going in because I remember how much it hurt the last time when we were so disappointed. It's kind of like knowing you have to rip a Band Aid off the fuzzy part of the inside of your arm, and just trying to build up the adrenaline to do it... (I'm sensitive where they take blood - I always lose some skin too! Ouch!)

Walking down the hall, my throat was kind of dry, and the ultrasound tech asked me, "So, you're 21 weeks is that right?" And I said, "Noooo... More like 7. Maybe you're thinking of someone else?" Turns out she saw something earlier in my chart, and well, I guess if I had still been pregnant from the first time, that's how far along I would have been. When she got back in and looked at my chart, she saw the error and correctly guessed that I had a miscarriage last time. So I told her we were definitely looking for better news this time! In that case, she handed me the sheet and told me to come on back out when I was ready.

I was feeling cautiously optimistic about it because I actually FEEL pregnant this time. I've been pretty nauseous all day, but when I do get hungry, and I go to look in the fridge, I can't find anything even vaguely appetizing. I get up every couple of hours at night to pee. I'm constantly tired, I've got that slight lower abdominal cramping, and my boobs hurt like CRAZY, especially after I take off my bra. So this time, it feels like it's "developing."

I got up on the table, and she did her thing with the wand (thank God for warm gel!) and started poking around a little bit. And there was our little blob!

She said she could see a heartbeat, but of course that's exactly what happened the last time and then the tech couldn't find it again. I started to panic a little because she kept poking around, but she didn't take the statement back about finding a heartbeat, so I just sat still. And then she turned on the Doppler:



And then I started to cry! Look at that lil baby go!

The tech asked me to try to hold still...

She said the baby had a good, strong heartbeat of 135 bpm. She took the measurements, and said it's at 7 weeks 1 day, which is exactly right! I couldn't believe it! She said she'd print us one to take home:



(I guess techs have a sense of humor when it's good news!)

And we went off to wait for the doctor. When he came in the room he greeted us with a big smile and shook our hands, and darned if he didn't seem as excited as we were! He told me now that we've seen a heartbeat, the chances are excellent -- as good as 98% -- that this will result in a baby! He suggested that I take a baby aspirin every day to possibly help things. Apparently some people with clotting issues or people who have antibodies that pass through to the baby are helped by a daily dose of baby aspirin to prevent miscarriage. He said it definitely wouldn't hurt to take it, but might actually help. He also suggested a different kind of prenatal that may not give me fish burps, and said, "We'll see you in 4 weeks!"

(Ugh, 4 weeks!)

So I've been happy-crying on and off all day, because I just feel so relieved. It's like maybe I can let myself be happy again, and pick up where I left off the last time on all the planning and excitement now.

I still haven't figured out when I'm going to tell my parents. If I can hold out for 12 weeks, that will be around the same time as my next appointment, and the end of the first trimester, which is like the "safety barrier" to break through before you can relax a little... (Which is why most people wait at least that long to tell everyone.) I don't know if I can make it through Thanksgiving without saying anything though.

Okay, I don't know if I can make it through this WEEK without saying anything.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hospitals: Still a Downer


Well, in my last post you heard that I was prescribed amoxicilin.

So Thursday night I came down with a pretty horrible case of diarrhea. I was concerned about it enough (it kept me up all night, and my abdomen was painful) that I called the gyn/ob on Friday to talk to one of the nurses, because I didn't want to do anything that would harm the baby. The nurse called, and told me not to worry about it too much because sometimes that happens with antibiotics. (Which I knew, because cephalosporins have done a number on me in the past!) I was thinking it might have been some kind of food poisoning because it came on about 4 hours after I ate dinner. She then asked what I ate, and when I told her I had some bagged salad for dinner, she said that sometimes the preservatives in that will cause a bad reaction in some people. She said that Immodium was perfectly safe to take, and to make sure I stay really, really hydrated, and to eat soft foods, including yogurt, and I should be okay soon after that. Well, later in the day is when things got bad and weird...

BE PREPARED FOR TMI FOLLOWING THIS MESSAGE. DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THE HORROR OF IT ALL, SKIP TO PAST THE NEXT SET OF ASTERISKS. THANKS

LAST CHANCE

******************************************

I took some Immodium, but it didn't seem to be helping. I took the maximum dose (no more than 4 in 24 hours) but it didn't work. The next time I was in the bathroom, there was blood! For real, red blood, mixed in with everything. At first I panicked that it was coming from the front, but then I confirmed that wasn't it at all. Then I was worried because the Immodium specifically says on the box DO NOT TAKE if there is blood and/or mucous in your stool. By the end of the day I had both, and I felt like pieces of my colon must be falling out with every bathroom visit. Plus, I had a pretty severe case of abdominal cramping. I decided that if it was still bad in the morning, I would go get help...

In the morning, I was still peeing blood out of my backside, so we decided to head to the emergency room.

******************************************

IT'S OKAY TO COME OUT NOW.

We decided I should go to the emergency room on Saturday because the gyn/ob was closed, and I know the urgent care doesn't have the diagnostic equipment should something be really wrong. Plus, we have good insurance. (Thank God!)

So we get in the car and...the car starts acting funny. Belt squealing, power steering is not working well. We could hear the belt squeal occasionally, so I figured it wasn't *broken* per se. Craig was driving and he was in a panic. As we got a couple of miles down the road, the battery light started flashing. The whole way we were praying at every stop light that we wouldn't break down, and that we would just make it to the hospital! Luckily, we did! We decided to deal with the car thing after we got me taken care of...

I'm happy to say that, really in reality, the hospital experience we had this time was nearly just as good as the one we had with the D&E in July. Almost everyone was courteous and helpful, and asked lots of good questions, which is welcome and expected. Unfortunately, the wait time was crazy but...it was Saturday in the ER! The desk clerk apologized for the wait though, which was nice because he totally didn't have to.

The up side is that you get to watch all the interesting injured people come in. There was an older man who did something to his ankle, and a teenager who hurt his foot, and a little kid who hurt his knee at a game, and some guy who came in just holding his hand in a towel (yike! We were wondering how he was going to use the palm scanner that they use to sign you in!)

We got called into triage where I was asked a bunch of questions. They too apologized for the wait, but said I had priority over some of the others so I shouldn't have to wait too much longer.

Finally, Nurse Surly called us back to a room. I call her that because she was the only person I met the whole day who was devoid of niceness and personality. Maybe she was having a bad day, or maybe she was just a bitch. Who knows? All I know is that she acted somewhat annoyed the whole time. She gave me a cup for a urine sample and a gown and told me to put it on with the opening to the back. I asked if I needed to strip down all the way, and she said, "You can do it when you come back from the bathroom," which completely didn't answer my question...

We waited for a while, and met the friendly young girl volunteer on the floor who told us she would be happy to help if we needed anything. Finally Dr. Meek came in. (Again, not his real name, just my impression.) He was soft-spoken, but had a kind face, and asked probing questions. He told me also my illness was quite possibly a reaction to the antibiotics; I just may be very sensitive. He asked about the pregnancy, and he said he was also going to get an OB consult from the doctor from my clinic on duty today, which made me feel good. He then told me I was also going to have to provide a stool sample so they could test it to be sure... And then he went off to get his consult.

Nurse Surly came back and gave me a cup for a stool sample. She said she would come back later, I didn't have to do it right now, but to let her know when I was done.

Boy, talk about pressure. Ever try to poop on demand? It's exactly as difficult as it sounds. Especially when you haven't eaten ANYTHING in roughly 18 hours and your body was busy cleaning that out all morning.

I tried one time. A half an hour went by, but nothing. Nurse came back and gave me a bottle of Gatorade (which will probably cost about $65 when we get the bill.)

I tried again and still nothing. More time went by.

Craig got bored with his video game and had resigned himself to staring at me.

I tried walking around, sitting, lying down. We listened to the goings on in the next curtain -- an elderly woman had passed out in the dollar store after eating some catfish at a restaurant earlier, and they thought maybe she had an allergic reaction to it. The thought of catfish made me a little nauseous, but I was at that fine line where I was so starving, I was sick. I also know Craig hadn't eaten anything all day, and he had to be starving by now too, but he refused to step out to get something to eat.

We called the nurse back over, and when she poked her head into the curtain I asked her what if I can't produce a sample? And she said, sorry, that's the only way we can test to see what you have. She said I could take my time though. And I said, really? That's the only test, like there's no blood test or something else we could do? And she said, "Nope, sorry," and left.

I laid down on my left side. At my wits end of all the frustration and feeling crappy and bored starving husband and no eating and nausea and broken down car and blood and pregnancy and stress, I started to cry.

At this moment, Craig sprang into action. He came over and comforted me, and asked me what he could do for me. He asked me if I wanted him to see if he could get me some food or something, and I sobbed, "Ok." He used the call button and when the nurse desk answered he said, "Can you see if my wife can have something to eat?" and they said they would check.

Suddenly, people were attentive again!

The volunteer doing rounds came in and asked me what she could do to help. She said they had all kinds of crackers, and peanut butter, and some things to drink if I wanted, so I asked for some saltines and water.

Nurse came back in and said it was okay for me to have some crackers, and took my blood pressure and pulse. (134/84! Yikes!) She asked how far along my pregnancy was, and I told her, and she said maybe some of my sickness was from that. I said none of this happened last time I was pregnant, and she asked me if I had had a boy or a girl.

FAIL.

The volunteer came back, and I tried to stuff a few crackers down my gullet. I was amazed at how absolutely nauseated I could be by Zesty crackers. I made Craig eat a few too so he didn't pass out. The doctor came back in and said that it was okay if I didn't think I could give them a sample now; they could send me home and let me bring one back! They weren't going to keep me hostage, he joked.

He said he was going to write me a prescription for a new antibiotic, and he had talked to the OB doctor on duty and they both agreed it would be okay for me to take, but not to start it until they got the sample, because otherwise it could affect the results. He said he would send someone in to do my discharge paperwork, and I could get dressed.

I felt somewhat relieved, except then I was thinking about how in the world we were going to get a sample back with a broken car. And then I felt something else...

I trotted off to the restroom, and then I proudly marched back down the hall in my sexy open-back hospital gown with my sample! Hooray for crackers!

When they came to discharge me, they told me to ignore the directions to wait for the sample to start my prescription, and just start it right away. They signed me out, and we left to deal with my car.

True to my suspicions, the serpentine belt was loose. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to drive it farther, so we called AAA, and ran across the street while we waited to get my prescription filled and get Craig some Wendy's. When we got back, the AAA guy called, and we happened to get the nicest tow truck driver I've ever had tow me somewhere! He towed our car to the shop we trust a few miles down the road, and agreed to take us home even though he's not really supposed to drive people more than a mile outside of towing. (It was only 5 miles home for us, anyway.) He was funny and kind, and when we said something about getting the prescription I needed without a car, he was all set to drive us there too! (But then we told him we had already picked it up.) When we got home, I found the tow company's website and wrote a really nice review about him...

So all things considered the end of the day summed up much better than the beginning. Later that night, I had a scare when I had the tiniest bit of pinkish spotting when I went to the bathroom, but nothing since. I followed up with the gyn/ob this morning (per my ER discharge instructions) and they told me it was okay to wait until my ultrasound next Monday to come in.

And so begins the waiting and healing game. I'm completely sick of clear fluids and soup and rice, so last night I ate a slice of pizza! I have not yet regretted it, so the new antibiotics must be working.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fish burps!


The prescription prenatals I got are loaded with those good little Omega 3s, which we all (probably) know come from fish oil. Normally, my Omega 3-6-9 pills were not a problem, because I can take them with food. However, due to the nutritional content of these prenatals, I have to take them one hour before or two hours after eating. (Don't even get me started on how I have to take my thyroid meds one hour before and two hours after eating, but at least 4 hours apart from the prenatals, and God knows how I'm supposed to fit the antibiotics in there! I'm constantly on a mental timer.)

So the Omega 3s without food make you burp, and when you do, it tastes wonderfully like fish. Who thought this was a good idea: to give an almost-constantly-nauseated segment of the population something that makes them burp fish? Couldn't they have found a better way?

Here it comes again... Ugh, I feel like a sea lion.

(Yes folks, this blog is not always deep and insightful...)

Lastly, the doctor's office returned my follow-up call yesterday to leave me a message to say that my hCG test results looked "fine" and if I have any other questions to call them back. I hate when I get answers like "fine" and "normal." I'm a values kinda person. I want to know, quantitatively, what that means. So I may push the issue and find out, but this time I will more than likely just leave it alone until my ultrasound in a week and a half.


Monday, October 27, 2008

More testing


Today is the start of Week 5. I've got the appleseed-sized baby in there again!

On Friday the doctors' office called me and wanted to repeat my hCG test, because the idea of the best test is that you're supposed to see a change, up (hopefully) or down as the days progress, so a single test isn't really useful...

On the phone they also said I had a high enough Group B strep count in my urine that they wanted to give me antibiotics! I thought that was odd, because I don't have any symptoms of a bladder infection but the nurse said that happens sometimes. So they called in a prescription for some amoxicillin.

I went to the doctors office and the lab tech brought me back to the lab. On the way she confirmed what I was there for, and the doctor who ordered the test, and seemed pleased about who I said it was because then she added, "Ooh, you got the right one!" When the blood test was done, I asked to see the nurse who had called me to come in because I had some questions, so the tech paged her.

I wanted to know about what antibiotics they had prescribed before I picked them up, and I was pleased to hear the nurse say that she saw on my chart that I was allergic to sulfa and tetracycline, so they didn't give me anything like that. She also told me that my progesterone level was good and normal at 15, and my hCG was 165. She said that may sound low, but it means nothing until they get the reference value of that day's blood test, so not to worry.

I feel much more confident this time that I'm getting the care I need. Now I'm just waiting to hear back about Friday's blood test.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baby 2.0 is Online!

Well, it seems Craig and I have the "How to Make a Baby" thing DOWN.

Now, we just have to do our best to keep the little bean in there and growing!

We had the first prenatal appointment today with a very nice doctor who I like just as much (so far) as "Dr. Good." He apparently read up on me BEFORE he came in the room which is definitely a plus! He asked me how I was feeling and I said good! And he asked if I was excited, and I said yes, but a little scared! And he said, sure, that's completely understandable because of what happened last time. But he reassured me they were going to take good care of me. He said they would do blood work today, so they tested the beta hCG and progesterone levels, and he said if everything looks okay they'll see me back in three weeks for an ultrasound!

I'm really hoping I don't freak out waiting for three weeks, but I'll try to remain calm...

I'm having a hard time right now feeling happy. It's like I can't let myself feel happy about the whole thing yet because if I do, and it comes crashing down on me again, I'm going to be in for some serious hurt. So I know it's just defensive skills kicking in, but I almost feel guilty about it. Like this new little one should have all the happiness and excitement that I exerted on the last one, but I just can't let myself feel that way yet. I still want to cry and let myself be scared, because it's probably healthy to let that all out, but I feel guilty regardless.

So right now I'm torn. I know we're still excited and it's just as thrilling as last time, but I can't be happy yet. Maybe once we get past the first ultrasound (which is going to be murder -- I don't know if I'll even be able to look) and maybe if we get farther than we did last time, I'll let myself feel happy then... I know the hardest part for most people is even *getting* pregnant but that doesn't seem to be our issue. And maybe there *are* lots of things they can do for me to help me keep the baby, but it's so sad that we had to go through what we did last time to get that sort of help.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sad Panda!


This morning I cried for my panda.

First of all, I love pandas. Always have.

When Craig and I moved to the DC area for a couple of years, one of the first things we did was develop a keen interest in the pandas at the National Zoo, Mei Xiang(f) and Tian Tian(m). We watched when their baby, Tai Shan was born, got tickets to see him right away, went to the opening of their new habitat, and visited them as often as we could. We even found our own "panda viewing area" that not too many people know about.

Most people who know even a little about pandas know that it's very difficult for them to breed in captivity, and this couple was no exception. The females only go into estrus once a year during a period of about two to three days (and we think we have to wait a long time to try!) And Tian Tian...well, let's just say he hasn't got the moves.

So once a year the zookeepers try artificial insemination when the time is right, and keep their fingers crossed, and hope for the best. Tai Shan was born in 2005, but since then they have not been successful again.

The added challenge to the situation is that even if the zookeepers are successful, the panda cubs are so tiny in the womb, that they can't detect them on ultrasound. They pretty much just have to wait until it looks like Mama Panda has gone into labor and a baby shoots out! (That's not hyperbole -- see if you can track down Tai Shan's birth video!)

The other tricky part about pandas is that while their hormones are spiking, they will exhibit "mothering" behaviors whether or not they are pregnant. They call this time period a "pseudopregnancy" and either wait for it to pass in conjunction with a hormone fall, or again waiting for a baby panda to come into the world. Wanna-be-mama bears will create nests, cradle their toys and spend a lot of time making it look like they're getting ready for a baby.

Well, this year was no exception for Mei. Except coincidentally, my favorite panda girl and I got "pregnant" at around the same time. Her baby would of course have been born much sooner than mine, but somehow I still felt a closer kinship with her, another sense of heartwarming simpatico. We were going to be mommies! I started making my life ready, and she started building nests and paw licking and cradling her toys...

So of course you all know how my story ended, but today I found out that a few days ago the zoo staff confirmed that Mei wasn't going to have a cub this year either. The difference this time is that they really thought she *could have been* pregnant, but lost her fetus in early pregnancy. From the FONZ site:

Zoo staff confirmed today that Mei Xiang will not give birth to a cub this year. They believe that she experienced either a pseudopregnancy or the loss of a developing fetus. In a pseudopregnancy, an animal's hormonal changes and behaviors are identical to a pregnancy, but no conception occurred. Fetal loss during early pregnancy is a common occurrence in mammals, but the reasons for this phenomenon are poorly understood.

As you read in these updates, Zoo scientists, veterinarians, and keepers were closely watching Mei Xiang, assessing her hormone levels and behavior and conducting weekly ultrasounds in an attempt to determine if she was pregnant. Veterinarians noted small changes in Mei Xiang's uterus but they were unable to confirm the presence of a fetus. Giant panda fetuses are very small — a newborn cub is only five inches long. At other zoos, fetuses have been visible on ultrasound only in the last weeks before birth.

In mid-July Mei Xiang's urinary progesterone levels (a hormone associated with pregnancy) began to decline. In pregnant pandas, declining hormones and increased maternal behaviors signal an impending birth. This year, Mei Xiang's hormones declined as expected, but the decline lasted longer than normal and she continued to show maternal behavior even after her hormones reached baseline. The Zoo's scientists and veterinarians speculate that Mei Xiang may have experienced the loss of an early-stage fetus that failed to develop normally, and it was absorbed into the lining of the uterus. In the coming days, we expect Mei to return to "normal," both hormonally and behaviorally, experiencing an increase in appetite and activity level.


I know that my girl panda probably won't feel the same loss, the same *need* to 'return to "normal" both hormonally and behaviorally' as I did, but I feel it for her instead. She and her keepers won't get any answers "why" either. My poor panda.

(For the record, I cried for my panda again as I was writing this...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Our New Baby!


Now, I know you're thinking, "That was fast...What is she, a cat?"

Well, I'm not exactly, but you're close!

Meet Desmond:














He's a very beautiful lilac point Siamese boy, and he just turned 9 weeks old on Friday. Yes, Craig named him Desmond after his favorite character on "Lost." He's sweet and loving, and we can tell he's going to be a smart one because he's already learning "fetch" with Craig! (uh oh)

In just the last few days he's worked his tiny way into our hearts! We're so glad we brought him home to be a part of our little family!

Craig is obviously smitten!


I can't imagine what it would have been like to be pregnant AND trying to manage a kitten. Seems like a lot of work. So in a way, the timing of this has worked out so well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Clean bill of health


I forgot to mention last week that I had my post-surgical follow up with Dr. Good. (That's not his real name; I just wanted to differentiate between him and the previous doctor.)

He checked me out and asked me a bunch of questions, and confirmed that we should be fine to start trying again as soon as I have a regular period. I was still spotting the day I saw him, but not again after, thankfully. So I'm back to "normal."

I told him that we wanted to start again right away, and THIS time I want to do whatever we can to keep an eye on things as soon as possible. And he said he knows how hard that 4-week wait is for people, but next time, when I get pregnant again, he said he will see on my chart what we went through this time and prescribe a more watchful course of action.

I got the feeling like he understands and sympathizes with my anxieties, unlike the feeling I got from the other doctor, who more or less made me feel like I was being dismissed. He told me about all the extra tests they can do, and how sometimes they make people wait through THREE miscarriages until they try the drastic stuff (crazy things like dye in the lining of the uterus to check thickness and growth) just because the cost of those kinds of tests makes them a "last resort." But he assured me we'd be on track to watch me more closely just after this *first* miscarriage.

He also said that they can do an ultrasound as early as 6 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual period, NOT 6 weeks after conception, which was surprising.

So I feel much better about the whole situation now, and when I came home I told Craig that Dr. Good will be our doctor from now on!

Now begins the long wait. In the mean time, I will be researching fertility monitors.

As an interesting side note, the doctor told us that while I'm waiting for a period, and my hormones are all coming down I could still ovulate, so condoms at a minimum are in order to make sure we don't get pregnant again before my body is ready.

Condoms now that I'm married is a ROFL concept to me... I wonder if I'd get some special Catholic dispensation for using them due to medical reasons. I mean, I can personally rationalize anything I want (like being on the pill to keep my periods from being too heavy to control most of my life) but...WWTPS? (What would the Pope say?)

ROFL

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Down with OGTT


The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

Overall, not a bad procedure, except for the getting up early, and all the needles.

I got to the lab bright and early at 8:15 am. They made sure I knew I was going to be there for the next two hours. I'd brought my laptop, my Nintendo DS, something to read...I was ready!

The lab tech stuck me with one of the big needles. They usually use the butterfly ones because my veins are impossible -- but she got it on the first try! I was impressed! She took 3 vials of blood and said she was going to do a quick check of my fasting glucose. (I hadn't eaten anything since the night before.)

She stuck her head back in and said she was going to call the doctor and find out if they still wanted to do the test based on the result she just got. The nurse said to go for it.

The lab tech asked me if I wanted some ice in my drink, and I figured if she was offering it, she knew better than I did that it would help, so I said okay.

Sure enough that drink was GHASTLY sweet. Imagine a styrofoam coffee cup of red Hawaiian Punch, with another half cup of sugar added just for good measure. On an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, it was a little tough to get it all down. The tech told me I had to drink it all in 10 minutes, but I did it in 5. She started the timer and I sat in the waiting room for the next hour.

There's a lot of characters that you see come through the lab when you have nothing better to do. I'm sure I violated more than one person's HIPAA rights by listening in. Lots of routine blood draws, some people had other doctors or labs to go see after they stopped there. One of the lab techs was having a miserable day, and I'm glad she wasn't the one I was working with. Not only did she twice almost not get someone to provide a urine specimen before they left, she also finished up on a lady before she realized she needed to draw three vials, not two! So she had to stick her again! Ugh!

Hour 1 went by and she called me in to draw blood from my other arm. I warned her that I had already had an IV in two places on that arm within the last week, so she might have to look around for which one she wanted to use. She picked the big blue vein and got it with the butterfly. Back to the waiting room for Hour 2.

I learned how those little vials work. They puncture your vein with a hollow needle that has another open end. The rubber cap of the collection vial is pierced by the back end of the needle. Each vial has a vacuum in it, and once the seal is broken the vacuum in the tube creates suction to draw the blood. Some vials have less vacuum in them, and those will draw less blood (the volume being determined by what the blood draw is going to test.) Each vial may also have some additive in it that mixes with the blood, depending on the lab that does the testing and what the test is for.

I had wireless internet access in the lab area, and that's where I wrote "Recovery, Part 3." (I'm a little behind at the moment! Sorry!)

Another hour went by and I sat back in the chair for the last draw. The lab tech went back to the first arm and tried the big needle again. This time it didn't work. I was pretty disappointed because she had done so well so far! She took out the butterfly for this arm and tried Big Blue. Except this time she hit a nerve! OWWWW! When she was finished, it hurt so much I couldn't even put much pressure on it to stop the bleeding. Consequently, I have a lovely bruise there now...

Before I left I asked the tech if she knew anything from what she had taken so far, and she said no, they have to send the vials out to the lab, but the results usually come back the next day. She said the only one they do there is the initial fasting blood glucose level. She said mine was 97. ("Normal" is about 80-100.)

The next day the doctors office called me at 7:45 AM. From what I remember about the conversation with the nurse, my results were NORMAL, and they would just see me in another 8 weeks for my TSH/T4/etc thyroid panel. So no metformin is necessary. I guess I'm ovulating on my own!

Lastly, I realized I had, in the last week, had my veins punctured 7 times. I feel like a pincushion and look like a junkie.

Small price to pay, in the end, we hope.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recovery, Part 3


We got to the hospital later Thursday morning, and were already impressed from the outside. It's a brand new facility, probably finished within the last year or so. I had been hoping to not have to see it firsthand for another 7 months or so, but at least now we know when we go back that it's an excellent facility.

Hospitals are usually well-signed, and this one was no exception. But, better yet, as soon as you walk in the main door, you see a reception desk 15 feet in front of you. We asked for outpatient services, and the volunteer pointed us in the right direction. There seemed to be a lot of senior volunteers working there. I guess checking people in makes for nice easy work, and something to do to pass the time if you're healthy and retired.

They have this amazing check-in and tracking system. They assign each patient a number. With that number, the person accompanying the patient can sit in the waiting room and watch a status on an overhead monitor for that patient. It shows when they are checked in, and when they're in surgery, when they're in recovery, and when they are allowed to have a visitor again a smiley face appears next to their number. Very people-friendly, cuts down on the questions for the staff, and gives the waiting person something to "do."

So we got checked in, and almost immediately they called us in to registration. The woman was friendly and courteous and professional, and when we told her what doctor was doing the procedure, she too said, "Oh, he is wwwwooonnnderful..."

Once back out to the waiting room, it wasn't but a minute before they called for me to go to the prep room. The volunteer led us back, but told Craig he had to wait there. After a shuffled exchange of things out of the tote bag and a kiss, I was off.

I got back to the prep area and the nurse rolled her eyes and said my husband could have come with me, so she picked up her phone right away and had them send him back. They took my blood pressure.

It's normally about 110/70. It was 145/85.

The nurse said, "Don't even worry about that number today. You're just nervous; it's totally normal. Don't even think about it."

She put me in a curtained area where (little did I know) I was going to spend the next hour and a half... By that time Craig had come back, and I met the nurse who was going to be taking care of me for the day, Cathy. She told me to get naked and put on the gown open to the back, and the little slipper socks with the grips on them, and have a lie down on the gurney. It always feels weird to get undressed in an only semi-private area (like a dressing room,) and more so to get completely undressed, but...Craig got a free show!

Cathy tried to start my IV in my hand. They are kind enough to give you a stick of lidocaine before they start, but she was unsuccessful in getting the bag to drip. So she had to get some more lidocaine and give it a try in my arm. That seemed to work fine, and the fluid began to drip quickly.

Cathy also gave me a purple strap bracelet, which she said identified me as a fall risk, and they give one to everyone who has anesthesia. Craig found this hilarious, as he knows what a fall risk I am every single day...

Begin medical history and list of questions, round one. Most of the questions revolve around how healthy you are and how you expect you may react to anesthesia.

More medical questions, round two. Family history, previous surgeries, etc etc ad infinitum. I understand, they're trying to be thorough. Cathy told me I would meet the anesthesiologist, and the doctor, and when she saw who was doing my surgery, she too just cooed over how nice he is! I made sure she knew about the fact that I was prescribed doxycycline, and she said we would be sure to bring it up with the doctor!

Time passed with a lot of waiting. More questions, more people to meet. Nurses, anesthesiologists. Everyone was professional, yet friendly and kind. I was really feeling good about having the procedure done at this point, all things considered.

The doctor was outside my curtain and behind a wall, and I saw Cathy tell him about the prescription, and she looked over and gave me a wink...

The doctor came in and talked to me and Craig, and I could immediately see why everyone liked him. He was relaxed, and respectfully sympathetic, and went through and explained everything to us that would be happening, and what we could expect after the procedure. I was calm, and ready after that. Cathy came in and gave me some Pepcid in my IV; she said it was to help with any nausea I might feel from the anesthesia.

Two more young and fresh-faced anesthesiologists came in, introduced themselves, and stood by my gurney, and I met my "transportation nurse." It was almost time to go. I felt like the center of attention, like I was the guest of honor at some bizarre party. Pretty much the whole experience showed me why some people develop things like hypochondria, or at the extreme, Muchausen's Syndrome. You just feel so important and cared for and like everything is going to be better when they're done seeing you...

One of the anesthesiologists told me he was going to put something in my IV to make me "not care", and sure enough about 10 seconds after he pushed the plunger, things got a little fuzzy.

I don't remember saying "see you later" to Craig. I sort of remember being wheeled through some doors into a hallway. I remember the room with the big surgical lights, which weren't turned on yet so I thought they looked strange. I kinda remember them giving me a breathing tube for my nose with the tiny tubes that hang out in your nostrils...but nothing else until the recovery room.

I have a slight recollection of waking up in recovery and being aware of the beeping of my monitors, and the tube in my nose, and that I was still very sleepy. At that point they told Craig to come back and see me, and next time I opened my eyes, he was there. I was still pretty groggy though as the nurse asked me how I felt, and took me off the monitors, and took off the oxygen. Craig told me the doctor had come to talk to him after the procedure, and he had some things to tell me later about the experience, and it was a good thing he didn't try to tell me then because I doubt I would have remembered it.

The doctor came in to check on me, and he smiled, and said everything had gone really well. But he said he had something kind of funny to tell me... (And Craig said something about it being one of the things he was going to tell me too.)

The doctor said that during the procedure, everything was going along fine, except then somehow in the middle of it I said to him, "I feel kind of crampy..." And he asked the anesthesiologist, "...Why is she talking?..." and they made sure I was back asleep soon. He said it was during a part of the procedure where, if I had been awake I probably would have been uncomfortable, it was just odd that I chose to tell him about it! I, of course, don't remember it at all.

Of course those who know me know that I talk and even laugh in my sleep. And those who went to college with me know that I used to have a BAD sleepwalking problem... So maybe those kinds of things are related!

The doctor gave me follow up instructions, and said he would see me for a checkup in 10-14 days. After a while I regained more consciousness, and decided I had to get up to pee. They told Craig he would have to come to the bathroom with me to make sure I didn't fall down in there. I was absolutely too dopey to be embarrassed at all at that point (and I really had to pee) so I complied with no trouble.

When I got out of the bed, I realized:

1. My butt was suddenly cold. I was still naked under that gown. Yike. Craig helped by retying my gown straps.

2. I had made a mess out of that sheet on the gurney. What was that yellow business? I guessed it was betadyne. (antiseptic used to prep for surgery, made of iodine solution)

3. Someone had haphazardly slapped a giant mattress-sized maxi pad in between my legs! I was like WTF?? before I realized that maybe I should try to leave it there on my way to the bathroom, just in case. I knew I wouldn't be taking any long steps anyhow...

I did what I needed to and came back. They told me I could get dressed at this point, and they could get ready for me to go home. I was very glad I wore sweatpants. They sent Craig out to get the car. And then they had me sit in the wheelchair so they could take me to the front door...

It was weird being the person in the wheelchair. I've seen lots of people in wheelchairs, and even wheeled other people before, but to BE that person was...strange. There was something self-conscious and unsettling about it. When we got to the front door, I saw Craig coming around with the car and... It's like that moment where someone greets you and you don't know if you're going in for a handshake or a hug, or a hug and a cheek kiss, or what. It was like I didn't know if I was supposed to keep sitting there, or if they wanted to help me, or could I get up and wait. Finally, Craig parked the car at the curb and I shuffled myself into it. We had a nice quiet ride home, where I settled into my bed and slept for the next 5 hours or so...(after I called mom and dad to say that I was okay!)

The last week has been rolling in a sine-wave-like cycle of good and bad, bleeding and not bleeding, cramping and not cramping, happy and depressed. Every time something scary-looking happened, I had been telling Craig about it until I realized it was freaking him out. I forgot that I've been dealing with my body doing bizarre things on a monthly basis since I was about twelve, but this level of intimacy was all new to him. And it worried him, whether or not I was worried. So I've stopped disclosing so much...

Friday morning I came downstairs to try to work a little, and I saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk:
They had come for me that morning from my bosses at work in a big box, but they weren't arranged when we received them. Craig had taken them all out and trimmed and arranged them in the vase and set them up on my desk so I would see them the first thing when I came down...

We also got flowers from Craig's mom and dad, and a lovely mass card from my parents. Our friends have all written very kind emails or called. This was exactly the support we were hoping for when we told everyone about the pregnancy so early. It's the people who truly love you and care for you who are there in your troubled times, not just the good ones.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Recovery, Part 2


Wednesday the 23rd was a tough day. We knew we had to get up early and be at the doctor's office by 8:00 am. I don't think Craig or I slept very much that night.

Lying in bed, I couldn't turn my brain off. I had a feeling in my heart that the first ultrasound told the truth, and that this second one was just going to be a formality.

But somewhere in the back of my noisy head, I wanted hope. I wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, someone was wrong. We couldn't possibly be so unlucky. We were just so lucky to get as far as we had, so easily. This baby seemed so right, and couldn't have come at a better time, and we were so excited. Our family and friends were so thrilled and supportive. It wasn't fair. What had we done to deserve this? Something seemed so wrong, horribly wrong, about a miscarriage, like it was never meant to go this way. I had no sense of WHY this was happening to us (and still don't.) My heart ached, but somehow I eventually got a little sleep.

So the morning of the 24th, we were led into the exam room area by a different ultrasound tech. She was shorter than me, and quiet-mannered, and when we got to the room she had me sit on the table. She asked me if we wanted to know the sex of the baby today or not. After a somewhat stunned pause, I said, "I'm not sure that's going to be an issue today..." and I briefly explained what happened. (Why don't these people get briefed beforehand???) She said oh, and okay, and gave me the sheet so I could step into the restroom and get ready.

Sure enough, after she got the wand into position, there was our baby again. There was no change from last time. She pointed out the bump where the heart would be. But again this time, it was still. Craig squeezed my hand. Somehow it was so much less shocking this time, but it still really hurt. I asked her more questions about what we were seeing, because I couldn't help but be curious. She pointed out the head-end, and the foot end, and that there was an arm visible, and the heart bump. She tried turning on the colors and the Doppler sound monitor, but there was nothing but my own activity visible anywhere. She said she was so sorry for our loss. She asked if we wanted a picture, but I said, "No, thank you."

I know I will carry that picture in my head for the rest of my life, and that is enough for me.

(I realized later it was somewhat insensitive of me to not ask Craig if he wanted one, though I am always sure that he will respect whatever my wishes are in this situation. I did ask him after the tech had left the room, and if he had told me then that he had wanted one, I would have done it for him.)

The tech stepped out to let me get dressed and to give us a moment alone. Craig and I had decided in the intermediate week that if the results were the same I was going to go through with the D&C, and we agreed on this again.

On the one hand, I wanted my body to figure it all out on its own. It seemed more "natural" and like it would be better for me if my hormones just got themselves sorted out and made the miscarriage happen. But I had heard it could take weeks. And it also seemed a bit dangerous, and like it would be pretty painful.

And the absolute worst mental image for me, in the whole thought of the "natural, at-home miscarriage" process was this:
If my body went through with it in its own way, and I cramped and contracted and passed the baby out of my body at home, what was once our future baby would end up in the sewer. Ugh. Wrong. That didn't seem right at all, or dignified. And while I'm blissfully unaware of what happens to "medical waste" after they take things out of your body in a hospital, somehow that seemed more...right, and...respectful. Or something. It's so hard to think about a situation like this in purely logical terms. So I had told Craig that I wanted it to be when we say, and not like some awful surprise, and that I was ready to accept having the D&C done, now that I had lived a week with the bad news. And again, in his loving way, he said if that's what I wanted, he would support me fully.

The tech came back for us and led us down the hall to talk to the doctor. She told us again she was so sorry, and that she would pray for us. The way she said it was so hushed, and sincere, that it made me hurt for *her.* How hard it must be to do her job sometimes...

Craig and I waited in the exam room, and had a few more minutes to talk. We thought of a few questions for the doctor, and decided that if they could do the procedure the same day, we would go through with it. I hadn't eaten anything since early the night before, because I was thinking about the surgery, and I had only had a sip of water in the morning to take my thyroid meds.

And then at that point Craig and I made some small talk, because by then, after the last week's intensity, everything else had been talked about already.

The doctor came in and told us we could have the procedure done that day. She told us what doctor was on call at the hospital, and that we would love him because he is "so sweet." And again it seemed like she was on her way to float out the door.

I stopped her and asked some questions. Was it normal that, even though our baby only made it to 7 weeks, my body was still trying to hold onto it like that? She said yes. And in fact, for some women it can take 4 to 6 weeks before anything happens!

Then I told her of the plans Craig and I had discussed during the week. We are not going to let this stop us. We understand that for a first pregnancy, no one at the doctor's office watches you very closely because they don't expect anything to go wrong. But I told her now that I've had a miscarriage, we're going to seriously approach getting pregnant again quickly, and next time, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make it "stick." I'm not going to come in for a positive test and then just sit and WAIT for 4 weeks to see a doctor again! I about lost my mind the last time. I realize that there's not much they can do for you to make anything happen or not, but I want to be aware of it the whole time.

And the doctor sort of balked. She more or less asked me what I expected them to do next time. And I told her I didn't care if I had to come in twice a week for blood tests to check hCG and progesterone levels. I'd be willing to take supplements if necessary. I told her that our endocrinologist was already on board, and we're looking for the right OBGYN who's going to work with us, and I needed to know if she was that kind of doctor.

She then explained to us the more technical aspects of what they try to do to maintain pregnancy, and how it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. And she let us know she was glad we might try metformin, (though it seemed like our problem wasn't likely ovulation!) And she told me in a pretty tactful way that if I wanted to get pregnant again I should also try to lose weight, which...yeah, I KNOW. Like she's the first doctor to have THAT idea. (Where's my eyeroll emoticon when I need it??)

We asked how long the procedure would take, and she said it was quick, like 10 minutes, but the prep time at the hospital could take a while. She said she didn't think they'd be able to do it before 11 am, but if we got to the hospital by 9:30, we should be okay.

She said she would get us scheduled at the hospital and come back with a couple of the prescriptions I would need after the D&C. And then on her way out the door she poked her head back in to say, "Sorry again for your loss." We didn't see her again after that, as the nurse came in instead.

The nurse gave us our "orders" for the hospital in an envelope, and handed us two prescriptions. The first was for some Motrin 800, for the cramping that I was going to experience later, and the second was for an antibiotic: doxycycline. Craig and I checked out, and got ready to go home. He was going to arrange to be out of work for a few hours, and I would tell my job to not expect me back for the rest of the day.

We needed to pack a few things, to keep Craig's mind occupied while he was waiting for me, and maybe a snack or two to keep his stomach busy too.

I also wanted to check out that prescription antibiotic. "Doxycycline" sounds a lot like "tetracycline", to which I have a pretty icky allergy. It gives me horrible stomach pains, and last time I took it I didn't find out if it did more than that because the pains were enough to get me to call the doctor, at which point they told me to stop taking it and gave me something else!

Sure enough, the internet told me they were from the same family, and that people who were sensitive to tetracycline shouldn't take doxycycline. My allergy is clearly listed on pretty much every piece of paper at the doctor's office because they ask about allergies *every time* I see them.

It was at that moment I decided we wouldn't be seeing that particular doctor ever again, if I had anything to say about it. (And if you know me, you know I absolutely will.)

Part 3 tomorrow...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Recovery, Part 1


Well, the worst is over.

We waited the requisite week to go back and have the second transvaginal ultrasound. We did not go in expecting different results, but there was always a glimmer of hope in the back of our minds for a "miracle."

It seems the only miracle we'll be allowed this time is the ability to heal and get through this, and have the courage to try again.

But let's back up for a second.

After the bad news last Thursday, Craig and I spent many, many hours talking and thinking about what we were going to do next. We cried, and talked some more, and asked each other questions. We must have spent an entire afternoon just laying on the bed and working out our thoughts.

We considered going to see a different doctor because of our negative experience with this one: she seemed dismissive and almost cold, whereas everyone else at this group practice had been wonderful. It would also give us an opportunity to be subject to a different technician, and different equipment. But in the end we decided that the disadvantage to it would be having to start at zero with a new doctor's office, and midway through something we had already started. Plus, all my *other* doctors are affiliated with Carolinas Medical Center in some way. I'm part of the "system." It's just easier to stick with it.

And we decided to give the doctor the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just having a bad day.

On Tuesday the 22nd, I went to see my endocrinologist. She is fantastic, as she's one of those doctors who will sit and listen, and you feel as though she has all the time in the world for you. And while you're talking she may be taking notes but you can practically see the little gears turning in her head, like, "How can I best help this person based on what she's telling me?" And then she asks good questions to follow up, and the whole experience is like an excellent dialogue. It's...well, like what going to the doctor *should* be.

It was hard to sit in that waiting room. There were the requisite old and young people, but there was also a woman with a stroller with two little girls in it. They were cute and energetic, and it was hard to watch them and not feel sad and envious. By the time the nurse led me in and checked all my vitals, and I sat in the exam room on the table, I felt a little better. Until I considered the fact that I had made this appointment 4 weeks ago, when things were exciting and happy and new. This was supposed to be a GOOD visit, a checkup on how things were progressing, and looking forward to the next 7 months. And now, just...hurt.

So the doctor walked in and introduced herself, and I said we had met before. She looked puzzled and said, "I *thought* you looked familiar; why did I think you were a new consultation?" And she looked at her notes and said, "Oh yes, primary hypothyroidism...and...Oh, you're pregnant!"

And I just shook my head, and she got a look on her face I can't quite describe and said, "Oh no. Bad visit. This is turning out to be a bad visit so far! Tell me what's going on with you."

And I told her the story. I talked about what we'd been going through and what happened and she looked back at her notes. We had done some lab work in April, and she wasn't entirely pleased with the results back then, but let me go try to fix things on my own, with the promise to see her in six months OR when I got pregnant.

After a long time of thinking and asking questions, she suggested I go next week for an oral glucose tolerance test. This will help her possibly uncover any insulin resistance I may have going on, which may hinder ovulation. She said I did not have all the classic symptoms of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) but she wanted to think about ways to help us succeed in our next pregnancy. She said if I show insulin resistance, she'll start me on metformin (aka Glucophage) which is normally a diabetes medication, but they also use it off-label for women who are having trouble ovulating regularly.

So I left her office feeling positive. The OGTT is kind of a lengthy process though, and I'm going to be at the lab for several hours. I'm looking for a good game or something to do next Wednesday while I'm there...

Part 2 tomorrow...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Quality Assurance at The Factory has found a fatal flaw with Baby 1.0


The visit to the doctor today was not good.

To try and allay my fears (and for what she said she would code as "paternal sanity,") the doctor said she would flag down her ultrasound tech and see if they could give a look inside today. They were able to accommodate us.

It was strange to see the little orbs on the monitor, the gestalt effect of the monochromatic shapes ebbing and flowing as the tech moved the wand. She thought she saw the flicker of the heartbeat and tried to point it out to us, and my heart leapt a little to hear her say that!

But when she moved in closer, she could no longer see it...

She asked about dates, and looked again. She tried the doppler. There was no sound audible. She seemed pained, and said she would go call the doctor in to take another look.

The doctor confirmed what the tech saw. There was no heartbeat. The embryo size indicated that should not be a problem at this stage, but it was not there.

The doctor started throwing around words like "miscarriage" and "D&C" and my body went numb and I couldn't register anything else. She said we could do a follow up scan in a few days just to make sure, if I was still having doubts, and I said I wanted to do that. I could not live with myself and the doubt I would suffer if I didn't take the chance of double checking, to be sure. We've scheduled the follow up for next Thursday, though she warned me not to be alarmed, and to call the office right away, if I started bleeding before then.

Then the doctor apologized and bolted from the room, excusing herself because she was still with another patient. The tech was warm and understanding, and left us alone to talk for a few minutes. Craig and I mostly stared at each other in what can only be described as shock.

I don't have the words yet to describe how I'm feeling or even to talk about what happened. It's been a very difficult day for both me and Craig. I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep now; the brain is much too loud.

Suffice to say at this time your prayers and thoughts are welcome and needed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm a Deadbeat Dad in Training


Kathy accused me recently of having abandoned this blog.

I assure you, that's not the case. It's just, in all honesty, between not allowing myself to get too excited (for fear something bad could still happen) and not being able to see anything tangible yet (aside from the violent effect progesterone has on my otherwise calm wife), there's not that much to write about.

We're going back to the doctor Thursday for our monthly appointment. I'm confident they'll have good news for us (of the "nothing's wrong" variety). I'm confident because I have no other choice. I can't feel the things Kathy's feeling right now. I know she's probably much more worried than I am, because she can feel everything that's going on in her body (or not going on when she thinks it should be).

I'm not completely without context for her worry, however. When I went through chemotherapy starting almost five years ago, each subsequent follow up appointment was met with as much dread as (if not moreso than) the last, in spite (or because) of the fact that everything had been fine the previous visit. Given enough time without a reassuring pat on the back, I inevitably devolved into a state of worry every six months while I waited to be re-scanned, no matter how confident I'd been the last time I received the "all clear".

I'm afraid that, until the baby (screw you, Dr. House, I'm not calling it a fetus) becomes developed enough to move around, kick, and generally make a mess of Kathy's insides, there's going to be a modicum of the unknown which can (and probably will) lead to doubt or even fear. There's so much we can do at this stage, we're told, to ensure our baby is born healthy (and at all), and yet so much seems to be out of our hands.

So to me, just as it was when I was going through my treatment, it's just a waiting game for now. I'll be happy for Kathy's sake when we get some good news on Thursday, but until then you'll find me staring at my watch.

* Note to self: delete this entry before the kid is old enough to read or we'll have to shell out for a therapist because "Dad just compared me to cancer!"

Beans, beans, good for your uterus...


(I hope you think my rhyme is humorous!)

As we are now in week 8, I've got the kidney-bean baby! Not only does the baby resemble a kidney bean in size (a little less than .75") but it's got that characteristic bean shape we all know and love in a fetus!

That tail we were talking about has now almost disappeared. Eyelids are forming, limbs are getting longer, and we even have knee joints by now.

Early pregnancy time wasting activity #1:
My lack of symptoms has (of course) caused me to spend endless hours scouring the internet for other people who are NOT barfing their guts up all day, who don't want to ravenously eat everything they see, and who can still fit into their old pants. All this time-wasting has actually proven valuable though, as I've found I'm not at all alone! Many women get NO 'morning sickness' and go on to have happy and healthy babies. And if this is a first time pregnancy, there may be little-to-no outward sign that there's something going on in the lower abdomen. (Women who have already had babies have loosened up those muscles, and may show much sooner.) Weight gain in the first trimester may be as little as one pound, or some women even find they lose weight from eating more healthily.

I do have the unfortunate symptom of being not hungry...not hungry...not hungry...RAVENOUS!!!!! And then when I go to look for something to eat *nothing* seems even remotely appealing. So I've been trying to grab a piece of fruit or a little something with protein when that happens.

The more I read about it, the more I realize I am just having the "normal" amount of anxiety. I feel *less* anxious, but I know I won't feel much better until Thursday.

Early pregnancy time wasting activity #2:
What color will the baby's eyes be?

I found two very nice "calculators" online. (Do I have to say "For Entertainment Purposes Only"?)

The first is a very simple one, and was created by Athro, Ltd:

Inheriting Eye Color
It's fun without getting too "science-y" and lets you see the averages if you just keep clicking "Produce Child." (Careful - before I knew it, I had about 30 children!)

The second one LOOKS to be a really nice tool, but I can't get it to calculate. (It seems to have lost the server to which it's supposed to connect.) I sent an email to the company that created it to let them know its broken so they can either repair or remove it. (It's posted seemingly everywhere on the "mommy-net" and it doesn't really make them look good as a company if the thing they created doesn't work!) Here it is for reference, and I'll post an update if I hear back from them.

What Color Eyes Would Your Children Have? by Ideum

The problem with ALL of these is that we have no idea what color eyes Craig's parents had (have) as he is adopted. And Craig's got a really interesting eye color to begin with as well: not quite hazel, not quite green, or brown... Wikipedia described the color fairly accurately as "amber."

Interesting factoid: (most) Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes. Why?

The color of your irises is determined by melanin. Melanin is the same protein that determines the color of your skin and whether you tan well or not. It's reactive to ultraviolet light, and how much you get is coded in your genes. When you are born, the melanin has not been fully deposited in the irises and has not yet reacted to ultraviolet light, hence the light-colored eyes. Most babies develop their eye color by about 6 months, but eye color can change over the course of one's life.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see like everyone else!

Future time-waster: baby hair color

Monday, July 7, 2008

Not a Zygote, Not yet a Fetus


Week 7, according to most things out there, marks the last of the Embryo Days. The week the baby officially becomes a fetus varies, depending on whom you consult, from about 8 to 10 weeks. I've always been ahead of the curve, so I choose to think on the early side...

The baby-to-food comparison for this week is the blueberry. ("Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!) Strangely enough, the baby's limbs look more like flippers because the fingers are webbed, and it has something of a tail, which will (God willing) disappear in the coming weeks. Eyes are becoming more fully formed and have a retina and a lens. Intestines should be fully formed by now, and the baby's liver is starting to produce its own blood cells, complete with its own blood type. (Next week, when I go back to the doctor, I will finally get to learn my own blood type! Hooray!)

I'm starting to have paranoid delusions that there's something wrong because I can't detect anything going on. I'm just barely queasy sometimes, which I had before I was pregnant, and I find it hard to believe that I'm one of the lucky 25% that will get through all this without "morning sickness!" (which is a misnomer because you actually have it all day.) I'm bone-crushingly tired the last few days, but I have that any time I can't sleep, and I haven't slept well in weeks. (I generally sleep for a few hours, then wake up once an hour at 6 am, then 7, then 8, etc. even on the days I can "sleep in.") My one saving grace is that the boobs are killing me, and though they don't really seem larger because my bras still fit well, they seem "fuller", if that makes any sense.

But there's no sense in worrying about anything, because there isn't anything I can do about it now anyway. I go to the doctor next Thursday the 17th, and then they'll poke and prod and ask a zillion questions, and we'll just have to see what's what then. In the meantime, please forgive my crazy paranoia. Sometimes this feels like I'm on one of those runaway train rides, where you're just strapped into a cart and you have no steering controls so you're just along for the ride, and you're supposed to be having fun! (Actually, I do like those kind of rides a lot.)

Also, in the runaway train department, my emotions are pretty much spontaneous moment-to-moment, and I'm going through things that I can't control and will just have to rely on the patience of my husband to get through. For example, on Saturday morning, Craig and I were sitting in bed, and I told him I just feel like I have to cry. I wasn't sad, or upset, or in pain; I just needed to cry. So he let me cry on his shoulder for about five minutes, and then I was fine. It was such a weird feeling, like having the urgency of REALLY having to use the bathroom, and then that nice cathartic relief when you're done. And it was no more emotional than that either. It was just like a "function."

I'm managing the runaway mood swings (happy-sad-SO ANGRY-fine again, in the span of an hour) by attempting to do exactly what I did when I got myself off the antidepressants: Make a conscious effort to recognize that what I'm feeling is irrational and without base, probably completely hormonal, and that if I just give it a little time, it will pass.

This method also works well for staying out of fights with, and thereby wasting time with, idiots on the internet. Sometimes "ignore it and it will go away" really does work.
(Not recommended for dentistry.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"It"


When you're dealing with something that takes 40 weeks, I think it's important to break the time down into mini-goals, things to look forward to and plan for when "B-day" seems both agonizingly far away and terrifyingly close. My current one is: I'm really looking forward to the day we find out our baby's gender.

I find myself referring to our unborn child as "it" a lot... we both do. Not out of cruelty or coldness, but out of basic necessity. "What do you think we should name it?" "What color should we paint its room?" "Do you think it will be cute/smart/funny?"

To listen to us, you'd think we were referring to some sort of abstract idea, rather than the very real baby that's coming our way. I just can't wait until I know what to call him. Or her.

*sigh*

Okay, it.

For now.