On October 13–at 36 weeks exactly–at 10:02 p.m., weighing 4 pounds, 14.9 ounces, we welcomed my baby girl to the world:


Though the original plan included delayed cord clamping and allowing us to hold her for about a half hour after birth, she had other plans. They used three different methods to induce labor for me, and the pitocin kicked my body into overdrive. I went from five to ten centimeters in about thirty minutes, and it stressed baby girl out. Her heart rate kept dropping off, which completely freaked us out. I kept thinking, “No….I did seven months of bedrest, kept my A1c at 5.1-5.3, and did EVERYTHING right. I CAN’T lose her now!” My silent scream for that period of time was “get her out get her out get her out get her out”. While I was pushing, her heart rate stopped, and they ended up using the vacuum. Luckily, it only took about a minute and two sets of pushes, since she was so little. Hearing that cry for the first time was great, but babies are purple at first, so I was still worried. No delayed cord clamping, no precious minutes of holding…just a fast “Dad cut the cord” and about ten seconds on my belly before they moved her over to the NICU folks on the other side of the room. They plopped her onto me for a minute to hold before my husband and baby were shipped to the NICU to prepare for her journey next door to DC Children’s Hospital’s CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit).

In the meantime, because of my preeclampsia, they had me on Magnesium during the labor and had to have me on it for 24 hours after the delivery. The purpose was to calm my nervous system and prevent me from having a seizure and/or stroke. Nice, right? So I was tied to the bed, and couldn’t visit my own baby. Thankfully, I knew Hubby was there keeping an eye on her. He did a great job “following the football”.

I’ll write more later, but here’s a picture of my darling baby girl several days after surgery, in the step-down unit, with most of her tubes and wires gone:

This is a later pic, from about 10 days post-surgery. Most of the wires are gone at this point.

Wow. I really ought to update a bit more frequently, but..you know…Facebook and Google + killed the blog. I apologize, but this is going to be a novella.

Since 28 weeks, stuff has happened. Duh. First, I made it to 34 weeks yesterday, which is a MAJOR accomplishment. I’m almost ready to believe that this is going to happen. For real. I continued to bedrest during this time, and at 32 weeks, I went back up to Children’s Hospital to see how Buddha’s heart was doing. That was a looooong day!

First, we’re participating in a research study about the brains of babies who have heart surgery. In return, we get three MRIs of the baby’s brain: one in utero, one right before the surgery, and one at 18 months, along with an evaluation from a behavioral psychologist, who would then advise us on any problems seen in the MRI and any interventions to take to address them. Apparently, children who have heart surgery have a higher risk of learning disabilities because of being put on the heart bypass machine. However, early intervention is key to help resolve or minimize those issues. So…what’s the downside? Um…there isn’t one that I can see. People spend thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to get evaluations like this one, and we get them for free! Wait, there was one downside. The MRI was at 7:00 a.m. In DC. On a week day. That meant leaving our house around 4:45 in order to get there by 6:30 to get set up.

The MRI was fine. It was loud, very cramped, sort of uncomfortable on my back, and I had no idea if Buddha would cooperate. You can’t make a baby stay still. It’s not like I could stop him/her!

After the MRI, we had some time to kill, and I needed to lay down for a while. We went out to the parking lot and napped and snacked in the van. About forty minutes before we needed to head up to the cardiology department, we heard yelling in the parking garage, followed by a loud banging noise. It turned out that some van with a tall topper on it misjudged its ability to drive through the garage, and took out a pipe connected to the sprinkler system. Dirty water was spewing from the broken pipe, and alarms were going off telling us that there was a fire in the parking garage. We got out of the van and moved to the lobby area for a few minutes until we determined that there was not any danger. Nope. Just idiots who can’t judge height.

After all that excitement, the fetal cardiology appointment was rather mundane. They still had trouble seeing all the parts of the heart that they wanted to see, but told us that the small aortic valve had grown by one millimeter. They anticipated about a millimeter a month, growth-wise. and so 36 weeks would give us the two millimeters we needed to put the valve on the “low end of normal”. So that’s wonderful, of course.

We also found out that the “aortic stenosis” may not be a “stenosis”. “Stenosis” implies that the valve has a defect. They think it’s just small. The theory is that the valve is small because the ventricular hole is so large. They thought it was two holes, but it seems to be just one large hole. Closing the hole MAY allow the valve to grow to normal size, but we don’t know anything for sure. In fact, nothing is set in stone about Buddha’s heart until he/she gets out and they can do a proper heart ultrasound. They think they know what’s going on, but things can change. Heck, they do the weight estimates on the baby, but those measurements can be off by a pound or more in either direction! It’s funny how we think we’re so scientifically savvy, but we’re really just guessing in a lot of cases.

After the consult with the fetal cardiology team, the prenatal social worker loaded me up in a wheelchair to get me to our meeting with the OB up there. We got a quick tour of the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit), where Buddha would be before and after the surgery, then took the arduous journey to the hospital next door. There was NO WAY I could have walked that far, so the wheelchair was incredibly helpful.

We met with Dr. D at Washington Hospital. We all found an empty sitting room near the Labor and Delivery department and had a sit-down consult for probably a half hour. This guy was a hoot! Very ADD, personable, smart, and didn’t insult our intelligence. It was lovely to chat with him. He took notes on a scrap piece of paper, gave me all of his numbers, and then we were on our way out. I have an appointment with him on October 13, my 36-week mark, to see what we’re going to do.

Our last appointment of the day was for me to get a haircut. I usually go to Hubby’s salon in Maryland, since it’s near where he works. We couldn’t remember the last time I was there, but it turns out it was last November! I needed my hair did! Since we weren’t doing highlights, it went pretty fast. My conversation with the hairstylist relating all that had happened since March was peppered with “Crazy!” from her the whole time. I suppose it IS crazy. This went in a completely different direction than our plans the last time we spoke.

At the end of that day, I was exhausted, and slept very well that night.

Since then, I started going to the perinatologist twice a week for ultrasounds and checks. My blood pressure has been a problem this whole time, because the drugs they can give you when you’re pregnant basically suck in effectiveness in comparison to the drugs you can take when you aren’t pregnant. Now, at 31 weeks, I was told that I should start getting up more, doing more, and basically “training” for labor by being more active.

For two glorious weeks I ate sitting up, went out to restaurants for a few meals, and WENT INTO A KOHL’S AND SPENT 15 MINUTES SHOPPING!!!! I was in heaven. After being trapped in my house since March, freedom was wonderful! Additionally, this third trimester I’ve felt better physically than at any other point in the pregnancy. My first trimester I was in massive amounts of pain, my second trimester had slightly less pain but two UTIs combined with two and a half months of antibiotic-related diarrhea plus lots of stress about making it to 26 weeks, but the third trimester? My cervix doesn’t hurt, I haven’t’ had another UTI, I could feel the baby move around, and I wasn’t horribly uncomfortable. I’d hit the jackpot!!

Not so fast, Skippy.

Last week, at 33 weeks, I came in to perinatology for my Thursday appointment. They’d asked me to do a 24-hour urine test to check for protein (a sign of preeclampsia). Since I’d turned in the test on Wednesday morning, I’d assumed that it went well. No one called to tell me otherwise. The nurse dashed my hopes with her “No. It was bad. Don’t be surprised if you go to the hospital today.” Well, that last sentence was enough to shoot my blood pressure up to 158/103. I’m very prone to what’s called “lab coat syndrome” or “white coat syndrome”, which means that my blood pressure goes up in the doctor’s office or when I’m told something stressful in a doctor’s office. The day before, I saw my endocrinology folks, who I LOVE to death. They clocked my blood pressure at 120/80, which is normal. Obviously the declaration that I would be hospitalized affected my number. The nurse, of course, didn’t buy it. Thankfully, I had a record of my home blood pressure numbers to back myself up. Otherwise the doc WOULD have put me in.

The perinatologist has a great attitude towards the whole thing: he won’t put me in the hospital unless I’m uncooperative or showing other symptoms of the preeclampsia. He knows that a hospital is the worst possible place to get any rest and relaxation, and that I’m better off at home for as long as possible. I added the fact that the food sucks, but that’s another story entirely.

So it’s back to full-on bedresting, with me getting up to fix breakfast and lunch, and getting up to potty, but not much else. The freedom was great while it lasted, and it reminded me of how much I’ve put into keeping this baby as safe as possible over the past several months. I miss shopping and going places and doing things, but this will pay off for me in the end. The goal right now it to get me to 36 weeks. Fingers crossed, that will be the case. I await the coming of the Buddha Baby and getting to hold him/her and take him/her home in the best possible health.

Here’s the MRI picture of Buddha’s brain:

Well, I just can’t do things the easy way, apparently. :)

I’m at 28 weeks, 1 day today. So, yay, me! Everything seems to be going well with my body and the baby’s general health. The progesterone shots are working, and it doesn’t look like I’m in danger of early labor at the moment. They increased my blood pressure medicine on Wednesday because it was getting too high again, and it’s making me sleepy.

We discovered at the 20 week scan that Buddha has a hole in his/her heart, but that it wasn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, last week they also discovered that Buddha has a narrow aortic valve (aortic stenosis). Hubby and I went to Children’s Hospital in DC on Wednesday to get better pictures and do a consult with their fetal cardiologist. She’s apparently the best, which is good for us.

Buddha’s aortic valve is on the border between “too small” and “good enough”. It needs to grow another millimeter or two to be on the solidly “good enough” side, and the doctor seemed to think that would happen, provided I don’t go into labor any time soon. The problem is, the valve is supposed to be the same size as the pulmonary valve, and it’s about half that size. This makes the hole in the heart a much bigger issue. Usually, the pressure in the heart is equal because those two valves are equal in size. When one is smaller, it can cause leaking across the heart where the hole is, which isn’t good.

Before the valve was discovered, we were told that the hole would just be watched, and could be closed surgically later if needed. The aortic stenosis changes things. I may have the option to deliver at the hospital next to Chidren’s, so we can be closer to the surgical team after birth. I can give birth at my local hospital, but they may have to do a medical transport to Children’s, and transport carries risks.

Basically, after I have Buddha, they have to do an echocardiogram quickly to determine the extent of the hole and the actual size of the aortic valve. Then they watch the baby for two days, and I’ll have to pump, since they won’t let him/her eat until they ensure it won’t be a problem. If they can wait a week or two to do surgery to close the hole, they will wait. If the baby shows signs of distress (fast breathing, etc.), then they have to close the hole sooner. It’s possible that they can do a more non-invasive procedure using heart catheters to put in “plugs” on either side of the hole, but it will depend. If the valve is still on the “too small” size, they may have to do surgery to try and widen it, as well.

The baby would have to be in the hospital for at least a week after any surgery or procedure. We qualify to stay at the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s because of our distance from the hospital, so Hubby and I would likely stay up there for that time. In any case, it’s very likely we’ll end up at Children’s Hospital shortly after Buddha is born.

The good news is that we’re working with an excellent fetal cardiology team, with great success rates, and no one gave us a doom and gloom outlook. This is fixable; it just makes everything more complicated. There are always risks, but we’re confident that this baby is both strong and stubborn, and will be fine. We’re also glad to know about it now, so we can plan for it. It would be far worse to find out after Buddha was born!

So…prayers for that 2 millimeter growth and my continued lack of labor would be appreciated. :)

I figure I better do a quick update. It’s sort of uncomfortable typing in the supine position, so it may take a while to finish.

Yes, Hubby and I were trying to adopt. No, I wasn’t going to get pregnant again, after the last two disasters. So, what happened? I turned up pregnant in early March. I don’t know how it happened.  I mean, I know HOW it happened, I just don’t KNOW how it happened. You know?

So I was in an incredible amount of pain, so much so that I had to leave school in the middle of the day and go home. I haven’t gone back. Unfortunately, I ended up going back to the same OB I had before, simply because no one else would take me without looking at my records before hand, and I didn’t have that kind of time. I needed to be seen immediately.

So…we’re in May.  What are the pros and cons here?

1. The doctor finally figured out that I have a progesterone problem, so I got supplemental progesterone for almost 5 weeks. I will demand progesterone shots–they start at 16 weeks and can be given up to 36 weeks.
2.  I am eating a low carb, healthy diet. This time, I know what I’m doing, and I’m not following the stupid diabetic diet that made me so sick the last time.
3. The doctor’s nurse is awesome and totally supportive of me. She is probably the driving force behind all the changes that have happened so far. Anything different is good, right?
4. They figure that incompetent cervix is a major problem for me, and last week, at 13 weeks, they got my cervix sewed shut (a cerclage). Unlike with the twins, this time my cervix hadn’t started to open yet, and a successful preventative cerclage has an 80-90% track record of getting women to 37 weeks or more.
5. The doctor is letting me bed rest. Any length of standing or sitting is uncomfortable, bordering on painful, so laying down is my best option. I go to my doctor appointments, and that’s it. I don’t shop (which is KILLER) except online, and I didn’t even go to my mother’s house for Mother’s Day.
6. The cat is THRILLED that I’ve decided to spend all my time at home with her.

1. I’m still in pain and a lot of discomfort. To boot, I’m paranoid and worry about every twinge, pain, and strain. The majority of my awake time is spent trying to distract myself so I won’t start having panic attacks.
2. I don’t know what “normal” feels like, so I have no real basis for comparison to know how I’m doing.
3. Bed rest can be uncomfortable. It sounds great in theory, but they say that for every day down, you need a week of recovery. I don’t know if that’s completely true, but I sure don’t want to be so weak by the end of the pregnancy that they HAVE to do a C-section because I’m unable to push. I try to get up and walk around several times a day, but it’s just exhausting.
4. I am deathly afraid that history will repeat itself. I’m more optimistic this time, due to the pros listed above, but I can’t help being petrified. My third trimester begins on August 11. At that point, I will relax some, since 28 weeks is a solid over 95% survival rate for preemies. I will be forcing myself to not fall apart around week 21, which is where my problems usually begin.
5. TMI WARNING: I can feel my cervix, and it freaks me out. I know it’s there, I can feel it, and it makes me nervous. I have no idea what it means, but knowing that it’s a primary problem doesn’t make me feel relaxed at all.
6.  The cat doesn’t understand why she can’t step on my stomach anymore, and tries to do so several times a day (and at night). She’s going to be unhappy when she figures out what’s going on.

So there you have it. We’ve nicknamed the baby “Buddha”, and don’t plan to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. So don’t ask. It’s tough to think too far ahead when you’re worried that the pregnancy won’t succeed. I’m due 11/11/11. I don’t expect to make it quite that far, but who knows? With my record of 23 1/2 weeks, I’ll take anything beyond that where the baby survives. I don’t need another memory box in my living room cabinet.

My Christmas Wish

Okay, so this time I’m saving the darn blog entry so it won’t disappear after I’ve worked on it for an hour.  I’m still kicking myself, since there was so much goodness in that one entry, forever lobbed into cyberspace, never to be seen again.  Sigh.  I’ll rewrite it when it worms its way back into my head.

Enough whining.  Moving on.  Hubby and I are going to drag out the Advent calendar and start it up on Wednesday.  Someday, I’ll get a real Advent wreath and light it each week, just like when I was a kid.  Every year I tell myself that I’m going to do that.  Yep, I’m still a member of the Procrastination Club.  I’ll pay the dues.  Eventually.

We’re buying a couple of gifts for families that our church adopted for Christmas.  I’m hoping we can get accessories to go with them.  In the meantime, we’re still not decorated for the holidays.  Since we won’t be home much, and we’re celebrating at my parents’ house, there doesn’t seem to be much point in putting up a tree or doing decorations.  The cat just eats the fake needles, anyway, and I spend November and December scooping artificial tree out of the litter box.  Also, little miss spoiled-kitty-pants knows that she isn’t supposed to chew the branches, and runs downstairs to get it whenever she’s mad.

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I had an exhausting week, followed by a long day at school.  So, of course, I’m awake at 11 at night, writing a blog entry.  My brain doesn’t understand why I shouldn’t be awake late, but then it doesn’t want me to get up in the morning because I’m sleep-deprived.  Sigh.

Random thoughts wander through my head at night.  Hubby doesn’t understand why I don’t sleep well.  He works himself into exhaustion, has a couple of drinks, then falls right to sleep.  He apparently doesn’t have any trouble turning off his brain.  Mine is always going.  I’d gotten better about worrying, but I think I need to pull out my Sedona Method CDs again.  Oh, wait.  CDs are sooooo 1994.  I have them all on one or all of my Apple iPod/iTouch/iPhone products.  So I guess the earbuds jacked into one of those is more in order.

Random thoughts….I guess that if I write them down, they may go away.

#1: I feel like I’m improving my “issues” all the time, but then I’ll have a random setback or weepy moment and wonder if I’ve really made any progress. Today was a rough day in school, what with the recent full moon, a fun food day, and the fact that it’s Friday.  In the past, there would have been a lot more screaming on my part.  I’ve made vast improvements in my ability to breathe and use my words.  Geez, I sound like a freaking three-year-old.  But it’s true.  I think that I’ve mellowed out some, and gotten some new strategies.  Most of the time I can control my urge to get really sarcastic and snarky with students.  When I’m tired, it’s a lot tougher.  I’ve got a couple of challenging classes this semester, so I’m really focusing on how I can adapt my favorite classroom-management techniques from Whole Brain Teaching to help some very low students and very talkative students.

#2:  I wrote an entire blog entry, for an hour, all the way to #10, with awesome links to Dave Ramsey, Sandra Felton, and other things.  Then wordpress kicked me out of it and deleted everything after #1.  That must be a sign from above that I really, really need to go to bed.

Alrighty,then. Hubby is snoring, so it’s headphones and white noise for me.  Or possibly the guest room.  Good night!

I have approximately  eight weeks until I return to school.  Unfortunately, most of my summer is pre-scheduled.  I have to attend a wedding (on my 10th anniversary), go to New Hampshire (by way of Pennsylvania) for family time, take a grant trip to Alabama, then return to New Hampshire to visit with my mom before heading back to school.  In the meantime, I need to get my shit together.  I know, I say that all the time.

My job interferes with my life.  The house stays messy, the laundry piles up, and some days I buy the school cafeteria lunch just because I didn’t take the time to make something at home.  Hubby gets up at 3:45 a.m. and commutes to Maryland each day.  But here’s the biggest problem.  When we come home, we tend to eat in front of the TV while on our laptops, not really communicating with each other or doing anything real or important.  I know that eventually we’re going to do “family dinner”, but we’re just in this bad habit of connecting to technology and disconnecting from each other.  I have a decent amount of downtime each summer, but I sort of look at it as though it’s “me-sleep-in-and-do-nothing-time”, not time to improve myself or the house or my relationships.  As part of my continuing struggle for self-improvement, it’s time to make a few changes.
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