Thursday, September 29, 2011

The colors of the the sky

This week has had the usual challenges.  The stiffness. The rigidity. The walking in wet cement feeling.  The headaches. All in all, this week actually hasn't been so bad.  We saw our little boy dancing around in my womb, and fell madly in love.  The little flutters I felt have turned in to little kicks.  Some of the fear of losing another little one is starting to melt away.  It isn't gone, but the pain isn't so fresh.

Despite her shock at discovering that she was having a brother, she has also fallen madly in love with him.  She has been talking to my belly, and giving me two kisses at night instead of one.  One kiss is plopped on my belly, and rubbed in with her hand.  That kiss, she tells me, is for the baby.  Once this week, she fell asleep with her head against my belly.  She told me that she wanted to cuddle with her brother.  My heart can't help but melt at how precious it all is.

Our sick little silkie is getting better, but slowly.  She has wry neck, a condition that causes their neck to flop over.  In many ways, it is similar to the issues I deal with in regards to my muscles.  If she is startled, she'll lock up and her neck flops to the side.  The episodes are getting shorted and less frequent, though.  She's still getting her vitamins twice a day, and gets to sun herself in front of the window during the day.  I pray that this little one continues to improve.  She's (or possibly he) is such a sweet little thing. (It is difficult to sex silkies before they are about ready to crow or pop out eggs, unfortunately.)

I check in with the nurse practitioner at the neurology office tomorrow.  I'll probably get my Solumedrol injections.  They were approved by the perinatologist, and they do help with these migraines.  Speaking of migraines...they have been constant the past month.  They are getting better, but very slowly.  I can't wait for the injections.  You heard me - I can't wait to have needles in my scalp!  We'll schedule my infusion at that time, as well.  I'll hopefully get the infusion around the second week of October. 

Before the infusion, I get to shoot some maternity pictures for my cousin.  It is an honor and a pleasure to take those pictures for her.  We're trying to decide on a park, and work around the rain next week.  I love the post-processing part of things, and can't wait.  :)

By the way, we saw the most beautiful rainbow in the sky above our backyard this past week. When I can, we take walks to see the sun setting over the fields.  Emma and I talk about what colors God used to paint the sky that night.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A boy!

Holy cow! I'm the mother of a little boy now!  I never imagined us having a boy.  With Emma, I was SO sure from the beginning that we were having a girl.  Sure enough, she was.  This time, I didn't have that feeling.  I thought maybe it was a girl, but just didn't have that 100% sure feeling.  With this pregnancy, we realized that I would be far enough along by our wedding anniversary to find out the sex.  It would be our little gift to each other.

To be honest, I have a little disconnected from this pregnancy.  After getting pregnant right after a miscarriage, I have been a little afraid that something would go wrong.  I finally started is feeling like this is a little more real when I felt little rolls, stretches, and kicks.  I knew that the scan would be a good thing for me emotionally.

Adam scheduled the appointment, and surprised me by asking for a 3d scan.  With Emma, I had an anterior placenta.  That means that the placenta is sitting in the front of the uterus, and it often interferes with a 3d ultrasound.  We were hoping that we might get the 3d scan this time.  

Emma has been feeling left out because the OB's office does not allow kids over 6 weeks old.  We decided that we'd do the scan at a private ultrasound office rather than the OB's office for this reason.  Mom met had a break in between teaching classes, so she met us for the ultrasound.  We chose the same business that we went to find out the sex with Emma's pregnancy, and got the same tech.  He has been at it for over 25 years, and he can tell the sex right away.

The tech tried to get a 3d view, but our little baby has been head-down since very early on.  Our 6 and 8 week scans also showed a head-down position.  Unfortunately, because the baby was head-down, there wasn't much amniotic fluid between the baby's face and the uterine wall.  (The uterus is still pear-shaped at this point.)  The 3d view looked something like this, but with slightly scary and cavernous eyes:

There's a chance we might be able to see the baby's face in 3d when we get our anatomy scan in four weeks, but it is never a sure thing.  Instead, we went ahead with the 2d ultrasound.  Our little baby enjoyed the orange juice I had before the scan, and was bouncing around like crazy.  When the tech said "it is a boy," we were a little shocked.  For the adults, it was a happy sort of shocked.  Emma was a little confused, disappointed, but also excited all at once.  The tech showed us a few different angles and explained the difference between how boy and girl parts look on ultrasound.  

Before we left, he measured the baby's head to estimate the age.  Our little boy was measuring 8 days big, or 17w2d instead of 16w1d.  Our family grows big babies without any help from diabetes, so this wasn't much of a surprise.  Only about 24 weeks left until we meet our little guy! Enjoy the video. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


After a couple weeks of sugar hitting the fan, today was a welcome break from craziness.  That is, what I'd consider a break...things are always a little crazy around here. 

Saturday left me feeling sore and pretty tired.  I started to get a headache, and it just got worse, and worse, and worse.  I woke Adam up at 5 am on Sunday because I just couldn't sleep.  The headache was pretty horrible at that point.  He offered to take me down to the hospital, but I was being stubborn.  By 7 AM, I gave in and got myself dressed with my eyes shut.  It was just too painful to keep my eyes open.  I've also (unfortunately) figured out the best time frame to go to the emergency room at Mercy San Juan if I absolutely have to. 

We lucked out and only had one person ahead of us for triage.  They were afraid I was having an allergic reaction, and had me in a bed within a few minutes.  I don't like the fact that I have to take some prescription medicines to get by with the muscle stiffness, but I was willing to take whatever they could safely give me for the pain.  That they did.  I was pumped full of a few different antihistamines, anti-nausea medicine, and morphine.  (Hard to believe that one is approved in obstetrics, but it is.)  That failed, and later on they gave me a different painkiller.  After watching me for several hours, I was told that my labs were fine, and my neurologist said that I could continue my treatment.  I was glad to get out of there and climb into my own bed.  The headache is still there after three days, but I'm managing.  There is a chance that I have a mild case of aseptic meningitis, and the only real treatment is to treat the symptoms. 

I did say that there was a happy ending to this - and there is.  My infusion today went pretty well.  Aside from the headache and expected muscle aches, I haven't had any reactions.  The nurses took blood today to check my liver enzymes after the treatments Thursday and Friday.  Adam got a call during my appointment today to let him know that my labs came back, and my liver enzymes were looking great.  When we were walking in the front door, they called back to let me know that they'd be calling in two weeks to schedule my next round of infusions.  Since the infusions have started, I have needed less medication to get by, and I haven't had any spasms that locked me in bed.  After two straight weeks of serious spasms, this is a very welcome break. 

I am so thankful for finally finding a medical team that is understanding and really cares about helping me feel better.  I'm thankful that they're doing all they can to make sure I'm comfortable and that our baby is able to grow healthy and strong.  I am thankful for each and every of the thousands of donors that give their time and the plasma that is used to make gamma globulin infusions.  I thank God for helping my body to get through this treatment without any serious reactions. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

back for another round

Today was the second day of three days worth of IVIG infusions.  Yesterday left me with a migraine that fortunately went away with a little sleep.  Little sleep is what I ended up with, though.  I woke at 2:45 and wasn't able to get back to sleep.  I managed to get a bath with the saline lock in place, and headed off to Mercy Midtown. 

Unfortunately, keeping the saline lock in did no good.  As soon as the nurse started flushing the line with saline, my arm began to burn like crazy.  I asked if it was infiltrating, and the nurse said it likely was, and definitely was not returning blood like it should.  She wrapped up my arms in toasty blankets, and let me sit for a few minutes.  The second line went in my right hand...not the ideal placement, but often it is the only place where a vein can be felt.  I had a little brush with wooziness, which is a lovely leftover from being traumatized by so many phlebotomists that just don't listen about where they need to stick me to get blood.  (If I ask you to go for my hand, please don't insist on digging around blinding in my arm with a needle. It hurts.  A lot.)

Adam and Emma were off to Sutter's Fort for her first kindergarten field trip, so I kicked back with some Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley on my iPod.  I really wanted a nap, but the center is too bright, and folks are always coming and going.  Somehow most of the other patients nap...and snore.  One man had napkins on his chest to catch the copious amounts of drool leaking from the corner of this mouth. (He wasn't the patient, either.) 

I knit another little hat, and that seemed to interfere with the infusion pump.  The pump was finicky and kept beeping to alert the nurses of an occlusion.  Actually, it beeped anytime I got up to go to the bathroom, worked on knitting, or sat there doing nothing.  I think it just didn't like me.  I have to wonder what the other patients think when I'm wheeling around my iv pole with two pumps on it.  Do they wonder what the heck brings a pregnant woman to the chemo center?  I know that I definitely look further along than I am, because I keep being asked if I know the sex yet.  (We're still at least two weeks away from that.)

As far as side effects, I am definitely doing better than last time.  No blinding migraines, no vomiting, no severe pain, etc.  I feel exhausted, weak, and flu-like...but it is manageable if I rest and drink plenty of water.  I had to skip my cousin's shower...and I really didn't want to do that.  It probably was a smart idea to just stay in bed and rest, especially since I'm dealing with growing another life this time around.  I have the weekend to rest, and then I get the last infusion for the month.  I am praying that my liver tests come back within the reference range, or at least close to the range.  I'm also praying that this infusion will allow me to cut back on other meds that are more risky to baby and myself.  If you're the praying type, please send up a little prayer for us. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day One - Done!

Today was the first of three days of infusions.  We chose to use the infusion center in midtown instead of the infusion center that is only ten minutes.  (For some reason, the closer infusion center insists that I have to pay 90%, but we ended up not having to pay anything last time.)  The nurses at the center are all very sweet, and it is as comfy as it could be.  I kick back in a recliner with a blanket for a few hours, eat my lunch, listen to music, or read a book.

This time around, we decided to switch to a different IVIG formulation.  Instead of Gammagard, I got Gammunex-C.  Gammagard is known to have more side effects, and many that switch to Gammunex find relief from the often horrible side effects.  Last time, I was almost rushed to the hospital for fear of aseptic meningitis.  I also got very sick on the second night and couldn't keep anything down.  My liver did not respond well, either.

I premedicated this time with Tylenol, Benadryl, and a little Prednisone.  When I showed up to for my treatment, my blood pressure was 150/99 and my pulse 130.  Holy cow!  I was nervous as soon as I woke up, since I had no clue how I would react.  The nurse left me for ten minutes to see if it helped, and my blood pressure and pulse started to go down.  Once the Benadryl kicked in, I was calm and my blood pressure and pulse were back within a healthy range.  Because there is a small chance of serious side effects such as anaphylaxis, I get the roomy area right next to the nurses station. 

For whatever reason, the infusion took twice as long as the neurologist's office had told me.  I don't really mind, because a slower infusion usually means less side effects.  Adam and Emma were a little antsy, though.  They walked around the building, played video games, and poked in every hour or so to see how I was doing.  I managed to knit a nice, thick baby hat while I was relaxing.  I tried to read, but I kept reading the same words over and over.  Next time I need to get some "fluff" books that don't require any thinking.  I also flipped through the stash of magazines.  I would have liked to catch a nap, and a few patients were sawing logs.  Too bad I can't sleep unless it is quiet and dark.  :o/

Tomorrow I'm set for another five or so hours of infusion, and Emma and Adam will be off to Sutter's Fort for her field trip.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Herbs and Pregnancy Nutrition

 When I was pregnant with Emma, I didn't have much of a chance to enjoy herbal teas and infusions.  I was just plain sick and exhausted.  With Avalon's pregnancy, I got back to enjoying herbal teas.  Unfortunately that pregnancy didn't last, but infusions of lemon balm from our garden helped my nerves as well as Adam's.  It was the calming effect that I needed during the first two weeks when life felt so surreal.

After the miscarriage, I started taking red raspberry leaf again.  I also added vitex and red clover, in addition to my whole-food prenatal and cod liver oil.  The only synthetic vitamin I took was B6, which I needed to lower my homocysteine levels and prevent morning sickness.  Wouldn't you know it - I was pregnant three weeks after the miscarriage.  I was shocked.  It took over 9 months to get pregnant with Emma, and 13 months with Avalon.  My Ob had mentioned that I'd likely get pregnant in the three months following the miscarriage, but I honestly didn't believe it because of the fertility issues.  Was it the herbs?  I have a feeling that at least part of it was.  I had a strong uterine lining and healthy corpus luteum cyst only three weeks after miscarrying - something that was an issue while pregnant with Avalon.

After I got through the first trimester nausea this time, I ordered fresh herbs for infusions.  In a quart jar, I add about 1/4 cup of this mix and cover with lightly boiled water.  The lid is put on, and the jar sits for 5-10 hours to steep.  Infusing over several hours allows more minerals and vitamins to be released from the herbs.

Here is my pregnancy tea recipe:

2 parts nettle leaf (high in vitamins and minerals, supports kidneys and vascular system)
2 parts red raspberry leaf  (tones uterus, high in vitamins and minerals)
2 parts dandelion leaf (high in vitamins and minerals, supports liver and GI system)
2 parts lemon verbena (calming, anti-spasmodic, supports digestion)
2 parts oat straw (high in calcium and magnesium, calming)
1 part rose hips (high in vitamin C, anti-inflammatory)
1 part ginger (supports digestion, anti-inflammatory)

I am preparing for another round of IVIG this week, and have altered my recipe a little for this week.  Here it is:

1 tsp rose hips (for the vitamin C & anti-inflammatory effects)
1 tsp ginger (for taste and anti-inflammatory effects)
2 tbs oat-straw (for nutrition, anti-inflammatory effects, and calming effects)
2 tbs dandelion leaf (for nutrition, liver support, and GI support)
2 tbs lemon verbena (for calming effects, possible migraine prevention, and taste)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Light as a feather, stiff as a board?

The past couple weeks have included daily spasms that are...well...fascinating and painful at the same time.  My body isn't quite sure how to handle the changing hormones, the belly that makes me look five months pregnant, or the decrease in medication.  I've been a lump on the couch, but to be honest, that's okay.  One side effect of the flare-up and the increased metabolism from pregnancy?  I haven't gained any weight.  (No clue how, because my stomach is huge.)

By the way...Halloween is rolling around the corner.  I think I might have found the grossest pregnancy costume online.  I bet Adam would beg to differ.  Zombies freak me out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

13 down, 27 to go

This weekend marks our little gummy bear's 13th week...or 11th if you go off of gestational age.  The little bear feels more like a gold fish that only seems to flutter around if I'm trying to sleep.  I didn't notice flutters with Emma.  She went straight to hard kicks at 14 weeks.  

While we were waiting for Emma's books and materials to arrive, we decided to work on what we could.  She's completed two art lessons, and sailed through an entire math unit in two hours.  I have a feeling that the math is going to be like that, and we may have to move on to something a little more challenging.  When Emma's books finally arrived today, she was squealing like crazy.  The UPS driver let out a chuckle at the sight of her bouncing up and down on the front porch, squealing and yipping and letting out a big "Woohoo!"  

The school sent a LOT of stuff.  Seventy-five pounds or so of books, manipulatives, DVDs, Cd's, art supplies, science supplies, etc.  So far, we're are very pleased with the curriculum.  The program is a little intense when you look at the schedule, but at this rate, it won't be so bad.  Emma gets language arts, phonics, handwriting, and mathematics daily.  Science, history, art, and music are twice a week.  She also is expected to have 120 minutes of physical education a week. We're allowed to work at our own pace, provided that we finish the coursework each trimester.  Emma is loving the combination of computer and hands-on learning.

Next week...well, it is going to be interesting.  Neurology ordered Gammunex for my infusion, but because of the holiday, it won't be in until Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week.  Oncology called to say that they may call for a same day appointment when the medication comes in, and to be prepared.  That leaves me drinking water like a whale.  The more hydrated you are, the less side effects you have.  This time I also requested a bag of fluids to be infused at the same time as the Gammunex, as extra protection.  I'm going to premedicate with Tylenol and Benadryl as other patients have suggested.  

This infusion is a completely different formulation, so I have no clue how I will be feeling.  Last time I had a horrendous migraine the first day, and serious stomach upset the second day.  I also had liver enzymes at twice the reference range.  I've read that Gammunex often has fewer side effects, but it depends on the patient.  I do know that I am likely going to miss the orientation for Emma's school, her first field trip, and possibly a family get-together for one of my favorite people.  I got the side-eye for not resting enough after the last infusion, and I have a feeling I'm going to get the riot act if I don't rest since I'm pregnant this time.  I don't want to miss those moments...but I don't have control over this crummy condition. 

Here's to the best week possible, and may I get a good infusion nurse.  (And my favorite chair in the corner!)

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