Archive for the 'symbiotic alien' Category

Jul 06 2011

When babies attack

Not really, the baby is great!  I’ve been promising a baby post, however, and so I figured that title was a good attention-getter.

We have been incredibly fortunate to get a baby with a personality that nearly perfectly compliments the other much more difficult circumstances we’ve been having to deal with, especially the cancer.  In her first three months, she has been consistently the calmest, most content, peaceful, quiet, and happy baby I’ve ever met.  I’d write myself off as one of those parents who can say no wrong about their darling little angels, except this feedback is the same that we consistently receive from everyone else who meets her as well.  Not to mention that she’s an amazingly gorgeous baby; the nurses all find excuses to visit when she’s here.  Even the wonderful and skilled hospital pediatrician in charge of our girl’s first few days of life, Dr. Kent, found reasons to stop by and get some visit time outside of the necessary check-ups.  (She was also one of the first people to encourage me to keep blogging about my experiences, and I thank her for that!)

It’s only been in the last couple of weeks that the baby has even started to have fussy periods regularly as her brain develops more complex needs for expression before the rest of her can keep up.  This is a fascinating process to watch, even if I’m not getting to see it every day like I’d prefer.

We couldn’t have survived the last month of taking care of her without my awesome mother, who’s been carting her home each week, making sure her needs are met, and bringing her back each week for visit and assistance time.  There aren’t thank-yous large enough to cover what Mom has been doing for us on this, but try to imagine them anyway.  Mom confirms we have the world’s best behaved baby, and is having a fun though exhausting time.  It’s also hilarious to look at old pictures of me and see how much she looks like I did at her age — there are a few pics where we look almost like twins!

As we get closer to me being able to go home (and more on that in other posts), we’re looking for more full-time/live-in help for both me and Wednesday (our daughter) and have posted an ad to that effect various places, so if you know someone in the Austin area good with cancer patients, infants, meal prep, errands, and other such goodness, send them a notice our way.  And to wrap up, here’s the story of Wednesday’s nickname (and middle name) for your entertainment…

While the little larvae was growing inside me (and unfortunately triggering the estrogen surge that potentially caused the metastatic breast cancer — it had been mis-diagnosed as non-estrogen-receptor positive tumors last year), we wanted to call it something while we didn’t have an actual name picked out.  As far as television families go, The (original) Addams Family is frankly one of the most loving and well-adjusted ones I’ve seen depicted (seriously, think about it for a few minutes and you’ll see my point — feel free to discuss it in the comments!)  So we figured we’d call it after whichever Addams kid it was gendered until we had time to find a better name, and so Wednesday she became once we knew it was a girl.

Around the sixth month or so, my husband mentioned to me that he actually sort of liked Wednesday as a name.  I laughed and agreed that I liked it too, but said that it was probably just a bit too odd to hang on her as a first name.  I pointed out that we could totally keep it as a nickname, or even a middle name, and we continued slowly winnowing down a list of other more suitable first names. (We thought we had three more months to decide at that point, of course, so weren’t in much of a hurry.)

Thankfully by the time things had gotten really bad pain-wise and we suspected something besides being pregnant was wrong with me, we had narrowed the list of possible actual names to a manageable page of choices.  We were still quite irrationally attached to Wednesday as a name, though, and so I suggested we test out the names to see how well they fit with “Wednesday” as a middle name (since the option to keep it as a nickname was always available regardless).

Then the pain got so bad that we had no choice but to take me into the hospital (the first time around) and find out what was wrong. (At this point we still mostly thought it was something structural since it was so much more painful than the first round of cancer had been and since “hip pain” happens to many pregnant women — though I knew in my heart that hip pain that bad had to be something else, or at least something more than just pregnant complaints.)

They did the MRI and found the hip tumor (along with several of the other tumors — they found more later with other scans once she was birthed) and suddenly the message changed from “we’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to term” to “we have to get this baby out and deal with these tumors”.  Since she was already at 36 weeks she was viable and we could reasonably hope that she’d developed enough that she wouldn’t have too many health problems being a month early.  That Tuesday evening we spent discussing the options of vaginal vs c-section birth given the incomplete information we had, and were going to wait until the morning to consult with the oncologist assigned to the case before making a final decision. (Dr. Carlos Rubin de Celis, best oncologist ever ever ever, seriously if you’re in the Austin area and need one he is amazingly skilled as well as compassionate, if I had to move away I would commute back to keep him as my doctor I’m that pleased with his abilities.)

At ten minutes to midnight, I coughed twice and my water broke, gushing in a veritable flood for what felt like half an hour as our darling daughter chose to help our decision along herself and no more of this dilly-dallying about.  And at 7:08 am, on a Wednesday, she was born.  Given that, and all the rest of the events, we felt that was the perfect middle name for her and quickly picked from the last three choices we’d narrowed down for the rest of her name.

Several family members and friends still call her by that, which we have no problem with as it is indeed one of her names, and we’re fond of the story behind it.  When she gets old enough she’ll be perfectly capable of expressing her own preferences in that regard.  Given her mouthful of a moniker, she has over half-a-dozen options for names and nicknames she can go by and I’m looking forward to seeing how she makes (and changes) that decision throughout her developmental years, as I believe it’s good for a kid to have a name they can get creative with in self-identity.  We also went with the “Nielsen Hayden” option of two un-hyphenated last names, and both the birth certificate and the SSA office did it correctly, surprisingly enough!

She was crying with full-powered lungs as she was removed from the uterus by c-section, and had only a bit of jaundice to deal with for 1.33 days while she was with me in the hospital, and is otherwise one of the healthiest, happiest, and prettiest babies you’ll meet.  I look forward daily to seeing how we’ll change each other’s lives by our mutual existences.

4 responses so far

Mar 18 2011

Pregnancy’s little scams: the hidden tenth month

Published by Reesa under symbiotic alien

Really, I’m good enough at math I should have spotted the discrepancy long ago. “Everyone knows” that gestation takes 9 months for humans. Everywhere you look you see that number quoted. You’ll also often see it phrased in terms of weeks, in which case it’s 38-40 weeks. Huh. 40 weeks doesn’t equal 9 months, 36 does. Again, should have seen it earlier…

But I didn’t until I got my little childbirth book from the OB. Inside it has chapters for all the pregnancy months, 1-9. I read through them, then turned the page to see the next chapter: Weeks 36-40, “Term” Month. What bloody scam to fool pregnant ladies is this?

But no, the hidden “term” or tenth month is one they tack onto the end when you’re already more than ready to be done, having housed your uterine lifeform for nine ridiculous months. Nine months, woohoo, get out of there already…wait, another 2-4 weeks? Until it’s really truly done? That’s just not nice.

In case it isn’t obvious, next week I start my “term” month. Grumble grumble… at this point it’s all fat deposits and lung development for my soon-to-be-evicted alien.

3 responses so far

Mar 15 2011

random fetal (and host mother) update

Would have been more logical to be doing these along the way, but that’s massive pain and no sleep for you — enemy of logic.

Last ultrasound was today. The baby is still a girl, and still growing normally, in the 64th percentile at 5 pounds 5 ounces and 34 weeks (6 weeks to go, due date still on or around 4/28/11). Her head has dropped low enough in the pelvis the OB couldn’t get an accurate measurement of that part, but the rest is normal, including amniotic fluid and placenta positioning. Otherwise she’s already filling up the available space and is much more chubby-baby round than the last ultrasound. She’s also just as active as she’s been since the 4th month — if fetal activity is any indication of later energy levels, we’ll have a dancer or other athlete for sure.

This was worth double-checking on because I as the host have lost 8 pounds in 4 weeks. (Due to the massive stress from the pain and loss of sleep.) I don’t think I’ve ever lost weight that quickly when non-pregnant (though it’s true I’ve never been one for dieting either). I’m now on a high-everything diet — high fat, high carbs, high protein. Basically as much food as we can cram into me, which is complicated by the fact that excessive pain makes me not want to eat. The OB remarked with amusement that it’s the opposite of the advice he normally has to give expectant mothers at this stage who are usually gaining more weight than necessary.

The hip pain looked as if it might improve as of a couple of weeks ago, but this past week has brought a fresh hell as one of the nerves went from agitated to actually pinched. I’ve never not had a reflex response before (none in the right ankle 7 days ago, none in both ankles as of 2 days ago). It’s rather disconcerting to watch/not-feel. My sleep duration had been holding steadily at 1.5 to 2 hours at a time, up until this past week where it dropped back down to 30 minutes-1.25 hours at a time. I also stopped being able to sleep on either side, so spent a frantic few nights getting no real sleep at all.

I have to go back in for an extended glucose test including fasting because my original reading was off. I can’t imagine why — you mean a diet of no sleep and excruciating constant pain throws off other body systems too? Go figure. This is complicated by the fact that the aforementioned issues make it so if I go longer than 4 hours without eating SOMEthing, I throw up. I’m just going to have to wait for a relatively low-pain day and do my best, but an 11-hour fast sounds really daunting.

My blood pressure is fine. So that’s good, anyway. And really, if the hip issue wasn’t happening, I’d barely notice the pregnancy. She’s a good alien parasite, all around.

A fresh session this week with the PT took the edge off the hammering agony, and I tried out an experiment last night sleeping semi-propped up with pillows immobilizing my legs and hips in as aligned a position as possible. This resulted in 4 sleep sessions of an hour or longer each, which is a vast improvement and why you’re getting a blog entry today! Hopefully this will continue to work, I don’t like sleeping in that position but I do like sleeping, so that’s what I get for now.

After discussing options with the OB we are trying a referral to one more pain specialist who might be more willing to work with pregnant women, and keeping me on the pain meds for now since that’s the only way I get to fall asleep (or to do much of anything else except sit around and cry). We discussed how to manage the baby’s needs if I have to stay on pain meds through to birthing, though obviously if we find something else that works I’ll go off them ahead of time. We also discussed trying melatonin instead of a prescribed sleep medication to see if that will help sleep duration at all. Since there’s no guarantee that the scrip-meds will improve sleep duration significantly so I decided it wasn’t worth the risk at this time. This OB doesn’t do water births which is the most recommended method for this hip/pelvic condition, so we’ll be researching to see if we have affordable options along these lines elsewhere.

Still no name picked out, Nathan is working through the long-list to categorize his preferences, and then we’ll winnow down from there. I suspect by this weekend we’ll have at least a short-list to work from. We’ve had several votes to keep her fetal name (”Wednesday”) as a middle name so that’s under strong consideration, hehe. We want to do something similar to the Nielsen Haydens for the last name and give her both of ours (non-hyphenated). Order of last names will be determined by what sounds best with the rest of the name, of course.

Got a very nice compliment from a friend, that in her opinion of all the friends she had that were or had recently bred, we were the only couple she was sure wouldn’t totally screw up our child. Yay vote of confidence!

So that’s the State of the Impending Baby. Most of my day is spent in pain management, but on good days like today I can get two or even three things done! Today’s chores include breakfast-making, OB appt (and other errands), and grocery shopping. Right now I’m having to be chauffeured around since the pinched nerve makes it fairly unsafe for me to drive. This is no more fun a limitation than it was last year when I was sick. Oh, and 9 more days until my not-dead anniversary!

5 responses so far

Mar 11 2011

Pregnancy Public Service Announcement

Published by Reesa under symbiotic alien

For all of my friends and readers sane enough to have not yet reproduced:

If you are more flexible than the average human, you are at a greatly increased risk of moderate to severe hip pain for some or all of the later half of your pregnancy. This seems to be the main underlying cause of the relaxin loosening up the joints too much during gestation.

This should be taken under strong consideration when deciding whether to reproduce. Trust me on this one. While I’ve been assured (and why would this be reassuring??) that I’m a special medical snowflake (again??) on the end of the bell curve in this situation, even a step or two down from this level of pain would be no picnic for someone to get through, not to mention the destabilizing dislocation of the hip affecting mobility in the extreme. So dancers, gymnasts, yogis, and other flexible gals, ‘ware your joints when deciding to spawn!

2 responses so far