Friday, April 27, 2012

Over the 26-week Hump, and Happier Than I Ever Imagined Being!

For weeks when I feel Dragon move inside of me I  drop what I'm doing to grab my camera phone for a video or have Ben, or whomever I'm around, feel my belly.  The movement is always unbelieveable- so firm and hard, and I am impressed every time that a person is inside of me and capable of that sensation, despite all the times I've felt it before. 

I usually feel ashamed, like a liar, when Dragon suddenly stops moving so incredibly as the camera comes out, I look down, or Ben tries to feel.  I have been saying, "Oh... he just got shy. Sorry!" But I always want to explain how incredible it was- as if that's the same thing. 

I have really wished that others could be a part of his incredible growth and the personality he shows me in those kicks and jabs, but today (last Saturday) I realized why he doesn't. Ben and I are both spending the day in the office, he is studying while I read a book, and Dragon was, again, moving so hard my book would move off of my stomach. I would stop what I was doing, pull the book away to watch him and tell Ben to touch it. As we both put our concentration on my belly Dragon always stopped. Finally I said to Ben, "Oh, He just wants attention! Now that he has our concentration he doesn't need to move anymore." 

It's as if when he moves he is trying to get my attention, then is so pleased he can relax once he has it. I recognize that quality in myself, too. I can whine and kick until Ben pays me the attention I want and so softly tells me that he loves me and what do I need? Maybe Dragon needs love as much as I do. Maybe he loves and needs me the way I love and need him. We all need someone to give us absolute attention and devotion, even babies and mommies. 

And I do love him, with no reservations. I didn't realize I had fears until they were all over! My tests have come back with good results, I feel Dragon move every day, his ultrasound finally shows a healthy, normal baby, and we are past the 26 week mark of losing Eleanor. I let out a huge sigh of relief that, at this point, all signs point to a wonderful pregnancy and delivery of a healthy child, and that, even if he was born now, he would survive with medical help.  It is a relief I didn't realize I was waiting for, but now that the time is here every sign is pointing toward letting go of any fear and loving this child as if he were already in my arms.  

 I was missing out on so much joy, but I'm glad the moment finally broke out in me!

Getting 3D pictures of him have made me so happy.  I can not stop looking at them and marveling at this baby! The combination of these adorable, realistic photos and feeling him move really help me get to know him as an individual- in his own right. 

For so long I have been concerned that, after all we have been through and seen of Eleanor, my connection with him would never be as strong as with her.  I can now see and feel that he is his own person (not just any person, but our person- with Ben's nose and my strange sleeping positions).  I am getting to know him in a completely different way but one just as real as Eleanor, and I can glimpse into the future that our love for him will surpass ours for her while we hold, raise, and nurture him to adulthood. 

It is such an incredible feeling to swell with so much love and excitement for my baby!

The pic on the left is our favorite.  He looks so sweet with those chubby cheeks :)
The pic on the right is sort of creepy with the shading, but ignore that- this one shows his arms and face in such amazing detail! I love his bottom lip and chin!

Is this not the most adorable child you've ever seen?!?! Can't you just imagine how wonderful he'll be when he's born?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

27 week update: The perfect pregnancy week

After a trial of a week, this week has been nothing short of amazing- filled with wonderful pregnancy news from top to bottom!

Blood Glucose Test Results

Last week I was pretty surprised to have {what I considered} rapid weight gain of 4 lbs. in one week, and became convinced that it was the result of either Preeclampsia or Gestational Diabetes. My midwife didn't think Preeclampsia was much of a threat for me, but having a previously un-diagnosed stillbirth is a risk factor for GA so I went in for my blood glucose test last Friday.

I heard the results of my test on Monday and was very surprised and so excited that I PASSED! Not only did I pass, but "regular" blood/ glucose results range from 70-140 and my results were 72- so close to the abnormal range that I was told I am borderline hypoglycemic: that my metabolism is so high that my body produces extra insulin and burns off fats and sugars even faster than normal people. 

Being hypoglycemic answers a lot of questions for me and clears up a lot of issues I've been dealing with my whole life- issues with regular weight gain, poor sleeping habits, migraine headaches, etc. That diagnosis was a huge relief- I love opportunities to understand myself better! 

Plus, it means I'm encouraged to eat even more fats, carbs, and sugars, and cut back on strenuous exercise.  Every pregnant woman's dream! Bring on the ice cream and potato chips... doctor's orders! 

Ultrasound Update

6 weeks ago I went in for my second Type II ultrasound because the first, at 17 weeks, showed some issues with Dragon's heart.  At that second ultrasound we also saw an abnormality with his brain! Those are two of 7 markers for a serious chromosomal disorder, so I was scheduled for a third ultrasound at 27 weeks- the earliest we would be able to tell if these issues would clear up on their own as Dragon continued to develop. 

The ultrasound was scheduled for this morning when Ben would be able to come with me {he insisted I change the appointment so he could be there :) }

We had to wait for about 45 mins to be seen, which was excruciating. I had let myself forget how serious these results could be, in fact, until Ben asked how I was feeling during the drive to the hospital. How was I feeling? How should I be feeling? Oh, yeah... Then it was all I could think about while sitting in the waiting room. I had two books in my purse, my iPhone and the iPad with internet, and I had no desire to distract myself at all! 

We were rewarded for our patience with excellent results!!! Dragon is absolutely perfect!!! In the words of the specialist: "I only wish there was someone around to teach, his heart is so perfect!" and: "Look at that fluid... just perfect..." He is also measuring 2 lbs. 4 oz, which is 49.7%. "He is perfectly average!" 

Ben: "Is he still tall?" 
Suz: "We will have a tall child. There's no doubt of that."

Every condition has cleared up, and he even turned from facing my back to facing forwards just in time for some truly remarkable 3D shots! 

I was poking around trying to get him to change position for us, and Ben asked,
 "Do you like feeling him move?" to get me to smile! Hehe :)

Maybe this child isn't too good to be true. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

26 Weeks... Crunch time.

This time... last time... we found out our baby girl had no heartbeat and she was born on September 9. This time... last time... I felt like an anxious mother-to-be, but was incredibly happy. This time... last time... my pregnancy innocence was shattered.

I am sort of a wreck this week.

"Sort of" is an understatement.

Dragon is very active and we feel him move constantly, which brings me so much comfort, and every additional day he can grow ups his chances of survival in the case of an emergency delivery, which give me hope, but no amount of planning for the future or knowing/ expecting him to be perfectly healthy take away the fact that we have heard that our child had no heartbeat. That horrible moment happened.  We may have our parenting dreams realized with Dragon and unexplainable joy with future children, but that moment will never be erased.

This week is hard for other reasons, too. Not only is this the time frame that I delivered Eleanor, but I've had rapid weight gain in the past two weeks (around 8 lbs. in the last 2 weeks when I had previously only gained 3 the first 24 weeks) and my stomach has become pretty large and hard, so I have an appointment for my glucose screening for Gestational Diabetes a week early- this Friday. (Having a previously unexplained stillbirth is a symptom of GD.) Also, next Thursday is also our next Type II ultrasound, which will show us if Dragon's brain cyst and heart issues have cleared up- an indicator of his chances of having Trisomy 18, aka Edward's Syndrome.

I know Gestational Diabetes affects up to 10% of pregnancies and is quite manageable, and his chances of Trisomy 18 are still pretty low at just .5-2%, but the prospect of ANYTHING really upsets me! Even something so manageable... I just get so scared considering anything other than a "normal" pregnancy.  I will always wonder, "Could this cause another stillbirth? Am I doing something wrong?" It's just scary.

I've done pretty well (in my opinion) to keep my spirits high so far, but I'm letting myself unravel a little this week. I know I am not the first or only or last pregnant woman to have doubts, fears, and tradgedy, so I really appreciate all the love and support from those of you who have dealt with your own challenges. Bring on any advice you have-- I am dying to hear that I'm normal, ok, and that anything is manageable!

Some 26 weeks shots from our trip:

See what I mean about "large and hard?" Even considering the recent weight gain I am only 12 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight, but my belly is HUGE all of a sudden! 

This is one of my favorite pregnancy pictures ever :) Way to go, Ben! 

Babymoon in Virgina

In January I purchased a Groupon deal for a 4-day Carnival cruise around the Caribbean for us. A couple weeks later one of their ships crashed and sank on the coast of Italy, and we found out that pregnant women are not allowed to sail past their 24th week, yet they were all booked before I hit that mark.

Then I decided to use the refunded (thank you) money for a week in an all-inclusive resort, but the best deal available was in the Dominican Republic and I was convinced by loving family and friends that booking a trip to the DR around 30 weeks pregnant with my medical history may not be a smart decision.

So what to do for a romantic vacation before the baby is born???? After the year we have had and what's ahead with a newborn, we deserve a vacation, right?!?!?!

We decided to split one, expensive, week-long trip into two shorter and cheaper trips that would only be a couple hours away from home and our doctors!

The first of the two we used this past weekend at a wonderful Bed & Breakfast, the Inn at Riverbend on the New River near the Virginia/ West Virginia border. I wanted a romantic, relaxing trip, and this Inn definitely delivered! The room we booked was very comfortable, the view of the mountains and river was extraordinary and uninterupted, and the food they served was satisfying and inventive.

We didn't take too many pictures, because we were more concerned with enjoying our trip than chronicalling it, but here are a few to give you an idea of how idyllic this place was:

But it wasn't all strawberries, sparkling cider, romantic movies, and luxurious breakfasts. I am married to an outdoorsman, after all, and we were in the mountains!

Mountain Lake Resort:
Did you know that the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed in Pearisburg, VA (where we were!), at a resort called Mountain Lake? Neither did we! I really like that movie and grew up watching and quoting it with my sisters. I was on my mission in NY when Patrick Swayze died, but I stilled mourned, and even make this onesie in my etsy store: 

So when the innkeepers told us that the film location was a working resort nearby we decided to check it out! 

Unfortunately, the resort sits on a fault line that shifted below the grounds so the iconic lake
 has drained and dried up! So sad, right? Ben couldn't believe how property value
probably tanked after that. 

We drove around back and walked around the perimeter of the dried-up lake and the old horse/ boat barn:

Cascade Falls

We also took a few hours to hike a 4-mile loop around a gorgeous waterfall and the stream it supports:

It was Ben's goal, in life and on this hike, to try and climb on as much as possible. 

Cascade Falls: 

That hike was manageable but difficult for me. The 2 miles to the Falls were over a really uneven trail covered with downed tree trunks and large rocks and got pretty steep, so I had to be really careful how I stepped and take many breaks because of the hip pain I've been experiencing. The whole loop took us over 3 hours! But Ben was so understanding and always asked how I was feeling and suggested we stop often. Thanks, hon :) 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reason #2 to get married

Ben did the most thoughtful thing for me yesterday.

"My body feels really sore. I'm going to take a shower. Hopefully that will help."
"Why not take a bath?"
"In our tub? Because the hot water doesn't last long enough to fill the tub- you know that!"
"But wouldn't a bath be more relaxing?"
"Then take a bath. I'll make sure you have enough hot water." 

10 mins later he comes into the bathroom with these...

He then got concerned that the water was too hot and came back with a candy thermometer to get the perfect temperature :)

"Are you happy?"
"Oh yeah... I'm going to blog about this..."
"That's how I know I did a good thing."

And I had the above picture waiting me in my e-mail afterwards. 

I would much rather have a man who ensures I have the perfect bath when I complain of body aches and facilitates my blogging without any prodding or expectations than one who brings home flowers. Flowers just die, a relaxing bath can keep me happy for a lot longer :)

I am so grateful for this dream guy who understands me so well! Thanks, hon :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

25 week update! What a pain.

I love being pregnant. 

And after over a year of being pregnant, I think I'm getting really used to it! 

Except one thing. 

Pregnancy is a pain in the hips!!!

Why didn't any of you ever tell me that?! 

There are a lot of aches and pains involved in pregnancy. Morning sickness, fatigue, swollen feet, trouble breathing, and emotional/ hormonal ups and downs are pretty obvious expectations because every pregnant woman talks about it. But every woman experiences different pregnancy symptoms and even every pregnancy can be different.  This pregnancy I have had ZERO nausea, but extreme fatigue, for example. 

I knew that hormones an chemical changes are responsible for these changes, but I didn't realize that yet another one of their culprits was joint pain! About halfway through pregnancy (20 weeks) the chemical Relaxin is released to prepare the bones and joints for labor and delivery. In the meantime, it may cause some joints to shift prematurely. 

This is what is happening to me SIGNIFICANTLY! When I wake up in the morning or sit or stand in one position for too long I almost fall over because my hips have started to settle in different positions. It takes quite a few minutes to even be comfortable enough to stand and walk, and usually a much longer time before I can pivot, turn around, or lift my legs (for walking up stairs, for instance.) Ben usually comes into the room after hearing a sharp cry of pain and has to help me to stand up and steady me while I get my "Standing legs" and help me walk up stairs. At this point, my left hip and leg, in particular, feel so badly that I wonder if I'll have a permanent limp! 

It doesn't help that I'm small-framed and my body is not growing as much as Dragon is. He feels really powerful in every movement, which I can feel because my skin is stretched as tight as it could possibly be! Ben loves poking my stomach and remarking at how hard and tight it feels! Dragon is really low and all in front, so I think part of the hip pain issue is that the muscles and ligaments around my pelvis are just not used to this much pressure all of a sudden. 

But really, every little thing is worth it! 

Every time I feel him move, which is almost all day and into the night now, I get so excited and so relieved. 

Less than 14 weeks to go (hopefully) before we see this little wonder!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Camping at Wilson Creek, NC

Ben and I love to travel and are always making plans for future trips, so he usually opts to work on days when his department schedules vacation time to save up the vacation day for a longer trip later. We have plans to be out-of-town this weekend and Ben will need to take off of work for Monday and possibly Tuesday, so imagine my surprise last week when he said he had Good Friday off of work and wanted to take it, instead of banking the holiday! Two weekend trips in a row? Fine with me!

He suggested going camping, so that is what we did. I chose Wilson Creek- an area at the base of the App mountains that runs all the way from Lenoir to Grandfather Mountain in Boone, NC. The area is heavily wooded, has very few inhabitants, and is home to the Wilson Creek Gorge- one of the best whitewater kayaking sites in the southeast. Plus it's only around 2 hours away from our home : )

We camped for two nights and spent three days just playing in God's backyard!

I felt like we were in a Subaru commercial- driving over dusty, rocky mountain roads with two kayaks on top of the car and camping, biking, and rock climbing gear in the back of the car :) It's a good feeling. 

Our campsite:

I bought a 1.5" foam pad (to also be used on our guest bed) to put under our sleeping bags b/c I'm having very serious joint pain right now and wanted to be comfortable sleeping on the ground. 

A kayak paddle put between two large rocks makes a perfect clothes line!

Playing around:

We were only 20 mins away from rock climbing at the Chimneys on Table Rock Mountain, which is one of our favorite spots. Sat. morning was really frigid, though, and my hips were really hurting from a bad night's sleep, so we didn't stay long because my body was in a lot of pain. The only available rock face was pretty easy, too, which Ben can only enjoy a couple of times. But at least we tried :)

We spent two afternoons kayaking one of the best river sections I've been on in my SOT, but we didn't take any pictures because there were Class I and II rapids and didn't want the camera to get wet :( Darn! But this is what most of the river section looked like:
(We also didn't get any pictures of Ben mountain biking. We would stash his bike a few miles from where we dropped in and he would bike back to pick up the car while I stayed with the boats. Kayaking for a few miles then biking uphill... yep, he got his workouts!)

We also watched some more experienced whitewater kayakers run the gorge section of the river. This particular spot is called "10-ft-falls". 

They use Werner paddles. I want a Werner paddle. Non-feathered, just in case Santa is reading this :)

This was SUCH a fun weekend, thanks to my adventurous husband! He just amazes me.