Wednesday, December 31, 2008

30 Weeks, 4 Days

Oh boy, what a day.

We ended up having the ultrasound this morning after all. He looks great, and he's gained about 7 ounces. Fluid levels are great, dopplers are great, etc. Yesterday, though, I asked Dr. Atkinson if I'd go home the day they did the scan (be it today or Friday) if Josiah looked perfect. He said no, because he doesn't feel confident sending me home without Dr. Devine in town to really discuss and agree upon my future care. He wants a good plan of action arranged with her before sending me home. Understandable, I think.

Today though, the doc on call for Dr. Devine came in here and sat down to talk to me while Travis was out getting us lunch. He said that there's absolutely no reason for me to still be here, and said, "There's no reason for me to even be stopping by this room during my morning rounds. If you were my patient, I would just discharge you right now."

This guy contradicted everything Dr. Atkinson said to me only yesterday, and was making me feel like a paranoid freak. So I asked him, "Have you discussed this with Dr. Devine or Dr. Atkinson?" He said no. I asked, "Could you? I mean, I'd feel more comfortable making a decision if I could hear Dr. Atkinson's opinion on the matter..." He said no! He said, "I know what Dr. Atkinson is going to say, and while I respect him as a doctor, I think he's way too conservative in his decisions, and he's going to want to keep you here. I don't need to call him to know what he'll say."

So I was COMPLETELY torn. This doctor was making me feel bullied to agree to leave, and was suggesting I was just being ridiculous to stay, and wasting everyone's time. I don't want to be a hypochondriac! And I certainly am not looking to waste anyone's time; that makes me feel horrible that these kind nurses are just placating me or something. I'd asked him to please consult one of my doctors, and he refused. He said he could anticipate that Dr. Devine would only want to keep me if the baby wasn't growing, but since we saw he was growing this morning, he was certain Dr. Devine would agree that I needed to leave too. But the hold up for me was the fact that yes, while he is on call for Dr. Devine, and she can't be reached right now, my other doctor was just downstairs in the same building! And his nurse practitioner was three doors down! So I asked, "Have you talked to Kay?" He said, "Yeah, she thinks you need to go. She said there's no reason to keep you here. But, she also said if you leave today you need to be back up here on Friday and Sunday and maybe Monday for more monitoring."


So, if I leave, I still have to be up here on my birthday, and Sunday, and Monday?? Then why not just STAY until Dr. Devine returns on Monday like Dr. Atkinson said? I was SO confused, and this doctor was talking so ugly to me. He even said, "I mean, look at what all we're doing. You could do this at home." I supposed he was talking about the bed rest, but obviously the frequent monitoring couldn't be done at home, because if I left today, I'd have to be right back up here again ALL THE TIME. He made me feel like I was digging my heels in the wood flooring, refusing to leave. I wasn't trying to be difficult or psychotically paranoid. All I was asking for was to speak to my own doctor, who was in the same building. I even said, "If I have Dr. Atkinson's ok, then I'll go. I just want to talk to him." But he refused. I asked him three times if I could discuss this with my husband, and he finally reluctantly agreed. I didn't understand why he was pressuring me so strongly to leave right then, when Dr. A had just said yesterday that he wasn't discharging me until Dr. D returned. And why couldn't I discuss it with Travis? He saw I was passive, and was running me over like a semi truck.

As soon as Travis showed up, the tears started coming because I felt so conflicted, paranoid, and ridiculous. I knew this doc was tired of me for whatever reason and didn't want to mess with me anymore, but I also knew he hadn't discussed his decision with either of my doctors. He made it sound like it was up to me, but I knew it wasn't. He was fed up with seeing me every morning, and had come into my room to shoo me off his to-do list. Travis agreed that we've put our trust and confidence in Dr. Devine and Dr. Atkinson, and until he was willing to talk to one of them about it, we weren't budging until they said so. Period.

My nurse happened to walk in while I was crying and freaking out, and I told her the whole situation, and she agreed that there was nothing wrong with me wanting to hear it from my own doctors. These doctors saved my life and my baby's life back in August when I was near death from HG due to neglect from another doctor. They've listened to and trusted my intuitions, asked my opinion, followed up on my care, tracked Josiah with a microscope, reassured me, listened for sometimes hours to my concerns and questions, and even used scripture and prayer to help me deal with some of the more grim news I've faced. And frankly, I've grown to trust them with my son's very life. So I'm not letting someone else who talks about Dr. Atkinson like he's a conservative nut come in here and force me to do ANYTHING.

So my nurse went and got Kay, briefly explained what happened to her, and Kay walked in the door saying, "We didn't do it! Whatever happened, it wasn't coming from us." She explained that this doctor had approached her after looking through my file, and suggested that I was a perfect candidate for discharge. He told her apparently that I'd been "begging him" to go home every morning, and he felt it was for the best that they let me go home. Kay said that she told him that she knew Dr. Atkinson was not comfortable letting me go home without Dr. Devine available should something arise, and she said that she herself wanted me back up here several times this week and weekend for monitoring. She told him, "If she's begging to leave, we aren't going to keep her, so of course you have our approval. However, if you're asking for our opinion on the matter, then our answer is no. She needs to stay and continue her monitoring and care."

I told Kay, "Well, I'm not trying to suggest he's a liar in any way, but I don't ever recall 'begging' to leave... I honestly have no clue where he got that idea. I've been perfectly content to follow whatever Dr. Atkinson feels is best. If he were to come up here right now and say he feels in his gut that it'd be ok to let me go home, we'd start packing right now. I just don't exactly understand why he refused to ask Dr. Atkinson for his opinion on the matter." Kay said, "Well, when he approached me with the issue, I cautiously agreed under the suggestion that you were miserable. We don't want to damage you psychologically by keeping you up here, but I know that we'd both -Dr. Atkinson and I- feel better if you were just up here until Dr. Devine is back." She also said that Dr. A was made aware of the mess and the drama, and would be stopping by to basically just reiterate what he'd already said yesterday.

So, all that said, I had my nurse call that doctor back and say that I would not be leaving until Dr. Devine got back. Apparently she also let him know how much he'd upset me, and he told her he would not be mentioning the issue to me again. Sheesh! So much drama! I kept trying to make it clear, I'm not REFUSING to leave. I'm not insistent that I need to be up here when everyone's telling me Josiah is fine. I'm not trying to get attention by staying in the hospital, or trying to be dramatic, or a hypochondriac. I just wanted this man to talk to my doctor. Period.

So that was my day. Lol. All is well now, but I thought I'd post the story anyway. If there's one thing I learned from my experience with hyperemesis, it's to NEVER blindly follow the advise or opinion of a doctor just because they're a doctor. Never. I nearly died of starvation and dehydration in July from a doctor blowing me off and refusing to listen to me. I trusted her opinion and listened to her more than I ever should have simply because she was a doctor, and our society tells us all the time that you should trust doctors.

Luckily today, Kay and Dr. Atkinson rushed in there and diffused the situation, and everything was cleared up before anything happened. I'm so blessed for such wonderful doctors who know me and listen to me and answer my questions. Dr. L may think that Atkinson is a conservative crazy for keeping me here, but if he hadn't been so conservative, Josiah's IUGR may have gone unnoticed and no one would know ahead of time that we may be looking at a placental difficiency. I think Dr. Devine and Dr. Atkinson are God's little way of me know He's watching over both of us, and that for all those months I cried in absolute misery from the debilitating HG, He heard me and was working things together to get me help and find me a voice.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Years! Please be safe out there tonight. God bless you in 2009, and I hope the next year is even better than the last for everyone.

God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30 Weeks, 3 Days

You'll probably all be glad to know that I'm less crazy today. I do apologize for the constant and rather obsessive ramblings about when I'll get to go home. I'm not the type that needs Christmas dinner planned in October, but I at least like to know what's going on a day or so in advance. So sitting here wondering if we're going to have to pack up everything and go home, where I'll have to adjust to taking over responsibility for tracking Josiah is just extremely stressful, and almost scary for me. But I do apologize for the fact that my last several blogs appear to have the same annoying theme.

No ultrasound today. No ultrasound tomorrow. Dr. Atkinson decided to do the ultrasound on Friday... my birthday. I still feel like if he's grown significantly, there's a very good chance he'll let me go home. But he isn't going to discharge me at all until Dr. Devine gets back into town. Actually, he was kind of talking like he wasn't going to discharge me period. He said, "When Dr. Devine gets back next week, I'll sit down with her and we'll discuss future care. But we're just marking off the days, and our next goal is 32 weeks." My nurse, Chris, was in the room with us, and I asked her after he left, "Does that sort of sound like he's going to keep me here until I reach 32 weeks?" And she said that's exactly what it sounded like to her. So, we'll see. For now though, all of that weird paranoid panic over the past few days seems silly. Oh well. High risk pregnancy makes you paranoid, defensive, nervous, irritable, and turns you into a person wholly and entirely not yourself.

My nurse today is definitely one of my favorites up here. Actually, I have a favorite day nurse and a favorite night nurse, and she's my favorite day nurse. It's hard to sleep up here, even with the powerful sleep aid they give me, so I often sleep in late in the morning. If you aren't able to fall asleep until 3:30 in the morning, being woken up to monitor at 7 can make you physically ill from exhaustion. My nurse yesterday did just that, which resulted in a very cranky me and a painful headache. Today, however, when I woke up for the first time at ten, I looked around the quiet hospital room and wondered if perhaps something was wrong, or they'd forgotten I was here. I'm not generally allowed to sleep in so late, and it felt WONDERFUL. As it turned out, Chris saw me resting comfortably and assumed I must not be sleeping at night, so she let me be. Not only that, but when the doctors did their rounds, she quietly told them that I needed my rest, and they came back to my room later! I love thoughtful, wonderful nurses.

I noticed today with better rest, and no headache, I was much much less crazy. It must be nearly unbearable to be around me right now! I honestly feel embarrassed for my last few rambling entries going on and on about how much EVERYONE pisses me off, and how much I hate not knowing when I'll leave. Hopefully most all of you know that this rambling, obsessive person isn't really me.

His monitorings look so perfect, they aren't even concerned with him having decellerations anymore. They're focused almost entirely on his size now. Unfortunately, unlike the heart monitoring, you can't do an ultrasound everyday- much less three times a day. So we just keep hoping and praying that he's still gaining weight. We'll see on Friday I guess!

I'll keep you all informed. Thank you for bearing through my less than positive posts. It's just very hard, and I hope that none of you will ever have to be in my position to fully understand what it actually feels like.

God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Monday, December 29, 2008

30 Weeks, 2 Days

I talked to my nurse last night about that ultrasound on Friday where Angie the wonder technician didn't measure Josiah, but I was told that that was the entire purpose behind the ultrasound. She said that Kay DID want him measured, but it was probably for the best that Angie didn't do it, because every sonographer measures differently (sometimes making for a difference as significant as 10 whole ounces), so it's best to just stay consistent with Kay's measurements. At least I know I wasn't out of my mind, and I wasn't just making stuff up. When I asked her if she was going to measure, she looked at me weird and said, "You were measured on Monday. You aren't supposed to measure the baby more often than every two weeks, so today is way way way too early. You'll be measured again in two or maybe even three weeks." But I was certain Kay was measuring him every time, even if it was only a few days after the last one. Jessica checked my file, and I was right. Kay's been measuring him every time and charting everything she sees, growth or no growth.

And, it turns out Angie was wrong about him not being measured again until next week. Dr. Atkinson was back this morning and said he wants to measure either tomorrow or Wednesday. Does this mean I'll go home if he's showing significant growth??

I'm pretty sure I'm losing my mind. I really really am. I'm so irritable. I'm irritated at the doctor on call for Devine, I'm irritated at Angie, I'm irritated at the nurse's aide who has come in to check my temp and blood pressure today FIVE times already. They normally take it twice a day, at the two daily shift changes. It's been 98.6 degrees all day, and my blood pressure is perfect. I think she's just bored. But today when I took a nap, I dreamed that she came in while I was asleep and stuck that stupid thermometer in my ear, and then started tending to my personal hygiene, cleaning out my ears, brushing my hair, clipping my nails, etc. until I woke up and asked her what the heck she was doing. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights and said, "I'm sorry, is this not ok?" I startled myself awake from the disturbing dream, and there she was standing over me, saying, "I need to check your vitals." UGH!

I'm just so anxious all the time, and I think it's a direct result of having no idea what's going on regarding my future care.

The doc on call for Devine is no longer Dr. Dorsett, who I had genuinely grown to like. This new doc loudly came in and woke me up around 8:30 this morning, and before leaving asked me if I needed anything. I'd called a nurse an hour earlier to bring me something for nausea that kept waking me up, but no one had ever come. I told him, "I'm pretty nauseous..." and he said, "Yeah, I understand you've struggled with that for this whole pregnancy. You should be past that by now." I told him I had hyperemesis, and he didn't say anything. Then I said, "Well, I could really use something for this nausea..." and he said, "You need to just call a nurse to bring you something. That's what they're here for." And then he walked out the door. I miss Dr. Devine.

I don't believe for an instant that the hospital staff with their equipment and resources trumps the sovereign power of God, but it sure does make my life easier being up here. I mean, I miss home and my privacy, and am getting really really irritated with stupid doctors who aren't my own, and obsessive nursing aides, but I feel relaxed here. I don't have to worry about kick counts or contractions or shortness of breath when I'm here. It's someone else's job to worry when I mention such things. If they discharge me tomorrow, which they might, then I will go home with a five-page packet of instructions on kick counts, contractions, pre-term labor, frequency of urinating, shortness of breath, etc. I'll be on the phone with the doctor every day for the next month! I'm just scared to be exclusively responsible for his health and safety. I fear I could miss critical signs of his distress that a nurse or doctor wouldn't miss. I'd rather leave the close watch to the professionals with the equipment to help him in an instant should it be necessary.

I guess I'd better go. I'm sorry I'm so paranoid and rambly and... crazy...these days. I'll keep you informed on how things are going and where I am tomorrow. I'm tired of being crazy.

God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Sunday, December 28, 2008

30 Weeks, 1 Day

Last night, Travis and I were sitting around with the tv on low reading our books quietly when we heard the woman next door making a bunch of noise. I immediately muted the tv to hear what was going on. I said, "It sounds like she's in agony or something," and Travis said, "No, I think she's laughing. Not all people being loud has to mean they're in agony." And it kind of did sound like she was laughing really loudly... Until we listened closer. She was sobbing and crying, begging for help. She let out a high pitched scream and started saying over and over, "It hurts! It hurts! What's going on!?" And then she screamed again.

I was so freaked out. I've never really heard another person suffering like that, and I've never heard someone panic like that before either. I mean, it went on and on and on for about an hour. And then all these nurses, probably everyone on the floor, were in there yelling different directions and intructions and stuff. It sounded like total chaos. In a matter of minutes, there were four or five different voices all shouting orders and then I heard Dr. Dorsett, the doc on call for Dr. Devine in there. His voice was booming and giving instructions too. It eventually got quiet, but I could still hear her sobbing after everyone else had left the room. I could hear the shower going last night, and heard toilets flushing, and heard her moving around in there, so I'm guessing she wasn't immediately moved out. This morning though, she was gone. I don't know if she went upstairs to have a c section or what.

It really really REALLY bothered me. I couldn't get the sounds of her panic and pain out of my head all night, and they keep going over and over today as well. It just really triggered some sort of freak out mode in me. Of course I worried for her because I've never heard human suffering before, but for some reason I also got really scared for myself and Josiah. I know that whatever she was going through didn't relate to me at all, but it still scared me to my core.

This is just such a quiet hall, and I guess I sort of got in this mindset that me and all of my unseen neighbors were in the same boat. I know we really aren't, but it was sort of comforting to think we were all on bed rest, all holding on for at least 34 weeks, all having monitorings daily, etc. My nurse the other night mentioned that they had to drain fluids out of a baby's stomach in-utero the other day. Some of the women up here in this high-risk antepartum ward are in really bad or really scary situations. In perspective, I'm very blessed.

Travis kept saying, "Maybe she just went into labor..." but I've seen labor, and those were not the sounds of labor. Not healthy normal labor. I know just because she had a very rough night doesn't mean something bad happened to her or her baby today. And of course I know that just because something scary touched close to my room it does not mean something will happen to me or Josiah. Why am I still so freaked out by what I heard??? Why did it bother me so much? It truly scared me.

I feel so selfish. I said a prayer for her last night when she was screaming for help, but I spent the remainder of the night praying that Josiah and I would be safe and that I wouldn't experience the fear and pain she was going through. I feel wrong for hearing another person in such agony and worrying almost exclusively about myself. Either that's human nature, or I'm incredibly selfish. Either way, I can't stop thinking about her today, and I can't get those noises out of my head. I don't want to be screaming in pain, begging for help with half a dozen nurses bustling around my room shouting orders at me and each other. We don't know when Josiah will finally need to be delivered, and I don't want it to go down like that. It just really scares me. I hate not knowing ANYTHING.

When will I go home??? When will he be delivered? Since I know I'm not going to go into labor at 40 weeks like most women, I wonder how it'll finally come about that he needs to be delivered. How long will he have to be in NICU? I know the answers to these questions are all in God's hands, and I trust those hands. It's just a little hard to sit here all day asking doctors and nurses when I'll go home, when they think he'll be delivered, etc, and have absolutely no one tell me anything. And on top of that, all the drama of last night just really made me more desperate to know when I'll be getting out of here- either to go home or to go upstairs.

I guess that's all I wanted to say. Just freaked out. Feeling terrified for the lady next door and for myself, and feeling guilty for feeling terrified for myself. Please keep praying for all of us like I know you are. We appreciate it so so much.

God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Saturday, December 27, 2008

30 Weeks, 0 Days

For you formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:13-14 NKJV

Today is a day I've been waiting and looking forward to for a very long time. There were many days in there where I didn't think I'd make it this far. Ever since week 28, I could FEEL week 30 coming. I was certain I'd make it here, and I have.

I remember when Dr. Atkinson first told me the baby was SGA, he said, "Our ultimate, greatest goal is to make it to week 37. Week 34 would be perfect, week 32 we can work with. I'll even take week 30, but he'll have to fight more. Anytime before that, and I'm concerned." So we're officially in the realm of Dr. A's comfort zone. Everyday beyond this one means two or three less days spent in NICU when he is born, whenever that may be.

I just feel so proud of myself and proud of him for making it this far. I'm proud of myself for things I can't even control, like not going into preterm labor, or not leaking amniotic fluids. Well really, I guess I'm proud of him for things outside of his control too. I'm proud of him for fighting, and being strong, and having a great heart beat and not desperately trying to come out. I'm just thrilled to know that as of right now with only thirty minutes left in the day, my son is still being fearfully and wonderfully knit together by God. I'm taking things day by day, quite literally...And since today marked the 30's, today was a great day.

Today's also the day that everyone finally learned the baby's name, which means you all get to learn it too.

His name is Josiah Thomas Glen McCullough.

Josiah, a king from the book of 1 Kings, means "The fire of the Lord" in Hebrew. We thought it was a powerful, strong name for such a little fighter.

Thomas is my brother's name. He's specifically named after my brother, although the name runs in our family from my grandfather to my great-grandfather to a great uncle and so on and so forth. But it was picked with my Thomas in mind.

Glen is Travis's dad's name as well as Travis's middle name.

He has such a long name because we wanted him to have a big, long, strong name to represent the powerful spirit we're all praying he has. The Lord has watched him so carefully and so closely to this point, and He's made him so incredibly strong. I just feel like he's already earned himself such a name.

This is completely off topic, but my nurse just came in and made me feel guilty about staying up late every night like I'm a little kid or something. I'm on strict bed rest. I do nothing but doze and knit all day. Going to sleep at night isn't exactly easy. Now I feel bad. Ugh.

Now you guys all know his name, so those of you who are so kindly praying for him can pray for him by name. Thank you all so much for your continued support.
God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Friday, December 26, 2008

29 Weeks, 6 Days

Hi everyone!

I'm in better spirits emotionally today than I was yesterday. I've been frustrated all day though, because we had the ultrasound that we were expecting this morning, and yet we didn't gain any insight from it at all. There's a particular ultrasonographer in Dr. A's office who I had once, who said a bunch of statistical things that scared me to death (because they were just big scary numbers and didn't apply to me or my son at all), and I found out on Tuesday that she was going to be doing my US today again. I specifically expressed my concerns and flat out said that I didn't like her. When the nurse practitioner does the US, she talks to me about everything she's looking at, points out specific concerns, tells me why she's zeroing in on that specific area of him, and whether it looks normal or not. This technician doesn't tell me ANYTHING. She'll say, "OK, Here I'm looking for your fluid levels..." but then not tell me if it looks normal or low or what! It's very frustrating. I also said to the nurse practitioner (Kay) that I disliked her rattling off statistics and percentiles to me at the end of my last appointment with her. Kay said she was slightly surprised because their other patients like being as informed as possible regarding their baby's percentile, but I simply said, "I don't see it as being as informed as possible. Those numbers don't tell me how he'll do when he's born. They don't tell me whether he'll have breathing problems in NICU, or how long he'll have to stay in the incubators. They don't really mean anything to me but worry." I think she understood then. I'm not other mothers, and my child isn't other babies, and I couldn't care less about where he falls on some nationally averaged growth chart.

She did say my fluid levels looked normal when I asked, but then when I asked her if she was going to measure him again, she told me no. She said that the measurements of babies in-utero weren't accurate if done closer together than a couple of weeks. So then wasn't that what they told me they wanted to check for at this US? I don't understand.

She spent a good several minutes trying to get a good image of his profile to print off. Again, I didn't want to waste my time waiting for her to get him to take his fingers out of his mouth. I worried all night and had nightmares about what today's US would show, and she was mundanely sitting there going, "Come on baby, give us a good picture." We could wallpaper the kid's room in US images. To date, we've had twelve ultrasounds of this child. TWELVE. Healthy, non-high risk pregnancies require two, sometimes three. We've had a dozen. It's gotten to the point where Dr. A and Kay don't give us images anymore, because they aren't doing the US to get cutesie little pictures for us to show off to grandparents. The US have become a necessary and weekly part of my monitorings, and they are done entirely for diagnostic reasons. Dr. Atkinson knows he isn't growing right, and his heart was doing some weird decel things, and now he's trying to follow him as closely as possible in order to gain some more clues as to what's going on in there, and to know exactly the right time to deliver.

So when she asked (which she asked twice at the previous US I had with her), "Do you know the sex of the baby?" excitedly, I got a little irritated. I said, "Yes, that isn't why we're having these bi-weekly ultrasounds in the hospital." She laughed and said, "Well, I figured you knew, because you referred to him as a 'he'. But just for proof, here's his little boy parts." Click. She printed off a picture of his penis.

Do you know how many pictures of this child's "boy parts" we have!? TONS! Why is it that when I'm in there for serious concerns, looking for answers, worried about my baby, every air head ultrasound technician in the world that I happen to run across assumes I'm in there to get a nice clear image of his package? Maybe they think it's cute, or that perhaps walking away from my necessary and worrisome ultrasound with a picture of my son's gentiles will somehow distract me from the real reason I was in here in the first place. Regardless, I plan on throwing them all away. They only make me frustrated to look at, because they remind me of the appointments with her, and the appointments where I stayed up all night beforehand only to leave with no answers but a fistful of pictures. I don't know why I'm so upset about her asking if I'd like to know my baby's gender. Perhaps because she doesn't know me or my case, and I figure she could easily look in my file beforehand to see that I do indeed know my baby's gender. She could also gather given the delicateness of the situation, wanting more pictures of his "boy parts" is the furthest thing from my mind. I want to know things like, "How is his blood flow?" "Is his cord wrapped around anything?" "How are my fluid levels?" "Is he in distress?" "Will I have to deliver soon?"

Dr. Atkinson wasn't available today to stop by my room and answer any questions or tell me how the dopplers looked. She said something concerning his brain doppler needed to be looked at more closely, but didn't expand on that. It could very easily be nothing, and more than likely is nothing, because she doesn't know me or my situation. She shouldn't have even mentioned anything. Ugh. He'll be in here tomorrow, and I can gain more understanding then. I must have nagged the nurses to death today though. I asked anyone and everyone that came in my room if Dr. Atkinson was going to be coming back up here to talk to me. They kept saying if he saw anything particularly concerning, he would have been up here already to discuss it, but I have been sitting on a list of questions for him for the past two days now, and that list continues to grow without answers.

I don't know how long I'll be here. That concerns me. I went from not wanting to go home for fear his heart might decel again, to feeling silly that I was still up here, to not wanting to leave again for fear that might fluid levels might drop, or his weight has leveled off meaning he needs to be delivered soon. And the way I figure it, at the latest, they'll be delivering in a matter of a few weeks, so if they send me home on bed rest now, how long will I be home before they make me come back up here for even closer observation? I don't know what I want anymore. Dr. Devine said last week that having a high risk pregnancy makes you paranoid and a little crazy for a while. I know what she means. I'm scared for the next shoe to drop. I'm scared to go home, but afraid of wasting people's time up here. If a nurse is less than absolutely perky, I'm afraid she hates me. When Travis curled up in my tiny hospital bed with me the other night, I was afraid they'd be mad. I'm to that paranoid point she spoke of. At least I'm not alone. She warned me ahead of time that it would happen, and everyday she comes in here and asks me, "Are you crazy paranoid yet?"

I guess that's all the rambling I need to do for now. Sorry if it's completely obvious that I'm losing my mind. I need some fresh air. I wish Travis could bring me some from outside in a jar.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.
God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Thursday, December 25, 2008

29 Weeks, 5 Days

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas.

As it turned out, my dad didn't come visit me last night as expected, which was disappointing. Travis felt so terrible about it, he ran out and bought me a pair of Christmas pajamas. I also had my mom, brother and cousin come visit me. I was expecting company last night (actually, I had been looking forward to it all day), and he didn't come, so I still wanted to see someone. Even though we'd planned on having Christmas celebrations with my mom and Thomas today (which we still did), they didn't mind dropping by last night to visit in order to try and "fix" the situation. It was kind of pathetic...Especially considering the fact that Travis tried four or five times to get my dad to come up here, even telling him, "It would REALLY go a long way if you came up here tonight for even fifteen or twenty minutes." Very disappointing.

I had a better day today though. My mom and Thomas came for lunch, and we exchanged gifts, and they got the gift of learning the baby's name. Since we still haven't celebrated Christmas with Travis's family yet, I still can't quite make it public, but you'll all know in a day or so! We're broke and didn't have the chance to finish Christmas shopping before I ended up in here, so that's everyone's gift for now. So far everyone seems to love it.

I got Kate Gosselin's book Multiple Blessings, and was reading it a little while ago. I always watch the show, and have from the very beginning, but I didn't know the exact details surrounding the pregnancy and birth of the six babies. I saw in the book that at a point earlier than I'm at now, all six of the babies weighed more on ultrasound than mine does. It was depressing. I've been so good about keeping my spirits high, but seeing that a group of sextuplets, which you would assume might have some growth issues or simply lack the room to grow at the same rate of a singleton, are actually BIGGER than my singleton... It's a scary reality. I try not to think about percentiles, or where he should be at this point, compared to where he is. I even have a deal with my perinatologist that he's not to mention percentiles with me, whether good or bad, because they only make me worry, and I end up for hours researching online what's considered healthy. However, when I see something like that, it doesn't take confusing percentiles or statistics to know that he's really really tiny... Like REALLY tiny.

It's hard not to wonder what kind of fight he might have to endure after he's born. If the Gosselin six spent months in NICU after they were born, and there were scary times where the tiniest of the babies were literally fighting for their lives, and yet they were still bigger than my little guy... My mind wanders to what lies ahead for him. I know he'll survive. That isn't the issue. I think people don't understand that when I get overwhelmed or scared. The most reassuring thing (well-intentioned) people can say is, "Well, I have peace that he'll survive..." Ok. I do too. That isn't the issue. What mother wants their child to suffer? What mother wants to see their tiny child, only hours or days or weeks old, struggling for whisps of air on a ventilator? I can't think of any. In my moments of sadness, I'm not scared about his death, because I trust that won't happen. I'm just sad for what he might have to endure in order to survive. I feel terrible for him, and I'm scared for him, and I'm scared for us because I know having babies in NICU is a strain and a very stressful, emotional time.

I know Jon and Kate's story had an ideally happy outcome... It just scares me because I can't help but compare my son to their kids. If their kids struggled to breathe and fight off infection, and they were born at X weight, then how much more will my son struggle if he's born at less than that?

This isn't a very merry Christmas post, and I'm sorry for that. I was so positive the last few days... I guess I'm just feeling a little down about things right now. Food and gifts and visits and fudge don't take away the prevailing thought that's floated in and out of my mind all day. We have another check-up ultrasound tomorrow morning. Since I've been in the hospital, they've done two a week, and tomorrow is the next one in line. It scares me because I realize that they might discover that he hasn't gained as much weight as he once was gaining. That could mean the placenta is failing him, which is something Dr. Atkinson has told us from day one would eventually happen. I just sort of pushed it to the back of my mind. Travis keeps reassuring me, "We knew that the circumstances upon which he is to be delivered might be stressful, or scary, or a downright emergency. Nothing's changed in my heart about how the outcome will be. We have been prepared for the frightening stress of his arrival from the first time we met Dr. A." And I know he's right. But saying something like, "He'll have to be delivered early, because eventually with IUGR, his environment inside becomes more unhealthy than his environment outside..." is one thing. But UNDERSTANDING it, and letting the reality of it sink in is something else.

And I struggle with feeling like I've failed him somehow. How do you deal as a mother when you know that you can't even provide a healthy environment for your child when he's inside the womb? Sometimes I'm fine with it, and I'm on top of my emotions, and I realize that it isn't my fault, and nothing is wrong with ME, and other times I get frustrated and angry with my own body (which I realize I have no control over, but it still makes me so mad sometimes).

Wow I'm negative tonight. Perhaps I should post this another day. But then that wouldn't be honest, and I'm trying to remain as dedicated to honesty in this blog as possible. I'm hoping that perhaps in writing this, someone who was less than understanding of the situation, or someone who is also going through the same situation might read my thoughts and feel enlightened or encouraged.

I do hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and that you all stay safe. Please remember the true reason behind all of the gift-giving and song singing and binge-eating. Luke 2:1-20

God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

29 Weeks, 4 Days

I've been looking towards this day for a while now. I remember when I was first in the hospital back in November, I had a very special nurse who I've since become friends with (Jenny, she's amazing), who told me about her twin girls being delivered at 29 weeks, 4 days. She received the same steroid shots that I've been given, and when she went into labor at 29 weeks, 3 days, they weren't able to delay it. She delivered them the next day, and they are now perfectly healthy happy 8 year olds. Jenny is still my night nurse, and for some reason I've placed today in my head as a goal to beat. I guess I keep thinking if her girls could survive being born at 29/4, then my son can survive being delivered later than that. So today, I've happily surpassed Jenny's twins. :)

The Christmas festivities begin today in Room 323. On our anniversary, (the 20th), Travis had little elves (our family) basically transplant our living room to my hospital room. Our full-sized Christmas tree is here, complete with lights and decorations. He also brought my nutcracker collection (which is pretty large), and our stockings up here. It looks absolutely magical in here, and makes it feel much less like a hospital room. I have nurses coming in just to see the decorations because they heard from someone that my room was so decked out. We actually had a nurse come all the way from the labor and delivery floor just to check out our Christmas tree. It kind of makes me feel special, and it keeps me in a good mood. My nurse today, Tammy, came in and said she's happy my room is so decorated because she was kind of down about having to work on Christmas Eve. I'm glad that it brightens other people as well as me.

Jessica, you asked if Travis is getting to stay with me, and he is. They have him a cot, and he sleeps next to me. It's really nice having him here. I think I would be so much more depressed if I was here alone. I can't even imagine that.

Dr. Atkinson asked if I wanted to go home for a short while tomorrow to have Christmas dinner with family, but I said no. All of our family lives here in town, so who would we spend that short period of time with?? Someone would be left out, unfortunately, and I would stress over hurting someone's feelings. It's actually much less stressful having everyone come up here to celebrate Christmas with me. My grandparents and dad are coming up here this evening, and tomorrow mom and Thomas will be stopping by for lunch with a ham. Then Friday is Travis's family. It's easier this way.

I'm working on knitting a blanket for the baby. I don't knit, and I don't have the patience to learn how, so my mom picked me up a loom the other day to make it easier. It's coming together really nicely! It feels better to be "wasting time" on something that I can actually imagine the baby using instead of just vegging out in front of the tv all day (which is easy to do when you can't get out of bed!)

I have another ultrasound on Friday morning. They want to see if he's gaining weight like he should be. Of course with IUGR babies, eventually either their heart rate will start to do scary things, indicating that they need to come out, or their weight will eventually plateau, which also lets you know they need out. I am really hoping that he reaches at least 3 pounds before he has to be born. But, if it turns out that his weight is plateauing (a sign the placenta is neglecting to give him the nutrients he needs prematurely), then he'll be delivered, and God will protect him.

One prayer Travis and I have meditated on ever since we found out that the baby was SGA is that the King will open his great robe and pull the baby close in to Him, and protect him from whatever storm might be troubling around him. I just keep praying that. God's wings are big, and the protective shadow of those wings has saved me from many a storm. I just really feel that He's here, He's listening, and that everything is going to be ok. It won't be easy, but He never said it would be. But I don't feel for one second like we're going to suffer the loss of this baby. We just pray that that would be more than we could ever handle, because we know the Lord would never give us more than we can handle.

I hope you all have a wonderful, magical Christmas Eve. Stay safe and warm.
God bless,
Kathleen and Travis

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

29 Weeks, 3 Days

Hello everyone!

I can't believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. The days are completely blurred to me up here, so I don't even know if today is a Tuesday or a Wednesday.

They went from 24 hour monitoring to every 4 hours (which still made it hard to sleep at night, but wasn't quite as bad as having those straps on all the time), and then, because he was looking so stable, Dr. A said I could go to just three daily monitorings.

However, last night, when they put me on, he had a couple of small decelerations which we haven't seen since last Thursday! I was frustrated. It doesn't necessarily mean anything bad at all, because his heart rate bounced right back up, and it's not like he dropped into the 60 bmp range like he did that one day (scary!)... But still, I'd like to know that when I'm discharged next week, it's because he hasn't shown ANY signs of repeating that scary deceleration nonsense in a while. There are absolutely no physical symptoms to me when his heart rate drops like that, so it just scares me to death to think that something could happen and he could be in real distress and there's absolutely no way for me to know it. Dr. Devine has said it many times since I've been here: If I wasn't on that monitor right when I was, they never would have seen it happen, and would have sent me home completely fine.

They explained to me that if baby is in distress and needs to come out NOW, they have about a thirty minute window to get me prepped for surgery and upstairs and then get him out. 30 minutes! That's why I feel so safe at the hospital. The nurse prac. who always does my ultrasounds was talking to me the other morning, and I expressed to her that even though everything looks great, I'm still very concerned to go home, and she said, "Well, we don't have you on 24 hour monitoring anymore, so it's not like we'd be able to know if something happened up here any more than you'd know at home." But that isn't necessarily true. Here I have a button right by my bed that I can push and request a monitoring any time, day or night. If I'm contracting more than usual, I ask to be put on the monitor. If he isn't moving as much as he should be, I'm put on the monitor. What happens when I go home? I panic. And, if something does go wrong, and he does go into distress for whatever reason, they've already made it clear that from the moment he's struggling, they only have thirty minutes to get him out. It takes that long to get from my house to the hospital!

I'm just a little paranoid. My doctors say it's their fault their patients end up paranoid, because with all this testing and question-asking and monitoring, we get prepared for the next shoe to drop and kind of live in that freaked out state of mind. I don't know whose "fault" it is necessarily (I'm a natural worrier), but it does make me scared for next week.

I don't want to scare anyone by saying he had another decel last night. Dr. Devine has already checked my monitoring strip and said that it's very common for a baby his age to do that for whatever reason. I just thought we were done with all of that altogether.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement. I'm so happy to be able to reach out to people right now. It's very encouraging to hear from all of you. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and that you all stay warm and safe.
God bless you all,
Kathleen and Travis.

Monday, December 22, 2008

29 Weeks, 2 Days

To begin, I'll briefly update everyone on exactly why I'm in the hospital this week, and what situation our baby is in. My mother in law suggested I write a blog to keep everyone informed and updated on the rest of my pregnancy, hospital stay and bed rest, and I thought it was a good idea! So, here's our story so far...sorry if it's a little long.

Travis and I are expecting our son in March, but there are complications with this pregnancy that will most likely make for an early delivery. To make a long story short, it was discovered several weeks ago at our 20 week ultrasound that the baby is small for his gestational age, or SGA as they call it around here. It's also known as IUGR, or Intrauterine Growth Restriction. The previous link will take you to a medical website that may better explain his situation, and provide a little bit more information for you.

SGA babies sometimes have a rough go of it as the pregnancy progresses, because sometimes these babies are small due to nutritional or oxygen deficiencies inside the womb. Often the best bet with these babies is to deliver them early, because with today's amazing medicine, they have a better chance of survival outside of the womb in NICU than in.

My OB is Dr. Susan Devine, and she's AMAZING. She's truly been a blessing throughout this pregnancy, and the six months I suffered from severe Hyperemisis Gravidarum. (Again, you can click on the link I've provided which will take you to the Help HER foundation website, an organization dedicated solely to supporting and assisting women with HG.)

When the IUGR was discovered, my case was sent primarily to the hands of Dr. Bill Atkinson, who handles high risk and complicated pregnancies. Dr. Atkinson has been a wonderful blessing as well. He's a very conservative and careful doctor who truly listens to his mothers and their intuition. He has carefully followed my progress and our baby's health since diagnosing him with SGA.

We have two appointments weekly in Dr. Atkinson's office to keep track of baby's progress and development. I have two NSTs (non-stress tests) a week, and one ultrasound which checks the doplers and blood flow in various parts of his body to make sure he's still getting the proper supply of oxygen. When those doplers start slowing down or becoming irregular, that's a sign that his environment is finally failing him, and he needs to be delivered. I had one appointment on Monday, Dec. 15th, and baby looked great! However, I noticed on Tuesday that the baby wasn't moving as much as I was used to, so I decided to go up to the hospital for another NST. They put him on the monitor, and he looked great again. Right before they took him off after 45 minutes or so, his heart rate dropped from the normal baseline range of 135ish to the 70's.

It was at that point they decided to admit me to the hospital. As Dr. A explained it to me, this drop (which went right back up) could have been the sign they've been looking for, indicating that baby was in distress and ready to come out. It could also have been an innocent phase of curiosity for him, and could be an indicator that he had finally noticed his umbilical cord and was squeezing it, thus slowing his blood supply.

That first night in the hospital was scary. They put an IV in my arm to have an emergency line open should I require an emergency C-section. There is no way they could deliver him naturally, as this would create far too much stress on his heart and lungs. They also put my thumb prints on the souvenir birth certificate that every baby takes home from the hospital. If he was born, his tiny foot prints would be joining my thumb prints. The reality that he could be delivered that night or that week hit me, and made me understandably emotional. A weird thing happened though, and once I got over the initial panic of him being born, I got excited about the thought of it, and then became anxious and started actually hoping that he'd be born sooner than later (maybe not that night, but soon!) I don't want a sick or weak baby, but this pregnancy has been SO hard, and so trying for both of us, I think we're both in that anxious phase already of just wanting him here as soon as possible.

They started off monitoring him for 24 hours around the clock, but by Wednesday he had stopped any decelerations, so Dr. A said we could move it to every four hours. I was glad, because having the monitors on for 24 hours actually irritates the uterus muscles, causing painful contractions, which were getting frustrating to deal with. They don't progress in any way, or show any signs of labor, but they still hurt. They're called labor pains for a reason! Dr. Devine has already said that if I'm going to go into preterm labor anytime soon, she's not going to stop the progress of it, because she trusts it's nature's way of saying that baby needs out NOW. Sometimes if you stop the progress of labor, even this early, it doesn't help baby as much as it hurts. I trust both of my doctors so much.

They've done three ultrasounds since I've been here in the hospital, and he looks great every time. He's looking perfect on the monitors, and hasn't appeared to have any more scary decelerations. Everyone seems very pleased with his progress. I'm still on strict bed rest, but Dr. Atkinson wants to keep me up here until I'm into the 30 weeks. I'm 29 weeks, 2 days today, and I'll be 30 weeks on Saturday. They've given me steroid shots to help progress baby's lung development in preparation for an early delivery. His odds of survival after 30 weeks go up substantially, and I think both of my doctors would just feel better sending me home after I'm in that ballpark. So, I anticipate I'll go home next Monday as long as he continues to look as great as he does now.

So for now, that's what we know. Everything looks really great and positive for baby, and I'm doing fine, just a little anxious. Please keep us all in your prayers. God has been so good at providing us with peace about this situation. He's been incredibly faithful in answering our prayers in our moments of doubt and distress, and I know in my heart that everything is going to be perfectly fine.

I'll continue to update this blog as often as possible, so please continue to check in with us.
God bless,
Kathleen and Travis