Friday, August 31, 2007

Holiday weekend

Here at work again, still pregnant. I'm trying to drop hints to LittleGirl that this is Labor Day weekend. Get it, sweetie? Labor. Day. Ok glad we talked about that again.

This will be a quick post because I'm trying to realign my ducks before leaving today in case someone (ahem- you, LittleGirl) decides to make a grand appearance before Tuesday. I already know that someone else will be using my desk while I'm on leave (we're short on space, don't ask), and I have cleaned up accordingly. I have one last project that must be finished before the end of the day and then the rest is icing. Mmmmm, icing.

My BP was just fine last night and this morning. I'll keep tracking...

And if I make it that long, a week from today will be my last day at work. Weird. Having a scheduled c-section removes a bit of the uncertainty of pregnancy. I mean, I still don't think I'll make it to the 13th. But if I do make it that long, that's it. Unlike a due date, which is merely a suggestion. So, in no more than 13 days, I will meet LittleGirl. I'm excited, nervous, and anxious all at the same time.

This roller coaster is finally heading down the big exciting hill. Whee!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maybe it was the steak with a side of cow

I went for my checkup this morning and nothing much has changed in the cervical arena. For the first time in months, my fundal height is on target (38w), which essentially means a whole lot of nothing in my book (I don't exactly trust the tape measure thingy to be terribly accurate). The only thing that has changed is that I now have protein in my urine (dum dum DAAAAAH). It's only a +1 (on a scale of zero to +4 for those not in the know), which isn't a terrible amount, but it's also more than none. Add to that the fact that I have been having really awful abdominal pain on the right side in the evenings since Monday. Not during the day, just in the evening. Oh, and for those playing doctor at home, my blood pressure is completely normal (118/82 today...which is the highest it's been for this pregnancy but still is not high.

The doc (I have not conjured a pseudonym, sorry) sent me for bloodwork and a second urine test. He actually just called (I was about to write "post update later") and said that the definitive tests for pre-eclampsia were negative, but some of the peripheral tests were elevated. So, he wants me to take my BP twice a day and if it gets to the high 120's/80's to give them a call (the man was obviously listening when I told him that my normal baseline BP is 100/60). I am also to let him know if the right side pain presents in a higher location as that could be liver pain (but my liver screen was normal). So, I don't have pre-e, but I seem to be just starting to show some possible signs that I might possibly (but not definitely) have pre-pre-e. Nice and vague- love it.

Obviously the kid was not listening when I mentioned that I've had quite enough drama in the outside world over the last few weeks. Drama with the baby is not cool.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And again

I thought that last night might have been the main event. My stomach has become so large that I managed to get a stitch in my side simply by walking to the car. Yeah, I know, so strenuous. Anyway, the pain would not go away and it started escalating into cramps. Then, I decided to try lying down. Sweet relief. Nothing more came of it and by this morning things feel fine.

Remember many moons back when I asked you to send good thoughts to my friend J who was going through IVF after a long struggle? Well, good news- she gave birth to a little girl last night (mere hours before her due date). Congrats J and J and baby S!!! I will be birthing at the same hospital and we had joked about getting adjoining rooms. I guess if I "pop" in the next two days there's still a chance.

My friend sent me a link to this article in the Onion. I thought it was quite amusing, but you might not think so if you're still dealing with the infertility roller coaster. But remember, kids, it's the Onion.

Time for lunch!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Project LittleGirl Continues

Still here, still pregnant. For some reason I had it in my head that today might be the day, but I also had bookmarked today as the 37-week mark, thus removing any preemie labels from the kid after birth. Of course, it is only mid-day, so perhaps today can still be the day. Given that most labor starts overnight, though, I doubt it.

There was a minor wager ($1) between two office members today as to whether I would be in to work this week. I'm here, so the one that started it had to pay up. I told the recipient that she should up the ante, but also warned her not to get greedy because at some point I will actually have to be out of the office to have the baby. Not sure when. Every night as I am trying to relax I figure "this is it" as the kids pushes with all of her might against my cervix.

Along those lines, I had my last checkup on Friday but held off on posting due to the book review (not so fond of the book, but let me tell you about my cervix!). My stats were as follows (on Friday):

36w4d, 1cm dilated, 50% effaced, station -1, fundus @ 38w

So, progress, but not what I was expecting given the level of "get me outta here" action she's been up to these days.

I managed to get the sheets washed over the weekend, so the crib is ready and waiting. No window treatments yet, though. I started working on them yesterday and managed to sew all of the side seams and pinned two of the bottom hems. I will finish pinning and sewing the bottoms tonight and hopefully also get the top hems with ribbon ties pinned. Mr. D keeps asking when he can hang the curtain rods and, unfortunately, the answer is always, "after the curtains are done." Otherwise, I won't know exactly how high to hang the rods. Thankfully, straight lines are easy to sew and we have a HUGE table in our back room (54" square) that helps with laying out and pinning curtains. The biggest barrier so far has been finding a time when a certain two-year-old won't be rummaging through my pins, scissors, and sewing trinkets while I make a seam or two.

As a final note, I could do with a little less family drama. FIL is doing better, thankfully. And I have probably bested the melanoma monster again. Last Thursday, though, my dad had to be admitted to the hospital with a bad infection requiring IV antibiotics. He went home this morning. And an hour ago, surgery began for a cousin who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. They are going to remove what they can, follow with interleukin therapy, but skip the radiation (this form of cancer does not respond). So, prayers for J and his family are quite welcome. Even with the surgery, the cancer is terminal, it simply prolongs his days. I just hope that we can avoid excessive drama with the arrival of this baby. There's been enough already.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blog Tour: Maximum Ride III

I am a reader. I read something for pleasure pretty much every day, even if I can only manage a few pages right before my body and mind collapse into an exhausted pile. I like a variety of genres and I also enjoy interspersing young adult fiction into my reading lineup. Not because of any sort of arrested development but more because it brings back great memories of spending long hours with books as a kid. I have read the Harry Potter series, of course, and in the last year reread a few of my childhood favorites like the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series (ok, not the whole series, just a handful). I love thinking about the books that Gabe will be reading as a youth. He has always been completely enamored with books and with the plethora of books strewn about our house, I expect his love for books to continue. In fact, I have many a book ready and waiting for him to “grow into them” so to speak.

Thanks to MotherTalk’s current blog tour, I had the opportunity to preview (and critique) the latest YA fiction novel from James Patterson, Maximum Ride III: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. I promise not to give you any spoilers, but I do want to give a bit of flavor on the book at the start.

The premise of the story is quite interesting. Genetic mutations have been created that allow for hybrid humans to exist. The main characters of the book are bird kids, humans with avian genetic material. Their bones are lighter than normal, they have greater muscle mass, their metabolism is such that they require food at very regular intervals and, oh yes, they have wings and can fly. The book starts with the classic tale of the mutant’s creators hunting them down to eliminate them because they have outgrown their usefulness. Classic. It’s a model that has worked in the past and has the potential to keep working. I like the model because it includes a bit of the known, a bit of the unknown, and a few twists and turns along the way.

Overall, the book had a great deal of potential, but I felt that it fell short. It seemed that every time there was a chance for the story to delve a bit further into plot detail, action sequences, or expand a character’s thoughts and feelings, it would abruptly move on to the next bit of the tale. Perhaps the author felt that this would be a way to keep the story moving. I found, however, that it made the story feel choppy, disjointed, and superficial. I will admit that I am an information junkie. I love to get as much detail as possible. Meaningful detail. I have read many a story where I kept thinking, “Why are you telling me this? Move on.” In MRIII, I was left thinking, “Is that all? I want to know more.” There are times when the consumer should be left wanting more. It’s a sales tactic that can pay off when used properly. It is not a good tactic for an author to use unless that author is planning to follow through with the “more” later in the story, and leaving out the detail is a way to keep the reader interested. When I started the book, I had hoped that this was the author’s style and that I would be rewarded by continuing to read. I was disappointed to find that my curiosity would not be rewarded and the payoff for continuing to read was to find myself at the end of a not-so-fulfilling book.

Now, I will say that this book is the third in a series and I have not read the first two. Perhaps the other two books expanded upon the characters to the degree that I was seeking. The author does take a moment in MRIII, as the voice of the main character, to bring the reader up to speed if the earlier books were not read or were, perhaps, read a long time ago. In fact, there are periodic “speak to the reader” moments sprinkled throughout the book. I didn’t like them. Would I have liked them as a teen? Probably not. And I also know that as a teen I would have also wanted more detail from the story. But I was not every teen.

Do I think that this book is good as YA fiction to get kids reading? You will be surprised, but yes, I actually think it is. For the right kid. I see this book as extremely light YA fiction, which is suited well either for the very young advanced reader ready to move into novels or for the older young adult (is that self-contradictory?) who has not been a big fan of reading to get a taste for an adventure in words. The straightforward nature and lack of side-tracking with detail might just get that individual to stick with the story long enough to find out that reading can be fun. That’s the thing with reading. Just as we all have our own personalities, we all have our own reading preferences. When I read a story, I want to step into the story and experience it first-hand. Without enough detail and plot expansion, I am really not able to do that. And I was definitely not able to become engaged with MRIII. But, I know others who simply want an interesting story, told in a sparse fashion, and who have no interest in stepping into the story itself. MRIII could be perfect for the latter reader. For the former, like me, it would not be a part of the bedside book pile.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that in exchange for my book review, I was offered, and accepted, a free review copy of the book and an amazon.com gift certificate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jiggedy-Jig

So, tell me this. Would you walk into someone's office, move their chair, and then leave it askew when you leave? No? Ok, then you aren't the one that was in my office yesterday. I don't think I would have even noticed if it was my desk chair, because I never leave it in the same place. It was one of the two chairs that sit opposite my desk. It was turned sideways. Odd. Maybe I have a poltergeist.

Mr. D is home now, which is a relief considering the level of "get me out" that LittleGirl has been displaying recently. For the past week or so, every evening I would get the distinct sensation that she was pushing off from my ribs with her feet and that her head was aimed squarely at my cervix. The sensation of stretching a tight muscle in the nether-regions is not what I would call pleasant. Today she started doing it in the morning as well. Oh, and at church on Sunday, where I spent the service praying "not right now, please."

I went in on Monday for the re-excision surgery with the dermatologist. Now I just have an achey, pinchy, itchy leg (itchy because I am allergic to the tape on the pressure bandage that comes off tonight- yay). The stitches have to stay in for three weeks, and the dermatologist said that my OB can take them out, no problem. Maybe if we time it right I can get them to sew up the c-section and take these out all at the same time. But if the baby is already here, I'm just going to remove them myself. Been there, done that.

Today was originally slated as a vacation day, but I decided that I feel good and want to get some more work done by the end of this week. I'm sure that by Friday I will be wishing that I had rested today. Oh well.

Gabriel's latest unending banter:

What are you doing? and

What's that?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Movin' right along

I had a checkup this morning with the OB and everything is chugging along nicely. Here are the stats:

35w3d
"Fingertip" dilated (I'm guessing that means at least 1/2cm)
50% effaced
Station = -1
Fundal = 37w

So, the kid is still measuring a week ahead and everything else is getting prepped for her arrival. With Gabriel, I had almost exactly the same measurements at my 36-week visit, and he was born at 38 weeks, leading me to again conclude that this kid will be here by Labor Day (yes, I know the irony). Actually, it would be interesting for her to arrive on that day because on Labor Day 2004, the embryo that would become Gabriel was transferred to my ute.

Next week I will sign the consent forms for the c-section (scheduled for noon on September 13...all together now- laugh!) and for a tubal ligation. The latter form is such an odd thing to be considering. Here I am, infertile Jenn, intending to purposefully interrupt my reproductive system. I'm the one that laughed at my OB for asking what type of birth control we would be using after Gabe was born. Of course, I am also the same one who has managed to conceive the old-fashioned way. It was not an easy decision, but it's one with which I am comfortable. I am currently 36 years old. If I were to conceive on my own again, it would probably not happen until I'm at least 38. Everyone has their own comfort level for maternal age and, well, mine has reached it's prime. Given that this pregnancy resulted in a risk for Trisomy 21 (Downs) of 1:10 and for Trisomy 18 (fatal) of 1:83, I don't think I really want to roll those dice again. The odds can't possibly get better as I get older. Mr. D's only concern is that the surgery would take place when the baby is only a few minutes old. True, but my age isn't going to change regardless of whether we are dealt a bad hand with a newborn (a thought I don't even like to consider). And his swimmers are only getting older, too. I can always get to the big day and say "no" to the ligation, but if I don't sign the papers in advance, then I can't request it that day. So, I'll sign.

Other life updates: My FIL is home from the hospital and seems to be slowly, but steadily, improving. He's still being stubborn, so votes of sainthood for my MIL are in order. But, his improvements also mean that Mr. D will be home on Monday. I'm glad, because the little clock in me says that we'll be meeting this kid soon. I'm not sure why, but the 27th seems to be sticking. Anyone want to wager on a date?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

M is for...

Monkey (Gabriel's favorite)

and Malted Milk Balls (droooooooool)

and Men Without Hats (You can dance if you want to...)

and Melanoma.

It seems that my arch nemesis wants another go-around. Last Monday I had my twice-yearly checkup at the dermatologist's office. Actually, it is at the skin cancer clinic at the local kick-a** cancer hospital, but you get the idea. I screen myself regularly, and I let others screen me twice a year. Shortly after I had Gabriel, I also added to the diagnostic tool of full-body digital photography. Thankfully I did, because the docs at the clinic use those pictures every time I come in to compare mole size, colors, and existence. Well, one of my moles had decided to change just a bit. And the doctor debated on whether to biopsy because the new tissue appeared to be benign. But, given my history (confirmed melanoma in 2002), she went ahead with the biopsy. The results are that the mole is a displastic nevus with severe atypical features and the very beginnings of melanoma. Essentially, had I waited another couple of months, it probably would have made the cut for diagnosis. As it was, I essentially missed the diagnosis by the smallest fraction and the pathologists' report is that it should be treated as though the diagnosis did come back positive for melanoma. And my doctor agrees.

I go back on Monday for a surgical re-excision of the site with 5mm margins (the new standard- in 2002 it was 1cm margins). Given the fact that it was caught in the extremely early stage, I should need no additional follow-up treatment (outside of my screenings). And they can use a local anesthetic (lidocane without epinephrine for the curious) to do the procedure. The mole came from the back of my left calf, so I suspect walking around will become even more difficult. Lovely.

On a good note, my FIL was sent home today from the hospital (probably because he is giving them a headache). I will hear from Mr. D again tonight with an update on the transition. I hope that my FIL cooperates with the post-op discharge instructions and doesn't end up back in the hospital. If he does I'll have to kick his butt (with my right leg, of course).

Friday, August 10, 2007

And Away He Goes

So, Mr. D will be heading off to his hometown on Sunday, leaving his 35 week pregnant wife to the wolves. Ha, don't I sound pathetic? Yes, he really is going away, but, as I mentioned in a previous post, I have plenty of folk here to help with any level of trivial (or non-trivial) matter that might arise. Gabe, the dog, and I will be staying with my parents while he is gone. I really don't expect to go into labor in the next week, but I have been having a heck of a time lifting Gabe, which makes some of the basics (diaper changes, bed time) difficult. All the more reason to happily accept an extra set of hands or two to get through the evening routine.

I have no new news on Mr. D's dad. I think today was to be the next attempt at removing the ventilator, so we should get an update tonight. Perhaps this time around he will start cooperating with the hospital staff. Yeah, right. Who the heck am I kidding? I feel awful even saying that, because one never knows exactly how the healing process will proceed. But when the doctors and nurses repeatedly tell you that your behavior is only making things worse, and then it makes things worse, wouldn't you want to behave in a way that makes things better? Especially when your outbursts are directly related to frustration about being in the hospital? Sheesh. My dad is a stubborn goat, too, but when he had heart surgery a while back, he actually listened to the doctors and was out of the hospital quickly.

Ok, deep breaths...calm...calm...

Have a great weekend. We will be spending Saturday setting up the crib, installing the carseat, and taking any other Murphy's Law-preventing actions that we can manage to keep this kid right where she is until Mr. D returns.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Updates on Life

Many thanks to all for offers of prayers and for thinking that I look good in that dress. You are too sweet (and lie very well). I actually love the dress and bought the same style in a second pattern. And for those still trying to make a maternity wardrobe on a budget? The dresses are from Tar*get's junior's type department. They were a LOT cheaper than the maternity dresses (I got two for less than one maternity dress), were made with better fabric, and can be used again when I am not pregnant (probably with slight alteration as a bought them big, but that's why I have a sewing machine). I think I own all of four maternity tops, the rest are just stretchy regular tops. I do own maternity pants because, well, pant seams can only stretch so far before you get a bit of unintended rear ventilation.

I thought I would write a bit more on Mr. D's dad (MDD), especially since a few of you (Hi S! Hi J!) know us IRL and check here for updates on life. So, a week ago, MDD decided that he had developed a bad chest cold from the A/C because his chest and back hurt and he was having trouble breathing. Luckily, my BIL arrived for a visit and convinced him that it could very possibly be more and that he should see his doctor. After much ado, MDD went to the doctor who ran a few tests and told him that he should go to the hospital. Much, much, much arm twisting and a forced ambulance ride later, MDD arrives at the hospital and my BIL and MIL meet him there. Within an hour, they are getting him ready for surgery on a bifurcated aorta (like an aneurysm but not quite...any MDs are welcome to chime in). To relay the level of seriousness, in most cases they find a bifurcated aorta on the autopsy table. Yeah, it's that bad. Anyway, a six-hour surgery gave him a new 12-inch piece of aorta. Three days later, they were able to take him off the ventilator (yay). The day after that, his lungs were filling with fluid so back on the ventilator he went (bad). As of today, it looks like he'll be on the ventilator two more days and they'll try to get him off of it again.

To go along with all of this, Mr. D is torn about when to go to visit (it's either a long car ride or plane trip away). It would be most helpful to his mom (who doesn't drive) to have him there once his dad is home and dealing with doctor's appointments and innate stubbornness regarding rehab, but given that the earliest anticipated discharge date is around the 19th or 20th, if he waits until then, we're well into the "any day now" stage of my pregnancy. If he goes sooner, it's not a very useful time to be there (not that he has to be "useful" to make it worth the trip, but we might as well do the best we can with the time away). My parents live in the same city as us, as does my extended family and many friends, so I have a strong support network. If the baby comes while he's away, I won't be alone by a long shot. But, of course, neither of us wants him to be absent for the birth of LittleGirl. It's really a tough situation. And if I do go into labor before my c-section date, there would not be enough time for him to get here, so there's not even that option. (sigh)

Anyway, that's our dramatic tale in a nutshell. Continued prayers are welcome.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Belly, Nursery, and Life

I seem to be having trouble getting the true color of the nursery paint to translate into digital, so I decided to just go ahead and post something anyway. This morning, Mr. D decided that I needed another belly shot, so we snapped one in that room.The paint looks a lot more pastel in this picture than it does in person. A lot more. Oh, and the camera seems to have added a lot of bulk to my butt. Yeah, that's it. And the cankles...they're a product of, um, digital exaggeration. Yeeeeeaaaaaah.

Gabriel decided that he would help daddy paint the room and found the ladder fascinating (don't worry, we were both standing right there). The wall color is a lot more true in this picture. And I really love that our house has those floors throughout. Hardwood floors were on the "necessary" list when we were house hunting. The fact that previous owners also kept the window frames unpainted was a HUGE (but lovely) bonus. We haven't touched a one of them (they also exist throughout).

The rest of the room should actually be done this weekend with the exception of a few wall decorations. I will be so glad to have everything in place and I can finally start filling the drawers with baby gear. Ok, transferring baby gear from Gabe's room to this room...technicality.

I don't want to get into too much detail for the sake of others' privacy, but if you could send a few prayers, burnt offerings, or similar good thoughts actions our way it would be most appreciated. We have a few family illnesses that are quite serious and could use a bit of intervention from a higher being. One person is actually Mr. D's dad, and it looks like Mr. D will be travelling home to help with care and logistics around the middle of August. Luckily, we live in my hometown, so I have not only my parents but a whole host of other family and friends to come to my aid if the baby is a bit earlier than we anticipate. Do I want my husband to miss the birth of his daughter? No, not really. But I also want him to do everything he can for his parents because they really need the help right now. It will all work out, I'm sure, but a few extra good thoughts aimed at us can't hurt. Thanks.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Still Fried

My brain is still fried, so I don't have a cohesive post to share. Thankfully, the major report on which I was working is now out the door. Hopefully the agency receiving the report won't need too many changes (or if they do, perhaps they'll have the courtesy to wait until I'm on maternity leave...).

The cankles are ever-present and normally, by noon, are large enough to look cartoonish. My feet retain their swelling from day to day, so I am now unable to don any shoes that are not flip-flops. I guess it's a good thing I bought that cute pair back when Mr. D ran over my foot with the car...

I had my 34-week checkup today (at 33w3d). I have gained five pounds in the last two weeks, but I didn't get a scolding as it is apparent that four pounds worth is distributed between my feet, ankles, and hands. The doctor said that I should try to lie down during the day. Ha! Likely. Fundal height is 34 weeks, which I guess could mean I'm still running a bit ahead or that the little tape measure thingy is not all that exact. (Really? You don't say.) My blood pressure was still normal (120/70) but is actually high for me (my normal = 100/60). I'm going to borrow my dad's BP cuff and monitor over the next two weeks just for my own sanity. I have no protein in the urine, but the progressive increase in BP combined with the progressive increase in swelling make me want to be proactive. It does no harm, so why not?

Gabriel is sporting the most attractive bruise on the middle of his forehead courtesy of taking a nose dive (or, I guess, we should say a forehead dive) in the driveway on Sunday. It looks soooooooo much better right now but still breaks my heart. This morning he decided to pull a bunch of books from the (carefully tethered to the wall) shelves in his room. In the process, the letter "Z" (bookend) fell down square on his foot. Nothing broken, but probably another great bruise by the end of the day. At least I can cover that one with a shoe so as not to get awarded with WWM* trophys throughout the day.

Speaking of letters, Gabe has become quite attached to his "A to Z Symphony" video. He calls it "letters" and will happily watch it over and over (not that we let him, mind you). It's a bit on the cheesy side, but he seems to love the kids, the animals, and has started to name the composers as each song is introduced. I even caught him trying to sing along to Bizet's "Love is a Wild Bird" from Carmen the other day. A two-year-old attempting an operatic soprano is really quite a feat. If you need something in the house to give you a chance to make dinner, do laundry, or pee, this one is at least educational.

I guess I had more to say than I thought. Back to checking things off of the great "to-do" list on my desk.

*World's Worst Mother