Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh Happy Days

20 weeks, 0 days!

We're already half way there! Wow! My pregnancy books say that she's about 7.5 inches long from crown to rump. That is unbelievable to me! She's getting so big. And if she is anything like mommy or daddy, she's got long legs to add quite a few more inches to her stature.

I thought it was about time I talked a little about the joys of this pregnancy. As it may be hard to find within my previous posts, there are plenty of happy times going on!

The most fun has been feeling the baby move. I've had a couple of really good kicks so far, which completely caught me off guard. One night at a Christmas show, I was talking to a friend when she punched me really hard on my lower right side. Don't think she liked all the noise and commotion that was going on during intermission. She's pretty used to me being quiet and reclining at 8pm at night! Regular movements are more like little taps and popcorn pops, which tickle a little bit and make me smile. Two days ago, I was laying on my side and felt her move her entire body from my right side to my left. Now THAT was freaky! I was laughing as it happened and couldn't believe it! Last night I was on my left side and had my knees pulled up toward my chest. She started kicking on my left side so hard, that I could feel it hitting my upper thigh! I'm really looking forward to SG being able to feel this from the outside! It should start happening any day now, as well as being able to actually SEE her move around!

Now that we know we've got a little girl, it is time to go shopping! Pink, pink, pink! I can only imagine that the precious little color will begin to invade our lives very soon! We've got a few names picked out that we really love. But, we've decided that we won't actually name her until we meet her in person. I mean, it is the respectful thing to do, don't ya think? We want to see her face and get to know her personality a little bit before tagging her with a name that will be with her the rest of her life. No matter what we choose, however, it will be a beautiful name - as we already know she will be!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Snowball Effect

19 weeks, 4 days

This week was one heck of a roller coaster ride. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I'm ready to tell the story.

Went to the specialist on Tuesday to get more info on our little girl's kidney. On first instinct, I didn't like the office. And, the doctor that did the ultrasound and discussed things with us had a terrible bedside manner. He never even introduced himself, and we had to figure out on our own that he was a Doctor. Until we asked, I thought he was just a technician.

All that said....

He believes our baby has a rare malformation called a Duplex Collecting system... meaning that during development, the right kidney produced two of the these urine collecting systems along with an additional ureter. The second ureter appears to be floating in the abdomen with no attachment to the bladder. So, urine is being pushed into both areas and the fluid has nowhere to go in the extra one. It was a hard thing to hear. But, then the news from the doc got worse. He said that it concerns him that she has this "extra" part of her kidney. And because of my age, it may point to a chromosomal defect. That tore a hole in our hearts, and was the farthest thing from what we wanted to hear. Now the focus was on if our daughter had Trisomy something or other, or a similar horrible defect.

So, the next thing you know, we're being swept away into a genetic counselor's office....I'm crying....and they are trying to get us to sign the dotted line for an amnio. It all felt terribly wrong. There was no way in hell we were doing an amnio without preparing ourselves first and looking into who the doctor was to do the procedure. We both got the feeling like they were trying to sell us a used car, and that we were just a number, or some sort of opportunity for them to get their paper in some medical journals. It was the strangest feeling ever. It was like we were in an episode of Grays Anatomy and everyone was clamoring over us to get the "cool' case. It was incredibly insensitive. SG and I are still thinking about everything that was said to us, and it all feels so very odd.

When we got home, we immediately started looking into the problem. The info we found was very interesting. Many people who have a duplex system don't even know it. We read stories of people in their 60's finding out for the first time, completely by chance when having a scan of their abdomen for a different issue. So, the problem is definitely not life threatening. When discovered in utero, about 1/3 of babies end up having surgery after birth to correct the problem. And before ultrasounds were around, the problem was rarely discovered.

Secondly, NOWHERE did we find that this problem is associated with any chromosomal defects! And believe me, we searched all night long. My NT Scan and Quad Screen (AFP) all came back with great numbers. So, we figure the odds are for us, not against us.

We spoke to my OB on Wednesday (and we LOVE this man!). He was so gentle and listened to all our thoughts and concerns. He asked us a lot of questions and then re-evaluated my original screens for disorders. Like us, he believes that her kidney problem is rare, and is pretty much associated with a single incident and not part of a bigger problem. He also thinks that as long at she is doing fine (which she is), and that my screens came out so good, that there is no reason to do an amnio. He still thinks that the risks of doing an amnio is still higher than the risk of our daughter having a genetic disorder. He point blank said, "Michelle, it isn't worth the risk. I wouldn't do the amnio, especially if you wouldn't consider terminating the pregnancy." So that was it. Case closed. It was all we needed to hear.

We aren't going forward with the amnio and are believing that God has our little girl in his arms and is watching over her. We are believing that everything is going to be fine. It is all we can do to get through the day. And, we know that our hope is not lost. The odds are still greatly for us!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

And the Christmas Card Says......

19 weeks, 3 days : Christmas Day

We are having a beautiful little GIRL! We are so very excited! Time to start buying pink, and sparkles and tiaras and ballet shoes!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Long Ride Home

18 weeks, 3 days

We sat in the car as quiet as can be. We had just been given quite a blow. At our ultrasound today, we were told our baby shows signs of a possible defect in its right kidney. As the doctor gave us the news, I could see his mouth moving, but his voice and the room around us became a numbing blur. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

We are being sent to a specialist to get more details. The kidney and its accompanying ureter is enlarged, suggesting that there is a blockage in the ureter somewhere near the bladder. Of course, we jumped onto the web as soon as we got home and started educating ourselves about he issue. Some of the stuff we read made us feel better. While other information put a pit in the bottom of our stomachs. One thing we discovered was that the problem is not associated with the age of the mother. Of all the things you worry about because of your age! Now, our baby potentially has an issue not pertaining to me or anything I've done. I guess that is supposed to make me feel a little better. But let's face it. Nothing makes me feel too good, regardless of who or what is at fault. The problem can cause severe damage to the kidney and worst case scenario, destroy the kidney and cause potential damage to the baby's lungs. But, the doctor didn't seem to think it was bad enough to even go there just yet. Best case scenario? It will resolve itself without any intervention. So now, we wait.

On a positive note, the baby looked great in all other areas of the scan. The first photograph seen above is a profile of the head and body. As you can see, the lower half of our little one's body is missing in the frame....we wanted to make sure we couldn't see the sex of the baby yet. So, the tech was protecting us from any "oops" moments. We did get to see the active legs and the baby's little itty bitty feet and toes. So cute! We also saw our little one's arms and hands moving about like crazy.

In this photo you can only see its face. We love this image! I know it can be hard to decipher, but you can see the baby's left side of the face (on your right), its closed eye, its chubby cheek and its open mouth. I'm so glad we have something precious to look at to keep us happy and hopeful after such a shocker of a day.

The tech was able to determine the baby's sex, which she wrote down on a Christmas card and sealed it with some photos inside for us to open on the 25th. She said she's been doing this for 6 years now and has never been wrong. So, we're pretty confident that whatever it says on the card, we can take to the bank.

The little one measured 18 weeks, 4 days (one day ahead of schedule) and currently weighs approx. 10 oz. The heart rate was 143, and is pretty much what we've been measuring on the home doppler.

We also received the AFP result details, which my OB said were spectacular. At least we got some good news today, not to mention how many times the ultrasound tech and the OB kept praising me for the great length of my cervix. Who would have known I'd be excited about the size of my cervix some day? I can tell you. It wasn't at the top of my list of things I was hoping to experience before I croak.

The AFP results are as follows:
Down's Syndrome: Negative. Risk is 1:9,000. (normal cut off is 1 in 150)
Trisomy 18: Negative. Risk is 1:2,300 (normal cut off is 1 in 100)
Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome, Congenital Abnormalities, and Fetal Demise: Negative. Risk is 1:10,000. (cut off is 1 in 250)
Open Neural Tube Defect: Negative.

Another fun tidbit... Yesterday, I was driving and I felt a strong kick on my lower right side. It was the first time I've felt anything like it. And, I had no doubt, it was the baby. I was in the car all by myself and started laughing with joy. What a great feeling!

And if you are still reading this.....please vote for whether you think we are having a boy or a girl. And then, come back and find out the results of our ultrasound after Christmas!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Smiling More and More

18 weeks, 0 days

What a joy! I have good news to report.

My OB's office called this morning and said that my AFP results (Quad Screen) came back as all negatives. Everything looks normal! To be told that your baby has passed all the screenings when you are a whopping 44 yr. old brings an amazing relief and sense of joy into your heart. Now we can relax a little. (Well, at least until Thursday)

On Friday, I met with my wonderful endocrinologist and was told that so far my thyroid levels are fine. But, he suspects that within a month or so, I'll be needing to up my dosage. I was kind of hoping that he'd say I was hypothyroid, because I knew it would be a quick fix in making me get some energy back. Oh well. That's okay, because I'm actually having a good week. Is it possible that I could be feeling better? I think so!

This last week, I had very little nausea. When it hit, it was mild and usually had a short fuse of about 10 minutes at a time. Kind of like little waves of nausea. You have no idea what a relief it is! Ahhhhh! I'm loving the break from feeling miserable. I've also been having a lot more energy during the days. The last time I felt really exhausted was a week ago last Sunday. That is a week and one day of feeling like I could actually face the world. I consider this a miracle and I'm thankful that God has given it! It is a little after 4pm here and I've been going all day without having to stop for a nap. Whew! I almost forgot I was pregnant today, except for the growing lump that has become my tummy and which continues to make me maneuver around life in new ways.

As I mentioned earlier, Thursday is waiting ahead of us. It is the day that we have our "big" anatomy ultrasound and my physical. So much is going to be seen and determined on Thursday. It is exciting and scary all that the same time. I'm feeling pretty confident that all will go well. But, as the day draws closer, I have to admit, I'm starting to get a little more nervous about the whole thing. Please keep us in your prayers for Thursday. In addition to wanting to find a healthy baby continuing to grow, and me having a healthy body, we also pray that the tech will have no problem being able to determine the sex of the baby. I hear that sometimes the baby can be uncooperative and not allow us to see their "goods". So, we REALLY hope that we'll have good fortune with it all. On Christmas day, opening the card to find out if we are having a boy or girl is the only present we are giving each other. And, we can't think of anything better.

It seems that over the last few days, I've felt the baby less. At first I was concerned. And, on Saturday I about freaked out when I couldn't find the heartbeat. It took me a good 10 minutes, and even then, it was hard to hear. I nearly burst into tears from the fear. But, I finally found it, and saved myself an emotional breakdown. I know I have an anterior placenta, and that it continues to move and grow. So, that explains both the reason why I can't hear the baby as well, or feel it as often as I'd like. In another couple of weeks, the baby will be big enough that the placement of the placenta won't matter so much. For now, I can breath comfortably. The baby's heart rate has been ranging between 142-148 (all within a healthy parameters).

Next entry will be including brand new pictures of the baby! I can't wait to share with you the good news. And if you are reading this, please take a second to vote on whether or not you think we are having a boy or a girl. There are only a few days left!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Melon Tummy

17weeks, 0 days

Baby continues to grow by proof of a round bump that ends right under my belly button. I'm really starting to feel the effects of having a foreign body inside me. Certain movements aren't as easy to do anymore. And, I can feel this little lump, about the size of a cantaloupe, stopping me from my regular motion.

The nausea still persists, mostly in the evenings. And the exhaustion? Well, it still makes its appearance more often than I'd like. Today I slept for most of the day, yet "woke up" in the evening just in time to make dinner. The other day at lunch, I got extremely weak and felt like I was going to faint. There are so many things that could explain this problem, so I'm going to wait a few days to see if it persists. If it really bothers me, I'll check in with the doctor. I've been checking my blood pressure regularly and it has been consistently around 115/82, so I know that isn't the problem.

As for other parts of my body, my nipples have become twice the size and twice as dark as they used to be. And don't even start with me on the itching! My boobs are so itchy, that I've got to refrain from scratching for fear I'll make them bleed. The maternity jeans I purchased are still uncomfortable to wear. That's because my belly isn't big enough to hold them up yet. I tried wearing them to a doctor appt. this last week, and spent most of my energy constantly pulling them up.

We decorated the Christmas tree this weekend. And the first ornament we put up was a set of crocheted booties. One was pink, the other blue. We figure it will be a fun story to tell over the years of how we didn't know if it was a girl or boy until Christmas morning! When SG put them up in the center of the tree, I burst into tears. It all is feeling so very real now.

I've also been feeling the baby move a lot the last few days. They are more prominent little "pushes" that at times feel like huge gas bubbles moving around my abdomen. I feel them mostly lower in my tummy and sometimes to the sides. So cool! And just yesterday, I used the home doppler to hear the heartbeat and was shocked to discover that I could detect it way up near my belly button. That tells you how much the little one has grown!

As for the litte one's heart rate, it has been averaging between 140-148 for the last couple of weeks (using the home doppler). Still waiting on my recent blood work. I should know about my thyroid levels as well as the AFP results any day now.

Monday, December 1, 2008


16 weeks, 0 days.

This last week made me feel like I'm in the movie Awakenings. One moment, I'm in a coma. The next moment, I'm full of a massive amount of energy. And then, well you know the rest. I slip back into a coma again and it looks like I'm never coming back. When the exhaustion hits, it hits hard. I was so looking forward to enjoying the holiday weekend. But instead, I slept right through it. We had to cancel dinner invitations and I stayed in bed for three days straight.

I continue to get little flutters, which appear to be the baby. But sometimes, I'm just not sure. I'm still getting some pretty harsh nausea in the evenings, and the other morning I woke up with some cramping. All par for the course, from what I read. By the end of the week, the baby should be the length of my outstretched hand. That's pretty darn big, when I think about it.

Round ligament pain hits now and then. Mostly on the far right and left of my lower abdomen, I get shooting sharp pains. If I don't bend my knees when I sneeze, it is sheer agony! Ouch. But, it goes away quickly, so it is definitely tolerable. I'm also way past the stage of being able to wear my regular clothes. I tried on my jeans the other day and had to laugh. That zipper was in no way going to come together. Oh well. It was a good attempt.

I made the mistake of going with SG to get donuts yesterday morning. Yikes. All that sugar put me over the edge. I'm noticing more and more how much I really need to keep up on the protein. If I eat carbs without protein, I feel really bad. I'm drinking protein shakes in between meals to help keep that going. Lots of yogurts and cottage cheese are also a big help to have as snacks. SG continues to be an amazing source of love and support. He has taken over the kitchen duty after I cook, so I don't have to worry about cleaning up. That man is getting sexier by the moment.

Tomorrow I go in for the AFP test (which measures 4 different levels in your blood as a screen for Down's, spina bifida, and other disorders.) I'll have the results in a week or so!