Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Recapped

Christmas this year was full good food, quality time with family and friends, great gifts and of course belly rubs!

Christmas Eve was spent with the Frizell’s of Metuchen. We got off to a late start, but everyone really enjoyed being together and eating a wonderful Italian meal. St. John made a scrumptious Manhattan clam chowder, Mike and Chrisi made home made crab cakes and my mom made an amazing standing pork roast! It almost looked to pretty to eat, but fear not, we devoured it!

We used to have these long Italian meals with several courses, but I think we’re evolving into a simpler dinner and more time for the kids to open gifts. It’s a challenge to keep a four year old and two year old at the table for many courses and then still have enough time before they have to be shipped off to their respective parent’s houses. Wait until we add a 9, 8 and 7 month old to the mix – things are sure to change even more!

All the moms- to-be posed for a photo to commemorate this unusual occurrence – all of us pregnant at Christmas. I’m due March 26, Chrisi’s due April 7 and Linden is due in early May.

Something that won’t change is that the family dog will ALWAYS lay in the middle of the floor during the present opening madness and eventually get covered in all the paper and bows. Here’s Haggis looking a little confused about what’s going on…

Christmas Day was spent with the Mazzarella family. We had a great time eating and catching up. Reese, who’s two, wasn’t really into opening presents, but managed to get through a few before running off to find something else to do. Here’s a pic of Frank enjoying the new massage chair at his aunt Genn’s house. He was pretty excited how his belly moved side to side… it was actually quite funny.

On Saturday, I headed to National Park, NJ for the BIG Frizell Pollyanna party. My step-dad’s side of the family is so large; we have outgrown having our annual Christmas celebration in a house! So off to the VFW. I think we must have had 60+ people and that’s just aunts, uncles, cousins with spouses and their children. I’d have to say it wasn’t as “homey” but it still was nice to see everyone and I got to meet the newest addition, Gavin. At just six weeks old, he handled the Frizell Family chaos with ease.

We all exchange gifts – grab bag style, we call it Pollyanna. There’s some sort of computer program that was created to choose the names, very high tech. Children running around with wild abandon, while the younger cousins (who I swear were just sixteen last year!) were sitting around playing beer pong with their new spouses or fianc├ęs, the cousins my age were comparing pregnancy/labor war stories and the aunts and uncles started breaking out in song. It truly is a memory I look forward to every year.

Throughout our entire celebrations I couldn’t help but think how different next year’s celebration is going to be. I lavished every relaxing minute - sleeping in until 10 on Christmas day and taking an extra long shower – all things I know I won’t be able to do next year, or many years to come. The new baby will bring many changes that will cherish.

Eighty-seven days and counting!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Twenty Seven Weeks

This week, your baby weighs almost 2 pounds (like a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended. She's sleeping and waking at regular intervals, opening and closing her eyes, and perhaps even sucking her fingers. With more brain tissue developing, your baby's brain is very active now. While her lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with a lot of medical help — if she were to be born now. Chalk up any tiny rhythmic movements you may be feeling to a case of baby hiccups, which may be common from now on. Each episode usually lasts only a few moments, and they don't bother her, so just relax and enjoy the tickle.See what your baby looks like this week.
We’ve had an eventful week! We have been both running around getting ready for the holiday and celebrating with friends and family.

Christmas Eve is spent with my mom and the Frizell family. I’m looking forward to seeing my brothers and sister. It’ll be nice to all get together and enjoy the holiday. My mom has planned an outrageous holiday meal as usual. Not sure what I can eat, but we’ll figure it out. I’m sure I’ll find something.

It’ll be nice to see Linden and Chrisi, my two sister-in-laws who are also pregnant. Chrisi is about 24/25 weeks and Linden is probably about 20 weeks.

Frank is working Christmas Even so he’ll miss the festivities with my family, but luckily he’s off for Christmas day when his family gets together. The Mazzarella’s celebrate at their aunt’s house. Frank’s cousin Jen is also pregnant, she’s about 29/30 weeks.

Frank's parents - the ones who were adamant we decorate this year for the holidays are the proud winners of their town's holiday decorating contest! Frank's mom was so excited! She won first place for the "Traditional" category and has a sign on her lawn that says "winner!" Congratulations! You definitely deserve the special recognition for always making sure your house and family celebrate each holiday with festive, yet tasteful decor!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and Merry Christmas! Enjoy your time with your family. I’ll post photos and happenings some time next week.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pregnancy, With a Side of Gallstones

I had a special holiday lunch on Monday for work and we went to one of my all time favorite Italian restaurants, La Grillia in Kenilworth. Before we ordered, the topic turned to gallbladders, I know – not typical lunch conversation, but the table was full of nurses. I briefly mentioned my previous bouts with “gas attacks” and they all agreed it was probably my gallbladder. Not even thinking that I should probably avoid rich, fatty foods – I ordered a very creamy pasta dish with pancetta and mushrooms. You think with a table full of outspoken nurses, one would have spoken up that maybe I shouldn’t order the pasta… well…

About an hour later, before we even got in the car, I felt another attack coming. It was getting hot, very nauseous and the pain started. I didn’t make it twenty minutes before I was in agony and vomiting in the office bathroom, non-stop.

I finally came to my senses and called the doc – they said, “how soon can you get here?” I told them I’d be there in 20 minutes.

Dr. Purdue took one look at me and sent me to the hospital’s PET unit. It’s a special pregnancy ER department. I called Frank to let him know what’s going on and that if I’m admitted, then he should try to leave work. As I’m getting checked in, I’m resisting the urge to vomit all over the nice lady’s desk. You think they would have a quicker admitting process and not ask me the same questions over and over again!

I finally get into a room, and my nurse tries desperately to do a blood draw and put in a hep-lock – a port for an IV. I have very “deep” veins. I think it’s a nice way of saying that since I’m so curvy, it’s hard to find my veins. They finally got me hooked up to the fetal monitors, which was pretty cool! That’s another thing that doesn’t fit perfectly on this curvy belly, the monitors kept falling off, but when they’re on, you can hear the baby’s heartbeat and hear him move – it’s really neat. I wasn’t having any contractions, and the baby’s heart rate was good. My blood pressure as a little high, but with all the pain I was in, the docs said it was okay.

The resident came in to talk to me and said we’d be running blood work and getting an ultrasound of my gallbladder. She was very nice – probably younger than me, which makes me feel old.

Frank arrived around 6:30 or so. At first I thought I could go it alone, but it was nice to get some moral support and much needed comic relief. Frank’s really good at both. He tried several times to hook up my monitors himself, or take a peak in all the cabinets labeled “vag” something or other.

At 7 p.m. we got a new nurse, Kim, who was great! She was so nice; she listed to all my concerns and apologized profusely for having to draw more blood because the lab needed another sample. She tried once, but then brought in the big guns – another nurse who struck gold on the first try. I still feel kind of like a pin cushion and have the black and blue marks to prove it.

This time the pain from the attack was lasting way longer than the first ones. It was going on 7 p.m. and I was still in pain. And they couldn’t give me anything for it. So frustrating! I’m a huge believer in pain management, but when you’re pregnant – that kind of goes out the window.

We waited several hours for the ultrasound. The transport staff wears blue scrubs, so I named them the “Blue Men.” The Blue Man took us down to radiology. Frank came right from work, so he was in uniform and people really seem to act differently when he’s Sergeant Frank – rather than daddy Mazzarella. I think people probably thought I was under arrest or something with this special “escort” but the radiologist said that maybe people think I’m a VIP with hired security.

The radiologist was so nice. She was so funny and sweet, just what I needed after being in so much pain and discomfort. She said, “Can you keep a secret?”

Of course we said “YES!”

“You have gallstones – see them down here. You have several small ones.”

Then she proceeded to tell us what she thought we should do, and what the doctor would tell us. We took her advice with a grain of salt, but were glad that she told us immediately rather than waiting to hear back from the doc.

The resident consulted with Dr. Crain, who’s in my OB’s practice. They didn’t see any immediate need to remove the gallbladder that night, or to keep me over night. They discharged me with instructions to follow up with a gastroenterologist. I have an appointment with the GI specialist for January 8. But for now, I've been advised to eat a low fat diet - just what I want to hear around the holidays.
From the research I've done: women are more prone to gallbladder stones, more so if they're over weight and even more so if they're pregnant. Three strikes against me! A lot of women expereince gallstones postpardum, but the lucky few like myself, get to expereince them durring pregnancy when we really can't do anything about them until the baby's born.

Rest assured that we will do something about it after the baby's born. We'll see what the GI specialist says, but I do not want to go through with another attack if I can help it.

We got home around 11 p.m. Frank headed back to work to finish his shift, and I headed straight to bed. Great news is that the baby's doing fine. While we were hooked up to the monitors, we heard him have the hic ups. It was the sweetest thing I have heard in a long time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Twenty Six Weeks

The network of nerves in your baby's ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear both your voice and your partner's as you chat with each other. He's inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs. These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he's born and takes that first gulp of air. And he's continuing to put on baby fat. He now weighs about a pound and two-thirds and measures 14 inches (an English hothouse cucumber) from head to heel. If you're having a boy, his testicles are beginning to descend into his scrotum — a trip that will take about two to three days. See what your baby looks like this week.
One more week of the second trimester and I’m feeling better this week. The carpel tunnel is still there, but I’m learning to wear my splints every night. I still get some numbness during the day, but it’s manageable. My heart burn has subsided a bit, but I’ve had several what I call “gas attacks” which could possibly be gall bladder attacks. Very painful, and the last one I had lasted about an hour. Frank wasn’t home, so I called my good friend Leeanne to come over. She dropped everything and came over – patted my back, force fed me Tums and held my hair when I puked. It was awful, but I’m so lucky to have such a great friend – so close!

Frank now has me stocked with all sorts of doctor approved gas relief, but my gut feeling (pun intended) says it’s my gall bladder. My mom, aunt and cousin have all had issues with their gall bladders. My Aunt Jayne, who’s had four daughters, says hers hurt more than labor! There was one point when I was trying to get through this last one, pacing around the living room, and admittedly swearing a little, thinking to myself, if I can’t handle this, how am I going to handle labor?! I always thought I had a high pain tolerance and I’m glad my Aunt Jayne said that these attacks can be even more painful then labor. Makes me feel a little better.

I’ve been feeling the little guy move more and more. He’s getting bigger and his kicks and punches are getting much more forceful. Not painful, but definitely noticeable. One night, I looked down at my tummy and noticed it quivered with each kick! That’s just weird! I couldn’t believe it, so I tried holding my breath and yep, there was another quiver! I quickly took a deep breath – don’t want to deprive this guy!

If you know me at all, you know I’m very clumsy. I’ve fallen on countless occasions and sometimes resulting in broken ankles, feet or wrists. Well, we all knew it would just be a matter of time before I fell during this pregnancy. I just didn’t think it would be this morning! I was walking out to my car on my way to work and all of the sudden my feet were out from under me and I landed squarely on my side. There was a patch of invisible black ice on our drive way. I’m happy to report there are no twisted ankles or sprained wrists; just a scraped knee, sore arm and a bit of a bruised ego. I admit I was shaken up thinking about what could have happened. I called the doctor and she said just keep an eye out for contractions and make sure the little guy keeps moving. So far, he hasn’t stopped! I’m so thankful that I landed the way I did and that I have so much… um, extra cushion! Lesson learned, TAKE YOUR TIME and watch every step.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Lights and Kitty Dilemma

Had a great weekend. Well… great in the fact that I didn’t get sick! Yay! But then when the alarm woke me up for work today at 6 a.m., I promptly ran for the bathroom. I hope I’m paying my dues now and this little boy will be a saint when he comes home.

We got our tree up and it looks great. I even got a little teary looking at all our old ornaments and thinking about memories. Totally not like me.

When word got out that we weren’t decorating the outside of our house this year, Frank’s parents immediately offered to come over and “throw some lights up” or “decorate the window.” Very sweet, but really – we’re taking things low key this year. They were very willing to help – I think we turned them down several times! I think we broke some Italian cardinal rule about not decorating, but we really do have more important things to focus on this year. We have to get the nursery ready by January. I think once we get past the holidays, we can really focus more on getting things done.

On a completely different subject - We're having cat dilemmas - Not sure if Charlie’s sensing the changes coming, or he’s pissed off about something, but he refuses to use the litter box. We're going to "retrain" him and send him to kitty purgatory- aka locked in the office - with his very own litter box. We'll see how he does in there. If he does ok for a few days - we'll let him out. One “accident,” he's back in lockdown. I’m sure Hastings and Ozzie will torment him through the door. I feel so bad he has to be locked up, but we have to get this taken care of.
Know of any good enzyme treatments to get the smell out of hardwood floors? I'm at a loss and I know if I don't clean everything well - he'll be really tempted to go there again.

We love Charlie, he’s a great cat. He makes me laugh almost every day and he’s certainly an important member of our family. Look at that face! He has a mustache! We named him after Charlie Chaplin, becuase of his crazy antics - and he lives up to it every day. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Doc Apt in Review

All checks out okay at the doc’s office.

Blood pressure was fine at 110/80.

Heart beat was little tough to find this time. Dr. Purdue thought maybe the baby had his back to us, but she heard the placental blood flow, which is as good as a heart beat at about 130 bpm.

I’ve gained a total of 13 pounds during this pregnancy – so not bad, but I’m sure I’ll gain more now that the baby is growing more. I may just stop posting the poundage… depending on how much I gain!

I had to choke down the glucose drink this morning. I think I was a little queasy from seeing a mom-to-be puking in the parking lot! Oh, I remember those days, not fondly, but I remember them! So I had to hold back my own urge when I was drinking the drink, but managed to get it down.

We saw Dr. Purdue, who is really a nice woman. She’s very though rough in answering all our questions. She gave some great advice about how to ease the heart burn, carpel tunnel and sciatica. We also talked about Frank’s role during delivery and she said if all is going well and the baby is behaving, then we could talk about the options then. But she makes no promises.
I don’t think we’re set on him helping too much down there because we know I’m going to need him playing coach rather than catcher. I think he would get too caught up in the moment of not dropping the baby to really experience what’s happening. So we have some more to talk about. We also have our Lamaze class in late January and that will help define our roles a little more, once he knows what’s expected.

Over all – good visit. We see Dr. Purdue again in three weeks when I get my RH factor shot.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twenty Five Weeks

Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. Her weight — a pound and a half — isn't much more than an average rutabaga, but she's beginning to exchange her long, lean look for some baby fat. As she does, her wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and she'll start to look more and more like a newborn. She's also growing more hair — and if you could see it, you'd now be able to discern its color and texture.See what's going on in your uterus this week.
This week has been tough. With the holidays coming, I have been running around from errands to house cleaning. I think Frank and I collectively decided since we have lots to do this December, we may not unpack all of the Christmas Decorations this year. Our goal is to get the nursery up and ready by January 1. Just in time for my first big shower on the 11th. That way we can unpack everything into the room. So this year, we will for go the massive amounts of LED lights Frank usually puts up outside. Our neighbors will probably be grateful. We literally have the BRIGHTEST house on the block! The bright lights gleam at you once you turn the corner. It takes all of my driving expertise to stay on course and not head straight for the lights.

We’re putting up our tree tonight. We have an artificial tree that looks so real; we fool almost everyone who sees it. Each branch has THREE different kinds of needles on it – giving it a very real texture. We got it at a warehouse that makes the trees. They open to the public for two weeks in December and we got a great deal on a very life-like tree. It’s kind of like a secret operation, once you find out when they’re open – you have to find the actual warehouse in a very sketchy area. It was fun!

This past week has brought an onslaught of new symptoms…

Bring on the heartburn! I have never been one to have heartburn, or agida as Frank says. So I had no idea how painful it can be! I’m downing Tums like no tomorrow, they help for a few minutes. Some surprising foods that cause heartburn – peanut butter and chocolate… I’m beside myself. Those are my two staples! But I think I might have to stay away from some acidic foods and visit my cousin’s ice cream shop a little more often. Oh poor me ;)

Carpel tunnel syndrome? Whose brilliant idea was it to tack on this new side effect of pregnancy to an already swollen, grumpy, tired pregnant woman? I think this is a pretty new side effect, or more women are complaining about it! Either way. I get numbness in both hands, with shooting pain up to my shoulder. And best of all, the numbing pain is mostly at night. So I have a very attractive wrist stabilizer that I wear to bed. Now that it’s affecting both hands, I’m going out tonight to get another. Last night I was up several times trying to regain the feeling in my hand, the one without the splint. Telling myself, just ignore the pain… you can do it… I finally found a comfortable position, then wham – a kick to the bladder from our little guy. Thank you so much.

I still know exactly where my sciatic nerve is. Seems the baby really likes to lay on it causing pain and me to have this really awkward limp in my right leg. Kind of like I need a hip transplant or something. But it’s really awful. I may ask one of the PT’s at work for some advice. But these are pediatric PTs – how many 10 year olds have problems with their sciatica?
The swelling is back in full force. I can no longer wear my wedding ring, and I’ve reverted back to wearing my crocks. The only shoes I can fit in. I tried some cute Mary Jane type flats, but when I took them off, my feet still looked like they were wearing the shoes with the indentation!

I totally feel like I’m whining. I got myself into this mess, right? Any suggestions from the readers would be so greatly appreciated. I’m sure someone has a magical potion for heartburn or a special pillow to recommend for sciatic pain.

We have our monthly doc apt tomorrow with Dr. Purdue. I’ll post the updates next week. I’m sure she’ll say that everything that I’m feeling is normal and to take it easy when I can. I have to take my second gestational diabetes test. I'm not worried about that. We are also going to talk about writing our “birth plan.” We’ll see how that goes.

I’ll end on a good note. I don’t think I mentioned when Frank felt the little guy for the first time. It was at about 3:30 a.m. on morning, he just got home from work. I was almost 23 weeks along. We had to get up early the next morning to fly out to Nebraska and I was trying desperately to get back to sleep, but the little guy was up, doing his own little jig. Frank waited patiently with his hand on my tummy, then all of the sudden, thump thump.

“Did you feel that?” I asked.

“I did!”

We both were so excited that we couldn’t sleep and ended up staying up and talking into the wee morning hours.

Our little guy was sweet enough to give me a few wakeup kicks this morning that I felt from the outside. I’m definitely bonding with this little one. And I’m excited for others to feel him too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First Shower

Last week I failed to mention that my wonderful Nebraska family threw me a girl’s pedicure party/luncheon/baby shower when I was visiting. We all lined up for pedicures and at 82 – Grandma enjoyed her first pedicure! Grandma said, “If a pedicure feels this good, I wonder what a massage feels like?!” Don’t worry Grandma, I’m sure you can find someone to take you to get a massage. I see another girl’s day out in your near future!

Grandma made me a beautiful afghan and a special receiving blanket with soft crocheted edging. It was very sweet and what a great excuse to eat at the Cheesecake Factory! Thank you ladies for helping me feel so much part of our family, even though I live so far away. I miss you all already!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Twenty Four Weeks

Your baby's growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him at just over a pound. Since he's almost a foot long (picture an ear of corn), he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point, but his body is filling out proportionally and he'll soon start to plump up. His brain is also growing quickly now, and his taste buds are continuing to develop. His lungs are developing "branches" of the respiratory "tree" as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once he hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.See what your baby looks like this week.

It’s kind of alarming that my uterus is about the size of a soccer ball – that just sounds HUGE! I’ve been experiencing some aching pains and can tell the baby’s stretching everything it can to get more space.

Frank and I trekked out to Nebraska for Thanksgiving and it was so much fun seeing everyone and meeting the newest cousins – Addi, Ellie and Drew. We had plenty of quality time, sitting, talking, playing Wii, singing karaoke, shopping and of course eating! It was really nice to catch up and it’s like I never left. We did find out that my cousin, Susie, is expecting number two! Her little girl Addison is 10 months old, so these two will be nice and close. Congratulations Susie and Anthony!

We had a karaoke party and when everyone was singing, the baby was doing flips! I think he could hear everyone. Here’s a pic of my cousin Becky feeling the baby boogie inside me.
The flights were tough ‘cause we missed our connecting flight on the way out and had to spend a few extra hours in the Milwaukee airport. And let me tell you, there’s not much to do in the Milwaukee airport. We did a lot of people watching. On my way back they literally held the plane for me while I waddled across twenty gates. I made it by minutes. I definitely learned my lesson that paying a little more for a nonstop flight is sooo worth it, especially being pregnant and especially with kids.

I caught a cold on the way back home and was out for the count last week. I missed two days of work with a mild fever. The worst part about being pregnant and having a cold is that I can’t take anything! I can take Tylenol and Benadryl in moderation. So I took Tylenol for the fever and one Benadryl to help me sleep. It’s now been about a week and I’m still fighting it. Lots of soup and liquids and rest. Last night I went to sleep around 7 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 6 a.m. I haven’t had much of an appetite the past few days. And if you know me, you know that’s completely out of character! I think I even slept through dinner last night, but I know I have to force myself to eat, at least small meals throughout the day. So this morning I got a decaf peppermint mocha late and a bagel – both with huge calorie counts that should make up for my sleeping in last night.

We had another ultrasound with the specialist on Thursday and all looks great! Dr. Smith at NJ Prenatal Associates is really nice and made it a point to mention that “we had a beautiful baby.”

I smiled said, “you probably say that to all your patients.”

He said, “No, sometimes I just tell them you have a baby.”

Here's a pick from our 24 week ultrasound - the first is the 2D and the seond is the 3D. The second looks like the baby has his hand near his mouth.
Stat Updates:
Baby weighs about 1 pound, 4 ounces
Measuring about 10 days a head of schedule
My blood pressure was a respectable 100/60 – it keeps doing down!
Gained one or two pounds, which is great!

So far, we won’t have any more ultrasounds unless I have gestational diabetes or to check the position of the baby towards the end. Right now he’s been breech, but we’re hopeful he’ll flip around.

We have our monthly doc apt on Friday with Dr. Purdue. I’m taking my second glucose screening and I’m not worried. I passed the first with flying colors, so let’s hope that continues. I’m going to start talking to Dr. Purdue about the delivery and share Frank’s amazing story of his three deliveries! I’d love if there was some way he could safely help deliver his son, but not sure what the doctor will think.