Tuesday, June 30, 2015

38 weeks

We don't know how much longer this pregnancy will continue, as my BPs continue to be high and doctors and nurses continue to mention induction. We're just glad for every new day that comes that our baby can keep growing and maturing inside.

For once we remembered to take a picture early enough in the day that we could
go outside and find a more interesting background than our bedroom wall.

This week is another appointment-filled one. Our doctor is still on vacation until Wednesday or Thursday and we're just hoping that she'll be able to be back before any drastic measures are taken. We know and trust her more than the random on-call doctors that we've seen the past week, and would like to have her opinion on my current blood pressures and the matter of induction as well. My BPs seem to be holding steady at a reasonable (but not great) level when I take them at home with our blood pressure cuff, but whenever I have to go into the hospital for a non-stress test, they shoot right up, which of course worries everybody. Jonathan and I believe that the best way to keep these high BPs from happening would be to either 1) continue going to the non-stress tests, but only monitor the baby and not my BPs, since they only go up higher when monitored at the hospital and that can't be good for me or the baby, or 2) stop the non-stress tests and just continue to monitor the baby at home via kick counts, which is what we have done up until a couple weeks ago, and still continue to do on the days I don't have non-stress tests scheduled. Of course, neither of us are medical professionals, but the logic seems to point to the hospital and my white coat syndrome as being the trigger for the very elevated BPs. When I come home again, they go back down to my "normal" level.

Moving on, we now have one more fairly vital piece of baby gear, a changing pad. Our second bathroom has a long countertop and we're planning to put the changing pad on the counter in there for easy access to water while changing baby's diapers. We might adjust this as we go along, but for now that's the best place we have to put the changing pad as we're not planning to get a dedicated changing table and so far we haven't yet found any dressers (for ourselves or the baby) that we like. Yes, the majority of our non-hanging clothes are still in suitcases... No, this isn't ideal. Yes, we should probably just get any old dressers and get our clothes put away before Baby G arrives and more chaos ensues. No, we probably won't because apparently we're pretty picky about dressers and nightstands. But I have faith that someday our bedroom will be clean and tidy.

That about wraps up this post. We'll see if there is another weekly post next week or if our baby has come by then. :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Late pregnancy health update

It's high time I finally write this out and share it. I have been meaning to, but each time I tried to write it, more appointments took place, and therefore more information was added to the story. Finally I had Jonathan help me pare down my overly detailed version so this post could be shorter.

For much of this pregnancy I've wondered what is up with my body. I had only very mild morning sickness for just a few weeks in the first trimester, and haven't had any issues like food aversions or cravings. It seems like this has been a fairly mild pregnancy and, other than some backaches if sitting for too long (like on our drive out west) and a bit of reflux, I've been feeling just fine. For that I am very thankful, and I am enjoying the easy pregnancy this time since I know that each pregnancy can be very different and I'm sure that I'll have completely different experiences in future pregnancies.

But the flow of this easy pregnancy has changed a bit now, starting about mid-way through this third trimester. First of all, let's go back a few months. Back in January in Maine, at my very first midwife appointment, when my midwife took my blood pressure she commented that it was kind of high and took it again a few minutes later. It was lower that time, but not in the “normal” range. I told her that I have a vein phobia and very highly dislike anything touching or being put into my veins. This is a sentiment I've had since childhood, when I used to have to get a lot of blood tests for various things doctors thought I might have, namely Type I Diabetes and Anemia. These blood tests never came back positive for those diseases, but I still had to get many blood tests over a few years of my young childhood (about ages 4-5), which gave me my vein phobia. Now whenever I have to get a blood test, it requires a lot of self-control and deep breathing on my part to get through it, and even getting my blood pressure taken makes my heart beat faster (which of course makes the blood pressures go up). For the rest of my visits to my midwife in Maine, my blood pressures were lower than that first one, but still higher than she liked to see. Nothing in the dangerous zone, though, which we were both very happy about.

Then at the start of May, at my first appointment with my new midwife team here in California at 31 weeks, I again told all present (this practice includes two midwives and three midwife students) about my vein phobia and also that as an extreme introvert, I get more nervous and uptight the more people there are around me, especially if I don't know them well and especially in a medical setting. The first blood pressure they took was quite a bit lower than my first one in Maine, but they still said they would watch out for my BPs as we went along with my care. My BPs were a little higher at the next appointment and again at the third one. At that appointment the midwife seeing me was quite concerned and said that a blood pressure that high really necessitated having me see an OB, especially because their licensing regulations require that clients with blood pressures at that level needed to be transferred, at least temporarily, over to the care of an OB to be checked out further.

Two days later, on June 5, at 34 weeks, I had an appointment with a recommended OB. Before the appointment, I went to a nearby lab to have my blood taken. When we met with the OB, she talked to us about pre-eclampsia, which is the main concern associated with high blood pressure during pregnancy. She then did a routine exam, which I hadn't had before since we had been cared for by midwives prior to this, and we only just had time to say we weren't finding out the gender of the baby as she started our first ultrasound. At the end of the appointment, the doctor said that everything looked fine except for my blood pressure, so that was good to hear. She told me to stay off my feet as much as possible, and scheduled us for a visit the next week.

At that 35 week appointment, we found out that my labs had come back negative, and everything looked good except for my blood pressure. Because of the higher blood pressures, the OB said that she'd like me to stay with her rather than going back to the care of the midwives, which was somewhat disappointing to us. She did tell us, when we asked, that it would be fine for us to have a doula at the birth, which did relieve us quite a bit, as we had been feeling a bit lost at the idea of being without our team to help us. The doctor then suggested a more specific plan for bed rest - I was to sit or stand for only 20 minutes in any given hour during the day, the rest of the time I should be reclining. This was to help my blood pressure as well as the swelling in my ankles that had started a couple of days prior to the appointment. At the end of the appointment, she mentioned the option of a non-stress test at the hospital for closer monitoring of me and the baby, but said she didn't recommend it at this point as it was not necessary.

The following week, on June 18, my 36 week appointment was different. The diastolic number in my blood pressure reached 100, which was apparently the threshold which the doctor used to determine risk. After asking me if I had any of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, she told us that I would need to go across the street to the hospital for a non-stress test. She seemed to think that I just had chronic high blood pressure, and it wasn't related to pre-eclampsia, but wanted to have the test just to see if the blood pressures would come down. This was still a pretty big surprise and a big change from the week before, and I was a little worried, because the necessary blood pressure monitoring would probably keep the levels up rather then let them go down. At any rate, we went over to the Family Birth Center at the hospital, and they settled me in a room and hooked up a fetal heart monitor, a contraction strength monitor, and an automatic blood pressure cuff. Unfortunately, the nurse stayed in the room for quite some time entering information into my files on that computer, which kept my blood pressure up. At some point, one of the nurses came in and said the levels were making her nervous, and she put in an IV lock just in case medication would be needed. I had never had one before, and was pretty anxious about it, but it didn't turn out to be as bad as I had imagined, though it was certainly not pleasant. Finally, after bringing me some supper, everyone left the room for quite some time, and my blood pressures eventually began to come down. When the OB finally came to visit, she said she'd make a call to a OB high risk specialist to find out what she recommended, possibly medication for high blood pressure. While she was gone, though, I had a really good blood pressure, and when she came back, she was really glad to see that, and finally said we could go home, around 9 p.m. - four hours after going over to the hospital.

Since the doctor stressed the importance of staying off my feet, we decided that going to church wouldn't be a good idea, since in addition to sitting for a few hours, we'd have to ride in a hot (no A/C) car there and back. We spent the day together and tried to relax and rejuvenate. On Sunday, we met with our doula, and it was really good to talk with her again, since we hadn't seen any of the midwife team for a few weeks. She helped us understand some of the different options we had for the next few weeks, and asked us to think about our ideals for the labour and birth process.

On Monday, June 22, at 37 weeks, I drove the 20 minutes to the hospital for the non-stress test. It didn't take as long this time, and I was done in about an hour and a half. The nurses said my blood pressures were still elevated and not great, but my baby looked beautiful and was very responsive, just like the previous Thursday evening. There were a few mix-ups with my records and information, so I had to correct some of those, but before too long I was able to clear up the records and was allowed to leave.

Thursday was my next non-stress test. I went in at 2 p.m. and was supposed to have a doctor's appointment at 3:30 p.m. Well, that never happened. My doctor was on vacation starting that day or the day before and so the on-call doctor, a man I had never met, decided that my BPs necessitated staying in the hospital overnight for labs and a 24-hour urine test as well as intermittent baby and BP monitoring. The frustrating part was that my BPs that afternoon were about the same as they had been at my non-stress test on Monday, but this doctor was just more cautious than my own doctor (and, of course, had no previous knowledge or information on me or my condition thus far in my pregnancy). Instead of seeing my doctor's Nurse Practitioner (who was to fill in for her while she was gone), I spent the evening hooked up to monitors and visiting with Jonathan and my doula until they went home for the night, as well as having to fight off certain procedures and interventions that I didn't want to happen.

On Friday a different doctor was on-call and she called the high risk OB, like my own doctor had the week before. They both agreed that because my BPs were stable, although higher than either liked, and with all my labs coming back negative for any signs of pre-eclampsia, they were okay to send me home for the weekend, with strict instructions to come back ASAP if anything were to change. I was so glad to finally get out of the hospital again! It seemed like I had been in for days, although it was just a little longer than 24 hours.

Again we spent a quiet weekend at home, trying to relax. This Monday, June 29, now at 38 weeks, I had another non-stress test. In the morning, the blood pressures I had taken with our home cuff had been quite good, actually. However, as I went into the hospital, knowing that my own doctor was still on vacation and I would be at the mercy of whatever doctor was on-call, I was nervous and could feel my pulse go up, and knew that my blood pressures would go up with it. They were quite a bit higher than they had been in the morning, and the doctor and nurses ended up keeping me there for nearly six hours before we were finally able to go home.

Given all that has happened in the last few weeks, we're feeling pretty unsure about what will happen next. The doctors will likely want to induce me soon, but we and the doula feel that the longer the baby can stay inside the better, because it is on the small side for its gestational age. At 38 weeks, it's "safe" for the baby to be born, but we feel it would be best if the baby decides when to come, barring extreme circumstances.

We solicit your prayers as we continue this journey. We pray that God will allow my blood pressures to remain steady or even come down so that the pregnancy can come to a natural conclusion, and we pray that my and the baby's health remain good through to the end, as well as after delivery. Thank you in advance for praying. We believe God can do amazing things!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Order from Chaos

As many of you have no doubt experienced, moving can be pretty chaotic. I just thought I'd share a few things I've worked on recently that have brought a bit more order to our lives.

 - Jonathan

The power port on my laptop finally gave up the ghost (after lots of abuse including dragging it off a table onto the floor by the cord...) and of course I had to completely disassemble the thing in order to replace it.
All back together... will it work??
Yup! No problem!
New bike... A bit more than I bargained for... Who knows how to attach front shifter and brake cables?
Anyone have a pedal wrench?
Newly organized and set up garage - yes the car fits under the bikes.
You can see my now assembled new bike here. I ended up taking it to a shop for them to verify I did everything right. Bikes are not something you want to assemble wrong or too loosely!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

37 weeks

We made it to 37 weeks. If Baby G came now, he or she would no longer technically be considered a preemie!

This week we have quite a few appointments scheduled. We've already had two, and have two or three more coming up before Friday. (Details about these appointments is coming in a later post.) I think these many appointments are the most exhausting part of late pregnancy so far. I know many mothers are quite ready to just have their babies already by this point in time because they feel so large and uncomfortable or have a lot of pregnancy-related pain. Although my baby bump looks quite large to me, I know that I am on the smaller side, and as such, I feel like I haven't had as many frustrating late pregnancy symptoms as other mums usually do by this time. Even still, I am going to be very grateful when this baby does finally come so that we can scale back on having to go to all these appointments. I know that there will still be postpartum and pediatrician visits that we'll have to make, but hopefully they won't be clustered so close together. Even one a week would be quite nice, although fewer would be even better.

The weather has been very hot, and our car still has no A/C. This makes going to all those appointments quite uncomfortable. We have weighed the price of fixing the A/C and the other repairs that our car needs against buying a new-to-us car and the new car option will probably win out. My good ol' car has served me well for the past nearly 11 years, through my college years and for the first part of our marriage, but it's starting to finally show its 26 years, and the past few years we've definitely put more into than it's worth just to keep it going. Jonathan has been looking for newer used cars in the area and if he finds the one he's wanting, we'll probably be buying it. We're really hoping we can find one before the baby comes because if driving around in the car is uncomfortable for us, it will probably be unbearable for a baby sitting in a car seat.

Speaking of car seats, last week we finally got a car seat. Although it is an important piece of baby equipment, it is not the most interesting item to spend money on, and these days there are so many different kinds to choose from it's hard to know what the best option is. We had tried a few different ones out in a baby store while my Mum was here visiting and decided on one to get. Thanks to Nana and Grandpa G. for gifting it to us! Another thank you to Grammy and Grandpop Q., who gave us the bassinet we had picked out. It also arrived last week. I am so relieved to have both of those items now! We have some baby gear (diapers and accessories, some clothes, lots of baby board books, haha), but not tons. Those two big-ticket items are ones we're planning to use for a long time to come, and it's definitely reassuring to know that they're here set up in our apartment now, ready to use as soon as Baby G decides to arrive.

Jonathan has started filling out his paperwork to take some paternity leave once the baby comes. He is just waiting for me to go into labour so he can add start and end dates. It will be nice to have Jonathan at home for a few weeks once the baby arrives so we can both get used to having a new little person in our lives. For so many reasons, we are so thankful that Jonathan was able to get this job! We feel it was truly an answer to prayer.

That's about all I can think of to update you about for this week. Watch for our health update coming soon for more details about how me and Baby G are faring.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

36 weeks

Wow, here we are at 36 weeks, just a month left in this pregnancy!

While waiting to pick up Jonathan at Intel
(In the hubbub of my Mum's visit, we didn't take our usual
pregnancy photo, so this one from 35+3 weeks will work instead.)

The past week has been great! Last Wednesday evening Jonathan and I had the privilege of going to an Andrea Bocelli concert, one of Jonathan's favourite tenors, which was a wonderful birthday present for Jonathan (whose birthday was the day before the concert). We both really enjoyed the event, although we both agreed that we preferred the songs and pieces in the second half of the concert a bit better than the more operatic ones in the first half. Baby G seemed to enjoy the flute pieces and "The Prayer" the best. There was a lot of excited kicking going on during those numbers. :) Might we have a flautist or singer on our hands? We had a nice relaxing evening of great music. Thanks, Mom and Dad G., for the sweet gift!

The day after the concert, last Thursday, my Mum flew in to the area and spent the majority of six days with us. I can't believe that it's almost been a year since I last saw her in person, when I was home last June and July for two of my friends' weddings! How does time fly by so fast? It was so fun to have Mum here visiting. She was able to come to a prenatal appointment with us on Thursday afternoon, and we spent the bulk of the other days shopping for baby essentials and food items. Mum cooked up quite a lot of delicious food to fill up our freezer for the busy weeks ahead. She also took quite a few maternity photos of me and the baby bump, and Jonathan and I together throughout the days she was here. We'll share some of those pictures here when she's had time to edit them and send them to us. Below are just a few of the ones she's shared with us so far. Thanks so much, Mum, for taking the time to fly down and visit us, make amazing food for us to store away until we'll need it, and especially for taking special maternity photos for us to treasure!

Morning mug shot
Testing out the weight of different car seats (that doll was heavy!)
Saying goodbye at the airport

As I mentioned in my 34 week post a couple weeks ago, lots of people, ones we know as well as perfect strangers, have been asking us if our baby is a girl or a boy. I read this article a few days ago, which made me grin and nod about some points - numbers 6, 5, and 3 in particular - and I decided to share it here, as well as add some other random commentary of my own on the subject.

(Note: there is a bit of language, so read at your own discretion):
7 reasons not to find out the sex of the baby - The Daddy Files

I know some people have told me that they are planners and they could never stand not knowing ahead of time if they're having a boy or a girl. This feeling of needing to know obviously varies a lot from person to person, but it's not a concept I personally really understand. I mean, I'm a planner, too, but I have thought and thought about this perspective and I'm just not sure what really needs to be planned out ahead of time that would make it crucial to know if the baby is a girl or a boy. As far as I can imagine or have been told, a baby needs the basics to survive: a method to get food into their bellies, a place to be changed and a stack of diapers to use, a pile of clothes for them to wear, a place to sleep, and of course, in this day and age, a car seat to get them home and take them out to all those post-natal appointments I've heard so much about. If you've got those basics down (which I'm sure most soon-to-be parents do, as well as quite a few others), I'm not sure what else you need to plan for. And none of those things I mentioned above require knowing if the baby is a girl or a boy (although gender-neutral clothing isn't the easiest to find, so I guess I can partially concede that point). Anyway, that's just some random baby gender commentary to add to what I wrote in my 34 week post.

We do have some other pregnancy updates to share soon. I think this post is long enough, so we'll share those updates in a separate post. Stay tuned.

All photos in this post are from my Mum, Glenda. The last one was taken by Jonathan on her camera.

Friday, June 12, 2015

USA cross-country road trip: Kelowna to Seattle

Midway through December 2012, Jonathan and I, as well as my brother's then-girlfriend, Amanda, traveled from Maine to BC to spend Christmas with my parents and younger siblings. We had a great holiday time together, and I was overjoyed to finally spend Christmas at home again after not being there the past two years (since I was in Tanzania in 2010 and South Korea in 2011).

On Thursday, December 28, Jonathan and I wrapped up our time in the Okanagan Valley and headed off on a new travel adventure: a Trans-USA road trip. We drove my car from BC back to Maine. The first leg of the journey took us through the North Cascades Mountain Range from Kelowna to Hope on the Okanagan Connector and the Coquihalla Highway, and then into the Fraser Valley on the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1), across the border into Washington, and then down I-5, finally arriving in Seattle on the Puget Sound. We really enjoyed going through the pass, because the trees reminded us of the top of a ski hill, being completely covered with snow.

We stayed in Seattle for the long weekend to attend the annual GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ) conference and then continued our trip on Tuesday, January 1, 2013.

Next up: Seattle Space Needle New Year's Eve Fireworks

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Popham Beach State Park

On Sabbath, September 15, 2012, Jonathan and I drove the 45 minutes from his parents house in Brunswick to spend the afternoon at Popham Beach State Park. (It's the other sandy beach in the area beside Reid State Park.) We enjoyed wading in the chilly ocean, looking for sand dollars, and during low tide, walking out to the large rock that becomes an island at high tide.

Here are our photos of another beautiful tourist spot in Southern Maine from that afternoon. (Apparently Jonathan took a lot of photos of me. There are a couple of him, too, hidden in the post.)