Sunday, April 24, 2011

Topher's Pre-Birth Story, Part 2

Since this was my second pregnancy, I knew a bit more about what to expect from the whole experience (or at least I thought I did, lol). There were things with my first delivery that I wished had gone a bit differently. I wanted to feel like I had more of a say about decisions made during labor and delivery and I wanted to feel like the nursing staff actually supported my decision for a natural birth, rather than looking at me like the crazy woman who would feel so much better with an epidural. I also wanted to know the person delivering my baby, as my doctor wasn’t on call when I delivered Liam, so her partner, whom I had never met, was the one to deliver. So, way before plans of actually having a second baby I knew that whenever the time did come, I wanted to consider using a midwife group. Of course the time came much more quickly than I’d expected. As an emergency c-section baby myself, I also recognized (to me) the importance of being near or in a hospital. With further research I found that there are two midwife groups in the area that deliver inside hospitals. However, before immediately making the decision to go to a midwife group, I wanted to first see my OB, as she is someone that I trust a great deal. So, after having some time to adjust to the news of the pregnancy, which I did rather quickly, we had our 8 week appointment and first sono. I was officially attached to this baby growing inside me and so excited to see him or her and hear the sweet sound of a beating heart.

We did hear a heartbeat that day, strong, steady……and slow. Much slower than the normal expected heart rate, which at this point in a pregnancy is supposed to be about 150-195. My baby’s heart was beating about 115. Everyone seemed pretty concerned by this. My doctor told me that many times babies with low heart rates autocorrect and speed up within a week or two. Though she didn’t exactly say it, I read between the lines to know that for the babies whose heart rates don’t increase, the prognosis is not good and a miscarriage is likely. So we scheduled another appointment for the end of the week, as we were going out of town to Disney World the following week, which also happened to be the week of Liam’s first birthday. I was definitely stressed after this first appointment, but I kept telling myself that no matter what happens I wasn’t in control of the outcome. During that first appointment I also spoke with my OB about making a switch to a midwife group. But with the concern over the heart rate we decided to stick with my OB for the time being. I worked to let go of the control I didn’t have anyways over the health of this baby. At our second appointment, the heartbeat was still there, strong, steady, and slow. So, we booked a third appointment for the week following our vacation. And again, the heart rate remained consistent falling somewhere between beating 105 to 116 beats per minute. Every appointment my own heart leapt at the sound of my baby’s heart continuing to beat. And yet, I continued to read confusion and worry on the faces of the nurses and doctor. When we reached 12 weeks I celebrated, seeing that as a huge milestone for this baby. My doctor told me that she’s never seen a baby with a continued low heart rate continue growing normally. And my baby was growing normally, at a regular rate. I started to feel more confident about this pregnancy, normal even. I began sharing the news with others and just knew this baby was going to be joining us months into the future. I wasn’t even overly discouraged when my doctor told me she’d never expected me to make it to this point and had fully expected a miscarriage. But I didn’t miscarry and my sweet baby continued to grow.

Then we made it to 16 weeks. At this appointment, we had another sono to see if they could get an early look at the functioning of the baby’s heart. They also took measurements to see how growth looked. Walking into this appointment we weren’t expecting everything that happened. Like I said, at this point in the pregnancy I was feeling ‘normal.’ Then they told us our baby, who we found out was indeed a boy, had cysts on his brain, as well as some inconsistencies in his measurements, a calcified spot on his heart, and bright spots in his bowel. We were told that individually each of these things may mean absolutely nothing at all, but it was concerning because all of them combined could mean something more. So, they felt we should see a specialist. Instead of scheduling us a future appointment, we were told the specialist could fit us in immediately. So we headed to the specialist’s office and waited close to an hour to be seen. There we had another sonogram, where they pointed out many of the same things my OB’s office had. They talked with us about possible genetic problems and had us talk with a genetic counselor. They took my blood to run further tests and we discussed potential autoimmune diseases I may have that could cause a heart block or low fetal heart rate. They spoke to us about getting a possible amniocentesis at our next visit. The positives for the day were finding out that we were having another boy and that when looking closely at his heart beating, the specialist couldn’t see anything wrong with functioning. In fact, he was barely concerned with the heart at all, as it looked great and he didn’t think there was a heart block or anything wrong. His opinion was that this baby’s normal heart rate is just low.

But along with that visit came a whole new set of worries. I remember when we were meeting with the genetic counselor Will was completely quiet. I on the other hand poured out questions from who knows where. Emotionally I was in control until we walked silently to the car and then found ourselves lost in tears and worry. We showed up for a normal visit that morning and left hours later with thoughts of down syndrome, trisomy 18, and the risks of amniocentesis. I no longer felt ‘normal.’ But, I also knew that this was a baby that my doctor expected to miscarry, yet here he was continuing to grow, with his heart continuing to beat. Ultimately we decided that no matter what, we didn’t need an amnio to verify anything certain, as it wasn’t worth the risk to us. We already knew that we were going to love this little boy no matter what was going on. The hardest part for me during this time was thinking about the way our lives would change if we had a child with great medical need. Not for us, but for Liam and for this child that we didn’t yet know. Going back and thinking about how I felt that day brings tears to my eyes now. Especially as I sit with this perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boy lying on the couch next to me. I am so grateful for him. I think this is a good place for a break, but the story will continue on later. So please stay tuned. : )

Friday, April 22, 2011

Topher's Pre-Birth Story, Part 1

Wow, this is my first post since my LAST maternity leave! I must apologize for completely neglecting the blog. I’d love to make a grandiose promise for future frequent blogging, but I know myself too well, and can only promise to do my best to update more. : ) I do however, want to get Topher’s birth story down in writing, which I plan to do in a series of several blogs. I must first start by saying that Topher is amazing, and worth everything you read from this point forward!

Before I can tell the actual birth story, I have to talk a bit about this pregnancy, or Topher’s pre-birth. The day I found out I was pregnant I was not exactly elated…I was shocked to say the least. First, I must admit that I am not the best with birth control pills. In the past if I missed one, I would simply take a double dose the next day. However, this go around I was breastfeeding our oldest son, Liam, who was around 10 months old. I was taking a low dose birth control, but if I missed a pill I couldn’t take a double dose because I was breastfeeding, so I simply missed it. Obviously, any smart person would realize that missed pills means increased likelihood of pregnancy. Somehow in my mind though the breastfeeding was like an added protection….ha! Anyways, two weeks before the positive pregnancy test we found out Liam was allergic to penicillin. He was battling multiple ear infections and the allergic reaction landed us at Cook Children’s hospital. Not fun. After that Liam got Hand, food, mouth disease from daycare. Also, not fun. I had just gotten through a 3 month battle of mono myself and for some reason was still feeling sluggish. So, because I had finally just started menstruating the month before (for the first time since Liam was born), I thought I’d take a pregnancy test just to rule that out as a reason for my continued exhaustion. Originally I was sure it was still the mono, but a doctor’s visit the week before told me that I was (finally) over it.

So, back to the test…the second I peed on the stick I swear I started to see the line telling me it was positive. Immediately I threw it down on the floor and covered it up with toilet paper, as if this would change the results. But no, when I finally gathered the courage to look again, there it was…positive. Then came the tears. Yes, tears. I just couldn’t see past my level of exhaustion and my current sick child, Liam. So through my tears I picked up the phone and called Will who was on his way home from work. He immediately heard my distress and thought that something was terribly wrong with Liam. When I was finally able to choke out that I was pregnant, Will couldn’t contain his laughter and laughed all the way home. At the time I didn’t see the humor in the situation!

The day after finding out we were pregnant, Liam got an infection in his hand, possibly a complication from the hand, foot, mouth disease. Either way his hand became very swollen requiring a second trip to Cook Children’s in two weeks. This time we were admitted and had to stay overnight for IV antibiotics. Liam is the kind of child who doesn’t make a fuss about much, so even though he was in the hospital he was happy and playing. In fact, he was so happy he played all night and we got absolutely zero sleep. Here’s a picture that was taken at about 2am.

Adorable, yes, but I have never been more tired! And a trip to the doctor for myself the next day verified that on top of everything else I had tonsillitis. I think Liam and I slept 24 hours straight once we were both home and in our own beds!

Overall, finding out I was pregnant with Topher was certainly dramatic. Little did I know drama was just meant to be a part of this pregnancy. Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share more about Topher’s pre-birth story!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baby Boy #2 Is Here!!

I feel bad just now posting this, seeing as he is almost a month old. But I will cut myself some slack as everything has been going 100mph around here. I won’t get into details of the birth story as I am pretty sure Mrs. Wallace wants to handle that, but I wanted to post a picture and let everyone know that things are going well.