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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Sunday...too bad the Easter Bunny skipped our house!

That Easter Bunny is tricky...we were hoping for a little Easter basket surprise with our very own jelly bean birthday today.  However, it looks like that ol' hare was busy at other houses this time, since there is still no sign that baby Smith wants to join us today.  Not that I'm counting (OK, I am) but she's now 3 days "late" and I'm getting antsy!  Of course, I know that due dates truly range up to a month, with the specified date falling in the middle, but really once you get past that date it all seems unfair to keep waiting!

I read the report from our Non-Stress test on Thursday, and she's doing just fine in there, thank you.  She is moving, responding and thriving just as she should be.  The amniotic fluid level is within range, and her heartrate is solid with a baseline in the 130s.  It was disappointing to read "Contractions: None" - would have been nice to see the monitor picking up activity I wasn't aware of, but no dice. We could see her little lips sucking away, swallowing fluid, and practicing for the outside world.  It was really cute! Now come out already!  We're scheduled for another test next Thursday, at 41 Weeks, if she's not here before that.

Matt and I get daily texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, emails etc. asking how I'm doing, how am I feeling, any signs yet, any contractions, when is that baby going to get here?  I know everyone is excited as we are and wants to let us know they are thinking of us, but every day when I have to respond "No, nothing yet. We promise to keep you posted." it reminds me that I'm still pregnant and we haven't met our girl yet.  I also love that many of the other pregnant ladies I know, some with due dates after mine, have delivered and are spending this beautiful weekend with their babies in arms, and I'm tromping about hauling my giant self around trying to walk her out of me!  We went for an hour long hike in the woods yesterday, and hopefully will go again today to enjoy the weather...hoping it will be a birthday inspiring one today!

On the bright side, I'm going to tempt fate and say that the PUPPs rash is doing a bit better.  The hives on my palms, wrists, finger webbing, and belly seem to have more or less dissipated.  The skin there is now really dry and still somewhat itchy, but at least not welty.  My legs, according to my dear and loving husband (said in the most caring and supportive of ways, of course) still look like the topography of the moon.  I do mean that when I say he's been caring and supportive - I could not, honest to God, have gotten through the past week without his help and support.  My legs are not as inflamed, but do still itch pretty frequently.  I've been more or less able to sleep through the night spared from the "Itch Crises" that make me cry for the past 4 nights or so, but I'm now getting to the point where my joints ache and my muscles hurt and I'm waking several times at night for those late-pregnancy related reasons.  It's really just time for her to come out! My belly is stretched, my body is sore, my stamina is wearing thin, and Mama and Daddy just want to meet our baby and start falling in love with her rather than cursing her stubbornness already!

By the way, she will be a Taurus, the Ram, the most stubborn of the Zodiac :) Yeah, we already guessed that!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

40 Weeks, EDD, Full Term, Fully Baked or, AFTER TODAY CHILD YOU ARE LATE

Today is it...your due date little tater.  April 21st, the day we've been charging towards for months.  Will you be one of the 3-5% of babies born on your EDD?  I'm guessing probably not based on today's exam, but there are still 12 hours left in this day! Holly checked things out again, and not surprisingly there is not much "progress" since last week in terms of dilation or effacement...however still looking good that this could happen on its own soon.  She did do a second membrane stripping, so maybe it will work this time.  We talked more about induction options and she answered some of my questions and explained their protocols a little better. I feel like if we end up needing induction for medical reasons or for reaching 42 weeks, I will be less anxious about it and more able to make that decision than I was last weekend.  She also did a second Group B Strep test because my "old" one expires next week, so if I still haven't delivered by 4/28 it would be outdated and we'd have to look at it like I had never been's hoping it's still negative! 

Since I have Gestational Diabetes, I have to start having "non-stress tests" twice weekly now that I'm at 40 weeks until she's born to check her vital signs and reactivity.  Basically, I go to the perinatal assessment center and get hooked up to monitors for 20-30 minutes and they watch her movement, monitor any contraction activity, and her heart rate to make sure she's responding to movement and "stress" adequately to endure the labor process.  They also will do an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels and I'm guessing they'll take a look at her position, and then most likely send us home to wait some more :) So we have that at 3:00 today.  

The PUPPs rash is still raging, but there are spots that it seems to be improving.  It's pretty much gone from my belly (thank goodness) but my legs are a terrible mess still.

Not the best pic, off my phone, but this is the back of one of my legs - the hives have all just run together now and form one giant "plaque" - I have patches like this everywhere.

My palms and fingers get pretty crazy itchy at times, but other times they are OK.  I blessedly don't seem to have it on my upper torso, back, face, or really on my arms other than a few renegade spots, so I'm hoping like hell it stays that way.  Last night was the first night in many that I didn't wake up in a full blown "Itch Crisis" that tore me from a sound sleep, although I still only got about 4 hours of sleep total.  After reading just about everything online available about treating PUPPs (at least the symptoms) I have developed quite the arsenal, and I think maybe some part of it is working.  Here's my daily plan of attack (family and friends, feel free to skip this part if it's not interesting to you! I thought I'd include it in case someone reading this found my blog online, and hopefully it's helpful to someone else):

  • 3 Dandelion Root capsules 3X/daily - to "cleanse" the liver of bile salt build up...I'm on day 6 and I think it might be helping
  • 1 T. flaxseed oil - started yesterday, also to "cleanse" the liver
  • Triamcinolone prescription steroid ointment up to 3X/daily 
  • Washing my skin with "Selsun Blue" dandruff shampoo (1% Selenium Sulfide) - just came up with this one on my own, but it seems to help some with the itching
  • Tea Tree Oil and Arnica Oil applied topically after bathing/showering - I honestly think this is helping the most to dry out the rash. The TTO has a pretty strong smell, just beware!  
  • Soaking in a warm (not hot!) bath with either Aveeno Oatmeal packets or Epsom Salts at least once/daily
  • Alternating prescription Atarax or Benadryl 50 mg at night before bed to knock me the hell out so I can sleep - not sure it helps much with the itching but at least I can close my eyes for a while
Then there is the array of other topical applications that I rotate to help with mini "Itch Crises" during the day time (they seem to be more manageable than the middle of the night ones).  I've found using one thing repeatedly seems to lose its effectiveness, so I mix it up between: Sarna Lotion (smells like a Grandpa, but does cool and take the itch away for a while), Aloe with Lidocaine, Band Aid brand Itch Relief Gel (camphor is the main ingredient, and this works really well but my tube is almost empty and our Rite Aid doesn't carry it, so I'm sparingly using it for emergencies), California Baby brand Diaper Rash Cream (the zinc oxide apparently helps, and the lotion rubs in better than other mainstream brands like Desitin, so I'm not a white pasty mess).  I have an array of other things I've tried that have been cast aside (Ivy Dry, Calendula Gel, Aveeno Baby lotion, Gold Bond Medicated powder) but some find those to be helpful, too.  I found this website to be a really comprehensive list of things to try so if you're out there dealing with PUPPs and haven't found it yet, take a look: PUPPs drama aside, we're just waiting for you little one! Here's what mama looks like today after 4 hours of sleep: 

The belly is RIDIC! It's like this whole other part of me at this point - it doesn't even feel like an extension of me feels like this whole separate entity strapped on to the looks unreal without clothes on!!  I'm up 5 lbs in 2 weeks according the doctor's scale...which is a little frightening but whatever. I think at least one of those lbs has to be water because I'm so swollen from this rash everywhere.  That has my total weight gain at 22 lbs.  More than I would have liked, but still within recommended guidelines, so I guess I can't complain.  Maybe managing the GD with a tightly controlled diet helped keep my weight gain in check, and that's certainly not a bad thing! 

We will keep you all up to date as usual if anything changes (IF! Ha...WHEN...I mean there are only a maximum of 14 days left from today, so it's a matter of when, right?).  Hoping to have news very soon :) C'mon Tater Tot...the world is waiting for you! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Postponed Induction for tonight

So I felt in my gut that I just wasn't set on having an induction tonight...despite this miserable rash and lack of sleep, I just felt that inducing for a non-medical reason wasn't the way I wanted this to go, at least not yet.  I may still end up being induced in order to get her here, but for now I'm going to try and get through each day at a time and hopefully she'll make her debut very soon, on her own accord. I was weighing the pros and cons of induction, and the potential for a cascade of interventions just won out as the reason not to do this yet.  The other was the thought of an IV taped to my itchy skin and continuous fetal monitors strapped to my belly for the duration of labor...on top of these horrid welts?

As much as I am ready, ready, ready to meet our girl, I don't want to force her into this world for what might only be a few extra days of this rash.  I have a different prescription for the itching to go pick up today (Atarax) and with Matt's help we are doing our best to distract me when the welts flare up a few times a day.  I figure it's good practice for labor coaching for him anyway, and he's doing a great job! I'm also trying Dandelion Root which I've found online to be a remedy that some have found works from the inside out to help cleanse the liver where the bile salts build up, causing the ensuing rash. I figure it's not going to hurt anything, and it just might help in a few days, so why not try?

We'll be sure to keep everyone up to date when something does change, but for now, no baby news tonight. Maybe she'll decide tonight's her night anyway!! Thank you for all the thoughts and support - it's been so helpful as the past week has really been a challenge.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

39 Week Update

Had our 39 week exam today with Holly, and things with baby look great. Her heart rate is steady in the 150s where it should be, and her position is mostly favorable for delivery - she's head down and seems to be sort of sideways facing the left right now.  Her head is low, about a 0-station, so engaged in the pelvis which is also good news! My cervical check showed about 80% effacement and a fingertip to 2cm dilated, with soft and stretchy tissue.  Because the PUPPS rash has gotten worse over the past few days and is impacting pretty much all of my sleeping and waking hours negatively, we discussed possible induction this weekend.  She said that they calculate a score called a Bishop Score to note how "favorable" conditions are for a successful induction, and she said my score was "high" but didn't give me an exact value.  Basically, she felt that my cervical status (haha) was such that it would likely respond to induction and have a higher likelihood of vaginal delivery.  I could try a round of steroids first for the rash, but neither Holly nor I felt that at this point that made much sense. I'd rather not put myself and baby through the side-effects of steroids when we could just get her out and solve the problem.  The rash won't necessarily go away immediately, and could take days to weeks to get totally better, but it will begin to improve following delivery.  Holly swept my membranes today as well, which could get labor going within 24 hours, but is certainly no guarantee.  That was about 7 hours ago now, and I have to say I haven't noticed much change, perhaps a few more contractions that typical, but nothing consistent.  So, we wait and see.  Depending on scheduling at the hospital, we could get in for an induction Saturday or maybe Sunday, but Holly was going to give us a call and follow up.  She's not on call until next Tuesday, so it's unlikely she'll be the one there for delivery unless I hold out until then for induction.  Keeping in mind that Monday is a Full Moon, and it's bound to be crazy full on L&D Monday and Tuesday!

I'm doing my best to weigh my options, and I'm not 100% sold on induction just for the selfish reason of resolving my discomfort from this rash.  It could go great and I could end up having a vaginal delivery with no additional interventions, or my body could just not be ready and I could end up not making enough progress and have a c-section.  Or the Pitocin induced labor could be so intense that I end up with an epidural way early, can't feel well enough to push effectively, and end up with a vacuum delivery.  Are those risks worth avoiding a few extra days of intense itchiness?   I don't know.  Of course, there's still no guarantee that she'll come on her own even after her due date, and I might end up facing induction then, too. As far as the actual induction goes, I'd still be followed by the midwives for delivery, but would obviously need an IV and have continuous fetal monitoring.  Holly said the rooms have telemetry monitors, so I could at least walk around and not have wires tied to the monitor, and they are waterproof so I could still labor in the water for pain relief, either the tub or shower.  I'm leaning towards going ahead with the induction this weekend if she doesn't spontaneously decide to arrive tonight or tomorrow, and just see how it goes, because nearly every inch of my skin is covered with itchy welts at this point (my face and back and upper torso are saved so far...) and it's not going to get better the more I wait.

So tonight and tomorrow I will just keep talking to this little lady and encouraging her to come out on her own...surely it will be better out here than in there, I'm trying to convince her ;) Send your happy, spontaneous labor thoughts our way! We'll be sure to update everyone if anything changes, of course!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Biding my time

Well, I'm officially on day 4 of "maternity leave" although right now it's just "me leave" since I'm still not a mama...even though I'm thisclose.  Baby is just holding out it seems, stringing everyone along to get as close to her due date as possible.  10 days left until that date that has been looming for 40 weeks arrives, and with it either a baby or not...we'll all just have to wait and see what she decides.  I hope that she is able to choose her own birthday without being coerced to join us by chemical hormone induction...but I guess time will tell.

So, what am I doing with myself while I sit and wait, wait, wait?  Well, the first two days were pretty much that - sitting, and waiting - and it made me a little crazy.  I decided I need some things to occupy my time, even if they aren't major tasks.  Baby stuff is pretty much ready - the nursery is set up, her clothes and diapers are ready, her gear awaits her tiny body.  In another life, I might have attempted to pre-make baby announcements by hand and pre-address/stamp envelopes until she is here, and then we could tack a picture on and send 'em out...but I'm thinking Shutterfly has just what we'll need and I am perfectly happy with that! However, I have been working on scrapbooking my friend Abby's wedding album that was promised to her as a gift nearly 5 years ago...and has been sitting in a well-intentioned to-do pile for that long.  I've had a sudden burst of creativity and I feel good about the pages I'm turning out! I'm happy to be working on something for someone else right now, too, because I know that once our little girl arrives, she will be the only someone else who will be getting my undivided attention for a while.

At this point, the one thing that has increased my overall discomfort the most is this rash...I'm 95% sure it's PUPPs - Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy.  It sounds nasty, and it is.  It's basically itchy welts that start within stretch marks most commonly on the lower abdomen during the 3rd trimester, and often spread to arms, legs, hands, and feet. The only real treatment for it is delivery...and symptoms vary in their ability to be managed with topical creams/ointments, oral antihistamines, or steroids. I do not want to take steroids at this point being so close to delivery and hopefully the end of this madness, so I'm just hanging out with my itchy welts and taking Benadryl as often as allowed, while icing and slathering and oatmeal bathing and any other means of managing the head to toe itchies that seems to help at a given time.  Such joys, pregnancy.

On a sunnier note, the weather seems to have finally settled on spring in Southeast Michigan.  It was a warm 82 degrees here on Sunday, followed by some awesome midnight thunderstorms that have brought green to the grass and blooms to the crocus and iris shoots.  While I don't think temperatures like that are quite here to stay, our 10-day forecast seems to favor highs in the 50s-60s, which is definitely acceptable!  The geese seem to have returned as well, and I'm sure we'll soon be seeing little goslings trotting along behind their parents.  Here's what it looks like out in our garden today: 

Yellow Crocus

Miniature Iris

Cute little sprouts...not sure what these are

Matt and I are off to the theater to catch a movie in a little while, and I'm enjoying just spending some time together while it's still just "the two of us".  Who knows...many mamas that I've talked to said they were in the theater at a movie when their labor started/picked maybe it's a good luck charm to get things going! No matter what, it will be nice to get out together on one of what may be our last outings without any baby baggage (other than the load I'm carrying around the front!). 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

38 Weeks - 14 days left until our due date!

Today marks 38 weeks...14 days away from that date that we've been heading towards since those two pink lines showed up last August.  It's crazy to me to think that literally any day will be the day we begin counting how many weeks old our tiny daughter is, rather than how many weeks along (read:HUGE) her mama is! She could be born tomorrow, or she could be born in 3 weeks, but at the very least we know it's really only a matter of days until we are holding her in our arms instead of chasing her feet around my belly from the outside.  We had a visit with our midwife today to check things out and she said due to the diabetes, we'll start having non-stress tests at 40 weeks until she is born.  If we want, at that point they will talk about various methods for induction if she's not born by 41 weeks.   While I'd prefer to hold off on a full-on Pitocin induction, there are plenty of more "natural" ways to try and jump start labor if need be.  Today, Holly said baby's head has moved down some, I'm still about 50% effaced, and currently about 1cm dilated - that all sounds just right for 38 weeks to me! Holly and her student will both be on call at the hospital next Tuesday 4/12, so I've had a little chat with baby and have encouraged her to think about being born then ;) She's got about 5 days to get in gear and move along! Haha...if only I could choose! However, 4/12 has been my mom's guess for the birthday and she's sticking to it, so we'll see if she's right!  We reviewed the birth plan with Holly, and I am hopeful that by and large we'll have our preferences fall into place with a normal, uncomplicated and unmedicated delivery.

On our way home, we stopped by a local shop in Dexter (Christine's) that has some of the cutest things for babies and kids, and Matt picked out his girl's going home outfit :) Here's a little peek:
The little crochet details are so sweet, and you would not believe how soft this cotton is! I can't wait to see her tiny self scrunched into this sweetness :) 

Aside from the insanity of the itchy belly (which has continued to my dismay), there's not much that has changed for me in the past week.  I'm a tad bigger, slightly more uncomfortable but not terribly so, and feeling mostly prepared for this part to end and the next phase to begin.  I am done with work after tomorrow, and I'm so glad to work for a place where I have the option to be home until she arrives without penalty or being forced to take excess PTO.   I will miss my friends at work, but I'm ready to spend time in our "nest" with Matt and hopefully have at least a few days to ourselves as we get ready for the best and biggest change in our lives.  Maybe before my next weekly post I will have a better update to share! 

And here we are at 38 weeks + 4 days

It's really quite lovely that none of my shirts cover the bottom of the belly anymore! I'd say she's grown since last week - here is 37 weeks + 3 days for comparison: 

Updates to come as there are some :) 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

37 Weeks + 3 days

We have officially hit the "Full Term" marker - baby can safely be born any time now with little likelihood of long term health issues! It's a relief to have made it to this point, and also to know that one way or another she will be here in a matter of weeks!

What's going on with me this week?  Previous post pretty much sums it up: discomfort.  My belly is stretched to the max, and my skin is not happy about it.  Stretch marks alone have given way to stretch marks underneath a layer of hives off and on throughout the day/night.  I went to the Natural View Market in Brighton today to look for some homeopathic remedies to try, and got some calendula gel to put on which seems to help at least temporarily relieve the itchies.  So far the hives are isolated pretty much to within the stretch marks themselves, which is odd, but at least they haven't spread to other parts of my skin (*fingers crossed!).  Baby is still growing every day, but I'm not so much uncomfortable from her size alone unless she decides to stretch her legs all the way out! I think she's dropped some, because it's a tad easier to breathe now than it had been - hooray for that!  Otherwise, I don't really have any changes or intuition that she's planning to make her debut in the next few days.  I think she's comfy in there for another few weeks.  I'm thinking it may be sometime within the week up to her due date, perhaps around the 16th-17th if I had to venture a guess.  Of course, those dates will probably pass without a hint of change, and she'll be a 42 weeker, but I don't wanna talk about it right now :)

Here's the belly this week:

I have a major to-do list to tackle, but somehow the urgency hasn't set in yet and there's really still a lot to get done around here! Most importantly, we haven't started packing a hospital bag yet.  I know when labor starts we'll likely have plenty of time to gather things up if it isn't done, but it would definitely make Matt feel better to have that at least started!  That's my goal for tomorrow :) Perhaps if I make the list public I'll be more likely to cross things off (I like to include some things I've already accomplished, too, just to feel better):

- Pack hospital bag
- Write out birth plan somewhere other than in my journal (although if that doesn't happen, I can always bring the journal, I guess)
- Clean living room and put away laundry that has been sitting in baskets for weeks
- Finish re-arranging our bedroom so that I can actually get in and out of bed with the co-sleeper on my side (that's made midnight bathroom trips interesting lately!)
- Vacuum pet hair tumbleweeds from all corners of the house...repeat
- Attach safety straps for co-sleeper under our mattress so that it can be safely used when we bring her home
- Call pediatrician's office to make sure they are accepting new patients - they are :) 
- Install car seat base and put seat in car - better to have it sit there than on the living room floor, right?
- Hang last few decorative items on nursery walls
- Cook/prepare meals that can be frozen for the first few weeks at home
- Finish sewing binding on blanket I started
- Find out we need to replace all 4 tires on the car unexpectedly after having a flat on Friday
- Finish our childbirth education class  
- Wrap up at work this week - last day is Friday April 8!

I know there's more, but that's what comes to mind at the moment.  Baby prep is pretty much done though - diapers are washed and ready for when our disposable stash runs out, clothes are washed and ready for her cute little self to fill, items like the swing and bouncer are assembled. The room is essentially complete, save for a few things to go up on the walls.  See?
Wall collage - not sure if I posted this already on here

Crib skirt done, fabric bunting done (don't worry, it won't stay hanging on her crib as a strangulation hazard - it will be hung on the wall before she sleeps there!)

View from the doorway (changing table no longer has random boxes and tools sitting on it either)

DIY Crib skirt, bunting off crib

Fabric bunting hung on the wall 

Anyway, things are pretty much a go over here - so baby girl can get her groove on any time she feels like it! I'm ready to meet her, I know that much! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stretch Marks

This is totally going to be a flat out whiney-ass post about how much I HATE stretch marks...feel free not to read any further if my "I'm pregnant and feel that is my ticket to whine about how much this state of being has come to suck, even though I clearly asked for it and knew what was coming" will just annoy you :)

I'm well aware that at least 50% of pregnant women get stretch marks somewhere on their bodies during their pregnancy...I know many women will swear they love theirs because they are a "badge of motherhood" and a reminder of what they went through to have their beautiful children.  I know they tend to fade with time (I've had other stretch marks from growth spurts earlier in life, and yes, they've faded to nearly invisible in most places).  But none of that makes me want to love what I see when I look at my belly these past 2 weeks...right about 35 weeks a few small, light purplish marks started to show up under my belly button.  I was hopeful that would be all and I would escape the last trudge of the pregnancy without any more.  That went right out the window the next day when a few more showed up, and the next day, and the next day...I couldn't even count how many there are now, or even accurately describe the intensity of the reddish-purple hue they have taken on.  They are all still below the belly button and above the underwear line, mostly just in the middle third of the belly, but there are so many and frankly, the second most obnoxious thing is how uncomfortable they are! No one tells you that the process of your skin stretching to the point of literally tearing from the inside is terribly unpleasant, and you will go between scratching the living shit out of the epidermis and wanting to cry because it feels like fire ants are gnawing their way out from under your skin.  And then, you look in the mirror at the hot mess you've just made of your already fire-engine red belly, and realize there is no way this is ever going back to how it was, no matter what creams, oils, rubs, or laser treatment you decide is appropriate (for the record, I think laser is probably out of our price range, so I'll inevitably spend at least half of what that would end up costing trying every other cream, oil, rub etc that claims to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and still end up mostly dissatisfied. At least my behavior is predictable!).  I'm normally a person with pretty solid self esteem, and I've gotten to the point of not utterly hating parts of my body as I did in high school...but this is challenging my reserves, friends.  It's not even like I plan on wearing a full out bikini, probably ever, anyway, but it doesn't change what it looks like when I saunter past the mirror getting dressed every day.  I honestly have loved my pregnant body and have felt good in my skin (so to speak) until the end here, and now I'm just uncomfortable and my skin is buckling under the pressure to the point that the marks are almost raised they are so deep.  If this child is not born by her due date and continues to grow, I'm afraid my belly is going to burst like an over-ripe heirloom tomato and start to go bad...and we just don't want that.

So, basically what that was all about is reminding my sweet darling daughter that it's ok for her to make her entrance any time now that I am full term.  And I'll do my best not to flash her my scarred abdomen in an effort to show her how much I love her and what I went through for her when she is 16 and informs me that she hates me ;)

And scene.