Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Week 35 checkup

Yesterday was my week 35 checkup. From now on, my OB appointments will be a weekly thing. I handed in my hospital pre-admission questionnaire, and next week I have my group B strep test and we discuss my birth plan. Everything else was pretty routine - urine and weight are o.k. Blood pressure is o.k. Rebecca's heartbeat is nice and strong and measuring 120. One of the workplace pregos has left (she has a due date the day before me). She actually has a C-section booked for the 28th (note: in Canada, unlike the States, you can't have elective C-section) because her baby is so enormous. Rebecca may be 75th percentile - which is (if you recall) "a fair size", but this baby boy is beyond the 95th percentile error bars. The other workplace prego looks to have already had the baby drop and next week is her last week. Tentatively, the last day I'm in at work will be the 16th but I intend to play it by ear a little.
Finally, my belly button is still intact. I don't think it will ever invert at this point. Rebecca is putting on the pounds now, but she isn't really addding much to my size anymore. My fundal height measured in at 37 cm yesterday, so I guess the uterus is still stretching. It should stop eventually, right? Some of my maternity clothing is less wearable at this point. For example - my maternity pants - some are the below the waist type and others are the panel type. Well, sometimes my belly pushes enough on the panel that the panel rolls itself down.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A word on Braxton-Hicks contractions and Christmas

If you're wondering, I'm awake because of bad heartburn and the fact that I had a nice long nap after work. At this point, my sleep schedule is a complete mess. Last night I slept for 12 hours straight and woke up exhausted. Mind you, this week is supposed to include another blood volume hike on the order of 1.5 litres, so I guess being tired makes sense.
At any rate, this week I had some Braxton-Hicks contractions. They have a special name because they are not "productive" contractions, they are trial run contractions that help prepare your muscles. Supposedly, women can start to feel these as early as the middle of the second trimester. Obviously this is not the case for me. They are best described as really mild menstrual cramps. It's that same crampy feeling. Speaking as someone who had some truly incapacitating cramps in my teenage years - my first thought was - why can't women have midol in labour (and yes, I understand why not)? Actually, it was a bit of a relief that the experience was so - well, familiar. It's almost reassuring. It's something I know all about.
As for thoughts on Christmas - as I trudged to work through the snow, I worried about all the things I have to get done before Rebecca arrives, and the scary prospect of Rebecca coming "early" before I complete my "to do" lists. I thought to myself - Christmas is a poor choice of time to have a baby (unless your name is Mary). This is followed by the equally amusing thought - next time will be different. I don't understand how can I possibly contemplate a return to this state at the moment when I am most uncomfortable, but there you have it. This weekend: prenatal massage. Tomorrow/today: meeting with my compensation officer to sort out the preliminary paperwork.

On the bright side, even with all this edema, my blood pressure is fine

Note the lack of obvious bones, veins, or joints.

Why my shoes don't fit: the big picture

The swollen feet of pregnancy

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Third trimester memory loss

Here I am, once again unable to get back to sleep. Combination of acid reflux and soreness. Rebecca was extremely active today - (yesterday at this point), making one particular meeting uncomfortable for me. I agree with Rebecca though - time to stop working soon. I have four more weeks of work left.
As for the title of this post... does it happen? Yes definitely, or at least, definitely to me. While some of my work co-pregos complained of this in the first trimester, I am only experiencing memory troubles now. I find the memory problems and increased difficulties with concentration and focus to be quite aggravating. I think that for the most part, the things about pregnancy that bother me the most are the things I take the most for granted. Sure, there are lots of things we take for granted, but nothing more so than the things we believe we are especially good at. I happen to think that I have a good memory and excellent concentration, so to witness and admit to some flaws in this domain is particularly. I am now finding my walk to work to be more trouble than it's worth. With the ice and snow this week, I walk very gingerly (of necessity) and the duration of my walk is twice what it once was. Also, sore legs and hips make it unpleasant starting about half-way through, and I have to take breaks. I feel like I get a shin-splint type feeling on the outside of my right leg which causes me to limp on the final leg of the journey. And inevitably, by the time I reach work my edema has had a field day. So... it may be the bus for me this week, short a ride as it is. It's probably safer to travel in this manner during the winter anyway.

Here is an interesting piece on research on prego memory loss:

http://www.med.wayne.edu/Scribe/scribe97-98/scribew98/memory.htm

Monday, November 14, 2005

33 week checkup: 75th percentile babies and Group B strep

Today I met with my obstetrician for a regular checkup. It was strange not to be seeing my gp, but certainly the free underground parking will be a blessing in the winter. Although I arrived ten minutes before my appointment, they still took me about forty minutes late. This is way worse than at my GP's office.
Although the tests at this point are quite standard, things work a little differently at my OB's office. For starters, while presented with an identical (didn't want to use "spitting image" here) urine sample container, there isn't a strict set of guidelines for sample collection. The procedure at my GP's involved antiseptic towelettes and a page of bold instructions taped to the bathroom wall (including a prohibition from collecting the beginning of the stream). At my OB's they just handed me the container. Ultimately, the end result is the same as usual - although at my GP's they usually tell me my test was fine, and at the OB's nothing was said.
For my weight measurement, I always lived in the land of semi-blissful ignorance at my GP's office, where all the measurements were announced in metric units. Of course I *know* the multiplier, but I can will myself not to perform the mental calculation. At the OB's office, I got to hear the nurse say "199", which I am going to assume is in imperial units (damn well better be).
My blood pressure was not taken by the nurse, but was taken by my OB: 116/60 - which is pretty ideal.
Although Rebecca was "on the move" basically all day today, my OB has the kind of doppler device that allows everyone to hear the sounds at once. No tricky earphones. Her heartbeat is fine.
My fundal measurement (recall - basically the length of the uterus which is supposed to have a one to one correlation with number of weeks gestation), was a whopping 36. Obviously, it would normally be 33 - but as was learned during the U/S exam, Rebecca is not petite.
My OB wanted to know whether anything major had occurred since the last time I saw him. The answer was in fact - no. All tests results had come back fine and my edema (though still in evidence) was much improved by the change in the weather. He was very positive about Rebecca's size. He explained that 75th percentile is nice and healthy and babies do very well when they are slightly above the mean but still in the normal range. He said that 75th percentile babies are usually about 8lbs. (thank God, under 10). I asked him if it was true in his experience that first time mothers are more likely to deliver "late". He said it was certainly true compared to subsequent births. He also stated that bigger babies tend to come late. This was a bit anti-intuitive to me, but I'm not the OB.
My OB gave me a hospital confidential pre-admission questionnaire (fairly straight forward), and told me that after the next appointment or the second-to-next appointment, we would be switching to the once-a-week visit schedule. It's kind of exciting to think that I am finally in the home stretch.
Unexpectedly, I have yet another test coming up. Unfortunately, this is not a blood test but consists of at least one swab test for Group B Streptococcus (not to be confused with Streptococcus A which is responsible for Strep throat). The story goes like this... just as a consequence of being a living person which a particular body chemistry, some adults will play host to colonies of Streptococcus B. About 1 in 4 women will have this bacteria. They don't even know it, because it doesn't make them sick. At any rate, Strep B can be transmitted to the baby during birth, producing nasty infections and sometimes even death (although that is not common). It doesn't matter if your baby is delivered vaginally or by Cesaerean section because there have been cases of babies becoming infected by the amniotic sac (once it has ruptured of course). Pregos have to be tested between 35 and 37 weeks gestation by means of rectal and vaginal swabs (lovely). If the test is positive for Strep B, the mother must be treated by antibiotics - but only during labour. This doesn't mean the mother will thereafter have no strep B - adults with strep B are generally considered "colonized" and the strep B returns.
Anyhow, as pleased as I am with the prospect of being swabbed, Group B Strep is considered the leading cause of serious newborn infections - so this knowledge is a good thing. Of course, if you go into labour before being tested, they will treat you with antibiotics, but only if you are identified as having specific risk factors.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Bellybutton - smaller but still hanging in!

So, here I am approaching week 32 of the pregnancy, and my bellybutton has not yet inverted. Based on what I've seen at prenatal aquafit, this is pretty unusual. From what I've read, most women pop their bellybutton at week 20. I am actually pleased that it has remained "innie" so long, although admittedly, it is far shallower than it used to be. Mom seems to believe that I should maintain it this way by sheer force of will, but obviously that is quite unrealistic. I've always had a deep belly button, and that is the only explanation I have come up with. At the same time, it *is* interesting to look at the skin in that region that has inverted (so to speak). Since it hasn't seen the light of day for 28 years, it is a little different than the surrounding flesh - in terms of both texture and colour. This week I discovered two belly freckles that I never even knew I had - this amused Greg to no end.
The pregnancy seems to really drag at this point. Six more weeks of work. Eight more weeks until the due date. It sounds like a lot to me. I feel like I've been pregnant FOREVER. And of course, there is no guarantee that Rebecca respects the schedule.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Checkup 31 weeks

On Hallowe'en I had my last checkup with my GP. From now on, I am seeing my obstetrician.
As usual, I was weighed, my blood pressure was measured, and I gave a pee sample. Weight was 88kg and no comments were made. Blood pressure was fine - in fact, my GP didn't even feel the need to retest it. Urine test was fine, unless you count the part where pee goes on my hand. That's just a fact of life at this point since I can't see where to put the container (this wouldn't be a problem if we could collect from the beginning of the stream). My doctor thought that my swelling was improved (although not gone), and didn't think it was necessary to check my reflexes. I didn't get to hear Rebecca's heartbeat (although my GP did get to measure the rate), because Rebecca wouldn't stay still long enough for her to hand me the earphones. She was so obviously kicking and moving that it was actually fairly amusing for all involved. My GP's take on the ultrasound was that all was normal. Based on size, Rebecca is in the 75th percentile for her age. So she's a little bigger than average. Her position was the same as at my last checkup. Her head is down on my left side. She is facing inwards (i.e. towards my middle as opposed to my side), with her back along the left wall of the uterus. Her legs and feet seem to be on the upper right (perfect for aiming at liver and ribs). The doctor said that Rebecca is unlikely to move much from this position in the future - beyond stretches and occasional kicks. After my appointment, I got my flu shot and a lovely Dora the Explorer bandaid. It's strange to imagine, but the next time I see my GP, I will have Rebecca on the outside. Good thing too because I am increasingly uncomfortable. Sometimes I wonder how I will manage to get through the next two months (or potentially longer).