Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hello, curveball

Austin enjoyed his first friday night high school football game this weekend as Hoover took on Stow here in North Canton. Apparently our quarterback and wide receiver are both named Austin too, so it was kinda neat to be walking up to the stadium and hear all sorts of "Austins" over the loudspeaker. Even though Hoover wasn't victorious, I felt my own victory in being able to sit in those bleachers at 8.5 months pregnant for almost the entire game! After half-time, Jim's brother Benn and his wife Emily joined us (us being me, Jim and his parents) and I learned that they have matching shirts to wear to the hospital when the baby is born. It's too bad they aren't excited to become an Aunt and Uncle!

Saturday morning I attended another pregnancy education class at Aultman Hospital. This time, it was for breastfeeding basics. Since we signed up for classes, Jim insisted he would attend this class too--he's been to every doctor's appointment and constantly asks how I'm feeling, so he's completely supportive. But I really didn't want him to go! So we asked the nurse Monday at the last labor class what she thought about men going to this other class, and she basically said most men don't go (her husband didn't), but it wasn't completely out of the question. He decided not to.

So naturally I walk in Saturday and find two other couples. I couldn't believe it. It didn't bother me that he wasn't there (I was the one who didn't want him to go in the first place after all), but it was strange to be the odd one out when you're talking about something like breastfeeding of all things! All in all, it was still very informative. And something I really appreciated about this class was that the nurse included tips for women who are planning on returning to work. I feel like so much of what I've read or seen in advertisements about post-pregnancy (feeding-related or otherwise) is geared towards stay-at-home moms, so this was a welcome change. It was also challenging to think how many times a day I may need to pump at work, and therefore, how that might impact what I can accomplish each day and still get home at a decent hour to be with my new baby boy. But other than that, it's a piece of cake! We'll see about that.

Saturday night I was able to kick back a bit and rest while Jim was out working hard to draft an amazing Fantasy Football team, and my Mom stopped by to drop off a few goodies for the nursery, including the handmade crib skirt. It's yet to be determined if Jim's fantasy team looks as great as the crib skirt, but I will tell you that he's already having some doubts.

It's a good thing I got some rest Saturday because I wound up back at the hospital Sunday morning after experiencing some signs of pre-term labor. I won't go into the details, but we found out that I'm 2-3 centimeters dialated and 80% effaced already. The big kicker is that we also confirmed that Austin is completely breech. That round bump high on my right side that I was hoping was his cute little baby bottom is actually his head, and his feet are with the cord closest to the "door." The doctor basically told me to stay close to home and get to the hospital immediately if my water breaks because there is concern that the cord could get kinked up in the birth canal and possibly lead to complications.

It's possible I could still carry until 40 weeks like this, but I just can't risk being too far with the breech status. I was planning to work this one last week on campus in Ashland, then work from home starting 9/6 (36 weeks and on), but because of these new developments, I'll start at home 8/29. It's still business as usual until this baby comes! And honestly, I have a feeling it could happen in the next week or two. You better believe that hospital bag got packed today ;)

As promised, I leave you now with some of the most entertaining one-liners/zingers of the pregnancy:

"Hey 'Preggers!' How's it hangin'?"

"Austin, hit the rock... whoa, he just kicked me!" --My sister, Jess

"WHAT exactly is holding that up?!" --Our friend, Megan, referring to my 33-week belly

"Jennifer, that is a BIG BELLY!" --My four-year-old cousin, Nathan (also the 33-week belly)

Neighbor: "I saw Jim, but never got to tell you 'congrats' until now."
Me: "Well that's not fair, I'm doing all the work here!"
Neighbor: "Nah, you both did some work, but that was the fun part, right?!

"It looks like you have a basketball under that shirt."

Lots of people I rarely see at work, but happen to see when I'm pregnant: "Wow, I bet you're ready."
Me: "Sure am, except I'm only 34 weeks, so I'll be even bigger the next time you see me."
(and then I think to myself, what WILL they say when I'm bigger?!)

"You know when your belly button pops out, you'll be ready.  It's the 'done button.' " --My college roommate, Bethel

Me: "The ultrasound showed he's completely breech Mom."
Mom: "Well if that's been his head up there this whole time, he's gonna have a big head!"

Doctor during ultrasound: "He's definitely being moderately uncooperative."
Me: "He has a tendency to misbehave when he know's he's on camera, but you're saying you've seen worse?"
Doctor: "Well, no, I was trying to be friendly!"

Doctor (about 2 minutes later): "Wow, good luck with him!"

"Whatever you do, can you please try not to go into labor on Thursday when I have my other Fantasy Football Draft? I love you." --Jim, after we got home from the hospital Sunday

Me (about an hour later): "You know, it would be kinda cool if Austin was born 9/1 because his cousin Justin was born 2/1."
Jim: "Wait, that's Thursday isn't it?
Me: "Oh, nevermind."


Oh and by the way, this post was drafted Sunday afternoon, ready to post Monday evening (8/29) until I WENT INTO LABOR!  Austin James was born at 7:26 p.m. Monday, a day shy of 35 weeks, but still weighing in at 6 lbs, 9.8 oz.  Mom and baby are doing well, but he's still in the NICU and it's hard to believe this happened at all. Pictures and details to come!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Three weeks till full-term!

So if you read the last post, you are up to speed with the official name, Austin James! AJ for short. I'm thrilled with the positive reactions we've received to this name from friends and family alike. Originally, we weren't going to finalize our choice until we met the baby, but we both fell in love with this name much earlier than expected. It just felt right to share it right then and there.

We first announced the name on vacation with Jim's family at Sunset Beach, where we were lucky enough to have Jim's cousin take some great photos of us by the water. Thanks to Jen Stem for these great shots!

It's really hard to believe that these shots were taken only four weeks ago when I was 30 weeks along. I keep saying that since we've been back from vacation, these weeks haven't felt like they are going by as quickly as before. I have no doubt that's because the weight of the belly and my overall pain has become so much more prevalent.
If you look at my belly you can usually see how the baby is camping out only on my right side. This was the same side that was arched higher when I had scoliosis, so I'm not sure if there's more room over there or if that has nothing to do with it at all. I'll be in a meeting at work, or home watching TV with Jim, and you can literally see a bump slowly rise on that side. Can't tell if it's his head or bottom, but it's definitely more than a limb! With that, I have pain low on my right side, and occasionally half-way down my back on the right (what I imagine to be kidney area).

The left is a different story. I rarely feel kicks or movement over there, but what my left side lacks in belly action it makes up in knife-like sciatica pain and foot swelling! So it's an odd mix of right and left sensations. And the pain is really starting to ramp up in intensity. Just this week at work, I was in a co-worker's office and literally had to brace myself in the doorframe when the sciatica pain hit. Much like a bright bolt of lightning illuminating the sky when you're driving home in the rain at night, this shooting pain strikes unexpectedly and usually startles you. There's nothing you can do about it or the swelling for that matter. Our President walked in to see me two days ago and I said, "Please excuse my unprofessional flip flops, but I have two different sized feet this week!" He laughed.

The most exciting news to report is that we completed our child birth and labor classes at Aultman Hospital! I know I mentioned last week how informative these have been, but seriously, I feel so much more at ease about the entire process now. While no one ever fully knows what to expect going into labor, I have all the options now, and that makes me feel more empowered to cope with whatever happens. The third class focused on epidurals and c-section details, as well as miscellaneous tools the doctor might need to use to turn the baby or help yank (yes, YANK) him out. I didn't like that class too much. But the final session talked about post-partum events, baby care and ended with a tour of the birthing center. Biggest surprise of all - I had NO idea what kind of theatrical quality lights were used in the delivery room!!! Other than that, the rooms were really nice and I left the hospital with a great calmness that I know will help me get through the next few—but important—weeks.

Speaking of weeks, I finally realized that "full-term" is only three weeks away! Yes, 37 weeks is 9/13 and 40 weeks is the 10/4 due date. Some other interesting week/date trivia:

--Jim was born at 34 weeks
--10/4 was my mom's due date with me, but I was born 9/19
--The baby typically runs out of room at 34 weeks (and on average weighs about 5 pounds!)
--Next ultrasound will be 36 or 37 weeks, where doctors will make sure the baby is not breech

We visit the doctor Wednesday 8/31, and then start weekly visits until the baby is born. I still have a few other classes about breastfeeding, baby care and CPR, but other than that, we don't have too many appointments left before we start visiting a pediatrician. Still can't believe it!

To end this week, I want to share a two photos I was lucky enough to take with fellow pregnant women. We had to take these shots because our bellies are just so different and seeing them next to each other is, well, entertaining! First, Jim's cousin Kristin and I took the left pic on Memorial Day when I was 5 months and she was just 5 days from a scheduled c-section where she delivered Joel Matthew at 9 lbs., 2 oz! The right image was taken just last week with my former boss, Nickie, who's six months pregnant with her baby boy (and as you know I am eight plus). My belly is higher compared to both, even though I'm farther along in the Nickie photo. Couldn't resist the side-by-side comparison.

And finally, I want so send a huge thank you to Megan, Laura and Laura for surprising me with the amazing Mama Mia massage at Oglebay Resort over the weekend... I am so blessed to have great friends who are not only supportive, but sympathetic LOL!

Next week I'll share some of the best one-liners I've heard in recent days (is it possible that I've grown that much bigger over the weekend to warrant these entertaining lines?!).

Until then, adios from "Austintown" ;)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Classes and doctors and showers, oh my!

I'm happy to report that both Jim and I survived the two labor videos in our second child birth class this past week. Although I have to admit there were a few moments when the nurse was explaining the stages of labor before the video where I felt like I was having an allergic reaction or quasi panic attack! Seriously, I was just trying to wrap my head around the whole idea and I think the baby could even tell how freaked out I was (he was dancing a jig I tell you).

To be fair, it was scary, but it was extremely informative and I'm so glad to be able to take these classes. In fact, the one woman from the video went natural and I was pretty impressed by what I would call her "calmness" (calm compared to what I think I will sound like in that situation). I think the worst thing that came out of her mouth was "I can't do this" or "I'm not ready," but I have a feeling my version of that might be a bit more vulgar! Just give me the drugs, and no one will get hurt ;)

One thing I've been thinking about outside of class is that my hospital bag isn't already packed. I have time, right?!

So after Monday night's class at the hospital we wound up right back there Tuesday morning for our anesthesia consultation. The nurse anesthesitist who met with us was so detailed and informative--more so than anyone at the doctor's office has been so far. I can't tell you how much I appreciated her time and professionalism. Even when I started to get emotional, she was friendly, supportive and spoke about her own labor and delivery experiences.

So just as a reminder, the reason we had to have this consultation was because of my back surgery and the spinal rods that remain. Sometimes, former scoliosis patients who go into labor can't have epidurals because of the length or location of their scars in proximity to the rods, not to mention how far they can bend forward to expose the space between certain vertebrae, etc. I was really anxious to know what my options were, and after all this, all they could tell me was that it would be a gameday decision. They promised me it wouldn't be a student doctor administering the epidural (which brought some relief), but even then, they will only be able to work with the bottom inch of my scar and the vertebrae will have to be in the right spots. So now I'm trying to drum up as much courage as I can find incase I can't have it. Just need to keep reminding myself that I went through two major back surgeries at 14, and that this is nothing compared to that. Plus, I'll have a new baby boy to look forward to after it's over. And that's all that matters.

Last big event of this week was the shower! Many thanks to all of our family members for throwing such an adorable event complete with entertaining games, awesome food and cute as can be decorations. The theme, dreamed up by my sister, Jessica, was "Ship's Ahoy, It's a Boy!" and everything fit right in... from the blue foamy (ocean-esque) punch to the sailboat centerpieces and more.

And speaking of the ocean, I can't forget to mention the surprise shower Jim's mom, Kathy threw for us at the beach on vacation in July. It was such a shock to see the house decorated and gifts for the baby from all of Jim's extended family that was on vacation with us. I cried of course, AND we unveiled the baby's name that night! We also revealed the name to the rest of the guests at the shower this past Saturday, so if you weren't there, I guess you're out of luck until he's born.

Just kidding! It's with great excitement (and some shock that we were able to agree this early), that I announce Baby Draher's real name, Austin James (AJ)!

Well, that's all the news for now. Below are some photos from the shower and the nursery that is really starting to take shape. Even with the crib fully assembled, it's still hard for Jim or me to believe we're having a baby. And that he'll be here in a month and a half!

32-week profile

The Grandmas!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Where has the time gone?

Well, here we are. About to enter week 32 of our first pregnancy, and I really can't believe how fast the time has gone. And as soon as I think about the past weeks, I know the coming weeks will go even quicker! I'm dying to meet our son, but there is still plenty left to do before he arrives. Let's take a stroll down pregnancy memory lane...

January 31: Positive home test and announcements to the grandparents
February 7: Doctor visit confirms pregnancy
February 24: Ultrasound confirms 8 weeks along and 10/4/11 due date
April 8:  The secret is out... we've gone "Facebook official!"
May 20: Five month ultrasound = IT'S A BOY!
August 1: Labor & Delivery class begins (4 Mondays for 3 hours each)

Unveiling the gender via cake icing (inside) to Jim's family (5/22/11)


20-week profile (5/20/11)

24-week profile (6/14/11)

30-week profile (7/26/11)
Jim's belly @ 30-weeks ;)

Just two days after we returned from vacation, we started our birth classes at Aultman Hospital. This started what I consider the beginning of the end of pregnancy. Oddly enough, out of just seven couples in the class, three of us have 10/4 due dates, and only two of us are expecting boys. One of the couples just relocated here from Virginia (literally just moved the weekend before class started—something I wouldn't wish on even my worst enemy at 8 months pregnant!), and another woman's husband is in Iraq, so she's in class with her mother. I can't imagine having gone through this without my husband, so I have a ton of respect for her. All in all, it's a great group of people and I'm excited to see what the next three weeks have in store. Well, except for the "video" the nurse warned us we'd be watching in the second class.   

Other appointments include a consultation Tuesday with the hospital's anesthesia team. Since I had back surgery for scoliosis, and have titanium rods in my spine, my delivery options might be limited. This is the one area that's been really unknown throughout the pregnancy, so once I know what options I do have, I think I'll be less anxious. As for regular doctor visits, we're down to two week intervals until 36 weeks.

Aside from all the medical to-dos, at home, Jim got the nursery painted last week! I also bought fabric for curtains and the crib skirt. The crib will be assembled this week, and our families are throwing a shower Saturday. It's really coming together!

On an entertaining note, and since I'm a marketing and advertising person, I couldn't help but share this entertaining commercial. I find it a bit gross, but it's completely memorable, and that's what it's all about:

Luv's Diaper Campaign

That's it for now... I will try to post once a week up through delivery, and then after that, we'll see. Everyone says life is going to change when the baby shows up, so extra time may be more limited by then ;)

Thank you to my family and friends for their continued support throughout pregnancy! I can't believe this journey is almost over.