Friday, May 27, 2011

One month away...

Today is one month to the date from Carys' due date, on Monday we will reach the 36 week benchmark and I will stop taking the medication that keeps my contractions in check. I have an appointment this afternoon with Dr. W, and I'm interested to see if the contractions and cramping I have been experiencing have changed the conditions of my cervix any (at last check I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced).

The last couple of weeks have been kind of a roller coaster ride physically, mentally and emotionally, and I think I'm getting to the end of my rope (I'm glad the gestation period for humans isn't any longer). I can't really think of any better way to describe it than this;

I'm going through some stuff right now.

I thought things would become easier the closer I got to her due date, but this is by far the most difficult stretch I've had thus far. I'm not even sure exactly how to 'fix' anything right now. My body is exhausted, but the most trying part is the emotional strain. There is such a trying myriad of emotions that is setting in - anxiety about when she will arrive, anticipation of holding her for the first time and bringing her home, a sense of sadness that my life will irrevocably be changed, and feelings of joy and excitement for the very same reason.

I am saying goodbye to the person I was before Carys, embracing this new role as mother and trying to stay afloat in this stressful new sea of fears that came with the revelation that I am going to be a parent. It feels like growing pains, almost. Everything is changing. It's necessary, it's good, and it opens the door to an entirely new, wonderful experience, but it is also one of the scariest times of my life. My mind stays filled with worries.

Is she/will she be okay?
What if she is stillborn?
What if something happens to her during delivery?
How would I ever cope if I lost her?
Will my body be capable of birthing her?
What if I'm not ready for this?
What if my maternal instincts aren't enough?
Will people try to steamroll me when it comes to parenting, and if they try will I have the backbone to stand up for what I feel is right?
Will I be able to find my voice as her mother and protector?
What if she doesn't love me?
Will I know how to take care of her?
What if something is wrong with her?

and the big one...

What if I'm not a good mom?

I am not afforded the luxury of testing the waters with a toe and 'working my way in' to motherhood - it is a flying leap into the unknown. It's terrifying, stressful, exhilarating, and joyous, but most of all...


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As much update as I can muster...

We are now 35 weeks, 1 day.

The major milestone this week is that if I go into labor again, I will be able to deliver at our 'home' hospital instead of having to make the hour and a half trek to a hospital that has a NICU. We had our third birth class yesterday - we have three more to go (if we make it that far)! We are starting to get into the nitty gritty of labor and delivery and focusing on getting ready mentally and physically for the baby.

Our hospital bag is packed, her room is finished (for the most part), so now we are just waiting.

Physically, I am having difficulty coping with the tail end of pregnancy. It's hard on my body, especially my hips and back, but mostly I'm just tired. It's a battle every morning to scrape together the energy to get going and I am getting less and less sleep the closer we get. The newest struggle is that I am having pelvic separation - normally the pelvis is one continuous piece, and mine has begun to come apart in the front in preparation for labor. Dr. W told me that it is a normal part of pregnancy for a small fraction of women and that although delivery is going to be a little easier on me (more room for baby to travel through), carrying the rest of the way and labor is going to be increasingly difficult. I am definitely feeling the strain. Since my preterm labor I've been experiencing what feel like strong menstrual cramps on and off and there are the ever present contractions. I am looking forward to the day when I don't have to control them with medicine and I can just let them achieve their purpose.

I love my daughter more than I can express and I want her to stay in as long as is healthy for her, but I am getting so very tired. At this point I have no energy, I am in constant discomfort, and I'm just ready. Ready for her to be here, ready to get my body back, ready to move on to another chapter in our lives...

I hope she comes close to 37. I know it's probably going to make me sound like a weenie, but after everything we've been through in this pregnancy, I am starting to wear down and I don't know how I'm going to make it another 5 weeks if she decides to come at 40. I feel like a marathon runner reaching the end of the race- the finish line is in sight but fatigue is setting in.

Just a little bit longer, now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fighting to stay pregnant...

Week 34, and what a week it's been.

Saturday (5/14) started like any other - I worked, came home and puttered around a bit waiting for Jeremy to get home. Early in the evening, I noticed that I was having a few more Braxton-Hicks contractions than is usual for me. Later, I just so happened to glance at the clock when one hit - 9:13 pm.

When the next one came at 9:21 pm, I knew something was up. I waited for a few more to come to make sure they weren't erratic, and when they came at consistent, 8 minute intervals I decided to call Labor & Delivery (9:40 pm). My OB, Dr. W., happened to already be at the hospital delivering a baby, so the nurse was able to consult her. Their advice was to lie down, drink lots of water and to continue timing the contractions, keeping a log, for one hour and to call again if they did not subside. In one hour at exactly 10:40 pm I called again-- the length of time between the contractions had shortened to 5 minutes, despite following their directions. The nurse told us to head in, so we grabbed the hospital bag (packed a mere few hours prior to my contractions starting), hopped in the Blazer and hit the road.

The ride over was difficult - it was only about 15 minutes from our house to the hospital, but I had 3 contractions and at that point they were beginning to intensify. With each contraction my lower back began to get more and more sore, a constant dull pain that would later be identified as back labor.

I sat through a few more contractions at registration while the guy that was working admissions took down some information - I had to pause while I made it through each contraction at that point.

A nursing assistant came down with a wheelchair to get me and wheeled me up to the birthing center. She asked a few questions on the way up, how long I'd been feeling the abdominal pain, if I was dehydrated, etc. She seemed a little skeptical that there was really anything the matter - I think to her I was just another panicked first time mom. She mentioned when we got to the room that she thought I might just have a UTI, told me to change into a gown and that a nurse would be in to put monitors on me in a few minutes.

After changing, getting into the bed and being hooked up to a fetal heart monitor and monitor to track contractions, the nurses informed me that Dr. W. would be watching the reports from her station. Because I'd been busy getting settled in I wasn't exactly sure how close my contractions were together, just that they were lasting longer and getting more painful as they went.

Jeremy and I sat alone in the birthing room for about 10 minutes, watching numbers rise and fall on the monitors until two nurses rushed in.

"Your contractions are 2 minutes apart. Things are going to start happening really fast - I need your verbal permission to provide you treatment for preterm labor, we'll bring you a consent form in a little while."

I gave my assent and true to her word, things began moving really quickly. Jeremy was relegated to a spectator's spot as both nurses started working. I was hooked up to an IV and they started pushing fluids as fast as they could, they procured specimens to test for possible infections or fetal fibronectin and they checked my cervix, determining I was dilated to 1 cm. The day before, at my OB visit, it was thick and tightly closed with just a little softening. One thing that really stuck in my mind after was the bright light that they turned on right above me - the one that they turn on just before delivery so the doctors and nurses are able to see what they're doing.

I was given a dose of a medication called Procardia. It's actually a blood pressure medication,but it has the added side effect of relaxing the smooth muscle of the uterus and can be effective in stopping contractions. I had to take one every 15 minutes for an hour in the hopes that it would slow labor. Dr. W came in to speak with me a little while after the nurses finished their tasks. She explained that because the hospital did not have a NICU if their intervention failed I would transferred to a hospital about an hour and a half away to deliver. She did not feel that it would be necessary to do steroid shots if the fetal fibronectin test was negative because Carys is right on the cusp of being old enough to not need them. She said if the fFn test was positive, however, she would administer steroids and that I'd probably be taking the trip down the mountain.

Luckily, after laboring for 3 hours they were able to slow my contractions and stop active labor. The fFn test was negative but they decided to keep me overnight for observation. It was a long, sleepless night for the two of us - Carys is so active that every 15-20 minutes or so the heart monitor would 'lose' her and a nurse would have to come in and find her again. In the morning, although things had calmed down considerably, my uterus was still having some erratic contraction-like activity- the nurses described it as 'irritable'.

Dr. W made the decision to discharge me that afternoon with instructions to not return to work until at least 36 weeks, and a prescription for the Procardia. She told me that she does not expect Carys to make it to 40 weeks, but wants to shoot for at least 2 more.

After 36 I will stop taking the Procardia, and if my squirmy little girl wants to be born, we're going to let her. I've really got my heart set on Dr. W delivering Carys and if she's going to be able to do that, we've got to make it at least one more week to 35. At that point they will allow me to deliver in the local hospital instead of making the trek to the one with the NICU. Dr. W told us that although she would probably be okay if she were born right now, she could really use the next couple of weeks to put on weight and continue lung development. Birth at 34 weeks isn't ideal for the health of the baby although there are babies that are born that early and thrive.

My baby shower was Sunday afternoon, three hours after I was discharged from the hospital (Dr. W agreed to allow me to attend as long as I didn't "dance, jump, or play any crazy pregnancy games"). Neither Jeremy or myself had any sleep before then, we went home, ate lunch, he helped me paint my toenails (did a pretty good job for an amateur) and get dressed, and he dropped me off at the shower.

I really enjoyed it - it was touching to the outpouring of love for Jeremy and I and our child- Carys has a lot of people that care for her already. I was exhausted, though, and by the end I was starting to have contractions again so as soon as we finished the festivities, Jeremy's uncle gave me a ride back to the house and Jeremy came up to the fellowship hall to pick up Carys' gifts. We were so blessed - so many of our needs were met, and even some wants that I wouldn't have been able to buy yet because of having to stop working.

She got a really nice travel system, tons of clothes, beautiful handmade blankets, hats and booties, diapers and wipes, an adorable diaper bag (much, MUCH cuter than the one I had on my registry!), a precious, tiny pearl bracelet with a silver cross from her great great grandmother, the crib set that I wanted so badly that has been sold out/on back-order in every store I could find it in for months (her Granna really pulled a rabbit out of a hat- I couldn't believe my eyes), a beautiful glider for her nursery, the list goes on and on. It was nice to have the experience of so many mothers - there were many things included that I wouldn't have thought about needing that I'm glad we have now.

On the agenda for the next week -

1. Stay pregnant despite Carys' apparent wishes to be free.

2. Do nothing that isn't absolutely necessary (This doesn't seem like it would be a chore, but the nesting instinct is kicking in like crazy and it's all that I can do to not go wild cleaning and organizing her nursery).

Here's hoping for one more week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

Okay, okay, I know I'm late on this blog, too - my apologies! The last two weeks have been pretty busy in our neck of the woods (in a good way); last week we were on our baby-moon, and this week my little brother is visiting us from New Orleans, where he's stationed in the USMC (Ooh-rah!). We are thrilled to have him with us - it's been really good to get to catch up and spend some time with him. There was a slight snafu at the airlines with his luggage (and by slight, I mean they sent his seabag to Philadelphia), but after a reasonable time investment over the phone with several lovely, well mannered airline employees (insert forced smile here), he was reunited with his things.

I think he's enjoying his time in the mountains (I hope so, anyway) so far- I know we've enjoyed having him around. It has been almost a year since the last time I saw him at his military graduation and although we have tentative plans to visit him in NOLA after the baby is here and things have settled down, with the way life is, I know how life can change plans and I'm very thankful for this time. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to see him and the rest of the family that's scattered across the United States at my youngest sister's military graduation (also USMC) this winter.

On that note,

33 weeks along as of yesterday-- the countdown is at 48 days! My little Pea-tey is long from pea-sized at this point- she's the size of a pineapple and should be over 4.5 lbs at this point. Although she doesn't have any major developmental milestones this week, she's hard at work putting on weight and her lungs are continuing to develop- her skeleton is also hardening.

We had our first childbirth class yesterday; we spent a good deal of the time with introductions and establishing a baseline of basic information (anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, etc) and then went over a relaxation technique called progressive muscle relaxation. Jeremy was disappointed at the lack of hippies in the class (he's been looking forward to making fun of them), but other than that, it went just fine. There was one other couple in the class that happened to share our due date - the others were a lot earlier in their pregnancies than we are! Jeremy joked to the other couple that he was glad we weren't the only slackers - it did feel a little like that, though! One of the other couples was only 20 weeks along. The instructor provided us with a little booklet to follow/track our progress - we only have 3 1/2 pages left... ha ha.

Oh, well! Hopefully we will make it to all of the classes - and, barring any pre-term deliveries, I won't have to watch in jealousy as couples have babies before us and I'm still hugely pregnant!

Today we're off to Tennessee with my brother- at some point I also need to try to find something to wear to my shower- I'm steadily outgrowing all of the smaller maternity clothes that have lasted me thus far. Thankfully I was given a lot of maternity clothes- the only problem I'm running into is the variance in size. The clothes seem to be in either small or large/extra large sizes- I am in a medium. The large pants fall off of me, the small ones are getting really uncomfortable. I don't intend to buy any more pants for only the next 6 weeks, I'm getting by so far in sweatpants. I'm thinking about just trying to find a regular, non-maternity dress with an empire waist that will fit over the belly and will be appropriate for the shower. Then I might get some more use out of it, too. Maternity clothes are just so expensive!

Tomorrow I go back to work and weather permitting, it will be mowing day- I'm hoping it stays sunny because I know Jeremy wants to take Joel hiking.

Things are starting to move really quickly- Although I'm getting anxious for Carys to be here, I mostly hope that things slow down a little so I can have a chance to catch my breath before embarking on this new adventure.

48 days!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

E is for Elephant...

(My father-in-law and I comparing bellies at the beach)

And, we're back (with pictures, as promised)...

The beach was wonderful. I didn't realize how much J and I needed to decompress until we were digging our toes into the sand. I think being away from 'real life' for a few days went a long way in helping us feel plugged in and connected to each other and this new experience. I spent most of my time at the beach soaking up sun (drenched in SPF 50) and shopping for (who else) Carys with my mother in law. I found a few adorable little birds to put on her dresser, a painted cross for her wall, and (although I swore off buying any more) some outfits that were on clearance and too cute to pass up. I did, however, buy them in larger sizes - mostly in between 12-18 months - because she already has some smaller things and I know she'll be getting more little bitty baby clothes before it's all said and done.

(The daddy-to-be got in lots of quality fishing time)

One thing that struck me this week -

NEXT MONTH. My baby will be here (hopefully) NEXT MONTH.

Our escape from the day to day grind didn't carry us away from the realization that our lives are changing more rapidly than we can keep up with these days. Almost every moment of our vacation was spent thinking about her, talking about her, cooing over tiny baby items in the shops, and planning for the things we have yet to take care of. I can see how someone not directly involved in the process would get tired of hearing about anything baby - she has taken over every little corner of our lives.

Speaking of baby news, the shower is just around the corner - May 15th! I am so excited to be able to get together and celebrate with our family and friends. I know the hostesses have been hustling and bustling to get everything together! I will be almost 34 weeks along on the day of, 3 weeks from being considered full-term! When I think about how close we are, my heart jumps into my throat- impending parenthood feels like the moment before you walk out on to the stage of a big performance. Thrilling, terrifying, and unfolding in front of a crowd of people that are all watching.

This week I am working to complete a few more preparations for our little girl's arrival - I still need to pack my hospital bag, wash some of her things and get them separated by size, call about our birthing classes (which are supposed to start on MONDAY, but I have yet to receive the registration packet that the coordinator told me she'd send me), etc. While we're on the subject of the hospital bag, I do have to mention a traumatizing experience I underwent this week - shopping for a nursing bra (you male readers may want to skip over this part if the subject makes you uncomfortable). I will provide helpful brackets outlining the 'sensitive' section of my blog... ha ha.


We went to Motherhood while we were in the area to pick one up because I hadn't been able to find anything at home. I was really relieved when the consultant asked if she could help because I've been petrified of picking one out myself. When I told her I was afraid of buying one because I didn't know how much bigger my boobs were going to get, she smiled and chirped, "I DOOOO!!"

Since the beginning of my pregnancy they have ballooned (yes, I am using that term) from a small C cup to a large D. I was aware that they would fill out more when my milk comes in but I wasn't prepared for the size that she pulled from the rack.


That's what I have to look forward to.

In case you, like me, think your eyes are playing tricks on you, let me help you out.


My boobs are going to be gargantuan!!! The most shocking part of the whole experience was that when I tried on the first bra in the recommended size, it already fit (Luckily, that particular designer sizes a little small so I didn't have to move to an F) Honestly, I had convinced myself that the 38D I've been wearing for the last few months was a result of 'vanity sizing' (I know) and that I had overestimated my size and she was going to say, "Oh, you're wearing the wrong size - here, try this dainty, attractive-looking bra with thin straps and frilly stuff on it." No such luck- I am in over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder territory- heavy duty, thick straps, lots of material for support, etc... I am convinced that my new bra (I bought one that's built like a sports bra) was engineered by the same folks that design tank armor.

As I stood there looking at my new additions in the full length mirror, I imagined my poor little infant struggling to feed under the weight of a breast twice as big as her head... ha ha ha. I know it's not that serious - more well-endowed women than I have nursed successfully for generations!

On the bright side - I might not actually need a baby carrier- Carys can hang out in the orbit of one of my chest-planets.


It was a good week, there is more to come (my brother is coming to visit us from the Marine Corps on Saturday and I'll be working while he's here so I'm sure I'll be busy!), and D(ue)-Day will be upon us before we know it.

As soon as I have time to take pictures of the new additions in her room when the sun is shining in I will post them so you all can get a preview of the cuteness to come.

And because I missed it on Monday while luxuriating in the sun and surf,

HAPPY 32 weeks, baby girl!!!