Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Déjà vu

I had my NST this morning and the baby looked great - movements were as expected and no signs of contractions.  When I met with my OB following the NST, I mentioned that I have been having a lot of shortness of breath in the last week (more than previously), and not when I was doing anything.  At night when I try to read in bed, I cannot find a position (other than sitting up, criss-cross-applesauce) where I can get a "full" breath.

(I won't bury the lead - everything is fine)

Because of my history of blood clots in pregnancy, her concern was that, despite being on therapeutic anticoagulation (blood thinners - Lovenoax), I might have a pulmonary embolism (PE - a blood clot in my lungs).  Shortness of breath is completely normal in pregnancy, but you can't really be sure without getting a more thorough evaluation.  So, off to the ER I went.

I was initially pretty calm and felt certain that I didn't have a PE, but my EKG came back abnormal (which may be my normal, apparently EKGs are somewhat like fingerprints and each are different) and so the ER doctor felt that the abnormal EKG coupled with the shortness of breath meant I ought to have a CT scan.  I haven't had one before and when they ran through the litany of risks, I started to panic a bit (radiation exposure being the key risk for both Mom and baby).  

Mostly, the entire situation felt so similar to when I went to the ER with Q when I did have a clot and it went from being a normal day when I was pregnant to everything crashing down in a matter of moments.  I tried to stay calm, but I was alone and everything started to feel totally overwhelming.

In any event, my CT scan came back normal (no clots), the doctor recommended I have a follow-up EKG 2 months post-pregnancy to see if my EKG is still abnormal, and I went about my day, but the whole thing really shook me.  I am 12 days from meeting this baby and even being so very close, I know how many things can go wrong and yesterday just reminded me of that.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to wrapping up work this week (Friday is my last day), and spending a week getting some rest -- and hopefully the week will be uneventful.

************************

One upside to spending 5 hours in the ER is that I finished the book I was reading, Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler.  I can't recall where I first heard about it, but Kate is in her 30s, a professor at the Duke Divinity School, a mother and wife, and battling Stage IV colon cancer.  The book interweaves her experience with cancer and motherhood with her religious background and I really enjoyed it (in the way one "enjoys" sad books).  There were a few passages that resonated with me that I wanted to share:
  • The book is dedicated to her son, Zach: "Zach, my darling.  I can see now how my beautiful life was always for you."  I sometimes feel so completely overwhelmed by how much I love B (and Q of course) and that love has just shifted my perspective about so many aspects of my life.  I thought she expressed that sentiment so succinctly and perfectly.
  • Kate describes the moment she learned she had cancer: "There was a before, and now there was an after.  Time slowed to a pulse.  Am I breathing? I wondered.  Do I want to?"  This reminded me of how I felt when I found out Q's heart was no longer beating.  My world stopped.  And for a long time, I wasn't sure I cared.
  • Finally, these words: "I have had two perfect moments in my life.  The first was running down the aisle with Toban [her husband] on our wedding day, and we burst through the church doors and stood, breathless, alone as husband and wife, gazing at each other like complete idiots.  And the other was when they put Zach in my arms for the first time and we looked at each other like it was a conspiracy of mutual adoration.  These are my Impossible Thoughts.  These are my Can't-Live-Withouts.  I cannot picture a world where I am not theirs.  Where I am simply gone."  These words prompted me to think of the "perfect moments" in my life.
I highly recommend Everything Happens for a Reason and if you'd like to read something similar that may be the best book I've read in the past two years, I recommend The Bright Hour, another memoir written by a mother dying of cancer.  Both books really shook me to my core.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Final Countdown

I'm 36 weeks pregnant today and have 2 weeks until my scheduled c-section.  After much deliberation, we pushed the date back to exactly 38 weeks so this baby will have a bit more time to grow.  There is the added benefit that, if all goes as planned, I will have all of next week off of work to relax, set up the room, and prepare for baby's arrival, plus spend some quality time with B.  This past weekend we picked up a crib from a friend who kindly offered hers to us (I sold B's crib and dresser last summer), borrowed a Halo bassinet and Dock-a-Tot friend a different friend, and moved everything out of the office so that it could officially become baby's room.  I have yet to go through any of B's clothes, but I have ordered diapers and wipes and will take the time next week to sort through B's newborn gear for gender-neutral clothes.

All things considered, I feel relatively calm about delivery and the next two weeks. I had a non-stress test last week and have another tomorrow morning.  As always, they begin with more stress since inevitably it takes a while to find the baby's heartbeat (every single time).  Even when I felt a kick moments prior, panic begins to set in.  

I can't tell if I have completely forgotten how I felt with B, but I FEEL very pregnant these days. I'm having shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and generally am completely exhausted.  I'm still getting to pilates a few times each week, but my energy levels are really low and I feel like I am letting B down in my lack of enthusiasm for running playing, climbing, etc. I truly don't recall feeling this way with B, but then I wasn't chasing a toddler, making meals, doing bedtime, etc.  I suspect I just came home from work and laid down? 

My OB again raised the possibility of tying my tubes and while R seemed ready to sign on the dotted line, I am not.  Do I think we will have a fourth child?  No.  Do I like even considering this before giving birth to a third baby? Absolutely not.  But do I like the finality of making this decision now?  No, thank you.  

B has suggested some classic names for this baby: Hot Sauce, Latte Shop, Stop Sign, Coffee, and Blythe.  We joked that if we had the baby on April Fool's Day, we'd send out an announcement saying we named it Latte Shop Levy because it has a nice ring. 

I am having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that it is April and that on the morning of 4/16, I will have a c-section and hopefully deliver a healthy baby into this world.  My due date with Q was 4/9 and it is ironic to me that this baby will be due so close to that date and that B was born 2 days shy of the anniversary of Q's death.  It is wonderful to have important dates to celebrate during times that would otherwise be marked solely by sadness.

So, that's the report from here.  T-minus 2 weeks. Two doctor's appointments remaining (and two more NSTs).  No more ultrasounds unless something unexpected happens.   We are crossing fingers and toes around here that nothing happens in the interim and that this baby arrives safe and sound.

I have been trying to take time to do little random acts of kindness for R and B and to pamper myself a bit.  Last week a friend and I went to see Hamilton, which was fantastic, and exceeded my expectations in so many ways.  I've been getting regular massages and have 2 more scheduled before baby arrives.  I'm letting myself enjoy my pilates class or a night out with friends rather than feeling guilty about it as I often do (this was a resolution for 2018).   I'm both so very excited to meet this baby and aware that our world is going to change and want to be sure B (and R) know how much I love them.  I hear over and over that loves multiples rather than divides, but I am nervous about making sure everyone knows and feels loved, especially B.

Oh, one final observation from this pregnancy.  Two things have happened that didn't happen with B that have totally weirded me out:
  • I have been leaking milk for the last few weeks.  Not much at all, but it is there.  I hope this bodes well for breastfeeding again.
  • My belly button has been "out" for weeks (months, really).  This didn't happen with B and I find it so creepy.  
I'll leave you on that happy note... 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

32 Weeks

I'm typing this as I feel kicks in my stomach and occasionally can see my protruding belly rise and fall at random.  Is there a better feeling when pregnant?  Btw, this is me right now (please ignore the goofy expression) - hello, belly!



Time seems to be flying these days. Somehow the second trimester came and went and now I'm 5 weeks and a few days from delivery (c-section will be the week of April 9th).  My glucose test went fine and at the last ultrasound baby was growing well and looked perfect.  I see my OB again on Tuesday and from here on out I'll see her every week.

My urge to nest and prepare for this baby and generally to prep in every way possible for life to be turned upside down is strong.  I'm stocking the freezer with meals, slowly organizing areas of the house that need to be purged and straightened (I've tackled the pantry and the garage and the basement an B's playroom are next).  I haven't started to go through any baby stuff, but I feel like that is premature since I don't know whether we are having a girl or boy.  In any event, I'm finally thinking about a crib, asking friends to return items we lent, etc.  I have moments of doubt when I haven't felt the baby kick in awhile, but on the whole my anxiety has been kept in check and I'm allowing myself to enjoy being pregnant here and there.

I have noticed that I am definitely slowing down and I feel sad every time I have to say to B, "Sorry, but mama can't do X."  I'm trying to limit lifting/carrying her (she weighs 35 pounds), and sometimes I just do not have the energy to race around the park as much as I'd like to.  I want to savor these last few weeks of being able to give her my undivided attention, but my ever-expanding midsection is making that tricky.

R and I haven't spoken at all about names. Anyone have any great names or seen any good lists lately?  I'm feeling uninspired and don't love half the names that were on our list for B should this baby be a girl, so even with a girl I think we are back to square one.   During the second trimester, I felt strongly this baby is a girl, but I'm feeling now like it is a boy.  I'm excited for the surprise.

Truthfully, there isn't much to report here.  We went through a rough patch with B of not wanting to go to bed, waking multiple times, not listening, etc. (standard three-year-old behavior, I think), but I'm thrilled to say we have turned a corner and the last few weeks have been really good.  She asks me periodically about the baby and talks about things they will do together (bathe, run - apparently this baby will be walking immediately, craft) and I feel overwhelmed with emotion thinking about B having a living sibling.  I've found a few fun books about siblings - do any of you have any that you recommend (we are loving Maple and the others in this series, A Baby Sister for FrancesSprout Helps Out, Hello In There, and I ordered Angelina's Baby Sister this weekend)?

So, that's all from here.  I'm focusing on positivity and optimism and enjoying these last 5 weeks and am trying to not think about all of the things that could go wrong in between now and when I hold this baby in my arms.  If you want a good chuckle, check out these Realistic Birth Announcements from The New Yorker.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Reminiscing

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to finish all of our photo books from our travels. I was pretty good about keeping up with them while we were on the road, but I'm determined to be completely caught up before this baby arrives in mid-April.  I ordered two last week, so progress is being made.

I was sorting through photos and came across two that I took in our cabin in the Archipelago of Sweden (this place, seriously one of the best airbnbs of our entire trip).  The cabin was full of charming details, but I was most struck by two pieces of art that made me think so much of being pregnant -- so much so that I took photos of each in an optimistic gesture that perhaps I'd get pregnant while we were there.  That didn't happen, but I did shortly thereafter.



I was struck by how the woman in the top picture looks quite pregnant and the one in the bottom appears to be holding a baby.  The translation of the bottom cross-stitch is "she comes down the fields."  There isn't a real point in sharing this, but in stumbling upon these, I was reminded how even in the midst of feeling pretty despondent about our situation and still grieving over the two miscarriages, I had hope that I might get pregnant again.  

I still feel great disbelief about the size of my growing belly, the wonderful movements I'm feeling, and the fact that my c-section will be scheduled for 10 weeks from now.  TEN WEEKS.  It doesn't seem possible.

Next week I'll be in my third trimester, I'll have another ultrasound and my glucose screen and I'll post another update.  For now, I'm embracing the positivity, am thrilled to be past 26 weeks, which is when we lost Quinn, and generally trying to just stay calm. 

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018



As I type this post, I'm feeling this baby kick around in my abdomen and am thrilled to finally be feeling little pops and flutters on and off throughout the day and night.  What a difference a few weeks makes in terms of feeling less unsettled now that I can feel movement.

We took down our Christmas tree yesterday and B went back to school today (she was jumping up and down with excitement about seeing her teachers and being back in the classroom).  This past month was both magical and exhausting -- emotionally and physically.  Christmas and the New Year will always make me think of Q and I can't help but replay Christmas 2013 when I was in incredible pain and ultimately Q died on December 28th.  I spent New Year's Eve in the ICU awaiting another surgery and finally delivered Q on January 3rd.  B brings so much joy this time of year and it is truly such a gift to watch and help her enjoy the holidays so much, but I do think a lot about the what could have been and worry about this baby growing inside of me.

I'm 23 weeks pregnant now and officially have less than 4 months until this little one arrives.  I'll have my next check up in a week, including an ultrasound, and I'm so excited to see how this baby is growing.  We also celebrated B's birthday on the 28th, which was so much fun.  I threw a small party at home with two of her friends, my parents, and her former nanny, who she adores and happens to share her birthday.  It was actually fun and the perfect size and I could tell that B just felt so special having a party just for her.  This pregnancy has absolutely kicked my butt in terms of exhaustion, but I'm glad I rallied and made a cake, decorated the house, and really celebrated B's birthday, which admittedly was hard for me to do on the heels of hosting Christmas.

I feel as though I should have more profound thoughts to share on this 4th anniversary of losing our beloved Quinn, but they are escaping me. It's not for a lack of her being in my thoughts, but more that I can't seem to capture what I'm feeling in the midst of the holidays, B's birthday, and this pregnancy. I think of her most often in the rare quiet moments I have alone - when I awake in the pre-dawn hours and let my mind wander, when I'm driving somewhere alone, or at night when I should be asleep and find myself thinking of her and imaging what she would be like at 4.  Four.  How is that possible?

Separately, the NYT had a piece two weeks ago entitled When a Grieving Mother Talks, Listen that I highly recommend.

Do you set New Year's Resolutions?  I'm a huge fan and have set them for as long as I can remember. This year, in addition to setting resolutions, I'm declaring "positivity" as my word for 2018.  This idea came from one of my class instructors at Fierce45 and it really resonated with how I'm feeling these days.  This will be my last pregnancy and I can't wait to meet this baby.  I don't want to spend the next 4 months worrying so while I know I will worry, I'm going to try my best to generally be positive.  The word applies to every aspect of my life, but I need the most work in the pregnancy/baby department.  Does anyone else do this?  Apparently My One Word is a thing!

Happy New Year. 
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Meet Me Halfway

19 weeks!
Technically, I won't be 20 weeks until next Monday, but for me 19 weeks marks halfway through this pregnancy as my high-risk OB informed me at our mid-pregnancy anatomy scan that she wants to schedule a c-section for sometime between 37 and 38 weeks.  So there you have it, friends.  Fingers and legs (and toes and everything else) crossed, we'll meet this baby, boy or girl, in mid-April.

Suddenly, this pregnancy feels very real.  Somewhere around week 18 I popped and now it is quite tricky to hide the bump.  I finally told the head fo my new law firm and while I haven't told my other co-workers, I'm no longer avoiding maternity clothes and fitted tops at work.  The best thing is that I am feeling this baby move!  Despite having an anterior placenta, which makes it more difficult to detect movement, I'm definitely feeling it, especially when I lay down at night to read.  I'm excited for a few weeks from now when the movements are strong enough that R and B will be able to feel them as well.

Telling my boss was interesting and went about as well as I could expect.  Keep in mind that I have only been at this job for 6 weeks, so obviously I was pregnant when I accepted and started.  I decided to be direct: "I'm pregnant.  I wanted to tell you when I joined (which is true), but this is actually my fifth pregnancy and given the fact that pregnancy has often not ended well for us, I wasn't ready to tell you or anyone else when I accepted the job."  It went something like that.  He was wonderful about it -- he has five (!) daughters and was just so happy that we were having another kid and was just great about it.  The whole conversation was a huge relief and I felt so much better about everything at work afterward.

Oh, and our mid-pregnancy anatomy scan looked great.  Baby was moving around like crazy, everything was measuring on track, and he or she has all of the organs you'd expect to see.  We breathed a big sigh of relief.

This little girl's happiness related to all things Christmas is infectious

And here we are in December.  The tricky thing is that everything about this pregnancy reminds me of being pregnant with Q (Baby L - it's confusing, her name starts with Q, but L, which stands for Lemon, was her nickname throughout my pregnancy).  Q was due in early April.  She died on December 30th.  And going into the holidays, I felt great... until I didn't.  Christmas of that year was awful, including a Christmas Eve phone call to the emergency line at my doctor's office, no sleep, and being so uncomfortable I couldn't even walk a hundred yards.  Whenever I think about that Christmas, I get furious at myself for not trusting my instincts, knowing something was wrong, and driving myself to the ER.  So even though I am being closely monitored and I'm taking tons of Lovenox so getting a blood clot is virtually impossible, I'm just anxious about letting my guard down and letting myself get excited -- even know I rationally know this a different pregnancy.   Don't get me wrong - I am just thrilled about this baby and I have moments of being incredibly optimistic and imagining Rob putting this baby in my arms in April and telling me whether it is a boy or girl... but those moments are always tempered by thoughts of cord accidents and blood clots and unexplained late term losses.  Every time a pregnant woman tells me she feels great now that she is 26 weeks along and the baby will be fine no matter what, I have to bite my tongue not to tell them that isn't true.   I know these feelings are exacerbated because we are fast-approaching B's 3rd birthday, which is followed 2 days later by the anniversary of Q's death.  She would be 4.  FOUR.  How is that possible?  What would she be like?  I so desperately wish that I knew.

What is keeping me from a downward spiral of sadness and introspection on this topic is the fact that B is giddy about Christmas and her impending birthday.  Each morning we go downstairs and check the advent calendar for a little treat for her.  We've talked about the cupcakes she'll take to school for her birthday and I mailed invitations to her (very small) party yesterday.  Her joy for this season is contagious and I'm trying to stay present in that feeling instead of the others, although I will make space for the sadness this month, too. I always do.

I'm thinking of all of you who have lost babies this month and sending lots of love.  And I'm giving B extra snuggles and kisses and love because I am able to --- and how lucky am I for that?



Friday, November 17, 2017

16 Weeks


Earlier this week, I had a quick heartbeat check with my OB.  Baby's heartbeat was beating away at 143 bpm and today I'm 16 weeks and three days along.  Last week I went in for a blood draw and the sonographer, who is a friend and the sweetest lady, saw me in the hall and asked if I wanted to take a peek at baby.  Umm, yes please!  I never turn down an opportunity to see him or her wiggling around.

All looked good in the ultrasound and we checked out the brain and the spine, looked for fingers and toes, and just watched baby move around a bit. I'm anxious to feel those first movements.  Sometimes I think I've felt something, but it is just too early to be sure and I have an anterior placenta again, which makes movements even more subtle at this early stage.

I've been feeling quite calm thus far, but this week I've had thoughts creeping in about all of the issues that can arise in the remainder of this pregnancy. I know this isn't healthy and I try to push them out of my mind, but as I creep closer to the time when we lost Baby L, I am reminded of what can happen.  The urge to relax and enjoy the pregnancy is there, but so is the underlying knowledge of how quickly everything can go awry.

Otherwise, I'm feeling good, sleeping well, and really just still feeling utterly exhausted but otherwise fine.  I swam for the first time in months earlier this week and it felt incredible. I need to get back into a swimming routine, especially as I get bigger.  The Lovenox is going well.  We check my AntiXA level once each month and so far it has been right in range and I've avoided bumping up (at this point in my pregnancy with Baby B I had already bumped up a dose).  I'm so used to giving myself shots twice each day that I give it relatively little thought at this point.

I'm wrapping up my third week of work at my new job. So far, it is as promised and I've been working from home two days each week and arriving into the office at 9:30 AM and departing by 3:45 or 4 PM the other three days.  It's been manageable and, frankly, enjoyable and I feel like it strikes the right balance between engaging and still allowing me to have time at home, with B and R, etc.  I still haven't told them that I'm pregnant - I've been wearing regular clothes and if something is fitted at the waist, I just wear a vest over it (the office is cold anyway) and I don't think you can tell.  I have another appointment after Thanksgiving and plan to tell them if all goes well.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  This may be the most boring update I've ever written.  I'll close by noting that I have a lot to be thankful for this year.


 
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