Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quick update before early bedtime

There will be more.  Oh yes, there will be more. But, for now:
  • Michigan was awesome. (Obligatory song reference: "Michigan seems like a dream to me now.")  We got to meet Henson puppeteer Kevin Clash.  Walt got to meet Elmo.  Walt kicked Elmo so hard that Kevin Clash could feel it and was rather alarmed.  It was probably the best moment in our Muppet-loving lives, ever.  I'm planning on writing the definitive review of the film Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey sometime soon.   
  • I did OK this week. On Thursday I hit a wall and was good for absolutely nothing but sleeping and whimpering.  "Don't do that too much," said Sean.  "Walter will get used to it." (Meaning the whimpering.) There is so, so much more whimpering to come. I am sure of it. 
  • My feet are capable of achieving enormous sizes beyond my wildest dreams.
  • Today was my first day back leading worship after two weeks away.  I found ways to sit down for most of the service, but I still had bleeding during worship. Not sure what to do about this. It wasn't a scary amount and it stopped right away.  Strategizing for working through the next 3 months is underway.  
  • I am learning all about help and how much I need it (lots and lots.)  I've always thought I was pretty good at knowing when I need help and asking for it, but this is getting hard. It is good indeed that God's grace is free and unconditional.
  • Next appointment is on Wednesday; glucose tolerance test and a follow up with Dr. M.  Praying and praying for no positive on the glucose test.  Trying to cut down on sugar but it really is the only thing in the whole world my body wants.  Praying that's not a bad sign, gestational diabetes-wise.
It's 9 pm!  The puppy is in his crate, so it must be time for me to go to mine.  Getting to sleep takes some time and effort, these days.  One of the reasons is heartburn, which is no fun.  The other reason is Walter Paul, who moves so much and is so big that my entire belly moves with him, ala that scene in Alien.  It is creepy and wonderful at the same time.  Mostly wonderful.  Off to enjoy some baby gymnastics and some much-needed sleep!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Update from the recently bed rested

I'm learning all sorts of things about pregnancy.  For example: Walter is about 15 inches tall right now, or about one inch taller than a Ken doll.  Neat!  Also: scheduling the my most busy week in recent memory for the week that Sean is out of town at a training is a surefire way to land in the hospital.  Who knew?

Here's the thing: I'm not totally stupid.  I was getting 12 hours of sleep a night, trying to offset some of the busy-ness during the day.  As soon as I got home each night I put my feet up.  I had a killer, 3 day-long charlie horse that made me all achy and limpy, so I tried to walk it out as much as possible. Which meant I was on my feet quite a bit, limping about.

I blame the charlie horse.

On Friday evening I noticed some bleeding.  It was a little heavier than the spotting I've had throughout my pregnancy, but I decided it was in the realm of normal and that I wasn't worried.  On Saturday afternoon there was quite a lot of bleeding. Oh dear, I thought.  I went back to working on my sermon.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now."  After unpacking that lovely image for awhile I realized I was writing the most anxious and anxiety-producing sermon, ever. I checked again.  Still bleeding.  I decided a little phone call to the on-call doc wouldn't hurt anything, just ease my mind a bit.

I was totally cool, calm and collected. My doctor, Dr. M, happened to be on-call that night.  He asked me to come to the hospital for an ultrasound.  "You need to make arrangements for tomorrow," he said.  "You're not going to work."

That's about when the crying started.  Hank was very concerned.  I started making some calls.

First: the Andersons.  I got Lydia on the phone, who immediately used her very best non-anxious presence voice and calmed me down quite a bit.  Pastors' kids are so wonderful, you guys, particularly these pastors' kids.  Lydia got in touch with her dad, who was at a meeting at their church--Pastor Dalton called me and said "I'll be there in 30 minutes to take you to the hospital."  The crying slowed down significantly at this point and the breathing got much, much easier.

I was supposed to preach at the river that next day--a big annual ecumenical outdoor event. Because of that event, I'd planned for a very basic, short service at Redeemer with no preaching and no music. I called Dorothy, a retired pastor and member of my congregation, to let her know what was going on and ask if she could preside at communion at Redeemer.  Yes indeed she could.  And, if needed in the future, she'll have a sermon ready to go, too.  At this point I was breathing much, much easier indeed.

I knew that Pastor Al was writing a sermon to give at his church, so I was hopeful that he'd be willing and able to preach it at the river service, too.  I knew I had his cell and home number somewhere and couldn't find it.  Panicked a little.  Pastor Dalton called to let me know he was on his way.  I shared my frustration about the phone numbers.  "Have you tried  The phone book?"  This had not occurred to me.  This would also not be the last time that evening I relied entirely on Dalton to think for me.  Having friends who can think, and think well, in stressful situations: very comforting.

I found Pastor Al's home phone number online, filled him in and was much relieved: he would preach at the river.  Whew!  Breathing again.

I called the congregation council president and a couple other folks who were signed up to be worship leaders that Sunday: they'd be able to pass the information on to others. In 30 minutes I went from very scared indeed to feeling much, much better. Later, when Dr. M. decided they needed to keep me at the hospital overnight, I called Karen and John, who picked Hank up on Sunday morning and kept him until my dad arrived from Chicago.

This is what the Body of Christ looks like, in action.  Our human bodies, our human plans fail and the Body of Christ is there to breathe the Spirit into us until we can fully breathe again. I am so grateful. As she drove me to my follow up appointment today, Pastor Gretchen asked if I could name some of the "God moments" I experienced through this event.  Even if this were the longest blog post ever (it still might be ... I'm on a roll!) I don't think I could possibly record all the God moments I experienced this week.  But I know those moments are still with me, and I know I'll remember them in the good and scary times to come.

Once safely tucked into Dalton's car (good air conditioning: another blessing) and enroute to the hospital I called Sean.  As we talked, I could feel Walter Paul kicking away, contentedly.  He's a good kid.

When we got to the hospital and checked in I started getting worried again.  I went up to the birthing center and settled into a labor and delivery room (I noted that the room was very nice, indeed, with many lovely amenities which will make my eventual labor and delivery quite pleasant.)  I met my nurse, Kelly, whose baby girl is due the day before Walter (October 16.)  She was wonderful.  Reassuring, smart, caring, informative, everything you could think of in the perfect nurse and more. She got monitors on me for Walt's heartbeat and my contractions.  Walt's heartbeat was perfect throughout our stay.  The other monitor showed "some uterine irritability, but that's to be expected.  You're pregnant!" Indeed.

We didn't have to wait very long for Dr. M, who had some stern words for me about working too hard.  I tried to explain about the charlie horse.  Dr. M said I made a good call on coming in, that they were going to take some blood and a urine sample, that they'd get an ultrasound and keep me overnight for monitoring, and that it seemed like everything was going to be fine, for me and the baby.  Dalton got to go home, but not before he brought me tall glasses of ice water, apple juice, and a delicious peach slushie.  I also got a cup of vanilla pudding.  Project overload-the-baby-with-sugar kicked into full, glorious gear.

Interesting pregnancy fact: if you're worried that your baby isn't moving enough, drink a glass of cold orange juice and lie on your left side.  Wait a few moments for the sugar rush to kick in.  Then prepare to get kicked.  A lot.

I'd already tried the orange juice trick earlier in the day while fretting and writing an awful sermon.  The additional cold, sugary beverages tasted wonderful and sent the Scooter into a scooting frenzy.  By the time we got the ultrasound, he was moving around too fast to get a clear picture.  He also invented his first game: punch the monitor.  He'd feel around for one of the monitors.  When he was sure he knew where it was, he'd aim and punch (or kick, can't really tell the difference) with all his might. This would make the monitor bounce up and down in a very satisfying way.  Sometimes he'd move, making the nurses go find him again with the heartbeat monitor, and begin the game again.

While Walter was hitting the heartbeat monitor, Sean called. Kelly held the phone up to the speaker.  There's nothing that makes a grown man cry quite like his baby's healthy heartbeat. 

The ultrasound revealed a couple of interesting things: first, a very handsome, active baby boy. ("Still a boy!" the ultrasound tech announced cheerfully.) Second, a bit of an overachiever.  He's already rather firmly in the head down position, with his head very firmly down on top of my cervix.  Add that pressure to being on my feet more than usual and the bleeding is explained.

Such a relief. No placenta previa.  No signs of pre-term labor.  Just a little cervical bleeding and a little negotiating with gravity to make it stop.

After a short but fairly restful sleep there was more monitoring and another visit from Dr. M with the verdict: bed rest for the week. Restricted work schedule after that.  Follow up appointment later in the week to reassess.  Allowed to get up and go to the bathroom (thank God) but nothing else.  This was about the time I took my dad up on his offer to come up and help me for a few days.

I was discharged and Kelly, the wonderful nurse, drove me home.  I settled in to the adjustable bed loaned by the Anderson family (don't really know what I would have done without that this week!) and commenced to sleep.

I woke up four days later.  Seriously.  My dad came up, took care of Hank, cleaned the house, completed several major house-related projects, fed me and kept me company while I slept.  I slept day and night.  Occasionally, I read a little.

Dad returned home Wednesday night and on Thursday I woke up and was able to think clearly enough to get some writing done.  Thursday night I couldn't sleep: all that lying down has completely flooded my system with stomach acid.  I threw some of that up and decided I needed a break from bed rest.  This morning, Dr. M agreed: I'm allowed to spend more time upright, to work about half as much as usual, to go on our long-planned, eagerly awaited trip to Michigan.  I am not allowed to exercise.  Under any circumstances.

Me: What kind of exercise do you recommend?
Dr. M: That's easy.  None.
Me: But ...
Dr. M: NONE.

OK, then!

That's my story.  Tomorrow we head off to Traverse City, MI for a week of continuing education (the Great Lakes Theological Institute hosted by Trinity Seminary), BabyMoon and 5 year wedding anniversary celebration.  But no exercise.

Fortunately, no restrictions have been placed on pie.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A sympathetic ear

Well, my strategy of avoiding reading any of our baby books really backfired on me last month, when my sympathetic pregnancy -- deprived of any solid background research -- manifested as high fever, body aches, difficulty breathing... and let's just say plenty of bathroom time to catch up on my reading. Did you know that newborns can identify their parents by smell? Two baby books later and five pounds lighter, I'm rounding out my second sympathetic trimester much more comfortably, thankyouverymuch. (Annie suggests I've gotten off easy, but that's just her sympathetic sympathetic pregnancy talking.)

Do you know who, on the other hand, is incredibly healthy? With an official prognosis of "strong like ox?" (Well, I made that prognosis, but it's valid.) Walter Paul. Annie's most recent doc visit yielded the attached ultrasound-clip of the boy's ticker. Give it a listen... what do you hear? Do you think he's lion-hearted? Generous? Kind?