Friday, April 27, 2012

Hitting the Streets

Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated to support Team Holland and Eden 2012.  You guys rock!

Just 12 hours left until we hit the street in our 7th (OMG could it really be??) March for Babies.

We need your help to reach our goal.  Every little bit helps.  Make your donation now!

Monday, April 23, 2012

March for Babies 2012

It's that time of year again, and Holland, Eden, John and I will once again be walking with Team Holland and Eden in March for Babies to raise money for the March of Dimes. As you all know, this is a cause that is very near and dear to our hearts. 

Holland and Eden survived their early birth and are fully enjoying their lives today thanks, in part, to advances in neonatal medicine made possible by the March of Dimes. The girls face lifelong challenges as a result of their extremely premature birth, but despite the obstacles that we continue to face, we feel so lucky to have them in our lives. They are growing and thriving, and bringing such joy and inspiration to everyone they meet. They will be 8-years-old this summer and are finishing up an awesome first grade year in a few short months! 

It is our hope that with continued research into causes and prevention of pre-term labor, as well as improved treatment options for those born too soon, fewer babies will face the devastating long-term consequences of such an early birth. We will continue to honor the lives of Holland and Eden as we walk, but this year we will also walk for another reason... Our family is looking forward to welcoming a new baby GIRL, due to arrive in August! Armed with a great deal of knowledge, and the advantage of advances in medicine and close monitoring of this pregnancy, we are very hopeful that we will make it long into the summer before our new baby makes her appearance. 

With your help, Team Holland and Eden has already raised over $28,000 for the March of Dimes. We hope to continue our tradition of being one of the top family teams in our region and we are setting our sights high! Please visit my personal page to make a donation and to assist me in achieving my goal of helping to save babies! 

 Thank you so much for you support in our fund raising efforts over the years, and thank you in advance for supporting Team Holland and Eden as we walk this year! 

Billie, John, Holland and Eden (and Baby C!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

20 Weeks...

Is knowledge power? Or is ignorance bliss?

For sure, it must be a bit of both, but I can tell you that I have certainly longed for a bit more ignorance with this pregnancy!

Last go around I felt invincible. It was all I knew. Women all around me were having healthy, full-term babies by the dozens. I had training as a birth doula, and had attended a few births. I had a strong head about what I wanted and what I didn't want. I thought I knew so much. I wanted a home birth, all natural and beautiful, with no medical intervention at all. I wanted to do it the way women have been doing it forever. I wanted to prove my strength as a magnificent woman, made to give birth. I researched and read everything I could get my hands on.

I skimmed past all of the information about preterm labor, prematurity, birth defects, and disabilities, because it never crossed my mind that that could happen to me. And then it did.

My experience with the birth of Holland and Eden completely changed everything in my life. It changed my entire world view. It has made me a wholly and completely different person than I was before, and would ever HAVE been if things hadn't turned out the way they did. For better AND worse.

Our approach to this pregnancy has been very obviously different. No more visions of natural homebirths, bliss, and invincibility. More like the opposite. Very medicalized, closely monitored, and worried beyond belief about Every. Little. Thing.

I had 3 early term (prior to 8 weeks) miscarriages before I got pregnant with H and E. So this time around I worried incessantly for the first 8 weeks that I would miscarry. Once I got to 9 weeks I started to feel a wee bit better in that regard, but then all of the pregnancy symptoms set in. Nausea that lasted most of every day, extreme exhaustion, moodiness, and guilt for not being able to keep up with my normal daily activities. John and I had decided not to share the news with anyone until after our 12 week scan. John has been going through his own stress and angst over the whole pregnancy thing. He did not want to talk about it. So...I was dealing with it all pretty much on my own.

Then came the 12 week scan. I allowed myself to get all giddy about finally telling everyone and worked out different scenarios in my head for how we would go about it. Because of course, I was completely expecting that the 12-week scan would be normal. And then it wasn't. Sigh. As if the looming possibility of extreme prematurity repeating itself weren't enough for us to deal with.

The 12-week scan showed a slightly increased nuchal translucency (2.8), and "possible" septation, which "could" indicate the "possibility" of cystic hygroma. "If" there is a cystic hygroma, then there is a greater than 50% chance that the baby has a chromosomal abnormality, and if NOT chromosomal, there is an even greater possibility that there is some other genetic abnormality - most likely of which is a heart defect. All of this prefaced with a GREAT BIG "maybe" and all of the wind gone out of our sails. Just like that.

Again I ask myself the question, "Is knowledge power, or is ignorance bliss?"

I spent the next 6 days crying and arming myself with more knowledge. Next step, CVS scheduled. I didn't want it to go this way. Weighing risks, agonizing over these kinds of decision. What to do? We meet with a genetic counselor, sign consent for the CVS, and have another ultrasound. This ultrasound looks perfect. NT is normal, NO septation, and no cystic hygroma. Again the question. To do the CVS or not? As life would have it, we didn't have to make this decision because my placenta was located in a position as to make the CVS impossible. Couldn't do it. This doctor says, "If you came in off the street today for your 12 week scan, I would say Everything Looks Good, and send you on your way." But, we can't discount what the first doctor saw the week prior...still have to consider those results...yadda yadda yadda. Next step bloodwork.

Blood work comes back normal. Finally. Something positive.

I start feeling better physically around 14 weeks. Another positive.

Then we go in for another scan at 15 weeks. Here we go again. Choroid Plexus Cysts. Most likely normal, but considering the results of the 12 week scan could be blah, blah, blah. So now what?

With much trepidation we decided to go ahead with an amnio. This was done at 16 weeks. Emotionally difficult, but physically not bad. Detailed ultrasound done prior and everything looks and measures great, no other markers for any abnormalities or problems. Amnio goes smoothly. Results are normal. Good news.

Started 17P hydroxy progesterone injections at 16 weeks, and will be getting them weekly through 36 weeks. Biweekly (at least they are supposed to be biweekly) cervical measurements also started at 16 weeks.

At 18 weeks I started feeling abdominal pain, cramping, discomfort, -not exactly sure but these could be contractions- type pains. On March 30, I made my first trip to triage and was diagnosed with a UTI. 10 days of antibiotics, infection cleared up. Back at doctor 5 days later because still have these uncomfortable feelings. They check my cervix again. Cervix still looks good. High, closed, and "hard-as-a-rock." "It's a beautiful cervix," they say. But I still have a hard time believing them.

I will have a scheduled c-section between 36-37 weeks due to the fact that I had a classical incision (vertical rather than horizontal) with H and E. The risk of uterine rupture is too great for me to go beyond 37 weeks. The high-risk doctor said last week that she "fully expects" me to go the full 36 weeks. Last pregnancy was twins. Twins are a "whole different ball of wax."

I really want to believe her.

I am continuing to have some occasional minor cramping and 4-5 this-feels-like-a-contraction each day. Could be normal. I remember feeling these same feelings before I went into labor with the girls. Could have been normal then too.

But I guess I don't know what normal is...