Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Velamentous Cord Insertion (VCI)


This pregnancy has been night and day different from my previous two. While I feel each one was unique in it's own way, for the most part the girls' pregnancies had more than a handful of similarities. This time around is another thing. From the intense and unrelenting exhaustion, completely different "morning" sickness symptoms (this time around turned out to be less sea sick feeling/dizziness and more crampy upset stomach) and with a lower laying babe, alllll the bladder issues (hello, midnight bathroom visits x10) that I NEVER experienced with the girls because they pretty much lived under my ribs- ouch! Another difference with this one has been the 24/7 worrying. With Maisie's pregnancy I was young and naive, so I went with the flow. With Ellie's I had enough mothering experience to be confident in my body and skills that I have learned on the way. But this one? He's kept us on our toes.

At our first prenatal appointment when I thought I was 8 weeks along, but really turned out to be 9 weeks, we learned I had a subchorionic hematoma (the accumulation of blood within the folds of the chorion (the outer membrane, next to the placenta) or between the uterus and the placenta itself). It wasn't anything I was too worried about, but it was something I found myself thinking about often enough. Most women who have a subchorionic hematomas go on to have healthy pregnancies, but my brain would wonder about potential risks mostly the increased chance of miscarriage. But as my baby continued to grow and with every check up I was more reassured and began to forget all about it. With a quick ultrasound at 17 weeks they confirmed that it resolved on its own and was no longer visible. Sweet relief. I found myself enjoying the pregnancy more. My anxiety nearly died, other than freaking out about having a boy (ahh!). Ok, its all downhill from here, everything is fine. 

A few weeks later at my 21 week anatomy scan (we had already found out baby was a boy at the 17 week scan)  I went to this appointment without Austin. Normally Austin doesn't miss a single appointment, but he had had his gallbladder surgery that morning and was pretty down for the count. I reassured him "Everything is ok, they are just looking at everything and we already know the gender soooo no big deal. I'll facetime you ok?" I ended up taking Maisie because she was pretty excited to see her little brother. I thought the ultrasound was going great, but I could tell she was checking something, checking and rechecking on my lower left side. She would switch from 2d to 3d to the blood flow monitor over and over. She finished up the ultrasound and then said "First, baby looks great!" uhhhh what's second?? "I see an abnormality with the cord and placenta." She seemed pretty lax and unworried so I asked what the problem was. She said "I'm having a hard time being 100% sure, but either the cord attached marginally (the very outer side) to the placenta or it didn't attach to the placenta at all". Now I don't know why, maybe it was her calm demeanor or the fact that I had been up since 5 am and at the hospital for Austin's surgery allllll day long or that Maisie was sitting right there, but I wasn't bothered by the information. I figured with how calm she was being that if it were  something to worry about she would have told me? I don't know. I do remember her saying that with this sort of cord abnormality, it puts the baby at a slight increased risk for a cord accident and stillbirth. Also I just assumed that I must have had the marginal insertion because how relaxed the appointment was. I went home and explained to a very groggy and drugged up husband what I was told. Even explaining it to him I could see the worry in his eyes and confused as to what this meant as far as the rest of pregnancy. I tried telling him "she told me not to lose sleep over it, so I don't think it's a big deal".

As the days passed, I started to worry more and in that worry I turned to the internet. I know, I know, but I honestly wasn't looking for horror stories. I just wanted the facts behind the abnormality. Everything thing I read mostly discussed Marginal Cord Insertion and pretty much said while they will monitor the pregnancy more, mostly making sure that the cord was suppling enough nutrients and that the baby was growing according to schedule, it wasn't anything to be too concerned over or anything too uncommon. As I was reading through the articles I kept coming across info for Velamentous cord insertion or VCI and how it's a much different beast than Marginal cord insertion (my description, not the articles hah). I felt reassured that I MUST have the marginal version because based on everything about VCI I had read, it was contrary to the way the ultrasound specialist had acted. Another day passed and I became sick with worry what if it is the velamentous one? So I called my midwife hoping to get an appointment, but she was already over booked for the day and there wasn't a chance to sneak myself in (of course it was a Friday so I would have to wait until the next week). So then over the phone to the nurse I explained my uneasiness about the results of my ultrasound, she forwarded the call to the radiologist and that lady said in exact words "I don't know why the ultrasound tech said she couldn't tell if it was attached or not, but I can confirm that it is NOT attached and IS Velamentous." Over the phone I began to sob. All of the what ifs and anxiety I had been feeling the days prior all came flooding back hundredfold. All the things I had read about ruptured or pinched unprotected cord (aka the means the baby gets nutrients and more importantly oxygen), restricted growth of the baby, stillbirth, cord accidents, retained placenta, more likely to hemorrhage during birth... yadda yadda yadda. I was freaking out. Austin came home from work to a wife in fetal position on the couch full on melting down about how our baby boy is going to die and I can't stop it. He was able to pull me out of my spiral of doom pretty quickly (he's good at that) but he allowed me to vent and express all the fears of hopefully less likely and very undesired results.

We left on vacation to Arizona before I could meet with my midwife and speak with her about what this diagnosis means as far as birthing options, monitoring and tests. I tried to just enjoy our vacation without worrying too much, but it was exhausting not knowing more about this potential serious and scary abnormality. I took solace that so far baby boy had been growing right on track or even a smidge bigger than gestational age. So while the cord/arteries/veins was not desirable with location and lack of cord protection, baby boy was growing and was healthy.

Finally, after a few weeks we were able to get into our appointment with the midwife. Some ball was dropped on the ultrasound techs side because when I started to sob to the midwife about how anxious and worried I have been she looked confused. "What's wrong? What did the ultrasound show?" they didn't inform her, so it was news to her. She immediately pulled up the ultrasound and started looking over it. She was mad because had she known, she would have called me to talk about it and try to explain things. We talked about what the rest of this pregnancy would look like. She said the main concern is growth restriction on the baby and a potential early delivery based on his ability to thrive from the cord. Her other worry was a retained placenta after birth. Since the cord is not attached to the placenta theres nothing to help pull it out, which means manual extraction, a possible D&C and potential hemorrhaging requiring a blood transfusion. She made me feel much better as she described exactly what she would do if any of those scenarios happened. Austin and I left the appointment feeling much better. After we discussed it with family and friends everyone said "maybe get a second opinion?" so after the recommendation of Austin's boss, we made an appointment with a high risk OB. We wanted to consult him and see what he would do differently, if anything than the midwife could/would do. He explained that he has had a handful of VCI cases, not tons because of how uncommon it is, but he's had enough experience to know exactly what could happen. He explained that he would do much more extensive monitoring of baby's growth, cord location, fluid levels and starting at 34 weeks twice weekly non-stress tests along with ultrasounds every 2 weeks. This was very different than what the midwife wanted to do. Which I guess is the beauty of a midwife- they are hands on, less intervention, less stress. But Austin and I both felt that in this case more monitoring would make us feel better. Plus with this sort of cord abnormality it puts me WAY more likely to need a c-section. This OB could do it on the spot without any backup calls, where as the midwife would have to exchange me over, which is precious time we can't have wasted. Our OB explained that once my water breaks that's when its imperative to monitor the baby constantly. He explained that without the cushion of the water for the exposed vessels it's a matter of how long the baby can hold his breath if they become pinched or compressed against his shoulder etc. We knew right then, we needed an OB and it broke my heart because I LOVE my midwife. If it were any other birth, she's exactly who I would want, but with the so many unknowns and potential risks we need to be where they can be addressed the quickest and unfortunately that's not with her. Also, we needed to switch from our hospital to one with a NICU and trauma unit just in case. So right now the plan is to be induced at 39 weeks if no other complications come up before that point.

So in about 7 weeks we will have our baby boy! I wish I could fast forward to the day after he's born just so the worryingr and stress can be over and hopefully an uneventful birth without complications will be behind us. All I want is safety for the baby and myself, its so nerve wracking not knowing what's going to happen, but I guess that's the case for all births. I hate the lack of control I feel at all times, but I have to be reassured that we are being as diligent and proactive as possible and that's all we can do at this point. I'm so happy we have made it to 32.2 weeks without any scares and that so far everything is on track and going well. I am so thankful for modern medicine and that we were able to catch this and be aware of its presence and be ready for any and all complications that could arise.

Let's do this baby boy! Not much longer now. :)


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Oh Boy!

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Baby boy was bent in half his entire ultrasound- essentially ears between knees.

When Austin and I thought about our future we always imagined parenting a hoard of girls. I imagined braiding Maisie's hair while she braided Ellie's, while Ellie braided our other little girl's hair etc. A cascade of braiding estrogen. Austin was in on this visual. Not that we didn't want a boy, but when we thought about our chaotic family life, we could only see a life full of mostly naked baby dolls strewn about the house, "Frozen" or more currently "Moana" soundtracks on repeat all day every day, sassy remarks and twirly dresses. It's what we knew and became comfortable with.

We had an inkling that this pregnancy was different, but all of mine so far have been remotely different, but this one was the sore thumb of the bunch. My energy levels and morning sickness was night and day different than the girls' pregnancies. But I still had that little girl perfectly picked out in my head because it was a fact that we can only make girls right? I went into our ultrasound with the idea that I wouldn't be surprised either way, just because this pregnancy was so different it would make sense if it was a boy, but also with the idea that we can only make girls right? Win-win thought process huh? haha! When my midwife said "yep, it's DEFINITELY a boy" I went into shock. What??? We can make a boy? Ahhhhh! I was instantly excited, but felt oddly unqualified (and so, so, SO unprepared) to have a boy. Our world with only girls, was about to get turned upside down.

Maisie was convinced it was a boy from the second we told her we were going to have a baby, which was around 6 weeks pregnant because I became too sick to hide it from them. "Mommy, it HAS to be a boy right? It would be crazy to have THREE girls right?" We had long talks about how we can't control what the baby is, but whatever it is, it's apart of our family and we love it so much already. Ellie said she wanted a girl, but honestly she's just so baby hungry that I don't think she'd mind either way. Side note: I have never met another little girl who possesses such motherly instincts as strongly as little Ellie. I think Austin was pulling for a boy from the beginning because he feels so out numbered and also his past remarks of "I want a boy to carry my name" (insert eye roll) but he still could only imagine a girl. We both left the ultrasound appointment in disbelief, but so so happy.

It felt strange to wander down boy isles- it was like a foreign country, scratch that more like a different planet! I found my eyes (and sometimes my entire body) wandering towards the girl's section (why are little girls things just so flipping cute?!) And kind of wondering if this was real life. Not a huge fan of all the little sports, trucks and boy sayings. No joke yesterday I found such a cute onesie for a boy, but in big capital letters sprawled across the front was the word "DUDE" really?! Is that even necessary. So it looks like I'm dressing my boy like an 80 year old man- give me all the loafers, cardigans, suspenders and I'm good.

I found myself secretly missing all things "little girls" and I think its because we are 98% sure this is our last baby (even before we knew what this baby was, we felt this way) and I don't think I have fully let it sink in that I won't be shopping for little newborn dresses and headbands for OUR babies again. But how exciting is it that we get to have a whole new experience for our last baby. This little boy is already so loved and wanted. I feel such a connection to him that feels entirely different than mine with the girls. So with one chapter closing, another new and exciting one has been started. I feel so blessed to be pregnant and that we even have the opportunity to grow our family by one more. We can't wait to meet this little guy and smother him with kisses- Ellie won't be able to contain her affection and I don't think I'll be able to either :)

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yellowstone June 2016

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When my mom was visiting in June, we went to Yellowstone National Park. My mom has talked about wanting to go to Yellowstone since I was a little girl and seeing how we live so close now we made a day trip out of it. We packed our lunches and picnic styled throughout the park. It couldn't have been a better day weather wise- it was beautiful and warm. Yellowstone is notorious for its crazy weather (I.E snow in July). So we packed the car with spare clothes, layers and coats just in case, but didn't end up needing a single thing. It was a pleasant surprise. We focused on the SW area of the park, but we made a huge loop to see other parts of the park as well. We saw countless buffalo, tons of geysers, hot pots, water falls and huge lakes. We ended the day with dinner in West Yellowstone, Montana and then made our way home.

The Summer of Six States, Stranger Things & Sprague Reunions

Summer 2016 was by far the busiest summer so far. We traveled in and through six states (all driving) in our good old Volkswagen, Wolfie.

-We hiked and camped our way through the middle of the Wyoming plains.
-Ten year high school reunion in Oregon (go Sprague Olympians!)
-Austin's mom's side of the family (the Sprague's) reunion in Sacramento, California.
-Day trip to San Francisco and Muir beach
-My mom came to visit for a couple weeks, which included Yellowstone, Gold Bug hot springs,
 Rexburg Rapids, Finding Dory etc.
-My Grandpa's birthday bash in Oregon (thankfully this worked out be be during the week of our  high school reunion so we killed two birds with one stone and saved our car a ton of miles haha).
-While in Oregon we blew through the entire season of "Stranger Things".
-Since my parents were in Oregon the same time for my Grandpa's birthday we had a day trip to  Enchanted Forest.
-Beach day at Neskowin
-East Idaho State Fair
-Tautphaus Zoo

I will make separate posts about some of the items listed above because I have TONS of photos!

Random iPhone photos from our various trips:
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Roadtrip diva

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Sacramento Reunion

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Private bowling room with 75+ people

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Maisie feeding her baby in Oregon haha!

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Ellie passed out after Enchanted Forest

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Cousin snuggles

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Lunch in San Francisco at Rainforest Cafe

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Entertaining the babe at my Grandpa's birthday

Not an iPhone photo but a professional photo from the family reunion in Sacramento. It was 105+ and beyond muggy in this photo, we were all miserable, but somehow the photo turned out:
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Palisades Reservoir

Shortly after Maisie started her first summer break (the end of May 2016) we took a day trip to the Palisades. We had intentions of hiking the Upper Palisades, but ended up just exploring the Reservoir and buying fireworks in Wyoming (note to self: buy more lady bugs next time haha) instead. This little day trip is when we first became aware of Ellie's motion sickness and unfortunately hadn't stocked up on baby Dramamine yet. So after a quick stop to change her clothes and sanitize her carseat as best as possible, we continued with our day. I took a picture of Ellie post clean up and she looked so darling, even for a baby who just was sick all over herself just minutes prior. Need evidence? Here you go:

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Need evidence that Idaho is incredibly beautiful and that our girls are cute (albeit crazy)?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Catching up: May 25th, 2016 - Kindergarten Graduate

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In the last 11 days this little girl turned SIX, graduated Kindergarten and is getting her first permanent molars. I can vividly remember and recall each emotion the second she was born and It's beyond confusing and terrifying that that moment was over six years ago. How can that be? 

I have this love-hate relationship with time. It seems to pass impossibly fast and I find myself trying to grasp it and save it from slipping by, but then I see the changes my daughters make in that time that I'm so selfishly trying to hold back and I'm forced to let go. The older they get the more I truly see them and know them so why would I want to try to prevent that? Knowing them is my greatest joy and that will never change.