Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pardon Me While I Freak Out a Little

So, I had my 20 week ultrasound last Friday. I was very excited to get to see my little boy do some serious screen wiggling, and he didn't disappoint. In fact, he was extremely wiggly, and even obstinate about having his picture taken -- so much that I had to drink a bottle of cold water, get up and walk around, and perform a series of other contortions to try to get him in the right position for the ultrasound tech to get the necessary images. Our regular high-risk doctor (whom we've only seen once) wasn't there, and his partner handled our visit. I really liked her; however, I didn't really like what she had to say.

After the doctor came in to read the results with us, she told us she had three areas of concern. Whoa. So this was unexpected. After our last visit with the high risk OB, he seemed to think everything was going pretty swimmingly and just prescribed THOUSANDS of milligrams and micrograms of nutritional supplements -- a total of 8 pills a day, including 4 of the massively huge fish oil capsules that make me burp salmon all day long.

So, concern number one was our high risk of having a Down's syndrome baby. Been there, done that -- already looked at the probability and scary ratios and decided against having an amnio. Our motto as concerns the baby's chromosomal help (as refers to Down's) remains "it is what it is." For us, the risk of having an amnio outweighs the uncertainty of the possibility of having a Down's baby. The doctor, though, seemed to be encouraging us to have it so we would just "know." She listed this as her main concern.

Her second concern was about the baby's heart. The ultrasound showed that his blood flow was a little abnormal, which she didn't seem overly concerned about, but enough so that she wants him to have a prenatal echocardiogram in December when the technicians are here from St. Louis. She said she definitely didn't see anything that would necessitate a big worry or prenatal cardiac surgery, and that most babies with a heart murmur find that it heals naturally within the first two years of life. This was disconcerting, but not so scary as to send us over the edge into panic.

The third thing, which she didn't seem to prioritize as highly as the other two, is the one that has thrown my whole life into chaos. It seems that my cervix has gone from 32mm at 16 weeks to 18mm at 20 weeks. This could show that I'm at an increased risk for pre-term labor, and since the baby is nowhere near ready to live outside the womb, it's a pretty big honking deal. She had me sit for twenty minutes hooked up to a monitor to make sure I wasn't having contractions that I didn't recognize as contractions (because I sure don't know what those feel like). After twenty minutes, she came back and told me it looked like the monitor showed no contractions, but that my bladder was filling up. I could have told her that -- no monitor required. She asked me about my activity level and what plans I had for the weekend -- I told her that I was going to clean the house and that my folks would be coming to visit, and then on Sunday we'd be going to Warm Springs Ranch to see the Budweiser Clydesdale breeding farm and operation. It was advertised as a 1.5 hour walking tour. She asked about my activity level at work, and whether or not I could teach from a chair. I told her that I'm not really that kind of teacher, and since my schedule doesn't necessarily allow for regular exercise, I use my walking around while I teach as my activity. She thought this was just fine, but told me to take it easy and not do anything too strenuous. I asked about vacuuming, which she thought was fine (ironically, she didn't want me scrubbing toilets, which is a whole lot less strenuous for me than vacuuming...). I'm scheduled to go back on Friday (a week later) for another ultrasound to decide whether I've continued to shrink, or whether I'm holding steady at 18, or whether my little Buddy has flipped and taken his head off my cervix, and that it has sprung back up to a more acceptable thickness. At that time, she'll make a call about where to go from there -- but it looks like bed rest is possible (if not probably) in my near future.

Bed rest.

Holy hell.

The one thing I have been adamantly pre-freaking out about since I found out that I was pregnant. The one thing I begged my OB to help me avoid. The one thing that I didn't even allow myself to think of as a possibility, because the consequences are too gruesome to even contemplate (what do you think the chances of the mortgage company letting us just skip 6 months of payments and adding that to the end of the loan will be? Yeah -- that's what I thought, too.) And here it is, staring me in the face. So, I've spent as much time as possible this week on my butt with my feet up. I sit in class rather than walking around. I go home at night at sit in my recliner. I'm being as sedentary as possible, as well as drinking massive quantities of water and emptying my bladder super frequently. I am, of course, freaked out that every twitch and cramp (which I was taking as due course in this whole pregnancy thing) are now signs of incipient and impending early labor. In short, I'm pretty much a mess.

Thankfully (she says with an ironic question mark in her voice), my priorities have done what they needed to, and shifted. After a little time trying to wrap my head around this, I'm a whole lot more concerned with keeping my baby inside and growing than I am with concerns about how I'm going to pay the bills. I won't say I've hit that zen state wherein I won't be freaking out and will be just handing it all over to the Almighty to handle, but I think I'm on my way. We have friends (none of them rich, unfortunately, but good enough that they might be willing to come vacuum my house or bring me books once in a while) and family who will help us in any way they can. The school will hold my job for me, and will make sure that I don't go any months without a paycheck of any kind (although it will consist of my total estimated time off minus my accrued sick leave prorated over the time gone, if not the rest of the year -- so basically, a loss of around 1/3 of my salary over the course of 5 months). Of course, we don't have any short-term or long-term disability insurance, since we dropped it several years ago when the doctor told us we couldn't have kids; there's also no way to get disability insurance once one receives a diagnosis of pregnancy.

I have to have faith that Baby is going to stay inside and growing until he's fully (or fully enough, anyway) cooked. Then, I have to have faith that the rest of it's going to work itself out. Until Friday, it's a waiting game.

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