Sunday, August 3, 2008

All's well that ends well - 24 weeks

All right, just this once, I'll let you have at the belly photos right away, and I won't make you pretend to read everything else just to get to the pictures.
I think you can see a difference from four weeks ago.

Excuse the tousled appearance. And the really flattering maternity workout shorts. We'd just come from a labor & delivery yoga class at our local yoga studio, so I was fresh from some relaxing and restorative poses.

I'm at that stage where people aren't quite sure if I'm pregnant or not. We were at a BBQ the other weekend, and the friends who were hosting it had just gotten married a couple of weeks before. So when we walked in, there were many rounds of back-and-forth "Congratulations!" among us. One of their other guests looked at me in a sort of puzzled way, and said "Oh, did you just get married too?" "Uh, no, I'm pregnant." The poor guy blushed. I've found that young, single men don't always know what to do when hanging out with slightly older pregnant women. I think we skeeve them out a little, like they're kind of afraid we might throw up, pee on them, talk about childbirth endlessly, or go into labor at any moment.

The good thing about this stage of pregnancy is that I'm not obviously pregnant enough to be the immediate target of a barrage of pregnancy horror stories or the invasive stranger belly-pat assault. The bad news is that people must be assuming I'm just fat.

We had a slight nerve-racking experience this week as well (everything is FINE now, just to reassure you all). I was supposed to be in Jacksonville, FL all week for work, but started feeling some unusual pains/cramps/contractions on Monday. After scaring the bejeezus out of myself by doing a little internet research, I made a late-night visit to a local hospital where they determined that the baby was 100% fine (nothing wakes them up faster than hooking you up to a fetal monitor. Lots of kicks and even hiccups!) and that I was having some small contractions, but that all else was fine. They made me drink lots of water (dehydration can bring these things on), and gave me two shots of terbutaline to ease/stop the contractions. When I was still feeling something a couple of hours later, I got myself on the first flight back to DC. Whatever was going on, I wanted to be at home with Seth, and near some of the best medical care around, not alone at some two-bit hospital in Florida.

I got off the plane in DC on Tuesday morning, Seth picked me up, and we proceeded straight to Georgetown Hospital, at the direction of my OB practice. They sent me up to Labor & Delivery (which scared the hell out of Seth, because he thought that meant the baby was coming right now. Sheesh, they should maybe just go back to calling it "Maternity Ward" or something.) Ironically, we arrived at the same moment that one of the doctors from my OB practice had just delivered her 3rd baby by scheduled C-section. Two other doctors from my practice had assisted.

They put me in a room, and did the same drill that as the Florida hospital had done. Baby monitor, and another monitor to see if I was indeed contracting. Baby was again 100% fine - wow, can hearing that thumpa-thumpa-thumpa be reassuring, particularly after no sleep and a dawn flight home. One resident, one intern, one nurse, two of my OBs, one maternal-fetal medicine specialist/head of G-town OB-GYN, one pelvic exam, and two ultrasounds later, it was determined that I was having some contractions, but that my cervix was closed, and I had no other symptoms, and was not in pre-term labor or anything else serious. The contractions were probably brought on by a uterine fibroid that is annoyed at being cut off from its blood supply, and is therefore irritating my uterus, as well as some dehydration. So, they gave me IV fluids and some medication (basically, prescription Motrin) to stop the contractions. After much thorough monitoring and examination, they discharged me at about 5:00 pm, with a prescription and orders to drink lots and lots of water.

I got home, went to sleep, woke up to eat takeout Thai food, and was back asleep by 8:30 pm. The rest of the week was happily uneventful, and I'm checking in with my OB tomorrow.

I've definitely been underestimating how much water I really need - I haven't really taken into account that my blood volume has increase by about 50% at this point. I'm usually really good about this kind of stuff - as a runner, you have to really make sure you're well-hydrated also, and I thought I had a good awareness of what I needed. But we'd had three really busy days before I left for Florida (all about kitchen renovation stuff - to be covered in excruciating detail in a future entry), and I definitely did not drink enough water on those days, or on my business trip. I've realized I just can't push myself quite as hard as I'm used to. That's really difficult for me - I do not like being fragile or limited or dependent or otherwise diverted from my usual damn-the-torpedoes-full-steam-ahead style in any way.

But it is different now. When I was discharged from the hospital in Florida, there was a tiny, tiny newborn in a bassinet by the nurses' station. They were watching him for a little while before he went back to the nursery or his mom. I'd been so calm and controlled until I saw that baby, and then, I couldn't look at him. My eyes teared, I gasped, breathless. I was so worried for my own baby, and whether I'd get to see her, whether all would be well, and she'd be born. I couldn't look at that baby, because he was future, possibility, and I didn't know for certain whether I'd get that future, that possibility. It just hadn't hit me before, that overwhelming, all-encompassing I would do anything for my baby feeling.

One good thing about Tuesday's ordeal - more ultrasound photos! Whee! One of the doctors saw Seth looking at them, and gave him the ones she wasn't going to use. Look! Little feet! Kicking me right now.

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