Monday, November 16, 2009

Orange You Glad I Don't Have Diabetes?

Just in case I wasn't having enough fun, in case I needed a little more adventure and intrigue, the nurse called me on Wednesday to inform me that I'd failed my glucose screening test. By one point.

Two thoughts went through my head. Primarily, I felt like things were starting to unravel with the pregnancy. Yes, I went there – as I always do. This wasn't just a screening test I failed, it was another Bad Thing that might be happening with the pregnancy, and why me? The other thought I had was: I get to leave the house. On Friday, I had to return to the doctor's office for a fasting three-hour long glucose test that would tell us whether I did, in fact, have gestational diabetes. The test sounded like a drag, but at least I would have a change of scenery.

The first hour went okay. I had the baseline test, and she only had to jab me once to get it (my arms still look like a junkie's from the multiple attempts in the hospital to get an IV in me). Then I drank the orange glucose drink, and it went down fine. Other than the long wait, I thought, this is no big deal. Then I asked if they could sneak me in with the doctor just to check the baby's heartbeat and ensure all was well, given the excitement the week before.

As I waited in an exam room for the doctor, a feeling of lightheadedness set in, which didn't surprise me. I'm the kind of person who needs to snack between meals, and never more so than during pregnancy. So I figured that the fasting would have this effect on me. By the time the doctor finished examining me (all was well) and they drew my blood for the second time, the feeling had intensified. They brought me to a different room where I could stay and wait out the second and third hours, and I figured if I just lay down I would feel better.

You know the feeling you have about tequila/Southern comfort/insert name of liquor with which you had some sort of unfortunate college-years encounter and now cannot even say, much less smell or even contemplate drinking? That's the relationship I now have with that orange drink, which I could feel sloshing in my otherwise empty stomach. As I sat in that room, waves of intense nausea and lightheadedness washed over me in succession. My husband went and got a nurse, whom I informed (possibly whining) that I would be unable to finish the test. She pleaded with me to finish – brought me a johnny and put cold towels on my forehead and the back of my neck to prevent me from fainting. My husband asked me if I could take my picture (he seems to enjoy capturing these charmed moments), and this time I didn't even care. The blood taker lady then came in for the second-hour test and told me that if I didn't finish, I would be treated as a diabetic – put on a special diet, the whole nine yards. The waves of sickness had let up a bit by then, so I somehow resolved to finish. And I did. Without fainting or vomiting. Victory, I'd say.

A huge lunch and a three-hour nap later, I had recovered from the ordeal on Friday. As I awaited the call with the results today, I knew it was unlikely that I actually had GD, but oh what the heck, I figured I may as well worry about it anyway. Turns out, I don't have GD. So the whole orange drink/near-fainting in the doctor's office thing was just for kicks and giggles.

As a practical matter for those of you who have the screening in your future: I now know that I should have fasted before that first test. The instructions I got from my doctor's office specifically said that no fasting was required, but since I only failed it by one point my guess is that would've made a difference. And it would've been a whole lot easier to fast before drinking that horror than endure the three-hour nightmare.

Also, while I am normal weight, because I have PCOS I had adhered to a pretty strict "good carbs" diet while TTC and for most of the pregnancy, because why not? I didn't avoid carbs completely, but I almost never ate "white" carbs, keeping almost totally to whole grains, and limited carbs and sugar overall. I was pretty disciplined about it, and after a while it wasn't even an effort. As my bump has grown, my discipline on this front has faded in direct proportion, and I'm afraid I may have fallen off the wagon a bit, particularly in recent weeks and with the arrival of Halloween candy on the scene. Although the nurse today said the one-point failure on the screening test now means absolutely nothing, I'm taking this experience as a wake-up call for me to get back on that wagon. Because it's healthy, and because what I put in my mouth is one thing that at least I can fully control.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bed Resting

I was going to write something cautionary about not declaring that you've made any kind of emotional progress toward feeling adjusted and optimistic (a la my last post), lest you tempt fate, as it seems I did. But what's the point? I'm here, on bed rest, and we're okay. The baby and I. That is the important thing.

Here's what went down: I get to work last Wednesday morning and discover blood in underwear. Assume due to complete placenta previa that I think I still have (follow-up ultrasound was scheduled for Friday). Freak. Speed to doctor's office. Sent for monitoring at attached hospital. Transferred by ambulance (good times) to academic medical center downtown (NICU supports 28-week preemies). Hooked up to more monitors. Brought down to ultrasound. Previa discovered to be resolved (shock and wonder: then what is causing the bleeding?). Bleeding seems to have stopped. Transferred to lower-key floor for monitoring overnight. Bleeding resumes that night, intensifies in morning. Brought back down to Labor & Delivery. More monitoring. Baby looks beautiful entire time – blissfully unaware of drama. Bleeding seems to stop again. Brought back to low-key floor for more overnight monitoring. Released from hospital late Friday to bed rest at home. Where I've remained.

The experience was terrifying – I'm sure I don't need to describe that in detail. I don't think I've ever felt more vulnerable or out of control. Now that I'm home, I am calmer and more confident, but I still have moments of trepidation. We don't know why I bled, though the diagnosis when they don't know is almost always a placental abruption. So now the goal is to get me as far along in the pregnancy as possible, barring (knock wood) more bleeding. My doctor even said this morning that if I go to full term I could have a regular delivery. Nothing sounds better to me. A regular delivery, after so much irregularity.

Until then, just hoping and praying that things stay quiet, that this little boy stays healthy and that I, somehow, am able to stay distracted, calm and positive.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Movin' Right Along

So I'm back and still pregnant – undeniably so. Sometimes I see my reflection in a mirror or a window and I can't believe it's really me.

When you're in the thick of infertility treatments, as I was mere months ago, you think that once you're pregnant, you'll have crossed some sort of invisible line – that (at least once you see a heartbeat) you'll be somehow home free. You think that those who have crossed that line must feel a smug satisfaction, a sense that they have beaten infertility. That they must now be in a state of constant maternal bliss as they shop for baby clothes and choose nursery paint.

The reality, at least for me, has been much more complicated. Yes, there have been many, many moments of sheer joy and optimism as I look forward to the arrival of this long-pined-for child. But there have also been an equal number of moments of real fear, of obsessive worry.

The first trimester is about blind faith. You're told you're pregnant, but while you don't feel all that great, there's no physical sign that tells you, definitively, that you are. You count the hours until your next ultrasound, and for a moment while you look at that pulsating speck on the screen you feel at peace. But then you leave the doctor's office and there's nothing to do but wonder it's still alive. You recognize how fleeting it all can be, remembering what happened to you and so many others you know. You obsess about the symptoms you may or may not have, deluding yourself into thinking that they mean anything at all. You count the weeks until the next milestone, telling yourself that once you pass it you will allow yourself to relax.

In the second trimester, you reach some of those milestones. You've passed 12 weeks, you hear the heartbeat. You have two ultrasounds during which you see a real baby frolicking around inside of you. You may or may not call the nurse more than once, in a panic, begging her for an extra heartbeat check. That moment in which you exhale and feel that overwhelming sense of calm never comes, but you do feel a vague shift and a sense of growing confidence. You begin to expect that your regularly scheduled OB appointment might just be routine – you don't even play out the worst-case scenarios that used to seize your mind as you sat in that pregnant-lady waiting room. And then you feel bubbles inside that are definitely not the rumblings of your own stomach. And you forget yourself for a moment, you let yourself just be inside the awe-inspiring moment that that really is.

As I move into the third trimester (28 weeks on Tuesday), no longer fumbling, perhaps, but still a little uncertain, I am not yet sure what to expect. I am learning to trust more in medical science than the constant voice of rumination in my head. I am learning to trust in this baby, who so often seems like a force of nature that is happening to me rather than the other way around. I still feel so, so vulnerable at times, and terribly frightened of this love I feel – like it or not – for this child. But I'm moving right along in spite of it.