Friday, July 29, 2011

No More Ultrasounds

We went in for (what should be) our last ultrasound. Julie was our tech again. She measured baby's fluids and got 13.4 cm (even more than last week!). She checked everything for a biophysical profile (BPP) as well, though she didn't tell us what she scored. I assumed 8 out of 8, since she didn't say anything. Plus, I saw 3 out of the 4 things that they look for, and felt the fourth one (a nice, good kick in the ribs!). Baby was actually, I think, in a better position for a 3D, but I didn't think to ask this time. Bummer. But we did get a couple 2D pictures of her.

After the quick scan, Dr. Ledella came in and said everything looked good and that they wouldn't need me to come in again. Then she said the first thing that made me not want her as my doc this time around. (I will preface this with, if I had a high-risk pregnancy again, I would, without a doubt, go back to her in a heartbeat. But, for a normal pregnancy, I'm glad she's not my doc.) She said, "If you don't go into spontaneous labor by week 39 you'll have to schedule another c-section, because they won't induce you."

With all the reading and networking I've done, that's not necessarily true. Yes, they don't like to induce you, as it greatly lessens your chances of having a successful VBAC. But, they will let me go longer than 39 weeks. One of my old co-workers was just allowed to go to 42 weeks before they scheduled her second c-section. Forty weeks is, by far, not out of the question, since that is supposed to be the length of a pregnancy.

It was kind of discouraging to hear her say that, because now I'm starting to worry what will happen if I don't go into labor. I didn't feel any contractions with Danielle before she was born. What if I don't have any with this one either? I don't want to go under the knife again. It is a little encouraging that I think I have been starting to feel a few, very small, contractions, but I've also heard that women have contractions like that throughout the third trimester, and still end up with a c-section. I just have to keep thinking positive thoughts! I can do this!

I LOVE Pampered Pregnancy!

If you've read my posts about my appointments at Comprehensive, you probably remember me mentioning how I've gotten gifts at each appointment: bath salts, formula, stretch mark cream... Well, yesterday, I cashed in on what was, by far, my favorite gift: a free half hour massage!

The lady that did the massage didn't introduce herself by name, so I don't know what it is, but she was very nice. Since it is easiest to give a massage when a person is laying on their tummy, but pregnant ladies (especially 2 1/2 weeks from their due date!) have a hard time laying doing that without squishing the baby and being very uncomfortable, she had a "belly bolster" to lay on. That alone, was quite comfortable! I haven't been able to lay on my tummy for quite some time. When she came back in she had a prop for my ankles too, making it even more comfortable.

Since I only had a half hour (I didn't upgrade for a full hour for a cost), she said she would just do my neck, back, and legs. I was fine with that. I would have been happy with just my back! Having never had a massage before, I didn't really know what to expect, but it was amazing! So relaxing! Before I left for the appointment, I was thinking of maybe stopping at Target afterwards. I'm so glad I decided against it. Afterward, she commented that I looked sleepy. I was so relaxed that I could have fallen asleep. In fact, last night, I slept better than I have in about 2 or 3 weeks!

One thing I learned though, was how to use hot rocks in massage. Adam and I got some for a wedding gift, and have tried to use them a couple times, but they didn't work all that well. One time it kind of burned me. She used them to rub up and down my back and legs. The book that came with our hot rocks said to place them in certain spots on your back: that's how they burned me. (Adam took them off quick enough that I didn't actually get burned, but it definitely wasn't relaxing!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Doc Said What?

Today we had my 37 week appointment with the new doctor at Comprehensive, Dr. Nelson. When she came in the room, she didn't bring her laptop in, didn't have me undress for the internal exam, and said she does things a little differently than the rest of the docs there. She handed me my "present" (a toiletries bag packed with the essentials), but said she couldn't take credit for it. She first told me that my group B strep test came back positive, and asked if I knew what that meant. My sister-in-law had just been telling me about it a couple days ago, so I knew that it meant my hopes of not having an IV at all were dashed. They have to give me a dose of antibiotics while I am in labor so that I don't pass it on to the baby.

Then she asked if I wanted an internal exam. She didn't find it necessary as they are rather uncomfortable, but said if I was curious she could do one. I agreed, they are uncomfortable, and opted not to have one. But she had me hop up on the table to listen to the baby's heart. She was right about 125 bmp. She made a comment about how I was carrying low, and I replied that she still managed to sit in my stomach. Then I added that it was because her fluid levels were low. With that, she said she wanted to double check my chart, so went back out of the room.

While she was out, my ever-attentive husband *insert eye-roll* said, "You have herpes?"

Slightly confused, I said, "What?"

He responded, "The doctor said that you tested positive for herpes strep."

I said, "No, it's group B strep."

Then Dr. Nelson came back in and asked if I was getting another ultrasound for the fluid levels. I said yes, and explained that the levels were back up last week, and I was measuring bigger, so as long as the levels are good tomorrow they won't make me come back for another one. She seemed to agree with that.

Then I told her that I had two questions. I laughed and said the first one was because of him, as I pointed at Adam. I asked what she said I tested positive for, and she again said "group B strep." I laughed again and said, "See told ya!" Then explained to her that Adam thought she had said herpes strep, and she laughed too, and assured him that's not what it was.

The other question I had for her was about banking the baby's cord blood. She said the lady that deals with that type of thing had already left for the day, but she would put a note on her desk for her to call me tomorrow. And off we went!

Appointments Between Planning

Last week, I had two appointments that I managed to get to between having people at our house (okay, so it was while they were there), planning a funeral for my mother-in-law. On Tuesday, I had an OB check at Comprehensive, and on Wednesday an ultrasound to check her fluid levels at Perinatal. Since I didn't have time to post about them last week, and I have another appointment this afternoon, I wanted to get the post written quick about last week.

Tuesday OB Appointment
The OB check went well, and it was the first time I had ever gone to a prenatal appointment by myself (weird, huh?). I met Dr. Mahan, who I found I really liked. She asked if I was having contractions at all. I told her on the bottom half of my belly I would get cramps/contractions a little bit, but nothing more really.

She checked baby's heart rate, but I don't remember what it was anymore. Then, she measured me. For 36 weeks, I measured at 35 cm! Which was a big improvement from last time they measured me. Then she did my first ever prenatal internal exam = not comfortable! I was 50% effaced. And she did a quick test for Group B Strep, which she said I would hear the results of at my next appointment. (There are so many new things this time around. I was never measured with Danielle, never had an internal exam, never checked for effacing, never tested for Group B Strep...)

She gave me my Pampered Pregnancy gift, which was two different things of formula with two different bags/totes, and I went back home to my house-full of people.

Wednesday Ultrasound
I had a feeling on my way there that Krista would not be doing the ultrasound, and I was right. Julie, who I had seen a couple times with Danielle, did the ultrasound. She commented about how it had been a while since they'd seen me. But I told her I was in just two weeks ago for a growth ultrasound, and found that her fluids were low.

She checked the fluid levels, and found that they were at 12-point-something cm. (Remember, 8cm is the low end cut-off, and last time I was at 7.9 cm, so this is good too!) She had a full bladder again, but Julie said that sometimes what looks like a full bladder is actually an ovarian cyst. That kind of made me nervous, but she said that they disappear after the baby is born, as it's usually caused by hormones from the mother. She turned on the Doppler, and said a vein and an artery going around the "blob," and confirmed that it was indeed her bladder, not a cyst.

She took a couple pictures of her with the 2D ultrasound.

Our little girl had her face pretty well hidden in there, but I asked Julie if it would still be possible to get a decent 3D of her. She pulled out the other wand, and was able to get half of her face, after she "cleaned it up" a bit. (They can rotate the picture around and crop out "noise" around her, like umbilical cords and what-not.) Adam thinks she has hair on top of her head, but I don't think she has nearly the hair that her big sister had. I think she might just have some "peach fuzz" on her head. I guess we'll find out soon!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

There's one more angel in heaven...

...there's one more star in the sky...
          ~Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Adam's mom, Beth,
at our wedding in 2009
On Sunday morning, July 17, Adam and I went to church. I had made pasta salad to bring to a gathering at one of my old co-workers from Saint Bernard's house. We were going to swing by home, change into "cooler" clothes (since it was so blasted hot and humid), grab the pasta salad, and head out. But towards the end of mass, Adam got a phone call from his sister. During the recessional song, Adam walked out of church to check his voice mail from her. His mother had been battling cancer for a while, and we knew she wasn't in the greatest of shape. His sister had been keeping us informed and updated on messages from their dad. For some reason, call it a gut feeling or mother's intuition, I knew it wasn't a good phone call.

I stayed in church while the song finished, and chatted briefly with the two families that were sitting in front of us. (I knew one from Boy Scouts, and the other was the kids' cousins, whom lived down the street from us growing up, and I used to babysit). The mother from the Scout troop told me that Adam had a beautiful singing voice. I chuckled and said, "I know, sometimes I am ashamed to sing next to him!" They asked when the baby was due and congratulated us (again, I'm sure). Then I quickly looked for Adam and headed out of church.

He was already outside, and said that his sister, Jacque, had said that his mother, Beth, was back in the hospital (which we had already known), and wasn't looking good. Jacque said that they should all get to the hospital. I was fine heading out there with Adam to be with him and the family, but he insisted that I go to the picnic and have fun. So when we got home, we headed out in two different directions. Adam packed up my laptop in hopes that he would be able to work on his history final that was due on Monday. I told him, depending on how things were going there, I would come out later with food for dinner for all of them.

At the picnic, all of my old co-workers (many of whom had also been Adam's and my teachers in high school) asked where he was and how he was doing. I explained that his mom was battling cancer, and was in the hospital, not looking good. When I was getting ready to leave, I mentioned that I was going to head to the hospital, and bring them some food. Diane offered to pack up some food for us, so sent me with pasta salad and cherries for them.

I called mom on my way home, and she said she would pick me up, stop by Cub to grab some chicken from the deli, and bring me to the hospital. While we were there, Adam called to update me. He said that the nurse had come in and talked to them. She had said that she thought that Beth would pass on tonight. Remembering how long my grandma hung on for, I thought we might be there for a while longer than what the nurse had mentioned. I grabbed a couple more things from home for us, and we headed out.

Adam met me at the door and helped me carry up the food to the family waiting room. Then we went to Beth's room. Jacque was sitting on one side of her, holding her hand, while Mike, Adam's dad, was on the other. She was still relatively aware, but the drugs they had her on, made her process things a little slower.

Throughout the evening and into the night, we came and went from her room to the family waiting room. At one point, the Catholic priest came to give Beth the sacrament of anointing of the sick. While we were all gathered around, she looked at me and made a spinning motion with her finger. I turned to the side, so she could see my baby bump, and she gave a small nod. The priest gave her the sacrament, while we were all gathered around.

Just before midnight, some of us were in the family waiting room, when Jon came in and said that her heart rate was around 30, and we should all come. We all went down the hall, me walking slower than everyone else, waddling, trying to keep up. We all stood around her (minus me, I was sitting in a chair, not feeling well, just behind my husband), while she took her last few breaths. Jon, Adam's oldest brother, started praying and everyone joined him.

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. 

Other than tears, sniffles, and the passing of the tissue box, the room was quite. Soon her nurse, Amy, who was actually done with her shift, came in to let us know that they no longer had a heartbeat appearing on her screen anymore. She asked if we would like her to pray with us, and she said a short prayer, thanking God for the time we did have with her.

A couple people, started sharing memories of her, bring more tears, but also some laughs were choked out between the eye wiping. Slowly we trickled out of her room, and went into the waiting room again, where we waited for Mike, Adam's dad, to come in. We packed up our things, and when Mike came in made plans to gather the next day for breakfast to begin planning Beth's service.

Tired and exhausted, physically and emotionally, we all went home to try to get what sleep we could.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Comforting My Baby

Adam downloaded and installed Windows 7 for me a while ago. I think it was a birthday or Christmas present. At any rate, it has one pretty cool feature where you can have a rotating desktop background. You select the pictures that you want it to flip through, and then every 5, 10, or 15 minutes it will change the picture. We both, of course, have pictures of our beautiful baby girl, Danni, that rotate though our computer backgrounds. 

Most of the time I have windows open on my computer and can't really see the pictures. One in a while I see the edge of a picture and it catches my eye, so I minimize my window and see our daughter. Sometimes I smile. Sometimes I just stare and miss her. Sometimes it brings back a memory. Sometimes I talk to Adam about her. But these four photos...

... have recently brought up a new feeling. I used to see them and love how alive and well she looked. (Nothing tells you more "I'm here, I'm alive, and I want attention," more than a crying baby.) They would make me smile at the thought. But recently, I see these pictures pop up on the computer, and I want nothing more than to pick up my baby girl and comfort and sooth her, let her know her mommy's here, and everything is okay. But when these pictures were taken, I was in the recovery room, while Adam was standing over her (taking the pictures to show me). He couldn't pick her up and comfort her, because they were testing her, checking her, getting her hooked up to countless machines, etc. So all he could really do was watch her.

It does make me feel a little bit better knowing that she might have just been crying to hear the sounds she could make, as Adam said she only cried for a minute or so, and then was perfectly content again.

I think it helps too, to know that she is in heaven, and not in any pain. No nurses are working on her. No one is poking her with needles. She's not hooked up to monitors with alarms going off. I'm sure she's made lots of friends in heaven (we've met lots of their parents, and they are wonderful people!). I know she is very happy, smiling down on us, and waiting for us to meet her little sister, knowing that this little baby has brought so much hope into our lives again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back to Perinatal... (& Comprehensive)

Today was full of baby appointments, and since it is my mom's birthday (and she has off work, and she really really wanted to see her granddaughter) I had her come along instead of Adam. At my last appointment, two weeks ago, I was measuring a little small, so they ordered a growth ultrasound to make sure everything was okay with the baby, and I had asked to be able to go back to MN Perinatal.

All last week when I would worry about it, I kept thinking that her amniotic fluid levels were low. It made sense to me, because I felt like I could feel her moving a lot more than I could with Danielle, so I figured there was less room for her to swim around in without hitting me. Without having any fundal height measurements from Danni, I really have nothing to go by for a comparison.

When we got to Perinatal, Wendy, the receptionist, wasn't there, and the past couple times I've called, I've gotten someone else as well. So I asked the receptionist if she was still working there. I guess she's just on vacation this week, and there's another receptionist that has been working sometimes too. We waited a couple minutes and soon Kristen, an ultrasound tech that I've never met, called me back. (Kristen doesn't normally work at the Woodbury clinic, and was hired on towards the end of my pregnancy with Danielle.)

She asked lots of questions about the pregnancy, ones that I'm guessing Krista (my favorite tech) wouldn't have had to ask, since she knows the answer to most of them. Then she got to scanning. Baby was head down with her butt up in my stomach (as always! UGH!), and her legs stretched straight across with her feet into my side. Her face was kind of buried and hidden, so she couldn't really get any 3D's done, but she got a 2D done of her looking straight at us.

She measured everything she needed to measure for the growth, and gave her all 8 points for the biophysical profile (BPP). She checked her heart rate; it was 141 bpm. I asked if she could see if she had any hair (you could see lots of hair on Danni's head at her 29 week ultrasound), but she didn't really have any. At the end of the scan at 34 weeks and 2 days, she said she weighted 4 pounds 14 ounces (Danni measured 5 pound at 33 weeks, just for comparison's sake), putting her at 33 weeks and 3 days. So, pretty much right on track. Kristen said she would give the information to Dr. Mills and that she would be in shortly.

While we were waiting for Dr. Mills to come in, Joan, the genetic counselor, stopped in to see us. We talked about the baby a little and how I might be able to be a stay at home mom. She told us her youngest just finished with daycare and started going to school this past year. When she got the final statement from the non-profit church daycare that the total she had paid was $50,000. We talked about how much money it saves being able to stay home with your kids.

Soon Dr. Mills came in the room, and Joan left. (Let me tell you first off, Dr. Mills is much better at letting you know something is wrong than Dr. Danilenko, "the scary doctor.") She introduced herself and came in the room. Then, she told us that baby girl is growing well, and is pretty much right on track, and that she passed the BPP just fine. (She told us all the things that were right with her.) Then she said that her amniotic fluid was just slightly low. I guess 8.0 to 24.8 cm is normal, and baby has 7.9 cm. (Call it a mother's intuition!)

(As a math teacher, it bothers me that a fluid level is measured in a length, and not a volume, like cubic centimeters. But, they only measure lengths of fluid pockets, so I guess that part makes sense. Like I told Krista once with Danni, it should at least be measured as an area. Anyway, enough on that rant...)

Dr. Mills took a look at her, and said just by looking without measuring, her fluid did look on the low end, but she had a pretty full bladder, and if she peed, it would put her into the "normal" range, but still on the low end of normal. She said that she could partly blame it on the summer heat, and that I should be drinking more fluids, but said that the doctors should be watching it also.

Before she left, she asked if we had any questions. I did; I wanted to know if what my doula, Ashley, she agreed with. Ashley said that they got a more accurate size of the baby by palpitations than by ultrasound. She smiled and said there was a report in some journal (she said the name, but I don't remember) about that very thing. She said that doctors, with experience, can more accurately tell the weight of a baby than ultrasounds. The thing with ultrasounds is that they measure the bone lengths in several places, and then the circumference of the abdominal cavity, but they don't take into affect the chubby little legs and arms and cheeks... She went on for a little bit about it, and I found it quite interesting. She seemed to be an "old-fashion" doctor, and said a lot of doctors now-a-days just depend on ultrasound, and the practice has kind of gone to the wayside.

Before we headed to Comprehensive, I asked for a copy of the record, because I figured they wouldn't have it in 20 minutes when my appointment was. Then off we went.

At Comprehensive, we met with Aimee Neumann, the nurse practitioner. I gave her the report and she looked it over. She measured my fundal height at 31 cm. I should be at 34 cm this week, but she said that I had grown so that was good. But she wanted to get another ultrasound done next week. I asked to go back to Perinatal again and she was fine with that. She listened to the heart rate and said it was between 130 and 140 bpm. Before she sent us on our way, she gave me my next Pampered Pregnancy gift: bath salts!

Before we left the clinic, I made the rest of my appointments. Then mom and I headed out shopping and for lunch. We went to Panera Bread, right next to Perinatal (which is where mom took me after our first ultrasound with Danni), and saw Joan getting lunch there as well.

And now for your viewing pleasure... here is me at 34 weeks and 2 days pregnant with our baby girl!