Archive for Pregnancy

He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother (41 Weeks)

Toddler Girl has offered to go get little brother out. I only wish it were that simple!

I’m now 41 weeks, 2 days and Junior hasn’t budged. The midwives have already estimated he is large. Clearly he is. I can feel his head and his rear and he is definitely big. The question is, how big? And what, if anything, to do about it.

The ultrasound today places his weight at 10 lbs. 12 oz. Unfortunately, there’s a huge margin of error there. In the back of my mind, though, is another number–8 oz. gained every week. Assuming the sonogram estimate is one pound too heavy, that’s still a large kid, who is getting larger every day.

Because my midwife is associated with the hospital’s practice, she has to inform my of the “increased risk of shoulder dystocia” and “offer” me a scheduled c-section. Which, to a hypochondriac like me, is like chum in the water.

I asked her a million and one questions, driving her to go consult with a doctor and, eventually, just photocopy reference pages for me to take home and read. I’m supposed to page her with our plan tomorrow.

So, full-on research mode. I learn that Fetal Macrosomia is difficult to predict by ultrasound and alone does not indicate a cesarean. I learn that induction in this case is also not indicated…my interpretation in layman’s terms would be “worse than useless.”

I also learn that Shoulder Dystocia is still rare, though a frightening and potentially extremely dangerous complication.

And then I read Nicola’s comment about a big baby birth on British BabyCentre:

i had a scan at 36 weeks which confirmed i was carrying at that time an 8lb baby. my first born was 9lb 5oz and my 2nd was 9lb 6oz. we were expecting a big baby however when i went into labour 12 days overdue, 9 hours later i gave birth to a healthy baby boy weighing 11lb 15oz… All absolutely natural, no stitches. healed absolutely perfectly and was up and about straight after delivery.

And then I found the “miraculous birth” story of this great big baby via Enjoy Birth.

Which is exactly what I needed to hear.

Right now, after pouring through online medical journals, we’re not planning on doing anything until at least 42 weeks. I’m hoping I go into labor before then, and things progress well. I’m considering a private hypnobirthing session, too, to bolster my confidence–I did this when Baby #1 was discovered to be transverse. She turned in time for the birth…I’m not saying there is causation there, but it can’t hurt, right?

Send labor vibes, people!

Virgo it is then…

Theoretically, I could go into labor right now and the baby could theoretically be born in under eight hours. But right now, it looks like Junior is going to be a Virgo.

Diva the Kid is a Leo, as are my granny and mother in law. I generally do well with Leos.

Here’s what BabyCenter’s Horoscope thinks of the Libra and Virgo match-up:

Libra Parent (Me) & Virgo Child

One of your primary concerns in life is harmony in your relationships, but your Virgo child is more interested in attaining perfection. Not nearly as gregarious and people-oriented as you are, he’s most comfortable when surrounded by quiet, order, and routine, so it’s best to establish a daily schedule for his meals and bedtime. This could be difficult for you, since you aren’t as practical as your little Virgo. Efficiency matters less to you than friendliness and positive feelings.

Still, your love of peace and your little Virgo’s need for order can dovetail nicely. Your child appreciates that you keep a pleasant, comfortable home. You, in turn, like the way he keeps his toys organized and, as he gets older, how he completes his chores in a timely manner. It should be easy for you and your child to get along and create a cozy home together.

Hey, Come Out And Play!

Here’s a post I never thought I would be writing–I’ll be 39 weeks on Wednesday and baby boy still hasn’t shown.

Every time I pick up a bag without warning, my little girl thinks I am “going to work to bring baby brother out.” According to her, little steps are going to drop down and he is going to walk out.

Diva the kid is very eager to meet her little brother. She draws portraits of him, having recently mastered the art of drawing an oval and placing “two eyes, nose, mouth, and HAIR (scribbled most enthusiastically)” in more or less the correct spots.

Everything she associates with being a big girl has become tied in with brother’s arrival. According to her, she will sleep in her own bed and give him the crib, give him all her “bops” (pacifiers), and start using the potty. Somehow I think this transformation will take a bit longer, but who am I to disagree?

In the meantime, though, we are all waiting for the big boy to come out and play. At my 38 week appointment, the midwife said, “How big do you think this baby is?”

I answered, “Well…based on my complete lack of medical training and my single previous experience being pregnant, I think he’s bigger than she was. I think he’s already over 8 lbs.”

She gave me a somewhat indulgent look and responded, “At least!” in a way that implied he was most likely a bit over. Of course, none of this is reliable measurement, but I won’t be surprised if he’s over 9 lbs at this point.

We’re all ready to go now. Granny’s been staying for a week to watch the toddler, I’ve been clearing my work schedule, and Daddy’s been on alert–cell phone on at all times.

We’re all ready, except the guest of honor.

Week 28: GBS Positive

My Group B Strep test came back positive. So, of course, as with everything else, I go into full research mode.

For the most part, Group B Strep does not pass from mother to child, especially in the absence of other risk factors.

Usually, the treatment is to administer penicillin to the mother during labor at least four hours prior to birth.

Fairly straightforward except for a couple of things:

1. I’m concerned about extended labor post-rupture, which is what happened last time. And the hospital has a policy of administering post-natal antibiotics in the NICU, instead of in the room. My intention is to room-in with my baby, barring actual medical emergency.

2. There are also concerns about potential negative effects from penicillin antibiotics used during birth to combat Group B Strep.

I contacted my favorite gentle parenting blogger and asked if she had any information, resources, or advice. She forwarded some information from a midwife friend of hers who also recommended this article: The War on Group B Strep.

What I’m doing right now is using some herbal supplements to boost my immune system. I checked these with my midwife and she said they would not harm me or the baby and would not interfere with the antibiotics assuming I choose to take them.

If I either do not arrive at the hospital in time, have extended rupture, or refuse antibiotics, she said they would watch the baby carefully and possibly do a blood test in case of any concerns.

Although I feel the risk of a Group B Strep infection is very small, and there are risks from the antibiotics, right now, I am planning on taking the antibiotics assuming there is time.

Life Line or Pipe Dream?

Parenting involves tough decisions, and here’s one:

Should we bank our son’s cord blood?

Our daughter has a congenital heart defect (Tetralogy of Fallot) and received an open heart surgery repair when she was three months’ old. She’s doing great, but will eventually need a valve. Some recent studies and trials show that it may be possible to grow a transplant valve from stem cells that would grow with the recipient–in fact, researchers have grown a heart valve from bone marrow cells.

At the end, I’ll explain why I hope you’ll consider donating cord blood if you are expecting a baby soon.

But this post is about our decision about whether or not to use a private bank to store our son’s cord blood.

Here’s where it gets complicated.

I was pulling my hair out weighing the options with little information, pouring through academic papers that were way out of my field. Finally, I found this really helpful article about whether or not to bank cord blood, that gave me some more information so I could make up my mind.

Will the technology work?
This, of course, is just speculation. Who knows what they will be using ten or twenty years from now. So, no real answers there. If your child has a disease that is currently treatable with cord blood, you can apply for Sibling Donor Programs that will cover the costs for you. Since this is still experimental for heart valves, our daughter would not qualify–but it is good to know about these programs other parents are able to use.

If they do build a transplant valve, will it be more likely that they will use her bone marrow cells or cells from cord blood?

Hard to say. In many children currently being treated with stem cells, their own cells contain the genetic markers for the disease and is therefore unusable. However, that is not an issue when growing a replacement valve. Therefore, our daughter’s bone marrow would provide an exact genetic match without the issues involved in treating children with other diseases. Also, a single cord blood unit often does not contain enough cells to treat the patient. If my daughter is ultimately treated with cord blood, there is a possibility the surgeons will need multiple units, anyway.

Are we more likely to find a match from her brother’s cord blood or from a public bank?

If we do use cord blood at some point for her, it seems likely we would have to turn to a public bank. Although the chances of finding tissue matches among family is higher than finding tissue matches in a group of strangers, the odds are only 25% that any one sibling is a tissue match. On the other hand, it appears that the numbers game changes the odds. If thousands of samples are available in public banks, the odds are much better that one of these will be a match than the blood banked from one sibling. And, as I mentioned above, many treatments require multiple units anyway.

When will she need it?

We’ve gotten different answers from different doctors. Some say in her early teens, while others believe she will be able to wait until her early 20s. This matters, because we’re not sure about the length of storage possible for cord blood. Some studies suggest it may last up to fifteen years or more…or it may not. So, even assuming we bank her brother’s blood and it is a match and the technology is there and it is enough to grow her a valve, the blood may no longer be usable when we need it.

So, what does this all mean?

To bank privately or not is a hard decision. I would spend any amount of money to give my daughter the best shot at a healthy life. Many patients with valve replacements live long, full lives. At the same time, it seems foolish to throw thousands of dollars at a pipe dream–money that could be spent giving her and her brother other opportunities.

Current transplant valve materials all have issues and all require replacement approximately every 15-20 years. Heart surgery is growing by leaps and bounds, however, and it is entirely possible that a valve grown from stem cells (or made out of another material, like the super-elastic, shape-memory metal alloy called “thin film nitinol”) may be a real option for my daughter.

So, that doesn’t let any of us off the hook!!! Please donate cord blood!

Public banks of cord blood will be the source of stem cells for many potentially life-saving treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia, immune deficiency diseases, aplastic anemia, thalassemia and probably more in the future. If you give birth at a qualifying hospital, without any charge you can donate cord blood, which contains stem cells that may save a child’s life.

Go Ahead, Make My Day (34 Weeks Prenatal Visit)

We went to the 34 Week Prenatal Visit last night. Yes, it was the same midwife from last time, though she seemed to have relaxed and there were no more awkward non-joke jokes.

We have decided to have a hospital birth because my first child was born with a complex heart condition and my husband was deployed during the last birth. We considered a home birth, but decided that wasn’t the best option this time for our family as a whole. Although I wish we had the “middle ground” option of a birthing center, that isn’t available in our area.

So, at this visit, I brought a draft of the birth plan to get an idea of what to emphasize. Our hospital is actually the best in our area both as a medical facility and in terms of what I want for the birth–the midwife practice has a very low c-section rate, less than half the national average, and the other area hospitals do not offer rooming in. So, all was going relatively well until we got to the part about allowing labor to progress naturally even after the membranes release.

Although she said they are willing to let things take their natural course, she casually mentioned that if I develop a fever during labor, my son will be brought to the NICU for antibiotics until he is cleared to go.

“The WHAT?”

Last time I did in fact develop a fever, which no one noticed until my mom said, “She’s burning up.” The wait for antibiotics stalled the labor but in the end, everything worked out fine. After she was born, my daughter was given antibiotics in an IV drip in our room. After 24 hours, she checked out fine and, if it weren’t for the heart murmur, we would have been able to leave.

So, explain to me why my son would need to go to a NICU to receive antibiotics?

According to the midwife: “That was Texas. I don’t know of any hospital in New York that does that. That’s the policy.”

Hopefully this won’t be an issue. But what bothers me the most is the pressure it puts on once the membranes release–the threat of separation hanging over you, pressuring you to make decisions you don’t want to make. If labor isn’t progressing, then here comes the suggestion of pictocin (don’t want to get an infection and be separated), and then the increased risk of a c-section. Last time I had pit but no c-section (thankfully), but that’s a fairly typical downward spiral of how a mama who wants to have a natural or vaginal birth can lose control of her own labor. To me this is not allowing things to take their course.

Later on, I find out that they have a “non-separation bonus” which means that, if requested in advance, the standard heel-pricking, etc. are done in the room with you unless they don’t have enough staffing.

Would I have found out about this if I hadn’t strongly expressed the desire to not be separated from my newborn son?

And, sorry…we’ll wait until staffing is available for non-urgent medical procedures. Unless someone’s life is in danger, no one is taking my newborn son from me.

Out in the parking lot, I turned to my husband and said, “You know, I can refuse consent…if there’s a problem, we may find out how security reacts to a postpartum mama who refuses to hand over her baby.”

He gave me that look you give the strange guy on the street who mutters to himself.

“Will you back me up?”

He still looked a bit anxious, but to his credit the man said yes.

Toddlerism: Kids DO Say the Darndest Things

My Two Year Old, pointing to my belly, very serious: Little Baby Brother inside.

Me: Yes.

Toddler: Sleeping.

Me: Maybe, Sweetie.

Toddler: Dark inside.

Me: Yes, love.

Toddler, making finger-wiggling motion: Little crib inside.

Me: Side-splitting laughter at the image of a little micro-universe inside my womb.

Baby CyberShower for Junior

Some of my FABULOUS online friends are throwing me a baby cybershower on Mamanista. Pamela Kramer of Happy Panda Baby, who also blogs at PMKU, is my hostess with the mostess and our three shower game guest judges are the marvelous: Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Kristen from Mod*Mom and Christine from Dates to Diapers!

Whether or not you are a blogger, please go join in the fun (play games, say “hi,” and enter to win great prizes), because the guests make a party!

My hostess informs me that people like to see “bump” pics of the mama, so I am going to reveal my HUGE bump (as of this past Friday, 33.5 weeks along). Why do people think it is cute to ask, “Are you carrying twins?” Yes, this second go around I am much larger (and way more swollen) than last time. But still cute, right? ‘Cause pregnant women glow, right?

And to get a little bit of a soundtrack going for the party, during both pregnancies, I had “These Are Days” repeating over and over in my head. Because truly, these are days I’ll remember and carrying a baby is a blessing. Music always sets the mood for me. I actually made different mixes (slow rock, fast rock, slow classical, fast classical, and world music) to bring to my labor so I’d have something that suited my taste at the moment.

Now, let’s play some shower games!

Over at Mamanista, you’ll have an opportunity to play some games and win some prizes, too. Even though of course I’m not entering for prizes (I already got such gorgeous gifts), I will play along right here.

The first is the Most Inspirational Story. My last labor was difficult, and I’m am certainly hoping this next one is easier and more natural…which is part of why I want you all to inspire me with your tales! Maybe some of you will find my labor story inspiring:

My daughter arrived a week and a half early and her father was on his way home for leave from Iraq. In the preceding week, we had discovered she was in the transverse position. So, I started doing handstands in the pool to get her to reposition. Perhaps this led to my water breaking in the early hours of the following morning, or maybe not, but either way she was head down!

The following 24 hours were amazing. Although labor stalled, I accepted pictocin, at about hour 10 I went for the epidural, and I contracted an infection that stalled my contractions, those 24 hours were some of the most empowering of my life.

Each step of the way, I questioned each procedure and made the decision that I believed to be right. I refused the IV when I came in and I fought to keep trying hours after everyone else seemed to have given up. As we started getting closer to 24 hours, I could feel the epidural wearing off and I insisted they let me stand (holding onto the bar) so I could let gravity help.

And then I pushed my beautiful baby into the world and was placed on my chest, making the whole labor more than worth the effort. Her body was the exact temperature of mine and she just felt perfect.

The next game is Most Fabulous Nest. I chose a jungle theme for our last nursery. Although I don’t think it would win most fabulous nest, it was a serene place for me and my first baby. This time, we’re holding off on designing Junior’s space because my little girl didn’t use her room much until she was older. We’ll start him off in the co-sleeper each night and then he can join us in bed if he likes. Once he’s too old for the co-sleeper, he’ll move into his sister’s crib and inherit her room…and she’ll get to choose her own decorations.



The final game is the best/worst/funniest advice for new parents. I think that “nap while the baby sleeps” may qualify for all three. Certainly it is a great idea because new mamas need lots of rest. But who are all these moms who manage to nap with the baby all the time? And how much hired (or family) help do they have?

I think the best advice I’ve heard is to not take everything personally with the baby. You just do your best and then if the baby still cries, you just know that you did what your instincts said was right. That, and get a sling.

Now you go head on over to the CyberShower, play along, and don’t forget to leave a comment!

How Do You Respond to That?

Last night we went to the midwife appointment. There are six midwives in the practice, so last night we saw one we hadn’t seen before and she had a strange sense of humor.

In she walks, full of nervous energy. She says hello and then poses near the calendar on the wall:

“I like to pose near the calendar so people can see…” She’s one of those people who laughs at her own jokes.

Hubby and I laugh, too. Not because that was particularly funny, but because she’s obviously making a good natured attempt to help us feel more comfortable.

While we’re still laughing, she adds, “Because I’m the dark one.” Then, as our laughter starts to become less comfortable. “Most people don’t believe I work here so I show them the calendar.”

HUH?

Did our (African American) midwife just make a racist joke? About herself? And or the bigotry of her patients?

And how does one react to that? If we keep laughing, do we approve of the joke? And if we stop laughing, what does that signal?

Leaving aside the race issue, it isn’t really even a joke–lacking any comedic structure or timing.

Throughout the appointment, she was friendly and professional and thorough…but she definitely had one of those odd senses of humor. The type that is not particularly funny, so she just tells the jokes really quickly and then laughs loudly. Later in the appointment, she compared my two year-old’s typical toddler speech patterns to Tarzan/caveman speak. Not really offensive…just strange and not especially well-delivered.

I really hope she isn’t the one on for the delivery…I don’t think I’d find her brand of humor especially relaxing.

False Alarm

I already wrote my somewhat angsty, confused thoughts about my 10 Year College Reunion. I wanted to share this anecdote but it didn’t fit with the tone of the rest of my post.

My feet were the size of waterlogged bath towels as we headed back to our beds. As I am walking, I feel something wet down the back of my legs.

Maybe it is air conditioning, I figure, and keep walking.

Again, drip drop…I look up. No A/C units. Maybe moisture from the trees?

Drip drop. Not under any trees this time.

Now I’m starting to panic. I’m 30 weeks along…I can’t have this baby yet! And I have no time for bed rest!!!

Maybe you’re sweating, suggests the husband.

No, I don’t sweat that much.

I take a few steps, splitter splatter.

Then I realize…my daughter had put her still open sippy cup of water in my bag. And the sippy was leaking…down the back of my leg.

So, I’m still pregnant…and everything is fine, as far as I know.