Saturday, April 30, 2011

16 Weeks 3 Days: Mommy Meltdown

I told you a few days ago how I was on Cloud 9 and couldn't be happier and didn't know what to do with all this happiness. Well, that didn't last very long.

Yesterday afternoon, at the end of my workday, I decide to reread my recent blog post because I received so many positive responses. Then, I of course look at the ultrasound pictures again since they are at the bottom of the post. I start to look at the picture of the brain and notice the angles on both sides. She has a strawberry shaped head! I thought.

I search for pictures on the internet of fetal head shapes. I compare my baby's head to a strawberry shaped head and to a normal shaped head. I can tell, it looks strawberry shaped. So the meltdown begins.

When my husband sees me after work, he immediately wants to know why I've been crying. I say I don't want him to yell at me. I don't want him to say I'm being irrational or hormonal. But I can't help it. I start to sob uncontrollably. I tell him between sobs that I don't want her to die! That I can see that she has a strawberry shaped head. That our sonographer doesn't know everything, or maybe she's just tired of telling us bad news.

The sobbing continues, and I can't catch my breath. He thinks I'm being ridiculous, but he's ready to take me to the hospital before I really lose it. He calls my sister who thinks I'm having a panic attack and wants me to go to the hospital, too. I, of course, don't want to go.

It is Friday evening, so my doctor's office is closed. My husband calls anyway and speaks with the on-call doctor, who I've never met. We tell her my history, and she assures me that after seven ultrasounds she is 100% sure a strawberry shaped head would have been detected. I thank her and hang up, but I don't believe her.

What is a strawberry shaped head? It is a head shape associated with lethal chromosome anomalies. Gabriel had a strawberry shaped head. I know my little girl doesn't have triploidy syndrome like her brother. I know that because her brain is developing nicely, she always measures right on target with her gestational age, and our placenta is healthy. Still, I know what I see, and I don't know why the sonographer didn't see it. She just keeps telling me my baby is perfect. Why can't I believe her?

Here's what I've decided to do: I'll call my sonographer on Monday and tell her my concerns. She will then tell me that no, my baby does not have a strawberry shaped head or she would have told me. I will then tell her that I need her to look again because I can't handle the stress. She will say I can come anytime. Then, I'm going to ask my doctor about having a Level II ultrasound with a maternal fetal medicine specialist. I had this with Gabriel. I think it will make me feel a lot better to have two people tell me that my baby girl is perfect. Don't you?

Until then . . . I can't help it. I'm so scared, and I can only imagine the only thing that I know. Lord, help me!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

16 Weeks 1 Day: It's a Girl!!!!!

I can't believe it. I absolutely just can't believe it. I really thought I was having a boy. I told everyone I was having a boy. Everyone told me I was having a girl! So much for mother's intuition!

Why did I think I was having a boy? Partly, I'm sure, because I've always, always wanted a girl. So, having a girl seemed out of reach. Even a little girl at school told me, "If you want a girl, it means you'll have a boy." (I think 4th grade is a little young to have already learned the lesson that you can't get what you want in this life.) The other reason is because I had a dream about having a boy, and I believe the Lord speaks to me about my pregnancies through dreams. I'll tell you more about those dreams some other day in some other blog post, probably after Princess Miracle Whip has already safely arrived, and I can confirm some things.

The strange thing about the dream about this baby boy that I had in the beginning of this pregnancy was that I called him Brayden. He was my child, but I called him Brayden. Brayden is the name of my friend's son and not a name I'm considering. I shrugged that little detail off, though, perhaps for the hope of having Gabriel's little brother in my arms.

About two weeks ago, I dreamed about someone else, and it surprised me. I dreamed I had a girl--a beautiful girl--and she was mine. I told the Lord that I would love to have her, but I continued to say and believe that I was having a boy, probably because of one disturbing detail of this dream--she was a preemie baby, born too early. I called 911, but no one would come for us. After that, I told myself that if it turned out to be a girl, I would know what I had to do.

Then, I get a shock. My BFF, who is five weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, calls to tell me she is having a boy. I told her (and everyone else) that I was having the boy, and she was having the girl. When I heard her news, I immediately said, "Do you know what this means? I could be having a girl!" She knew I was going to say that. And I think she knew what I was going to say when I called her yesterday.

Jelly on my belly, our seventh ultrasound begins. Immediately, the sonographer shows us the baby's bottom. I ask her just to go straight for the heart rate first, though. I want to hear that way more than I want to see what is between those legs. 154 beats per minute. Then, we take a look at my very favorite thing--that beautiful brain. It never ceases to amaze me. Now, let's check out the goods.

Legs are closed together. A little prodding, a big stretch, and they open up. The sonographer digs the wand into my bruised belly to get the difficult shot. It takes a while, and I think she's not going to see it. From my point of view, I keep thinking, I don't see a turtle. It just makes me think she hasn't gotten all the way in there.

A little more digging, and she looks at me and says, "How about a little girl?"

I shoot straight up on the table, "Are you serious!?" I honestly don't think she seems sure, and I've heard those words from her before.

"Yes, I think so," is her unsure answer.

"This isn't going to be like when you told me Gabriel was a girl, right? She's not going to turn into a boy in two weeks?" I am having a really hard time believing this news.

"Uh, no. She's not going to turn into a boy. Gabriel's situation was different." I tell her I understand that.
I look over at Daddy to see tears in his eyes. We embrace. We cry. I can tell--he can't believe it, either.

After a little more looking around at the baby, the sonographer gets another look in between those legs, and this time I can tell she has no doubts. We are looking at our beautiful, miracle girl. Gabriel's little sister. A chance to see what having Tater Tot would have been like, except I'm not thinking about Tater Tot. I'm thinking about our new daughter. She is someone else. This may seem obvious to you, but it's taken me a long time to go from coming home from the hospital without my baby to recognizing that all of my babies are individuals, not pieces of the one who came before.

I leave my appointment with my heart beating out of my chest and my face flushed and burning up. Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the shock, maybe it was the hazelnut latte I had on the way to the hospital to wake the baby up. But as I'm standing in the middle of Babies R Us picking out her first pair of pink pajamas, I burst into tears. My heart is bursting with the realization that this amazing blessing is mine. That this moment has actually made its way into the time line of my life. That my life will never be the same.

Friday, April 22, 2011

15 Weeks 2 Days: A Big Decision to Make

Mommy has a big decision to make. My doctor wants me to take yet another self-injection. Because I went into labor with Gabriel at only 30 weeks, I may be predisposed to preterm labor.  Maybe not, though. There really is no way of knowing because he was my first pregnancy. There is a very good possibility that the preterm labor was related to the chromosome disorder. Supposedly, chromosome babies tend to be born early. I have never found any research to support that. 

Maybe it wasn’t his chromosomes that caused it. Maybe I am predisposed to preterm labor. I went into labor very quickly. Alarmingly quickly. It couldn’t have been stopped even if we’d tried.  So, my doc wants me to start 17-hydroxyprogesterone injections weekly (in my butt) starting at 17 or 18 weeks. She keeps saying there is absolutely no risk to taking this medication. However, I have heard otherwise. I have heard of two accounts of life threatening blood clots as a result of this medication. Mostly, I have read there are no maternal or fetal side effects. Still, I have had one rare condition right after another. I will not make another mistake. 

So, what will the mistake be: taking the drug or not taking it? 

I’ve heard and read that the risk with the drug is something called an MTHFR gene mutation. Actually, I’ve read that it is something that is called a homozygous MTHFR gene mutation that causes the problems, but a friend of mine had a blood clot and was diagnosed with a heterozygous gene mutation. What does that tell me? I’ve also read that the risk for blood clots lies in having elevated homocysteine levels.  

I just don’t know what to do! In my heart, I know that Gabriel did not show up at 30 weeks 2 days because my body failed him. I know he was about to die inside of me, so God sent him before it was too late. It was a miracle. Even though I believe this with every fiber of my being, it does not change my need to make a smart decision for Miracle Whip.

Any advice? Does anyone have any experience with 17P? Please, please comment if you do. Remember, if you comment anonymously, you don’t have to mess with logging in.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So . . . I Met Nicholas Sparks Today

No, seriously, I did. He was the headliner at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green, KY. Nicholas Sparks happens to be my all time favorite author. I have read every one of his books in order of their publication date. Some I've read twice. I've actually read The Notebook three times. I'm fixin' to read it again because I need to read my new autographed copy. The book signing was not that big of a deal because there were so many people waiting in line. By the time it was my turn, he had been signing his name nonstop for an hour and a half. It consisted of about five seconds where he smiled at me and said hello, I told him my name, and he signed my book. Still, I now have an autographed copy of The Notebook, which I think is pretty cool.

I also got to attend a presentation by Nicholas Sparks. It lasted approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. He basically chatted with the audience about how he became a writer and the inspiration behind some of his earlier novels. I pretty much already knew everything that he told from reading his website and his memoir, Three Weeks with My Brother. He was very entertaining to listen to and often times funny. Of course, he also had half the audience in tears as he was retelling the events in his life that led him to where he is today. I mean, you'd think you were listening to a world-class storyteller or something! This guy can spin anything into a captivating tale.

Besides Nicholas Sparks, I attended a presentation by Susan Eaddy, the illustrator of Papa Fish's Lullaby by Patricia Hubbell. I had never heard of this woman or the book, nor am I interested in illustrating. I just wanted to hear someone speak about children's books. I ended up being one of only two in her audience. It was really nice. She showed us how she turned the author's manuscript (which was basically a poem typed up on two pages) into this amazing clay art. It is beautiful. So, I now have an autographed copy of this book. What do you think of this:

The other presentation I attended was by Chuck Sambuchino who is well known for writing The Guide to Literary Agents blog. I already own a copy of Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, so I didn't purchase another copy to be autographed.

What did I learn today? A lot of what I needed to hear. First of all, I was reminded that, after Nicholas Sparks wrote his first novel (not The Notebook, by the way), he didn't write again for another three years. So my little drought of a few months does not have to mean that I'm not a writer anymore unless I choose for it to. You see, I've had this problem that I feel like because I'm not sad anymore, I don't have anything to write about. From reading what other baby loss mom writers say about it, I think this may be a side effect of beginning your writing career as a way to keep from killing yourself as opposed to writing just because you'd like to try something new.

I also learned that I should start small. Sambuchino recommends starting with small or local publishers or new agents. So far, I have sent letters to several big time agents, and it has gotten me nowhere. I do have a letter and a proposal out to a small company named American Carriage House Publishing that I am very hopeful about. I think I should continue to go this route and send out a few more to some small companies.

Sambuchino also said (and I know this), that if I do get called by someone, the first question they are going to ask is, "What other projects are you working on?" Nobody wants a one hit wonder. I need to get off my lazy pregnant butt and write something else!

Mommy note: I was in the conference center all of about three minutes this morning before I pulled out pictures of Gabriel to show to the people standing in line next to me. I just can't help myself. He's beautiful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

14 Weeks: Second Trimester!!!

We officially reached the second trimester today! Yippee! It feels so good to hit this milestone. I've been here before, of course, but it's different this time. As you know, I reached the second trimester with Gabriel. I remember that day. I remember what I said . . .

"The second trimester. I'm home free!"

Two weeks later, I found out that wasn't true. Don't worry. I'm not at all concerned about that happening again. I know that it won't. Still, I remember.

I remember how I couldn't wait to reach the second trimester milestone with Tater Tot. I wanted the fun part of pregnancy to begin. I wanted to watch her grow and feel her moving inside me. As you know, that didn't happen. Don't worry. I'm not at all concerned about that happening this time. I know that it won't.

Isn't that so cool? This is something that, up until now, only happens to other people. But, now, it's really happening to me! God loves me.

Funny nickname story of the day: My third graders were talking about the nicknames Miracle Whip, Cool Whip, and Whipped Cream. One little boy chimes in with one he thought fit, "Sour Cream!" Of course, I have to tell him no because I want my baby to be sweet, not sour. After class he comes up to me and says, "Mrs. James, why don't you want to name your baby Sour Cream and Onion? I think it's so cute!"

Pregnancy cravings: We have to eat something with spaghetti sauce every day at my house. Sunday we had spaghetti. Tuesday we had spaghetti. Yesterday I ran out of spaghetti so I sent Daddy to town for lasagna. As I was eating the lasagna, we had to discuss what other restaurants in town might have a spaghetti sauced dish I might like, and I was planning when I would be making my own lasagna. I've thought about it, and I'm pretty sure I'd like to sit down to a warm bowl of spaghetti sauce and eat it like soup. I won't, though, because that's ridiculous. I've also been thinking about growing lots and lots of tomatoes this summer. My sister's analysis of this is that my baby might be an Italian.

Friday, April 8, 2011

13 Weeks 2 Days: Mama Just Couldn't Handle It

I've been completely fine. BUT, at this stage in the game, Mama has no way to tell how Baby is doing. I can't feel him/her or see him/her. It makes me a little nervous. Plus, I do have the baby sucking antibodies inside of me. I know the medicine I'm taking is working, but a little reassurance goes a long way. Besides, I'm off work this week. Stopping by the doctor's office was no big deal. They said I could come anytime, so I called while I was on my way over to ask if I could come. They are really good to me. The sonographer told me to come on over.

What did we see? A perfect little baby that is almost four inches long with a heart rate of 160 beats per minute (I'm not sure how accurate that is because everytime she tried to measure it, he/she jumped and messed up the reading.), a perfectly forming brain, a beautiful spine, and long legs. For most of the ultrasound, he/she was sleeping on his/her belly. After much coaxing, he/she woke up and tried to turn over so we could see that beautiful face. He/she wasn't doing it correctly, though. Those long legs were tucked up under, and he/she kept pushing that little butt up to the sack and wasn't accomplishing anything. It was really cute!

I was also told today that I might not be able to feel the baby moving for a while because his/her legs are pointed towards the placenta. We could actually see the baby kicking the placenta. It goes feet, placenta, bladder. Oh, brother! At 16 weeks, we saw Gabriel repeatedly kicking me in the bladder on an ultrasound. I'm in trouble. I got up four times last night to pee! How's a babymama supposed to get any rest? One (kind of) funny thing about this morning, I did not have much to drink this morning, but I peed right before the ultrasound. During the 20 minutes I was on screen, we could watch my bladder filling up, and by the time it was over I had to go again. It's ridiculous. Oh, what we go through for our precious babies.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

13 Weeks: How's Mommy Doin'?

I don't have any ultrasound pictures or amazing baby videos to share this week, so I thought you may like to know how I'm doing. This blog, afterall, used to be about me. (Yes, I know. Few things in life will be about me ever again.)

Well, I happen to be doing great. This pregnany has been very kind to me. I'm one week away from the second trimester, and it just couldn't be going any better. I haven't had many pregnancy symptoms. Not one stitch of nausea. I know what you might be thinking because I heard it all the time with my other two pregnancies. It's good to be sick when you're pregnant. First of all, I can't help it that I'm not sick. Second of all, you don't have to be sick to have a healthy baby. Sensitivity to hormones is what causes morning sickness, but I didn't lose my other two babies because of hormone deficiencies. So, in a nutshell, I'm never nauseous. I haven't thrown up. All I ever want to do is eat. Thus, I've gained more weight than I should have up to this point. We can talk about that later, though (or not). I do exercise to try to combat that, from twice a week ( I know, that's pathetic) up to five times a week. That includes swimming, walking my dog, or exercise DVDs (Walk Away the Pounds).

Nausea and vomiting are not the only pregnancy symptoms, of course.
  • breast tenderness - check!
  • constipation - check! check!
  • fatigue - check!
  • thinking I should get whatever I want whenever I want it - check!
  • peeing every 30 minutes and two or three times a night - check! check! check!
  • pregnancy glow - check! (or so I've been told)
  • the sense of smell of a blood hound - check!
I'm still taking two Heparin injections a day and one 81mg aspirin a day to prevent a miscarriage related to Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. Up to this posting, I have given myself 149 injections in the belly since conception. I will continue this regime until I am 36 weeks pregnant. During the first few weeks, my belly was very bruised and sore. So sore, in fact, that I wondered how I would be able to continue, despite my iron will, throughout the entire pregnancy. After about six or eight weeks, however, the bruising diminished and the soreness subsided. When I rub my fingers across my belly, I can feel several knots at the injection sites, and it is still a little sore. No big deal, though. It's nothing I can't handle. Every shot has been more than worth it.

Emotionally? I'm good there, too. I'm not worried about the baby anymore. I do think I overestimated myself when I decided I could go four weeks between appointments, though. It's only been 1 week 2 days since my last appointment, and I already feel like I really need to go in for a heart beat check. I am going to a regular doctor to get my ear checked (swimmer's ear, I think) on April 12th. I'm thinking he will probably have a doppler so we can check for a heartbeat. That should make me feel better. I just keep telling myself that normal people only get their baby's heartrate checked every four weeks. For me, though, that just seems nuts!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

12 Weeks 3 Days: Yet Another Nickname

Friday as I was leaving school and telling the students good-bye for nine days of spring break in which we would miss each other desperately (I'm a fantastic teacher, so this is seriously how I feel. wink, wink), several of my third graders gathered around me to hug the baby and me good-bye. There have been so many nicknames that the kids have a hard time keeping them straight. Amidst the chorus of "Good-bye, Mrs. James! Good-bye, Mrs. James! Good-bye! Good-bye!", one little girl shouts out,

"Good-bye, Mrs. James! Good-bye, Whipped Cream! I'll miss you!"

Whipped Cream! Hahahahahahahaha. I love it! It's fitting, don't you think? Afterall, what does whipped cream do but make a good thing even better.