Thursday, June 27, 2013


36 weeks and a "naked" belly this time!

36 weeks!

Even though it is hot and humid (with periodic thunderstorming) since Tuesday, I still feel way better than when the pressure was building and building, so I'm feeling pretty good. Hot flashes quite a bit (I'll confess... I may look like the above at home, walking around with my shirt pulled up!).  Michael likes to move a lot which is reassuring and also makes me want to pee! :)

I had my 36 week check up yesterday.  Michael was "frank breech", meaning his butt was on top of my cervix and his legs were up, with his feet by his ears.  He moved last night, though, and is now back to transverse.  The breech position is like a constant "I need to pee" sensation, so I'll admit, I prefer transverse!  He's also so long that I think transverse gives him more room to move around.  I was actually surprised he's able to move around at all!  I keep hearing that I'm smaller than average and that my uterus isn't stretching as is typical, so the fact this kid can move is pretty awesome in my book!

I did have another issue with sugar spilling into my urine, so I had to have a finger stick, but that came back normal.

Because of his positioning, Dr. B. couldn't really measure him and guestimate his weight, so we'll try that next week.

All, in all, a good appointment.  We discussed my little soiree at L&D; Dr. B. had said he actually would have told me to stay home, rest for an hour, and check again and then, if it was still high, to go in, but he understood the on-call's request that I pop over for monitoring.  It wasn't so bad... and I got to chat with an old nurse friend. :)  She joked that most typical pregnant women end up in L&D at least once before labor, so I'm getting the full experience! :)

36 weeks was when we were told to plan for Nicholas and Sophia to be "full term". and later, the same thing for Bobby and Maya.  Amazing to be at this point in pregnancy, and to know that, in 7 days, we are actually considered "full term" (even though I want to hit 39 weeks!).  I know I'll breathe an extra sigh of relief once that happens.  (And a huge thank you to my Cross Country kid families who are praying a novena for Michael to "bake" until full term.  That is so sweet, and Peter & I are very appreciative!)

I don't anticipate blogging for a few days (although I may status update on Facebook).  Peter and I are going on our babymoon to NYC tomorrow!  We have reservations at a small hotel and at our favorite restaurant for tomorrow, and then we're into a suburb of the City for bagels on Saturday morning!  Pretty excited!  (And I cant believe I've made it to the "babymoon" date with no real issues!!")  I'll write all about it when I get back, I'm sure, but suffice it to say, I'm pretty psyched, as is Peter.  The kids... meh... Maya's still a bit ticked that she's not coming to dinner with us.  But I know they will be sufficiently (and moreso!) spoiled with Uita and Aunt Sarah.  By the time we get home on Saturday, they will be trying to send us away!  (This happened on our first and only overnight date... I'll be shocked if they welcome us back with open arms!)

In fun, "belly" pictures, I'll have the updated "Pregnancy Journey" picture for next week at 37 weeks, once we are officially "full term".  I just looked at it (after putting in my Father's Day bump and the belly shots for the last few weeks), and what a difference a few weeks makes! Can't wait to share it in, gulp, 7 more days!

So, have a good weekend, and don't think I'm delivering if you haven't seen an update in a few days! I'm enjoying my husband and celebrating in the Big Apple!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

35w5d part 2

Clearly, I posted too soon!

So, this morning, I felt a bit off and took my BP.  It was higher than normal but still within normal ranges.  But all day, it was going back and forth: normal, higher-normal, straight up high.  By 4:30, it was high and I wasn't feeling great, so I called my MIL, who came to watch the kids for me so I could lay down.  A recheck at 5... still high.  5:20... still high.  5:50... really high.  Called the on-call and, while I waiting, I got a crazy reading: 154/113.  The on-call told me to go in (with a reading like that, who could blame her?) so I drove out to the hospital while Peter, who had just gotten home, stayed with the kids.

When I got to L&D, my nurse was actually someone I remembered (and who remembered me!) from my Bobby and Maya residence. :)  She was one of my favorite night nurses, and it was really nice to see a happy face.  I explained that all had been well but that, whenever the weather got stormy, I tended to feel a bit off and that today, I felt really off and my BPs were really high.  So, I changed into the gown, gave a urine sample, and got hooked up to the monitors.  Michael was great, which was awesome, but I was contracting (irregularly, which is normal at this gestation) and my BP was sky high.  They drew some blood, so that they could run the panel for HELLP Syndrome and my BP was continuously monitored.  After about an hour and a half, my blood pressure began to stabilize and drop within normal ranges.  The HELLP panel was clear and I was discharged.

I have an OB appointment tomorrow, so I'm sure we'll discuss this, but the consensus seems to be that, while it is rare, since I have been known to react to the weather with higher blood pressure and headaches (nonpregnant as well), this may just be a case of that.  (And, as if on cue, the thunderstorm just hit...  Nice...)

So, still pregnant.  Still here... And still hoping for 26 days and 1 hour! (since it is so late already!)


It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I've carried Michael for eight weeks longer than Bobby and Maya.  At 8 weeks old, Maya had just gone through laser eye surgery and was having issues being extubated, and Bobby was getting ready to come home.  He left the hospital at 8w2d.  Maya joined us at home 4 days later, at 8w6d.

It's nuts to think that Maya was a bit over 5 and a half pounds and Bobby was just over 6 pounds when they came home around the same age Michael is (almost) in utero.  I see Dr. Bailey tomorrow for my 36 week appointment and I'm really curious to see his weight estimate.  (He's doing a growth check and weight guestimate tomorrow.)  This kiddo feels big, but you never know... and, while ultrasound isn't a reliable indicator, at this point, it's the only thing we've got!

So... let's see... Things going on...

Sleep is getting less.  I find myself going back to the couch.  I still wake up to pee every 60-90 minutes, and when it takes me a good 15-30 minutes to fall back to sleep, sometimes the couch is just easier.  It also feels better because I can rest on an incline, on my back (the incline helps keep the weight off my veins and allows for open breathing, which is nice... I'm a back sleeper, so I miss sleeping on my back in bed!). 

I think my nesting stage came and went around the time we squared away the nursery.  That being said, my garage is getting on my nerves.  It's hot and humid most days now, so cleaning out the garage isn't a task I'm looking forward to, but it's really getting under my skin.  I may have to dedicate some time to organizing it...

OB appointment tomorrow.... Almost a week to go until "full term"!

Babymoon this weekend!  The kids alternate between being excited and being upset that Peter and I are going to be gone for a night/2 days.  We'll see how this goes!

I think that's about it... It's hot and humid, and boy am I feeling it.  I've had some contractions, especially when the weather is really humid.  But, all in all, still doing well!

27 days to go!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Great Day

Today is one of those summer days that you get misty eyed thinking about in retrospect and that makes you want to just bottle life up and never let it go.

We normally have playgroup on Monday mornings, which is a blast.  The kids love it, I love the moms I've met, and it's a fun time.  This morning, the kiddos helped me grind coffee and make vegan banana bread with walnuts and chocolate chips.  Then... all my moms canceled. :(  Which was sad, but not a disaster (because, let's face it, coffee and banana bread? I can do that...)  We needed to go to Target for a few things, so after some breakfast and cartoons, I loaded the peanuts into the car and off we went.  (They love Target, so this isn't a rough transition.)

We went and got the things we needed, which included a new pair of sandals for Bobby.  Not only was I able to score a pair on clearance (for his, gulp, size 11 feet!) but he was okay with them not being remotely close to red or black (They are neon green and navy blue.)  Yay!  The kids had also been asking for a sandbox (which I can't stand), and when I saw the pricetag ($45+ and that was without sand!) I suffered a near heart attack.  (Craigslist didn't help me... nothing was really nearby and the best I could do, sans sand, was $25).  So, I thought... what to do...  And then I did what any cheap good parent would do: I bought an $8 Sterlite container with the lid and $4 of sand toys (I mean, really, how many toys do you need???).  Target didn't sell sand, so I told the kids we'd go to Lowes after nap and handle that.

Once we were home (after getting Icee's, which I know are awful, but are a reminder of happiness in my childhood), the kids stripped down and got in their bathing suits, where they spent the next hour plus in the pool.  While I was changing, Maya says "I love Bobby and Daddy and Mommy and Michael," to which Bobby responds "Hug!" and they just held each other for a bit.  (cue tears.... )
Miss Maya

Mister Bobby

They had so much fun in the pool, eventually just lounging and talking to one another in a mix of twin-speak and English... I wish I knew all they were saying, but it was clear that they knew and they were happy.
Just hanging out

We came in for lunch and nap, and once that was done (and snuggles had been had by all!), we loaded up and went to Lowes, where $8 nabbed me 100 pounds (2 bags) of play sand.  Back home and the "sandbox" was crafted in moments.  Which then led to yet another hour plus of backyard enjoyment!
Our $20 sandbox
This is especially important to me because Bobby is like me and hasn't, in the past, cared for sand (or playdoh, my other yucky texture issue).  Tonight, he actually played in the sand for 20 minutes at a time before going back and forth between the sand and the pool (hence his swimsuit in the above picture).  I know it's a tough texture issue for him, but I was so proud of him for trying it out and really giving it a good go.  He loved it and Maya was in heaven! (She LOVES sand.)

When it was time to come inside, Maya helped me type of a new recipe (we had Linguine with Collards and Bacon... very yummy!) and, as she was sitting at the computer, kept saying how beautiful the picture of Peter and I is (it's my desktop image).  All day today, the kids have been "I love you" to each other and hugging... It's just been a pure joy to see. 

I also finished working on the social story for Cesarean delivery, which I need to finish the preliminary pictures for so that I can introduce it to the kids at the beginning of July.  In more fun news, I actually was asked to pitch it to a children's publisher (sans illustrations), so we'll see where that goes! 

It's been a great (although busy) day and I'm wiped out (and still have laundry to hang up, grr....) but what a wonderful feeling I'm left with as this day comes to a close.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Please Touch

Originally posted here

In anticipation of Michael's arrival, we've wanted to do things with Bobby and Maya, to ensure that they have some special pre-baby events.  On top of that, with their summer vacation between preschool and camp (3 weeks), we wanted to have some fun yet educational experiences with them.  Our big plan this week was to take them to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, about 20 miles from us.  They've been to the "discovery"/touch style museums before (much smaller ones) and have enjoyed them, so we thought this would be a great time.  Peter took the day off work and we headed down to Philly after breakfast.

And what fun they had! 

We had a one parent-one kid ratio, and rarely were the four of us together, but the kids had fun at the exhibits and we opted to apply our admission to a family membership.  We rode the carousel, which Bobby cried through.  (This is the second time he's been on a carousel and screamed bloody murder.  The first time, we thought it was because I didn't ride with him, but this time we all rode together.  He didn't want to sit on a horse, so we even tried sitting on the chair this time, but still...  very upset.)  Otherwise, though, the trip was great.  No issues at all.


We had initially thought we'd leave the museum and go to Reading Terminal Market for lunch.  The kids didn't want to leave though, so we gave them the option: RTM for lunch or staying at the museum for lunch.  They chose to stay, so we sat outside and had lunch, which was surprisingly decent and not nearly as outrageously priced as you'd think.  We were there several hours and, excluding the carousel, both kids had an awesome time.  They didn't want to leave but, at the same time, they both realized they were tired and they wanted a nap.

We told them they could pick out something in the gift shop (for $10) to remember their trip by.  Bobby picked a train and some PEZ candy (his fave); Maya picked some bubbles and a stick candy.  (And, thanks to our membership, we actually spent less than $20 because they discount the gift shop for members!).  They walked back to the car without issue, and really, all in all, it was a fun trip.

Keeping them awake in the car was a challenge and napping once we got home was a bit more work than the usual 5-10 minutes, but I'm glad we are at an age where, for some special days, we don't have to be married to the 1:30-3:30 nap and that we can start a nap at 3pm and it will be okay. 

35 weeks!

Can you believe it?  35 weeks... Here we are!

35 weeks... Less than 5 weeks to go!
Other than the continued sciatica and headaches (which are normal for me, except that I cant take anything for them now), it's all pretty good!  By the end of the day, my fingers and feet tend to swell (not badly, I take my rings off but can still get them on/off and I can still wear shoes, etc...) but Peter is a sweetie and will rub my feet while I lay on the couch.  He's also such a great masseur after a rough day when my back hurts.  I'm really lucky in that regard!

I had my 35 week check up yesterday and, gulp, am now on the weekly plan!  Really cant believe we are at this final stage!  And, I know you probably get tired of hearing it, but I just LOVE my obstetrician.  Dr. B. is the BEST.  He was out of the office yesterday so I was scheduled to see his new (quite young) partner.  I wasn't thrilled about it because I do love Dr B so much, but figured that a) I'd either like his partner (I liked Dr M after all) or b) it would be an opportunity to educate a new OB/GYN about IC and the TAC.  But, I was still bummed that I wouldn't see Dr. B. 

So, I'm in the exam room and waiting... and waiting... and waiting... I read a magazine, and was wondering Where in the heck is she??? I know she's here and the office isn't busy...  Finally, there's a knock on the door and Dr. B. walks in!  He came into the office from his conference to check in (he was local) and had me wait so that he could do the scan himself!  Love this guy.

So, the scan showed what he suspected might happen. My uterus is, indeed, thinning.  To give you an idea of uterus measurements as it relates to VBAC-ing and uterine rupture, studies have shown that if the lower uterine segment is below 5mm near the possible rupture site(s) (i.e. the previous points of c/s surgery), then the risk of rupture is considerably higher.  (I'm not a VBAC candidate, obviously, because of the TAC- this is just for comparison.)  There aren't studies on rupture with TAC because there just aren't studies available, so Dr. B. is using his VBAC experience to try and guestimate getting Michael here safely.  Whenever pressure was applied to my uterus, it began to bow into my bladder.  Imagine an oval at rest, but at pressure, the top of the oval (which at this point is near the baby's head and butts up against my bladder), the oval thins and becomes almost like an Arby's hat.  The thickest lower uterine segment (LUS) he could measure even without pressure was 5mm; without pressure, the thickest area near the bladder was 4mm.  With pressure, it thins more, but the contrast was such that getting a measurement wasn't possible (you could just see the layer visually thin, quite neat when you think about it from a technological standpoint).

Because of this, he went 100% with his previous recommendation of no more running post 35 weeks (which we'd already agreed to).  Walking is still fine, as are normal household activities, yoga, yard work, playing/holding the kids, etc.  But he wants me to make sure that I'm taking time to just rest and put my feet up. 

In really good news, my cervix was over 5!!!  So, pelvic rest is lifted and he was able to see my TAC clearly: no erosion, no damage, looks great.

At this point, he said there are no losers in delivery.  If my LUS hits 1mm at any point, we'll walk over to the hospital and deliver.  He has no concerns about hitting full term on July 4th; and he thinks I'll walk into my c/s on July 22nd.  At this point, other than the LUS measuring too low, it's a labor/contraction issue.  If contractions are stable at 10min/apart (or less) for 6 contractions (or an hour), then it's time to come in and deliver.  Same if my water breaks.  But otherwise, we are on the final countdown, P17 shots are done, running is done, and we are just waiting for Michael to decide when he's ready!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I've carried Michael for 7 weeks longer than I carried Bobby and Maya.  At 7 weeks old?  Bobby and Maya were around 5lbs and taking parts of their feeds by bottle/breast verses just the tube.  And they had about 2 more NICU weeks to go.  Tomorrow, I have my 35w check-up and I'm wondering if we'll get a weight check (it's not Dr. B., it's his new partner, as he is away, so I have no idea what to expect...).  It's nuts to think of Michael as a 5lb baby, though... In my head, I still am in awe!

And in pain at times.  I notice that when we have rain and storms (which June has been insane), I tend to have more Braxton Hicks contractions as well as a few "real" ones (not enough to go to the hospital, thankfully!).  The last few days, Michael has been flipping around and, when he puts pressure on certain nerves, I actually lose some sensation in parts of my legs.  As a runner, that's a crazy feeling.  Thank goodness, most of my discomfort seems tied very closely to the weather.  When the pressure outside feels high, I tend to have a headache, more aches and pains, etc; when the pressure is lower (even if it is hot), I feel much better. 

I'm at the point where I definitely find I walk differently and am much slower than normal.  Just 'running' into the store for a few groceries is a long trip, LOL!  And I'm glad the kids don't mind sitting in the cart because those monkeys feel way heavier these days!

But, all in all, still here... Still pregnant!

Things going on...
  • I've finished my P17 shots (my choice... I ran out at 34w and opted to not pay $80 for a single shot; I would have ended at 35w)
  • Including tomorrow, I only have 5 more scheduled OB appointments.
  • I update our kitchen wipe-off calendar daily... Yesterday, Michael's delivery date was finally on the calendar.... that is so strange!
  • I keep feeling like I'm going to have Michael around 38w and not my 39w4d c/s.  Just a feeling.  We'll see.
  • T-2w2d (16 days!) until "full term" at 37w.
  • T-4w6d (34 days) until our scheduled delivery date!

Monday, June 17, 2013



15 years ago, I said the "I Do" that changed my life forever. 

15 years ago, I was a girl barely out of high school and madly in love with a boy after I'd spent only a few hours with him.  I was a girl hit by the lightening bolt and forever linked to a boy I didn't know existed a few months before.

A boy
Peter and his grandpa... early 1980s

and a girl

Who became this boy and girl...

Who, fifteen years and 5- but soon to be 6- birthed babies that number 10 altogether, and college graduations and buying houses and all the wonderful and awful things in between...

became this man and woman...

Crystal is, apparently, the traditional 15 year gift, but throw that to the wind.  We're celebrating our lovefest, my birthday, and our babymoon all at once with a trip to our favorite restaurant in NYC.  That trumps crystal any day in my book.

I love you, Peter.  I loved you the first moment our eyes locked in Gerard Hall.  I loved you the first time I saw you smile.  I loved you the first time I held you while you cried.  And I love you today more than yesterday while I anticipate loving you even more tomorrow.  I did. I do. And I will.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Special Day

This year, it's Father's Day... But in 2008, it was the day that we lost our 4th baby to an early miscarriage.  I remember that year because Peter's biggest prayer for Father's Day was that we would still be pregnant and our little baby would be hanging on.  Father's Day was the 15th, and I was so grateful to have his prayer granted, even if it meant we began miscarrying the very next day.

This year, so similar and yet so different.  Father's Day... still pregnant... quite pregnant, actually, and preparing for our 10th child... our 3rd living child... in a bit over a month.

For Father's Day, we're having Michael's name engraved on the back of Peter's watch, along with the names of his older brothers and sisters.  (My Mother's Day gift is the addition of his birthstone to my mother's ring, which we wont take to the jeweler until July 1st... just to be sure it is, indeed, a ruby!).  Peter asked me to make ribs for dinner, so we'll have folks over for that, and the kids made him a special gift in school before the term ended.  And cake... of course, there's cake: dark chocolate with raspberries, Peter's fave.

But, amidst the joy and celebration, the kisses and snuggles, and all the love we can muster, there is the reminder of our three oldest who will never make gifts in school or bake cakes, the memories of the four smallest of our babes who never lived outside the womb, and of them, especially that sweet little boy that left us on this day, five years ago.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


It's kind of a bitter sweet day.  A really happy day too, but bittersweet.  I just ran my last race of this pregnancy.

I had sworn off my favorite June race- a 5K sponsored by a local restaurant that ends with margaritas- for obvious reasons, the least of which wasn't the fact I cant drink the AWESOME 16oz margarita you are rewarded with, the very hilly course, and Dr. B's instructions that I was NOT to run in heat and humidity (the likes of which this race is known to have because of it's late afternoon/early evening start time).  But I did sneak in my town's race on the first weekend of June and then signed up for a 5K that benefits the Police Department of the township next to ours (that offers reciprocity to our Borough Police). 

I'd forgotten the minor hills that township has... :)  But even with that, I finished in 44:36.  Faster than my 32w2d 5K (which did include stopping twice to snuggle the kids, so I wasn't really "faster" this time), and the exact same time as my very first 5K, way back when!  (Had that margarita with pride back then!)  Running alone (I mean, I wasn't "alone" but I didn't have a buddy) was kind of sad, since I love the camaraderie of running, but whenever I passed anyone (which I did... twice... two kids, actually), I would slow down and check in with them (I was near the end of the race... last runners crossed around the one hour mark), to make sure they were okay and that really was my favorite part of running today.

The cops I ran by made comments about me not going into labor and that the baby was going to run from the moment he was born :), and I was asked several times how far along I was.  I'm guessing I was the only pregnant runner; when I was finishing, people cheered and the policeman at the finish line said my name and something I don't remember (which made people clap more, so I'm assuming it was a baby comment??? I had my headphones on).  But it was a great race and I had a fun time. 

Last Preggers Race @ 34w2d
Even though I was a few days shy of physically pregnant, I can't help but think that I started this pregnancy with the Marine Corps Marathon (cycle was, I guess I was technically 1w2d "pregnant", since conception would be "2w") and ended it with a 5K that benefited a local police department.  Not a bad way to have a pregnancy race year. :) 

It's bittersweet, though.  I'm beyond words happy to be staring 35 weeks in the face and still physically able to run (even if I'm hitting a 14+ minute mile these days instead of 9 minute ones).  To know how hard it has been to get to this point- and not just from a pregnancy standpoint but from a physical, healthy standpoint- and to be here... I just... I don't even know what to say.  I had a stupid Kool-Aid grin on my face as I ran down the last stretch towards the police station, where the finish line was, because all I could think of was "Wow, I did this... I'm in the last half of the third trimester of pregnancy- where I thought I'd never, ever be- and I did this".  It's been an amazing journey, both as a mom and as a runner.  To know we are a little over 5 weeks from meeting this little guy...  Just takes my breath away.

But I have to admit too, that I'm tired.  45 minutes of running isn't a lot and yet, for me now, with the extra weight, the extra calorie/hydration needs, the difference in gravity with my belly sticking out... it's been harder than it was, even when I weighed more than I do now and was less physically able to run.  From a cardio and muscular standpoint, it's still the running I was able to do pre-pregnancy but with everything else... There is a physical difference and I'd be lying if I said it was easy breasy.  Instead, I find that my mind is constantly calculating what I need to be doing to make sure I'm breathing well enough for Michael, drinking enough for Michael, recovering enough for Michael- things that are important.  But, to be honest, running is a selfish endeavor for me.  It's something that has been mine and is mine and that I take for myself; emotionally, I think I'm ready to have a break from sharing that and not being able to just be free and let go, and let my body drink/breathe/etc as it needs to without over analyzing it.  And physically, I think my new body is happy for a break.  There have been moments in the third trimester, where I've run and needed to physically hold my belly for a bit because the baby is in an awkward spot and putting pain on a nerve or where I've needed to walk, not because I needed the walk but because I needed to give him time to shift.  And afterwards, whereas I used to be super energized post a run (even after the MCM), now, I am wiped out and want to sleep.  My mind and body are both ready for a break, even if the spirit that fuels my passion for lacing up doesn't want to admit it.

It's been one hell of a run, people.  I sit here, teary eyed, looking back on how far I've come as a runner but mostly over the last 34 weeks.  To have my final race of this pregnancy match my first race time... to have been able to do it alone on the course...  To have just been able to put my legs in front of the other and make it from start to end... there will never be enough gratitude to the people who have helped me get to this point in running or in pregnancy... I'll never be able to say thank you enough, just for the experience and the healing this has brought me.

And now... for that aforementioned nap...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What's For Dinner?

If you're asking yourself that question, I recommend tonight's creation here at Casa Haytko: Seared Scallops with a Pear Reduction.  It was delicious!  To the point that poor Peter will either be left to fend for himself for lunch tomorrow, or he'll have to make due with sides...  Since I'm baking a peach cobbler right now for dessert, he'll probably opt for sides (with a side of cobbler... you know... for his fruit and all)

Seriously... It was awesome.

34 weeks!!

WOO HOO!!!!  Big milestone alert: 34 weeks!!!

34 weeks!

We did it!  We reached one of the biggest milestones in this pregnancy.  At 34 weeks, Dr. B. would no longer stop labor (except for steroids, so 48 hours) and we'd meet this little guy with a good chance that he'd come home either with us or a few days later.  That's pretty awesome (not as awesome as full term, but still pretty awesome.). I only have TWO P17 shots left (tomorrow and next week) and then that part of the journey is done.

I've actually lost weight the last few days.  Total gained is (I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but hey... here's for honesty) is a little under 40 pounds. I didn't want to gain that much but hey... He's healthy, I'm still healthy, so I'll take it.  Dr. B. estimated at my last appointment that I'd probably lose half of that relatively quickly and then, with breastfeeding and comfortable exercise in the early postpartum, the rest, he's speculating, wont be a big deal.  He still says that I'm measuring quite a bit smaller than he would have anticipated given my history (a funny story about 'small' later) and that Michael is a good size, so not to worry about my weight gain because he isn't, so, when my brain tries to give me a hard time, I try to remember that.  (The baby does, however, like Snickers bars.... In the last 2 months, I've had 3 of them...  Don't get me wrong- they are good; but prepregnancy, I maybe had one in a year?  (Reese's cups... that's another story...)  But right now?  It's like they have some sort of homing device that registers with my mouth.)

For my birthday, my in-laws got me a gift card to my favorite department store.  I had found this great dress there for Mother's Day and had bought the 'white paisley' one.  So, yesterday, I went in and was able to get two more!  (brown leaf and blue tropical).  The dress is cut such that I can still easily wear a medium and it falls nicely over my belly without becoming uber short (which has been my issue... I can still wear all of my prepregnancy dresses which are mediums and even small- the green one from my maternity pics is a small-  but for most of them, which hit just shy of the knee or knee before, they are wwwaaaayyyy too short now when you add in the additional belly space).  Once Michael is born, they can help camouflage the I-just-had-a-baby look and then, once that is (hopefully!) gone, they'll be just comfy summer dresses.  So, quite a bargain in my book!

While I was at the store, I ran into a friend from our old church.  We were chatting and she mentioned me being due at the end of.... September!  I laughed and said that it was actually mid-July and you should have seen the double take at my belly!  So, in that way, I guess it is nice measuring a bit on the smaller side!

Yesterday, Sarah and I went for our annual (and, if we are lucky, twice a year, but this year, alas, only once) birthday trip (her birthday in February had some nasty weather!).  We usually try to go on the birthday or a day close to, but my birthday stormed, so we went yesterday which, gulp, was my last non-OB Wednesday til this kiddo is born.  We had excellent weather which was beaten only by the kick-butt falafel place she introduced me to that is closer to her neck of the woods.  I've already told Peter we have to load the kids up and drive the forty five minutes to eat here because it was that good.  Didn't try to baklava, but the stuffed grape leaves were pretty awesome too.

All in all, I feel good still.  I have heartburn if I eat red sauces (but funny enough, "spicy" doesn't seem to do much.)  I still want lemonade like crazy, and now, mint tea (could be the explosion of mint in my garden...).  I've had some real contractions, which is quite interesting.  The Braxton Hicks variety don't hurt much at all, more of just an uncomfortable/annoying sensation, but the real ones?  Those bad boys are interesting.  No more than 3 in an hour thus far, and they seem to be associated with the weather (as in, it's going to storm and all the humidity/pressure is building up) or with an extra rough playtime with the kids.  I haven't had the concern of needing to call Dr. B. yet (I'd say last night was the closest call after Bobby woke me up when I dozed with a bit too much roughhousing), but so far, so good.  Laying on the left, hydrating, breathing, and Peter giving me a pressure point massage on my lower back have stopped them within the hour.  So, I'm happy about that.

I definitely feel like I'm slowing down.  It takes me longer to get up and to get things done because I'm just moving at a slower pace.  It's not bad... it's just different.  While I'm sad to give up running ~35 weeks, I think that I'm at the place where, mentally, it's just not doing it for me anymore even though my body is still capable.  I can't get into the zone anymore because I'm just too slow and too focused on am-I-breathing/hydrating-enough-for-baby to really get the relaxation from it.  So, it's still fun, I'm still super happy to be active, but once this race is done, I figure I might hit one or two more short mile or two jogs before I hit 35w next Thursday and then, call it a day.  I hope to be able to get in some walks in lieu of running (but walking really doesn't do it for me); since Dr. B. says yoga is still okay for me in solo practice (versus class/teaching), I plan to still keep my 2-20 minute daily practices up until it's either too much or I deliver.  But for now, it's good.  Being this active (and still being able to shave my legs and see my feet!) make me feel good inside and I'm so glad to be here, in June, and still able to say "I went for a run..." even if it is super slow. :)

39 days until July 22nd!  We are in the 30s!  That doesn't seem that far away at all...  Especially as I see the weeks in light of things we are doing, time seems to fly... My last race and Father's Day this weekend... Robert's birthday dinner next weekend... the Babymoon the following... and June is over.  How did the month fly by like that?  July has it's own big bang, since the kids will start their 3 morning/week summer camp and we hit full term on Independence Day.  Will things feel like the slow down once that huge "you-made-it-to-full-term" date hits?  Or will that just make things go faster?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First Day Without School

So, here's our first Tuesday sans preschool... We're doing okay, actually!  I was a bit scared after Sunday, when Bobby cried "No Jesus at Church; Jesus at school!  Jesus at school!".  Yeah... that didn't sound like our Sunday would go well.  But, it did!  He saw two of his teachers at Mass, which was great, and got in enough snuggles (fingers crossed) to last him a while!  This morning, his IU speech therapist came to the house and they worked together for a good session, then we did an hour of homeschool before snack and some sign language, then we baked cookies (how else do you teach math to 3 year olds?).  Right now, we're just relaxing and playing; in an hour or so, we'll have lunch and then nap (and boy, am I ready for my own nap!)

While Bobby had speech, Maya helped me put away laundry and strip their beds.  She's quite the little housekeeper!  I think I know how to implement an allowance with her!  She's quite the expert at putting away laundry.  And Bobby loves to put laundry in the washer and dryer, and start it.  Now... if I can just get them to clean the bathrooms.... :)

Monday, June 10, 2013


Can you believe it? T-6 weeks until delivery!  42 days.  As each day ticks off the calendar, I get a sense of "this is surreal".  You'd think 8 months in would have given me enough time to realize that, indeed, I am this pregnant and there is a fairly good chance we'll kick the idea of a NICU stay and prematurity to the curb.  But, still... Those thoughts are still there, in the back of my mind.

Peter and I are so vastly different.  While I have no doubt that his scientific brain has run through all the options and that he has known every milestone that has passed, be it consciously or subconsciously, he doesn't talk about them the way that I do and he rarely gives me more than an "yeah" when I bring up something, like it's been X weeks longer than B&Ms pregnancy, or that we have x% chance of a healthy baby if we deliver at X weeks.  He knows these things, but they aren't a tabulating goal list in his head.  I try to keep in mind that there is no reason to doubt walking into the OR on July 22nd... I mean, Dr. Haney has been right this entire pregnancy and, since I've not had any real preterm labor issues, there's no reason to assume that the TAC wont hold out until the end, even if my cervix hits 0mm below the stitch.  And yet... I'm still looking at my milestones... 

* 6 weeks til delivery
* tomorrow=6 weeks longer in pregnancy than Bobby and Maya (33w5d vs 27w5d)
* Thursday=34w and hospital policy is not stopping labor except for 48 hours to administer steroids for lung development (NICU time can actually be bypassed for some 34 weekers, crazy as that seems...) c2013

Looking back, this all just seems like insanity.  It feels like a dream. There's a small part of me that just expects that the other shoe has to fall.  The larger part of me, however, feels like we're just in a 6 week countdown that will end in the birth of a beautiful (and big!) little guy.

Let's end this on a funny note: at the unshower luncheon, I was sitting at a table chatting with friends and an aunt busts out with "You can still cross your legs!"  In the shower, I am amused that I can still see my feet.  It really is the small things these days... :)

(And, in fun news... Wednesday, Sarah and I are doing our annual TBIC (pardon the language "two bitches in a car") event that we do as a combined birthday (she's Feb, I'm June) adventure.  We rarely have a plan, and we just see where the day takes us.  She mentioned the other day that this may be our last pre-delivery chance!)

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Lots of 3s in that title!  Here we are... 43 days til delivery!  Time is flying by.

Friday was my birthday.  It rained, which ruined our plans to take the kids to the zoo and then out to my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner.  In addition, it was just a rough day... couldn't end soon enough.  Not exactly how I wanted to spend "my" day, but hey... you can't win them all.

Saturday, Sarah and my girlfriend, Ann, and I went to my favorite coffee shop to pregame... which means, at this stage in my life, coffee before the luncheon. :)  It was nice to just hang out with "the girls" and then we headed over to the pub for the unshower luncheon!  What a fun time!  My dad helped out on Friday with the cake,
buttercream frosting, blue tinted vanilla cake on the inside
and we kept it very simple at the luncheon.  In lieu of gifts (although try telling women to not buy a baby a gift and see what it gets you... several trips to the car with gift bags!), we asked people to bring in donations of baby related items for our local food bank.  We had an overflowing box plus!  How awesome!  I can't wait to drop them off. :) 

We reserved the top floor of our local Irish pub, and had a great time.  And, yes, courtesy of my big sister, Ann, I sure did have that Guinness Dr. B. approved!! 
Don't worry... It was the slowest drink I've ever had... took the whole 3 hours to finish! :)
The food was good but the company was great.  (All of the photographs can be seen via the Facebook album)  Everyone got along, and we just had a nice time hanging out, celebrating, and enjoying the day (which, thankfully, was decent!).  My good friend, Erica, who did the maternity photographs (more on that to come) also brought in some of her favorite shots and set them out on the table so that folks could see them.  That was quite a nice surprise, since I hadn't seen some of the ones she'd finished! 

Onto maternity photos, the gallery is done!  And, if you are local and don't contact Erica to do photos, you are missing out!  I can't get over how awesome her work is.  She posted a beautiful commentary of our photo shoot and our relationship on her website with some of her favorite pictures, and then she posted the completed gallery as well.  (For the completed gallery, you'll need to click on "Michele Maternity" and then type on the password "michele")

I wont leave you hanging though... Here are some of my favorite pictures from the maternity shoot...
True Love...

Probably my favorite of Michael and I...

He's captured my heart...

Our family... Captured....

Thursday, June 6, 2013

33 weeks

Well, I joked I'd be 33 weeks for my 33rd birthday and here we are.... 33 weeks today (which means 46 days until the C-section) and my birthday is tomorrow.  Woo Hoo!  My nieces were born at 33 weeks and are now healthy 3 year olds.  While I don't want to deliver now, it is nice to know the odds are on our favor.  One more week until the "we wont stop labor if your water breaks" stage and four more weeks until the technical designation of "full term".

33 weeks

I saw Dr. Bailey yesterday for my appointment.  I suppose, statistically, at some point, the appointments are all going to be great.  But, I'll confess, I had a bit of a cry after this one.

First things first, Michael looks great.  The little guy is huge.  My next appointment, he said he's going to try and get a good look at his length and weight but the little guy is a little monster in there... Definitely the Bobby out of Bobby and Maya! :)  He said it's not surprising that I feel him all over the place and that he's causing some discomfort when he nestles against my diaphragm or beneath my ribs (or on top of my now oversized ovaries!).  He's breech, which isn't a big deal because of the scheduled C-section, and, because my uterus is still measuring small, he's apparently running out of room.  It's funny to think that 4 pounds will be considered "big baby" because my uterus doesn't want to play ball and stretch!  I'm very curious to see the estimated weight and length of this little guy!

The not so great news...

First, my blood pressure (which has been stellar this entire pregnancy, like 120 over 70 awesome) was high.  Thankfully, my diastolic pressure was still good at 72; my systolic pressure was not so good at 142.  It could be a fluke... So, I'm to home monitor and, if I don't see any additional high systolics, no worry until my next appointment.  If the diastolic rises along with the systolic, then it's time to go to the hospital.

Second, my urine showed a small amount of sugar (50), which he said was most likely due to me drinking a sweetened coffee drink. (I swear, I wasn't going to have one and then thought, what the hell... No more sweetened coffee for me!)  As long as it doesn't repeat, it's fine, especially since my sugars have been good this pregnancy.  I also had a high-carb (deep dish pizza) for lunch, so that could have played into it as well.  Overall, this wasnt a huge concern (and thank God it wasn't a finding of protein in the urine because that would have warranted me a trip to L&D!) but if it continues, then we'll opt for safety and I'll start limiting carbs and sugars.

Third, my cervix shrank... No funneling (thank you God!) either above or below, but the below measurement went from a nice 4-5+ down to 2mm.  With a typical women, pregnant for a multiple time, he said he wouldn't be that concerned to see a 33 week cervix at 2mm.  However, because nothing about me is normal, he said this isn't exactly what he'd hoped to see (3mm would have been reassuring).  Yes, the cervix should change as pregnancy progresses but, since my cervix shouldn't open due to the TAC, that poses the risk of tearing the TAC, etc.  So, not thrilled.  Because of that, no more sex.  This measurement was via transabdominal ultrasound (TAU) and my next appointment will be transvaginal ultrasound (TVA) because he said that, now, every little bit will help us gage where we are in the end game.  While he thinks we'll make it to July without me getting to 0mm below the TAC, he also doesn't want to take chances.

Fourth, as if my cervix wasn't enough to make the appointment less than outstanding, the lower uterine segment, through which the TAC is placed, only measured 5mm.  That's 5mm of muscular tissue with the mercaline stitch running through it, that stops Michael from being a preemie at this point.  He couldn't get a clear view of the stitch, which could be good or bad, so he wants a better look.

And, Lastly, Contractions.... As of yet, they've all been BHCs, but he said the second that a BHC progresses and travels from the top of my uterus down towards my vagina, my butt better be in route to the hospital (it's 45minutes away) and he'd better be my first call.  At this point, he's concerned with my uterus rupturing due to the 5mm of LUS and the possibility that contractions would cause something to give.  (Since I cant really dilate the only other option is the point of least resistance: the uterine area where my previous c/s and my TAC surgery were done).

Which brings us to: an appointment in 2 weeks and then weekly until delivery.  I was a bit surprised by this.  He's still hopeful we'll make it another six and a half weeks to the scheduled c/s.  He said that seeing me and just checking more often will make that closer of a reality, since, at this point, I'm on no restrictions except "pelvic rest".  It's possible, because my cervix is dynamic, that it will lengthen, and that it wont play into any sort of issue, and he just wants to make sure that, regardless, we know about it before I just go into full blown labor.  Right now, he'd try to stop labor with tocolytics followed by hospital bedrest; once we hit 35 weeks, they'd try to stop labor long enough for the 2 doses of betamethasone and then the c/s would be 24h post my last dose.

The appointment wasn't all bad.  He thought it was hysterical that I did the 5K and said that he thinks one of the reasons this pregnancy has been so easy is that I've been active.  He was fine with the 14-15min/mile pace and said he's glad I'm slowing down.  I'm still okay to run up to the 5K distance, as long as I take walk breaks (which I do) and stay hydrated with both water and electrolyte drinks (which I do).  He'd prefer I not go alone (which I try not to) just in case of an emergency because someone would need to explain to EMTs if I couldn't why I couldn't just deliver in the back of an ambulance.  He did say that, once I have my next race in a week and a half, he'd like me to do more walking, less running, which I'm fine with.  The benefits of running and jogging this pregnancy have been phenomenal and, if I'm heading into 35 weeks and just starting to transition to running, I'm feeling pretty good about that.  He also said that, while he understands not teaching yoga after 34w due to liability issues, he's perfectly fine with me continuing my personal practice of yoga until delivery, as long as I have no issues.  So, that's good, since I think the yoga, even for 20-30 minutes a day, helps me sleep as much as I actually do.  Resting is good, but I'm still good to play with and pick up the kids/carry them.  He said that he's comfortable with me doing this until either I have contractions (see #5) or my next appointment in 2 weeks shows negative changes.  Also, we discussed staples versus sutures (sutures!), double verses single closure (double!), and 3 versus 7 layer stitching internally (he stitches 5 of the 7 layers and we discussed why the other 2 layers might impeded my personal recovery, so I'm happy with this.)  He also said he loves chatting with me because I'm informed and am more than happy to research and state my mind. :)  I love having a doctor who feels this way.  He joked that it's my defiant streak that makes me his favorite patient (meaning that I don't just take an answer for the answer but want to know why, etc, and want to talk about it).  He's a sweetheart.  I really love that man.  Oh, and I only have 3 (not 4!) more P17 shots to go!  AMEN!  My butt is so happy!

So, in that regard, the appointment was not a bust.  I shouldn't be upset. I realize that I'm lucky beyond belief in this pregnancy; grateful doesn't begin to describe it.  I do think we'll hit July with this pregnancy and the "full term" mark that July 4th brings with it (along with fireworks that the kiddos think are "AWESOME!!!" Me? not so much... too loud!).  That being said, I'd be lying if I said I'm just hoping the cervical measurement was a fluke (although I saw the screen... it's definitely shorter than it has been.)

But, Michael is doing well.  He's a good size.  If I have to deliver early, I know we'll have time for steroids and, at this point, they'd mature his lungs to full term status.  I know I just have to continue to put my faith in God, the TAC, and my care team, as well as in myself to be able to do this.

33 weeks...
6w4d (46 days!) until July 22nd...
Tomorrow's the luncheon...
We can do this. Totally.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It Never Gets Easier

Going to the funeral of a child... trying to find words for a conversation that shouldn't happen... writing a card that you picked up from the "Death of a Child" section of the store...  It never gets easier.  No amount of training or experience changes that.  The situation sucks, is awful, and is about as unfair as it gets.  There's nothing "right" about it- not what happened and not what you can say to the parents who simply, unequivocally want their baby back.

I've gone to funerals for families I don't know; I've talked to parents online and on the phone that I've never met; I've held the hands of parents as they cried and asked "Why?".  Why them? Why their baby?  Why any baby?

Time has given me the tissue of being able to keep it together when I'm with them because if I fall apart then that will just add to an already heartbreaking situation.  But when I'm back in my car? Alone in my house? Hiding out in the bathroom from the kids?  The faucet of tears turns on and I can't stop.  Because I don't know why... I don't have answers... and even if I did, they sure as hell wouldn't be good enough.

Tonight, another funeral for a baby taken too soon.  A family I know in passing but that I don't really "know", a card I'll write that offers the only things I can give: understanding, compassion, prayer.  It wont be enough, but there's not going to be enough.  Two children have lost a sister, two parents have lost their youngest baby.

There's never going to be enough to fix that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Seems a bit fitting to post this on Sophia's Saint Day...

It's difficult to put into words what you feel like when a child dies in utero or shortly after birth.  You lose not only your baby, but your hopes and dreams for them; they are someone that no one else can replace.  The grief stays with you a lifetime, even as you learn to cope in a world that is suddenly a much different place.  In spite of being surrounded by love at times, you feel alone... like no one could possibly understand.

Often times, we who have lost children are amazed to see the storyline of a familiar show take a turn (as I blogged about with the most recent season of Dallas) or we warn people about movies where loss takes place in a way we might not expect (I see this come up all the time).  But rarely does a piece of visual art tackle something like pregnancy and child loss as it's primary story. Although 1 in 4 women will lose a child during pregnancy through the first year of life (and some estimates place that as closer to 1 in 3 due to missed miscarriages), it is still a taboo subject that is kept close.  Until my own losses, I only knew well of one other mother- my grandmother- who had lost children.  After entering this club that no one wants to be a part of, I had countless people in real life share their stories of grief and have, over the last few years, met hundreds of people either IRL or online.  We aren't alone.  We are far more common that even we think.  But our aloneness in grief is perpetuated by the silence.

Return to Zero is a based-on-a-true-story film of a successful couple anticipating the birth of their first child, only to find that their son has passed away in utero and will be stillborn.  The movie follows the grief of the couple, including how they deal with the loss, with each other, and later, with a subsequent pregnancy.  With an all-star cast that includes Minnie Driver, Paul Adelstein, Alfred Molina, and Connie Nielsen, this is an independent film dedicated to bringing awareness to a population that is largely forgotten, both in cinema and, sadly, in life as well.  It showcases the unique heartache experienced by parents when a child dies and elaborates on the impact that such a loss can have on family, friends, and their community.

As you can imagine, bringing a film like Return to Zero to a wide theater release is no easy task.  In a climate that embraces super heroes and slasher films, a back-to-the-start, true-to-life drama that speaks to such a subset (when, in reality, it is something everyone should see, simply for exposure alone if for nothing else), those working on this film are doing their best to gain momentum by promotions within the loss community.  As a local leader for film promotion, I ask that you help bring awareness to this cause by pledging to see this film when it released in your local.  As a Mending Heart Bellies event, I'll be arranging a dinner-and-a-movie event once it is released locally, but regardless of where you are, take the pledge and put your movie budget to a better use than ever before.

Will you be one of the many that helps bring this film to local theaters around the world?  Will you be a voice that lets parents know they are not alone in their heartache?

The Feast of St. Sophia

Happy name day, Sophia, and happy feast day to St. Sophia!  Honestly, I just think both Saints Sophia remind me of my little one, so I have a hard time choosing which to celebrate: St. Sophia, Mother of Orphans (6/4) or St. Sophia, the Martyr (9/17).  But since Bobby's name day is September 17th and I kind of feel like Sophia would have liked St. Sophia of Ainos, today wins! :)

Today is the feast day of St. Sophia of Ainos.  A wife and mother of 6, she lost her husband and children to the plague.  In spite of modest wealth, she turned her sites on a more ascetic life and became a mother to all those orphaned and in need.  It is said that she adopted hundreds of children in her lifetime.

This saint reminds me of our Sophia in her adoption of orphans.  Adoption, clearly, is very close to my heart, but I felt so much like an orphaned parent after Nick and Sophie (and later Alex) died.  I'd like to think that it was Sophia, embracing this spirit of a patron, who adopted us in our orphanedness and gave us the strength to go on.

Holy Wisdom. Sophia means "wisdom" in Greek, and our Sophia's full name means "wisdom of the world". I often think that behind her eyes would have rested the secrets of the universe, if she would have had the voice to speak them. Perhaps that was her gift, in and of itself. An unspoken truth, a hidden wisdom. The wisdom of the world. She's the wisdom of my world, no doubt.

Happy Saints day, my sweet little Sophia.  Tonight, we'll have your kielbasa and pierogi, and celebrate the joy that you brought- and still bring- to our lives!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


8 months pregnant and a 5K run!

It's cute to think that 200 days ago, Michael and I ran our first 5K together with the 2012 Lemon Run (only 12 days post conception! Wow!)  We were quite cute :)

Lemon Run 2012, 12 days pregnant
And today, we ran again!  This time, a local 5K in honor of our town's day!  Quite a difference that 200 days!
Before the race, 32w2s

Before the race, 32w2s- Check out that belly!

Before the race, Sarah took a couple of shots in the garage and then we walked downtown for a warm up, where we got a picture before the gun went off.
Look at those happy girls!
We kept the whole 'just running with no real goals', with our 3 targets of the day being: finish the race, don't pee on yourself (that was for me, since I have to pee every 5 minutes!), and don't meet Michael today (our little joke).  We achieved our targets!  We ran it (slowly, I admit!) in 44:49, which is 13 seconds off my very first 5K time of 44:36.  (My PR is 27 minutes, so a bit slower than that, but I'm actually really excited that, even pregnant, I busted 45 minutes!)

Crazy to think that this was nearly 3 years ago... TexMex 2010
We jogged an average of 14 minute miles over a relatively flat course (elevation was only in the park we ran through) and we even ran by my house!  Peter was great, and brought the kids out so Sarah and I got some quick snuggles and high fives- twice, because of how the course turns.  It was cute.  Finishing up, we grabbed some yummy food, then met the kids and Peter in town for the farmer's market and town day. 
Bobby and I, making kiss faces together: Lansdale Day, 2013

Maya, loving her balloon: Lansdale Day, 2013
All, in all, it's been a great day! 

And, in really cool news, it dawned on me today that, if I were to go into labor, I'm far enough along for a level 2 NICU and could, in an emergency, go to a quasi-local hospital.  I've never been far enough along to even consider a level 2 NICU.  Not that I plan on delivering early, but still!  How exciting!