Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Unless something crazy happens today, Baby Girl will be born in 2009 after all. Definitely something to be thankful for. I am also thankful that my diabetes finger sticks are down to 2x daily instead of 4x, and that I will be getting wheelchair privileges for two hours a week (just around the unit, though, for now). And most importantly, I'm thankful for Steve and the rest of my family and friends who have all been so supportive.

Happy new year to all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

28 Weeks (and 2 Days)

Just wanted to post a quick update. Baby Girl is now past the critical 28-week mark, and on Wednesday weighed a solid 2 pounds, 7 ounces.

I also heard a rumor that some women in my unit get wheelchair privileges once a week and can go OUTSIDE. I need to investigate this. I have not been outside in a full 6 weeks and it freaks me out.

Monday, December 22, 2008


These walls are kind of funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.
-- Shawshank Redemption
I wonder if this is happening to me. I haven't been allowed to leave my room in more than three weeks -- not even for an ultrasound -- and I'm starting to worry about how I'll deal with being out in the world again someday.

It's kind of disturbing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good News and Bad News

The good news is we've reached 27 weeks. The bad news (for me) is that I do have gestational diabetes. It may not sound like a huge deal, but I was having enough trouble eating the hospital food, and now my options are limited that much more. Plus it won't be as easy for Steve to bring me dinner. I currently have a finger-prick blood sugar test four times a day. If my sugars stay fairly stable they'll switch to testing only a couple of times a week, which would be nice. But I've been having one test or so per day that is slightly over the official limit (even while following the diet religiously), so that makes me worried I'll have to take meds to control it or will be doing four blood tests a day indefinitely.

The diagnosis was a pretty big blow at first. Now I'm trying to get over it and just eat what they give me.

But I'm eating what I want on Christmas. Sugars be damned.

So now I have gestational diabetes, like my former roommate did. As long as I don't end up with preeclampsia or "the herpee" ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

26 Weeks and Counting

Still in the hospital after four weeks, and still pregnant. Also still not gaining weight, but I'm not eating the Magic Cup anymore. It's too depressing. The doctors are more encouraging these days about a positive outcome. The first couple of weeks they were very grave.


My dad said he and my mom were "canceling Christmas" this year. I think that's a bit excessive. I'm not a POW, nor is baby girl.

Today, Steve and I decorated a tiny fake tree our nice neighbor Judy gave him. It's on the windowsill now. I do think I'll skip the "High Risk Perinatal Unit Holiday Celebration" on Friday. I'm not allowed out of my room anyway. The nurses were all about having "Santa" come to me, but, um, no thanks. (I mean, really.)


I have my glucose tolerance test (this is a standard test for pregnant women) tomorrow to see if I have gestational diabetes (GD). I really feel like I have enough going on already and I seriously don't know if I could take it if I ended up with GD. I might have to freak out.

When I first checked in here, I had to share a "semi-private" room with another woman for 9 days. She was admitted for preeclampsia, but also had GD, a terrible cold, and (get this) herpes. She was Thai, and had a pretty thick accent, but Steve and I definitely heard her when the doctor said "Any STDs?" and she quietly replied "the herpee." (For a couple of weeks after that, Steve would periodically go totally serious and say: "the herpee." But I had to make him stop because laughing too hard can kick off contractions.)

My roommate was at 31 weeks, and as I listened to her hack up a lung for those nine days, I pondered whether I'd trade conditions with her if I could have a 31-week gestation baby, vs. the 22-weeker I checked in with. Tough choice. Luckily I won't ever have to make that decision.

If I do manage to keep this going to 36 weeks, I'll be in the hospital 14 weeks. Kind of like a semester. Maybe like a semester abroad.

Or a semester abed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Still Plugging Along

I'm still here in the hospital, and I got a visit from the nutritionist yesterday to admonish me for not gaining any weight. Um, maybe if the food wasn't GROSS I would eat more of it. But today I made a concerted effort to eat more, to the extent that I felt kind of sick after lunch. A new addition to lunch and dinner: "Magic Cup," a weight gain ice cream made by Hormel. Its consistency is akin to a cross between pudding and animal fat. I think I have a weigh-in tomorrow, and I'm hoping I showed a gain from last week so I can skip the Magic.

Thanks to everyone for all the support -- it definitely helps keep my morale up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

25 Weeks Today

Today baby girl reached 25 weeks gestation, and with that her long-term odds start to improve dramatically. I'm starting to get a bit less terrified, but I'm still pretty anxious. Yesterday, I had a consult with a NICU doctor. He told me what to expect if I deliver soon. It's scary stuff, but every day makes a difference.

I'm happily IV-free today, but my hand feels like it was clocked with a hammer where one of the the last IV ports was placed, so it's still pretty tough to type. (The needle had apparently slipped out/through the vein and the day nurse didn't realize it.) For today, I'm off the IV meds. It's nice to be able to wash both of my hands fully when I go to the bathroom.

It's the little things.

It's actually been 9 days since I left my hospital room. On a normal day in a normal life, you have thousands of choices to make as you go about your business, and thousands of variables float in and out. But here, I probably have less than 50 choices to make throughout my day, and about 25 of them are "should I go to the bathroom now?" And the number of variables is very small, limited mainly to the level of competence of the nurse who shows up for the next shift and whether the kitchen forgets my dinner roll/tea/dessert/etc.

The other day I was staring out the window and saw a little red byplane happily looping around in the distance. I'm pretty sure it was a model, although it was impossible to tell the scale for sure. But it was a nice little reminder that surprising things can still happen to me while I'm in this room.

Steve brought me a book, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and he brought my iPod and speakers, so my long afternoons are going a little faster these days. My mom is sending that Twilight book some of you have recommended, so that is next on my list. My voice seems to be starting to come back (I have been hoarse for a few days) but talking on the phone is still hard. Things are still a bit too scary for me to have visitors other than my family, but I'm hoping to be here a while longer, and I figure if I make it to 28 weeks I might be ready to see more people. Maybe.

For now I just want to lie here quietly and gestate.

Monday, December 1, 2008

24+ Weeks

Baby Girl is 24 weeks, 3 days, today. Each day adds 3-4% to her likelihood of survival. Got the steroids last week for her lung development. If we can make it to 28 weeks, she'll have a really great chance, so I'm just lying here on my side gestating, getting shot up with drugs, eating bad hospital food, and watching lots of syndicated TV.

I can't believe I've been in the hospital for over two weeks now. There's definitely a rhythm to the days here, and it does get easier knowing how each day is going to go.

6 a.m.: Wake up for terbutaline, request water refill
7:30 a.m.: Wake up for good, lie in bed looking out window, wishing breakfast would come. Consider watching Today Show
8 - 9 a.m.: Parade of medical residents asking the same question ("Any bleeding, discharge or sudden gush of fluid?"); introduction to day nurse
9 a.m.: Breakfast arrives (not too bad -- rubber french toast, biscuit, maybe some fruit, cereal, decaf tea, milk)
10 a.m.-11 a.m.: Vital signs and contraction monitoring, additional meds if contractions are going strong (lately I haven't needed any extra meds in the morning), nursing assistant comes in to change the sheets, housekeeping comes in to clean the bathroom, parents might call on the phone
11 a.m.-12 p.m.: Shower (every other day) or feign sleep to avoid the Catholic chaplain ladies who want to give me Communion every day. I figure once or twice a week is plenty
12 p.m.: Terbutaline, water refill
1 p.m.: Greet lunch with dismay (today was meatloaf marinara, some sides, and a bottle of Ensure), hope I at least got my roll with butter, turn on All My Children
1:30 p.m.: Grudgingly eat some lunch, wishing I could have an Italian sub (not til after pregnancy because of listeria), chips, and a Dr. Pepper (caffeine can bring on contractions -- and I have enough of them on my own)
2 p.m.: Turn on Ellen, read a magazine
3 p.m.: Consider Dr. Phil, nurse arrives for more vital signs, water refill
4 -6 p.m.: Doze, zone out, flip channels, check out Oprah, wait for Steve to arrive
6 p.m.: Terbutaline
6 - 7:30 p.m.: Visit with Steve; if he did not bring some dinner, greet hospital dinner with dismay
8 - 9 p.m.: Introduction to night nurse; vital signs and contraction monitoring. Additional meds if contractions are too frequent. Shakes, dizziness, and increased heart rate then ensue
9 p.m.: Turn out light, watch random TV
10 p.m.: Ambien, water refill, random snack arrives, start trying to sleep
12 a.m.: Terbutaline

I take the terbutaline for five days, and then go on IV toradol for two. That's the cycle I'm on to avoid becoming desensitized to the meds too quickly. (Usually I have an IV port in my hand, which makes it really hard to type, but today I am blissfully free of the port. The IV port [and the dizziness/shaking] have deflated my earlier thoughts of writing short stories or the great American novel if I ended up on bed rest.)

People have asked if I get bored, but it would be hard to get bored here -- when you're in a constant state of low-level anxiety, boredom is a luxury you don't really have. But my brain is working hard to provide random amusements. I'll be staring out the window and a random memory will pop in my head -- sometimes from vacations or long-ago adventures, but sometimes just little snippets of normal life, like one memory that popped up of driving on a country road near my parents' house.

I'm trying my best to stay calm and patient, and hoping to stay pregnant at least a few weeks longer to give baby girl a good shot at being healthy.

I'd still love to hear those happy-ending stories if you've got any more -- it helps me keep a positive attitude.