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: