Monday, April 30, 2012

Pom Poms and such

Today is the LAST day of April. And my April baby is not here. All along, I've thought that I was having a baby in April and now it's clear that her birthday will be in May. I'm not sure why it matters, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around that one. But, anyway...

As promised, I am posting some pictures and a few words on the last little design details that I was able to get accomplished in the baby's room — since I acquired all kinds of extra time that I hadn't planned on.

The first is actually something I had nothing to do with. A very lovely, very talented, and very generous woman with whom I am acquainted through a Bible study group at church offered to paint what she called a "baby name mural" on one of the walls in the nursery. It was her gift to me (and all the other expectant mommas) at a group baby shower held a few weeks back. But, since I already have plans to affix a vinyl print of the baby's name on the round mirror above the changing table (you can read more about that and the rest of what we did in the nursery here), I didn't feel like we needed to also have her name painted on the adjacent wall. (Not to mention the fact that she doesn't officially have a name yet. We have it narrowed down to two and are waiting to meet her — as we did with Owen — before we decide on one.) So, instead, I searched around on Pinterest for other interesting images that might work in the sad, empty wall space above the crib. After a quick consult with Davella (she's pictured below) to address size, space, and color issues, here is the finished product.

How sweet is that, right? The phrase printed on the larger bird, "I carry your heart in my heart," is a spin off of the E.E. Cummings poem, "i carry your heart with me." Here is the artwork shown to scale above the crib.

And, of course, here is the lovely artist herself, Davella Santiago.

Based on this original artwork found on Pinterest (via Etsy), I couldn't be more pleased with it. It is so sweet and whimsical, which is the vibe I was going for in this room. And the colors are absolutely perfect! Way to go, Davella! I just love it!

See that odd, pink, poufy, ball-type object resting in the crib in the picture above? That brings me to the other project that I'm proud to say was completed before baby's arrival. Inspired by this idea (also found on Pinterest), here are the "pom poms" hung above the glider.

I would encourage you to click on this direct link to the tutorial where these came from for more detailed instructions, but basically, these were made using three paper lanterns (which can be found at any party supply store) and a ton of inexpensive fabric. I guess I also used scissors and a hot glue gun, too, if you're keeping track of my supply list.

I couldn't find the exact size lanterns that the tutorial describes — these are actually much bigger, which I kind of like for the size of this room — so I just increased my fabric yardage accordingly. My lanterns were 8, 10, and 12 inches in diameter, so I purchased 3, 3 1/2, and almost 5 yards of corresponding fabric. (At $2.99/yard in fabric and $5 for the lanterns, this little project came out a bit on the high end at just over $40.)

Basically, I made a 4-inch circle template for the two smaller lanterns (I went with 4 1/2 inch circles for the largest one) and then traced and cut out a bazillion circles in all of the fabric. Then, I folded each circle in half, secured it closed with a dot of hot glue, folded it in half again (making a triangular shape) and affixed it to the lanterns (in alternating directions) with another dot of hot glue. I didn't do exact counts each time, but I would say I probably used between 250-350 circles for each pom pom. It was time consuming, but mindless, so I was able to complete the project in a few evenings while parked in front of the TV. Again, for the full details on how to do this simple project, click on over here.

Unfortunately, my camera doesn't take the gorgeous pictures that I dream of. And I've kind of been waiting for another sunny day to take advantage of better lighting. But this is April after all, and so the somewhat dark images you see here are the best I could do, I'm afraid. I assure you, though, that in person this room is really light and airy and exactly as I had hoped. I just can't wait to get that little peanut in there soon!

Friday, April 27, 2012

40 weeks and counting

Well, my due date (April 24) has come and gone, and still there is no baby in my arms. Here is the latest after my appointment this morning...

I am still only dilated about 1 cm (maybe 2), 70-80% effaced, and baby is at about a -1 station. (None of that has really changed much since the last two weekly updates.) The ultrasound today revealed that my AFI reading has gone down slightly. It was only about 7 cm today, as opposed to the 8+ range of the past few weeks. So, although I didn't originally have one scheduled, they also did another NST today to make sure baby's movements were still good. Although her activity was a little less dramatic during that half-hour test than in previous ones, she still tested within normal ranges for movement and heart rate. And I had two decent contractions while I was hooked up, so that was fun to see.

Also, the ultrasound tech estimated the baby's weight to be about 9 pounds right now (yikes!), but she freely admitted that their measurements almost always come out on the high end — usually between 1/2 to 1 full pound off, in fact. The midwife, based on her assessment, estimated that she is more likely only about 8 pounds.

Although everyone is hopeful that it won't be necessary and I'll finally go into labor over the weekend, I did schedule my next appointment for Tuesday. That will put me at 41 weeks gestation and they want to do another full round of tests at that time (i.e., ultrasound, NST, and cervical check). That is fine by me because the thought of waiting yet another whole week before learning any new information seemed way too long to bear.

The midwife I met with today mentioned that very few women (she didn't give me a specific number or anything) go beyond 41 weeks without going into labor. I'm not sure exactly how precise of an assessment that is, but it is encouraging. She also felt that waiting until I'm fully 42 weeks along (which would be May 8), is probably too long. She felt that, for the safety of the baby, we shouldn't go past the end of next week without getting things moving one way or another. That means that within one week from today, baby girl will be here!!! Yay! The end is in sight!

She did sweep my membranes again, as was done last week, and suggested taking an herbal supplement called evening primrose and drinking red raspberry leaf tea as possible natural ways to ripen the cervix and induce labor. The verdict is still out on whether these actually have any real impact, but I've already taken my first dose of the former and plan to purchase some of the latter later this afternoon. I figure, it can't hurt, I guess.

I am told (by two midwives now), that if I do, in fact, get to that point (41+ weeks), I don't necessarily have to have an immediate c-section. As long as my fluid levels and baby's heart rate, etc., are still ok, they can break my water (and possibly give me a low level of pitocin, depending on which doctor is on call when I come in to deliver) to give my body one final push to get things moving on its own. And of course, if that doesn't work, than it's off to the operating room I go. But I will be able to assuredly say at that point that I tried every.last.thing.possible to avoid that and it is just God's will.

On the bright side, the excruciating hip pain that I referenced here, which had kept me fairly immobile for a couple of weeks (and didn't help in the progression of labor department either), has miraculously eased quite a bit this week. I would not go so far as to say that it's totally gone, but I am motoring around MUCH easier these days and with significantly less pain than before. Can I get a Hallelujah????

And stay tuned for another post soon on some additional design details that we've managed to get accomplished in the nursery over the past few weeks. (One small silver lining in this waiting game hand I've been dealt.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

39 weeks and counting

Wow. Blogger is way different all of a sudden. (Or is it, "all of the sudden?" I see that phrase both ways and the latter always makes me do a double take. It just doesn't sound right to my ear.)

Anyway, I owe you all an update on the latest doctor's appointment today, so here goes. Basically, everything is pretty much the same as last week.

I got a call mid-week to say that they reviewed my chart again and did recommend coming in for another ultrasound check of my fluid levels after all (which I was kind of relieved about since I thought the initial recommendation not to check it anymore seemed a bit odd). AFI today was 8.4, which is consistent with last week's 8.8 and the time before that's 8.7. So, that's good. No c-section necessary today. They will continue to check it weekly as long as it stays at that level.

The midwife also checked me out to see what progress has been made down under and sadly, the answer is none. In fact, things have actually moved in the opposite direction. Bummer. Last week I was 70% effaced, 1 cm dilated, and baby was at a -1 station. This week, only 50% effaced, still 1 cm dilated, and baby is at a -2 station (which means her head is higher than before.) Ugh.

She did "stir things up" (those were her words for stripping my membranes), and I currently feel very crampy as a result. But here's hoping that helps my body take a real step in the right direction toward actual contractions and labor over the next several hours and/or days...

I also shared my tale of hip pain (which has gotten progressively worse with each passing day) with the midwife and she helped ease my fears about something being very wrong (read: broken or fractured) with my bones, and insisted that it is actually fairly common. She also felt pretty confident that the pain would go away soon after the baby is born and things start shifting back to normal, so that was a slight bit of good news.

I expressed my concerns that I haven't really been able to do much walking to help self-induce labor due to the amount of pain I'm in. She suggested focusing more on my positioning and mentioned that I wasn't doing myself any favors by sitting around in a reclining position (which is pretty much all I've done for the past week) as far as getting the baby into position and moved down in my pelvis.

Soooooo...I'm not really feeling very confident in anything I can personally do at this point to help move things along, which is immensely frustrating. And since she also indicated that they would let me go as late as 42 weeks into this pregnancy before resorting to forced measures (I had previously believed I could only go to 41 weeks), that means there could possibly be up to 2 1/2 more weeks of this torture! Ahhhhh!!!

So much for a "quick" update. And so much for trying to keep things positive on the blog. I'm just feeling kind of down today. And sick of the hip pain. And crampy. And just kinda "blerg." Sorry about that. But there's your update. Have a nice weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Allow me just one whiny post, please.

I would just like to post, as a matter of public record, an official apology for all of the times that I secretly (or not so secretly) judged mammas who complained about their pregnancies dragging on and who seemed so desperate to just get the kid out already. I very much had it in my head that these women were just big complainers who needed to have a little patience. I mean, how hard could another week or two really be? Jeesh! Suck it up and give that baby a chance to fully bloom in there, is what I thought, as I rolled my eyes.

This was based on my experience having a beautiful, very comfortable pregnancy that lasted only through 38 weeks with Owen. And still, with this pregnancy, I have felt so great, aside from the typical, but manageable discomforts. That is, until one week ago. One week ago, pretty much the very day I hit 38 weeks, everything changed. All of a sudden, this beautiful, healthy glow and decent amount of energy that I was feeling, crumbled around me and was replaced with pain and major fatigue.

The pain, for me, is in my hip. Well, to be exact, it's in my sacroiliac (or SI) joint and it produces a constant sensation of pain.

Photo via Wikipedia

I had low back pain when I was pregnant with Owen, which I attributed to sitting for long periods at my desk when I was working. And I even experienced what's known as sciatica with that pregnancy. But that kind of pain was treatable. I could go home and stretch it out. Or a good ol' back rub by the hubby would certainly help. The thing about this SI joint is that nothing I've tried seems to work to alleviate the pain. I've been seeing a chiropractor about this issue for most of this pregnancy, as it has come and gone throughout the past nine months. And I actually thought it had pretty much been cured since I was feeling so good the last few weeks.  But one week ago, I was proven wrong.

Now, I wince with every. single. step I take. I mean that literally. I was walking through Wal-mart today to pick up maybe 5 things I needed and by the time I finally made it back to my car, I was sobbing and crying on the phone with Ryan, telling him that I can't possibly take up to two more weeks of this. If I am sitting or laying down, I am generally ok. But standing, walking, or any other kind of movement that even remotely involves my hips creates a very intense pain that just won't go away. After lying on the floor last night trying to find some kind of stretch that would relieve the pressure (I found none), I started to worry about how I could possibly manage labor and delivery of this baby when just lying on my back is so very uncomfortable.

The hardest part about the pain is that a.) I'm not sure when it will end, and b.) I have no plan of action for treating it. I'm hopeful that once this baby is born, my hips will realign back to how they should be — and quickly! — and that will be that. But my fear is that it may take a while for that to happen, or worse, they may be so severely damaged that there may really be something permanently wrong with my hips now. (That's the pain talking, ya'll.) And I am a planner, to a fault. I like to know the "how to" on solving all problems and, this problem, although I've researched it a decent amount online and put my faith in a chiropractor who doesn't seem to be helping much, does not have a clear-cut solution that I can see. And that, my friends, is scary.

The fatigue, I kind of expected. I mean, as of tomorrow, I'm 39 weeks pregnant. I'm gonna feel worn down. But I actually attribute my need for a nap almost every day this past week to the pain, more than the other general weariness of carrying around this extra 25 pounds in my belly. I'm not going to feel too guilty about taking those naps, though. I think it's my body telling me to take it easy.

I generally don't like to fill up the posts on this blog with complaints and negativity. But, it is a journal for me to record what's happening in life and unfortunately, right now, this is a major thing that is happening in mine. It is clouding everything else happening in life and serves as a painful reminder that I should never, EVER judge another woman in the late stages of pregnancy for just wishing that it would all be over. I can honestly say that this baby cannot come soon enough. Sadly, I'm even starting to consider scheduling a c-section just to have an official light at the end of the tunnel. For now, I'm trying to hold on strong, but each day, with the pain getting worse and worse, I am praying for God's hand to heal me, or just help me to manage the pain and get through another day. Please pray for me, too.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wetting the bed (sort of)

As an update to my last post, my AFI on Friday was 8.8, which is consistent with my fluid level earlier in the week. And the baby tested very well again during the NST, so the midwife (and consulting doctor) does not recommend any further testing at this point. That means I can go back to having regular weekly appointments, but no more need for ultrasounds or non stress tests. I was a little surprised by that recommendation and may still ask about testing the fluid levels again when I go back next Friday, but for now, I am breathing a sigh of relief and appreciate having the next week to just relax and take it easy. Oh, and keep drinking lots of water...just in case.

In other news, we had some pretty powerful thunderstorms combined with strong winds over the past 24 hours or so and last night, at 12:30 a.m., after waking for the first of several overnight potty breaks, I settled back into bed only to be woken moments later by a strange gushing sound. Huh? Then I touched my pillow and one corner of it was soaking wet. I was SO confused. I woke Ryan up and told him (probably in some incomprehensible way) that there was water falling on me. We eventually discovered that water was dripping in (after one initial big gush) from the can light fixture in the ceiling directly above my side of the bed. Since there wasn't much we could really do in the middle of the night and the dripping stopped after that one big storm passed (it only lasted maybe 10 minutes at the most), we just pushed the bed over about a half a foot so we could put a bucket on the ground to catch any more drips and went back to bed.

Ryan has spent some time today trying to figure out if we have a leak in the roof, but from the best we can tell, it seems like maybe the rain was just coming down sideways and came in through the gable vent that is just above the big window in our bedroom. The good news is that it doesn't seem like there is anything we can or need to do about it. But let me just tell you, it's pretty funny to be woken up by water dripping on your pillow! And truthfully, if it hadn't happened right there, we probably would have never known about it. If we had found some random wet spot on the carpet the next morning elsewhere in the house, I'm positive we would have blamed the dog for having an accident. Poor Kinnick!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fluid levels on the rise...

So, I owe you an update, huh? Well, truly most everyone who reads this blog already knows the latest through other means of communication, but for the sake of posterity, here goes...

Basically, I drank and drank and drank until I could drink no more water since my appointment last Friday in an attempt to get my amniotic fluid level back up to a safe range and it seems to have paid off. (That and lots of prayer!) At my appointment on Tuesday, my AFI (amniotic fluid index) was 8.7, which is up from the previous 7-something last week. And although that is still a little lower than ideal, it was a step in the right direction and much higher than the level of 5 (that's in centimeters, oddly) that would have resulted in an immediate c-section. So...YAY!

I still have to continue to get checked twice a week from here on out, so I go back on Friday. And I will keep on pushing the water and praying for the best each time because the longer this little babe can stay inside mommy, the better my chances of going into labor on my own and avoiding the dreaded C.

They also did an NST (non-stress test) to check baby's heart rate and movements and those results were fantastic. She's a mover and a shaker! And the midwife did a quick check of my cervix to see what's going on down there. Results were that I am 70% effaced, 1 cm dilated, and the baby's head is low (she estimated in the -1 station). So, there still may be a while to go before labor begins, but at least stuff is happening. Now, we wait...

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and kind words! I'll try to continue to keep posting updates as they occur.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nursery pics and a status update

Let me first preface the nursery pictures you are about to see with a notation about my perfectionist desire to have absolutely everything done before I posted these. That is to say that there are still one or two more decorative details that I wanted to get done before baby arrives (and I still may), but decided that — just in case (more on that below) — I better just share with you the very nearly completed room as it looks today.

So, here you are. Again, point-and-shoot camera..., amateur photographer..., intense morning sunlight..., blah, blah, blah. Enough apologies. I actually LOVE this room and it turned out pretty much exactly as I pictured it in my head (which is really rare for me). I hope you (and baby girl!) enjoy it, too.

The walls are a soft gray (I think it was Martha Stewart "Nimbus Cloud"), the furniture (which is the same as what Owen used) is soft white, the curtains and crib skirt (which I made can congratulate me, it's ok) are a charcoal gray and white damask fabric, and the crib sheet and changing pad cover (and just a few other small details) are soft pink. I also wanted to use the very comfortable, but not my favorite color, glider and ottoman from Owen's nursery, so I just covered it with a big ol' white throw blanket and pillow, hoping to hide the minty green flavor. Meh. And although the carpet has a weird pinkish tint to it in these photos, it's actually just the plain old beige plush that's found just about everywhere else in this house.

The wall right above the crib is one place where I hope to get an additional decorative element completed, but it will just depend on how much time I have before D-day.

And this round mirror will eventually have baby's name applied to it (via some vinyl lettering I ordered), but that won't go up until after she's here and has officially been named. In case you're wondering — and I know you are! — we have two names picked out that we like equally well, but just as we did with Owen, we will wait until we meet her to decide which one fits best. So, yes, I ordered vinyl decals of both names. Ha!

Now, as for an update on my situation, here's the latest. As many of you know, I was (and still am) planning to attempt a "trial of labor" (VBAC) with this baby after having a c-section with Owen, who was breech. You can read more about my experiences last time around here and here, but here's a brief summary for you. In the process of trying to get Owen to turn, I had lots of regular ultrasounds performed in the last few weeks of that pregnancy. And during one done at 37 weeks, they discovered that my amniotic fluid volume (AFV) was very low. (Does anyone else automatically think of America's Funniest Videos when they see the acronym AFV? I did!)

Anyway, they gave me a week to see if the fluid level would come back up, but it never did (in fact, it got much lower), so we ended up having to deliver him the very day they discovered that. Although he was considered full-term (38 weeks), and I knew I was facing a c-section (because he was breech), it was still a bit terrifying leaving the doctor's office and heading to the hospital that day.

So, fast forward almost three years to today where I find myself in a strangely similar situation. First off, the good news is that this baby is NOT breech. She is head-down, fully engaged, and has even "dropped." However, at my insistence, an ultrasound was performed yesterday (at 37 weeks) to check the AFV and, lo and behold, it is very low again. (I was told that just because that happened in a previous pregnancy, there shouldn't be any reason why it would happen again in subsequent ones, but for once, I am grateful for my neurotic request for additional testing because an ultrasound — which is the only way to measure AFV — would not normally have been performed at this point.)

Although none of this was actually explained to me by my practitioners, here is a link to some good information I found myself about this condition (called "oligohydramnios") by just Googling it today.  Lots of stuff in there to freak me out. Good times.

Anyway, the plan of action at this point is similar to last time. They are giving me a few days to do what I can to bring the fluid level back up. The only advice I have received is to rest and drink lots and lots of fluids, so that's what I'm doing. Oh, and apparently that new-ish sugar substitute that's on the market now, called Truvia, has been shown to have the unintended side effect of increasing amniotic fluid in pregnant women (weird, huh?), so I bought some of that to add to my fresh brewed ice tea today. Can't hurt!

If the AFV continues to decrease to an unsafe level by my next ultrasound, scheduled for Tuesday, they will have to deliver the baby immediately. That would be fine — I'm totally ready to meet baby girl! But unfortunately, because of my previous c-section, they can't (and won't) induce labor. So, of course, that would mean another c-section delivery, despite the fact that everything else was looking very promising on the VBAC front. (Here's a bit more on my feelings about that, but let's just say, I was really, really hoping to be able to at least attempt to deliver this baby vaginally. Major bummer.)

I'm praying that my AFV comes back up to a safe range (and stays there!) for a couple more weeks to allow my body the time it needs to go into labor naturally. Alternatively, I would also be happy with going into labor before Tuesday and, to that end, I'm going to try some of the old wives tales recommended to induce labor. Oh, and pray some more.

But to be totally honest, I'm going into my next appointment on Tuesday with the assumption that my AFV will be even lower than it was and they will send me immediately to the hospital to deliver this baby via c-section. (Basically, exactly what happened to me with Owen.) In a way, that's exciting! There could be a new baby in my arms in just three short days! I'm so anxious to meet her! But of course, I would much prefer to wait it out a bit and see if we can't do things the old fashioned way and avoid the c-section.

Ultimately, however, my prayer is for a healthy baby, regardless of the way she is delivered. And I am learning, through all of this, to let go of my desire to control things that are truly outside of my control. I've said it a lot — that I put my full faith in God — but it's officially time to put my money where my mouth is and really do that. I assure you that I have not lost sight of just how blessed I am to be carrying this child and to finally get to hold her in my arms very soon. God is SO good!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"You mad at me?"

It's been a while since I've posted any of the funny things that Owen says lately, but I assure you, he makes me laugh one way or another every single day. Recently, I've noticed that he has a unique way of gauging whether I'm upset with him after he's done something to get scolded. Here's an example from this morning after I got angry with him for wedging himself behind the piano.

Owen (after being scolded): "Mommy?"
Me: "What?"
Owen: "No, don't say 'what,' Mommy."
Owen: "You mad at me, Mommy?"

His gauge is whether I answer his "mommy?" inquiry with "Yes?" which means all is good, or "What!" which typically means I am still upset and not ready to answer with patience and kindness. (Shame on me!) He can obviously sense my tone, but he focuses on the word I use. Because this usually makes me chuckle, it is a pretty effective method of diffusing the boy!

Another funny phrase he says quite frequently is, "Hey, I want fumphin." This means that he wants a snack of some kind, but I love the way he pronounces "something." Cracks me up!