Tuesday, September 30, 2008
During the ultrasound, we got to see exactly how my body is responding to contractions. Initially I measured around 3.6 cm/36mm. Then, my uterus balled up into a knot, as it frequently does, and the measurement dropped to 2.5ish cm/25mm. Once the contraction faded, my cervix lengthened back into the 3's. The technician was very amazed at this occurrence. We could hear her sharing my cervical story with another technician when we were leaving. I feel so honored!
A few weeks ago, I would have been a nervous wreck walking out of that office having seen those numbers. Not the case today. My guess...what we saw on the screen happens numerous times during any given day. All it did was further validate the fact that I do not have an incompetent cervix. It is holding strong despite frequent and strong contractions. So that is a positive. On the flip side, the contractions do change my cervix, even if only for a short time. We need to keep them under control so they don't push me over the threshold. ***Just a disclaimer...this paragraph is nothing but me interpreting what we saw and learned from today. But for the record, I am pretty sure Dr. B would agree with all of it. And Dr. Malone if that counts for anything?!?
So, bottom line. Still contracting daily, some pretty strong. But when I have 4 or more strong ones in an hour, I take a pill. Then I don't really talk about taking the pill because I am trying to play mind games with myself!!! My main prayer request is that I can continue to manage the contractions with meds at home. (I would also take it if they just stopped completely for an extended period of time but I don't want to sound too greedy...) And of course I want my cervix to keep up the good work!
To change the subject a bit. Physically, things are good. From a mental and emotional standpoint, I am also doing well. Sounds good in and of itself, right? Maybe. But, I find myself becoming "comfortable" again and that is not a place I really want to be. I'll try to explain.
Most people, including myself, have prayed for peace, faith, strength, hope, etc. for our family during this time. I do want to experience all the above and have on many occasions. Truth be known, I do not sit/lie around here stressed out and worrying all day long. I feel okay most of the time. However, that is where things get a little scary for me. There is fear in "comfort." Some days, I get so relaxed that I let my mind drift off in to the future and think..."this could really work...we could have a baby boy...I might need a car seat..." so on and so forth. This happened to me last time. Just when I started feeling confident we would have a little girl this summer, the rug was pulled out from under me. I opened my heart to the possibilities only to have it crushed once again. I SWORE I would not do that again. Slowly, but surely, I am doing it. With every good report, my guard drops a little. And who knows why. It is still very early. I am by no means "out of the woods." Technically, I am not even in the woods because we have yet to reach, my favorite word, viability.
What am I saying and why am I bothering to say it? Heck if I even know. I guess, I am struggling to find balance. When people call to talk and the future comes up, I tend to preface my sentences with one word, "if." "If we make it...if we have a baby..." Forgive me for sounding negative or pessimistic. It is only a useless attempt to protect myself from hurt and pain again. (which I already know it is ineffective) I feel safe when I use the "one day at a time" approach. That is biblical! And I am trying to work on my spiritual life!
Like my dynamic cervix (as it has been termed on several occasions) so it this post: all over the place! Sorry, to drag you through it all but this is what was on my mind today. It feels good to get it out. I will spare you with more for now but will try to post BEFORE next week. I have a few pathetic posts I have been saving up...
I feel like I exceeded the limit for use of parenthesis and quotation marks in one post...
Thursday, September 25, 2008
No news is good news right? That is what I am claiming anyway!! Tuesdays appointment was rather uneventful. The weekly ultrasound was great. The little guy looked great, with his hands and feet all up by his face. I can barely touch my toes so he did not get those hamstrings from me. Oddly enough, his arms and legs are measuring on the "long" side. He is very good at using them to remind me of his presence throughout the day. And anyone else watching, for that matter. The ole cervix is still holding strong.
Dr. B was glad to hear that I have not been taking the medicine very often. The contractions seem to be less frequent. Either that or I am just a little more relaxed about having them now. Probably a little of both. Regardless, the past week was relatively calm in-utero. I cannot tell you what that does for my sanity! I have never been so grateful for mental peace.
For now, we will just keep praying for many more weeks like this to follow! 14 or 15 would be great! :)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Well, at least part of him! He has legs, feet, arms and hands but it just gets too confusing if you try to get a picture of those, too! I thought this one was funny because he looks like he is smiling. More than likely, he is taking a gulp of amniotic fluid...but humor me for now and let me think what I want!
We had an appointment on Tuesday with Dr. B and another on Wednesday with Dr. C. Both went well. Having never had an anatomical scan with Dr. C, perinatologist/maternal fetal specialist, it was neat to see how thoroughly they looked at his heart. No visible abnormalities were found and, of course, that is a relief. Dr. C thought my cervical length looked so good that weekly scans are no longer necessary. This is a good thing! Initially, the weekly scans were intended to monitor for cervical incompetence and need for a cerclage. Considering the number of contractions I have along with the intensity, my cervix is holding like a champ. I don't have cervical incompetence and he would not consider a prophylactic cerclage at this point. The problems are, as we expected, preterm labor and the issues related to my clotting disorder. Dr. C is in agreement with my using terbutaline as needed. We also talked about short term and long term goals and his plans for "if " scenario A happens or "if" scenario B happens...etc. That was my doings because I need to know the plan. The very, short term goal is to make it to 25 weeks. I want much longer than that! Overall, we had a good appointment and we with a lot of questions answered.
Dr. B called this morning, wanting to hear how yesterday's appointment went. (I think it takes a few days for him to receive their report...and that is just how he is!) While he is in agreement with Dr. C's recommendation, he will continue weekly scans for a little while longer "just to be safe." The main reason being, in his words, for his "peace of mind." I am all about his peace of mind. Considering our history, I think he wants me to have this baby about as much as we do. He is also adding a low dose of antibiotics, "just to be safe." What is one more pill when you already take 8 a day? And 9 to 10 if I take the terbutaline?
There you have it. The latest update. I am still hanging out on the couch. We are blessed to receive meals on a routine basis. I cannot explain how much this eases Blake's load. Thank you, thank you. I have a new workstation that make typing more ergonomically pleasing. I will have to share a picture soon. Exciting or what? I am a sure that will keep you coming back for more!
Again, we ask for continued prayer. I am now 21 weeks and 1 day and have surpassed one milestone. Things seem to be going as good as they can right now. I want to keep it that way!
***if you read this earlier, it said I was 22 weeks. Unfortunately, I got a little ahead of myself. Sorry for the confusion. I am only 21.
I found myself in that pit last night. Blake and I were on the couch, at 9:30, eating dinner. I hesitantly took one terbutaline Saturday night and one Sunday at lunch because the pattern mentioned above was in full effect. I was told to take one, every 8 hours, as needed, when I have more than 4 contractions in an hour. By the time we had our very late dinner, ten hours had passed since having taken the first pill. It was safe to take a second. The next part of the story went something like this:
Me: "Should I take one?"
Blake: "Have you had 4 contractions in the last hour?"
Me: "Probably. Maybe more."
Blake: "Well, then take one. That is what they are for."
Me: starts to cry
Blake: "Why are you crying?"
Me: trying to pretend like I am not crying but obviously am, blurts, "I don't want to HAVE to take medicine. I don't want to build up a tolerance and have it become ineffective. Why can't my body just be normal? Why does this keep happening? I know God has the power to stop these stupid contractions but He doesn't and that makes me so mad."
Blake was basically at a loss for words but managed to say something back. I wiped my eyes and just took the stupid pill. Bottom line, terbutaline can lose its effectiveness if consistently taken over a period of time. 16+ weeks is a long period of time. I am so concerned with its becoming ineffective that I am scared to death to actually take it. To further impact the situation, I have also allowed myself to believe I am failing by having to take medicine in the first place.
...I promise this is going somewhere...
I met a new friend a while back through the blog (they are good for something). At that time, she shared her story of losing twin girls during her first pregnancy. More recently, she told me she also experienced preterm labor with her second pregnancy. During a moment of calm yesterday afternoon, I wrote asking to hear more details of her journey. Not expecting a response for a few days or so, I was shocked to find this in my inbox right after my breakdown with Blake:(I omitted a few things for her privacy!)
Hey Danielle! I wanted to answer a few of your questions- I think they might help ease your mind. With little girl I was admitted to the hospital a little before 20 weeks with contractions every 2 minutes, given shots of terb. every 4 hours and monitored for about 4 days. A couple of times during the middle of the night, the nurses would rush in and switch my position, make me drink water, etc. Twice they were getting ready to move me to labor and delivery because they were certain I was in labor. I had a specialist come and do an ultrasound which revealed that my cervix wasn't being affected by the contractions- A BIG SIGH OF RELIEF! However, I was given terb. and told to take around the clock- not just when I felt the contractions- every 4 hours which meant setting the alarm and taking them in the middle of the night. My doc said that research has shown that the more you take it, the less effective it becomes, but that she didn't want to take any chances. Neither did I! The terb made me feel awful, just really jittery and anxious, but did help calm the contractions- but made the baby go CRAZY in my tummy!! I was also given progesterone suppositories.- we talked about shots, but at the time they were still conducting studies on them, so we opted for the other method. So I was on complete bedrest- only getting up for a total of 45 minutes a day to take a shower and go to the bathroom- We pulled our mattress downstairs so that I wouldn't have to climb the stairs everyday and slept in the living room- the change of scenery really helped. I was admitted to the hospital 3 more times, with the last being at 34 weeks- this was the one that made me miss my baby shower. That was the BAD one where I was given the strong meds that made me soooo sick- it was also that time that I got steroids for the baby's lungs because it looked like she would come sooner than later- but... she didn't! She was only 10 days early- I even carried her 10 days after I had my cerclage removed- which shocked everyone! So I basically lived in constant fear for 19 weeks. But get this... with the baby that I delivered in November 07, I didn't have a SINGLE contraction until I went into labor 3 days before his due date. That really made me realize that every pregnancy is different- and he was 3 pounds heavier and 3 inches longer than little girl- go figure!! Just keep taking your meds, stay as horizontal as possible and don't be afraid to go to the hospital if something doesn't feel quite right- you have the right to be a nervous wreck. I am sure that you have found them already, but just in case, check into the online chat groups of mothers on bedrest- it makes it nice to know that there are a lot of women around the world doing the exact same thing that you are doing at this exact moment. At what date will you be 28 weeks? I remember my nurse telling me during one of my visits that if I could get to 28 weeks, I would definitely have a baby- scary, but definitely gave me a date to look forward to. Just remember that I am thinking of you and just remember what a great thing you are doing for that little guy inside your belly.
I cannot explain how perfect her timing was in sending this message. It was such a blessing that I felt compelled to dedicate and entire post to telling the world about it. Okay, maybe not the world but you get the point. She took the medicine as long as I need to. She took it more frequently than I am. Yes, she was admitted a few times but we are already expecting me to do the same, at some point anyway, too! No my story may not turn out as hers did. But hearing it gave me the fuel I needed to get through another day.
I feel like I need to give credit where credit is due. When Blake and I got in bed, our conversation went something like this:
Me: "This may be silly because maybe God doesn't work this way...but...it seems like He used "her'" to let me know He is working."
Blake: "I think He does work that way and I think He probably was using the email to speak to you."
I feel like I have said I don't feel God a million times. It only seems right to tell you I think He revealed Himself last night through an email. I think He was saying, "I am here. I am trying to help you. You have been provided with the means to stop your contractions and they are laying a foot away from your face. Take one and shut up!!!!"
So, maybe He didn't say shut up. Or, if you have read The Shack, maybe He did! I deserved it either way!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
In a strange way, I could relate to that game. Both teams looked about as good as my spiritual life feels - part of me looks like I have it together. But the other half of me is a train wreck. There have been comments on the blog, in email, on voicemail and even on Facebook about my faith, strength, courage, etc. While I would love to possess each of those virtues, I am ashamed to say you may have been fooled. I feel uncomfortable to receive such credit because I am not that person. Let me explain.
My parents taught me right from wrong at an early age. I was a fairly polite kid, saying "Yes ma'am" and "No sir" when responding to my elders. I wasn't the smartest in the class, but I always did my homework, never skipped class, never talked back to my teachers. Growing up in a Southern Baptist home, you didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't swear. Have you met or seen my father? He is big. He worked on a farm, worked on a railroad and has done manual labor as long as I can remember. His shoulders and arms are as solid as a rock. It never really crossed my mind to try and break spoken or unspoken rules around my house out of fear of the wrath of Danny.
A self-proclaimed social butterfly, I genuinely like people. I like to meet new people. It kills me that we had a new couple move in next door and I can't give them a warm welcome to our street. I will admit to sitting by our window the day they moved in just to catch a glimpse of their faces! When I walk down the halls at church, at work or in a store and make eye contact with someone, it feels natural for me to smile. It kind of bothers me when people don't respond with the same. I loved being a lymphedema therapist, as it allowed me to spend extended time with my patients, developing close relationships with many. I keep in touch with friends from high school, Tennessee Tech, Lexington, KY, Eastern Kentucky University and Auburn. I like to know what is going on with friends who have played a roll in my life. I call and try to stay connected...well, I used to be better at that but you know what I mean!
So why am I saying all of this? Maybe it sounds like I am full of myself. That is NOT at all what I am getting at. What I am trying to explain is that being a "good" person according to society's standard is not a struggle for me. I think it is fairly easy to be a "nice" person. But, those traits alone are not what I was called to be from a spiritual standpoint. There is more to it than that.
It is easy to be a Christian when life is, seemingly, going well. It has only been in the past few years that I witnessed despair around me and truly realized that no one is exempt from suffering. I watched a dear friend bury her husband after 10 months of marriage. Then I reflect back on the day I learned a life-long friend of ours had been in a helicopter crash and was badly burned. To stand on the sidelines as my friends suffered shook my spiritual foundation to the core. It was the first time my faith had been challenged and realized my shallow walk would not withstand such a test.
When the first round of despair hit our family, I was not prepared. Sure, I prayed most nights for a healthy baby and thanked Him for all the blessings in my life. I would mention a few prayer requests from friends and family, when I remembered. I went to church every Sunday we were in town. We were members of a small group that had its share of deep, spiritual discussion that made me think deeper, for a few minutes at least. I was "nice" to people the rest of the week, leading a fairly "good" life. God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit may be mentioned on a day to day basis in random conversation but that is about it. I was too busy to take it to the next level, spending the time needed to develop true relationship with my God.
I set out to change that once we lost Finley. I had been dealt my blow and I would learn from it. I would not replace that void with another baby. I would let a deep relationship with my Lord assume its rightful position. Ahhh, how quickly I became complacent once I had the hope of a new baby on the horizon. While I started out strong, my need for a Savior became less and less of the focus. Life was on the upswing and I could handle it, on my own. I moved into the same old routine, calling out to God for the things I needed on behalf of friends/family and of course, for myself. I scummed to the belief that I had "passed" my test of faith and would be spared sorrow for a few years, at least.
Then, February 25th, 2008 came and knocked me off my feet. I have been flat on my face ever since. Well, there was the brief glimmer of hope when I wrote Exposure. A brief moment of revival. But, shortly after, I learned I was pregnant and the downward spiral began. I immediately began a battle in my head. Wanting to trust God's hand in the timing of things vs the medical reality that this was much too soon and very risky. Fear seems to be winning over faith/trust. While I know God is bigger than medicine and He can defy the odds, I also know His plans may not be my own. The thought of the later seems to be more than I can bear. I am terrified of facing that outcome once again. It is a reality I cannot deny.
If it seems like I have it together, it is by the grace of God and God alone. I can take no credit for that. I am not courageous. I am not strong. I am not faithful. I am barely hanging on by a thread. I cannot pick up my Bible. On occasion, I utter prayers, begging for mercy for the sake of this child. I am not like the women whose blogs I read. I wish I could keep moving forward and praising Him in the midst of the storm. As I have stated before, I am frozen. I am only hoping that, in time, I can move to a different spiritual level. It truly is what I want. I am just not there yet.
Sorry this is random but I needed to clarify.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
As for last week. Things seemed to be going well the first of the week. Nothing really to speak of. I was feeling good, contractions were minimal, cervix looked fine on ultrasound. I started to notice the contractions pick up a bit on Friday. The trend continued on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. By Tuesday, my mental state was in the pits, once again. It is hard to remain positive when you feel your uterus cramping down on you multiple times an hour. Do I go in? Are these more intense? They are closer together...uggggghhhhh. Mentally draining.
I went into my appointment expecting the worst. Fortunately, my measurements were still good despite the increase in activity. I measured 3.1 cm. Dr. B gave me a new medicine to take as needed to help stop contractions, terbutaline. Having it in my possession makes me feel much better, mentally as well as physically. I know I am going to have contractions. But when they come one after another, it wears me down. It stirs fear, anxiety, stress, worry,etc. All things I don't need right now.
So, we are at 20 weeks today. It is probably best I didn't post over the weekend because I was somewhat of a wreck inside. No need to drag everyone up and down on this roller coaster with me. I am trying to be optimistic about the next 17 weeks...that seems like an eternity! As I have stated and will continue to state, we are so grateful for your willingness to pray for our family. I need it, Blake needs it, and most importantly, this little guy needs it! Go away contractions!!!!!! You are not needed right now!!!!
Oh, and if you have tried to call my cell phone, you know that it is not working right now either! You go on bedrest and all forms of communication fall apart. Sounds like a terrible joke!! I will be ordering a new cell tomorrow so bear with me. At least the home phone works! Nothing else break...please!!! And excuse my tpying if there are tons of errors. It is hard to do while laying on your side :)
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The timing of things is quite ironic. I am put on bedrest. Friends graciously install a wireless router and loan me their laptop. Then, like clockwork, our internet service basically stops. We have been able to log on for 10 minutes here and there for the past 2 weeks. Of all times, when I have NOTHING to do, our internet goes out. To make matters worse, we have Vonage. So, when the internet is out, our home phone doesn't work. LONG story short, (I actually had most of it typed out and then decided you probably didn't care to read it!) our internet is up and running. I feel like a new person now that I am connected to the world, once again.
Seeing how my days are spent lying around on one of two couches or the bed, there is little excitement to share. Despite the circumstances, the past two weeks have flown by! We have had so many people stop by to hang out and keep me company during the day. They have come with meals, books, movies, magazines, a knitting kit and cleaning supplies. I already mentioned the router and laptop! We have been overwhelmed with offer after offer to help us in anyway. Needless to say, we owe lots and lots of "thank yous" to lots and lots of folks. So here is the first of many you will hear, "THANK YOU!"
As for the latest news. Our appointment with Dr. B went really well this Tuesday. My measurements were even better than last Wednesday. While I still have contractions daily, they in no way compare to those I was experiencing 2 weeks ago. Things have really calmed down. Was it the antibiotics, bedrest or both that did the trick? Who really knows! But we will take the end result. They were also able to do an anatomy scan this week. Our little guy is right on track. We now have 2 VHS videos (humm...we don't have a VCR), 1 DVD and 44 pictures of him from June 4th through September 2nd! Maybe I could share a few soon! Dr. B continues to recommend limited activity. Therefore, I will gladly stay put in an attempt to keep this little guy safe inside my belly!
I have been able to relax a little more since things have improved. I am just trying to take life one day at a time. It is hard to think too far into the future as we approach the window when things went terribly wrong with both girls. 20 weeks 5 days and 24 weeks 2 days are just around the corner and anticipating those milestones can be scary. So, I try not to even go there. I am grateful for each and every second I am given with this baby. I am cherishing his kicks and punches, letting Blake feel them as often as possible.
Thank you for your prayers. I really believe they are keeping our spirits lifted and giving us strength daily. Please keep them going. Our goal is 17 more weeks so we will need them!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Honestly, can it get much cuter than this? Happy 31st Birthday, Blake!!!! And to think he has been with me over half of his life!! Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself :)! I love you and hope today is a good one! Wishing for a look-alike come January...or December if need be!