Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Top Ten

I find my blog’s “dashboard” to be very interesting. I especially enjoy reading the column that tells me which of my blog posts are receiving a lot of traffic on any given day, and for the whole week. Sometimes I am surprised at which posts show up in the list. Just for fun, I clicked through and looked at the list for my most-viewed blog posts in the history of the blog. A couple of them surprised me! Here are my blog’s top ten posts since I began writing in February 2013.

10. What I Wore Sunday: June 9

Thank you, Fine Linen and Purple for hosting this link up. I always get a ton of traffic when I participate! And thank you, other bloggers, who take the time to visit my corner of the webs. I appreciate it greatly!

9. A Hard Day

Having a baby in the hospital is really stinkin’ hard.

8. What I Wore Sunday: May 26

From our second week going to Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church. Also, Agnes starts to fail her prenatal tests.

7. What I Wore Sunday: June 16 Baby Eve!

The day before I went in for my labor induction! Nervous nervous…

6. What I Will and Will Not Miss

This surprises me, making the top ten. I wrote this when we were getting ready to leave New Mexico.

5. Ventriculomegaly Update

The third installment of Agnes’ prenatal saga.

4. Chimayo, New Mexico: Holy Dirt

This post shows up in the “top posts” list every week. My family made a little pilgrimage to Chimayo to pray and collect some holy dirt.

3. Agnes, Woman of Mystery

This is a really good one, folks. I can see why it’s top three. And I’m not just saying that because I wrote it.

2. Agnes Makes Her Debut!

Who doesn’t like an exciting birth story?


and the number one post of all time….

1. Ven-TRIC-u-lo-MEG-a-ly

This is from when we first found out about Agnes’ condition at the 20 week ultrasound. I can see search engine terms that bring people to my blog, and this comes up a lot. If you have a kid with this, you are absolutely not alone!


Thanks everyone who reads my blog. I started writing to help myself appreciate the day-to-day ups and downs and to recognize blessings in my life that might not be obvious at first. This blog has helped me to do that, to put events into perspective, and to organize how I think and feel about what happens in my life. I love that I have been able to touch people with my stories. I love that my blog has been a resource, however minor, to other moms and dads who have special needs children. It is so worth it to me to keep writing!

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7 Quick Takes: June 14

Linking up with Jen and all the other party people at Conversion Diary for the weekly quick takes. Go over there if you like to partay.

1. After spending the night in the hospital because my doctors take not the tiniest chance with the health of my unborn child, I am happy to be home for the weekend. Agnes was monitored constantly overnight, and she turned in a “reactive” performance on the heart rate. That was a good thing, too, because the follow-up BPP I did this morning only scored a 6 because Agnes refused to practice breathing during the 30 minute ultrasound. She still netted a score of 8 out of 10 with the reactive NST plus the BPP, so I was discharged with stern instructions to call immediately if anything worrisome happens over the weekend. As you can imagine, I was not a happy camper laying in that awful hospital bed with a sweaty, bedsheet-wrinkled backside, imagining myself beginning an induced labor on Monday morning after an entire weekend of laying in that awful hospital bed–paradoxically not being able to sleep–with a progressively more wrinkled and sweaty backside to keep me company. So I am very relieved to be home.

2. My hand is really sore where they inserted the XL size I.V. amidst great dramatics on my part. I asked, “do I really need to get the I.V.?” and the nurse said, “it’s in case you need an emergency c-section, but I guess you don’t have to have it in now.” And I said, “I’m confident Agnes will do great and nothing will happen, so I don’t think I’ll take the I.V.” And the nurse said she would let the attending resident physician know. Then the attending resident physician came into my room and told me all the patients get one and it’s not optional. Fine. Sheesh. And now my hand is really sore, right in the same place they will insert another XL size I.V. on Monday. Fun for me.

3. I made a lasagna for dinner tonight, which is what I had been planning to make last night. I really liked how it turned out; I followed the recipe on the side of the noodle box except I added a secret special ingredient: cauliflower! I had half a head in the fridge that I really wanted to use up, so I sliced off the florets only and cut them into teeny-tiny pieces. Then I mixed the cauliflower into the ricotta/egg/parmesan mixture thinking it would masquerade as cottage cheese curds. It worked out really well, though some of the vegetable pieces were a bit crunchy and tasted like cauliflower. I didn’t fool my mom, but she admitted that it “wasn’t too bad” which I choose to accept as positive feedback. If I do this again, I’ll cut the cauliflower even tinier so all the pieces soften and lose the crunch.

4. Two more days infant-free! Agnes will be born on Monday. I have a scheduled  appointment to start the labor induction at 8 a.m. How’s that for a start to the week? Actually I’m glad it’s an early start time. Hopefully I won’t be laboring into the night, and since drugs are assisting and this is my second childbirth, it could go fairly quickly. I think the doctors want a quick labor just so Agnes doesn’t have to cope with contractions over a long time frame. I would be cool with that, too!

5. Stephen is singing in his room. I put him down for the night about 30 minutes ago and he was quiet for a while, but he is clearly not asleep. It really sounds like singing. Or whimpering to a tune. Or something. Whatever, he’ll fall asleep eventually.

6. I bought off-brand oreo-type cookies at the grocery store on Tuesday because I was a pregnant lady craving oreos. I ate a few of them. Now the package is nearly empty! How did this happen? And I’m being serious here; I really did only eat a few of them–6 or 8 cookies, tops. What a world we live in, where a pregnant lady’s pregnancy-craving cookies just disappear…

7. I talked to one of my OB’s about Cytotec, and I guess I’ll trust the docs on this. She said they’ve been using it for years with no problems, and it works. Also that there are no methods that don’t have side effects. She told be about the alternatives to Cytotec, none of which sound as effective or easy or non-invasive. I have to trust the doctors to have my best interests and my baby’s best interests in mind. Maybe my cervix will have done enough effacing by then that Cytotec won’t be necessary, but if it is, I will use it.


Live! From the Perinatal Ward

Yep. I’m back in the slammer. That is, the doc at Maternal Fetal Medicine sent me to Akron General Hospital for another overnight session of fetal monitoring.

Here’s how it happened:

I went to MFM for my ultrasound and NST appointment, and things were looking fine. Agnes is up to 4 lbs 12 oz which is AWESOME! If she can make it to Monday, she should be nearly 5 lbs for her birth day. The cord dopplers were a little elevated; the S/D ratios were just the tiniest bit above 4. Her ventricles were measuring fairly consistent with previous measurements. My amniotic fluid was a tiny bit less than it was on Monday. She even breathed during the BPP so the ultrasound tech didn’t have to sit around waiting for her to breathe. But, she didn’t move very much during the ultrasound, so she was docked a couple points on her score for not moving.

See, what I just learned today is the BPP/NST is scored out of 10 points, 2 points each for breathing, movement, fluid, tone, and a reactive NST. Well, Agnes has been scoring 8 out of 10 which is technically normal, but today because she was napping during the ultrasound or something, she scored 6 out of 10 which is cause for concern.  The doc sent me to the hospital for overnight monitoring, and there will be a retest for the BPP in the morning. If Agnes does okay overnight, and scores 8 on the BPP in the morning, we can go home for the weekend.

If Agnes does poorly overnight and scores less than 8 on the BPP in the morning, I may have to stay at the hospital over the weekend and deliver as scheduled on Monday. Or, depending on how poorly Agnes appears to be doing, she may be delivered before Monday.

I’ve spoken with a few doctors since being admitted, and everyone has a different story to tell. The OB from my practice tells me to stay positive and not worry too much about the worst case scenario. She says the specialists think a lot about the possible worst case outcomes so that they are prepared and can then provide the best case outcomes. On the other hand, the neonatologist tells me there will be a crowd of specialists in the next room when I deliver, and the moment Agnes is born they will swoop in and whisk her away to the NICU immediately where they will install an I.V. and keep her “as long as possible.” He also tells me she may have an intestinal blockage or maybe her esophagus doesn’t connect to her stomach, and that accounts for all the extra fluid. And that would require an operation. Thanks, doc, for that news which totally and completely new to me and really very serious. Why is this the first time I am hearing this, and how dare you patronize me by asking “did you expect her to receive routine newborn care?”

At least he did try to backpeddle a little and tell me their goal is to do the smallest program of care that is possible for Agnes’s case. That is only mildly reassuring after the rest of what he told me, but I guess I’ll take it.

So, yeah, I’m trying to stay positive despite what the doctors insist on telling me.

At this point, I’m just really frustrated and angry to be in the hospital so soon before I’m scheduled to return for the real deal. I almost wish Agnes could just be born now. I used to be the most adamant against c-section, but now I kind of want the whole ordeal to be over. Just knock me out and take my baby already. It’s the waiting that is the most stressful.

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More News About Baby Girl

We’ve had a busy day today. We started with a early morning fetal MRI for good pictures of baby’s brain. The findings are encouraging: all the baby’s brain structures are present and accounted for! The only finding was the swelling in her ventricles. So that’s good.

We also had another ultrasound. Baby passed her bio-physical profile (breathing, heart rate, amniotic fluid, etc). They did confirm there is an elevated “S/D ratio” which pretty much means that the placenta has to work harder to get oxygenated blood and nutrients across the umbilical cord and into the baby. At today’s test, the ratio measured in the 95th percentile, so still technically normal but definitely something to keep an eye on. This is the lowest level of severity for S/D ratio. The umbilical cord should normally be very low resistance to allow ample oxygen and nutrition to the baby. When the resistance is elevated, it’s something to watch. When the resistance nets about zero, that means the blood flow is more or less stationary in the cord which is bad. If the resistance is reverse, that means the oxygenated blood is actually flowing away from the baby, which is really terribly horribly awful. Luckily, our baby girl is not in that category.

We also had another NST. Remember this is what led to my overnight hospitalization earlier this week. I was pretty nervous, especially when baby girl just seemed content to hang out with a very steady hear rate for the duration of the test. Apparently, a steady heart rate is not desirable because it fails to demonstrate a normal connection between the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. When people move around, the brain should send signals to the heart to pump faster in order to supply more oxygen to the body. When a fetus kicks in the womb, the same reaction should occur. When the baby kicks, the docs want to see her heart rate increase by about 15 beats per minute compared to where her baseline is. If the rate stays too close to the baseline, it doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t getting enough oxygen, but without the evidence no one can say for sure. Since baby has growth restriction and increased resistance across the placenta and umbilical cord, a nonreactive NST is very worrisome, which is why they sent me to the hospital on Tuesday. Today’s test was nearly alarming, but baby finally pumped up the jam after a few pokes with a buzzer. Luckily, otherwise I could have ended up back in OB Triage at the hospital.

I also had a visit with my OB. We chatted about what all the findings could mean, and he seems to think there is an underlying genetic abnormality since all the pieces of the puzzle don’t quite add up. He also warned me to be realistic about the chances I’ll need an emergency delivery, especially since baby’s NST’s are starting to come up a bit wonky. He said the NST is the first test that starts to hint at increasing fetal distress. There is still a chance I’ll be able to have a natural delivery, but if baby can’t even handle a non-stress situation (NST = non-stress test), there is no way she’ll be able to handle the stress of labor. So the docs are going to be keeping a super-close eye on us for the next few weeks–if it even takes that long.

I’m going to pack my labor and delivery suitcase this weekend and keep it ready.

I have another NST scheduled for Monday morning, with NST’s twice weekly in addition to bio-physical profile ultrasounds twice weekly. I also have once-weekly OB visits so I can meet with all the docs at the practice so they each get a chance to meet me before they potentially have to deliver my baby. I hope I get through the whole bunch before the time comes. Although I guess it won’t matter to me when it’s time for delivery; just so long as there is a doctor down there to catch baby girl when she arrives.

I really hope and pray she stays unborn for at least two more weeks. 35 weeks gestation would be way better. 37 weeks gestation would be ideal. In any case, we had better start preparing our lives for a newborn to arrive within the next few weeks.

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Fetal Monitoring Update

Hi, this is Judy again. So, yesterday was a bit of a crazy scary whirlwind.

It really looked possible the doctors were going to induce labor and take baby out, the way they were talking and explaining potential outcomes. But, luckily, as Jeremy said is his post yesterday, baby perked up after I was finally able to eat something.

So, docs, maybe the next time a preggo lady comes into triage asking when can she eat because it’s lunchtime and she hasn’t eaten since breakfast, you should just let her eat. Better for mom, better for baby, better for everyone.

Just to flesh out the details, what happened was I went to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at Akron Children’s Hospital for my regularly scheduled NST (non-stress test). What they like to see is an acceleration in the baby’s heart rate whenever she makes a movement. They weren’t seeing that after about an hour or watching, so they sent me to Akron General Hospital where I ultimately plan to deliver when the time truly comes. They hooked me up to fetal monitors for baby’s heart rate, my own contractions, and they also started me on an I.V. fluid drip. They gave me two shots of steroid medication to quicken baby’s lung maturation in case an early delivery does occur. I’m really glad baby started to produce heart beat patterns the docs wanted to see. All the monitoring overnight looked great enough that they decided to send me home earlier today than the original plan indicated. They discharged me around 10am with instructions merely to take it easy, drink lots of water, and call if anything about my condition changes. This is awesome because I was totally expecting them to put me on some sort of bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy! They also set me up for continued twice-weekly NST visits, and additionally twice-weekly doppler ultrasounds to look at the blood flow from the placenta to the umbilical cord and into the baby. They think this where the problem with her growth restriction lies. They took several readings of the resistance over the placenta, and one of them came back elevated, which means the baby isn’t getting quite the right rate of blood and nutrients from the placenta.

So, that’s that. Hopefully things go well for the next few weeks. The closer baby can get to her due date, the better!

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24 Hours of Fetal Monitoring

By guest blogger Jeremy Schwager (Judy’s Husband)

Judy asked me to post on her blog today because she is spending 24 hours or so hooked up to a fetal monitor. This makes it hard to type.

We went in to Akron Children’s hospital today to get an ultrasound, which is a twice weekly occurrence at this point in the pregnancy. We got some really nice photos of baby Agnes.

2013-05-21 19.56.46

3D Image

Unfortunately the fetal monitoring that they did on Judy didn’t go so well. The baby is really active and swims away every time any impertinent nurse ries to monitor her. We were especially unsuccessful today so the doctors feared the baby was in distress. The y can only keep a patient so long at the particular department of Children’s we were at  so they transferred us to Akron General where they could monitor at their leisure. Unfortunately this means the decided to take lots and lots of time. And they also decided that Judy should not eat because of a possible eminent birth by induction or c-section. The baby continued to be lackadaisical and resist monitoring. Mom and baby wer both understandably grumpy as this dragged on. This continued until about 3:30 when the doctors finally allowed Judy to eat. I went down stairs to Au Bon Pain and purchased a delicious turkey sandwich. After eating the turkey sandwich, Agnes became active (she was no longer starving) and doctors began to see the results they were looking for.

Judy is now resting comfortably in a brand new fetal monitoring unit in Akron General which just opened today. They don’t even have signs on the walls yet. She is in good spirits. Judy’s dad said her happiness is probably the best thing for the health of the baby. I agree!

2013-05-21 20.59.37

Little sign says “Fetal Monitoring Unit”

We got a visit from Fr. Sal at Holy Ghost Ukranian Catholic Church which was really nice. Especially since we only met him last Sunday.  He heard Judy’s confession and gave her communion. He said he would be happy to come for an emergency baptism if necessary as well.

Judy will probably be released tomorrow in the early afternoon. Please pray for Agnes and Judy.


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