News from the Underbelly

My phone rang and woke me up this morning. I looked at the caller ID and was surprised to hear from a friend I hadn't heard from in a while.

"What is wrong with you?" she demanded.
Still groggy from sleep, I replied with a very confused, "Huh?"
"Everyday I've been checking to see what's new on your blog. I know about your surgery, but what about everyday? How's this pregnancy been?" She chuckled and I laughed sheepishly.

She was right. 

I decided in my head that after a few errands and getting some food ready for my husband and his friends for the NFL playoff games I would commit to sitting down and blogging this experience thus far.

Needless to say, J and I have been living on sweet Cloud Nine again. Like the last pregnancy {and perhaps more so during this pregnancy, especially with what we had been through}, I often wake to J bending down on me as he stands above my side of the bed, reaching around my enormous pregnancy pillow to give me a hug and a kiss before rubbing the belly to wish us both good morning. The man has been a pillar of patience, humoring me when I request a spontaneous trip to baby stores just to peruse the aisles for things we may want or need for our little one. 

What frustrates J is, just like the previous pregnancy, my lack of appetite. Last time, at the end of the first trimester, I had lost 13 pounds. This time, at fifteen weeks, I have lost 9. It's not because I get sick or vomit, but because for some reason, I just do not have much of an appetite. After eating what is only a fraction of what would have been a full meal for me pre-pregnancy, I immediately feel stuffed and know that if another bite hits my lips I could {and probably very well would} get sick, so I stop. I know J is just concerned with the baby getting enough food, so I have made sure to stock up on several flavors of Naked Juice and Perricone Farms juice {any kind that has no bananas. I hate bananas} just to ensure that the baby is getting enough nutrients. Additionally, I've noticed that my appetite has become one of two things: (1) I eat a fraction of a small meal, get full, and stop. Two hours later, I am completely famished. Repeat. (2) I am able to eat a full meal and then not want to eat for 11 to 12 (or more) hours thereafter. As it happened earlier this week, I went to lunch with girlfriends at noon, finished my meal, and did not eat a thing until about 10:00 a.m. the next day. It's a frustrating cycle and very tricky business trying to figure out which version of my appetite I will have for the day. 

Outside of my crazy appetite schedule, I have had many cravings, but none significantly any more than others. A few weeks ago, I started craving Bloody Marys. With vodka obviously off my "ok-to-eat" list, I opt for Virgin Marys, which I happily enjoy. I also have been eating a lot of salads for lunch, particularly Cobb or Wedge salads. The most constant of my cravings seems to be a slice of plain cheese pizza from Costco. Yesterday, while driving to our favorite Peruvian restaurant for lunch, I made a game time decision and asked J to drive to Costco instead, so I can have my slice of pizza. I had to wait a few minutes, not only because of the Saturday afternoon lines, but because they ran out of cheese pizza and had to make a fresh pie. The wait turned out to be well worth it when I received my fresh-out-of-the-oven slice of the gooey stuff. I was in heaven. My water intake has increased from meager to almost-drowning myself. J finally had to buy us one of those huge Sparkletts water dispensers, as I was chugging so many water bottles down per day. Recently, we also discovered Talenti Gelato, and we have been stocking up on the pricey pints in our freezer. All the flavors we've tried are amazing, but I seem to be stuck on their Tahitian Vanilla Bean and their Mediterranean Mint. It's all natural, all organic, and go-downstairs-in-the-middle-of-the-night-for-a-spoonful-or-two good.

My love for sleep, thankfully, is well fulfilled these days. At the end of 2011, I was able to quit my job as J and I had planned, and be a stay at home wife, so that we could just focus on the pregnancy. My job was wonderful and my bosses and co-workers are like family, but that does not take away the fact that it is a job -- there are certain stresses that come with working and dealing with people and phone calls and deadlines that one does not have when staying home. While I do miss the company and making money, I am incredibly thankful to be able to sleep in as late as I would like to {which is until about 8:00 or 9:00 a.m.} and nap when I want to. During this pregnancy, I have noticed that I am more tired than sick {the opposite of last pregnancy}, so it is an even bigger blessing to be able to get the rest my body, evidently, so desperately craves. Sometimes, however, my mid-afternoon nap lasts longer than planned {I plan for an hour, but end up sleeping for two hours} and I find myself awake past 1:00 a.m., during which time I am completely starving, but at that point, am too lazy to go downstairs to eat something. 

Before I quit my job, I had this secret fear that I would get bored being home all day by myself. Luckily, I have been lucky to have J be able to stay home with me on a couple of days as he has been required to do conference calls for work, calls that he cannot take while commuting to or from the office. On those days, although I don't really see him much as he is busy in the {home} office and I am normally laying in bed watching TV or cleaning around the house, it's still nice to have him around. We can still have lunch together and spend precious time together that we would normally lose, especially with his trafficky commutes to and from LA. On days when he isn't home with me, I've been able to slowly go through the list of things I've made for myself prior to quitting my job -- projects and things around the house that had needed to be addressed, such as reorganizing the office, cleaning out the guest room closet, learning more about my wonderful Silhouette machine, making sure that I was on top of getting all our laundry done {something we were both notorious for letting go, sometimes for weeks, when I was working}. I am proud that even if I'm not bringing home income, I am still able to make use of myself, still able to earn my keep, so to speak. Of course, J resents the term "earn [my] keep" but I feel that spouses should be able to contribute something to making their home a home. I would never want J to come home from a day at the office to find me still in our unmade bed, with mounds of laundry waiting to be done, with dinner not done or in the process of being made. We are partners in making this life together and I am just doing my part.

Overall, we are both so thankful for the place we are in now. Almost 11 months ago, we were in the darkest time of our lives, and now, we are looking forward to our brightest days to come. 

Stitched Up

It is nearing 1:00 a.m. and I have just finally taking my nightly shower. Normally, I do this around 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., but this evening is an exception. 

We just got home from the hospital following my cervical cerclage surgery. As a background for any new readers / followers / visitors:
During my last pregnancy, I lost the girls due to cervical incompetency. This means that my cervix effaced {thinned out, as it does right before delivery} and dilated early, in this case, at 20 weeks of gestation.
What happened during my last pregnancy is not unheard of, although it could not have been predicted, and therefore could not have been prevented. At the same time, my cervix is not "damaged" by any means. Even without a cerclage this time, I could have very well gone through the pregnancy without a hitch; however, to take the safer route, our doctors recommended the cerclage.
A cervical cerclage is a stitch that is placed in the cervix as a reinforcing precaution to avoid what happened last time. If the cervix is like a tube, think of it as a purse string that cinches the cervix shut. This procedure is normally done at about 14 weeks of pregnancy {as to avoid complications earlier on that may lead to miscarriage} and removed at about 36 weeks of pregnancy. 

Today was full of sacrifice in preparation for the procedure. As normal protocol dictates, I was instructed to fast for 8 hours prior to surgery -- no food or drink at all. Surgery was scheduled for 6:00 p.m., but I was told to check in at 4:00 p.m., so I was to fast from 8:00 a.m. on. As you may imagine, it wasn't pretty. You just don't starve a pregnant woman. Still, I managed to survive the day of fasting by keeping myself busy enough until it was time to drive to the hospital. {Note: My mom gave me the best advice. To fight the thirst, I gargled water. Simple solution and it worked!!} 

Not long after checking in, I was called by one of the nurses to get ready for pre-op. After changing into my very attractive paper and plastic hospital gown {why paper and plastic? I'll explain later} and getting me hooked up to an IV, it wasn't long until the nurses allowed J to come in and keep me company. Every several minutes, a nurse would check on me, and soon, the anesthesiologist came to explain his part of the procedure. I was told that since I am pregnant, it would be best to just do a spinal anesthetic, administered much like an epidural, as opposed to sedation. The spinal anesthetic would numb my lower half, but I would be awake during the procedure. This type of anesthetic is safest for the baby, having very minimal, if any, effect.

It seemed like a very long time before Dr. Moore, my OB-GYN, came in to touch base with us. It seemed weird to see Dr. Moore in scrubs, as I normally see him in his office, with chinos and a polo shirt with his lab coat on. About 20 minutes after Dr. Moore saw us, J kissed me good luck as they wheeled me into the operating room.

The OR was as cold as I expected, especially in my thin, disposable garb. Not wasting any time, the anesthesiologist and the anesthesiologist nurse began the spinal anesthesia procedure. Like an epidural, I was hunched over, clutching a pillow, held on my shoulders for support by the nurse. I felt the wasp bite-like sting of the local anesthetic and the burn of the medicine going in. Then, the second poke was the anesthesia itself, which I did not feel at all. As with all procedures that involve needles, only the anticipation was the worst part. After numbing, I was laid down on the operating table. The nurses were so kind and gentle with me, as they set up all the wires, the IV line, my oxygen mask, and provided me several blankets straight from the warmer. Also, they hooked up what looked like vacuum tubes to my hospital gown, and the tubes blew warm air in and throughout my gown, and kept me warm during the 30 minute procedure. Not two minutes after the anesthesia was administered, my legs began to tingle, and about 3 1/2 minutes into it, they felt completely numb, so much so that when they put my legs onto the stirrups, it felt like they were putting logs up. 

The surgery came and went like lightning. It took only some small talk between me and the nurses and suddenly, I heard Dr. Moore thank the staff for a "grand" job. He came over to me and said the procedure went beautifully, and that they would take me to recovery soon. A few moments later, four nurses helped each other toss and turn my limp body over, removing lines and wires before transferring me to the gurney and wheeling me into post-op recovery.

I'd been to the post-op recovery before when J had surgery after breaking his leg in 2009. I was not in there long, chatting it up with the nurses, when J was called in and soon, he was there to keep me company. It was 7:30 p.m.

My post-op instructions were to just wait until the anesthesia wore off and for me to be able to go potty. At this point, I was absolutely beyond starving. What feeling I could get on my lower half was only that of sheer hunger. Thank goodness one of the nurses brought me one of the pre-made meals they had -- and hospital food as it may had been, I gratefully accepted and I ate the ham and cheese sandwich and Lorna Doone cookies heartily. {It came with carrot sticks and I don't eat raw carrots, so I gave them to J, who gladly ate them too} The nurse gave us an extra meal and a few extra juice boxes too. I finished my entire sandwich, a package of cookies, the meat and cheese from the other sandwich, and two juice boxes in about 20 minutes. I was like a starved child from a third world country. 

After all the hoopla of getting settled into post-op seemed like eons. I knew it wasn't a good sign when they exchanged J's waiting chair with a recliner. The nurse informed us that from experience, he's seen the effects of spinal anesthesia take HOURS to wear off. Every few minutes, I would try my hardest to move my legs {the right side seemed to cooperate more than the left} and once those started working, I began to concentrate on the finer motor skills -- moving my toes. Later into the evening, they provided me with a bed pan, in the event that I needed to go potty. I tried four times with that darned bedpan, all to no avail. 

Hours later, with no luck on either going potty or even getting any sleep to pass time, one of the nurses agreed to have me try to walk to the bathroom to see if maybe actually sitting down would help. Despite having moved my legs and toes for several hours already at this point, my legs almost gave out when I stood up. The feeling is like when your legs are asleep... but times 10 -- not so much tingly as it was completely just numb. The nurse joked and asked if I was feeling like I was walking drunk {having two nurses' support holding me up, and having another push a wheelchair behind me just in case}, and I jokingly told them that it had been a while since I had actually gotten drunk, but I imagine it was this way when I was. When I reached the potty, I sat on it for 15 minutes waiting and trying to push, but I got nothing. 

When I told the nurses this, they decided to do a bladder ultrasound on me, to see how full my bladder was. True enough, they found that the amount was 309 {I don't know what unit of measurement that is, but from what I was told, once your bladder reaches about 110, the bladder tells the brain that you need to go potty. Clearly, this was beyond that measurement and I was ready; it's just that my bottom half was too numb to actually realize that it was, in fact, time to go pee}. I was then advised to go ahead and try to walk around the post-op area in order to try to utilize the effects of gravity on my bladder. J was even kind enough to walk with me. After about 7 laps, I tried again and nothing. At this point, I sat at the edge of my bed and spent a few minutes chatting with J and the nurses for a while before starting over. Sure enough, after about 6 more laps and what feels like generations later, I tried again. I could still feel very little, but with enough concentration, I heard the magic pittle of liquid into the pot. I felt like a toddler, celebrating my first wobbly steps earlier, and now celebrating my going to go pee pee on the potty. 

It took all that I had not to sprint over to Mary, one of the last two nurses left on duty, to tell her that I went potty. With J having gone to the car to charge his phone {he was on call for work}, Mary told me that I could get dressed, and as soon as we got our discharge instructions from Dr. Moore, I would be able to go home. 

Another 20 minutes later, I was dressed, my PIC line was removed, and Mary was wheeling me out into the frigid weather outside and helped me into our car. What a relief. I told J that I imagine this is what it feels like to be released from prison. It was 12:00 midnight.

Now we go through the rest of the pregnancy with bi-weekly checkups with Dr. Moore, so that we can closely monitor the baby's and my progress. Now I am back to being able to eat and most importantly, I am glad to be back in my own bed as I am beyond ready to go to bed.

Thank you to everyone who sent text messages, Facebook posts, and Tweets. All our love always...

We Wait

My almost-16-year-old brother {B&B's #1 fan} asked me two weeks ago, "How come you don't blog as much anymore?"

I looked at him bewildered. I had no answer. At least not a legitimate one. How do you explain {let alone justify} sheer laziness, or explain to him that you're starting to fear that you're starting to think you're a narcoleptic? I find it difficult to give reasoning or rationale to the fact that despite being what J calls "retired" from work now, I feel that I've been even busier {and in effect more exhausted} than when I was actually working a 9-5 job. 

For what it's worth, I did not want to plague my blog with mindless whining and incoherent thoughts. Quite honestly, things have been quiet in our home. The holidays, spent quietly with J, my stepson, my brother, and mom, came and went without event. {Although notably, I did receive a Silhouette Cameo, an item that had long been on my list of wants, for Christmas.} Weeks 11 and 12 of pregnancy occurred with no hiccups or even ridiculous cravings {if you ask J about the ridiculous cravings, however, he may actually give you a slightly different answer}. I have been busy with a laundry list of to-do's that I have had on my mind for over a year now -- things to organize, closets to clean out, rooms to prepare for the baby. Chores are at the top of my list and they take up so much of my time {outside of my duly appointed afternoon naps, of course}, but I figure, this is the price that we pay for wanting clean homes. Yes, it's tedious, and no, I should have never let it go this far, but whining about it doesn't do anything; I knew that action needed to be done in order to just get these items crossed off my mental lists. [Note: my house is not dirty. In fact, it's fairly clean. Post Christmas clutter, however, is a totally different issue.]

This past week, we visited Dr. Moore, who reported that Baby #3 is doing well and he scheduled my cerclage for January 17th. After the cerclage, we will be having ultrasounds every week to closely monitor my cervix, in hopes of deterring what happened last time from happening again.

For now, we sit and wait. At every visit, we have been ensuring ourselves pictures of Baby #3 {even if, at this early stage, he / she still looks like a glob of Jello} and we wait, knowing that we are still at the dawn of a year of promise and many more good things to come.