Friday, July 13, 2018

Saved Round -- 3 months of updates

I need to get this out now before my surgery. I started writing this weeks ago but time has not allowed me to get it all done ...

In 12 days I am having a BSSO/Genioplasty.  To say my anxiety is sky high would be an understatement. I have never experienced anxiety in my life. What if I die during surgery?  What if they nick a nerve and I never feel my chin/lips again?  What if they don't get it symmetrical?  How bad will the pain be?  What if I get mastitis because I am pumping through this?  My heart and thoughts race every night.  All day I can't help but fixate on that day. 

Here is a animation video of what the surgery will be:

I am walking around daily -- trying to prep.  My husband took 2 wks off of work to help me recover but the mom in me needs to get everything done.  Make food for me.  Get systems in place.  Clean up the house.  Oh did I mention we are doing a DITY move (moving ourselves for non-military folks) to Colorado.  Our move date hinges on when I am feeling recovered from surgery.  Is that 4 wks?  Is that 12?  I don't really know honestly.   I posted these bullets of important info on my FB recently:

Here’s what you need to know:
• The department head and the chief resident will be performing the surgery
• The surgery is July 25. Kids will be with Nonnie for a week while I recover.
• I will be on a liquid diet for at least 4-6 wks. Meaning smoothies, puréed soup, broth, protein shakes. (Feel free to donate frozen quart size bags of your favorite soups!)
• Kurt will have 2 wks off during my recovery
• Yes, I am still pumping through this. I will be pumping and dumping in the immediate time after surgery. But plan to continue pumping through it until weaning for our move.
• My jaw will not be wired, it will be banded tight with surgical hooks and rubber bands. It will be like this for 6 wks.
• Today I had many molds taken - some for making the splint, some to make a model for the surgeon to manipulate prior to surgery.
• My lower jaw will be advanced 8mm and my chin another 3mm.
• This is not cosmetic. It should help widen my narrow airway causing migraines and sleep apnea.
• The incisions will be in my mouth on the gum line. I will have my bone cut at the hinge of the lower jaw and closer to my chin on each side - so 4 ‘breaks’ in my jaw.
• Swelling will be a MOFO but pain shouldn’t be extensive.
• I am scared out of my mind, but I am hopeful for a successful surgery with a decent recovery. 

This is the cliff note version. Though sometimes ignorance is bliss.  I am preparing but am I prepared?  I am in a Jaw Surgery group and just two days ago, someone posted that at 13 wks post-op, she was able to eat a piece of bread and ham and cheese by breaking them up into tiny pieces and putting them through her teeth that could now open just 1cm wide.  This is what my life is going to be.  I am going to be eating through a female urethra catheter -- like the kind of tube that women get catheters to remove urine from their bladder at the hospital.  I will eat like this for weeks.  probably at least 4.  I have been preparing for this moment for about 2 years.  My first consult with the surgeon was October 2016.  Braces put on on October 2017 (surrogacy hindered the process for a bit!)  Now this moment I have been waiting for, for years... something to fix my quality of life has me terrified.  I know that theoretically everything will be okay.  But that does not help me put the "what ifs?" out of my mind.  The anxiety is bleeding over to many aspects of my life -- I feel like I am spinning in circles.  I am trying to get everything done and yet feel like I am getting nothing done.  

At this point I have made a bunch of smoothies in grab and go bags.  Just dump in a blender with a premade protein shake and we have a meal!

Lots of soups that I have made and frozen in small sized bags.  It is going to take a lot to feed myself and I will likely drop 10-20 lbs through recovery (though I have already dropped 10 lbs in 3 weeks from starting Weight Watchers so YAY!) 
Here is my device in which I will feed myself for 4-6 wks until the bands are removed.  Yep a syringe that I have to put the catheter down my cheek to my molars and feed in the small gap in the back made by my splint.  I just got this on Monday. I knew it would be a challenge to feed myself but didn't realize how much of a challenge.

Here is a photo of me at my pre-surgical consult where the entire plan was hashed out and many molds made. 
A cook book I made for my husband so he doesn't have to guess what I will want to eat and I won't have to eat ramen in a blender for weeks.
Foods that I have gathered to eat when I need something quick

Why the heck would I want to do this?  Three reasons - Sleep apnea (my air way is small and I don't ever get restful sleep due to this -- bringing out my jaw will open up my airway as evidenced in someone elses' before and after x-rays).  Migraines - I have suffered my whole life and my orthodontist told me my first appointment it was likely from my jaw misalignment causing pulling in my neck and head.  Profile - this surgery will significantly improve my profile and create a chin. Maybe now I will want to smile all of the time for photos and not cringe when a side profile photo has been done or one showing my teeth and overbite.

Other stuff surrogacy related!  E&L from my first journey emailed me a sweet photo of Aggy and told me I could post it!  I emailed them asking them about the hype of the Royal Wedding.  They shared this photo with me of Aggy wearing a Union Jack dress for the festivities.  The Union Jack flag is the flag that signifies the unity of the countries with in the UK. Aggy will be 3 in December -- It is hard to be that I carried her that long ago!

On the 12th, Rowan turned 3 months!  I get to see her about once a week and it is pretty fun to watch her and her daddies together.  Isn't she just a doll?  Leah & I had fun putting filters on her during our last visit! 
 Speaking of 3 months - Here are my pumping totals since starting this journey.  I have pumped over 5700 oz since she was born - (In addition to these totals I donated some to someone else because well..... my freezer is so full we are running out of space and there isn't a single other thing in the freezer other than all of this iced cream!)   This amount is more than 7.5 months worth of milk if a baby consumed 25 oz a day!   Insane.  I will be weaning before we move to Colorado (probably will be weaned by around the beginning of September and depending on how surgery recovery goes, I will have about 7 months worth of milk in the freezer and she will be about 4 months by then so my pumping for 4-5 months will get her to about 11 months old!  Not too shabby!)

On a last note -- The fabulous Julie Gayler Photography halfway across the country right after I delivered Rowan so she is now getting our birth photos up on her website so that means the birth story is coming soon! I hope to have it up before the surgery but it takes time to add photos into blogs so I may have to do it during recovery! But I promise - they are worth waiting for.

As a final question -- we will see who read all the way through lol -- during recovery I will have netflix and Hulu -- any suggestions of must see series I can binge on?  I don't like any shows that require a lot of attention to be able to follow and I really love trashy reality -- we all have our vices!!  Tell me the best!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Introducing Rowan!

So it is almost 2 weeks since Ms. Rowan made her great debut -- delivered right into her Papa's hands -- Literally -- E helped deliver his baby girl.

On April 12, at exactly 41 wks pregnant, Rowan Genevieve was born at 7lbs 10oz and 19.5 inches long.  The labor, delivery and recovery were simply beautiful.  I will be posting a birth story as soon as I have all of the images from Gayler Photography - You don't want to miss this story!  The photographs she has given me as a sneak peek are simply moving. 

I cannot say enough about how amazing these two guys are and how they show me appreciation every single day.  This journey has been simply amazing.  I get to see them very frequently as I am pumping for Rowan and they are local so milk pick ups involve catching up on how they are sleeping and getting to see them doting and loving on their sweet and beautiful daughter. 

Here is a group photo less than an hour after birth

And a photo of sweet baby Rowan soon after birth when I first got to hold her after the daddies did skin to skin!

I promise - the birth story will be  worth waiting for!  Sorry it took me so long to post an announcement -- even though I had a super easy delivery and recovery, I have been spending 7 hours a day pumping, cleaning bottle parts and storing milk carefully for this special little girl.  I also have been climbing out of the hole of business, pto and other important things that have needed to be done!  The birth story is practically written -- just waiting to post until I have the photos that coincide with the story!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

40 weeks tomorrow - Last OB appt was today

Tomorrow is 40 weeks and little girl is still snuggled in tightly.  She has no visions of going towards the light yet. 

The pain I feel in my pelvis is incredible.  When she moves, I feel like my pelvis on the back side is literally breaking.  During dinner last night, she was so mobile that I was doubled over in back pain and ended up not being able to eat my dinner.  I don't know why the pain is so bad there when she moves, but generally, the later in the day, the worse the pain gets which makes for some terrible sleeping.  I finally got to bed just after midnight only to be woken up with tailbone burning and pain -- that is a new addition. 

So today is not 40 weeks -- tomorrow is.  But at this rate, I might not get out of pajamas and put real clothes on.  Even putting on pants/underwear/shoes is a struggle.  Cleaning the house?  Non-Existent.  Surprised my family hasn't formed a mutiny.  Food for them -- I have been still preparing it but I struggle with that too.  Standing for long periods has me exhausted.  I wanted to go to bed at 6 last night - but yet when I got into bed, couldn't sleep.  Its a vicious, sleepless cycle.  I need my body to get in tune with the fact that I don't need to be acclimated to exhaustion -- I am not raising this baby.  So if it could get on board with me getting a little sleep so I am well rested for delivery, that would be fantastic.

So here is my 40wk belly shot -- hoping this is the last one besides the hospital photo -- I don't want a 41 week belly photo. 

This morning we all met at the doctor's office at 0730.  My doctor so kindly came in after she had just completed a 12 hour labor and delivery shift and saw us.  She played a little show and tell of things you might see on the L&D deck (vacuum, Intrauterine Contraction Monitor, Internal Fetal Monitor) and told the guys about different things to expect from spontaneous onset of labor to what an induction might look like and of course we talked about cesarean.  Our doctor was clear that she didn't think we would need a cesarean -- but like we always do with our clients, it is better to talk in advance than to talk in the moment of.  We all got a chance to ask questions and really let them get an in depth idea of what to expect.  We talked about birth wishes ...

Then we had an ultrasound to make sure little bug was still head down. Yep.  She checked her fluid to make sure that was all safe -- 2.3 and it needed to be more than 2.  And she checked her heart rate -- 140s. She also said she is not great at guessing weights but felt like baby is not a 9lb baby -- she guesses around 8lbs right now. 

After all of that was done and questions were answered, the guys went on their way and she did a cervical exam on me as well as took another GBS test sample to send to the lab.  Nothing to report in the cervix.  Not much change -- still around 2 cm, not effaced and she says that her head is not that low.  Which is unfortunate knowing that all of this pain I am having in my pelvis is not from an engaged baby head -- so that means the pain could get worse.  She also attempted to strip my membranes but again, my cervix is always very posterior (even during labor) and it is hard to reach it.  Kinda felt defeated walking out of that office knowing that nothing has changed.  No progress.  But the doula in me also knows that at any moment, my body could go into labor and all of the progress happen then.....

So what did we learn today?  What to expect.  Expect the unexpected.  And if baby is not here by April 12, we will induce -- May be with foley bulb but our doctor said most likely, since I have had 4 babies vaginally before that we would start with pitocin because my cervix isn't unfavorable -- we know that my body knows what to do when exposed to pitocin. 

So a long winded update to say .... We wait. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Baby Pool!

No better way to pass time than by having fun guessing when she will make her appearance.

Be kind to me -- no 10 lb babies!  The last nearly 9lb baby did a number to me! 

C&E's Baby Pool - Cast your votes here!

Friday, March 30, 2018

38 & 39 Week Check in

Last week I had an OB appt in the winter storm that hit the DC area on the first day of spring.  All appts were canceled at the hospital but my doctor texted me and came in anyway to see me at 7am.  That appointment was completely uneventful -- quick ultrasound showed her head down (which is a good thing since she had gone sideways at one point that week!), her heart rate was in the 130s, fundal height what it should be for my gestation, my BP was good.  Just an overall normal check up.  I did ask her at that appointment if she had an idea of what size she might be -- she said there are usually 3 guesses surrounding baby's size --  Ultrasounds, doctor's guess and mom's guess.  She said that usually mom's guess is most accurate.  She never gave me a guess.  My guess is that this peanut will be about 7lbs12oz.  But I have absolutely no medical reasoning -- just a uneducated guess.

On Wednesday (at 38+6) I went for my 39 wk check up.  It was with a doctor other than my own since my doctor is on night duty for L&D deck.  Everything was completely normal.  BP was good, baby's heart rate was 140s.  Cervix is dilated only to a 1-2.  Baby is super low. 

But she dropped a bad news bomb in my lap before I left.  She told me I was GBS positive.  I know this is totally common.  25-35% of women test positive.  I have a whole host of other stats to go with it, but they aren't necessary to share since after she got all of us in a tizzy with what our plan would be, my doctor looked at the results and it said that I don't actually have Group B Strep.  So that was a fun day of trying to figure out what was next and how this diagnosis would change our birth plan.  But it was all in vain since my doctor emailed us and said "the results are NOT POSITIVE!"

Lastly, if you want to subscribe to the blog so you have the newest blog dropped in your inbox when it is posted (AKA You get to see photos of a cute squishy baby and hear details as soon as they are posted), you can put your email in and subscribe to our blog.  If you are mobile, go to the bottom of the blog and click "view web version" and then the bar will be there for you to subscribe.

Overall, I am just ready for this pregnancy to be done.  I am writing this at 39+1 wks.  I wonder what this labor will look like.  I worry sometimes that my good luck and reasonably easy deliveries will run out -- not because I think something will go wrong but because statistics!   What if I need a C-Section this time?  No it is not the end of the world, but it is also not what I am aiming for.  As always, healthy mom/delivering woman and healthy baby is the goal -- But I also think that how a woman feels about her delivery is pretty important in the long run too.

Want to know what is on my birth plan?  Does a doula get an epidural?  What about pitocin?  Basically important things for my birth include my doula and photographer (both in which are friends) make sure I look good.  Vain?  Yeah probably but this is my birth and my wishes and if I want to look decent and it is important to me, they are there to support me!  Other things include keeping my butt covered as much as possible -- I don't feel uncomfortable around other women laboring completely how they feel most comfortable -- but for me, Keep my butt covered!  I also know that an epidural is a tool.  I am going into this saying "I want to see if I can have another epidural free birth" but if that doesn't happen, I won't feel deflated.  I will ask for an epidural if I want one when I want one.  Pitocin?  If the provider feels it is necessary to keep us safe, I am on board.  See my list has little to do with the progression of labor as I know you cannot really plan for any of that!  My list includes things that will keep me comfortable during the transition from pregnant to postpartum.

I can't wait to write my birth story -- not just here on the blog, but going through the events that actually create the birth story. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

37 weeks which means TERM!

Yesterday we hit the big milestone of finally being Term!  Term means that any time between now and April 12 (41 wks), we are in the realm of normal for baby girl being born.  It means it could be any day or 4 weeks.

At this point in pregnancies, many women wake up every morning and think "Today would be a good day to have a baby!"  I won't lie -- I am there too.  Yes I know, I did this to myself, but these last few weeks are incredibly hard.  I don't know if it is my short stature, or I am just whiny, but I think "If you're ready today baby, so am I!"

Here are some comparison photos between my 35 week belly and 37 week belly -- I didn't take a 36 week photo because I was swamped with book fair at the school and just forgot! 

The belly certainly has taken a different shape this week! 

Sometimes I think "Today could be the last day of my pregnancy!" and it is bitter sweet.  Then reality sets in!  This truly has been an easy pregnancy in comparison to some of the others. I have felt remarkably well.  No nausea.  No major concerns.  But my body is reminding me daily "You are not as young as you once were!"  I have managed to gain just 18 lbs up to this point which certainly has helped the cause. 

Just a run down of some of the fun stuff I am dealing with that has me waking up saying "Today would be a good day to have a baby!"

  • Sleep -  Or lack there of.  The nights are long and not in a good way.  I wake up 4-6 times a night to use the bathroom and because the pain in my hips is incredible. I cannot sleep on my back or stomach due to pregnancy.  I cannot sleep on my left side because my stomach automatically cramps up.  So I have to sleep on my right side.  Eventually the pain in my right hip is so incredible that I just can't stay in bed anymore.  I have to get up and stretch my leg and sometimes it means holding onto the wall on the way to the bathroom just to remain upright. Add that my sleep apnea gets worse during pregnancy (hence the jaw surgery this summer) and sleep is just nonexistent at this point. I welcome waking up every 2-3 hours during pumping because at least in between pumping, I sleep hard.  Somehow I manage to get more sleep when I am pumping than when I am pregnant.

    Typical night of sleep for me while pregnant.  Light blue is restless, Red is awake, dark blue is alseep.
    • Swelling and feet soreness - I am now getting kankles and they just aren't comfortable.  Having 3 kids, a business and volunteering for the PTO among other things, I just don't sit around with my feet up -- ever.  And if I did, time would creep by so slowly.  And I would see that my house needs to be cleaned or kids need to be fed so hanging out on the couch is out of the question for this girl. I would do it if I was put on bed rest obviously, but if there is no medical indication, then I just need to carry on with life because all of the things still need to be done -- even when I am uncomfortable.  

    My Gross Kankles from today -- I wasn't even on my feet that much! 
    • Round Ligament Pain - This is a new one this pregnancy.  The fun of feeling like your belly is going to rip wide open because of the stretching for the ligaments around the belly. I wrote a blog recently about this for our business because I have never had this before.  It is flat out miserable. I had to buy some belly bras to hold this thing up.  Maybe they ligaments are just tired after 5 pregnancies?
    • Back & Pelvis Pain - Again these are all normal, but when you crippled over and have to run to the chiropractor for another $70 because your pelvis feels like it will just break in half, it kind of is a downer.  I was having this problem earlier this week and I am so grateful my chiro got me in for as same day appointment, because man it was miserable!  With all of the relaxin in my body, the adjustments just aren't sticking anymore.
    • Meralgia Paresthetica - What in the world is that?  Prior to pregnancy, I had a place on my outer thigh that felt numb to the touch.  During pregnancy it has gotten progressively worse.  In my pelvis, there is a pinched nerve.  As the weight gets heavier in the pelvis with the growing baby, this nerve gets more pinched.  During the second trimester, it felt like burning -- like my skin had a sun burn there.  Now it always feels like someone heated up a cast iron skillet and placed it right on my leg.  You cannot touch that place, clothes irritate it.  I can't lean on it while sitting on the couch without incredible burning.  And lately, if I turn the wrong way while sitting or standing, now it feels like the muscle is ripping.  Modified pigeon helps with that pain (or squatting down but then gravity works against me to get back up!)  The weight removed from my pelvis would get rid of that sensation.

    • Lightening Crotch - Yeah those who have been pregnant know this one.  Others are like "What in the world Melanie?"  Its that sharp sudden stabbing pain in your cervix.  It feels like a needle just shooting through your cervix.  It will stop you in your tracks.  It has been happening at night... when I sleep.  That is a nice wake up call!
    • Contractions - When you have this many (every 5-7 minutes for hours) and some that are very painful, its like "Is today going to be the day?"  Nah... and your cervix doesn't care about your contractions either! They can be exhausting and leave you questioning when labor really is coming! 
    • Reflux/Heartburn - At the end, as a baby is pushing up on your diaphragm, stomach is being squished, even water or milk gives you heartburn.  Especially at night. You lay down and the food just comes up your throat. It is inevitable.  I woke up twice in one night with projectile stomach acid in my mouth.  That's another great wake up call!  
    These are all annoyances.  Normal pregnancy things.  But... that doesn't make them any less annoying or painful!

    So.... Tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day, You can bet I will wake up saying "Today would be a great day to have a baby!" But she will come when she is ready.  Until then, I will dream of margaritas, beer, sleeping on my stomach, and the ability to take ibuprofen for my teeth when they hurt as bad as they do right now from my brace adjustment! 

    Next appointment is Wednesday (37+6) at 0700 -- That is going to be a rough morning waking up that early and being at the hospital for an appointment!  I will update after that appointment! 

    Another fun note-- The guys sent me the most wonderful care package of pampering stuff. I have had so much fun with these nail polishes and already had a few relaxing baths with the bath bombs.  They are so thoughtful and kind.  <3

    Monday, March 12, 2018

    Baby Shower, OB Appt, and almost 37 weeks! Oh and a bonus trip to L&D!

    In true Melanie fashion - I am weeks behind.  In all fairness, these last few weeks have been insane with volunteering and business.

    As an update to my last blog about being nominated for Military Spouse of the Year, I did win the base level so I get to join in all of the festivities this year including the Gala.  Here's an article written by the base newspaper.

    Right after this article was published, we got to celebrate this sweet baby I am carrying for E&C.  It was such an honor to be invited to their baby shower and to get to meet their friends and family.  The shower was beautiful and the hosts Ashley & Al were so warm and inviting!  The decorations and food were perfect -- especially the cake and the amazing Macaroons that E made -- the raspberry sauce and homemade cream on the top ... I cannot explain out delectable they were!

    I felt so honored that they asked me if I wanted to have my husband or a friend come so my bestie that the guys have met got the honors of being my hot date to the babyshower.

    Today was my (almost) 37 wk check up.  I have had a busy few weeks with bookfair and bingo for our PTO and last week, I was exhausted after doing 36 hours of volunteering.  A few days, I had 15k+ step days and my body was screaming at me to slow down.  Contractions were coming on strong.  My feet were swelling.  My back was killing me. And TMI - I was wet more than usual.  Not the usual end of pregnancy mess, not pee.  Just wet. 

    I got to the hospital to see my OB and was waiting in line to be checked in.  The lady in front of me wanted to read every sign on the counter -- and ask every question she had.  Suddenly, I felt like I was going to go down.  Heart was racing, pounding. I got sweaty and just felt bad.  I crouched down to the floor and a nurse came over to help me to a chair.  I have felt off all day -- just exhausted and exerted but nothing truly "off". 

    I got to the back and my BP was higher than it has been 131/86 but everything else was okay. I also put on 4 lbs in just over a week (annoying considering prior to this, I had only gained 15 lbs the ENTIRE pregnancy).  I saw the doctor and she asked questions.  Measured fundal height (measuring exactly on time).  She also did a quick ultrasound to make sure baby is head down and that the fluid was measuring okay.  It took a bit of looking around but the fluid measured okay.  Baby's heart rate was in the 130s.   She wanted me to run upstairs just to get checked to make sure I wasn't leaking fluid as well as just get on the monitors to be sure all was okay.

    Three hours later -- All is well.  I had a nice (but new to the hospital) doctor with the other new doctor who he was training.  The nurses were all tied up -- a lot of deliveries happening today.  It was the blind leading the blind with those two but they were nice and funny.  They did a speculum exam and checked for fluid.  Did a test to send to the lab.  Couldn't find the other test so they had to go find the nurse to get it.  She did the second test. Then they hooked me up to the monitors.  I was contracting every 5-7 minutes.  Baby looked good and my BP returned to normal.  After a while the nurse came in and said to go ahead and get dressed while I wait for the doctor to discharge me.  When the doctor came in to discharge me, he asked me if I was feeling the contractions and asked me how often I felt I was having them.  Every 5-7 minutes that I have noticed over the last few days.  Some more painful than others.  So of course they want to check my cervix even after I am dressed....  Takes a bit of time to get these clothes off and on anymore LOL

    So they checked and nothing huge to report here.  Long high cervix dilated to 1cm.  So not exciting at all.  I was hoping that since they were in there digging, at least I could be a few cm dilated.  They also did a quick ultrasound to check for fluids again.  The deepest pocket of fluid was 5.7 and its considered adequate at 5.  All of the swabs came back negative.... so on my way I went ....

    Most likely I will deliver the last week of March.  This is simply because it would be most inconvenient.  My kids will all be home for spring break.  My husband will be on podium teaching his students (makes it more challenging for him to get off to watch the kids all day while they are home from school).  Oh and also, the most amazing doctor ever is on duty -- at night.  So if I deliver at night, she will deliver me.  If I deliver during the day -- I get whomever is on call.  So the last week of March is what I am thinking for sure!

    So anytime between now and April 12, expect a baby.... you know, any variation of normal!  But at least the guys have more time to finish getting the nursery and hospital bags together! 

    As for me... I am still hoping for more macaroons and a St. Paddy's Day baby all the while I am contracting every 5-7 minutes -- well wishes to me for sanity friends!