Friday, November 28, 2008

Over the Hump

My P17 shot was given today as opposed to my usual day of Thursday. I was supposed to get the shot at my Wednesday appointment but since that was moved to Tuesday, I decided not to have the nurse administer the injection. So that brought me to today and Kim was kind enough to stop over on her way home from work. I truly didn't have the heart to bug her on Thanksgiving.

I am officially over the hump with more shots behind me than ahead of me. It is a nice place to be yet at the same time, a reminder that this baby will be here in about 10 weeks (assuming all goes well). I wonder how ready I am...

On another note, my crampiness and heaviness is very much attributed to my activity level. When I sit with my feet up, I feel minimal discomfort. When I become active, taking on my stairs, lifting My Girl or as we did tonight, go to the mall for photos, visit with Santa and walk a bit, I feel horrible! Needless to say I'm in quite a bit of discomfort. This is a clear indication that I need to start taking it easy as up until now, I have not really restricted much of my daily routine. Now is the time to start. The only thing I want for Christmas this year is to be pregnant and to help that wish come true, I need to take it easy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for 26 weeks and So Much More!!!

At this point in my pregnancy, I look at the passing of each week as comfort that I won't have a baby classified as having been born at that week's gestation. It is a direct link back to my thoughts about "weekers", a word I never knew existed until My Girl was born. Anyway, it is with great relief that I know Baby Boy will not be born classified as a "25-weeker" although now that I am 26 weeks, worry that could be our mark. I am so fearful because I know what a 26 weeker looks like in the NICU, the complications they face after birth and the potential complications they can face down the road. It is very scary.

Compounding things is the fact that I am really not feeling 100%. My low back aches, I feel pressure and heaviness in my lower pelvis and prefer to be sitting with my feet up as opposed to being active in my household and life. Thankfully, my mother and hubby have taken the lead with Thanksgiving: my mom, dropping off the prepped turkey and most sides - ready for the oven, and hubby taking care of all the other details of the day. I don't know what I would do without such a multi-talented husband who is not afraid of domesticity.

I find myself pushing the fluids and taking my Procardia and Omega 3's with the hope that my symptoms will subside. I am clearly getting big and wonder how much of this is "normal" pregnancy stuff related to growing and stretching as suggested by both my doctor and experienced friends. I don't want to complain because ultimately, I want a full-term, healthy baby, but if this is "normal" pregnancy stuff (which I sure hope it is) I am a big wimp!

Turning to the holiday, it is nice that on this day of Thanksgiving, our reflections of how blessed we are as a family are the same as the reflections that occur on any other day of the year. Yes, this is a special day but the words I shared with My Girl as I tucked her into bed tonight were no more profound as a result. I felt a bit of shock in this, thinking there must be more, but at the same time, take comfort in the fact that our prayers of thanks are genuine and that it doesn't take a day that comes along once a year to figure out just how blessed we are.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Just Couldn't Wait

My appointment for this week was scheduled for tomorrow but based on the way I was feeling, called this morning to move it up.

Yesterday afternoon the "cervical sensations" increased and I just didn't feel right. After a dinner of leftovers, I was in bed by 8:00. I felt horrible when Hubby asked if I wanted to say goodnight to My Girl as I knew she would request, "Mommy nuggle". I turned him down. Knowing I wasn't physically up for snuggling, and not wanting to turn My Girl down directly, unsure of who would be more upset by it, me or her, I kept myself out of sight.

I was solo this morning as Hubby had a meeting downtown. His influence on our school-day morning routine is quite helpful and I was sure wishing I had his help today, but as it turned out, we managed just fine. I wasn't too concerned about getting My Girl in the car as she is usually very excited to go to school. But when I walked out to the garage and saw this, I was concerned I might have more of a fight on my hands.

Thankfully, she was a dream and we sang and swayed to Christmas carols the whole ride.

After I played photographer for the class, I hobbled out to the car, knowing I needed to call my doctor. There are no office hours on Tuesdays and I was actually hoping they would let me go to a closer hospital for a quick ultrasound. But, as Nurse Barb put it, "in the event we need to admit you, you need to come here."

Thankfully they were able to see me, in spite of having no office hours. For some reason, it makes me feel bad when I can't make it to my next scheduled appointment. I just wish I could feel "normal" as the "typical" pregnant person isn't seen nearly as often as I am nor does the average TAC patient go for weekly scans. I think most tend to go every other week. There is absolutely no way that I could do that.

Between obtaining my ticket at the parking garage and paying my $3 to raise the gate, I was there for less than an hour. It was fabulous in terms of convenience. I was even able to pick up My Girl at school, allowing Hubby to stay at his conference instead of leaving early because I was stuck at the hospital.

My visit went well in the fact that my cervix measured longer today than Dr. C has ever measured it - not that much longer, but enough for him to comment and enough for me to feel good that it has not budged during all this discomfort I have been feeling.

The cause of my discomfort was once again attributed to my growing uterus and the fact that this is not my first pregnancy. Then why does it hurt so much? So much so that I'm afraid to move? I felt like I was doing so well, that this past week was very uneventful, that I actually felt good, "normal" for a change. It was nice to not feel the need to call the doctor at all.

Dr. C was pleasant as was Nurse Barb. I walked out of the office with an order for blood glucose testing, something I didn't get to do the first time around. It needs to be completed before 28 weeks.

So here I am, reclining in bed, watching my stomach move about as Baby Boy decides to change position. Oh how I love to feel him moving sure beats the alternative.

My Girl at 25w 5d

Monday, November 24, 2008


It dawned on me yesterday that at this point in my first pregnancy, I was home from the hospital (discharged on a Saturday 25w 2d) without my baby. What a welcome change to still be pregnant today, 25w 4d which is eerily similar (number wise) to 24w 5d. I've been somewhat suspicious today especially considering the indescribable flutters and sensations I feel very low in my pelvis. It's almost as though my stitch is vibrating.

The good news is that I have no contractions and haven't for days. In fact, this past weekend, I've felt fairly well, with minimal complaints. Well, except for yesterday, Baby Boy was on the quiet side and I voiced my concern to hubby. I did all the things I anticipated the docs would have told me to do: I drank some juice, sat quietly for a bit, reclined on my left side. The baby's movements were very subtle until later in the evening. He was pretty much active for the better part of the night, interfering with my ability to get comfy and fall asleep myself. But the good news is he's fine.

Today I did some clothes shopping for Baby Boy. It has been very difficult for me to find boy clothes I like. Additionally, I struggled with the size. Hubby was a 10.5 lb baby. There are moments I feel quiet confident, as does Dr. C, that I'll get pretty close to term. Then there are moments when I feel like 34 weeks would be great. Dr. Davis has me concerned about my small uterus and the implications relative to a term pregnancy. This issue is in addition to my cervical issues. So do I buy newborn size or do I go with 3 months? The six month size would have been what my hubby needed after birth with a range beginning at 12 lbs. I really don't think my body will be able to sustain a 10 lb baby, nor an 8 lb baby for that matter. Only time will tell, and one would think I have learned my lesson the first time around that I am very far from being in control of things. It's a personality thing, I suppose.

The other baby-related task we conquered this weekend, well, maybe I should say that I conquered, was selecting a swatch for bedding. I am just waiting to find out if it's cheaper to re-work My Girl's bumper, reupholstering one side and removing the ruffle, or if I should just get new. I don't want Baby Boy to feel slighted that he didn't get the dream nursery like his sister. I know he doesn't care and I know in the scheme of life it doesn't matter but on a certain level of siblings, it matters to me. There is so much that Sissy has (photos, keepsakes, albums, journals, a lactation room at the hospital named after her, influence on my license plate: NICU MOM) that I want to make sure this baby feels special too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Never Thought I Would Ever...

It's been confirmed by my own admission that this is an anxiety-ridden pregnancy. For obvious reasons, I am scared to death that this baby is going to make an early appearance much in the way his big sister did. Preemie moms can probably identify with this emotion and fear. Being beyond the point at which My Girl was born feels bittersweet. There are so many feelings about what she didn't get, what she was short-changed by being plucked from my body because it was pushing her out otherwise. Yet I am so thankful that My Boy is still inside, where he belongs, safe and sound and protected, allowed to grow and develop as every baby should. But I don't want to get ahead of myself. Even though I am beyond the dreaded 24w 5d, there is still the fear that My Boy will arrive before his time and while there is no way he will be born a 24 weeker like his sissy, there is a chance he could be a 25 weeker. That being said, on the flip side, I have also confirmed by my own admission that I have done everything possible to ensure this pregnancy results in a delivery as close to term as possible.

Where am I going with this? Well, today I did something I never thought I would ever do... and that was cancel an appointment at my local perinatal office. It occurred to me this morning that I was just evaluated by Dr. Davis on Tuesday. Nothing has changed, I have no symptoms of anything so why would I need to be seen today, Friday, just three days later?

I bring this up because this is a huge mental and emotional milestone for me. My fear is no longer ruling as strong as it once did and I can only wonder if I am, dare I say, "relaxing" into this pregnancy, if only just the slightest touch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

25 Weeks!

Wow! I have never before been 25 weeks pregnant! It amazes me to say that considering I have a beautiful two-year old. It really defies all sense of "normal" as was reflected in the perplexed look on another mom's face at duPont earlier today. She couldn't believe that I had My Girl before I was "this pregnant", and questioned how they keep 1 lb babies alive.

I am relieved to report that my contractions have subsided. I have been extremely tired lately and my energy has been low, so perhaps it is tied to the fact that I have not been doing much in recent days. My tummy is growing and even Hubby commented about "how big" I look. Getting big was something I longed to achieve last pregnancy - and there is no way I would ever turn that down this time, nor would I complain about it. So bring on the big tummy!

My 10th Progesterone shot was administered today and I am officially half way through my injections! I just called for a refill and will pick up my new batch of supplies tomorrow. Wow, the weeks have just flown by to this point. I started the P17 at 16 weeks.

Just a few final thoughts on my previous pregnancy reflections:
  • Prior to being admitted to the hospital on bed rest, I always took off my wedding rings each night before bed and never showered with them on. Afraid to remove them in the hospital for fear of losing them, I kept them on. Yes, Hubby or someone could have taken them home, but the strong symbolism of wearing my rings through what could have been a marriage-wrecking situation but thankfully (I had no doubts) was a marriage-strengthening situation, was very important to me. And while yes, my rings are just things, they were blessed by our priest and are a "sacramentals", a part of our lives as husband and wife. The comfort that reaching my left thumb across to feel the rings brought me was priceless. My rings have not left my finger since. And while it's been conditioned, if you ask My Girl what my rings mean, she will tell you herself that "Mommy married to Daddy".
  • Magnesium sulfate was used to stop my contractions (contractions I had no idea I was having, by the way). It was given by IV and I was closely monitored, having my reflexes and respiration checked quite frequently. Little did I know at the time, but the "mag sulfate" as it's often referred, made me hot, hot, hot. I am a person that normally runs cold, IE: socks to bed in the summer, with the windows open and no air on, cold. Well, the mag sulfate caused me to be so hot that the thermostat in my room was turned as low as it could go. My poor hubby ended up with a head cold (I know, temperature doesn't cause colds, germs cause colds). Additionally, it had affects on my speech and I came to find out that I was very whiny, sounding as though I was intoxicated. So I suppose my point on this is that while I knew I was in shock, I have to wonder how much this particular medication altered what was left of my mental state.
  • The language of the NICU was something we had to learn in crash-course fashion. I should have known when I learned that babies born before term are identified as "weekers". It shocked me, the first time I heard our unborn daughter referred to as a "24 weeker". The word weeker, flagged by spell check, has become an integral part of our "preemie world" as have many other acronyms, abbreviations and medical slang.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

24 Weeks 5 Days!!!

It's official! I am the most pregnant I've ever been! On Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 8:41 A.M., our Precious Miracle was born at 24w 5d gestation weighing 1 lb 6 oz and measuring 13 1/4" long.

The morning of her birth, I woke with horrible contractions. I didn't want to say anything for fear they would make me deliver but the feeling was unbearable and I just knew something was happening. The resident, Dr. Mori, came in to check me and when I saw her blood-covered glove emerge from underneath my sheet, knew it was time.

Hubby, set to host an important work function later in the day, immediately got on the phone informing our mothers I was headed in for a c-section. I have never seen anyone jump into gear as quickly as my medical team did that morning and before I could even really consent to what was happening, found myself in the middle of a cold OR, shivering, crying and praying. The poor nurse who held me in position for my spinal comforted me in ways she'll never know as I longed for her to promise my baby would be okay. I disconnected from my body even more than I already had, feeling nothing, completely numb on all levels.

Hubby was brought in to be by my side at some point, but my perception of time was non-existent. I distinctly remember hearing Dr. Carlson demand, "scalpel". I give him tremendous credit for delivering our micro-preemie safely, while dissecting my lower uterine segment with a low-transverse cut. It wouldn't be until many, many months later, if not over a year plus, that I realized the full impact this much-preferred cut would have on my future pregnancy. All OB/MFM/Perinatal specialists who hear that I have this type of incision are just astounded. I am grateful for Dr. C's patience and skill.

My Girl's birth was so not the way I -we - had planned. It was supposed to be captured on video, set to the words of , "This Magic Moment". Instead of being magical, it was horrific, filled with so many unknowns that until recently, have just shaken themselves out, with a few remaining to unfold.

I didn't see my daughter when she was born, didn't hear her cry either. Hubby recalls seeing her tiny body with tooth-pick like limbs being carried to a warmer bed. He chose to look away, not noticing if she was vented immediately. I just prayed and prayed.

I will admit that once while on bed rest and once during her delivery, my body felt a calm sweep over with the feeling that everything was going to be okay. That's all I wanted was a healthy little girl, unaffected by her extreme prematurity, to grow up "big, strong, happy and healthy, from head to toe, inside and out, with an intelligent mind, good social skills, able-bodied, all her senses and a kind, loving, compassionate, understanding, giving heart." From that moment on, those were the words I prayed for my little girl. I prayed them each day in the NICU over her isolette and to this very day, pray them with her every single night before she goes to bed. Only now with my additional "Mommy knowledge" have added "good processing skills and good communication skills". Baby Boy already has the same prayer prayed for him.

The Chief Neonatologist was present for my delivery and while he has become someone very dear to us, at the time of birth, challenged us on the way we spell Precious Miracle's name. It's not like she has a real different name as it's a classic name that ranked in the 120's in terms of popularity. Although we were told she was the first with her name to ever be admitted to that particular NICU. I don't like trendy... that's why Baby Boy is still nameless, although I think we're getting there.

Anyway, I remember nothing of closing me up, nothing of recovery. I do remember the whirlwind of being wheeled into the NICU on my post surgical bed to see my baby for the first time. I couldn't touch her, as her tiny body was hooked up the oscillator, a high-frequency ventilator that jiggled her tiny, little body. Her skin was transparent, her eyes covered over , her body nestled in a "snuggle nest" on a gel heating pad, covered with a plastic tent within the confines of her Giraffe Bed, her home for the next three weeks plus. Probes and sensors were stuck and attached to her body along with tubes coming from her umbilical line. She was hooked up to monitors that beeped and flashed. It was sensory overload and the voice of our nurse, explaining things as I looked with glazed-over eyes, droned out to a hum. My tiny baby girl did not deserve this start in life. It wasn't her fault, it was me who failed her. I failed my baby.

So today, at 24w 5d, more pregnant than ever before, I am grateful that my cervix is holding strong at 3.2 and that I am able to be up and about, to snuggle my not-so little-anymore once micro-preemie who makes my life complete.

The sadness is that I know what 24w 5d looks like on the outside:
My Girl 24w 5d

The happiness, for the first time, I know what 24w 5d looks like on the inside, the way a pregnancy is "supposed to be":
My Boy 24w 5d

And the gratitude I feel for the man who helped me get to this point:

Dr. George Davis helping me celebrate 24w 5d!

And just an update on Baby Boy, according to today's scan, he's measuring 1 lb 9 oz. My fluid level is good and he's growing as he should. My cervix is long and closed and for that I am extremely pleased!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Busy Weeks?

I think I may have figured out why, for two weekends in a row, I've felt the need to take it easy, confining myself to my bed. Today being Monday, my usual routine kicks into gear. Luckily Mondays and Tuesdays are school days for the Miss. Gosh, I love Mondays and Tuesdays. Hubby and Darling Daughter leave for school around 8:20 and from there I catch up on things, such as emails and what I refer to as "lite" housework. I take a leisurely shower, throw in a load of laundry and then before I know it, it's time to pick up My Nut.

I usually pack a lunch for My Girl to eat on the way home. Today was a 1/2 of peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, a big cup of milk and American cheese, with pretzel chips for "dessert". She is usually starving when I pick her up at school and if I don't have a lunch packed, usually pull through the Burger King drive-thru for chicken tenders. I know, not the best choice but if I don't present her with the promise of food on the way out the classroom door, she'll ask me for chicken.

Anyway, the point of feeding her in the car is number one, she's hungry and number two, it's the only way to keep her awake until we get home. There are days when she dozes, mid-bite, and I do my best to wake her up by pointing out the cows or horses out to pasture. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Then my plan turns into a wish for an easy transfer to nap.

Most days, I am very lucky. She is awake when we get home, we do a potty visit before nap, I change her into other clothes (clothes after three hours of preschool are just plain gross) and do a full facial and digital wipe-down. We read a couple of books, "The Mommy Book" and "Corduroy" still top the list, snuggle and she asks for her "bed". I tuck her in, always blessing her and head off to enjoy three peaceful hours: after I use the bathroom, walk the dogs, finish the laundry, make some lunch and catch up on emails.

My plan is to structure most of my mornings in the fashion of either school, Kindermusik, therapy or playdates, so I can achieve the 1:00 free-time a great nap affords me. On the days when we have Musik class, I am running from here to there as my OB appointments sometimes follow our dismissal by the mere skin of my teeth.

I find myself very active once nap is over, making dinner, entertaining My Girl, dressing her, dressing her and dressing her, as for some reason we need to totally strip to use the potty (not sure how socks interfere with one's ability to pee and poop but oh well) and cleaning up once more. I find myself up and down the stairs, although it has gotten to the point where if My Girl wants something, I make her go upstairs to her room to get it herself. But, nonetheless, there are always reasons why I need to race up or race down, the most common being I forgot something in my failed attempt at being efficient.

So by the end of the night, such as now, after I've already laid out her clothes for the next day and prepared just as much as I can for a fairly easy morning, including picking up my entire house, I am feeling very fatigued, tight and crampy with an occasional contraction.

Perhaps my very long-winded point is that my days are crazy and by the time the weekend rolls around my body just needs a break. Thankfully, I have a fabulous Hubby who can make that happen. And speaking of Hubby, he does bath almost every night (with the exception of the nights My Girl and I shower together), puts PJs on and does the majority of the bedtime routine. Although lately, I must confess, we've been in a bit of a "Mommy" zone and poor Daddy gets cried to the curb.

One of the great things about my TAC (best is getting to term!) is that for obvious reasons, I am way busier this pregnancy than I was last pregnancy. If with my limited activity last time, I only got to 24w 5d (tomorrow), I can only imagine when my body would have failed me this time around had I not had my pre-pregnancy TAC placed. It is an amazing thing and for a busy mom like me, couldn't imagine this pregnancy without it.

Tomorrow will be a difficult day for me, there is no question. I have a plan on how to best make it through, to memorialize it, if you will. And I will admit, the cathartic experience of purging my memory, especially Friday, the day of my hospital admission, has proved to be an amazing relief and even more beneficial than I once hoped or even thought it could be.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Lazy Sunday

I started contracting last night and called the doctor. The doc on call confessed, that although he respects the other docs in the practice, tends to disagree on some things and that it won't be uncommon for me to hear different advice from members of the same group. I appreciate the honesty, have already observed this disconnect and heard the same from friends whose pregnancies were also followed by the practice. But come on... in a high-risk specialty, why can't they have some cohesive plan of treatment for their patients?

Ever watch the show, "Deliver Me" on Discovery Health? The three doctors in that practice consult often on their very high-risk patients. Someone in my shoes needs to know the plan, have the docs know the plan and not be the one left to decipher which doc to listen to this time. And in this situation, to listen to is equivalent to placing my unwavering trust in.

Bottom line is, if I have less than five contractions in an hour, I'm thought to be just fine. I would love to hear those same words from the other doc I see. I don't want to be paranoid but can't help but wish I had the opportunity to speak with him about my recent pains and tightening.

So here I am on this Sunday afternoon, still in my pajamas, in bed, catching up on computer stuff and watching lame TV. Hubby has been Super-Daddy as he was up with The Nut before 8:00, leaving me to sleep peacefully until I was delivered a pancake breakfast in bed. He then let me doze again while setting up the "Bounce House" in the basement playroom to tire out Our Girl. Feeling like I was missing out, decided to venture out of bed and downstairs. Glad I did, for this is what I saw...

Not only was my Girl in the Bounce House, but Hubby was too. What a dad, huh?

Listening to my body, I headed back up to my bed after capturing some photos. I just don't feel right and although I've only had two contractions so far today, feel a constant tightening sensation across my lower pelvis.

Since I didn't get much time today with My Girl, opted to snuggle and read "Corduroy" before nap time. Then I went down for a quiet lunch with Hubby, thinking that perhaps I could take on the day and attend the Southern Living Party I RSVP'd to last week. Well, once again, my body gave way and I found myself craving the comfort (physical and mental) only my bed could provide.

Supper Dad morphed into Super Hubby as he cleaned our entire downstairs. Super Dad/Hubby, my Super Man, did it all with a smile, never once complaining that I have done absolutely nothing today with the exception of complain.

I know it's wishful thinking to call the service and learn that magically another doc is on-call. I don't want to miss anything but have to force myself to wonder how much of this is brought on by the fact that at this stage in my last pregnancy, I was just two days away from delivery. That this very moment I was in my hospital bed having my hair washed by my mother and nurse beauty team. And that the same duo shaved my legs when they finished massaging my scalp.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


At this point in my last pregnancy, we had already met with the NICU team again. Karen, a Nurse Practitioner, came in with a preemie-size diaper. Her son was a preemie, not a micro-preemie, but a preemie. I really liked Karen, especially as we settled into the NICU as she took me around to see "Feeder-Growers" who were once as tiny as our girl. But that's getting ahead of things here. I liked Karen from the start. What I didn't like was her reference to "how cute" the preemie diaper was. Here I was, a mom doing my best to keep my too-soon-to-be-born baby inside. The last thing I wanted was a reminder of how tiny she would be. And no baby deserves to be born that small. Cute, maybe in doll terms, on a sunny, happy day in a life that wasn't my own.

Karen's talk (diaper aside) was more uplifting than the doctor's. She had a son who was born in the 30's (weeks) and she described him as a "monkey". I needed positive stories. I remember one of my nurses, Maria, had a 28 weeker who was a senior in high school. She showed me her picture and she looked so "normal". That's all we wanted was "normal". A normal pregnancy, a normal baby, a normal experience.

My doctors came in and decided to pull my food again, thinking that I was on the verge of being delivered. They really didn't know what was going to happen. One doctor in particular wanted me to pick a day and time to deliver. He was concerned what could happen in the event things tuned into a very emergent situation. He didn't want to have to "filet my uterus". Fabulous words, huh? I called him on it at my post-partum appointment. He admitted that those words weren't the best choice. I suppose he gets credit for honesty. But his concern about our choice to deliver was very serious.

Hubby and I consulted with our families and a past client who was an OB/GYN. Hubby called him and updated him on our situation. He advised us not to deliver our baby unless absolutely necessary. Those were words we needed to hear from a medical professional as in our hearts, we could not force our daughter into this world and live with that decision. It was not our decision to make but God's.

We then requested another visit from the NICU team. This time Cindy Cox, another Nurse Practitioner came in. Cindy is a no-nonsense woman who lives her career of neonatology. I am so happy that she ended up being part of Precious Miracle's birth team and was there during our delivery, but again, I get ahead of myself. The point is that Cindy is someone we came to adore and still do.

She told us that every day a baby is in the womb, is equal to three days in the NICU. She was adamant that we leave our baby where she was. I was not leaking fluids as my membranes had not ruptured so it is my impression looking back that no one thought our daughter was in great danger. There were no signs of infection either. Thank God.

On this Saturday night, 24w 2d or July 22, 2006, Hubby and I were torn and scared. We held out hope that perhaps I might be able to pull off weeks and months of bed rest. I remember trying to will that to happen, as I met with anesthesia once more and learned that this doctor was headed for vacation the next day. I remember so much wanting to wait for his return, saying, "I'll still be here, in this bed, when you get back." But based on the tone and opinion of my doctors, we knew it was probably a long shot.

My sister-in-law, on the eve of her summer vacation, contacted our priest, picked him up and drove him about half an hour to the hospital. Our families gathered around my bed, my mother, uncle, two brothers, brother's girlfriend, Hubby's parents, sister-in-law and Father Paschal. Even my nurse, a devout Catholic, asked if she could be present for this blessing as Hubby held my hand and we bowed our heads in prayer for our daughter. The prayers were powerful, tears were shed and a miracle happened in my hospital room that night, of that, I am most certain.

We asked our families for privacy as I had to ask Father the question that was lingering in my mind... the what if. I didn't even have to come out with it, as Father Paschal intuitively assured me, "it's a life, respect the life".

Moving to present day, 24w 2d, I couldn't let today escape without Baby Boy receiving his very own special blessing from this very holy man. I emailed Father Paschal weeks ago in anticipation of this emotional day.

I thought the blessing itself would evoke raw emotions for me, but his words were much different this time. He prayed for our unborn son and for a healthy pregnancy that will end in God's time. It was those words, "God's time" that caught my attention and reminded me of what I've known deep down, all along: this is in God's hands. We've turned it over, even from the start, that if we were meant to have another child we would. Clearly God has blessed us with a son and we need to trust that He is in control. For it has become apparent to me, after much discernment, that Precious Miracle is who she was always destined to be in the eyes of God. And while He held her in the palm of his hand for many months while in the NICU, this Baby Boy is created in His image and likeness. And the words of Father Paschal's prayer, while different, they are no less powerful, no less meaningful. Here's to a man who is so very special to our family, a man so very special in the lives of our children.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Emotions Running High

It has been an emotional 24 hours. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, perhaps it is my reflection on where we were in Precious Miracle's pregnancy, or the rush of feeling Prematurity Awareness Day brought upon me, but learning that one of Precious Miracle's classmates was diagnosed with Lymphoma sent me into a crying frenzy last night that I just couldn't shake.

Reading posts on Abbyloppers and catching a glimpse of a Today Show story about a little girl who suffered a terrible shaking at the hands of her nanny, leaving her brain damaged, caused an instantaneous flow of tears. Maybe those tears are for me, not me now, but the person I was when I was 24w 1d pregnant with My Girl. Maybe those tears are for the families, currently living something awful. Maybe those tears are for thanksgiving, the daily prayer offered to God that my daughter has grown into the amazing little person she is today in spite of the crazy odds stacked against her. I think the tears are for all.

It is days like this that I choose to remember in the midst of patience-trying moments. Hubby is the same way. It is days like this that put it all into perspective: what matters and what doesn't. And when I go upstairs for the third time after putting My Girl to nap only to discover her standing on the other side of the gate totally naked, room scattered about, I can only smile, thankful and so blessed that she is alive and able to do such things. The spilled milk on my couch, crayon on the wall, slow housing market, what does it matter? I have my family and for that I am forever grateful.

Today, 24w 1d, or Friday, July 21, 2006, I woke as though it were any other ordinary morning. I sat at my kitchen island and had a bowl of cereal. The act of standing up forever changed my life, for as I pushed the chair away with my rising body, felt something drip onto my upper left thigh. Quick to examine the wet substance, I knew I needed to call the doctor. I explained to Nurse Barb that blood-tinged mucus had fallen out onto my leg. She told me to come in to the office.

What was wrong with me? I showered, took my time getting dressed and got in the car. I hopped on the turnpike, driving myself to my own hospital admission. I remember arriving at the doctors' office and using the restroom before my exam. How lucky I was that My Girl didn't fall out at that moment. I went back to the same ultrasound room I use for my current pregnancy's weekly scans. Dr. G did a regular ultrasound and we saw the heartbeat. He then went to examine my cervix and inserted a speculum. His monotone words that followed are forever part of my being, "Your membranes are budging. You are not leaving this hospital until you deliver, could be 12 hours, 12 days or 12 weeks."

That moment I went into shock. I needed this baby. I wanted this baby. I loved this baby and she had to survive. I knew pregnancy lasted 40 weeks for a reason and here I was just a day beyond 24, that's just over half way. What was happening? What did this mean? My mind went into a tailspin as I recalled that my pregnancy book at home indicated that my baby was now, "viable". Viable, I had no idea what that meant in terms of all the intervention required. I would soon learn.

I called Hubby and just blubbered into the phone. I don't know what I said or what he said. Nurse Barb said to get dressed. I was afraid to stand up. She came back with a wheel chair and out the back entrance of the office she took me, clutching my tissue and wishing I would wake up from this nightmare. Through the back halls of the hospital we went until we finally came to an elevator. To my left and behind me, tucked behind a wing-wall of sorts, was the Morgue. I lost it. Crazy thoughts about my unborn daughter ending up in there circled my mind. What do you do when a baby dies? Do you have a funeral? Oh, God, NO! Sitting at home was a personalized burp cloth I ordered on sale at Pottery Barn Kids. Hubby and I were set on her name weeks ago. She had a name, she was my baby and I needed her to live. I began praying, over and over and over and over. Between my Hail Mary's I started reciting the words to Diana Ross' song, "I'm Coming Out". It was a song that when I heard it during my pregnancy, associated it with the day my daughter was going to be born - a now's the time kinda thing. It was just not supposed to be this day, but a day more than 15 weeks away. But as strange as it was, I hung onto the words, finding comfort in various lines that I repeated over and over, again between Hail Mary's. (Her NICU video is actually set to that song. There is a link in my post dated November 12.)

"There's a new me coming out, And I just had to live, And I wanna give, I'm completely positive. I think this time around I am gonna do it, Like you never do it, Like you never knew it, Ooh, I'll make it through" ... "I've got to show the world, All that I wanna be, And all my abilities, There's so much more to me. Somehow I have to make them, Just understand I got it well in hand And, oh, how I've planned. I'm spreadin' love, There's no need to fear..."

The Antepartum unit I was originally slated for was full so I was wheeled to Labor and Delivery. They needed to get a room ready and in the mean time, had me get on a gurney in the hall. My right side was against the wall. Nurse Barb left me and a new nurse came over. I was shaking at this point. Shaking, praying and reciting my song. I told the nurse I had the urge to pee but did not want to use a bedpan. My fear was the action of doing so would cause my baby to dislodge. It was a strong feeling I had that I needed a catheter. An IV was started and I was moved to what I was hoping was my home for the next 15 weeks. I was prepared to do whatever I had to do to keep my baby inside where she belonged.

I was hooked up to monitors and learned that I was having contractions. I was given magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions, received my first steroid shot to boost my baby's lung development and also antibiotics, if I'm not mistaken. My bed was placed in a Trendelenburg position, meaning my feet were higher than my head. My catheter was placed and somehow in the midst of all this, I changed into a hospital gown.

The fog began. I don't remember when Hubby arrived but know he didn't leave me waiting long. Other family members came by including my mom, Hubby's mom and my brother. It was not how I planned on asking him, but in that moment seemed necessary to let him know we would like him to be God-Father of our child.

My room was a circus of medical professionals. I didn't know my group all that well and ended up meeting new people who appeared stumped as to what to do with me. A doctor from the NICU came in to let us know what we were facing. He determined that our daughter was 24w 1d from my last menstrual period and seemed quite relieved that I was 24 weeks and not 23. He went through a whole list of terrifying words, explaining the risks that could potentially affect our baby. Hubby and I sobbed as we had no choice but to listen:

"Bleeding in the brain, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, digestive issues, inability to oxygenate, feeding problems, chronic lung disease, long-term breathing issues requiring permanent ventilation, learning disabilities, infections, the need for blood transfusions, asthma and a 50% chance of death." We were told there was a chance that our daughter could be non-functioning, unable to walk and talk. It was just the most devastating words you could ever imagine having to take in.

Hearing the seriousness of all that was said, I felt I needed to cling to one thing, that it would be impossible to escape this with nothing. I wanted asthma. I wanted my unborn daughter to have asthma and I prayed to God, right then and there to give my baby girl asthma and only asthma. My mom has asthma and my baby can live with asthma too. God, please give us asthma.

The visions that entered my mind are too painful to articulate. Hubby and I just sobbed together. This was a defining moment in our marriage, in our relationship. We clung to each other and from that moment forward, our relationship strengthened in ways only a life-altering situation such as this can cause.

The doctors sent in the anesthesiologist for a consult. They wanted to be prepared in the event I needed an emergency c-section. I don't think I've mentioned previously, but my daughter's feet were hanging through my cervix and into the birth canal. She was classified as a "footling breech" and therefore, would require a Cesarean delivery.

Since the doctors were unsure how things would play out or even how they wanted to proceed, I was restricted to IV fluids one minute and then offered a tray of food the next. There was not a great deal of consistency with the orders as each doctor had their own take on the situation.

My wonderful husband didn't leave my side. My brother stopped at our house to collect my glasses and contact supplies. I also had him get my rosary beads that had once been my maternal grandmothers, whose name is my daughter's middle name (and mine too). My brother found my car in the parking garage and took it home. My uncle took our dogs. The family pulled together. Hubby called some friends who spread the word that we needed prayers. The prayers poured in and while we had yet to know, a miracle was in the works.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

24 Weeks!

Here I am at 24 weeks and feeling quite nervous, emotional and thankful. The eve of 24 weeks in my first pregnancy brought with it a night of darkness as our power had still not been restored. Hubby and I ended up spending the night at my mom's. It was there, during dinner, that My Girl, still in my womb, was very active. I commented that if felt like, "she's kicking my cervix" - now what in the world does that feel like? As a first time expectant mom, those were the words I used to describe the sensation.

Shortly after dinner, I decided it was time to start the the over-the-counter yeast infection treatment the doctor suggested. I made the observation to my mother before heading off to bed that, "it won't stay in" ... "it just keeps sliding out"... "as if it's being pushed" - it was the suppository I was referring to. Hmmm, hindsight once again...

The next day (equated to today, 24 weeks exactly and a Thursday) we had the promise from the electric company that our power would be restored. In anticipation of this, I decided it was a good idea to clean out my spoiled refrigerator. With no power for almost 48 hours, everything had to go. So I grabbed a heavy-duty black garbage bag and started filling it up. This is one of those moments I regret. For the final days of my pregnancy, the thought that slinging that bag over my shoulder, lugging it through my kitchen to the garage and heaving into the super-big garbage can, haunted me as though my actions caused my baby to literally fall out of me. In retrospect, with a calm, level head, I know that it was not the cause. My cervical issues were becoming worse throughout the week and while this action may have accelerated things, it didn't bring them on.

I do recall after taking care of my rotting food, that I felt the need to "nest". I was organizing and cleaning things that ordinarily would not have gotten my attention. Little did I know what the next morning would bring...

Back to present day, 24 weeks with Baby Boy. The thankfulness comes with the recognition that I am at a different place this time around. I had an appointment yesterday with Dr. C and my cervix remains long and closed. I am almost 100% certain that if my cervix were evaluated in the same manner as it was yesterday at 24 weeks during my first pregnancy, the observations would be quite different. I am grateful for the peace of mind seeing an unchanged cervix over the past eight weeks brings.

My appointment yesterday was a good one. I got to enjoy another solo trip to the Perinatal office. My blood pressure remains low and there was actually no weight gain for me this week. Funny, considering all those donuts I indulged on earlier in the week.

When Dr. C came in, I told him that I experienced some contractions the night before. Yes, I was certain, these were actual uterine-tightening contractions. They occurred as I was settling into bed and there were only a few of them. He asked how active the baby was at the time. I explained that he was very active, moving in his own distinct "rolling" fashion. I confessed that his movements are somewhat concerning to me as the sensation is a strange one. And along with the strange sensations comes an active imagination that he is somehow burrowing his way through my c-section. Dr. C explained how rigorous movements on behalf of Baby Boy can cause my uterus to contract as he moves it from its natural state of rest. It made sense.

The part that I really appreciated was the fact that instead of telling me no way Baby is coming through my lower uterine segment, he SHOWED me! He took his time to view the lower part of my uterus before checking my cervical length. He also printed some photos for me of head-down Baby Boy sucking on his toes.

We discussed the Procardia and decided that since it wasn't eliminating my "crampy" feeling, I should just stop taking it. It seems as though what I am experiencing could be chalked up to "normal pregnancy stuff" but he agreed, because of my history, that we can't be too lax in that assumption. He explained how weekly appointments is pretty hard-core monitoring and it is unlikely anything will slip by unnoticed. It was also agreed that since my irritability isn't causing any cervical changes, unless the sensations I feel change or get much worse, it is safe to say that they are benign. Now if I can just remind myself of this in the midst of an "episode", I'll be just fine.

So today at 24 weeks, I got my 9th Progesterone shot. As Kim was drawing up the solution, she reminded me that I will need more as there is only enough for one more injection. I told her that it is a mental thing and that I cannot order more until what I have is used up. I know it's superstitious of me but I just can't help it.

My emotions have been at their height this week, something I hope will subside in the near future. Tomorrow will be especially difficult as that was the day I began my hospital bed rest. Actually, the next five days are all significant days in the birth story of My Girl. I plan on connecting with them emotionally as best I can in hopes of easing some of the raw pain still felt when I think back to that time in our lives.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prematurity Awareness Day 2008

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and today is Prematurity Awareness Day. One in eight babies is born premature (before 37 weeks gestation), that's 520,000 babies each year, or 1,400 babies and families affected by prematurity today alone.

To give an idea of just how much more awareness needs to be raised about prematurity, just think of all the breast cancer information out there. According to the National Government, in 2006, an estimated 213,000 women were diagnosed. Why is there such a disconnect? While I believe breast cancer awareness is just as important - I think most people know that October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, why is prematurity still in the dark? These babies are our future!

With Precious Miracle always under foot, I never turn the news on, as I feel it's inappropriate to expose my child to adult topics. Although she is not really paying attention, I never know what day that will change. So today, while in the car alone, I listened to NPR and was just astounded by a report about premature birth. I have been waiting all day for there to be great recognition of the epidemic but it's not fair for me to really comment on the media's focus since I really haven't checked, read, listened to or watched any reliable news sources. That is with the exception of NPR. The report mentioned that my state, Pennsylvania, received a grade of "D" by the March of Dimes. This is the same grade as was given to the nation as a whole.

What infuriated me, was the "expert" from an insurance company who spoke of the ways women can reduce their risk of premature birth. The top of her list was dental care. For the average person listening to this report, the tone was that if you follow some very simple things, you will avoid preterm birth. It also insinuated that those who have experienced preterm birth didn't take care of themselves. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! And right here, right now, I plan to argue her points as it is not a "catch-all".

First of all, I go for dental cleanings and exams every six months. In fact, my last cleaning was this past Monday morning. I have healthy teeth and gums, brush with a Sonicare toothbrush and floss as regularly as I can. I still had a micro-preemie.

Her second point was prenatal care, which begins before you get pregnant, a means of preparing your body for the upcoming job of carrying the pregnancy. Well, let me say that since before Hubby and I even met, I was taking the recommended daily dose of folic acid. Talk about prepared, I most certainly was. Prior to our planning on starting our family, I stopped all prescription medications over the period of several months, had a pre-conception visit with my current group, went for blood work to confirm that I was not at risk for having a child with Cystic Fibrosis, confirmed that I was not a carrier for Factor V Leiden, a blood clotting disorder my husband has, and other genetic concerns that my doctor suggested I check just to be safe. It was all pretty standard from what I was told, with the exception of the Factor V. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I called to schedule my first prenatal appointment and never missed an office visit or scan. Still my daughter arrived at 24 weeks.

The next points were regarding smoking and drinking. First of all, I've never smoked. Second of all, Hubby and I are not big drinkers. I totally eliminated even the occasional glass of wine in the months before we conceived, and never took a sip of anything alcoholic during my six months of pregnancy. My Girl still came early.

The report made some additional points about making women aware of the signs of preterm labor. This I agree with. However, I think more listening needs to occur on behalf of the physicians and the literature for expectant parents needs to be very explicit in terms of what the signs are without the caveat that it's most likely "normal".

Moreover, I feel that the various causes beyond the points mentioned in the report, be better addressed and as a sufferer of cervical insufficiency, feel better screening tools should be implemented to potentially diagnose cervical issues in advance of the point of no return.

The March of Dimes has a "Petition for Preemies" and I am proud to say that I've electronically signed it. One of the key components of this Petition according to the March of Dimes website is the following:
"We urge the federal government to increase support for prematurity-related research and data collection as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and the Surgeon General’s Conference on the Prevention of Preterm Birth, to:
(a) identify the causes of premature birth;

(b) test strategies for prevention;
(c) improve the care, treatment and outcomes of preterm infants;

(d) and better define and track the problem of premature birth."

I am encouraging everyone to take a moment to support this very important cause. There was a widget I attempted to include below but after numerous attempts, kept getting an error message. So instead, please visit, It means a great deal not only to my family but to all the families affected by prematurity.

Furthermore, Johnsons Baby Products will donate 10 cents to the March of Dimes for every product purchased during the months of November and December.

Finally, here is a video I made documenting our prematurity journey. It can provide a little insight as to what the NICU road looks like. And, if you watch it, I'm sure you can see why we are so anxious to carry this Baby Boy to term. Just click this link.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Comparision: 23w 5d

Starting off with this pregnancy, at 23w 5d, I feel fine. My uterine irritability subsided greatly and I feel like a different person today. Was it the fluids? The added rest? Who knows, but whatever it was, I'll take feeling good over feeling bad any day.

At 23w 5d in my last pregnancy (a Tuesday), I was seen in the doctors' office because I thought I had a yeast infection. Dr. G did an internal (notice they are NOT allowed at all during this pregnancy) and told me my cervix was fine and while he saw only the slightest trace of yeast under the microscope, for my comfort, told me to treat with an over-the-counter. It seems as though my physical symptoms of discomfort were far greater than any proof that I had a raging yeast infection.

I know now (again that whole hindsight being 20/20) that I should have asked for, if not demanded, a transvaginal ultrasound to check for any funnelling and to measure my cervical length. I had learned during my anatomy scan at around 18 weeks that my cervix was 2.5, "on the short side" said Dr. C. That was the other thing I hadn't a clue about, and I was too ignorant to know the potential implications which for me, turned out to be a harsh reality.

So I left my appointment and carried on about my day, ending with dinner with Hubby's family, although my mother-in-law was absent that night. We were just about to order when a storm rolled in and the power was lost. The emergency lights came on and the sirens were sounding. I remember there being a discussion about what appliances were able to run in spite of the lack of electricity. Somehow, we were convinced to stay and ate our meals.

On the way home, Hubby and I stopped at CVS and picked up an over-the-counter yeast infection treatment. I can't recall if when we arrived at home the power was already out or if it went out later in the night, but I did not use the suppository that evening.

Since it was July, the lack of power caused us to open our windows and we joked that if our basement was finished, we would find ourselves sleeping down there because it was usually much cooler. We moved from our bed to the sofa, thinking that since heat rises, perhaps it will be cooler in the family room. I remember being unable to sleep and just sweating while trying to get comfy on the sofa. Hubby gave me the sofa and took the love seat, that I remember distinctly. Before long, I was in the powder room, wondering if perhaps the food I ate that night at dinner was spoiled or not fully cooked. Candles were flickering and the flashlight was used to aid in helping me see as I suffered from upset stomach at both ends. Hubby was untouched by this "bug" I thought I somehow picked up, fearful of food poisoning.

It was a rough night and thankfully (again no idea what was happening at the time) my Precious Little Girl did not slip out during those hot, dark hours. Gosh, that image and possibility really haunts me at times. That is when I know that God was looking out for me, Hubby and our Precious Miracle. When I hear stories of home births, my thoughts immediately rush to that night and the what-ifs that thankfully, never were. Because our power was out, we had no home phone, only our cell phones, which at the time, got horrible reception while inside our house. Again, just the thought makes me shudder with fear.

So here I am after My Nut's bedtime, finishing a post I began during her nap time. My diminished uterine irritability has turned into a couple of contractions, which were corroborated by Hubby feeling my uterus with me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not So Sure...

It turns out my symptoms as of Thursday have not exactly subsided. In fact, I wonder if they are not worse or maybe I'm just more aware of them. I started the Procardia Thursday night, thinking it would be a magic fix for my increased uterine irritability, but no such luck. Dr. G told me he was giving me a low dose due to my size and I truly wonder if it was increased, if I would feel a difference.

Anyway, I felt ambitious on Friday (which makes me nervous, that whole "nesting" phenomenon) and organized our entire master bedroom closet while cleaning out the remains of the guest room. I made dinner and went to book club. Come Saturday, I was up at 7ish with My Nut as I let Hubby sleep (he ALWAYS lets me sleep so I thought it was nice to reciprocate). She and I made pancakes upon her "I help cook" suggestion. The furniture guys arrived with the new "Big-Girl" furniture and I hopped in the shower only to discover my plans for mattress shopping and miscellaneous bedding related stuff would have to be put on hold. I could hardly finish my shower and ended up crawling into bed on a self-prescribed order for mid-day rest.

I was suffering from pelvic pressure that just felt abnormal along with some mild cramping. After a brief nap (I actually dozed) and some peanut butter crackers and apple juice, I felt better. I knew it was in my best interest not to push it so I made phone calls after seeing a Macy's commercial and comparison shopped for a mattress directly from my own. As an aside, it is amazing the deals you can get! Never take the price anyone quotes as the final number. Hubby went out to pick up the mattress along with those other items typically selected by the woman.

I took it easy for the rest of the day and had a really difficult night with what feels like the return of Fibromyalgia symptoms, affecting my hip and knee joints, the same trigger points as previous flare ups.

Sunday was a lazy day too and my plans to food shop today were overturned by my own instinct coupled with Hubby's encouragement to let him do it. So off I went to Dunkin' Donuts for a hot chocolate and, since I had a coupon for "buy 6, get 6", a box of one dozen donuts, five of which have been eaten by me with the help of Baby Boy.

Thankfully, Missy went down for her afternoon nap (after a busy morning at school) and I am lounging in bed, afraid to take on the steps, walk the dogs or do anything else that is potentially strenuous. I am drinking tons of fluids and just feel crazy pressure that is keeping me off my feet, again at my own discretion. I am very curious as to what this week's appointment brings in terms of a change in care or recommendations.

Finally, in terms of the pregnancy comparison game I started playing yesterday, since there is nothing specific to report on this day, 23w 4d in my last pregnancy, I thought I would share what turned out to be my last preggo photo the first time around. It was taken at 23w 0d. Oh, yeah, and once again my whole disclaimer on the fact that these photos were never intended for public consumption... I will be the first to admit that I look horrible!

Quick commentary: First of all, I feel like I look like Homer Simpson. It is clear that I am "rounder" with my girl than with my boy, specifically my face and backside. My boobs were also bigger with my girl than they are with my boy and I broke out much more with my girl too.

23w od with Baby Girl

23w 0d with Baby Boy

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm Bound to Compare...

Thanks to my mother-in-law, who brought me a journal the day after Precious Miracle was born, I have hand-written entries from each of our NICU days, chronicling the disbelief and shock I felt after our girl was born and the desperate hope and faith that I had that she would not only pull through her early birth but also thrive. It also documents the love Hubby and I had for her from the day the stick indicated we were going to be parents. My journaling continued through homecoming and it's interesting to look back on the things I have written.

It was always written with a positive tone, even through the documented tears, to convey to my little girl as she reads it in the future, that we NEVER gave up hope, that we knew in our hearts she was going to make it and be just fine. The thing my journal never captured fully, were the days and emotions leading up to My Nut's early birth. That was just too painful to write out and too difficult to live through again, at that time. In fact, aside from a glossed over account documented in short essays I have written, there is no hard core documentation of exactly what we went through and the details of those horrific days. Yes, horrific is the only way to describe it, a word I would never, ever think to pen in a journal created specifically for my girl's eyes.

And so, here I am at 23w 3d, the same gestation when things took a turn in my first pregnancy. It is hard not to compare where I was last time as I pray desperately for a different outcome, an outcome that does not involve 105 days in the NICU, but a plump, full-term baby that is placed in our arms immediately after birth, a baby that is not left behind in an isolette: a real take-home baby.

Pardon the cliche, but hindsight is 20/20, especially in a first pregnancy. Gosh, if I only knew then what I know now...

The other thing I should mention, which makes it even more emotionally taxing, is that my last menstrual period with Precious Miracle fell on Thursday. The same is the case with Baby Boy. So basically, my dates line up the same in terms of the day of the week. Every Thursday, I celebrate a new week as was the case the first time around. So 23w 3d for Baby Boy is a Sunday, just like it was with Precious Miracle. Perhaps it wouldn't be so significant to me if the days themselves were staggered. But, things happen for a reason, and I am seizing the opportunity for therapeutic gain by writing what I've never written.

Okay, so it was confirmed that 23w 3d with Precious Miracle was also a Sunday. Hubby had an open house that day and someone wanted to show one of his listings. I was scheduled to meet an agent with her clients at 2:00. Well, earlier in the day, I passed a big chunk of mucus. I called the doctor on call (not 100% sure who but almost certain it wasn't either of the two who follow me now) who told me to drink fluids and rest on the couch, that there is increased discharge in pregnancy and what I am feeling is "normal".

So, I pumped the water non-stop and since I was just opening a door, felt it was okay to meet the agent, I'm normal, right? So I arrived at the house, turned on the lights and sat on the living room sofa, with a view of the street and waited for the woman to arrive. The sofa was white and I remember thinking, gosh, would we have to buy these people a new sofa if I delivered my baby right here or would a cleaning suffice? But it matches the love seat and chair so we if had to buy a new sofa, we would probably need to buy them a whole new living room set. Crazy thoughts started to pop in my head as I was physically beginning to feel worse.

The sellers were of an ethnicity in which a special clock above their mantle chimed a prayer, a very loud prayer, that scared the daylights out of me. The shock my body felt as I was startled out of my seat, I was convinced, was enough to send me into labor.

I remember feeling hungry for a BLT and wanted so much to go to the deli to pick one up but didn't want to stand on my feet anymore than I had to. The woman who was supposed to arrive at 2:00 never did and after spending two hours worrying between games of solitaire on my Treo, felt it was time to leave. I normally wouldn't have waited that long - maybe a half hour at the most but I was just out of it. I remember joking with my husband that I could have sat my own open house that day sitting there idle from 2-4 PM.

That's really all I remember from the day. The big part for me was feeling like I was going to have my baby on the white sofa of my husband's client. That, I suppose, was a premonition that something was bound to go wrong. Now, had I known that I just passed my mucus plug, I most certainly would have been at the hospital and not sitting in some strange living room. But, here is where I always go with this: perhaps had I sought intervention that day, the doctors could have monkeyed around causing my daughter to be born earlier than her 24w 5d and her outcome may not have been what it turned out to be.

Today is Precious Miracle's two-year adjusted birthday. We stopped adjusting back in July when she actually turned two but here she is on what, according to 40 weeks, would have been her second birthday, going potty all by herself. And when I say all by herself, I mean just that. Hubby and I are instructed to get out of the bathroom as the door closes and she gets on the potty and goes. When she's done, she exclaims, "I did it!" and requests an M&M for her efforts. We couldn't be more blessed than we are right now and for that we are extremely grateful. Focusing on the miraculous child we have is the only way to ease the pain of her early days.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Homecoming Anniversary

Today marks the two year anniversary of the NICU graduation of our Precious Miracle. It is truly amazing to reflect on where we've been and the people we were on that long-awaited discharge day. After 105 days in the NICU, the last thing on our minds was growing our family and here, just two years later, we are 23w 1d with our little boy.

I suppose you can say that time heals but I really think it has more to do with the amazing little person our daughter has become, full of love and life. She has beaten the many odds stacked against her and to look at her, one would never know the rough start she had to endure. Our once 1lb 6oz peanut discharged at 6lbs 4 oz and has grown into a 27 1/2 lb preschooler. She is truly a miracle - there is no other way to explain it and we thank God everyday for blessing us with the most precious and awesome gift of our daughter.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

23 Weeks and Feeling It!

My appointment this week was originally scheduled for tomorrow but after a very, very restless night, full of menstrual-like cramping, I called the office this morning to see if I could be seen today. Dr. G saw me at 5:00. I'm glad I moved the appointment up as I took it easy today, doing absolutely nothing and drinking a ton of fluids. There was no change in my symptoms and I needed to know that my cervix was still long and closed in order to sleep well tonight.

On my way into the hospital, I ran into one of Precious Miracle's Neonatologists. He told me he just heard this week that we were expecting and wished not to see me anytime soon. I told him that I'm optimistic we'll just plan a visit, without taking up residence in the unit. Let's hope!

It was nice being in the office in the evening hours. There was a different, relaxed feeling that I prefer to the hustle and bustle of daytime. Plus, I was alone, which makes the visit that much more relaxing for me. I enjoyed some time to read my book while waiting to be seen and didn't really care how late the appointment ran. It was nice to just have some time.

I am gaining weight nicely and adequately for where I am in my pregnancy. My blood pressure continues to be low and the baby's heart beat quite a lovely sound. Although as he is growing and becoming more active, I feel I need that less. It is still nice to hear the sound and I will never refuse to hear it. It's just amazing what an active baby can do for your comfort. And, speaking of his activity, he is getting bigger as I am feeling simultaneous movements on totally opposite sides of my abdomen, what I imagine to be an arm and a leg. I know I've said it before but just to reiterate, he is such a more docile mover than Miss Girl was. I really think it's an indication as to his personality as My Girl's movements in the womb mirror the child she is today.

Back to my visit: since today was my shot day, Nurse Barb gave me my injection. It was, as usual, no biggie. Then Dr. G checked my cervix. Nice and long and closed, even with fundal pressure. The measurements very similar to those of last week - 3.3 to 3.4.

Dr. G then proposed that I start on a low-dose of Procardia, a medication used to stop uterine contractions. Procardia specifically is listed as a med used for uterine irritability too. According to Dr. G and various research I have done, no serious newborn side effects have been noted. However, it is listed as a Category C drug and its use as a tocolytic agent is off-label.

I was appreciative that the office could squeeze me in today and that Dr. G recognized my cramping is much worse this week. My guess is that since there is no cervical change, and now that I'm approaching viability, we want to stop any irritability from causing changes, thus nipping it (or attempting to nip it) with oral tocolysis. For this I am extremely grateful.

Finally, on my out of the hospital tonight, I ran into the parking attendant who was on most nights, two years ago, when we would leave the NICU. She remembered me, asked about my baby, acknowledged my pregnancy and also recalled that I gave her a Christmas gift that year. She wanted to personally pay for my parking tonight, and I insisted that she not. It was a very thoughtful gesture as was her asking about our Girl each night we would leave the hospital. She is one of the many people who touched our lives during that difficult time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hubby's Got His Superstitions Too

So, it turns out I'm not the only one... And this fact leads me to assume that I can't be that crazy to be somewhat superstitions about this pregnancy. Hubby is clearly feeling it too and he is pretty level-headed. That has to tell you something about the experience we have been through with our Darling Daughter.

In anticipation of moving our girl to her new big-girl room (the furniture arrives Saturday morning!) we have been clearing out the guest room. It became a dumping grounds of sorts because when Missy transitioned into her toddler bed (she climbed out of her crib way sooner than we thought she would) back on July 1, we moved all the stuff she could get into with her new-found freedom out of her room.

So where does the superstition come into play? Well, among the many items in this former guest room was our bassinet. I can't remember exactly when we purchased it, but I do recall finding the specific bassinet I desired and going to Pottery Barn Kids to pick it up. We had to take it out of the box to fit it in the car as we weren't exactly child-friendly at the time. It sat assembled (not much to putting the bassinet on the stand now is there?) at the foot of our bed well before I gave birth to Missy at 24 weeks. It sat during her entire NICU stay, empty, waiting for her to fill it. It was a tough reminder every single time we entered our room. To move it was out of the question as leaving it there was our comfort that she would some day be joining us at home.

Tonight as part of my organizing, Missy and I wheeled the bassinet into the master bedroom, leaving in its proper place at the foot of the bed. We talked about Baby Brother and how in her words, "Baby Brother sleeps in there."

We went about the rest of our evening routine and Missy was soon in bed. Hubby and I caught up with each other in the bathroom as I was taking out my lenses. I showed him my growing bump and commented that I am going to be 23 weeks tomorrow. "I know," he acknowledged. He is always so good at keeping track of things. He then went on to inquire about my plans for the bassinet, indicating that he would feel more comfortable not having it in the room until the baby is born and home.

I felt it too, that pang of emotion. I guess I was just trying to push through it, figuring with enough time, the intensity of the feeling would diminish. I felt that I could go back to a state of neutrality about the bassinet and what it symbolized.

Hubby and I have a good relationship. We respect each other and the feelings that may be too much to feel at times. The bassinet is no longer at the foot of the bed. I guess I should admit there is a bit of relief in that for me too.