Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Spin Me RIght Round, Baby

I know I'm driving everyone crazy with my indecisiveness so I hope this is the last spin.

On our way home from Traverse City I started to feel uncomfortable about finding out the sex on V-day. Now that we had a healthy baby there didn't seem any reason to know. I told Brian that, ideally, I would prefer to wait but that I was willing to open the envelope just to stop the arguing, so he didn't feel like he was "just a sperm donor whose opinion doesn't matter."

So I woke up the next morning (ok, it was really afternoon....kind of late afternoon actually....but we have this feather mattress topper plus a down's so heavenly) and the first thing Brian said to me was, "If it really means that much to you, then we'll wait." Then he proceeded to mope around the house, head hanging down, arms droopy. Next thing I know he's got the envelope in his hands and he's ripping it to pieces! I would have liked to have saved it for the scrapbook but I didn't say anything. Then he said he was going to Walmart to get out of the house. Ordinarily I would remind him that gas is $3.25 a gallon and taking a 15-mile trip just for kicks was a complete waste but I didn't say anything about that either.

He came home a few hours later with a bunch of baby clothes, half for boy, half for girl. He also played the baby's due date in the lottery for 10 days in a row. And he stood there in front of me....waiting. (I HATE gambling, BTW). He was waiting for some kind of reaction from me. Some kind of bitchy statement about wasting money. But I didn't say anything and his mood completely changed. He whistled as he hung the clothes in baby's closet. He said I can keep the sex a secret if I want, but I can't stop him from shopping.

Ugh, I never knew being pregnant would mean making so many decisions! From little things like which diapers and skin care products to use, to big things like child care, education and discipline...Brian and I disagree on EVERYTHING except ear-piercing. Looks like I have a lot of compromising in my future. But at least one decision is made and it's not changing again, I promise.

I'm Going to Italy!

Having spent 9 horrible days wondering if something was wrong with my baby, I did a lot of research. I read the stories of other mothers who had lost babies to try to prepare myself. I know it's morbid, and I'm only being publicly honest about it now because I know everything is ok, but I thought my baby might die. (BTW, yelling at me when I say something negative does not keep me from thinking the thoughts, it only keeps me from sharing them with you). NTDs can range from a barely noticeable birth defect, to a baby born unconscious, blind, deaf and dying in mom's arms. Thinking I might have to deliver a baby that was going to die was what changed my mind about finding out the sex. I know I gave a bunch of other reasons for it in my last blog, but that's not the whole truth. I didn't wanna hear good news, "It's a ____!" with bad news, "Now say goodbye." Anyway, while I was doing my research, I came across this story written by Emily Perl Kingsley, the mother of a disabled child and it brought me lots of comfort for a few days.

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

I feel so much relief knowing that I'm going to see Italy! But having to wonder if I'd end up in Holland or even some place worse, and getting to know these girls who did, it's really opened my eyes and made me appreciate how lucky I am. I was talking to my brother the other day. I think of him as the voice of reason in our family. I was telling him about all of the decisions I have to make and how everyone is putting their ten cents in and pulling me in different directions and he said, as if the answer was obvious, "This baby is a blessing to our family and we need to see it as such" So basically he's saying let's not get our panties twisted over whether we find out the sex, whether we use boob or formula, what we name the baby or what high chair we pick out. Let's just be happy that we have a healthy baby. Maybe the answer really is that simple.

Now that you know Baby Cramer is perfect as can be, let me tell you a little about our day in Traverse City. First we met with a genetic counselor who went over our test results WAY better than the OBs. She said my AFP amount was 2.52 the first time. The cutoff for some labs is 2.2 and other labs is 2.5. So it wasn't 2.5 times the normal amount like I was told. Also, it went down to 2.34 for my second test. If a baby has a NTD, the amount continues to go up, it never goes down. Hearing these things from my Dr would have saved me 9 days of worrying! Ugh, if I wasn't so happy about baby being ok I would totally be pissed at Petoskey.

After the genetics counselor we went in for our U/S with a really nice tech. She showed us everything! Baby was moving around like crazy and tech never once huffed, puffed or sighed. When it was time for the naughty bits she had us look away while she printed up the pic to put in an envelope.

The high-risk specialist came in during the scan. He was very nice, personable, patient and most importantly, he was confident. He said, with absolute certainty, you're going to Italy. (He didn't really say that but you know what I mean) There was a student in there, too, and the Dr showed her on the screen, "This is what the skull should look like. This is what the brain should look like." My baby was used to teach a student what a perfect baby looks like!

After his diagnosis he talked to me a little about the test I took. He said the only reason to take that test is if I would abort a baby with Down's Syndrome. They can see NTDs and other chromosomal abnormalities on the U/S so a blood test is unnecessary. The test is only useful for assessing chances of Down's and even after you find out your chances you still have to risk miscarriage with an amnio or spend 5 months not knowing. So unless you'd have a late-term abortion (and we wouldn't), there's no reason to have that test. Why didn't my doctors explain this to me?!?!?!? I'm pretty pissed about this whole mess and the awful week I had that could have easily been prevented but I guess it's a lesson learned. The important thing is that baby is healthy and now, after 5.5 months, I can finally enjoy my pregnancy and get ready for this baby! No more tests and no more stress!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Change Of Plans

I already told ya'll that I didn't intend on finding out the sex of my baby and explained why I made that decision...but I'm moving over to a different team now. Believe me, it's not because I can't wait to find out. I want to wait. Just like I wanted a normal, happy, no-worries pregnancy. It just doesn't seem to be in the cards for me.

Now that I have to have an ultrasound every 4 weeks there are a whole bunch of ways in which this surprise could be ruined:

1. The tech could let it slip. She was already using certain pronouns at my last appointment. And seeing as how she's an impatient bitch, I find it hard to believe she'll be able to keep this a secret for 5 months during all of her huffing and puffing. She is clearly not concerned about my feelings.

2. I could see something I'm not supposed to see. My mom says I can easily look away during those times but you never know which way a baby is going to move or wiggle or which position they'll be in and I don't want to spend every ultrasound with my eyes closed. That just seems ridiculous.

3. Brian could let it slip. Brian DOES want to know, he wants to know very, very badly and there's no way he's going to look away from that screen ever. If he knew the sex and I didn't I'd also have to worry about him letting it slip! Or finding something he bought that is clearly for one sex or another.

If any of these things happen, I'm gonna be disappointed so I decided to be proactive and pop the bubble on my own before anyone else has a chance. Our appointment with the high-risk specialist is tomorrow. We're going to ask the tech to write the sex down on a piece of paper and put it in a sealed envelope. Then, on Valentine's Day we will have dinner and we'll open the envelope together during dessert. For those of you who don't know or don't remember, February 14th was the due date for our first baby. This will be a way to create a better memory for both of us, and it's also a lot more special than finding out the sex while I'm lying in a cold dark room with goo all over my belly, possibly next to the wicked witch of the north. Actually I shouldn't call her that. It's an insult to the Wicked Witch of the West who was actually a very kind person who just happened to be very misunderstood. I'll have to think of a different name for her. But anyway, at least we will still get a "special" moment....with chocolate fondue instead of ice chips.

BUT....we are still not revealing the sex to anyone else. I know, it'll be tricky. If anyone has suggestions on making this easier I'd love to hear them. For now, we're just praying for a great day tomorrow in Traverse City.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ultrasound = Not Fun!

You remember how I had my blood tested again to get a more detailed count of my AFP levels? Well, they never called with the results so I was thinking positively (yes, I really was) and I thought no news meant good news. The other night I felt something in my belly that felt like a bubble popping and I thought that might be the baby moving. Also, the baby has been basically dancing on my cervix and I can feel it several times a day. So I was feeling pretty good about the baby. I'd even started a registry at Amazon and I was picturing my cute baby in this swing and this outfit and playing with this toy. I ordered a Peanuts growth chart off eBay for the nursery and Brian ordered a book about a baby's first year. I did have a little bit of concern in me but I thought all of that would be cleared up at the scan.

Everyone has been telling me what a wonderful experience the anatomy scan is. They bring back pictures of hands and feet, and the cutest profiles with button noses and I guess I was expecting something a little unrealistic. I was imagining it as being one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. The perfectly healthy baby would be dancing and waving at us and maybe even blowing us kisses while everyone in the room cried tears of joy, even the ultrasound tech. Not only did I think it would be great, but I thought it would relieve me of all of my concerns and that I'd go on to spend the next 19 weeks in pregnant bliss. Now for the reality...

First she asked if we wanted to know the sex. I said no. Then she said, "I have to pay extra attention to a few things because your AFP is high." WHAT? They never called so I thought I was ok. This was when things took a turn towards Crapville.

She put the probe on my belly and said, "You're probably gonna have to come back because he's facing away from us and I can't get a lot of shots this way."

She checked the heartbeat (158), weighed the baby (12 oz) and said "The spine looks good" That's a really important thing because a high AFP could mean a Neural Tube Defect and that would be either in the spine or the brain. It seemed like I might be making a U-turn and heading away from Crapville until she went for the head...

She spent a lot of time on the head and got real quiet for a bit. Then she started huffing and puffing and said, "This isn't working. I'm gonna have to try something else." She got out a different probe and tried again. She took shots of the head/brain from several different angles. I was starting to panic so I asked if everything looked normal and she snapped, "I'm having a hard time here! Your doctor will talk to you. That's what he gets paid for!" Not only am I officially in Crapville, but I've purchased a home there. I am now sure that there's something wrong with the baby because if she can tell me the spine looks good she can certainly tell me the brain looks good and since she's not saying that it probably doesn't look good! I was being quiet, just lying there and trying not to cry when she said (totally unprovoked!), "I mean, I'm not even done yet and you're asking me questions." WTF, Bitch?!?!?!? Sorry if I don't know ultrasound protocol! I find it hard to believe that you do this for 8 hours a day and nobody ever asks you a single question! Shouldn't people in this field have some kind of compassion? Now not only am I worried about my baby but I'm ready to knock this bitch out! Also, the whole time we were in there she kept saying "he." One time she caught herself and added, "or she." Maybe she always uses male pronouns. I don't know and I wasn't about to ask her another question but she did say she was able to determine the gender so she knows either way. Besides, I was too worried about the health of the baby at this time and didn't care if it was a hermaphrodite. They can fix that. But there's nothing they can do if our baby's missing part of "his" brain.

After the scan, as we're walking to the examination room, I see this bitch at the counter showing the doctor the pictures she'd taken. I don't know, do they always do this? I couldn't hear what she was saying but her hands were waving around and she seemed really animated. It bothered me. I don't know a lot about this but I would think if everything on a scan seemed normal that the tech would stick the pics in a file or something and that would be the end of it. I could be wrong, but seeing this make me even more nervous.

The nurse puts us in an exam room and says, "You don't have to sit on the table because the doctor's just going to talk to you today." Just curious, but would anyone else be alarmed by such a statement? We're not medical professionals here. We're just parents worrying about a baby. Shouldn't these people be a bit more sensitive? Looking back I've realized that there is no reason for the dr to examine my uterus or check for a heartbeat since we just saw that the baby is alive and the size he's supposed to be. But in that moment of panic I wasn't thinking logically and people in this field should be used to this!

We're sitting in the exam room and every minute that goes by brings more dread. My heart is thumping hard in my chest. I'm starting to feel hot and dizzy. I keep an eye on the trash can that says "Paper Waste Only" just in case I need to vomit. I'm beginning to think I was elected as mayor of Crapville. We sit there for 30 minutes before the nurse comes back and says the dr got called away for an emergency c-section. She said all the other drs are really busy but she'll see if she can grab one. IF? FOR REAL PEOPLE? Ugh, these people should have gone into careers that had then sitting at a computers all day and NOT jobs dealing with people!!!!! Especially overly-emotional pregnant people! Geez!

About 10 minutes later my favorite doctor comes in. There are 6 doctors there and only 1 of them is on call everyday for deliveries so any one of them can show up to deliver a baby. What they do is they rotate you a different dr every appointment so that you have a chance to get to know all of them. This doctor, Dr Cockfield (I know! An OBGYN named Cockfield - how ironic, right?) is my favorite and when I saw her face pop in the door I felt immediate relief. I knew that even if it was bad news I would feel better having it come from someone sensitive and patient like her, rather than some of the other drs who were always brisk and in a hurry. And this is what she had to say...

Everything looks good! The scan showed no signs of any problems with the spine or abdominal wall but my AFP levels were 2.5 times the normal amount. She said this was probably due to the unexplained spotting I had in the first trimester because if there's a pocket of blood caught somewhere in the sac it will send out AFP and cause my levels to be higher. She said they see this all the time but she is going to send me to get another scan with a high-risk specialist for a second opinion and that from now on I will have an ultrasound every 4 weeks. Is all of this settling? I didn't feel like it was, no.

I cried all the way home. I cried because the lady was mean to me (I'm very sensitive!), I cried because this perfect moment I'd built up in my mind would forever be tainted, and I cried because I'd been looking for reassurance and hadn't gotten any. Yes, the spine and belly are good but she didn't specify about the brain! And if she was sure everything was ok she wouldn't send me to a specialist two hours away, right?

Now that I've had 24 hours to calm down and really think about it, I'm starting to feel a little better. I did some research on Google and learned a few things. I learned that it's hard to get clear images of an ultrasound if the mom has some extra belly fat. It's possible that the tech was just frustrated because she couldn't see as clearly as usual, not to mention that the baby was upside down AND backwards! I also learned that the AFP blood tests are intentionally designed to give out a high number of false alarms so that they don't miss anything. It's better to worry over nothing

My friend, Billi, says to look at the silver lining. She said the silver lining is that I get to see my baby A LOT from now on. I guess most people would think of that as a good thing but I'm definitely not looking forward to seeing that bitch again. My silver lining is that I have an excuse to go to Traverse City where I can go to Target and get a frozen Coke! Appointment is February 11th and I bet they have a great tech there =)