Successfully Adulting

There are some weekends around here that pass in a haze of laziness – whole afternoons spent watching Netflix or playing a computer game. Weekends where the most we have to show for ourselves is that we fed the cat (which isn’t saying much, considering she has an automatic feeder). And then there are other weekends, like this past weekend, when I am downright proud of us. Look at us! Adulting all of the place! Like we have our shit together!

First on this weekend’s agenda: it was time for my class to be monitored. In the past, this involved a reviewer actually attending class, taking notes, and providing immediate feedback on my teaching. Now though, we’ve gone to a more digital system where we record our classes, upload the video, and review it with our development trainer. Which is all fine and dandy except have you ever tried to take an hour long video? I tried a couple of different test runs earlier last week and had cobbled together first string and second string devices. My camera would be my primary, except that the five year old battery had just enough capacity to last 60 minutes, maybe 62, if I was lucky. With no way to power the camera through an adapter, I also set up my (plugged in) cell phone to capture video.  It ended up working fine. My camera captured the full class. In another shining moment of adulthood, I sat down immediately after my class to upload the video and did not procrastinate until a day before the due date. Kudos to me!

Next up: maternity ward tours. Two of them, to be precise. In all honesty, judging by the “doneness” of the other women on the tours, I think we were a tad on the early side for this. However, my doctor has already inquired as to where I’ve decided to labor, so maybe all those other ladies don’t really have a choice of hospital? Either that or they’re just really good at putting off their doctor’s inquiries. Regardless, we got two done this weekend and I’ve pretty much decided on a hospital. (Yay!) I’m exceedingly proud that I actually did the tours in the first place because I mostly just wanted to pick a hospital off my doctor’s list and be done with it. I mean, it’s a hospital right? How different can they be?

VASTLY different, as I found out this weekend. Beyond minor cosmetic things like updated rooms or the birthing suites having tubs, there were other glaring differences between the hospital I decided against (we’ll call it hospital B) and the hospital we’ll be delivering at (we’ll call it hospital A). At hospital A, the women’s center is in a separate wing from the rest of the hospital. Visitors (and me!) have a direct entrance that bypasses the emergency room or any other potential disease-ridden area. Which wasn’t a huge deal to me, but I do have to say that it’s nice. Plus, when giving directions to any visitors, it’s much easier to guide them. Hospital B wasn’t like this at all. The women’s center is located on the second floor which, again, isn’t a deal-breaker. The problem was that there were absolutely no signs guiding visitors there. You just had to know which elevator provided access or hope there was someone manning the information desk who could help you. No bueno.

Hospital B had smaller, darker rooms (and we saw their “larger” room). There was little space for Luffy to sleep. The whole place just seemed a little dark. Hospital A had recently been renovated (a huge boon for them I’m sure), but they also had better policies regarding skin-to-skin and post-birth recovery. However, the single biggest deciding factor to me (other than a general feeling of I-don’t-want-to-give-birth-here) was the NICU arrangement. At hospital A, the NICU is literally at the end of the mother/baby room hallway, mere steps away. Hospital B, unfortunately, is not set up to handle NICU babies, so a NICU baby is transferred to a larger sister hospital. Which is fine. The part I got hung up on was that mom is not transferred along with baby. …… Yes, you read that correctly. In the event that Little Dumpling arrives very early or needs extra care, he would be transferred to a different hospital and I would remain at hospital B. Which means that Luffy would have to decide between checking in on his wife or his newborn. Which means that I would be separated from my newborn for at least two days until I was discharged. This seems preposterous to me. How on earth is it an acceptable scenario to separate a family like that? Let’s take a stressful situation and just make it a bit worse, shall we?

Anyway, I’ve chosen hospital A which makes me feel like we had a super successful weekend and I can take a break on this whole preparing-for-baby thing because this was a huge step forward and clearly I have tons of time, right?

And last on the agenda of adulting (though it wasn’t actually on the agenda): feeling competent AF when I called the fire department Sunday evening. Ahhh, home-ownership, you are a glorious thing.

It all started about 7:15 on Sunday evening. I was watching TV, Luffy was playing a game, Jas was chilling in the kitchen. All was peaceful and serene until a blaring alarm pierced the air. It lasted long enough for us to look around and stare at each other – for Jas to scamper for cover – and for us to realize that it was our smoke detectors. Weird. They quieted down in about 20 seconds or so. All were glowing green except the one in our bedroom, which was blinking red at us. I climbed up on a step stool to reach the nearest one to find the model number (so I could look up the user manual online because I am a crazy person who reads user manuals) and found out that our smoke alarms are actually combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Huh, I thought to myself, that’s pretty awesome. I’ve been meaning to look into getting a few around the house and now I don’t have to! [crickets chirping crickets chirping crickets chirping] Wait, crap. 

You see, I realized that since these were no longer just smoke alarms, we couldn’t discount the red blinking light of doom simply due to the lack of smoke. Carbon monoxide, if you’ll remember, is odorless and colorless – undetectable as it slowly smothers you. Lovely.

A quick perusal through the manual confirmed that red blinking light of doom did indeed mean alarm conditions were present. Plus, with the alarm placed high out of reach (the very top of a 16 foot pitched ceiling), we couldn’t even begin to test the battery. Thus, Luffy and I faced the eternal dilemma of mankind: look like an idiot in exchange for peace of mind or meet an ill demise and look like an even bigger idiot. And that’s how I ended up calling the non-emergency dispatch number for our local fire department.

To their credit, they were exceedingly polite and kind. They rolled up to our house (lights on but no siren, thank goodness) and proceeded into our house to check things out. They determined that carbon monoxide levels were normal and that none of the other alarms indicated a problem. Most likely a dead battery, was their prognosis. Which whew! And also yay!

I happened to have a couple of spare batteries on hand, so they hopped up to change the dead one and then offered to go ahead and put the other fresh battery into an alarm we hadn’t changed yet. They assured me it was no problem and that I should call back when or if I ever needed anything. All joking aside, I am so grateful that our fire department was more than happy to check things out for us. Especially once my pregnant brain latched on to the fact that the alarms could technically be indicating dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, I knew I wouldn’t be able to let it rest until we knew for sure that our home was safe. So while I was a tad embarrassed (plus being pregnant meant my hormones and adrenaline were through the roof for a while), it was worth it to be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

All in all – a super successful weekend of adulting, if I do say so myself!


Peace of Mom

So between Little Dumpling’s heart and Jas’ lungs, it’s been a whirlwind and somewhat scary couple of weeks. While I was fairly positive regarding Little Dumpling’s prognosis, there have absolutely been moments (multiple moments) when I truly feared for Jas. (Being pregnant doesn’t really help as it takes mere seconds for my calm, collected self to disappear and despair to set it.) Just last night, as I watched her pull deeply to breathe while laying down, I feared that she might not make it through the night. When I told Luffy that I was going to make a little pallet for myself in the living room (I wanted to sleep closer to her), he gently chided me and then drug our mattress into the living room so that I could watch over my baby. I have contemplated taking her to the emergency vet several times over the past few days, endlessly debating the she-looks-ok-but-what-about-now-or-now-or-now.

So you can probably imagine my deep relief when I pulled into our driveway after class Monday night and saw my mom’s car. Unbeknownst to me, she had planned all along to be here for Little Dumpling’s Level II scan Tuesday morning, for moral support. Then, when Jas starting going downhill, she decided to throw her plans for a surprise out the door (although it was still completely a surprise) and quite literally show up at our doorstep Monday evening. She wanted to check on her babies: me, Little Dumpling, and Jas.

Having my mom here brought me so much strength and peace. I instantly felt calmer (although still emotional) with her here. I had no fear going into the scan and was delighted that she got another opportunity to see the little boy. (Plus he’s grown so much since she last saw him!) We oohed and awed over him as he filled the screen and then breathed a sigh of relief together when the doctor assured us that everything looked just fine. Then, while I headed off to work*, she stayed at our house all day, keeping an eye on Jas, feeding her treats and noting when she ate. Such a relief. I selfishly wish I could have her here all week, just for extra peace of mind.

When I think about her visit, I get so overcome with emotion. I’m so grateful she made the drive to be here. I’m so grateful for her soothing presence during these worrisome times. I can’t thank her enough for everything and each time I try to I break down crying because it just means so, so much to me.

*Times like these are when I’m so conflicted about working outside of the home. To people like my boss, a pet’s illness is a mere inconvenience. Therefore, he doesn’t understand when I drop everything to take her to the vet or want to work from home to keep an eye on her (as if the mere fact that I’m present will keep her from going downhill). And yet, I’m also glad that I have somewhere to be and something to keep my brain occupied. I analyze her every breathe when I have too much free time and despondency lies that way.

And now for the other story I didn’t tell you

Dear Internet, I am sorry. I didn’t tell you the whole story regarding our anatomy scan, but I really was trying to protect you. (Ok no, that’s another lie, I was trying to protect myself…) I basically avoided all discussion regarding our anatomy scan because I couldn’t say anything without talking about it and I didn’t want to talk about it until our follow up, which occurred today. You see where I am going with this, yeah?

So back up to two weeks ago, our anatomy scan: Luffy and I had a fantastic time, watching the tech zoom her wand around my abdomen as our son (our son!) filled the screen. We saw his little heart and his stomach and his kidneys. She measured parts of his brain, his femur, and skull. We saw his spine (in a fantastically creepy shot that had him looking like that, er, alien from Alien) and little ribs. Hands and feet too!  Wonderful.

We followed the scan up with a check in with my doctor. He briefly celebrated the news with us, before his tone turned more formal. Apparently, the tech had seen something during the scan. A bright spot on the heart. An echogenic intracardiac focus, to be specific. Basically, a calcium deposit on the heart, which results in the “bright spot” on the ultrasound. Normally, he told us, these spots are nothing to worry about. However, they are considered to be a soft sign for chromosomal disorders including Down Syndrome.

My doctor, probably gauging the deer-in-headlights looks from us, quickly reassured us that he was absolutely not concerned. My blood test results came back with good numbers. The baby has no other soft signs (like kidney, brain, or facial malformations). In other words, my doctor really does think this is just a blip. After some additional research, it looks like, while not common (occurring in only 3-5% of pregnancies), EIFs are typically harmless and often go away on their own or cause no issues after birth.

However, my doctor also said that he couldn’t, in good conscience, dismiss it and he wanted to send me to a high risk specialist for a Level II scan. He said there would be three potential outcomes of this scan: (1) the specialist doesn’t find anything abnormal about the heart and we can breathe a sigh of relief, (2) the specialist sees what the tech saw, declares it harmless, and we can breathe a sigh of relief, or (3) the specialist sees what the tech saw, declares it questionable, and we proceed under the care of the specialist (likely with an amniocentesis being the first order of business).

Of course, I made the appointment right away, but couldn’t get in to see the specialist until today. I went in this morning for my scan and was once again delighted by my little boy. The Level II scan ended up being another anatomy scan essentially, with extra focus on the heart. Then doctor came into the ultrasound room and took control of the wand. He showed me that they did indeed find the bright spot my previous tech had seen. However, he was absolutely not concerned. He recommended no follow up; we do not have to go back to see him and we certainly didn’t need the amnio. He said, if I wanted a little extra peace of mind, that there was a newer blood test available that has more accuracy than the one I already had. I opted to go ahead and do that one, just to be cautious (plus, you can poke me all day long, but I am reeeeaaaallly gonna hesitate over you poking my fetus).

So we’ll know the blood test results in a couple of weeks or so, but for now, the news is positive. Little Dumpling looks perfectly healthy in there. Which is such a relief, given Jas’ condition. I’m not really sure our family could have taken more negative news right now.

Furbaby Situation

Well, I felt she deserved an upgrade from “drama,” my sweet little Jas.

As you can probably guess, the weekend did not go well for us. In a silver-lining light, Jas did not get (much) worse. She also did not get any better. She didn’t eat more than a bite or two of food each day and she spent most of the weekend laying in cabinets, under the bed, and on the couch. We already knew we were going to take her back to the vet this morning. So we did, bright and early.

They took all of her vitals and we were pleased to note that she was not running a fever. I heard the vet conferring with another vet before coming in the room with us. She was upfront and honest: Jas was not exhibiting signs of any typical diseases (or even atypical ones). She is a mystery, an interesting case. The vet presented us with a couple of options: we could run more diagnostic tests, an x-ray, or we could give her an antibiotic and see if that helped. We chose to do an x-ray.

They x-rayed her abdomen and decided to do her chest as well, just to see. We’re so glad they did because it was the chest x-ray that finally gave us a clue as to what’s kept Jas feeling so unwell. To everyone’s surprise, the x-ray showed something solid where her right lung should be. It also showed plenty of fluid around the lung. They aspirated a sample of the fluid, but found only blood in the fluid (no malignant cells or infection). Our vet admitted that she was completely shocked by this as Jas presented no signs of respiratory distress. In other words, Jas is once again too smart for her own good. She’s been limiting her activity to keep her heart rate and respiration low. She’s been helping herself by keeping calm and collected. She also made it near impossible to detect the underlying cause.

So right now, our options are an infection, a growth in her lung, or trauma (she didn’t have  any broken bones, but she could have seriously bruised her lung from a fall). We’re tackling infection first, especially since she responded so well to the antibiotic the first time. (She was also running a fever then, indicative of an infection, but isn’t now, so it could be that whatever it is was infected and the antibiotics cleared that up and made her at least somewhat more comfortable.) The next step would be an ultrasound to try and answer the question of tumor or trauma. For now though, she’s stable enough that our action isn’t critical. She got the antibiotic shot; we’re going to wait and see if that helps. The vet sent the aspirated fluid to their lab to have further testing done; we’ll wait for those results. We’ll see later tomorrow, or perhaps Wednesday, what our next step is.

With this, we come to the inevitable question of the intrinsic value of a pet. When the vet starts recommending test after test or treatment after treatment, at what point do you draw the line?

Everyone has a different answer, of course. It might even be a different answer for different pets and there’s no shame in that. Luffy and I were forced into this conversation this morning for obvious reasons. A specialist, an ultrasound, are going to be costly and that’s not even a treatment. Jas means the world to me, for so many reasons. She is my baby, my little girl. She is queen among my family’s cats. Even to my mother, Jas is special. She did so much for me when I was going through hard times and, like I said then, I truly do credit her with giving me the confidence and courage to get myself out of a bad relationship. So to me, she is priceless. Within reason (I mean, we do need to eat at the end of the day), money is no object. I am so very, very thankful that I am in a position to say that. To spend that. To help her. To save her. And I am so blessed to have Luffy because he knows what she means to me, and Jas has come to mean a lot to him too. Thus, we will do whatever is necessary.

Furbaby Drama Continued

So I believe I mentioned that Jas was feeling much better. And she was!! All better. Perky and energetic. Chirping at us and begging for food. Kneading me in the mornings. Sigh. My darling Jas.

Then, Thursday evening I got a feeling of dread as I watched her halfheartedly eat her dinner. She left a lot of it in the bowl before wandering off to hide under the guest bed. Then, Friday morning, she didn’t come greet me and my concern deepened. I refused to say anything about it because I didn’t want to worry Luffy, but he saw it too. She was bleary eyed, lethargic, uninterested in breakfast. We agreed to continue monitoring her and decided to take her to the vet Saturday morning if we felt the need.

Saturday morning we woke up to a puddle of urine in the middle of the kitchen. As I cleaned, I realized that she must have lost control and ran to the litter box as soon as she realized what was happened. My heart broke a little for my poor baby girl. When I had cleaned up the kitchen (and the trail to the litter box), I went to fetch her from underneath the guest bed. She was soaked in urine, confirming my suspicions. I cleaned her up with paper towels as best I could (I definitely didn’t want to subject her to a bath at the time), assuring her that we weren’t upset. She just looked so ashamed and sad. (Pregnancy hormones abound! I started crying while cleaning her up – my baby!) We put her in the office while we waited for the vet to open. I moved her food and water in with her and made a little temporary litter box. I refilled her water bowl when I found that she drank a large portion.

Unfortunately, the vet still couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. She was running a very slight fever, but all other signs still looked good. This time, the vet focused on the urination and the drinking. Those symptoms, along with very slightly elevated levels of blood sugar pointed the vet towards diabetes. Unusual for a cat of Jas’ age, but a possibility nonetheless. She also assured us that there are multiple feline urinary diseases and many can be helped with diet. She sent us on our way with special food, as well as an anti-inflammatory medication.

Luffy had a fit as we left the vet because he absolutely did not agree with the vet. He felt that we should have been given additional antibiotics. (The vet told us that the antibiotics they gave her ten days ago were still in her system and, thus, she didn’t need any more.) He also felt that the special food is an over-priced scheme (it was $40!) and that the food we give Jas is much better for her, even with diabetic concerns, than the new food.

In our minds, the fluids and antibiotics ten days ago almost worked. She felt better for several days before succumbing to her illness again. However, I think the vet feels as though the antibiotics didn’t do anything since she’s not feeling well again. I just don’t know right now. Like I said last time, I so desperately want to make her feel better. All better. For good.

What’s in a name?

As I mentioned, Luffy and I had a girl’s name picked out. Actually two girls’ names. One had been Luffy’s favorite since FOREVER and the other was added after we got pregnant. Finding out that little dumpling is actually a boy sent us back to the name drawing board as we had only briefly contemplated boy’s names.

Luckily (or unfortunately), Luffy is ambivalent on the naming process. He’s deeply attached to that one, aforementioned name, but that’s it. Otherwise, he doesn’t care. Truly. Which is all well and good except that he’s no help! I’ll suggest something and he’s like sure. And then I’ll be all like yes but… and he’s like ok. NO HELP I tell you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy that he’s at least not vetoing all of my suggestions, but he is also not vetoing any of my suggestions. So it’s all up to me to name our child – no pressure.

I’ve been perusing name websites since we learned the sex, keeping names in mind, cringing at others. It’s interesting to me how names just sort of stick out. For instance, my forerunner right now is a perfectly nice name, somewhat common, doesn’t stick out of the herd. And yet, I really like it. My brain keeps coming back to it. It’s not unique or special, but to me, it sounds wonderful. (I of course need to bat it around in my brain for a while, make sure I can yell it across the house and that I don’t hate it after saying it a hundred times.)

In other words, I think we might have found a name for our little boy!

In other pregnancy milestones, yesterday was the first day that a relative stranger commented on my pregnancy!

I was picking up lunch for Luffy and I from a sandwich shop. We like the same sandwich so we order the giant size and split it. Whenever I pick it up, I inevitably hear jokes about how little ol’ me is going to eat all of this right? Ehehehe. Yesterday, when I shook my head and informed them that I had to share it with my husband, the guy behind the counter said, “but you’re eating for two right now! You should get more than half.” And this launched a discussion about the sex and names and all that as I patiently waited for my sandwich to be finished.

Twenty weeks on the dot and strangers can tell I’m pregnant now!! Woo!!

Family Reunions

We traveled to my hometown over the weekend to attend my cousin’s wedding. She went to college there, as did her now-husband, and they got married on campus. It was a gorgeous event and we had a blast catching up with family. This particular side of the family (my Dad’s side) haven’t gotten together since the last wedding (which Luffy and I actually didn’t get to attend), so it was fantastic getting to see everyone. I got so many compliments on the baby belly and everyone was ecstatic over the news. Another cousin of mine (oldest sister of the bride) is actually pregnant right now too (due in July). My mom and aunt told us that the two of them were actually pregnant with us at the same time – and now we’re pregnant at the same time too!

I also realized that this little boy is the first grandson for both sides as well as the first great-grandson on both sides!! Yay!!

My mom always gets us a little present whenever we visit home. Usually it’s a small plant or cat toy. This time it was a set of baby socks and a beautiful card welcoming our little one. She totally made me cry, not going to lie. I also got really emotional when we left (a day earlier than we planned) because my mom was crying and I started crying a bit. Then we pulled away and I completely lost it in the car. Good ol’ pregnancy hormones!

In other pregnancy news, I have to admit that I’m already (at 20 weeks) becoming really uncomfortable. I can no longer sleep well without my support pillow (as evidenced by the tossing and turning I did at my parents’ house). Also, maybe I’m just in the middle of a growth spurt, but my abdomen and lower back have been so tender and sore lately. On the positive side, I’ve been feeling this little boy move more and more. I can’t wait until Luffy can feel him too.

In Jas news, she’s doing so much better. She’s eating all of her food again – back to impatiently awaiting her next meal. She insisted on sleeping with me last night, since we had been gone a night. She wedged in between me and the support pillow and came back every time I moved her aside to run to the restroom. Such a relief – she really had us worried since this was the first time she’d ever been sick. A funny story from the weekend: a friend of our’s was in town for a party and we asked him to drop in and check on her either Saturday or Sunday. We woke up Sunday morning to a text (with picture) from him. Apparently he and a couple of others had dropped in on Jas at 4:30 in the morning (presumably after their party)!! Poor little girl looks very unsure in the picture – HALP!!! Kittynappers!!! Why are you people in my house?!

So that was it from the weekend. Since I had already taken today off (we were supposed to fly back this evening, but then we drove home with my brother yesterday), I decided to stay home and rest up. Baby growth, plus quick trip, equaled an exhausted me.