amazing

Time is returning to normal. Each day flits by; it’s no longer a lifetime of waiting for Geoff to come home, an eternity waiting to check another week off the list. I move through the paces of living until I collapse bone tired into bed around eight.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my psychiatric obstetrician in Seattle. I’m really hoping she can give me some confidence moving into this anatomy scan, a little reassurance that my meds are perhaps safe and I have at least a moderate chance of things being okay. My regular psych claims I do, but I don’t trust her, hence the appointment tomorrow.

My abdomen has been fluttery and I’ve felt little taps, but I’m still not confident it’s baby. I felt definite flutters with Molly, but I am fatter this time around. My body has never done these things before.

I’ve never been here before. This is a new experience and I hope I can ride out the fear and anxiety with grace and aplomb.

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sudden bout with normal

I am obsessed with this baby. At no time am I not thinking of him and praying to whoever’s out there to let him be okay and to let him come home with us. I feel constantly fearful about his health. There are suddenly hundreds of things I want to buy for him so I spend a great deal of time worrying about money.

I wake up every morning, listen a couple seconds to the doppler, and am astonished that he is still with me. I am impatient for the anatomy scan and to feel real movement. It’s an oddly normal way for me to feel, I think. It’s oddly normal to go into TJ Maxx and buy hooded baby towels and a diaper caddy. I keep telling myself that I am not a normal person with normal pregnancies, but I don’t feel it very deeply.

**********

I have this thing with women who get pregnant and act hopeful or optimistic; I have to fight every instinct to warn her of what’s to come. And oddly enough, it always seems like the super hopeful pregnant ladies do have bad outcomes — I don’t think this is actually true, it just seems that way because I have a damaged perspective. Still, if I could attain a degree of objectivity, I’d probably want to warn myself.

I know how things go. I haven’t bought any big ticket items, just a few things here and there. God, I should just save my money but as a manic depressive, I just love shopping. I’ve obtained a tiny little cache of…little things. And I just fucking couldn’t wait for the anatomy scan. But really, if I clear that hurdle, will I really feel like I’m safe? Probably not, so now is a good a time as any.

eighteen weeks*

Today I am eighteen weeks pregnant and this is a far into pregnancy than I have ever been. I terminated my first pregnancy at 17 weeks, 6 days and my longest pregnancy since has been a mere nine weeks. Is this real? I ask myself. It certainly doesn’t feel it.

I’ve been doing things I have always hesitated to do out of fear that I’ll jinx myself. I’ve bought a couple baby items: a tiny blue beanie with arrows on it, a travel changing mat, a wet bag printed with dancing bears, and a $9 gently used Rock n’ Play (couldn’t say no to that price). I know I should wait until a successful anatomy scan, but I couldn’t help but get carried away with dumb optimism while browsing Etsy and Ebay. I am ridiculously proud of these items, completely enamoured with the artistry involved in making them. Tut tut, Kathleen, the chorus chortles. And I honestly do know better. I really do.

I’m plagued with the exhilaration of hope, elated to be here — these feelings clash and clang with the horrible fear of things not going well. I think of the women I know who have terminated pregnancies past twenty weeks and there is a laundry list in my head of terrible things that can go undetected until a level 2 ultrasound. Sometimes thousands of unpleasant possibilities come flooding into my churning gut, leaving me breathless. I don’t know of anyone in my life who could come close to understanding. I continue to stand alone, a tragedy of a girl who truly feels she’s been punished enough for her youthful transgressions. I keep my spine ramrod straight, still defiant despite everything.

I know the universe has no problem bringing me to my knees. So how does this story end?

* I previously did a whole blog called Eighteen Weeks that was primarily about my tfmr and subsequent fetal tissue donation. I took it down in a fit of liberal paranoia when Trump was elected but I hope to someday revisit it here.

isolate

It is another sun drenched morning in Olympia and I am enjoying a sort of lightness of heart. I have carefully brushed the ever-present tangles from my hair, rubbed cocoa butter into my belly, put on a chambray dress and smeared black eyeliner, and topped everything off with sunscreen. I am invisible, I think to myself. No one knows I am here.

My voice echoes through the forest and no one hears the sounds.

My family called yesterday and said they would not be visiting after all. They had planned on hiking, but apparently they were too late to book the tour they had planned on. I must admit that I’m disappointed; I had been thinking it would be nice to share some of this pregnancy with them but that fantasy is contingent on them being happy for me. And I don’t think I can expect that from my mom. At least I shouldn’t expect that unless I want to end up angry and hurting.

I think my dad would be happy. I think.

So far, we’ve only told our two friends that live outside town, one if whom is ninety-one years old. I’m uncomfortable talking about it, about our six losses, about how terrified I feel all the time. I remain cloistered at home, hiding my body from the world until I can gain an iota of comfort that baby is okay, and we make the long drive out to visit the two friends once a week. I am lonely, but this will be my life until we hear about the anatomy scan. If it goes well, I will have to rejoin the world.

pictures of you

Another trip to the Baby Factory. Another two hours of my life I will never get back. Everything’s fine with baby…

…but I will need a couple days to recover. The ultrasound tech wasn’t a talker, and I was trying to read her — you know, they aren’t allowed to say anything but they usually will if things look okay. This one stayed silent. So, I flipped out, as I am wont to do.

Had to get blood drawn to see about spina bifida. The lab there is terrible. All sorts of confusing paperwork, and they had to stick me a few times before my veins would yield blood. I snapped at the phlebotomist. A different phlebotomist tried, and I snapped at her too. I was convinced my scan had gone badly and repeated unsuccessful attempts with butterfly needles were making me cross.

Paula the triage nurse came to appease me. Now, Paula the triage nurse is in charge of responding to questions sent over the web portal and has a nasty habit of neglecting to address the actual question you send her. Luckily, she was pleasant to talk with in person and was able to soothe me with reassurances that baby looked just fine and was moving quite a bit, which makes me feel more confident about the tentative flutters I’ve been feeling.

As time passes, I feel my heart warming. All the frustrations intrinsic to a visit at the Baby Factory are falling away, and relief sets in.

*******

Paula the triage nurse was actually pretty cool, and I should stop bitching. She took the time to talk with us, promised she’d send the order for my anatomy scan in twice, and was patient and kind. This is because Geoff politely asked for someone to speak with us about the scan, and cited our history of tfmr and miscarriages, all while I was dressing down phlebotomists and in general behaving badly (this does not change my opinion that the phlebotomists there are particularly incompetent).

conundrum

So, I am diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type with anxiety/panic secondary, and I take multiple medications to maintain a somewhat normal life. Basically, I have bipolar disorder with mild schizophrenia and am prone to worrying (which should be fairly obvious if you’ve been reading me here), panic attacks, and agoraphobia. I’ve always assumed breastfeeding was off the table for me but from recent research it appears I might be able to do it safely for baby. The question is if I can do it safely for myself.

Schizoaffective disorder is a fairly serious mental illness. I think that I’d present myself as normal but very anxious. You probably wouldn’t guess that I sometimes become paranoid and suffer hallucinations. My mood swings have all but faded with my medication, except for occasional situational depression (I’ve had a hell of a time with the RPL, but it hasn’t broken me yet). Maintaining my mental health is a paramount concern for me, especially postpartum as bipolar disorder often causes postpartum psychosis or depression .

The heart of my medication routine is a large dose of the atypical antipsychotic Geodon, also known as ziprasidone. Geodon has not been adequately tested for safety during breastfeeding, but a couple other drugs in its class have been. So, I could feasibly switch, even temporarily. But there’s a significant risk that this may destabilize me, maybe just for a little while, or maybe the other medications won’t work for me (I’m thinking specifically of Risperdal or Seroquel, both of which appear to be safe for baby).

I really want to breastfeed, but messing with my meds during pregnancy might be ill-advised. I see my psychiatric obstetrician (specialist trained in psychiatry and obstetrics) next week so I’ll see what she thinks. Medication changes are a huge deal to me, a total disruption, and I don’t want to make changes unless my anatomy scan goes well (a big if).

I have a regular scan tomorrow. So I’m pretty on edge today.

*******

So now is the part where I start losing my shit because I have an ultrasound. I have a lot of baggage surrounding ultrasounds; I’ve had so many bad ones. And I haven’t seen baby since my tenth week. The doppler is so reassuring but I know from experience it can be a false sense of security. Molly’s heartbeat rang out loud and clear, and she had a major heart defect.

I know it’s possible that tomorrow’s scan won’t tell much. I have to wait until my anatomy scan for that. How can this possibly go well?? I should know better.

business as usual

Baby’s heart is still ticking and the nurse I messaged said just to come in as scheduled on Wednesday for my ultrasound and bloodwork. I had a great weekend with Geoff, but now the reality of having a lot of appointments coming up is electrifying my nerve pathways. I fucking hate ultrasounds. I hate them so much.

I’m so scared that this recent happiness will end. I want this so badly but it seems so impossible that I’ll still be pregnant in another month. In a way, I want to get the scans done quickly so they’ll be off my mind. But in another way, I want this blissful ignorance to last forever.

If my anatomy scan goes well, I’ll be forced to tell my family. Who are planning on visiting for a couple of days in September. Ugh! I’m used to seeing my family of origin once a year at Christmas. My mom and my aunt are going on a hiking trip somewhere north of Seattle, and my dad said he’d try to come stay with Geoff and I for the couple days they’ll be hiking. Then, the two of them will come here and we’ll all be together! This whole thing seems incredibly nerve wracking, especially seeing my mom & aunt. I’ve never forgiven them for the things they said during my tfmr.

It’s crazy how normal my life is starting to sound.

heart still mangled

I am awake and terrified at 4.30am, having had a gush of watery discharge that soaked through my clothes when I threw up last night. Baby’s heartbeat is still strong but I cannot stop the thousand worries that descended upon me. I’m not still leaking, which I gather is good. This happened before a couple of times, while I was in the first trimester and experiencing mild morning sickness and everything was fine. Oh, God. Please let everything be okay.

I am so terrified that I will lose this baby. I let myself get too arrogant in thinking I might carry to term. I forgot who I was, what my place in the world is. Am I worrying too much? Or not enough? I do have an ultrasound scheduled on Wednesday, but I feel like I can’t deal with more bad news. Part of me feels like nothing is wrong, even as I feel a tremendous weight on my shoulders. It feels like instinct. But who the hell knows.

little updates

The day signifying my fortieth trip around the sun passed quietly and without fanfare. I still cannot believe this is my life. I am seventeen weeks today, closing in on the most pregnant I’ve ever been. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop but this morning I am content and at ease. Geoff bought me flowers and Thai food, so all in all it was a fantastic day.

I managed to get my anatomy scan scheduled at a radiology clinic in town on August 14th. My OB’s office, surprise!, never sent in the order as we discussed, so I have to get on them so they’ll actually do it. It’s a huge weight off my mind to have it scheduled in a reasonable timeframe, but it’s a huge weight back on my mind knowing that I have to face potential bad news.

I also finally heard from my psychiatric obstetrician and she says my meds are okay. I have an appointment with her August 1st. If the scan then goes well, I’m thinking of making major medication changes so that I can breastfeed safely. I’m not sure if I can do it, but I’d like to try.

things that can happen in a five minute prenatal check up

1. I need a fetal echocardiogram since I am taking Paxil. My psychiatric obstetrician never mentioned I’d need this. Another thing to stress over.

2. Heartbeat was good!

3. I wanted to get my blood draw for the quad screen (for spina bifida). Geoff didn’t have time. I guess he has a point since the last blood draw I had at this lab took 45 minutes. They couldn’t find a vein. I’m pretty annoyed, though.

4. Five minutes is enough time to obtain and completely and utterly lose a urine sample, apparently.

5. The technicians have summer vacations planned. So, I apparently can’t get in for an anatomy scan until September at which point I’ll be 23 weeks. That’s too late. This is bullshit, and we are working on it. But right now, I’m fucking angry.

Scan next week. Stay tuned.

*********

Okay, I guess I’m waiting for an outside radiology clinic to schedule an anatomy scan for me. And I’m not sure if next week’s scan is just a regular one or not. I’m so confused by them. Anyway, they have no appointments in August at all, so hopefully this other place will call me back soon.