First hospital visit/ A little scare

My first 3 NST’s were fine.  I cried during the first 2 and on the way to the 3rd, but baby boy passed them easily.  The 4th NST last Friday did not go as smoothly.  A different nurse was getting me set up (my favorite nurse from this office actually, but she had been on vacation).  She wasn’t finding his heartbeat as quickly as she wanted to, so she buzzed him.  Then as she continued moving the sensor around, my OB came in and took over.  I think my wonderful OB is hyper-aware any time they are looking for my baby’s heartbeat and never wants it to take too long, which I so appreciate.  She wasn’t even in the NST room, but must have been listening from wherever she was (they always leave the door open which makes me a little self-conscious, but in this case it was good).  As they were proceeding with this, they were jokingly insulting each other as they often do to lighten the mood.  I told them I had just felt him on the drive over, so I knew he was fine.  It felt a little scary to have to say that.  But they found the heartbeat and left me alone with the little button to push when I felt him move.

His heart rate is usually around the high 120’s to high 130’s, hovering around 134 most recently.  When he moves, it goes up into the 150’s/160’s for a few seconds.  This time, it started out in the 150’s/160’s and stayed there for several minutes.  Then instead of usual occasional movements, he was moving constantly–like crazy.  The combination of these 2 things made his heart rate elevated for the first 15-20 minutes of the NST.  My OB came in once and said it was looking good.  She came in again and said she thought it was good, she just wanted to leave me on a bit longer because she couldn’t tell which was his baseline heart rate and if it was this one (pointing), he was having accelerations when he moved as he is supposed to.  But if it was this one (pointing to different spot), he could be having decelerations which would indicate distress.  As we tested longer,  I looked at the paper running out of the machine and felt they were accelerations because the movement mark was always at the base of a crescendo.  I wasn’t worried about his accelerations, but I was concerned that his heart beat started out so high.  On my last NST with Luke, his starting heart rate was about 10 higher than at the other ones.  When my OB came in, I mentioned my concern about the higher heart rate and she said, “Well, that’s because she buzzed him!” again razzing the nurse playfully.

Before he could settle down into a lower heart rate, he got the hiccups.  This was neat because I haven’t been sure I have felt hiccups from him or from Luke before, but this was clearly hiccups.  They were rhythmic and strong and you could hear the NST machine make a noise with each one.  It was cute.  However, it made it hard to read the test.  He had the hiccups for a decent length of time, maybe 10 minutes.  At this point, I think I had been on the machine around 40/45 minutes.  My OB came in again and said, “Well, my gut says that these are accelerations and he’s fine, but I can’t be certain of his baseline.  So, the protocol is to do a biophysical profile (ultrasound)”. She told her nurse that they were going to have to send me to the hospital.  I began to get scared.  I asked couldn’t I do it at her office (knowing I couldn’t, but just having to ask) and she said no because she didn’t have an ultrasound tech there that day.  The nurse said something about it just being an inconvenience for me to lose several hours of my afternoon.  I said, still a bit in shock this was happening, “Several hours?” to which she said, “Well, by the time you get over there, etc.”   I foggily said, “I need to eat lunch…” and she told me to grab something on my way across town, but just not to take hours.

Even though I had thought myself that the test was showing positive accelerations and I knew clearly that he was alive, I began to feel panicked.  I left the office in a daze, got in the car and called Josh.  I was trying not to scare him, but when I said, “I have to go to the hospital”, I started crying.  He said, “Okay, I’m coming”.  I heard him say “Can you cancel my order please?” as he had just ordered lunch.  I then was able to calm down enough to tell him more details so that he wouldn’t worry too much.  We hung up and I realized I didn’t even know where he was coming from or how long it would take him to get there.  (He drives a truck for work and is sometimes up to 1.5 hours away).

This was the first time I had re-entered the birthing center since we took the nurses chocolate-covered strawberries last summer, about a month after we lost Luke.  Walking back in there felt big.  I told the old man at the desk that my doctor had sent me over.  He called someone and said they would come for me shortly.  I sat down in a chair and waited. I was the only person in the waiting room.  The birthing center desk clerk who hugged me last year as I walked the halls trying to induce labor with Luke came and got me and walked me back.  She is also the lady who left me a voicemail thanking us for the chocolate-covered strawberries.  She had thanked us when we dropped them off, but realized after we left who we were and felt extra thanks was due because of our situation, so she called and said so.  It was nice.

If she recognized me, she didn’t say anything.  I wouldn’t expect her to as she had a lot more contact with Josh than me and she sees SO many people.  But I remembered.  She took me to the part of the birthing center that I had only seen on the tour during our childbirth classes before Luke’s birth–little cubby rooms toward the front where you go if you think you are in labor.  Kind of a gateway spot.  A nurse introduced herself and asked me how I was feeling.  I said, “a little worried”.  They asked me to change into a gown and gave me a kit for a clean urine sample.  I came out with the gown on backwards and she kindly told me so (oops!  I couldn’t remember if it was boobs or butt that were sort of hanging out.).  She helped me into the bed and placed the same 2  monitors they use for the NST around my belly. (I didn’t have both of these straps during my time in the hospital with Luke since there was no need to monitor his heart rate:( )  Josh arrived soon after and I was very glad.  She told me they would monitor his heart rate and movements and that so far, they looked very good.  His heart rate was back in the 130’s.  She took my blood pressure and it was fine, despite my emotions.  She said my neighbor next door was having the same thing and we would go to have the ultrasound after she was done with hers.

She asked questions about my history and had me sign some papers.  When Josh explained about Luke (he is good at doing this for me early in these conversations), she said, “Oh, now I understand why you are worried.”  A different lady came in, got my insurance info and put a hospital bracelet on me.  We then just lay and waited for awhile.  The baby’s heart rate was fine during all of this and was accelerating when moved just as it should.  Josh said if they needed to take him out right now, he was all for it. He said, “Let’s get him out of there.” I was concerned about this prospect since I was only 34 weeks.  I asked Josh if he’d eaten and he said no, he had canceled his lunch order when I called.  I told him he could go get something to eat if he wanted and he left to go to the cafeteria.

Then the nurse returned and said it was my turn for the ultrasound.  They wheeled me in the bed all the way across the ward (it seemed really far) and into a semi-dark room with a pale, serious-faced ultrasound tech.  The nurse left me alone with her.  She began looking and said almost nothing the whole time.  Her silence and serious face scared me, so I started to ask a few questions to which she mainly answered that the doctor would talk to me after.  She said, “I’ve seen all I need to see, but the doctor will be the one to go over the results.”  At this point, a nurse arrived with Josh.  The tech told the nurse that since she was there, she could wheel me back across.  She told the nurse that the fluid was 11.something and that it was an 8/8.  As we wheeled the halls again, I asked questions and thankfully, the nurse was more forthcoming. She explained that the 8/8 covered 8 things they were looking for like fluid, tone, breathing movements, motor movements, etc.  I asked, “So is 8/8 like the best you can get?” and she said yes.  Then I finally felt better.  I wish the ultrasound tech had been a little less scary.

When we got back to the little triage room, the nurses said they were sure the doctor (who I never did see) would release me and told me I could go ahead and get dressed.  They sent us home.  As we walked out to the parking lot, I asked Josh if he was disappointed we weren’t delivering the baby.  He said, “No, but I would have been okay with it if we had to”.

Josh later told me that he feels this way because they can’t do anything for him while he’s in utero, whereas once he’s out, they can intervene on any problems.  I finally understood more his strong sense of urgency to get him out as early as possible.  I’m also starting to feel more this way myself as we get so close to his scheduled delivery and closer to our point of loss.  He is scheduled to be delivered 2 full weeks before our 39-week point of loss of Luke, but these last weeks are pretty harrowing.  I am definitely hyper-aware of his movements and thankful each time I feel him.  Luckily, he is very active right before I go to sleep and also when I first wake up, which really helps.  He is on a pretty regular time pattern, so I can track him pretty easily.  There have been a couple of days where I felt he wasn’t as active, and I used the Doppler the other night before bed because I needed some reassurance.  I do trust that God has a perfect plan and all will be right in heaven; I just know that sometimes those plans can really hurt while we’re on Earth.

It was a somewhat traumatic day.  When we came home, I fell asleep for a bit (I rarely nap) and didn’t do much for the rest of the day.  My sister text asking if I might still consider driving an hour plus to Phoenix to go to a Tori Amos concert with her that night, which she had gotten last-minute free tickets too.  I thought, “Really?!  Do you not understand what we just went through? No way I’m up to that!”

Hopefully it was the only time we will have to go to the hospital before his delivery day on 8/15.  I think if we had just been able to go across the hall to have the ultrasound at my OB’s office, it would have been much less of a big deal.  it was much ado about nothing.  I’m a little resentful she is without an ultrasound tech at the moment so that we had to go to the hospital (plus worried about how much it’s going to cost).  It was going back to the same hospital and having to get in a gown and bracelet and all that official mumbo jumbo that made it seem huge.  But, I’m glad my OB is cautious and I would certainly rather be overly checked than to miss something.  And now I’ve gotten that first return trip to the birthing center done with, so the next one should be easier.

I’ve had one NST since then, yesterday, and it was back to normal.  This time, he fell asleep mid-way, so the nurse used the buzzer again.  This allowed me to see that it caused his heart rate to go up immediately and stay up for several minutes again.  That explains his high heart rate last Friday.  She probably should not have used that before we even started the test as it skewed the results.  He does not like that buzzer!  I feel bad when they use it on him:(  It was never used on Luke.

2 weeks, 2 days and hopefully only 4 more NST’s to go.  I can do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  I can’t wait to see his little perfect face and kiss him.

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“Non-stress test” is an oxymoron

This Monday, we had our free 3D ultrasound at our OB’s office. I was looking forward to this appointment and had in mind for it to be a rare “fun-only” visit.  The images were very cool and we came away with some neat pictures on a disc which I will surely treasure and have been staring at since, but the appointment itself wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped.  Josh and I had to drive separately as we were both working beforehand.  He called me and said he was running late and to try to stall them.  I asked the receptionist if I might see my OB before the ultrasound instead of after, but she informed me the ultrasound tech was running ahead and the doctor was running behind, so that wouldn’t be possible.  I usually have to wait at least 15 minutes (often more) in the waiting room, but this time I was called right back.  As we were walking back, I told the ultrasound tech that my husband was running late, hoping she might go slow or delay, but she didn’t. This was just a fill-in tech as my OB just lost her new tech and hasn’t found a replacement yet.  This tech used to work for my doctor and was just pinch-hitting for a few days. She told me she had flown in from Denver that morning and I was her last appointment of the day.

When she started to get me ready, I told her I’d never had a 3D ultrasound before and I was excited.  She said something like that we’d see what we got because ultrasound pictures depend on the “position of the baby and the size of the mom”.  Like she was cautioning me not to be too hopeful. Aside from the reminders of our loss of Luke, this is the thing I hate most about these appointments with various strangers–comments about my weight. I feel huge shame and hurt when people say things like this.  I wish I could just be “normal” and not be fat.

She started the ultrasound and the images were awesome. I was smiling and enjoying seeing our baby in this new way. She was complaining that he insisted on putting his arm(s) in front of his face. I felt she was being pretty negative and tried to just continue to enjoy it on my own. She had me roll on my side and then got the buzzer to try to get him to move his arm. It worked briefly and she got some unimpeded face shots. The first time she buzzed, he looked pissed! It was so crazy. I saw it in a series of stills, not a stream of video, but he scrunched up his little face, opened his mouth wide like he was crying/screaming and then went back to scrunched mad face. It was cute, but it also scared me a little.  He looked like he would be very loud if I could hear him.  I realized that I have mainly been picturing quiet snuggling moments and sweet baby things, but those images were a reality check that hey, this baby is going to cry and get mad sometimes! It makes me feel like I’m not prepared, but we will figure it out. At the great suggestion of my friend Bethany, I have been praying for a happy, easy baby, but he did not look like that in those pictures. However, Josh said (and this is a great point), “Well, he was getting buzzed with a loud buzzer!” Can’t really blame him.  And really, you know I will be so thankful and ecstatic to bring this baby home even if he is the most difficult, grumpy baby on the planet.

Josh arrived when she was almost done and I hoped that his arrival would spur her to go a bit longer for his benefit. She only went on for a couple of minutes. She did go back through the still images she had saved to at least show him those on the screen.  It was about 30 minutes total.

We met with the doctor next. She asked if we had started my non-stress tests yet and I said no, we need to. I had realized she had forgotten to put that on my sheet for this appointment, but was okay with waiting until the end of this week to start them. Instead, she wanted me to do one immediately.  I was not mentally prepared for this.  She spoke with us briefly and then walked us down to the room for the first one. We went through the somewhat awkward procedure of strapping monitors around my bulk and velcroing them in place and I sat down in the recliner. Josh told the nurse (one I’d never seen before), “This is how we found out we lost our first son”. At which point, all that I’d been feeling broke free and I started crying. It made the nurse think she had to rush to find his heartbeat, which was actually not the issue since I’d just seen him moving and was feeling him. It just brought me back to that awful Monday morning on May 13, 2013 when we went for an NST and appointment and they couldn’t find his heartbeat. It had always taken a little bit to zero in on his heartbeat, so I didn’t panic in the NST room at first. It was when we went across the hall to the ultrasound equipment and they didn’t turn the screen on and I watched the doctor and nurse’s faces looking grim. I kept expecting them to say, “Oh, there he is!” Instead, it was quiet for a long time and then the doctor said, “Okay, so there’s no heartbeat”. And the nightmare began.

Josh said, “I didn’t mean to make you upset” but I was glad he let them know that and thankful he was there to be with me during that first one. I had to press the monitor into my tummy to get a clear read and he did it for me so my arm wouldn’t get tired, which was nice. Then he helped me cinch the straps tighter so that we didn’t have to continuously hold the sensor. It was good to have him there. I wish he was able to come with me more often.

I was not excited about beginning these NST’s that never indicated a problem with Luke and that were part of our most horrible day ever. But I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did. That first one really shook me and so did the second one on Friday. I cried a little during both and sobbed when I left. On Friday, when I arrived to do that second NST, I told the nurse who was taking my blood pressure (another one I didn’t know—strange, I usually have the same nurse who I like and who cracks jokes) that I didn’t like the NST’s. She said, “You don’t? Why not?” I told her I’d had a bad past experience and left it at that because I felt the tears ready to start if I said more. She told me that another mom had been almost asleep during her NST and had told her it was the “most relaxing part of her day”, laying in the recliner and pushing the little button when she felt her baby move. All I could say was, “I don’t feel that way about them.”

Thankfully, once I got into the room to get strapped up, one of the nurse practitioners came in to help. Again, it was someone I hadn’t met, but this one was really wonderful. She made it clear she knew my history and asked kindly if the tests gave me anxiety. It was a relief to finally` have someone get that. She made efforts to make me laugh and help me be comfortable. She told me it was likely to be an emotional month that we have left and to let them know if they could help in any way. When I was leaving, she told me I was one of their “VIPs” and to come in or call anytime I had any concern. She said if I ever worry the baby is not moving as much, just to come in and they will check him out. I was thankful for her. I hope she clued in the clueless nurse. When she looked at the NST results that showed a rise in heart rate each time the baby moved, she called the results “textbook”. This was praise, but unknown to her, it stung because that is exactly the same term my previous OB used about Luke’s NSTs.

I have made it through the first two. Hopefully they will get easier. This week, amongst quite a bit of other stuff (extra busy week this week), I have three Dr appointments—2 in our hometown for the NSTs and to see my OB and 1 in Phoenix at the perinatal office for a fluid check and to meet with that doctor. But! We only have less than 4 weeks left. (25 days to be exact, according to my dad who shouted “25 days baby!” to my stomach at church this morning.) I can do it, with help from God and family and friends. I am finding myself to be very emotional. I am excited, scared and unsure about many things including my own ability to properly care for a baby. But when I am able to actually picture holding this baby boy, my heart swells and feels like it’s going to burst.

Thanks for sharing in our journey and providing your continued prayers and support. I couldn’t be doing this without you wonderful blog friends and all the prayers. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you in return.

Oh!  and here are some of the pictures!

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Little Bumps Along the Road

I am feeling down and worried today. I am trying to remember to “cast all my anxieties on Him because He cares for me.” There’s not been any one big thing; just a smattering of little things, likely heightened by a load of 3rd trimester pregnancy hormones. I think it will help me to list them and get them off my chest, so here goes:

My friend and work supervisor called me yesterday to ask if I wanted some baby boy items. Her niece just had a baby boy, but CPS has taken him away before they even left the hospital. Both she and the baby tested positive for meth. My friend offered to take the baby if the mom would sever her rights and let them adopt him, but she refused amid some choice words. She will likely not get the baby back for almost a year, if even then, so some of the diapers and clothes will then be too small for him.

It is nice that we get to use these items, but it makes me angry in an old familiar way. Here again is someone who seems “less-deserving” who has had a live baby. My OB told me there was this same situation the same day I delivered Luke and that just slay me. It is so unfair from my earthly perspective. However, I know I only have a piece of the picture and when I get to see the rest, it will be just because God is just.

On Monday, I saw a new speech client for the first time (I’m currently up to 9 clients, which is a huge blessing). I first met him while doing my practicum hours in April of 2013, when both I and his mom were very pregnant and due just days apart in May. Well, there is now a 13-month-old baby boy in his house. Baby boys who are close to Luke’s birth time are the very hardest for me. I knew this when I accepted the request from my supervisor to cover him for speech sessions until I have the baby. I was hoping his dad would be sensitive and keep him mostly out of my view. This was wishful thinking. I worked with the 5-year-old, which wasn’t easy in it’s own right being that he’s a difficult kid, while his dad played with his baby brother a few feet away in the room. I tried not to look over much, but there was a slew of cooing, giggles and “dada”. I made it through the session fine, but balled when I left. (I seem to cry in the car a lot.) I have to go there again tomorrow. We need all the money I can make right now to put into savings for taking a little time off when this baby comes, but I’m not excited about going.

I recently had a couple of awkward conversations at church. One was with a man who my parents know. I have talked with him several times with them, but this time I ran into him alone and he asked about the baby. He asked what I was having. Then he asked what our last baby was (my dad has told what seems like the whole church about Luke’s loss, which is sometimes hard for me when they’re not people I know very well myself). I said a boy. He asked if we named him. I said, “Yes, Luke.” He said, “Well, I guess that’s good to have closure and all.” This irked me. We named Luke because he is a person and he is our son. It goes way beyond “closure” and frankly, I don’t want closure. I want him to continue to be a recognized member of our family.

The other conversation was with a very nice lady at a recent women’s retreat. I do not fault her much because I really liked her and she shared that she lost a baby herself at 28 weeks. She said it is the hardest thing she has ever gone through. But when talking about having a C-section, she asked about the physical limitations afterward. She said, “Did they let you lift the baby?” to which I had to remind her, “Well, I didn’t have him.” On a nice note though, since I try to always acknowledge Luke when asked “Is this your first?”, I heard from at least 3 women that they had lost babies themselves or their family member had. It is truly everywhere. We are not alone and I appreciate every time I am reminded of that.

I have been feeling really tired and pretty emotional. I sometimes have to sit down in a chair while doing my hair and makeup, etc. because standing for the duration feels like too much. I did not have to do that last time and do not remember being this tired. With Luke, I worked up until 37 weeks, which is when I will deliver this baby. It worries me a little.

I am also worrying about other things: the baby, money, the medical bills coming in on top of what we still owe from Luke, how/when to go about making sure I have enough work, getting everything ready in time when I am so low energy, Josh and I bickering, being good parents… probably a fairly normal slew of things. Please continue sending prayers for peace and endurance.

My next appointment is this Thursday at 32 weeks at the perinatal office in Phoenix for a consultation, fluid check and my first NST. Before then, I have to call and ask how much they charge for NST’s because I was warned it might be a lot higher through them than through my OB’s office. If so, I might have to cancel that portion and do it with my OB instead. All this insurance and money stuff is not my favorite thing to handle. But then something fun: we have our 3D ultrasound a week from tomorrow. I’m excited about that! I’m ready to see this baby, to meet him, and to be finished with being pregnant pretty soon.

I think I’m okay to now reveal the current names on top of the pile: Simon (which was in the lead for me but no one else seems to like–means “God has heard, listening intently”), Henry (the only one everyone in the family likes, which I like the sound of, but not so much the meaning “ruler of the home” and the references–mean kings who beheaded people, a gun company, etc.), Caleb (“faithful and bold”) and Samuel (to be called Sam. “asked of God”). I like Simon and Samuel’s meanings the best and I would like his name to honor God and thank God for giving us this baby. Josh had said no to both, but just recently said maybe to Samuel. I think at the moment, since Josh said that, I am liking Samuel/Sam the best.  We asked God for this baby and He gave him to us, so the meaning is perfect.  Plus, I hope God will ask things of my son that he will do.  Others considered that I think are falling off the list were: Finn or Flynn, Oliver, Jack, Charlie, Benjamin, Wyatt, among quite a few others. I think his middle name will be Lee after the middle names of my dad, my father in law, Josh and Josh’s grandfather. I’m praying for God to please tell me his name soon, but Josh is reluctant to commit to one for some reason. He said we’ll decide by August 14th (a day before delivery day). Sigh.

I pray for you fellow friends in loss and those who are on the rainbow baby journey at whatever point.  I pray hard for you TTC.  I hope you are well. Please let me know of any specific prayer requests.

Here’s a pic from a few weeks back:  Josh likes to tease me about my overall roundness and say things like, “You could just roll away.  Roll and roll.”

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