Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tummy Tickles

That what it feels like when she kicks.  Little tickles inside my tummy.  She's doing it right now, in fact.  She seems to like late morning and late afternoon.  She loves ultrasounds.  She was practically dancing during it yesterday.  They had some trouble getting her measurements because she didn't want to stay still.  I think she may have been showing off for the camera.  Yep, that's a Speas girl.  Shameless. 

I've been putting off writing about these past few weeks because I really don't know what to say about them.  They've been scary, tense, and utterly uneventful (but extraordinarily busy, of course).  I realized the other day that I feel like I've been holding my breath for the past three weeks.  Someone asked me the other day where I hold my stress - as in my shoulders, my neck, my stomach, etc.  I think I actually hold my stress in my lungs.  I literally don't breathe deeply when I'm stressed.  This tendency, along with the general physical exhaustion and, the um, lung squeezing nature of having a person in your abdominal cavity, probably explains why I run out of breath in normal conversation these days.  And that's a pretty good metaphor for how I'm feeling these days.  I'm just out of breath.  And I'm kind of in the middle of a marathon.  But when she kicks (or elbows or knees or headbutts) me, it tickles, and I smile.

The day after we got back from the beach (after spending a fabulous weekend in Atlanta catching up with more seminary friends), we went back to the doctor for the first time after receiving the amnio results.  She explained that even though the amnio results were incredibly positive, itty bitty is not out of the woods.  She's still inexplicably small and will like remain that way.  The doctors expect that - because of the malformed placenta - she will stop developing at some point.  Now that we're well into the second trimester and most of her body parts and organs are pretty much formed (structurally), baby's task is putting on weight and filling out, which puts increasing demands on the placenta.  Since her placenta's pretty much bum (that's the technical term), it likely won't be able to keep up, and she'll actually have a better chance of growing in an incubator in the NICU (neo-natal ICU) than in the womb.  So that's our focus now - putting on weight and growing, because when she stops growing, she needs to be at least 500 grams (about 17 or 18 ounces) in order to be viable. 

On that first visit back she weighted 8 ounces.  At the next visit (two weeks later), she weighed 11 ounces.  Yesterday (one week later), she came in at 10 ounces. 

No, that's not a typo.  According to the machines, she weighed an ounce lessthis week.  The doctor (Dr. Tabb, who just joined the maternal-fetal practice and is very thorough and wonderful, with tons of experience) told us not to worry about it, that when you're measuring as frequently as we are, you're bound to see some ebb and flow, especially since the machines aren't as advanced as we would like to think they are.  Of course, I acted like I was listening to him while I preceeded to worry. 

Like I said, Dr. Tabb is very thorough, and after he and the sonographer had both been in with us, he ran some more numbers and came back to check a couple of other things.  Overall, itty bitty is sizing in the first percentile (meaning, of course, that 99% of babies her age are bigger than her).  Her head measurement is in the 18th percentile (clearly because she's a genius), but her extremities, abdomen, and chest (I think) are all in the first percentile. She's really an itty bitty girl. 

We're doing all we can to help her grow, which is to say, we're doing nothing in particular.  It's so frustrating not to be able to help her.  I'm trying to eat as much as I can, but that doesn't really seem to help (though it seems like it should, shouldn't it?).  I'm taking it easy (just ask John and Jen and the folks at work) and trying to sleep as much as I can (which isn't much) because people keep saying that babies grow when you're sleeping.  (Sounds like an old wives' tale, but what's some extra sleep going to hurt?)  I'm giving myself the silly shots every day and choking down the horse-sized prenatal vitamin.  I'm downing Tums like they are candy, and between them and all the milk I'm drinking, her bones may be small, but they've got to be as hard as rocks.  But the doctors say that medically there is nothing we can do but watch and wait. 

But the docs are still keeping me busy.  I'll have my glucose tolerance test later this week (to screen for gestational diabetes), I'll go through some more screening for preeclampsia (assuming the doctors all communicate and get together on it), and I'll start getting steroid shots sometime in the next week.  The steroid shots speed up the development of her lungs so that when she comes they are a baby step ahead of where they would be otherwise - and that baby step can be a lifesaver.  (The lungs tend to be the most critical part of development that preemies have to overcome.)  Her lack of growth and the doctor's insistence on beginning the course of the steroid treatments tell me that she really could be coming any week now.  (We go in for weekly appointments to check on her, and it's out of these appointments that the docs will make a decision about when to take her.) 

Of course, we're moving, too.

I've finally gotten all the insurance mess worked out so that we'll be covered in-network in Tennessee throughout the transition.  We're hoping to move at the end of next week so that we can get established with the doctors at Vandy before Tennessee's Annual Conference starts - and just so we can get established with the doctors ASAP, because she's going to have to be born at Vanderbilt regardless of where we live at that point (because her long-term stay will require her being at Vandy, particularly as we move to Tennessee).  We're just waiting to hear from the Methodists in Tennessee when we're clear to move into the parsonage (which is vacant right now).  All of these logistics are starting to feel really, really urgent to us, as our being in the right place at the right time really may quite possibly be a matter of life and death for our little girl.  So in the midst of all of this medical drama, we're hoping to move in nine days, but still don't know if we'll be able to do so.  And because we don't have a date yet, we don't have a moving company.  And because we don't have a moving company, we may not be able to move in nine days.  And so it goes.  Even if we can't move next week, we have to be in Tennessee for Annual Conference the following week, so we'd have to come back up here at the end of that week to finish packing and move.  So that puts is off essentially another week (at the bare minimum), and, really, neither I nor this tiny baby has a week to spare for church systems to take their own sweet time.  Let me be clear:  it's nothing about our new church or district in particular; it's just the nature of life in the church that every decision (like when to let the new pastors in the parsonage) has to go through several people, committees, etc., and that takes time.  And I'm not even thinking about the decisions with financial ramifications that we're still working on, too.  Ugh. 

Wow, I'm getting really frustrated just writing this.  We have way too much going on in our lives, and everything seems urgent to us.  Of course I'm probably overreacting because I'm pregnant (and thus hormonal), terrified about my baby's health, stressed out because we're moving to a new place, house, job, church, conference, state in the middle of all of it, but that's exactly why I feel like I need some cooperation from the logistical fates right now.  So please, everyone with an outstanding call to me or my husband, call us back.  People coming to look at our house tomorrow, please buy it.  Moving companies that are probably already booked for next week, work us in.  Doctors offices here and in Nashville, for the love of God, please communicate with each other and so that I don't have to speak for each of you to the others.  Patients, console yourself.  Stuff in the house, pack yourself.  Lawn, mow yourself.  And, itty bitty, please, please, please, please grow!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I know, I know...

Surely you're not surprised that I'm inconsistent in my blogging.  But I've got another 15 minutes before Jen picks me up from my fourth-to-last day at the hospital, so I'll try to fill you in a little bit.

Last time I wrote, we were on our way to the beach for, I think, one of the most well-deserved vacations ever.  It did not disappoint.  Thanks to the generosity of one of our favorite Christ Church families, we had a free place to stay in Gulf Shores, right on a little bay that was calm and gorgeous.  John's parents joined us for a few days, and then as they left Sarah and Jason Snow (friends and former roommates from seminary) flew in.  Sarah's due four days before I am, and she is one of the most adorably pregnant women I have ever seen, which will surprise none of you who know her.  I do feel for the boys, though, who were stuck in the house with two very pregnant and hormonal women.  We had our moments.  ;)  The boys were wise, though, and kept the ice cream coming, so all was well.  After several days of stuffing my face with shrimp and ice cream (not at the same time and thanks to the Hills), hitting the Carter's store at the outlet mall for preemie clothes (also thanks to Nana Dana, of course), sitting on the beach and rereading Harry Potter, we had to call it quits to come back to the real world.  I popped into Walgreen's every so often to take my blood pressure, which dropped pretty dramatically - from 150/100 to 138/83.  Clearly, I should spend the rest of this pregnancy at the beach.  We've talked to our doctor about that, and he agreed, so long as we could take the entire office with us.  All we need are a few more free beach houses. 

Wow!  Jen just called, and she must have finished bartending school early, because she's here to pick me up!  That's all I've got for now, then - probably not the update you were looking for, but isn't it nice to think about a week at the beach right about now?  I'll try to pick back up tonight - after we see the new Indy movie!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Results Episode

Okay, before I begin, let me go ahead and say that I'm supposed to begin getting ready for work in 15 minutes.  There, now that I said it, maybe I'll actually stop and do it when it's time.  Sometimes I think being a grown up is overrated. 

After a lovely night with the McCormicks (during which Mrs. McCormick pulled out not 1, not 2, but 3 different homemade dessert options for us!), we got a call from the perinatalogist - she had amnio results.  I called John into the room, put her on speaker, and said about 8 million silent prayers at one time.  Dr. Fines preceded to very calmly - almost nonchalantly - tell us that everything had come back clear.  As in, baby girl does NOT have a detectable chromosomal abnormality.  Wow. 

We were shocked.  Even while we were hoping and praying otherwise, we were expecting the amnio to come back with something to explain what was going on.  The doctors all seemed pretty convinced that a chromosomal problem was the most obvious explanation.  While a chromosomal issue was not necessarily a death sentence, it would certainly complicate her development, perhaps long-term.  But here, for the first time in a while, we got really, really good news about itty bitty.  We almost didn't know how to feel or react.  We knew this was good news, but where did it put us now? 

Unfortunately, we didn't really have the wherewithal (is that a word, really?) to ask doctor what this meant for her diagnosis (or if John did, I was too overwhelmed to even remember it), so we left for the beach that afternoon significantly lightened but a bit confused.  It really took a while for the news to sink in for me.  We had so been in the mindset of taking it a day at a time and celebrating small victories that I didn't know what to do with this big one.  As we spread the news, though, I was struck at how people had a tendency to want to make this the end of the story.  Okay, she's fine then, right?  Nope...but she's got a better chance, and we're thankful for that.  Very, very thankful for that.

On our way to the beach that day I also got a call from the cardiologist's office.  Turns out that the ECHO and the Holter test both came back normal, so I was pretty much released from their care.  What did that mean about my symptoms, then?  Not sure.  But they weren't too concerned about them, so I let it go.  So that was good news there, too (especially since I had a hunch that this could have been the test that landed me on bed rest, which I would be a fan of for about 2 days - not the duration of the pregnancy!).  Again, a positive development that left us mildly baffled, but grateful. 

And that's not such a bad way to start a vacation, is it?  I'd say I spend much of my life mildy baffled, but grateful...and extremely grateful when I get to sit on the beach for a week with good friends.  But more on that later.  Now, I've got to get clean and make myself look like a chaplain for me 8th-to-last day at Baptist.  I know I haven't given you the promised update on yesterday's doctor's visit, but I hope to make it that far in the story soon - but you've probably figured that it's a good sign that I'm sitting at home typing this and preparing to go to work instead of playing the part of patient myself.  But again, more details later.  Thanks again for all the comments!  I'm trying to focus on getting you all caught up on the story instead of responding individually, so I'm sorry for that - but know that I'm not actually ignoring them - just pondering them in my heart (you know, like Mary and all).  ;)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Diving back in...

And right back to our story...

The next week was really quite difficult.  Way back at that same OB visit in which we did the original test that started all this drama, the doctor referred me to a cardiologist because I was having some heart palpitations that needed to be checked out, along with generally high blood pressure throughout the pregnancy.  It just so happened that this was the week that I had finally gotten in with the cardiologist.  The first appointment (at Louisville Cardiology) was pretty quick and low key.  They did an EKG, talked with me for a while, and recommended that I wear a Holter (sp?) monitor for the next 24 hours so that they could track my symptoms.  That was pretty crazy - walking into patient rooms the rest of the day trying to keep all the wires from my own heart monitor from falling out of my clothes.  It did prove to be an interesting conversation point with people, though, as several of my patients had had to wear them in the past.  The doctor's initial diagnosis was PVC's, which stands for something (the "v" is ventricular) that means that the bottom part of my heart was slipping in an extra beat here and there, probably trying to compensate for the low blood flow to the baby.  I told her that it meant I was trying really hard to get hew what she needed!  The blood pressure remained high, but not quite so high that they wanted to treat it with meds.  Anyway, he wasn't particularly concerned about any of this, but he did want me to wear the monitor and come back in the next week for an ECHO, so that they could get a good look at my heart and make sure it was anatomically normal.  (Yes, insert your favorite joke about Nancy being abnormal here...)  So that was that.  I wore the monitor until I gladly ripped it off exactly 24 hours and 10 minutes later. 

A few days later I had the day o' doctors.  I started out back with the cardiologist for my ECHO, which is essentially an ultrasound of your heart.  It was pretty much what it sounded like, but they definitely didn't have the gel warmer that I've come to appreciate at my lady doctors'!  They had me get in all kinds of positions, breathing in and out on their command, so that they could get very precise pictures of all parts of my heart.  More than once I almost rolled off the table and over to the trash can to throw up - all this contortion and breath-holding was NOT helpful with the nausea.  I did manage to keep my breakfast to myself, which I considered quite an achievement.  They sent me on my way and on to the regular OB for another routine monthly check-up.

This seems to be a bit unique to the practices here in Louisville, but I am being followed both by the maternal-fetal specialists and my regular OB.  As far as I can figure, the OB basically checks on me (blood pressure, weight, urine screenings, etc) and the perinatalogists focus on the baby (they don't even check my blood pressure at our visits).  I don't mind this, but it does make for a heck of a lot of doctor's appointments.  Honestly, though, I'd rather be going in once a week and getting the reassurance of hearing her heartbeat than see or hear from her less frequently, even though it's inconvenient.  I hear there is little about parenthood that is convenient, anyway.  May as well get used to it now.

So I went from the cardiologist to the OB's office, where I met John (who goes with me to all the baby appointments - when he's in the country, that is - he's a devoted dad already).  Everything was looking fine, though my blood pressure was pretty high still.  (It has generally been running in the 140's over 90's.)  The doctor offered to do an ultrasound so that we could get a glance at her and check her growth before we left on vacation.  Since we weren't scheduled with the ultrasonographer, we had to wait around a bit, which we thought would be about half an hour.  No problem.

We should have known better.  We ended waiting forever for the ultrasonographer, which would have been fine, had it not been for two things.  The pastoral care staff was taking John and me out to lunch for a celebrate-the-baby-before-you-move lunch, for which we very rudely ended up being close to an hour late.  Of course, being a bunch of chaplains, they were understanding, but I was really, really frustrated.  My frustration was also exacerbated by the reason for our delay.  The couple that was in before us was having their regular 20-week ultrasound, during which they check to make sure that all of the baby's organs are forming appropriately, and they can often determine the sex of the baby.  So this is an exciting visit for most folks.  This couple had brought just about their entire family with them, and all 11 people wanted to be in the room for the announcement that their baby was also a girl.  I can understand wanting to share that moment, but really, 11 people - plus the technician and machinery - in the tiny ultrasound room?  The ultrasonographer only let them have 2 people in at a time so that she could do her work, but even so, they had to stop and restart every time people came in and out of the room.  After working with this family for an hour (for their 30 minute appointment), they still hadn't been able to see everything yet, so they called it quits and asked them to come back another day.  It was ridiculous. 

Again, though, it wouldn't have been that big a deal if it hadn't been for our own circumstances.  This was the kind of family that fills up the waiting room and draws everyone into their world.  They were happy, beaming, excited, loud - everything you should be at this appointment.  We, on the other hand, were basically desparate to see our baby girl alive for what very well may have been the last time.  They found out the sex in the midst of family celebration; I found out alone, right after I had been told that she would most likely die.  They were full of nursery plans and name conversations, and John and I had decided that we couldn't settle on a name until we knew more about her chances of living.  The pastor in me wanted to celebrate with this sweet family, but given the situation, I felt like they were an in your face example of all that was NOT normal with the pregnancy of our first child.  Throughout the past several weeks I've found myself going back and forth between stubbornly holding out hope for my baby girl and grieving the loss of that perfect (if even nausea-ridden), exciting first pregnancy full of anticipation and joy.  In her baby book, itty bitty won't have the shower invitations and momentos that many women treasure.  She'll have picture after picture tracking her growth, hospital wristbands from all her mom's (thus far brief) admissions, and the stories on this blog.  I guess the point is, though, that she'll have a baby book.  No matter what happens, we love our baby girl and will celebrate her and remember this pregnancy with a deepened awareness of our gratitude for the beautiful gift that she is to our family.  It really even gives some meaning to the vomit.  (There, I said it.  There's meaning in vomit.)  But you know what I mean; it's all worth it in the end, no matter what the outcome.  But still...sometimes we just wish for a more normal pregnancy, life, etc.  But it is what it is. 

Anyway, while we were waiting (John patiently reading Sports Illustrated, Nancy acting like my father and pacing the office), I got a call from the nurse practitioner at the maternal-fetal practice.  Turns out that one of the blood tests that they ran the week before had shown that I have some kind of clotting disorder.  (For you medically-inclined folks, she told me that my anti-thrombin-3 was low, whatever that means.)  The short of it was that I would have to start giving myself daily injections of blood thinner.  Awesome.  I'd have to go into her office to learn how to shoot myself up that afternoon, as we were leaving on vacation the next day.  So we got out of the OB's office as soon as possible - after getting a quick ultrasound that showed that itty bitty had indeed grown a week's worth in a week's time, which was actually awesome.  We rushed off to lunch (at O'Charley's - my fave - thanks to Brandy!), which was lovely and a chance to actually celebrate like normal people.  We were ready for it.  And those unsliceably soft rolls.  Yum.

After two trips to the pharmacy to get the Lovenox and a few hours at work, I scooted away to get my injection lesson.  I'm not a big fan of needles, but I consider myself a brave person, generally speaking.  I was not ready for this, though.  The NP was really nice, though, and reminded me that I just needed to do it, so I put my big girl panties on and gave myself my first shot.  It wasn't that bad.  Definitely uncomfortable, but as I said, it's all worth it, right?  John gave me moral support during the next day's shot, and I think it was harder for him to watch than it was for me to do it.  Now I'm a pro at it, and I let him off the hook, but I'm a bit intrigued to see how labor and childbirth is going to work.  (Really, I know he'll get over it and be there for me, but I know it won't be fun for him.  Not like it will be a picnic for me, either, though, so no sympathy there.)  I do have little bruises all over my belly now, but I get to use a Scooby Doo band-aid each morning, and that makes me happy.  Little things, right?  Anyway, I went back down to work for my last evening shift at the hospital - ever.  Beautiful.

And that was the day before we left on vacation.  Three different doctors offices and doctors in one day - with 8 hours at my own hospital to boot.  It's no wonder, then, that the next night, when I took my blood pressure at the McCormick's house in Birmingham, it was 150/100.  Phew. 

And now I pause for an ice cream break.  Hopefully I'll get back to this tonight, but, wow, it's after midnight once again, I'll leave you hanging about the amnio results.  Rest assured, though, that we got them back the next morning.  And so hopefully you will get them tomorrow morning as well.  Cheeky of me, I know.  ;) 

Thanks again for reading - and thanks even more for all your comments!  Though I'm running the risk of sounding preachy (after all, I am a preacher), let me just say that throughout this experience I have constantly been reminded of the beauty and strength of the body of Christ.  There are reasons why we are born into community - and why we're called to live out our faith in community.  I'm not much for the mob mentality of faith, but there are certainly times during which you've kind of got to just stick your elbows out, pick up your feet, and let the rest of the crowd carry you through your day.  Whether you know it or not; whether you've been getting the play by play or are just now hearing our story, the fact that you are reading this means that you are one of the crowd that has been carrying me, John, and our precious girl through this time.  So thank you.  And I'll raise my bowl of Breyer's chocolate to you.  :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One more thing for tonight...

I just reread my post and realized I never mentioned that the first detailed ultrasound showed that our baby girl does NOT have Spina Bifida.  Anatomically, she's looking great - just tiny.  The hormone levels in the blood test were likely up because of the size of the placenta (and these elevated hormones may also explain the intensity and duration of my nausea compared to the average pregnancy).  So that's great news that was somewhat lost in the midst of the uncertainty about her.  Sorry to leave it out!

The Background

Hey, folks! I'm finally getting my thoughts (and energy!) together enough to give you all the highlights of the first 23 weeks of this crazy pregnancy.  So here goes.  Let me know if you need clarification on anything - we've heard a lot of medical information lately, and, frankly, it's all starting to run together.  I think you'll get the gist of it, though.  Enjoy!

Near the very beginning of the year, after a few months of waiting and a bit of medical help, I found out I was pregnant.  Five positive pregnancy tests later, John was also convinced.  At this point, I was about five weeks along.  For the next 10 weeks, the pregnancy (as far as we knew) progress normally, albeit with some hard-core nausea and the usual spectrum of bizarre pregnancy symptoms.  (So much for my pregnancy dreams of eating whatever I wanted and freely gaining weight - I'm still 3 pounds under my starting weight!) 

At our regular 3 month OB visit, they drew my blood for a routine test called the AFP scan.  The test is designed as a screening test only; it simply measures hormone levels to determine whether you have a higher than average risk for several disorders, such as Down's Syndrome, Trisomy 18, and Spina Bifida.  A week or so later, we got a call from the OB with the results.  My levels had come back with a significantly higher than average risk for Spina Bifida.  We were terrified but glad that it wasn't something lethal.  (Okay, I was terrified; John has remained pretty cool throughout the whole ordeal.  He can speak for himself, but since I'm the one typing, I'll say that he has, of course, been a rock through all of this, though he's certainly had his moments of sadness and anxiety.  I, on the other hand, (and this won't surprise any of you who know me well) have been pretty much terrified throughout the pregnancy, at times with good reason, and at times just out of my generally Nancy nature.  But I digress...)

Aaaaaaaaanyway, the OB referred us to a perinatalogist (an OB who specializes in high-risk pregnancies) at Suburban Hospital for a detailed, level-2 ultrasound.  Since we were anxious to get a diagnosis and, according to the doctors, had a good chance of finding out that the test had given us a false positive (again, it's just a screening test, so this happens fairly frequently), we opted for me to go ahead and see the perinatalogist (also called the maternal-fetal doctor) as soon as possible, even though that meant John would be in Costa Rica for the appointment, which was during the first week of April. 

Thinking that the worst I would hear was that the baby had Spina Bifida (which would, obviously, not be optimal, but something I could mentally prepare for), I had planned on going to the appointment alone, but my wonderful mother insisted on coming into town to go with me, which turned out to be a very helpful.  The ultrasonographer didn't say much during the exam, but because I've made Lauren explain everything about infertility, pregnancy, and ultrasounds to me, I could tell that the baby was sizing a few weeks too small, though I didn't think much of it.  She was adorable, though.  We could see her little heart beating, just a little blip on the screen.  So cute. 

But when the doctor came in - and before she even got on the ultrasound machine herself - she said that she was very concerned about the size of the baby.  She proceeded to take several more measurements and then turned to us for "the talk."  Basically, there were a few things she could see going on.  The baby was about 2 weeks underdeveloped, according to her size.  The placenta was very large, and the amount of amniotic fluid was very low.  She also only has one artery in her umbilical cord (instead of the usual two), which, while abnormal, isn't dangerous in itself.  All of these symptoms together pointed toward a chromosomal abnormality.  While I was trying to absorb all of this information, Mom was scribbling it down to pass on to folks later.  Dr. Fines was very compassionate, and she held my hand when she told me, "I think we need to be prepared to lose this baby." 

That's a sentence no mother ever wants to hear.  I had just seen her little heart beating.  Inside me.  How in the world could I "prepare" to lose her?  Though I have been apart from John for weeks at a time in the past, even been halfway across the world from him, I have never missed him as much as I did at that moment. 

The doctor, after surreptitiously telling me that she thought the baby was a girl (we didn't want Mom to know until John did), recommended that we do an amniocentesis to get a better idea of what we were facing.  That way we could tell if there really was something wrong with her chromosomes.  If so, there was a good chance that we would simply come in for a visit and not find a heartbeat for her.  Of course, because of my work with perinatal loss patients at the hospital, I knew without her saying that I was far enough along that I would have to labor and deliver her, even if she had already died.  At 17 weeks pregnant, you're supposed to be thinking about names, worrying about money, and picking out nursery themes - not wondering if you'll have to deliver your stillborn child at your next appointment.  I can say, with deep theological convinction, this day sucked. 

We left the doctors' office and immediately went to church to try to get ahold of John.  Thankfully, I was able to get him on the line within half an hour.  I tried to explain to him everything the doctor had said, but all I remember actually saying is, "It's a girl, but it's not good."  Again, I have never felt so far away from him - and never been so glad for cell towers in Costa Rica.  We decided that we'd go ahead with the amnio (even though it carried with it a slight risk), but I'd wait until he came home for it.  Mom and I filled in the church folks who were around, I called in sick to work, and I put in the "Murder, She Wrote" dvd (for some lovin' from Angela Lansbury) and climbed into bed to take a nap, hoping it would all be over when I woke up. 

The thing about taking a nap is that life doesn't really change while you're asleep.  That whole "While You Were Sleeping" concept - not so much.  When I woke up that afternoon - and for the next several mornings - I experienced that moment that many people who go through some kind of tragedy often describe.  For about 30 seconds after I woke up, I thought everything was okay.  And then I remembered.  "I think we need to be prepared to lose this baby."  Those next few days were some of the hardest of my life.  Mom stuck around for a while, cleaned the house, planted flowers, and cooked my favorite meals.  After she left, one of my favorite seminary friends (Erin) came to stay with me until John got home that weekend.  All we did was watch t.v. and try to keep all our dogs from killing each other, but it was SO helpful to have company.  And she vaccuumed before she left, of course.  That made John happy.  (Did I mention that she's the one who dated John first?  If they weren't so much alike, they might have made it.  ;) )

John came home late Saturday night (three days after the doctor's visit), and we went over all the medical information again - after unwrapping the presents he brought home for me and the baby girl, including an adorably embroidered Costa Rican dress for her!  I was actually on call that night, but my wonderful supervisor, Jan, covered the first half of my shift for me - just one of the many ways folks have made these past weeks bearable for us. 

The next week we went in for the amnio, and John got to see her on the ultrasound for the first time since she was just a nondescript glob of embryo.  We also met the other doctor in the perinatalogy practice, Dr. Jamie.  John - the statistician in the family - asked Dr. Jamie what she thought the baby's chances were statistically.  She estimated it at 25%, which was actually encouraging.  We like to pull for the underdog, and, as I said to John, a 25% chance is like betting on the 12-seed to beat the 5-seed, and the 12-seeds did great this year.  (Life with John Hill is never very far removed from March Madness.)  The procedure itself was pretty uncomfortable - think long needle, in your abdomen, moving around and drawing out fluid - and had to be repeated because when the doctor put the needle through to the largest pocket of amniotic fluid (which was only a centimeter wide - really low), our curious baby girl decided to swim up to it to check it out.  John could actually see her reaching her little hand up to the needle to see what was going on.  It's so sweet to think about her already having a personality - and one that matches my insatiable curiousity, at that.  There were able to get enough fluid to send off, and they sent us off on a wild goose chase through the hospital to get 9 vials of blood drawn from me and a Rhogam shot administered.  Several hours later, we were finally out of the hospital, beginning the long wait for amnio results. 

And that's where I'll leave you for tonight, since I've already typed more words than I think I've composed in one sitting since I finished my commissioning papers.  Not that I want to torment you by leaving you hanging, but maybe you'll get a sense of the anxiety we were feeling at this point.  I say the wait was long, though it was really only 10 days or so - but, boy, did those days seem long, not knowing what we were looking at for our baby's future - or if she was even to have one.  In the meantime, we did have another appointment with the specialists, who again used their fancy-schmancy ultrasound machine to determine that baby girl had grown a week's worth in the previous week.  So though she wasn't making up any size, she was holding steady.  She's proved to be a tough one - but more on that later. 

For now, I say goodnight.  Thanks for taking the time to read through this novel.  I would say that I'll try to keep it shorter next time, but who am I kidding?  Besides, it's my chance to talk about and celebrate my baby girl - and even though she's still itty bitty, she's worth celebrating!  It's amazing how we love her we can't thank you enough for all the kind thoughts, words, and prayers many of you have already been sending our way.  I'll continue the story sometime later, but definitely by Tuesday, when we go back for another visit and ultrasound.  Again, thanks for reading, and take care!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Read me!

As I've realized in the past few weeks that I'm just not very good at keeping everybody updated on the escapades of our little baby girl, I've finally opted to start a blog about her.  Check back often for updates - we go to the doctor all the time now, it seems!  :)