Baby #4: Halfway There!

Between all of our summer activities, preparing for school this fall, and keeping up with the Little Ones, this pregnancy is flying by! It definitely helps to know that Paul made it to 35 weeks. Our doctor is very unconcerned and expects us to make it even longer this time. I can honestly say I am (now that the first trimester is over) enjoying this pregnancy more than any of the others.

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This is the famous “alien” shot. Baby is looking right at you with his/her head on the right and is holding up his/her hand over his/her chest. You can even see his/her little eyes.

At 20 1/2 weeks now, I’m not big enough to be uncomfortable, and I’m no longer feeling terribly sick. I have had some more nausea this week, but nothing compared to what it was before. I’ve also had my first evenings of pregnancy insomnia. Two nights in a row I lay in bed completely wide awake until I finally gave up and got up. After a couple hours, a snack, and lots of reading, I eventually was able to go back to sleep. Since then, I’ve cut my naps shorter and I’ve been sleeping better. Soon the days will be here when I’ll be exhausted and unable to sleep for other reasons. 😉

Pregnancy cravings are always interesting. I haven’t had any uncontrollable cravings lately, though there have been nights when I really wanted a brownie or some Ramen noodles, or the one night when I really wanted a chili dog. Mostly I’ve been craving fruit. Dan has been buying me my own little batch of nectarines every week and I eat one almost every day. I’ve also been craving almond milk. Almost every day, at some point, I have a cold mugful and it always hits the spot.

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There’s Baby’s arm and leg!

Prenatal visits have been going well. Baby is measuring about right for his/her due date so far, and was head down at our 20-week ultrasound last week! Good job Baby! I’ve mentioned this before, but people keep asking, so I’ll say it again. We are not planning on finding out if we’re having a boy or girl until s/he arrives. I just loved getting through labor and delivery and being handed my baby when I found out Paul was a boy for the first time, and I’m looking forward to being surprised again.

There have been no signs of early labor, so far. There was about a week of concerning symptoms (I’ll spare you the details) but a quick trip to check on Baby’s heartbeat calmed our fears, and our doctor suspects it was just aftermath from my surgery around week 13. I’m only going to the doctor once a month, compared to once every other week with Paul, so everything feels very laid back and happy.

I had grand hopes of cooking three months of freezer meals again for this baby, either for time in the NICU, time on bed rest, or time after Baby is born. I only got through a small fraction of my list before the first trimester nausea hit too hard to keep going. So, our chest freezer is full of soups, crock pot meals, and some homemade “Larabars” and muffins, but that’s about the extent of my emergency planning for this pregnancy. I am just hoping things continue to progress smoothly and I won’t have to be on bed rest for two months (or at all) come fall.

It’s just so hard to believe how far along Baby is already. I like to pack my hospital bag at 24 weeks, since that’s the age Baby could survive if s/he dared to come that early, and that’s only 3 1/2 weeks away! Hopefully, though, it’ll be another 16 weeks or so before this Little One arrives.

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Pleasant Surprises: 29 Week Pregnancy Update

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Well, after the last update I wasn’t sure I would make it to this one! But, here we are, two weeks later and Baby is still staying put.

After the last ultrasound and prenatal appointment, Dan took over the household chores and I resigned myself to sitting around all day. By the end of the first week I was getting pretty bored. On Saturday, Dan let me ride along to the library and to Meijer and sit in the car while he picked up books and some groceries. These Saturday outings have since become a highlight in my week. Is that sad?

In fact, last week Dan wasn’t feeling particularly well so we stayed home from Bible study on Wednesday. By the time Saturday rolled around I realized that I hadn’t stepped foot outside the house since Sunday. Yes, I certainly have been taking it easy.

To fill my time I have been clearing out our old computer (it runs much faster now) and reading a lot. Some books I read by myself, some books I read out loud to the girls, and some books I read out loud while the girls play. I’m not sure they’re really listening to the stories but when I stop reading Lydia corrects me, “No, read louder!”. Dan and the girls have also been hearing the stories of all my reading during our meal times.

Every morning Lydia prays that God would “please help Baby not be born today”. Every morning and evening I pray the same. And every night Dan prays that Baby would not come during the night. Someday we’ll be happy to receive Baby, but not yet!

Last Wednesday I had another checkup and we were thrilled to find out that some of the “labor is approaching” signs have actually reversed themselves. We’re doing about 14 different things to try to keep baby in there and at least one of them seems to be working! Baby, for the second consecutive ultrasound, is measuring 2 weeks big.

Here are the pictures from our appointment. The top picture is Baby’s abdomen, which we measure to get a guess on Baby’s size. The bottom picture is Baby’s face (forehead on the right, chin on the left in the shadows) looking right at you. It’s a little hard to tell, but the most prominent part is Baby’s nose. (I’ve found that it’s much easier to decipher Baby’s face if you actually turn your head to the right).

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Friday was a huge milestone, the gestation when Abby was born. Yes, Baby made it successfully past the 28 week, 4 day mark and then yesterday to the 29 week mark. Lydia was born at 30 weeks and 6 days, which is in less than two weeks. If the ultrasounds are correct and Baby really is two weeks big for his/her age, this Baby could be the biggest one yet.

So there have been a lot of exciting developments. Our next appointment isn’t until February 16, when Baby will be 31 weeks. Our doctor will actually be on vacation February 8 – February 14, so we are earnestly hoping Baby does come until after he gets back.

Here are the latest numbers:

2 days until my oldest sister is due with her Baby!
6 days until Baby reaches 30 weeks.
9 days until my other sister is due with her Baby!
12 days until Baby reaches Lydia’s birth age, 30 weeks and 6 days.
13 days until our next appointment.
20 days until our goal, 32 weeks.

(Yes, all three of us sisters are pregnant at the same time and only time will tell what order our babies are born in!)

On one hand, each day is an adventure. My belly is stretching so much more than ever before that it hurts every night and often during the day. Baby hardly has room in there to move around, and when s/he does it’s not at all comfortable for Mommy. All of the aches and pains are good reminders that Baby is making it longer, but also good reminders that Baby could come any day or night.

On the other hand, life it pretty uneventful. We sit, we read, we lay down, we take naps, we go to bed early. And by “we” I really mean me and Baby. Dan is working like a madman trying to do everything he does, everything I used to do, and more. As crazy as things are for him and as exciting or boring as things get for me, we are thankful for each day that Baby is not in the NICU and we are trusting God to keep Baby safe and warm for as long as possible.

Treading Dangerous Waters: 25 Week Pregnancy Update

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I am now in the phase of this pregnancy my doctor recently referred to as “dangerous waters”: 20-28 weeks. As far as preemies go, 28 weeks is a huge milestone we really want to reach (and pass). So far, so good. Baby is staying put and there have been no signs of coming labor. Good job, Baby!

Three main things have happened since the last update.

First of all, Baby has been breech in every ultrasound from 10 weeks up to my last update, at 22 weeks. Happily for me, Baby flipped shortly after the last update and has been head-down during both of our most recent prenatal visits.

Abigail had to be delivered via c-section because she was breech. While it’s sometimes possible to deliver term babies in a breech presentation, this would be especially dangerous for a preemie. According to my doctor, I have a 50% chance of having a breech baby, so this was a concern of mine over the past several weeks. Somewhere between some baby-flipping exercises, Baby’s own desire to be upside-down, and (most importantly) lots of prayer, our Baby has flipped and will hopefully stay that way. (And for a nice long time too!)

Second, I have packed a hospital bag. I don’t know if this is a big step for most people or not, but for us it is. I’ve never made it far enough along in a pregnancy to do any nesting or preparing for birth. With both of our girls, my water broke and Dan had to scramble around gathering some items before we rushed to the hospital. This time, I planned far ahead and put together as much of my hospital bag as possible, along with a list of some last-minute items for Dan to throw in if we have another surprise labor.

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Along with the hospital bag, we’ve also lined up babysitters for the girls for whenever I do go into labor. This is a huge burden off my back; I feel like I can really just relax and be ready for Baby to come whenever s/he is ready.

Finally, we got our betamethasone shots! For those who are unfamiliar, this is a shot that comes in two doses, given 24 hours apart, that helps prepare Baby’s lungs in case Baby does come early. Baby’s lungs are one of the last things to develop in utero, so breathing is the first and biggest obstacle most preemies have to face. Getting this set of steroid shots gives Baby an easier time learning to breath early. I got the first dose of the shot with both Lydia and Abigail while I was in labor, but it was too late to do any good. This Baby has his/her full dose and will be set for the next 6 weeks.

Baby is moving around a lot, more than I remember with Lydia or Abby. Baby also feels big. I was concerned about this over Christmas and kept telling Dan, “I just feel like Baby is running out of room.” After a couple nights of this, Dan pointed out to me that all pregnant women probably feel like they’re running out of room. That doesn’t mean Baby is coming tonight, this week, or even this month. We certainly hope not.

In our ultrasounds, Baby is measuring about 4 days big for his/her age, and everything looks normal. No signs of labor. No signs of complications. And there is plenty of amniotic fluid.

Here’s Baby’s latest picture. It’s a little hard to see, but Baby’s head is sideways and the left side is in shadow. You can see Baby’s chin (on the left), nose, and his/her right eye (near the top of the picture), which looks shut. Baby just might have been sleeping when this picture was taken. 🙂

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Pregnancy Update: 22 Weeks

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A couple of weeks ago, Dan and I took the girls with us to see Baby’s 20-week ultrasound screening. Because we’re not trying to find out if this is a boy or girl, we had to miss a lot of the screening while the ultrasound tech did her job with the screen turned away from us. Nevertheless, we did get some peeks at Baby and some cute pictures to share.

Here’s a shot of Baby’s face.

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The head is on the right side of the screen, looking right at you.

Our ultrasound tech said this was the most beautiful baby she had seen in a long time. By that she meant that Baby cooperated and allowed her to see everything she was supposed to see.

Here’s a picture of Baby’s hand and foot.

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At one point during the ultrasound, our tech showed us that Baby was resting his/her head on my artery. Every time my heart pumped Baby’s head would move up and down with my heartbeat. It looked like s/he was having a little dance party in there.

Here’s the foot again.

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Toward the end of the ultrasound we got to see Baby’s profile. S/he was pressed right up against the placenta. It looked like s/he was giving it kisses.

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Everything from the ultrasound looked good and everything in the pregnancy is progressing normally. The next couple weeks are exciting for us as Baby is approaching the age where s/he will be big enough to survive if and when I do go into labor (early). Until then I’m trying to take it easy and keep life as uneventful as possible.

Just for fun I took a picture of me with Baby at 21 weeks to compare with my 21 week shot of Abigail. Abby’s on the left, Baby 3 on the right, and I even wore the same shirt for easy comparison. What do you think? Can you tell a difference or do Abby and Baby 3 look the same this far along?

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Our next appointment is scheduled for tomorrow. We’ll do another ultrasound, and talk about our plans for the weeks ahead as we enter the time when Baby will be getting old enough to survive if s/he comes that early. We’re hoping, though, for another 10 weeks.

Baby Update: 26 Weeks

Since I have not given any real pregnancy update on the blog yet, I decided to update you all from the beginning of the pregnancy up to the present.

In April, we announced to our family and friends, and then everyone else, that we are happily expecting Baby Number Two. May 1st was our first prenatal appointment and our first view of this little one. According to her size during that ultrasound, she is due on November 30th, although Dan and I suspect her actual due date may be a little earlier in November. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Here she is measuring less than 3 cm (just over an inch) at 9 ½ weeks gestation:

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As Dan finished his last semester at Eastern, I was fighting more nausea than I ever had with Lydia. And I became an extremely picky eater. Of course, pickles and ice cream were my biggest cravings, but also macaroni and cheese (actually any sort of cheese), cinnamon rolls, and brownies. Lentils, broccoli, and salsa were absolutely revolting for those first few months.

Because Lydia had been born nine weeks early, I have an increased probability of having another preemie. And because Lydia had to spend her first six weeks in the hospital, and because that was one of the most difficult situations Dan and I have ever experienced, we were eager to do everything possible to prevent another early delivery. What can be done? Well, not much, to be honest. The doctors have been eager to keep an extra close eye on us, take lots of ultrasounds, and require extra visits. We have been prayerfully making our decisions as they come, and so far have found a pleasant balance of extra care and reasonability.

When I was twelve and a half weeks along, we went in for an intense ultrasound that was supposed to help determine our course of preventative treatment. Since things looked normal (as they always did with Lydia) we didn’t learn a whole lot from this one, but it was fun to see Baby again. Here she is, now just over 11 cm long (that’s almost 4 ½ inches):

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One slight complication the ultrasound identified was that Baby’s umbilical cord is attached to the edge of the placenta, instead of being centered. From our best understanding, this usually doesn’t affect Baby, but there’s a “possibility”, say the doctors, that Baby could not get everything she needs through the cord to grow properly. The solution is to do lots of extra ultrasounds to see if she’s growing, and if not, deliver early. We’d rather not deliver early and certainly don’t plan on delivering so early that she couldn’t survive, so we have delayed these extra ultrasounds for the moment.

In July we had our big ultrasound, the one where we found out that Baby is a girl. For most of this one, she was all curled up, making the tech’s job pretty difficult. Here’s Lydia’s little sister when she was almost 20 weeks:

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According to this ultrasound, Baby is big for her age, which is good considering the umbilical cord situation. It also supports Dan and my theory that the due date may be a little off. Most people expect their baby quite close to the due date, but with our suspicions combined with my history, we have no idea when Baby might surprise us!

The good news is that tomorrow I will be 26 weeks along, and 80% of babies born at 26 weeks survive. The rate goes up to 90% at 27 weeks and hits 95% by 28 weeks. Needless to say, we are thankful to be where we are! For those who are interested, September 27 would be the date when baby is as old as Lydia, when Lydia was born. So that’s the next big milestone. My personal goal is to make it to November 2, 36 weeks, which is when most babies can go home without time in the NICU and without developmental complications.

So, there’s a breakdown of our past 6 months as far as baby is concerned. Thanks to all who have prayerfully supported us through the pregnancy so far. We trust that this little one is in God’s hands, and will be born when He wants her to be. I’ve also had my moments of anxiety, convinced that Baby would “certainly be born any minute!”, but many praying ladies from church have lifted us up and those fears have been replaced with the peace that passes all understanding.

Baby Two, we love you and are so excited for when God does bring you into this world, though we hope it’s not too soon!