Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Baby peeper has a brain.

I think I've already spread the word: baby peeper has a corpus callosum!

Yay! One MAJOR obstacle down. Since nothing is ever easy we are not totally in the clear. Her ventricles are still measuring big at 9mm each, which is bigger than two weeks ago. Anything over 10 mm is ventriculomegaly. I have another follow-up ultrasound in 2 weeks. I'm actively choosing to not worry about this. Ruth Goldstein was our radiologist today and she is a fetal neuro-imaging specialist. She says that in her experience bigger babies have bigger ventricles. Babies who have developmental issues have a tendency to be much smaller. Baby peeper is big (not abnormally) for her age. See? It's like a geometry proof.

So after being underground except for the blog, which has served as a diary of sorts, I am finally ready to join the world of the living. To celebrate this I came home from the morning and collapsed in a napping heap on the couch. This is why I sent out a quick text and held off on any posting until the hangover was gone. Tomorrow I will go buy a couple of shirts that actually fit me.

I am only beginning to process this experience:
The best part is how incredibly supportive you have all been. I will forever remember that.

I think it changed my relationship with Tim - our marriage is stronger. God, I love that man. He is a good man.

I am still trying to get a grip on my control issues...a big one for me. Losing control for any reason is a horror. This is why my house is clean: false sense of control. Want to know a secret? I probably would have spent more time exploring recreational drugs but I learned early that I am not cut out for it. Gosh, I managed to have a bad time smoking pot and on ecstasy (not at the same time) and never went further.

Parenting. She's grounded already for worrying me so much.

Faith. At 7:20 am I decided I needed my rosary. It wasn't in the misselett where it normally is so I ended up pulling storage boxes out of the depths of the closet in a panic until I found it. I went through 2 whole rosaries between the walk to the hospital and the wait. Like an old familiar friend the meditation kept me calm. How far has my faith fallen? What does this mean? More importantly, what am I going to do about it?

Stay tuned...

Monday, January 26, 2009

43 hours & 6 minutes...

You can see what my time has come to. It's a good thing I was on swing today. Nothing like some emergencies to distract you.


::taps fingers::

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Still here? Day 12

Is anyone still reading this? I'm even fed up with myself.

I have been so self-absorbed that I forgot my best friends birthday. I suck. Because she is gracious and loyal and loves me I was forgiven before I even asked for it. Truthfully, I'm just sick about it.

Meanwhile, I have 60 more hours to go. The anxiety is building to unanticipated proportions. I can tell because I'm thirsty all the time and I'm fidgety. I was like this for a few days before I took national boards too. A sloooooow sympathetic nervous system response. I think I'll go clean the house until I fall asleep. Tim started night float again tonight and it's always hard for me to sleep the first few nights he's away.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Walking meditation


Here we go again.

I went to have lunch down the street. I walked in the rain. I read my book. I ate my sandwich. And I thought about Lucy. She is a client whose geriatric cat I've been managing for a year. Lucy had a mobile vet come to the house to euthanize Squirrel on Tuesday. I called Lucy today just to check on her but she didn't pick up the phone. She emailed a couple hours later explaining that she is still quite devastated and can't talk without crying.
Oh my God. How I understand. I know, I know. Cat. Fetus. Yet when she wrote I knew that her anguish right now is totally consuming and devastating for her. I get it. Something you learn in veterinary medicine is that it isn't just the animal who dies. Usually a pet represents an entire period in a persons life: marriage, divorce, death, sickness, births, graduations, new careers...The owner often makes a choice to euthanize the animal and all that is tied to it comes rushing to the surface all over again.

And it all came to the surface again for me. I believe in the power of creating positive images. I have imagined, in detail, over and over going to the ultrasound on Wed and having the sonographer say "There it is! The baby is totally normal and healthy!" It's meditative like clikcing away at the beads of my rosary. However, today I could imagine that they still couldn't find it and I could see through the shades of gray that define structures on ultrasound that it just wasn't normal. I felt panicked and had to fight off tears in the elevator. Fuck. It's just so scary.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 9: The lost 2 weeks

I had the most boring OB appointment ever today. My weight gain is normal (14.5#), I am not hypertensive (100/64), my ute is almost up to my belly button now, and her little heart is just ticking away as demonstrated by doppler. I decided at the last minute to go ahead and do the AFP so I am once again on my way to looking like a heroin addict.

We talked about the radiology findings - Dr. Kamali scrunched up her face and said that she hates getting reports like these. Well, who doesn't? But she explained that there are these normal ranges and when your little person falls at one end or the other of that spectrum that it can be so upsetting and so meaningless. I get that based on my own experience. You see something you have to mention just to cover your ass and plant the seed for future talks and bloodwork etc. but you wish you didn't have to say it out loud to an owner because there is no real cause to worry yet. There is still the issue of the non-visible cavum septum pellucidum...elusive little jerk. She asked me to send her an email next Wed so she won't have to wait for the radiology report. I love my Ob.

I came home and as I was passing by the fridge I noticed the calendar. Only 5 whole days until AUS #2. I have mixed emotions about it now. On the one hand I desperately want good news so this can all become a memory...a story we will tell her all about later. On the other hand, I don't want the bad news for obvious reasons. Staying where we are isn't an option either though, is it? The futility of fighting the inevitable. I'll just never be comfortable with this much lack of control.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One down, one to go

When I woke up this morning I didn't have to go to work so I lingered in the bed and just thought about stuff. I was there for almost 2 hours because I rolled over and it was 8:01 am on Wednesday morning.
One week ago Tim and I were leaving the house to go for our ultrasound. We were smiling and holding hands. He was teasing me about how Dora would get mad at him because we were running late and I insisted on stopping for a decaf latte anyways. As I write this one week ago we were on the road to Pt. Reyes in a desperate attempt to not stay in the house and cry all day (instead I cried in the car, on the trail to Heart's Desire Beach, at the italian restaurant we went to for lunch, and at the Pt. Reyes visitor center).
One week from 8:01 am on this Wednesday morning we will be at 400 Parnassus getting a second ultrasound. One week from right now I hope to be relieved and apologizing for having gotten so worked up over something that turned out to be nothing. I will begin to process the information and how I am forever changed by this experience. Or I will be a mess and the woman who was walking the street hand-in-hand with her husband clutching her latte in the other will be a ghost.

Meanwhile, the urgent little flutter inside of me right now is our baby. I love it. She makes me smile.

I got a card in the mail from my dad yesterday. This is so uncharacteristic for him and I have a hard time imagining that his wife crying. Here it is:

Hey Kiddo,
Just a quick note. I came home from our lunch the other day and I told Rob about the baby. She didn't say a word, she just started to cry. It was at that exact moment I realized just how ill-equipped men are to deal with things that have to do with carrying around another life inside of you. I guess I'm never too old to learn. What I do know is that two weeks can be a real long time to have something that heavy on your mind. Just know that I'm always there for you. Even if you just need to talk or hang out or even go to a movie. I'm just a phone call away. I love you and there is nothing I would not do for you. All I want is for you to be happy.
Love, Dad

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Filling the day

I'm in full swing with the coping mechanisms I know.

1. Avoidance:
Working has helped tremendously. I wonder if I should just come in tomorrow too even though it's a day off for me. Normally I cherish my days off but now I'm frantically trying to make plans and arrange things so that there isn't a spare minute in the day. I'll get my toes done, hopefully get a haircut, take a long walk through Golden Gate park to the ocean, maybe go watch Twilight finally...I did put away the couple of onesies we already have for her. They are hidden at the bottom of a drawer.

2. Denial:
It's amazing what the human mind can do. I have almost completely blocked it out. I can speak of it now without my voice cracking (that only took one week) and it's as if I'm talking about any mundane thing. What facilitates this is that in my mind there is no possible way that this is really happening. We will go in next week and the sonographer will exclaim that they found it!! The ventricles will be normal. Everything will go back to being perfect. It just will. It has to.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Let me count the ways...

In support of my denial:

1. The "classic" appearance for ACC was not seen.
2. Ventriculomegaly has not been established.
3. There are no trisomies - 10-20% of ACC cases are linked to this.
4. She doesn't have cleft lip or palate - 62% of ACC cases are linked with this.
5. All other test results are completely normal.
6. Liina said that she thinks she sees the cavum but wants to see it more prominently.
7. The experts who weighed in said to wait on it - it may look better in 2 weeeks.
8. The science is still pretty new.
9. My ultrasound wa at 18w2d. The corpus callosum is not formed until 18 weeks with maximum growth between 19-21 weeks.
10. The most consistent finding is a teardrop shape to the ventricles. Hers are normal.
11. Consensus is that diagnosis is unreliable before 20 weeks gestation.


Remember this song from Men at Work? I heard it tonight on the radio. The acoustic version Colin Hay is doing now is really awesome and it just seems so apropo. By the way, I have moved completely on to denial. There is nothing going on here. Nope. Nothing at all.
Here are some lyrics followed by Colin Hay's appearance on Scrubs:

I can't get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know I'll be alright
Perhaps it's just imagination

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 5 of the lost 2 weeks

I didn't cry once yesterday. I came close a couple of times, but I held it together. For the first time in a while I was actually thankful for the distraction of work yesterday. It was such a relief to go in and be forced to concentrate on something else entirely for 11 hours in a row. I get to do it again today and tomorrow and the next day. And then we are one week closer to what I hope is a resolution.

There was a flurry of sweet and supportive emails yesterday between Tim and I. He'll probably cringe when he finds that I wrote this. If anything good should come of this it's that I am so much more aware of and grateful for the many wonderful things and people in my life. Most of all my husband. I feel closer now through the past few days than I have ever felt to him. I suspect that if we are lucky enough to raise baby peeper that our family unit will be a thousand times stronger than it ever could have otherwise been.

Maybe this is a grand lesson? Please, God, please let that be what this is.

I might update later. All this writing seems to help...

Update: I didn't cry today. I came close tonight but I didn't do it. I am deeply embroiled in a fantastic display of utter denial. If I can't remove the offending stimulus and I can't drink it away with a bottle of red wine then I will simply rationalize my way into it simply not existing at all. So there.

Day 4 of the two "lost " weeks

I felt her move last night. I would be really excited about this but in this moment I feel even more conflicted. I don't want her to feel any more real that she already is.

I've always been a clean break kind of girl. It feels between me and this baby right now like that gross period before you break-up with someone. You know what I mean - that phase where things suck, you're both distancing yourselves, and you know what's coming. I've typically prefer to get it over with, get rid of the mementos, and move on the best I can. I don't save stuff and I don't think we can "be friends."

How do you break up with someone when they are inside you? I want to put all the baby stuff and books away and forget about it. Since I haven't eaten much the past couple of days I can suck in my stomach really hard and fool myself that I don't look pregnant. In my mind I almost don't even feel pregnant anymore. It feels like I have something more tragic like a tumor - that can't be a baby in there. I didn't think that after trying so hard to get pregnant that I would end up feeling so detached and removed...almost resentful. But I have to go on taking my prenatal vitamins and being out of breath all the time.

Even though everyone has been so great I feel so confused and isolated. There is no real escape for me as I can't physically separate myself from this baby. No wine, no out-of-sight out-of-mind. She's inside of me. All I can do is stay still and take the punches.

I know that it makes more sense to be pragmatic and accept that I can't do anything to change any of this. Part of me still just refuses to believe that we could possibly be in the same or worse position in 2 weeks. In 12 days there will be those two little white lines and we'll breathe a sigh of relief and carry on being able to look forward to when we have the baby, not if. Then there are waves of awareness that we might not bring home a baby in June. The thought of trying again and changing my lifestyle and mentality to accomodate another failed pregnancy is too much to bear. Will I even want to do this again? It pisses me off because everything has been so perfect until now: no morning sickness, all of the tests have been normal, we know it's a girl, we're so excited we picked out furniture could this possibly be happening?

I wish I could pull a Cartman and just freeze myself until this is all over with. Don't worry, I'm not suicidal or anything. I would like to fall asleep for the next 2 weeks and wake up when there is more information. Instead my mind is in constant overdrive no matter how I try to distract myself. I'm back to work today so maybe that will help.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The 2WW

For those of us who struggled or are struggling to get pregnant the 2WW refers to that 2 week period of time between ovulation and when you can either test or your period comes. It is an annoying phase that can seriously feel like it. is. taking. for. ever. Either that cycle is a bust and you want to move on or you want to get on with the business of growing a baby.

I thought my 2WW days were over with.

Not so lucky...we had our "big" ultrasound yesterday morning. I was 18w2d into gestation. Here's the bottom line: the cavum septum pellucidum can't be found. She has high normal lateral ventricles. These are one and a half of the 3 signs used to diagnose agenesis of the corpus callosum. On the optimistic side her head doesn't look textbook for ACC either. Nevertheless, our baby's brain might be really, really fucked up. We have to wait another 2 weeks for a follow-up ultrasound to either confirm or refute the findings from today. Then we have a decision to make. I can't even think about that anymore.

Crisis or scare? Does it matter? It's all I can think about. I don't want to eat. I can't sleep. I don't want to buy anything. I don't want to go anywhere. I think Tim has seen me do the ugly cry exactly 3 times in our 10 years together. I'm just not a crier. He got to see it 4 separate times yesterday alone. I can't imagine that there is anything in the world that causes more anguish than thinking or knowing that your child is in danger. I have never experienced anything like this. Ever. I can't even describe the crushing weight in my chest, the constant threat of sobbing, and the empty pit in my stomach that makes me nauseous. I can't even compare it to anything. No breakup, financial loss, or anything else in my life even comes close to this.

Ready for the irony?
Tim and I met in a developmental neurobiology class. We both got A's in human neuroanatomy. He went on to teach it to other med students.
And then there's all the testing. We really tried to cover our bases. The karyotype is normal, the microarray is normal, all of our bloodwork is normal, and every ultrasound up until now has been normal.
I have avoided all forms of toxins (natural cleaners, no parabens, no caffeine/ litter boxes/ sushi/ lunchmeat/ alcohol, even went to a non-toxic nail polish, wore the gas mask at work whenever I was within 30 feet of isoflurane). I have done everything right. Everything. I have to laugh at myself for thinking I had any control over this at all. Goes to show you that if God/karma/nature/fate want to smack you in the head it will happen. They don't need permission.

On the brighter side the people in my life have really shown up. Tim is amazing and I am so lucky. Heather booked a ticket from Florida to just come be with us for a few days. I haven't told many but for those who I have told the support has been overwhelming. I appreciate it so much more than I know to express. It really did make it possible to drag my ass from the bed this morning and brush my teeth. I think that if I slow down at this point I will collapse in a sobbing heap again. So off I go, doing what the peeper does best - moving on. I count this as Day 1 of the 2WW.

Day 2: I made it all the way to 11:30am without crying. A rousing success. The radiologist, poor thing, feels terrible. She emailed Tim last night and then tracked him down at work today. She insists that there is hope for us. I understand and appreciate the intent of the comment but really all the backpedaling makes it so much harder.

Day 3: I didn't make it very long today. I cried before 8:30am even came around. Then I did it again at the grocery. I managed to talk on the phone a bit. Diana made me feel a whole lot better. She reminded me to put as much faith in science as I do in religion. That is a much more fair balance. Follow-up ultrasound is scheduled for January 28th followed by more genetic counseling.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Back in Time

Not everyone struggles with social situations. Some people know exactly what to say and do while managing to be witty and tactful. Some people are really funny, entertaining and cool. Others are beautiful and charming. I am not any of these examples. Rather, one of the common threads of my life has been the overwhelming feeling of not really fitting in anywhere.

I have found isolated people within groups with whom I share an almost cosmic connection - like an understanding of souls who have known each other from past lives reaching back thousands of years. Once bonded with these isolated few I have been enveloped as a latecomer into the group they belong to. I have slowly learned that it is better for me to drop back and remain peripheral instead of struggling to belong...I always end up feeling foolish.

About a year ago Tim and I had been especially marginalized at an event, which sent me back in time to high school when all of these feelings of inadequacy were at their worst. Knowing how much my feelings were hurt he hugged me closer on the dance floor and whispered in my ear, "Imagine that we are hurtling through outer space with only each other to hold on to." I never loved him more than I did that very second. I think of that moment frequently but I used it as a survival mechanism recently. I am one lucky social misfit where it counts.