And a partridge in a pear tree…

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for weeks, but every time I started, something new came up that made me say “well, I should probably wait until after [x] happens to really write, so that I can get a nice holistic picture painted.” And so, for three weeks, I’ve been sitting on stuff that I want to write about but didn’t figure it was a good time for, but now everything is all settled, so here we go.

Mundane first: Christmas happened.

It’s the first Christmas where Sam was really able to understand what was going on, and he spent the entire lead-up to Christmas absolutely vibrating with excitement. He doesn’t quite  understand time yet; he just figured that days change when we moved the reindeer in our advent calendar over a space. And so even right after we’d move the little guy over, Sam would be clambering back up to the advent calendar and asking, “Can we move him to where it says 22? That’s closer to Christmas, right?”

It was a smallish Christmas, probably one of the last smallish Christmases we can count on, since Sam’s still too young to want for anything particularly expensive and there’s still just the one of him. All he wanted this year were some character toys from Toy Story (the Evil Emperor Zurg and Woody, the latter of whom is… quirky, we’ll say) and a toy bow and arrow. All together, those cost about $50, which is a nice number for a child’s Christmas complete. We got him a few other things, too–some clothes, books, and stocking stuffers–but it was a nice, frugal time, and I’m proud of that. And he, of course, was thrilled with everything.

Kyle and I spoiled each other, too, as much as we could on a relatively low budget. I got Kyle a breakfast sandwich maker (thank you, Buzzfeed gift idea lists!) that he’s used every day since, along with a D&D shirt (shown below) and a whole bunch of reinforced socks because he wears holes in socks like nobody’s business.

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His big present to me was a woefully mostly complete (woefully because she can’t write anymore) collection of Carrie Fisher’s writing. I finished The Princess Diarist a couple of days ago, and I had to hug it when I was finished because it was like reading something I’d written, like looking back at the words and thought process of my nineteen-year-old self and ahead at the words and thought process of my sixty-year-old self. It’s probably pretty vain to compare oneself to a famous writer of any kind, but I’ll accept that if I can also accept that it’s possible to feel like someone else out there thinks and writes (or thought and wrote) like you do, even if that person is very famous.

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But point being, I love these books.

And there were other gifts aplenty. My parents are springing for a new dryer for us, since ours is one of the saddest things in existence (it has two modes: on and door is open; you cannot clean the lint trap properly because the lint just falls off in the lint trap door; it’s a dangerous thing). They got me a maternity pillow, which has been fantastic in terms of giving support and nestling me in warmth. And they positively spoiled Sam with a guitar and RC cars and Legos and so much stuff I can barely remember. Sam made out like a bandit this year overall–from Texas, he got a ton of books that he loves and lots of winter shirts that actually fit him (which I love).

And, as the Grinch would want me to point out, Christmas isn’t bought in a store. We spent Christmas Eve with my family, decorating gingerbread men and having Chinese food, and that was a delight. And then Christmas Day was the traditional holiday dinner with my mom’s side of the family, who are all just fantastic. My uncle cooked up a HUGE delicious feast, we all brought desserts, and then we all laughed ourselves silly with the annual Yankee Swap (White Elephant if you’re not from around here).

The week since has been pretty chill. I theoretically wanted us to make plans, but it’s been cold as balls outside, and Kyle had to catch up on some work on Tuesday and Wednesday (to both of our frustration, since it’s supposed to be a vacation week, but at least he’s getting comp time in January). Sam is drowning in new toys and also in a newly acquired love for My Little Pony, so he’s been well occupied, though still getting very bored by around 3 p.m. without school and trips outside the house to keep him entertained. We’ve had a few teary meltdowns, but nothing overwhelming, and we made up for it today (and will make up for it tomorrow).

Today. Today was about babies.

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But to give context, let me rewind a little bit. About a week and a half ago, I’d gone back to bed after Sam went to school (ignoring my to-do list like a good and exhausted pregnant mom), hoping to get another couple of hours of sleep in before I had to go and pick him up. As I started to drift off, my doctor’s office called because there had been a few problems with the anatomy scan.

In theory, I knew about this. When we’d been at the scan, the tech mentioned that she hadn’t been able to get a good profile shot of Isaac, so we’d probably get a call in the next couple of weeks wanting to follow-up. What she did not mention, however, was something the nurse on the phone line said that caused a good week and a half of tension for everyone. She said that it looked like there was too much amniotic fluid around Isaac–a condition called polyhydramnios–and that we’d have to measure the fluid again. If the fluid levels were still too high, we’d have to talk with a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the hospital to make a plan moving forward.

Naturally, the second I hung up the phone, I started buzzing around Google. Polyhydramnios isn’t the end of the world, necessarily, but if it gets severe enough, it can cause all sorts of nasty things that nobody wants in their pregnancy: placental abruption, preterm labor, uncontrolled uterine bleeding, the works. The treatment looked to be monitoring, by and large–lots and lots of non-stress tests and ultrasounds until we absolutely had to deliver.

Bad ends in mind, I called Kyle and my mother to give them the news so that we could all be tense together.

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Fortunately, we already had an appointment scheduled for today, so the nurse just adjusted that ultrasound so that we could kill two birds with one stone. We went in this morning with Sam, hoping we wouldn’t see anything bad but also prepared for the worst. The three of us bundled up like we were making a trek to visit penguins in Antarctica, shuffled through the frigid air, and had our scan.

And everything mostly looked great, but I’m not an ultrasound tech, so I couldn’t say. Both Isaac and Carrie were moving around and had fantastic heartbeats (Isaac at around 150, Carrie at around 160), both of them were measuring ahead of schedule (24 weeks exactly, as opposed to the 23 weeks, 2 days they actually are) and weighing in at a great size for viability’s sake–1 lb, 7 oz apiece (which translates to 652 grams; preemies with a birth weight of more than 601 grams have an excellent chance at survival). We saw fingers and legs and toes, and we got a perfect profile shot of Isaac (Carrie was like “not today, plebes”).

To my untrained eyes, everything looked good, but we still had to meet with the doctor. When we got into his office, he was cheerful and friendly as usual and amazed to see Sam (Dr. Solano also did my prenatal care when I was pregnant with Sam, so seeing him now at nearly four years old was a little mind-blowing, I’m sure). We started the appointment with questions and concerns, as we usually do, and I immediately brought up the polyhydramnios.

“I wondered if today’s scan gave us any more information on that polyhydramnios thing?” was how I phrased it (if you put “thing” after the name of a medical condition, it makes it seem like you didn’t spend 3 hours googling it and panicking).

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Dr. Solano was confused and wanted to know where I’d heard that I had polyhydramnios. I explained that the nurse who’d called me about the updated anatomy scan had mentioned it, and that I wanted to make sure that everything was okay. He got that look on his face that people get when they want to express that they’re annoyed, but not with you, but they also can’t say that they’re annoyed with someone else because it’s unprofessional or something.

“What it looks like,” he finally explained after paging through my files, “is that you had excess fluid around Baby A (Isaac, for anyone keeping track) during your anatomy scan a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t a huge excess, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. The good news is that today’s scan shows that he’s on the high end of normal–we worry if his numbers go above an 8, but he’s at a 7.5, so you’re all set.”

HUGE relief. I’d been telling Kyle that I wasn’t too worried–if you’re going to have a complicated pregnancy, after all, Massachusetts is the place to do it–but those were some scary possibilities. And thankfully, it looks like none of them are in the cards.

The other concern I had… well, that also requires some backstory.

About two weeks ago, Kyle and I got it in our heads to go Christmas shopping at one of the malls around here. I had to get stocking stuffers, Kyle hadn’t bought ANYTHING for me, and we all just wanted to get out of the house. We bundled up into our car and drove to the mall hella early, to beat the crowds and try to get in and out before Sam’s naptime. It was a challenge, but we were confident in our ability to shop quickly and efficiently.

Too confident, as it turns out.

From Kyle’s perspective, the trip was kind of a wasted effort. Sam has reached an age where he’s very difficult to shop with, being too old for a stroller but also too young to not be distracted by every shiny object within 10 feet of him. Kyle’s plans to get me more grown-up gifts went awry as Sam dragged him into Build-A-Bear and Learning Express and all the toy stores, leaving exactly no time for anything remotely resembling a gift from a husband to a wife. And then I texted him.

I texted him because I was having an Incident. We arrived at the mall, and I promptly hoofed it from our parking garage to Newbury Comics, home of Yankee Swap gifts galore (you know, things like “Maybe You Touched Your Genitals” hand sanitizer, handerpants, “Kleener Weener” soap, and bacon-scented car fresheners). I hoofed it a bit too hoofily, as it turned out: within about 30 seconds of entering Newbury Comics, the world started spinning. My heart pounded like it was going to come out of my chest, and I felt deeply nauseous and crampy. I haphazardly reshelved my would-be purchases (with no small amount of guilt; I hate leaving a mess behind, especially at Christmas) and staggered down to the nearest bench, where I texted Kyle: “Help. Just almost fainted at Newbury. I’m at the benches on the lower level near there. Bring water please.”

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(shown: not a successful shopping trip)

I swear, Kyle must have moved at supersonic speeds to get to me with a wonderful bottle of Fiji water. By that time, the worst of the symptoms had calmed, but I still felt dizzy and weak. “Do you think you could bring the car around?” I asked, and Kyle did so, leaving me and Sam to watch children zooming around on oversized plush animals (which was actually really entertaining, as the kids’ dad gleefully filmed his son with the narration, “Here’s my thirteen-year-old son, riding the plush animals at the mall!” Said son rolled his eyes and said, “Daaaaad!” but then was laughing with delight as he joined his younger siblings in chasing the dad around in circles for the next ten minutes). We went home after that, and I spent the rest of the day lying down or sitting with my feet up, trying to regain some equilibrium. I was fine by the next morning.

And then it happened again, two days before Christmas, only now without the hoofing it. I was just standing in the shower, washing my hair and doing shower things, trying to shave, when it all hit me again. Nausea, dizziness, heart pounding, the works. I made it out of the shower and plopped to the toilet, drenched from head-to-toe. I called for help then, too, but I forget what I asked for. Water? Maybe. Towels? Probably. I don’t know what else.

I could kind of understand an episode of syncope (that’s the ~official medical term~ for “passing the fuck out”) like the one at the mall–I’d overexerted myself, the mall was overwarm, I just needed to slow down. The shower one, though, had me concerned. I thought about calling Dr. Solano’s office, but then it occurred to me that (a) I was alright, if a bit shaken; and (b) the office would be closed pretty much until the day I’d be going in anyway, so it would be a waste of time to call.

So I held off and brought it up today. Fainting isn’t exactly something to be taken lightly, and Dr. Solano listened to my retelling before nodding in understanding. “I’m glad you told me. I don’t think there’s anything too big for us to worry about–you’re about halfway through pregnancy, and your blood volume has dramatically increased, so your body’s coping with that–but we’ll still test your iron levels and hypoglycemia to be sure. In the meantime, try and take it easy–no more hoofing it at the mall, and shorter showers–and let us know if you have another episode.”

Which was reassuring. I figured it had something to do with the whole “now you have more blood than an anime character” thing, but I didn’t want to dismiss what might be a sign of a larger underlying problem. The shower incident made more sense in context: when your blood volume is higher, you get more sensitive to changes in temperature, and that can cause a major drop in blood pressure, which causes fainting. Yay! Nothing had been out of the blue; everything had a logical (or semi-logical) cause, so I feel less nervous. And if it turns out that I’m anemic or hypoglycemic, both are easily treatable, so.

SO! Things are going well, and it’s all a good sign as we head into the new year. Until next time…

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