Holding Steady

MFM appointment this morning revealed that Tiny is still tiny but still doing well by most measures: adequate fluid, good blood flow in the umbilical cord, moving well, practicing breathing, with an excellent heart rate. The placenta is showing slightly more signs of dysfunction, but is still working effectively. For now, it’s stay the course.

 

For those who are newer to the Gayby Project (and a refresher for those longtime readers who don’t recall the extensive birth stories of all the bloggers you read . . .) – I was induced with Ansel at 37w due to sudden onset pre-eclampsia (basically, I went in for my appointment at 36w3d with swelling in my legs so severe I couldn’t pull my pants up, was summarily sent to the triage and given a pre-E diagnosis and then scheduled for induction just a few days later.

I felt very strongly about having a vaginal birth. I read Henci Goer and absolutely did not want ANY intervention if possible. But I had pre-eclampsia (initially fairly mild, getting worse steadily) and so induction needed to happen. God bless the midwives at the hospital where I delivered, who did everything in their power to get me that vaginal birth. I did countless rounds of cytotec to ripen the cervix, had a foley bulb placed, spent hours walking and bouncing, had pit drips on an off, more cytotec . . .each day something closer to labor would happen, but it took 4 days before I was actually in labor. And then I spent 8 hours in excruciating Pitocin driven contractions and never progressed past 6 cm. I made a decision after 5 full days of induction to have a cesarean section. Ansel was born with a double nuchal cord (why he wouldn’t descend) and was in the NICU briefly. I would never have had a vaginal birth. But I got a gold medal in trying.

L does not feel strongly about how she delivers Tiny. She never has. Other than getting him safely to this side of her body, she’s not attached to the process. She also witnessed my extensive induction and knows well that 37w inductions, statistically speaking, are less successful. We have also been told that IUGR babies tend to have more trouble withstanding vaginal delivery, especially induced labor (because of the intensity of the contractions.) All of this led us to a conversation about the possibility of an elective c-section.

On Monday, the regular OB (I’m gonna start calling him Dr. Rambo Claus because he has a Santaesque beard and face, but he’s also hella ripped, which is weirdly disorienting.) mentioned their typical process for induction, which sounded about like mine – cytotec, foley bulb, Pitocin. L had to sign ‘consent to deliver’ forms and she signed both the vaginal and c-section forms since things are so up in the air. He mentioned at that point that we could, at any point, decide to elect a section.

We asked the MFM about it today, and he explained in even more depth (two side notes: 1) we both like the MFM SO MUCH MORE – he’s just more engaged, better at explaining things, warmer, altogether just a better doc and 2) he’s SO SHORT, like probably 5’3”? or 5’4”? which I always feel weird about because I’m so much taller – but I’m going to name him Dr. Lilleput) that the induction would be VERY limited – if L wasn’t in labor (not delivered, just in some sort of active labor) within 24 hours of starting induction, they would likely opt for a cesarean. And, if at any point Tiny or L showed signs of distress, they’d stop induction and opt for a section.

This definitely eased some of the anxiety, but I think it’s still something we are thinking of . . .so, I’m asking for input – what would you do in this situation?

Of course, there’s also other things to consider this time around. 2 ½ years ago, it was possible for both L and I to be in a hospital for 5 days having an induction. We had a dog sitter and very little else in the way of obligations. Now we have a toddler and almost no community to call on for help. We do have friends (who are now between 30-60 minutes away, depending on the time of day and the whims of Seattle traffic) who can help us out in a pinch, and L’s mom will be back as soon as she humanly can once the process gets going, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the ability to know the timeline of a c-section wasn’t also tipping the scales.

FREE REIGN TO GIVE ADVICE (just be nice about it, ok?)

 

Other updates:

Sweet Eliot dog seems to be doing well on pain meds and the follow up with the vet felt MUCH less intense. The regular vet did a very extensive neuro exam to look into the slipped disc issue and found no evidence of anything concerning. He has some pronounced arthritis in his hip and knee, but she actually thinks the neck thing was more likely a soft tissue injury (ie: he sprained his neck really bad) but has recommended keeping him on pain meds for at least the next month.  I feel immense relief that he is not on death’s doorstep (and am more than a little peeved at the emergency vet who kind of implied otherwise.)

 

I’m sure the updates will be more frequently as we roll towards August 12th. Dr. Lilleput said today we were “circling the airport” – seems like an apt metaphor.

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Half Tiny’s cute face/ half placenta he uses as a pillow

Just keep swimming (even when it’s upstream all the way)

Well, we officially live in Tacoma, WA! Everything we own (minus our lawnmower and a carpet cleaner) is now in our house, and the rental has been scrubbed and swept and mopped and fixed! A week from today we’ll hand over our keys and say “Boy Bye” to the awful landlords and the decrepit house.

The last few days have been long and exhausting. On Wednesday night we did our best to get all the last minute things packed up, get as much as we could in our two cars (let’s just say that hard stops would have resulted in some injuries in the car without a kid seat . . .) and haul the furniture to the living room. The goal was to reduce the time needed by the movers to save $$. Thursday morning we were all up early to get final final details done, then MIL drove me to work, then on to the house in Tacoma. L, the dogs and Ansel stayed behind to meet the movers, the followed behind. I sat through an excruciating 4 hour ‘customer service’ training then L picked me up to go home and help.

Thursday afternoon and Friday were the usual unpacking + Target runs + hanging window treatments, all with the help of a two year old who is so excited by the boxes and boxes of things he doesn’t usually have access to and so uninterested in his own toys. Of course, L and her mom are also working on about a million other little improvements (hanging ceiling fans, fixing chairs and drawers, installing screens) that are only hindered by a small human with a deep love for battery powered drills.

On Saturday, MIL and I cleaned the hell out of the rental house. It took almost 8 hours to do everything: scrub the kitchen, including cleaning the oven and fridge; scrub the bathroom; sweep, mop, scrub baseboards and walls of all rooms; pick up last round of dog poo, mow, weedwack and rake; fix the closet door (we removed it to make room for our dresser), put a new lock on the shed, fix the kitchen drawer. That house is cleaner than it was when we got it and I’ll be damned if those awful landlords keep a single cent of our deposit. It was one of the sweatiest, grossest hardworking days of my life. My MIL does not stop. She really puts of “GO” in virgo and is single-mindedly focused on the task at hand. This has been an incredible asset and we would be up shit creek without her but OMG it’s so exhausting trying to keep pace.

Sunday I decided we were taking the morning off, so we went to the Food Truck Festival in the big downtown park in Tacoma. We ate BBQ (L and MIL), chicken strips (guess who!), and Limpia (So good. If you haven’t had it yet, go find you some), scored donuts for later and Ansel even got to decorate a mini-cake with more sugar encrusted shapes, sprinkles and frosting than should be allowed on a single pastry.

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The park also has a great playground and spray pad. We forgot to bring a suit and towel, but there’s really no stopping A from getting in the water, so I stripped him down and let him go in his diaper. I felt 10% more trashy than usual but whatever . . .He really wanted to take his diaper off and just go in the buff, so it was pretty impressive that I managed to convince him to keep it on.

I also bargained myself a nap on Sunday afternoon . . .I thought L and her mom might keep working, which would have given me a tiny case of guilt, but they ended up snoozing too so all was well. We finished up the evening installing a screen door and two ceiling fans.

I also cooked a real meal in our new kitchen and OMG it makes such a difference to have a roomy, well functioning, bright kitchen. This year I have felt like we really fell down on making good food and have defaulted way more than I like to convenience foods, take out, etc. The kitchen in the rental was the worst. A dead-end galley with almost no counter space, an old low to the ground fridge that was impossible to get into and seemed to suck away all of our groceries, a teeny tiny dishrack . . .all of it just added up and made cooking feel so hard. I’m excited to get back to cooking delicious foods at home. My plan for this weekend is to do some freezer meal prep – SO PLZ LEAVE LINKS TO YOUR FAVES!!!

And now, here we are on Monday. L and her mom are finishing up curtains and fans, and when I get home, I’ll help MIL install the garage storage racks so we can keep all of our general ‘stuff’ somewhere. Next on the list is clearing the rest of the boxes so we have room to bring a baby home . . .

Which we’ll be doing in two and a half weeks give or take. . .

The growth scan/MFM appointment showed that Tiny is still a really little guy. His head is still in the more normal range (I think 30th or so) but the rest of his measurements are pretty small. He has grown since the last scan, but is still 2 + weeks behind. They did a Doppler study of the umbilical cord which continues to look good, and from what they can tell, the placenta is looking ok too – though they suspect that it is some sort of placental deficiency that is causing the growth issue, since genetics have been basically ruled out. Because of this, the MFM wants to induce at or around 37 weeks, as long as he keeps doing ok (obviously, if something were to go south, they’d deliver early)

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L had a non stress test this morning, which she and Tiny passed with flying colors. At the OB appointment right after, the OB was much warmer to us both and even made some joke about himself when he asked if L might want a tubal if she had a c-section (side note: I appreciated knowing they DO tubal ligations, see previous post) and he let us know we’d be scheduling the induction at our next appointment with him, in two weeks.

L has another growth scan and MFM appointment on Wednesday. The following week, its NST, MFM and growth scan, and the week following will be NST, MFM, growth scan AND OB. And that takes us to 37 weeks. I feel like we are creeping up the big hill on the roller coaster and we are about to go careening down . . .

 

The last bit of news is that my dog, Eliot – who I got as a 23 year old baby punk queer – is not doing super well. On Friday, he got up and moved from our bedroom to the hall, then laid down and started whimpering. He wouldn’t get up or really move at all, so we decided to take him to an emergency vet. She thinks it is likely he has a slipped disc in his neck, but the only way to definitely diagnose that is through an MRI that will cost upwards of $1500 (for the diagnostic test, no treatment) and, if it IS a slipped disc, spine surgery would be indicated. She also said, however, that some dogs do fine on a pain management routine as long as there isn’t any further damage that would cause the disc to rupture.

I HATE that there is even a question about money + care, but of course there is . . .and, too, there is the question of subjecting a 13 year old dog to surgery where the outcomes are unknown. For now we have decided to give him the pain medications and keep watching. He seems to be doing better than he was – more active, using his neck more – though he is still not his usual spry self. (In case you didn’t know, spaniels basically NEVER slow down) I absolutely won’t extend his suffering to avoid my own grief, but there isn’t quite an easy answer, is there?

He’s been my companion for longer than anyone, really. Longer than any girlfriend or wife, more constant than even my longest friends. We grew up together – he went from puppy to dog to old man dog, I went from bookstore barista to burgeoning queer social worker to grudgingly adult health educator. He doesn’t get the same screen time the bulldogs do – he’s not the charismatic megafauna of the family like they are. But he is sweet, quite anxious, very loyal. And, I have been avoiding coming to terms with his age for quite some time now. I do not want to face his mortality, especially not in the midst of a move and a new baby – so much beginning to be complicated by an end – but I don’t get to choose.

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Listicle

  1. Remember back a few months ago when I kept losing consciousness randomly throughout the day and it was really fucking terrifying? And then I had my heart and my brain and all kinds of things tested, and all of them were normal? And the neurologist scheduled me for one last test (for dysautonomia) and put me on an anti-convulsant simultaneously just in case? Well . . .I had the test a few weeks ago. It involved laying on a table and doing some weird heavy breathing while hooked up to a bunch of machines, then being flipped from laying down to upright while my blood pressure was taken every 2 minutes. It, too, came back normal. But, maybe more importantly – I haven’t lost consciousness since the middle of June AKA after I was titrated up to the full dose of la.motragine.  Based on ruling out everything else, and the fact that the medication seems to be correlated with the episodes ending, the neurologist has formally diagnosed me with a seizure disorder. Which feels weird, you know? Maybe only because diagnoses can so often feel like imposed identities, that somehow it has to mean something. I’m not sure why it suddenly feels different since I got the e-mail from the neurologist and the notation in my online chart – since I’ve been on the medication for almost two months now, and nothing else is changing. But, somehow, it does.
  2. In other semi-related news . . . When I was going through all of the above, I posted in a facebook group associated with my church in Denver, mentioning the medication and the fear I had about side effects, and a friend of mine responded that he had been taking it for many years for bipolar with no issue. Although I knew the medication was also used for migraine prophalaxis, I didn’t realize it was used for bipolar. I do not have bipolar, but I have taken anxiety medication for many years to control what is otherwise pretty crippling panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder. Even with a pretty solid medication as intervention, I tend to run pretty high strung – I’m a pretty classic type A person and I struggle when plans change, when there are issues that I can’t control, or things spiral out of my ability to manage. I handle general stress pretty well, but there are times when things get rough and I kind of lose my shit. Sometimes this comes out as chewing my lip raw or picking my cuticles until they bleed; and sometimes, I can be a real asshole to other people. In the last month or so, I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to handle all kinds of situations with a much more even keel. Situations that would have sent me into a panic with either internalized or lashing out responses have kind of just slipped off my back. It’s been . . .surprising. Even in the midst of moving + baby coming + the inevitable bullshittery that arises with being dependent on people like contractors and movers and asshole landlords, I’ve kept my cool. I certainly can’t claim with any authority that my anti-seizure medication has made me a better person but . . .the timing is definitely suspicious. NOT COMPLAINING.
  3. Oma is here! I might have a complicated and somewhat problematic relationship with my own mother, but damnit if I don’t have the absolute best MIL in the entire world. I mean, she’s human, she has her shit too, but . . .I LOVE her. She’s been here since Saturday night and has packed our kitchen, sautered the blinds we had ‘custom made’ that arrived a quarter of an inch too big, played with our child, given us a date night, washed our dishes many many times and . . .other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. I love her. Ansel loves her. We are so lucky.20017486_10155533005604419_1100321996508018766_o.jpg
  4. Just one more sleep in the crappy rental before we will LIVE in the house we own. I’m so excited! Today our crappy rippy pee stained couch got hauled out, Saturday our new furniture arrived, the fence is getting finished today, and tomorrow everything else goes down . . .I cannot wait!Resized_20170715_093716.jpeg
  5. Later today L sees the maternal fetal medicine doctor and we have an ultrasound to check on Tiny’s size. This will, hopefully, give us a little more information about the direction in which things are headed. We finally met the OB in Tacoma (see #6 below for additional info about that) on Friday and, once again, L’s blood pressure was normal with 0 other signs of pre-E. He told us that, barring anything drastically changing, he doesn’t foresee the “pregnancy induced hypertension” diagnosis to cause an early induction or to devolve into pre-eclampsia. But, he said, a lot will depend on what they determine about Tiny’s size at the ultrasound. If he’s still super small/hasn’t grown appropriately, we could absolutely be looking at an early induction or even an emergency c-section (if there were issues with his cord or the IUGR was more of an issue) But, if he is just a small baby, then no issues there either. He did say that, due to L’s “old age” (I think this is actually the term he used – she’s 36), they likely wouldn’t ‘let’ her go past 40 weeks and would look at a 39w induction if she hadn’t gone into spontaneous labor before then. So . . .we’ll see.
  6. It was a little dicey meeting the OB. I don’t think I mentioned but, the hospital system we are using in Tacoma is a Catholic hospital. I have feelings about this, particularly because many catholic hospitals won’t preform tubals after delivery or abortions (even when indicated my maternal health or conditions of the fetus that are incompatible with life), and sometimes also put limits on birth control and those are, you know, SUPER important issues for me. Also, there’s always a little question about how the gay thing is going to go over. Sitting in the waiting room, I definitely noted the crucifix with some trepidation. But the LPN was nice and didn’t seem weirded out at our first appointment, and the RN at the beginning of this appointment seemed cool too, so I thought maybe I was being overly cautious. Then the doc walked in and didn’t make eye contact with or otherwise acknowledge me at all and I got pretty nervous. As the appointment went on, he warmed up and did finally look at me and answer my questions. So, I think we have determined that he’s just an OB and while, again, not all OBs are like this, our experience is indicating that – in general – they are just much more concerned with the medical details than the emotional impact/the whole person. It is what it is and I’m glad L and Tiny will get good care but . . .we have too many feelings for OBs, ok?
  7. I’ve felt really good about the amount of sexual health education I’ve been able to do via facebook recently. In addition to providing free birth control consults to friends (I’m always available if you want some information about methods, y’all!) I have also had some opportunities in various facebook groups. My favorite, though, is getting to school some middle aged conservative friend-of-friends about anal sex. I mean, it just doesn’t get any better. This opportunity was really made possible by Teen Vogue who is fucking killing it in the journalism department recently. They published an article in their latest addition about how to have anal sex safely. Why? Well, there is the fact that it is an interesting and under-discussed topic, and then there’s the reality that there are young people out there having anal sex to ‘preserve their virginity’ who don’t know anything about the risks of anal sex or how to do it in a way that feels good an empowering. Predictably, though, there has been moral panic about it because . . .butt sex is assumed to be a gay thing, and the general fear of penises in buttholes and mostly because we, as a culture, hate the idea that teenagers might be having sex. Anyway . . .I’m telling you this because I decided to buy a subscription to Teen Vogue and I think everyone else should, too. I mean, you could read it yourself, give copies to local teens, have it sent to a club or community center or homeless shelter or LGBTQ youth group or . . .I just want to be supporting bad ass, cutting edge journalism. Maybe you do too?
  8. This feels SO LONG and mostly uninteresting but, whatever . . .sorry/not sorry, I guess?

Gettin’ Big

Time immediately speeds up once you have a kid. It’s just the way of things. This is, of course, in addition to the usual acceleration of time that happens as we age. And, too, time starts to have a different meaning. Two years was an entirely different conceptual chunk of time before Ansel was born, you know?

But there also seem to be these hyper drive times, when the fast forward button gets pressed on your life, and in the space of a day or night, a leap has occurred. Listen, I’m not into Doctor Who (don’t hate me, just didn’t happen. I like other nerd stuff, promise) but this is what I think of when I hear the phrase timey-wimey stuff.

Well, that thing . . .the warp drive thing . . .it happened. Somehow, in just a week or so, my kid went from like a regular old two to TWO+ © Like, I can’t quantify it, but he’s a different kind of two year old now. The phrase “big boy” kind of chafes me because it’s so, you know, done . . . but we have been using it on the recommendation of the potty training book we are reading, to try and create a distinction between those who pee in diapers (babies) and those who pee in potties (big kids) so I’m trying to get on board. But the thing is, I really feel like my kid is doing big kid things (in a relative sort of way) and it’s weird. And wonderful. But weird because it happened so fast!

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I mean, there are some things that are out of his purview that are contributing to this . . .Like, we bought him a balance bike (thanks to his clear interest in bikes and wheel stuff) and he LOVES it and looks like a total natural walking around with it; and we signed him up for a co-op preschool in Tacoma (which is NBD for lots of folks because of daycare/preschool necessity, but since our experience has been with babysitters/family/L at home, it feels kind of huge.)

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But there are all of these little, unquantifiable things that make him seem  . . .older, bigger . . .something . . .The kinds of words he’s using (lightrail, coin) and how he’s talking to people (“Dada, go away!” “Chikie for me AND Yellow!”) the ways he’s playing (with other kids, not just next to them; using different voices for his toys; being even braver and fearless when approaching the huge windy slides and the rope climbing walls and all of the other playground equipment made for children twice his age) and how he is interacting with us, “Here glasses, Mama.” “Where is Mommy? Let’s get her!”, giving kisses when we are hurt – when he’s the cause, and when he’s not; showing a level of empathy he didn’t seem to have before) I’m like . . .oh, you’re a fully integrated human being now . . .shit.

I’m sure we’ll soon be settling into this leap soon, just as we have before. And then there will be another super jump that will make my head spin . . .over, and over. I don’t feel sad that he is growing up – although I miss his tininess and his rolls and the smell of baby-Ansel, I do not feel grief for his becoming a child. But, it does feel a little unsettling, dizzying, and very, very sacred. I continue to be so excited to see who he will become, I’m waiting so eagerly to watch him emerge. Some things he has kept – charm, sensitivity, joy, physical exuberance and a fearless charging into the world. Other things, he’s left behind. I wonder what he’ll continue to carry forward?

 

And as for our tiniest Tiny . . .L had an intake appointment with the OB in Tacoma a couple of weeks ago. (Side note: they made her do a standard intake with an LPN for her first appointment. This is clearly just how they do things, but it was super annoying in our case. The visit was to include a pregnancy test – which thankfully got skipped since she’s, you know, 32 weeks pregnant – and was basically the most non-appointment appointment possible. It basically just delayed us meeting the actual doctor for another two weeks. UGH.)  We didn’t get to meet the actual OB because of the type of appointment, but she did have a pre- E panel done (all clear – no protein, everything normal) and her BP was totally normal. Actual appointment with a doctor where we can ask questions is this Friday  . . . at which point I’m hoping to be able to get a little more detail about what we can expect. We both feel a little whiplash right now . . .going from red alert to eh, whatever within a few weeks has left us pretty confused. Is 37 weeks still recommended for induction? Do we even need to be concerned? Who knows!?

We also have a biophysical profile with a Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor scheduled for Weds the 19th, at which point we’ll have some additional information about if Tiny has grown and what all of that might mean. At this point, we are assuming things are ok – BP has continued to be good, no further indication of pre-eclampsia, and he’s moving well – so all signs we have point to things being OK. I hope we only continue to get confirmation of that, and that all of this scare was just that – a scare.

In any case, she’s at 32w4d, so every passing day makes me feel a little more at ease, anyway . . .

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AND, finally . . .we are down to just EIGHT DAYS until we finally leave behind our stinky, ugly, pain in the ass rental and get to move into our beautiful new house. It’s been SO HARD not to be there, but we’ve been able to move a lot down ourselves, slowly and easily, and that’s definitely a nice thing. We purchased some new living room furniture (the only thing the 4th of July is good for, IMO, is the great deal we got on a new couch) which will be delivered later this week and then the rest of our stuff will go down next Thursday. L’s mom flies in on Saturday to be the wonder-woman that she is and help us get the final details done (moving + painting + toddler = slowest process ever) I’ll be so glad to end this geographical limbo.

Tacoma, we are SO ready for you!

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Just so you know, I am obsessed with Mt. Rainier. I stare longingly at her all the time. L says I objectify the mountain. Maybe? I just can’t believe it’s real!