July 26, 2016

37 weeks and counting.. and only mostly broken

Before I got pregnant, I always joked that I was prettttty sure I was going to be terrible at pregnancy. Like, my body sucks at... well... most things. Life. Not breaking any time I play sports. Not burning to a crisp if there is sun shining somewhere on Earth at any given time. You know.

So I have honestly been pretty impressed with and proud of how my body has handled things. I'm growing a PERSON! And aside from the early OHSS situation, it isn't killing me! And sure, I've had a lot of abnormal test results and lots of scares and conditions that only 1% of people get, but they've all actually turned out OK and I made it to 37 weeks a few days ago, which means my doctors no longer consider me pre-term and WE DID IT, BODY, we sustained a baby for 37 weeks and it didn't kill us!

I am officially rescinding that statement. My body is, in fact, the worst.

To be fair, I suspect this is not an uncommon sentiment for 37-week-pregnant women. This is not a particularly... comfortable time in one's life. I have 30 extra pounds dragging on my joints all day every day. I've got a large kid AND way too much fluid in there. It's currently 100 degrees outside with a heat index of 112. I'm not supposed to feel awesome.

There's a difference, though, between "not awesome" and "jesus christ, body, can we just fucking handle this like everyone else for once!?" - which is where I am at the moment. Because apparently my stupid body can't just get sore and achy like normal pregnant women. No, for me, the abs under my ribs on the right side of my body? feel like they are being ripped in half, at virtually all times.

This is not normal pregnancy aches and pains. I HAVE normal pregnancy aches and pains, plenty of them. Trust me. This feels like a hot poker being stabbed through my skin into my organs. Repeatedly. The area is inflamed and tender to the touch on the outside of my body. If I engage that muscle - say, to try and turn over in bed - the pain shoots to acute levels that make me involuntarily cry out in pain. This is not heartburn or round ligament pain, which after much googling, is what virtually every woman who has experienced this symptom was told by their ob/gyn - or had it shrugged off as just one of those pregnancy pains we all need to go through, sorry! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(I got the exact same reaction from my ob/gyn office, who typically is really great at listening to my individual concerns. But I get the impression that once you arrive at a certain point in pregnancy, they're so used to hearing women say they hurt that they dismiss everything at this stage as normal.)

I was worried about more than just the current pain, though: how the ^@#% was I supposed to push a baby out with abs that were already so damaged that I couldn't roll over in bed?? So I turned to my doula, who thank the tiny baby jesus, believed that this was a real thing above and beyond normal discomfort. And who confirmed that it actually IS possible to pull / strain the upper abs, especially as the ligaments that normally hold everything in place continue to loosen in preparation for getting the baby out. (She also confirmed that this is something I want to get resolved before I go into labor, because yes it will suck enormous ass to try to deal with labor with pulled abs. Cool!)

And, luckily, she had a suggestion on how to get resolution: a bengkung belly wrap. This was actually something she had preemptively suggested for my post-partum recovery (which is the much more common use) since she noticed I had diastasis recti, or separated abs. But the wrap can also be used much like a more traditional belly band - although for me, less as a way to relieve pain in the lower back, and more to provide a kind of corset on the bottom of my belly to keep it propped up without as much pull and strain at the top of my stomach.

It's also really hard to get a picture of that front knotted part because it's way down under my belly.

..but hopefully you get the idea.

So, how's it working? Decently, I think. I wasn't sure it was doing too much at first, but then I didn't wear it all day Sunday and OH MY GOD THE PAIN by the end of the day. SO MUCH PAIN. So I definitely know it's at least stopping the situation from getting WORSE, which is good. I still have fairly constant pain, but it's more of a burning than an acute tearing feeling - like, as if I did indeed get stabbed by a hot poker, and it hasn't healed yet.. as opposed to the poker continuing to stab me repeatedly. Yay?

I'm still pretty worried about how this will work for the whole labor situation. Will it make labor even more unbearable than normal? Will labor pain totally overpower this, but when I finish birthin' the kid, learn that I have done serious / irreparable damage to the area? WHO KNOWS! Hopefully I can just get the region back to a slightly less inflamed / on fire place before I need to find out. Hashtag magical time.

July 08, 2016

The saga of the crib mattress

Back in early June, I was preparing our house for our baby shower / housewarming, and I was figured it was high time to start getting the nursery put together so that we could pretend like we were somewhat prepared for a baby. Chris's cousins had generously bought us a crib from our registry, and we had a dresser and nightstand from IKEA, so that seemed like a good start. We put all the furniture together, and I ordered a crib mattress, liner, and sheets off of Amazon so that we could have the crib looking fully assembled and ready to go.

Everything arrived within a day (thanks, Amazon Prime!) ... except the mattress itself. Which continued to not arrive every day leading up to the party, then eventually was given a revised arrival date of the Monday after the party. So you know, not particularly helpful, and hard to make the nursery look cute and ready for a baby without a mattress in the crib, but whatever - many many weeks until I'd actually need a crib anyway, so meh.

Except then the mattress *continued* to never show up. Like for another week. So eventually I called UPS, since I had a tracking number for the package, to ask what's up.
UPS: Ah - we never actually received that package at all.  
Me: But there's a tracking number! 
UPS: Yeah - they assigned one at the Amazon warehouse, but then never actually provided the package to us for delivery. You'll need to call Amazon, unfortunately. 
So I called Amazon next, and repeated what UPS had told me.
Amazon: Oh man, this package is really late, I'm so sorry. Well, it looks like it's been misplaced in the warehouse, and there's not much we can do about that really. I'll give you a refund for this one and your best bet is probably to just order a new one.  
Me: But.. it's in your warehouse? Can't we just... ask the warehouse to give it to UPS? 
Amazon: Unfortunately I have no way to contact the warehouse directly, and if it hasn't gone out to UPS after all this time, it means the warehouse has lost track of it too. I'm really sorry. ...Refund?  
Me: Yeah OK fine. 
So they process the refund; I waited like a week just to see if the warehouse would magically get their shit together and send the mattress... but nope. So I went back to Amazon and ordered the same crib mattress again. It was scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday.

It did not show up on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. And the order status on Amazon changed to the same vague "on the way!" status that it gave me last time, while keeping the expected delivery date of July 5.

On Thursday I called Amazon again and asked for the UPS number so I could track the package, since that information also never showed up in my order for some reason. I looked up the number on the UPS website and was relieved to see that this time it had indeed left the warehouse, had arrived in MD on July 4th, and then was scanned in at the regional shipping center in VA early on the 5th. The status was "in transit" and the delivery date was that same day.. although oddly the status was NOT "out for delivery." I figured it would be there when I got home yesterday.

It was not.

So today, Friday, I called UPS to ask what the deal was: why had it been 10 minutes away in Chantilly since 8am Tuesday morning but never delivered?
UPS: Hmm. It looks like it's lost in our warehouse.  
UPS: Yes, sorry. And since this is an Amazon shipment, you'll need to contact them to start the investigation process. 
Me: Why would Amazon be able to do anything about it if it's lost in YOUR warehouse? 
UPS: That's just how the process works - they'll start the investigation and will probably refund you your money.  
Me: I can't just like.. come to Chantilly and get it? 
UPS: Well, no, we probably don't actually know where it is. Or the label may have fallen off or something.  
Me: ......... 
UPS: Sorry. I would call Amazon.  
Me: FINE. OK. 
Soooo I did. And Amazon has once again kindly refunded me the money for the mattress.
Amazon: Is there anything else I can help you with?  
Me: Not unless you have any suggestions on how to ACTUALLY GET THIS MATTRESS TO MY HOUSE at some point!?
(I didn't actually say that. Amazon customer support has been super polite every time and getting the refunds has been quick and painless.)

So I mean, I get that having a crib ready to go is not, like, the highest priority right now: I don't even have a baby to put in it yet, and even once she's born it's not like she'll need the crib for the first several weeks anyway. HOWEVER. It would be nice to be able to actually get her nursery looking presentable and ready, and also WHY CAN'T THEY JUST DELIVER ME THE DAMN MATTRESS I HAVE ORDERED TWICE NOW I DON'T UNDERSTAND. I can't get over that two different mattresses have now been lost by two different parties in two different warehouses. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN. They are not small packages. I AM VERY SHOUTY ABOUT THIS.

Annnyway. I'm already grumpy today because my contractions have ramped up to Very Annoying Level, in that as of about a week ago I have a sustained contraction for the entire time that I am standing up, literally any time that I am standing up. And as of last night, the newest development is additional stabby little contractions that woke me up repeatedly throughout the night, so I am feeling far from rested. The contractions continue to do nothing: I had another cervical check this morning and I'm still locked up tight. So I'm sore from contracting all the time, tired from contracting all night, annoyed that my body feels the need to contract this much if the contractions are not even DOING anything, and grumpy about the fact that there is a nationwide warehouse conspiracy preventing me from getting a crib mattress.

35 weeks and cranky.
But, um, other than that everything is fine. Baby girl continues to look good, I'm actually fine (just grumpy) and we're all in good health blah blah blah WHATEVER GIVE ME MORE DONUTS.

June 23, 2016

FTLOG, drama baby

So! Update again! *@&#%&@^$#!

After I got home from yesterday's visit, I was catching up on some work when I offhandedly noticed that my Braxton-Hicks contractions were ramping up a bit. Not particularly concerning; I've been getting them quite regularly since 24 weeks and I've been assured they are nothing to worry about as long as they don't increase in frequency/intensity.

By about 8, I realized that they hadn't let up in hours, and seemed awfully darn frequent, like... sort of constant. And they were awfully strong.

At 8:30, I decided to start timing them to see just how frequent they were. I timed them for an hour, during which I had 11 contractions, spaced almost exactly 5 minutes apart, ranging from 30 seconds to 1:30 each. Oh. Well. OK then.

(Now, these were still not "real" contractions - not like doubled over, can't talk, in pain contractions. They were still Braxton-Hicks level: my entire uterus would get tight and hard as a rock, and I would often find it easier to "breathe through" them while they were occurring, but certainly no level of pain that I would classify as problematic in any way. Still. Every 5 minutes seemed excessive. And the symptoms of pre-term labor are not necessarily the "you'll know it's labor!!" symptoms of full term - the primary one being "Four or more contractions in one hour, either with or without pain," which clearly I had far surpassed.)

Now, the sheet they had given me with info on the beta methasone shot did mention it could cause an increase in contractions. But like.. how much of an increase? Was this acceptable? How would I know?? So I called my doula, who suggested I try a hot bath and a large glass of water to see if that calmed them down. But she also said that if I could sleep through the contractions, they were incredibly unlikely to be pre-term labor. So I drank water and took a hot shower (I am not a bath person) and went to bed. And fell asleep! Success!

...only to wake up at 1am because my contractions had ramped up considerably. I now had a deep, menstrual-cramp like pain in my lower pelvis, and I could feel these contractions coming on before the actual tightening of the uterus: the crampy pain would start in my lower back and wrap around the front of my pelvis, then my entire uterus would seize up. These were a little less regular than the contractions earlier in the evening, but were still averaging around 5ish minutes apart. They did not increase in frequency or intensity, however, and by 3am I was able to fall back asleep, so ta-da! proof I was OK.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt.. awful. Completely unrested, still crampy, and the Braxton-Hicks contracts were still coming one on top of the other. My doula suggested I would have some sort of intuitive sense of whether I was truly in labor, but what the hell do I know!? The descriptions of pre-term labor are, like, entirely symptoms that you can have at any other time, but randomly might also mean you're about to drop a baby. I decided to call my ob/gyn from my car outside of Starbucks before driving all the way to work to get their take on it.

Their take was: go to the hospital RIGHT NOW PLEASE we'll call to let them know you're on your way.

So obviously I burst into tears, went back home and hiccuped to Chris that I had to go to the hospital, and headed over. Chris was supposed to get on a flight in about 2 hours for important lawyer things, so timing could not have been better. He packed his bags in about 2 minutes and followed me to OB triage.

The good news: everything is OK. My contractions ramped waaaaay down the SECOND I was hooked up to monitors (OF COURSE) but they confirmed I was still having them every 10 minutes, which is still not exactly ideal. However, a second cervical exam in 2 days (OW AGAIN) showed that the troubling contractions, the ones which I'd had overnight and were engaging my lower pelvis, had NOT dilated me any further, which is excellent news. They did give me stern instructions to NOT WAIT should I get any more contractions like that in the future though, because those are the kind specifically designed by your body to cause dilation.

They tested me for a UTI while I was there too, since those can also cause contractions. And while I'm clear on that front, I am apparently dehydrated, despite drinking what I thought was plenty of water. Turns out you can actually drink a shitload of water but it's not always enough to hydrate you, because you pee it all out before it can seep in intramuscularly (...or.. something to that effect?). So I've been instructed to keep up with the water, but make sure ~50% of my daily liquid intake is in other forms, like milk or gatorade or lemonade.

Also I've been moved temporarily from pelvic rest to "only go to work and then come home and lie on the couch with your feet up and that is it" for the next week or so until my uterus can chill the eff out and stop being a dick.

SO. All in all, everything is fine (Chris even made his flight!) but GOODNESS, LITTLE LADY. (She, by the way, has looked "excellent" throughout all of this - she seems perfectly fine, strong heartbeat, no stress on her part, etc. Just doing a premature job of stressing out her POOR BELEAGUERED MOTHER, GAH.)

June 21, 2016

Even *I* wasn't expecting to have another update for you already

Well! Baby girl has a flair for the dramatic already. Lucky us.

I'm 32 weeks and 3 days along today. I went in for my follow up monitoring ultrasound, and was surprised to learn that I would also be getting my first non-stress test. This is a neat little test where they strap a few monitors to your belly and check the kiddo's heart rate (and mom's contractions, if any) over about 20 minutes. They also give you a little clicker that you push any time you feel the baby move or kick. Apparently after 32 weeks, the baby is supposed to have at least two "spikes" in heart rate in that amount of time, so that's one thing they check for. It started out very interesting (watching baby's heart rate progress on a monitor! Listening to her heartbeat and hearing a big THUD in the audio when she would flip up against or kick where the monitor was strapped!) and got very boring by the end.

Next was the sonogram, where they quickly determined that - sad trombone - my fluid levels had increased since last week. But also slightly concerning, my cervix was looking a little on the short side. So out came the dildo cam for a measurement of the cervix from up the hoo-ha, and yup - the ol' girl is down to about 1.7cm.

Now, this in and of itself is not necessarily an issue. Many women's cervixes begin to shorten slowly and steadily in the weeks leading up to birth. However, given the extra-large baby I have bouncing around on top of mine, plus the extra volume of fluid, plus the new-to-me-information that I had apparently had two contractions during the NST (!??)... I am now Seriously Officially At Risk for pre-term labor.

I subsequently got the privilege of my first cervical check to make sure I wasn't ALSO dilated (OW, and no, not more than a fingertip) so I'm not, like, currently in labor or about to have a baby spontaneously fall out of me.

But they don't want to take any chances in case I *do* go into preterm labor sometime soon, so next up was my first betamethasone steroid injection. This neat little shot is given to me (painfully, in the ass) but travels down to baby girl and helps her start creating a surfectant in the lungs which babies don't usually make on their own until about 34 weeks. It helps prevent respiratory distress syndrome should the baby come early. I got one shot in my right ass cheek today, and I go back for a second shot in the left ass cheek tomorrow. The effects of the steroid last about 2 weeks, at which point I'll be past 34 weeks and baby girl should hard at work maturing her lungs on her own at that point.

So, they're not saying I WILL to go into preterm labor shortly. Buuuuuut just in case I do, and just in case they can't stop it, these shots will give the little lady an even better chance at being OK on the outside and requiring less intervention in that scenario.

In the meantime, I'm on pelvic rest (mainly just means no fun things can happen in the bathing suit area, although a lot of my exercise routine is now out as well) but not bedrest (I'll take it!). I go back tomorrow for shot #2, then again next Tuesday for the next NST and sonogram. Goal: no updates between now and then. Stay calm and stay put, little lady.

June 20, 2016

Updated update

The chiro visit revealed that I totally had several ribs out. I mean, once again they were out BECAUSE of the baby, but you know. Fixable once again. Haaa.


June 15, 2016

Updates! (tl;dr: I am large and full of fluid. And baby.)

So! Brisk clap! I saw the high risk antenatal doctor yesterday, and have Many Updates.
  • Polyhydramnios (excess fluid) diagnosis was reconfirmed. Normal fluid level (amniotic fluid index, or AFI) is between 5-25cm. Between 25-30cm is mild polyhdramnios; between 30-35 is moderate; and 35+ is severe. I'm at 29.6cm, so hanging by my fingernails in the "mild" classification. 
  • Assuming I stay in the mild-to-moderate category, there's not much I can do or that the doctors will do, aside from monitor the bejeesus out of me. I'm now scheduled for weekly sonograms for the remainder of my pregnancy, to make sure I do in fact stay in this category. I don't need to go on bedrest or modify my exercise or anything at this juncture, which was a relief to hear. 
  • But since there is still a very real risk of scary stuff like preterm labor and placental abruption (and oh hey STILLBIRTH) as complications should fluid levels elevate more, those weekly sonograms are a nice reassuring way to make sure I haven't suddenly veered into "severe" territory and put myself and baby girl at risk. Should that happen, that's when I suspect there would be some more concrete intervention, although I do need to confirm what that might look like. 
  • But for now, they expect this to proceed normally and the mild polyhydramnios in and of itself should not prevent me from being allowed to go into labor naturally, have a vaginal birth, etc. 
  • There's still no official "cause" at this juncture. (Oh yeah! I passed the 3 hour glucose test with flying colors. No diabeetus for me! But also means they can't easily explain my big baby / high fluid.) The doctor did say that roughly 50% of the time, polyhydramnios ends up being idiopathic, but she has seen an anecdotal correlation between big babies and too much fluid. They can't entirely rule out other known causes like chromosomal issues or an infection, but since I scored well in the first trimester screenings it remains a decently low probability. Anatomical issues can also be to blame, and many of those have been ruled out via the anatomy scans, but if the baby has trouble swallowing, for example, that would be tough to identify on an ultrasound. 
  • (Did you know this?? That fetuses spend their days drinking the amniotic fluid to practice swallowing and digesting, then pee it right back out into more amniotic fluid? That is so cool / gross! So there's a chance baby girl is just, uh, an overabundant pee-er.)
  • Oh! And another thing they're checking for on these new weekly sonograms will be baby position. Apparently, babies with so much extra fluid to float around in are not always the best at getting and staying in a head down position toward the end, since they basically have their own built in kiddie pool that they can luxuriously somersault all around in, unlike normal, cramped babies who aren't being spoiled with an extra large 24/7 day spa. 
  • Speaking of all that space, the ultrasound technician did warn me to expect to get "very uncomfortable and distended" as the weeks go on. So that's super neat to look forward to! :-/ 
  • (I got lots of great info and comments from the tech actually! She was lovely, kept telling me how adorable my unborn baby was, asked how often people inquire if I'm having twins due to my size [me: "FREQUENTLY!"] and let me know baby girl has a full head of hair right now [!!])
  • And although on the Slightly Alarmingly Large side, right now baby girl is still well within predicted acceptable size ranges for squeezing out through my tortured lady bits ("You're looking at an 8- or 9-pounder, most likely," said the doc) so as long as she doesn't speed up her growth I can look forward to that.. uh..  exciting... experience. 
  • On the other hand, if this were not an IVF pregnancy, they would move my date up by about 2 weeks and assume the early scans or my period math was off. However, because Science, we know exactly how old lady baby is, and so her +2 week sized noggin is just because she's big boned, darn it. 
  • (Her head and her femur are measuring the SAME amount of ahead-edness at least, which is good, as it means she's proportionally large all over.)
  • They did ask if the father was "really big" to help explain her size. 
    • Me: he's like.. 6 feet-ish? 
    • Them: oh, no, that's pretty normal, nevermind. 
  • Basically they wanted to know if I'd copulated with Tormund Giantsbane. Obviously I would never do that, I don't want to mess up his budding relationship with Brienne of Tarth, duh.
The whole appointment was pretty interesting and informative overall, and it took place in the hospital where I'll be giving birth, so it's nice to get increasingly familiar with that complex. It more or less confirmed all the research I'd done on my own, and confirmed my (somewhat hopeful) suspicions that I was on the "milder" side of polyhydramnios for now, which I will happily take. 

Because my lands, I am already getting REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. And large. 

31 weeks. Belly button popped around 29.5
Thank the tiny baby jesus that they are still fine with me doing some light exercise, because I feel like my twice weekly workouts ("workouts," honestly - there is not exactly a lot of sweating going on these days; it's more resistance training and some yoga and balance work and a lot of grunting from me as I try to get up and down from the floor) are one of the only things keeping things from getting unreasonable. My hips and lower back are still doing OK (again, I credit my trainer with this 100%) but I've started to really run out of space in the torso area. My RIBS hurt, and I think it's because the lower ones literally are being squished by my bulbous midsection. 

(Although to be fair, the last time I assumed I was in fairly severe pain due to the natural but unfortunately immutable rigors of pregnancy, it turns out my entire hip was completely out of alignment and THAT was why I was having excruciating pain shooting up my back any time I was seated. I mean, pregnancy probably contributed to my hip going out of alignment in the first place, since that is not exactly normal for me, but my chiropractor was like "um, next time you're in intense pain for three weeks, COME SEE ME, DUMMY." [The dummy part was not technically vocalized, but we can assume he was thinking it.] My lower ribs have started to enter the "fairly excruciating" band of pain on a daily basis, so I'm headed to the chiro today after work to try and be less of a dummy if it's fixable again this time.)

Did I mention before that I was getting Braxton-Hicks contractions? Right at 24 weeks almost to the day, I got my first nice strong one, which was a little alarming at the time because it was the Monday right after we moved into the new house, and while I'd been very careful not to move anything heavy, I found it difficult to literally not lift ANYTHING AT ALL, because.. moving. But then I started getting contractions, at exactly the same week that all my baby listserves sent out Serious Newsletters about the dangers of pre-term labor and how to recognize the signs, so of course I was like OH NO I OVERDID IT WITH THE MOVE I RUINED THE BABY HALP OH NOOO. But no, just harmless ol' Braxton-Hicks! And I've had them reliably nearly every single day since. Still nothing painful (usually.. this is starting to change) and they're certainly not regular or consistent, but definitely present multiple times throughout the day. 

(Oh! The high risk doc did also say she often finds big ol' babies in excess fluid to be extra active [check] and have more early contractions [check], so that story checks out.)

Kicks 2

(Other oh! Completely related to anything in the previous paragraphs, but I also learned from that doctor that the echogenic foci on the baby's heart - which they did another detailed examination of - while only found in 3-5% of pregnancies, within that range the percentage is much higher in babies of Asian descent, which obviously ours is. There is no real significance to this aside, I just found it interesting.)  

Meanwhile, the swelling of the lower extremities continues unabated. I am relieved on a daily basis that maxi dresses and flip flops are acceptable options, because a) I literally cannot fit into 95% of my shoes on any given day and b) maxi dresses are basically pajamas that have the added benefit of hiding the woeful state of my cantaloupes ankles. I've started to get what feel like killer shin splints, but googling informs me that no, it's likely just the constant pressure on my shin bone from the swelling as well that is making it sore. Which, frankly, makes far more sense than shin splints, since I would have had to participate in some sort of cardio activity to acquire those. 

I absolutely cannot complain about my skin and hair though. I will be so very, very sad to have to give them up after baby girl makes her exit. My hair looks about 20x better when I do LITERALLY NOTHING to it - I mean, seriously, I brush it after I get out of the shower, and then NOTHING ELSE - than it ever has pre-pregnancy, under any circumstance. It's glorious. It also never needs to be washed. As in, it starts to look greasy on day 6. DAY SIX OF NO WASHING IT. I mean. It's practically enough to make a gal find Jesus over here. 

May 29, 2016

Third trimester: it's complicated

Last weekend, at my friend Liz's baby shower, she asked if I thought I'd go early or late compared to my due date. I replied that I would be entirely confident that like almost all first births (as well as both my sister and I), this baby would show up late.... except for the fact that I had a nagging suspicion I wasn't out of the woods in regards to complications with this pregnancy, so that was the only scenario where I could see me giving birth earlier than August 13th.

I should stop saying crap like that. 

(I've mentioned how 3 of my really close friends were pregnant all at the exact same time, right? Through some ridiculously crazy twists of fate, all four of us got pregnant with due dates within four and a half months of each other. Despite it looking like we engaged in some sort of embarrassing teenage-style pregnancy pact, I assure you that is not easily accomplished with the fickle reproductive systems of one's mid-thirties, and it really did just happen to work out this way.)

At this point, we have one baby who has successfully made it out into the world; our next arrival is due July 4th weekend; #3 is scheduled for the first week of August; and I'm bringing up the rear with my August 13th due date. 

So when we took this photo last weekend at the shower, I was somewhat alarmed to see that I looked not only like the most-pregnant lady remaining, but also like I was giving birth sometime way sooner than mid August: 

Also yes, I'm like 6" taller than all of my friends. 
Everyone assured me it was just the angle, but I remained suspicious of the largeness and in chargeness of that belly. 

Fast forward to Tuesday, when I had a 28 week level II ultrasound scheduled. (Oh yeah: back at my 20 week anatomy scan, they found a few exciting anomalies: some choroid plexus cysts [CPCs] in the brain, and two echogenic foci on the heart. CPCs can be a soft marker for Trisomy 18 [very very bad chromosomal anomaly], but often only when in the presence of other fairly clear anatomical markers like clenched fists due to finger malformations, and anomalies with the heart. While that was quite unlikely for us since the hands and other parts looked fine, the addition of echogenic foci apparently moved us from a possibility of Trisomy 18 to a possibility of Down Syndrome. Counter-however, since we'd had a Verifi test done in the first trimester - a blood test that measures your risk of chromosomal disorders in the fetus - and that came back with really reassuring results, like a 1/10,000 risk, my doctors weren't overly concerned with the findings and urged me not to be either. Easier said than done, naturally, but my only choices were to freak out or to try and put it out of my mind, so I went with #2. Anyway, this 28 week scan was ostensibly to check up on the cysts and foci, but primarily to see if any new markers had presented themselves, since both the continued presence OR the disappearance of either the CPCs or the foci means virtually nothing: if they still presented, it was fine and normal; if they had gone away, that was fine too, but is also a normal outcome even if the baby did have T18 or Downs. So. Very informative screening in other words. Did I mention that only like 1-3% of fetuses have these markers in the first place? Because of course. Also the probability I was going to get OHSS!)

So back to this week: the cysts had disappeared (good slash meaningless!) and the two foci on the heart were still there but so small they have no anatomical implications, so thumbs up to all of that in the sense that nothing got worse / bigger / multiplied. But after doing enough of these, I'm starting to pick up on some cues, so I noticed the technician got a little quiet while measuring the volume of amniotic fluid in my uterus. "Fluid look OK?" I asked. "Oh yes," she replied. "It just looks like there might be a lot of it." 

Then she started measurements on the kid's skull, and began muttering to herself. She redid the measurements about four times, before finally admitting defeat and commenting that our baby had a big head. She measured the femur too, and concluded it's just a big ol' baby overall. She estimated the size at nearly 31 weeks (rather than where I was, 28w 3d) and about 3 lb 6 oz, whereas my weekly baby newsletters were telling me 28 week old fetuses should be about 2lb 4oz. "Do you have diabetes?" she asked me, skeptically. 

I had actually JUST gotten the results from my gestational diabetes test the day before - I passed (meaning no diabetes!), but by the skin of my teeth: you're fine if your score is 135 or below, and I snuck through with a 134.  

So! I talked through all of these results with my ob/gyn. Having a big baby and too much amniotic fluid is indeed most commonly caused by diabetes (gestational or otherwise) so despite technically passing my 1 hour test, I get to go back for the big mama 3 hour test this week where you drink even more of an even glucose-ier drink, then get blood drawn once an hour for three hours to monitor your body's ability to process sugar over time. Apparently the placenta is quite the insulin hog, which is why pregnant women can develop diabetes temporarily - just while the placenta is stealing all your insulin. Plenty of people also just have babies that measure big at some point but "even out" over the course of the pregnancy, or just have big babies in general and it's not a problem, etc. If I do have gestational diabetes, I'll likely just need to make some modifications to my diet, keep up with light exercise, and keep close tabs on my blood sugar level to make sure it remains in check.

It sounds like the more problematic result is the excess fluid levels. Polydramnios - which, you guessed it, is only present in 1% of pregnancies! - can be the result of anatomical abnormalities in the fetus (like an esophageal obstruction, meaning the baby isn't swallowing any fluid; not the case with us); can be diabetes-related; or can just develop for unknown reasons. The problem is that it can lead to some fairly serious complications, like preterm labor, having your water break prematurely, placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse, hemorrhage post birth, or even stillbirth. Which means I earned myself a referral to a high-risk specialist for a consult, and depending on their assessment, may end up with a higher level of monitoring for the rest of the pregnancy. We'll see though - I have the 3 hour test this week, and the high risk specialist in two weeks, so I'll know more after that. 

As it stands, though, I feel fine right now: I don't have any [other] symptoms of diabetes, and the fluid levels aren't excessive enough to cause shortness of breath or trouble breathing or anything. (Remind anyone of OHSS much!? Apparently if the fluid levels do get too high, one potential treatment is incredibly similar as well: they go in with a needle to drain out fluid to relieve some pressure. Been there done that, baby!) 

I do feel pretty vindicated about that picture up top, though. I have medical proof that I am huge! (The ob/gyn's old school belly-measurement put me at 32 weeks, over THREE weeks ahead. I am definitely bellying it up in here.)