May 29, 2012

Stress tests, Memorial Day, and life

Due to having gestational diabetes, my doctor has decided to non-stress me every third minute. Or at least twice a week. Starting at week 35. He cheerfully told me that from that point on, he would be looking for reasons to keep me pregnant and that one of these days I would come in for my non-stress test and he would decide to just take the baby then and there. This does not ease my mind. Each evening before the day I go for a non-stress test, I feel like I have to get EVERYTHING DONE RIGHT NOW. This can lead to OCD and an occasional hysterical fit. Not exactly good for not stressing me and the baby out.

I have been going into the doctors office once a week for a test and then going in on Sunday's for a test at the hospital. At first, I was philosophical about this. I have been moderately busy and so really, sitting around for a bit with my feet up and the kids not climbing on me is a bit vacation like. Bring a book and a Nalgene bottle of cold water and what more could you ask for?

Mostly you could ask for sitting around without having your over-large stretched marked stomach covered in goop exposed for the whole world to see. By the whole world, I mean the few nurses and the doctor. At this point, there is little use in being embarrassed by my less than perfect stomach. Having been there and done this three times before, I know that things will get a lot more personal and much more embarrassing before we are through. Still, it isn't like sitting poolside and looking charming in your swimsuit. (Not that I ever did that either.)

Then there is the heartbeat. I tend to fuss, so every time there is an irregular noise, I wonder if it is an indication of an underlying heart problem. And even now, with about 6 stress tests under my belt, where I don't worry so much about noises I don't recognize, there is the issue of keeping the heartbeat on the monitor.  Babies can be slippery little things. Hanging out continuously on one side and then, deciding that actually, the other side of the uterus is looking much more appealing today. So they roll away from the sensor thing-y and then you are left trying to wiggle the sensor around to pick up the heartbeat. This can mean moving it to the other side of the belly or just titling it gently in one direction. In the process, your entire gigantic stomach is covered in goop like some slippery Mt. Everest and your hand and wrist start aching from holding it just so to pick up the elusive little boogers heartbeat.

And if you don't keep the heartbeat right there, then you can't hear when the heartbeat accelerates, which is pretty much the whole point of a non-stress test. I always thought an accelerated heartbeat was something that indicated some kind of stressor (exercise, fright, etc) but in a baby, they see it as a sign of NON-stress. Go figure. So if your baby is not a performing seal and will not dance to their tune and wiggle and accelerate the heartbeat when they want it to, they start calling the doctor and discussing whether the baby passes or not and should we do an ultrasound?

My doctor thinks my baby is particularly clever and says it must study for the non-stress tests, since I always pass with flying colors when I go in for the ones in his office. The ones on Sunday are another story however. Sundays I tend to have a bigger lunch than normal and then have a nap. Which means the baby is in a bit of a food coma and not really feeling like wiggling obligingly. This weekend, the baby slept for an hour, which is NOT NORMAL. As the nurse liked to keep telling me. Since the baby has been moving normally, I feel it, and the heartbeat is perfectly normal on the monitor, I actually don't get too nervous about this. I roll my eyes inside myself, since I don't want to antagonize these nurses who might be helping to deliver my baby and do what they tell me to. Really, non-stress tests are a way for the doctor to reassure his liability insurance that I can't sue him if bad things happen. So I sit there and let them fuss around me. After a few calls to the doctor, they called in the ultrasound tech from a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Of course, as soon as they call, the baby wakes up and decides to tap dance and her heart accelerates beautifully 3 times in a 10 minute segment in a text book demonstration of how it should be done. Still, we have to do the ultrasound. Which proves that the baby is hale and hearty. So apparently, a nap of one hour could theoretically be considered normal.

And even after an hour and a half on the monitor and an ultrasound, the doctor thinks I should come in again the next day and do it all over again. Just in case. This time, the baby took pity on me and performed like a well-behaved seal and I was out of there in 40 minutes, which was a vast improvement on the three hour fuss-session of Sunday night.

Pretty much, life has been like some weird obstacle course lately, with the hurdles of non-stress tests looming up in front of me. If I can just pass this one, I am good until Sunday or Wednesday. But no matter what I get done between now and the next one, there always seems to be MORE that needs doing, making  failing the next one just as worrisome as the possibility of failing the last one had been.

At least I can sit in the maternity ward and take comfort from the "How to manage maternal hemmorage" signs mixed in with "Patients role in safety" and "Patient Rights in an Emergency." Seriously. They have these signs hanging up so you can stare at them while in labor and think of everything that might go wrong. I think I will probably reach a point in labor when I simply refuse to bear it any longer and rip them all down. I wonder if they would charge my insurance for replacement signs....

But life is still good. Despite feeling stressed, there are beautiful moments of de-stressing with my sweet little family and summertime. And at this very moment, my husband, probably spurred on by my hysterical "THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN GET EVERYTHING DONE" fit of the other night, is building me pantry shelves above my washer and dryer. So I get to go organize cans and boxes of pasta and laundry soap quite soon. Hooray!

I know cans and boxes of pasta seem so unimportant in the scheme of welcoming a new life to your home. But I am looking ahead to the months of breastfeeding. When you lay there quietly for sometimes an hour and think about all the things that you SHOULD have done before you had the baby and your life descended into a sleep-deprived state of chaos.

Believe me, babies are worth every ounce of sleep deprivation. Still, there is no denying that doing things prior to the baby is worth a pound of cure.

So here are some pictures of our pleasant moments. Our remind yourself when you start hyper-ventilating about not having the crib up yet and the babies clothes sorted out yet moments.

The school had a carnival, which included pony rides.

Lily looks like she is trying to figure something out about the horses mane

Gilbert got the baby pony

And there was face painting--for some reason, this picture reminds me of Justin's sister, Jocelyn

And since it was close to 90 that day, we got out the sprinkler

Orianna spent the first 10 minutes trying NOT to get wet, but still run through the sprinkler. Then she embraced the coldness and got drenched.

Gilbert is pleased

He thought drinking from the sprinkler ball half the fun. His swim diaper has a whale with fins on it. Cody thought his onesie was hanging out. 

Soaking up a few minutes of Vitamin D. I have never really done much with sunscreen, so I just try to keep the kids somewhat covered up (shirts) and have them not spend all day outside. It is my subtle rebellion against all the directions to slather your kids up each time the sun winks through the clouds.

Discovering blowing dandelion seeds

Then inside for some quiet book time

The bouquet they brought for Grandma

Sunday afternoon, on our very last day with Fiona. Well last semester anyway. She will be back in a few weeks for youth camp. But we miss her anyway.

A cat

Lily hanging out in the tree

And sitting on Fiona

And sitting by the mailbox 

Ashley and Owen

Love this picture!

Ignore our messy house. One day Justin got home exhausted from working in the attic in temperatures over 100, so Orianna dragged out the fans and brought him some comic books. I love that girl! 

Watching the Memorial day Parade

My gap-toothed girl

Tori helped us

Not sure why we had a contingent in kilts. But cool bagpipes.

And there was a demolition derby car in the line up even. 

And a few tractors. There were a LOT of firetrucks, etc in between as well as 4-H clubs and the like

My sweet girls walking home

Then we went to take care of the grave of a very dear friend. Orianna was really wanting to do this after I explained what Memorial Day was. This was someone who was very special to me, but who died before the kids could know him at all. So it was really nice to talk to them about him and everything he was and did. 

They wanted to wash the grave. Even though I said the rain probably took care of that. 

And then we put a basket of flowers there. 

Memorial Day is a very special Day. But one that I rarely give due consideration to. Honoring those who have gone before. Those who have died for us, those who have helped us, encouraged us, and made the world what it is today. 

Puts annoying stress tests into perspective. 


Rebekah said...

Well now you've gone and done it and dragged me away from Google Reader in tears to comment. :) Thank you for your sweet and caring trip to the cemetery. I had heard about your call to my MIL about are a dear and we so appreciate all of you up there. So hoping to see you this summer...but we'll see how things go in NH first. Love and hugs for the duration of your pregnancy. Please don't stress about all that's just stuff and it will get done someday, but enjoy these moments of little kiddos and babies and LIFE! It goes by SO fast!!

Virginia said...

These last couple blogs make me want to say so much, so I end up not saying anything at all. I should probably just call you sometime soon, but in the meantime, you DO have the right to refuse all these non-stress tests. You've had good results for so many in a row, you don't need to have multiple in a week. It's ridiculous and unneeded and I want to fight your doctor for being so ridiculous and stressful. I just found out I have June 16-19 off, so I should just come up and keep you company through your due date, so if you don't go on your due date, I can give you moral support if you choose to hold out until you DO go into labor. Solidarity, sister! Solidarity about what, I'm not sure, but I'm w/ you 100%! And another thing that chokes me up every blog is how wonderful and lovely your kids and husband are. I just think they're the greatest. And it was good to see Ralph's grave. I'll call you soon.

Fiona said...

I just got to see Joan and Connie today and Connie was so excited to tell about Orianna's idea to see Ralph. It was really cute, Connie first apologized to Joan before telling me the story--apparently Joan's heard it a lot!

Miss you guys lots!

Cecil and Amy said...

My whole family loves you for putting flowers on Daddy's grave. Thanks, Friend!

Connie said...

Loved the pics- you have the cutest kiddo's ever- loved Gilbert's fin diaper, and the post. Even though I hate it that you're stressed out, I'm excited you are so close to D day. All those end of term stresses are such a hassle but at the same time I'm kind of one who like to know every little move of my baby even if the doctor's appts are less than entertaining. Plus, it means that little girl Cotten will soon arrive! I hope you keep passing your stress tests and have an amazingly non-painful delivery if there ever were such a thing ;) Love you.

Evan and Clover and Co. said...

Sweet, sweet, kiddos. I wish we could come up today. Pout, pout. Anyway, I will help Nina fight the doctor. Stress tests are STRESSFUL!

geri douglas said...

I think everyone who commented on your post said what was in my heart. Children are the most precious gifts on earth, and I wish I could see you and your family. Can't wait to see the newest little Cotten baby, hugs and kisses to you and your family