Friday, December 10, 2010

34 Weeks & First Trip to L&D

Today I am 34 weeks and 1 day. I can't even believe I'm saying that. How is it possible that I am in the home stretch and our baby will be here in just a few weeks? Maybe more than a few...but the time is whizzing won't feel like more than a few. I guess the thought of actually being pregnant took so long to sink in that I feel like I am perpetually newly pregnant, in my first trimester, with a ways to go. My body would beg to differ on that feeling, though.

When people ask me how I'm feeling at this point, I feel inclined to say "I feel great" and "pretty crappy" at the same time. In some ways being this pregnant is taking its toll physically, as would be expected at this point, but in other ways I feel like I've lucked out and it could be a lot worse. For the last few weeks my feet have been ridiculously swollen to the point where I finally had to go out and buy a couple pairs of shoes that are basically slippers you can wear outside because my feet would not fit into anything else except sneakers, which were tight and only worked against me. Putting my feet up and drinking water hasn't really helped. The swelling doesn't hurt, it just bothers me to look at it because I feel like I need to fix it but can't. They do say it goes away very shortly after delivery My feet do absolutely kill me if I am on them for an extended period of time, though. My entire body will also ache for days after if I am out and about doing things for even just a few hours. When we went shopping on Black Friday (and I'm talking 3 hours, low stress, nothing crazy) I ached until Tuesday the following week. It used to be that everything would be better when I woke up the next morning, now everything just hurts worse. Bending over in a certain way really hurts my hips. Bending down all the way is ok (although I have to hold my breath and try not to break the baby in half) but in certain ways, like to put on a pair of pants, really hurts. I'm not complaining, though. None of it is terrible to deal with, it's all to be expected, and really, those are my only issues. I just want to remember what both the good and the bad felt like.

I am also really aware of what I am NOT feeling in terms of discomfort and pain and that is what makes me really not mind what I am dealing with. I have heard so many people say they slept awful most of their pregnancies, if not their entire pregnancies, whether due to insomnia or discomfort from having a huge belly. I have never slept so good in my life, starting in my second trimester. With the exception of a few nights here and there (and everyone has those nights) I sleep like a baby. Even though I have to get up to go to the bathroom, which I never did pre-pregnancy, I still sleep amazingly and so much more soundly than I ever did. A girl could really get used to this....if she wasn't expecting a newborn soon! I also hear "your back must be killing you" a lot....nope. I have had zero back pain the entire pregnancy so far. I had it quite often before I was pregnant, but none now. I also have not had any heartburn, trouble going to the bathroom (TMI but hey, that's a common thing) or morning sickness (except for the brief 10-14 week period and that was moderate). Sooo I really don't have that much to complain about.

Still, the rest of this pregnancy will apparently not be without issue. On Wednesday I went to my routine 34 week appointment during my work lunch hour. When the nurse took my blood pressure and said it was high, I wasn't surprised. It's always high the first time they take it, and then if they retake it later, it will be normal...that's what happens every time. This time, though, it only went down a tiny bit. The OB I was seeing that day came in and talked to me for all of 2 minutes before saying "I'm going to send you to the hospital for bloodwork and monitoring." She was worried I might be developing pre-eclampsia because my BP was higher than any previous appointments and there was a trace of protein in my urine which could also be a sign of it Well, stupid me is thinking this is something we'll set up an appointment for for sometime in the near future. She starts telling me she's going to call the OB from the practice who is on duty there and that I should go up to the 4th floor (Labor & Delivery) when I get there, so I finally understand what she is saying and ask "oh...I have to go now?". "Yes...oh, you probably wanted your husband to go with you, right?" I tell her that my husband is at home just a few miles away (he had the day off) so he can go with me, but that I was just on my lunch break from work so I wasn't really expecting this. I almost asked if I could go back to work and go later, after all hospitals are 24/7 and I was sure this was probably not to big deal she seemed to think it was, but I knew what her answer would be.

I left the office, called Todd and told him "get dressed, we're going to the hospital." I thought it was funny he didn't even ask why, he just said "ok" and hung up. I wondered if he heard me correctly. I called my boss, told him I probably wouldn't be back in that day, and then drove home to pick up Todd. Then I started crying and I don't really know why. I wasn't scared to go, I didn't really believe anything was wrong so I wasn't was just really unexpected and the OB hadn't talked to me much about it before sending me out of there, so I was just caught off guard. On my way home Todd finally called back for a little bit more of an explanation. He had even grabbed our half-packed hospital bag and had it waiting by the stairs (no, I didn't take it with us). By the time we left to actually go to the hospital I felt better about it. I don't dislike hospitals but have had very minimal experience as a patient and was afraid they would make me stay overnight.

For the next 3 hours they just kept me hooked up to fetal monitors to watch the baby and a blood pressure cuff that went off every 15 minutes. When the nurse first hooked up the monitor (two round things with ultrasound gel on them, strapped to your belly) we could hear the baby's heartbeat and she said something sounded irregular, like it was skipping. We could hear it too, although it wasn't very clear it sounded like it was skipping about every 5 beats. She was also concerned because the monitor was showing his heartrate at just 50, but we could all hear it and it was very obvious that it was not 50, but in the normal 140-150 range. She had the Dr. come in who readjusted the monitors and it then sounded normal, but every time this nurse came in she said she heard an irregularity. She said arrhythmia is not "normal" but it's "common" and that often after delivery it can't even be detected. Bottom line is we still don't actually know if there is an irregularity or if there was just something wrong with the monitor. Hoping the latter.

Skip the next two paragraphs if you're a male.

After answering about 800 questions, they left me on the monitors and just came to check every once in awhile. I didn't have any of the other telltale signs of preeclampsia (blurry vision, headaches, upper abdominal pain). The Dr. said that based on my symptoms she wasn't going to do an internal exam because she didn't think I needed it. I have heard a lot of things about "internals" which a lot of OBs will do later in pregnancy, not usually earlier than 36 weeks, to see if you are dilated. A lot of OBs will not do them unless there is a specific reason to, because they aren't conclusive. You can walk around 5cm dilated for weeks and not go into labor, or you could be 0cm dilated and end up having a baby a few hours later. I have also heard they can be pretty painful. I didn't understand why....they do them constantly when women are in labor on all those baby shows and you never hear them screaming about it. So while I was curious to know if anything might be going on, I was also a little relieved that she wasn't going to do one.

An hour later, she comes back and tells me the monitors show I'm having mild contractions and asks if I can feel them. I couldn't feel a thing except the baby moving around non-stop during the entire time I was there. The monitors were pushing in right where he always moves around, so he could feel them and was moving constantly, pressing against them. Because of this she decided she was going to do an internal. Well if anyone is wondering if they really do hurt...the answer is yes, they do, they hurt like hell. I was not expecting the pain at all. Usually I have a high tolerance for pain and have no problem staying still letting a doctor or dentist do whatever they have to, but I was pulling away and oww-ing during this and came pretty close to crying. Some OBs will ask you late in pregnancy if you want to have internals to check progress. My advice is to waddle away as fast as you can. They hurt, you bleed, and it hurts really bad to pee for over 24 hours later. Anyway, the good news is there was nothing at all going on in that department. Now I just sit around waiting to see if I'll actually feel these contractions and if they will end up meaning anything in the long run. I have been saying constantly to my husband for the last week that I think he is going to come early. I don't know how early, I feel like maybe 2-3 weeks. No idea why I think this and I will probably be wrong (90% of first time moms deliver on-time or late) but for the record, I think he'll be early.

My blood pressure got lower and lower every 15 minutes when it was taken and finally it went down to normal. They had done a bunch of other lab work also, which all came back normal. Finally the OB from the practice came in and asked if I wanted to go home. I was bored, antsy, tired and starving so I was thrilled to hear I could be discharged. They wrote me a prescription for an at-home blood pressure machine and want me to check it myself twice a day. I can't find the prescription so I think we must have left it there, so I called the office yesterday and asked if they could call it in for me....apparently they "don't know how" to call in a prescription. Guess I'll have to go there. I also had to set up an appointment with them for a BP check next week and requested the latest appointment of the day in case they decided to send me to the hospital again. I am going to do what I can to keep it down myself (apparently reducing sodium may help) but I feel like it will still be high.

Well, that was my adventure for this week. I may think of more to write tomorrow...maybe a checklist of what we still have to do before his arrival, but for now I'm tired and may as well post this so that it doesn't sit around for a week like it normally does!

I will end with a belly pic from 33 weeks: