Archive for The good stuff

baby stuff, other stuff and a minor freakout

Last Wednesday was my NT screening (this is an ultrasound where they measure the nuchal translucency, aka a fold behind the baby’s neck that contains fluid at this stage of development and combine it with bloodwork to determine your risk of down syndrome and other chromosomal defects).  It was amazing getting to see the baby looking like an actual baby now!  I will post the u/s pictures at some point when I’m not feeling so lazy.

The little guy slept pretty much through the entire exam and we actually had to wake him up because he wasn’t in a good position for the tech to measure his neck.  This involved a lot of belly jiggling, coughing, drinking cold water and me changing positions a few times.  We finally got him to wake up enough to move a little but he was clearly still super sleepy because he wiggled around a bit and then went back to sleep!

Oh yeah, and the tech said in her opinion we’re having a little boy!  She said it’s too early to go out and start buying things but she was pretty sure she saw a little pe.nis.  She showed us the money shot, and he had his legs spread wide open and there was definitely something peeking out.  Just the fact that he was being so immodest about showing off the goods makes me think he must be a boy 🙂

I got my results back today and was told we have a 1/1,150 chance of DS and “the best possible” results for Trisomy (I forgot if she said 18 or 13) at 1/100,000.  We’re still waiting for results from a test both Paul and I took which will tell us if we’re recessive carriers for 85 genetic diseases and if we’re both carriers for any of the same diseases.  They said it was unlikely since we’re not related, but we decided to get the test done anyway since most likely our insurance will cover it (and if not they said they would only charge $99 each).

I also donated two extra vials of blood to a study that is trying to figure out a better, more accurate screening method for genetic defects that is less invasive than amnio and CVS (which both carry risk of miscarriage).  I figured, I give four vials of blood all the time and it hardly seemed worth the stick for just two vials, so why not =P

At the NT scan I was asked at least three different times if I’d experienced any bleeding or cramping at all and I happily said no each time.  So OF COURSE the next night I thought I needed to go #2 but when I sat down on the toilet I had a few very sharp cramps on the left side, bad enough that I doubled over in pain.  I didn’t go but when I wiped and did my usual tp inspection I discovered an unsettling, suspiciously brown looking streak.  I wiped again and there was more, it looked brownish-reddish and I immediately began screaming for Paul (who was already asleep by this time).  He came over and agreed it was definitely reddish and I started panicking and wanting to call the emergency nurse line at Dr. D’s office (which THANK GOD they have that).  He talked me out of it, saying it was so little and subsequent wipes yielded nothing.

I spoke to the nurse at Dr. D’s office as soon as they opened and she calmed me down a bit more, she thought it could have been from the ultrasound the day before because I had had some pain also on the left side during the ultrasound when the tech pushed down to get a good angle.  She said she would talk to Dr. D and call me back, she eventually called back to say Dr. D wasn’t too concerned but wanted me to go on pelvic rest for now just as a precaution.

During all of this I was so incredibly grateful that a) my OB does have a nurse on call 24/7, I don’t have to leave messages, I can always speak to someone and b) I have a doppler.  Being able to check that the baby still had a heartbeat during all of this calmed me down immensely (even though I was still really worried).  Before this I was only checking the hb every other day but since Friday I have been doing it at least once per day, but only for a minute or so so hopefully that’s ok. I did talk to Dr. D about the home doppler and he said it’s fine, his only concern is me not being able to find the hb and flipping out when there’s nothing to worry about.

So after that little freakout I had a busy weekend for one of my best friend’s wedding.  It started on Friday night with a rehearsal and dinner out in Pleasanton (it was still 80+ degrees even though we didn’t get there til 5:30pm).  I didn’t get back to the city until almost midnight and was only able to sleep until 8am on Saturday because we had to go to my parents house in the ‘burbs for my mom’s 60th birthday lunch.  It was a lot of fun and I got to spend a couple hours with my niece A (my cousin’s daughter, in Chinese culture she refers to me as her aunt) who is probably the cutest little girl ever.  Later on Paul and I were talking about how much crap people schlep around for their kids, specifically how one of our friends seems to bring every single toy in their house with them just to go out to dinner…Paul said there’s no way he’ll do that but then he reconsidered and said well, unless we have a daughter like A, then I will probably bring anything and everything she asks me to.  For some reason that totally melted my heart.  I’m so glad this man gets to be a daddy – and to my baby!!  Lucky me 🙂

After lunch we headed straight back to Pleasanton for the wedding.  I was supposed to arrive early for pictures but was running a little late and mostly ended up just standing around in heels in the sun and 100 degree heat – no fun!  Luckily I brought my big sunhat with me.  The ceremony was beautiful, I managed to do my reading with no big mishaps and I got some special time after the ceremony for pictures with the bride that I was supposed to show up early for.  After that I was pooped.  The sun and heat had taken a lot out of me.

We stayed for most of the festivities but left not long after the cake was cut (or rather, cupcakes were distributed).  By the time we were walking out I could feel the tell-tale aching in my lower extremities so I went straight to bed when we got to the hotel and slept for a solid 10 or so hours.  When I woke up in the morning all the aches and pains were gone so we headed out to the Livermore Farmer’s Market since we would be missing our usual one in the city.

Everything was SO CHEAP!  I bought 6lbs of peaches and a cantaloupe and the man said $10 and Paul was like, wait what about the melon?  And the guy was like yeah, including that.  We both looked at each other like what?!

After that we stopped for lunch at a popular ale house in “downtown” and Paul immediately started talking about how we should move here once we’re ready to leave the city.  As we drove to my friend G’s new in-laws house back in Pleasanton (they were having brunch there but we were too hungry to wait til 1pm to eat) we passed a regional park with a big lake and lots of families hanging out, a water park and a BMX riding area and Paul was 100% sold.

I’m still not so sure about it, but I will admit I’m slightly more open to it now than I was before.  Even though it’s only about 40 minutes from where I grew up I always thought of it as such a hick-ish area and was surprised to see it’s actually a really cute city with lots of family friendly things to do.  According to wikipedia it also has the 3rd highest median income for a mid-size city in the US.  That was a big shock to me because for some reason I had always thought it was kind of a “ghetto” place to live.  I guess it’s the Bay Area snobbery in me?

Anyway, I have today and tomorrow off because I knew I would probably need some time to recovery from the weekend festivities.  Paul is off tomorrow so we’re going to go up to Tomales Bay for some oyster shucking and bbq-ing!  Sadly, no raw oysters for me 🙁  But I’m sure Paul will make some delicious bbq-ed ones to ease my disappointment.

so blessed

I know I say this pretty much every time I post lately, but how can a month have passed since my last post??  It doesn’t seem possible, and yet it is, because I’m now twelve weeks pregnant (it still feels weird to type/say that word, who am I talking about?  Oh, ME? Really?).

Symptom-wise there still isn’t a whole lot to report.  I’m not exactly having morning sickness, although I do feel queasy sometimes.  I’m definitely having a lot of food aversions but I’ve always had a lot of food aversions.  I’ve actually lost about 3lbs and am really hoping that everything I’ve read is right and that when I need to be gaining weight I WILL feel hungry.

I’m still super gassy, still pretty constipated.  Waking up way too many times per night to pee.  I have a yeast infection (pregnancy is not sexy).  My face is breaking out like never before.  Bo.obs are definitely bigger but don’t seem to be growing anymore at the moment.  The fatigue seems to have slowed down too.

The reason I’m not totally freaking out about my waning symptoms/lack of symptoms is because I did end up biting the bullet and getting a fetal doppler.  I try not to use it too much but it does come out about once every other day for a quick check and luckily it has become MUCH easier to find the heartbeat so I don’t need to hunt around for it and cause my own heart-rate to shoot through the roof.

I had another ultrasound at 8 weeks with the OB I finally settled on, the office is close to our condo and I liked the OB, as well as the fact that their office seems much more up to date with technology than any of the other offices I visited.  My high risk ob said they were one of the two clinics he generally likes to recommend so it all worked out perfectly (especially since I did not at all like the other clinic he recommends).

And I had yet another ultrasound done at 9w3d with Dr. M (the high risk doctor).  That was my favorite one so far because we actually saw the baby waving its arms and it did a little flip!  Seeing the look on Paul’s face was almost as incredible as seeing the little peanut with arms wiggling around in my belly!

I see Dr. D (regular OB) on Tuesday and have my NT scan on Wednesday so I’ll probably just skip doing a scan with Dr. D if he offers me one.  I’m really excited about the NT scan and am keeping my fingers crossed that we might get a gender prediction!

In other pregnancy related news, I am pretty much “out” at my company.  Everyone in my extended team is aware, so is the boss of our office and HR has been notified as well.  I told the head of my team and the big boss first because my mid-year review happened at about 6.5 weeks and I didn’t want to have to essentially fib about my plans for the second half of the year knowing there’s a good chance I will be on bed-rest by the end of the year.  I told them about the pregnancy and the lupus and they were incredibly understanding, including about the fact that I didn’t want to share with the rest of the team just yet.

However, at my last visit with Dr. M he decided it was time for me to cut down my hours to “only” 40hrs/week so when I told the big boss about this we both decided I had to let the rest of the team in on my little secret since they would be covering for those 2-3hrs/day that I’d be missing.  I cannot say enough about how incredible the big boss has been through this all.  I offered to come in at 6 or 6:30am and he said that he wanted me to come in at 7am because he thought it was important to get rest.  He repeatedly told me over and over again that I’ve earned the right to take care of myself and the baby first in this situation and that is what he wants me to do.  He even insisted that he wanted to be the one to tell the rest of the team about my reduced hours so that no one would push back about it.  I am so blessed to work for a manager like this and it’s not something I will ever take for granted.

I can’t even put into words how blessed I feel these days.  God has given me so much despite the fact that I haven’t always trusted Him and His timing.  I know that so much can still happen with this pregnancy, I will be getting ultrasounds every two weeks starting at 18 weeks to monitor for the potential heart defect and my blood pressure and urine is being watched like a hawk for any signs of a flare/pre-eclampsia.  But I’m starting to really trust that what will be, will be.  I can only do what I can do and leave the rest up to God.

Still, though, I am counting down the milestones that are coming up.  The NT scan next week, finding out the gender at 15 weeks, the first fetal ECG at 18 weeks, viability at 24 weeks, 28 weeks because that’s when 80% of premature of infants survive, 34 weeks when the survival rate is almost that of a full-term baby and the number of complications should be low, 37 weeks – full term!, and then of course 40 weeks.

I’ve been told by most of my doctors that it’s unlikely I will make it to 40 weeks (they think my bp will most likely be an issue by the last few weeks of the pregnancy if not sooner) but that’s ok.  I’m hoping that I go into labor on my own sometime after 37 weeks so that I don’t need to be induced but if I need to be induced I can live with that.  If I have to have a c-section, then I guess so be it.  My number one goal is have a healthy full-term baby at the end of this and though I do have certain preferences for my “birth experience” I’m okay if things go completely off course as long as the end result is a healthy baby and healthy mama.

So far *knock on major wood* my lupus has been kind.  In the past ten weeks I’ve had ONE day where my knee ached a little bit.  Including rainy days.  Including days I didn’t get enough sleep.  Including days I was in the sun more than I should have been.  It feels like a miracle.  My blood pressure has been awesome, consistently lower than it has been in years.  The last urinalysis I had on Wednesday showed NO blood and NO protein in my urine!  I always have at least a little blood and/or protein in my urine even during my non-flare times!  The doctors said it was just that my kidneys were damaged and would likely always leak a little.  My creatinine was at 0.9 (normal is 0.6-1.0)!  My complement levels (C3 and C4) were still low, but higher than the last check three months ago right before I got pregnant!

My doctors are all in agreement that things seem to be going about as good as they can.  Of course this doesn’t mean things can’t still go horribly wrong – they absolutely can – but for now I’m just reveling in the fact that this pregnancy seems to be making me healthier rather than sicker!

I’m doing my best to enjoy every day of this pregnancy and to push the fears out of my mind since there’s nothing I can do about them anyway.

Beach blogging

Eleven years and this is my first post brought to you from the beach 🙂

All in all, despite the appearance of Aunt Flo today (she does have the most impeccable timing doesn’t she?) I am having a fabulous time.

Life is good.

aloha

I am working on a post about the last doctor appointment I never wrote about as well as an epiphany I had after a(nother) pre-conceptiion visit with my high-risk ob on Monday. 

But that all will have to wait because I’m in Maui and the ocean demands that I spend my free time staring at it rather than hunched over my laptop in a dark corner of the hotel room. 

Seeing as how we got a free upgrade to a partial ocean view room (thank you Ritz!) I think it would be rude not to take advantage of it!

don’t pinch me

Maybe all the emotional hulabaloo of last week has simply left me incapable of feeling any more drama, but I’ve been feeling very “ducky” as a buddy of mine has taken to calling me sometimes.  Times like this week when things just roll of my back like nobody’s business.

Possibly getting laid-off?  I’ll deal with it.

Have to fly to Portland and back in the span of 12 hours?  All good, I took Friday off!

I have this inescapable feeling like life is good, or if it isn’t right now, it can be.  I feel calm and not like a crazy person.   And the cherry on top, I kind of don’t hate myself.

My joints have even been cooperating with me.  These past two mornings as I walked down the stairs and began the process of taking inventory of my pain, I realized – no pain!  Whee!  I’m young again!

Ha.  Right?  How long is this gonna last =P

Unsurprisingly, all the stress was for naught.

The hubs withdrew himself from the running for the position today, I don’t have all the details but basically he found out the pay would not be enough, at least not to start.  Their money is tied up due to the “pending matter” so the potential is still there, but really it was a stretch in terms of our finances even with the assumption that he’d get a small pay raise, there’s really no way we can responsibly make it work if he actually has to take a paycut to start.  Or else we’d have to accept being 400 miles apart for at least a couple of years which I don’t think either of us are willing to do at this point in our lives.

So once again I sit here red-faced, and completely embarassed at how incapable I am of trusting God to guide us when He has never failed me before.

And, yet another reminder of how little real control I have over anything, we had yet another round of you-know-what’s at work today.

about-face

I’ve been feeling strangely positive this week.  No reason in particular other than the fact that something inside of me decided it’s time to be a little bit more pro-active as opposed to feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck.

I was positive at work, despite the fact that I made several mistakes and the week sort of generally sucked major balls as far as the broader markets are concerned.  I found myself feeling truly grateful simply for the fact that I have a job and also accepting of the fact that I may not if things keep heading in the direction they seem to be going.  Accepting in the sense that I wasn’t panicking at the idea and frantically making imaginary contingency plans.  Something inside me just went, “I’m doing what I can, the rest isn’t up to me” and I felt okay with that.

I visited another TCM practitioner, this time an older Chinese gentleman (as opposed to the barely-older-than-me white women I’ve seen so far) and he seemed to think it should be fairly simple to restore my “yin” deficiency and told me there was nothing wrong with my kidneys.  At first that statement just made me feel completely skeptical about him, but I kept asking him more questions and realized what he was saying is that the root of the problem is not my kidneys, but rather my immunity.  So I guess I see where he’s coming from and if he truly believes he can “fix” me in 1-2 months I’m willing to devote 1-2 months to seeing what he can do.  If it works, I will obviously be kicking myself hard for not having done this sooner, but I’m also not counting my chickens before they hatch.  After six years, I’ve pretty much lost faith in anyone who claims to know what’s wrong with me and how they can fix it.  But that’s another post for another day (reminder to self: don’t forget to rant about Big Pharma and their stranglehold on the western medical system).

Paul is about to do a juice fast with our brand new juicer and I’ve been doing more research into how diet can trigger autoimmune issues and since western medicine seems completely baffled by it, I figure my theories are just as good as theirs.  I’m really starting to buy into the idea that it is not a problem of my immune system being “too strong” as I’ve been told so many times by various doctors, but that my immune system is probably attacking something that legitimately is irritating my system….It just makes sense that the increase in autoimmune diagnosis in the modern era (which yes, I concede probably also does have a lot to with better diagnostic tools and criteria) has SOMETHING to do with all the ridiculously crappy food we are shoveling into our bodies.  We’ve JUST started looking into this and cutting things out and suddenly are noticing that it’s almost impossible to avoid foods that are at least anecdotally (and sometimes scientifically confirmed) to trigger autoimmune problems.  It’s going to be hard, and it’s something I actually “attempted” (I use that term VERY loosely) to do when I was first diagnosed, but I admit, it was just easier to swallow pills and my doctors didn’t seem to think it would make a difference so I never really pursued it.  Obviously now that I’ve come to the realization that doctors don’t really have any clue at all what’s going on with chronic issues such as mine, it’s time to take things into my own hands and do what it takes to heal.

It feels good to think that there might be another way out than swallowing toxic substances for the rest of my life.

better

I spent the day with some of the lovely women in my family, including the amazing woman who gave me life twenty-nine years ago.

It was exactly what I needed.

And I’m glad that I’ve matured enough to know that what I needed to do was go be with people who love me rather than sit alone in my room crying all day.

I told Paul the other day that I’m trying to learn to love myself better.  Because I think God wants that.

When I’m really honest, I feel guilty loving myself, feel guilty even talking about loving myself, because I know.  I know myself.  And myself?  Kind of a sh*tty person a lot of the time.

But that doesn’t matter to Jesus and so I have to figure out how to make my guilt and shame less of a focus for myself.  And focus on the fact that I may not deserve it, but I’m loved by God and a lot of other wonderful people who’s love I don’t deserve either and still somehow have.

I’m not perfect, far from perfect, probably the farthest thing from perfect you’ll ever find, but that’s ok.

It’s okay to strive to be a better person, but I need to remember that I will always ultimately fail at that to some extent and by actually putting this heavy burden on myself, I’m doing the exact opposite of what God wants me to do.

So okay, I love myself.

Oof…that was hard.

And on another note…at what age do you think it is when birthdays suddenly go from being a day you look forward to celebrating to a day that reminds you of all the things you’ve failed to achieve?

chapter 2

So turn around
You’re not too far to back away
Be who you are
To change your path, go another way
It’s not too late, you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights, hope to forget
Can disappear, they can all be washed away
By the one who’s strong, can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears, dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark, distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

My anxiety levels have been increasing over the past few days.  I don’t have any great explanation for it beyond it just being normal for me to periodically get depressed/anxious and also I might be pms-ing.  Might be because I really don’t know what my body does or how and when it decides to do what it does.  I’m on a strictly need-to-know basis – we’re tight like that, me and my body.

I am struggling to understand myself right now.  Understand what I’m working towards and what it is I’m looking for.  More and more I’m convinced that what I’m looking for is God.

I’ve never known how to say this, not really, but maybe I need to just lay it out there, no matter how embarrassing it may be to say it…

I believe in God, I really, truly believe that and I think I pretty much always have since I started attending church at the age of five.  First I believed in God because I was raised believing in God and as I grew up the argument made perfect sense to me.  I looked around at the world, particularly at some of the beautiful scenery I was introduced to as my parents dragged me from state park to state park, and it was just so obvious to me that there had to be a God.  From age five til my midteens I lived what looked like a typical Christian lifestyle, I went to church on Sundays, prayed before meals, helped out with church events and generally and genuinely turned to God for guidance, particularly in times of distress.  I must admit though, even at this time, when I was a “good Christian” I felt deep down inside me that I hadn’t really “died to myself,” not completely.  I never let go of the selfishness deep down, the wanting to live for myself.  Not even at my “best.”

And then during the latter years of high school, my rebellious nature and some unfortunate things that happened drove me to question was God really a loving God?  I mean, did He really care?  Or was He just up there taking care of the big details and letting us worry about our puny little lives?   Was there any point in talking to Him at all?  And I started to believe maybe there wasn’t as I went about my life without Him and nothing really bad seemed to be happening.  In fact, I was having more fun and was becoming a more interesting person!  And I got in the habit of not turning to Him and not caring what He might think about my life or my priorities.  I convinced myself He didn’t care anyway, so what did it matter?

But then, I got sick and suddenly God’s love became so incredibly clear to me again, or maybe for the first time.  I’m not saying it’s my own fault that I got sick, but there are certain things you can do that are terrible for triggering lupus and I did a lot of them before I got sick…For anyone out there who may be struggling with chronic illness or any kind of illness, please don’t take this as any kind of judgement on anyone other than myself.  This is how I feel personally about my illness, and I strongly believe that I shoulder a lot of the “blame” for it, if there is “blame” to be shared at all.  I don’t blame God because the things I did that I suspect could have contributed to my current condition are all things I probably wouldn’t have done had I been living my life for God at the time.  Also, for the record, I don’t think lupus is a “punishment” from God for the things I did, but a consequence, like when you tell your kids not to touch the stove and they touch it anyway?  They’re going to get burned.  Getting burned isn’t some punishment you inflicted on them because they touched the stove, but rather the whole point of you teaching them not to touch the stove in the first place right?

I saw how God loved me anyway, despite how messed up I’d become chasing after my own happiness, how He still took me back and cared for me and saved me from myself.  My body was attacking my kidneys and it could have been when they failed that I noticed anything was wrong, but God made sure something else entirely happened.  It’s why, in a very weird way, I’m grateful for the experience of having lupus even as I wish for them to find a cure for it.

But anyway, I guess that brings us to the present part of the story, the embarrassing part.

I haven’t forgotten that God cares about me and what I do in my daily life, I just can’t seem to get myself to live that way.

I spent so long living how I wanted to live that I can’t seem to adjust myself back to living for God.

And ultimately, I know that’s what’s underlying all the anxiety and tension inside me, but I can’t seem to force myself to shut up and just do it already.

10

The number of years I’ve had this blog.