Monday, August 27, 2007

But, wait! We're totally unprepared for GOOD news!

We had our level II scan this morning. Or the mid-pregnancy ultrasound. The Big One. The only ultrasound many people get.

We got into the room (FINALLY 45 minutes past our appointment time... my bladder was very very angry) and the technician asked, "Is this your first ultrasound?" I managed not to fall off the table while laughing. Um, no. This would be... let's see.. this pregnancy? Number... hmm... twelve? Yeah, I think twelve. Ahh.

Heart... check. Beating. Ventricles. Atria. Valves. Aortal arch. Head. Present. Appropriately sized. And so on. Our main concern was, as usual, what was going on at that pesky place where the placenta had set up shop on my twitchy and uncooparative cervix. Cervical measurments both transabdominally and transvaginally were 3.9 cm and above. Excellent. And... wait for it... the placenta is NOT sitting over the cervical os! Can it be? Placenta previa no more???

Official diagnosis: marginal low-lying placenta. Mostly on the left. That sucker MOVED, people. It's still too close for comfort were I to be delivering today, but I've got plenty of time for it to creep over a few more millimeters. I can't believe it.

And oh, yeah. That girl we thought we were having? Let's just say there's... tissue... between the legs. This kid's a BOY.

I'm so happy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Contracting Away in Southern California

Seriously, isn't it a wee bit early to be having all these contractions? The new semester started this week and I was on my feet a LOT. I lecture three hours Thursday nights and then teach a three hour lab on Friday mornings, where I'm either lecturing or wandering around helping the students with their lab work. My uterus had a field day. I'm going to have to bring this up at my appointment next week.

Next week is pretty appointment-heavy, actually. Monday is the big level II ultrasound at the perinatology office. Baby organs and placenta will be minutely inspected. I'm so focused on what the placenta will show that I've almost forgotten to worry that the ultrasound will turn up some other kind of problem with the baby itself. (Herself? Himself ? I should just pick one and go with it.)

Then Friday is my normal cervix check at the OB. Wednesday D has a checkup with her eye surgeon. (Have I mentioned D's eye issues here? Probably not. Anyway, she's got lots of doctor appointments of her own.) The fun never stops around here!

I am relieved to have the first week of classes under my belt. I tend to get myself pretty worked up before the new term starts, and then I get through the first week, remember that I both enjoy my job and am good at what I do, so I unwind a bit and it's all fine. I did have a conversation this morning with the former department chair. He just finished 2 years as department chair. So, at the start of his term he just missed having to deal with my abrupt disappearance midway through the summer session when my pregnancy with D went crazy, and at the end he just missed having to deal with the possibility of it happening again this semester.

What did happen with Former Department Chair was that he neglected to include me in the e-mail that went out last spring organizing who was going to teach which classes this fall. In his defense, I was moonlighting for a different department last spring while one of their full-timers was on sabbatical, so I wasn't officially teaching in his department that semester and I just fell off his radar. Anyway, by the time this was discovered, he had to do a lot of scrambling to find a lecture and a lab for me to teach. He managed it in the end, but it took a long time and a lot of e-mails back and forth. I didn't end up with times that I liked, we had to switch around D's daycare, etc., but we worked it out.

So this morning I ran into him and his wife in the faculty parking lot. I should mention that they are in their late forties, are childless, and he's mentioned that they had issues of their own in the childbearing department. So, I think they would have liked children but it unfortunately did not happen for them. He didn't know I was pregnant again until he saw me today. He made a comment about how he'd gone to all that trouble to arrange classes for me to teach and now it looked like I may bail partway into the semester again and leave everyone else scrambling to cover my classes! I laughed it off but I was rather upset. I do hope he realizes that we have not made the decision lightly for me to continue teaching this fall. We've asked our doctors repeatedly if they think it's a good idea and they keep telling us it's fine. Anyway, I let it go with the former chair, but it still rankles. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive and cannot take a joke.

I'm very, very glad it's the weekend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Night of Panic

Every night I wake up at around 2:30 AM with a bladder that's simply bursting. I go and pee, get back in bed, have a few contractions as my uterus resumes occupation of the space my bladder was hogging, and after a while spent trying not to dwell on those middle-of-the-night negative thoughts, I eventually go back to sleep.

Last night all went as usual until I got back in bed and took note of the expected contraction. It was crampy. Not a painless tightening like I'm used to, but the ouchy kind that sets off alarm bells. This went on for some time. So, I lay there, engaged in my normal mental debate. Should I wake up H? Should I call the OB answering service and have them page the on-call doctor? Should I go to the hospital and get monitored at triage? Who should we call in the middle of the night to stay with D if H needs to drive me to the hospital?

I'll skip to the end and say that eventually a small rational voice in the back of my head piped up and noted that (1) pregnant women tend to get, erm, well... backed up, shall we say? and (2) previous experiences of this nature have been resolved when nature and my large intestine managed to work things out amongst themselves. I calmed down, eventually relaxed enough to go back to sleep, and this morning step (2) above indicated that indeed, this was what was going on.

The experience has reminded me how much safer I feel in the hospital when having a terrifying pregnancy. You're constantly being watched, monitored, ultrasounded, poked, prodded, blood pressured, etc. One of your doctors checks in on you every single morning and asks if anything new has come up. In the middle of the night, a nurse would be just a few feet away to strap on that contraction monitor in the above situation and either tell me everything's fine or administer an injection to stop the contractions. (Ahh, terbutaline... how I love to hate you...) All of the pressure to keep the pregnancy going is taken out of your hands entirely. And while I cannot emphasize the lousiness of hospital bedrest in strong enough language, there is indeed the advantage of having the responsibility removed for deciding what's a subchorionic hematoma causing preterm labor, and what's, well... constipation.

18 weeks and 3 days. Sigh. How far I have yet to go.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Better but Outed

OK, so the back thing has mostly resolved itself. Whew. I took it really easy all weekend and I'd say I'm back to about 95% today. Bullet: dodged for now. It makes me very nervous for the future, though. I am going to have to be really careful.

Yesterday one of our next door neighbors knocked on our door and said they were having an appetizer party in the evening in the street. It actually wound up being in our driveway. It was pretty cool. Lots of people came and brought a plate of something to snack on and something to drink. We've all lived here 2 years now (it's a new development so we all moved in at pretty much the same time) and it was nice to feel like we're becoming a community. It went quite late. We put D to bed and then just brought the baby monitor out into the driveway with us so both H and I could go.

But, I've now been outed to the neighborhood. One of my neighbors knew about the pregnancy and asked if it was okay if she told people, and as I was sitting there drinking water with my belly sticking out of my maternity shirt I figured we weren't going to be able to stay in the closet much longer, so I said okay. Then it evolved into a "why on earth aren't you telling people if you're 18 weeks?" conversation so I got into details of some of the complications with neighbors I don't know well, and I got all defensive and strange about it. Sigh. Well, at least it's done. Several people were really rather sensitive and empathetic, which was nice.

Life with D has been challenging of late. She learned how to get out of her travel crib while we were on vacation, and this skill has translated to her normal crib here at home. So, the sleeping isn't going very well, which makes everyone crabby. And she has become very possessive of me, which is both endearing and frightening for me, if indeed she does end up needing to share Mommy with a little sister/brother. I am getting more worried about this pregnancy as we approach the stage where things went wrong with my pregnancy with D. I am trying to focus on the fact that for now, my cervix looks long and closed, and that they're watching it closely enough so that if things go wrong again we should be able to manage it more effectively than last time.

We got our first baby gift for this new one and I realized I have done nothing at all to prepare. The office is still completely an office. I looked at double strollers a few times and then decided I was jinxing myself. So, this gift for the new baby is sitting at the top of the stairs, just looking at me. I need to decide if I want to assume we're likely to get a take-home baby from this one and get ready now, since realistically there's a good chance I'll be spending some or all of the later part of this pregnancy either in bed or in the hospital, or at the very least with some serious activity restrictions. It still feels too soon for me though. I guess it's time to suck it up and try and act optimistic. I really don't want to have to live with an empty nursery though. Nor do I want to have what happened with D's room... no chance to prepare, so no nursery really. To this day it's just a room with a crib, a dresser, and a rocker in it. We never decorated. We never got her a bedding set, just 2 solid fitted sheets for the crib. No cute bumper, nothing on the walls, etc. It would be nice to do the normal expectant parents nursery prep this time. My heart's just not in it, though. Hmm. I must give this some thought. It seems unfair to go to town on the new room and leave D's all stark. It looks like we're headed for a "big girl bed" with her soon, though, so maybe we'll just do both rooms at the same time.

Okay, this is degenerating into random thoughts. Time to go and be productive.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


So there I was, this morning at 11, lifting my 27-pound toddler into a high chair at local-amusement-park-which-shall-not-be-named, when it happened. That horrible feeling of something ripping in my lower back. Who knows what it was: a muscle, a set of muscles, an already-misshapen disc in my spine... I have once again thrown out my back.

The last time this happened, I was in grad school. My husband was still my boyfriend. Having chldren was a vague plan for far off in the future. I took a few days off, popped painkillers and muscle relaxants like candy, went to a physical therapist for a while, and was mildly inconvenienced.

Today, however, I have a husband who just took 2 weeks off work and can't really take any time off to allow his wife to recline in bed while he cooks, cleans, and does kid duty. I have a job that doesn't come with the opportunity to be sick without massively inconveniencing the rest of the department. I have a rapidly expanding uterus, putting strain on an already dicey lower back. And, of course, I have the 27 pound toddler, too small to climb into her own carseat or high chair.

Well, shit.

On the plus side, tomorrow D goes to day care, and then it's the weekend. I am hoping to have myself somewhat functional by Monday. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vacation is Over!!

I'm back! I must say, two weeks is a very long time for a vacation. And a nearly 2-year-old along for the ride makes the whole thing considerably less relaxing for everyone involved. At any rate, we survived, we're home and I am very relieved to be done with travel. We're all exhausted. One night so far in everyone's own beds has helped, but I think it's going to take a few days to settle in. I put D down for her nap about 20 minutes ago, and so far all I'm hearing on the baby monitor are sounds of her jumping up and down on her mattress, shrieking "Boing boing boing!"

First order of business upon our return was to check back in with our OB group. We'd had an appointment July 30th, which was the day before we left, where I had my first measurement of cervical length, which was 3.5 cm. The placenta was still sitting smack on top of the cervical os. Today's appointment: cervix about 4 cm (!) and some possible migration of the placenta away from the cervical os (!!!). It seems to be moving anteriorly(is that even a word?) as the uterus expands.

Need I even say how pleased we were with this? We were somewhat worried before the appointment, since I have been noticing quite a few contractions over the last few weeks (mostly in the evenings), which is typical for me. Dr. um... let's see... Dr. Likes2Knit switched to the transabdominal ultrasound to get a better look at the placenta, after which we tried to detect some boy parts. None were immediately forthcoming, but the baby was being rather coy, and the resolution of this ultrasound machine wasn't the greatest, so we couldn't be sure. Dr. Likes2Knit said her guess was 80% sure that we have another girl in there. I think my guess is along the same lines. We could catch glimpses of something that might be... well... no, maybe that's umbilical cord... hmmm.... So we gave up. For now.

H confessed he was a little disappointed not to see boy parts. He quickly added he'd get over it and then joked that it gives us a reason to try for a third child. Ha, ha, ha, I say. Ha bloody ha. What a comedian that boy is.

Anyway, originally we were supposed to have our big fetal anatomy ultrasound a week from Friday at the normal imaging center. But, while on vacation, I got a call from the OB office. Remember that mysterious referral to the perinatology group that I specifically asked about and was told not to bother with? Yep, you guessed it. That was for us to go see the perinatologists for the big ultrasound so they can get a good careful look at the placenta. So, I was told to cancel the ultrasound appointment I'd made at the imaging center and make one instead with the perinatologists. I resisted the urge to ask if maybe they couldn't have sorted this out on July 30th when I looked at the instructions they gave me for making an appointment at the imaging center and asked if maybe they didn't really intend for me to make an appointment with the perinatology group instead? Oh, no, they said.

Sigh. The world will be very different when I am in charge.

So, I made the appointment today, but of course they're rather full so I couldn't get in until the following Monday. 12 days of waiting. I need to go buy myself some patience.