When My Routine Ultrasound Turned Scary

I didn’t post anything about this immediately because I was waiting to see how it was all going to turn out. Luckily, hopefully, everything is going to be okay. But here’s what’s been happening:

As background, I have a bicornuate or heart-shaped uterus – it’s actually a birth defect I never knew I had until I got pregnant the first time. Instead of a being a normal pear shape, my uterus has a deep indentation in the top center and looks like a heart. Depending on where the egg decides to implant, baby might not have enough room to grow to full term, so I am automatically classified as a high risk pregnancy. Even though Baby #1 was fine and Baby #2 is in the exact same spot and position (breech, stomping on my bladder), I still have to go in for fetal sonograms every 3 weeks. On the up side, I get lots of pictures (or I would if he didn’t keep his face smooshed into my placenta).

Well, I went in for another sonogram at 29 weeks to check my cervix length and the baby’s measurements. I had the same technician previously and she was unusually quiet this time, but I chalked that up to everyone having off days. Then I realized something might be going on when she stayed near the baby’s head for quite a while and kept recording images of the same area – I’ve had about a million sonograms now so I knew this wasn’t normal. I casually asked, “what’s that?” As in, what are you continually measuring there, lady? But the technician just said, “oh that’s baby’s head.” And very quickly afterwards said she was going to show these pictures to the doctor and she’d be right back (that is standard practice). Ooookay. But it isn’t standard to wait 20 minutes (ish, I tried to take a nap) with goop on your belly (usually they let me get cleaned up right away). When the doctor came in, she did her own measurements with the sonogram and then gave me the news: our baby boy had higher than normal levels of fluid in the ventricles on one side of his brain. Cue panic.

After speaking a bit more to the doctor and to the genetic counselor there, I came away with very few answers and an appointment for a fetal MRI. It could be nothing, it could be brain damage. This is something seen with spina bifida and Downs Syndrome,  however all my routine screenings showed we had a very low risk of either. The baby could need a permanent stint implanted in his head to release the excess fluid but then maybe go on to live a normal life… or not. I could have a amniocentesis, but since I’m already in my third trimester, there is a small risk of pre-term labor. Funny that they kept asking me if I had any questions after just telling me there were no answers until after the MRI.

Well, we decided not to do the amniocentesis. I’m going to have this baby regardless, so it didn’t seem worth risking a few extra weeks cooking in my belly just to know in advance. But we did still have to wait a whole terrible week for the MRI appointment.

So of course I Googled it. I know you’re not supposed to but I had to get more information. Strangely it didn’t make me more paranoid (as googling usually does) – I found out that it really was an equal chance of being something or nothing, good or bad, just a flip of the coin. I also read that this condition, when it is something, is often called “water on the brain” – and being as the nursery is ocean-themed and the name we’re 99% sure we’re going with is also in that same under the sea genre (more on that later), well… I’ve apparently got an ironic little stinker bug inside me and my love for this baby swelled just a little bit after that. Of course you’re going to choose the thematic disease, you ornery thing.

Don’t you love how when you can’t move, your nose will always start to itch? Other than that the MRI was another good excuse to try and nap (when you have a 2 year old, you take ’em when you can get ’em). Afterwards, the head guy (MRI specialist important title something), who my Obgyn reassuringly told me was one of the top fetal MRI people in the tri-state area, sat down with us and said that it looked to him like our baby boy was just on the high end of normal but he didn’t see anything else (blockages, bleeding, etc) to indicate some other issue. As long as the fluid levels didn’t increase, the baby would most likely be perfectly fine (with disclaimers about nothing being guaranteed, of course). Normal is a range, he said, so for example, a person might be 6 foot 10 and therefore way off the scale when looking at average heights, but that doesn’t mean there’s necessarily anything wrong with them.

At my 31 week follow-up ultrasound, fluid levels are still holding steady and the doctors who reviewed the MRI scans agreed with what I was previously told. I have another sonogram scheduled for 34 weeks (today makes 32 weeks/8 months!) so I’m not stressing (because that’s definitely not good for the baby) and we’ll see what happens. All I know for sure is that I’m going to love this baby, even if he is making me go prematurely gray.  :)

p.s.  yes, I know it isn’t actually irony with the water thing – it’s just a funny coincidence – whatever.

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Confession – I Wanted More Than Just a Healthy Baby

I’m just going to come out and say it. I desperately wanted, with my whole mind, body and soul, for my first child to be a girl. I wasn’t going to love a boy any less, of course, but that didn’t stop me from hoping that I could make my baby be a girl through sheer psychic brain power and force of will (of course I knew that the sperm decides the gender and I had pretty much no choice in the matter, but did that stop me from wishing? nope). In the end I was very blessed to have my wish granted (and I made the sonogram operators check multiple times because I couldn’t believe it, haha).

My baby girl (so long ago!)

I’m sure there are some people who genuinely don’t care whether they have a boy or a girl, but I was never one of them. And getting flak for saying something more than “I don’t care as long as they’re healthy” is crazy. I remember being completely shocked when I read an article about the public getting mad at Vanessa Lachey for saying she was hoping for a boy. Of course Vanessa and I both wanted healthy babies, I just also wanted mine to have a vagina. What’s wrong with that? All babies are going to be one or the other and there are differences between the two, so you can’t help wondering. And I’m sure we both would have loved the opposite gender just as much if that’s what we were given instead.

But of course I had to ask myself why I felt so strongly about it. I don’t think boys or girls are necessarily better; I’m in love with a great man and I know lots of amazing women. I think my feelings came from the fact that I have one sister myself, grew up with my grandmother living with us, and nannied for 2 girls for a few years. I’m just more comfortable around girls, I know what to expect with them,  I know how “girls” (stereotypically) play, etc. And, as a fashion lover, I admit I was swayed by the idea of being able to pass down my clothes, shoes and bags to a daughter as well as by the significantly greater clothing freedom given to girls. My experience with young boys was limited to a few short babysitting jobs – so it was mostly just fear of the unknown.

Now that I’m expecting baby number 2, I was really surprised that I did not have strong feelings one way or the other this time. I actually felt a little guilty that I didn’t have a strong preference! (My only real reason for leaning one way or the other was the fact that we could pass down & reuse a lot more clothes if we had another girl – not enough to make a difference in my opinion). And, in the meantime, my sister had had an adorable baby boy and she and I had already spoken some about the differences in diaper changing. So when my hubby and I found out we were definitely going to have a boy this time around, there was only a tiny bit of panicking and a lot of excitement.  :)  I can’t wait to meet you #2!

Number 2 is a Boy!

A Hospital Bag for C-Section Mommies

Well, I just found out I’m going to have to have a repeat c-section for my second baby. My first c-section was planned and we had a great anesthesiologist who insisted on being our personal photographer for the birth, haha. It ended up being a calm, happy experience and I had no issues with pain or healing or anything. So… I feel okay with this. Deep breath.

Now that that worry is out of the way, I have begun (very early, I know) my search for the perfect hospital bag and creating it. I originally thought about taking the easy way out and buying a hospital baby bag that was already made (yes, this is related to my gift bag obsession). But I was really surprised that although the lists are plentiful, it was really hard to find pre-made labor bags for sale (let alone C-section specific bags which don’t necessarily need the essential oils, relaxation CDs, stress balls, etc.).

One standout is the Push Pack from Small Batch Studio (pictured above) which contains items useful for any type of delivery – including a note pad, pen and thank you cards! The company also informed me that a special C-Section pack is in the works for this summer – awesome!

I also found My Pure Delivery Mama Bags (pictured below). The Posh Mama Bag, one of 4 the site offers (pictured below), packs 39 items including Earth Mama Angel Baby products which are free of yucky chemicals like phthalates, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and a breastfeeding-friendly gown from Hot Mama Gowns for your hospital stay and beyond! The back massage tool might be more for laboring mamas, but I’m not one to turn down a back rub any time and I’d gladly stash that away for later.

(Updated) Due Date Bags just launched and although they’re back-ordered until January 2013, their ‘Labor Queen’ Mom Hospital ‘Go’ Bag (pictured below) is a fashionable option for c-section mommies. The set includes a nursing cami, nursing pads, nipple cream, a little outfit for baby & more packaged in your choice of pink or blue trim. The only item geared more towards a natural birth than a c-section are the cute undies that say “Shop Closed for 6 Weeks” – they’d just need to add in the word “approximately” for the c-section-ers, haha.

There’s also another cool company called BFFL Co. who aim to improve the patient experience with all sorts of care bags. One of their newest additions is the Mommy/Delivery BFFLBag and they really thought of everything! (see below). Although they don’t have a separate bag for c-section mommies, all bags include a wound/incision care pack. The tag is on the higher end, but 15% of the net profit from your purchase will be donated to the Harvard School of Public Health Women’s and Health Initiative so you can do some good for others while helping yourself.

BFFLBag

Last, I also found these LaborKits which unfortunately are all sold out right now (but take a look at the contents for more ideas). If you know of any other companies selling hospital bags for new moms, please let me know!!

Things I wish I had brought to the hospital the first time but forgot:

  1. My Kindle – those pain meds did NOT make me sleepy like they do for many people and man, was I bored! I was begging to leave the hospital. A Kindle (or other electronic reader) is a lifesaver when you have the baby taking up one arm as I found out after I got home: one finger (or even one toe – voice of experience there) can turn the page. A regular book has to be held open the whole time and turning pages can be an Olympic feat.
  2. My bath towel – I use huge bath sheets at home so the towel they gave me to use at the hospital felt like the size of a washcloth.
  3. Serious snack food – hospitals feed you on their schedule, not necessarily when you’re hungry. And if your visitors have left and daddy has gone home to take a shower, etc., you might be stuck in your bed not healed enough to walk to the vending machine yourself. I recommend GoPicnic ready-to- eat meals which have served me well so far during this pregnancy to tide me over during my commute home.
  4. A notebook with attached pen – you never know when you’ll need to write something down or be struck by something amazing about your adorable new baby.

Hospital kits for new dads are even more rare. Nikki at Nature’s Heirloom made her own and it was pretty awesome if you want to get some ideas. But I just have one piece of advice for new dads who are accompanying their baby mamas into the operating room – those scrubs you have to wear are see-through!! (My hubby found this out when everyone started commenting on his Spongebob boxers… oh man, it’s still funny). DaddyScrubs (pictured above) has that problem solved at least. As mentioned above too, DueDateBags.com also has a super cute “Labor Coach” kit for the Dad-to-be along with really inspired Hospital ‘Go’ Bags for Big Bro and Big Sis (pictured below). Definitely don’t want to forget about your first-born! And I found one more great list for making your own hospital survival kit for daddy from the blog, Scott and the Tiny Human.

Best wishes for you and your coming bundle!

My Favorite Pregancy Drink

I am a huge Starbucks fan and have been ever since I worked in one on campus during my college years – I love everything from coffee, tea and chai to Frappuchinos and vanilla soy lattes. Pregnancy is, therefore, a bummer.

Lucky for me now prego with #2 that I’ve been on decaf varieties ever since finding out I was expecting my first baby. All the nausea I was already having back then made it hard to tell whether I was feeling crappy from the pregnancy or the caffeine withdrawal – so it worked out. Then, after the birth of my daughter, I pumped for a year (so still no caffeine) and after 2 years I was mostly just used to it. I’d probably run circles around my apartment like a hamster if I had a normal cup of coffee now.

But there are a few things I do miss and one of those is a Chai Tea Latte. Tazo does make decaf chai but Starbucks chains don’t sell it from the bar (and not in most stores either). Plus, they do have a LOT of sugar and empty calories – not the best thing for growing a person inside you (of course, Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk is a totally different story…). So, when looking for herbal teas I noticed that Tazo makes a decaf chai in teabag form (also not usually in Starbucks stores but I found some at Target and online). And now you can make yourself a pretty darn good (and healthier) chai latte just like this:

  1. Steep 1 Tazo decaf chai tea bag in a mug of very hot water about 4 minutes
  2. Add sweetener (I use local honey to fight my seasonal allergies or organic agave nectar)
  3. Add a splash of milk (almond milk or soy milk work equally well)
  4. Your drink is the perfect temperature to enjoy right away and tastes pretty darn close to the real thing!

Boys Names and Gender Inequality

Since we’ve found out the gender of our coming little one, I’ve been scouring books, the internet and my brain for cool boys names. My husband and I feeling the pressure too since we gave our daughter a very unique name with a nice story behind it – so to name our son something in the top 10 “just because we liked it” seems really unfair to him. So…

  1. we need to have a good reason for picking his name (i.e. it should be related to something we like or did or saw, etc)
  2. it needs to be pretty unique (let’s say less than #500 in the current baby name ranking unless we really love it) and
  3. it needs to sound nice with our daughter’s name and, of course, our last name.

I know I’d be curious after all that, so I’ll tell you the story of our daughter’s name. “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s was playing constantly on the radio while I was pregnant. In browsing names, I suggested Lilah (this was a suggestion unrelated to the song). My husband said he didn’t like Lilah but did like Delilah and I vetoed that because of the song (which is a nice song, but at that time I had heard it about a million times too many). So I was walking to work one morning and thought to myself that the difference between the 2 was basically just a D sound, and to amuse myself I decided to combine Lilah with every letter of the alphabet. And when I came across O-lilah, which later because Olyla, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Luckily, my husband loved it too.

For her middle name, we picked the name of an island we visited while on our honeymoon that, by a stroke of luck, was in the middle of a butterfly migration path and just covered in butterflies. See? How do we match that?! (Suggestions are welcome, haha).

But one funny thing I did notice is that there are way more girls names available than names for boys. It kind of makes sense because, back in the day, most boys were given family names – the girls were just going to be married off so the parents could enjoy some creativity there – so maybe all those extra decades of creativity have left boys at a bit of a disadvantage now. It’s also funny that girls have been stealing traditionally boys names for a long time (Kelly, Alexis, Taylor, Blake, Reese, Hayden, Drew, Parker, Cameron, Jordan) but it’s pretty much unheard of for the reverse to happen (except maybe Adrian). Totally unfair sexism! (which, by the way, until a male Senator can openly wear a dress to a meeting of Congress, just like a woman can wear a pantsuit, which was also unheard of years ago, I think we’ll always have gender inequality). But am I going to name my little boy Sofia or Zoey? Probably not.

Just things I’m thinking about. Share your thoughts!

Free Baby & Pregnancy Magazine Subscriptions

By the time you’ve gotten to one of the baby or pregnancy magazines in your OBGYN’s office, the little subscription inserts have probably fallen out long ago. And you may or may not feel comfortable taking one of them home, even if there is a huge stack of magazines sitting out (like I do). But, worry not, you can actually get a free subscription to some of these magazines as long as you live in the US! American Baby and Baby Talk are 2 really fun (and useful) magazines and both are completely free.

Use these links to subscribe (and get personalized email newsletters and offers too, if you want). Note: when clicking on the Baby Talk link, scroll down to the very bottom of the page to find the sign up form.

American Baby and Baby Talk

And you’re welcome!!

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