May 2011

I had a checkup this morning at 15 weeks of pregnancy, and got to see Halloween Riley. His bones are developing very well, and structurally, he looks like a little (perfect) skeleton. There’s a big heart beating away in the middle of his ribcage. The head (skeleton skull) is clearly defined now, as with the neck bones, vertebrae, hips, etc. He was lying face-down again, his favorite position, and when I’d laugh or tighten my stomach, he’d do a little dance, nod his head up and down, bring his hands in and pump it a little like he’s housing. (Remember “housing” to stuff like C+C Music Factory, my 90s friends?) The doctor noted that he’s an active li’l thing and asked if I’ve been feeling his movements yet. Turns out that the minor uterine spasms and twitches and “gas bubbles” I’d been feeling for weeks now WAS the kid moving about. And people say I can’t feel movement until 18 weeks.
The doctor also checked the length of my cervix. Since I’ve had a big chunk of cervix taken out in the LEEP some years ago, they want to make sure I don’t have an incompetent cervix that will droop and start opening with the pressure of a fetus. I was warned that LEEPs come with a small risk of future premature labor/miscarriage. Since I started this baby project, various doctors have checked and been comfortable with the length of my cervix (which I guess was luckily long to begin with), and today, my OB measured it at 4cm, “totally normal,” he said. Whew.

The human body is an amazing thing (when you’re in tune with it). I still haven’t thrown up, and I’ve been listening to my body. I give it the basic substance of what it’s asking for, and avoid the thing it says it doesn’t want, without questioning, but I later discover that I’d been doing the right things. For example, my sprouts aversion early on confused Mr. W, because it’d been one of my favorite things to eat — I just read last nite that I should be avoiding sprouts, ESPECIALLY alfalfa sprouts, during pregnancy. (It didn’t say why.) And for the past month or so, I’d been wanting lemonade, tomato-based sauces, etc. I’ve been drinking some lemonade (natural when I can get it) and I made spaghetti (not out of a jar) over the weekend. Yesterday, in my reading, I also found that I need to eat lycopene (found in tomatos) and 10 teaspoons of tomato sauce a week oughta do it. AND, turned out, the cravings for sour has to do with my pH balance being more alkaline than normal during pregnancy, so my body was trying to balance back, and apparently tried to warn me to be more acidic (which I’d been careful about because I’d had a stomach ulcer in the past), but I didn’t do it enough because I ended up with a common woman infection last week thanks to the pH in the infected area not being acidic enough, as I later learned.

I still get insomnia here and there, but based on the checkup this morning, the doctor says I’m right on track and doing well. He’s placed my target weight gain at 20 lbs for the entire pregnancy. I think I’m finally up a pound or two, but still not really showing. Mr. W’s besties came by over the weekend to help him with his computer upgrade, and the woman bestie greeted me with a hug, then looked down and said disappointedly that she couldn’t even tell I was preggers. “I wanted to take pictures of your belly,” she said. Doctor said this morning I should start showing at 20 weeks. That’s 5 weeks away. To me, it’s worth celebrating cuz I get to procrastinate another 5 weeks before having to shop for maternity clothes.

It wasn’t my choice to come to this country, because I was too young to be involved in decision-making at age 6…but this has truly been the best decision made on my behalf. Thanks, mom and dad, for the immigration and citizenship, and thank you to our troops, past, present and future, for making this country everything that it has been, is, and will be. Happy Memorial Day, God bless America.

The home PC’s going thru some issues. Mr. W is working on fixing it. Today will be the 3rd consecutive day we’d visit his favorite computer parts store after work. He expects to basically rebuild his PC with all new upgraded parts by the end of this Memorial Day weekend. Until then, I won’t really have access to the PC to blog about the road trip. Plus, he’s got photos on his cameraphone he hasn’t sent me yet. =P (Neither of us brought our “real” cameras.) Why don’t I just post from work? Well, cuz work suck ASS right now. I was so pissed yesterday about it that I gagged. Maybe I’ll blog about it, but for now, I’m just too venomous to put it all in writing in detail. BUT…I will leave you with this, cuz it’s more positive than I can be at the moment.

Rebecca posted this, and at first I thought, “What a spoiled little kitten, with its very own leopard print blankie.” And then, it just got better. And better.

Best minute you’ve spent all week? Me, too.

I’m back from a weeklong+ roadtrip from home to Vancouver, Canada and back! Gosh darn if the pants I packed and wore at the beginning of the road trip aren’t snugger now, 11 days later. And the doctor said that the baby is too small for me to feel moving around, but I feel deep nerve twinges and muscle twitches, the latter kind of like an air bubble going through the intestine (sorry to imply gas), and I know they’re involuntary cuz they happen when I’m not doing anything. I’m not looking forward to clothes-shopping, but I’m estimating that I have about a week or two left in these regular slacks. That gives me enough time to go into denial and procrastinate another few days. Weight gain is still minimal-to-none at this point, 14 weeks in, but my body dimensions are changing so I’m doing my best to keep stretch marks at bay with daily cocoa butter slatherings. I’ll post road trip stuff soon.

Some quick highlights:
* bought my first baby item (well, item-and-a-half) at Pike Marketplace in Seattle, WA
* found future dream retirement community in Ashland, OR
* over Vancouver, Canada.
* enjoyed time spent with NorCal friends, and discovering a long-desired treat: Magnum Bars (Had fun with that one on the social networking site.)
* had a very different homecoming this time compared to the last one upon our return from Italy.

Me: I was wondering why this couple I’m doing a divorce case on filed for divorce 4 months after they got married. Then I looked at his mailing address and realized it’s North Kern State Prison. She had him served in prison with her divorce papers 4 months after they got married so he must’ve gotten incarcerated right before she filed. Haha, so much for “stand by your man.”
Mr. W: Or maybe he’s in prison BECAUSE of her.
Me: What do you mean? Like he took the rap for something she did?
Mr. W: No, like maybe he hit her. That’s why she filed.
Me: OooOOOOoooh. Interesting.

I had my genetic counseling appointment and genetic testing appointment yesterday. The two are recommended for anyone giving birth at or after the age of 35 (I’ll be 35 and almost 5 months at Riley’s due date). The genetic counselor took down my family history and Mr. W’s family history as far as health and birth defects, and drew them on a giant family tree. Mr. W wasn’t there, so turned out his half of the family tree (as told by me to the counselor) is largely wrong. I don’t know/remember how many siblings each of his parents have and when/what they died from and what kids each of them had. 🙁 They’re out of state. Looking broadly at the tree, however, the genetic counselor wasn’t concerned with birth defects, although she was slightly alarmed by the number of my mom’s miscarriages and the number of people in Mr. W’s family with high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease. I don’t think my mom’s miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, tho. I think the incompetent doctors in Taiwan messed her up when they aborted the twins she almost had after me. (One had died in utero so they had to abort the other one.)

After the genetic counselor talked to me about my odds of an abnormal baby and the prenatal testing available, I went to my genetic testing appointment. I had already opted for the full integrated screen, which means they draw my blood to test for problem markers in the first trimester (they already did that last week), combine that with the results of a nuchal transparency ultrasound (yesterday’s 2nd apptmt), and give me a preliminary assessment. Then they take more blood in the 2nd trimester, compare those results to the blood results from the 1st trimester, and give me with pretty good accuracy my odds of having a kid with certain common types of birth defects. So I had my first abdominal ultrasound yesterday for the nuchal transparency test. What they’re looking for is to measure the thickness of the back of the baby’s neck; extra space back there at this point in the development means possible Down syndrome. Ideally, the baby should be on its back, turned about 3/4 away from the screen. As active as Riley was in the ultrasound last week, yesterday he would not cooperate. He first showed up face-down and nearly upside-down as if in a forehead-plant, his butt angled up at my belly button as I laid on my back. It took a few minutes for him to turn around and settle onto his back, but he was so perfectly profile that the ultrasound tech couldn’t get a good picture of the back of his neck. She tapped my stomach repeatedly with the ultrasound wand, had me cough, waited, jostled my stomach again, and he would NOT move. She even had me go to the restroom to empty my bladder to change the dimensions in there, hoping he’d resettle into a position she could use. When I returned to the table to resume the ultrasound, Riley was again face-down in his forehead-plant. The nurse thought it was funny that he flips that way when I’m up and printed out that photo to give me, then called the doctor in to see if she would have more luck. The doctor managed to take a useable photo of his neck, albeit upside-down, and took the rest of his measurements with him in that position. After she finished, she suddenly turned the screen toward me and said, “See, we can’t do a thing to make them move, but they’ll just do it on their own.” I watched Riley slowly turn, kicking with his little feet, and finally lay face-up on his back. She checked out a few more structural things in closeup like his hands, arms, heart. I heard the heartbeat for the first time, a portion of which they recorded and measured. And then I was told my preliminary results.
They had tested for some typical and ethnically common birth defects, given my race and Mr. W’s, looking for markers in my blood. All those came out negative.
A “positive screen” for Down syndrome is considered a probability result of 1 in 100; my probability came out as 1 in 400-some.
A “positive screen” for Trisomy-18 (like Down, an extra chromosome that causes mental developmental problems) is considered a probability result of 1 in 50; my probability came out 1 in 62,000-some.
This is great news preliminarily, and if the 2nd trimester blood test confirms these low odds, I can skip the invasive diagnostic amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling tests.

Something odd, though: Riley’s measuring developmentally 3-4 days ahead. He was supposed to be 12 weeks 0 days old, but measured 12 weeks 3-4 days old, although the doctor said the extra length may be due to the fact that he was floating face-down, elongating his neck. Maybe he wants to come out and play a little earlier than scheduled.

Mr. W and I took my mom, grandma, and dad out for dinner on Friday night for Mother’s Day. I felt bad because with all the doctor appointments and running around we did in the past week and a half, I hadn’t been able to buy my mom and grandma a Mother’s Day gift. They’re also really cheap dates; Grandma chose Boston Cafe (although it turned out she meant the affiliated restaurant Boston Kitchen a few miles away, oops), so the entire dinner with tax and tip included came out to just over $50.

Mr. W and I drove out early Saturday morning to spend the weekend with his side of the family in Vegas and just returned today. We gave his dad a 1-day advance warning (we were supposed to be on vacation all next week, but changed our minds last minute and gave the days back, altho keeping Monday to drive home) that we were coming, and his dad said that just the day before, my mother-in-law had remarked, “I have a feeling they’re coming down to see us this weekend.” Very intuitive of her! We arrived Saturday late morning and ate lunch at Mr. W’s must-have restaurant every time we go to Vegas: Aurelio’s Chicago pizza. Mr. W’s parents and Gamer Bro were with us. Then Sunday, most of the family (all those who didn’t have to work) took my MIL to a champagne brunch buffet at South Point Hotel & Casino. There’s free mimosas and champagne with our meal, pre-poured, and Mr. W and his mom both told me that given my inability to drink, I should grab a champagne/mimosa anyway and give it to them. All of us walked up to the beverage table and got an OJ and a champagne, or so we thought. Turned out the OJ was a mimosa so we ended up with WAY too much alcohol at the table. Mr. W, his mom, and Rocker Brother did their best to drink the table dry, but didn’t do all that well; Gamer Bro finished what he took, his wife and I didn’t drink either one, and the kids’ end of the table drank surprisingly little given that they’re used to drinking and partying. I guess champagne isn’t their thing. Mr. W drank so much that he ended the brunch with a cartwheel at the elevator lobby and dance-swirled his way to the car in the parking structure while holding a laughing 2-year-old niece. Now I know how to get him to take care of babies. I’ll make sure the house is fully stocked with champagne.

This weekend also marks the day I “came out” on the social networking site. I had been pondering how to do it, and thought maybe I’d just jump right into it with a status message that says, “Cindy says goodbye to the first trimester and hello to the second.” However, Mr. W gave me an unexpected opening opportunity. I posted this photo instead, with the following caption:

Hubby surprised me with my first Mother’s Day present.

At first the only comments that drew were from people who already knew, such as Rebecca (who knew before we had even begun the process to get pregnant) and some coworkers (I’ve already been outed at work). I started to think that my coming out post was too subtle. But soon, and then like wildfire, others caught on. I got a bunch of congratulatory remarks, questions, comments, and a bunch of Happy Mother’s Day well-wishes. I hadn’t considered this my first Mother’s Day, but everyone else said it counts, including Mr. W. I even received a voice mail from my cousin Olivia, who put both her young daughters on the phone to wish me a happy first Mother’s Day. It was very sweet. 🙂

My prenatal gym trainer asked me yesterday how many times I’d worked out since I’d seen him last week. I drew a blank, then realized it was because aside from a day of pilates, I hadn’t worked out. My week has been filled with a variety of doctors and patients instead.

First, a vet: Dodo’s been scratching and pawing at his ears, and altho I Q-tip it to clean it out, the tips come out purplish-brown each time and he’s been shaking his head anytime I graze his ear. So I decided I need medication. Yup, two ear infections, bacterial and a touch of yeast. I was given (or rather, allowed to purchase at high cost) ear drops and was instructed to administer drops in his ears twice a day for two weeks. Meanwhile, the vet flushed out Dodo’s ears really well. Dodo did not appreciate that and sulked in his cat condo when he got home:

Next, an urgent care visit: Mr. W started having a lower back pain last Wednesday, and he had an accupuncture appointment Thursday, so he told the accupuncturist about his complaint. She supposedly treated him for that with needles in his knee and somewhere else I can’t recall. She not only didn’t cure it, but it got WAY worse. By Friday he had overall body discomfort, his skin and scalp hurt, he had a headache, and a fever started. All of that was secondary to the increased back pain that became so aggravated he couldn’t stand or sit or lean by Sunday, AND he was having difficulty urinating. Unable to sleep the past nights from pain, fever and discomfort, he finally agreed to go to Urgent Care on Sunday. Given the symptoms and confirmed fever, the doctor took a urine sample to check for a urinary tract/bladder infection, which came out negative. The doctor also ordered a urine culture anyway, to see if bacteria or flora or something would grow so they could figure out what the infection is. In the meantime, Mr. W was prescribed a 2-week course of Cipro antibiotics to kill whatever may be causing the symptoms, as the culture wouldn’t be done for a few days, and was instructed to call his regular doctor on Wednesday (today) if he doesn’t feel better. When we went to the lab, turned out the doctor had also ordered a urine sample to test for the STD chlamydia (which probably wasn’t mentioned in front of me so as to not breach patient confidentiality, and who expects an honest answer if a doctor asked a patient in front of the patient’s wife, “Have you had extramarital sex in the past few months?”). Since the appointment on Sunday, Mr. W’s discomfort and back pain did not alleviate, he continued to not sleep well, not pee well, and his fever raged on. He’d take a few Tylenols to bring the fever down, and it’d work, then the Tylenol would wear off and immediately his temperature would shoot up again. My mom and prenatal gym trainer both suspect kidney stones. (This is a primary reason I gave up drinking sodas years ago, among some other health reasons.) He took both Monday and Tuesday off work, althought he’s back at work today. I wanted him to see his regular doctor today, but he’s being stubborn and he *thinks* his fever broke and he’s feeling less agony. I’ll see if I could convince him to make an appointment for this evening.

My first OB visit: Now for some better doctor visits. I had my first OB visit with Kaiser yesterday. The doctor was very nice and Mr. W liked him a lot. He studied my blood test results, ordered some other routine tests, and did a vaginal ultrasound and physical checkup. Turns out I’m too early in the pregnancy for the anemia to be of the baby’s doing, so I AM anemic. He encouraged me to supplement my prenatals with iron, so I’m back to my vegetarian liquid supplement Floradix (which I LOVE). I lost some weight so I’m actually a pound less now than pre-pregnancy which I was concerned about, but the OB wasn’t concerned. He said I’m healthy and way ahead of his other patients, with whom he has to spend hours explaining proper nutrition, as the trend of pregnancy problems in the OC is overeating, not undereating. The nutritional needs of the baby right now are minimal.
So now the fun stuff: ultrasound. At my angle laying down I couldn’t see the screen in detail, but I did see that the baby was now filling up the previous black void in the uterus. And then this conversation:
OB: This kid is going to TOWN!
Me: What do you mean?
OB: It’s moving around so much that I can’t get a still picture to take a measurement.
[Seeing a profile, then a back, then a butt, then feet. Then a head, a heartbeat, then feet. Then profile, then back, then hands.]
Me: I thought that was YOU doing that, moving the ultrasound around!
OB: No, it’s the kid. Watch. [Holding the ultrasound still. Seeing the front, then the profile, then the back, then feet.]
Me: Does this mean it’s gonna be a kicky kid?
OB: Well, it certainly has that possibility.
Me: Can you tell where the placenta is attached?
OB: It’s hard to tell that right now, but it seems to be anterior…but let me get this measurement first, it’s important.
[Mr. W takes out his phone and starts filming the screen, getting the following footage after the kid stopped dancing quite so much.]

So the good news is, Riley’s developmentally right on schedule, and the placenta does not seem to be over the cervix, which is how it looked in the last ultrasound video. And, he’s sure alive. I thought it was adorable he was all happy and playing in there (which I can’t feel), but Mr. W in his sickly stupor put a damper on it. “I don’t think it’s a good thing that he’s rolling around so much. There’s still a lot of room in there for him to move around, what if he wraps himself up and gets tangled in the umbilical cord?” WAAAAH!!! Well, the doctor didn’t seem concerned. :/