Sunday, October 2, 2016

34 weeks - A Birth Story

I sincerely apologize for the lack of updates.  I've been a little busy!

My mom arrived from the Frozen Tundra on Monday, March 28.  She wanted to see my baby belly and help me finish getting the baby's room ready.  We had a lot planned for her visit - wash tiny laundry, breakfast with Jack Hanna at Busch Gardens, a beer-and-burgers themed baby shower and maternity photos.  But you know what they say about best laid plans.....

On Tuesday, March 29 I had my 34 week appointment as well as my non-stress testing.  The doctor surprised us with a quick ultrasound so Mom was able to get a look at her grandbaby.  She also sat with me during my non-stress test and heard the heartbeat.  Nothing looked unusual so we went home and had a quiet evening watching tv and feeling the baby move.  I knew I was having contractions because I could feel my belly getting tight but they didn't hurt at all so I didn't think much of it.  They were not coming in any sort of pattern so I didn't bother timing them.  I had a bowl of cereal around 9:30 pm and went to bed.  I got up to use the bathroom around 1 am and felt fine.

At 3 am on Wednesday, March 30, I woke up with the strangest feeling, like either I was about to wet the bed or my water was about to break.  I flew up out of bed and as soon as my feet hit the floor - GUSH - my water broke.  For a second, I stood there like a statue, not knowing what to do.  I reached across the bed to wake up Kyle.  By some miracle, he'd heard it happen - he's usually a very deep sleeper.  I told him I thought my water broke.  At that point, we hadn't packed our hospital bags but I had picked up some travel size toiletries at Target so I grabbed those out of my closet while he grabbed his duffel bag.  As soon as he set the bag on the bed, Delilah jumped in it.  Sorry, cat - you're not coming.  I hobbled into the bathroom and tried to clean myself up as best I could.  I threw some stuff into the duffel bag while Kyle went to wake up my mom and tell her what was going on.  She came out into the hall and asked if I wanted her to come with us.  I replied, "Are you really going to be able to go back to sleep?"  We were out the door by 3:30 am and I could feel the contractions coming.  From the car, I called the surgeon to let her know we were on the way to the hospital in case they decided I needed a c-section.  I also called the labor and delivery department because I wasn't sure where to go.  We were supposed to do our birth class the coming weekend.  The nurse told me to skip the ER and come straight to labor and delivery.  I told her I didn't know where that was - I'd never been in that part of the hospital before.  She told me to just take the elevator to the second floor and follow the signs.  The good thing about having my water break in the middle of the night was there was no traffic on I-64! 

We got to Langley around 4 am and went straight upstairs.  They did a test to see if my water had broken - what else could it have been? - and got me into a room.  Kyle and my mom sat with me while the nurses got me settled.  For some reason, they had a hard time getting an iv started.  I've never had that happen before.  I was feeling the contractions regularly and they didn't feel good.  I wanted my epidural ASAP.  The anesthesiologist started an iv in my arm and then did my epidural.  I was prepared for it to hurt a lot worse - it really wasn't bad.  The nurses were impressed that I didn't even flinch!  I believe that was around 8 am.  The nurses came in to check my blood sugar every hour so I was able to kind of keep track of time.  By some miracle - the second of the day - one of my favorite OB's was on that day.  I was so happy to see Dr. W.  Things got a little weird that morning, and I don't remember if it was before or after I got the epidural.  I think it was after.  All of a sudden, I felt horribly nauseated.  I was positive I was about to throw up, but I never did.  Then I started running a low-grade fever, so the nurses were putting cold packs all over me to bring it down.  I was able to close my eyes and rest, but I didn't sleep.  I sent my parents out at lunchtime.  Although I couldn't eat, I didn't want them to starve.  Sometime after lunch, I think it was after 1 pm, my progression stalled.  I was dilated to a 5-6.  I'd heard horror stories about Pitocin and had hoped to avoid it but Dr. W. thought it was the best thing to help me along.  Once the Pitocin started, my contractions came harder and faster.  Throughout the day, the anesthesiologist had to come back twice to add more juice to my epidural.  My hat is off to all the mamas who deliver babies drug-free.  No thank you! 

My memory gets a little foggy around dinner time.  I assume I sent my mom and Kyle out to get something to eat again.  For whatever reason, the nurses stopped checking my blood sugar so I lost all track of time.  By now it had been more than 12 hours since my water broke.  My understanding was that after the 12 hour mark, the chances of infection increase and we might have to talk about doing a c-section.  Dr. W. explained that we had more like 15-18 hours.  All along, our goal had been to avoid a c-section if at all possible.  Because of the baby's head down position and small size, he felt confident that I'd be able to deliver vaginally.  At some point during the day, the neonatologist came in to talk to us about having a premature baby.  Dr. S. was wonderful and I'm so thankful he was there that day.  He told us his daughter had also been born at 34 weeks and she grew to be a normal, healthy kid.  I have a friend and a cousin who delivered premature babies, so I knew a little about the process.  I knew our baby would be spending some time in the NICU.  I think that if I'd been a little more with it, I'd have been more upset about that.  But I was so tired at that point, I just wanted to be done. 

I'm not sure what time it was that I started pushing.  I think it was between 6-7 pm.  I know it was getting dark out.  We'd seen the sun rise and set at Langley.  My room faced the runway and we'd been able to watch the jets take off and land all day.  I wished my dad and our nephew had been there to see it, they both would have enjoyed that.  Various nurses, midwives and Dr. W. all came in and out of my room while I pushed.  Mom and Kyle took turns holding my legs.  We tried all sorts of tricks, but our stubborn baby didn't want to come out.  I kept telling everyone I felt like I was doing it wrong, or it wasn't working.  Baby was originally in the preferred face-up position, but at some point flipped to face-down.  Each time I had a contraction and pushed, they were reached in and tried to turn the baby right-side-up again.  This went on for what felt like FOREVER.  I didn't cry but I whined a lot.  I just wanted it to be over.  I think it was around 10 pm that Dr. W. and my other favorite OB, Dr. G., came in to talk to us about the possibility of using the forceps to deliver the baby, or doing a c-section.  We were running out of time.  I really didn't know anything about a forceps delivery and I just wanted to be done.  I looked at Kyle and asked if we could please just go to the OR for a c-section.  He reminded me that we'd been hoping to avoid a c-section.  Dr. W. explained that he'd have me push through one contraction with the forceps and if it didn't work, we'd do the c-section.  One way or another, we were about to meet our baby. 

Once we made the decision to try the forceps, my room became like a clown car.  People just kept coming in.  I'm not sure how many nurses and midwives were in the room, it felt like about 20.  Dr. W. and Dr. G. were both suiting up in their protective gear.  The NICU team came in, which seemed like another 10 people in the room.  But I couldn't have cared less.  I just wanted that baby out.  As I said before, I'm sure if I'd been more coherent, I would have been more upset.  But I was so tired and I just wanted the experience to be over.  Because I had my legs up with my feet in the stirrups and a sheet draped over, I couldn't see everything that was going on.  That was probably a good thing.  It sure didn't feel good.  At that point, the epidural had pretty much worn off and the baby was so low that I felt everything anyway.  I pushed, Dr. W. pulled and all of a sudden, we had a baby!

Andrew Wesley Weitzell was born at 11:02 pm on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, the third miracle of the day.  He weighed 4 pounds, 14 ounces and measured 18 3/4 inches long.  It had been about 20 hours since my water broke and about 4 hours since I started pushing.  I was so relieved to be done, it didn't even register with me how serious the situation was.  Kyle called out, "It's Andrew!  It's a boy!"  I wasn't sure I heard him right and I asked, "It's a boy?"  I didn't find out until after the fact that as soon as they pulled him out, he started peeing everywhere.  And to be perfectly honest, he didn't look good.  They didn't even hold him up for me to see.  He was so tiny and so blue.  The NICU team took him to the warmer and started working on him.  Later, my mom told me that he wasn't breathing and they had to bag him.  His initial Apgar score was 2 out of 10.  Once they got him cleaned up and breathing, the nurses wrapped him up in blankets and put a hat on his tiny head.  One of the NICU nurses, Jackie, brought him over to my bedside so I could see him.  He let out a tiny cry and I kissed him and told him everything would be ok, Mama was here.  And then they whisked him away to the NICU.  Kyle and I had never actually written out a birth plan, but we had ideas of what we wanted.  We hoped to delay cord clamping, do skin-to-skin right away and take advantage of the "Golden Hour," in hopes that our baby would attempt to nurse.  All of that went out the window.  Other than getting my epidural, nothing went as we'd hoped. 

As quickly as my room filled up with people, it emptied out.  My mom and Kyle both went out in the hall to call our family.  Dr. W. finished stitching me up.  The remaining nurse helped me get cleaned up.  I started shaking pretty badly, I'm guessing a combination of being extremely hungry and all the hormones surging through my body.  The nurse helped me into the bathroom, and I didn't so much walk, I shuffled.  I felt like my grandmother.  Kyle and my mom left to go home, and though Kyle told me he was going to come back, I told him that I didn't think it was a good idea and he should just stay home and get some sleep.  Once they got to our house, he sent me a text saying he was going to stay home.  I was happy with that decision.  The nurse gathered up my things and I was moved to a different room across the hall.  I was starving, so she scrounged up some graham crackers and chocolate pudding for me.  It had been more than 24 hours since I'd eaten anything, and weeks since I'd had any sweets.  It was delicious!  I think it was after 3 am that I was finally able to settle down and get some sleep. 

Our sweet boy ended up spending 2 weeks in the NICU before we were able to bring him home.  That is a post for another time.  Once I figure out how to add pictures, I'll share some of those as well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

32 weeks

Last week was a busy week for Baby and me!  On Monday, I met with a general surgeon at Langley to make a plan in case I have to have a c-section.  I was a little apprehensive, as surgeons can sometimes be a different breed, but she was SO NICE.  Because I have a pretty sizable vertical incision from having my large intestine removed, I am not a good candidate for the traditional bikini, or horizontal incision.  She agreed with what Dr. W told me many months ago, that in case of a c-section they would follow my vertical incision.  She gave me her card with her cell phone number on it and told me to call her any time, even if I just have a question.  If it looks like I will end up needing a c-section, which we are hoping to avoid, she will be there to do the outer incision.  The OB would make the incision into the uterus, get the baby out and close up the uterus.  She would then close up the outer incision.  I feel so much better now that I've met her and we have a plan in place.

On Tuesday and again on Friday I was back at Langley for non-stress testing.  Advanced maternal age, Crohn's disease and gestational diabetes all make me high risk so I will be monitored twice a week until I deliver, just to make sure everything is ok.  Basically I sit in a chair for 20 minutes or so with monitors on my belly.  One looks at my uterus, in case of contractions and the other is on Baby's heartbeat.  As we have learned in the past, Baby W does not like to be messed with and did not appreciate this heart monitor.  They look for Baby's heart rate to increase with movement.  After some initial adjustment, Baby cooperated both times.  The heart rate went as low as 130 and as high as 170, so I don't think that's a good indicator of gender.  If it is, we're morphing between a boy and a girl.  Ha! 

On Thursday, I made the trip to Portsmouth for an ultrasound and a visit with the high risk OB.  Baby is weighing in around 4 pounds, which is in the 20th percentile.  Basically, as long as we stay above the 10th percentile and below the 90th, we're ok.  Baby's head is WAY down in my pelvis, so much that they had a hard time getting a good look at the brain.  I'm glad to hear that the head is still down and I'm hoping this means there isn't room to flip back up to a breech position.  I saw a high risk OB that I hadn't met before and she was very pleasant, which always makes me feel better.  I told her about my initial concerns about the baby being low birth weight because of my Crohn's disease, and now my concerns about the baby being too big because of my gestational diabetes.  She said it looks like they are cancelling each other out and we are on track for an average sized baby.  I made another ultrasound appointment for 36 weeks and hopefully that will be the last time we have to go to Portsmouth.  I think as long as nothing really drastic happens, we'll be able to deliver at Langley as planned.

I started taking a medication for my gestational diabetes and it seems to be helping.  When I saw Dr. G, he was pleased with my numbers.  I continue to test 4 times a day, first thing in the morning and an hour after each meal.  I've also figured out what kinds of things I can eat and drink that will not make my sugars go too high. 

Spring has sprung and with the warmer temperatures comes swollen hands and feet.  I've had to give up wearing my engagement and wedding rings.  My hands are so dry, I'd been taking them off each night and slathering up with lotion before bed.  I was starting to have a hard time getting them off and I didn't want to have them cut off so I just gave up wearing them.  I bought myself a cz at Kohl's to wear on my left hand instead.  I don't want people to think, as my grandmother would say, that we're "shacking up."  I got a pedicure and have been wearing my flip flops, which makes life a little easier.  But, boy, can I tell the difference when I've been on my feet most of the day.  My ankles swell up and I look like I have fat Flinstone feet.  When I'm home, I try to make a point of sitting and putting my feet up throughout the day.  But on the days when I have appointments and I'm in the car, that obviously doesn't work.  The warmer it is, the puffier I get.  I'm glad this baby is due in May and not August!

Baby's furniture arrived so Kyle put the crib and dresser/changing table together last weekend.  We took the mattress out of the plastic so it has a chance to air out.  Today he moved the last of his stuff out of Baby's room and got the furniture placed where we want it.  I feel much better knowing that those things are taken care of.  My mom will be here the day after Easter for a little visit and I have a list of projects for her to help me with.  I still have a few things I want to get for the baby's room and there is LOTS of tiny laundry to do.  It will be nice to have her around to help me and keep me on task, since I get distracted pretty easily these days.

I continue to feel pretty well most of the time.  I'm getting up several times a night to use the bathroom and usually end up having a snack one of those times.  I have felt Braxton Hicks contractions a few times, but nothing serious.  It usually happens early in the morning and seems to go away once I get up and start moving around.  Baby continues to be most active in the evening, after we've had dinner and we're relaxing on the couch.  Heartburn has been better than it was during the second trimester and I'm not sure if that's a fluke or if it's related to the changes I've made in my diet.  My biggest complaint is this pregnancy-related carpal tunnel in my right wrist.  Of course I'm right-handed, so it makes it more difficult to get things done during the day.  But overall, things are going well and I can't believe we will be meeting this little person in less than 2 months!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

28 weeks - good news, bad news

After my 24 week appointment, D. W told me I could come back anytime to do my glucose test so that my results would be ready for my 28 week appointment.  I have had to drink some nasty stuff in my day, so I was a little apprehensive about drinking the glucose.  Thankfully, it went well.  All my girlfriends back home got a choice of what flavor they wanted, but I didn't.  I was given the bottle of lemon-lime and told I had 5 minutes to finish it.  It tasted like flat Sprite and was the consistency of cough syrup.  I got it down in the allotted time and kept it down, thank goodness!  After an hour, I had my blood drawn and then was on my way.  To my surprise, I got a phone call a week later telling me I did not pass but would not have to re-test, that they were going to go ahead and treat me for gestational diabetes.  I was so confused because I had friends who had failed the one hour test but passed the three hour test.  Needless to say, I had a lot of questions when I went for my 28 week appointment.

Dr. G told me the reason I didn't have to re-test was that I failed so fantastically!  Go big or go home, right??  He said that if a woman's sugars are 135-140 after the one hour test, then they do the 3 hour test.  If the sugars are 180-190 after three hours, they treat for gestational diabetes.  My blood sugar after the one hour test was 201.  No need to re-test.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  I have gestational diabetes.  I picked up my testing supplies and the nurses taught me how to use them.  I am testing my blood sugar 4 times a day now - first thing in the morning before I eat anything and then one hour after breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I have a sheet where I record my results and I'm also keeping a food journal.  On Tuesday I went to a nutrition class and on Wednesday I met with another OB to go over my results for the last week.  He was not totally pleased.  So I'm going to go back in another week and if my sugars are still high, I'll most likely be put on an oral medication.  It is frustrating because I feel like between my high cholesterol, Crohn's disease and now gestational diabetes, I don't know what to eat anymore.  But I want to have a healthy baby and I hope to avoid a C-section so I'm trying.  Unfortunately, I've craved carbs through my whole pregnancy and now those are the foods I have to avoid.

We also had another ultrasound at 28 weeks.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that baby is now in the head down position!  At 20 weeks and again at 24 weeks baby was still breech so I was glad to see that s/he had turned.  The doctor was finally able to get a good look at the face and the heart.  He is no longer concerned about a cleft lip, which is a relief.  We were also able to see all 4 chambers of the heart, which was good.  I was hoping that this would mean we wouldn't have to go back for any more Level 2 ultrasounds, but no such luck.  Before, the concern was that our baby would be low birth weight because of my Crohn's disease.  Now, the concern is that the baby will get too big because of the gestational diabetes.  I feel like I can't win!  Kyle said maybe they will cancel each other out and we'll have an average size baby.  Sounds good to me!  I'll go back for another ultrasound at 32 weeks and hope Baby W hasn't gotten too big.  They guessed s/he weighed about 2 pounds, 9 ounces at 28 weeks, which is pretty average.  Sometimes, average is good!

At 25 weeks, 3 days, Kyle was finally able to feel the baby move!  We were both pretty excited.  I'd been feeling movement for about a month and he was a little discouraged that he hadn't been able to feel it.  I think this makes it a little more real for both of us now.

Overall, I'm still feeling pretty well.  There are definitely some interesting things that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy, but that's going to have to be another post. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

24 weeks

At 24 weeks, I had an OB appointment and another level 2 ultrasound.  My OB appointment went just fine, but the baby has decided it's fun to hide when we want to hear the heartbeat.  This is not good for Mama's blood pressure!  It also happened at the 20 week appointment.  As soon as the doctor found the heartbeat with the Doppler, the baby would move.  After several tries, Dr. W was able to determine that Baby's heartbeat was between 150-160.  This is about the same as at our 20 week appointment. 

At our ultrasound, the doctor was most interested in getting a good look at baby's face and heart.  He is very minimally concerned that Baby might have a cleft lip.  Because we haven't had a good look at the face yet, it could be that Baby might just have a very pronounced divot between the nose and upper lip.  (I can't remember what that thing is called, maybe it starts with an f?)  Same thing with the heart.  We have seen the heart beating on the ultrasound but the doctor hasn't been able to get a good look at the chambers because of the way Baby is positioned.  As with our 20 week ultrasound, Baby is breech.  Instead of facing my spine, Baby was facing my left side.  And as with the Doppler, Baby thinks it's fun to move when the doctor wants to get a good look at something.  I felt like I should apologize to the doctor for the baby being so uncooperative.  Stubborn already!  I'm afraid this is my payback for being a strong-willed child.  I'm sure my mother is sitting back and having a good laugh!

Overall, Baby looked good and the doctors are not too concerned.  I will go back for another OB appointment, my glucose test and another ultrasound at 28 weeks.  Here's hoping I pass my glucose test and that Baby cooperates for the ultrasound!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Life lately

Things were pretty quiet around here until Christmas.  The week before Christmas, we went to a cookie exchange at another CG family's house.  All day I'd been feeling tightness in my belly but I figured it was just my body stretching.  I was unable to get comfortable all evening and by the time we got home I was panicking.  I texted my lovely sister-in-law, who is a labor and delivery nurse and is expecting her second child.  I asked if she thought I could be having Braxton Hicks contractions already.  I was 19 weeks at that point.  She replied that while it was possible I was having Braxton Hicks, it was more likely that my body was stretching or that I was dehydrated.  Apparently, the uterus becomes irritated if you become dehydrated.  So I guzzled a bunch of water and went to bed.  I spent most of the following day drinking water like it was my job and relaxing on the couch, and I felt much better!

We had our 20 week ultrasound the week of Christmas.  I was anxious to see our little person because at that point, I hadn't felt any movement yet.  Baby was breech and facing my spine so we did not get a good look at the face or profile, but we were able to bring home some pictures.  The high risk OB was not satisfied with the look he was able to get at the baby's heart and palate so he scheduled another ultrasound for 24 weeks.

We spent a quiet Christmas at home.  Another CG family joined us for dinner on Christmas Eve and we had a very lazy Christmas Day in our pajamas, watching movies.  Kyle got me a pretty heart-shaped pendant with a pearl in it - my birth stone.  He told me he was looking at one with an emerald in it, since our baby is due in May, but he figured if he went ahead with the emerald, that would guarantee our baby would come in April and have the diamond for a birth stone, not the emerald.  He's so smart!

I started feeling the baby move around 21 weeks.  The first time it happened, it was bedtime and I'd just had a glass of water and laid down.  I wasn't sure if I was feeling the baby or gas, since I'd just burped.  But then I felt the same movement the following day, and have felt it consistently ever since then.  Unfortunately, Kyle has not been able to feel the baby move yet and it's driving him a little crazy.  I keep telling him it will happen!

We left on January 5 to visit our family and friends in the Midwest.  We spent a few days with Kyle's family in Iowa and then spent a week with my family in Minnesota.  It was so nice to get away and see everyone.  I had to get a new winter coat because mine were no longer fitting around my ever-expanding belly.  I scored a wool pea coat at Old Navy for $15.  I figure if I only wear it this winter, it will still be a good investment.  While we were in MN, my dear friend Jen threw me a baby shower.  I am overwhelmed at how many people love our baby already.  We got some lovely gifts and it was so nice to visit with so many ladies I love.  We were able to bring some of our gifts back with us in our luggage and my parents will bring the rest when they come visit in the spring.  We are hoping they will be here in time for the baby's birth.  We are planning to go back to visit and introduce everyone to our baby in late August-early September.  By then, we will have a new niece or nephew in Iowa and I can't wait to get all the cousins together. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Getting started.....

We - well, I - have started this blog to keep our family and friends up to date with what's going on in our life.  Please be patient with me as I become familiar with blogging.  This is all new to me!  I will do my best to keep it updated in the coming months.