40 Weeks

A mother's seventh (and final) journey through the wonders of pregnancy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

39 Weeks, 3 Days

At my 39-week checkup on Tuesday, the doctor was very optimistic that we'd be able to come in and have the baby while she was on labor and delivery this Sunday. I personally think she's a little over-optimistic, but I much prefer that to her resigning herself to doing a C-section!

As I understand it, if the baby is head down (which it was as of Friday morning, but no telling after all the somersaults he was doing last night) and the cervix is favorable (which it hasn't been,) I'm to call labor and delivery on Sunday and tell them I think I'm in labor, at which point they'll tell me to come in, I'll say the doctor wanted to see me, she'll examine me, and declare that I am indeed in labor, and we'll induce. I think she's wanting to avoid scheduling an induction because of how easily the baby is still flipping around and how long I could be postponed if the beds fill up.

The problem is, I can't see myself, expecting my seventh child, pulling off "Oh, I think I'm in labor" when I'm obviously not. With my fear of being caught in a lie and my aversion to breaking rules, it's more likely that as soon as they answered the phone, I'd spill the whole plot, get the doctor in some kind of trouble and find myself being told to stay home.

K wants to take me to his office for an ultrasound today to confirm the baby's position, but I don't see much point in going before tomorrow, since he can flip around as soon as we leave the office. I'd love to be induced tomorrow, because my labor is usually 14-16 hours from induction and I would probably deliver in the wee hours of Monday morning, which happens to be Layla's birthday. If K gets the dark-haired baby he's hoping for (Layla has been our only dark-haired child so far,) it will just seem even more like an extra special gift.

In summary, I might go to the hospital to have the baby tomorrow, or I might not. I'm trying not to get my hopes up so much that I'm disappointed tomorrow, but I need to get my hopes high enough that I have the motivation to go buy the baby things we still need and to pack a hospital bag. Here's hoping, then!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

37 Weeks, 6 Days

For those who don't know, the placenta previa was determined to be complete and unlikely to move at my 20-week scan, where we also learned we were having yet another boy. Poor Maya is destined to be outnumbered! My doctor resigned herself to most likely doing a C-section around 36 weeks, and I resigned myself to having it done.

Miraculously, and to the surprise of all involved, at my 28-week follow-up scan, it was determined that the placenta had shifted to the side just enough to allow for an uncomplicated natural delivery, should the baby choose to cooperate.

Today, at my 38-week checkup, it was not at all surprising to learn that my baby is not yet in a cooperative mood. He is in an oblique position rather than head-down, he hasn't dropped, my cervix is still tightly closed, and I show no signs of impending labor. Of course, although I'm great at carrying children to term, I'm not so great at spontaneous labor.

Labor history:
June 1989, Justin: 77 hours of consistent contractions that were strong enough to keep me from sleeping, but irregular and ineffective enough to be considered false labor. As the doctor was preparing to send me away from the hospital for the third time, he accidentally broke my water during the exam, cussed, and was forced to admit me. Pitocin needed to move labor along. Baby born about 13 hours later.

March 1997, Mina: Doctor decides to induce 10 days past my due date fearing deteriorating placenta and oversized baby. Baby born 16 hours later.

October 1998, Layla: Doctor decides to induce 10 days past my due date, mostly out of sympathy. Actually start having mild contractions that morning, but not effective enough. Baby born about 7-9 hours after introduction of Pitocin.

June 2002, Layth: Social induction about a week early due to impending move from Michigan to Texas. Can't even remember how long that one took, but started to recognize a pattern. Progressed fairly normally to 4 cm, very slowly from 4-6 cm, to the point of being threatened with C-sections, then very fast (under an hour) from 6-10 cm and the urge to push, drawing much skepticism from nurses and doctors alike. This pattern has occurred with every baby starting with Layla, at least.

February 2005, Maya: Unstable lie, meaning the baby wouldn't stay head-down. Uterus too roomy after so many children. Caught baby head-down via regular ultrasounds courtesy of K, and doctor let us induce around 39 weeks while she was in a good position. 13-14 hours total, but easiest delivery ever, with only one half-hearted push.

May 2006, Rayan. Almost exactly the same story as Maya, but with more pushing.

While there's probably more information there than anyone other than me would care about, it does illustrate just how unlikely spontaneous labor is to happen for me, ever. Since I'm hosting dinner for 8 at my house next week, I'm happy to wait another week, but the aches and pains are increasing enough that I'll be eager to start watching for that head-down moment and hoping circumstances permit an induction almost as soon as the dinner is cleaned up!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Baby Dream

Not the first, and almost certainly not the last, but I had a baby dream last night that I would classify as a "bad mother" dream. In my bad mother baby dreams, I have forgotten to take the baby (Justin) home from the hospital, been scared of my supernaturally talking or flying babies (Justin and Mina,) and had a hungry baby but nothing with which to feed or diaper him or her(can't remember which one that was!) In this particular bad mother dream, I wanted to nurse the exclusively breastfed baby (who happened to be a Maya-like baby girl) but was too busy to find the time. I was supposed to nurse her every couple of hours, but was only managing every six hours or so. The milk supply was dwindling, she was losing interest, and I was feeling like such a bad mother!

I was just at a gathering with a group of moms who were discussing breastfeeding concerns on Tuesday and I do have some anxiety myself since my last three have failed to gain weight satisfactorily until I supplemented with formula, and I already struggle with finding time for things, so the dream isn't terribly surprising! At least not until the janitor for the bank I worked for 13 years ago appeared with some keys I had been unable to find. It was nice to see his pleasant smile again, but that was a surprise! I've spent half the morning now trying to remember his name and wondering what became of him.

Monday, April 21, 2008

13 Weeks, 5 Days

The maternal-fetal medicine office called today to let me know that I was not a carrier for either cystic fibrosis or thalessemia, rendering them impossible for our baby to contract. Always nice to have a bit of good news!

Friday, April 18, 2008

13 Weeks, 2 Days

I had my first visit with my obstetrician today, and we hired a sitter so K could tag along and meet her formally. They had crossed paths in the business world, and he thought I would like her, so there I was. It was funny how helpful he tried to be to me during the appointment, asking if he could help me with this or that, and whether he could get me things. As soon as we were out the door, it was back to normal!

Nothing unusual about this visit, except that I had a lot of questions about placenta previa (see previous entry.) She agreed with K that it was too early to worry, but humored me with answers to all of my what-if questions anyway. If there is still a complete previa when I go for my 20-week scan, nothing will happen except that there's less chance of it moving and they'll want to check again around 28 weeks. If there is still a complete previa at 28 weeks, it isn't going to move, and I will automatically be scheduled for a C-section. Most complete previas are sectioned at 36 weeks due to the risk of heavy bleeding and emergency sections if the mother should start to dilate on her own. If I have any bleeding at all before then, I will probably be kept in the hospital for observation, and depending on the severity of the bleeding, may be sectioned even earlier. The risks and scariness get even worse if you read too much online, but she prudently reminded me that it was too early to worry, and what we would plan for at the moment was that I would only be a partial previa when I am scanned at 20 weeks and will have no previa at all when they check again at 28 weeks. That would be great, because I can't imagine trying to recover from a C-section with the "no heavy lifting" rule with four little ones at home! My abdomen is hurting just thinking about it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

12 Weeks, 2 Days

Looking like an alien in 3-D.

I went to the maternal-fetal medicine specialists today so they could tell me all about my increased risks for terrible problems with the baby now that I'm so old (38, for the record, and just a few breaths away from decrepit, one would think after a visit like this!) First, a visit with the genetic counselor, where I was reminded that at my age, the chances of having a baby with birth defects was about 1 in 130. This is down from about 1 in 2,500 when I was 25. I was enlightened about several different types of birth defects, from the more common Down's Syndrome to the less common but more fatal Trisomy 18 and 21 birth defects. I was warned about the chances of Spina Bifida and the possibility of Cystic Fibrosis due to my ethnic background and something else (maybe Thalassemia? My brain was numb by this time,) due to K's ethnic background. After all this enlightenment, I was cheerfully escorted back to the waiting room by the friendly staff to wait for a sonogram. K has done a few, of course, but he is only trained to look for the most basic things, since that is not his specialty.

Phil, the sonographer, was arguably the best I've ever had, and the first to explain such small details as which way was up when looking at the screen. According to Phil, based on the sonogram, my chances for a baby with birth defects were much slimmer than they were a few moments ago based solely on my age. On the other hand, there is another subchorionic hematoma to watch, which he agreed could have been caused by this incessant violent cough I've been dealing with for the entire pregnancy so far. The placenta is also much lower than it's supposed to be, and exactly centered over the cervix. Known as placenta previa, it is not too worrisome in the first trimester and usually migrates to one side or the other and well out of the way in time for the delivery. Phil says that in my case, though, I have a complete previa (not at all to one side or the other,) and these are much less likely to migrate. I worked up a good bit of worry reading about placenta previa, but K won't even consider starting to worry unless it's still a complete previa when I go back for my 20-week scan. He thinks it will still migrate.

After the sonogram, I warned the lady who came to take my blood that I was difficult to get blood from at the best of times and I happened to be slightly dehydrated that day. She informed me rather cockily that people told her they were difficult all the time and she never had problems with them. That's what I like to hear, but preferably only when it's true. It took two needle sticks and a lot of deep digging with the needle all the way in as far as it would go before she was able to get all the blood she needed. I was sure she was going right through a vein and would be coming out the back of my elbow at any moment.

Monday, March 24, 2008

9 Weeks, 5 Days

K has had to break the news to two women this week that there was no heartbeat at their routine 9-week ultrasounds. Not only is that hard for him, but since I'm at that same stage with the combined worries of advanced maternal age and a subchorionic hematoma, I've been a little anxious this week. He took me to his office for a sonogram last night, and I am happy and relieved to report that the hematoma has apparently resolved itself (as he predicted it would) and we saw so much movement that it really made the baby seem much more real to me. Hands were fluttering around the mouth already, we could see little feet kicking, and we could make out fingers and toes. K was even able to point out the yolk sac where he said our future grandchildren had been, although they had probably already moved out of the sac and into the baby by now. Is that amazing and miraculous or what??

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Round 7! 2 Months

Since we had been actively trying to conceive since April of last year, we knew as soon as it was possible to know in mid-February that we were expecting. Our original plan was not to tell anyone until we knew the sex of the baby about halfway through the pregnancy, but then Mom was trying to plan her vacation time and I had to tell her. Of course, if I had told my family, K had to tell his. So now everyone knows! As usual, there were mixed reactions, with a few family members and several friends being genuinely happy for us, and more family members who think we're crazy and contributing to overpopulation.

So far I've had no physical symptoms and wouldn't have even guessed that I was pregnant if I hadn't been trying so hard to get that way. Even after two ultrasounds (K has started dragging me in weekly just to be sure everything is progressing normally,) I sometimes feel like I'm just pretending to be pregnant because I want it so badly. Seeing the wiggly jellybean with a heartbeat on the ultrasound monitor makes it seem more real for a few minutes, at least, though I quickly go back to feeling like I'm pretending afterward. I do, however, already have my usual interesting pregnancy dreams, which include the scary "someone is trying to kill me" dreams. I only have those when I'm pregnant, for some reason. Thus far this pregnancy, I've nearly died in a terrorist's fiery blast on a hospital roof and had some other fire-related misadventure that I've conveniently forgotten. My other pregnancy dreams are usually more entertaining and outnumber the scary dreams, thankfully.

Here are a couple of pictures from our two sonograms for your squinting "what exactly am I supposed to be looking at" pleasure:

The two bright white spots in the upper right part of the dark circle represent the top and tail of the embryo at 6 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy.

At 8 weeks and 3 days, the baby has grown quite a bit in the past two weeks! Looking a bit like the Geico lizard, the baby's head is at the top of the dark circle, and the faint white line leading from the baby to the right side of the circle is the umbilical cord. To the left of the dark circle is another dark mass, which is a somewhat worrisome subchorionic hematoma. Although this is fairly common in the first trimester and usually resolves itself with no problems, I'd have been better off not knowing about it, since enough digging on Google can turn up negative outcomes for just about anything. K is keeping a close eye on this.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Welcome, little one.

30 minutes old.

When we got to K's office on the 19th, baby was head down, so we immediately headed for the hospital. We weren't going to give him time to change his mind again! I had K call the office, hoping receptionists and the like would pay more attention to a doctor than to a mother-to-be. It seemed to work, and we were told we could go ahead to the hospital as long as we understood that my doctor wouldn't be the one to deliver the baby. Fine, doesn't matter, let's just go! So we did, with me holding my belly in such a way that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for baby to shift again.

We arrived at the hospital and got settled in my room, then waited for the doctor to come do a scan to check the position. Still head-down ... good boy. Risks explained: if we get the IV and the epidural and he shifts again, I either go home and suffer all those punctures for nothing, or we get a C-section. If the membranes are ruptured and he shifts again, automatic C-section. Yeah, I was a little nervous at this point, but being determined (aka stubborn,) I just held my belly more firmly while the nurses chuckled to themselves and went ahead with it. The IV took two attempts, which I hated, but it hardly compared to the five attempts it took with Mina. The epidural is always as bad as I expect it to be, but certainly well worth it in the long run. The anesthesiologist gave me a test dose through the epidural so the rupturing of the membranes wouldn't be so bad. Thank goodness for that, because that part was awful with Maya, and with this baby even higher and less ready to make an appearance, I knew it would be even worse. The rupturing went fairly smoothly, considering, but the doctor had some trouble attaching the fetal monitor to the baby's scalp. He finally got it after several attempts, which left me free of those horrid belly monitors (and better able to keep holding the baby in that head-down position.)

The epidural medication and the pitocin were started, and we were off and running. I felt that it was safe to call my mom at this point and let her know she could come to the hospital after work. I was sure there was no rush, since my babies have never come in under 12 hours, and it was just after noon by this time. By 4pm, I was 4 centimeters dilated, and though I know my body, and it always takes me ages to get from 4 to 6, then I zip through the last 4cm in about an hour and deliver with one or two pushes, I was still hopeful that maybe this time it would be quicker. Silly me. At 8pm, I was still 4 centimeters, so we watched Pride and Prejudice to pass the time. We had to pause a lot for nurses, so it lasted quite a while. Just after 10:30pm, I reached the magic 6cm mark, and I thought I might deliver before midnight. Just before midnight, just about the time the movie finally finished, I started feeling the contractions a lot more than I should have. I really didn't want to feel them, and since I'm an expert pusher by now, I really didn't want to feel anything when it was time to push, either, so I begged the nurse anesthetist to give me more medication through the epidural, which she said she did, though it never did a bit of good. Just after midnight, it was time to push, and I was feeling everything. At least I remembered how to breathe, but I wasn't very happy, and no one was moving very fast to get set up so I could push. Fortunately for everyone around me, I was too busy breathing to yell at anyone. I finally managed to gather the strength between contractions to ask if I could go ahead and push. I heard a "yes" from somewhere, I pushed once (ow ... I really didn't want to feel that,) and Rayan was born at 12:13am on Saturday, May 20, weighing 6 lbs, 14 oz (my first one under 8 lbs ... I didn't know I could have one so tiny!) and measuring 19 inches long. It turned out that all the shifting from side to side the nurses had me doing to encourage baby to come down had dislodged the epidural catheter, which is why I was in so much pain at the end. At least it didn't happen until the very end, although maybe they could have fixed it had it happened sooner. Either way, once the baby was out, it didn't even matter anymore. Upon examination of our little bundle of joy, we could see all the tiny marks where the doctor had attempted to attach the fetal scalp electrode, and from the position of the marks, we could tell that although baby had been head down, rather than tucking his chin down, he was presenting his face, which was why it took him so long to move down and dilate the cervix. One of the marks was frighteningly close to his right eye. K had to point out that we were lucky it didn't damage his eye, the very thought of which nearly makes me cry.

We had agreed on the name sometime after arriving at the hospital. I told my mother the name when the baby was born, she passed it on in her phone calls, and I was content. More on that in a moment.

When Maya was born, we had missed the grand opening of the newly remodeled rooms and suites by a week, and K promised me that if we had another one, he'd get the suite for me, so he did. We were a few hours late getting there, because the postpartum nurse in charge of me was scary and didn't want to be bothered with me until she was good and ready, but the suite was wonderful. My sleeping area was about the size of a standard postpartum room, with a small flat-screen television and DVD player. Adjacent to my sleeping area on one side was a bathroom of about the same size, with a huge bathtub, a great shower area, and lots of counter space. Adjacent to my sleeping area on the other side was a large living area, with a fold-down Murphy bed for K, a sofa, a rocking chair, a recliner, a large flat screen television and DVD player, and a small kitchen area with a sink, refrigerator, coffee maker, and about 20 different kinds of tea. This particular hospital also prides itself on its room-service menu, which rivals a hotel room-service menu. You call when you're hungry, order whatever you want from the menu, and it's delivered in about 45 minutes. I'm sure everyone will understand why I didn't want to go home.

1 day old.

K went home to get his parents and our children, and wasn't supposed to bring them until they had finished the inevitable battle over the baby's name. It seems they were as afraid to ask as we were to tell them, and it wasn't even discussed. However, K found the name in Arabic, which is the only way to know the true pronunciation, since any English spelling is just a transliteration and could be mispronounced. K informed me that it should be pronounced "ray-AHN," rather than "RAY-un," which I had agreed to. Not a good time to tell me that. I didn't like the new pronunciation, rejected the name, and felt at a complete loss about what to name the baby. Now I had a nameless baby. A nameless baby who was battling jaundice just as much as his sister did. The pediatrician wanted him to stay in the hospital an extra day or two for phototherapy. I insisted on being able to have him in a room with me while he was under the lights, which the nurses agreed to, but only if I left my suite and came down to the floor where the nursery was. Deal. I hated leaving the suite, though!

Baby tanning bed? Blue light special? Nope - phototherapy.

We re-read the baby name books, K looked online again, but we had already done all that, and were no closer to agreeing on a name than we had been before. I lost count of the number of times the birth certificate lady called to see if I had the paperwork ready for her yet. The baby responded so well to the phototherapy that we were sent home a day earlier than I expected, on the 23rd. Shortly after finding out we were being sent home, the birth certificate lady called again to tell me she was leaving at 2:30pm and needed the paperwork by then unless we were prepared to go through all the red tape that would be required if we left the hospital without having turned it in. I was in tears, and K and I were at an impasse. At the very last possible minute, I wrote Rayan on the form, which we had agreed upon, even though we still disagreed on the pronunciation. I've expounded upon that at
Watermelon Roses.

Friday, May 19, 2006

39 Weeks, 2 Days

Baby was transverse this morning, but my breakfast apparently gave him the needed energy to change positions. We're heading to K's office now to check the position. If I don't post again today, things must be starting to happen!