Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Thursday, January 31, 2013

OB Visit -- 1.31 -- Two BIG sighs of relief...

I've been anxiously awaiting this OB visit for the past two weeks.  During this time I found out that Group B Strep was found in my urine (a form of a UTI) and researched what exactly that meant.  I found that if you are heavily colonized (found in urine) with GBS your chances of pre-term labor and pre-mature rupture of membranes increases same-what significantly.  So, I had lots of questions about this for my OB.

My OB assured me that the GBS would NOT cause either of the two circumstances (PTL and PROM) I was worried about .  It is the UTI that causes those -- the infection can cause your uterus to become inflamed which then can lead to PTL and PROM.  And, since I took a course of penicillin my infection should be cleared.  To be safe I requested a follow up culture be done.  If GBS is still found in my urine I will take another dose of antibiotics and recheck again.  She didn't seem to be worried at all about the GBS, sigh of relief.

Furthermore, since I've been having some pretty heavy cramping for moderately long periods of time, she wanted to check my cervix to make sure it wasn't causing any softening or dilation.  It was long, hard, thick and obviously very closed!  So happy these annoying cramps aren't being productive!  Yet another sigh of relief during this roller coaster ride of a pregnancy!

The last of my concerns were that I seemed to see a correlation between increasing activity and bleeding.  I told her what the blood looked like (brown mixed with wine colored, and maybe a tinge of pink) and with my description she didn't feel like I was having any active bleeding.  Woo hoo!  She said that it is okay that I'm bleeding still but to limit my activity to short periods of time and nothing too strenuous.  I'm still very thankful for all of the help we have received!

Other than that, she checked baby's heart beat and size and said everything sounds and looks perfect!  Thank you Lord!!!

Each little obstacle that we overcome is a huge blessing in this pregnancy!  Each day and week that passes Mike and I feel more and more secure that we will be meeting our precious bundle come late spring or early summer!  Speaking of Mike, he has been with out a doubt the biggest blessing for me during this extremely emotional time.   (He doesn't try to make me feel bad for worrying -- which I SO appreciate because I know it can be hard to listen to sometimes.)  I believe that the love I have for this baby is one that no one, not even Mike, will understand until she is born.  I am the one carrying her, feeling her movements, etc.  However, Mike has expressed his concern for her and me EVERY single day and prayed for her with me EACH night.  I know he already loves his little girl and the instinct father's have to protect their daughters is already so evident in him.  I knew when I married him I was a lucky woman -- but never would I have imagined the JOY that comes from watching him father our children!  A HUGE thank you to him for all of his sacrifices this last month.



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week 19: The SLOW Week -- 1.20 - 1.26

I've titled this week the "slow" week because time sure seems to be dragging.  I hate to wish the next five months away but its hard not to.  I'm not constantly worrying like I was when I first found out about the SCH, thank God.  But, I'm still struggling with the fact that something could go wrong.  (When I first was diagnosed I read too many horror stories of women going into labor between 18 and 24 weeks due to their clot either 1.) rupturing their membranes 2.) causing a placental abruption or 3.) irritating the uterus enough to cause labor.  These poor women delivered perfect babies who had no chance of living outside of their mother's womb.  I can't even begin to imagine the pain of stillbirth and pray I never have to -- more importantly my heart breaks for those who have and I pray for them. Even though my Perinatologist ruled these circumstances out due to the size and location of my clot, I wish I would have never read these tragic stories because I can't seem to erase them out of my head). Furthermore, my OB still seemed to worry about PTL which also lingers in my mind as well.  This coupled with my inability to get back into a normal routine -- mostly due to lifting restrictions and the cramping that comes with a fair amount of activity --- as well as the inherent worry wort in me makes my days slow-moving and my weeks seems like months.

On a more positive note, Eli has been so happy lately which definitely helps to make my days more pleasant!  Its truly an answer to prayer.  Poor little guy has struggled with going to sleep, staying asleep and waking up his whole life! He also has been cutting his molars lately which is NO fun at all. But the past week it is like he figured all these things out simultaneously. Yay!  Its the reverse of the saying when God closes a door, He opens a window.  My version: "When God opens a window (SCH\GBS pregnancy), He closes a door (tired, fussy baby)." :) Or you could go with the good old b-i-b-l-e which says God won't give you anything you can't handle.  To which I'd like to say thank you God for knowing how much I can handle.

We also got the chance to eat dinner with our friends Amber and Mike who are expecting twins in August!  I'm so excited for the play dates to come and for our babies to become friends! We had fun talking everything baby and also the dreadful, wow -- our life is really going to change conversation. :)  But, the love that one child brings to your life is amazing -- and they get TWO!  Congratulations guys!

We pretty much have eating out with Eli down to a science now -- youtube on the iphone, sippies of juice, food, books and toys.  He sat in the high chair for 1.5 hours!  Never, ever thought that would happen!  Here he is enthralled with the sugar packets.  Hey, whatever works right?  

Baby Milestones This Week:  Vernix caseosa, a greasy white substance made of lanugo, oil, and dead skin cells now coats baby girl's skin, shielding it from the amniotic fluid. (Picture yourself after a nine-month bath, and the need for protection makes sense.)

Best Moment of the Week:

1.)  A really sweet gift came in the mail for sweet girl from my dear friend Shara!

Thank you Shara!!!  Baby girl will look so cute in the little outfits, dresses and bows!

2.) Seeing the pictures of 3 precious babies born on my FB feed
                - a best friend from college had a sweet baby girl
                - my cousins' son and his wife had a sweet baby boy
               - another college friends' sister had a sweet baby girl

Yay for babies!!!  A BIG congrats to all the new mamas out there!!!

Obsessions of the Week:  Thinking about baby girl names.  Two years ago, when we didn't know what we were having yet -- we knew for sure if the baby (Eli) turned out to be a girl her name would be Elisa "Ellie" Angell Stephens. (It was the boy name we had trouble with).  Now, even though we still love the name Ellie we wonder if it is too close to Eli.  So... We've been pondering other names...

Here is our short list:

Hannah Grace Stephens -- biblical name, pretty name
Emma Grace Stephens -- family name, this is also the number one name for like the last 10 years so I'm not so sure I want such a common name but I do love it.

Mike's favorite is still Ellie and my favorite is Natalie but he doesn't like it.

I really love Grace as a middle name because God's grace has been such an important part of Mike and I's life.  Where would we be without it?  Grace is also very pretty.

If I had to guess now -- I think we will go with Emma Grace.

Symptoms of the Week: 
(-) Pelvic pain.  Starting this early???  No, thank you.  But, it does makes sense considering that Eli separated my pelvis bone (symphysis pubis dysfunction) when his head came through it during delivery.  I think I see chiropractic care in my near future. :)

(+) LOTS more baby movement!  I have even felt sweet girl from the outside a few times.  She's a strong little one!  Can't wait for Mike to feel her too!

(+/-) Nesting.  Early, I know.  But considering our circumstances -- if we do go early, the last thing I want is to be in the hospital with my little babe worrying that we have NOTHING ready at home.  So, our first step was to clear out the room that we will use for sweet girls nursery.  We have four bedrooms upstairs -- one for us, one for Eli, one for guests and currently the last bedroom as been our "junk drawer" room.  When we moved we threw all odd things in it -- our office stuff, my teaching stuff, Sammie stuff, High School and College memories, photos and random other things.  Well, now we need it so we had to find a place for all this random stuff.  Took a few hours but we did!  The room is now clear and ready for cute baby furniture, lots of PINK and, most importantly, a sweet baby girl in 5 (please, Lord FIVE) months!

Top = before, bottom = after.  The cradle in the corner is a Bennett Family heirloom that my grandfather made for his grandchildren.  I love that it will be in our baby girls' room!

Look what I found during the clean out process -- this is my best friend and I in 7th grade!  Now, 16 years later we are both pregnant!!!  She is having a little boy and I am having a little girl!!

Epiphany of the Week:  I'm HUGE.  I already so uncomfortable.  I am definitely not looking forward to the next five months as I grow bigger and bigger and more and more cramped.  It totally sucks because I can not exercise to keep my body feeling good.  I went to the gym my entire pregnancy with Eli and it felt so good.  Now, I feel like I am just withering away...  Belly is getting bigger, muscles smaller.  Another joy of SCH pregnancies!  Ha!

What I'm most looking forward to next Week: Reaching the half way point -- 6 more days!  Small steps, right?  My first big goal is to reach 24 weeks which is March 2nd -- that is our viability date.  Then to reach 28 weeks will be a HUGE weight lifted -- at 28 weeks baby has a lot better chance of survival with no long lasting effects of the lungs and other crucial organs.  28 weeks for us will be March 31 (baby is still only 3lbs).  Oh what a glorious day that will be!!!

Week 19 Belly pics:

Grow baby grow!

With Eli

Thanks again for following the 1st chapter in our little girl's life with us!  It is a journey with ups and downs but I think, no BELIEVE, that at the end of this we will have a little miracle to show off!  Your continued prayers mean the world to us!  Love you all,

XO, Ali

Friday, January 25, 2013

Time is (not) on my side. But, God is.

When I first found out I was pregnant I was in shock because it happened so fast.  I remember thinking and even expressing to Mike that I didn't want to talk much about being pregnant because I wanted to focus on just the three of us a little longer.  I recall saying that sometime around 20 weeks we could start chatting about it more.  I wanted to soak up the last nine months as a family of three.  I didn't want to miss a minute of Eli's 2nd year.  I knew our kids would be very close in age and I didn't want to deny Eli of any "alone" time he could get with Mike and I.

Fast forward 3 months.

We are about to hit the 20th week of our pregnancy.  Time is dragging along.  Minute after minute, hour after  hour.  Okay, I'll stop before this turns into a rap song.  :)  Anyways, now -- instead of wanting to embrace each day of this pregnancy -- I just want to press the fast forward button.  I want so badly for it to by June 22nd.  Heck, I'd even take the middle of May!  I just want to be holding my sweet baby girl in my arms and know that she is perfect and healthy.

I'm very envious of women who get to "enjoy" their pregnancies because truly it is such a miracle.  Growing a child inside of you is the BEST way to know there truly is a God.  That being said, I feel like I haven't given God enough credit lately.  God is so good to me -- even when I don't deserve it.  He has wrapped His arms around me during this process and given me little miracles (people praying, bible verses, testimonies of others, etc) along the way that have given me hope.  Where would I be with out Him?  I will say this -- I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt God planned this pregnancy.  There is a little life in me right now that He has some amazing plans for (whether they be on earth or in heaven).  No matter the outcome of this pregnancy -- I will never, ever doubt that.  God, thank you so much for my little girl.  Thank you for giving me this trial and please allow it to increase my faith in You.  Thank You for ALWAYS being on my side.


Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Can I get an AMEN?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 18: The GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS Week -- 1.13.13 -1.19.13

This week is designated the "Good News" week for obvious reasons!  We got some very encouraging news at our Perinatologist visit!  For the full scoop, check out:

Obviously, we aren't completely out of the woods -- especially if you listen to our OB.  But, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and, for the time being, am choosing to stay positive (at least about the SCH).  

Okay, for the "Bad News" part.  I hesitate even writing this because I know God is in control and I feel like writing anything negative in a way is lack of faith.  However, I know God made us intelligent human beings and gave us doctors, and medicine, and yes -- even the internet can be a blessing when used correctly.  Anyways, I found out that a urine specimen of mine was positive for Group Strep B.  Group Strep B (GBS) is a bacteria that lives in everyone's GI tracts but sometimes can travel to a woman's vagina.  About 30% of women test positive (during routine vaginal swab at 36wks) for GBS and have to be put on intravenous antibiotics during labor so that the baby doesn't contract it.  GBS is harmless in adults but can be very detrimental for newborns -- resulting in cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and mortality for some.  There is a 1 in 200 chance the baby will contract GBS without medicine and a 1 in 4000 if the receive medicine.  With Eli I tested positive at the routine 36 week appointment and was put on medicine during labor and have a healthy son.  So, you are probably thinking, what is the big deal -- just get the medicine during labor and no worries?  That was my first thought too.  However, when GBS is present in your urine it means that the bacteria is heavily colonized and probably means that I do not have the proper antibodies to fight it off.  It also means that I am at risk of pre-term labor and pre-mature rupture of membranes (as much as 50% more than the average woman).  Can I not catch a break?!?!  What is even worse is that sometimes (when GBS is "heavily colonized") the bacteria spreads to the womb and the baby can catch GBS while in utero.  These cases are rare but happen and the baby will either not be affected and just be a carrier or will die before being born.  Here is a good article on GBS:

If I could be honest for just one moment, I am really struggling.  I pray often and thank God all the time for this baby girl.  BUT, my lack of faith is evident.  I don't know how much more bad news I can handle before I have a mental break down.  I also feel horrible because I know so many people are going through much worse things than this and keep such a positive attitude.  How do they do it?  I wish I could be more like them.  I guess it comes down to trust in the Lord.  Please say a prayer for me, especially for my lack of faith.

On a more positive note, being off bed rest is FAB-U-LOUS!  I had a really fun play date with other mommies in my neighborhood at Chick-fil-a on Wednesday AND our family joined up with our neighbors to check out the new polar bear at the zoo on Saturaday!  

Eli at Chick-fil-a with friends!
Riding the train at the zoo!

Baby Milestones this Week: Baby Girl's become amazingly mobile, passing the hours yawning, hiccupping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking, and swallowing. I can even feel her like little taps in my lower abdomen -- makes me smile every time!

Best Moment of the Week:  Seeing our baby girl again! Our u/s tech told us she would put her life on it that Baby Stephens #2 is a GIRL!  But, even more importantly all of her organs are perfect!  Yay!  Besides, seeing her -- hearing from the Perinatologist that our SCH really poses no threat to the pregnancy was a huge relief.  Our OB has a little bit of a different opinion but it felt good to hear some positive from a doctor!

NO penis is sight!

Profile - won't let me rotate.  Isn't she cute?

Profile with hand

Obsessions of the Week:  Food.  My appetite has really picked up this week!  I've seriously been eating us out of house and home.  You'd think I was a growing teenage boy!  I eat, then I'm still hungry so I eat again and the cycle continues throughout the day!  I am still 2 lbs under my 8 week weight.   

Symptoms this Week:  Continued stuffy nose -- getting a little worse as pregnancy progresses and is definitely the worst at night. 

Epiphany this Week: Not picking up Eli is HARD WORK!  It is easier to pick up your child than to not pick up your child.  He needs to be picked up to get into the car, his crib, his high chair, etc.  Then, what if he just wants to be held?  My parents aren't going to come over as often as I am not going to be on any kind of bed rest but am just trying to take it easy.  Mike and I are going to go buy some toddler step stools today to help.  Any other suggestions?

18 Week Belly Pics:  
A bit bigger, but if you consider the tennis ball hematoma I am also carrying it kind of makes sense!  

With Eli

Please keep praying for baby girl!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Perinatologist Update on SCH -- is baby Stephens still a GIRL?!?!

Here is what a posted in my support groups forum:  (I've bolded a few interesting points)!

***PTL = pre-term labor, PROM = premature rupture of membranes (water breaking)

I'm 17w5d.  Had 1st and only big bleed at 14w3d.   Our 1st ultrasound at 14w5d showed the sch at 6cmx2cm.  No bleeding for a week and have been bleeding brown and clotty for two weeks.

Baby looked great during the u/s -- everything is perfect.  And, she is still a she :) :) :).  However, the hematoma is now measuring 7cmx4cm.  Doctor said it isn't necessarily that it has grown but it is in the margin of error of the previous technician.  Anyways, he said that this size sch is moderate to large.  It is not retroplacental -- which is good and no where near the cervix.  This is the kicker -- he said that due to its location (1st) and size (2nd) it poses NO THREAT whatsoever to the pregnancy.  (Woo Hoo!)  He said I should have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and go on to deliver a full term baby!  He also said that it may take up to 3 months before it bleeds out or is absorbed.  He said that bed rest has shown to do absolutely nothing for this condition and could actually be worse for the outcome! He said to resume normal activity and even light exercising but NOT to pick up my son (24lbs).

Wha?  NO THREAT whatsoever??  I asked a lot about this.  He said that I'm at no more risk of PTL or PROM than any other pregnant woman.  He said there so many studies of this that he is VERY, VERY secure telling me this -- my husband asked twice!  (It would be a different story if the sch was larger or placed behind placenta or near cervix.)

Such a different prognosis than what our OB told us at our visit after the initial bleed -- she pretty much said that there was no chance I would go to full term!

That being said, we saw our OB immediately after who had a different opinion.  She has only been practicing for 2 years but she said that in her experience when women resume normal activity they can have another bright red bleed.  However, she agreed with the Peri and said I could pick up my activity level slowly (which I am going to do) and see how it goes.  She still  had more a bleak outlook when it comes to PTL -- talking about "making it to 24 weeks" and getting steroid shots to progress the baby's lungs, etc.  (When I asked the peri about this he did not concur and said he would not recommend this unless I am showing signs of labor or have recurrent bright red bleeding episodes).  Hmmm... Maybe my OB is being more overcautious ??  She (my OB) was VERY strick when say absolutely do NOT lift my son.

Either way, I like the Peri's prognosis a little better and he has been practicing for 20+ years.  Furthermore, Perinatologists are experts in u/s and obstetrics as well.  I am going to choose to be positive from here on out and NOT read anymore boards whatsoever! In fact, I may post this on babycenter to give 2nd trimester's some hope and a different perspective!  I am going to stick with you guys and pray continually for all!

I go back in for an u/s on when I am 24 weeks just to make sure my placenta has moved up a bit and will definitely update then!

Lots of hugs to you all!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Week 17: The BLESSED Week -- 1.6.12 - 1.12.12


***FYI:  There has been some confusion about how far along in the pregnancy I am due to the way I format my post titles.  Week 17 is the 17th week of my pregnancy but it starts at 16w 1d and goes through 16w 7d.    So it may seem like I am a week ahead of myself.  Okay, hopefully that is clear.

***I haven't had a poll on this blog for a while but I wanted to give it a try again for fun!  I need a little fun in my life right now!  Please take it -- just takes a click.  It is on the right hand side of the blog.  It is about baby girls hair color.  I'm picturing red with curls but we will see!

I am calling week 17 the "BLESSED" week because even though it started out pretty cruddy, I've realized that Mike and I are truly blessed in many ways, but especially in the relationships we have made with the most giving and gracious individuals.  Some who barely know us at all!  We've had so many people offer to help us with food, cleaning, grocery shopping, taking Eli for a few hours and most importantly, in prayer!  It really has given me a renewed outlook on how truly WONDERFUL human beings are!  Thank you to everyone who has offered help and pray -- it touches our hearts in a way I can't put into words!

I want to write a special paragraph to specifically mention my parents.  They have literally taken shifts at my house each and everyday so that I can rest.  It has been a great fortune to Mike and I and of course baby girl.  Eli really loves them and I feel comfortable sitting/laying around knowing he is with them.  My mom has done this all week with an upper respiratory infection!  She's a walking blessing!  They have also brought over many lunches and dinners for us to enjoy.  I have no idea how I would be coping with out their ongoing help!  That being said, I know Mike's parents would do everything they could if they weren't 1,500 miles away.  They have been a great emotional support for him and I.

Eli having fun with my pops!
We are all cheering you on little girl!  Cook, baby cook!

Quick SCH Update

Last Saturday night I started to cramp really bad and went to bed early.  I woke up to blood, but this time it was more brownish.  From all the research I had done, I knew this was fairly normal and could actually be a good sign that your body is trying to drain out the clot.  Plus, brown means old -- which could mean that the bleed I was having has stopped.  See -- research isn't all bad!!  I've continued to bleed (brown) all week. With the bleeding comes these annoying cramps; sometimes pretty uncomfortable, sometimes non-existent.  I guess it is my uterus contracting to open my cervix and let the blood out.  (I know way to much about female anatomy now).  Anyways, I did call my doctor who said I didn't need to do anything about it unless it was bright red, filling a pad an hour, or had cramps to the point of being crouched over in pain.  Haven't had this.  I've asked women in an SCH support group on FB (yes, FB has a group for everyone!) how long their brown bleeds have lasted and few said up to TWO months!  :(  No one likes to see blood when they are pregnant, even if it isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Baby Milestones this Week: Baby's skeleton is hardening, changing from rubbery cartilage to bone, and fat is finally accumulating around it. The umbilical card is getting thicker and stronger, and her little fingers and toes are now topped by one-of-a-kind prints.

Best Moment of the Week:  On Friday, my mom and I went to breakfast and took Eli to Music with Mar.  It was SO good to get. out. of. the. house!  Of course, my mom helped Eli in and out of the car and I was sitting most of the time we were out.  And, she did all of the activities with Eli at music class.  They had a really good time and it made me happy to see Eli having fun with other kiddos his age!

Obsessions of the Week: Listening to baby girl's heart beat on our newly-borrowed at-home doppler!  Shout out to Carrie Wilke and friend for lending it to me!  During my 15 and 16th week I thought I was feeling baby quite a bit but this week it has really slowed down.  So I looked into buying a doppler.  Then, I had a wonderful idea.  I asked if anyone had one they would lend to me on a FB group for moms in my neighborhood and sure enough, within a few hours Carrie said her friend would lend me hers!  We were able to see and hear her HB right away thumping at 150ish bpm! Mike likes to find the heart beat -- it is pretty cute.

Symptoms this Week: Bloody gums.  I have some serious gum issues during pregnancy and they have roared their ugly head this week!  My dentist even gave me prescription strength mouth wash and still they are bleeding.  It is spontaneous too not just when I am brushing away, all of the sudden -- out of no where -- bloody mouth.  People would think I've been hanging out with the Cullens!  Ha!

Epiphany this Week:  Bed Rest SUCKS!  I feel so bad for anyone who is stuck in bed for any reason for a moderate to long duration of time!  You feel like life is living with out you and there is nothing you can do about it.  Praying for those people right now.

Last Baby's 17th Week Epiphany (written 4.10.11):    :):):)
This baby could be a boy.  In fact, there is a 50% chance.  When people have asked if we are going to find out the gender I always say yes and then tell them why.  Because if it is going to be a boy I need to give myself some time to cope with the idea of a "him."  I know this sounds really bad but ever since I was a young girl I've always dreamed of having baby girls.  All my dolls were girls and the one doll I had that was a boy (My buddy Doll) I changed into a girl!  However, lately, I think the Lord has been preparing my heart for a boy.  It is weird but the idea of having a boy has become more and more appealing to me the last couple of weeks.  Maybe it is just because I would love to see Mike with a son, or because my poor dad was stuck with all girls and I'd like to see him play with a grandson -- I don't know.  All I know is that I am flirting with the idea more and more.  We'll know in less the four weeks!  

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Week: Having an appointment with the Perinatologist on the 17th (Thurs) and getting lots of questions answered.  Hoping and praying that the blood clot has greatly reduced in size or -- even better -- disappeared!  Wouldn't that be a miracle?  Sheepishly, I admit that I'm a little worried that the doctor will say -- so you are having a boy!  We were only 14w 5d when we had our other u/s.  That is still really early to tell the gender...  I know this worry seems so minuscule when you think about what we've been going through.  And, it is.  But, I've been thinking of pig tails and bows and dresses and ruffles a whole lot lately and I just don't want to be disappointed if it is a boy.  If she grows a penis between now and Thursday -- Lord, will you prepare my heart like you did last time?   

What is different this time around? Last time around it was early spring and I was looking forward to taking Sammie for walks after school.  This time I'm stuck in bed or the couch.  It sucks!  I want to be up moving, stretching, maintaining my muscle strength -- but no, instead, I am withering away on the couch.  The only thing that makes it worth it is knowing that it is helping me keep this baby girl growing strong inside my womb!  I guess when you look at it that way there isn't much to complain about!  

Oh, and I get to be pregnant with Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian?!?!  As well as my childhood best friend, TWO college room mates, several church friends, and blogger friends -- something is in the water people!

Week 17 Belly Pics:
I look six months pregnant!  Don't be fooled, it isn't all baby -- there is definitely some chub under there!

Last time around...
With much love and gratitude,

Ali Stephens

Sunday, January 6, 2013

4 sentence SCH update

I was off bed rest for one day and resumed somewhat normal activity.  Started cramping and later woke up to more blood.  Back on bed rest which makes me feel like a loser mom.  Praying for peace tonight.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Week 16: The REALITY CHECK Week -- 12.30.12 - 1.512


I'm calling this week the "reality check" week because at some point we had to just accept what happened to us.  (For, me it was towards the end of the week.)  We are pregnant.  We have a healthy, growing baby.  I have bleeding between my baby's membranes and my uterus.  It may cause me to miscarry or have a still birth -- it may not.  There is nothing I can do except pray and listen to my body when it needs rest.  The rest is out of my control.  This is all hard to swallow but it is my reality and I am owning it.  From now on, I am going to choose to believe the best and accept what happens with the help of God's INFINITE grace.

This week started out as it should, with Mike, Eli and I going to church.  Since we've moved south we haven't attended the church we are members at.  It has been a real bummer because we love the people at Outreach Restoration Branch in Independence, MO.  But it is a 45 minute drive and we have had are best intention to look into churches closer to home -- we just haven't found a place that felt like "home" quite yet. Anyways, I love our church for many reasons but one of the greatest things about it is its ordinances.  One of them is called administration.  This is when to elders of the church "lay" there hands on your head and anoint you with oil while saying a specific prayer over you.  Several places in the bible talk about this but it is not commonly practiced.  I've been administered to since I was a child.  Each time I've felt a special blessing from the Lord.  I was administered to when we found out the Eli had hydronephrosis and we all know how that turned out!  A little miracle that boy is!  You've probably guessed that while we were at church I asked to be administered to and you're right.  Two elders prayed over me and I will tell you that while they were I felt this baby wiggling around inside of me!  At 15w 1d that is pretty impressive.  I like to think of this as God's way of saying to me that everything is going to be okay.  I felt especially blessed and since then I feel like I've been able to somewhat put my mind at peace.  

On 12.31 I talked with my doctor who was very concerned about the size of my hematoma.  It was 6cm -- about 1/2 the size of the baby.  She said that more than likely it was causing my placenta to rupture.  This really freaked me out and I immediately asked for prayers from family, friends and FB.  I can't stay thank you enough for the amazing amount of support (mainly through prayer but also people graciously offering food and help to us) we have received!  We are humbled by how much people care!  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!! She also told me that nursing Eli would have no effect on this situation! Yay!  For the first time ever, I'm considering tandem nursing for a while.  Eli struggled so much those few days we were trying to wean.  He really loves his mama's milk.  I love giving it to him.  

Monday was also NYE and we had planned to attend our friends engagement/nye party but with my bed rest and  Mike being sick (he has been fighting a upper respiratory infection for a while but it has really come to a head this week) we decided it was best to stay in.  I think I was in bed by 7:30!  Ha! Happy 2013 to me!  

On Thursday we had a check in appointment with our OB who answered LOTS of questions for me.  We found out the exact dimensions of the hematoma 6x2cm.  Long and skinny.  It isn't connected to the placenta as we first thought -- thank God!  The further away from the placenta -- the better!  Our doctor was cautiously optimistic with us.  And, here is the kicker that made my week (and, quite possibly my year, and quite possibly my life!) I asked if she could tell whether the baby was a boy or a girl.  I expected her to say yes or no  and leave it at that but she went ahead and said -- you're having a little GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She didn't say it like that but that is how I heard it.  I couldn't help but have a huge grin on my face for the rest of the day.  I've been dreaming in pink ever since. 

More about our OB appoint.  She shared with us that I could probably be doing more than I was currently.  I was trying to stay in bed 75% of the time or more.  She said I could go on with "normal" activities but to avoid any heavy lifting, any type of exercise, and to rest often.  Pretty much I need to listen to my body.  I am happy about this because I was getting a little depressed trying to stay down all day.  

We are going to see the perinatologist on 1.17 and I look foward to asking questions then as well.  Obviously we are praying for a complete healing -- that the clot will have totally been absorbed --  but any type of shrinking would be good! 

Baby Milestones this week: Tiny bones forming in baby's ears mean he or she can now pick up our voices. A few more minuscule changes: Eyebrows, lashes, and hair are starting to fill in, and taste buds are forming.

Best Moment of the Week:  If it isn't obvious: Finding out we are having a GIRL.  Sugar. Spice.  Everything Nice!  Could it get any better?  Okay, maybe I am exaggerating here.  I would have been excited for a boy too.  For Eli to have a brother would be really neat.  But, all my life I've dreamed of dressing up and doing my little girl's hair.  All those hours of practicing on barbies is finally going to pay off!  :)

Obsessions of the Week:  Being aware of my body.  I feel the baby at least once a day.  I feel pain often so I try to rest.  Trying my best to listen to what my body is telling me.  It is injured right now and needs to heal.  

Symptoms this Week:  Pain.  I've been feeling a tender pain in my lower right abdomen.  Right where my placenta sits.  Doctor said this is normal, especially because bleeding irritates the uterus. 

Epiphany this Week:  I may not need any maternity clothes because all I've been wearing is sweats.  Ha!  My neighbor gave me the MOST comfortable maternity yoga pants -- shout out to Betsy Warren!  Thank you!  They are heavenly!

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Week:  I'm trying to cherish each moment of this pregnancy.  Especially since it is high risk.  But, I'm looking forward to being able to do a little more around the house.  

What is different this time around? Besides the fact that I have a fatty belly sticking out like I'm twenty weeks instead of 15? It would still be 4 more weeks before we would find out we were having a BOY!  Snakes, snails and puppy dog tails -- that is what has been my world the last 2 years.  Guess it is time for a change!  Poor Mike and his pocket book!  

Week 16 Belly pics:
I can't believe how big I am!  I am at least one month ahead of what I looked like last time around.  Not sure how I feel about this!  I think it is somewhat normal to start showing quicker the second time around but this is ridiculous!  I weigh the exact same -- if that is any condolence to me.

With Eli, still pretty tiny.

 I hope the next several months of pregnancy post are uneventful!  For your sake and mine!  :)



Week 15: The SCARY Week -- 12.23.12 - 12.29.12

The SCARY Week

This week started off with positive thinking as I was really looking forward to Mike being home for four days straight with us.  But, here is how it went:

12.22 - Went to Emergency Care at our Ped's office because Eli had a 100 degree fever and was acting pretty lethargic.  Waited for 1.5 hours in a room with a bunch of flu/RSV kiddos to see the doctor.  Doctor didn't think Eli had the flu or RSV but said that he was getting his top molars in which he described were the most painful to erupt.  Great.  The nurse checked Eli's oxygen level -- it was a 94.  They sent us to Children's mercy to rule out pneumonia.  5 hours later we are back home, exhausted.
12.23 - We intended to have family over for our annual Stephen's Family Pre-Christmas Mexican Feast but had to cancel because of Eli's illness.
12.24 - Eli's fever was gone.  He was still fussy we figured due to his teeth.  We had our family over for a BIG Mexican meal.  It was fun.  We played Christmas pictionary and enjoyed all of the tasty food Mike (and I) had prepared.

12.25 1AM - I am up puking my guts out -- literally -- blowing chunks of enchiladas, tacos and salsa EVERYWHERE!  I thought that maybe this was due to being pregnant (especially since I did throw up a few times last week) and went back to bed.  Nope, almost every hour I was up blowing chunks until I had no chunks left to blow and could only manage to get tasty stomach bile out.  Sounds fun, right?  To say the absolutely least - I had the WORST Christmas EVER!  I felt so bad for Eli, Mike and my family.  I was pretty much out of commission all day long and what was my Christmas dinner like, you ask?  A half a banana and a saltine cracker!
Christmas morning with Eli!  I was stuck on the couch trying to put a smile on my face but really just wanted to be back in bed.  
12.26 4AM - I wake up to a pool of pink blood that quickly turns to bright red.  Of course, I think I am miscarrying. Thank God I wasn't but the bleeding is still really scary and doctor said I had a "threatened miscarriage" and a 50/50 chance of miscarrying.  Here is a link to the post I've already published that talks about this incident in detail:

When we got home from the ER my mom was with Eli and both her and him had what I had on Christmas: that blasted stomach bug!!! I coulldn't help but scour the internet for some answers.  Diagnose myself with a subchorionic hematoma (SCH).  It is really the only thing that makes sense with my bleeding episode.
12.27 Mike gets the stomach bug.  I am on modified bed rest which proves to be hard with a toddler.  Thank goodness for my parents willingness to help. Continued my (admittedly, not the best of ideas) internet searching.  I am now an expert on SCH's.
12.28 4AM Woke up to blood again -- this time it was brick red turned brown (older).  Argh.  Doesn't get much easier the second time around.  We went to the OB's office and had an u/s.  The tech was super thorough and baby looked great.  She pointed out that, indeed, we did have a sizable SCH.  But, didn't share with me the dimensions even when I asked.  She was a little bit more positive about what the outcome could be than our OB was.  That felt good.  Was told not to pick up Eli and to stop breastfeeding immediately.  Made me really sad but was prepared to do what was best for baby and I.  Link to post with update:

12.29 More worry; bed rest definitely doesn't help that.  To be quite honest, I was sulking in the worst depression I've ever faced.  I didn't want to lose the child I saw doing flips in my belly a couple days previously, but was terrified I would.  I was already so attached to this child.  I couldn't imagine having to go into the hospital and birth a baby who wasn't going to be alive or only for a short time.  Everyone was telling me to be optimist and think positive but I couldn't get these terrible images out of my mind -- mostly from some of the horrifying stories I had read from women who had lost babies between 18-28 weeks due to their SCH.  Beautiful, completely healthy babies.  If anything, I've realized how risky pregnancy is and how painful a miscarriage must be.

Baby Milestones this week:  Continuing the march towards normal proportions, the baby's legs now outmeasure his or her arms. And, finally, all four limbs have functional joints. The baby is squirming and wiggling like crazy down in my womb!

Best Moment of the Week:  Seeing baby on the ultrasound and hearing his/her perfect little thump thump of a heartbeat.  Seeing fingers and toes and lips and nose!  This baby is looking quite human!  It is truly love at first sight!

Obsessions of the Week:  Scouring the internet looking for information on subchorionic hematomas.  Can you really blame me?  People say stay away from the internet but it is easier said than done.  I want to educate myself on possible outcomes while staying as positive as I can be!  Which is also easier said then done. (Don't worry, next week the internet and I break up for a awhile).

Symptoms this Week:  Well, besides the bleeding from the SCH, I am back to going to bed right after Eli and resting as much as possible.  Not sure if this is even pregnancy related; I think I am both physically and emotionally drained. 

Epiphany of the Week:  Sometimes the worst things can make your realize how much you love your child.

What I'm Most Looking Forward to next week:  Praying that the bleeding stops.  We have a follow up with our OB on 1.4.  Looking forward to her answering A LOT of questions for me!

What is different this time around?  I was still in 2nd trimester bliss.  My biggest worry was my growing belly and how I was going to try to fit into my non-maternity pants a couple more weeks.  This time, not so much.  I worry everyday but knowing that you are praying for us too helps more than you will ever know!  Thank you!!

Week 15 Belly Pics: 

12.24 Looking HUGE already!

What I looked like with Eli's pregnancy.  Much smaller!


Week 14: The PEACEFUL Week -- 12.16.12 - 12.22.12

*** I am going back in time to write weeks 14 and 15.  I want to, no, desperately need to celebrate each day of this pregnancy -- past, present and future.  In next week's post it will be clear as to why.  Week fourteen will probably be the last truly peaceful week of this pregnancy.  I'll enjoy reminiscing about it here in this post.

*** I am going to try to follow as close as possible the same outline as I did with Eli's pregnancy.  I will also try to compare the two pregnancies.  Something new I want to try is to give each week of the pregnancy I one word synopsis.  This weeks word is peaceful.

The Peaceful Week

A good start to week 14 had Mike and I in KC for his Christmas Party!  It was good to put names to faces and meet all of Mike's co-workers.  Have I ever mentioned I have never met anyone who doesn't like my husband.  He is a pretty charming guy!  Of course, everyone had such wonderful things to say about him.  We enjoyed the food and atmosphere and towards the end of the night I forced Mike to leave.  (Remember I've been going to sleep around 7-8ish for the past two months and 11 felt like I had stayed up all night!)

iphone pic at the party

On December 20th we had first appointment with the OB (It was also the first snow here in KC, so I am happy we were able to make it-- I hate driving in the snow!).  We are seeing a new doctor because we want to deliver at St. Luke's East here in Lee's Summit.  She is young and so far we like what we see.  She has only been practicing medicine for 2 years but I kind of like that.  Someone fresh in the business is sometimes better than someone who has been in it for a number of years.  Her name is Dr. Johanna Finkle. Here is a link to her credentials:

At our appointment, she did a pretty extensive family history questionnaire with us and asked about our previous pregnancy.  We told her about Eli's hydronephrosis and our big blood/clot scares towards the end of our pregnancy with him.  She said that my bleeds sounded like placental abruptions and I asked if I was likely to have them in this pregnancy -- she said yes (foreshadow of next week).  

She checked my cervix, measured my uterus and listened to the baby's heart beat.  All was perfect.  Big smiles all around!  

Later that day...

Backyard snow fun!

Also this week, Eli and I went to my friend Alyssa's house for a play date with her son Nate.  I still can't believe my little boy is going to be a BIG brother!

Baby Milestones this week:  The baby is now busy with thumb sucking, toe wiggling, (not so cute but equally amazing) making urine, and breathing amniotic fluid as the liver, kidneys, and spleen continue to develop. Lanugo (thin, downy hair) is growing all over his or her body for warmth.

Best Moment of the Week:  Hearing baby's heart beat with Mike.  We heard it at 10 weeks but just for a couple of seconds.  This time it was ultra clear.  God is good.

Obsessions of the Week:  Trying to get back on a schedule! Hoping and praying for somewhat of a normal life again!

Symptoms this Week: 
Downer:  Has nausea just set in?  Isn't that supposed to be a 1st trimester symptom?  I threw up twice this week!  Like 3 days apart.  Once in the morning and once at night.  Hmm?  Hoping this doesn't stick around!

Upper: My 1st trimester symptoms have mostly disappeared!  Praise God! I've been able to get off my lazy bum now that I have my energy back and at my OB appointment I had lost four pounds since week 10.  Yay!  Because I was 5 lbs heavier than my last pregnancy at that time.  Not, like I want to be losing weight when I am pregnant.  But, I really started to balloon!

Epiphany of the Week:  Funny, this is the same as my last pregnancy's 14 week post: Swimming.  I met my dad at Legacy Park so Eli could have some fun splashing around in the children's area and I could swim a few laps.  It was de-light-ful!

What I'm Most Looking Forward to next week:  Christmas!  My first and likely my last Christmas as a pregnant lady!

Biggest difference this time around?  I was already taking complete advantage of my Chiropractor.  I'm so sad because I do NOT have Chiropractic coverage on Mike's insurance.  Boo! Hoo! Hoo!  I LOVE chiropractic care and it did wonders for me in my last pregnancy.  I'm not sure I'll survive this one if I get the terrible pains I got with Eli around 20ish weeks.  We'll see.  We may just have to tap into our savings so I can get some relief.  Also, I was working full time with Eli and now I am a stay-at-home-mom who subs one-two days a week.  Honestly, I get more rest when I am subbing.  Teaching is hard -- subbing (for me) not so much.  A relaxing day in a profession I love!

Week 14 Belly Pics:

Didn't capture a picture this week but I have one for next. :) Trust me the bump was there!  I feel so HUGE this time around!  I feel like I started showing from the moment I found out and it has just gotten bigger, and bigger!

Thanks for following our little babe's pregnancy story!  As always, keep praying!



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pregnancy #2 -- First Trimester Symptoms 10.18.2012 - 12.15.2012

When I was pregnant with Eli I wrote weekly updates -- complete with a belly bump picture and all -- from week 12 all the way through my pregnancy.  I had a co-worker tell me that there was no way I would be able to do this for my next pregnancy.  And, although I think he was probably right -- being pregnant with a toddler is completely different than being pregnant with no kids -- I am going to try my best.  In fact, I remember thinking during the first trimester with Eli, how am I going to survive this when I have a little one running around?  I was right, I have no idea how I survived.  It was brutal.  I was so tired, no, more like completely exhausted. I could barely get myself out the couch on some days.

So, with out further adieu here is a quick synopsis of weeks 4 -13.

Mike and I found out we were pregnant on 10.18, two days before our 5 year anniversary!  Here is the post that describes that day:

The bun in the oven. :)

The Symptoms (in order of severity):

Fatigue: Well, like I said above, it was bad.  I'm not even sure if words could adequately describe how insanely tired I was.  The fatigue started around 5 weeks and lasted through the entire 1st trimester, although the worst was over around 10/11 weeks.  I would go to bed immediately after we put Eli down and sleep until he woke up.  Reluctantly, I would drag myself out of bed to care for Eli.  Sounds bad, huh?  I know!  I felt like a loser mom! Right before I found out I was prego, I was on such a great schedule -- even waking up to work out before Eli got up!  That went downhill quickly and completely disappeared soon after.  To say the least, I was pretty depressed for a couple of months because all I wanted to do was sleep and I felt so bad for my little man.  I would try to keep Eli occupied while I sat my lazy bum on the couch.  I'll admit that I even fell asleep a few times while he played next to me.  Thank goodness for naps.  Eli isn't the best napper -- just once a day and for maybe an hour.  But, once he was down so was I and when he woke up I wanted to literally cry because my bed felt so good.  Poor Mike, don't think I did a load of laundry for a month.  Our house was definitely out of shape.  But, alas, we all survived and now I am back to a load of laundry a day.  :)

My favorite part of the day.

Head aches: I do not remember this from my first pregnancy.  But it is no fun!!! At least once a day I am bombarded with this terrible throbbing pain in my head.  Extra strength Tylenol helps and so does drink lots of water -- but they still linger and sometimes it is hard for me to fall asleep.

Light-headedness: This symptom I vaguely remember from my first pregnancy.  I feel light headed especially after I get out of the shower in the morning. I've figured out that I need to eat before I shower.

Heartburn:  I had hb when I was pregnant with Eli but it didn't hit me until late in the second trimester.  This time I had it right away.  Like, week 5.  There was about a two week span in which I couldn't lay down flat while sleeping.  Well, I could when I went to sleep and then in the middle of the night I would get this horrible pain in my chest and throat.  I took tums and drank some water and propped myself up with plenty of pillows and eventually fell back asleep   Luckily, I haven't had this symptom for a month or so; praying it stays that way!!!

Stuffy nose: This has been ultra annoying!  I wake up every night with huge dried up boogers in my nose. (tmi, I know).  I have to get up and get rid of them before I can have a peaceful nights sleep.

Peeing, peeing all the time! It is worst at night when you really don't want to get up to go but you know if you don't the feeling in your bladder won't go away.

Lack of good night time sleep: I guess this has to do with the increased amount of progesterone your body make during pregnancy.  Sleep was so necessary and I could fall asleep in an instant but staying asleep was really hard!  :(

Nausea: I have had bouts of feeling like I am going to throw up and it has brought me to gagging a couple of times, especially in the morning but nothing to extreme.  (I did finally throw up a couple of times but after 13 weeks.)

Super smell: This symptom would have been at the top of my list during my first pregnancy but not so much with this one.  I do have an increased sense of smell but not even close to what I had when Eli was cooking. I do gag pretty much every time I have to change a poopy diaper.  This is when Mike comes in handy.  On the weekends he has poopy diaper duty all weekend long!

Weight gain:  At 10 weeks I was 5lbs heavier than I was the first time around.  Yikes!  I contribute most of this due to my amazing couch sitting skills the first couple of months and my lack of any food aversions (which would have also been at the top of my  list in P#1).

Here is a list of my first pregnancy to compare:

1. EXTREME exhaustion.  People tell you how terribly exhausted you will be in your first trimester but I don't think anyone can prepare you for it!  Wow!  I could barely get myself off the couch from the 6th-10th weeks.  It got me really depressed because our house started to look like a tornado had run through it!  Thank God I have my energy back!
2. Food aversions.  Meat?  No way!  Vegetables?  Yuk!  Seriously, for a few weeks all I had for dinner was McDonald's smoothies.  Thank goodness for prenatals because there is no way I was getting all of the vitamins I needed to grow tiny organs!  :)
3. Bloodhound nose.  I could smell anything -- and most smells made me gag!  I couldn't even wear perfume.
4. Keeping the secret!  When you are so excited about having a baby you want to shout it from the roof tops, but, we decided to wait until the end of the first trimester just to make sure.  This was really hard to do!
5. Tight pants.  Enough said.  :(

On a more positive note, we survived the first trimester unscathed and most of these symptoms have dramatically decreased!  Hallelujah!

I am writing this at 15 weeks.  Now we have a whole new set of complications to worry about with my SCH.  We are trying to stay positive and I have another doctors appointment today and a scan on January 17th with the Perinatologist.

As, always prayers appreciated!