Thursday, December 18, 2014

Week 30

All I can say about my week 30 appointment is that I am beyond grateful that I am already a parent, because if it weren't for GW and GV I'd be a furious, incoherent mess as I sit here typing at the computer.  Having spent the last two weeks fretting about my weight, my amniotic fluid index (AFI) levels, and Baby's rapid weight gain I hardly slept a wink last night as I tossed and turned in anticipation of my perinatal appointment this afternoon.   Waking up twenty minutes after the alarm clock went off and finding an abnormally high weight on my home scale (up two pounds from yesterday... guess I shouldn't have had that banana) didn't start the day off well.  Attempting to look at least partially decent for the first time in a week, I threw on some clothes, quickly did my hair and make-up and went into the kid's room to find both GW and GV awake but still lounging in their beds.  Happy to not continue the morning battle with our usual "but, Mooooom, I'm still tired..." argument, the kids easily slipped into their laid out outfits and went downstairs to the kitchen to begin our breakfast routine - which, again, went surprisingly well. 

So off to school we go and as I'm dropping GW off in his class room, I pull his teacher aside to let her know that I'd need to pick my son up early today to accommodate our perinatal appointment that is scheduled for just after lunch in NOVA.  Informing me that, "well, we're not going to be here today and we won't be back by that time," I was a) shocked to learn of the field trip that the parents weren't informed about (seriously?!), and b) dreading the dream crushing "you can't go" conversation that I was about to have with GW.  As this would have been the first time he would have been able to ride the school's bus, something he's been begging to do since September, you can imagine the near tear confusion and anger that seized his face... I explained the issue and apologized for his disappointment (to which he countered with several suggestions about his walking home from school alone, sleeping at school so we could just pick him up tomorrow and even running to the appointment on the side of the highway so he wouldn't get lost) and we finally came to a calm, albeit not happy, understanding.  We then attended morning mass and began to run some errands. 

And then my phone rings... "Mrs. Cammack?  It's Perinatal Associates.  We have you down for a 1:30 appointment this afternoon, but we're going to need you to come in at 12:45 instead." 

No problem... if you live in NOVA.   Big problem if your husband works 45 minutes away, isn't answering his work phone, cell phone, texts, email, instant messages or my ESP and, in best case scenario traffic, the doctors office is one hour away.  While I had an hour and forty-five minutes before we no-sh*t needed to be on the road, I spent the next 55 minutes trying to reach HB before he finally answered and had exactly 50 minutes remaining to pack up and get home before we were officially late.  Shockingly enough, his little commuter car got him home exactly on time and we hit the road. Thanks to construction and accidents, we wound up only being slightly late to my (considerably earlier than we were prepared for) appointment. 

Then guess what happened... 

For the first time in our experience at this doctor's office, HB, the kids and I were left to wait.  Usually prompt and punctual, we waited for an hour and twenty minutes before my appointment officially began.  So, for those of you who are parents and know the agony of cooping kids for an excessive amount of time in a non-child friendly environment like a business or office, you recognize that had we kept our originally scheduled appointment for 1:30 we would have only fought 45 minutes of "place of business" behavior without lunch, toys or books rather than the doubled length of frustration.  

Enter miracle number one:  those kids were complete angels.  Granted GV didn't want me to read my book and she insisted on climbing to the adjsent chairs exclusively from my significantly smaller lap (at least something is smaller about me!) than from the floor, but they whispered "psst I love you" to one another and to each of us, they snuggled us individually and in turn, and they even managed to let the other two couples in the waiting room wait in what could almost have passed as a child-free sense of peace. 

During that wait time I was called back briefly to the nurse's station for my typical vitals check. My BP was great at 114 over 69 and, thank goodness she measured that first, because the minute I saw the number on their ruddy scale I flushed with anger.  Eight bloody pounds up from yesterday on the home scale and right back to the number I was advised would cause a c-section four weeks ago.   Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you can't compare results between two different scales and in one instance I weighed myself sans clothes before breakfast and in the other I was fully dressed (a seasonally appropriate sleeveless shirt and flip-flops for today's gorgeously frozen tundra weather, mind you) and it was post 1 cup of greek yogurt, but STILL! Are you freaking kidding me?!

Enter miracle number two:  upon slumping back into my waiting room chair, GV climbs up into my lap and, taking my cheeks between the palms of her hands, she looks deeply into my eyes and says with the most sincere concern "you okay, Mama?" Forcing the deep breath I wouldn't have found anywhere else, I was able to tell her "yes, I'm okay, GV" before giving her a hug and feeling at least some of the world's weight fall from my shoulders.  Too bad I couldn't have been weighed again...

Finally, finally, finally the nurse comes out, calls my name and leads our troop to the sonogram room. Having discussed with GW that he'd be able to help with the sonogram if he asked the sonographer  very nicely, my heart sank when Dr. Bronsky walked in to the room in place of our normal nurse.  Knowing full well the answer to GW's question would be either silence or "no," when he approached the table to inquire "may I try?" I spoke as kindly as I could to him "no, not now GW." Automatically lead to the "but you said I could!" face of anger and tears that I'd already seen that morning regarding the bus, I briefly explained that we'd talk about it after the appointment before shifting my attention back to the sonogram.  I found the doctor ever so casually checking Baby's position (head down, good), heart rate (132 bpm, good) and ... yeah, that's it. 

"What are the AFI levels?" inquired HB, trying to prod for additional data. 

"They looked fine," was the brief response. 

"Oh, well those numbers and his weight have been of concern at the last few appointments..." HB said suggestively. 

Taking the wand back up, Dr. Bronsky then began to actively measure the amniotic fluid pockets around Baby.  Correcting himself, he then stated, "yeah, your fluid level is definitely high.  It's up to 27 cm.  But that's almost the same as it was last time."

Percentile wise, perhaps 23 cm and 27 cm are somewhat comparable for their respective
gestational weeks, but they're both at 99th percentile and not where I ought to be

Upon collecting the two pictures he'd printed for my chart (none for us today - boo), wiping off my belly and instructing us to follow him to his office, HB and I were stunned but the limited information collected and the dismissive statement that equated 27 cm to 23 cm... neither of which is considered a good number.  

Enter miracle number three: every time we've brought the kids to these appointments and it comes time to sit down with the doctor for the last five to ten minutes before their sweet freedom is realized, they've flat out lost their minds. They roll on the floor, flop on the couch, grab things from the desks... anything distracting and disruptive they could do, they've probably done it.  But today, they sat by our feet in relative stillness as they watched a movie on mute for the duration of the appointment.  Feeling rewarded by the access to the iPad (a very rare treat at our house), they didn't interrupt, they were polite and they gave no-reason to illicit the "and you're having another one?" face and/or comment we've unfortunately received from particularly judgmental people previously.  

Sitting board straight out of anxiety, I watched the doctor as he rapidly typed the data he'd collected into my chart and answered the random questions he asked regarding symptoms I'm experiencing and my previous deliveries.  Providing very little council on my and Baby's condition or the red-flag concerns we've been fretting upon since our appointment on HB's birthday at the beginning of November, Dr Bronsky - my go-to guy and ally during GV's pregnancy - practically brushed me aside and shooed us out the door with his paltry information: he noncommittally indicated that a vaginal delivery is still possible; he distinctly commented that I can't do anything more than I already am; he passively dropped that a c-section would be required at "4200 grams or more"  for any diabetic (had to look that up, gee thanks doc, meaning 9 lbs 4 oz); and, to finish things up, he concluded that my weekly appointments and non-stress tests will begin on December 30.  

Leaving the office with my blood pressure soaring from frustration and unassuaged concern, HB and I both felt like today's visit was a waste of time and a full drain of our emotional energy.  I know I should be grateful that a professional looked things over and that he didn't feel comment was required, but less is not more with me and simply dropping off some biometric data on me and Baby surely didn't need to take the four hours - and that's before the drive home! - to accomplish.  I needed reassurance today.  I need hard facts to concentrate on for the next two weeks.  I need to know what progress, be it good or bad, we're making and how things are shaping up just in case I'm hospitalized (God forbid) anywhere except the one place my chart is electronically stored.  Walking away empty handed, empty stomached and cranky is not ideal for anyone leaving a doctors office - let alone for a woman who is 30 weeks pregnant. However...

Enter miracle number four:  those darn kids couldn't have been better behaved, more compassionate or more encouraging than they were today.  On any normal day their actions would have been ten times above and beyond the norm, but given how challenging the day was and how HB and I were seething unhappiness from our every pore, GW and GV rose a whole new level of my esteem that I didn't know I even had.  I've always loved them more than anything, but actively appreciate them? That's something I need to do more often. 

To be honest, I've found myself much more cognizant of the little things with them over the past few weeks that I simply feel I was blind to previously.  I have been so wrapped up in the drama of life and the worries of what if that I haven't given them the benefit of blossoming in my consciousness in the way that they've been doing entirely on their own.   The appointment today was, in my estimation, a complete disaster and something I would gladly take a time machine to, but in the grand scheme of things it's only one afternoon in one week of one pregnancy that will lead to a lifetime of family moments and memories with all three of my wonderful kids.   GW and GV kept my feet grounded today where my temperament alone would have taken me sky high in vexation.  While I hope to come back from my next appointment on December 30 with solid facts, answers and some semblance of comfort, I am clinging to the awareness they gifted me today that appreciating them, our time and our family in spite of the darkness that can cloud around can leave a wake of happiness where otherwise there would be none. 

Thanks, guys.

Good behavior ice cream and Santa all in one swoop?
Yeah, they're that good. 

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