Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last day of being pregnant...

Sitting here on the eve of a very big day. Tomorrow is October 20, 2014 - my daughter’s birthday. I am really scared, anxious and emotional, but doing my best to keep it below the surface for the benefit of those around me, as well as myself. This natural childbirth mama is being arm-wrestled into a cesarean, and none of it sounds good to me. It is silly really. I am letting my fears get the best of me, and I know that I have it in me to be tougher than this. I have been through so much worse after all. Perhaps this is the last vestiges of (and I hate to say this) natural childbirth world brain washing that has painted this way of having babies with such an ugly viewpoint. But I have no choice. My placenta has moved sorta kinda out of the way, but there are some big blood vessels that it left behind that would likely cause me to have a major bleed. If I lived in another time and place where modern medicine were not available, I would likely die. Maybe Katie too. And I am not being dramatic about it. Placenta previa is serious business and not worth risking, when we have other alternatives that take those risks out of the picture. So, I understand why I have to do this, and I say “hell yes” to it, though that doesn’t mean I am not scared.

I am scared about it hurting. I am scared about my recovery afterwards. It has been five years since my arms last held Noah, and man, it doesn’t matter that I have been through hours and hours of counseling and grief groups that have made it possible for me to function and go on. The simple fact is that brand new babies scare the bejesus out of me.  I absolutely hate that I will be forced to care for myself just as much if not more so than my brand new baby who is so fragile and new.  She needs me. I need her. What makes me feel safe is micromanaging everything to do with her until she feels sturdy enough to start to be independent in various ways. So how is this going to be? She will be a month early, so add that to my pile of worries. I worry about her being fragile enough that the NICU whisks her away where I can’t get to her, because I am tethered to equipment that monitors me and keeps me safe. I am scared she will be strong enough to be with me, and away from the tight monitoring that the NICU has to offer keeping her safe, because can I do as good of a job when I don’t feel 100%?

I know that as tough as all this is that it is so worth it. I look at my sweet four year old Aaron, and how amazing he is, and as scary as his early days were (and his were scary – we had him so close after Noah), that getting through this fragile stage of life is worth it. Being his mom is so awesome. He says and does new things all the time as he learns and grows, and it is such a joy to watch. The last four years have gone by so stinking fast, and I know it will with Katie too. I am glad that these phases with him are not the last time I will experience them ever – I get to do it all over again with another kiddo. It is just worrisome looking at the immediate days ahead.

Managing a complicated pregnancy has been tough too. This has been my hardest one to get through. I think I still consider myself to be someone who loves to be pregnant - my previous two were awesome - but man, I really get how some women have it  easy, and some just don’t , and how that can really color your experience overall. I have felt like a ticking time bomb, waiting to see if I would have a serious bleed, as is so common with placenta previa. I have gotten so lucky. Thank you God. Thank you Noah. Thanks for keeping Katie and me safe!  I follow a placenta previa mom’s board on facebook, which has been so helpful – hard to read at times – but the support and understanding of those in a similar spot has been amazing. I shared with them how hard it has been to remember to be excited about what is coming. Everything with this pregnancy has been about dealing with the “right now” rather than the “what is to come.” Doctor’s appointments, modified rest schedules, preparing for worst case scenario, etc. It really hampers your ability to connect and bond with your baby, being stuck in fear and discomfort and limitations. The courageous placenta previa moms I have met remind me that really, I am setting myself up for an even bigger surprise once she is out and I get to hold her for the first time. I remember that. I remember with each of my awesome boys that incredible moment when all the madness of childbirth has died down and gone away and life is quiet and it is just us alone finally how completely and deeply I fell in love with each of them in such a unique way that I had never experienced before. I can so easily mark the best days of my life: the day I married Chris, the day I had Noah and the day I had Aaron. No matter what I do, Katie’s birth day will be on that list too, so I need to just not worry.

Experienced moms that are done having their kids all say that this phase of life fades away and life becomes about raising and caring for their children. I am ready to leave this phase of having babies behind. We had a missing spot where another child belonged. Here comes Katie to fill it, and I am done. Time to move on to the next phase of life and I am ready for it. Time to love and appreciate my family – all five of us – and watch how my children make their own unique mark on the world as they grow. I can’t wait. So Katie, goodnight sweet girl. I will see you in the morning on the next best day of my life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hellooooo 3rd Trimester! (28 weeks)

Kind of dumbfounded over here. Dealing with having complete placenta previa has been stressful, frustrating and scary. There are a lot of secondary complications that go along with it that scared the bejesus out of me, but we were able to rule that out at the previous doctor’s visit. It’s frustrating at how little I can do. I am someone who enjoys being independent and able-bodied, and to lose that just plain sucks. I feel guilty asking people to do things for me. I worry about over-stressing Chris out with always asking for help for the things that I want and need. He has been a great sport about it, but still… Any way you slice it, complications in pregnancy are just no fun.

Now for the dumbfounded part. I had a doctor’s visit today, where I had the whole nine yards with an ultrasound and everything. The surprising part of it is that I was told repeatedly that with a complete placenta previa, the chances of my placenta moving up and out of the way were between slim and none. Well, mine moved! Significantly!! It is now considered a marginal placenta previa, and really barely marginal at that. That means that the placenta is touching my cervix, but is no longer covering it. Katie’s way out of my body has been cleared. Chances of me needing a c-section have been significantly reduced. What the?!! I am so grateful for this news. Shocked by it really. And wrapping my head around a new reality. My doctor said that this is definitely an exercise in my ability to be flexible, both physically and emotionally. She has that right.

We have to just wait and see what happens from here. The baby’s head could come down and compress that bit of placenta and either move it out of the way, or leave it still partially in the way. There is a large vein right there at the edge that could be problematic. We likely won‘t know how it all shakes out until either more  time passes, allowing for more change, or at the latest of course, when I am in the delivery room.

Here’s the tricky bit for me. I am a natural childbirth mom. Doing a large physical activity like giving birth, I don’t like having tubes, wires and medicine that numbs me out interfering with what I am trying to do. I like to be in control of what is going on with my body, and I have learned how to manage it well from having my boys. Since we don’t 100% know what we are looking at with this new scenario, if nothing changes between now and when I deliver, most likely, they would choose a date to induce me, and have me hooked up to an epidural so that in a moment’s notice, they can wheel me off to the operating room for an emergency c-section if things get scary. I realize most moms would look at me and tell me I am crazy for not wanting the usual route of giving birth with all the drugs, but hey, it’s just how I do it, and lordy, I am having a hard time accepting this part of it. BUT, I sure am relieved I may get to avoid major surgery. I just need to figure this out.

I spent a few days feeling really down over the mediated birth part (that’s right…go ahead and look at me like I am crazy). I don’t like not being in control, and this is a situation where someone else is taking major control of me, so I think that is really the crux of it. But then, it hit me. Power of positive thinking. If I expect this to be a painful and terrible experience, being in an environment that I am not knowledgeable on or comfortable with, then that is exactly what I will find. If I get my act together and just plan for a vaginal birth – however it happens – and watch my attitude going into it, then it will be a better experience overall. I dug up my childbirth books that were my epidural through having my two boys, and am starting to go through it, taking lightly the parts that caution against the drugs since I may not have a choice, and just pushing ahead. I want the day that I look my daughter in the eyes for the first time to be a great day. It is up to me to make it that way.

She is head down like she is supposed to be, moving plenty, and measuring right where she should be. She looked great. She looked like her brothers did. And, again, those long legs were all kicked out straight over her head.

I still am at risk of having a bleed and need to take it easy. Again with the natural childbirth stuff, usually it is something I train for. Meaning, I do prenatal yoga, walk lots, there are particular stretches that help, and practice relaxation techniques with Chris. I was cleared for none of the exercise stuff so that is out. This will really be a tricky birth to prepare for.

In the midst of all of this, I was just smiling to myself, driving into work today. My most favorite days of my life are easy to list out: the day I married Chris, the day I had Noah, and the day I had Aaron. The day I get to hold Katie in my arms for the first time ever will surely make the list no matter what happens, and I am excited to have a “best day of my life” ahead of me.

Friday, July 18, 2014

23 Week – Ultrasound and Doctor’s Visit

I had a monthly visit to the doctor to measure the baby, check the position of my placenta and check in with the doctor.

I had read enough stuff online beforehand to scare anyone half to death, so I had a mountain of questions that I ran through, and walked away feeling a lot better.

First of all, the baby is measuring straight on with where she should be. She is one pound, two ounces, which is great. She is sitting breech at this point, which is not that big of a deal since we are doing a C-section anyways.

My placenta is sitting posterior, or laying towards my back, but is still covering my cervix 100%. C-section is still the plan as a result. It isn’t a central previa, meaning it isn’t sitting squarely in the middle down low. A big flap of it is covering my cervix rather than the whole thing, so there is a slim chance my placenta will move. Likely not, but will take the small chance.

I asked about what’s called “placenta acreta” where the placenta is attached in a difficult spot down low. It makes for a more invasive c-section, where a hysterectomy may be needed. I don’t have it and am not at risk for it. They look for it mostly in moms that have had prior c-sections or uterine surgeries, which I have had neither. Yay for my previous natural childbirth’s!

Because my placenta is posterior, it means that I am likely to have a normal c-section with a horizontal incision. Sometimes they have to do the incision in a different way to avoid cutting into the placenta, so that was a relief to hear.

By in large, a lot of the secondary complications I was afraid of and heard horror stories about will likely not apply to me. I would sure like to do this with a regular c-section, and end up with a baby at a good healthy weight. Right now that is looking possible. Yay!

I go back in another month to check my progress again. Fingers crossed it is more of the same sort of news!

Friday, July 11, 2014

22 Weeks

Well, shoot. I am so overdue on writing about my sweet girl. I have two beautifully blogged pregnancies in the books for my two boys, and finally, here I am at baby #3, and finding myself with limited time chasing after Aaron, and working full-time. Being the youngest in my own family I know what it is to have maybe not-so-complete things from childhood because of this phenomenon (though, my mom is pretty awesome, and I do have pictures and such, so it isn’t like I have nothing from childhood.)

Part of why I haven’t written as well is that this pregnancy has been by far my most difficult.  My posts about Noah and Aaron are more flowery and up-beat, whereas I have to be honest and say that I keep trying to write posts, and then feel bad because I am basically sitting here complaining a whole lot. I don’t want to be inauthentic in what this experience is like. And want to be very clear in stating that no matter what I feel physically, or the emotional toll of what I am facing, I am so over the top stinking excited about this girl. I cannot wait to look into her eyes, snuggle her, play with her, and take care of her. She is a dream come true for me, and I am over the moon excited to have her part of our family.

So, what’s been going on?

First trimester was rough. Really rough. I threw up a lot. I had morning sickness with the boys, but it was manageable. It was more of a blood sugar thing for me. As long as I gorged myself on food, I was ok and could get through. I had snacks stashed everywhere. Next to the bed, in the bathroom for middle of the night pee-breaks (which Chris thought was so gross), in my car, in my desk at work, you get the idea. I was constantly eating. I was picky too…I ate only what was so good to me that I couldn’t turn it down. All of that was more or less true with this pregnancy, but man, I would find a favorite thing, and it would work for a few days until I threw it up, and then was on to trying to find the next thing. And, once I started throwing up, I couldn’t stop. One night I threw up eight times in a row before finally just going to sleep. Seriously. Chris was out of town for work, and I was trying to take care of Aaron who was really taking care of me, truth be told, as a 3 year old. Guilty, guilty, guilty… He was right there next to me as I threw up, saying in his little boy voice “you got it all up Mom?” I finally had to call my sister-in-law to take him so I could just go pass out. It was bad. The good news is that they have much better drugs for morning sickness than what they had a few years ago when I was last pregnant. Being a natural childbirth (and natural pregnancy for that matter) mom, it killed me to take the drugs, but I seriously had no other choice. Finally, by 17-18 weeks or so it passed. I am still really picky about food, but I have more choices, and I haven’t thrown up in a few weeks, which is a huge relief.

Once that passed, I found myself at work one day, just having an ordinary day. I went to use the restroom, wiped when I was finished, and found blood. FREAK OUT. I have friends that have had that happen and it was no big deal, so I tried to keep it together. I called my doctor. I am kind of annoyed at how that works. You don’t get a live person to talk to – you have to leave a message and wait for them to call you back. Meanwhile, I am freaking out while I wait. I gave it like five minutes before calling back and telling the receptionist that I am coming down, and someone had better be able to check me out! I high-tailed it to the doctor, where they did get me in. They did an ultrasound, and it revealed a tricky complication called “placenta previa.” Basically, the placenta is a pancake shaped organ that resides in the uterus with the baby. The baby is connected to it via the umbilical cord. The placenta filters blood and nutrients to the baby. It is supposed to be located close to the top of the uterus. Mine is stuffed down at the bottom, completely covering the cervix, or the baby’s way out.

Here’s what it looks like. I am the one called “complete placenta previa,” which unfortunately is the worst one:

This means a number of things:
  1. I will have to have a c-section early. I am not allowed to have any labor symptoms at all. They want to take the baby early, around 36-37 weeks to be sure I don’t have any contractions.
  2. Having this organ located next to an opening of my body, I am at risk of bleeding, and even hemorrhaging. Because of that I have to rest, rest, rest. I am not officially on bed rest, but when I get to third trimester, depending on how things are going, that might be part of the deal.
  3. Delivery is super risky, even with a c-section. Depending on the anatomy of where everything is, I could need blood transfusions or a hysterectomy. Seriously. I could bleed out and thus the blood transfusions, and if they can’t get the bleeding to stop, they will just yank my plumbing. Or as Chris says, gut me like a fish! It is pretty scary.
  4. Baby girl’s growth could be at risk. Depending on how my placenta is stuffed in there, it could mean that she isn’t getting the blood and nutrients she needs. If that’s the case, she will be delivered as soon as it is safe to do so. Or, if I hemorrhage and they can’t stop it, I could deliver her super early then as well. We will just have to see.
  5. I get one free pass if I have a serious bleed (which the other day was pretty minor thank God). Meaning, if I bleed, I will go to the hospital and they will try to stop it. Then, they will send me home to start bed rest. If I bleed again, I will be on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy from the hospital.

So, I have to rest, and will have tons of doctor’s appointments to check my progress and the baby’s progress as well. There will be lots of ultrasounds to check the placenta’s position, and to measure baby’s growth. It will inform what we do.

For now I am feeling very carpe diem over the freedom that I do have. I am enjoying being at work, or going to a store (even though I have to ride the lame motorized wheelchair things now! Sigh…) Being tired from having another kiddo, it is easy to think at times “man, bed-rest would be awesome,” but I think it would only be fun for a day or so before I got so stinking bored and lonely. I am trying to just face it for what it is and deal with it. My work is cool with me working from home when I get to that point, which is great. I will do better if I can use my brain to do something each day, even if it is from my bed.

It is uncomfortable too. I have felt pressure down low from the beginning, and even had days before I knew about all this where I would lay on my back and stick some pillows under my hips to try to encourage everything to move up. It didn’t work. Well no wonder! I had all this going on! For those that have been pregnant before: you know how at the end of the pregnancy, where the baby moves down into your pelvis and there is just pressure down there until you deliver? That is what it feels like all the time. Sucks. It isn’t painful, just kind of uncomfortable.

On the plus side, at about 18-19 weeks or so, suddenly I could feel her move! She is an active little girl, mostly in the evenings and night time when I am laying down and life is quiet. I just love that feeling. Both Chris and Aaron have felt her now which is so fun. Aaron LOVES to feel his sister move. He is such a cutie about his baby sister, and loves to talk about her. My only regret is that he gets confused between her and Noah. He sees pictures of babies, or we talk about babies with him, and previously we were talking about Noah. Now we explain again and again that he has a brother AND a sister. I have to keep reminding myself that this will all straighten itself out, and he will know his siblings apart. He really does understand though, that he is getting a sibling. He has friends at school that have had other siblings, and he had asked us if he was going to have a brother or sister. It is great for him to have this experience. Lord knows how he will feel about it once she is actually here. It has already been tough at times with him starting to get a feel of what life is like when you are not the main focus of the house, which has resulted in some interesting behavior patterns. That is all natural I suppose, and I am fortunate that he is a little older doing this. You can reason with him a little more than if we did this when he was a 2 year old. We will just see how it goes!

We have also picked her name! This was a tough one to decide on. Problem was that my mom picked out a name that I really liked at first, and so did everyone else. But, when push came to shove, I found that I didn’t feel right calling her by this name. The name she almost got was: Lydia, and we would have called her Lydie. So, we went a different direction. I have always loved the name Katherine. Seems like every Katherine I know also loves her name. Fortunately, Chris liked it a lot too, and lo and behold, we have her name:

Katherine Jean Wilkerson
She will go by “Katie.” Her full name means “pure gift from God,” which we absolutely agree with. The “Jean” part is special to us because Chris had a really great relationship with his Grandma Jean. She passed away years ago, so unfortunately Katie won’t know her, but we will tell her what an elegant lady Grandma Jean was, and how she was always there to take care of and love on Chris.

Finally, we are moving! After my dad died last summer, we’ve been talking with my mom about how we can re-arrange life to make it fun and more inclusive of her in our family culture. We would like to move to something bigger, and to have her close by where kids can ride bikes to her house. We thought it would be great to end up in the same neighborhood, where she can be with us when she wants, but also enjoy some quiet freedom from our chaos with small children! Through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, we sold our house through a crazy series of events, and have found a big beautiful newer house! Moving is so stressful. These big purchases and sales are hard. And, I can’t do anything with my tough pregnancy situation, so this is a tricky transition to work through. Please pray for us. In the end, I think it will be amazing once we are done with all this!

So, I will try to do a better job here, blogging about my Katie. She deserves to have her story documented just like her big brothers were. I just need to stop feeling weird about posting the good, the bad and the ugly of how this is going. It just is what it is, and as I said before, no matter how this situation plays out, I am so very excited about this girl. Can’t wait to meet her face to face for real! We love her and need her in our family!