Sunday, December 26, 2010

My year in summary

In January I started working with a fertility specialist. I'd only been pregnant very briefly in 2009, so I wasn't sure if my body could handle a pregnancy. I have PCOS, so my cycles have been very irregular since about 2006, which I was sure didn't help matters any. The fertility specialist ran some tests and started me on Metformin to help regulate my cycle.

In March I joined and started tracking my food and exercise there. I lost 25 pounds by the end of May, still being able to enjoy my dark chocolate and some other indulgences. The organizer part of me enjoys the charts and graphs and the lazy part of me enjoys just how easy it has been to track my nutrition and exercise without having to do so much math. I enter my favorite foods in the database if they aren't already there, which makes it so much easier down the road. Tracking my food really increased my awareness and motivated me to add exercise and watch my portions better so I wouldn't have to ban sugar or any specific foods I enjoy from my diet. I even started looking at restaurant nutrition menus online and planning what I was going to order before going out to eat so that I could stay in the ranges I should be in and indulge guilt-free.

In April I followed up with the fertility specialist, thinking that my cycles were becoming more regular but still not quite how they used to be or should be. Ultrasounds were completed to track my ovulation, but my body wasn't fully cooperating, so I was started on Clomid to see if that would help me ovulate. More ultrasounds were taken in May so further testing could be completed around the time of my ovulation. But in between the second and third May ultrasounds, I unexpectedly ovulated. The tests would have been put off for another month, but I ended up getting pregnant with that ovulation, so further testing was no longer needed.

However, I went back in to the fertility specialist's office for a blood pregnancy test to confirm the pregnancy and also have my progesterone levels checked. The progesterone levels were low, which could have potentially ended in miscarriage. So I was put on some progesterone pills and had my levels tested again later to see how that was working and was told my levels were much better.

While all of this was going on, I also did some temporary work grading national testing writing papers for elementary school aged children for a couple weeks in May. It was an interesting but also at times frustrating experience. Still, I kept with it because we needed to get extra income any way we could, and it gave me something to do!

In July my parents came for a brief visit. Around that same time, I was offered a part-time job I'd had a handful of interviews for, working as a supervisor in a bookstore. I let them know I had just found out I was pregnant, and they said it was okay and offered me the job anyway. I was excited to start the job but nervous about potentially spending all my income there! Shortly after my parents left, my job started. Along with it, my morning sickness also started. I had to call in sick one day and leave work after only being there a while another day my first week of work thanks to vomiting. Luckily, my new boss was very understanding!

Before my first week was over, I ended up in the ER, all but 100% sure I had a blood clot in my left calf (I'd had one there previously back in 2003 after breaking my left foot). Not only was I told that I did, indeed, have a blood clot in my calf, but I also learned part of the blood clot had broken off and traveled to both my lungs, where apparently there were substantially sized blood clots in both lungs that could have killed me. I was admitted to the hospital and ended up staying in there for a week. While there, I had an IVC filter surgically placed in my vein so that if more of the blood clot were to break off, it would be caught there before it could get to my lungs or anywhere else.

My new employer was very patient and understanding during all of this, covering my shifts as needed while I was in the hospital and then being willing to give me a couple weeks or so off as needed after getting out of the hospital to recuperate. However, I began working with a perinatologist (high risk OB) after being released from the hospital, and he said I could not work until after the baby was born, so I had to quit my job. He also told me a while later no flying or extensive car rides (unless I get out to walk around every couple hours) for the rest of my pregnancy as well, meaning we wouldn't be seeing any out of state family for the holidays.

Since my hospital release, I have had alarms going off twice a day to remind myself to inject blood thinner medication into my stomach so my baby and I are safe (oral blood thinner medication would kill her). She appears to be healthy and growing well and is due in February. Meanwhile, I'm still throwing up and now experiencing other wonderful joys of being pregnant like back pain and shortness of breath and so on. But otherwise, I appear to be doing okay myself.

In September Joe and I paid off the last of our credit card debt (which in and of itself was a miracle, considering my extensive medical bills and almost 2 years of being unemployed, minus the two-week long temporary assignment and couple days of part-time work I got in before going into the hospital) and started planning a cheap, local vacation to celebrate. We figured it might be the last time we'd be vacationing before the baby comes. We took an off-season vacation to Ocean Shores, WA in late October and spent most of the stormy weekend in our hotel room playing games and relaxing. It was heavenly!

In November I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I successfully completed the first draft of a novel I've been wanting to write but hadn't gotten around to putting to paper. Now I just need to figure out how to get in lots of editing until the novel resembles a little better the idea I've had in my head.

In addition, to help pass the time this year, I have been attending various meetings put on by the community. They have helped me and Joe think of things we can do to help get ourselves ready for emergencies and then help out our community in case of such emergencies. We have slowly been purchasing and putting together supplies, such as food storage, 72 hour kits, emergency evacuation plans, and so on. We feel a lot better prepared for what might come our way than we were even earlier this year! I am also doing some volunteer driving with a company called Senior Services, doing some online education, and volunteering with the homeowners association. Plus, I have to admit that I've loved all the extra time I have had this year to read!

We are lucky to have some extended family members who are nearby. We've gotten together with some of Joe's cousins a handful of times over the year. And just this past week we met up with Joe's step-brother and his family for lunch and to catch up. And we spent Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas with my aunt & uncle and their family.

We're excited and nervous to be new parents. We don't know how to really prepare our cats for the arrival of a baby, but I think they know something is up, as some small and not-so-small changes have started taking place all around them. We've started getting a few baby gifts, painted the nursery lavender, and purchased a couple items that are helping us realize that the birth is just around the corner! We start childbirth preparation classes fairly soon as well!

So while we've definitely had our trials in 2010, we have also had many blessings and opportunities for personal growth and development. I am so grateful that I've had such wonderful support around me, in the form of family and friends. I am especially grateful for my hard working, loving, patient, spiritual, inspiring, entertaining, handsome husband. I am looking forward to 2011 and the new addition to our humble and happy family.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another power outage and blessings from paying tithing

Man, we just have great luck where we live, I guess. Yesterday, the power went out again. This time, I think it was for about 2 hours, but it meant no shower for me (gross! lol). What's ironic is that our power lines are buried, and yet we have friends who live fairly close with normal power lines who haven't lost electricity a couple of the times we have. I think we must be on the grid with some areas nearby that don't have buried lines. Still, we have no idea what caused the outage yesterday. Oh well! I'm just glad I didn't have to clean out the fridge again and re-buy any more groceries!

Joe got a Christmas bonus yesterday. Neither of us has ever had one before, and we have been stressed about money a lot over the past several months (if not longer). Still, we have continued to pay tithing at church because we believe that as we make sacrifices to help others (we also fast each month and donate a check equivalent to the cost of the 2 meals we've fasted) and pay tithes as Jesus taught, we will be blessed. And we have been, time and time again! I am so humbled by the generosity of people around us, offering to give or lend us baby items so we have less to buy. We've also all but emptied our savings and checking accounts a couple times recently to pay medical bills only to find money in unexpected places. I do believe God has blessed us greatly and continues to do so as we strive to be good people.

Now if I can finish up these Christmas cards (yeah, I know, we're slackers!) and the electricity stays on, I want to get some holiday baking done! I'd like to give some goodies to some neighbors and friends!

Then later I will have my first prenatal massage. I can have up to 20 massages covered a year by my insurance company, with only a co-pay on my end. I'm totally looking forward to it, as I have had a lot of back pain lately! This will be my 3rd professional massage ever. I hope it's nice (my second massage was on our cruise last summer and resulted in back pain for me for at least a couple days afterward) and relaxing!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Belly picture

I keep getting requests from people to post a picture of my belly... so here it is. I've got about 10 weeks left.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An open invitation

I was starting to get worried about how emotional I've been lately. But then I read my weekly pregnancy updates and saw that it's normal to start feeling that way in the third trimester. I swear every little thing is making me cry... and sometimes I'm not even sure why I'm crying.

Also, I must face the reality that I can't depend on my mom coming to visit when the baby is born (something I started depending on a few years ago when I first asked her if she'd do that). I can't get my hopes up that she'll be able to make it, because odds are that she won't. When I first heard the news that she and my dad were planning on a mission, I figured that meant she wouldn't be coming, and I was crushed. But when I talked to her, she said she was still planning on coming, and I got my hopes up. But now that they've got official plans to leave for their mission about a month before the baby is due, I am again faced with the reality that it just doesn't appear likely. And that crushed me all over again.

I thought about my 4 sisters who have had babies within the past couple years, and my other siblings with young kids of their own to take care of. I wondered where and how I'd get support, longing to get some from family I know and trust. I emailed my oldest sister today, and in an answer to my prayers, she responded almost immediately with a very enthusiastic yes that she'd come to help out. I know she may only be here for a few days, but I miss my family terribly and don't know when I'll see any of them again. And that sucks. It hurts.

I also miss my friends. Even some of my local friends are so busy with their own families and lives that we rarely see each other. I know it's just going to get harder to coordinate things when the baby arrives, and that saddens me.

So, I may want a couple days to spend with just my husband and baby when she first comes, although I may instead already have fifty million parenting questions I want to ask the experts that are in my life and long for support. For my friends and family near and far, I invite you to come spend some time with me and the baby when she comes, if you can. If you're busy with your own family, I totally understand. But know that I love and miss you and would love to see you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ultrasound pictures

Okay, I have procrastinated long enough. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I have been all but glued to my desktop since yesterday afternoon working on restoring my iTunes as much as I possibly can. I decided to take advantage of some of that time yesterday and scan my ultrasound photos so I could share them.

I had another OB appointment today (the first ultrasound in 10 weeks), but there weren't any pictures. No matter, since there weren't any head or body or hand or feet shots. But I did get to see her practicing breathing and kept hearing from the ultrasound tech and the doctor how good things look. I have approx 12 weeks left before she's here! My OB has extensive training with blood clotting disorders, and she gave me some tips for injecting myself (much different than those I got from the hospital) that will hopefully help reduce my belly tenderness and bruising.

One of the nice things about my health problems is that it has resulted in a lot of ultrasound pictures tracking the baby's growth, which has been fun to see.

Here she is at approximately 6 weeks (at the fertility clinic):

And again at approximately 10 weeks (after I got out of the hospital at my original OB's office):

Then 11 weeks (my first appointment with the perinatologist's office):

Then again at approximately 12 weeks:

The next 4 are from the full fetal scan (at about 18 weeks) where they measured everything. The last picture is the "money shot" that shows it's a girl:

Today was more measuring, although not quite as extensive. They said she's weighing in at about 2 pounds 11 ounces and is in the 42nd percentile. Her kidneys and bladder look good, as well as the placenta and fluid levels. So while I'm not yet really gaining weight (and only have about 12 weeks left to go), I should start gaining about a pound a week now, I've heard/read. That'd put me right at my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm totally okay with that.

She's been moving around quite a bit, and her head seems to be putting pressure on my bladder. Luckily, it doesn't seem to be causing too many bathroom trips throughout the day and night just yet! We've got her nursery painted lavender now, but that's about it as far as baby preparations so far. We are praying that somehow everything works out okay! I have a sister-in-law who has some hand-me-down stuff for us in Utah, but I don't know how we're going to get it from there to here (she said it's 3 boxes full of things including clothes, a really nice breast pump, a travel bed, and some other items) before the baby is born. We're hoping somehow to get them here so we can actually use them!

If I ever get any belly pics taken that don't make me look stoned or like a half-drowned animal, I'll post those. I wish I was more photogenic!