Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Mourning Has Been Turned to Dancing

I will [exalt] You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up...
I cried to You for help, and You healed me.

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones,
and give thanks to His holy name.

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning...

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
Psalm 30:1a,2,4,5,11,12

Welcome Brystol Rebecca
Born July 23, 2009
8:23 A.M.
7 pounds 11 ounces
21 inches long

Maternity Photo Shoot

My sweet friend Amy met with me early the morning before delivery to take some pictures of my very pregnant belly. Amy and her camera have been present with me at some of the most intense moments of my life, so it was suitable for her to share in my joy. I absolutely love the work she did!

Final Thoughts Before Baby

I'm at 37 weeks gestation and am now officially in the baby countdown. I've been measuring on the high side with regards to baby's growth rate and my fluid levels, so after some drastic increases, the time has come to deliver.

I had an amniocentesis on Monday to gauge baby girl's lung development. Because my OB has been holding fast to the idea of delivery at 39+ weeks and expressed concern about lung development if delivery occurred before that, we opted to take the test for our peace of mind and for his. We saw the specialist before office hours, and though I wasn't nervous all the way up to the appointment, once I saw the assortment of sterilized torture devices, my heart skipped a beat. In all, the process of the amniocentesis wasn't bad, merely the anticipation of the process. Later that same day, we got word that the results indicated that our little one's lungs were at a "post-term" level, meaning proceeding with delivery was safe.

Tuesday, I saw the OB/GYN, and after considering the results of the amnio and the scan the day before, he decided moving delivery to this week was a good idea. I had it in my mind that we'd deliver on Friday (thus giving me another 24 hours to work on "The List"), but with a dramatic increase in fluid levels from one week to the next, he decided delivery would occur as soon as possible. The OR confirmed availability, and I was informed that we'd meet our little one on the 23rd (today!) at 8:00 A.M. (in five hours!).

Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday was spent working a bit more on "The List," though I didn't accomplish all I set out to. Some tasks were left undone intentionally, and some because there really aren't that many hours between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning. I do feel really good about the progress I have made and feel confident that I can spend a few days away and come home to relax without feeling the pressure of projects still waiting to be done. Plus, after watching a couple of friends bounce right back after delivery, I have a feeling I'll be able to accomplish a few more things before we get back to the busyness of the school year. We'll see -- the pressure's off now. No need for distractions anymore.

Now, on this final baby-free night, I'm here and waiting. I should be sleeping, but I'm not. I'm enjoying the last few moments of the baby rolling and tumbling inside of me, knowing that these may be the last moments I ever get to experience this sensation. I'm thankful to God for the miracle of these moments, each and every one, and after experiencing so many betrayals, I'm grateful -- so grateful -- that this baby has overcome my body and is still alive, just waiting to join our family. God has been so, so good.

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."

Lamentations 3:21-23

A Few Maternity Photos
(Taken by Amy at 37 weeks, one day)

(More to come...)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Checking Things Off "The List"

Preparing for a baby is often called "nesting," and I've been nesting in such an unusual way that more than once James has referred to me as a "Crazy Hen." Nice. He really only tops himself when he comes in the door and says, "Good gosh, you're HUGE!" He's such a tender man. Ahem.

I'm the first to admit that the things I've felt compelled to do while preparing are a bit unconventional, but they were (are) projects that needed (or still need) to be done. When the baby comes, I don't want to have undone things lingering, taunting me. I want to be focused on our little family and not frustrated by the paint color in the bathroom. Fortunately, I believe I've completed the harder big things and am left with just the little ones. I'm hoping to have a super-productive week this week and to be completely finished come Monday morning -- yeah right!

To clue you into the insanity, some things now checked off "The List:"

We bought a new-to-us minivan. For two years, I've been driving a Honda CR-V while James has been commuting in a Ford Focus. Throughout the pregnancy, we've discussed the coming changes in our transportation needs. We considered adding a third row to the CR-V, but when we couldn't agree on the direction the third row should face, we knew we'd have to start shopping for a roomier vehicle. We planned on having time to look for a van in a leisurely fashion, but we ended up in a rush. Six weeks ago, I was rear-ended in the rain. The day we committed to put my car in the body shop and had a replacement bumper ordered, James' Ford Focus began having problems. Turns out his car repair would exceed its value, so we sold it to our mechanic for a really good deal. We spent the week searching Craig's List and Auto Trader and ended up with a really great deal on a Kia Sedona. Ultimately, I'd love a tricked out Honda Odyssey, but this cash van will serve us well until we're ready to make that sort of commitment.

I redesigned the front planter beds. When we considered purchasing this house two years ago, this particular redesign was one of the first things I planned to do. I didn't do it sooner because I thought the big bushes would be difficult to remove, but once I became pregnant, the difficulty level of the project somehow no longer mattered. (Crazy, I know.) The whole space had to change or I might have actually lost my mind. I began by trimming and changing the shape of the bushes, then removed two giant holly trees and four bushes like the remaining tall ones (I don't know what they're called). Bub and I pulled up some non-functional weed cloth, killed the wayward grass in the bed, and dug out all the old mulch. Then the kids and I gathered stones for the edging from a pile of debris left over from the installation of some utility pipe at the entrance of our neighborhood. We tossed the red brick edging and just love all the new stone! I filled in the space left by the missing bushes with stone pavers, patches of sod, and hardy plants and bushes purchased on clearance at The Home Depot.

I repainted the downstairs powder room in a shade called "Late Tomato." It was painted in the same brown shade as the accent walls in our family room, and while I like the brown in our bright and open family room, I did not like it in the small enclosed powder room. I can't say why -- I just didn't like it. I read on the Thrifty Decor Chick blog about $13 gallons of custom color paint at Wal-Mart, so other than the 6,427 coats of paint it took to get the rusty red color just so, it was an easy and inexpensive change. (I've since learned that time can be saved by putting red paint over gray or red primer, not white primer as I used.) I also purchased inexpensive brushed nickel fixtures to replace the boring builder stuff that was in place. I installed a $29 light fixture, a $10 toilet roll holder, and a $4 robe hook to replace the full length towel bar. To freshen things up (and because I'm nuts), I replaced the toilet seat with a bright new one for $5.

The white vintage changing table has been sanded and primed and I've begun painting it (though swollen hands slow the process considerably). It's going in our room instead of in the little girl room, and since all of our furniture has a dark finish, it had to be repainted. I also removed the white shelf paper that was inside the drawers and will reline it with a cuter coordinating paper. I'm actually excited it's going to be downstairs -- the drawers in the changer will store our stash of cloth diapers perfectly!

(You know, for someone who hates painting, I've been doing a lot of it!)

My sweet friend Amy has been asking to come help me prepare for the baby. Thank goodness Amy loves me just as I am, because when I asked her to redo my mantle and cabinet tops instead of organizing diapers, she didn't bat an eye and she didn't call me crazy -- at least not to my face! We met at Hobby Lobby just in time for an 80% off sale and picked up a few black and red accents to enhance the things I already owned, then she spent an evening here working her magic. I just love all the little things she's done!

The kids began working on their "Hello Baby" activity books. These sweet little books for big brothers and sisters-to-be are appropriate for children as young as age two, and quite honestly, they're probably more appropriate for that younger set than for kids as old as ours. Gracie was two and Bub was four when we began this TTC journey -- we bought the books way back then not imagining it would take all these years. I think finally being allowed to fill them in makes their impending sibling seem that much more real.

Back to the laborious part of the nesting process, we also rearranged our master bedroom and family room, ordered a new recliner for the family room, and replaced the sectional slip cover in the game room. I've decluttered closets, bookshelves, kitchen cabinets, and the pantry.

Still to do: make big brother/big sister shirts for delivery day, sew and install the little girl curtains, purchase and install cabinet hardware in the kitchen, repaint Bub's room and change out the bedding, repaint the furniture in the guest/scrapbooking room, and put together some freezer meals so the family doesn't starve while I'm hospitalized.

The End is in Sight

It's been ages since my last blog post -- I know. I've been busy with life and appointments and kids on summer break, not to mention "The List" -- my insane compilation of pre-birth projects. Moreover, I've been struggling with swelling hands lately and find it very painful to type with numb fingertips. Numb fingertips or not, time is flying by and an update is long overdue.

I'm at 36 weeks and one day pregnant today, which is the exact gestational age I was when I gave birth to Gracie, though as far as I know, I'm physically no closer to giving birth to this baby than I was weeks ago. I took my last 17P Hydroxyprogesterone injection last week and have been having some contractions this week. The swelling, though, has been much more problematic than the contractions.

On Friday, I had to go in for a blood pressure check because my hands were so swollen I couldn't grip anything. My blood pressure was within a healthy range -- elevated, but not necessarily high enough to indicate pre-eclampsia. My pressures were elevated enough that the nurse told me to monitor for increased swelling or any abdominal pain and to go in to Labor and Delivery if other symptoms developed.

Saturday, after running errands, I noticed my right leg was very swollen. As time passed, I began having a constant pain in my left side. Abdominal pain associated with pre-eclampsia is normally on the right, still, we weren't taking any chances. We went to L&D where I was examined, had some lab tests, and spent some time on the monitor. Labs came back fine, but the exam and monitoring indicated that I could have been in the beginning stages of labor. My cervix seemed a bit shorter and I was contracting every three minutes or so. After a couple of hours of monitoring, the contractions began to fizzle out -- they weren't quite as intense and they weren't getting any closer together. Because I was beyond 35 weeks, contractions weren't going to be medically stopped. Because they weren't behaving appropriately, though, the doctor on-call didn't think it was necessary to keep me or to suggest delivery so prematurely. He sent me home on Ambien, saying that the relaxation of a deep sleep would allow my uterus to either work more effectively or calm down.

He was right -- by morning, everything was well rested. Sunday progressed normally, but as I slept Sunday night, I was shocked awake several times with hard, intense contractions. I wondered if we were going to have a "Honey, it's time" scenario, but just like the night before, the contractions never fell into a consistent pattern. I was sore and queasy Monday morning, but after a chiropractic adjustment and a massage, I've been fine and contraction-free.

Today, I had my regular appointment with my OB/GYN. The baby has been consistently measuring big: at 34 weeks, my uterus measured 38 weeks; at 35 weeks, baby appeared to weigh around 8 1/2 pounds; at 36 weeks (today), tummy measured 43 weeks. I've had my blood sugar tested three times and every test has come back with good results -- we've just made a big, tall girl! Big babies, though, produce lots of fluid, and all that weight on a transabdominal cerclage could prove to be heartbreaking (though it could also not become problematic at all -- it's hard to say for sure).

For some time now, my OB/GYN has held fast to the ACOG guidelines and planned to deliver after 39 weeks. With the current measurements, though, he's finally willing to concede that an earlier delivery is probably necessary. The plan at this point is to have my specialist perform an amniocentesis on Monday (when I'll be at 36+6) to determine lung development. The results will come back 24 hours later, and if the lungs appear to be fully developed, I'll likely deliver by the end of the week. I could potentially be without a cohabitant in ten very short days! If the lungs seem to need more time, I'll probably deliver by the end of the following week without a repeat amnio. I'd be at 38 1/2 weeks at that point, and in general, delivery is quite safe then.

At today's appointment, we discussed about the process of delivery -- what to expect, what to tell another doctor about my modified makeup if my OB/GYN does not deliver me, etc. He also told me that I can keep the baby with me in the OR after the c-section instead of sending her to the nursery and said that she can join me in the recovery room to begin nursing within the first hour. I have to say it is so surreal to be talking about delivery and nursing and the happy end of things. I still feel such a disconnect, like all this wonderful good fortune could not be ours. I know that we're not totally out of the woods yet, and I know there are still no guarantees, but I am beginning to feel the most remarkable glimmer of hope.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Reason is Really Irrelevant

Look at what I just got!

This Canon Rebel EOS T1i EF-S (plus starter kit) is an early
Birthday-Anniversary-"Hey, thanks for bearing my child"
gift from my thoughtful husband.

My birthday is on the 20th, my anniversary is on August 5th, and the baby -- well, we're fairly certain she'll show sometime among the days between the two dates. Those two weeks will certainly be very busy, which is the reason James gave for my getting the camera now. However, I personally think he's trying to distract me from "The List" -- particularly considering how a portion of our house has been without power since yesterday when I shut off a breaker to try my hand in installing a new light fixture. I'm out of control!

Regardless of the reason, this is the greatest Birthday-Anniversary-"Hey, thanks for bearing my child" gift ever! Thanks, James -- you're the BEST!

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