Thursday, May 22, 2014

Doctor Update

It's been a stressful week in this household.  Monday I had another doctor's appointment.  I knew baby was still breech (disappointing), so that really didn't come as a surprise.  What did come as a surprise, however, was how far I had progressed.  Let me preface this next paragraph by saying that if you don't want numbers and technical terms, please skip ahead.

At my visit last week, Hans and I learned that I was about 0.5 cm dilated and about 30% effaced.  A healthy amount, but nothing concerning.  By Monday (so six days later) I was 3 cm dilated (and I'm not sure how far effaced I was).  That's a lot of progress this early on and in such a short amount of time!

So, I was immediately admitted to Labor & Delivery for monitoring.  They wanted to make sure I wasn't starting regular contractions.  I told them I hadn't really felt anything, but it was completely possible that what I had thought was gas was actually something more serious.  So, I was on monitors for 2 hours, and everything turned out fine, but I was put on modified bed rest as a precautionary measure.  We also scheduled a follow-up appointment for this morning.

Of course, this meant I immediately went home and cleaned the rec room and nursery.  Yay for being ready for baby!  I think a part of me really went into panic mode. That was some fast progress that I hadn't even felt.  What would happen if I suddenly went into labor?  My hospital bag wasn't even packed!  What if she didn't turn before I went into labor?  This was serious!  I called the chiropractor and the acupuncturist right away, and I even decided to book the prenatal massage that Hans had given me as a Mother's Day gift (amazing, by the way).  Let me also add that me being stressed and not allowed to do any strenuous exercise is NOT a good thing.  By last night I was so worked up about the appointment this morning that I ended up crying myself to sleep. 

So, the results?  Still no flipped baby.  :(  Other than that, though, things look great.  I'm holding steady at 3 cm, although I'm now 60-70% effaced.  My panic of going into labor at any moment has subsided, and I've been given clearance to swim!  It's no run, but at least I can work out some of my anxiety.  I was told to continue chiropractic care and acupuncture as it will at least help to keep me relaxed and loose.  Oh, and we've scheduled a version.  A version is where the doctor will attempt to manually turn the baby.  If she doesn't turn on her own, then we're going to try to flip her on June 6th.  Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but at least there's a plan.

Really, I'm starting to learn that some things are out of my hands.  I've done absolutely everything right, from eating to exercise to hydration to medical care.  I just have a very stubborn child (Oh goody!) who happens to be comfortable where she is.  Of course, this doesn't mean I'm giving up.  As I stated before, I'm still seeing the chiropractor and the acupuncturist.  I'm also still doing inversions, and I'm trying one thing I hadn't before: sound therapy.

I have a theory that she just likes hearing my voice, and she's positioning herself as close to my voice as possible.  So, I've grabbed some of my old Chamber Choir CDs, and I'm holding speakers up to my abdomen, where I'd like her head to be.  Then, I'm making a point to stay perfectly quiet.  I figure these CDs are lovely, and they have both my and Hans' voices on them.  She obviously likes the music, because she's been moving a lot since I started playing them.  Hopefully it's enough to get her to turn!

Wish me luck!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Trying To Spin A Baby

I am on a mission.  I am going to flip this baby, so she's not breech.  Based on her lack of willingness to move in the past, I've figured that this is not going to be an easy task, so I have a three part plan.  It consists of:

1) Inversions at home.
2) Twice a week visits with the chiropractor until she flips.
3) Acupuncture and moxibustion.

If those don't work, I'll try sound and light therapy and having her manually flipped at the hospital.  I know they all sound really weird, and possibly a bit like voodoo, but my doctor, my nurses, and my doula have said to give it a shot.  Even other mothers have been recommending these treatments, so I'm confident that it will all work.

Anyway, yesterday I had a chiropractic appointment and my first session of acupuncture.  I've been seeing the chiropractor regularly (even before I was preggers), so I'm not going to go into too much detail there.  I will say, though, that I strongly recommend chiropractic care for everyone, but especially for expectant mothers.  She did a round ligament release, which felt wonderful, adjusted my back, and showed me how to do an inversion.  It was quite productive.

The acupuncture, however, was new.  I will say, for the most part, it was fairly relaxing.  I sat on a table with a lot of pillows while the acupuncturist put 8 small needles in me (two in my feet, 4 in my legs, and two in my hands).  It didn't hurt at all.  Then, he left me for 10 minutes to relax.  The lights were out, soft music was playing, and I just spent some time meditating.  After that, he came back to perform the first of 3 rounds of moxibustion.

Moxa is dried mugwort.  In moxibustion, the acupuncturist will place the moxa on the side of each pinky toe.  Then, he lights it.  It's not a big flame, rather more like incense.  He lets the moxa burn until it just touches my skin, and then he removes it.  This feels quite a bit like someone putting the end of a cigarette on your skin.  I wouldn't exactly call it pleasant, but it definitely could be much worse.  It didn't leave any sort of burn mark, and it's not the worst thing to ever happen, but still.

He left me for another 10 minutes.  This time, I fell fast asleep.  I was very relaxed, and when he came back in the room I was a bit bleary eyed.  He repeated the moxibustion again.  He then left for another 10 minutes, and repeated the moxibustion one more time.  After that, I was free to leave.  The whole process took about an hour.

So, did it work?  Well, there was definitely a lot of movement after all of that.  To be specific, there was a lot of large movements.  I wasn't just feeling kicks and jabs.  I was feeling waves and stretches.  I'm fairly certain, though, that she hasn't flipped yet.  Apparently, this is not entirely unusual as the acupuncturist and the chiropractor both said that it could take a few sessions to see the exact result we want.

I have about a month to get her to flip, and I'm working hard at it.  I trust that we'll be successful, but I wish she would just quit being so stubborn.  I'd like to not have to worry about it.  So, fingers are crossed and I'm just hoping for the best!  If you have any tips, let me know!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Not So Fun Appointment

Apparently I can't always win at pregnancy.

Last week, I had a fabulous appointment.  All the numbers were great, and I was happy.  Yes, I had (and still have) some body issues, but things looked good as far as pregnancy was concerned.  Then there was this week.

BP: 112/72 (awesome!!)
Weight: Down 1 pound from last week (I'm attributing this to less eating out and less water weight)
Fetal Heart Rate: 141

So, by the numbers, things looked good.  However, there was one number that had me a little concerned.  At this point, I should be feeling the baby move about 5 times an hour.  I definitely wasn't feeling that.  It was more like 5 times a day.  I wasn't really worried, but I mentioned to my nurse practitioner (NP).  So, the NP ordered a stress test.

They hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and gave me a button to push whenever I felt her move.  With me lying there, concentrating only on her moving, I did feel a little bit, but the concern was that the movements weren't very big.  Even the HR monitor reflected small movements.  Now, let me take a moment to say that I'm fine with one test.  When they sent me over to ultrasound for another test, I started to worry.

I knew that one concern was that the baby was breech, but there seemed to be other concerns that weren't being voiced.  Let's just say I wasn't at my most relaxed state heading into ultrasound.

So, I was there on the table while the ultrasound tech looked at pictures (can I reiterate how horrible I am at deciphering ultrasounds?).  The first thing we hear is, "Oh, your baby is breech."  Oh goody for us!  I figured that would be the end of the ultrasound, but then she kept moving the wand around, having me turn to one side, having me turn to the other side, asking me to cough.  I wondered what she was looking for, and then at one point she said, "I'm trying to see your baby breathe."  Well, that's one thing to make an expectant mother worry.  Why couldn't they see her BREATHE?  How often is she supposed to breathe?  Was it just an angle thing, or was she simply not breathing?  And then I heard the words that made my heart stop.

"I'm going to go talk to the doctor."

The tech left the room, and I immediately pulled out my phone to look at pictures of Cody and Lollie to help calm me down.  Hans, I'm fairly certain, just stopped breathing.

I grew even more concerned when I learned that our NP had come over to ultrasound to have a little pow wow with the tech and the ultrasound doctor.  Ummm, that can't be good.  Our NP briefly came into the room to ask us a question about our stress test, but then she left again.

It was at least half an hour before the tech came back in, and she said "OK, let's try again."  I hesitantly said, "Alright" and tried to take deep, calming breaths.  She put the wand on my belly and then you could hear the relief in her voice.  "There she is!  See the breath?  See the belly move?  There.  She's breathing!"  Well, I was relieved, but I also was confused as to what the hell had just happened.

Our NP came back to chat with us a bit.  Hans had hit the nail on the head when he'd mentioned that they were probably concerned that something was wrong with the cord.  Not only had they been searching for her breath (which sometimes can take 30-45 minutes to see, a fact that would have been helpful to know), but they also ran a Doppler test.  Was she getting enough blood from the cord?

Apparently everything came back A-OK, and now we just have to work on getting her to flip.  Breech baby = C-section, so we want to change that.

So, this week, I'm not winning at pregnancy, but that's OK.  I'm healthy, and she's healthy.  That's all that really matters.  I am wondering, though.  Could I take my dogs with me to the next appointment?  I think I'm going to need them for therapy!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

More Body Issues

Before I get into the heart of this post, I wanted to share with everyone the results from my doctor's appointment yesterday.

Week: 34 1/2
Weight gain: 1 pound since my last appointment, 27 pounds for the whole pregnancy so far
Blood Pressure: 120 / 78
Swelling: Minimal
Fetal HR: 141 bpm
Overall: A++

I was officially told yesterday that, should I go into labor now, they wouldn't do much to try to stop it.  Baby looks healthy, I'm healthy, and, while the baby might need some time in NICU should she decide to appear now, the chances of any major complications are minimal.  That's pretty shocking!  Anyway, a great report.

That, however, is not the heart of this post.  The heart of this post is more about something that's been plaguing me since the beginning of this pregnancy.  More than weight, it's body image. 

I always thought that women who called themselves fat or grotesque or who felt like a cow while pregnant were being silly.  I mean, there's a child in there!  Everyone understands that.  From a purely mental standpoint, I understand that.

The problem is, I've spent so long and so much time fighting a body like this.  My belly is huge, walking leaves me winded, my hips are wider.  Really, all the things I used to want to tweak when I looked in the mirror are the exact things that I feel are changing most now.  Heck, I remember trying on clothes before I was pregnant and saying, "Ugh!  No!  This makes me look preggers."  So, essentially, I'm not necessarily loving my current figure.  Sure, there are moments when I see a round, basketball of a belly and smile.  Yes, there are times when I feel simply kick-a** for being at the gym.  However, in daily life, I can't help but think how frumpy and large I look.

Here's the thing, though.  I know this is completely silly.  Simply looking at my doctor's report from the other day I can see how silly these thoughts are.  I'm obviously doing well health-wise.  It's sometimes hard to remember all that, though.  I am trying, but it's simply hard.

There is a bit of an upside to this, though.  Mainly, this keeps me motivated.  I want to stay active and eat healthy for myself and for the health of my baby, but I also simply want to look nice.  I want to ensure that my hips only spread because of the baby, not because I was hungry and ate too much pizza.  I'll push myself through a little bit of sciatic pain because I don't want to simply sit like a log and eat.  Then, once I've worked out, once I've chosen watermelon over ice cream (or occasionally a fruit Popsicle over ice cream), I'll feel great about myself.  Those are the moments I feel virtuous and pretty.  Those are the moments I'm most likely to look in the mirror and see a strong, healthy woman-with-child staring back at me.  And I'll smile...until the 110 lb Ironman triathlete walks past, fully nude and perfectly waxed.  At that point, I simply think, "Well, damn."

So, I guess this post has two points.  1) To let anyone else who feels this way to know that she's not alone.  2) To find out how you deal with body image issues.  Whether or not you're male or female, pregnant or not, we all have body issues.  What do you do to make yourself feel a bit better?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Needed Break

Phew!  It's been a busy few weeks.  We installed new yards at the kennels (which left me exhausted and sore), and the change in the kennel has been phenomenal.  The dogs are happier, the staff is happier, the facility is cleaner.  It's wonderful.  However, it's also been a process getting used to everything and all the new changes.  Plus, now that this huge project is done, there are tons of little projects that we're looking at.  If you factor in to that the fact that we're busily preparing for a newborn, we've had very active, tiring lives.  So, we took a break.

Last Thursday, Hans and I left the kennel in the capable hands of our kennel techs, and we drove down to Topsail Island for some much needed r & r.  My dad and his girlfriend, Cindy, also joined us.  Now, many of you may feel that going to the beach in April, when things are still relatively cool and the water is too cold for swimming, may seem illogical, but we don't really go to the beach to swim (although we enjoy that too).  We go to the beach for the dogs.  You see, during the off-season, dogs can be off-leash on the beach.  It's so much fun, we really hate to go any other time.

Honestly, I did expect to spend much more time there sleeping.  I had visions of lounging on the couch for hours at a time, and seeing nothing but the backs of my eyelids for 22 hours a day.  Well, that didn't exactly happen.  Honestly, I'm not quite sure where the time went, but we stayed busy.  It was so wonderful, though.  We stayed busy running errands and enjoying the dogs, and we loved every moment.

I think my two favorite things were our evening walks with the dogs on the beach and taking both Cody and Lollie for their first ever kayak ride across the sound.  We kayaked on over to a little sandbar that's only accessible during low tide, and we let them run and run and run.  The whole time I was amazed at how relaxed Lollie seemed around the water (she actually enjoyed splashing), and I was amused at how much Cody wanted to chase the seagulls.  That boy would actually try to jump in the air to catch them.  It was just perfect.

Look at how happy these guys are!
On Sunday, we came back and jumped right in to work.  Unfortunately, this was made even harder by the fact that I was suffering from some serious sciatica.  Honestly, I could barely walk.  On top of that, in one week I had a kennel tech on vacation, a tech at a funeral, and tech with the stomach flu.  Guess who had to work a lot?  It's only been a few days since we returned, but it already seems like a lifetime ago.  It was so much fun, and we're already planning when we can go back.  Of course, we'll have to wait for a while after Anna's born, but we'll be back as soon as possible.  The dogs are too happy for us to not give them that opportunity.

For now, back to the grind.