Baby No. 3: 8 Months Along

Wow, I knew 32 weeks was a great milestone, but it's been a crazy few days getting from 31.5 weeks to here. Just over a week ago on April 29, I felt more contractions than normal and had a little bleeding so called my doctor's after hours line. They sent me into Labor and Delivery for observation. I was there for maybe 4 hours and got several doses of anti-contraction medicine. I got checked and the doctor was confident the cervix was still long and closed and that the bleeding had stopped. She ordered an ultrasound for the next day as a follow-up. I went to the ultrasound not expecting anything but was put on the phone with the doctor and told that there was fluid in the baby's chest cavity. I had her review the basics with me, of course it all being a blur, and then headed home with the report and the doctor's phone number so Dave could speak to her directly while I was sent to the other hospital for a non-stress test. They had said if the baby 'passed' the test, they were confident I would make it through the weekend without major issue. We would have another ultrasound on Monday to see if the fluid had increased. Dave canceled his work trip to NYC and we went to the ultrasound and were told that the fluid had increased, but not significantly. They then had us go down to an EKG of the baby's heart to see if they could identify any issues that could be causing this fluid. The results were normal. It was an emotional day but overall the next steps were just a non-stress test a few days later and then an ultrasound the following Monday (which would've been tomorrow).

On Thursday, my non-stress test revealed that I had more amniotic fluid than I'd had before (not necessarily a bad thing) but while I was doing the testing, the perinatologist called down and said she's rather see us immediately for a follow-up ultrasound and not wait until Monday. Dave came right over and we had the ultrasound which showed that there was now some fluid in the abdomen as well, which means the condition is now hydrops. The doctor said she wanted to admit me immediately to get steroid shots and since we had been trying to get over to UCSF all week to meet with some of their specialists on possible fetal surgery, they started working on that. I was admitted about 2pm on Thursday, given the first shot to mature the baby's lungs and 12 hours later, a second dose. I was supposed to be released about 6:30am so we could start appointments at UCSF at 8am. Well, I woke up at 5am with some bleeding and increased contractions so there was no way they were releasing me. I got checked by the doctor and she confirmed the cervix was still closed but felt pressure of the baby's head on the cerclage stitch which was likely causing the bleeding. They started me on magnesium by IV to stop the contractions. They weren't sure if the bleeding was causing the contractions or vice versa but usually if you can stop one, you can stop the other. The bleeding stopped quickly and the mag helped the contractions. Unfortunately I was on it for about 30 hours and they seriously limit your fluid intake since mag can lead your body to hold on to fluids, even accumulating in the lungs. So I had a tiny cup of water I could sip on over like an 8-hour period. It was killer and I was so ready to get off of that.

Overall, despite the change of plans on Friday, I felt a sense of relief. I was terribly anxious about going to UCSF as it likely meant we'd have to make a decision to do a fetal surgery and then remain at UCSF for care. There's no right answer. Draining the fluid through the fetal surgery could prolong my pregnancy since if the fluid increases too much, they'd have to deliver. On the otherhand, doing the procedure could send me into labor. At this point we know the baby will have issues upon delivery so it's key that he or she is as strong as possible at that point, meaning every week counts. It was a relief to have the decision made for me that we were to remain at CPMC, at least for now. Since then, I was taken off the mag about 2pm yesterday and put on an oral anti-contraction medication. It seems to be working, though they had to increase the frequency after I had several hours of more frequent contractions this morning. I'm hoping everything settles down. Tomorrow we have another ultrasound with the same doctor who viewed it on Thursday and will have a repeat EKG to double check the heart as well. I'm definitely nervous to see if anything has changed and if the fluid has increased. At this point, the best case scenario is that the fluid does not increase (or if it does, it doesn't get to a severe level) AND that I don't go into labor and can make it 2 more weeks to 34 weeks, which apparently makes a big difference in the baby's development of the lungs. Of course, anything can change at any point and it's really going to be a day by day thing.

Unfortunately the doctors still don't know what's causing the fluid, and though we're trying to rule things out, they may not be able to figure it out. There are a list of things that can be a problem, and while many have good success rates, there are some on the list that don't have a good outcome. The doctors seem to be optimistic and we're definitely in the best place and have the best care, that if there's a possibility for them to do something, they could do it here.

How far along? 32 weeks
Total weight gain: Not sure, but I think about 30lbs
Maternity clothes?: Yes
Stretch marks: Still nothing.
Feeling: I was pretty upset on Thursday and Friday morning was have been feeling much better over the past few days. Yes, it's certainly a possibility that this may not end up well, but based on multiple conversations with various doctors, I do have restored hope. It really depends on what's causing the fluid accumulation so unfortunately until we know, no one can be too confident about the outcome. I do feel so grateful for the visits and check-ins and all the help and offers Dave is receiving. It's obviously a stressful time, but he's managing really well considering.
Sleep: This has been tough in the hospital. I don't think I've slept more than 3 or 4 hours at night yet. It's tough as when they wake me up to do vitals or meds, it's hard for me to get back to sleep. They gave me a small does of ambien one night but it was already 3am when I took it and still only made it until about 7. Then I was groggy for probably another 4 hours which doesn't feel great either.
Movement: Plenty of movement and several episodes of hiccups.
Best Moment of the Week: It's been such a stressful week obviously, but I actually got a lot of relief speaking to the neonatalogist. Overall he's very optimistic and I think I was expecting a harsh reality check so that was somewhat reassuring.
Food cravings: Nothing in particular. Trying to eat as much healthy food as possible to bulk up the baby in whatever time I have left but getting bad acid reflux.
Labor signs: Oh ya
Rings on or off: They still fit but I sent my jewelry home with Dave
Belly button: Half-out most of the time, especially after a big meal :)
Gender: Still don't know and it's getting harder and harder with so many different doctors involved. There have been a few times I feel like one has maybe slipped but it's hard to tell if that's what they default to or if they're actually referring to our baby. If I had to guess, I'd say it's a boy.
Looking forward to: Getting through one day at a time, hopefully for two more weeks.

Sound the Alarm, Slide Down the Pole & Grab Your Gear, William and George's Third Birthday is Here!

I think it was shortly after their 2nd birthday party that they decided on a firetruck party for when they turned three and they've been telling everybody about it for just as long. Then last summer we saw a firetruck-for-hire at a birthday party at Off the Grid and that completed the plan.

Overall, the party went really well. It helped that I started planning early -- maybe as early as January -- doing an hour here and there of pinning ideas and starting a to-do list. That way it never felt too overwhelming, even as the party date approached. At first it's about gathering ideas and deciding on the basics of food, games, party favor, decorations, etc. Starting a shopping list with these items is helpful as you can start purchasing on your normal shopping trips or filling your Amazon shopping cart. Next it's about getting quotes and making a decision about the things that will be outsourced -- in this case: invites, cake, catering, fire truck rental, photographer, table rental, party helper. All of this was done sometime in March, and I found that I had a lot of my prep done (including things like gift tags and signs) before we left for our trip to Hawaii at the beginning of April. That left the last few weeks to prep things like decorations and make final lists of anything else needed. Even the days leading up to the party weren't too hectic. I broke out the week by day and added a few things for each day, with the day before for food prep and gathering final items needed for the party (tape, scissors, matches, etc.). What really made the difference was the prep I was able to do Friday night -- laying everything out downstairs, deciding what snacks would go in which serving piece, making sure the signs were with everything and deciding on any other table accessories. Since I couldn't set everything out in its place since the party was outside, this was the best way to do it. It was easy to have my party helper go to a pile and transfer everything to the right table and start setting it up, with me doing the final touches as opposed to having to be super-involved the whole time. The other thing that really helped was to have my mom run some errands for us Friday before the party. She walked over to Laurel Village and left the balloons at Ace so that we'd be the first order for 9am Saturday morning. She also ordered the coffee. That made it much faster for Dave to just pick everything up that was ready which meant he could help set up at home a bit too.

My biggest regret of both of the last parties was that I was so rushed as the party start time approached, and that things weren't ready to be photographed, we were rushed to get family photos, etc. That was my goal this time, to be ready and relaxed by 10am, with the party starting at 10:30. For the most party, it worked out. I was showered and ready by 7am and took my time starting to set stuff out. My dad and the party helper arrived by 8 and by 10am, all that was left was to actually open the food and dump it in the bowls, etc, everything was already set out. Well, I forgot about one last project which I should've just aborted as it occupied both my dad and the helper which meant the food wasn't set out until the last minute, which prevented the photographer from getting all her shots before people started arriving. Overall, not a big deal, but it's all about prioritizing and I probably should've made a different call. The good news is that Dave, the boys and I were all ready at 10 and we got lots of family shots, shots of the boys, with the grandparents, etc.

As always seems to be the case, rain threatened to disturb our party plans, but it was only a chance and seemed to shift throughout the week. Several days before, it looked like it would just rain Friday, but of course it's stressful thinking of what we'd do last minute if that changed. In the end, it did end up raining a lot on Friday (of course when we were at our outdoor class) but cleared up in the afternoon and was in the low 60s and pretty sunny for the party (the best you can hope for!).

Everyone seemed to have a blast. The fire truck was a hit, but amazingly it seemed that everyone was out there for a bit right after it arrived and when I went out about 30 minutes later, barely anyone was out there so I went to get the boys and they played on it longer. Not ideal to have the party broken up between the front and back yard so that probably contributed to it but what can you do. Kids seemed to like the water buckets and the rescue the kitty game too. And actually, the biggest hit was probably being in the playroom with all the toys. You know how kids are -- they're in heaven when they're in someone else's zone and the toys seem endless. At one point it seemed like there were 25 people in that small room! I think overall we had about 30 kids and maybe 50 adults... and as opposed to last year where it felt like it was split into two shifts (early nappers and later nappers), everyone seemed to stay the whole time so it was definitely packed.

I had fun with the food. We had catered BBQ to go with the fire theme (ribs, brisket, chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread) and then I did a snack table with the following:
  • Babybel cheese: firetruck wheels
  • Cheetos: flames
  • Pretzel sticks: match sticks.. "don’t play with match, eat them!"
  • Red and yellow bell peppers: veggie flames (in plastic cups with ranch dip)
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple on skewers: fiery fruit
  • Popcorn: smoke
  • Apple chips: steering wheels

On the dessert table, we had a cake for each of them that I added a fire fighter figurine, a mini name banner and a candle. We had a few more treats:

  • Firetruck sugar cookies, red sprinkles
  • Tootsie rolls: stop, drop and roll
  • Red licorice: fire hoses
  • Chocolate mini donuts and oreos: fire truck tires
  • Hot Tamales: embers
  • Chocolate dipped cookie sticks: fire poles 
  • Flame cupcakes

Last year we had tons of drinks leftover but this year, I think we had just enough. We ran out of mimosas so I think we'd get a bit more next year.

Each year, it does seem to get easier and easier and I was able to enjoy myself more this year too. I think having this many people to a 2.5-hour party is hard. I start to feel guilty if I'm talking to any one person for too long and feel like I need to make the rounds, yet you're not really catching up to much with anyone either. Things that made it better that I'll continue to do:
  • Pick a few things to do homemade (especially when it comes to food), but outsource the rest. It's so hard since food has to be prepped last minute so it was nice to have the cake and cupcakes delivered that morning. Besides a few fresh snacks, I just made the firetruck cookies which probably took an hour and are so cheap and easy to make at home.
  • Start early and do whatever you can far in advance so it doesn't become overwhelming. Things like getting the signs printed out are kind of a pain, but it's so much easier to do this far in advance of the party, assembling banners, tying gift tags, etc while watching TV.
  • I was so excited to see that Evite had added a custom invite option since I searched last year, which meant that I could still order the cute etsy invite that was custom and then just upload the photo to evite, which allowed me to still manage RSVPs easily online.
  • Have a party helper. I paid the high schooler from next door $12 an hour for 6 hours to cover setup, the party and clean up. It was money well spent.
  • Hit the dollar store. Of course there aren't any convenient to us in the city, but it was worth the trip. I found lots of good serving dishes in the theme color of red, buckets and bins for the water, plastic flowers that looked just like flames that I stuck around the yard, table clothes, napkins and other partyware and decorations. It's annoying to buy all this stuff and use it just once (usually it's not worth it to us to store it for a potential party down the line), but leaving the store spending $25 and then donating it when finished makes me feel less guilty.

Fire trucks was another fun and easy theme to work with. George has already requested a garbage truck for next year... not sure what food is appropriate for that theme but I jokingly mentioned that to several people and one friend said she actually has a friend who drives a garbage truck so we'll see. So much can change in a year but that's certainly G's top truck right now. It was fun to see them so excited into the party, which always makes all the hard work worth it. I was definitely exhausted by the end of that day and it's always nice to be done -- get everything cleaned up and back to normal, get all the party stuff packed away to get rid of, etc. My parents, once again, were both a huge help. Next up, we're hosting my dad's 75th birthday party at our house in a few weeks, but I hope he's not disappointed that we won't have quite the extreme set-up.