Friday, December 04, 2009

Once More Unto the Breech...

So, at 36 weeks we start having the up-close-and-personal style appointments once a week. Without getting graphic, the doctor checks to see how things are progressing, and checks the baby's position. The first of these appointments left us feeling pretty good - dilated (already!) 1cm, and baby has his head pointed down, in the proper "exit" position.

At least that's what the doctor thought. At 38 weeks (we skipped a week because of Thanksgiving), a different doctor said 2cm, but wasn't quite positive about the position, so he hauled out the ultrasound machine. The verdict was that, like his mother, this baby is NOT turned in the proper direction. Now, when I was born, they just went ahead and delivered me butt first. However, I think that the liability has now caught up with the medical profession, and this is no longer an option.

So, despite this being just a faint glimmer in the (unofficial) birth plan, we are now scheduled for a C-section on December 14th. If the baby gets with the program and flips around, we will cancel it and wait for labor. We are doing all sorts of things to try and get the baby to somersault... some of it seems almost like old wives' tales, but if it's not going to hurt anything and might help, we're trying it. I'm not comfortable with "inversion" where they try and manually flip him - it just seems too invasive to me. So if anyone needs me, I'll be upside down.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving, Pregnancy Edition

Things I'm thankful for this year:

Yoga pants
Zantac 150
Our Tempur-Pedic mattress
All my friends who have been pregnant before and are willing to listen to me and/or give me advice
My husband for making our Thanksgiving roast beef (since I'm off poultry...)
The in-laws for bringing us Thanksgiving leftovers (pig roast!)
Continued health and (relative) happiness, for all of us

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Probably Shouldn't Jinx It

I have about a week left in my second trimester, and I have to say that things are going really, really well. I can (mostly) breathe through my nose again, and I can now brush my teeth without feeling like I'm going to hurl. That was weird. Also, I'm sleeping pretty well on average, not including the early morning pee breaks. Most of the time when I wake up in the morning I don't even feel pregnant, I'm so amazingly comfortable. My monthly doctor's appointments last approximately 5 minutes. We listen to the heartbeat, and confirm there are no problems or questions. Done!

Lately I have been reflecting about how lucky we are that things have gone so normally. I have heard so many horror stories and seen so many disturbing things on TV, I feel like I have spent the last 6 months waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or maybe the first shoe. Somewhere, I just know a shoe is waiting to drop. Like I said, I probably shouldn't jinx it. Then again, it can't be a bad thing to realize how good I have it, right?

I will probably take this all back in the third trimester, but I'm hoping that I am able to continue being active, which seems to help me sleep and feel a lot better overall. I have this DVD made by a Cirque du Soleil trapeze artist when she was really, REALLY pregnant. Observe:

Granted, I'm not doing this workout very often, maybe once a week, but I always feel pretty good when I do. The only thing I object to in this DVD is that her final move is to put her arms straight out to the sides and make little circles with them for 3 minutes straight. I'm not sure how much practice it would take me to go from my pitiful 1 minute to her 3, but more than my remaining 3 months!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Travelogue: Jacksonville, NC

I have found this whole writing thing to be a bit more difficult since we never seem to stay home on the week-ends. On the bright side, we've taken some pretty neat trips, so I decided that it's time to catch up on some field reporting.

The first trip we took this spring/summer was to see my cousin-in-law get married. Her new husband was in the Marines at the time, so they opted to get married on the beach near Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, NC. There were lots of good reasons to do this - the scenery was beautiful, the atmosphere was fairly casual (second marriage for both), and the price was definitely right. Say what you will about the military, but they definitely provide some nice extras for their people when they can.

I had never been through a security clearance for a military base before - the only time I had ever been on base was to go on a sailboat that happened to be docked at a Naval base, and they didn't really care to check us in (after all, it was quite a few years before September 11th). Checking in wasn't really a huge deal except that we had to wait in line in the heat. The thing that entertained me throughout this process was reading the Dos and Don'ts of the dress code for times when you are not in uniform. The rules themselves weren't all that earth shattering, but there were pictures to illustrate - upstanding young men in their polo shirts and khaki shorts, and then some candids of the guys in ripped cutoffs and sleeveless t-shirts, who, honestly, looked like they were having a bit more fun.

From a purely self-centered perspective, I will admit that seeing Lisa did not help with my Shamu feelings. You see, Lisa is due a full month before me. Go ahead, check out the pictures and tell me she looks pregnant. Yeah, that's what I thought. I comfort myself with the knowledge that she is in a tough spot, as this pregnancy comes after gastric bypass surgery, and she definitely cannot eat with anything resembling reckless abandon. When we heard the news, we were mostly concerned since we didn't have any information about how one would cope with that combination. I'm happy to say that she (as you can see from the pictures) is incredibly healthy and so is the baby. She is also having a boy, so that should be fun at family gatherings.

On the way in, I saw the following sign and demanded that we pull over on the way out so I could get a picture of it. Now this is something you will only see when you are on a military base:

I was pretty surprised that somebody decided to draw a picture of the thing, since "TANK XING" seems pretty self-explanatory.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby's First Sheep

A friend of mine introduced me to the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm Blog a while back. It is an excellent place to get your cute fix, what with all the pictures of baby lambs, among other things. Not only that, but there are usually links to all sorts of interesting things. One that caught my eye was a link to a pattern for some knitted sheep. That very same week, I bought some yarn and knitting needles, and went about re-learning to knit. My mom taught me how once, but I was probably 15, and had long since forgotten almost everything. And yes, I'm aware that the pregnant lady knitting is a little bit of a cliche. I'm OK with that.

For the first project, I knitted a scarf. It started a little bit rough, left a couple of holes along the way, but finished strong. It won't win any prizes, but I may wear it for the two weeks or so that we call "winter" here in North Carolina. Then I tried to learn the purl stitch, and it wasn't pretty. I spent a couple of weeks just toying with it, seeing if I could get it to look cohesive, but it just wasn't happening, so I left knitting be for a little bit. See how I am when the going gets tough?

Finally, I decided it was time to attempt the sheep. A quick glance at the pattern revealed there was no purling required - sweet! After another trip to the craft store, I was all set. And (fanfare please!) after a few days of working while we watched TV, baby's first sheep was all ready to go:

OK, so now all I have to do is knit the little sheepy blanket. Per hubby's request, it is Carolina blue in color, and may or may not get a little UNC logo at some point. I re-checked the pattern and it says "moss stitch." Eh? So I look up moss stitch and find out it's knit 1, purl 1 for two rows, then purl 1 knit 1 for the next two rows. Crap! I tried, I really did. The problem was, if I pulled the yarn from one side, my stitches multiplied. Multiplied! I started with 24 and would end up with between 27-30 by row 2. So I tried pulling the yarn the other way. It went OK for about 6 rows, but then I noticed that I wasn't getting a blanket so much as I was getting a clumped-up knot of something that resembled rope. Awesome. So for the second time since starting, I abandoned the purl stitch. I just knitted the blanket, and I think it looks just fine:

I had the inspiration to create a few of these, and make them into a mobile. If I manage to do that I'll definitely post a picture - I'm pretty proud of my craftiness!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


For my first ultrasound (around 5 weeks or so), for once I was really glad I paid attention during all the movies I've seen that involve pregnancy. You see, I astutely noticed during movies like "Knocked Up" that the mother-to-be was wearing one of those drapes during the procedure. And every woman knows what that drape signifies. So, I did some research ahead of time to see if it was possible that the first ultrasound would be - how can I put this - a little up close and personal. And oh yes, it was. The actual image was pretty anticlimactic. I mean, it's basically a blob. Oh, with a fluttery blob inside it. It was so startling to see something with a beating heart on that screen that I laughed. This was not the best thing to do when the ultrasound wand is up close and personal - she had to re-find the image a couple of times during this process. But hey, we got the baby measured and confirmed that the heart was beating, no problem.

We just had ultrasound #2 (18 weeks). My mother-in-law lives about an hour away, and was able to get off work to come along, which was really cool. My mom had a short hospital stay last week (nothing awfully serious, she's OK!) so was unable to join this party. I thought, "Hey! No problem, we'll just bring a video camera and she can see it later." Which was all cool until we got there and they told us no cameras. Dammit. I'll admit, there were tears - I blame the hormones. The genetic counselor we talked to was very understanding and has probably seen all sorts of weird behavior. Pregnant women are not the most stable of creatures at the best times.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from this second scan. I mean, I knew it wouldn't look like a blob. At least hopefully we're not giving birth to an amoeba, that would suck. Instead, now we've got an alien fossil. What? Well, allow me to illustrate. First of all, the baby is transparent. This, to me, was a little bit shocking. Also, here is the face, which just screams alien:

And here is the profile, which looks like some sort of fossil:

It was still a pretty cool experience. Now, a word on finding out the gender ahead of time. We have heard lots of stories from other parents about wanting to be surprised. My personal thought on this subject is that there will be shock and awe a-plenty when another person comes out of my body, and I'm not in need of any further surprises, thankyouverymuch. Also, we have had a really hard time with names, and narrowing the field by 50% sounds like an excellent idea at this stage. So, we found out by way of another ultrasound image taken from the baby's bottom: it's got junk! The tech even put an arrow pointing to the body part in question and wrote BOY, just in case there was any confusion. So look out world, we're having a son!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Return of Frankenboob
(and other oddities)

Let me just preface this by saying that I have known at least ten women that have been pregnant during the time I have known them. Also, due to my pregnancy obsession developed during the "trying" phase, I had read about lots of the possible "benefits" that occur. Naturally none of these have happened to me, just ones I had no idea were even possible. I have consulted Doctor Google a LOT, usually entering "pregnancy and..." whatever it is at the moment. Here are the highlights.

1. I can't breathe through my nose. Nobody ever mentioned pregnancy boogers, but let me tell you, they exist. It's the worst at night, as if I'm not uncomfortable enough. Speaking of uncomfortable...

2. I am a freakin' whale. Don't get me wrong, I understood going into this thing that I would... expand. I just seem to be ahead of the curve (no pun intended) so far. I'm not even halfway through this process and already the pregnancy is unmistakable. Granted, my husband is on the large side so this could be a MegaBaby(TM), but most of the comments I've been hearing lately are like "Wow, you ARE pregnant" and "HOW far along did you say you were?" and my favorite "I can't believe how big you are already!"

3. Frankenboob. Remember the radiation? Yeah, the Frankenboob is making an appearance, this time not as the boob that ate Manhattan, but rather the boob that refuses to grow like the other one. It might be the only part of me that is NOT growing, and I'm extrapolating this in my head to the point where I have to lean to one side to balance.

4. My shoes no longer fit. WTF, are my feet pregnant? I have been assured by Doctor Google that this is normal and happens to other people but seriously, that one was a surprise.

Other than that, things have been going pretty well. No weird food cravings, which is probably good. I can't eat grilled chicken anymore, though, it totally grosses me out. We're on track to find out the gender next week, and I'm super impatient to find out. Given my size, I'm going to make sure they take a good long look around and make sure it's not twins! [insert shudder... here.]

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Get it? 'Cause I'm going to talk about babymaking and stuff and there's the word "conception?" It's true though, there were some things that I thought I knew before we went into this whole "create another person" process. I ended up going to a consult with an OB/GYN for advice and she was incredibly kind and helpful. I recommend that, rather than going to the Internet, if this is something in your immediate future.

1. You really have to be vigilant about protecting yourself from unwanted pregnancy, because if you let one sperm past your defenses, that is it.

I don't know why I've been trying so hard this whole time to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Seriously, the whole process of trying to figure out when you might ovulate was unbelievably difficult for me. It was just a lot of math, and even then I was never really sure.

2. You should have sex every day between periods if you are trying to get pregnant, then take a home pregnancy test as soon as you are one day late.

No. First of all, that is a LOT of sex. And it's a lot of perfunctory sex. I'll just leave it at that. Also, home pregnancy tests, while I'm sure they are useful in certain situations, just take you on an emotional rollercoaster that could just as easily be avoided (along with the expense) by being a little bit patient. Granted, I'm not a patient person, which is probably why I bought so many of the damn things.

3. You will "just know" when you are pregnant.

Oh hell no. Actually, the only time I "knew" was when something was wrong, early in the process. I was technically pregnant (see home pregnancy test / emotional rollercoaster comment, above) and my midsection blew up like a freakin' balloon. Luckily, we had heard the advice about not telling everyone right away, because my period was really late and heavy, so evidently that one didn't take. I probably went through 1/10 of the suffering that people who have later miscarriages went through, but it was still pretty horrible.

The bright side is that we did finally have success, it was just 15 months later. That may not sound like a long time, but it felt like forever. I talked to a friend of mine who has two children, and she advised me to enjoy the time I had left with my "old" life while I could. Just when I took that advice and started to think about things we could do, trips we could take, etc... I got pregnant. Ha, ha, ha, universe. Don't get me wrong, this was still fantastic news. I do have a lot to say about this whole pregnancy thing, though, so bear with me for a few posts, OK?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

My surgeon and I had a conversation after my last biopsy about what they found. Like I mentioned, it wasn't cancer, just more warning signs. To sum up: 1) family history 2) previous DCIS diagnosis 3) "markers" found in second surgery 4) let's be frank: lumpy boobs that seem to continually make more lumps. It's what they do. So, suffice it to say my "team" doesn't think that sitting back and monitoring the situation is quite enough.

Tamoxifen is always the first option presented, since it is the least invasive from the doctors' perspective. I am pretty anti-drug, and am particularly anti that drug. Don't get me wrong, I take antibiotics when I'm sick, and would accept chemotherapy if I ever needed it (but hopefully not). My friend Rich had migraine headaches every day, for example, and I think it's fantastic that his doctors found a drug that would stop that nonsense. EVERY DAY! Yikes. The drugs I am not a fan of are the ones that people seem to take because the drug companies tell them they should and/or convince them they have a "disease." I feel slightly that tamoxifen falls into that category, not to mention the side effects scare the bejoolies out of me.

That left us to discuss prophylactic mastectomy. That's right, cutting off the boobs so they have a much lower chance of killing me. Several thoughts went through my head at that point, like, has it really come to this? Am I so scared that I would willingly undertake a somewhat major surgery not to mention the ramifications that follow? Finally, am I done with my boobs?

The last question got me to thinking about babies. I mean, not that we hadn't talked about the subject before; at the last family reunion I attended I realized how much love my family - heck, our families - have to offer, and how lucky we are in that respect. My stance on the whole childbearing subject was always "Someday but not now," because I genuinely have liked my life the way it is, and I'm not foolish enough to think that having a baby wouldn't change that in a very fundamental way. But this, plus my age which is *mumble mumble* made me realize that it's time to change my life (our lives) fundamentally.

So, I signaled for a time out to the surgeon and the oncologist, whilst we get with the baby-making. No, not right there in the office, although from the way they were talking about the urgency of the whole thing I'm not sure they would have been disappointed. And hey, nothing helps you make a baby like other people telling you to hurry, right? Right?

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Recap

Hi, I'm Jen. My friend Melisa has inspired me to start writing again, with a combination of writing herself and gentle cajoling. But, in order to appreciate some of the weird stuff that is happening to me this time, you have to have a small understanding of what prompted me to write so much here in the first place.

Back in 2002, I had a small run-in with breast cancer. Since I have family history (both mother AND grandmother on the opposite side), my oncologist at the time recommended radiation so that it reduced the chances of recurrence. Most of the bizarre shit that happened to me during that time either related to my doctors, the treatments, or strange reactions of the boob in question, which at the time I dubbed Frankenboob.

So here I am 7 years later (I can't really believe it has been that long) and all kinds of stuff is happening - but I'm going to save that for the next post or this will be entirely too long. I did have one more biopsy, but no cancer this time only "markers" which just means it's even MORE likely now that my breasts will, in fact, try and kill me. Oh yeah, and I fired my oncologist "Dr. Turban" because he weirded me out. I mean, he wanted to hug me every time I saw him, for one thing. I'm not a very "huggy" person (what can I say I'm from the Midwest) and seriously, the most I want from a doctor even when I'm distraught is maybe some tissues and a reassuring pat on the back. The last thing I wanted was a hug every time I went to see him, that's just yucky. He also mentioned that I should be drinking milk every time I saw him, even knowing that wasn't going to happen. So I've got a new oncologist, and she does none of these things. That aspect is much better.

Wrapping up the disease updates, I have also found out that I do not carry the breast cancer gene. So, mom, you are off the hook, at least in theory. My oncologist was quick to point out that we don't have tests for *all* the breast cancer genes, just the ones we know about. Thanks - remind me why this test has value again? Speaking of mom, she also survived a bout with ovarian cancer last year. It was, to sum it up, terrifying. She is doing much better now, and even took a trip to Italy recently. However, I feel like there are now new and exciting body parts that can threaten to kill me down the road. I'm trying not to think about it.

Other than the random health nonsense, things have been going along really well, and clearly I haven't been inspired to complain about anything or there would be more posts!