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.

30 Weeks!

It’s official. Even though the nurses and doctors have been calling Becket a 30-week-old, today is the actual 30-week marker! While the medical staff has told me to breathe a sigh of relief, my eyes are already set on our next big milestone: 32 weeks. I found a really great article that outlines the week-by-week developments in premature babies: click here.

I have a sneaking suspicion we may not make it much further though. As I type, I am sitting in a room in the Labor and Delivery ward, hooked up to a fetal heart rate monitor, a contraction monitor, and a blood pressure cuff. Don’t worry just yet! I am not actively laboring or delivering. Dr. R decided to move me to this end of the floor for closer monitoring after a bit of a scare yesterday.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with what seemed like a hangover headache. I thought my head hurt because I had slept very heavily (re: at all) for the first time during my hospital stay. But the longer I was awake, the worst the headache became. It peaked in the afternoon–I had to take some pain medication and lay with an ice pack on my eyes.

If I had been at home with this headache, I would have taken some Tylenol, gone to bed, and not thought anything of it. However, headaches can be a symptom of preeclampsia, an indication of possible brain swelling, so I’m glad Dr. R is taking it so seriously.

Still no definitive news. Still waiting on lab results. Still enduring sticks and pokes and jabs and squeezes, and that’s not counting the feisty Baby B, who has been super active the past couple days.

I’m beginning to read like a broken record, but I really can’t thank everyone enough for the wonderful words of encouragement and the constant prayers. We know prayer works and we know God is keeping us safe. We pray that whatever happens in the coming days and weeks only helps us the grow in Him and bring us closer together as a happy, healthy family.

Baby B: Our Overachiever

This weekend was all about waiting. While we saw the on-call doctor both Saturday and Sunday, there’s not much news as to my diagnosis or my condition. My lab results are still showing increasing liver enzymes, my blood pressure is still normal, and I feel fine. The on-call doctor presented several theories, some which included preeclampsia, some which didn’t; but all require I stay hospitalized until Beckett arrives, which is consistent with what both Dr. R and Dr. B have prepared us for.

Because Beckett’s arrival may be a bit before we expected him, we decided it would be beneficial to tour the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to know what we may be dealing with in the coming weeks. While I can’t say our visit was particularly enjoyable, I think we both learned a lot.

We were comforted by the neonatal nurse’s reaction when we said Beckett is almost 30 weeks. Thirty weeks is a huge milestone in fetal development. If he came today, he’d still need help breathing and feeding, but chances are, we’d be taking a healthy (albeit tiny) baby boy home in a matter of weeks.

We also had an ultrasound yesterday to make sure Beckett is still comfortable in there. According to the on-call doctor, not only is he comfortable, but he’s still measuring about a week big and he’s practicing breathing–both great signs!

Beckett is making quite a name for himself as a show-off during his morning and evening monitoring. Every 12 hours B is observed using a NST (non-stress test) during which the nurse straps a fetal heart monitor and a contraction monitor to my tummy to track Baby B’s movement and heart tones.

For a 30 weeker, a good NST is one in which the baby’s heartbeat increases from the baseline rate by 10 BPM (beats per minute) for at least 10 seconds at a time. They want to see these increases at least three times in 20 minutes.

During last night’s NST, Baby B’s baseline heart rate was 140 (perfect), but his BPM was higher than 170 for almost half of the time and even got up to 192! I think Beckett was excited because I had just eaten some of my mother-in-law’s potato soup and John was reading to him. (He goes nuts when John talks to him.) Point being, we have quite an overachiever on our hands. We are so grateful!

I anticipate speaking with Dr. R this morning, but because some of the potentially more conclusive test results won’t be in until later this week, I’m not sure there will be much to share.

Thank you to everyone who has come to visit or sent us reassuring notes. We are so thankful for your support and love. Please keep the prayers coming! We know God is good and that He will continue to provide for us, like He already has in so many ways!

Roller Coaster

I should have mentioned that the previous post’s letter was written on Thursday night after our first long conversation with my OB, Dr. R. At the end of our conversation, she mentioned that she would be consulting a high-risk pregnancy specialist and suggested John and I meeting with a neonatologist and tour the NICU.

Dr. B, the specialist, spoke with us yesterday afternoon about her theories. According to her, he’s not as convinced that what we’re dealing with is preeclampsia because its so rare to have have this condition without the keynote trait: high blood pressure. (The highest blood pressure reading I’ve had since being admitted is 127/70. So, nowhere close what they would consider risky.)

Dr. B sounded pretty convinced that the other two symptoms: the elevates liver enzymes and the high protein in my urine (hate that word) could be explained in other ways. She told us that she wanted to order more screenings and samples throughout the weekend to get a better idea of what may be going on and to be able to better chart the trends.

She sounded optimistic that we wouldn’t be delivering anytime soon because Beckett’s test results are so stellar. (He’s earning quite a reputation for showing off when he’s being monitored–LOTS of movement!!) She even went so far as to say that she thought meeting with a neonatologist would be a waste of our time.

Needless to say, John and I were absolutely elated after our talk with Dr. B.

That afternoon we went on our once-a-day wheelchair date. (At this point I’m only allowed out of bed for “bathroom privileges ,” showering, and a 30-minute wheelchair ride.) We went to both chapels here at St. John’s and the coffee shop. We were feeling pretty freakin’ good.

Later yesterday afternoon, Dr. R revisited us to discuss Dr. B’s theories. She was not as optimistic. The facts are these:

They are not convinced this is not preeclampsia, but they’re not convinced it is either. The test results from this weekend should provide a better idea of what’s happening and if there are other explanations for these increased levels.

Until we get a better idea of what’s happening, each day will be a new day. We’re operating on the idea that as long as my blood pressure remains low, we will not be delivering. But one high reading could change our plans.

Dr. R still wants us to be prepared for a premature delivery and to meeting with a neonatologist and tour the NICU. That should be happening sometime this weekend.

So, we’ve had really bad news, really good news, and everything in between. But really, no one knows what is going on. We’re trying to stay positive, which is sometimes difficult feeling like a lab rat in this little hospital room. But, this is all for Beckett, to make sure he is the happiest, healthiest, strongest little boy he can be, so it’s worth it.

Until we know more (which won’t be until early next week), enjoy these pictures from our adventure so far.

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Momma’s eye view. 29 weeks.

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Gourmet dining.

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I got to FaceTime with the cats when John went home to do laundry last night. They didn’t get it.

Again, thank you for your continued prayers for our family!

Complications

This blog has served several varied purposes, even if the updates are few and far between. I anticipate its purpose now will be to keep friends and family updated during our most recent bouts of pregnancy complications.

I asked John, my mom, and my stepdad, Philip, to send this message out to family and friends, but I realize not everyone has been updated and that some may be wondering just exactly is going on. Here’s the spiel:

Friends and Family,

I’m writing to update you on my pregnancy and to ask for your support through prayer.

Tuesday afternoon I went in to my routine OB appointment. Through routine screenings my doctor determined I had indicators of preeclampsia, a condition specific to pregnancy that is typically characterized by high blood pressure, swelling, and elevated liver functions.

On Wednesday morning, after a few addition lab tests, my doctor decided to admit me to the hospital for closer monitoring. Since then, my blood pressure has been “perfect” and all of Baby Beckett ultrasounds and test have shown that he’s healthy and on track with his growth and development. However, my other lab work–liver enzymes and urine samples–continue to escalate. According to my doctor, these varied symptoms are atypical of preeclampsia, but still point to a preeclampsia diagnosis.

There is no conclusive data that indicates what causes preeclampsia, but the one cure is to deliver the baby.

At this point in pregnancy (29.5 weeks), keeping me healthy and keeping the baby healthy can be a delicate balance to strike and includes heavily monitored bed rest, lots of lab work, and steroid shots to help Beckett’s lungs develop faster. The goal is to keep Beckett safe inside and continuing to grow for as long as possible, however preeclampsia can progress and cause serious issues very quickly.

As of right now, it looks like I will be on monitored bed rest in the hospital until I deliver Beckett, which may be much soon than we anticipated. A high-risk pregnancy specialist is stoping by tomorrow to assess my progress and help nail down a realistic timeline for treatment.

While this condition can be very uncomfortable for some, I am not having any of the physical symptoms. In fact, I feel pretty great physically (other than being confined to a bed for 23 hours a day).

The main point of this update is to ask that you help John, Beckett, and I through prayer. We are asking God for Baby Beckett to stay heathy inside as long as possible, for strength and peace during this time, for the medical staff to be guided by wisdom and prudence, and for a safe delivery whenever that may be. Please pray, pray, PRAY!

Thank you for all of your love and support!

Jen (and John and Beckett)

I will update as frequently as my energy, my morale, and my patience with my iPhone keyboard allow.

We know God is at work here, even if we don’t understand His plans. Thank you for all your prayers and support!