The Newborn Chronicles: 7w2d

The Dumpling is seven weeks old! And a couple of days! Holy smokes. He has his two month appointment next week (at 8 weeks on the dot). He’ll get several vaccines and we’ll get a chance to check on his weight gain and growth. Woo!

I’m also looking forward to next week (and dreading at the same time) because my mom is coming into town to watch the dumpling as Luffy and I go to my office’s Christmas party. I’m excited to get out and be around adults again, and I am also already a bunch of nerves over leaving the dumpling and pumping and making sure he has enough milk and what if my mom can’t get him to sleep and what if he misses me and wants to nurse and I’m not there – WHAT IF I ASK YOU???? Good thing we’re leaving him with my mom for our first outing. I can’t even imagine leaving him with a babysitter.

In other news, over the weekend we had some friends over. They had their first child in June and we got to commiserate with them over the challenges of early parenthood that no one tells you about. No one discusses how hard it is and how you might not really like the newborn days and how it doesn’t really get easier by the fabled three-month mark (I mean, it might for some, but tell that to my friend who has spent the last few weeks camped out on her son’s floor because he’s going through a growth spurt/sleep regression that won’t quit). We chatted about waking up at night and nursing and sleep and just doing what you need to do to get by. It was quite refreshing.

In non-dumpling related news – I am proud to say that I’ve got my Christmas shopping done! And here I thought everyone would get gift card this year. Go me! Now if only I could find time or the motivation to get the Christmas tree up, then I’d really give myself a gold star.

Last bit of news – time to document some firsts:
– We got our first social smile a couple of weeks ago. I think he’s really starting to recognize us and will give us more smiles each day.
– We moved up a diaper size! He’s no longer in newborns and is in (comically large) size 1’s. We had to do it though, the newborns were just way too tiny to fit up over his legs. He’s very long.
– I went back to my exercise class this past Saturday! It felt so good to work out and be back at the center.
– The dumpling is staying awake for longer stretches. He can now be awake for almost an hour and a half! He’s also really starting to notice things around him (for better or worse when it’s 2am and he just wants to stare at the shadows on the ceiling)

Now I have to cut this a bit short because the dumpling just woke up!

Hold Please

Work. Woooooork. My apologies for being incommunicado this week but work things y’all. In technical speak, they went kablooey. Only time for quick updates:

  • Jas has, for the past two nights, woken us up around 4 in the morning with incessant, loud meowing. I think maybe something’s scaring her?  I walked around with her this morning, kissing her little head and rubbing her back, trying to find something that looked out of place or unusual. Couldn’t find anything (to be fair, I also didn’t look that hard at four in the morning). Luffy, on the other hand, just thinks she’s hungry and announcing her woes.
  • We got the crib mattress in! I got it unwrapped and into the crib yesterday afternoon. Then I put Jas in it – you know, to visualize a small infant in there. And to see what she’d do. It’s the small things really.
  • We’re going out of town this weekend for a friend’s birthday party. There will be lots of booze and food and festivities and I will …. try not to scare the children in a bikini. And also try to stay up past the hour of 10pm.
  • So after I got all uppity last week about the weather – we’ve had a cool front here and it’s been absolutely wonderful. Humidity is still high (as evidenced by my hair which is a giant wave of frizz right now), but I’ll take mid-80’s and humid over 100’s and humid any day.
  • Little Dumpling’s good! He’s kicking away in there and I think he got his first case of the hiccups last night!

Aaaaaand that’s all I’ve got folks. Back to the trenches.

Furbaby Situation: An Update Part III

Little miss Jas had her re-check with the vet last week. She was not pleased at being taken back to the vet (again!), but she tolerated it well enough. I was a tad worried because I was taking her by myself this time and, thus, was the only one available to wrangle her into her carrier. We have an unusual carrier that zips from the top, which I love for many reasons, but also presents a challenge while trying to get her in it because she has three potential escape routes. I walked in the door Thursday evening and she jumped off her perch, stretched, and came to greet me. Using the advantage of surprise, I scooped her up and deposited her into the carrier, zipping it up before she even had a chance to meow in protest. So props to me!

Anyway, her re-check went swimmingly. They checked her thyroid, just as a precaution (because thyroid problems could masquerade as heart problems and she’s just so young to be having heart problems). They took x-rays again, which came back looking clear and normal. When they took her x-rays last time, they showed them to me, but I didn’t really know what I was looking at. I didn’t get to see a “normal” x-ray and then her bad one for comparison. This time though, the vet brought up her old x-rays as a comparison to the new ones and I was floored by the difference. To be perfectly honest, I’m glad I didn’t know how bad they were because I would have freaked out (even more than I was freaking out). I’m shocked she pulled through, that’s how dire her x-rays from a month ago looked. The poor baby had maybe, maybe, 40% lung capacity since even the “good” lung wasn’t at full capacity.

In the couple of weeks since we started her on the ACE inhibitor, she’s completely turned around. In fact, she’s doing so well that it makes me realize just how long she must have been dealing with this. I’m happy to report that she is once again her curious, perky, vocal self (I can 100% attest to this as I spent a good half hour in the wee hours of the morning listening to her mrowr and browr to herself this morning). Her prognosis is good and she’ll just need check-ups (with blood work) every six months to monitor her condition.

Yay Jas!! So happy to have you back!!


Switching gears to our other child, Luffy and I purchased the car seat this weekend! Momentous occasion! If only I could pop the champagne in celebration! Mind you, we don’t yet have a crib or a changing table or a diaper bag (or diapers), but I’m still feeling awfully accomplished.

In a flurry of activity, I went from having exactly zero showers lined up this time last week to having three lined up course of the week: my friends decided to host theirs late September (after adorably shooting for the first weekend in August), my mom decided to host a family get-together in my hometown, and my exercise circle is throwing me one in late August! Whew! So much love for Little Dumpling!


One last story to round out today’s post: I had a very #youknowyourepregnantwhen moment today.

I went to Target during my lunch hour, technically for hand soap, but came away with so much more, as per usual. On an end cap, I noticed that Milano started selling these little to-go packages of their cookies. I love me a good Milano cookie, but not really enough to buy a whole package. The to-go package had precisely three cookies and was impossible to pass up.

They were so irresistible, in fact, that I devoured all three cookies. In the car. In about two blocks. And then I got heartburn. #sademoji

Furbaby Situation: An Update Part II

Well I finally have some good news to share on the furbaby situation: Jas seems to be responding very well to her heart medication (an ACE inhibitor, for anyone curious).

She’s been on it for almost two weeks now and has made several improvements. Her appetite has returned and, although she’s still not up to eating her meal in one sitting (like she used to), she does at least finish all of her food and seems eager for her next meal. She finished all of her salmon last night. She’s playing with her toys again, climbing into the tub again. She’s also sleeping with us, or at least visiting us at night, again. She’s vocal and perky and her eyes are bright (with some new gray furs in her face, I might add). She greets me when I come home and has resumed curling up for a nap in her normal spots (the kitchen window, for instance).

She had her blood work done last Friday and that came back looking just fine, thank goodness. (According to the drug info, the ACE inhibitor paired with the diuretic greatly increases the odds of complications, so we were glad to see that she seems to be handling it well.) The vet wants to see her back in another week or so for a second round of x-rays to judge the amount of fluid remaining in her chest cavity. She might get to come off the diuretic at that point, if she’s looking good.

We’re just so happy to have our darling girl back. As cliche as it sounds, I appreciate so much more, having thought we might lose her. Every time she decides to curl up with me, I’m reminded how lucky I am. Every time she visits me while I’m getting ready (a morning ritual of hers), I’m reminded of how much I missed these little routines and her presence. Every time she stretches out or curls up, I think back to just a few short weeks ago, when she could hardly do anything but lay in distress, and thank our lucky stars that she pulled through.

She’s by no means out of the woods yet and a diagnosis of heart disease isn’t the greatest outcome, but I’m so happy she’s doing better.

Second Trimester Update

I had another prenatal visit yesterday morning. Little Dumpling’s heart abnormality bought us another ultrasound with my OB’s office, so we got to take another peak at him. He’s starting to look less like a creepy alien and more like an adorable baby with each passing ultrasound. We even got a profile shot with a cute little nose! Anyway, since it’s been a while since I wrote about pregnancy trials and tribulations, I thought I’d sit down to go over life at 23 weeks and change:

Flutters – Yeah, he’s definitely kicking now. Most of his movements are still felt only internally, but he does occasionally kick with enough force to feel from the outside. I’ve been trying to catch one for Luffy, but Little Dumpling always seems to get shy whenever Luffy’s around.

On a typical day I feel him briefly in the morning, right after waking up. I’ll feel him a couple of times throughout the day, usually after I’ve eaten or when I’m sitting with particularly poor posture (I imagine him in there beating on the wall like can I get some more room woman?!). He seems to be very active later in the day, after dinner. As I’m watching TV or reading for the evening, I’ll feel him squirm and kick and move up a storm.

Weight gain – I was actually really proud of myself at the doctor’s office yesterday because my weight came in at a very reasonable number. I’ve gained just under 15 pounds at 23w, 2d and I am very pleased with that. At my previous appointment (at 19w), I had gained almost 13 pounds and, probably most alarmingly, had gained something like five pounds in three weeks. I vowed to slow that weight gain down and it seems like my efforts have payed off! Or, you know, I could have had nothing to do with it, maybe that’s just how my body wanted to gain weight, but whatever – I’m taking credit for it.

Aches and pains – Of course, with an expanding belly comes abdominal aches and pains. However, since I’m a fairly small person, that 15 pound weight gain has already started to become a bit of a burden. By the end of the day, my feet hurt and my back hurts, my glutes are tight and my calves are weary. Though my abdominal muscles get most of the stretching focus (the cow and cat poses are practically a requirement at the end of the day), my hamstrings need loosening as well. I had hoped that the sheer work of carrying around the extra weight wouldn’t become evident until the third trimester, but that doesn’t look like it’s happening. Little Dumpling’s already 1 lb, 4 oz (rough estimate, obviously) and moving him and me around is WERK. Whew. Guess I should take heart in that it will get better in a bit – November, to be specific.

Speaking of my feet hurting though, I have to take a moment to give a shout out to one of my favorite products – KT Tape. I first heard about KT tape back in college when I went to physical therapy for a stress fracture in my ankle. My therapist snipped off two tiny pieces of tape to place across my foot, saying the tape would help with swelling. I was dubious, but then amazed when, by the next day, the swelling had all but disappeared. I bought my own roll several years later, when regular exercise started to bring back the pain in my ankle (stress fractures basically weaken the bone and make it easy for new stress fractures to crop up). The miracle tape instantly gives me relief from the pain and swelling – like a brace, but way more comfortable and flexible. To this day, I still apply the tape to my ankle whenever it starts acting up. (I have the pro version, in purple. Fantastic.)

Anyway, I’d already seen posts about using the tape during pregnancy, to support the belly, but I had the thought last week that I could probably use the tape to help my feet. Saturday morning, I applied the tape across my forefoot, wrapping under my arch and up towards the inside of my ankle. Immediate relief. Seriously, made all the difference in the world. No knots in my feet and no swelling. Another win for KT tape!


So yeah, doing pretty good at almost six (SIX!!) months along. My belly is becoming more noticeable and strangers are beginning to comment on my pregnant status. I finally bought some maternity tops to wear to work when it became clear last week that my button downs were beginning to stretch a bit past decency. Heartburn is beginning to crop up as my stomach becomes crowded (have I mentioned that I’m a short person??? there’s just not a lot of space for Little Dumpling to work with). According to our ultrasound yesterday, he’s head-down for now, which explains the random times my bladder becomes suddenly compressed (like right now, my bladder is not your pillow child!).

I’ve started looking around for ideas for his nursery. We’re definitely not the types to decorate a nursery (we’re not even painting! cue gasp), but I am looking for a bit of decoration for the walls. Luffy’s parents want to buy us the crib and my mom told me about a fantastic secondhand sale a friend of hers puts on twice a year, so we haven’t purchased anything big yet. Actually, we haven’t purchased anything at all yet. I keep waiting for the “nesting” drive to kick in, but I remain pretty calm and carefree about everything (I mean, so far, there’s plenty of time for that to change).

All in all, Little Dumpling and I are doing just fine and I can’t wait to meet him come Fall.

Furbaby Situation: An Update

It’s been a while since I updated you on Jas’ health. To be honest, I kept putting it off because I kept hoping that the next visit or test would give us a conclusive answer to her troubles. However, we still don’t really know much.

When we last left it, Jas’ aspirated fluid was headed for a lab for further testing and we were weighing the decision to get an ultrasound of her chest. As I’m sure you all realize with this sort of stuff: all of this takes time and there are plenty of delays as this needs two days and that needs to be scheduled in advance and we should hear back from them in three to four business days. I kept wanting to remind people that we were talking about her lungs and her breathing – THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT ITEMS/FUNCTIONS!!! Ahem. So as Jas’ breathing got more and more labored, I got fed up with waiting for the lab’s results and decided to call (last Wednesday) to schedule her for an ultrasound. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, maybe the wait is just really long), the first available time slot for her was (last) Friday morning. I’m grateful for even that appointment because they moved other appointments around to get to her.

Her lab results came back last Thursday, while we were waiting on the ultrasound appointment. They offered a small amount of good news in that the lab didn’t find any malignant cells in the sample. The lab also suggested an ultrasound for the next step, which we had already set up for the very next morning. Perfect. We dropped Jas off at the vet early Friday morning for her ultrasound. The receptionist told us that we’d have results back the same day, or possibly Saturday. However, when the vet called later that day to tell me Jas was ready for pickup, she said that we’d have results back the following week (see above: time and delays). Preliminary interpretation by the sonographer revealed fluid build-up around Jas’ heart as well though. This was something the vet wanted to tackle immediately and thus she prescribed a diuretic to help relieve some of the pressure.

Over last week and weekend, Jas slowly made improvements. As I alluded to, I was seriously concerned for her at one point (Tuesday night, to be specific – I called the vet the next day to request the ultrasound). However, that was her lowest point. She seems to have stabilized some. She’s eating regularly (albeit only a little at a time). The diuretic seemed to really wear her out at first, but her energy levels have somewhat returned. At first glance, she seems perfectly fine, but there are little things we notice now. She doesn’t run or chase her toys. She rarely jumps up on anything (her tower, the bed, the counters, the tub). When she does jump, she hesitates for a good 30 seconds as (I assume) she gauges her body and whether she’ll clear the jump. But overall, she’s perky and vocal and her usual self (er, a somewhat more reserved version of herself – like she’s aged five years overnight).

We got her ultrasound results back on Monday. They were inconclusive, although ultimately rather bleak. The cardiologist noted abnormalities in Jas’ heart muscle, consistent with congestive heart failure, as well as a potential mass in front of her heart (though not conclusively a tumor, the cardiologist noted it could just be inflammation and fluid). However, in the cardiologist’s opinion, the abnormalities in her muscle weren’t great enough to be the complete source of the problem. The cardiologist also noted the fluid around her heart, which is really the biggest worry right now because the three primary causes of pericardial effusion are congestive heart failure, neoplasia (a specific type of cancer affecting the heart), and systemic infection. The cardiologist suggested starting Jas on a heart medication, as well as sending her x-rays to a radiologist for professional interpretation to hopefully answer the question about the mass. Our vet suggested holding off on the heart medication until we got a report back from the radiologist.

Which brings me to today. The vet called and had Jas’ report from the radiologist. Again, no definitive answer. The radiologist also noted a questionable mass, but remarked that it could just be a semi-deflated lung from surrounding fluid buildup and pressure. The radiologist also recommended heart medication.

So now we’re to the try-this-and-see-if-it-works stage of diagnosing her. With no definitive diagnosis on the table (and it’s not like we can open her up to see!), we’re going to treat her as if she has heart disease. She’ll get a medication to lower her blood pressure to make it easier for her heart to work. She’ll also continue to get the diuretic to pull the fluid out of her chest cavity. In a week, we’ll do blood work to make sure the heart medication isn’t killing her kidneys (literally, which shudder). In three or so weeks, we’ll do another chest x-ray to see if the fluid has drained from around her lung. If so and if she’s stabilized further on her medication, we’ll consider heart disease as the official diagnosis. If not, it’s likely a tumor invading her lungs and heart.


Which leads me to the future, or more specifically, our outlook for Jas’ future. She’s Siamese (as you can probably tell), which gives her a typical life expectancy of 15-20 years. At just five years old, I envisioned Jas around for many, many, many more years. This health scare has obviously changed that expectation. Even in the best case scenario (which, at this point in time, is heart disease), having heart problems at such a young age doesn’t bode well. And thus, Luffy has started to gently prepare me for the fact that my darling girl might not live to celebrate her 15th birthday, or even her 10th birthday. As he reminded me, we’ve already had five wonderful years with her and she’s truly done so much for me; any more time is just gravy – icing on the cake – a cherry on top.

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PS (to end on a lighter note): back when we first found out Jas might need an ultrasound, I was scheduled for my Level II scan for Little Dumpling the very next day. I kept joking that I should bring Jas to the appointment and be like “oh yeah, here’s my cat – if you could just scan her too, that would be great! kthnx!”

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.