Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Time is Never Right

I read another interesting article on the work-life balance conversation recently. I love this topic and know there's no one path that works for each family.  But it helps to keep talking about the issues we all face!

When we decided to move to Macon over a year ago we made the decision to put my husband's job first.  This was a hard decision (especially as I was on the cusp of making partner at my firm), but it was right for our family. He has his dream job as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. And in 8 weeks I will fully step back from my legal job. It might be until Bridget is 4-6 months old, or it might be indefinite.  I'm not sure yet.  But December 18th has been set as my last day.

I'm excited and petrified by the possibility. I'll get more time with my kids and won't have to hand Bridget over to someone else to return to a job I sometimes loathe.  I won't be sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. But I will be stepping away from a career I've spent a lot of money on and for which I'll still be paying student loans for years to come. I don't know if I can get back in the game if I completely leave and that is where the massive fear comes from. Will that time, money and schooling have been for naught? Will I regret this choice?

But what about the other things out there?  What if I devoted more hours a week to my Beautycounter business that I truly love?  What if I actually wrote that book I've been wanting to write? What if I got yoga-teacher certified or became a lactation consultant like I've dreamed? What if I find that thing that I don't even know is my thing yet?

And how will my family life change? How much stress can I take away from my husband by taking over the morning drop off so he can always get to work on time? How much stress of my own will be relieved by being able to devote our mornings to the kids rather than rushing around trying to throw myself together too? And our evenings? What will happen when I can prep dinner while the boys are at school and then actually spend time WITH them when I pick them up?  How will their behavior change when they are no longer stuck in aftercare until 5pm every day?  I am so excited by these changes. 

So why am I so afraid? Why can I not answer the question "What do you want to do once Bridget is here?"  I was asked it this morning by my boss, but I couldn't respond.  In truth we won't know the extent of Bridget's medical needs until she's here, but I used that as an excuse to not commit to anything right now.  A convenient by-product of her diagnosis.  Hey, I'm trying to find the silver linings where I can.  

Yet in my heart I already know.  I want to step away from the law. It's not my passion.  It never was.

I know what I'm giving up.  But I don't think I fully understand the potential of what I have to gain.  The timing is never right to make big changes.  I'll never feel we're financially settled to take this big pay cut. But sometimes you have to leap. Sometimes you have to trust that it will all work out.

I think it's finally time to run and do what I need to do.  I'm ready to find out who I am when I finally lay aside my lawyer's hat.  Maybe I'll put it on again one day.  Maybe that day will be sooner than later.  But maybe, just maybe, I'll never look back.

Friday, October 16, 2015

27 Weeks. Round 3.

How far along? 27 weeks + 1 day. (Go here to check out my 27 week survey with Julian.)

27 weeks with Bridget.
Next OB appointment?  Next Wednesday I have a day of appointments - in the morning I see one of the midwives in my OB practice here in Macon and get to take the lovely 1 hour glucose test for Gestational Diabetes (I didn't have it with either of the boys so here's hoping that trend continues).  Then in the afternoon I head to Atlanta to see my Maternal Fetal Specialist in Atlanta to check on Bridget's kidney and my amniotic fluid level.

Total weight gain/loss? 22 pounds.  I've really been making an effort to hit 10,000 steps each day, walk on the treadmill and do light weights a few days a week.  I think it's helping keep the weight gain in check.

Maternity clothes?  Full on.  I did score some clothes from one of my BFFs and feel like I have a whole new wardrobe! It has curbed the urge to actually BUY any other clothes, which I'm planning to avoid the rest of this pregnancy.

Stretch marks? Ugh, yes. The old ones are rearing their ugly heads.  Mainly on my hips. I'm hoping they'll fade again once sweet B is here.

Sleep? I haven't had a full night sleep in a while. I still get up to pee at least once a night.  Ugh.

Best moment last week? Seeing our kitchen come to life!  We finally have the new hardwoods installed and finished, the cabinets installed and looking fabulous and the counter-top template measured and ordered!  I'm hoping we'll be fully functional in about 2 weeks or so!

Movement? Oh yes. Her movements are getting stronger every day!

Food cravings? Green smoothies (almond milk, spinach, frozen banana, peanut butter and protein powder)!  Along with sourdough bread grilled cheese sandwiches with avocado and sauerkraut. 

Food aversions?  Acidic food has been giving me heartburn so I'm trying to stay away which is hard considering I love me some Mexican food.

Gender? Team Pink!

Labor signs? Nope.

Belly button in/out? We're at the half-in/half-out point.

What I miss: Being able to breathe fully.  I cannot get a deep, full breathe in ever. I know the only thing that will relieve this is giving birth. So here's to another 3 months of breathlessness.

What I am looking forward to: Having my house back in order and cooking homecooked meals again!  The George Foreman grill has been a lifesaver during the renovation (think hotdogs, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon - you know, all the healthy things my kids will eat....), but I miss my stove and oven. I want to make a pizza from scratch and some eggs for breakfast.  At least we'll be operational for Thanksgiving since I can't travel at all this holiday season!  Bring on the turkey in the new oven!!!!

Milestones: I am in the 3rd trimestser!  12 weeks and 6 days to go.  Less than 3 months from my due date.  Holy shit, that isn't too long now!  I better get going on her nursery!  

Oh and totally not Bridget related, but we have had a HUGE milestone in our house recently - Julian is POTTY TRAINED!!!!!  He is doing amazing. We had a rough 10 days of lots of accidents and then it totally clicked for him. He even wakes up most mornings completely dry or will wake up in the middle of the night to go potty. He is even pooping on the potty for 80-90% of the time!  I am so proud of him and am thrilled we'll only have one child in diapers come January!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Worry if it Helps

I spent much of last Friday in tears. The actual diagnosis from the day before finally was sinking in. I cried on and off all day and it was big, heavy sobs that I just couldn’t stop. My anxiety was high and panic was sitting below the surface. Eventually I left work because I couldn’t sit in my office pretending to be ok.

I called Todd and tried to explain. I was feeling so sad and heartbroken. He didn’t understand. He was relieved that we had a game plan, and even more so that she has a fixable problem. He was relieved after our urology consult, but the farther we got away from the news the worse I was feeling. In my head I knew everything he said was true. It is a good thing that we know exactly what is going on with her kidney and it’s an even better thing the doctor’s know how to treat her condition.  No, surgery is not ideal, but at least we’re not dealing with something that is hopeless. Rationally there is much to be hopeful for.

Yet I couldn’t get there in my head. My heart was flooded with fear. There are so many things that can go wrong between now and surgery to fix her problems. I couldn’t concentrate on the good news because I was stuck in the fear.

I’m afraid the ureterocele will continue to grow and will block the right ureter from draining properly. This is a fear that I’ll carry with me for 13+ more weeks until her due date. Every other week I will go to the Maternal Fetal Specialist and wait to learn if my amniotic fluid levels have gone down, which means things are getting worse. That the ureterocele is growing. I’ll hold my breath as the ultrasound is performed, hoping Dr. Gomez doesn’t say he thinks she needs to come early.

I’m afraid an early delivery will mean a NICU stay. I’m afraid of riding the NICU rollercoaster that I’ve seen other’s endure.

I’m afraid that once she’s here, regardless of when that happens, her wet diaper output won’t be normal, which would indicate that we can’t wait to fix the problem. I’m afraid she’ll need surgery right away.

I’m afraid the tests that will be performed on her at 2 weeks old will be difficult on her little body. I’m afraid of the results. I’m afraid these results will lead to surgery before she is 6 months old like we’re hoping.

I’m afraid for her surgery, of her being cut open and the risks that will entail. Anesthesia for one. Complications another.

I’m already worried for all these possible outcomes, all these possible divergent paths along her road.

So what does this do? It just causes fear and anxiety in me. It doesn’t help Bridget. I know this. If anything, my stress level will negatively affect her. Again, I know this.

Worry if it helps. This is one of my mom’s sister’s mottos. I saw her yesterday and she reminded me of these words.

Worry if it helps.

It doesn’t help to worry.

So I am trying my best to stay positive and to focus on the good. I’m focusing on Thursday when I’ll be 27 weeks and officially in the 3rd trimester. I’m focusing on the fact that Bridget is already over 2 pounds and is growing stronger every day. I’m focusing on the doctors that are monitoring me now and who will be taking care of Bridget once she’s here. They are capable and we are confident in their ability to navigate these choppy waters. And I’m focusing on the love in my life – my three boys, my family and the support network that has surrounded us through these last 7 weeks. I know I’m not alone and I am thankful for that.

I know there will be hard days ahead, but being sad about those now isn’t helping Bridget and they’re not helping her momma. All we can do is today. So today I’m going to delight in her kicks and the love that’s surrounding us.

I’ll do the best I can today. Some days I’ll fail, but some days I won’t. And I’ll just keep hitting repeat every morning. Yes, I wish we weren’t facing any health issues with this pregnancy, but I am thankful it’s not something worse.

I’ll get to meet this sweet girl sometime over the next 3 months. Our family is growing. And that alone is such a blessing.

And as one of my favorite bloggers (Glennon over at Momastery) says: We can do hard things.

We can because we have to. Because really, what other choice is there?

Worry if it helps.

Friday, October 9, 2015

2 for 1: Not Always a Good Thing

This has been a bit of a whirlwind week. On Wednesday I had my bi-weekly appointment with my Maternal Fetal Specialist in Atlanta. Todd wasn’t able to make the visit with me so I took the opportunity to surround my doctor’s visit with coffee and lunch dates with girlfriends – a nice perk of going to Atlanta every other week. The appointment was long as Ms. Bridget was uncooperative and in a difficult position (she was breech with her head up by my right rib cage and her feet down low on my left side). So after a lot of waiting and prodding her to move, she final repositioned enough for the doctor to get the kidney pictures he needed. In a surprising turn the fluid accumulation in her kidney had dramatically decreased. The doctor hesitantly said he was “pleasantly surprised” and “pleased”. I pushed him for more information, but as usual he was reluctant to make any firm diagnosis. He said I would still come back in two weeks to continue being monitored but I left his office feeling good. Things seemed to be moving in a positive direction.

Yesterday Todd and I met with a pediatric urologist at Georgia Urology – Pediatrics in Atlanta.  They are connected with CHOA and Dr. Smith was one of the nicest doctors I’ve yet to encounter. He had a lovely bedside manner, was thorough, patient and kind. I think his approach helped keep my nerves in check as he explained what exactly is going on with our sweet girl and I’ll do my best to explain what he said. Unfortunately, the decrease in fluid wasn’t us moving in a positive direction as I’d hoped the prior day.

Bridget has a duplicated collecting system (also known as a ureteral duplication) and a ureterocele on the left side. So while each normal kidney has one ureter (the tube the carries urine form the kidney to the bladder), Bridget’s left kidney has two ureters rather than one.  And common with this condition is the occurrence of a ureterocele, which is an enlargement of the portion of the ureter closest to the bladder due to the ureter opening being very small (so in other words, that portion of the ureter closest to the bladder swells up like a balloon).  This obstructs urine flow into the bladder causing urine to back up the ureter toward the kidney.  Bridget’s ureter with the ureterocele drains the top half of the left kidney while the other ureter drains the lower half.  The doctor showed us on the ultrasound how the tissue on the lower half of the kidney looked like normal kidney tissue whereas the upper half of the kidney does not look normal.  However, he was clear that it is much too early to tell how much, if any, function the entire left kidney will have.

This is the picture the doctor pulled up to show what is going on.

So we are thankful that we know what we are dealing with and we are confident that we’re in good hands with Dr. Smith.  However, the diagnosis didn’t come with the best of news. This condition will require surgery, likely when she is 6 months old, if not earlier. She will start a low dose antibiotic the first few days after birth as this condition can lead to infection. Then at 2 weeks old we’ll go up to CHOA for some tests – an ultrasound on Bridget as well as a VCUG which is an X-ray exam of the bladder and lower urinary tract. Once they know the extent of the damage to the kidney they’ll decide what the surgery will need to entail and the goal will be to wait until she’s 6 months old for that surgery, with month to 2 month monitoring until it’s go time. Obviously, knowing our daughter will need surgery as an infant is a scary thought. I’m trying to concentrate on the fact that it IS fixable, but I’m having a hard time with that today.  This whole thing is making Julian’s helmet experience seem like a walk in the park yet at the time it was anything but, with lots of tears from yours truly. So I’m a little nervous how I will handle all this once it’s time for tests and procedures and tiny IVs putting my little one to sleep to be cut open. I’m having a hard time not getting ahead of myself with all this. Clearly.

And of course there are still some hurdles to get past over the next few months. For one, Dr. Smith told us that her right kidney is slightly dilated as of yesterday. It wasn’t dilated two weeks ago. We knew this was a possibility and the cause could be that the ureterocele is growing larger causing a blockage of the right ureter – meaning that the right kidney may not continue to drain properly. If this continues, my amniotic fluid level would go down and she would have to be delivered early.  This is the worst case scenario. He doesn’t seem to think this will happen, but he acknowledged that is a possibility, which is why I’ll continue going to the Maternal Fetal Specialist every 2 weeks. If this happens, I believe her surgery would be required shortly thereafter. And whenever she is born we will have to monitor her wet diaper output closely to make sure she is properly voiding. If she is not, this is a sign that the kidneys aren’t working/draining properly and intervention would be needed sooner rather than later.

So that’s where we are. As of yesterday I am 26 weeks along, and thankfully the odds of her survival even if she were to be born today are good, but we really hope the right kidney can continue to drain properly for a while longer so she can get bigger and stronger before she’s born.

I’m glad that we know exactly what is going on now. And even more thankful that it can be fixed once she’s here. I know in my head this is all positive news and we could be looking at something much, much worse. But it’s my heart that is having a hard time thinking of this little one having surgery so young. I’m sure she’ll be strong and able handle anything she has to endure; I just hope I can be the same.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

25 Weeks. Round 3

How far along? 25 weeks. (Go here to check out my 25 week survey with Julian.)

Next OB appointment?  Next Wednesday with the Maternal Fetal Specialist in Atlanta. And then the next day we meet with the pediatric urologist at Children's Hospital of Atlanta.  I'm hoping two things for these appointments: (1) Bridget's kidney "cyst" isn't getting any bigger and remains unchanged from the last appointment. (2) I receive some sort of comfort around the whole thing. This will be our first appointment where we know that our main/only issue is her kidney. I'd love to know what the urologist thinks we'll need to do after she's here. I'd just like a road map, although I know I'm unlikely to get one as the journey is still in motion.

Total weight gain/loss? 20 pounds as of last week.  I gain weight when I'm pregnant. What can I say?

Maternity clothes?  Yup. And I've broken my promise to not buy any more maternity clothes. What I had just didn't fit! So I got a few new tops from ThredUp - have you heard of them?  It's basically an online consignment store and the best part is that you can return what doesn't fit/you don't like. So I bought 5 things but am only keeping 2.  Use this special code to earn $20 off your first 2 orders ($10 off order #1 and $10 off order #2: http://www.thredup.com/r/20TIQL ).  I also bought a pair of jeans from Poshmark, but they haven't shipped yet so not sure if they fit. Downside is that they are not returnable but I'll just sell them if they don't fit. I did buy a few things during a Gap.com 40% off sale but am returning 3 of the 4 items.  So while I'm buying a few things, I'm only keeping what I'll actually wear.  This is progress.

Stretch marks? The old ones are peeking back out and getting darker. Thankfully if history repeats itself they will fade back into the distance once this pregnancy is over.

Sleep? Meh. I still get up every night to pee. And I toss and turn, but I can't complain too much. 

Best moment last week? Getting the call that Bridget's microarray results came back NORMAL.  I hung up the phone and sat at my desk sobbing for 5 minutes before I could even call the husband. I knew I'd been holding my breathe until these results came in, but I didn't realize how much. The sense of relief is overwhelming. I know she's not 100% "healthy" but to learn that she does not have a genetic abnormality was huge. We can handle her kidney. I know we can. And now that the genetic question marks are answered positively, we can move on and concentrate on what exactly this kidney defect will mean.

Movement? Every day. Sweet girl is a mover, but nothing like her brothers were in the womb!

Food cravings? Miso soup and Mexican chicken soup. I was sick last week and soup was the only thing that sounded good.

Food aversions?  Nothing really.

Gender? Team Pink!

Labor signs? Nope.

Belly button in/out? In.

What I miss: Wine. A good glass or two of red wine would've been great these past few weeks.

What I am looking forward to: The final result of our house renovation. Bridget's room is in full swing and the kitchen is chaotic but coming together.  The hardwood floors go down tomorrow!

Milestones: We hit viability baby!  I really hope sweet B hangs out inside for a few more months but it's comforting to know she has a fighting chance even if she's born now.  But baby girl, stay put!  Please!