Friday, May 13, 2011

Lucy's Birth Story

Two months later, I’m finally ready to put Lucy’s birth story in writing.  Given all that we had going on in our lives going into the birth, it was such a relief that the moment we had been waiting for had finally arrived.  Actually, it turned out to be the 36 hours that we had been waiting for had finally arrived, but that doesn’t have the same poetic ring to it!  That’s right, ladies and gents, Lucy took her time in getting here, but she was so perfect when she arrived, that it was well worth the wait.

I woke up very early the morning of Friday, March 11th with what felt like dull cramps that came and went from time to time.  I laid in bed for about two hours, wondering if I was in the beginning stages of labor.  When my husband woke up, I told him I thought my labor was starting, and we spent a while trying to decide whether he should go to work or not.  We had done our homework, and knew that labor, especially a woman’s first labor, can take a long time, and since I wasn’t even sure if I was in labor, I didn’t want him hanging around all day if it was just a false alarm.

I tried my best to rest throughout the day, but as the moments of wonder turned to hours of increasingly more pain, I felt that this was the day I was finally going to have my child in my arms (good thing I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t hold her until the next night). 

Now, being the middle of March, March Madness was gearing up, and as it turned out, my alma mater was playing in a game that night that would decide whether or not they would make it into the tournament.  I was supposed to watch the game that night with a bunch of my college friends, so I emailed them mid-day saying I wasn’t sure if I was in labor or not, but that I was still planning on going to the game.  As the game time neared, I was fairly certain that I was in labor, but I had been inside all day and wanted to do something that would help to pass the time, so off I went to the bar—at 9 months pregnant and definitely in labor!

When I got to the bar, I immediately realized this was the worst-idea-ever! I was huge, trying to navigate my way through a crowded bar, and to top it off, the labor pains began to get more intense and closer together.  About 15 minutes after walking into the bar and before my friends even made it, my husband (who had met me at the bar after work) and I went home.

We were timing my contractions, which came really close together, but didn’t last that long.  They were increasing in intensity, and we knew we were approaching the time when we would leave for the hospital.  We called the doctor and they said to try to wait it out at home as long as could, and about two hours later, at 9pm, we started to make our way to the hospital.  My water never broke, and I wasn’t screaming in pain or yelling at my husband like you see in the movies.  I was in pain, but trying my best to breath through it until we arrived at the hospital.

When we got there, they checked us in and a doctor came to check to see how much I was dilated.  When she checked, I was 3cm and definitely having strong contractions.  They admitted me onto the labor and delivery floor and the pain continued to get worse and worse.  I opted to have an epidural around 2am.  For those of you questioning epidurals, IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER!  Soon after they were done, the nurse told me I having a really strong contraction and I couldn’t feel a thing.  I had heard a lot of horror stories about getting the epidural but it really wasn’t bad at all, and I am glad I got one since my labor went on all through the night and into the next evening.  Perhaps the epidural slowed things down, but I am still glad I had one. 

My labor was progressing on its own, just very slowly.  Each time they checked me I was dilated a bit more, but things were taking forever.  Finally, and seemingly out of no where, around 4pm, they told me it was time to push!  I couldn’t believe it.  They had been telling me now for almost 18 hours that it wasn’t time yet, so I just assumed it still wasn’t time.  I remember this moment being sort of anticlimactic.  Again, it was nothing like the movies!  No screaming, no yelling (thank you epidural!).

And so, I pushed.  And pushed.  And pushed.  For about an hour, I pushed, the whole time, just trying to get the baby to turn because at that point they could tell that she wasn’t positioned correctly for a vaginal delivery.  By this time, I was nauseous and throwing up, my epidural was wearing off, I was in a lot of pain, and I was exhausted!  The doctor told me that because the baby wasn’t turning, they felt they should do a c-section.  I had really wanted to avoid having a c-section, but at this point, after almost 18 hours of active labor, I was ready to meet my baby!

I should say that during labor my blood sugar was handled really well.  I had initially wanted to try to keep my pump on, which I did, but as my numbers rose due to my adrenaline pumping, I couldn’t control my numbers myself and the doctors put me on an insulin drip.  Looking back, I wish I would have let them do this from the beginning.  They managed it really well and I didn’t have to worry about it.

Getting ready for the c-section was a whirlwind.  By now I was in severe pain since my epidural had worn off, and thank god they came to numb me up for the c-section.  They wheeled me into the operating room (OR) and got started.  I don’t remember hearing the doctors at all during the procedure (some people talk about hearing, “scalpal!”), but I do remember feeling a lot of pressure.  I repeat, A LOT of pressure.  It felt like they were rummaging around inside me and trying to get something out that seemed like it was really wedged in there!  I found out later that they had to tug so hard because the cord was wrapped around the baby’s stomach so she was difficult to get out (which was also why they couldn’t turn her before). 

Finally, after what seemed like ages, I remember hearing what sounded like cheers from the nurses, and a few seconds later, hearing a cry.  I remember asking, “what is it?!?!?!” since we hadn’t found out if the baby was a boy or girl. Not realizing we hadn’t found out the gender, one of the doctors sarcastically said, “It’s a boy,” but then the nurses chimed in, “NO!  It’s a girl!!!!”  I was shocked because during my pregnancy, everyone had been convinced I was having a boy.  I remember asking several times, “It’s a girl?!?” And, I must say, I was surprised by how thrilled and satisfied I was that I now had a daughter. 

Now, you would think that after all that, the hard part was behind me.  But may labor was nothing compared to the almost 4 brutal hours I had to wait from the time my baby was delivered until the time I finally got to see and hold her. The doctors held her up for me very quickly after she was delivered (I’m talking seconds), but then because of her heart issues, they quickly took her to a transitional nursery.  For what seemed like hours, but was really only about 10-20 minutes, my husband and I kept asking if she was OK.  And, no one knew.  The not knowing was agonizing, and immensely worse than any of the pains of childbirth.

Finally, they said my husband could go to see Lucy while they finished closing me up.  During this time, I had never felt more alone or scared in my life.  Less importantly, but still memorably, I also was FREEZING and so thirsty that I almost couldn’t breath.  I was told a lot of people get extremely cold and shaky in the OR as I was, but they weren’t sure why I was so thirsty.  I had to beg them to bring in some water or ice chips or something because I really felt like I was choking (apparently they aren’t supposed to bring water into the OR).  They finally brought in some gauze that was dipped in water for me to suck on which sounds gross, but was heavenly, and although my thirst was quenched, I still ached to know how my daughter was doing.

They began to wheel me back to recovery room, and I saw my husband in the hallway, grinning.  He had been with Lucy in the nursery and told me that they were still monitoring her, but she seemed to be doing really well!! Her heart seemed to be OK and she didn't have any blood sugar issues, which can be common in children of Type I moms.  I was so relieved, but still wanted to see her myself.  Because of the c-section and the anesthesia, I wasn’t able to get up or walk to go see Lucy, so I had to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  The nurse kept saying they would bring her to me, but they never did, so thankfully, my nurse finally took the bull by the horns and wheeled me in to the nursery.

And then the world stopped, and I got to hold my daughter.  My perfect little Lucy Jane!

Will finish the rest of the hospital stay on my next post! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I know it's been a ridiculously long time since I've written, but things have been hectic with Miss Lucy!  I just wanted to wish all my fellow d-moms and d-moms-to-be a very happy Mother's Day!  I've promised myself that I'll be writing Lucy's birth story this week so I hope to post it soon...

We're doing well - Lucy is learning how to exist in her brand new world and I too am learning how to exist in my brand new world.  More to come soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's a girl!

I am thrilled to announce that our daughter, Lucy Jane, was born on Saturday, March 12th at 6:09pm.  She weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 20.7 inches long.  She is doing great and we are in heaven.

I will post her birth story when I have some more time, but just wanted to post a quick update and a couple of pictures.  The doctors did not have to do anything for her heart immediately, they will just continue to monitor it for now and she had no blood sugar issues when she was born, so we're thrilled to have such a healthy daughter!

We're enjoying every minute and can't believe she's finally here!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The C-Word

 Written on Feb 23rd...

Cancer.  It’s a scary word, especially when you’re being told you have it at almost 38 weeks pregnant.  That word has been echoing through my head for about 24 hours now, and the fear it instills hasn’t quite lost its bite yet.  Granted, it’s only skin cancer, and is easily treatable, but I wasn’t at all prepared to hear that word so soon in my life.

This all started back in January when I went to my dermatologist for my 6-month mole check up.  I’m very fair skinned, so I am always having spots removed, but none have been cancerous before.  There was one spot that was worrying me, and I pointed it out to my doc at the beginning of my appointment.  She said she wanted to look at it again in a few weeks, and in the meantime we checked with my OBGYN to make sure it would be OK to remove it if that was necessary.  We got the go, and when my dermatologist looked at the spot again, she decided to remove it.  That was last week.  I went on my way, forgetting about it really with everything else we have going on, and didn’t think about it much.

Then yesterday, I received a call from my dermatologist who told me that I have a malignant melanoma. I was shocked.  I gasped to swallow the sobs that were building up and I tried to process what she was telling me.  The bad news is that melanoma is the “bad” skin cancer that spreads rapidly, but the good news, or I should say the GREAT news, is that I get checked every 6 months, so mine was caught early enough that it hasn’t spread yet, and it will be easily taken care of with a minor procedure.

I just can’t help but think what would have happened if I skipped that appointment like I wanted to.  In the short 6 months since my last appointment, this cancer grew fairly quickly, so I can’t imagine if I had waited to go back until the next 6 month cycle.  Would I have been diagnosed with a later stage cancer and told I only had a year or so to live with my brand new baby and husband?  I just can’t comprehend that scenario, and I’m now a little paranoid that there could be other spots on me that we’ve missed.  It also feels strange to be walking around knowing there is cancer in my body.  I just want them to cut it out as soon as possible, which hopefully they’ll be doing next week.

Luckily, this won’t impact the baby at all.  The only real concern right now is that if I go into labor right after they do the surgery, I could rip out my stitches, but that’s not the end of the world.  So, for now, we’re just hoping the baby stays put long enough to get this taken care of before he or she arrives.  I’m probably the only woman who is 37.5 weeks pregnant and hoping the baby stays put!

I sincerely hope this is the last bit of excitement we have until the baby gets here.  I know things could be worse, but I’ve had enough of dealing with medical surprises for now—no matter how serious.

Update: I had the surgery to remove the spot this past Friday and still no baby so I’m so glad this is behind me!  Stitches will come out on Thursday (depending on when baby comes since I'm due THIS Sunday!!).  Now, I’m officially just sitting here waiting for Baby B to arrive!  Will update on the pregnancy soon, but overall, besides this little blip, I’m feeling wonderful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

home stretch!

Well, it’s been a few weeks since a real update on my pregnancy – I can’t believe how fast the time is going. Since the past few weeks have been hectic with my dad’s bypass surgery (a whole other topic, but he’s doing OK), a very hectic work schedule, my birthday, and being sick, I haven’ had much time to stop and update the blog.

So, here’s where we are. I just had my 36 week check up and all is looking just fine and dandy. I’m not showing any signs of delivering early, so my doc thinks she may have to induce me on March 15th, the latest they’ll let me go. But, she also said things can change between now and then and that I still could go naturally, which is what I’m hoping for. The nurse from my childbirth class said to do lots of squatting and walking to help get things going in the right direction, so I need to do more of that!

My blood sugar has been manageable. Very few lows and the high spikes are getting easier to anticipate and control. Of course, a lot of that is because I just take a ridiculous amount of insulin now, but whatever it takes is fine with me. I’m making my CDE crazy because I am not really logging very much. I am still testing a ton, but things have just been way too hectic to log everything, so she’s getting frustrated with me, but only because she can’t help me very much if she has nothing to go on. Luckily, my numbers are pretty good, so she’s not too concerned.

My blood pressure and weight continue to be really good, so I don’t think I’ll have to deal at all with preeclampsia like I worried I might a few months back. I am extremely relieved about this. I’ve actually only gained about 12 pounds total so far, but a lot of that is because I was so sick in the beginning and since I was somewhat overweight to begin with, they didn’t want/need me to gain a lot. It’s all right in my belly too, so I’m definitely looking the part of very pregnant woman!

My only real complaint these days is fairly strong pain when I walk, which I’m told is round ligament pain. I took a little spill in my office last week, and my doctor thinks I aggravated the ligaments which is making walking pretty painful. She suggested I get a maternity belt, so I’ll add one more hideous pregnancy accessory to the wardrobe for the next few weeks, but hopefully it will help. If that’s the only thing wrong at this point, I’ll take it!

I’m still sleeping well and hope that continues! Can’t believe we’re in the home stretch now!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sweet Child of Mine,

I can’t believe how close we’re getting to your arrival (only 5.5 more weeks)! Your dad and I are so excited to meet you, we can hardly stand it. We’re getting our apartment ready for you – we have so many friends and family who can’t wait to welcome you to the world who have all helped us to get everything we need for your first few months in the world. You have a crib, a changing table, a stroller, toys, books, activities and lots of clothes too, all just waiting for you. But, most importantly, you have so many people who love you already and who can’t wait to meet you. Know that you are lucky to have such a strong and loving community of people who are all eagerly awaiting your arrival, and never forget that these people are there for you not only now as you enter the world, but also as you grow and may need people besides just your parents to turn to.
While I would be lying if I didn’t say that there were times over the past eight months or so that were terrifying, we’ve also had so much fun with you as you’ve grown—from telling all our loved ones about you, to hearing your heartbeat for the first time, to feeling you move to trying to guess whether you’ll be a little girl or little boy.

There are times that your dad and I can hardly believe that we’re going to be your parents—that we’ll be responsible for making sure you grow up to be healthy and strong, happy, and well taken care of. It’s hard to fathom that we’ll be in charge of shaping your future, trying to balance who we want you to become with who you already are. Just know, sweet child of mine, that mostly we just want you to be you, because whoever you are, we already love you. You already have a personality, a tendency towards the exciting and dramatic. You burst into our lives so quickly, and have been keeping us on our toes ever since. I fully expect that to continue throughout your life, and we can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in the years to come.

I know the first few days and weeks of your life will be a little scary at times for both of us, but as I asked you to be when I first found out about you, I’m going to ask you again to be strong. I already know you’re a fighter, so I know you’ll be tough as our doctors work hard to make sure your heart is working after you’re born. Like Mommy, you’ll have to learn to be a good patient because you’ll be going to lots of doctors, but I hope you’ll see that they are there to help and to make sure you can grow up to be strong and playful. I hope you know that even if something is wrong with your little heart, the doctors know exactly how to fix it, and they’ll take such good care of you! And, your dad and I will be there every step of the way to so you’ll never go through any of this alone.

You’ve already been such a joy in my life. Even during the scary times, just rubbing my belly and knowing that you’re in there can bring me absolute peace. While we can’t wait to meet you, take your time in there and grow to be as strong as you can.  I can't wait to see your little face, and to hold your little hands!

With all my love,

PS - Don’t worry if your dad and I are crying when you first see us, they will be the happiest tears of our lives. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

General update - feeling good!

Well, last week was an eventful week with doctors, and this week will be too, but first I wanted to give an overall update on how I’m feeling at week 33! In short, I feel great. I’m not overly tired or sore or miserable in many of the ways I’ve heard other women can be at this point in their pregnancies. I am a bit uncomfortable at times as my belly gets bigger, and Baby B is starting to give me some good hard kicks that make me jump, but overall, I’m thankful that I’m feeling really good.

My appointments last week went like this—first the fetal cardiologist, then the CDE, then my OB. Here’s a quick summary of them all:

Fetal cardiologist:
Baby B’s heart looked about the same as it did last time. She said the bigger the baby gets, the harder it is actually to see on the echo cardiogram, so she didn’t get a great look, but felt confident that the valve in question isn’t any worse than it was two weeks ago. She said she’d be surprised if the baby needed to have the balloon procedure done in the hospital in the days after delivery and that it is more likely to be done in the months after delivery, if at all. I took this all as good news!

My CDE took my A1C and also went over my eating and pump rates. My A1C was 6.0, which she was happy about because they’ve wanted me a little higher than I was before since I was going low a lot. I wasn’t thrilled with this (I was getting used to seeing those 5’s), but if they are happy, I guess I am too. I’m taking A LOT more insulin now than I was in the beginning of my pregnancy and while this is to be expected, my CDE suggested trying to eat less carb-heavy foods so I won’t require such mammoth doses of insulin—so, goodbye bagels and potatoes, don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

Everything went great at the OB. I had an US and they checked all the usual suspects—the baby’s movement, position (head down still!), fluids, etc. Everything looked good and I was happy to have an uneventful appointment. Next time we’ll discuss the details of my delivery plans, but my OB did say that she has no problem with me leaving my pump on during delivery, which I was very happy about.

So, all in all, everything is going well, despite the baby’s little heart issue. In terms of the bigger heart issue (my dad’s heart), we found out last week that he will need bypass surgery, which sounded very scary at first, but is actually pretty routine. I’m just hoping they can do it soon so I can be there. If they do it too late, I won’t be able to travel to Philly to be there, so we’ll just have to see.

Tomorrow we’re off to the children’s hospital where I’ll deliver to meet with the folks in the cath lab who would perform the balloon procedure if it becomes necessary and we’ll also meet with a genetic counselor. I’m still not really sure what the genetic counselor has to offer at this point, but I go where I’m told these days. They’ll also take us by the NICU just so we can see it in case Baby B ends up there for whatever reason. Finally, I’ll have my weekly US so they can peek in on the baby to make sure all is OK in there.

While this all seems like a lot and maybe overkill, I’m so thankful that I’m part of a medical team and system that is so prepared and willing to spend a lot of time with us in preparation of all the what ifs.

So, hopefully I’ll keep feeling well, and we’ll sail on through this week without any major issues popping up!