Laughing, Weeping, Living

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

Baby Alice

Next week we were going to happily announce that a new baby Schwager is on the way. Instead, today I announce with sadness that our new baby Schwager has miscarried. We have named her Alice. She was very, very little when she died, so we decided to endow her with a female name since her actual gender was unknown. Alice is a family name on my father’s side, and I have always thought it was a very pretty name. Perfect for our new little baby saint.

We are very sad to lose yet another child; just to recap our baby survival rate right now is 25 percent. I don’t really want to be that family who is such an example, bearing trials with such grace. I don’t want to need all this grace we get from having three little baby saints in heaven praying for our particular needs and intentions. Why do we have to be purified so thoroughly here on earth? I would be happy to do it in purgatory if it meant I could keep my babies.

Since I have now had two miscarriages, my doctors and I will do some investigation to see if there is something medical that is causing me to lose pregnancies. On the one hand, I hope there is a medical reason, because it might be treatable and then I can have a successful pregnancy with a healthy baby. On the other hand, a medical reason for repeated miscarriages can potentially be serious. I don’t really want to come away from this investigation with a newly diagnosed disease.

So while we continue grieving our children, and investigating medical possibilities, we rely on their prayers.

Baby Joseph Mary, pray for us. Baby Agnes, pray for us. Baby Alice, pray for us.


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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Agnes Makes Her Debut!

The labor and delivery part of this journey is over. Everyone’s favorite deets first: 4lbs 8oz, 18in long, born at 9:04pm on 6/17/13.

I arrived at the hospital yesterday morning at 8 a.m. where they gave me a teeny-tiny dose of Cytotec around 9:45 a.m. The Cytotec works to soften and dilate the cervix, making it more receptive to the onset of labor. The doctor told me it takes about 4 hours for the full effects of the drug to manifest and start to fade, so we would have to wait at least that long until the next step. I felt discouraged knowing the labor wouldn’t really get going until mid afternoon, but there was nothing to do about it.

When she came back to check my progress, the Cytotec had helped to dilate me to 3 cm, and I was having super frequent contractions. Not really painful ones, just back-to-back-to-back, and some of them were uncomfortable. The doc said they couldn’t begin Pitocin until the contractions calmed down, and I felt discouraged again, becoming convinced that I would be laboring well into the night. I was already exhausted and sick of the whole ordeal, so this news was very upsetting. The doctor did reassure me by saying my progress was extremely normal, in fact better than normal and she was very pleased with the way things were going.

I continued to have contractions through the afternoon and into the evening. Several attempts were made to artificially rupture my membranes to help labor truly get underway, but because there was so much amniotic fluid, Agnes kept floating away from engagement and the doctor was nervous to break my water when Agnes’s head wasn’t in place as a cork to prevent the umbilical cord from slipping through the cervix with the gush of water. At this point, she told me she had spoken to my regular OB, and he wanted to come take a look and do the next steps since we were potentially in a scary area. He would be arriving in about an hour.

So Jeremy left to get some dinner since there wouldn’t be time later, and about 10 minutes after he left, my OB showed up. Go figure. “What are we doing right now?” I asked. “I’m just going to check your progress,” my OB said. Next thing I knew he was fishing around for my cervix and asking the nurses if the pads on my bed were sufficiently absorbent for breaking my water. The nurse handed him the amnio hook, and he broke my water! The son of a gun.

Let me tell you, it was every bit as dramatic as I had anticipated, and more. Gush, gush, gush, gush. I just kept saying “Oh my God, Oh my God.” It was wild.

But baby’s cord didn’t prolapse, and after the doctors left, my contractions did settle into a more labor-like pattern. More spaced, more intense. Though I did still have series of multiple contractions in a row with a longer pause between series. This was probably still thanks to that teeny-tiny dose of Cytotec I had been given at 9:45 a.m. I had never received Pitocin or any other assistance to start labor.

It was around this point that I started to rethink my “no medication” plan. The contractions were starting to get pretty painful, and breathing alone wasn’t quite cutting it. Around 8:30pm I buzzed the nurse to ask about medicine and she wanted the doctor to check my progress first, since it’s not safe to do I.V. pain meds too close to delivery. The doc came in to check: 5cm. Grr. But still she said it wouldn’t be long since my cervix was super stretchy. I had a couple excruciating contractions while we discussed the possibility that I might accept an epidural. Then it happened. Pressure. “I feel pressure!” So the doc checked me again while nurses swarmed in to the room.

I was ready. That didn’t take long. They wheeled me at a brisk pace down to an Operating Room for delivery so the special care team could be in the next room. I kept asking “when can I push?” They told me my OB was on the way, but I think everyone knew he wouldn’t make it. When I was finally allowed to push, I screamed and accepted the assistance of nurses. During the first contraction I was allowed to push, I pushed a couple two or three times. On the second push, part of Agnes’s head was born and the doctor said, “Stop pushing Judy, stop pushing!” I guess what happened was Agnes wasn’t turned totally with her nose to my back and the doctor was trying to turn her. I needed to push again and they let me. On the second contraction, one push delivered the rest of Agnes at 9:04pm. She was little! And wrinkly and blueish. And she had hair!

They took her next door to the special care team where they suctioned out her airways and did a number of other immediately required procedures, at which point, my OB arrived! Better late than never. He did get to do the really fun part: stitching up the several tears I acquired during delivery. I did receive pain medication at this point. Why is it that it is bearable to deliver a baby, but when the doctors start poking around with fingers it suddenly becomes unbearable?

It took a while for me to be repaired, and Agnes was taking a really long time. I didn’t get to see her at all before they moved me to my overnight postpartem room. When I was up and around getting ready to go to the NICU, I made the mistake of passing out in the bathroom, which meant I had to wait even longer in bed before the docs were satisfied I could safely visit the NICU nursery. I didn’t get to see Agnes until 3:30am, and even then I couldn’t hold her because her respiration was too high to remove her from her incubator.

I was finally able to hold her on my chest around 8:30am this morning and it was wonderful! She suckled a tiny bit at the breast, but she wasn’t really into it. I’ll try again when I go see her in a little while.

She is off oxygen and her heart rate is good. It appears her esophagus connects to her stomach since a nasal feeding tube was easily and correctly installed. She has an I.V. for fluid, sugars, and antibiotics (for precaution). She has low muscle tone, which combined with a number of other clues such as the high amniotic fluid and the way her ears look, has the NICU pediatrician thinking there is a chromosomal issue. He has ordered a karyotype test of all the chromosomes to find out if his theory is correct. She did test negative for Downs, Trisomy 13 and 18, but there are loads of other issues she has not been tested for.

It looks like she will be in the NICU for at least a week, maybe more. I will most likely be discharged before she is ready.

We’re still praying for a favorable outcome.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Saint Agnes, pray for us. Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.




What I Wore Sunday: June 16 Baby Eve!

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple as usual on a Sunday! Head over there to read the other linkers-up. Link-uppers. Linkers. Whatever.

100_1680Let’s talk about my clothes first, this week. This is the big billowy dress my mom bought for my birthday a couple weeks ago. It is really lightweight and comfortable. Today is also my last chance to wear a dress for awhile since I intend to nurse Agnes when she makes her debut tomorrow. My mom bought the dress from a catalogue, maybe Woman Within or Romans or something. I’m not really sure.

I’m also wearing my brand new authentic Spanish mantilla! My in-laws just returned from a whirlwind trip to Spain and Portugal, and they were kind enough to bring me a mantilla in black lace. I have the little white lace one that I made, and I wear woven scarves a lot too. I’m really excited to wear a real mantilla from Spain! The lace is super soft and drapes nicely around my face. I did pin it to my head with bobby pins to prevent slippage. I really like that it covers my shoulders and arms as well. The shape is not what I expected–it’s a long narrow rectangle rather than a square or semi-circle–but it is a really convenient shape for wearing on the head. Because it doesn’t hang down a lot in back, it slides off less easily than a wider piece of fabric would. It still slides a lot if I don’t pin it, but the shape does help in that department.

And I’m wearing my black Minnetonka Moccasins. I promise, I do own other pairs of shoes. But why mess with perfection?

Stephen was excited to stay outside for a few minutes when we got home from church. He adores blowing bubbles. He is wearing a thrift store shirt, thrift store pants, and his new sneakers with lights on the sides that flash when he walks. They’re size 9 toddler shoes. Holy moly.


Today Jeremy, Stephen and I were officially welcomed as new parishioners at Holy Ghost! Fr. Sal made an announcement at the end of the liturgy, and gave us our welcome present: a box of donation envelopes! It was cute. Then we all went downstairs for cake. No, the cake wasn’t for us; it was to celebrate Fathers’ Day, but everyone was allowed to enjoy it, even the mothers and the babies.

2013-05-21 19.56.46Today is also my last day without an infant. Tomorrow at 8 a.m. we go to the hospital for my induction. I’m really nervous about it, and I’m afraid that every decision I will want to make about my labor will be taken away from me for medical reasons I don’t know about, or because something comes up that makes what I want an impossible course of action. I’m nervous because the labor will be induced and my body will be forced to comply with the doctors’ wishes that labor begin at a specific time and progress at a certain rate, and nothing will be allowed to unfold naturally. I’m nervous because the neonatologist told me a team of specialists will descend as soon as Agnes pops out. I think he thought he was being reassuring, telling me a lot of doctors will be around to make sure Agnes thrives. But I’m not reassured. All I want to do is snuggle Agnes on my chest and let her try to nurse. I don’t want her to be whisked away to the NICU and stuck with an I.V. and tubes. I’m hoping and praying she defies all the expectations and arrives screaming and flailing her limbs and otherwise being a completely normal newborn. I’m also hoping and praying I can keep my head in the game and do what is necessary. I’m just scared that I will mentally “give up,” especially if the doctors take away all my choices and decision-making opportunities.

I’ll probably see y’all in a few days, after the excitement dies down. Unless labor goes really fast and Agnes debuts by lunchtime tomorrow! Then I might be able to post tomorrow, especially if the locust swarm specialists take her away for testing.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Saint Agnes, pray for us. Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.


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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No Changes to Report

I had one of my twice-weekly testing appointments today. It was one of my shorter visits to the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic, lasting only about 75 minutes. The BPP ultrasound was a breeze this time since Agnes decided to cooperate and practice breathing right away. The tech only needs to watch about 30 seconds of breathing to count it as a “pass” for breathing, and usually Agnes holds out on us. Not today. My amniotic fluid is still really high, which I’m worried about, but no one else seems terribly concerned. The doppler results also looked about the same as they have been, so there are no real developments. The NST went pretty well, I guess. I was kind of sleepy so I stopped paying attention and read a Baby Talk magazine while Agnes’s heart thumped away. After a while the nurse came and unhooked me, so I guess the results were fine. Whatevs.

One week from today I will be giving birth. That is totally blowing my mind right now. I don’t really feel prepared since I haven’t practiced my deep breathing or pushing positions or anything. I did read the chapter on labor and delivery in the What to Expect book, and that helped a little. I’ve already been to the labor and delivery wing of the hospital so I feel pretty good about that. The rooms are nice LDR suites (labor, delivery, and recovery) with a bassinet so baby can room in. I wonder if that will be possible for me and Agnes? There is a NICU at Akron General which should be sufficient for Agnes if she needs intensive care. I think they only send serious case babies to Akron Children’s hospital and Agnes might not qualify as serious enough for that (I hope).

I’m trying to think about this as levelly as possible. We met with Fr. Sal about Agnes’s baptism, and we’re talking about where to put the bassinet in our bedroom, and thinking about installing the infant car seat. We’re trying not to think like she will be stuck in the hospital for a long time, or that something might be seriously wrong with her. I’m trying not to think about the horrible side effects of the drugs they will give me to induce labor. I’m trying not to think about the fairly high chances I might end up in the middle of an emergency caesarean.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Yay, new baby. Yay, new baby.

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What I Wore Sunday: June 9

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple today.

First of all, I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday, even though I have come to realize that no one reads my blog on days when I don’t publish a new post. Weird, huh? Anyway, I do have a really good reason: there was a spider on the ceiling in the office directly over the desk chair, and I was not about to do any computing while that bad boy was hanging around. I finally screwed up the courage to deal with it today, and now I can go back online.

Jeremy and I have really been enjoying attending church at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Liturgy is really beautiful and I’m starting to make sense of the different elements that come together during the course of the celebration. I read a book about the Byzantine tradition which really helped outline the many parts of a Divine Liturgy celebration. Plus the nice folks at Holy Ghost put together a binder full of photocopies of all the music so newbies like myself can follow along and participate. One gentleman was explaining the ritual books to us today, and how difficult it is to find your way around, which is why they do the binders. I agree; ritual books from any tradition are notoriously not user-friendly. I’m convinced that’s the reason more Catholics don’t pray the Liturgy of the Hours on their own at home: the books are really hard to use what with all the ribbons, flipping pages back and forth, special sections for feast days and different seasons, etc. I’m really glad Holy Ghost prints out the music, because I really like to sing it! The tunes are so simple and melodic, and the texts are really rich with poetic images. I especially like the hymns about the BVM.

100_1668For my church outfit today, I’m wearing this black and white dress again, which I bought at Savers in Albuquerque. Since I’m doing prenatal testing and doctors visits three times a week–where they put on fetal heart monitors, glop on goo for ultrasounds, and palpitate my uterus–I tend to wear skirts/pants and shirts to make it easier at the appointment. So, on the off days I like to wear my dresses! After Agnes is born I’ll have to retire most of my dresses while I’m nursing, too, so I’m trying to enjoy them now while I have the chance.

I’m also wearing the black scarf again. Jeremy asked me today if I’ll ever wear my lace veil again, and I couldn’t answer yes or no. I really want to, but I don’t want to stick out too much. I want to talk to Fr. Sal first, even though I’m sure he will tell me to do what I want.

If you were to ask me, “Can you live without your black Minnetonka Moccasins?” I would have to answer, “No.” Truly.

In other churchy type news, Fr. Sal told us today that he checked around and learned that he can do chrismation and first communion for Stephen at the same time he baptizes Agnes! That is so exciting for us, since all our family will already be here. It will be exciting for the parish too, for our family to come into the church in this way. Overall, the community is older, though there are a few young families. It will be really special for the community to welcome two children sacramentally. There is another young lady at the church who is also about to have a baby, so the church will be full of the sounds of children! So beautiful!

One week until Agnes arrives. The countdown has already begun.

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7 Quick Takes: June 7

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for the weekly Friday quick takes. And guess what, folks? Today is actually Friday! Go me!

1. Big news on the pregnancy front: the induction of Agnes’s birth has been scheduled for Monday June 17. Of course, this is contingent on the test results next week continue to be merely moderately concerning rather than like “Oh dear God, get this lady to Labor and Delivery immediately!” Even though I knew the 17th was the date I reached 37 weeks, and the perinatologist told me we would deliver at 37 weeks, Monday June 17 just seems so soon! Even Tuesday June 18 sounds more leisurely for some reason. Well, I guess I’m just happy to know something for sure.

2. In related news, I had to sign a consent form for the hospital as part of the process to schedule the induction, and on that sheet my OB wrote in the medical reasons why I’m being induced, my bishop score, and the method used for induction. When I scanned the page before signing, I noticed he intends to use Cytotec to start the induction. This drug is used to soften and efface the cervix prior to inducing labor with a different drug. Cytotec’s intended use is for treating gastric ulcers. The FDA has not approved its use in inducing labor, though the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said it is fine on several occasions. Pardon my french, but that shit scares the shit out of me. I know any drug that interferes or alters the natural way of things comes with serious side effects, and the extreme side effects that can occur with Cytotec are not terribly common, nor are they much different from those that occur with similar drugs. The difference here is that Cytotec has a few well-publicized law suits, plus that pesky lack of FDA approval for use in labor induction. All I can pray for is for labor to miraculously begin on it’s own, or for my cervix to do all its own work by the 17th because I do not want that drug even in my hospital room.

3. And I was stupid for signing that consent form, but at the time I thought maybe I recognized the name of the drug but I wasn’t sure it was the same stuff I had heard about. It is. On the other hand, the alternative drug Cervidil is FDA approved for labor induction. However, it has a contraindication for when a prolonged time frame of contractions would be harmful to the baby, which is definitely the case for me. So… And it takes 12 hours to administer the dose whereas the Cytotec takes maybe 90 minutes. So… it’s a tough call.

4. But on a positive note I baked chocolate chip cookies today. They are delicious, “thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies” from The New Best Recipe cookbook.

5. Stephen has this funny new trick where he absolutely adores throwing away “trash.” Banana peels, used napkins and tissues, his own dirty diapers, any random piece of paper he finds around the house. We have to watch him or else he might throw away something that we actually need to keep, but so far that hasn’t happened. So far it’s still a charming, odd thing that he does. It’s really cute at the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic where I get my ultrasounds. They drape a huge paper sheet over me to protect my clothes, then I use that to wipe off the goo when they are finished with the scan. Stephen is super excited to throw away that paper sheet. “Trash,” he says. “Trash. Trash.”

6. Oh, also Cytotec’s non-brand name is misoprostol. Misoprostol is half of the process for a chemical abortion, being taken 12 to 72 hours after a dose of mifepristone. So that will be nice to think about while I’m lying there in Labor and Delivery.

7. Sorry half my takes are about a scary drug. For my last take, I would like to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for our miracle with Agnes. I also need to thank the saints we have been praying to particularly: Maria Goretti, Agnes, Joseph, and Walburga. Plus we are so grateful for all our family and friends who have been praying, as well as the nuns at the Abbey of Saint Walburga, and numerous priests who have offered masses for Agnes. We are not out of the woods yet, so continued prayer is still appreciated!

Agnes Ultrasound 002

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The Best News!!!!

Today we met with the pediatric neurologist in addition to the usual round of tests. He had the best news to share with us:

One of the MRI scans.

One of the MRI scans.

Because of the way Agnes’s brain ventricles are enlarged, he is confident that her chances of developing normally and having no future brain problems are 99%. There are four ventricles in the brain, two in front and two in back. It is only the back two ventricles that are enlarged, and the doctor says this is why he is so confident Agnes will have no problems. The front part of the brain develops first in a fetus, and the back part doesn’t finish developing until practically the last week or two before birth. He says some babies have this problem with the extra fluid, and the swelling reduces on its own the closer the baby gets to birth, and even after birth. He is not concerned about Agnes firstly because the swelling in her brain ventricles is fairly minor, secondly because it is only the back ventricles that are swollen, and thirdly because the MRI scan shows Agnes has every little piece of brain accounted for in its proper place.

So, long story short, the doctor said it is 99% likely Agnes will not need a shunt or any other kind of surgery, and she has a 99% chance of developing normally.

Didn’t I say miracle a while back? Here is our miracle. This is certainly a wildly different story compared to when we first found out about the ventriculomegaly and heard what our docs in Albuquerque projected for Agnes’s condition.

There is Agnes's eye. You can see how the back part of the ventricle area is larger than the front.

There is Agnes’s eye. You can see how the back part of the ventricle area is larger than the front.

As for the ultrasound and NST, a few mixed results as always. The NST was non-reactive, but since this wasn’t a change from previous tests, no one was particularly concerned. The ultrasound did reveal that my amniotic fluid is way up since the last time, which seems like a cause for concern, but the perinatology doctor must not have thought so, because she didn’t even stop in to see me like she usually does when I go for these tests. The ultrasound also revealed that the ventricles are still holding at their measurements and at least not getting bigger; but they’re also not getting smaller (yet?). My ultrasound in a week will cover the growth measurements so I have to wait to know how much Agnes weighs at this point.

She is going to be a stinker for sure. She held her breath until the last possible minute during the BPP; the tech sat with the ultrasound wand waiting for baby breathing for nearly fifteen minutes before Agnes finally gave in. She also refused to react to the buzzer zaps today during the NST. But I felt her moving when we got in the car to leave for home. The little stinker. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

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