A Little Something Extra

Monday, December 31, 2007

34 Weeks!

Not only have we made it to 34 weeks, but I also didn't need to get an amnio reduction today. Praise the Lord! The baby looks great. The fluid level has not increased since my reduction last Monday, my cervix has only shortened slightly, and I'm still not dilated. Given the extent of my contractions lately, those are somewhat surprising findings. Even though I'm still on bedrest and taking a good dosage of Procardia, my contractions are coming more frequently and are becoming fairly painful at times. But the chances of making it to at least 36 weeks seem to be better. Given his surgical requirements, 36 is pretty important. 38 would, of course, be even better. So we're praying for that, though I'm not so sure my sanity can take four more weeks of bedrest.

Thank you so much for your prayers, everyone. God is definitely protecting this little guy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's good...

... to be at home for Christmas. There were a number of hours on Christmas Eve that I didn't think that was going to happen. Dr. L drained 1.5 liters of fluid Monday (quick way to drop 3 pounds!). Surprise, surprise, I was having contractions afterwards. Then she got the results of my FFN (fetal fibronectin) and it came back positive so she checked me into L&D (again). If it was just one or the other, then she probably would have let me go home. No such luck. A shot of Terbutaline was only effective for about an hour. I was contracting every 5 minutes.

I think my last nurse must have pleaded my case well with the on-call doctor because they let me go home around 4:00pm (my appt with Dr. L started at 8:30am) even though I was still contracting every 5 minutes. But really, it shouldn't have surprised anyone. I had the following procedures done yesterday morning: a pap (for the FFN), a vaginal ultrasound to check the length of my cervix, a needle stuck in my uterus for 1.5 hours for the amnio reduction, and a vaginal exam to make sure I wasn't dilated. Seriously... how much abuse can one uterus take?

The FFN being positive was not a good sign. A negative result means you will not go into labor in the next 2 weeks (barring unforeseen circumstances). The positive result I got yesterday means that I'm at higher risk for going into labor in the next 2 weeks. Baby really needs to bake for 3 more weeks (I'm 33 weeks now).

Christmas stuff: Nathan was beside himself excited about the train set and table his Granddad Roth gave him. He ran into the family room and immediately started playing with it and jumping up and down with glee. He didn't even glance at the other presents under the tree. And he'll usually open any and every gift he sees. But it was all about the trains. If I can figure out how to download a video, I'll add it here later. Unfortunately, the first video is rather short because I didn't think to check ahead of time to see how much room was left on the tape. So we only got about 10 seconds before I had to change tapes. Bummer.

Here's the view before anyone else made it downstairs:

I pray you all had a blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our little parrot

Nathan is in the stage where he frequently just mimics what we say. Cute sometimes... dangerous sometimes. Tonight it was simply hilarious. There's a tradition in Neenah where a firetruck drives all the streets of Neenah followed by a truck towing a decorated flatbed with Santa. Santa talks to all the children on his microphone, there's Christmas music blaring from speakers, and everyone goes outside to watch this (Mark has fond memories from his childhood).

Mark carried Nathan outside to watch this spectacle. It was quite fun. But Nathan has never heard of or seen Santa before. He was just watching all this in wide-eyed wonder. He had the same sort of bewildered look on his face as they came back in the house. I said to Mark, "Nathan's probably thinking, 'What in the world was that?'" Nathan was heading into his playroom and he said, "What in the world was that?"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Amnio reduction

Warning: If you have a queesy tummy, you might not want to read this post.

Dr. L drained one liter of amniotic fluid from my belly this morning. In short, not an especially pleasant experience. But it appears I'll need another one on Monday. My AFI (amniotic fluid index) was 40 before the procedure and 35 after it. The level last Monday when I was admitted to the hospital was 35, so this only took me back one week (refresher: anything above 20-25 is considered "high"). She would have liked to have drained more, but I was contracting quite consistently toward the end which was constricting the flow through the needle (told ya it could get a bit graphic), which was becoming rather painful. The baby handled this like a champ... no fluctuations in his heartbeat or anything like that. Of course, when he was bumping the needle that didn't feel so great.

Anyway... I get to stay on bedrest and the medication. If she had been able to get the AFI lower I might have been able to lower the dosage and possibly increase activity. But we get to try all this again on Monday (yes, she's working on Christmas Eve). Great. Something to look forward to.

The kindness of our friends has been expressed so well to us. We have meals coming every night this week, then Mark is home next week through New Year's and my mom comes back on 12/23 through New Year's. And our fine friends (ATL Kraft's) have given me a NetFlix subscription so I won't get too bored! But I should probably work on Christmas cards... hmm.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


"We all have our crosses to bear." You've heard the phrase before. I don't know who first said it. It's not a direct quote from the Bible, but it's likely someone's interpretation of the verses:

1. "and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:38)
2. "If anyone would come after me, he he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34)
3. "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27)

In two of those verses, Christ was talking to his disciples. It could have been the same conversation as recounted by two different men (Matthew and Mark). In the verse from Luke, he was talking to large crowds. None of these people, disciples included, imagined that Christ was going to be crucified on a cross. But it seems to be the best way to describe that Christ knew we would face trials. I mean, do they get any greater than dying on a cross?

I read this quote in the Streams in the Desert devotional yesterday and it really hit me:

George Matheson, the well-known blind preacher of Scotland, who recently went to be with the Lord, said: "My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross; but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory.
"Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows."

I don't want to look at our baby as a thorn or a cross. But the situations surrounding our present condition seem to present themselves that way sometimes. My prayer is that God would show His glory through our son's life and ours.

On a separate note... we're leaning toward having an amnio reduction on Monday (where the dr will drain amniotic fluid in hopes that it will relieve some pressure since the fluid level is so high already). Dr. L doesn't necessarily think this will eliminate my restrictions or medications to stop contractions, but it might allow me a bit more freedom to leave the sofa and go to church, for example. She thinks I'll be on the meds through the duration of my pregnancy and that I shouldn't consider lifting anything that I can't hold outright in the palm of my hand (I think at almost 28 pounds, that includes my sweet Nathan). My appt is at 9:30 on Monday morning. Please pray it goes smoothly and does not cause my water to break. Dr. L has basically said at this point that she is hoping we can make it to 34 weeks with 36 being ideal. It used to be 36 and 38. But please keep praying for at least 36 (mid-January). Thanks so much.

Oh, for those of you in the South who have had wonderful temps in the 70's lately... here are some photos. This snow has been here for 2 weeks now. Mark and Nathan built the snowman 2 weeks ago and it is still standing. No worries... they didn't block a real entrance to the garage. Our house actually has a 3-car garage (that could park 3 cars plus the snowblower, lawnmower, and patio set), which is common up here (compared to our shrink-wrapped garage in GA where we couldn't even fit 2 cars and a lawnmower).
This is the longest period of time Nathan has actually worn a hat. He was having so much fun making a snowman with Mark that he hardly noticed. Don't you just love his rosy cheeks?
The last photo is from our back deck. Can you picture deer back there? We haven't seen any since the snow, though. I don't know where they all went.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


My sister, Kara, lost her husband, Eric, to cancer yesterday. It's been a long, rough road for them and Eric's body just couldn't take it anymore. The bone marrow transplant he had back in April apparently did its job in knocking out the cancer. But it also attacked his lungs and he never recovered.

Please pray for them. Needless to say, Kara is beyond devastated. And Eric's teenaged sons are going to need some major support. I so wish I could go out there to Massachusetts and help in some way. But that's not in God's plan for me right now as I sit here on my sofa. Please pray that I would find some way to minister to Kara's heart. I can't imagine losing Mark... I have no idea what she's going through.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


It appears we might have blamed the wrong culprit for the contractions on Saturday. Trudging through the snow probably exasperated things, but after my ultrasound with the perinatologist yesterday morning, the cause of the contractions has become more clear. My AFI (amniotic fluid index) was up to 35 (it was 30 last week and anything above 20-25 is considered high). After the ultrasound, she connected me up to a monitor and found my contractions consistent at every 3 minutes. "I know you don't want to hear this, Jennie, but we need to check you in down the hall." (L&D - Labor & Delivery). Great. I got a shot of betamethasone to help mature baby's lungs (and another shot today) and they tried the Terbutaline shot again. This time it only worked for 30 minutes. After taking procardia and then upping the dose of that and still not seeing much of a reduction in contractions, my ob informed me he was keeping me there for the night.

So, after a night in L&D (trust me... those beds are meant for activities other than sleeping), I'm finally home with a prescription for Procardia and orders for bedrest. We now have to decide whether to do an amnio reduction on Monday to reduce the amount of fluid in my uterus. That could help in eliminating the contractions. But the risk is that it might break my water and cause me to go into labor. I'd really like to see if these meds will help with the contractions long enough to keep us from making that decision too early.

At least I'm home. Hospital bedrest stinks. I hate that I can't pick up Nathan, but if he'll climb up into my lap, at least we can snuggle. Mark will be home from Chicago late tomorrow night. We're blessed that by God's grace, my mom is here this week. After Mark returns, we'll start making plans for Nathan for next week.

Please continue to pray for a 2008 baby for us (2007 would be scary), preferably mid- to late-January. Thanks!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas tree adventure

I'll start this post with the moral of the story: it's foolish to take a 2-yr-old and a pregnant woman on a 1/2-mile trek through 6 inches of snow on 5-degree temperature day.

The romantic notion of a family adventure to choose and cut down a Christmas tree was a huge debacle. Nathan actually wore his hat and mittens for once and walked for a bit after riding in the sled for a bit. But eventually he just started crying and wanted Mark to hold him. We weren't able to find "our tree" at the first field. The owner was out in that area and he recommended the next area which was 400 more yards away and up a hill. At that point, we bailed. Nathan was now screaming. Mark took him and walked/ran back to the car. We ended up choosing a pre-cut tree and going home.

All that walking was probably too much for me. I ended up in Labor & Delivery last night due to consistent contractions. After explaining my situation to the nurse on-call at my ob's office, she told me to head to the hospital. My contractions were 2-5 minutes apart but my cervix didn't seem to be affected. The on-call ob ordered (by phone) IV fluids and a terbutaline shot and procardia to stop the contractions. I was out in less than 3 hours. I have an appt in the morning with my perinatologist so we'll see if she decides to put me on anything to minimize these contractions.

I'll be 31 weeks tomorrow and we absolutely need to make it to 34, preferably at least 36. Mid-January is our goal. Please continue to pray for that. Thanks for your support, friends.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


My appointment with Dr. L today was a much longer appointment than it should have been, and the vast majority of it was good. Baby D was moving around like crazy, as usual. The amniotic fluid level was up a bit from last week but it wasn’t a significant increase. His heart rate was fine (145). One of the last things she checks for is whether he is practicing his breathing. Unfortunately, he was not cooperative with this today and we had to wait 20 minutes for him to do this. And he didn’t do it for a straight 30 seconds, which is what they’re looking for. But the reason for that measurement is to make sure baby isn’t in distress, and given his highly active state during the rest of the ultrasound, there wasn’t a concern about that. But if he hadn’t done some breathing practice, I would have to be connected to a monitor to check his heart rate for accelerations during movement, etc. Given that this will need to be done every week for the next 8 weeks, I really hope he cooperates or these appointments will take up a ton of time.

Dr. L took some more cute pictures today. As I was leaving, she mentioned how cute he is. She also noted that his slightly flat forehead seemed to be the only physical feature that sort of showed Down syndrome. I think in some way she was trying to be nice and relieve any concerns I might have about how he might look. Honestly, it just made me cry the whole way home. This just shows off my vanity, I guess. I don’t want him to have Down syndrome features. I don’t want him to look “different.”

Maybe I’ve just been spoiled. Nathan is awfully cute and always has been. And I’m sure that this baby will be cute too. And I know that when we actually get to meet him, we’ll always see him as our beautiful son. And even if he didn’t have Down syndrome, there’s no reason to believe this little guy would be another “Mini Mark.” Anyway, that’s my struggle of the day.