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May 2008

May 1, 2008

As you can imagine, going through the difficulties of prematurity makes a lot of moms want to advocate and educate about this amazingly common health problem (1 in 8 babies are born premature in the U.S.) that so few people seem to know anything about. That's why I maintain this website. It's also why I'm working on a memoir about our experience. (You may not know I'm the author of 16 nonfiction books.)

This memoir will cover so much more than I've presented on this website, giving much more detail about how we discovered my water broke, about how doctors continually told us to abort Anastasia, about the marital difficulties we've faced (I recently read that 85% of couples who have a premature child end up divorcing), and so much more. Of course, there's no guarantee I'll be able to convince a publisher to release my book, but I'm beginning the process of trying to sell my manuscript to one, anyway. (UPDATE 3/6/2012: I had more than a few nibbles on this memoire, but it seems I caught the publishing cycle just as memoires were going OUT of fashion. Then I got busy taking care of two kiddos. I still think the memoire could help a lot of people, so maybe someday I'll try to market it again.)

Now, on to some Anastasia news:

  • A few days ago, I asked Miss A. if she wanted to help me do laundry. She answered, but I was confused by her words so I said, "Are you saying 'wee, wee, wee' like the little piggie?" Miss A. replied, "No, Mommy. 'Oui, oui, oui,' like Fancy Nancy!" (Fancy Nancy is a character in a picture book who loves to speak French.)


  • Overheard: Miss A.: "Bird!" Daddy: "Yes, that bird is called a flamingo." Miss A.: "Bird." Daddy: "Can you say flamingo?" Miss A.: "Bird!" Daddy: "Flamingo." Miss A.: "No, I won't say 'flamingo!'"


  • A constant refrain lately: "Daddy can buy me a pink dump truck to ride in." When we tell her pink dump trucks are pretty tough to find, she says, "Oh, yellow now." Which I take to mean yellow will do.


  • A few days ago as I was putting away clean dishes, Anastasia started taking things out of the dishwasher. I told her not to, but when she said, "I want to help, Mommy!" I let her hand the plates to me as I put them away. A new routine for us!


  • This afternoon: "I got some boogers hanging upside down in mine pinky nose."


May 6, 2008

Miss A. continues to thrive. She's still off her reflux medicine and she's still drinking her Pediasure from a sippy cup. Her language skills keep growing. The other day she said, "I want a pink motorcycle for mine birthday." I didn't even know she "got" the whole birthday gift thing, since she hasn't been to any parties but her own, last August. This is in addition to the pink dump truck she hopes her daddy will buy her.

Her memory also amazes me. I thought two year olds were still supposed to have short memories, but Miss A. clearly remembers some things about last summer. For example, last summer she played in a mud puddle in our yard. That area has been dry a long time now - and still is - but she talks about jumping in it. She also asks for her watering can, which was her favorite toy last summer. She talks about swimming with her cousins. And when my hubby put up the hammock this weekend, nobody had to tell her what it was. "Oh thank you for putting together the hammock for me, Daddy!" she said. She crawled into it right away and began swinging herself.

This Friday, I drag hubby along with me to my OB appointment, where the nurse is supposed to teach him to give me the progesterone shot. "Why can't you give it to yourself?" he keeps asking me. "Because it's pretty hard to give yourself a shot in the rear," I answer.

And then the following Friday, I have the big ultrasound, where - if the baby cooperates - we will know if we're having a boy or a girl!

A friend recently asked me if I panic over every little ache or pain of pregnancy. No, I don't panic, but I do pay close attention if I feel something that might be out of the ordinary. A week or two back, for example, I felt what I hoped was the baby kicking my cervix. It kept me awake, and I did a lot of praying that night.

The good thing is, if I experience PROM again, I think I should have some warning. When I was pregnant with Anastasia, I had contractions (or maybe the cramps of irritable uterus) for a while before my water actually broke at 20 weeks. So, I tell myself, if that happens again, at least now I can do something. I can go on bed rest. Maybe my doctor will give me antibiotics. Maybe I could go on contraction-reducing medicine. Maybe preterm labor could be delayed. I take some comfort in that.

But I don't want to make it sound like I spend a lot of time fretting. I don't. I try not to think about it at all, except to remind myself to take things a little easier than I might otherwise. And, oh yes, every night I pray for this baby to stay healthy and inside me for nine months...right before I pray for God's will to be done.


May 9, 2008

Miss A. made me giggle first thing this morning. I walked in her room to get her out of her crib and she said, with great enthusiasm, "I like Mommy's own necklace!" I replied, "Thank you. It's a cross." She said, "A cross...or maybe a dragonfly!"

This afternoon I saw my OB. I've gained two pounds and my blood pressure is great. The nurse taught hubby how to give me my weekly progesterone shot, and she gave me my first one. It's a two and a half inch needle and must go in entirely. It stings a bit going in, but mostly the stinging came in after the fact :)


May 12, 2008

I have a problem with hives. I woke up at 10:30 PM on Saturday with itchy hives covering my thighs. They spread a bit to my stomach and arms, and then I fell asleep. When I awoke, I still felt a little itchy, but I think the hives were gone. I didn't really look, however, because I was in a hurry to begin our Mother's Day plans. Then at about 10:30 PM Sunday night, I awoke again with hives on my thighs. Soon I had them head to toe. I was nauseous. I thought I'd vomit. And my lips swelled a little.

This morning, the hives were mostly gone, but my heart rate was elevated and my blood pressure (while still in the normal range) was high for me. So I called my OB's office. The nurse wants me to take a dose of Benadryl before bed tonight, then call her with an update in the morning.

I can't imagine what I'm having a reaction to, unless it is pollen. On both days, I wasn't outside in our area except for a few minutes, but it was mostly in the evening.

There is something called pemphigoid gestationis that begins with hives and leads to preterm delivery, but it doesn't appear this is what I have, thank goodness.

Anyway, because I didn't sleep well this weekend, I'm exhausted, so I will post about our Mother's Day weekend on another day...


May 13, 2008

The hives were better last night. They were only on my thighs, and not itchy at all. But boy, that Benadryl really knocks me out - and I took the smallest dose! I don't see how I could possibly take it during the day.

Today I'm not keeping myself strictly outside. (For example, I'll go out to get the mail, or take something out of the freezer.) We'll see if that makes a difference. My OB's nurse thinks it's possible the progesterone shot is the cause of the hives. This was one the first things I considered, but the timing didn't seem right to me. (I got the shot at noon on Friday and the hives didn't appear until 10ish PM on Saturday.) Also, I thought the hives would first appear at the injection site. (See, Toby Lee? You were right and I was wrong!) So she's going to discuss it with my doctor and see if they might want to try a different progesterone.

I must admit I hate taking medications while I'm pregnant. I don't even like to take Tylenol, which is considered very safe. Benadryl passes the placenta, which means it does effect the baby. Does the bun feel as drugged as I do when I take the stuff? Taking it for a while isn't really a good option, either, since newborns whose moms have been taking Benadryl for a while have withdrawal symptoms. If that's the case, then a baby in utero probably has withdrawals, too...

Our Mother's Day weekend was a good one. We spent Saturday at my mother's house, and Sunday at my sister-in-law's. Anastasia had a grand time in both places. At her auntie's house, she ran around with her young boy cousins, and spent most of her time riding on a battery operated John Deere Gator. One of her cousins drove, and she rode in the passenger seat. They'd stop for a few minutes, but soon Miss A. was saying, "Maybe I can ride the Gator?" Then her cousin Mr. A would dutifully drive her around again.

Miss A. thought this was the greatest thing ever!

Helping her young cousins push a stuck Gator.

Miss A. in her new sunglasses.

In other news, I'm feeling the bun move around a lot. This is both wonderful and weird to me, since I never felt Anastasia move inside me. The movement isn't strong enough yet that hubby can feel it, though.


May 15, 2008

Two nights ago,  I awoke in a panic, feeling I'd lost the baby. After a few breathless moments, I rationalized and prayed. I'm not sure why I woke up that way (unless it was the Benadryl doing a number on me), but I haven't felt the bun moving in a few days. Even though my rational mind says everything is fine (the baby is small enough he or she probably just moved to a location where I can't feel him or her) I'm glad our ultrasound is tomorrow.

Wednesday night, I took Benadryl and I still had hives on my thighs. Last night, I didn't take any Benadryl, and the hives were about the same. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to the progesterone shot. I've been outside a lot, and have had no reaction to the pollen. If it's not the progesterone shot that made me nearly go into anaphylactic shock, then I can't imagine what it was. Unfortunately, I haven't heard back from my OB's office yet. They're out for the day, so they are supposed to call me first thing tomorrow morning.

I have a feeling they won't want me to get another shot of the same progesterone compound...but I do wonder if they'll want me to try something else. Although money is not nearly the most important thing here, if we keep having to change drugs, it's gonna get expensive really quick. :(

Miss A. is doing extremely well. So well her next Early Intervention appointment (during the last week of May) will be her last! Both her physical therapist and her coordinator feel she's doing terrific, and see no need for her to continue their services. (Which is good, because I have felt the same way for a while.) When I told my hubby Miss A. would no longer be getting EI services, his stress over my current pregnancy shone through. "Good," he said. "Just in time to get another one started with them." Well, we hope not.

The sun is out, and I can hardly keep Anastasia indoors. She's discovered the joy of wet sand and gets covered in it from face to foot. She helped me pot some plants (by digging in the dirt), and loves watering with her watering can and "mowing" the lawn with her bubble mower. Yesterday, as we cuddled on the hammock together, she said, "I a little, happy  girl!"

Her eating and drinking have been a bit of a struggle of late. The uniqueness of drinking milk from her sippy cup has worn off. She'll still drink it, but it takes a lot more harassment from me. At the end of the day, it's not exactly what I want to do, but...Her eating isn't great, either, and sometimes she'll skip one or even two meals a day. I've cut snacking altogether to encourage her to eat at mealtime. My hubby worries endlessly over this, but I think it's probably normal for her age. Still, he was worried enough that I agreed to weigh Miss A. this morning. She'd actually gained 3 oz. since the last time I weighed her (right as I ended her dream feed bottle).


May 16, 2008

Darn. The perintologist's office just called and cancelled my ultrasound for today. They had a very sick baby who needed my spot. So we have to wait until Monday morning to get another peek at the bun. :(


May 16 (part II)

For about two weeks, Miss A. has been asking me to read "Pinkie Owl." I had no idea what book this might be. I couldn't even think of a book (other than the Winnie the Pooh stuff) that had an owl in it. So I told tell her, "Bring the book to me, and I'll read it." But she could never find it among her collection.

Well, this morning she handed me a book saying, "Pease read Pinkie Owl, Mommy." And what book was it? Pinnochio!


May 16 (part III)

I finally heard back from my OB's office. They had to consult the perintologist, too, which explains why it took a bit to hear anything back. They all agree I'm most likely allergic to something other than the progesterone in the shot, so they want me to use a daily progesterone cream (or maybe it is a suppository, I can't remember). It also has to be compounded, but they thought the pharmacy might have it ready by today.


May 19, 2008

It's a boy!

I had my ultrasound at the perintologist's office today, and it's official: We have a baby boy! Even if we hadn't wanted to know the gender, it would have been obvious in the ultrasounds - a fact my husband is proud of :) Our boy looks healthy, and while the perintologist says I have placenta previa (where the placenta covers the cervix; in my case, it covers just a bit, toward the rear), he feels it will go away on it's own.

Worst case scenario, he says, I would need a C-section (which is what I will have anyway), and if I start to bleed, I will need to be hospitalized. In some cases, the bleeding gets so bad the baby must be delivered before it is full term...but again, the high risk pregnancy doctor seemed to feel the problem would go away on it's own. He's suggesting my regular OB do another ultrasound at around 28 weeks, just to check.

A shot of our boy's face and torso.


I also want to give you an update on my progesterone. It is, indeed, a suppository (fun, fun!), and the pharmacist tells me that unlike the progesterone shot (which consists of sesame oil and synthetic progesterone), this is made from natural progesterone found in plants and supposedly just like what our bodies produce. So far, I've had no reaction to it. Yeah!

This week, my dad is visiting from out of state, so I won't be blogging much. But check back this weekend, because I'm sure to have some great photos to share!


May 23, 2008


Miss A. loves to dress up in costumes!           Enjoying some sunny weather.


The serious business of keeping cool.

She LOVES the sunglasses!


Enjoying some cooler temps.                   Pouting as Grandpa gardens.


Planting sunflower seeds with Grandpa.


May 25, 2008

Well, last night I had hives again. They started on my thighs, and began spreading to my arms and feet. My hubby convinced me I'd better take some Benadryl, and this did eventually make them go away.

I'm going to continue taking the progesterone, and see what happens tonight. It would seem pretty coincidental (though not impossible) for me to have this same reaction to something other than the progesterone - even though this type of progesterone is different (natural vs. synthetic). Yet if I'm allergic to this progesterone, am I allergic to the progesterone already in my body? (Sounds weird, I know. But apparently it does happen.) And if that's the case, my natural levels must be low, since I've never had an obvious reaction before. Therefore, does that indicate I do, indeed, have low levels of progesterone? If that's the case, then this is almost certainly the underlying cause of Anastasia's prematurity...

Anastasia is still recovering from her grandpa's visit. He let her walk everywhere - including in stores where I'd normally put her in the cart just because I can't keep my eye on her otherwise. She even walked through two antiques stores. She had difficulty in the first one, because one of the first things she saw was a wooden rocking horse, blocks, and some dolls, all on the floor. She couldn't understand why she couldn't play with them. But elsewhere, she did beautifully. She shows such restraint for her age!

She also showed great enthusiasm for anything Grandpa gave her, including a framed nursery rhyme print and an older wooden turtle stool. "Oh, thank you, Gran'pa!  Thank you!" she exclaimed. All day she said, "Gran'pa brought this just for me!" She also had a grand time showing grandpa every pair of shoes she owns.

My mom-in-law recently mentioned that Miss A. could help mommy with the new baby, and Anastasia seems to have taken this to heart. When we visited her friend Mr. E. this week, she spent some time trying to take care of his baby sister, who was fussy from teething. Anastasia tried to give her a bottle, patted her back, took her face in her hands and talked to her, and other miscellaneous things which were adorable, but not really appreciated by the baby :)

Miss A.'s also entered a new stage of verbalization. Now, all day long, we hear "Whatcha doin' with my hat, Mommy?" (or the sponge, or the trash, or whatever else I might be holding). She's also constantly asking "Why?" Not the more interesting whys (like "Why is the sky blue and the grass green?"), but responses to things we say. (For example, Me: "It's bed time, Anastasia." Miss A: "Why???")


May 26, 2008

The hives were back last night, and the Benadryl didn't work as well as usual. And I forgot that my doctor's office is closed today. I could talk to the doctor on call, but I'd rather wait a day and talk to my doctor or her nurse, who are more familiar with my case. I'll be skipping the progesterone tonight.

I also meant to tell you that when I saw the perintologist last week, I asked him whether it was okay for me to go to my regularly scheduled teeth cleaning. After Anastasia was born, I discovered there is a link between bacteria in the mouth and preterm labor. I had my teeth cleaned in my first trimester with Anastasia. In retrospect, I realize my hygienist was very nervous the entire time. I've sometimes wondered if this could have been the cause of Anastasia's prematurity.

On the other hand, good dental health is important while you're pregnant - in order to help prevent preterm labor.

The perintologist said my dental health is probably fine, and it would probably be okay to have my teeth cleaned now...but he also said it would be reasonable, given my history, to wait until the beginning of my third trimester. So that's what I'll be doing. Interestingly, when I called to reschedule my appointment, the receptionist questioned me. I'd simply told her my doctor didn't want me to have my teeth cleaned right now, because I was pregnant. "We won't do X-rays while you're pregnant," she said. All I had to say then was "I have a history of preterm labor--" and she interrupted me, saying she didn't blame me for waiting under those circumstances.

This weekend I've been going through all of Anastasia's old clothes. Friends and family were so generous with clothing for Miss A. that while I'd given away bags of clothes to my sis-in-law when she had her baby girl, I still had three big Rubbermaid boxes and another three or four diaper boxes still filled with clothes. Now that I know we're having a son, I knew almost none of them would be suitable. So I kept the few gender-neutral clothes, along with a few special items for Anastasia when she's grown up, and sorted the rest into three piles: one for my youngest niece, another for a friend's baby, and another for the local pregnancy crisis center.

It was tough for me to get rid of much (everything was so cute), but I was ruthless! But Miss A.'s reaction was stronger. She got quite hyped up and kept asking what I was doing with her clothes. She tried to put everything on, too. But when I explained that some of the clothes were going to her baby brother, and others to her cousin and friend, she seemed satisfied. I also ran across one of her infant crib toys. She instantly recognized it and tried to put it back on her crib.

I kept nearly all of Miss A.'s preemie clothes because when she's older, I want her to see how small they are. Even I, who literally put them on my baby Anastasia, was shocked to see just how tiny the clothes were. You'd be hard pressed to find a baby doll that could wear them.

Taken on September 9, 2005, this photo shows one of Anastasia's tiny pieces of preemie clothing.


May 28, 2008

My OB now thinks it's not the progesterone I'm allergic to. This had occurred to me, too, since the suppositories are supposed to wear off every day - which is why you must take a new one each day. If I were truly allergic to something in the suppository I should have had a reaction the first time I took one. They don't build up in your body. Instead, I'd been taking them eight days before I broke out in hives again. So, my OB wants me to see my primary care physician...who, I assume, will send me to an allergist.

I've thought and thought about the possible cause of the hives. I've never had hives before, but I know allergies can develop over time. And perhaps my pregnant body is overreacting to the allergen. I've just about decided my original thought - that I'm having an allergic reaction to pollen - was correct. The eight days I was free of major hives, it was rainy out, and rain reduces pollen levels in the air. I also live in an area known for bad spring allergies.

And now a few things about Miss A.:

  • Twice lately, I've asked Anastasia what she wants for her birthday. Her reply: "A birthday cake. And a birthday balloon." How sweet is that?


  • This weekend, Miss A. watched as her daddy repaired our wheelbarrow. "Can I help you, Daddy?" she kept asking. He let her "hold the wheelbarrow steady" for him, and hand him tools and washers. She was so proud.


  • I sometimes let Anastasia play with a small amount of flour while I cook. The other day, she got flour everywhere and I said, "Are you going to be a baker someday?" She replied, "No, I not a baker. I a chef!" I had no idea she understood what those terms meant!


  • Yesterday, when we played at Mr. E's house, his dog accidentally bumped into Anastasia and she fell over. Getting up, Miss A. said, "That doggie knocked me up!"


May 29, 2008

Yesterday, Miss A. had her last Early Intervention appointment, with both her coordinator and her physical therapist. They reviewed the goals we set six months ago, and noted that all but one had been met and exceeded. Anastasia still doesn't know how to jump, but the PT said, "She's cautious, and I think that's her personality, not a physical problem. Once she's able to be around more kids, she'll try new things, and I'm sure she'll learn to jump." Exactly what I've been saying for ages.

(And have I mentioned that RSV season is now over in our area! Yippee! We are free! Free! Free!)

It was kind of sad to say goodbye. Miss A. didn't really "get" that she wouldn't be seeing them again (although our coordinator asked if she might drop by to see the new baby and check unofficially on Miss A.). But they've been part of our lives for over two years!

This morning I saw my MD. He was puzzled about the sources of my hives, but he wasn't at all convinced the progesterone wasn't to blame. "If your initial hives were a reaction to the progesterone shot, that was rare. We don't usually see reactions like that. Therefore, I wouldn't say you couldn't be having a reaction to the natural progesterone. It is, after all, from a plant, not from your own body." I asked if I should see an allergist, but he said there probably wasn't much point. "Because you're pregnant, an allergist can't give you any treatment I can't." Basically, I'm stuck with over the counter stuff, but he did mention some alternatives to Benadryl (which makes me grumpy and a little depressed).

The doctor was interested in the fact that I had bad eczema when I was pregnant with Anastasia. Apparently, people who get eczema are more likely to have allergic reactions. And if it was worse when I was pregnant, then maybe my pregnant body just reacts more strongly to whatever it thinks it is allergic to.

After talking about the presumed safeness of the allergy meds, he finally said, "If you were my wife, I would want you to stay on the progesterone and take over the counter medicine as needed." If the hives get worse, of course, we may need to take another look at the situation. Fortunately, though, I haven't had any hives at all since Monday.