30 weeks pregnant, meeting new daughter just six weeks from tomorrow. Ok, so now that you’re all caught up with this week’s pregnancy news, onto bigger and better things. :0) As you can tell, it was a slow week on the pregnancy updates forefront. No doctor’s appointments, no ultrasounds — just my usual two IVIG infusions and not much else. I was able to tackle some projects that I’ve been putting off for a while (thank you, nesting) and have plenty more that I want to accomplish before I have the baby. I’m enjoying the fact that I’m not currently teaching, as this newfound free-time is definitely being put to good use (i.e. filling china cabinets that have been empty since they were delivered in September, putting away end-of-the semester materials, finishing the picture frame collage in the dining room). I guess the biggest update for this week would have to be my overall mental state: Uneasy. Last week’s reflection was also kind of gloomy, so I apologize for another week filled with just a tad bit more negativity than usual, but this blog is all about honesty. And to be honest, this week was a bit rough for me, emotion-wise. Welcome to the life of an expecting NAIT mom — it’s not always roses and sunshine, sometimes it can be more overwhelming than I tend to let on to the outside world.
It all started on Monday when a bit of miscommunication and confusion over my current IVIG medication — Gammagard — sent my blood pressure up by more than just a few digits (just ask my nurse, as she was the one tracking it at the time). After quite a few phone calls, that issue got straightened out (thankfully), so I’ll spare you all of the more mundane details. Let’s just say that the pharmacist wanted to change my medication to a less concentrated dosage to see if it would possibly alleviate the bumps/blisters on my fingers. This would mean twice as much fluid (1200 mL vs. 600 mL) being pumped into my body per infusion. With only six weeks to go, I did not want to change my medication as: A). I can tolerate these bumps/blisters for a month and a half more and as a 30 weeks pregnant mom, don’t need any additional fluid entering my bloodstream, and B). Since the baby seems to be tolerating the current medication well, I didn’t want to change things up with more than 2/3 of the infusions behind me.
Ok, so one hurdle crossed. Phew. In the midst of trying to figure out who was changing my medication and why (my poor insurance company was the unfortunate scapegoat for a short period of time), I talked to Dr. Bussel’s assistant in NYC, who informed me that starting in less than two weeks — at the 32 week mark — I would be adding prednisone to my currently therapy regimen. Now, I knew this was definitely a possibility, as we are not going to have the baby’s platelet count tested with the fetal blood sampling procedure (otherwise known as PUBS) prior to her birth, but the news was still unsettling (more on that in a minute). If Taylor and I had decided to go with the PUBS, we would be traveling to NYC once again (sometime during the 30-32 week range) so that a special doctor could stick a needle into the baby’s umbilical cord to test her platelet level. This is the only way to tell in-utero whether my current twice a week IVIG infusions are doing their job. Because we decided against this procedure and are currently unaware of the baby’s platelet count, I will begin taking 30mg of prednisone (a steroid) every day from 32 weeks until the baby is born at 36 weeks, four days. So, why is this upsetting me? Well, prednisone has a long list of side effects that are pretty unsettling — water retention, weight gain, moonface, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and increased appetite are among some of the most common. So, coupled with the possibility that I was going to be getting twice as much fluid during my infusions, the prednisone news was not very welcome to my ears. Also, I don’t like taking medication AT ALL. Right now, I take Tylenol and Benadryl during my infusions. Not to mention the fact that each week, I’m exposing my baby and myself to the antibodies of thousands of donors. Adding another foreign substance into my already varied NAIT therapy cocktail just makes me feel more out of control than ever.
That my friends, is my biggest problem — the lack of control that I have over my body and my pregnancy at this point in time. And wouldn’t you know it, this realization hit me like a ton of bricks on Monday afternoon. After Monday’s events transpired, I felt this extreme wave (more like a tsunami) of sullenness and uncertainty wash over me. I felt helpless, removed from my own body and more anxious than I’ve been in weeks. This feeling hung over me until Tuesday night when I went to my weekly yoga class. During this week’s class, I really took the instructor’s message to heart and focused on my breathing and my intention — how to gain some sort of control over this situation — instead of my weekly to do list. At several points during class, I found myself just staring into the far right-hand corner of the room at the mobile of little foil people in their yoga poses and the dazzling shadows they threw against the studio’s crimson-colored walls. As I watched them spin around in their various poses, I kept reminding myself that I chose to move forward with a treated pregnancy for Clara — for the beautiful little girl who deserves a life-long playmate and friend. It was my choice to embark upon this journey, to tolerate two IVIG infusions per week, to forgo the risky PUBS procedure. It is also my choice on how I’m going to cope with the uncertainty that lay ahead of me during the final weeks of this journey. Maybe I’ll escape prednisone’s more common and upsetting side effects by properly hyrdrating, watching my caloric intake and ensuring that I continue with my current workout routine. I don’t have to be a statistic, I can make my own way, my own rules. After all, I’ve come this far in the pregnancy having defied some of the odds, why not take it all the way, right? Although I may not be able to control everything that goes into my body, I can control how these substances make me feel — as my feelings belong to me and not this to disease or the drugs that go with it.
As I sit here typing with blistered fingers, an additional XX pounds in my belly, several IV pinpricks sprinkled up and down both of my arms, a mind swirling with both positive and negative thoughts, and another bag of IVIG waiting in the pantry for tomorrow’s infusion, I am more thankful than ever for this blog and for those of you who log on each week. As it just so happens, Clara, my little ray of sunshine just ran into the room saying, “There’s Mommy,” in her sweet, sing-song little voice. How could I have lost focus of my real reason for taking a chance with my health and the health of my unborn daughter? Of course, it is for Clara Elizabeth, the little girl who can always make me smile on even those darkest of days…