Sunday, May 23, 2010

The point at which my butt expands rapidly

In addition to my lovely emotional outburst yesterday, I had another "burst".

Involving my backside.
And hips and thighs.

in a big way.

Two weeks ago I wore a cute little black and white skirt. I finally took the time to make myself a black wrap shirt this week, and was thinking how cute it'd look with said black and white skirt.

So as I got dressed for church on Sunday morning I anxiously plucked the skirt out of my closet, thankful that I still had a little time left in it before it had to be tucked away.

Or so I thought.

This skirt was a splurge at White House Black Market a couple of years ago. I was thrilled with the number on the tag, and even more at the fact that it was a little lose when I bought it. It is a happy piece of clothing.
So the fact that I could still wear it at 6 months pregnant was just uber thrilling! Hear my heart pitter patter.

I pulled it up.
I noticed it was getting a little snug around the back, but not too bad.
I zipped it up.

Er, make that, I tried to zip it up.

Halfway exactly.

And that's all she wrote.

Yes, the beloved skirt that zipped all the way up just two short weeks ago would now not even zip beyond halfway.
Clinging to some last shred of hope I thought that maybe I could still pull it off since the shirt I made literally wraps around me a handful of times, and would easily covered the unzipped portion at the top of the skirt.

So I looked in the mirror.
And turned around.

All I could think was Steel Magnolias.
"Looks like two pigs fightin' under a blanket."

WAY too accurate.

And so, it is with heavy heart, that my cute little black and white skirt has been shelved.
And I realized that the jeans I just washed don't exactly fit.
And neither does that pair of capris.

Wow. I am thinking maybe instead of measuring my belly every week that I should be measuring my butt every week.
I inarguably carry most of my pregnancy weight there each and every time. It's just the way things go for me. But never have I remembered such an unbelievably rapid growth in my lower half/back side.

"So hips/butt/thighs-what do you want to do tonight?"
"Try to take over the world!!"

Off to a good start.

One day I'll get control of these emotions again

Anyone who has been pregnant or spent more than 30 seconds around a pregnant woman knows that pregnant emotions are unpredictable. And unfortunately sometimes uncontrolable. Just when you think you're fine, the water works start again.

A pregnant woman can go from laughing to crying in roughly 1.36 seconds.
And vice versa.

Sometimes without provocation.

It's interesting.

I was talking with a friend of mine on Sunday in between church meetings. His wife is due just two weeks after me. They are expecting twins. Back in the beginning of our pregnancies we joked about who would go first, since the average pregnancy with twins tends to be about 36 weeks and most of my babies have come around 38 weeks. We wondered who would "win" and give birth first.
I told her I was happy to let her have that one.

And so it was that I was discussing with this friend my pregnancy and his wife's pregnancy as we sat in the foyer at church. He mentioned that their dr keeps talking about delivery around 35-36 weeks.
I tried to keep things light and mentioned that I hoped she was pregnant long enough to avoid having babies in the NICU, and how much I'd love for her to "win" that whole 'who delivers first' thing that we'd talked about. Especially if she makes it to 36 weeks.
He asked why?
I told him because if she made it to 36 weeks and I was still pregnant, that would mean I had made it to 38 weeks still pregnant.
He asked if that wasn't happening now. Hadn't things looked good at our last ultrasound?

Well, the last one he heard about yeah.
Not our last one.

And then I lost it.
I felt so stupid sitting there totally unable to control the water works. Trying to gain my composure enough to explain that at our last appointment we had begun laying preliminary plans for delivery. We had theorized on when that might have to happen. And how much it sucked to even be having to think about that at 26 weeks.
I was able to choke out "we had to start talking delivery plans. Our next few appointments will be to help establish a growth curve of his head size and whether or not we need to get him out sooner rather than later." Followed up with "It's just so early to have to think about that...."

Great. Bonus points to the preggo emotional chick for not only being awkward, but making said friend feel super awkward. Along with the other friend who happened to be standing there for this conversation. Good going.

As I apologized profusely for my lack of emotional control and sucked it up enough to explain the latest, I felt so awful. Awful for making him feel bad, awful for not having better control, awful for having to say it out loud again, making it all the more real.

As I was explaining everything going on to someone else a couple of weeks ago she asked "So, have you just explained it so many times now that it's easy to say? It doesn't make you emotional anymore?" Well, at that point, pretty much. I'd get teary occasionally depending on who I was talking to and how I was doing that day, but usually I was fine.
I am such a control freak that I dislike that this latest development has thrown me for a loop and altered my ability to do that still.

So if you happen to be talking to me and I just randomly lose it, go ahead and chalk it up to the pregnancy. Or lack of M&Ms consumed within 24 hours. They help with emotional stability. Did you know that? Not with the thigh spread, but hey, you can't win them all. And yes, I gladly take donations.

Living on a yo-yo sucks

So the official transfer has begun.

A new hospital, and new perinatologist. Just one specifically even though there is a full team of them there. It will be nice to be have just one specialist taking over my care. Almost like a normal pregnancy. Except for that one specialist is also assisted by an MA and Midwife that I will also see at each appointment for the routine stuff while the peri worries about the big stuff and the technical stuff. It will be nice to have one specific specialist following my care though. Though all the perinatologists we've met over the past....what's it been? only 8-9 weeks? seems like an eternity...have been wonderful, it will be nice to have a constant.

Our new peri really is great, thank goodness. She had some big shoes to fill after everything Dr H (who was the wonderful peri we saw last week) spoke so highly of her. She is very personable, seems very knowledgeable, and the others we saw before her on Thursday morning spoke very highly of her as well. As a bonus, she was a happy person (ever notice how a relatively high number of drs are just very serious? Not willing to be jovial? bugs me). She also happens to be a native Texan and didn't skip a beat when Aaron (half)jokingly asked, "So, Texas huh? What do you carry?" The woman rattled off a preference without skipping a beat! ha! She also didn't look at him weirdly for asking. Bonus points.


Last Thursday as we did the full care transfer and started getting acquainted with the staff the will now be over our care, and the hospital we will now be delivering at (hospital #4 since this pregnancy began, just in case you were curious), we saw a sonographer (with 20+yrs experience), a Dr of Radiology (who teaches specialties internationally), the MA, the Midwife, the Perinatologist, and a member of the Neonatology team. Needless to say it was a long appointment.

We started with the sonographer who was wonderful. I hear all these stories from people about how their ultrasound was bitter sweet because the person running the machine was awful. I'm so glad I haven't run into that. And I hope we end up with Jo doing more of our ultrasound work in the coming weeks (hopefully months). She was a gem! At one point as we were looking over everything she asked "Have you chosen a name?" I replied, "Yep, his name is Samuel." She paused for a moment and said "Sandal?" I corrected her and pronounced more clearly "Sam-u-el". She started laughing so hard she had to stop the scan! It was great. :) She turned and said, "Now you have to admit that I handled that well! I didn't even flinch or balk. And some of the names I hear....Wow." This then led to a slew of bad jokes about what our other kids names are, and that if we could have one more shot at things we could have twins named Flip and Flop. She was a riot.

But of course we all had to snap back to reality, and as she was concerned about some of the shots she couldn't get, she pulled Dr W (the radiologist) in with us to see what she could find.

Unfortunately things weren't quite so light hearted after that.

We were so very very thrilled last week when after three weeks Sam's ventricles were mostly stable and had only grown a slight bit. After just a six day time span from that last ultrasound until this one, we expected to see roughly the same. But as a reminder that this is truly a day by day, week by week process, We didn't see what we hoped. We were thrilled when his smaller vent measured just under 21mm (less than last time!), our hearts sank when we saw that his other vent was measuring just over 30mm. That is nearly a 50% increase over a period of a week for that side. Obviously that's not great news.
It also appears as though there is some fusing going on between his frontal lobes. I think I have mentioned in the past that we couldn't see the midline division between the two hemispheres of his brain at certain levels. We assumed it was because of the fluid concentration since we could see it both below and above where the fluid was the greatest. We couldn't find it this time.
This then led to a discussion (again) of the amnio results, and reemphasis that they did indeed come back clean, with no indication of a trisomy or major genetic disorder. This seemed to be a bit concerning, and it seems as though there is a bit of wonder as to why we may be seeing this. Typically when brain fusion is present it is indicative of something called Holoprosencephaly (HPE). The good news is that this has been ruled out with the clean amnio. Also this usually comes with some very obvious facial deformities, and we have seen over and over our little boy's sweet perfect face; his eyes, nose and lips are all perfectly formed and we have seen them with great clarity. So what it is that may be causing this? We have no idea at this point. Nice huh?
The only way to really get a better look at this is through MRI where each layer of brain tissue can be looked at in depth. We have chosen to stick with the original timing that was discussed for the MRI ( about 30wks), so we will be doing that in 3 or 4 weeks. Until then the only things we can really watch will be the growth of his head circumference and ventricles. After the MRI we will start the consults with Pediatric neurosurgery-assuming that we are in a situation where it will be a feasible and worthwhile option after we have some more information on what's going on inside his head.

It was really kind of hard to start talking about delivery plans and timing and just what all may be coming up in the next few weeks. Obviously we hope for a couple of months, but we will have more frequent ultrasounds now to see if we can get a good idea of the growth curve that his head is following so that we can accurately plan for a reasonable delivery time. We are still hoping to be able to avoid a surgical delivery, but of course there are a number of factors playing into that as we go over things each week.

It just seems too soon to be having to start planning for all of this.

It's difficult to go from such a high to yet another low. It's like living on a yo-yo. We're down, we're back up, we're back down again, and up. Then it comes time for the down again, so hopefully our appointment in a week and a half will be not another down, but another up. Or at least keep us spinning on the same level without another drop.

We're certainly learning to practice some patience as we go one or two weeks at a time waiting for the next dose of information. Someone asked this weekend "So do you feel like it just keeps knocking you down, or are you sitting at a point where you can say 'ok, bring it on!' as you go to each appointment?" While I'd love to say I was confident and strong enough that I feel like I can handle whatever it is that's heading our way.....I'm just not there most days. There are days when I feel like I'm handling things well, but others-like last Thursday-where I just beg the heavens for the strength to be able to make it through each piece of this puzzle that comes our way. It's hard to feel so optimistic about things to then be left wondering again.
And then we're exactly where we were when this entire things started. Placing our faith and trust in the only option that will carry us through, hoping for the best, but trusting that "the best" might not necessarily be what we have in mind, and praying that we will still be willing-and able-to accept that.

Pregnant woman running the sequel: Awkward and slow

I am still fighting to run.

Yesterday, I didn't exactly conquer.

I had signed up for another virtual race. A 10K this time.

After last week's stellar 10K, I was really looking forward to this!

And then yesterday morning dawned.
Well, it kind of dawned. The sun didn't exactly show up because it was horribly cloudy. And rainy. Pouring. And cold. COLD! There was snow on the hills just a couple of miles from our house. Yep, end of May and snow. Nice.

I decided to roll over and get a little more sleep.
Thankfully the rain also decided to take a break and was gone when I got up an hour later.

But it was still cold.
Like layers and gloves to run cold.

But enough about the weather.

There comes a point in pregnancy where you wake up one morning and everything just feels different. It's like everything has shifted. You have to hoist yourself up out of bed and you wonder who swapped your body out for this one you woke up in and why they would do such a thing. It takes a minute for your legs to adjust, you waddle/hobble to the bathroom because you are sure you will explode if you don't make it there in record time, and as you hurry yourself in there to avoid a puddle your legs laugh at you because some nasty nerve has decided that they shouldn't work as normal either.

It's fun.

But this weekend the mental beat the physical, so out the door I went.

I've been getting some leg pain, especially in my shins during my runs for the past few weeks, so I finally sucked it up and got some new running shoes. Granted I was a few hundred miles over due anyway and should probably be nicer to my feet and legs under normal circumstances. My pregnant legs were begging me for a little help, so I finally obliged.

And since I'm a cheapo, I was not about to let the new investment in footwear take a backseat on the first Saturday in my possession because of low temps and pregnancy aches. These shoes will be used to full capacity darn it!

I hit my normal 2 mile wall, but today, I just couldn't push past it. It didn't help that my ipod died just past mile 2. Great.
Now my only accompaniment was my plodding steps, my popping hip, and gasping breaths.
Not exactly the same motivation as a good beat and distracting lyrics.
I ended up taking a couple of walk breaks on the way to the turn around.
I just couldn't find my groove.

But I still faked a smile for a finish pic.

And Sam likes the ride so he was smiling too.

(You'll just have to take my word for it)
And the new lovely ritual of rest, hydrate, rest, eat something NOW while hydrating and resting. You know, just to make sure everything is ok in there. And wait for Sam's victory dance to make sure he's still happy in there.

My husband had to head out to a study group before I got home and he passed me as I was on my run back in.
After he returned from his studying we had the following conversation:
" was your run today?"
"It sucked rocks."
"Really? I'm sorry. Why's that?"
"My ipod died. My legs hurt. My hips felt off. My bladder hated me, even with two bathroom stops. And it was cold. And I couldn't run the whole thing. I had to take a walk break. A WALK break!!!"
"But I made it the full 6 and change miles. Even if I was exponentially slower than I wanted. I just felt awkward running today."

He then chuckled a little. Of course I asked for elaboration.

He was then kind enough to give me a demonstration of what I looked like as he passed me when I was running home. I was about 4-5miles in to my "run" when he passed me.
His demo was hilarious. And sad. And from what I felt like when I was running, frighteningly accurate as to what I'm guessing I looked like.

Awkward and slow.
But still plodding along. I may have to have him come out and tape me on one of these runs so that I can have some comic relief when I need it.

And the stubborn in me will keep on keepin' on until I'm down to the weird pregnant waddle/hobble/fast walk. At which point it will probably even more amusing to watch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

26 weeks

I am so glad to be pregnant for one more week.

I feel like I am starting to press my luck here. I have made it to the end of my second trimester. About to embark on the third. I have a belly that grows by the day, filled with a beautifully active and strong little boy.

It is still so hard some days to think that there is something wrong in there. By all accounts other than the technological peeks inside me, things are picture perfect.

Ok, well, truthfully in a "perfect" world I wouldn't still be randomly fighting morning sickness, and my veins wouldn't be quite so prominent (nor would my thighs and butt), but considering the many other things found in the grab bag of pregnancy, I'll gladly take my lot.

28 weeks has been a magic number for me since this all started being a "how long will this last" kind of situation. And now it's only two weeks away. That both terrifies me and thrills me. So glad to have made it this far, continually praying that I-no, that WE will make it further than any of us ever thought.

And somehow I neglected to take a picture this week. No giant ballooning growth though, so just look at last week, and next week, and conjure up something in between!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Run Like a Mother

Obviously running is a release for me. A physical, mental and emotional way to just let it all go so I can keep on going. Some days I'm fine without it, some days lately skipping a run is a welcome break. But some days I feel like I'm going to just burst at the seams if I don't get out.

There's a book that caught my attention that was released recently. It's called Run Like a Mother. Though the title makes me giggle, it was the idea behind the book that really struck me. Two women-moms-put together their thoughts on running, their experiences, their ups their downs.....and then added to it the input of dozens of other running moms. Genius.

I am blessed to have a couple of runner mom friends who understand the addiction. They understand my drive to (try to) keep running for now, and the withdrawal on the days when it just doesn't work.

This book was like a long conversation with them.

It is amazing motivation, and great comfort on those days when I just didn't get out, or I did get out but really wondered why I even bothered as I hobbled home after a pitiful few miles.

Within the first two pages of this book I was hooked. And within the first two pages, they hit the nail right on the head; "It's the truth: For an overstressed, overtired, overextended mother, there are few other sensations that rival a delicious run. Once the sweat starts running down my temples, I daydream, analyze, smile, wonder, channel something cosmic. I feel alive and, perhaps most importantly, like myself again."

And so the fight of mental and emotional continues against the physical.

Some days I feel like I'm running away. Some days it seems like if I can just run a little faster and a little further, I can leave all of my fear and stress and reality behind.

And yet on some days it feels like when I run it will all be ok. My mind clears, my heart finds peace. Instead of running away from things, it feels like I'm running to the clarity that I seek.
My body does exactly what it was made to do, which gives me hope that as the coming weeks pass it will be willing to do the same in regards to this pregnancy.

The Saturday 10K-A Victory Lap

I'm calling it last week's victory lap.

Because it was a week of victories.

*We all survived. Trust me, some weeks that is a victory.
*One week closer to summer vacation. Hallelujah. Can't come fast enough!
*One week closer to Aaron finishing this quarter of his schooling. The last week of June will be heaven. (he gets a week of before the next quarter starts)
*I am still pregnant. (woo-hoo!)
*The house was clean. At one point. For a little while. I promise.
*It was sunny and warm! Not my doing, but a victory lately none the less.
*I finally painted the bathroom!
*I'm sure there are more things I'm forgetting. Pregnant brain and all.
*and most importantly-all that good stuff at our Perinatology appointment and ultrasound last Friday. If somehow you missed that, scroll down just a tad. Plus new hospital, new specialist, and uber on top of it people-the "we'll contact you within a few days to get you in within a week or two" turned into a phone call 4 hours later an appointment on Thursday at 8am! Wow!

So really, a good run was the perfect cap on the week.
Saturday was beyond beautiful-a perfect running morning. Though I am getting a little slower every week (sometimes it seems every day), the fact that I can still go the distance thrills me to death. I am learning to listen to my body in a different way; Last year it was hearing the "this hurts, stop!!" and pushing through it. And then pushing further and harder. This year it's been a big challenge to get those "this hurts!" signals from my body and figure out if it's just getting to that point of the good ache or if it's really hurting and I really need to slow down or stop. I think I'm finally figuring it out.
I guess the fact that I end up laughing out loud when I finally heard the line "I was forced with remorse to learn the bassoon" in one of the songs on my playlist when I have five miles under my belt is a good indicator that I've found the balance.

Finishing with a smile on my face, a focus on distance instead of time (I'm over an hour for a 10K now though-oy...ok, so mostly focusing on distance and lesson time...), and feeling good the rest of the day instead of dead (which can be a challenge during pregnancy without the running) is even better news.

Definitely a victory lap.

Looking forward to this weekend's virtual 10K, and hopefully another the weekend after that. Unless I can find a decent Memorial Day race that doesn't have a steep entry fee.
A local city celebration 5K is the first weekend in June, I'm wondering if my body will still be willing to pull off a 30 minute finish in another two weeks. Hoping so. If no, I'm proud of my mind for letting a 30minute finish be an ok thing.

Answered Prayers, Miracles, and a STELLAR appointment

We were so nervous about today's appointment after that lovely (ARGH!) experience we had with the "Dr" we saw last time. (Just because you have a PhD does not make you a doctor. But enough about that.) We have been praying that we would be able to meet with a dr that would be helpful and understanding of our hopes and fears and desires for this pregnancy and for our baby. When someone other than the dr we originally saw today walked in we were nervous. Dh even said right up front, "uh, isn't Dr E here? We are supposed to see HER." The Dr said she was more than happy to get Dr E if we preferred and wasn't the least bit bothered, but I kind of explained the concern and the issues we had last time, and told her that as long as she was a perinatologist I was happy to give her a shot and if we had concerns we could pull Dr E in as well. This woman, Dr H, was WONDERFUL!!! She was so kind and understanding and absolutely dead on with everything we've researched, been concerned about and hope for and want concerning both my health and Sam's. From our plan for care, to delivery, to was like a gift wrapped answer to our prayers! She was a gem!

She completely addressed every fear and question and concern we've had come up in the past month. She was just so darn wonderful!

Sam is doing remarkably well. Though he's not doing any "better", or even staying stagnant as far as ventricle size, the increase over the past three weeks has been about as minimal as we could hope for. Last appt his vents were measuring 19.7 and 22.3mm, this time they were 22.3 and 22.7 (?I think?), so really not a huge change! His head was measuring 3wks ahead last time, and is consistent at about 3wks ahead this time (just a couple of days past 3wks ahead). Everything else measures almost perfectly to the day to where it should be. His heart still looks amazing-there is no reason to be doing echos or consulting with a cardiologist, which is something we were told we needed last time. His hr is strong at 149, still active and growing just as he should be which is SUCH a relief! As I have found other hydrocephalus moms online and looked at the measurements of their babies in utero, it seems that a lot of the big jumps in vent/head size occur at about this time. One little boy who measured almost exactly as Sam has at our past few appointments had a jump in head size from 3wks ahead to 12wks ahead at this point in his development. I was terrified that we were going to see that today-and SO grateful that we didn't! All things considered, our little guy is thriving in there-beating back so much of what we were told in the beginning of all of this.

We will be transferring my care, up to the U which is adjacent to the Children's Hospital that serves many of the Intermountain states. That way we will be within steps of surgery if we happen to need it asap after delivery. The U hospital and the children's hospital are connected, so it's just down the hallway. Even if I end up with a section (hopefully not-this dr was VERY encouraging about planning a vaginal delivery still!!), I will be able to just get right to baby and not be stuck at a hospital elsewhere recovering myself. Unfortunately the Dr we saw today does not primarily practice at the U, but does have privileges there and does service weeks there every so often, so she does have two partners she works with that are primarily based at the U. She was so positive about them both, and is setting up an appointment for us to meet with one of them in the next week or two. From what she said this other Dr seems to have very similar ideas towards practice as she does, and they both believe that setting up a plan of care to move forward with at this point in the game will be beneficial for us and for all those involved in my care and Sam's. She also mentioned that this dr is a crazy marathoner, so she'll for sure understand the fact that I'm still trying to keep running.

We'll soon be meeting the perinatologist who will be assuming our care-we will just be transferring everything from the midwife to eliminate all the extra appointments. The MRI will be scheduled within the next month, as well as a consult with neonatologists and peds neurosurgeons so that after we have the MRI results we can start establishing a care plan for Sam once he gets here too. The MRI is a fairly vital step in letting us know what is really going on in his head-in the mounds of research I've done in the past month (I feel like I'm working for a degree in hydrocephalus at this point!), I found that in 40-50% of cases like ours where the hydrocephalus appears to be isolated, the MRI will reveal other issues that weren't detectable through ultrasound. We are anxiously looking ahead to see what more information we can find on Sam's condition, and are so grateful for the amazing advances in technology that will allow us to do so.

It is so nice to feel like we are finally moving forward, and with plans to prepare for a baby-not a funeral! Though it will still be a wait and see thing, and as far as any of us know, it's possible that his vent and head size could increase exponentially tomorrow and totally blow the prognosis we are looking at as of today's u/s. It will still be touch and go in the newborn period, especially if he decides to come earlier than term, so the possibility of the worst case of losing our little boy is still very real. But today I feel like I am walking on air-this is the best news we have had in the past 7 weeks! So for now we're basking in the glow of today's great news and moving forward with unbelievably grateful, and hopeful hearts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sam's first official race

For obvious reasons my race schedule this year is pretty much zero. When the 1/2 in March got bagged due to being thoroughly entrenched in morning sickness (still) I was bummed. Then life came crashing down 5 days later so that really didn't matter anymore. There's a nice dose of perspective for you, huh?

Since I'm (already?!) getting to the point where I can't guarantee that my veins won't be trying to burst from my skin, my knee won't totally let go, that I won't wet myself or that my sciatic nerve might actually behave, scheduling any race at this point is iffy. Don't get me wrong, I'm still eyeing a handful of 5 and 10k's in the next two months.... (shh....don't tell my husband....)

While I am all about getting my run fix on a daily basis while it's still possible, it is different when you are running for something other than to just run. It's nice. It's motivating.

I've found that virtual races offer a nice fix for me. And for the typical steep entry fee for even short races anymore.

The latest was the 5/5 5K hosted by a runner whose blog I follow.

So I signed up. And signed Sam up too.

He was coming along for the run anyway, but hey, the kid believes in a good cause (this was for donations to marathon for the cure) so we made it official.

This looks like pre-race belly mug shots or something.

Yes-those are his actual feet on his race bib. I love baby feet. Ultrasound feet pictures are to die for. And yes I made him a race bib. Take that.

Number 8-since he is of course our number 8, and 169 for me, as today I am 169 days pregnant.

What I lack in creativity I make up for with......uh.....something else I hope.

I love running against just me-not worrying about anyone else around me-but still hoping to push myself.

And it was a beautiful day for a run!

Since this is a "pick your own course" run, I chose to start at Unity Pass and run home across the valley. Even the antelope were out for a while, which is always fun to see while out on the path.

Also, I learned that apparently the effort of trying to take a picture of myself mid-run using my phone must send my brain into overload.

Do you see that vein? It looks like it's going to explode right out the middle of my forehead. Nice.

Note to self: photos of surroundings while running, fine. Photos of self while running, uh, no.

Out of focus and sweaty, but still smiling.

The official finish time: 30min 22 seconds.
That sounds SO slow to me for a 5k, but I'm totally pulling the pregnancy card on this one. And since it's under 10min/mi, I'll live with it.
Average of 9:49/mi, though I did apparently find a burst of energy in there somewhere as the good old Garmin says I topped out at 7:50 at some point. Go me! er, Go us!

It's a little bittersweet to think that Sam might never race along side me, but I sure love that for now he is running with me.

25 weeks

One week closer to our next big goal! 28 weeks is getting closer, and odds of survival go up so much at that point. That is also about when we should be getting an MRI to really get a good look at what's going on inside his head with all the pressure. I am anxious for that. And for our next ultrasound on Friday. Of the mom's I have connected with online who have been through pregnancy with a hydrocephalus baby, it seems like 24-28 weeks is when one of two things happen; either growth of the ventricles seems to taper, and either steadies or continues at a slower rate, or this seems to be the time when it increases exponentially if it's going to go that route.
I am nervous to see what is going on in there and to find out how he is doing.

I am so grateful every single day for an active baby. I can only imagine how much I'd worry if I didn't feel him at different times throughout every day. I love that he gets hiccups more often now. I love that I can feel his little arms and legs poking at me, almost like he's tap dancing inside my hip some days. He also likes to poke right at my belly button. It cracks me up.

Speaking of belly buttons-the hernia seems to be holding out ok. I'm getting a little bit of the sunrise thing going on, but not too bad. When we first discovered my hernia toward the end of my sixth pregnancy, I thought for sure it'd all just let go with the next baby. That it's still holding strong through another pregnancy is great!

Of course, what would a weekly update post be without pictures? The belly at 25 weeks:

Still holding out in regular pants, though I did have to put my smallest size away a few weeks ago. Have I mentioned how much I love low rise jeans? I love low rise jeans. Hopefully a few more weeks before my wardrobe choices diminish to my maternity selections. I'm up 12lbs from my official pre-pregnancy weight (as per the weigh in prior to the surgery I had right after I ovluated-nice timing, huh?), but up 18 from my first prenatal appointment weigh-in. Either way, not too bad! Though 7 lbs of that was last month, and 24-28wks is usually the time when I pack on about 8-10lbs. Whew! It will be fun to weigh in at next month's appointment, won't it? I thought I'd finally hit 9 squares this week in the good old TP measurements, but Sam is sitting quite low lately and a little further back, so I've dropped down to 8 1/2 squares again. He's just buying me a few more days in my favorite jeans. What a sweet boy!

My nephew

Nicholas Cole


8lbs 11oz, 21 inches

Cute, cute, cute.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is always wonderful-if for no other reason than the kids try extra hard to be good-to me and to each other!

On my very first Mother's Day-when I was pregnant with our first child-it was the day that I first felt her move. It was amazing.

Each Mother's Day since then there have been beautiful humbling moments as I reflect on the blessing that it truly is to be a mother. On what a huge blessing it is that my children have such a wonderful father too! That my sweet indulging husband has given me the gift of these children. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
Seriously though-there is no way I could make it through this crazy ride of motherhood without him. I am so blessed to be married to my best friend, who also happens to be the most amazing husband and father.

This year of course I reflected on each of my children. On how they have changed me, the things I have learned, the ways I have grown.

And I just can't help but think that when you finally think you've got a handle on things, like you have your groove and understand what it's all about, that's when you realize that you really know very little. You certainly don't have it all figured out.

I have always loved my children before they arrived. I have feared the thought of something going wrong, of having to pick myself up and carry on if anything happened to them. I have watched friends and family members lose children and wondered how they make it through. I have watched those who deal with difficult pregnancies, with complications of their own health or that of their baby's and wondered how they just keep on going.

I, like I assume every parent out there, have always hoped and prayed that my babies would be healthy and strong. That they would grow and develop correctly and arrive without incident.

And yet here is this little child within me, facing great difficulty, that is teaching me so much before he even arrives.

This Mother's Day I realize how much I've learned over the past 6 weeks. How much I've grown and how much I've changed. I have a greater appreciation of how much I love my children. I've heard people who have been through great trials say that they wouldn't change a thing. That has always baffled me a little. And yet, from where I sit now, while I would love for this baby to be healthy and whole and never face any difficulties in his life, I can't say I'd change things. I reflect upon the things I've taken for granted in the past. Those things mean more to me now. Some of them mean something different. I know that because of what we're facing, I am a stronger person. A more faithful person. A more grateful person. Hopefully a more humble person. Who knew that a baby so small he could fit in the palm of my hand could teach me so much?

This little baby boy growing within me is a miracle, as all of my children have been.
But it is Samuel who now reminds me each day that miracles don't always come in the package you might expect.

Losing it in the middle of Walmart-picking up the pieces 7 hours later

Thursday was an interesting day. As was probably evident by the oh so eloquent novel I wrote here.

Waterproof mascara and Milky Ways. Good Stuff.

For some reason Thursday morning was just hard. I was emotional. Let's blame pregnancy hormones, shall we? Probably pretty accurate. A friend of mine sent me a link to a blog of another friend of hers. A beautiful strong woman-who lost her baby boy in January when he was just a couple of months old. She is a wonderful writer and I found myself totally immersed in her posts. Also totally immersed in water works. I just couldn't stop the tears. My cute little Charlotte (21mo) sat on my lap hugging me and would occasionally look up and wipe a tear off my cheek. It was very sweet.

I did have a number of things I had to accomplish, so I got up and went about my day. And there I sat on my bedroom floor folding laundry, when I started crying again. Good times. It's been a while since I had a bad day where I just let everything come crashing down, so I figured I was due.
Also, morning sickness seems to have kicked back in, so I felt like garbage. Which was totally appropriate.

And then I got a text. "going to the hospital"

It was my sister. My almost 39 weeks pregnant sister. I was so glad for her that her little guy was arriving, praying that everything would go well and that she'd get the natural delivery she's been hoping and preparing for.

Which also made me cry again.

Which made me grateful I was not there as her doula, which we had talked about a couple of months ago. She said she'd call if she decided she needed my help. I would love so much to do that for her if she needed me, but knew that I just couldn't handle that at that moment.

Which made me cry more.

See a pattern?

I thought maybe getting out would help, and since I had to do a big Walmart run, I packed up the three youngest kids and headed out. Things were going pretty well, the kids were managing ok, and though I was having to work hard not to puke, we were making it.
My phone rang.
It was my sister, and I struggled with whether or not I would answer the phone. It was less than two hours after she had texted me that she was heading to the hospital.
I picked up the phone, standing there in the middle of Walmart, and heard that beautiful unbeatable sound of a newborn baby crying. He was here already! She announced his stats, told me everything went well, and I told her I'd call her back in a bit when I was home.
And guess what?

Yep. Right there in the pasta isle. I cried. I was trying with all my might not to vomit (gotta love the waves of nausea), trying not to dissolve into a puddle.

I earned a few very strange looks.

I was so happy for her, for her husband, for their sweet little baby boy. And just a little bit jealous too. And scared. What will my delivery be like? Will I even make it to term? Will my baby cry when he is born? It gets exhausting to have so many days where your mind just races like that.

I sucked it up enough to move on and get checked out.

After getting home I texted her back (not trusting myself to call), and we chatted a bit about the delivery and how things went. And then feeling particularly brave, I asked about coming to visit them at the hospital.

We made arrangements for me to visit that night.

I live over an hour away from where she delivered, so I had more than enough time to worry about how I would react when I got there. Would I even be able to do it? Would I just break down completely and make things awkward and uncomfortable for everyone?
I was so torn. I almost chickened out.

Walking in to the hospital I was shaking.
It was this hospital where I delivered three of my four sons.
How would I deal with that as I walked the halls of the maternity ward?

The elevator arrived at the fourth floor and the moment of truth right along with it. I made it down the hall to check in at the visitor's desk. Wow-the entire place has been remodeled. That helped-it didn't feel familiar.
I turned the hallway to ask the nurses for directions to her room. So far so good.

And then I walked past the big open windows of the nursery. And all the beautiful babies sleeping peacefully inside while the nurses bustled around them.

And I felt my eyes start to sting, my throat start to swell. Argh! Again! Why can't I just deal with this?

I had to stop in the hallway outside my sister's room to make sure I was composed. A few deep breaths later I knocked, and went in to meet my nephew.

My brother-in-law was changing a diaper, and I got to enjoy a lovely conversation about how to change a boy's diaper. "I don't know how to wipe him! How do you wipe a boy?" "Just do!" "But how?" "You're a boy! How do you wipe?" "Well, I've never changed a diaper on myself!" All the while with a hand cautiously hovering over the top of him to avoid a shower. It was just what I needed.
Starting off with a laugh made it all ok.

It was so wonderful to visit with my sister and brother-in-law, and to hold that sweet beautiful 7 hours old baby boy. He really is an adorable little thing. Short fuzzy baby chick blond hair-so soft you can barely feel it. His perfect little round head and his beautiful was blissful. My arms were full and warm, and so was my heart. And my little Samuel who had been so quiet all day woke up to give his cousin a few kicks in the back while he occupied my arms! I sat there as long as I could without over staying my welcome. At least I hope I didn't overstay. It was 40 minutes of the most peaceful soothing therapy I've ever experienced.

I was so glad I had gone.

As I walked out and back past the nursery window, there was a little dark haired baby being weighed. It looked just like my babies do. That was hard to see, but made easier by my still overflowing heart. I'm sure being there with my nephew would have been much harder had he looked like my babies; skinny bird legs and dark hair. I've never been more appreciative of squishy baby legs and fuzzy blond hair.

I did better than I thought.

But I'm still grateful that I was wearing waterproof mascara.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I am grateful for waterproof mascara.

And for king size Milky Ways.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today is V-Day!

24 weeks = a real chance at viability that no one argues with.

Sure, there is a chance that a baby will survive before 24 weeks, and there are a handful that do. But unfortunately many medical personnel will just automatically dismiss you as completely hopeless before 24 weeks.

Today, we jump that hurdle.

24 weeks! Considering that we didn't even know 6 weeks ago if this baby would still be alive at this point, 24 weeks seems such a big deal. The other milestone that has been stuck in my head since day one of this journey has been 28 weeks. I don't know why. But I feel like today marks a huge milestone and 4 weeks from today will mark the next one.

No real change in belly size from last week to this week (at least according to my toilet paper), but I feel like I'm getting bigger. I know that at least my backside is getting bigger. Hips too. My husband can testify to this; he can tell you that if he jiggles my love handles, the jiggle spreads all the way through my hips and up my back.

I think the man needs a hobby. I think the nights in school are starting to get to him.

Running is starting to get a little awkward, but it's still going. I feel free when I run. I'm glad I still can. My pace is slowing, but not too badly yet. And hey-at least I'm still trying! The one and only thing I can do for this baby is to make this pregnancy as healthy as possible. So I run for him. (and I'll admit, for hopes that my butt doesn't spread too terribly much more) My milage is also dropping a little, but he's a very cooperative little guy. He doesn't seem to mind the run. I think he may like the endorphin rush too.

And despite the fact that the last post included a belly picture-I'm leaving you with another one.
The belly at 24 weeks:

Happy V Day Sam!

Catching up-23 weeks, 24 weeks

Talk about slacking!

I guess that's good news, as it means there is not much new to report. Good news in that nothing has gone horribly wrong, I'm still happily pregnant, and baby is still very much alive and kicking.

Life is keeping me plenty busy lately, which is a good thing. The second we were hit with this diagnosis people were so generous in offering to take every care possible off my plate. Helping with kids, taking care of church things for me, bringing in name it, it was offered. While I was unbelievably grateful for all of the willingness to help, I needed to retain some sense of normalcy so as not to let the weight of everything suck the life right out of me. Without my every day distractions, all I would do is dwell on the what-if's.

Don't get me wrong-I've still spent countless hours pouring over statistics, studies, medical journals, personal stories, and anything relating to hydrocephalus that I can possibly get my hands on. Especially on the late nights when my husband is in school, the kids are in bed, and the house is all quiet. Then I pack my brain with as much information as possible.

Much time has been eaten up with the end of school activities lately. I swear the entire month of May is manufactured in order to torture those parents who weren't the least bit involved in their child's school year. See how many programs and forms and trips and activities you can possibly throw at them in a few weeks time-that will show them! With four kids in school this year I miss homeschooling more than ever. But thankfully there are only 18 school days left. I can survive 18 more days. I think.

Samuel seems to be doing remarkably well-living it up in the womb. Partying on a frequent basis. Between runs, yoga and Zumba, dancing in the kitchen with the other kids and the normal hoopla of life, this is one busy fetus! He is also very obliging in honoring us with numerous daily displays of activity; I absolutely adore watching him jump and roll around inside me every day. I love that I can feel his little arms and legs poking me in the strangest places, one of his current favorites being just inside my hip bone. I love that I can feel it distinctly when he has the hiccups. I love that right now he is so very alive. It almost makes me forget everything else that is going on.


I picked up a book today that in the first chapter details how a mother felt when she was told that one of the twins she was pregnant with had a condition that within days of birth would leave her "incompatible with life". My heart nearly lurched out of my chest when she described how she felt that day and in the days immediately following. Because I knew exactly how it feels to have the floor fall out from under you. Most days I deal with things just fine, the tears are much more infrequent than they were a month ago. They are a rarity now. But it is moments like reading those pages that remind me that it is still a very fresh fear in my mind.
I don't know if my story will end the way hers did. She lost her little one. Will I? or will I be one of the lucky ones?

I don't know.

And right now I don't want to know.

I just want to go on enjoying each day with this little guy living so boldly inside of me. While the future must be planned for and anticipated, I prefer to spend as little time as possible dwelling on that, and as much time as I can living in this moment. This little kick, this roll, this blissfully perfect minute of my life.

A peace of assurance of being carried through all of this still gets me through each day-especially the hard ones. It can only come from one place. It is the answer to the countless prayers that we have asked, and that others have prayed in our behalf. It will be ok. I don't know what "ok" entails right now, but it will be ok.

So I leave you with the 23 week belly-still gratefully growing daily!

(up to almost 9 squares of TP! You know, just in case you were wondering...)