Thursday, April 16, 2015

32 weeks 3 days

I'm well into the 30s now and it's pretty exciting!  My doctor started seeing me every two weeks basically since my surgery and every time we meet he is so excited to see that I'm still holding strong!  Just a few more weeks and we'll be even more relieved!

32 weeks 3 days!

I had my checkup today and everything looked great with one exception.  The protein levels in my urine have been creeping up since about 26 weeks and today they were high enough to warrant a 24-hour urine collection.  This means preeclampsia could be our next problem.  (I called it...I really did.  I knew this was going to happen over a month ago.)  But honestly, it may not be anything to worry about quite yet because my blood pressure is fine.  I normally have super low blood pressure, so I suppose that could make it harder to catch because what's normal for everyone else would be high for me.  But with no swelling or debilitating headaches (although I have started getting a few super mild headaches in the last few weeks), I'm feeling optimistic.  Mostly I'm just relieved to be past 32 weeks, because I could handle having my baby at any point now.  Of course, I'm still holding out for a 9-pounder, so I'm really hoping this doesn't put a kink in my plans!  We'll just have to see what the labs say.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya?

More generic pregnancy updates:

I seem to be recovering well from my gallbladder removal.  I was told that the internal stitches will take two months to dissolve, so that should happen in the next few weeks.  As for now, they appear to be trying to make their way out through my skin instead of just dissolving like good little stitches are supposed to do.  My incisions are getting more red, tender, and swollen, although they don't appear to be infected at all.  My OB told me not to be surprised if my skin opens up and a few stitches come out.  Sounds fine by me.  I'll just be glad to have that part over with.

We decided to be proactive about my heartburn.  Since I was feeling the pain and then treating it with zantac and tums every single day, my OB was on board with me taking generic prevacid to stop the pain before it starts.  It's made a world of difference, I tell you.  It even seems to help with the debilitating pain I sometimes feel where my gallbladder used to reside.  I don't know what's up with that, but I'm hoping it goes away after the baby comes and my organs aren't all squished up under my ribs.

I think I've developed a bit of sleep apnea.  Sometimes I wake in the night, gasping for air.  It's a strange sensation, for sure.  My doctor's not too concerned about it, especially since we're getting so close to the finish line.  I can live with it for another eight weeks.

My weight has been weird.  I gained at least 8 pounds of IV fluids during my hospital stay, and then I lost 16 pounds, putting me 8 pounds below where I was when I was admitted to the hospital.  It has taken the last 6 weeks to gain that 8 pounds back.  So as of yesterday I have gained 16 pounds total during this pregnancy.  It's definitely less than my first two pregnancies (where I gained 15 pounds by 27 weeks with each), but if I gain the expected one pound per week from here on out, that'll put me right at 24 pounds when I deliver, which is just right.  My weight was completely stagnant for a while after my surgery, so I was worried about how the baby was going to grow, but we're all caught up now.  :)

The baby is measuring just right, around 32-33 weeks.

I have another ultrasound to look at the heart at 34 weeks to check on the echogenic foci (is that the plural of focus? because there are three...).  After that, I'll see my doc every week.

I wake up once every single night to use the bathroom, usually around 3-4AM.

My aching right hip keeps me tossing and turning all night.

I've been pulling abdominal muscles, which doesn't feel that great.  It literally leaves me unable to do anything but sit on the couch for a few days, but then it seems to go away.

I'm still feeling pretty good otherwise, which is awesome.  You might be able to count my hankerin' for fresh fruit as a craving.  Jimmy John's sandwiches are also on my "gosh that sounds so good" list.  I had a dream about Jimmy John's and fruit the other night.  It was amazing.  I'm loving apple slices and peanut butter.  Hot chocolate chip cookies.  Yum.  Goldfish crackers.  Ikea meatballs.  That's about it.  ;)

Here are all my recent belly shots!:

28w1d

29 weeks

30 weeks

Today, at 32w3d.

My insanely adorable baby boy with chubby cheeks and squishy lips and a button nose at 29 weeks.

Monday, April 13, 2015

No Doubt, It's Necessary

At times I've questioned whether we did all we could do before resorting to the feeding tube for Caleb...would we make the same choice if we knew then what we know now?  Then I see Caleb come down with a simple little stomach virus (or a cold, or any other virus) and his GI system completely shuts down to where he can hardly digest anything without throwing up.  He NEEDS that feeding pump to deliver a continuous slow drip of formula (or pedialyte) to keep him from needing an IV for hydration and blood sugar.  I can't count how many hospitalizations we've avoided because of his tube!  And that's to say nothing about being able to give him the calories he needs (and can't get on his own) to grow and thrive on a daily basis.  It's true, I'm pretty glad to have that little life-saving piece of silicone in his abdomen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The things bouncing around inside of my head....

If I were to die tomorrow, Nate would certainly win an award for best single father.  But one thing that I'm just not sure he could handle is switching an entire child's wardrobe up a size.  What an ordeal!

Speaking of switching a child's wardrobe up a size, it's unfortunate that Caleb wore size 18m clothes during the summer and Russ will be wearing size 24m clothes this summer.  I'm just not sure how it's going to go having a baby in June when my other two were born in the winter!  I don't want to have to buy more clothes.  We have a ton already!

Is it normal to have pain in your rib cage, right where the gallbladder used to be, a month post-op?  I don't know.

The other day on a preschool field trip, at the museum where they were giving a live animal show, the presenter asked the kids to tell her magical words (like Abra Kadabra).  Caleb piped up and said, "Expecto Patronum!  Wingardium Leviosa!"  Oh, Caleb.  You are so awesome.  :D

Caleb noticed his feet falling asleep for the first time a few days ago.  He described the feeling as "glitter."

Whenever Russ is sad, he asks for Dolly.  A Dolly snuggle always makes him feel better.

Whenever I try to get Russ dressed, he tells me, "But I want to wear pajamas all the days!"  Seriously, how can I argue with that?  I feel the same way, bud.  So we both pretty much wear pajamas on days that we don't have to leave the house.  I like to use the excuse that maternity clothes make my incision hurt (it's true!  Honestly!).  His excuse is that he's an independent 3-year-old.  So don't judge if you stop by unannounced.  ;)

Speaking of Russ getting dressed, he's super picky about his clothes.  He only wants to wear "soft things."

Russ is like a mini Caleb when he's sleep deprived.  Wild and crazy.  You don't want to be in our house on days like that.  If it's a zoo on normal days, just wait until Russ only gets 8 hours of sleep and refuses to take a nap!

I had a dream the other night that I gave birth--to two baby goats.  One boy and one girl.  I was pretty upset about it because the doctor had told me that I was having two girls (but never said anything about them being animals...apparently that doesn't matter to my subconscious as much as gender does).


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Enthusiastic!

*after being tucked in bed for the night, Caleb shouted down, "MOM, DAD, MOM, DAD, MOM, DAD" until Nate went to see what he needed*

Caleb: Dad, what does "enthusiastic" mean?
Nate: It means you get excited about everything.
Caleb.  OH!  I'M enthusiastic!

Caleb, you are the most enthusiastic person I have ever met, and I love you all the more because of it!  Never stop being you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

27 weeks 1 day

I have officially made it to the point in my pregnancy where I delivered Caleb!  If I make it through the night, as I tell myself, this baby will have a better start than his oldest brother.  After seeing your tiny baby struggle, that's a big deal!

It's crazy to think that this little guy (gosh, I wish we had a name for him!) is about two and a half pounds right about now.  On his ultrasound last week, he looked so much like Caleb did when he was born!  He's got the same face shape, the same chubbyish cheeks...
It's crazy to think that that's what's growing inside of me, kicking all day long, getting stronger every day.

Stay put for another three months, Little Guy, ok?

So.  This pregnancy.  You see, after dealing with the pain of infertility, and the struggle of having a micro preemie, I try not to take a single day of my pregnancy for granted.  I'm so very grateful that I get to have this experience.  So I don't want to complain, not at all, but I just have to say...this sucks.  Even though my pregnancy with Russell taught me that I'd rather be 40 weeks pregnant than have a newborn, I'm just really looking forward to this being over.  And can you blame me?  I was sick to the point where you couldn't even mention food to me until 15 weeks (and needed one ER visit for IV fluids when I had a stomach virus), I bled from 13-18 weeks (requiring another ER visit) and was on bed rest that whole time, and then at 26 weeks I needed surgery (and another ER visit and 3-day hospital stay) to have my gall bladder removed.  Seriously?  This has just been a horrible experience all around.  I'd like to think that now it's time to relax and enjoy the rest of my pregnancy (last time I wasn't all that uncomfortable when I got huge in my last trimester), but I can't shake the feeling that something is coming next.  Maybe preeclampsia (I did have a little protein in my urine while I was in the hospital, which I've never had before).  Maybe preterm labor.  Maybe the placental abruption will rear its ugly head again.  Maybe something else obscure, like that gall bladder mess, that isn't even on my radar.  I don't know.  All I know is that I'm anxious to cross the finish line.

On a more generic update:

I've been throwing up about once every other week, and needing to pop a zofran for nausea a few times a week.  It's usually water first thing in the morning that pushes me over the edge and sends me to throw up.  
I have awful heartburn, especially in the evenings or after eating chocolate, and it requires a zantac and a tums to combat it.  
My hair is falling out like mad, but my thyroid is a-ok.  
I passed my glucose test with flying colors (thank goodness, because most of the time I feel like I'm getting low blood sugar and I need candy of some sort to make me feel less queasy).  
I've gained around 15 pounds, which is right on track...but that's sort of a guess, because I always retain a ton of fluids when I'm on an IV, so I literally gained at least 8 pounds in my 3 days in the hospital.  I'm still losing it after coming home 4 days ago.
Both my hips ache when I sleep at night, even though I've been using a pillow between my legs since at least 10 weeks.  My right hip is much worse, and it's definitely something more than sciatic nerve pain.  Sometimes when I roll over at night I'll feel my hip joint pop and feel instant relief.  I also have to be careful not to aggravate the nerve when I give myself my progesterone shot on that side.
I've definitely adopted a waddle since my surgery, and I think it's here to stay.
And since pregnancy isn't all bad, my skin is clearer than ever!  Because I have PCOS, I have acne from my messed up hormones.  My hormones must be doing something right right now, and I'm really enjoying having clear skin.  :)
I don't have to deal with insane cravings, which is nice.  There are some foods that I think about more than others (chocolate cake, strawberries, and goldfish crackers at the moment), but this is the first pregnancy where I'm not a slave to whatever sounds good.  That's a pretty nice feeling.
I also haven't had headaches with this pregnancy.  I had debilitating headaches with the first two, so I really appreciate that I don't need to be taking tylenol all day long, taking naps, turning off the lights and closing the curtains, and drinking tons of water and even caffeine to try to get the headaches to subside.  That was seriously awful, so I'm so happy to not have to deal with that!

Well, happy 27+1 to me and my third baby boy!  I would go get some cake to celebrate, but leaving the house (read: putting on real clothes, aka, maternity pants that will make contact with my incisions) doesn't appeal to me, so I just had some chocolate cake that our awesome neighbors brought us when they brought dinner a few days ago.  I finished it up.  No shame.

And since there are only two pairs of pajama pants that are comfortable on my post-surgery belly, there will be no 27+1 picture today.  But here are the other random belly shots I've taken recently:

21 weeks

23 weeks

24 weeks

23w4d with Caleb and 23 weeks with Russell

25 weeks

26 weeks

I'll let you imagine just how big I must be now and I promise I'll try to remember to take a picture the next time I actually put on something other than pajamas.  :)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gall Bladder Woes

Once again, I woke up at 3:30AM.  Instead of bleeding, this time I was in intense pain.  For the first few seconds, if felt like an awful back ache.  It didn't take long to escalate and become unbearable.  It felt like labor cramps, but it engulfed my rib cage.  I woke Nate and told him I was in pain, then went downstairs to try to walk it off.  I thought maybe the baby had cozied up in my rib cage, and I tried to push him out.  I thought maybe I had a spinal infection caused by my weekly progesterone shots.  I thought maybe it was appendicitis, but I couldn't tell where my appendix might be since my anatomy is all squished together because of my growing belly.  The thought that I could be in labor at 26 weeks 2 days put me over the edge.  That is just way too early to be having a baby!  And besides, my belly didn't feel tight.  I tried rocking on my hands and knees.  I tried massaging my back against the door jam.  I tried breathing through the pain.  After about an hour, I sent Nate a text saying that I needed him to come downstairs to give me a blessing.  I don't remember what was said, but I do remember thinking that this wasn't going to go away on its own.

So we left our sleeping boys in their beds, called a neighbor to come sleep on our couch, and left for the emergency room.

I was in so much pain!!!!  They had to put me in a wheelchair (they wanted to send me straight to labor and delivery, which freaked me out) and Nate had to answer all of the questions because I couldn't talk or think through the pain.  There was no question my pain level was at a 10!  I never thought I'd be able to say that, because I am no wimp, but this was a 10, no doubt!

They ended up taking a urine sample, getting some blood, doing a non-stress test (monitoring the baby's heartbeat and my contractions), and starting an IV with morphine.  After the morphine kicked in, I felt like I could function like a semi-sane human again.  There was still no way I was going to go anywhere without a wheelchair, and by the time the morphine started to wear off I started writhing around on the bed again, but I had a few hours where I could think through the pain, which was nice.

Anyway, long story short, they were going to assume that it was kidney stones and we'd just have to control the pain while waiting for them to pass.  My blood, urine, and kidney ultrasounds showed nothing to lead them to believe that it was kidney stones, but it was their best guess since they couldn't do an MRI on a pregnant patient.  They were discussing admitting me for pain management (ie, giving me a morphine pump), because a few hours of morphine and some oral pain meds were clearly not going to do the trick.  When those meds were wearing off and the pain was coming back, it was easier to tell that the pain was originating from just under my rib cage on my right side.  The wonderful L&D nurse (seriously, I hope she delivers this baby in 3 months) had a "light bulb" moment and said, "Let's do an ultrasound of your gall bladder!"

So they did it, and it took a while to get the results back, so they admitted me on the Mother/Baby floor, set me up with a morphine pump (literal life-saver, there) and let me order lunch.  I took a few bites of food and couldn't keep it down.  I didn't exactly feel sick, but my stomach was just rejecting anything, even juice and crackers.

Eventually, in comes the surgeon, Dr. Patterson, to explain to me that I do, indeed have gall stones.  Two large ones and many small ones.  The small ones could travel through the duct and into my liver or pancreas and cause all sorts of serious problems there, and one of the large ones is currently blocking the gall bladder duct, causing the spasms and pain.  He said that the best course of action for me would be surgery to remove my gall bladder, and if I hadn't had lunch (even though I threw it up...) he could have done it then and there.  He also said that it's common for pregnant women to develop gall stones, and that they only feel safe removing gall bladders during the second trimester, before the growing uterus makes it too difficult to do it laproscopically.  Since I'm less than 2 weeks away from my third trimester, time was of the essence.

So I immediately start "fasting" and we plan to do the surgery in about four hours.  It's usually an outpatient surgery, but since I'm pregnant they wanted to keep me at least overnight so they could do a continual non-stress test to make sure the baby was alright and that the surgery wouldn't cause me to go into labor.  Then, on second thought, the nurse comes back in and says that they want to transfer me to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, where they have neonatologists and an awesome NICU (the very same one that Caleb stayed at for his first 100 days of life) that could take care of us in the rare chance that this surgery caused the baby to come early.  And since I was on morphine, the only way they could send me was via ambulance.

(*Side note:  When Nate told the boys that I was going to ride in an ambulance, Caleb said, "NO WAY!" like he was jealous because it was so cool.  Russ said, "Oh no!" like he was concerned because I must be really hurt.  Those boys are so different!  And so funny!*)

Anyway, I end up in L&D at UVRMC.  We waited all night to see the on-call surgeon, who wasn't exactly on-call...they tried for hours to reach him, and he just never answered his phone.  They would have gone with another surgeon, but Dr. Patterson had already talked to him and gone over my test results and medical history with him, so he "knew" me and my situation.  They eventually realized that the surgery wouldn't happen that night, and let me eat a little jello and drink some apple juice.  I promptly threw it all up.  Nice.  The surgeon, Dr. Rasmussen, ended up coming in late that night and talked to me about the risks and benefits of doing the surgery.  He basically put the choice in my hands.  I felt a little like I would be crazy to opt for the surgery, but crazy not to.  It was dangerous either way.  If we chose not to do the surgery, it could cause serious problems for my liver and pancreas, or cause me to be in extreme pain for the rest of my pregnancy, and once we got into the third trimester they wouldn't be able to do anything about it without delivering the baby first.  If we chose to go with the surgery, it needed to be done ASAP to minimize the chance that they'd have to do a big incision (instead of laproscopic) which would require a longer hospitalization and a much harder recovery.  It could also cause me to go into labor and deliver a baby at 26 weeks, which is kind of a big deal!  That's even earlier than Caleb, who was born at 27 weeks 1 day!  We were to let him know in the morning.  So Nate and I talked and prayed about it, and I just felt strongly that I trusted the first doctor's opinion more, and he suggested the surgery right then and there.  I felt that the off chance of going into labor, or needing an open incision and longer recovery time, were worth the risk.  After all, if I went into labor, they could probably stop it, or at least hold it off for a few weeks.  Not to mention, I couldn't spend the rest of my pregnancy dependent on morphine, and there was no way I could handle the pain without it.  And then there's the fact that I was completely unable to eat or drink....So surgery was our decision.

Yes, this is my post-surgical belly.  All incisions were glued shut.  The lower one is the biggest one, and it's about a finger-length above my belly button, and maybe 1.5 inches long.  Baby Boy likes to kick it.  I don't like that so much.  It was pretty badly bruised coming out of surgery.   The two on the side are super easy to ignore, and the one on the top gets easily irritated just because of its location, but it's not so bad otherwise.

So they did surgery the next morning!  It went well.  Four laproscopic incisions.  The doctor said my gall bladder was starting to look inflamed.  Baby was going nuts afterwards, tons of movement with a good, strong heartbeat.  It was all very comforting.  Before going into the OR I was feeling like another "gall bladder attack" was coming on, which just confirmed that this surgery was the right choice.  And when I came out of the OR, that pain was completely gone.  It was replaced by a new pain, the kind you feel after you've been cut open and an internal organ was removed, but that kind of pain is more tolerable because you know that it will improve with time.
Yes, this is my gall bladder and those are the stones.  I have no idea if they're as bad as normal, or worse, but you can see two bigger ones and many smaller ones.

They let me order a late lunch, and I didn't throw up!  And I haven't thrown up since (although I've been eating really small portions)!

They monitored my little guy all through that night and until they discharged me around noon the next day.  He has a really steady heartbeat.  I felt like I got to know him better through this.  After all, he went through everything right there with me!  He's been through a lot for an unborn baby!  The heart monitor picked up and magnified his hiccups, and he hiccuped a lot!  He also would kick all day long against the monitor, which makes a really loud sound.  This kid is gonna have personality, I tell ya.  But after all of this, I feel more bonded to him.
Have you ever wondered what the outside of a uterus looks like from inside the abdominal cavity?  Wonder no more!  That's where my little guy is housed.  I'd guess he's just over two pounds right now, and safe and sound inside of his little womb.  Awww!

I was discharged after 2 nights and 2.5 days total.  Recovering at home has been hard...my lungs hurt, which is a normal part of recovering from an abdominal surgery.  I need to cough and breathe deeply, but it just hurts so much!  I've got a slight fever, and that first night at home my oxygen levels had me worried.  But today I woke up feeling half-way like a functioning human, and tomorrow will be just a little better, so I think I'll be ok.  :)  We'll see how living a gall bladder-less life effects me...good thing I never really jumped on that bacon bandwagon!  It's safe to say I'll be sad if I can never comfortably eat a donut again.  So far I haven't had any morning sickness or heartburn.  I can't say it has anything to do with the surgery, but hey, I'll take it!  There's a good chance that I can go on living without ever thinking of my lack of a gall bladder ever again, and that's the goal.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Feeding Tube Awareness Week

Parents of tube-fed kids usually have a love/hate relationship with their child's tube.  More love than hate from me, though.  We all wish our kids didn't need it (uh...how nice would it be to have a kid who can stay healthy without daily medical intervention???) but we're so glad the tube is an option!  It keeps them alive!

So for Feeding Tube Awareness Week this year, I'd like to share some of the things we love about that little piece of silicone that happens to save our kids on a daily basis!

*****
I can give him medicine without hearing him whine.  I can also give him medicine while he's asleep!  You know how when your kid has a high fever and you have to alternate tylenol and motrin every four hours?  Never mind what time he goes to bed, I can continue to give him medicine to keep his fever down without interrupting his slumber!
*****
I can keep him hydrated while sick.  You know when your kid can't keep anything down, and it's all you can do to make sure they eat popsicles, or a tiny bit of electrolyte drink every hour?  Well, I can just put Caleb on his feeding pump and set it to deliver gatorade or pedialyte at 20ml/hour, or whatever speed he's able to handle without throwing it up.  It's pretty darn handy.  In fact, at this very moment he's set to get 300ml at a rate of 80ml/hour because he has a cold and whenever he coughs with too much food in his tummy, he throws up.  He used to need IV fluids whenever he got sick, but in the almost 4 years that he's had his tube he has only needed an IV for sickness once!  And that was because his blood sugar was doing some wonky things after a day of puking, even though he was able to keep down 20ml/hour of gatorade for an entire night before going to the ER.
*****
I love that we can make sure he gets exactly the nutrients that he needs.  I've heard so many people lament that their kid will only eat hot dogs, pb&j, or quesadillas.  No veggies?  No problem.  I can rest easy knowing that he "eats" more healthy than pretty much any other kid his age.  Even though he is a veggie fan.  ;)
*****
Got a gassy baby?  No problem.  Just hook him up and burp him!  It's called "venting" and it's an easy way to get the air out of the tummy.
*****
You know how feeding a kid is a big production with all the mess involved?  You've got to do all sorts of dishes, wipe down the table, sweep the floor, wipe the kid's face, and sometimes even change the kid's clothes?  Not with a tube!  Unless the syringe disconnects unexpectedly and you spill formula all over (it happens), or the tubing disconnects while they're sleeping and instead of feeding the kid you feed the bed (it happens, and it's why Caleb's bed will always have a mattress protector)...but other than those instances, it's pretty mess-free!  All you have to clean afterwards is a tube and a syringe.  Not bad at all!
*****
When your kid is about to toss their cookies and they just look so uncomfortable...if you can work fast, instead of sending him to the bathroom to hurl, just hook up the tube and syringe and vent him.  You'll get his stomach contents out through his tube instead of letting them come up and out of his mouth.  It's so much more comfortable.  Just imagine needing to throw up, and not having to feel the discomfort of actually throwing up.  Amazing.
*****
Road trips are so much easier when you can tube feed your kid.  Imagine there's a long stretch where there aren't any fast food places (not that there are any fast food places where we can feed Caleb, anyway because of his food restrictions.  Only Chick-fil-a, which needs to expand across the country!).  Just hook him up on schedule and feed him.  Easy peasy.
*****

Well, right there is a pretty good list of reasons why it's awesome to have a kid with a feeding tube.  There are a million reasons why kids need feeding tubes--some aspirate food and drink into their lungs, causing recurrent pneumonia; some have severe oral aversions; some have low muscle tone; some have problems digesting; some have anatomical problems, like esophageal stricture or short gut syndrome; some are too weak to eat enough (like babies with congenital heart disease, or other organ failure); some need to go on a special formula and refuse to drink it by mouth because it's pretty yucky tasting (like Caleb); etc--and there's not a single parent alive who doesn't wish their kid didn't need a tube.  It's commonly believed that a kid won't starve himself.  To that I say, a healthy kid won't starve himself.  And we all want healthy kids.  For us, using a tube to feed Caleb is the best way to keep him healthy, despite his disease and special diet.  So instead of hating our circumstance, I choose to see the silver linings.  It's pretty awesome that we can use a tube to keep Caleb alive and thriving.  And it's pretty awesome that we can use it to help him burp, too.  ;)

Happy Feeding Tube Awareness Week!

This is Caleb with an OG (orogastric) feeding tube at a few days old.

This is Caleb with an NG (nasogastric) feeding tube at almost five months old.

This is Caleb during his year of being tube-free.  He was about 15 months at the time.

This is Caleb with an NG tube for the second separate time in his life, around 18 months old.

Caleb with his g-tube (gastrostomy) at about 22 months old.

Caleb today, at 5 years 3 months, getting fed lunch with his g-tube.