24 Weeks

better late than never...
How far along: 24 weeks
Gender: Girl
Weight gain:  17 pounds.  (But it'll be a lot more if I don't lay off the sweets!  Ergh!)
Maternity clothes: Eh.
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In. (and wedding ring is still on!)
Sleep: Good!
Best moment this week: Seeing baby girl (and her perfect heart - which they checked extensively) on ultrasound, finding out I was right about her changing positions (she's now head down)... and seeing her drinking/swallowing!  All VERY good!  Runner up: sewing five dresses and cutting fabric for eight (8!) more.
Worst moment this week:  Being emotionally fragile and crying (from stress, not happiness) when my co-worker told me my boss is insisting on having a big going-away party for me at work.  Runner up: realizing my ankles are (already!?!) starting to swell.
Miss anything: A calm sciatic nerve.  The left one, to be exact.
Movement: Changed this week.  I had to sit really still or pay close attention while standing to feel her.  It was a little scary until I realized that: a) I'm still feeling her and b) she probably changed positions.
Cravings: Sushi.  (Finally took care of that on Saturday night!)
Queasy or sick:  Other than a mild sore throat?  Nah.
Looking forward to: Another ultrasound in a few weeks.



Adding up to Three

I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning.

As I was waking up on the morning of Friday, February 23, 2012, before my mind even struck consciousness, the tiniest whisper of a thought crossed my awareness: "you will have a third son when this one is two years old".

My belly was almost 28 weeks round with baby A, whom I was content to have be my last.  Two and done.  But suddenly the door I had hoped to close was lodged decidedly and firmly open.  My first conscious thought in response was "you've gotta be kiddin' me!"

I've long held out hope for a March baby.  A fish of our own!  So, when June 2013 came along, I got all weird and thoughtful and "is this our 'when'?".  We weren't anywhere near ready and decided it wasn't.  And then, I actually felt it.  A push.  A big push.  From our #3.  But since A had only barely turned a year old and I had just stopped pumping, I was all "give me just a minute!" By which, I meant "wait until October," obviously.

Two short months later, M came to me saying he had felt the push.  Baby gave up on me, and went to him, I guess.  And so, we finally paid attention and got two pink lines in early September.

I was finally done slogging through the first trimester affliction when we got news that something was wrong with our baby.  I quickly realized the second trimester couldn't save me now; I would never feel "safe".

It started the day I found out our supposed "he" was actually a "she".  Not a third son, an only girl.  "But," I thought - and then later gained the courage to say out loud to M -"it was supposed to be a son. . . does that mean we're going to lose this girl?"   I've worried every day since about something happening to this baby girl.  I've prayed, I've hoped, I've decided that it's not the first time I've been confused about revelation.  Gradually, that giant fear shrank, even if a little, and I was able to push it to the background.

But when someone - a specialist - gives voice and reason to your deepest, darkest fear, it rushes forth from the shadowlands of your heart and mind and sits firmly in the light for you to examine in all its frightening ugliness.

That happened last Friday.  What I had finally set aside as something I myself had manufactured in my mother-worry now became a harrowingly real possibility.  It cracked my psyche and I still haven't recovered. 

This past weekend, in trying to plan for how to dress this little one, whose arms and legs will be immovable (at first) and oddly positioned - meaning no onesies, no pants, no shoes - I decided to sew some tiny dresses.  I pulled out my fabric, printed and cut out the patterns, and matched them all up.  Then, I stopped.  I thought about that awful, unthinkable "what if" (again) and decided my fragile psyche would surely crumble apart at the sight of completed baby girl dresses that might never be worn.

This experience has already changed me in many ways.  I wonder often about being equal to the task of being the mother/advocate/caretaker for a special needs child.  I wonder about the alternative: never having that opportunity. 

And I think about my boys.  Yesterday, I realized how this has even permeated my interactions with them.  I find myself being more patient with them, and then silently thinking "See?"

Yesterday, I was praying about a lot of things, including this baby, and I uttered for the first time a truth I didn't even know existed about those "See?" moments...

I'm trying to prove that I'm worthy of her.

I'm trying to show I can do it.  That I am good enough to have her here with me.

And I suppose part of that is conquering the unspeakable fear.

So, today, I'm going to sew those dresses.  



23 Weeks

How far along: 23 weeks
Gender: Still a girl!
Weight gain:  16-ish pounds.
Maternity clothes: Sort of.  I kind of look at them when deciding what to wear and go "ugh".  So, not many.
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In. (and wedding ring is still on!)
Sleep: Good!
Best moment this week: Being able to prod this baby into moving with sweet drinks and breathing exercises.  And on Tuesday, I felt some sort of body part poking around...
Worst moment this week: Today was a pretty awful day.  We saw the neonatologist and, seriously (!), someone needs to show these people how to do a lead-in of bad news.  For one, you don't drop the bomb right after introductions... We met Dr. L today and among his first words was the (new to us) news that Arthrogryposis that is detected in the first trimester (as ours was) is often lethal.  That was very VERY hard to hear.  He also said that baby will likely be in the NICU during pretty much her entire hospital stay, meaning I'll be going up to the 3rd floor to visit her (not to mention that the tests they will conduct on her will be much more extensive than I even imagined).  I had to will myself not to cry and to keep it together and not break down several times.  Even so, Dr. L proved himself to be wonderfully compassionate (even if his profession forces him to be a realist) and he even gave us his personal cell number.  There's still so much we won't know until this baby is born, but we are hopeful.  And despite the hard news today, I am grateful for the opportunity to try to prepare as much emotionally and physically as I can.
Miss anything: Normal OB visits. (Seriously!)
Movement: Daily.  But I freak out a little if I haven't felt anything for a few hours.
Cravings: I still need to get my sushi on...
Queasy or sick:  Nope.  Not even after eating mass amounts of cookies...
Looking forward to: Quitting my job and being home with my boys before the craziness hits.


22 Weeks

sorry, no belly in this photo...
How far along: 22 weeks
Gender: In the words of the ultrasound-tech-of-the-week: "no boy parts!"
Weight gain:  About 14 pounds.
Maternity clothes: Sort of.
Stretch marks:  Nope. 
Belly button in or out: In. Maybe this one should be "Rings on or off" because it's more likely I'll lose the ability to wear my wedding ring than lose the innards of my belly button...
Sleep: Good, except when my brain won't shut off after my bladder has woken it up.
Best moment this week: Seeing baby girl on another ultrasound and feeling more bonded with her.  (but it's allowed me to hope this could really be real for us, which is scary!)  And being told that because we are so well-researched, we get to see the neonatologist earlier than we normally would.
Worst moment this week: Having the perinatologist list the gamut of tests she wants to run on me and the amount of appointments we'll be having.  And realizing how closed off my body language was and how much I was saying about how I felt about all that... As M said, we might as well get used to it; it's going to be the way it is for us for a long while.
Miss anything: Normal OB visits.
Movement: Every day now!  Hooray!
Cravings:  Still chocolate.  (Why can't it be apples?)
Queasy or sick:  Feeling good!
Looking forward to: Still looking forward to May!

**More about the perinatologist visit: I was relieved they did an ultrasound right off, so that we could all be on the same page and I didn't have to guess at what they knew or didn't know.  Everything still looks good, but baby is definitely transverse (sideways).  She was wiggling up a storm, and we *think* we saw her open her mouth - which would be good news because it would mean her jaw joint is not affected and feeding won't be as much of a problem (fingers crossed!).  With every ultrasound, she gets a new nickname: so far she's been called space cadet (14 wks), little mermaid (19 wks) and now the karate kid (because of the way her legs are positioned: looks a lot like the Karate Kid crane stance - I'll wait while you google that....).  I asked the (very young) rady tech if she'd ever scanned a baby with contractures like ours.  She said what I expected: no. 

Then we went to meet with the nurse and had the first semblance of a normal OB visit that I've had for about, oh, 10 or 12 weeks...  Then came the perinatologist.  Her first words, after introductions all around, were "you'll probably never see me again since I work out of our Scottsdale office," followed immediately by a push for us to get an amniocentesis.  I think that's when I crossed my arms and legs and leaned as far back in my chair as I could.  She then zinged us with news that Arthrogryposis could be just a symptom of another underlying disorder (I seriously thought we were past this?) such as a neuromuscular disorder that could be degenerative, and that an amniocentesis would allow us to be prepared.  Way to scare us, doc!  So, she said she wants us to see the genetic specialist in their office.  I'm going to let him go ahead and try to convince us...

I asked her about turning the baby and attempting a normal (non-cesaerean delivery) and she essentially said she didn't think the positioning of the baby's legs would allow her to turn the way she needs to be born vaginally.  I mentioned the research I'd read about it being better to delivery babies with Arthrogryposis at 38 weeks to get them out and moving sooner.  She looked at me like I suddenly had three eyes.  She basically said there's a question of lung development at 38 weeks and "we don't want to add anything to what we're already looking at".  (Curiously, she looked at me the same way - three eyes! - when I mentioned in-utero therapy to help baby move.)  She was not all bad: she was nice and set us up with the neonatologist that will be attending the delivery about 6-8 weeks sooner than she normally would.  (Go research!)  So, there's that.  I told her our genetic specialist told us he only sees about 5 cases of this a year.  And she said "that sounds about right".  Which means their practice sees only 4-5 a year.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't.

Long (long!) story short: I get to have an extra Rhogam shot, an extra glucose test, a 24-hour urine test, at least one non-stress test, scans and appointments every 2 weeks, and a partridge in a pear tree.  By the end, I was feeling pretty impatient with being treated more like a sick person than I ever have in my life.  {Don't get me wrong: I do believe they want best outcomes for me and baby.  But they are definitely practicing CYA-centered care (and it's not my "A" they want to "C"!).}  Still, I'm glad they're being cautious.  Ultimately, more scans mean more information and more opportunities to make sure this baby girl's doing well.



21 Weeks

How far along: 21 weeks
Gender: Girl!
Weight gain:  13 pounds.
Maternity clothes: A few.  But still: not if I can help it.  Maybe I should branch out a little though, since my last three pics are essentially starting to look like a uniform!
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In.
Sleep: Good!  (now that I can ignore my bladder...)
Best moment this week: Buying some GIRL clothes: a newborn outfit for the hospital and her first Christmas outfit (clearance!) for next year.
Worst moment this week: Had some spotting and light bleeding early in the week that had me scared and Googling.  I felt especially dumb since I blew off my last appointment with my OB - because I just didn't see the point - and don't see the perinatologist for a few weeks.
Miss anything: Does Hawaii count?
Movement:Yes!  Little wiggles every day.
Cravings:  I eat chocolate like it's going extinct. 
Queasy or sick: I keep forgetting that fast food and I don't mix.  I always feel gross after I eat it.
Looking forward to: MAY! (let's get this girl here safely!)

"May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." -Ray Bradbury