1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Post Op Week 7 Appointment


We had our post op week 7 appointment today. We made our 30 week goal this past Saturday. The next goal is for 32 weeks. Rachel was sleeping during this ultrasound but as soon as we rolled out of the hospital- she was active and moving around. She was doing her practice breathing exercises and had emptied her bladder for us. Her left ventricle measured at 4mm and her right ventricle was too small to measure today. She is doing great! During last week's ultrasound and again today our ultrasound tech noted artifacts at the skin level of Rachel's repair site. We believe that they are sutures from the surgery. I also have 2 sutures that have poked out of my incision- like mother like daughter. There is nothing to be done with the sutures at this point - they will be taken care of after delivery if they have not full dissolved by then. My amniotic fluid volume had increased to alittle over 15 and again there were no signs of separation of membranes or placental separation.

We had met with the pediatric neurosurgeon last week and today we had met with the lactation consultant. In two weeks we will get tours of the NICU, L&D - OR suite for the C-section and mom/baby floor. It is exciting to think we have only 7 more weeks to go but at the same time reality has set in that we are not completely prepared for Rachel. At this point I only have a few outfits for her, 2 bottles, 2 nukes, 2 blankets and a diaper bag. We will be blessed to be able to use a crib and changing table from other family members. I had purposely avoided buying baby items at the beginning of this pregnancy since I was always worried about a miscarriage occurring. In a way though, I am glad we waited to buy items since I now know we need to buy latex free items for her.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Post Op Week 6 Appointment


Today we had our post op week 6 appointment. Rachel now has hair that you can see (if only I could tell if she was going to be a redhead like me or a blonde like her oldest sister or have brown hair like her daddy and other sister) She was opening and closing one of her eyes like she was winking at you and she was continuously moving her mouth like she was telling us something. Perhaps a good joke to go with the winking?She continued to be working on her "practice breathing" exercises. Her left ventricle decreased again to 4mm and her right ventricle stayed at 5mm. She is still in breech position with her ankles crossed- perfect for kicking my poor bladder. My fluid levels continue to be good and no signs of membrane or placental separation. We have about 8 more weeks of bedrest left. It is getting harder to get much sleep during the night- I have been having a lot of hip and knee joint pain due to pregnancy hormones and having ligament stretching pains in my sides. I can maybe tolerate laying for 30 minutes at a time before I have to reposition from the pain. Makes for a long night!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Post op week 5 appointment


We had our post op week 5 appointment today. The image on this post is of her head and brain. Her chiari looks to have reversed itself and there was no banana sign detected during the ultrasound. Her left ventricle measured 6mm and her right ventricle measured 5mm- they peaked at 7mm last week. Hopefully they will continue to decrease and stay steady. She is estimated to weigh 2 lbs 11 oz currently. Rachel continues to do her breathing exercises and likes to keep in a breech position. My amniotic fluid levels measured good again (around 12.3), no signs of membranes separating or placental separation. I am still on a modified bedrest and taking it easy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Post op week 4 appointment


We had our post op week 4 appointment this past Tuesday. No changes from last week to report. Everything is continuing to look good at this time. We met with one of the nurse practitioners from the spina bifida clinic after our OB appointment. It was nice to physically see what a shunt looks like if she were to end up needing one. We also were able to see a urinary catheter also ( I am guessing by size maybe a 5 or 6 french) The urinary catheter is not a big deal to me as I am a LPN and have catheterized numerous people over the years- my husband on the other hand looked like he was going to pass out. Dealing with the reality of most likely needing to cath her is very stressful for him. I think like most other Dads in this situation, he is afraid of hurting her or doing something wrong that ends up with her getting a UTI. It was good to know that the hospital will provide a gel pack for her lower back to place in her car seat and if needed they have a bed style car seat that we can use also. The spina bifida clinic runs twice a month and all of the specialists that your child would need to see are scheduled to be there. Over the next two appointments we will be meeting with her neurosurgeon and the neonatalogist.

Tomorrow marks the 28th week of pregnancy which is a one of the first milestones for fetal surgery. If all goes well from this point- only 9 more weeks of bedrest.

On a crappy note I received a letter yesterday from my employer regarding my health insurance coverage. After the end of August I will need to pay alittle over $1600 a month for COBRA until I can return to work- which if all goes as planned will not be until mid November. Hmmm . . . . .

On one of the comments left on our blog I was asked why my family had decided to have the fetal surgery done. I will try my best to explain our reasons. When you first hear that your baby has a birth defect and the challenges that come with that defect- spina bifida in our case- you feel powerless and defective. You run all of the events of the pregnancy through your mind- searching for something you did wrong - something to place the blame on. You think about all of the "normal" things such as walking or riding a bike that your child may never be able to do. Your heart breaks with the anticipation of the challenges your child is going to face over their lifetime. Let's face it- it can be an ignorant and cruel world out there- even for a person with no disabilities. Your protective instincts take over and you become the biggest cheerleader for your unborn child. You spend hours researching the birth defect in depth. You read about other people's experiences- what worked well for them- what didn't work for them- ways they have adapted to meet their needs. You study the results of the MOMs trial in the New England Journal of Medicine. You speak with specialists regarding the birth defect. You learn about the risks involved with fetal surgery. Having the surgery is a very individualized choice- it is not for everyone. While you can not erase or cure the birth defect, fetal surgery gives you the opportunity to help prevent further disability. Amniotic fluid is very caustic to the open spine and will continue to eat away at the nerve endings causing more damage and disability during the remainder of the pregnancy. The open spine can continue to pull down and cause further hindbrain herniation (Chiari malformation) and block the flow of CSF causing hydrocephalus to occur. You still have the possibility of hydrocephalus occurring after fetal surgery but preventing the Chiari malformation from worsening is a major deal. The Chiari malformation can cause problems with breathing and feeding which could result in the need for a trach or feeding tube. We chose to have the fetal surgery with the understanding that the surgery is not going to cure our child's spina bifida but it can help prevent further disability from occurring. We want to give Rachel a chance for the best possible outcome in her life. Fetal surgery gave us the opportunity to dissolve the feelings of being powerless and to do something positive for our unborn child.