Wednesday, January 29, 2014

D-Day is Imminent

On Monday we went in for my last OB checkup. Everything still looks good and I'm scheduled for a C-section next Monday. The doctors are trying to remain optimistic that Max will flip over from breech to vertex (head down) so I won't have to have a section but Jon and I quit being optimistic a while ago.

We've made our peace with it.

We also asked the doctor to take us on a run through of who all would be there and it sounds like we're going to have at least a dozen people in the room during my C-section. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised--so many of my appointments have included an audience since Max's heart condition is so rare. But it sounds like we'll have everyone that we need on hand to take care of Max and me which is comforting.

Today we had our last appointment before delivery with our cardiologist. Max's heart looks about the same which is good. He should be pretty stable at birth with his meds in the NICU so now there really isn't much to do but wait until Monday.

I just never said I was good at it.

In the meantime, Jon and I are trying to enjoy these last few days before Max is born. We're just relaxing and really looking forward to the Superbowl on Sunday. As most of you know, Jon and I are big Broncos fans so this should be a great game.


Then the next morning, Max will be here!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Checkups, Scans, and Our Last NST Test

Today we had an OB checkup and our last NST test. As usual, my blood pressure and the rest of my vitals look good. While chatting with the RN, we found out she's a Peyton Manning fan.

I knew there was a reason we liked her.


We were then seen by a med student which, at first, sent me into a PTSD flashback after remembering the last time I dealt with a med student. It was before we started the blog so I haven't posted about it but the first student I saw . . . I'm not really sure what to say. He's the one who incorrectly told me I was pre-eclamptic and when he went to listen to Max's heart, he couldn't find it. I told him Max was hanging out on the left side of my belly so naturally the med student kept searching on my right side. He finally checked the left side of my belly and, after finding the heartbeat, seemed shocked and said, "Oh, it's on the left side!"

I fear for the future of medicine.
Today's med student, however, was wonderful. Honestly, she was good enough to where I wouldn't have known she was a student and she was certainly more competent than some of the doctors we've seen. A little later, one of the doctors came in and we chatted with her a little about our induction so we can have an idea of what exactly to expect when we go in on the 3rd.

After my checkup, we headed down the hall for my last NST test. We were also scheduled for a growth scan ultrasound . . . for some reason. Last week when we asked why we needed the growth scan, the only answer we could get was "so we can see how big he's going to be!" We sort of assumed that's something we'd find out when I give birth in a couple weeks but whatever. The perinatologist's office ordered the scan so we got the scan.

Pictured: my life.

Max is currently measuring at about six and a half pounds and his measurements are all looking great. The ultrasound tech was also really nice and got us a few pictures of Max's face for us to take home. I hate having to get all these ultrasounds (I'm up to twelve at this point) but I do love getting to see Max so often. Silver linings, right?

When the tech was done, a doctor came in to review the results of the growth scan with us and basically just to tell us that everything looks great. She also told us that they got all the info they needed from the scan so we didn't need to stay for an NST test. We were excited to go home . . . until the doctor realized this was supposed to be our last appointment and we weren't planning on coming in later this week for another NST test which meant we had to stay for a test today. When I asked her to explain why we needed to do the test when she had just said that they'd gotten all the information they needed from the scan. She couldn't give me a reason other than "because I said so."

Again: my life.

Luckily Max decided to cooperate and we finished the test pretty quickly.

Now we're done with appointments until Monday (yay!) and in two very short weeks, Max will be here! And in case anyone is wondering . . . yes, Max is still breech.

"Never gonna flip over,
Never gonna be head down . . ."

I don't think he's going to flip over and I've made my peace with it. If he's comfortable and stable being breech, then it's whatever to me. I feel like I'm more concerned with other aspects of Max's birth and the start of his life rather than if he's cooperating with some ideal birth plan I'd had in my head.

Going with the flow . . . it's a lesson I'm continually learning throughout this process :-)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

NICU Tour for the Rib Cracker

It's before noon on a Tuesday and already Jon and I are done with our medical appointments for the week. It's a miracle!


Yesterday our afternoon started with a meeting with a neonatologist at St. Joseph's. She gave us the rundown of what to expect for Max's care immediately following his birth. Our cardiologist had prepared us for a few things in terms of what to expect but it was nice to get the full picture. Although we'd already seen the labor and delivery floor before, the neonatologist gave us a quick tour of the NICU so we could see where Max would start out once he's born.

On our way out of the NICU, we ran into our perinatologist who made a joke that since we have to be at the hospital so much, maybe we should just pick an open room and move in.

It'd be funnier if it weren't true.

We grabbed some lunch after our NICU tour and headed back to the hospital for my OB checkup and everything looks great except except I don't think I've ever seen the numbers go that high on a scale before. I've never really paid much attention to the number of my weight before getting pregnant and I know that I really shouldn't worry about it now, especially since all the medical personnel don't bat an eye at my weight and I'm still within the healthy guidelines according to the American Pregnancy Association. That doesn't, however, stop me from telling myself that maybe all the scales are broken.

As we expected, Max is still breech. I'm not terribly concerned either way except that it's causing him to push up pretty hard into my ribcage which can be extremely uncomfortable. It's gotten to the point where I feel like the muscles around my ribs are bruised and I'm constantly trying to stretch out in weird ways to alleviate the pressure.

Just about got it . . .

According to the RN, this is totally normal, especially for someone like me who is short waisted and there isn't really anything I can do other than give birth. I suppose I should just be thankful that none of my ribs have cracked since apparently that's a thing.

Max's WWE name: The Rib Cracker!

Today we went in again for NST testing to check Max's heart rate and lung function. During the first ultrasound to locate his heart for the test, we saw that not only is Max breech but today he has his feet up by his head. Jon tried to be optimistic that maybe he's gearing up to flip over but I think he just wanted to look at his feet and he'll put them back down later to resume kicking my bladder.

"Om nom nom!"

On the plus side, he cooperated today and we were able to get a good reading on his heart without having to go back in for a second ultrasound--yay!

Now we're done with appointments for the week which feels pretty amazing. We don't have to go back in until Tuesday AND we managed to stack our two appointments that day so we only have to make one trip down to the hospital. Since our perinatologist is right and we're pretty much going to be living in hospitals once Max is born, we have to take our victories where we can :-)

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Happy Heart Appointment!

On Wednesday we had another appointment with our cardiologist. Going into the appointment, we were both feeling pretty anxious. Although we love our cardiologist and everyone in that office, our appointments there have not given us great news in the past.

"Your son DOES have HLHS!"
"He might not survive the pregnancy!"
"His tricuspid valve regurgitation is worse!"
"He needs a heart transplant!"

"But on the up side, we can validate your parking!"

This time, however, it turns out that I needn't have wasted the anxiety worrying about the appointment all day. Max looks great (well, great considering the circumstances). His tricuspid valve regurgitation, while severe, has not worsened since our last visit three weeks ago and he's still very stable where he is. Our cardiologist is also very optimistic of Max's stability after birth while he waits for a heart to become available (with the aid of the necessary hormones and medical equipment and what have you of course). So really, this is the first time our cardiologist got to tell us that things look good and Max doesn't need to come out ASAP.

Our cardiologist did, however, have this reaction when he found out Max is still breech:

Yeah. Us, too.

I'm at 36 weeks today so I still have three weeks before induction which is plenty of time for Max to flip over. Or not. Whatever.  As long as he's stable and we don't have to worry about his heart while he's still in utero, I'm happy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

No Pants, No Problem

Today we saw the perinatologist. The appointment started out normally with the RN taking my weight and blood pressure (both good) and then I was told that they needed to test me for a type of strep that's really common in women. Apparently about 50% of women have it and while it normally doesn't affect anything, it's apparently possible to pass it on to the baby during delivery and God knows Max doesn't need anything else to complicate his birth. If I have it, it's not a big deal, they'll just give me antibiotics in an IV while I'm in labor.

However . . . the swab for this particular type of strep isn't taken from the throat like strep normally would be. To put it delicately, the swab site is a little . . . further south. Which wasn't a huge deal for me at the time, the RN just asked me to undress from the waist down and gave me a sheet with which to cover myself.

Then the RN left so I could change and then Jon and I sat there and waited. And waited. And waited.

Jon's dreads may have turned white during the long wait.

Finally a doctor came in to see us, although it wasn't the perinatologist yet. It was yet another young doctor and this was the first one we saw that actually seemed relatively competent (as opposed to last time . . . oy vey). She measured my belly and listened to Max's heartbeat with the doppler and told me that the perinatologist would be in shortly to discuss labor and delivery plans with us. When I asked her about the strep swab (seeing as how I was still half clothed in a sheet), she said the nurse would be back in after we spoke with the perinatologist.

"It's cool, pants are overrated anyway."

Shortly after that, someone knocked on the door but instead of being one of the expected medical personnel, it was a woman who was stopping by to tell us about a free program in which a nurse stops by periodically to check up on Max's development and milestones and makes any recommendations we might need for speech therapy and what have you. Generally I like to be fully dressed when meeting new people but oh well.

Even though she didn't seem to notice, I was starting to feel like that nightmare
where you're making a big presentation at work but you've forgotten to wear clothes.

She left and then we continued to wait. I finally decided to get dressed and just undress again later for the swab because I was tired of waiting (plus I had to use the restroom across the hall. While I'm sure the human body isn't any big deal for anyone in that office, I feel like there's maybe a limit).

But maybe not.

A little later, the perinatologist came in and she discussed our labor and delivery plans with us. To avoid any possible complications with his lungs, the doctor would like to keep Max in utero until at least 39 weeks (I'll be 36 on Friday). Naturally, Jon and I were completely on board with this since as of our last appointment, Max was doing really well where he is. The only reason we'd take him out sooner would be if his heart really wasn't doing well and the surgeons needed to start working on his heart before he's full term. We have an appointment with the cardiologist on Wednesday so we'll have a better idea of what kind of timeline we're looking at. Barring any further cardiac complications, the current plan is to probably induce me on Monday, February 3rd, which is four days before my due date.

Something else that I was pleasantly surprised to hear was that I don't necessarily have to have a C section like I thought I would. The perinatologist assured me that as long as the placenta is working well, it will keep Max's heart from going into any extra distress during labor. Because I know that things have been so up in the air with him, I'm going to prepare myself for either outcome when it comes to delivering Max, but it's kind of nice to hear that I might not have to have a C section since I assumed I would need to have one.

However, this kid is still breech so we'll see. He still has plenty of time to turn but I don't think I'm going to put forth any effort into trying to turn him. He'll either turn or he won't and I'll have the labor and birth experience that I'm going to have.

Tomorrow we have the day off from the doctor and then on Wednesday it's back in to see the cardiologist . . . fingers crossed that Max's heart is doing well enough for us to leave him in there!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

No Pig Babies!

On Tuesday, Jon and I went in to the doctor for something called NST testing. From what I can tell, they are testing Max's lung function/heart rate to make sure that he's getting enough oxygen to circulate through his body. To do this, I had an ultrasound so they could locate where his heart was at the moment so they knew where to put the monitors (and by the way, apparently Max was sitting sideways in my stomach doing toe touches).

Which was a nice change from what he usually does
which feels something like this.

After the ultrasound, the RN set up a couple monitors on my stomach to track his heartbeat. She took a resting heart reading and then we tried to get his heart rate to jump up in response to stimuli like drinking cold water and poking my belly with what was essentially a vibrator.

Nope, not going to post a picture of a vibrator.
Here's a puppy instead.
We think the RN might have taken the resting heart rate too soon because as soon as she left, it dropped down several beats and that's where it hung out for the bulk of the test. His heart rate did jump up in response to the stimuli but not enough beats per minute to successfully complete the test (although Jon and I disagree with this assessment based on what we think the baseline reading was). I was ushered back into the ultrasound room which ended up being pretty neat because we got to see Max's lungs take some practice breaths. Everything looked great and we were sent on our way.

I hate the reason why we have to have so many ultrasounds but on the positive side, we get to see Max a lot. I'm getting a little bit better at reading the ultrasounds as we go but there are times when the techs get all excited and want me to ooh and aah over his face and I just flat out don't see what they're talking about. I had this tech explain it to me and she printed out a couple pictures of Max's face for us to take with us, which was nice of her.

This is definitely a better experience than the last time an ultrasound tech tried to show me pictures of Max's face. It was my last ultrasound in Flagstaff and she printed out a few pictures to send home with me and was so excited by how cute his little face looked. I did not see what she saw and to me, it looked like Max had a face like one of the pig doctors from The Twilight Zone.

It's a boy!

Naturally, this made my hormonal pregnant self cry uncontrollably because I thought I was giving birth to a pig baby. Luckily this time, I had the tech explain the pictures and I could see more of what she saw.