babysurprise

Lettuce Have a Baby

Six months have passed with our little surprise and that means we are in the FINAL trimester of the FINAL M pregnancy.  It’s no doubt this has been my quickest pregnancy yet (based on feelings), and though one would think with your fourth pregnancy, especially one of the same gender, one would know what exactly what to expect.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t exactly rung true.  But for now, let’s take a look back on this month.

I am 27 weeks and baby is the size of a head of lettuce (or something like that).  I do know that three weeks ago, she measured a pound and a half (average, so they said), as I had a followup ultrasound to check on the PAC I mentioned last time.

It was my first and only time at an MFM (maternal fetal medicine) and for that I am so grateful.  Those places are a little bleak, with rarely good news coming from them, and I was reminded of an author, one in particular that I have closely followed her story, who received dire news about her baby at that very building a few years ago.  Thankfully, my visit was mostly precautionary, though there was always the chance they could discover something unexpected as they looked at things a little more in depth than my initial anatomy ultrasound.

The tech spent about thirty minutes on me, measuring the normal things again, studying baby’s heartbeat, and then the majority of her time was spent thoroughly looking at her heart.  And I mean THOROUGHLY.   She looked at it from every angle, having me position myself in different ways at times, zooming in on certain spots, and sometimes displaying colors on the screen to show blood flow.  The tone of the exam was a positive one, though she warned me she could not tell me results directly, it seemed to be going well.

Afterward, I met with the doctor on staff (i.e. not my normal OBGYN) who explained that everything came back healthy, from the look and function of her heart to her heartbeat.  There was nothing abnormal discovered in her heartbeat this time!  He said that it’s not uncommon for that to happen either. So I was merrily dismissed and breathed a sigh of relief that we could check this box off on the list of pregnancy anxieties.

The next big surprise this month came in the form of a little clear, 10oz drink.  On the morning of November 17, just a week or so before Thanksgiving,  I went in to take my glucose tolerance test.  Once again, this being my fourth time, I knew the drill.  I protein loaded in the morning and swallowed my drink quickly, met with my doctor in the interim time it took for the hour blood test to be drawn.  I felt fine, all things considered, as I have most of the pregnancy (well especially so in comparison to my previous ones).  I felt a little ill that afternoon (hours after the test), but chalked that up to the combination of the sugary drink and a high carb lunch.  It resolved when I ate a healthy dinner.

So it came as a big surprise when the nurse called me on Monday morning to tell me that I had FAILED!  I wasn’t sure if I should take it as a greater loss that I had failed by 3 points (so close!), or a sign of encouragement (I was so close to the line that I’ll more than likely pass the next test?).

Nevertheless, I was dazed for a few hours from the news.  The three hour test scares me a little (12 hours of fasting, drinking the glucose, then three more hours of blood draws and fasting).  The diagnosis of gestational diabetes scares me even more (greater risks for so many things, including a induction, which I have been DESPERATELY hoping and praying against).  That test comes this week, and since I’ve had some time to process the news, I’ve been able to come to more of a peace about it.  A few personal friends and acquaintances have had GD and while it is a serious diagnosis, thankfully can be mostly managed by a clean diet (and that has a few more benefits to oneself as well).  In the mean time, I have cut way back on carbs and sugar, hoping that baby can remain happy no matter what, and am resolved to my fate, whatever that may be.

I’ve also been preoccupied this month with baby’s position.  The ultrasound revealed she was breech, and though this isn’t anything serious yet as she is still small enough to change frequently, it made me consider what I can do to get and hold her in a good position until birth.  In the past, birth positioning has been a struggle with all three of mine.  For some reason, my body likes to hold them high, fluid level also high, so they do not drop down and become engaged, signaling for labor to begin.  Bea was the only one that I went into labor on my own, and that was with my water breaking first, so who knows if she even intended to come at that point.

Even so, I had my easiest labor with her as she came out correctly and with no back pain on my end.  With the other two, I was induced (by water breaking), and had horrible back pain, specifically in my sacrum (a bone or two above the tailbone, from my understanding).  All three have wanted to come out sunny side up, but only MG succeeded.

Anyway, this had me researching spinning babies (i.e. everyday exercises you can do to help position your baby more ideally for birth) and the Webster technique (i.e. a technique done by a certified chiropractor that aligns your sacrum).  I found a chiropractor who specializes in it and I went to see her today.  It was a good experience, not too unlike my other prenatal chiropractor experiences, but I’m seeing her a bit more preemptively this time.  I’m hoping she can help me avoid this dreadful pain again, and the price will be worth it, if not for peace of mine alone.

One thing she asked me to work on is not crossing my legs.  I am a habitual offender of this (I’m struggling right now as I type not to cross at the knee.  My legs always feel so much happier elevated).  Every time I cross my legs, my hips go out of alignment a bit and with my already loose ligaments, they don’t naturally go back in place right away.  This creates a less than ideal opening for baby to comfortably sink into, and instead could be a reason why my babies stay high, avoiding sharp bones poking them as they attempt descent.  So add this to the list of ways a pregnant woman must make herself uncomfortable, including not sleeping back nor belly, trying to stay on left side as much as possible, never reclining (to keep baby from going spine to spine), and now no crossed legs.  It feels like a lot, but I am determined to do everything, in my power at least, to make this my best labor and delivery yet.

Finally, we were able to tour the hospital where we will (Lord willing), be delivering this baby in roughly 3 months.  The facilities are nice and very accommodating for the natural birth I hope to have again this time.  This being a new hospital for us (4 babies, 3 different hospitals!), there are some things I miss about my last experiences, but also some things this hospital has to offer that my previous ones didn’t.  It’s hard for me to let go of past experiences sometimes, and not let them shape how I think the future will be.  But that’s what I’m working through right now and I love this verse that came up in my Bible app this morning, “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'” (Isaiah 41:13)

Between all of that, Thanksgiving, MG’s birthday, deal shopping, company, and the like, this has been an eventful month.  I anticipate next month to be similar, if not even more busy. That’s part of what makes the time pass so quickly, but also so thankful for so many good things to celebrate.

As I order another embroidered PBK stocking and sign our names to another annual Christmas card, I think about what Christmas will look like this time next year.  Four girls (!) to trim the tree, curl up and read Christmas books together, open the Advent calendar, circle every last thing in the Target toy catalogue, cut and decorate sugar cookies, and talk about Jesus’s birth.  There is something about the feeling of our family’s circle coming to a close.  It makes the traditions feel more alive and the memories more noteworthy. No more waiting for things to change and no more years of progress with anticipation of regression.  This is the time of our lives.

-smk

Grapefruit-ful month

Five months (today) or 23 weeks (tomorrow) and baby girl is now the size of a grapefruit!

Crazy. This month has brought a lot of exciting milestones: the anatomy ultrasound, the halfway point, & the point of viability.  Plus, she’s getting very big with her movements and predictable in the timing of them (like always when I’m lying down)

I shared this on IG (@030318babysurprise), but our anatomy ultrasound  at 20 weeks turned up a slightly abnormal heartbeat called a PAC.  My doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it, but I will have to have an echocardiogram done in about 10 days (basically a high level ultrasound), to determine if there is anything more concerning about it.  The structure of the heart, itself, looked good, and she reassured me that many babies outgrow it (some even before birth), as well as a few adult friends of mine saying they have it to this day and it doesn’t slow them down.  Out of all the things to turn up on an ultrasound, it feels probably the least alarming, but I still hate the fact that there is something there at all.

The halfway point of this pregnancy technically came at 20 weeks, but I think it should be more like 22 weeks, seeing as how we didn’t find out for the first 4 and that would leave us with 18 & 18 on either side of 22.  Either way, now we are beyond both of those, which means we have less time left in this pregnancy (Lord willing) than we started with.  Unbelievable!

I certainly wouldn’t mind an earlier babe this time (somewhere between 39 weeks and 41 weeks sounds ideal).  And one of my biggest prayers this time around is that I will not have to do another induction.  While the planner in me loves the thought of being in control of the date and having everything lined up in order for it, I know my mental state going into those too well and struggle with that aspect of it.

When people ask me how I’m feeling, I usually say one of two things: 1) about as good as it gets for me during pregnancy (we are about to tip the scale to the bad side again…). Or 2) I’m doing fine physically but not mentally.  This pregnancy, more than the others as I can recall, I have struggled with fear (but only for labor and delivery), excitement (well lack thereof), and another missing piece of the joy of nesting (a combo of life being so full right now and also the lack of control I had over this one)

One thing that has been very present from the start of this pregnancy was a strong fear about labor and delivery.  I realize that encompasses about 6 hours, give or take, of a given pregnancy, but I could not stop thinking about.

Prior to getting pregnant, every time I heard a traumatic birth story or was reminded of the pain, I rationalized it away, thinking I’ll never have to do that again.  I even remember saying aloud, directly after Sibby’s birth, “I’ll never do that again!”, although by the idyllic hospital day two, I was already recanting my words.

This time it felt forced upon me, and I think that was part of the fear. I did not choose this, this time.  I did not want to do this again.

Things came to a head about 2 weeks ago when I clicked over to YouTube to watch (someone I admire’s) birth story, which turned into an unexpected traumatic epilogue and showed a lot of live footage of labor (contractions and hospital stuff). The fear came up from the subconscious right into the foreground and gripped me so hard, I did not know if it would leave or not.  I realized then that I needed to turn the fear over and release it so that I could move forward with excitement and love for this baby.

I read a book intentionally dealing with fear and pregnancy (though I would not recommend it), and have spent a lot of time in prayer about it.  Ever since that night, I’ve not had the gripping fear again, it has been replaced by peace.

The nesting and excitement piece I mentioned makes me a little sad, because usually that is my go-to pregnancy emotion and the thing I look forward to during the darker moments.  I believe part of this is me over-thinking everything (I’ll go into more detail on this in a later post).

Anyway, despite these lagging emotions, I have been able to accumulate a few necessities for this baby.  I found good deals on a new carseat and stroller (still keeping our double BOB, just needed something less cumbersome for dr appointments and errands with 2 under 2–yikes–still scary to say that).  I’ve been thinking of the “little girls’ room” (vs. the big girls’ room) and how to decorate it.  And just this week I’ve started sewing a few little things for a new baby layette.

This month I have de-graduated my running back to walking.  My initial goal was 24 weeks but 22 weeks was my stopping point.  Physically, it just became too much but I’m thankful that this weather has stayed so pleasant and I’ve been able to stay very active still.  So far, I don’t notice any difference with this pregnancy that involved running versus my other ones that involved only walking, so I’m not sure it made much of a difference.  Hopefully, it will be easier to graduate back into it though, postpartum, since I didn’t take so much time off from it.

Another, rather unpleasant, side effect from this month was a bad stomach virus that gripped me for about 48 hours.  Just to prove how pregnancy doesn’t well suit me, even in the second trimester, I didn’t even realize I had anything until the side effects starting coming from all corners of the earth. I just thought the cramps I was feeling were normal pregnancy pains for me (because they are, especially in the evening).  Anyway, I get one or two of these things every pregnancy, AS WELL AS, morning sickness, which makes me think God is just trying to cure me of my fear of puke.  Well, it’s working.

Aside from that unpleasantness, I’ve been enjoying cooking this month and haven’t been too bothered by food.  Occasionally, I’ll get a bit of heartburn, but nothing to write home about yet. As fall enters, I’ve been spending some free time on Pinterest, planning soups and slow cooker meals, and dreaming of the holidays.  Although I’m not 100% myself, I’m thankful that I’m feeling pretty good for a pregnancy and I’m excited about all of the festivities to come with very excitable little ones.  It’s nice that while we have our go-to traditions, they are still young enough, and transitions have come often enough, that we haven’t been locked into too many things yet.  Each year feels like a fresh start to try and see what sticks best for our family.

Four months and counting, and thankful for every one I get with my last “homegrown” babe.

-smk

Hearts of Palm

It’s October 3, and we’ve now bridge the four month mark. According to thebump.com, baby is the size of an artichoke!

I am 18 weeks now and, though still not to the halfway mark, in a weird state.  I have fully embraced this pregnancy, as I have had due knowledge of it for the past 14 weeks, (longer than a trimester). I have crossed finally past the threshold of sickness and dodgy energy levels, only to be met by my growing stomach as the new reminder there is life inside.  I am still able to do everything I want, but having to be mindful of limits due to the size of the one growing in me.

For now, it has still remained hidden from strangers, those who offer up the polite and kind remarks about how they “had no idea I was pregnant”, but it is coming.  Depending on how I fit my shirts, I either appear to be slightly over my normal weight, or growing something artichokey in size at the center of my body. Not a win either way.

I am down to the last few pairs of regular jeans that fit me and know it’s only a matter of time and discomfort before I pull out the elastic bands.  Once I see those, it is a long journey of learning to love them, but there is an undercurrent of a rallying cry with this “one last time”.

By all accounts it’s still summer here, and could be for a while.  But I have a hatred of all but one pair of shorts and few flattering tanks left.  It’s probably time to spring for some maternity clothes but we have such few days left in this season, it seems futile to purchase those of the warm weather variety.  With this baby coming in, so they tell me, early March, I hopefully will be back into “normal” clothes by the time I’m in need of them next summer. So I move through it, ill-fitting clothes bearing witness to my discomfort.

I think we have settled on a name. This is big for us.  A moment of time that I relish, but feel hesitant to embrace this time.  I think because this is my last baby I will name, I feel decelerated by the concept of finality.  Right now, this name is being put through every test I can think of.  Does it fit our mold?  Do I love the meaning?  Will I still like it on a teenager?  Is it edgy enough for us?  Is this good enough for a grand finale?  Do I like it as much as the other girls’ names?

Still I catch myself scanning for birth announcements and ruminating on new names, trying them out in my daydreams for a bit, and on my tongue if they are lucky.  Everything around me has become a potential naming source, a network for helping me cross that final bridge.

I think it’s a good sign that I keep coming back to the one after all of these.  So I will hold onto that thought, close for now.

What I do like about the potential name is that it has multi-layered significant meaning. But that is all I will say for now.  I suppose we will do a name game again at 30 weeks, though it’s going to be tough to think of clues I haven’t already used 3x over!

Sleep has become a contemptuous master and one that I will fight with for the remainder.  I am evermore thankful for a king size bed when I am pregnant.  Each night, I carefully set up my throne with two pillows for my head and a pillow to cushion each side.  That way if I accidentally roll to my stomach or back, I have something soft to protect me from going fully prone.

All of these items must be weightily moved in the middle of the night for my, no less than, four trips to the bathroom.  Getting less than nine hours of sleep also makes for an unwelcome afternoon slump and a day of mentally fighting against laziness.  I have become not only a guardian of my children’s rest, but my own.

I am careful in sitting up now, not wanting to, for lack of better words, blow my abs out on this baby.  It feels silly to use your arms and elbows so much to reach a sitting position, but I hope my protection will pay off in the reward of no diastasis recti.

Every time I am still and restful (which, with three little ones, equals about an hour a day before bed), I feel her little limbs tapping around in my belly.  It still brings a rush of excitement and hope that a tiny, unknown being is alive in there, growing to join our family in about 5 months.

After a stressful or exhausting day, feeling her move gives me a little edge of hope and I’d like to think of this is a small allowance from God to remember his kindness towards us and His control over our lives.  I am still amazed at He how is piecing this storyline together and still waiting with expectation to see how He finishes it.

But for now, this feels a good place to be.

-smk

Surprise, Surprise, it’s Baby Surprise

In what we have termed to be possibly the greatest surprise of our joined lives, we found out that we are expecting our fourth baby, due sometime in early March.  This came as a shock to us for several reasons, not the least of which being that I had and still apparently HAVE a luteal phase defect ever since the birth of MG.  This has meant in order to become and stay pregnant, I have needed to supplement progesterone with both Bea’s and Sibby’s pregnancies, in order to make the environment favorable for them.  

Even knowing this, and continuing to watch my body carefully, while observing that the defect was still in play, we did not take this news lightly.  We had both, separately, and together, come to terms with the idea that we probably would not have another baby, much as we loved them, as our home felt very lively and full with three and the thought of being pregnant again, while also hitting the “reset button” in a year did not appeal, particularly to me.  

In June we took a family beach vacation, our first as a family of five, and enjoyed every single minute of it.  We loved making memories with our girls, young as they were, with Sibby too young to remember anything about it.  That trip solidified more than ever that we were very content with our family size and whenever things became difficult with having a pack n play in our closet or when I couldn’t just sit by the pool and read like some of the other moms of older kids, or we had to use a high chair at a restaurant, I smiled, knowing that each year from here on out was going to improve our vacation dynamics.  We even had several conversations about it on the way home and I felt more than ever that the door to four was closed, forever.

Imagine my shock when less than 48 hours later I took a (very) positive pregnancy test.

The Sunday after we got home, I spent the afternoon doing some sewing but I found my mind drifting from the project at hand and began to wonder about some of the symptoms that had popped up that week.  I began doing some calculations in my head, saying, “surely not.”,  “there’s no way”, “that would just be impossible.”  

Then I turned to my trusty friend Google.  So many times in the past, I had turned to it, hoping beyond belief that I could find some obscure reason to give myself hope that I was pregnant.  Often, I would find something nebulous but the overwhelming signs would point to no.  This time though, it was the opposite.  

Because I was very aware of my defect, and had been monitoring it closely since Sibby’s birth, I counted the days, and double checked them on my calendar, and realized this was the longest luteal phase I had ever naturally had on my own (at least since the defect had appeared).  On one hand, I was so grateful for that and hoped this might mean that I wouldn’t need to pursue hormone therapy as I had considered doing only last month in an effort to improve it. 

On the other hand, things were looking even more so like a pregnancy was at least possible, and according to Google, it was even safe for me to take a test now, which should be late enough to give me a definitive answer.

I took this information, late on that Sunday afternoon, and stewed on it.  I didn’t know how I would feel if it were positive and I didn’t want to stir up my emotions in case it was negative, I didn’t know if I should draw N into this convoluted story.

I tried to think of an excuse to go to the drugstore to pick up some tests, as it was almost dinner time and I didn’t want to have a coded conversation with N in front of the girls.  At the same time, I didn’t want to find a positive on my own and carry it with me for any length of time without him.  

Eventually, I stopped the mind games and decided to Prime Now a 3 pack, thinking if it were negative tonight, I would need to double check in the morning, just to be POSITIVE.

During dinner, N asked me if I would like to walk after the girls went to bed (meaning in our cul-de-sac with the baby monitor), and I said that would be wonderful.  The tests were due to arrive between 8 and 10pm and that would give me some time to drop the bomb on him without any interruption from our energetic trio.

It was a lovely summer night and as it was still late June, the sun didn’t set for a long time.   N was all worked up about a babysitting conflict we had that week, where we had double booked something and we were trying to figure out a way to do both things.  “I just can’t get this off my mind”, he said, as we had spent a good portion of the day brainstorming about it.

I had given him a few suggestions, but after he said the last sentence, I said, “well there is something I can’t get off my mind that I need to tell you about.”

“Ok”, he said, his gait slowing and his eyes getting wide, but accepting, not wanting me to change my mind.

“I think I might be pregnant”

Bomb dropped.

It completley stopped him in his tracks.

“no way.”  “no way”, he said, over and over.  He did not have the luxury of an afternoon to consider it as I did.

“Well….” and then I began my saga as to why I thought it MAY be a possibility.  

But by the time I finished telling him, I had completely gone back to thinking it wasn’t true.  I hadn’t had ANY symptoms, I told him.  Other than falling asleep on the couch the past two nights while we were watching tv.  I HAD felt unusually tired this week, and maybe a LITTLE extra hungry, but what’s new?  Those things could easily be written off as something else.

I watched him closely as he processed this news.  “First, ” he said, “I just need to get the obvious negative emotions toward this possibility out of the way.  Before it becomes a reality.”  I agreed that seemed to be a logical step.  So we spoke about how this would change us.  How this could change us, be it true.

We talked a long time.  By the time we were done, we had walked many circles in our little street and talked them too.  I was convinced this was a huge stretch and that I had let myself become wrapped up in yet another emotional storyline that wasn’t true.

Just at that moment, I got an alert on my phone that the tests were on their way.  We decided to go inside to wait them out.

We sat on the couch and he apologzied to me because he said the only feelings he could feel in th moment about a possible pregnancy were negative.  I know, I said sympathetically.  It’s probably not even true.  Surprises like this just don’t happen to us.

We decided to finish the show we had been watching the night before (the one I had fallen asleep to). I ate some ice cream, but torturously forewent water because I didn’t want to dilute my sample too much.

 Meanwhile, I stalked the driver on my phone.  It looked like he was only ten minutes away.  but then fifteen passed and I saw he was going in the OPPOSITE direction of our house.  Every five minutes I looked at my phone.  He stopped over and over and drove all the wrong ways before heading back in our direction.  I had never had an order take so long.  It took him an hour to arrive after the initial alert.  And by that time, I was all keyed up.  Nervous, with a deep pit in my stomach.

As soon as our brown bag arrived, I ripped open the white box inside. “How long will it take to show up?” N asked.  I wanted to give him the standard 3 minute line, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t take that long if it were positive.  And If it were negative, we would still hang in the balance until morning.  

As it turns out, we didn’t have to wait a second.  The test line began appearing before even the control line.  I immediately went into shock.  I showed it to N, who rubbed his eyes a few times before comprehension set in.  We were definitely pregnant.

We hugged each other and collapsed on the couch.  

This is really happening.  We prayed and we bitterly let out our negative feelings, then acknowledged how neat it was that God would give us such a gift.  And out of all the curve ball things to happen to us, how amazing is it that it is a pregnancy.  

Not too ironically, I had been getting lots of verses about fear and a premonition that something was on the horizon for us.  Those gave me a lot of peace in the moment that this was a part of God’s plan and I couldn’t argue that this baby wasn’t coming to us in such a meaningful way: not by our choice, not by our doing, something we didn’t have to beg God for, or spend months wondering about, or even agonizing over if we made the right choice later. The choice was made for us and that was very freeing in a way.

Not too long into the conversation, I said, “we don’t have any names!”  My sister had used the one boy name we liked (much to our satisfaction) and we didn’t have any solid girl names on the back burner since we didn’t think we would ever need them.

Thankfully, I keep a note in my phone for just such a time as this and began reading off some of the names on my short list to N. The first girl name I said, he instantly latched onto.  Okay, this could be a sign.  

We opened up our family Bible and scoured both sides of our family tree, talked about meaningful places and things, and looked up baby name meanings.  

Baby names are our sweet spot.  This was our crossing the river Jordan.  

The next morning, Monday, I began the search for an OB.  I wanted to get in right away for blood work, considering my past history of miscarriages and supplementation.  The only problem was, I couldn’t tell anyone yet, or at least didn’t want to because I had barely had time to process the news myself.

Thankfully, only the month prior, my sister and I’d had a long talk about her OB through text and I was able to scroll back far enough to find the name and look her up.  I called and got an appointment right away for the afternoon.  This was all happening incredibly fast!

The next morning, they called me back with the good news: not only did the workup show a solid, healthy pregnancy level, but my progesterone was just as high as it was when I was supplementing.  This time I didn’t have to take a single pill!  Wow–add another miracle to our list.  Not only did my luteal phase correct itself, seemingly overnight, to create this pregnancy, but my body was suddenly making the right dosage of hormones for this baby as well.

God must really have had a plan He was working!  And I was so thankful because I always blamed the extra progesterone as to what made me extra sick and tired in my last two pregnancies.  I was more than happy to forego it this time.

Once again, I also felt so much freedom in this pregnancy.  While my last three pregnancies were riddled by fear and anxiety over trying to do everything possible to avoid another miscarriage, I felt so free from that knowing this time it wasn’t our doing.  I didn’t feel immune to bad or scary things, just a part of a story much bigger than my own.

N says one day we will look at this baby and say, “This is the reason God put her in our family.”  Or just have that sense that she was always meant to be a part of us.  And I agree 100%. In fact, the signs are already pointing that way.

Coming up next….FAQ’s

-smk