Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Memory of Christie

I've written before about the privilege of parenting. There are moments when parenting is so, so hard--when I dream of weekends pre-Lydia spent on the sofa, going out, taking yoga classes, just wandering about with little responsibility or agenda. And then there are moments when you realize that parenting, in itself, is a privilege that I enjoy, not some social obligation or duty.

Today, I received a CaringBridge journal update that carried the message that a young woman from my hometown passed away after a valiant fight against a brain tumor. Christie learned of her tumor after experiencing headaches while on maternity leave, and today she left behind a little girl who will turn two in February. As a mom who is about to welcome another child, this idea is too much to process.

I remember Christie as graceful, kind, and beautiful. She sang in church choir and we performed together with Youth Performing Arts. I didn't know her well then, and I haven't talked to her in years, but this news today is a lot, and my heart aches--for Christie's little girl, for her husband, her parents, her siblings, and for Christie, who will not get to watch her daughter grow. Her passing is catastrophic, and there are many, many people hurting tonight. As I attempt to wrap my head around this loss, as I remember Christie, I am reminded that mothering in all its messy, frazzled, imperfect glory is a privilege.

(Christie's Caring Bridge journal can be found at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/christieengelmann.)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bump in the Rump (and BPP #4)

Thursday was Baby G2's fourth Biophysical Profile and Non-Stress test. They also did a second set of growth measurements. He passed everything with flying colors--again. In fact, he's currently at the 79th percentile of growth, up from the 64th at our last growth scan at 32 weeks. There is a large margin of error when measuring growth by ultrasound at this point in a pregnancy, but at minimum, we are assured that the little guy is not experiencing any growth restriction due to his wonky umbilical cord. I also realized I may have to kiss my hopes of an 8 lb. baby goodbye and come to terms with the idea that pushing out a second nine-pounder could well be in my future. We joked that maybe instead of monitoring for growth restriction, we should be making sure he doesn't get too massive.

Thursday was also supposed to be my the first meeting of my final class at Augsburg. I raced from the clinic to Lydia's school, picked her up, brought her home for a snack, and then loaded her in the car again. (Robin was not able to get home in time, so our plan was to meet at Augsburg and hand her off so that I could get to class.) Note, I said "supposed to be." As we were driving down Lyndale and about to merge onto Interstate 94, I felt a sudden jolt. We were not moving due to bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I was caught pretty off-guard; Lydia was also very confused as to what had happened. The man driving the pick-up truck behind us rolled by and pulled into a parking lot, and I got out. He immediately began blaming the incident on the person behind him--the cars lights weren't on--spewing profanity and racial slurs (because obviously the person's lights weren't on because of their ethnicity and obviously, he rear-ended me because there was a car behind him without headlights, and obviously, the presence of a three-year-old warrants excessive use of every potentially offensive word known to human-kind) and at no point apologizing or asking if I was okay, despite the fact that I am visibly pregnant and had a three year old in the car. I could tell right away that the car was fine and Lydia was fine, and I got on my way as quickly as possible. Lydia was very upset that the person hadn't followed driving directions; "You're not supposed to hit a car with another car!!!" She also later told Robin her hip hurt because "car accidents make your body hurt."

I called the clinic immediately, hoping they would say, "Just monitor movement and make sure you're not experiencing contractions or leaking fluid," but to my dismay, they asked that I come in. Commence four more hours of non-stress testing (and obviously, missing my first class meeting). (Conversations with my midwife and knowledge of fellow mamas' previous experience with similar protocol definitely made me feel like complying with their recommendations was the way to go.) Baby was moving all over the place, putting on his best NST performance ever. His heartrate appeared on the monitor like a roller-coaster track.

I was more interested (and a little caught off-guard) by contractions that I wasn't feeling. The midwife asked if I could feel them and didn't seem too concerned (and I noticed that when I dozed off they stopped immediately, so I'm wondering if they had more to do with my fatigue and stress than anything.) Moreso, I'm realizing that the baby might actually come before February 19 (or after--here's hoping). Thus, Robin was left at our house with a very strong request to actually finish the crib he is building, and I made a Target run to pick up things we will definitely need. Project for tomorrow will be to pack a hospital bag. I'm not term for another week and a half, and the Forty Week mark is still a month away, but at least to ward off Murphy's Law, we're going to try to be a little more action-ready.

I took the next morning off because I was fairly confident that a 5:30 wake-up time following my one-in-the-morning bedtime wouldn't be such a great mix and would mean that my students would be better off with a sub than me, and by the end of yesterday, any achiness and tension in my back and neck had mostly subsided. Now I'm just left hyper-sensitive of any tightening in my belly after watching my uterine activity for 240 glorious minutes.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

BPP #3 plus a Birth Plan!

On Thursday I kept my usual date with the HealthPartners midwives and went in for our third Biophysical Profile and Non-Stress Test. Baby G2 set a record, scoring an 8/8 on his BPP in 5 minutes and whipping through the Non-Stress Test with no problems. I have learned to ask for iced apple juice before even starting the NST, and this seems to get him moving more than quickly, resulting in a great NST reading immediately; I recorded thirty movements in 30 minutes and Baby G2 gave us an ample amount of heart rate accelerations--the thing they look for on an NST. I don't remember Lydia ever being as active as this baby in utero. What does this mean for his personality once in the outside world?!?! Lydia keeps us on the go as it is!

The other substantial part of this appointment involved talking with the midwife about my hopes for birthing. I was very nervous about this conversation, as I'd gotten the impression that the Single Umbilical Artery would be cause for continuous monitoring throughout labor and would require us to go in to the hospital earlier than I would like. I'd done lots of research and had only found one article indicating that SUA automatically warrants these things, so I was prepared to ask lots of questions and request some compomise. To my pleasant surprise, I had misunderstood their prescriptions for my labor. It seems as though I'll be monitored somewhat more frequently than a patient without any diagnosed anomalies, but they are not automatically planning on having me be continuously monitored. I also was mistaken in their suggestions for when to come to the hospital; they're asking me to arrive at the same time anyone else would. (We did discuss my history of fast labor and delivery, so keeping that in mind, we will probably err on the side of caution within their suggestions.) I had originally hoped for a water birth this go-round, but that has been ruled out due to the SUA. The rules, restrictions, and qualifications for hospital water births are quite strict, I've learned. I was comforted in this conversation, though, learning that I should have access to the shower should everything progress normally; I had been worried that even the shower would be off-limits for more than teeny stints of time, and my worries were thankfully unfounded. All of these things are very important to me in my hopes to birth this baby with minimal medical interventions or medication as I did Lydia. (She was born roughly an hour after arriving at the hospital, and I had no interventions or pain medication. It was the single most empowering experience of my life, and you can read about it here.) All-in-all, I'm feeling as if my midwives (whom I trust greatly) are treating my labor as if it will go normally and smoothly--exactly the reason I chose midwives in the first place. I left feeling confident and calm.

I did talk to the midwife about actually writing down a birth plan and have decided to do so. I had nothing really written with Lydia, though I had conversations with both our doula and my OB in Austin. Because I was at the hospital for so little time before delivering Lydia, any communication about this birth plan didn't happen. Fortunately, most of what I would have asked for happened, but this time, we'll likely be at the hospital before I'm 10 cm dilated--hopefully. In writing, I am borrowing heavily from the birth plan of a high school friend as well as the book Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel. (I highly recommend it to anyone hoping for a drug-free birth in a hospital.) Nothing too detailed--just basic information and wishes and probably 2/3 of a page at most.

Three down, six-ish to go. All in all, a good visit!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Overheard from the Kitchen...

"Lydia, please do not punch me in the penis."  --Robin

Monday, January 7, 2013

On the drive home today...

"Mommy...sometimes you drive me crazy."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

BPP #2 and a Sneak Peak

We had Biophysical Profile (BPP) and Non-Stress Test (NST) #2 today, and Baby G2 again passed with flying colors--a perfect 10/10. We again had to work to get him moving during the NST, even though I had loaded up with a coffee beforehand. Once I got some cold liquid in me, he did his thing quickly. One nurse commented, "This seems to be a pattern..." and when , true to form, I worriedly asked the midwife if the baby's not-so-immediate performance was an indicator of anything problematic, she said, "Oh, no! Sometimes we'll have people hooked up to these for two hours!" The problem isn't that his heartrate doesn't accelerate in response to his movements, it's that he seems to have a party during the BPP and then just want to hang out during the NST. (An NST looks for baby's heart rate to accel in response to movements or contractions at least twice during 20 minute period.)

In other news, Baby is still head down and today, we got the bonus of a 4D Ultrasound pic. He sailed through the BPP ultrasound quickly, and turns out this is what you get to do if there's extra time and the baby cooperates! I've always thought 4D ultrasounds were kind of cheating, and I still don't think I would pay out of pocket for one (apparently some people will elect to have them done and pay out of pocket around 26 weeks just for the great pictures), BUT something about this image helped me put back in perspective that all of these extra appointments and labor and everything is for a baby that will be ours before too long. Robin and I both agree that he looks a lot like Lydia looked as a baby. Lydia favored Robin a lot as an infant and slowly came to look more like me or at least more like a blend of the two of us as she hit three or so months. This baby definitely has the Ganser nose while we're pretty sure Lydia has mine, but there's something about those cheeks that shows the two are siblings, especially considering Baby has seven-ish more weeks to pack on more chub.

Baby G2 at 33 Weeks, 2 Days
Lydia at 10 days old

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's - 2012

Robin and I have shared some pretty great New Year's Eves over the past twelve that we've spent as a couple: dancing downtown, gathered around our kitchen island with good friends in Austin, spending the entire night at a sushi restaurant in Chicago, in a St. Paul basement drinking way too many Old Fashioneds. We've done well.

I tend to enjoy the more low-key New Year celebrations. One of my favorite New Year's Eve memories was in 2008, when I was pregnant with Lydia. Robin and I had arrived into Austin from our midwest Christmas travels earlier that evening, and we had no plans. Instead of going out, we spent a cozy night in watching DVDs of favorite TV shows and nibbling on fancy cheese and fruit. We toasted the last year we would be a family of two.

This year while discussing our New Year's plans, we decided to make a night in a pregnant New Year's tradition. Tonight we will nibble on yummy snacks, watch old TV, and toast our last New Year's as a family of three and think back to highlights of 2012.

January: I confronted my demons and celebrated my 30th birthday in Chicago with a weekend away. We also (finally) sold our house in Austin, and Robin was offered his position at Coen+Partners.

February: Robin turned 30 and approached the milestone with a much more positive attitude than I did.

March: Lydia turned 3 and celebrated with family and friends at Michelangelo's Masterpizzas. I was particularly proud of our "conecakes." I also began classes working toward my Minnesota licensure requirements.

April:  We began our first Spring in Minneapolis since college and are affirmed in our choice to move back as we reexplore this beautiful city.

May: Robin and his dad completed the first of six homes designed and built in Madison.

June: We said goodbye to my Grandma Gloria when she passed away suddenly. Some welcome good news came two days after her funeral when I was able to surprise Robin with the news that we would be expecting a baby in February.

July: We traveled to Boston for our very first family vacation. We all loved the city and enjoyed the time spent as a family.

August: We celebrated the marriage of Robin's cousin Daniel and his wife Beth on a beautiful island in Maine. Seaside walks and field-grown blueberries were icing on the cake.

September: Robin was promoted to principal at Coen and continues to find immense joy in his work. Lydia loved being a flower girl in cousin Becky's "flash mob wedding."

October: We moved to our new place of residence in the East Harriet neighborhood of Minneapolis. We relish the family-friendly, more central neighborhood, and our new character-filled home. Lydia went trick-or-treating dressed in a Mom-made peacock costume. I spent a wonderful "roommate weekend" with dear friends.

November: We voted in our first Minnesota election since 2004 and celebrated the rejection of the Marriage Amendment and Voter ID Laws. Robin went on his bi-annual "Mancation" in LaCrosse.

December: We loved watching Lydia's joy and excitement around the holidays, and we rediscovered the childhood magic of Christmas through her eyes. I realized we really do live in Minnesota when, the morning after receiving 12 inches of snow, I was forced to drive to work as we didn't even have so much as a late start.