Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Non-Stress" Tests

I have ONE more week of appointments until the induction on July 5th and I am so burned out. It doesn't help that my last two NSTs results were less than stellar. One resulting in a failure and ended up in the hospital for a few hours waiting to be discharged when baby boy finally decided to perk up enough. The next NST, the following week, while a pass (Hallelujah!!) still took a lot longer to get the desired results and accels in order to get the thumbs up to go home.

Let me share the details on my first NST the one that got me sent to labor and delivery at the hospital because it's quite the story. So I had already been having twice monthly BPP (bio physical profile) ultrasounds (now I have them once a week), so I knew that so far everything had been going great with the pregnancy thus far, baby is growing great- 50th percentile all around (truly a miracle due to his cord- we all thought he would be way on the smaller side) he's moving great, practicing breathing like a champ, motor skills are good so I went into my first NST appointment thinking it would be a breeze and take no longer than 30-45 minutes... oh boy, was I wrong. Not only did I under estimate the length of time of the appointment, but for the first time this entire pregnancy with what feels like hundreds of pre-natal/pregnancy appointments I decided to bring the girls to that one. Why, oh why, did I bring the girls to that one!? What was supposed to be a quick, usually only taking 20 minutes, hooked up, in a private room turned into my own personal version of hades.

Not only did my girls decide that this would be the perfect opportunity to be the most rambunctious, defiant, worst minders ever, but what should have been 30 minutes tops, turned into 2.5 hours! My stress level was already through the roof simply by having my evil spawn children there, but I was panicking because the OB or nurse didn't know why in the world the baby wasn't being reactive to the test. For all they knew he wasn't getting enough oxygen. So there I was trapped 45 minutes from home, meaning I couldn't even drop the girls off at a friend's house or have someone come and get them and I had to go to hospital for extended testing WITH them (not without getting a Frozen Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A on the way first because the Doctors were hoping some cold sugary drink would help baby boy pass his test quicker and because they're delicious of course).

I now know there truly is a hell and it is not made of fire and brimstone, but it is being strapped to a bed, worried sick about your unborn child, while your two other children run around a hospital room not listening to any of your bribes, threats or pleas to behave. I cried hot angry tears while unable to move to make my children listen to me. I felt like a failure as a mother "don't my children respect me?" The friendly nurse tried to diffuse my what was now tangible tension in the room by commenting that my girls were the cutest children she has ever seen "Their beautiful blue eyes! Her curly hair! Her glasses!" while I cried worried and angry tears simultaneously. I wanted Austin. I needed him, but I was alone. Austin was in charge of admistering the LSAT and it was impossible for him to leave mid test or he would have been there in a heart beat. Also, I didn't know how long I was going to be at the hospital and I really didn't want him to head over even if he could have because  1) I didn't know how long I was going to be there. I didn't want him to drive there and then half way turn around because I was discharged and 2) our other car (Wolfie) isn't registered or even insured and I didn't want him to risk getting pulled over. He was willing to drive over after the test, but I was finishing up and I would have been leaving as he was getting there. Austin hates that the day this all happened was on a day where it was impossible for him to leave, but I know he would have been there if he could have. He normally doesn't miss an appointment- he's really good about that.

Finally after a few hours baby boy decided to show off and pass the extended test. My head rang from a tension migraine,  I silently put the girls in the car and told them to not make a peep the entire ride home. I didn't yell, but the way I said it the girls immediately understood the errors of their ways. They didn't make a single sound the entire 45 minute drive home. I unbuckled them from the car took them inside, all without any words, and let Austin take over. The minute I opened my mouth to speak I uncontrollably shook with rage and cried intense sobs. Austin took the girls to their room, had a very stern and serious talk with them and put them to bed with a piece of bread each for their dinner and that was it. It took me a couple hours to stop crying, the floodgates had been opened and there was no stopping it until that river was dry.

Alls well that ends well, but that day was one of the worst days of my life. I actually have a mental list of my worst days and this ranks at number 3 (I have a good memory haha!). I was so overcome by so many conflicting emotions by days end, steam coming out of my ears anger, stomach turning worry, head and heart pounding stress and breath of fresh air relief. That my body needed to physically recover. I turned into bed way early and in the spirit of Scarlett O'Hara reminded myself that "tomorrow is another day!"

Moral of the story: Never take your children to a "Non-stress" test. It's the most ill described test I have ever heard of.

Friday, June 9, 2017

26 days

A date has been set! It feels official and eerily close now- our baby will be earth side in T-minus 26 days!  I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around that fact, but it almost feels set in stone now. There's a part of me that still feels like I might go into labor naturally just because that's all I have ever known labor wise, but both girls were 4 days late, soooo the odds of me going before that point naturally are slim (though not impossible- this pregnancy has been a whirlwind of unpredictability and so unlike any of my others). Austin is relieved to have a date- he's much better suited to a plan and each pregnancy a part of him dies waiting for me to go into labor. It doesn't help that I usually have days of pre-labor to conquer before the real deal happens so that not knowing phase is a killer. I think he's looking forward to a calm drive to the hospital with hopefully a full nights rest behind us and taking comfort in knowing once we walk into the hospital we won't be leaving until we have our baby. I mean I see the appeal of induction, I do. But I'm scared. I don't fully know what to expect other than that pitocin is the devil. I don't like the idea of so many interventions, but going into labor naturally could be dangerous and there needs to be constant monitoring of the baby to make sure he's enduring the labor safely. It's strange to have such a different mentality this go around. A part of me feels a tad disappointed to not have the labor and delivery that I had envisioned since becoming pregnant with this little boy, but I do feel peace with our choices.

We had two options when it came to choosing a date- July 3rd or 5th. I selfishly chose the 5th because I REALLY don't want to spend my favorite holiday in the hospital or worse recovering from a potential c-section. I would really like to spend that day and evening with my girls and celebrate baby brother's impending arrival. I am a smidge nervous that I might not be able to enjoy the holiday as much as I normally would because of the nerves, but there's nothing like a BBQ and fireworks to help take your mind off of things- am I right? Hopefully I will tire myself out enough to where I will be able to sleep great sans-nerves and anticipation because it's going to be an early wake up call the next morning! It's all feeling so real now! July 5th... 26 days... ah!

Monday, June 5, 2017

35 weeks

The induction date hasn't been set yet, we are hoping to get on the hospital's schedule and set the date at my next appointment this coming Thursday. But we are officially in countdown mode! Only 4 weeks left- barring any complications or unexpected turn of events. Right now there's a slight possibility that baby is growing too well in his bedwomb (hah see what i did there?) that if he continues having growth spurts the rate he has been between the last few appointments (he's currently in the 80th percentile) he MAY have to come early. The doctor said if he hits the 90th percentile that's when we would discuss a possible earlier induction just to hopefully help prevent unnecessary pressure or weight on his cord (which is working like a champ- whoo hoo!). So baby is growing perfectly which is really exciting and relieves a lot of worry we had going forward from our 21 week ultrasound. 

Even though there are only 4 weeks left at this point I still feel that there is still so much to do. From here on out I will have 3 appointments a week (thankfully 2 of them are on the same day back to back) so when I look at the long list of appointments it still feels like I have FOREVER to go. Have a look for yourself...


Then there's the fact that we are still SO unprepared (#thirdchildproblems). We still don't have a carseat ordered mostly due to the fact that our stroller system only works with a certain type of carseat that just happens to be one of the more expensive styles and I am hoping and holding out to hopefully find one on sale for a decent price. That's another thing I am finding funny/conflicting about this pregnancy is that we are so sure this little guy is our last that I feel this insane urge to splurge because I won't be able to buy these things again, but then the very real feeling to skimp and save on everything because only one baby will use it. It's messing with my head!

So other than the lack of carseat situation I think we are ready to go. I have a handful (or 2 hah!) of wishlist items that I would love to get before his arrival, but honestly we could do without them or at least could get by without them initially. Nothing as dire as a carseat because we need that to get him home haha!

At 35 weeks physically: I am feeling huge and overheated. I am running a few degrees hotter than normal, but that's to be expected when there's a bun in the oven am I right? We haven't had any unbearable days heat wise, but I am already turning the AC on to sleep at night... Austin hasn't complained too much because with our bedroom upstairs it gets pretty warm up there. My tailbone I am pretty sure is broken or dislocated (I know I am being dramatic, but with how much it hurts it HAS to be broken right?!) because it hurts 24/7 if I stand too long or sit too long or stay in any position too long I just about die. I don't know if its just a matter of the little guy's positioning or what, but sheesh I will not miss this part of pregnancy that's for sure. The girls both lived under my ribs which caused different and probably just as painful symptoms (herniated intercostal muscles- ouch!) but at least I didn't have to sit on my ribs haha! So I feel much more acutely aware of this pain and it's harder to ignore.

At 35 weeks mentally/emotionally: I feel my anxiety peaked a few weeks ago and that I am turning a corner with coming to peace/terms with the potential problems/complications that could arise during labor. I am glad I am educated about them, but there is nothing I can do at this point. It will go how it goes and I need to just trust everything will work out the way it's supposed to. I don't know why it took me so long to finally come to this point, but I am glad I'm here now. I am feeling a little stress about the impending induction just because I have only gone into labor naturally so that's a little nerve wracking, but the thought of having all my ducks in a row and knowing exactly when I will be in the hospital will be extremely helpful especially with making sure the girls are taken care of. With both of the girls we went to the hospital within the 3am-4am time frame, which makes finding someone to come last minute not very fun. So it's exciting to avoid that part. Plus that last week of pregnancy where it's a waiting game to go into labor and not knowing when is the worst. Where the only question any one texts or calls is "baby here yet?" "are you still pregnant?" trust me people, you will know when this baby is born. Both Austin and I will be so relieved to have come out the other side of this pregnancy that I am sure we will be shouting it from the roof tops. :)

So for 4 weeks we will  happily await this little boy's arrival. He will change all of our lives and we can't wait. 

p.s I STILL can't believe we are a having a BOY!

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!

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 :)


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yellowstone June 2016
























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.