Category Archives: meta bloggery

Happy spring! I’m still alive!

Oh, hey, guys. I really just kind of noped out of this blog a couple of months ago, didn’t I? Without getting into a lot of personal details, there was some family stuff going on & it really ate up the extra bandwidth I require in order to write & share my sewing projects. Writing generally comes to me really easily, which is why I still have a blog in the year 2018 (next year is my 20th anniversary of blogging!), but the past few months were really exhausting & stressful. I sewed through it all & have accumulated quite the backlog of unblogged projects, so there’s that. Family life has also stabilized…& might even be better than ever? So I’m hoping to start writing here regularly once again.

I also want to get back into the swing of contributing to the sewing blogosphere/online community, in general. & this is where you come in. I’m hoping to make something for the April challenge over at the Monthly Stitch, after completely missing the boat for the entire year to date. (I’ve made things that fit the themes; I just didn’t get my shit together to photograph & post them.) Miss Bossy is involved, so here’s your chance to tell me what to make.

I’ll probably make all of these projects at some point, but whatever wins the poll will zip to the top of the to-do list. Get your votes in by the end of the week!

I haven’t been sewing quite as much so far this year as I would like, but I think a lot of that can be blamed on the events of the last couple of months. I’ve been really distracted & disorganized, which isn’t good for any kind of productivity. I haven’t even been reading much, which will come as a tremendous shock to anyone who has known me for a long time. I don’t even set reading goals for myself anymore because I usually read fifteen to twenty books a month without even trying. But I’m not sure I’ve finished a book since January! This is literally the most scattered & out of it I have been in my entire life–even while I was pregnant. Even when Ramona was in the NICU. Even when I was going through cancer treatments. But I do think things are turning around & I’m really looking forward to getting my shit together & become a quasi-productive member of society again.

A few of my sewing projects have turned out tremendously well & have been getting a ton of wear.

fullsizeoutput_70f

fullsizeoutput_6d5

Others have been less successful:

fullsizeoutput_704

fullsizeoutput_6ba

In February, I contributed a post to the Sewcialists blog about mixing prints & stripes. & I wrote up an epic Pattern Throwdown for the Curvy Sewing Collective, for which I sewed up three different jeans patterns to see which ones worked best. If I was a good blogger, I would have capitalized upon the traffic & publicity surrounding those posts to draw more readers over here, but honestly, it’s a fucking miracle I got those posts written at all, with everything that was going on in my personal life.

I recently decided that I was in desperate need of a break & I took off to Portland for a week by myself. The schools for which Jared teaches were on spring break, so he stayed home & hung out with Ramona. I had a really nice, quiet vacation, catching up with old friends & re-acquainting myself with the city I lived in a thousand years ago when riot grrrl was still a thing & no one really knew if this whole internet situation was going to last. Being me, I of course made time to visit several fabric stores. I came home with two yards of bright lemon yellow thermal knit (from the discount annex at the Mill End store in Milwaukie, & with some minor flaws that knocked the price down to just $3 a yard!) & six yards of a really light, floaty black linen that is going to figure prominently in my spring/summer sewing. There were a million other fabrics, trims, laces, ribbons, etc, that I left on the shelves, including this gorgeousness:

Imagine that embroidered black tulle as a Charlie caftan! I totally would have bought it if the flowers were pink, but I don’t wear enough red to justify splashing out on $62.50/yard fabric.

Fabric-shopping in other towns does always give me a new appreciation for our local fabric shop, Sarah’s. I have kind of taken it for granted because it’s been my local shop since I learned how to sew, but it’s a really great store with an amazing selection of apparel-appropriate fabrics.

We are planning to leave Lawrence this summer though. We are still undecided on our final destination. For a while, we were settled on moving to western Massachusetts, but eventually we realized that we could cast the net wider & move anywhere we wanted. We’re considering Boston, Philadelphia, & Portland. Right now, I am pulling hard for Portland, even though finding affordable housing there is A LOT harder than it was when I lived there in the 90s. But really, any desirable city is getting expensive these days. We pay more than $1K in monthly rent right now to live in KANSAS. So I am willing to spend a little bit more to live in a place I really like. We are open to suggestions, & if some guardian angel out there has a lead on a great place for rent, I am all ears!

Hopefully I will be back in a couple of days with a detailed project post. In the meantime, don’t forget to vote on what I should sew next!

 

 

cloth diapers: one month in

let’s talk cloth diapers. remember back when i was pregnant, & i was totally convinced that pocket diapers were the way to go? i did all this research on cloth diapers & somehow decided that pocket diapers would be the easiest & cutest option. obviously i wanted to diaper my child in the caviar-&-cristal of pocket diapers, & would have loved to lay in a stash of bumgenius or even rumparooz (love the double gusset on the leg), but bumgenius pockets are like $17 a pop & rumparooz cost even more. they’re adjustable, from a seven-pound newborn to an enormous 35-pound toddler on the brink of potty training, so they are an investment that will last for as long as you need to diaper your baby, but the idea of shelling out $400 or $500 just for diapers was really overwhelming to me.

it is, of course, worth mentioning that disposable diapers are exponentially more expensive than $400 or $500 throughout a baby’s diapered years, but because the cost is spread out over a long stretch of time, it seems less daunting.

i registered for the fancy cloth pockets i wanted when i made our baby registry, but very few people leapt at the chance to give us cloth diapers as a gift. even though i tried to stress to people that this is what we really WANTED & NEEDED, most people preferred to give us cute onesies decorated with dinosaurs or fleecy blankets with monkeys on them or whatever. which is fine–we will use all that stuff. (it’s amazing, the sheer quantity of baby gifts that seemed extraneous upon receipt but that have swiftly become part of our everyday baby care rotation.) only two friends gave us diapers, & only two a piece. four diapers is enough to diaper your newborn baby for all of four hours…if you’re lucky. another friend gave us a stash of six prefolds, but they are big, for a toddler.

i asked around among my mama friends, because most of them are into attachment parenting & cloth diapering. the consensus was that prefolds with covers are the most economical cloth diapering option. i was scared. how do you use a prefold? just fold it into thirds, tuck it into the cover, & call it a day? what about the babies you see on the internet, somehow wearing prefolds that have been shaped & pinned into the shape of an actual diaper? how does one do that? must one do that? if you don’t do that, are you risking leaks or some kind of mount crapmore-up-the-back-of-the-onesie situation? bleached or unbleached prefolds? what kids of covers? oh, you say these plain white ones are the real workhorses & the cheapest on the market? but…they’re not all cute & colorful like pocket diapers. what about the fact that prefolds come in multiple sizes? do i have to buy a dozen, two dozen, or even three dozen of each size? & the covers come in multiple sizes too. i like the pockets that are adjustable–i don’t have to keep buying the same thing over & over in increasingly larger sizes.

nonetheless, i had asked for advice, & the advice i received was all about the awesomeness of prefolds & covers. so i added a dozen newborn prefolds, a dozen small prefolds, & eight cuper-cute & colorful adjustable covers to my stash. (i also registered for these items, but no one stepped up to the plate. apparently buying prefolds as a gift is even less appealing than buying pocket diapers. & i had one friend who was like, “yeah! the baby that i nanny for totally rocks pocket diapers & i love them & they’re so easy to use & i will buy some for your baby!” but it turns out that the baby wasn’t in pockets at all & was in some kind of weird cloth hybrid thing that didn’t appeal to me & it just goes to illustrate that when you first dip a toe into the world of cloth diapers, it is OVERWHELMING AS FUCK. even a nanny that changes diapers on a daily basis was unclear on exactly what she was changing, so how was i supposed to make an informed decision?)

i will add that i was predicted a large baby. ramona measured in like the 98th percentile for her gestational age consistently throughout the entire pregnancy. when she was born at 32 weeks & 6 days, she weighed four pounds, eleven ounces (that’s big for that age). now that she is at a gestational age of about 38 & a half weeks, she weighs over seven pounds, probably close to eight. & they grow more slowly outside the womb than in it (provided that there are no pre-existing conditions inhibiting fetal growth–i didn’t have any). had she gone to term, she probably would have been close to or over nine pounds (ie, enormous).

because she came early, she was diapered in pampers preemie swaddlers in the NICU. & then the NICU staff was surprised when she developed diaper rash. they coated her butt in desitin during every change & wouldn’t let me put breast milk on her butt. (desitin provides a waterproof barrier, so supposedly it keeps the butt from getting wet & even more irritated, but it doesn’t treat the rash. breast milk is a natural antibiotic that can both clear up existing diaper rash & prevent a new rash from developing.) once we got her home, we buried the disposables they gave us deep in the closet, doused her behind in breast milk, & put her in a prefold with a preemie cover (by litewraps). when we next changed her diaper, her rashy red butt had been replaced by a rash-free peachy butt–just one breast milk treatment had done the trick! she’s been exclusively cloth diapered ever since & her rash has not returned.

she was too tiny to fit into any of the pockets i had laid in, so i just stuck with the prefolds & covers…& discovered that i LOVE THEM. why did i ever think that pockets would be easier or cuter or whatever the fuck i thought? prefolds are a snap–fold them into thirds, tuck them into the cover, snap or velcro the cover shut & bam. it doesn’t seem like any more work than disposables. sure, there’s laundry, but i love doing laundry–it’s my favorite chore. pulling a load of freshly washed cloth diapers out of the dryer is it’s own weird little pleasure for me. we’re also using cloth wipes, which are great. ours are all soft flannel that gets softer with every wash, & they work great for wiping her mouth after a meal too. we’re using the small prefolds (which are still too big for her) as burp cloths. she is finally starting to outgrow her preemie wraps & is graduating into the exciting printed rockabye booty adjustable covers i bought.

& a note on quantities: everything i read about cloth diapering said to make sure to have a supply of at least thee dozen diapers, & some recommended more like six dozen. that seemed kind of crazy to me. i mean, i was planning to do laundry every two or three days–surely i wouldn’t need six dozen diapers! i split the difference & bought a dozen pockets, a dozen newborn prefolds, & a dozen small prefolds. because i was expecting a large full-term baby, i expected that my baby would be able to wear all of these diapers right out of the gate & i could pick & choose among them to decide what worked/fit best.

instead i got a tiny preemie baby…&, i don’t know, blame the percocet or the plummeting hormones or something, but i totally thought we could get by with only a dozen newborn size prefolds. i won’t go into details, but let’s just say that one night where ramona was going through one diaper an hour on the hour (along with whatever onesie & blanket & bouncy seat cover happened to be near her person) convinced me of the folly of my ways & i put in an emergency order for another two dozen newborn prefolds. she’ll probably be in them for a while, being so tiny (though she’s gaining weight like a sumo wrestler in training for the olympics), & they’re only like $2 each, so it seems like a good investment. we can use them as doublers or burp cloths when she outgrows them–or i can sell them or give them away to a preggo friend who wants to cloth diaper. because if you have a preggo friend who is interested in cloth diapering, cloth diapers are the ultimate gift! (once you check in about what kinds she wants.) yes, the baby poops on them & maybe that doesn’t seem fun or cute, but the sad truth is that i am ten million times more excited about my cloth diapers than i am about even the cutest outfit in ramona’s wardrobe.

ramona in one of her preemie baby diaper covers.
ramona in one of her preemie baby diaper covers.
ramona in one of her big girl rockabye booty covers.
ramona in one of her big girl rockabye booty covers.
ramona freed from society's conventions! undiapered freedom!
ramona freed from society’s conventions! undiapered freedom!

shark baby

so. breastfeeding update. i wrote in my last post about how it hasn’t been going well since ramona came home & it was making me feel like a shitty mom. as it turns out, it wasn’t really my fault. ramona had a tooth! when newborn babies grow teeth like this (had she gone to term, i would only be 37 weeks pregnant today), it’s called a natal tooth. it’s fairly unusual. it happens in one in about 3000 babies. ramona’s tooth was right in the middle on the bottom, so it rubbed on her tongue when she tried to latch on to the nipple. i guess the shape of the bottle nipple was more comfortable for her.

see that bump? it's a tooth!
see that bump? it’s a tooth!

jared discovered the tooth first. i had shown him how to soothe ramona by letting her suck on a finger, which is sometimes easier for her than holding on to a pacifier. (a crunchy mom friend who didn’t want her baby to use pacifiers turned me on to that trick.) he noticed a sharp bump & was like, “hey, i think she has a tooth.” i was all condescending about it: “look, i know you don’t know a lot about babies, but it’s going to be quite a bit longer before she starts growing teeth.” but we took her to the pediatrician, who confirmed that ramona had a tooth! she treated it as a major emergency, referring us to a pediatric dentist & telling us that if the tooth falls out, ramona could inhale it into her lungs. seems like kind of a long shot to me, but we took her to the dentist anyway & they extracted the tooth.

they let us keep the tooth, of course.
they let us keep the tooth, of course.

now that the tooth is gone, i guess i could probably breastfeed her. i’ve only tried once & it didn’t go so well. she has trouble latching, which makes her scream with frustration, & obviously a screaming baby is not going to be eating. it’s a million times easier to give her a bottle, & it’s less taxing on my shoulders & back (it’s easier to hold her up in a bottle position than to tuck her into a breastfeeding position). there are downsides: you have to get up to fix the bottle in the middle of the night, rather than just pulling her into bed & giving her a meal without really waking up. there are dishes to wash. you have to stay cognizant of the rotation of milk in & out of the fridge & freezer. you have to keep pumping around the clock to produce the milk, & sometimes that means you’re pumping when the baby is screaming for food, which feels counter-intuitive.

but there are benefits too. giving her breast milk in bottles means that we always know exactly how much she’s eating. it means that jared can take on half (or more) of the feeding duties. including the ones that happen in the middle of the night. there’s something about pumping that appeals to my highly-organized/OCD personality in a way that breastfeeding doesn’t. i didn’t expect to feel this way, but the idea of being constantly tethered to the baby because she will only feed from my breast really does not appeal to me on a conceptual level. i mean, i say this now. i can think of a lot of circumstances where breastfeeding would probably be a lot easier. like if we are out of the house all day–if i breastfeed, i don’t need to figure out how to have five bottles with me. but i have been reading up on moms who exclusively pump & i’m kind of wondering if that’s the route i might take.

i feel like having ramona home gets a little easier every day, as we figure out who she is as a person & how to meet her needs. it was completely overwhelming at first & i didn’t handle it that well. i cried a lot. i felt really shitty because jared would spend all day holding her, talking to her, making up songs for her, giving her silly nicknames, etc, & i wasn’t really doing any of that. i was making pediatrician appointments & doing baby laundry & washing pumping supplies & fielding phone calls. i felt like i was doing all the logistical stuff (which i enjoy doing) & he was doing all the nurturing stuff (which has never come naturally to me). & that i was therefore a bad mom. or that he was secretly resentful–that he too felt overwhelmed by the idea of holding the baby & fussing over her so much of the time, & would have preferred to do the “easier” organizational/bureaucratic stuff. but we talked about it & it turns out we were both playing to our strengths.

i feel more comfortable with her as the days go by though. we’re working out a system. jared stays up later in the evening with her, & i go to bed early. we take turns getting up with her in the night (i take the first shift, since i’ve had some sleep at that point), & then i get up with her early in the morning when i am the most calm & together. as the day wears on, i start to fade & get really out of sorts, & jared is just the opposite, so it works out pretty well. we are both learning to read her cues & ignore the normal random baby noises that babies make because they have no self-awareness.

i bought a bouncy chair in the interest of “having somewhere to put her” when i need a break. it was a very contentious purchase at first. jared claimed that ramona hated it because she made little huffy baby noises the first time i put her in it (which are actually the noises she makes every time you move her at all). he said, “it’s too bad you don’t seem to enjoy the attachment part of attachment parenting.” i cried, because my biggest insecurity right now is that i really am not wild about holding her all day long while she sleeps, but as a mom, i feel that i should love it (even though i don’t expect other moms to do that kind of thing). but after like a day, jared realized that holding the baby 24 hours a day every day is just not realistic & he came around on the bouncy chair idea. he apologized for impugning its utility.

is breast still best if it comes exclusively from a bottle?

i included a space on my to-do list to write a blog post about ramona’s third week of life, but she’s 25 days old now–halfway through her fourth week–& i want to write about something a little more immediate & relevant to my own life. guys, having a baby is difficult. not that i didn’t think it would be. it’s just difficult in a different way than i was prepared for. in a kind of a meta way, i was prepared to be unprepared for the difficulty, but it’s still tough.

the big news is that ramona really started getting the hang of mouth feedings last week. the main things she had to do to be released from the NICU were a) maintain her temperatures without help, 2) pass the car seat test, & 3) take all of her feedings by mouth. they delayed starting her on a bottle for a few days so that i could work on breastfeeding her. we did board one night so i could try her at the breast at every feed for 24 hours. sometimes she really took to it; more often she took a few sucks & then fell asleep or thrashed around until she got a bottle. but by saturday, she was taking entire feeds from the breast, no supplementation necessary, & she could suck down an entire bottle in like thirty seconds flat.

jared & i remembered different things about when her feeding tube could be removed. he thought they had said that a baby needs to take all feeds by mouth for 48 hours, but in the discharge binder (my source of info, considering how little i remembered of the discharge class, which i attended while still on two percocets every four hours), it said 24 hours. once ramona hit 24 hours with no tube feedings, i asked to speak with a nurse practitioner to clarify the issue. she looked at ramona’s chart & said she’d write an order for the tube to be removed that night. “& we might as well do the hearing test too. & the car seat test. & i’ll leave the paperwork for the hep B vaccine with you. &…do you guys want to room-in tomorrow? & then she can go home the next day?”

so, long story (well, maybe not so long) short, ramona was released from the NICU yesterday. she’s been home with us for a little more than 24 hours now.

& it is really hard.

rooming-in was hard too. i don’t know if all NICUs do this, but overland park regional medical center has some rooms actually in the NICU where parents can stay overnight with their babies in preparation for going home. the parents are responsible for all their baby’s care during the rooming-in period, just like they would be at home. they change all the diapers, take care of all the feedings, administer baths as necessary, dispense any medications or other tests. if all goes well & baby comes out the other side alive, having gotten all its medication, maintaining its temperature, & eating okay, it can leave.

the tough part is that we were still on the hospital schedule. in the NICU, ramona’s temperature was taken, her diaper was changed, & she was fed every three hours around the clock, since birth. if she pooped her diaper fifteen minutes after having it changed–tough luck, kiddo. unless the poop actually seeped through her outfit, she was left to sit in it until the next diaper change. (& the NICU nurses seemed surprised when she developed a diaper rash. go figure.) if she got hungry before feeding time–too bad. she’d have to wait. needless to say, this is NOT how i would have parented her at home. but we had to chart her temps, diapers, & feeds NICU-style during the rooming-in, so we had to more or less stick to their schedule. & it was hard because she didn’t eat that well at her first few feedings, so she kept us up half the night screaming for food. seriously, she screamed almost non-stop from 12:30am until 5:30am. when i did put her to the breast, she was too hysterical to take to it & we wound up giving her a bottle (of breast milk–i am still pumping around the clock & had milk in the fridge). she calmed right down for the bottle & slept like a log once she’d finished it.

anyway, now she’s home, so i can feed her at will & exclusively at the breast, right? my whole plan when i was pregnant was to exclusively breastfeed. when the NICU insisted we have a “bottle system” ready to go before they would discharge it, i kind of mentally dismissed the idea, thinking we’d buy some bottles to honor the request but just never use them (except for the occasional dad feeding).

but it’s just not working out. she cues for food, i offer her the breast, she latches on for about ten seconds, & then she whips her head away & screams. i try a different position & the same thing happens. lather, rinse, repeat until both of us are near tears & finally i break down & give her breast milk in a bottle. she polishes it off in no time & falls asleep like the happy, satisfied baby i wanted at the breast.

i have no idea what to do. she is capable of maybe two or three decent meals at the breast in a day (though none yet today), but no way would she be taking enough calories that way. & i have to admit, being able to give her a bottle & know she’s eating is a huge sanity-saver. she’ll nurse fitfully at the breast for an hour or more & take about the same as she’ll take from a bottle in three minutes. in the middle of the night, desperate for sleep, the bottle looks like my best friend. & i justify it by telling myself that she’s still very small & doesn’t have a lot of stamina, & my supply might just be too much for her to handle direct from the breast, & we have plenty of time to make the transition as she gets bigger & stronger & my supply evens out to adjust to her actual needs, & in the meantime, she’s still getting breast milk from the bottle. & it also means that jared & i can split feeds evenly, which gives me more time to myself (to think about what a failure i am as a mother, that i can’t even breastfeed my own baby despite having enough milk to fill the grand canyon).

i’m going to consult with my doula once the holiday is over, & i’m going to attend a la leche league meeting & see if anyone there can help me out. maybe it’s ramona’s size. maybe i’m not positioning her properly. maybe she needs some extra time to adjust to the sudden change in environments & caretakers. maybe this is normal for premature babies. maybe it’s okay to just keep pumping & giving her bottles of breast milk until she’s weaned. maybe this just isn’t a big deal. but it makes me feel really sad & crappy.

how i wound up in the perinatal ICU

as a pregnant lady you know you are in for a tough time when your obstetrician calls you at home, on a sunday, when she is not the doctor on-call that weekend, & asks how you’re feeling. i mean, there’s compassionate medical care, & then there’s a clear emergency situation.

the last time i updated, i wrote about how my last prenatal hadn’t gone so well & more labs had been ordered. apparently my doctor finally got the chance to look at them on sunday & they alarmed her. my protein levels had spiked up pretty high–i was at 595 & the average pregnant lady is more like zero. my liver enzymes were also starting to rise, which is evidence that my body was starting to go into serious distress due to the pregnancy. she asked me to go to labor & delivery as soon as possible “for some more tests”.

i was just pulling a lasagna out of the oven for dinner, so jared & i sat down & ate first. then i threw my phone, keys, & pocketbook into a bag, & we drove to the hospital. i didn’t even know how to get the labor & delivery because i hadn’t had my hospital pre-registration appointment yet. we had to call the hospital operator to get directions. they immediately ushered us into a private delivery room & handed me a hospital gown. they wanted to check the baby out on a monitor–it’s called a non-stress test. it’s like the biophysicals they’ve been doing, but longer, & they also watch for uterine activity (like contractions). they also sent someone up from the lab to draw more blood.

i laid around there for a while, joking around with jared, wondering how long they would keep us there & when i could go home & eat some more lasagna. eventually the on-call OB came in & damn, can that woman talk. eventually i realized she was saying things like, “would you rather be transferred to topeka or kansas city?” & “i’m not saying you won’t still be pregnant in two weeks, but it looks pretty unlikely,” & i started to really freak out.

i was 32 weeks & one day pregnant when this all went down, & the lawrence hospital doesn’t have the resources to care for premature infants that young. the on-call doctor seemed to think there was a chance that i would have an emergency delivery that night & she needed to send me to a hospital with a NICU that could care for such a young baby. 32 weeks isn’t a terrible age for a preemie, but it’s pretty young. a baby that young will struggle to stay warm & may have trouble breathing on its own. it probably wouldn’t be strong enough to reliably take a bottle or breast & would need to be fed through an IV for at least a few days.

basically, my high blood pressures combined with elevated protein levels & higher liver enzymes mean i have “classic pre-eclampsia” & need to be monitored constantly to watch my condition & make sure i don’t start having seizures or have a stroke or experience placental abruption. in other words: WORST IMAGINABLE NIGHTMARE. i was terrified of pre-eclampsia well before i ever got pregnant–to a kind of an irrational degree, considering how uncommon it is & how i didn’t have any of the known risk factors. but i guess someone has to get it & now it’s me.

they loaded me on to a gurney & i was wheeled out to an ambulance. jared went home to pack me a bag & then drove to the hospital. we chose overland park medical center in kansas city, for no real reason other than the nurses at lawrence told it was a pretty chill place with a good level-three NICU. i got here sunday night a little after midnight. apparently i am in the perinatal intensive care unit. i met the high-risk perinatalogist on-call & he did a bedside sonogram to check the baby out. he estimated that it’s weighing in at five pounds already & “would be the bruiser of the NICU”. they gave me a steroid shot to precipitously mature the baby’s lungs & put me on an IV of magnesium, both to try to control my blood pressure & as a “neurophylaxis” (i think that’s the word they used–supposedly it helps protect a premature baby from bleeding into its brain after birth & developing cerebral palsy).

after an hour or two of tests, they decided i didn’t have to deliver that night & they gave jared a pull-out next to my hospital bed. i wasn’t allowed to get up & was hooked up magenseium, IV fluids, & a catheter. i cried all night, until they finally gave me a sleeping pill at like 4am. once i got a few hours of rest, i felt a little better & was better able to take stock of my situation.

more stuff has happened since then, but the bottom line for now is that i am living in the perninatal ICU until i deliver this baby. no one knows if this will happen tomorrow or in six weeks. it all depends on how i respond to treatment. it seems unlikely that i will get much further than 34 weeks at this point. they would have delivered me already had my labwork come back just a touch worse, but they really prefer to keep the babies in until 34 weeks if they can so their lungs have more time to mature. if i’m still relatively stable at 34 weeks, they might let me keep being pregnant–we’ll see. it also seems kind of improbable that they’ll let me do a vaginal birth. they’re worried that the stress of labor will tip me over the edge into having seizures. a vaginal birth isn’t completely off the table, but i am working on accepting that i’ll probably have a cesarean instead.

more to come, i guess?

the worst day of my pregnancy, part one

yesterday was probably the worst day of my pregnancy so far. i hope i don’t have any other days that were that horrible.

i wrote last week about some extra labs that my doctor ordered. i got the results back on monday, but i didn’t write about it because i guess i just needed a little extra time to feel sorry for myself. the results weren’t great. i failed the one-hour glucose test–not by a huge margin, but enough to have to do the three-hour glucose. i also failed the 24-hour urinalysis. the official diagnostic criterion for pre-eclampsia would be a protein level of 300 or more detected in a 24-hour catch. my doctor wanted my levels to be even lower to rule out further testing–250. i scored 280. so, more than she was comfortable with, but not quite enough to have everyone rending their garments & tearing out their hair. i already had a repeat blood pressure check on the books (since the other half of the pre-eclampsia diagnostic is two episodes of elevated blood pressure seven days apart), so we decided to test for protein again at that appointment & maybe do another 24-hour catch if any was found, or if blood pressure was still high. the nurse also suggested i do the three-hour glucose that day.

well, that day was yesterday. i tried to prepare all week by drinking lots of water, trying to eat reasonably well, going to the pool, keeping my feet elevated, etc. the elephant feet situation resolved itself, so i felt hopeful. the three-hour glucose is a fasting test, so i wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything (except water) for eight hours before the test. so i rolled out of bed yesterday morning & immediately got in the car & drove to the hospital. that was bad enough, because i don’t usually drive before i have coffee. & coffee usually satisfies my morning appetite a little (because i put so much milk in it), so i don’t feel like the pregnant beast that devoured the entire state of kansas. all i could think about was biting into a warm bagel all covered in something decadent like goat cheese or something.

they did the first blood draw before i drank the syrup drink, just to make sure my blood sugar wasn’t abnormally elevated by fasting. then i went upstairs for the blood pressure check, thinking it would take like ten minutes. unfortunately, my blood pressure was even higher than it was last week. the nurse began wringing her hands & bustled off to consult the on-call obstetrician. she came back to check for protein, & sure enough, protein was detected. not a huge amount, but any protein is a bad sign. i began to feel rather defeated. she took my blood pressure again & it was even higher. she started asking me if i was having any headaches, blurry vision, reduced fetal movement, etc. she ran off for another consultation with the doctor & then hustled me into an office i’d never been in before. she & another nurse sat me down & walked me through the new treatment protocol: a blood pressure medication twice a day. i have to log my own blood pressure every night before bed. be alert for sudden puffiness, reduced fetal activity, changes in vision, & headaches. they scheduled me for a weekly biophysical profile every single week until my due date–in january! that’s a lot of biophysical profiles. that’s a fetal non-stress test combined with a sonogram, designed to check baby’s heart rate, movement, size, amniotic fluid levels, etc. no one actually used the words “pre-eclampsia,” but this is basically the treatment protocol for pre-eclampsia in the absence of maternal distress (you may recall that my bloodwork came back perfect, which means i’m not showing any symptoms of kidney or liver dysfunction right now). & just to rub a little salt in the wounds, half of the appointments were scheduled with jan, the nurse practitioner that i hate, the one that basically accused me of making up phantom knee pain in order to turn my house into an opium den.

i also weighed myself, just for my own amusement, & discovered that i have lost two pounds in the last week–probably water that i was retaining at my last appointment. just stop & try to imagine that for a second, especially if you have never been pregnant. imagine carrying around an extra two pounds of water, mainly in the form of swollen extremities. no wonder i was so uncomfortable last week.

if i was having a normal pregnancy, i would still be on track to be having once-monthly prenatals, & once i got into later pregnancy & started going every week (post-36 weeks), i would be seeing my obstetrician exclusively. but now i have to go weekly (i’m only 29 weeks!) & i have to see jan half the time. the only silver lining here is that jared & i will get to see the baby a lot on all the sonograms. i joked with the nurses, “this baby will be old news by the time it’s finally born!” they laughed uncomfortably.

(to be continued)

bumpwatch terror alert: week 16

i’ve decided that i need to emulate other pregnancy blogs out there & post a weekly bump update. so my game plan is to post every monday & we can all watch my bump grow together. just try not to think too hard about the fact that the baby contained therein is undoubtedly horrifically ugly. together, we can try not to rend our garments too much once it’s born & its horrible visage is unavoidable.

sixteen weeks (plus a few days, but we can pretend)

what’s that you say? i haven’t tricked my bump photo out enough to be properly tacky, like on real pregnancy blogs? hmmm. let’s try again.

is this better? color-saturated, with a watered ink border & vintage font text in hot pink

i think i’m going to experiment with making my bump pics look really goofy every week. it’s kind of fun! & i need to do something to pass the time until this little monster is born.

though there’s practically always something new happening in babyland. i think i mentioned in a recent post that i had ordered a pregnancy pillow. specifically, i ordered the snoogle. it arrived last week & i have been sleeping with it ever since. it’s pretty awesome! i like the back support, & you can curl it into a coil & lean against it while reading in bed, & wrap one side around yourself to prop your book on. i like to clutch it to my belly when i am experiencing morning sickness (which is still happening intermittently, for at least an hour or so a day). jared claims that it’s not crowding him too much, but honestly, he’s such a deep sleeper, i could roll him into a rug & pitch him out the back of a van off the side of the interstate & he probably wouldn’t realize anything was amiss until his alarm failed to go off in the morning.

i was cozied up with my snoogle last night, reading this weird book called the yummy mummy manifesto, which i really expected to be something like a more heavily-illustrated version of a girlfriend’s guide to pregnancy (also known as the worst book about pregnancy ever written–my pregnant comrades, DO NOT read that book!). but it’s really different from what i expected from the title & the kind of goofy fashion illustration-inspired cover. it’s not bad at all. pregnancy hormones are possibly causing me to overlook a certain toxic level of hippiedom that i would find disturbing in my usual state, but honestly, i’d rather read about hippie moms that want to send their babies outside to play nude in the sun for an hour each day than another crappy book about how you might want to schedule an elective C-section to preserve the integrity of your vagina for your husband. ugh.

so, i’m reading, i’m snoogling, i’m feeling good, & suddenly i felt a tickle on my face. i botled up & swiped at the tickly place. jared asked, “what’s up?” & i said, “i don’t know. my hair, i guess.” sometimes it falls in my face & tickles. i swiped a little more to be safe & then happened to look down my shirt (pregnancy cleavage makes it kind of impossible not to have a great view). & there, poised beside my right breast, on the apex of my baby bump, was a spider. i proceeded to scream my face off, & smashed the spider. & then i sobbed hysterically because my shirt was covered in spider juice, a spider fell down my shirt, & a SPIDER was on my FACE.

i am severely, severely arachnophobic. i have sought therapy for it (not that it’s helped). when i was younger, if i even SAW a spider across the room, or even outside somewhere, i would start screaming. it’s generally impossible for me to get close enough to a spider to kill it unless it’s pretty small, & forget about catching it in a cup or something & setting it free outside. this is kind of a gross story, but once, when i was a teenager, i was combing my hair, right? i had really long hair then, like down to my waist. & i felt this little crunchy bit in it, like maybe a little shred from the side of notebook paper, where it has all the holes for the spiral binding, you know? so i pulled it out & it was a dead spider. i assume it fell of the ceiling on to my head or something. it wasn’t even alive & i still couldn’t stop screaming. i kept screaming until i lose my voice, which took seven hours. then i continued to silently scream for two more hours, until my mom forced a vicodin on me & i finally fell asleep. i’m not THAT bad anymore, but it’s still pretty bad. & my worst fear is that a spider will crawl on me. there’s no need to tell me how stupid this is. like…what’s a spider gonna do it when it crawls on me? empty my bank account? tell me my baby is ugly? it doesn’t bother me at all when i find other bugs on me (which WILL happen if you live in kansas & go outside ever). it was bad enough a few weeks ago when a spider crawled on my arm, but on my FACE?

so that was exciting. i’m not even gonna lie: i took a swig of nyquil, even though i am pregnant & not experiencing any flu-like symptoms, because it was the only way i was going to be able to sleep. if my baby comes out with fetal alcohol syndrome because of the trace amounts of alcohol that are in nyquil (which is the only reason i can figure why it’s contraindicated in pregnancy), so be it. blame the spider. jared totally signed off on this decision. we’re gonna be the best parents ever!