Four Days

Has the suspense of my absence been killing you? I’m sure it has. i’m sure you’ve been able to think of nothing else.

Let me bring you up to speed…

Shortly after my last post Dr. R released me from the hospital. I was allowed to go home on modified bed rest. I didn’t have to literally stay in bed, but I wasn’t allowed to do much more than make myself a sandwhich for lunch, rotate between the recliner and the couch, and attend my biweekly doctor appointment. I couldn’t complain though, because I was so glad to be home. So glad, in fact, that I didn’t want to do anything that reminded me of my stay in the hospital–including updating my blog.

I was allowed to spend Thanksgiving Day out with my family. While I loved having a reason to wear pants without a drawstring, I realized that day how much bed rest had set me back. I was completely overwhelmed by all the people, food, and conversation. Despite feeling absolutely ragged at the end of the day, I was so thankful to be able to see my family and get some fresh air.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, after reviewing my improving lab work, Dr. B released me to go back to work. I was really looking forward to having a routine again. AND the more time I work before the baby arrives, the more time I’ll be saving for my maternity leave.

I’ve been back at work for three weeks–just long enough to take on a few projects and tie up some lose ends from before my stint in the hospital.

Tomorrow is my last day of work. I’m anticipating that this weekend will be partially filled with things we won’t get to do for a while after Beckett arrives (like eat at fancy restaurants and take naps) and will partially be filled with preparation for his arrival (like laundry and vacuuming).

We are scheduled to go to the hospital on Monday for my induction. The plan is to have some medicine over night that will prepare my body for labor, then work on having this baby bright and early on Tuesday.

At my exam last week, Dr. R told me that my body is already in a really great place for indcution–2 centimeters dialated and 50 percent effaced. This is GREAT news, consider this is my first full-term pregnancy and we are inducing early. If my body wasn’t already starting to prepare, the chance of C-Section would be pretty high.

I have my last exam before delivery this afternoon. Part of me is hoping that she will just tell me to go straight to the hospital. The other part of me really wants to eat at Osaka one last time.

Either way, meeting Beckett is right around the corner–four days at the very most.

As John can attest, I have been very emotional this week, not sure how to prepare for such a monumental life change. As we were in the hospital, we are praying that whatever happens, we will come through it with a happy, healthy baby.

Prayers of thanksgiving that we’ve made it this far and prayers of protection for a safe and easy delivery!

Week 35. Can't wait to meet him.

Week 35. Can’t wait to meet him.

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Mystery Solved!

The last of my crazy, rare labs came back today. And of course, this last test is the one that explains everything that’s been happening in my body for the past 20 days.

It’s called a Bile Acids test. Lovely, right? It measures the amount of the different chemicals produced by the liver. I’m not certain what a “normal” reading is, but Dr. B told me that my results showed bile acid amounts twice as high as they should be, which means my official diagnosis (finally) is Cholestasis of Pregnancy.

Last week Dr. B mentioned that she was really just waiting on this test to rule out Cholestasis because I wasn’t displaying the most common symptom of the condition—sever itching.

Over the weekend, I started feeling like I had fleas. I’ve been scratching my forearms, shins, and calves raw. I really thought that it might just be the power of suggestion, which I know I’m insanely susceptible to.

Nope. Cholestasis. And the itching is getting worse.

Dr. B called me in my hospital room as soon as the test came back and immediately started me on Actigall, a synthetic form of a bile acid naturally produced by the gall bladder. It’s typically used to treat gallstones, but has been effective for treating Cholestasis as well.

From what I’ve researched, Actigall usually take at least three days to have any affect, including subduing the itching. Dr. B sounded hopeful that if my body reacted well to the medication, I’d be able to continue my bed rest at home as long as I committed to coming in for lab work and fetal monitoring three times a week.

Because my phone conversation with Dr. B was over the phone and relatively brief, I still have several questions, like “How may this condition affect Beckett?” “Is early delivery still on the horizon?” “Will I be able to go back to work between now and the time I deliver?”

I’ll definitely update when I know more. But for now, I am saying prayers of thanksgiving because we finally know what we’re up against!

Also to come—picture from my baby shower! So much fun!

For now, dote over this picture from my ultrasound today. It’s the first face picture we’ve seen of Beckett since 19 weeks!

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31 Weeks

When I was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago, I don’t think anyone thought I would still be here and still be pregnant today. But I am, and although I’d like to be almost anywhere else, the fact that Beckett has been given this opportunity to grow means everything.

I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t been very active during the last two weeks or because Beckett is growing like a weed, but I feel like my tummy is twice as big and twice as heavy as it was last week. I’ve never been so happy to be carrying extra weight!

Aside from my counting to each week marker, my days are really running together—sleep, labs, ultrasounds, doctors, nurses, naps, gluten-free bread. It’s all a blur, which is making documenting my time in here more difficult.

Also, as if the make the waiting a little more unbearable, it seems that the doctors and whatever is going on in my body are engaged in some kind of biological standoff. We’re all just waiting for something to happen—for me to get deathly ill or for my liver to say, “Just kidding guys. Carry on with your lives.” I’m sure this is my impatience talking, but at this point, either outcome would be fine with me as long as we have an answer at the end.

The doctors agree that there’s about a 50/50 chance of us actually figuring out what’s going on. I know I’m being seen by some of the best, most well-read, experienced OBs and specialists in the area. If they’re unsure they’ll ever know what’s happening here, I’m starting to wonder why I’m here at all.

I’ve been granted a little bit more leeway as far as being able to get up and walk around. The doctors aren’t holding my breakfast anymore. And I’ve been moved back to a normal antepartum room. I think they are testing my body to see if the bed rest has been staving off an immanent illness.

My blood pressure has been higher since I’ve been more active. That, coupled with the fact that they’re still not certain if this is a pregnancy-induced condition, makes them uncomfortable with me going home any time soon. I feel like I was pretty naïve to get my hopes up, but I’ve found it’s easier to be here when I think of this as something that will help keep Beckett safe and healthy.

Also, I have time to watch Wendy Williams now.

Because I’ll be here a while longer, I’ve taken some pictures of some of a few things make me smile.

Enjoy! And continued prayers please!

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St. Francis of Assisi

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Yummy gluten-free meal John made. Grilled chicken, roasted red potatoes, and gluten-free mac and cheese.

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Beautiful green leaves on my walk outside.

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Beard hat I made for B.

Cottage Cheese and Tomatoes

Last night, I went to bed absolutely exhausted, but feeling peace about the decision we made to put off delivery for at least one more day.

I woke up this morning, like usual, to the knock of an early-morning lab tech at my door. Because so much rides on these test now, there was no chance of me going back to sleep. I laid there in the dark trying to maintain the calm that I had felt last night.

When Dr. B arrived, rather than starting in on the numbers and analysis that I’m used to hearing, she just looked at me and said, “I have an odd-ball theory.”

For the past few days, my liver enzymes have been slightly lower in the morning than in the afternoon—a bit of a one step forward/two steps back scenario. The only considerable difference that coincides with this trend is my eating habits. As I described in the last post, I have been fasting for most of the day in case my lab work comes back indicating something monumental.

So, Dr. B has proposed testing out a gluten-free diet for the next couple of days to see if this may have any affect on my liver enzymes—the only factor still highlighted as worrisome. She said that some people have unusual food allergies that don’t present themselves in the typical ways, like rashes or sour stomachs. It seems like a bit of a long shot to me (and a pretty simplistic, considering the other hoops we’ve jumped through the past 11 days), but at this point, I’m open to try anything.

Although, I wish I would have asked what a gluten-free diet entailed before I committed to it. And I also wish I would have never complained about the hospital food before today.

My nurse just brought me my first gluten-free meal: cottage cheese and tomatoes with a slice of American cheese, and some orange Jell-o.

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That is not a meal, people. Not for a pregnant lady who has been fasting since midnight last night. Those preformed, precooked, thin, rubbery hamburgers are looking really good about now.

All jokes aside, I know this is a tiny sacrifice in the long process it’s become to make sure both Beckett and I are healthy.

But if this diet works, everyone is going to feel really stupid, right?

Happy Halloween!

John and I joked that if Beckett came today, we’d call him Frankenstein. Well, John was joking, but I think I would have really done it. He is still pretty adamant about being the one to sign off on the birth certificate. That’s probably for the best.

The good news is that at this moment, it doesn’t look like we’re having a Frankenstein! Several lab results came back yesterday indicating that I don’t have any kind of liver infection—Toxoplasmosis, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), etc. This also means that the cause of my (still) increasing liver enzymes and proteinuria have been narrowed down to about three conditions. Atypical Preeclampsia is still in the running (along with its sub-condition HELLP), as is Acute Fatty Liver, and Autoimmune Disease.

Dr. B told me that if I researched any of these conditions, I would scare myself. I’ve had to really distract myself to not do so. I’m a researcher and like to learn for myself, so it’s been pretty difficult. That being said, the links I provided above may not be SUPER informational, as I didn’t really read the pages.

The better news is that two of the three (preeclampsia/HELLP and fatty liver) have a distinct and definite cure: delivery the baby. Not the best option right now, but at least it’s not something that would follow me after pregnancy.

The autoimmune tests should be back within the day. I think both Dr. R and Dr. B think that this option is a long shot, but at this point I understand that they’re trying to rule out everything they can. As Dr. B said, it’d be a shame to deliver a 30-week-old baby if that may not be the cure for the mother’s health.

As a bit of a test, they’ve started me on regular steroid injections through my IV port. The idea is that the steroids will quell, and may even temporarily reverse, my increasing liver enzymes. The way it was explained to me is this: If your ankle is inflamed, the doctor could give you steroids to help the inflammation. Because the liver enzymes indicate potential liver inflammation (even though my liver ultrasound last week was fine), the steroids could help. As an added benefit, the medication also helps Beckett’s lung development.

I am receiving these steroid doses every 12 hours for the next 48 hours, but results could be evident within 24 hours of my first injection (about 5:30 p.m.). The side effects of the steroids include increased energy levels (check), increased appetite (check), and mild swelling (not yet, thank God). As a precaution, I had John take my wedding ring home. I feel so naked.

Reading between the lines, I understand that if the steroids don’t affect my liver enzymes, we will probably be looking at delivering within the week. No one has explicitly said this, but I think that’s where the conversation is headed.

The best news is that Beckett is astounding the doctors and nurses with his tests and monitoring. As I mentioned, I was moved the Labor and Delivery yesterday to monitor B more closely. Since then, he passed both his biophysical profile ultrasound (they measure the amniotic fluid, as well as his development and movement) and all his heart tone monitoring like a champ! I’m still scheduled to be on the monitors for an hour three times a day, but that’s a far cry from monitoring constantly from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., which was the original plan.

Incidentally, I’m pretty bummed that I’ve missed Halloween three years in a row! I don’t have much ghoulishness to offer this year other than a look at all the machines and tubes and yucky stuff that I’ve encountered in the hospital this week. Enjoy!

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I call these my cuffs. They squeeze my legs so I don’t get bloodclots from bedrest.

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I inherited these crappy veins from Memaw.

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My veins “blow.” What a charming term.

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the monitors on my tummy that track B’s heart tones.

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My IV where I get my steroids.

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All the machines that beep and scream and tell us if we’re healthy.