Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the Garden....

I'm impatient.  I also have a tendency to complain.  A lot.  This adds up as the perfect storm for some real whining when the baby you've tried for and have been waiting on for nearly six years stays in past her due date.  I mean really, that extra five years of trying wasn't enough of a wait? But seriously, I've been thinking about my tendency to whine and how this could be a really miserable time right now.  I will probably not be able to hold back all sarcastic, "you better get out of there baby" comments, but I am working to be a pleasant person this week as we wait on the LONG-awaited daughter. 

The first conscious effort is trying to offer up this anxious waiting for all of those I know in need of prayer - for the woman fighting inoperable cancer, the family navigating the mental illness of a child, the friend with a very risky pregnancy, the couple desperately longing for a child.....for all of these people I can offer up my small amount of suffering. 

Reflecting on how to offer up my waiting for others, it got me thinking about lots of examples of people who have had harder waits than mine.  Maybe the most universally known is Jesus in the Garden.  When I feel the temptation towards self-pity, I think about the vigil of desperate as to sweat blood and all alone as those he trusted the most and was closest to fell asleep around him.  How blessed I am that I don't wait alone.  While I might be the only one going through the labor part, so many stand beside me physically, spiritually and emotionally as I await this baby. 

At 36 weeks, we started having some concerns about baby's growth.  A couple weeks later, the fluid levels had dropped around baby and she still wasn't growing very fast.  I reached out to my friends and family for prayer.  Over the next couple of days, I physically felt the grace of those around me praying for us.  I felt peace and surety in the midst of such uncertainty. 

Last week, I had an ultrasound that showed fluid levels had stabilized and increased slightly, baby was growing well and the pregnancy could progress without an emergency c-section.  This Wednesday marked 40 weeks.  I feel her grow stronger and more responsive by the day.  While I'm anxious to have her out, I realize the blessing that she was able to stay in and grow thus far.

Next Wednesday, we will try an induction.  The doctor isn't going to force baby to be born, just going to give me low levels of hormone to try to get the party started.  If it doesn't work, I'll go home, get some rest and try again in a few days.  Of course, I hope that baby comes before we're on to synthetic starts, but I'm making my peace with the extra wait and hoping that the induction is successful the first time, should it go that far.

In addition to offering up my wait (when I'm able to stop feeling sorry for myself!), I'm making an active effort to soak up some time with my two girls that are at home right now.  Lots of extra snuggles with SB and even a park day with LB.  I used my new Mother's Day/birthday camera to take a few pictures.  I can share the ones of LB, so here you go =D

I'll keep you posted and look forward to posting baby pics very soon!  Prayers always welcome!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Holding my Breath...

This pregnancy has flown by for the most part.  With the notable exceptions of waiting for my first ultrasound to confirm baby was not ectopic and that really long month of shots (thank heavens it wasn't longer!), the time has shot past me at lightning speed.

I just passed the 38 week mark last Wednesday.  At the 36 week mark, I had an ultrasound that confirmed baby girl is indeed in the correct head-down position.  This rejoicing lasted until the doctor's appointment where I found out baby is not thriving at the expected rate.  The concern is IUGR, or intrauterine growth retardation.  The little peanut was weighing about 5 1/2 lbs and was measuring 34.3 weeks at the 36 week mark. 

All of this led to the start of non-stress tests twice a week.  These tests are performed at labor and delivery and have taken anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the reactivity of baby.  As I try to look for the bright lining within the worry about baby's health, I've been thinking about what the non-stress tests have given me:

  • A knowledge of what the contraction I'm feeling looks like on the monitor to help me gauge intensity (most of my contractions are very mild at this point, but never having been in labor before, it's been nice to be able to match up the feeling with what's actually happening so I'll know when it's the real deal)
  • A private tour of the labor and delivery rooms - complete with a nurse talking me through what I can expect in terms of mobility and monitoring as a VBAC
  • A familiarity with the nursing staff (and the cleaning lady - she now asks me how I'm doing every time I come in)
  • A measure of comfort and familiarity with the hospital surroundings where I'll be when baby girl arrives
These things have been so nice to have.  Bringing a baby into the world is scary, nerve-wracking and unsettling enough, so having some comfort with where I'll be doing it and who will be there has been nice.  Knowing that I won't be able to get off the monitor to take a hot shower or a walk ahead of time helps me to set my expectations accordingly for when I get there, rather than be scared, uncomfortable and disappointed all at once.

I've also discovered from watching the monitors while I'm on my non-stress test that I can increase the effectiveness of a contraction by breathing through it....even those little ones seem to do a little more when I practiced my deep and relaxed breathing through them.  A definite confidence builder.

This past week at the 38 week mark, I had another ultrasound to check baby's growth.  They also checked the amniotic fluid levels.  Baby girl gained just a few ounces in two weeks and slipped behind in expected growth by another week, now measuring 35.4 weeks at the 38 week mark.  While the doctor said that baby's weight gain wasn't much, it was a weight gain, therefore, I could keep on keeping on if I was comfortable with it.  However, there is some concern now over my fluid levels as well.  I've dropped from having "great" levels to borderline in I've got about another centimeter of fluid I can lose before they start to really worry....and if I lose 3 cm, I'm not leaving the hospital without delivering.

While I'm excited to meet our little girl SOON, the downside of having to deliver right away if my fluid levels drop is that it would most likely be a c-section.  After months of hoping and praying that I'd be able to have a traditional delivery following Little Bean's c-section nearly 7 years ago, we were told at the 36 week mark that we could.  Well, the complications that have arisen since then may change all that.  If I don't start labor on my own, it would be too much stress on mom and baby to induce.  So, if she needs out after the ultrasound next Wednesday and I haven't started dilating, I'm going to be sawed in half yet again.

I realize it's not the worst thing in the world to have a c-section (although I did have two pretty significant crying jags after doctor informed me that was a real likelihood), but I'd spent the last couple weeks so happy that I wouldn't have a c-section that it really took the wind out of my sails to think otherwise.  I also worry about the increasing risks with additional pregnancies of repeated c-sections (I am an optimist in some senses I guess since I'm worrying about more babies after it took 5 years to get to this pregnancy!).

The doctor offered to put me on the schedule for a c-section this week.  In fact, if I'd been insistent, I might be in the hospital right now with my newborn.  She said based on my decreasing fluid levels and baby's minimal growth, if I felt uncomfortable waiting to see how things go, she would support either decision.  Because she felt baby was safe for now, I opted to wait it out.  If I didn't, I would always wonder if I could have.  Should baby not look good enough to keep cooking on Wednesday and I have to stay for a c-section, I'll probably be a little frustrated that I didn't just go ahead and do it this week, but I'm praying and trusting that letting her grow a little more and keeping a close eye on her will keep her safe for now.  Either inside or out, she's in God's hands.

But for now, it feels a little like I've been holding my breath for 2 weeks waiting for her safe arrival.

I feel the prayers of those around me as a physical presence.  Without the grace that has filled this last week, I can't imagine what a wreck I would be.  If ever prayers could send a woman into labor, I'm confident if I'm able to have this baby naturally, it will be by the grace of God and the prayers of so many around me who love this baby and my family so much.

I will take your prayer intentions with me, through the anxiety of these last few weeks or days and into the operating room or the delivery room, wherever God has planned for this little one to join us.

Until then, every twinge and contraction will make me hold my breath....just for a little while until I remember to breathe through it and wait on God's faithfulness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Growing Baby

Life has continued at the frenetic pace for much of this month.  Today marks the 37 week mark for my pregnancy - otherwise known as full-term. 

Since Little Bean was frank breech (not coming out, no way, no how), I had an ultrasound at 36 weeks to confirm this little one's positioning.  The ultrasound confirmed that she was indeed head down and ready for action, but it also showed that she was measuring about a week and a half behind, with an especially small stomach. 

As a result of the developmental delay, I've started having non-stress tests twice a week.  My husband has not tired of telling me not to "stress" during my test every time I mention them.  I think it's a sign of the grace from all the people praying for the baby and I that I haven't shown him the true lack of humor I find in that comment.....yet.

The non-stress tests have looked good so far.  My next one is scheduled for this Friday, with an ultrasound and a non-stress test on Tuesday.  Wednesday I'll go back to the doctor for her to interpret the results.  As she put it at today's appointment, "I don't want to induce you for a VBAC, but I will if I have to".  It is my ardent prayer that baby makes a move before an induction becomes necessary.

Last Friday, I sent a prayer request out to my homeschool community asking for prayers for baby and the hope to avoid an induction.  Today the doctor said I seem to be measuring larger and I've been having an increase in "warm-up exercises" in the form of contractions since Saturday afternoon.  I'd say the prayers are in effect.  Please keep the prayers coming.  I believe in miracles....and this pregnancy has exhibited quite a few :)

And now, a few pictures from last month....because it seems I am perpetually behind!

SB's Easter basket

LB happy with a bunny

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes Easter morning

An early morning hunt at our house

Searching for eggs at Grandma's

With her prize

LB and me

The fam


Both girls' baskets

LB's basket
In other important news, LB is graduating to the big gym in gymnastics.  For the last two years, she's been in the beginner's gym, but she is moving on up this summer!  Monday will mark her last day in the little gym.  She is VERY excited and we're looking forward to more heart-stopping tricks being learned next year :)

Practicing on the uneven bars
I am also looking forward to Mother's Day this weekend....and my younger brother's graduation from college.  It's going to be an exciting weekend!  Not the least of which is me REALLY hoping I'm getting the new camera I asked for as a combined Mother's Day/birthday present :)