Sunday, October 29, 2006

Twenty-four weeks

That's how far along I am today. Mental milestone #1 attained.

The next milestone I'd had in mind, 33 weeks, seems simply too far off to comprehend. So my next milestone now is 28 weeks, which puts me at the end of November. Mentally, I think I can handle that concept.

Another thing that's helped: The other day, I was reading through an article on Sidelines (huge thanks to Jody for pointing me there--I'm already recommending it to others), in which a doctor is quoted as saying that between 24 and 28 weeks, each extra day in the womb increases survival rates by 3 percent. I'm not too sure about that math, but the concept alone has been hugely helpful to me, mentally--the idea that rather than staring down the long impossible barrel of the next eight weeks plus, every single day I keep Bat Girl inside I am accomplishing something real.

Emotionally, I go back and forth. Jody also mentioned PPD--I do worry about PPD, given that I had a serious bout of clinical depression in college, am generally prone to depressive states and mild OCD, and am thus at risk for PPD even without the difficult pregnancy (not to mention infertility, another risk factor for PPD). But I'm even more worried about falling into depression now, while I'm still pregnant. I do keep tabs on my emotional state--having been depressed before, I know what it feels like--but it's sometimes hard to tell what's normal pregnancy hormonalness and what isn't. I think bursting into tears when my mother gave me a hard time about daycare vs. nanny qualifies as hormones (I mean, jeez, Mom, can I please focus on getting this baby out alive before you start criticizing my outside-the-womb childcare choices?); on the other hand, lying on the bed yesterday afternoon gripped with a sudden certainty that I can not do this is right there on the edge of normal fears vs. debilitating despair.

Friday night I had a horrible dream, that I got up to go to the bathroom and blood and tissue started pouring out of me, and through one mishap after another it took us forever to get in touch with the doctor and get to the hospital. I woke up just as we were pulling up to the dream-hospital doors, and I was so sticky with sweat that I had to reach between my legs to make sure I wasn't covered in blood.

Despite all this, I am doing okay. I get up every day at the same time, shower, dress--in real clothes; initially when I was sentenced to work-at-home I planned to send back the few items of winter maternity clothes I'd ordered, but then I decided that wearing nothing but yoga pants and big T-shirts every day for the next 3 months was a surefire way to slide into madness. I work--I even get actual work done, in fact I probably surf the Internet less than I would at the office. I ordered a crib mattress--yes, I went for the pricey organic one; figured we got the crib for free, so I could afford the splurge. I finished my registry online. We're slowly making progress on cleaning out the baby's room. More days than not, I'm optimistic that yes, Bat Girl will be here, sooner or later. Later rather than sooner, preferably.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Notes from the housebound

I'm finally getting a sense of what subjects prompt you people to comment. Poop, no. Monkeys and blow jobs, yes. Got it.

What was that? Doctor's appointment yesterday? Oh, you don't want to hear about that, do you? Well, okay I went back to the doctor yesterday. I'd spent Friday to Monday at home, anxiously counting contractions (sometimes I'd go a whole 90 minutes without one, but one exciting evening I had six in one hour) and willing my cervix to lengthen and close up. Doctor's appointment first thing in the morning--I had two good hard contractions on the subway on my way there and one while sitting pantsless on the table waiting for her, so that was fun.

Anyway, to cut to the chase--cervix was long and closed by manual exam, and cootercam measurement was 3.5 cm--back up from last week. TheGoodDoc did a fetal fibronectin swab as well. I knew from Dr. Google that a negative result is good--means I'm unlikely to go into labor in the next two weeks--and a positive result is inconclusive, which is pretty much what TheGoodDoc said when I asked her about it. "Just assume it's negative," she said. "I would never call you up and scare you by telling you it's positive--it's just to help me know how to manage your pregnancy."

Then she said, "I want you to work from home."

"For how long?" I asked, not getting it.

"...For the rest of the pregnancy."

Of course I burst into tears. Being sent home again was what I was most worried about, next to being put in the hospital of course. The several stints I've done at home so far have almost driven me crazy, so the prospect of being housebound for the next 16 weeks (if I'm lucky and go to term)...I live in an out-of-the-way neighborhood, so it's inconvenient for people to come visit. I don't have family in the area. Basically, I'm staring down the barrel of 3-4 months with very little human contact besides my husband and the UPS guy.

It could be worse. I can go to the office once a week to pick things up, as long as I take a cab there and back. I'm not on total bed rest--I can sit up at the computer and move around the apartment when I want, as long as I rest frequently. And as TheGoodDoc pointed out, I'm lucky to have a job that can easily be done long-distance and no other kids at home to run around after. They are being super nice about it at work (not that they have a choice, I suppose), too.

And as upset as I am about this latest development, there is a part of me that is relieved. Walking to the subway to go to the doctor's office was a real effort for me yesterday, and set off all kinds of contractions (that I couldn't keep good track of because it's harder to time them while standing up or moving). Although I know intellectually that bed rest is not proven to prevent preterm labor, emotionally I've been more and more anxious about going to work each day, especially as we enter the edges of viability for Bat Girl. For me personally, the next 6 weeks are really critical in terms of keeping her safe inside. And obviously, judging from last week, I can't be trusted not to overdo it. We don't have a car and I can't afford to take cabs every day (would add up to $250 a week). And just being at the office involves a lot of moving around, even though I have a desk job. So in some ways, this is the best solution. I just wish it didn't suck so much.

I just have to keep reminding myself, it's only a few more months.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What is wrong with people?

Not much going on over here. I took Friday and Monday off work (taking doctor's orders very seriously), so I'm spending a four-day weekend lying around the house, knitting, reading, watching bad TV, hydrating, and counting contractions (averaging 2-3 an hour, pretty much the same as when this whole contracty fun started 8 weeks ago). So in lieu of any news, a story, courtesy of my husband:

Yesterday he was out running errands and picking up groceries for our dinner. As he walked out of the grocery store, he saw a woman with a little girl in a stroller. The little girl was playing with a stuffed monkey, and accidentally dropped it on the sidewalk. It was an incredibly blustery day, so the monkey was actually blown out of reach, into the street. My husband tried to grab it for her, but there was too much traffic.

But then! A truck pulled over, and the driver got out and retrieved the monkey from the road. The grateful mother held out her hand. And the man GOT BACK IN HIS TRUCK AND DROVE AWAY WITH THE MONKEY. As my husband walked away, shaking his head in disbelief, the mother was crouching down in front of the stroller, trying to explain to her little girl why they wouldn't be getting her toy back.

WTF?!? What the hell is the matter with people? Who DOES that?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Update: 22w3d

Just saw TheGoodDoc for my usual biweekly appointment and cervix party. I mentioned the bits of mucousy discharge I'd been having, and she had an explanation: Apparently my external os is slightly open, allowing some mucous to escape. Also, my cervix is measuring ever-so-slightly shorter (3.06 cm). Also, the baby is quite low (TheGoodDoc located the heartbeat way down near my groin). Also, I've been having more trouble lately distinguishing between a true contraction and the baby's butt sticking out (I have some unmistakable, slightly painful contractions, but also lots of smaller hardenings)--my uterus was kind enough to generate one of the smaller hardenings while I was on the exam table, and TheGoodDoc said it was definitely a contraction, too.

So: I am to monitor my contractions very carefully and call if there are 5-6 or more an hour. I am to take it VERY easy, continue my magnesium supplements (which, to be honest, I've been sort of lackadaisical about), and drink tons of fluids. I am to come back in one week for another cervix check and fetal fibronectin swab. She may have me use a home monitor to keep tabs on contractions, if my insurance will approve it.

Well, fuck me. I am hoping that the cervical changes are a result of overdoing it a little over the weekend--I did a load of laundry and some dusting on Saturday; went to a friend's house for brunch on Sunday and had a dinner party on Sunday night; and had a big event for work yesterday which was stressful, even though I sat most of the time. It's just so frustrating--I thought I was doing really well, and was making plans for furniture shopping and other exciting out-of-the-house adventures. And now, not so much.

It's hard too because the past couple of weeks have been kind of weird for me, emotionally. I haven't written about it because I haven't been able to process it or put it into words, but it's things like: Two weekends ago, I started our registry--online, of course--and had a total meltdown over, I kid you not, the color of the baby's sheets. As in, it precipitated this whole crisis of, am I the kind of person who decorates her little girl's room in pink, and what does that say about me, and how can I register for sheets anyway when I can't even tell what color they really are on the frigging computer screen, etc. Like, what is wrong with me? And around the same time I was sending in my hospital pre-registration forms, and signing up for childbirth classes, which was its own little stress-fest--because of our various work schedules, the only time my husband and I can both attend a class is on the weekends, and the only weekend class the hospital had open was in late January, way too close to my Feb. due date for my comfort level, so I had to track down an independent class for December. All these things happening that should have been fun and exciting, but were making me a basket case--because it made the whole baby thing too real? I don't know. Add to that some unexpected financial setbacks and I'm really only staying sane by doing the mental equivalent of plugging my ears and singing "LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just what you want to see when you're pregnant or trying*

Posted prominently on the subway platform where I wait for the train every evening going home from work:

I think the sign was referring to a boxed-in area beneath a stairwell, but it's not like that area was hermetically sealed or anything. Which led me to wonder, if I hold my breath and make myself as small as possible, can I somehow keep the lead dust from sticking to me?

*or, you know, if you're a living human at all

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

But enough about my butt

I know that last post was not among my most pleasant. (Even less pleasant: I did call my doctor today, and while I don't have to come in and get it checked out, she used all kinds of words you really don't want used around the topic of your ass, like "fissure" and "cauterization." She also suggested that, if I'm not sure where the blood is coming from, I should insert a tampon and take a look. Duh.) So let's move on, shall we?

Erin just tagged me, and I can't resist my first meme. So here goes--I guess for this one, I'm supposed to free-associate about each word?

System - I have systems for everything. I love color-coding, lists, spreadsheets, alphabetization, anything that helps me wrestle things into some semblance of order. I suppose that's the Capricorn in me.

Coffee - I didn't drink coffee until I went to college, and then I became an addict. I had one of those giant travel mugs tied to my bookbag so I could fill it up in the dining hall every meal and take it with me everywhere. Then I had a solid week of all-nighters, fueled mostly by nonstop mochacchinos (caffeine and sugar!), and it wrecked me so bad that when I finally came down, I quit cold turkey. Now, whenever I drink anything caffeinated, I literally get palpitations and sweaty palms. In the past decade, I think I've had maybe two cups of caffeinated coffee. I do enjoy a nice decaf soy latte, though--I'm such a freaking Bobo.

Cloud - When I was little, I didn't understand that clouds moved independently, driven by wind and weather. I thought that they stayed in one place and the earth rotated under them.

Harmony - When I sing along with the radio, I almost always sing the harmony. My husband likes to make up his own harmony, so we'll be singing along with some song in multi-part harmony. We're both musicians--in fact, that's how we met--and I hope our future child(ren) are musical, too.

Hmm, who to tag next? I'll tag Julia, who was lamenting the fact that in all her years as a blogger, she's never been tagged for a meme; Molly, who really needs to post more often; Sube, who could probably use the distraction; and Watson, our beloved crackpot. Your words are:

Monday, October 09, 2006

A quick question about something gross

Last Thursday, after I had a, shall we say, strenuous toilet session, there was a streak of blood on the toilet paper when I wiped. There was also a smidge of some EWCM-like stuff. I have been very constipated lately and it was, again, a very strenuous session, so I fought down the panic, chalked it up to butt blood, and decided to wait to see if it reappeared before running to the doctor. (I googled "mucus plug" for a couple of hours, of course, but since no further blood, mucus, or liquid appeared, I decided to attribute the discharge to all the straining. Also, I've been using yeast infection cream, so it's just a total mess down there and I have no idea what's going on.) (Edited to add: I was able to be this relaxed about the situation because I had had my cervix checked just 2 days previous and it was long and closed. Had it been a week or more since my last appointment, I probably would have run straight to the doc.)

No blood, no problems, nothing, since then. Baby moving around like crazy. (Did I mention, I started feeling her kick last week?) Late this morning, there was a pinprick of red on my pantyliner. So, so tiny, literally a pinprick. I would not have even noticed it if I had been wearing dark-colored underwear and not a white pantyliner, and not examining said liner like a forensic pathologist. There was some bathroom action earlier in the morning, so I could definitely attribute the pinprick to that. Am I being too cavalier? Should I call now instead of waiting until my appointment next week? (Of course, if there's any more blood, in significant quantity, or any more mucus, I will OF COURSE go to the doctor right away.) What would you do?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mental milestones

Since early on in this pregnancy, I've had several milestones in my head that I obsess about. The end of the first trimester, of course, and the 20-week ultrasound, naturally. But the next two are the big ones. At the end of October, I'll have reached 24 weeks, which is the point at which, if I understand correctly, Bat Girl has a better than even chance of surviving outside the womb, should my ute decide it's had enough of this pregnancy business. And then, if I can make it to the new year, I'll be 33 weeks--the point at which she will have an excellent chance of surviving without lasting complications. Not that having a 33-weeker is desirable, but it's certainly better than 30 weeks, or 27 weeks. And every week after that is a gift, as far as I'm concerned.

It appears my OB has some milestones of her own in mind, too. Yesterday, TheGoodDoc had a nurse practitioner shadowing her, and after introducing us, she explained to the NP my situation and how she considers me to be "very high risk." "When she makes it to 32 weeks, we'll breathe easier, and if she makes it to 35 weeks, we'll have champagne," she said to the NP, and then turned to me: "How about it? You want to bring in the champagne? I'll let you drink it!"

She did not believe that my cervix had magically grown, unfortunately, and re-measured it herself: 3.5 cm. I suppose it's better to go by the smaller number, just to be on the safe side. So I still need to limit my activity--necessary walking only, sitting whenever possible. I can go to ONE baby store at a time, if that is my ONE activity for the day and I take a cab home. I complained a little about the continued restrictions and she pointed out that it could be much worse--that she had some patients on hospital bed rest for as long as three months.

OK then. I just need to keep reminding myself: Four more weeks. I'll be holding my breath for four more weeks.

Monday, October 02, 2006

That's Bat Girl to you, Mister

Yes, it's true--Bat Boy was revealed, this morning, to be a girl. I am utterly, completely thrilled--I guess secretly, I really did want a girl all along. (And may I say--I've been 90% certain from the beginning that she was a girl.) As we were walking out of the hospital, my husband said, "Well, I guess from now on my job is to keep her off the pole."

All of Bat Girl's other parts seemed to be in order, at least as far as modern ultrasound technology can reveal. Truth be told, I wasn't actually terribly nervous about the anatomy scan--I've had so many ultrasounds up to this point (including the one I had at the hospital five weeks ago) that I felt like any huge problems would have shown up by now, and anything else, we would deal with. I was more stressed about whether my insurance company would approve the scan--they were giving us some hassle about it because of, again, the many ultrasounds I've already had. They did approve it in the end, but they cut it close--my appointment was at 10:15 and my OB's office called my cell literally at 10:14 with the authorization number.

And I was most concerned about how my cervix was doing. But cootercam (sigh. I will never be rid of the cootercam) showed it to be long and closed, and the tech measured it at an astonishing 4.4 cm. I have my doubts about whether it could actually have grown a full centimeter in the five weeks since my last hospital scan, but I guess that's where medicine is really an art and not a science. Considering that the baby is head down, I'd had contractions all weekend, and we'd just walked the equivalent of over a quarter of a mile from the subway to the hospital, 4.4 cm and closed is damn near a miracle, if you ask me, and I'm not going to argue with that.

So. OB appointment tomorrow; given that my cervix looks good I may ask her if I can take on a teensy, tiny bit more activity--going to Ginormous Chain Store to register, for example. I'll also ask her about the magically growing cervix.

And I can breathe a sigh of relief. For at least four or five days, anyway.