Saturday, February 26, 2011

Trying to breathe easier...

It's day 2 since our hospital visit, and I am focusing on taking it easy this week. My ultimate hope is that if I rest for a week or two whatever it is that was causing the contractions will resolve itself and I can go back to some sense of normalcy. It is a lot harder to not do much than I thought it would be. I kept thinking about things I wanted to do around the house yesterday - at least it was clean before this happened, it's just a matter of maintenance. But, as my dad told me yesterday, housework can (and will) wait. I am still doing light housework (putting dishes away, loading the dishwasher, etc.,) but nothing that requires any real exertion and I'm doing it at my own pace. My back started to hurt a little like it did before the contractions came yesterday, but I went to lie down right away and it subsided after a few minutes. I'm learning my boundaries and the new threshold of what my body is willing to handle. Right now the important thing is keeping Little Miss from making her great escape for a few more months. The silver lining is that Jeremy is a huge help and support to me, and has been throughout this whole pregnancy. He is doing such a good job taking care of me and the baby... I know he's going to be a great dad. He already is.

The nervousness has faded a little this morning, but it's still there - I don't think we'll really be able to relax until we're out of this scary pre-viability phase.

On the hydration front, I drank 120 oz. of water yesterday - I must've made 30 trips to the bathroom, but it's a very, very small price to pay.

I am thankful, as always, for another day with my baby girl - she made me smile this morning with how active she was right off the bat - she is definitely a morning baby. She was sleeping until Jeremy started talking to my belly, then she went nuts! She kicked the spot where his mouth was over and over... I like to think that she already recognizes her daddy's voice and was happy to hear him. What a sweet little girl...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Her Life is in His Hands...

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for
good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

--Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

I am still processing the events of the morning - it was one of the scariest of my life. I posted this story on a baby forum that I'm a member of, but I feel like I should recount it here, too, if only to remind me in the future how blessed I should feel for each day with Carys. I suppose I should start in the beginning...

I went to bed last night with some slight back pain, but didn't think much of it because it at the stage of pregnancy I'm in (well into my 2nd trimester at 22 weeks, 3 days) that's pretty par for the course. I managed to drift off to sleep, but woke up at 3:30 am in agonizing pain that radiated from my back to my abdomen accompanied by what I thought were cramps. I didn't know what was going on, and it scared me - I was made even more nervous by a lack of fetal movement. Carys must have been sleeping, but I prodded her until she moved around and I could breathe again. At that point going to the hospital crossed my mind, but I couldn't stop thinking about the portion of the expense that wouldn't be covered by insurance and ultimately decided to try to wait it out until 8 am when my doctor's office opened. The pain seemed to subside after a while and I was able to go back to sleep. A couple of hours later, I was awakened again by incredible pain in my back and radiating through to my abdomen. I laid there awake for a while, still stubbornly intent on waiting until 8 to call the doctor. A little past 6 when it became clear the pain was not going to go away, I woke up J and asked him what I should do. I ended up calling the hospital and speaking with one of the nurses in the Obstetrics department. She asked me a few questions, but when I mentioned my 'cramps', she asked me how soon I could be at the hospital. I told her 15-20 minutes and she told me they would be ready for me.

This is when things started to take on a more serious note. When we arrived at the hospital, they did my intake quickly and sure enough, a nurse was waiting with a wheelchair to bring me up to Labor & Delivery. As soon as we reached the room, I was instructed to change into a hospital gown and they hooked me up to some monitors, including a fetal heart monitor. She turned on the speaker while she tried to locate the heartbeat, and the three of us listened for it together. She was unable to find it, and my heart dropped out of my chest. Even though I had just felt her moving, my brain was screaming that something was wrong. It was the first time that the thought that I might be losing her sunk in. Before I had a chance to panic, however, she tried a different way to find the heartbeat (that we weren't able to hear... I'm not sure what the piece of equipment was, but it wasn't a Doppler, we couldn't hear the heartbeat) and within a few minutes told me the baby's heart rate was about 130 bpm. It turned out that Carys is still so small that a regular fetal heart monitor was unable to accurately pick up her heartbeat.

As soon as it was determined that the baby was not in any clear distress, they turned their attention to me. I was in pain still, but I felt that it was manageable. The nurse did a fetal fibronectin test (it determines the risk of premature labor based on the presence of the glue-like protein that attaches the amniotic sac to the lining of the uterus). She also collected a urine sample to check for bacterial infection. She told me that a lab tech would also be up to collect a blood sample, and that the doctor wanted to start an IV to make sure I was adequately hydrated. She asked if I wanted her to call the doctor and ask her to sign off on some pain medication... I initially declined (thinking I could handle it without help), but the nurse thought it would be best to at least get the doctor's clearance on it in case it worsened. I ended up being really glad she did, because not long after she left to go call the doctor, my pain started amping up with a vengeance. Within 10 minutes I was in agony - my body felt like it was ripping apart in the middle. Every muscle in my back/abdomen would clench, the pain continuing to build as they tightened, and then they would release, bringing me momentary relief. It happened over and over like clockwork. I have been through some painful experiences; broken cartilage in between my ribs after being bucked off a horse, an ovarian cyst the size of a hen's egg bursting without warning, a major knee injury and then later reconstruction and recovery, and an illness in childhood that made my liver swell up like a football... I have never felt anything remotely close to this in intensity. J pushed the call nurse button and she said she would be right in with the pain medication.

In order to administer what the doctor ordered (morphine push), they had to place the IV.
I am a notoriously difficult stick, and the poor nurse tried on both arms before blowing out a vein and calling in reinforcements. Not only are my veins small, they roll and it later turned out that I was dehydrated. After a second nurse arrived, she started trying to find a site on the inside of my elbow for the IV placement. At this point, I hurt so bad that tears were streaming down my cheeks and my stomach was rolling. I managed to sit still for one more stick, and it was the one that worked. They administered the morphine right away, and after a minute or two, although I was still hurting, it had taken the edge off enough for me to be able to relax. The nurse explained that I was presenting symptoms of kidney stones, and that as soon as the lab work all came back to confirm they could start treating me for them. The only thing left was to get the bloodwork done and wait for the doctor to get the test results and come up to discuss them with us. We had to have two lab techs try to get the blood also, resulting in 3 more sticks. Luckily the last three were post-morphine and although it hurt, I didn't care as much.

We waited for about 3 hours for the results and to talk to the doctor- she told me that to her surprise every bit of my labwork had come back normal. The bloodwork was great, and the urine didn't show the presence of any bacterial infection. My white blood cell count was actually better than most pregnant women. This ruled out the presence of kidney stones. It turned out that the pain I thought was cramping and back pain was actual contractions. Not Braxton Hicks, the real deal. The kind that are a prelude to labor. She said although she suspected they were brought on by dehydration, there's no way to be sure. I was instructed to hydrate and rest. If I have more contractions, I'll be readmitted to the hospital and given medicine to stop labor. The saving grace was that my cervix remained long and closed despite the contractions, and the fetal fibronectin test came back negative. So, for the meantime, baby girl is safe and sound where she's at. It shook me, however, how serious the doctor and nurses were about the posed danger from the contractions and how adamant they were that if I start having them again like I did today, to get back to the hospital ASAP.

She's just too little. She's still 2 weeks away from being considered 'viable' outside of the womb. If she had been born today, the chances of her being born without major medical issues (and at the very least surviving) wouldn't be good. J and I held it together (mostly) at the hospital, but as I sat in the car on the way home, the reality of the situation hit me and I couldn't help but cry. I have had this gift from God in my womb for almost 6 months - on a daily basis, I can feel her moving, stretching, kicking... she holds our hearts in her tiny little hands. Although I've never met her, I love her with every fiber of my being. I would lay down my life for my child in an instant. She will forever be my baby, no matter what happens to her, or me. And I cannot imagine saying goodbye to her.

The lesson that we are relearning today is that God is the only one in control. When we asked the doctor what we could do to keep it from happening again, she literally shrugged and threw up her hands. "Hydrate and rest, that's all you can do." That's not entirely true, however. We can also pray and there is a lot of that being done on our behalf. I trust that God has a plan for us, and that He didn't give us this precious little girl in the special way He did for nothing. No matter what happens, we have to keep our eyes on His faithfulness. He was faithful to give her to us when our struggles with infertility had us beaten down and defeated. He was faithful to carry us through the first trimester safely, and I believe He will be faithful to see us through to the end, whatever that might be. I trust that He will not give us more than we can handle with His help. I am so thankful for every moment He has given us with her, and as a dear friend told me I would have to do, I am giving her back to Him.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tired but happy...

"So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house..."

--Deuteronomy 26:11

Today was (proudly) a pretty productive day. I managed to put away most of the rest of the things we moved over from the old house, cooked homemade vegetarian lasagna, and we had our first dinner guests (my wonderful in-laws) over. I still feel like there is a lot of cleaning and organizing to do, but I got a lot of things checked off my list. Carys' room is housing the things we will be putting into storage when we have a chance and I don't have any baby furniture apart from a dresser and a twin sized bed so there's not a lot for me to do in her room right now, but I did get the bed made up. I worked really hard today and I'm tired, but there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing I'm a little closer to the organized home I want.

Carys turned 22 weeks today - according to my pregnancy tracker, she is 11 inches from head to toe and weighs about a pound. That's a far cry from the little poppy seed she was when we found out about her! I have begun to really enjoy the mornings -- It is so peaceful to lie there still and feel her moving and kicking. I told J that those moments are when I'm the most at peace... when my baby is moving. We are two weeks away from Carys being considered 'viable' outside of the womb. Which means from that point on, the danger will change from miscarriage to premature labor! I am thankful for every day I'm given with her, and I pray that we will both stay healthy until she's good and ready for the outside world.

Although I'm nervous about the new challenges of motherhood, I feel ready, too. I am lucky to have a strong support system of family that has been through it that I know will be there to answer questions and offer help when I need it. It is important to me that I am open with my pregnancy and that when the time comes, that I share some of the experience of her childhood with my family. I am blessed to have my husband, my child, and this wonderful network of people that love us.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

He brings new beginnings...

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You
and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever."

--Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)

In October of 2010, my life changed forever. After several failed fertility treatments, my husband and I decided to "take a break" for a year - one surprise positive on a pregnancy test later and things have been a whirlwind ever since. I am currently 21 weeks 5 days pregnant with a healthy, vibrant little girl! She is my first, and I couldn't be more excited! We have named her Carys Ruth, and she is the love of our lives. I started this blog to chronicle my pregnancy and life after birth. So far, my pregnancy has gone fairly smoothly. I had awful morning sickness in my first trimester that caused a 5 pound weight loss, but as soon as I transitioned into the second, it vanished and it's been gone ever since. Now I'm bellying up to the fridge more often than not, and am back on track for weight gain. Our lives have completely changed since finding out about my pregnancy - before, I was working up 70 hour work weeks (two jobs), coming off of a 30 pound weight loss after an intensive diet and exercise regime, was planning to enlist in the US Navy, and we were living in a house with THREE bachelors to try to save money. Now, we've moved into our own place (a little two bedroom that's neat as a pin and a real dream), I'm not working right now because of issues with my back brought on by the pregnancy, I'm steadily gaining weight, and my military aspirations are faint memories.

Now she is our whole world, and my focus. With the confirmation of our pregnancy, came the confirmation that I will forever after be Mommy first, and everything else second. Every plan for the future is made with her in mind.

I can't wait to meet my little wiggle bug.