Well, I don’t really know who I’m introducing, but he or she is the reason for my being so quiet on here. We have all been settling into our new routine with the start of school, but a large part of that has been me settling into the new routine with this little interloper.
What that really has amounted to is a lot of napping, reading, and watching movies while the boys are at school. Why? Well, frankly, because I can, and because this little belly monster is sapping nearly every bit of energy I have – and the remaining bits are going toward housework and laundry and running errands. I think often of sitting down and blogging, but then the couch calls my name, and who am I to ignore it?
Pregnancy isn’t something I was always convinced I’d be doing again. After Danny was born, to be honest, I was so scared and shaken and overwhelmed that a large part of me was fully convinced that there would not be any more children in our house. But then, at the time, I was being warned that Danny could easily be…well…much worse off than he is. And even then, there was a little voice in the back of my head saying I wasn’t quite sure we were done – I just thought I wanted us to be.
3 years later, here we are.
In full honesty, it’s not always easy. There are times I wonder what on earth we’re getting ourselves into. There are times I’m a little bit terrified that something might happen to this little one as well. People talk often of the fear and worry that goes into pregnancy after loss; I don’t think a lot of people talk about the fear and worry that goes into pregnancy after a special needs baby. In my case at least – maybe because Nat losing Devin is so completely woven into the tapestry of Danny’s life, since their pregnancies and births were so close to each other – it feels the same in many ways. I’m jumpy. I think and worry about losing this baby like I never did with my other pregnancies. I ask myself the “what if” questions: what if the baby has this disability or that, is premature, is lost entirely.
And then there’s the added layer of worry: will I be able to adequately meet all of Danny’s needs and still properly care for this baby?
Getting past all of that, though, I’m excited. We’re excited. These are all the smaller thoughts in my head, and while they come at me at times, they are not at all overwhelming. I’m actually quite calm and collected about this pregnancy compared to where I thought I might be! I have no reason to think this little one will have any problems, and so far the pregnancy is going quite well. Though I fret and worry sometimes, I have no doubt that John and I can take great care of our three kids, and I know they’ll all be just fine.
And we have a few months to get ready yet – the little one isn’t due until March, after all! That leaves a lot of time for me to plan and daydream, to worry and wonder, to resist buying adorable outfits for the child whose sex we don’t know yet. Yeah, I’m already wanting to shop… If that doesn’t show I’m excited, nothing will!
For the sake of record keeping, because I’ve found I did a woefully inadequate job of that with Danny’s pregnancy, I’ve had 2 appointments so far, one to do bloodwork (which all came back clear) and one for an ultrasound (which showed a very energetic, healthy little baby in there). The heartbeat is measuring 171bpm at 11 weeks, and baby is about 2 inches long. It was too early to tell whether it’s a boy or a girl, of course; we’ll do that around the end of October.
It started on Monday as I began to lose my plug. I didn’t get that excited at the time, though – I was already past 36 weeks and I knew that labor could take weeks to start after the plug comes out. No big, right? It was a very different experience from losing my plug with my first son, but the entire pregnancy had been so different that I almost expected that by this point. I wasn’t having any contractions – the occasional Braxton-Hicks contraction, sure, but maybe only a handful of those in a 24 hour period – so I just bought some pads and waited the mess out.
Tuesday morning, when I was still wearing the pads, I started to wonder if something else wasn’t up. Overnight, I’d had a bit of pink and red streaking, which is something else completely common with the plug passing but freaked me out a bit considering Nat’s experience just a few days earlier. With no pain and some baby movement, I tried not to worry too much. I had an appointment scheduled in the afternoon for a full physical profile – level 2 ultrasound and non-stress test – so I went to work and kept busy until it was time to go in.
It didn’t take long for the nurse to do the anatomy scan. She got me a couple of good pictures of baby’s face, one head on and one profile shot, and I was excited to have those to take home and show off. His heartbeat was a strong 156, right where it’s been every time I go in. She did note a bit of dilation of ventricles in baby’s brain again, but this was something we knew about and something that was marginal, quite possibly meant nothing at all. He was also breech again; he had been flipping often on us, going from breech to head down and back. A few more measurements and she pulled up the review screen to see what all of the measurements added up to.
“Hm. I don’t think that’s right – let me get it again.” She’s a very nice, honest, and casual lady, so I shrugged and figured she’d tell me if there was actually a problem. She pulled up … either the stomach or the head? Something round. Measured it again, gave a little frown, and popped over to a couple other segments. “Oh my – that’s not fluid, that’s all cord. I’ll have to take that out…” Back to the review screen we went, and she nodded, then pointed out my fluid levels. She zeroed out the one quantity and said, “Have you noticed any leaking or wetness lately?”
I explained what I’d been noticing for the past day and she nodded. “I think you’ve got a leak, hon. Your fluid’s almost down to 4cm.” Eek. It had been 11cm on Friday – that definitely wasn’t good. She asked how he had been moving lately, and I told her I’d noticed him, though it hadn’t been as strong as before; that, she told me, was probably because he had so little room to move now. “You’re scheduled to go back on the monitors, but let me call the doctor first and see what he thinks. He’s not in the office this afternoon, but he might want you to go down to women’s evaluation and I don’t want to waste your time on a monitor here if you’re just going to go there on a monitor. Baby’s breech, and he’s measuring just a little behind, but his heart’s real strong so don’t worry.” (I’d noticed on the monitor that the overall gestational age was coming up at 35 weeks 4 days, plus or minus 19. I was 36 weeks 4 days, so well within the 19 days, so I hadn’t took it to mean anything yet.)
At this point, I was starting to get nervous. I picked my book back up and read a couple of pages just to pass the time without letting my mind wander, and the nurse came back holding an envelope. “All right, dear. He says you should go straight in to the hospital. You’re delivering at St. John’s, right? And you know how to get there from here?” I nodded, kind of numb. “Give them this envelope when you get there and explain that you’re Dr. Cartwright’s patient. They should be expecting you.”
I broke down. I had no idea what was going on, and Nat was fresh on my mind, and everything had gone from totally normal to I’m going to the hospital in two seconds. She just sort of stared at me in shock for a moment, and I explained it all. I barely knew the lady, but she’d been seeing me once a week for a few weeks now and was so nice and I just needed to get it out. She assured me that there was no immediate emergency; baby’s heartbeat was strong and he was showing no signs of distress, but it needed to be looked at to make sure nothing WENT wrong. She gave me a big hug, as did the receptionist, and told me to sit down and make any calls I needed to before I went. They wished me luck and shooed me out the door.
I called John from the car, then Eric’s daycare to let them know that Eric was going to be picked up and potentially by our friend who is on the list of authorized people, then Nat. I was operating under the assumption that it was going to be a few hours, some monitoring, a check to see if my water had ruptured, and some IV fluids. I got to the hospital and went up to Women’s Evaluation, where I was ushered over to Labor & Delivery. Blink blink. They admitted me, got me into an observation room, and a pair of nurses came in. They hooked me up to the monitors and the baby started moving all over the place; for the next hours, he proceeded to be the most active he’d been in days. He kept moving away from the monitors, kicking or punching them, and generally misbehaving. One nurse sat down at the computer and started confirming my health history while the other took some blood and started my IV. At one point, the nurse working on my IV said, “Is this blown?” She asked the other nurse’s opinion, and they decided it was just a little puffy, not really blown. Great, that’s nice. The nurse getting my info then starts passing me some papers, just some authorizations that needed to be signed, and gave me a pen. “This one’s for a blood transfusion just in case, this one’s so we can run the blood tests on you, and this one’s for your c-section.”
“Oh, you didn’t know??” Um, no, thanks. Begin total freak out in three, two, one. There were more admission things to go through, but I spent the next bit with my mind swirling and watching the clock, desperately waiting for John to arrive. I’d had an apple at 2, right before my appointment, so they said it was going to be a bit of a wait. I wanted to cry – really, to totally break down – but I managed not to. They left me be, and a few minutes later, another lady came in, moving the phone within my reach. She picked up a call and handed it to me; it was my doctor. She apologized all over the place; she had left instructions for someone to call her when I checked in so that she could talk to me first, but evidently the message hadn’t made it to the right people. She explained how between the dilated ventricles, sudden lack of fluid, and my being past 36 weeks, there was more risk than benefit to trying to keep baby in me. She told me she was waiting for them to give her a time for the c-section and she’d be in to see me, asked me if I had any questions, and told me she was totally surprised – she had not expected something like this at all from me!
Hours passed slowly. John arrived in the first hour and helped to pass the time. We discussed names, our days, just tried to keep calm and collected. My doctor showed up and checked to be absolutely sure baby was breech before explaining that with no fluid there was really no chance the baby would turn, even if they tried to help him. An anesthesiologist stopped by, told me my options, why they went with an epidural instead of a general anesthesia. Someone came by from the NICU, just in case that was needed, and she was very nice with a very positive outlook. They started my epidural and suddenly there were people everywhere in operating gowns and masks and I panicked. Total meltdown. I’m not proud, but I totally fell apart, I was so scared of the surgery. The anesthesiologist told me that was soon as baby was out, all I had to do was ask and she would slip something into my IV to put me asleep. John just held my hand, told me it would be OK, and they waited for me to calm down. Then … off we went to the OR for my 8pm c-section.
The surgery itself was strange. It just felt, to me, like they were pushing down on my belly button and moving around a bunch. After my initial freak out I’d found some kind of calm, just sort of lay back, closed my eyes, and waited for it to be bad. My doctor and the others were chatting about totally inconsequential things, very casual and laid back, and suddenly someone says, “oh, and there’s his butt! And some legs!” Say what? I’m still waiting for the cutting to start. 10 minutes, John told me later, between me being wheeled into the room and them finding a butt. After that, I wasn’t entirely happy, but I managed a few jokes whenever my doctor addressed something to me. I got her laughing at one point. The shakes were the worst part of it, the way the strong epidural made me shake uncontrollably, even got my teeth chattering.
Daniel Joseph was born at 8:12pm on March 11. He weighed 5lb 6oz and was 19 inches long. His cries were more high pitched than I remember his brother’s being, but they were just as loud and strong. They brought him over for me to see him and give him a kiss, then offered him to Daddy to hold. Of all the things from the whole experience, the sight of John holding our tiny little guy, rocking him as nurses and doctors in operating gear bustled around, and the look on his face are what I’ll never forget. It made my heart melt.
Daniel Joseph Scriven
March 11th @ 8:12PM
5lb 6 oz
Pregnancy photo album in the Gallery is now sporting a belly shot as of today, and an ultrasound of the little guy a week ago. Just sayin’.
I added to the gallery today some belly photos from this pregnancy. I’m trying to take one a month, since I didn’t do anything with my first pregnancy and got a lot of grief for it. It’s also interesting to see how I grow, or don’t, as the case seems to be. You would think, for 27 weeks, there would be a more dramatic change?
Then again, at a meeting on Wednesday, I had someone who sees me 4 days a week and talks to me all the time do a double take because he didn’t realize I was pregnant. So I guess not.
Whatever. My doctor says I’m measuring on target – 28cm at 28 weeks, which is textbook perfect – so I figure I’ll just be thankful I haven’t gained a million pounds!
So, feeding. Gosh, this is a tangled up subject for me. Not Eric – he’s a picky eater and drives us both crazy sometimes, but we’re making due. We recently decided that maybe he doesn’t each much because he’s always chugging down milk, so we’re switching him over to water and maybe a little juice with a bottle of milk in the morning and evening. I’m thinking of picking up one of those Healthy Harvest juices that has a serving of veggies in it too; that isn’t the best way to get vegetables into a kid, but it’s better than nothing, and I know a few people whose kids love the stuff.
It’s feeding the next one that worries me. I had such a bad, crazy experience last time, and it still bothers me. I think it’s one of those general failure things. I set out to do something and crashed and burned so hard it made my head spin. Unlike many who try to nurse and fail, there is absolutley no guilt in me regarding an “inferior” method of feeding. To heck with that, I say; Eric is happy, healthy, and formula works just fine. It’s just that the switch wasn’t so much my choice and thrust upon me, and while I maintain that I have no idea where Eric’s stubborn pride comes from, it’s pretty obvious I have something to do with it.
I waffle a lot on what I want to do this time around. On the one hand, I would love to try nursing again. I wonder, sometimes, if it might not have helped with all of Eric’s illness in the first few months. I really like the idea of it being free! And of not having to run to Walmart for formula every week or two, no matter how many cans I try to stock up on in the house. On the other hand, the idea of it is daunting, being the one that has to be up for all the feedings at night, being tired to feeding a child all the time… And, of course, I’m scared of it going south again. After such a positive formula experience, it’s hard to consider doing anything else!
So I just don’t know. I signed up for a breastfeeding class this morning, and I’ve started researching support networks, so that if I do decide to nurse I’ll know where to go for help. I really had very little foundation under me with Eric, so when things were difficult, I didn’t know what my options were. I plan, at the very least, to nurse in the hospital and for the first week. After that, we’ll see what happens. This time, I want the decision to be mine. I want to be the one that sits back and goes, “No, this isn’t working, let’s go get some formula,” or “Yes, I think I want to do this.” I don’t want to repeat me crying over the pump with my husband telling me it’s time to give it up. Thank god for him and his support – if he wasn’t so awesome, I doubt I’d even consider trying this time.
We’ll see. It’s so weird to me to even be thinking of this stuff. I booked the class, and got a number for a tour of the hospital, because at some point it will probably be a good idea to do that again. It’s a little early to book that, but with the holidays coming up, it’s good to have the information on hand.