Another Update from Preggy Peggy

It’s been a little bit since my last update.  My business has been insane this past month with people trying to get shoots squeezed in before I’m told to stop and I had a large influx of newborns (it must have been a cold, cold December).  I’ve been shooting and editing like a madwoman in hopes to stay somewhat on track.  On top of that, I’m responsible for my kids who have been home more because of the summer.  They finally started back to school and both go a couple days a week.  Thank you, Jesus.  It’s impossible (and borderline neglectful) to try and edit while the kids are home.  It’s just not pretty.  It always ends in tears…

When I was pregnant with Luke, my high risk OB asked me during an appointment if I could touch my thumb to my forearm.  I answered that I could and quickly showed him.  What I didn’t realize was that it’s apparently not a normal thing to be able to do that.  I’ve always been able to move my wrists that much, so I just thought everyone could do it.  I was wrong.  (I’ll wait while you try to touch your thumb to your forearm. Are you done? Okay, cool.)

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My doc informed me that people aren’t suppose to be able to do that and that he was fairly sure I had a mild case of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).   EDS is a connective tissue disorder which causes the body’s connective tissue to be too flexible and possibly weakened.  The issue is that when you are pregnant, your bag of waters is a connective tissue and can rupture prematurely.  When my water broke so early with Anna’s pregnancy, it was confusing because I wasn’t dilated (usually your water breaks when your cervix starts to open and pressure is applied to the bag) when it happened and I didn’t have any signs of an infection.  I haven’t been formally diagnosed with EDS, but my high risk has no doubt that is what’s going on.

The other piece of the puzzle is that apparently I have an irritable uterus.  Maybe irritable uterus is the wrong term.  That bitch is angry.  Seriously though, irritable uterus is a real thing.  Google it.  The internet doesn’t lie.  So, my uterus is angry and doesn’t like a whole lot of movement.  Anytime I stand up, lay back, roll over, have a full bladder, walk around, sneeze, cough, blink – you get the idea – I have a contraction.  This started around 15 weeks and has progressively gotten worse as I’ve progressed in my pregnancy.  This isn’t something new.  I had an irritable uterus with both Anna and Luke.  It’s clear that my uterus doesn’t enjoy growing babies.

Anyway, a little over a month ago I had an appointment at my high risk OB’s office.  They did an ultrasound to measure the length of my cervix and found that it had shortened some.  My doctor was worried because my cervix had been consistently getting shorter and my contractions were picking up.  I get a weekly progesterone injection to help with contractions.  I also take oral progesterone along with a slew of other pills each day.  My doc decided that he was also going to have me take a daily dose of ibuprofen to help with contractions.  He decided that he was going to check my cervix three weeks later and if it had shortened more, he was reducing my activity level to modified bed rest.  I left that appointment knowing that we had 3 weeks until I was possibly being taken out of commission.  So, we got busy. I squeezed in as many shoots as my calendar would allow.  We got the nursery to a point where we can bring the baby home.  It’s not completely finished, but it’s fine for now.  The hospital bag is packed and ready to go.  I registered the kids for daycare so they have somewhere to go on the days they don’t already have school so that I’m able to relax when I get the word.  We made sure we had everything we need for the baby.  In general, we had to get everything done by the time I turned 28 weeks that normal pregnant ladies have to have ready by 37ish weeks. We knew this would happen at some point, so it was nice to have a little heads up.  We were prepared going into that next appointment with my high risk.  We even did a siblings class for the kids so they felt ‘prepared’ (or as prepared as you can be as a sibling).

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To everyone’s surprise, at the next ultrasound, my cervix had actually gotten longer.  My high risk asked if I sprinkled Miracle Grow in there.  To my knowledge, I hadn’t.  There could an error in the measurement, I could have been having a contraction at the time, the baby could have moved a bit – there are reasons that your cervix can appear longer.  Because my cervix hadn’t shortened further, he allowed my activity level to stay the same as long as I kept up with my ibuprofen.  I was going to see my regular OB the following week (he’s already started bi-weekly visits) so my high risk set my next visit and ultrasound for two weeks away.  I will be seeing him bi-weekly as well so that I visit one of my doctors every week until I deliver.
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A week later, I went to my appointment with my regular OB.  I had both kids with me because I thought it would be really quick.  Turns out, he was going to do an internal exam (super awkward when two kids are in the room).  I was sitting on the table, naked from the waist down, waiting for the doc to come in when Anna informs me that she needs to poop.  Kids have the best timing, right?  Eventually the doctor came in (and Anna managed to not poop her pants).  He asked me how many contractions I was having as I laid back so he could listen to the baby.  I was explaining that I have contractions constantly with movement (see above) but that they die down when I sit or lay down to about 2-3 an hour.  I had 50-60 contractions the day before.  Sure enough, once I laid back I had a contraction.  I told my doctor and he could feel how hard my uterus was.  He listened to sweet Abby and then quickly (while the kids were distracted) checked my cervix.  My cervix was long enough and high, but getting soft.  So, he decided that I needed to be reducing activity and staying off my feet more.  The medicine I’m taking for contractions isn’t enough at this point.  The issue is that with the contractions I’m having, some cervical change is also happening.  They are also concerned that the constant contractions can put too much pressure on my bag of waters.  Since they are pretty sure I have a mild form of EDS and my connective tissue is weaker, the pressure on my bag of waters could cause it to rupture without my cervix being dilated.  That would be a bad deal this early in the game. Everyone still following along? Clear as mud, right? Right.

The good doc explained that I’m allowed to get the kids ready in the morning.  If they have school, I can take them.  But if they are at home I need to be watching them from the couch and only getting up a few times.  I laughed in his face and told him that he clearly doesn’t have that much experience dealing with small children.  He agreed.  So, in order for me to rest, we have started the kids in daycare on the days that they didn’t already have school.   Basically, they are out of the house during the day which gives me an actual chance to sit or lay down and them some stimulation besides me sitting around all the time.  I think it’s a win-win for everyone.  The kids have been handling it so-so.  Anna knows that my activity is limited, so she’s been using that to her advantage and acting out and not listening.  Both of the kids have been at one another’s throats lately.  They fight constantly.  I feel like I’m yelling too much and I hate it.  Luke has become extremely clingy lately.  He only wants me and always wants to sit or lay with me.  The other night, Alex was putting Luke to bed and Luke asked where I was.  Before Alex could answer, Luke asked ‘Did Mom have the baby?’  I was shocked when Alex told me.  I know that he knows there’s a baby in my belly, but I didn’t think he actually got what’s going on.  It’s also worrisome because I’m afraid he’s already starting to feel left out.  I’m now getting worried about how he’s going to deal with the new baby.  I know we will figure it all out, but it’s really on my mind right now.

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Baking Baby Abby – Updates

Baby Abby and I are hanging in there.  I’m still feeling pretty blah.  I’m better than the first few months, but still struggling a bit.  I’m over half way done (especially if she comes early, which is what we are all expecting), so I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I just keep telling myself, ‘it’s going to be worth it’ and ‘it’s almost over’.  More importantly, Abby is looking wonderful! That’s really all that matters. Just a few updates about what’s going on:

– We had the anatomy scan and Abby is looking perfect!  She’s measuring perfectly and everything is where it should be and looks how it should look.  We are so, so thankful for that report!

– The heat is killing me! By the end of the day, my feet and ankles are so swollen.  It’s gross. Have I mentioned how much I hate the women who float through pregnancy??? 

– My ass continues to be a pin cushion with my weekly shots. They are miserable, but seem to help with contractions.  So, I’ll take the pain, itchiness, mood swings (sorry, Alex), and exhaustion.  I found out that one vial of this medicine (which is 5 weeks worth of doses) costs $3000.  Can you believe that?  There’s only one company in the US that manufactures it and the price is ridiculously high.  I smell a conspiracy.  Really, I can smell just about anything right now thanks to good ol’ preggo nose.  Luckily we have insurance that covers it.  But, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if we didn’t.

– I have been totally scatterbrained with this baby.  I’ve always said that pregnancy makes you flighty, but it’s been so much worse this time.  Maybe it’s because I have two other kiddos to chase around or maybe you never recover those brain cells that a baby takes from you.  I might just be a pile of mush by the end of it.  Anyway, I was getting ready to have a cervical length ultrasound (which is done transvaginaly) and I realized that I forgot to use soap in the shower that morning.  There’s nothing quite as humbling as trying to do a quick hoe bath in the doctor’s office bathroom while you are suppose to be leaving a urine sample.  Two days later, I was in the middle of a photo shoot and realized that I didn’t put on deodorant.  If I make it through this, it’s going to be a miracle.

– I saw my high risk OB last week and had my 11th ultrasound for this pregnancy.  He was concerned because my cervix has shortened a bit.  It’s still long, but it’s shorter than what it was before.  He said it makes him feel uneasy.  I was suppose to go back 4 weeks later for a recheck, but he wasn’t comfortable waiting that long.  I’ll go again in 2 weeks for ultrasound #12.  He’s mentioned possibly doing a cerclage and he’s talked about early bedrest.  I know that I will be on bedrest, but my doctors are thinking it shouldn’t be until mid-September.  So, send some long cervix vibes my way!!

– Alex was told that he is attending this leadership conference for work in Arkansas.  The group does rope courses and trust falls in the woods.  It all sounds a little ‘Deliverance’ for me, but Alex seems excited.  I worry because he’s a really big guy.  You never want to be the biggest guy in a trust fall exercise.  Back to the point of this – the conference is November 17-21.  My due date is November 19.  I had a bit of freak out when he told me about it.  However, we’ve talked to my doctors about it.  My regular OB thinks there’s a slim chance that I’ll actually make it to my due date.  My high risk told me there’s 0% chance.  He said that I should be more concerned about lining up help for me that week instead of Alex missing the birth of our child.  I guess that makes me feel better?!?!

– My high risk is starting to get paranoid about my pregnancy.  Read: shit is starting to get real.  He’s concerned about my cervix (see above). He’s also worried about the contractions I’ve been having.  At my appointment, he told me that around 30 weeks is when we will have to really work at keeping me pregnant – meaning medicine, bedrest, and monitoring.  He’s just anxiously waiting for us to arrive at that cliff.  Our goal is to make it to 37 weeks.  Now, if someone could inform my uterus of that…

– In non-uterus news, we’ve started the nursery!! I want to have everything ready by the middle-to-end of August so that I’m not trying to get things done when I’ve been told to take it easy.  I honestly can’t wait to share pictures of the finished nursery! Be on the edge of your seats in the meantime, okay? 

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Abby is clearly stressed out at 21 weeks…

The time when missionaries were talking to me about God and my son flashed them

About a week after Luke was born (note: that was over 2.5 years ago), the doorbell rang while I was trying to balance my new life with a toddler and a newborn.  It was chaotic.  So, I answer the door and these two little, old ladies were standing there smiling at me.  They asked if I had a minute to talk about Christ.  Now, we go to church and are Christians so I didn’t feel like I needed to have a conversation with them on the topic.  But, I am absolutely horrible at saying no to people.  It’s my Achilles heel – I literally can’t tell people no.  So, these sweet ladies were asking me if they could talk to me about Christ and in the midst of the chaos I said ‘yes’.  Biggest mistake ever.

The ladies spent about 20 minutes talking to me.   My house was melting down around me – the baby was waking up and Anna was running around like a crazy person.  They prayed over me and then went on their way.  Before they left, they asked if it would be okay for them to stop by again. Again (because I have no self control) I said, yes.  Dammit, Lisa.  Dammit.

I decided that since I couldn’t say no to these ladies, I would just avoid them.  And my plan worked like a charm for 2.5 years.  I skillfully avoided them.  I would hide in the house and keep the kids quiet when they rang the bell.  Once Alex answered when he was home alone.  They prayed over him and read him scriptures.  Another time my sister-in-law was here watching the kids and the ladies showed up.  She was prayed over too.  Another time Alex answered the door and I hid behind a wall in our living room so they couldn’t see me.  He wasn’t happy that I hung him out to dry with ‘my friends’.  Alex eventually got over it.  My avoidance was legendary.  Legend-ary.

Fast forward to this week.  I was upstairs trying to get our family packed for our beach vacation.  The kids were running around the house destroying everything they touched and screaming so loud that they set off our doorbell (it’s frequency activated and setting it off is one of their favorite things to do).  Luke was launching himself off the coffee table onto the couch and then rolling off the couch onto a pile of cushions.  The dogs were running around chewing on crap and getting into the messes that the kids were making.  Anna was wearing a princess dress and toddler hooker heals.  Luke was rocking a PJ shirt, underwear, and goggles.  All-in-all, it was a typical weekday.

The actual doorbell rings (non-screaming induced) and I hear the dogs barking.  I yell for Anna to not open the door because I don’t know who it is and I don’t want any creepers creeping on us.  Creepers.  She runs into the kitchen.  By the time I get downstairs, Luke is standing next to the door and looking out through the sidelights.  I yell for the dogs to go outside because they like to welcome visitors by jumping into their arms.  It’s cute, unless you are an 90 pound golden retriever and a 10 pound shih tzu that pees a little when she meets new people.  I get the dogs outside and head back to the front door.  I open it and find my two old lady missionary friends staring at me.  Mother trucker, there goes my run.  They were so excited to finally connect with me.  Afterall, they’ve been stopping by every 2-3 months for 2.5 years.  They are persistent, I’ll give them that.

Luke’s standing next to me as the ladies read through their pamphlet with me.  They then open their bible and read some verses.  The whole time, Luke is standing next to me talking to the ladies.  After that they close in prayer and pray over myself and Luke.  The little old ladies then proceed to make small talk with me and Luke until they decide to head back to their car.  I close the door and look down at Luke and see the head of his Johnson looking at me.  It was sticking out of his underwear.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with how boy undies work, there’s a slit in them where they can access their goods to go potty (because, you know, pulling them down is just WAY too much work).  Well, Luke likes to use that slit to poke his penis out for full access.  Read: open season for groping, pulling, and touching his pee pee on things.   So, while these old ladies were discussing God with us Luke was standing there in a shirt, goggles, and undies with just the head of his wee wee hanging out like a turtle poking his head out of the shell.  No wonder they prayed extra hard for us.  I’d like to think that this might reduce the number of visits they make, but a part of me believes they think I need extra help.  Lord help us all when they show up on my doorstep next week.

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Soak it up, ladies!

I Suck at Being Pregnant

For those of you that are keeping track, I really suck at being pregnant.  Which, really pisses me off.  I pride myself on doing a good job at everything I set out to do.  So, when it became blatantly obvious that I’m just bad at having babies I had to accept the writing on the wall.  My name is Lisa, and I am horrible at being pregnant.  Let me clarify – horrible at being pregnant to full term.  Getting pregnant?  Apparently no problem as evidenced by little Abby who is currently baking.  Staying pregnant? Ugh.

I’ll back up.  When I was pregnant with Anna I was sure that everything was going to be textbook perfect.  Everything was going peachy until I woke up in the middle of the night to a really bad contraction at 32 weeks.  The contraction ended and then my water broke.  Shocked, I waded through the Mississippi that was now on my bed and we raced to the hospital.  Luckily Anna was head-down so her cord couldn’t prolapse.  I was in the hospital being pumped full of every antibiotic and fluid they could get their hands on for 6 days before I went into labor.  Her delivery was probably one of the scariest moments of our lives.  I can tell you about it sometime – it makes the hair on my arms stand up when I do.  Anna was born at 33 weeks and had to stay in the NICU for a week and a half.  Totally not what we were expecting.

My second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks.  The baby was a boy.  We were devastated.

I got pregnant a third time (hello, Luke) and made it to the second trimester.  My OB thought that Anna’s preterm birth could be a fluke, but he had me do the weekly progesterone injections and consult with a high risk OB.  I saw both doctors for the entire pregnancy, got about a million ultrasounds, and took almost every medicine you can think of.  Around 31/32 weeks, my contractions started picking up and my blood pressure started rising.  I was put on bedrest and was closely monitored in hopes that I could make it to 37 weeks.  Per orders, all of my medicines were stopped at 35 weeks, 6 days.  I went into labor and delivered Luke at 36 weeks, 0 days.  Luckily, he was healthy and was able to avoid the NICU.

Now, we are on pregnancy number four and baby number three.  There is absolutely no question in either of my doctors’ minds that I’m at risk for preterm labor.  I have a very clear history of it now.  This time, everyone is being a bit more aggressive in trying to prevent it.  My regular OB (who will deliver me) likes the 17p weekly progesterone injections from 16-36 weeks to help with preterm labor.  He’s also told me that I can’t leave the St. Louis area once I’m in my third trimester.  My high risk doesn’t favor the 17p and instead likes supplemental progesterone.  So, I will be taking both.  My high risk has also put me on extra folic acid and a baby aspirin because it helps with placental development.  I’m also taking my prenatal and something for heartburn.  At some point, I will be on an anti-contraction medicine as well.  On top of the medicine, my high risk wants to keep a close eye on my cervix.  We’ve done one measurement (done via ultrasound) and will do another in a little over a week.  I will have cervical length ultrasounds done until 24 weeks because my high risk is considering placing a cerclage (a stitch that holds your cervix shut).  For now, I’m seen every two weeks by either my regular doctor or my high risk.  Soon that will switch to weekly visits.  The upside, I get to see the baby all the time.  Downside – it’s a huge time and money suck.  All worth it in the end, but a bit frustrating while it’s happening.  My high risk explained that it’s promising that we know my body can make it past 33 weeks, but that it took a ton of work to get Luke to 36 weeks.  He’s told me that it will be a ton of work this time around too.  He’s basically promising me that I will be on bedrest at some point, so Alex and I are trying to prepare for that.  We’ve contacted a daycare that we will put the kids in once I’m down for the count.  We’ve also started getting the nursery ready and bags will be packed much earlier so that we can hit the door when the time comes.

For now, it’s a waiting game.  I’m well into my second trimester and was feeling better.  The first few months were really bad.  I was on extra progesterone which makes me feel really crappy on top of normal first trimester blahs.  It’s taken everything in me to keep my kids alive, let alone keep the house in order.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping all fell on Alex.  All I could do was lay around and pray that I would feel better.  It was miserable. I hit the second trimester and that began to fade.  I was able to eat without gagging and go an entire day without napping.  I felt unstoppable! And then I started my progesterone injections.  I immediately remembered why I hated them with Luke’s pregnancy.  First, those little f-er’s are oil based.  So, it takes over a minute for them to go in.  They go in your rear, so you have to stand there ass out for the world for five forevers.  Then it just sits under your skin.  Massaging and ice helps, but your rear is sore and itchy for days.  I always feel crummy the days I get my shots.  It’s guaranteed that I’m going to nap and probably gag all through my meals.  Actually, the nausea sticks around all week and just gets a bit worse on injection days.

I don’t want to come off as miserable, because I don’t like being a miserable person.  I am fine and will be fine.  I’ve been trying to push through with life as normal so that I can make it as normal as possible for my family.  Still failing in the cleaning and sometimes cooking departments, but we are getting by.  Please don’t judge me if you come over to my house in the near future.  I’m really trying to stay positive about it all.  I am so, so grateful that I am able to get pregnant and have babies.  I just hate being sick and feeling like I can’t do the things I need to be doing.  It’s really frustrating for me.  I’m looking at 5 more months of feeling like crap before I get to hold a sweet baby in my arms.  Five months is nothing, right?!?  RIGHT?!

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A belly picture of those that are into that sort of thing. I’ve decided that with your third baby, your body just says ‘screw it’ and you get really big really fast. I promise, there’s only one in there. Also, notice the dirty spots on the mirror from total lack of cleaning lately. See, I don’t make these things up.