The Saga Continues…

Previously, on Gretchen’s Life:

At my routine 34 week appointment last week, I had high blood pressure and was sent to the hospital to get checked out. Over the course of the time spent laying around there, my blood pressure went back to normal levels, and all of my other tests came back normal. I was discharged with instructions to follow back up with my OB on Friday (two days later) for another blood pressure check.

All caught up? Okay, good. So, as mentioned in my last post, this super unexpected turn of events (unexpected in that my blood pressure has been generally great all pregnancy and I’ve had no other issues until now) threw me into panic mode a bit. I suddenly wanted to—nay, HAD TO—check off every single item on my to-do list all at once.

Luckily, I’m surrounded by awesome people who quickly offered to help me out (huge thanks to Catrina for helping haul away my Goodwill donation pile!), and while I certainly didn’t accomplish everything on my to-do list, I did get to check off a few things that had been gnawing at me. I successfully got our stroller together (the Chicco Bravo travel system — gifted by my parents), put most of the finishing touches on my maternity leave plan for work, and packed up my hospital bag (which, okay, maybe wasn’t super necessary, but can you blame me for wanting to take care of it sooner rather than later?).

Well, turns out it’s a really good thing that I did have such a productive day-and-a-half between doctor’s visits, since on Friday I whisked myself off to see the OB for my follow up appointment…

…Where it was determined after several new readings that my blood pressure was still high. Womp womp. My BP wasn’t reading insanely high (140/85-ish, if I remember correctly), but high enough for my doctor to remain concerned. While I wasn’t sent back to the hospital or anything, I do have borderline gestational hypertension and I think my OB is worried that it could still develop into preeclampsia.

Just like before, it felt like things moved very quickly from there. I was prescribed blood pressure medication (Procardia) and put on modified bedrest (I’m still allowed to get up to use the bathroom, get water, eat, etc, but otherwise need to be laying down in bed or on the couch). Most importantly, my doctor’s recommendation is now to induce Baby Foxlet’s birth at 37 weeks… assuming my blood pressure is able to be kept relatively under control until then.

Needless to say (especially if you saw my Instagram Stories update from later that day, lol), this was certainly not the news I was hoping to hear. Even though 37 weeks is considered “full-term” by some professionals, I don’t think that having a medical reason to induce early at all is part of anyone’s ideal plan. I also worry that this increases my likelihood of being taken in for a C-section instead of being able to deliver vaginally, which I know wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I know plenty of women who have had them and been more than fine! But that said, I’ve never had any kind of surgery before — never even gotten my wisdom teeth taken out! — so the thought of a caesarean is still pretty scary to me.

Moreover, there’s the fear that I won’t even make it to 37 weeks if my blood pressure spikes up further, or if I develop any additional signs of preeclampsia (specifically I need to keep an eye out for bad headaches, sudden swelling, and/or vision changes.) At only 34 weeks and 5 days right now, Foxlet is still pretty itty bitty, and has quite a bit of lung development still to go… which would likely mean a stay in the NICU if she were to have to come now. In my head, I know that 34 weeks isn’t super-duper premature or anything, but you never really know what could happen. And just the thought of my little bean surrounded by all those tubes and wires, or even just being in an incubator instead of in my arms makes me so sad.

Even though I’ve had a textbook (albeit relatively miserable) pregnancy up until literally this week, I’m battling some pretty extreme emotions about this turn of events. It really feels like the alarm has gone from 0 – 100 SO quickly. I was totally fine… and then suddenly, I wasn’t. And it’s really hard not to feel like somehow this is my fault, that I could have done something different — waited until I was at a healthier weight to get pregnant, battled through my extreme nausea to stay more active, or just been, I don’t know, better at this whole growing-a-human thing.

And I know—I know—there are plenty of people who develop gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and a whole host of other pregnancy-related issues, regardless of whether they’re super fit and at a healthy weight, or if they’ve got a little more to love. But the guilt is still real.  Those of you who are already mothers have told me that feeling of guilt is probably never going to go away though (welcome to being a parent, I guess!) so perhaps this is just the universe’s way of getting some extra practice in for me.

Anyway, now that I’m a little bit further removed from the shock of receiving this news, I really am trying to maintain a positive outlook. After all, I don’t have any reason to think that this treatment plan won’t work as of right now. And I do acknowledge that I’m in a better position than many to deal with the pitfalls of being put on bedrest. The fact that I work from home means there’s still a ton I can get done from the confines of my bed or couch, after all! Makes for a pretty good distraction, too.

I go back for another follow up appointment on Monday to check on whether the medication is working, whether my blood pressure is remaining stable, and whether I’m going to need to stay on bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy (however long that’s going to end up being.) My doctor also scheduled me for an ultrasound on Tuesday to check on Baby Foxlet, see how she’s doing, and try to get an idea of how big she is (although I hear these sizing sonograms aren’t incredibly accurate). So I’m trying to look at it as kind of a bonus that at least I’ll get to see a glimpse of my little nugget again — my last ultrasound was back at 21 weeks!

Anyway, that brings us up to speed! I’ll likely have another update after my appointment tomorrow (and hopefully it will be good news — or at least no news!) but for now, I’ll happily welcome any positive thoughts and good juju you want to send to me and Baby Foxlet. I also will happily welcome any visitors bearing bubble tea. Just saying.

An Unexpected Hospital Visit

So, if you were following my Instagram Stories yesterday, you might already be aware that the day did not turn out quite as I was expecting!

I went in for my regular 34 week OB appointment, but when it was time to take my blood pressure, it clocked in high at 130/90. From what I understand, that's not a crazy high BP, but my blood pressure has been super normal and stable this entire pregnancy so I'm guessing that the sudden jump is probably what alarmed them? They waited a bit, I got my TDAP shot, took care of the rest of my appointment stuff, and then had my BP taken again. It was the same, so my doctor told me that she wanted me to go straight from the office to Labor & Delivery (aka THE HOSPITAL) to get checked out further!

I was caught pretty off-guard, since all of my regular appointments have all lasted like, 20 minutes and been totally uneventful. Anyway, from there it all moved pretty quickly. I got in my car, called Sean to tell him to meet me at the hospital, drove over, went to registration and was admitted!

At the hospital, they hooked me up to a fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, pulse monitor, and also plugged in an IV to give me fluids and so they could take blood. I was trying to handle my emotions (and honestly I think did relatively well, all things considered), but was pretty on edge… especially when my first blood pressure reading showed that it had gone up to 151/98!

The on-call doctor came in and spoke with me about what it means to have high blood pressure at this point in my pregnancy, and what they were looking out for. Mainly, they were concerned that it could be indicative of me developing preeclampsia, which can be really dangerous for the mom and is only ever resolved by delivery… which might mean delivering early! As in, potentially that same day if my test results showed I was preeclamptic!

I'd read a bunch about preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, and already knew that it can lead to mom's being induced early and whatnot, but it still feels really different when a doctor is telling YOU with regard to YOUR baby. Fortunately, as of now it looks like we're in the clear! During the time we spent waiting for my tests to come back, my blood pressure went back down and I had several totally normal readings. My bloodwork and urine tests came back clear as well, so they discharged me with instructions to go back to my OB on Friday for another check.

Of course, just because my blood pressure resolved this time and everything looked good, it doesn't mean that it's going to stay that way. I'm nervous about my blood pressure check tomorrow, because if it's elevated again I don't know if they'll want to send me back, or put me on some kind of treatment plan or what. Sean says that I should have peace of mind that my tests were all normal since those are probably more conclusive than my blood pressure anyway, but my anxiety certainly does not see it that way, lol.

Annnnd all of this happening also means that I'm now in like super panic mode that Foxlet really is going to end up making her debut into this world early and thus I have a desperate need to EVERYTHING FINISHED RIGHT NOW. I know it's dumb, but baby stuff, house stuff, and work stuff is all suddenly of the utmost priority all at once. It's like I cannot bear the fact that I still need to finish building the bookshelf for her room, or follow up with work leads, or wash her cloth diaper inserts, or get the gutters cleaned, or put the finishing touches on my maternity leave plan, or get rid of all the stuff I have set aside to donate to Goodwill…

Anyway, with any luck, my BP check tomorrow will be normal (I think my biggest challenge will not being super nervous about it and causing it to spike on my own!), and things will return to business as usual. But juuuust in case it's not looking that way, I think I'm still going to try really hard to have some very productive days. You know, because as annoying as it might be to get some of this stuff done now, I'm thinking it'll be all the more difficult if I'm confined to bedrest or, y'know, off delivering a preemie.

Foxlet: Weeks 33 + 34

Oh man, these past couple of weeks have been seriously eventful! There’s so much to catch up on, I’m not even sure where I should start… but you can bet I’m gonna try.

Well, I guess first off, as you can see I successfully survived my work trip to San Francisco and back! Huzzah! I was dreading the flights, but I ended up having very positive experiences on both flights (well, with one major caveat — but I’ll get to that) and I’m really glad I was able to attend CM Week! It was awesome getting to see all of my coworkers again (I work remotely) and soak in all that Yelpy goodness before I’m off on maternity leave for basically the rest of the year.

Hilariously enough, like four of my colleagues also happen to be pregnant right now, hehe, and we’re all due kind of in the same timeframe! So it was fun getting to swap stories (and commiserate) with them. 🙂

I was pretty proud of myself for how “well” I did while I was out at Yelp HQ. I think I was so excited to see everyone and nicely distracted by the conference itself that I didn’t really feel bogged down by too many of my usual symptoms! That said, I think the travel definitely caught up with me once I returned home. I had been dreading the flights themselves most of all, but I actually ended up getting really lucky with some ideal seating situations — both flights were very full, but I managed to get myself a seat in one of the only rows on the flight out to SFO that didn’t have someone in the middle, and on the flight back to DC, I actually got an upgrade to Economy Plus!

Alas, that good flight karma only went so far, as I had to deal with the incredibly unfortunate and upsetting fact that my laptop was taken from my checked bag on the way out to SF!  I know people say stuff like, “I’d never put anything valuable in my checked bag!” but I guess I was just naive in thinking that checking your bag seems like it would be secure?! I’ve never had anything like this happen before, and honestly couldn’t believe it when I saw it was missing! And to make matters worse, Virgin has been very unhelpful and unresponsive to the situation. For all the good things about flying with them, I have to admit I’m very unimpressed with them in this regard. I got waaaay faster and more satisfying responses from the frickin’ TSA than the actual airline! Ugh.

Anyway, in MUCH happier news, I also have some very exciting news on the family front — as you guys already know, my sister and I have been experiencing our pregnancies together, with her about 5 weeks ahead of me. Well, guess it just goes to show how close I am to the finish line myself, because my new nephew made his debut on Monday!

Say hello to Alexander Cleaborn!

We are already so in love with the newest addition to our family, and his birth has made me even more excited to meet Baby Foxlet! I was actually texting with my sister when she started to suspect she was going into labor, and so I really felt like I was there with her through most of her experience delivering Alex. Which was both amazing and terrifying considering I’m supposed to go through it myself quite soon, ahahaha, and I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna be as much of a pro as her!

Aaaaand as if all the previously mentioned excitement wasn’t already enough, we also got to celebrate my brother’s “baby” this past weekend!

I think I’ve mentioned before that Ben directed a documentary, and my family attended its DC screening in Georgetown. Getting to see the finished film was so amazing — I’m, of course, a little biased, but I thought it was super well done, so moving, and so incredibly relevant to what’s going on in the world today. I’m so proud of my brother, and can’t wait until the movie is available for you to see as well!

As a fun aside, I also got to bump bellies with another preggo friend some of you know, the wonderful Anne! PREGNANT WOMEN ERRRVERYWHERE!

Ahem. Anywayyyy, onto how our little Foxlet is doing, eh?

Foxlet’s Size: At 34 weeks, Baby Foxlet is the size of a butternut squash and already weighs around 5 pounds!

Weight: I’ve gained around two pounds since my last weigh-in, I think, but I’ll have my official weight taken at the OB this afternoon so I’ll have a firmer idea then. If you’re just tuning in, that means that overall I’m about 3 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight now (after having lost and then re-gained about 12 pounds throughout the first 30-ish weeks.) So either 3 or 15 pounds gained depending on how you look at it, I guess!

Symptoms: Pain, pain, pain. SPD, heartburn, the rib pain thing I mentioned last time, and really bad tailbone pain. The triple threat. The tailbone stuff is the current worst part — it kind of feels like a pinched nerve that just flares up randomly all the time, and I think it’s particularly bad because I don’t feel like I can do that much about it. The size of my belly literally prevents me from being able to do a lot of the stretches and moves that would normally provide some relief.

I got a prenatal massage yesterday that I think helped a bit, and I’ve got a super sexy donut pillow to sit on now (bahaha), but unfortunately I just don’t think I’m going to really feel better until Foxlet vacates her squishy little home, since the pain is stemming from her, um, well, existence putting pressure against my tailbone area in the first place.

Emotions: As bad as I’ve been feeling physically, however, I’m feeling pretty good emotionally! I’m excited to meet her, glad to be finishing up the nursery and prepping the house, and feeling close with my hubby and my family. A few crying fits here and there and like, one or two bouts of irrational anger/annoyance and totally trivial things aside, I think that qualifies as a serious plus here.

Cravings/Aversions: Haven’t really experienced any big aversions lately (yay!) and as for cravings… I guess I’ve been eating a lot of Chick-fil-A lately? Not sure if that’s a real craving or just the result of the long-awaited Burke Chick-fil-A location opening a couple weeks ago, lol. I’ve also been making a lot of egg sandwiches at home, and always seem to want pancakes. Basically just super into breakfast food, heh.

Sleep: UGH SLEEP IS THE WORST. When I can even achieve it, that is. Pregnancy insomnia has totally set in, and makes every night the kind of will-she-won’t-she scenario usually saved for annoyingly frustrating rom-com scenarios. Le sigh. The past couple of nights I haven’t been able to fall asleep until somewhere in the 4 AM-region, and all I can say is that I continue to thank the Lord Almighty that I work from home.

Purchases: Haven’t purchased anything new in a little while, but my baby monitor, which I had ordered back in August, finally arrived! After doing some research and browsing my baby boards, I decided to splurge on the Nanit. It’s meant to work primarily as a birds-eye-view-style sleep monitor, and not only is it a really nice camera, but what sold me was the sleep-tracking and alert technology that comes with its Insights software. You can read more about it on the website, but basically it provides a lot of data about how well your baby slept, number of times she woke up, how long it took her to get to sleep, if/when she was interrupted, etc.

I haven’t activated the tracking software yet since, you know, she isn’t here yet, but I’m hopeful that it will give me a lot of peace of mind about Foxlet’s sleep habits once we transition her to her crib. Of course, that’ll still be a ways off even after she arrives since we’re planning on keeping her in a bassinet in our room for at least the first couple of months. But in the meantime, with the multi-stand attachment, it at least makes for a very nice doggy spy camera, lol.

Looking forward to… Sean and I are taking our official birth class this weekend! I’ll be interested to see how useful I find the class, given that I’m a crazy person who has literally been reading pregnancy and baby books since like, before I was even pregnant (lol whoops), but I’m really excited for Sean — and I think he’s excited, too! Things have definitely been getting more and more “real” for him the closer I get to my due date, so it’s nice to be able to do stuff like this to prepare for the baby together.

NOT looking forward to… just like, every day being uncomfortable and in pain. I know it’s so gonna be worth it and I really am in the home stretch but man, they were not kidding when they said that the third trimester is harrrrrrd. But okay, okay, I’m done complaining… for this week. See you next time! 😉

Foxlet: Week 32

32 weeks! This is the point where it simultaneously feels like the end is nigh and I still have miles to go. I cannot imagine how my stomach is going to get any bigger, and yet I still have almost 8 weeks to go! Yipes.

I had my 32 week OB checkup yesterday, and everything looks great. My blood pressure reading was very good (yay!), and I’m measuring right on track growth-wise. We had a crazy hot and humid week last week, so I’m still dealing with some swelling from that, but she said that swelling, along with my other symptoms, are all very normal. Hooray for normal!

Foxlet’s Size: At 32 weeks, Baby Foxlet is the size of a jicama, a squash, or a bucket of popcorn… and weighs almost 4 pounds!

Weight: Hip, hip, huzzah! I’ve officially gotten back to my initial, pre-pregnancy (or, rather, early pregnancy) weight! And it only took, like, what, 7 months? Ha. While emotionally, it’s still hard for me to consider growing numbers on the scale a positive thing, I recognize that weight gain at this point is super healthy and necessary. After all, she’s gaining weight every week, too! My baby book says she could gain as much as a half a pound per week moving forward, so I should expect to also gain about a pound per week.

Symptoms: Blah, blah, blah, more complaining. I know you’re all probably sick of hearing about it by now — I sure am! But whatever, man, people deserve to know what they’re in for, haha. I can confirm the third trimester really ain’t the bee’s knees (and everyone even warned me ahead of time that it would be tough, especially in the summer!)

As mentioned, I’ve been having a bit of swelling in my hands and feet due to the heat, but my main symptoms are unfortunately still pain-related: tailbone pain, back pain, and continued SPD/pelvic pain. Heartburn is still pretty bad, unfortunately, and I still have that sharp stabby rib pain flare up (only on my right side). I suspect it may be related to the heartburn, or maybe to gas buildup or something, as it’s intermittent and seems to activate/resolve depending on my body position.

Emotions: Surprisingly steady this week. I mean, I still cry at the drop of the hat but I don’t think anything particularly ridiculous has set me off in the past 7 days at least? Or maybe it has, but I’ve just become so accustomed to it at this point that I don’t even take notice anymore, hahahaha.

Cravings/Aversions: I had the most intense craving for a Costco chicken pot pie yesterday. It did not get resolved because A) the craving came during rush hour and B) even if I had braved traffic (or, rather, convinced Sean to do it for me, hehe), it would have taken like 90 minutes to cook. But I have a feeling I’ll be indulging in said craving today because those pot pies are damn good!

Sleep: Terrible. Just, terrible. Changing positions in bed is quite painful if I’ve been laying on my side for a long time, if I try to sleep propped up it kills my tailbone, and regardless of what position I’m finally able to fall asleep in, I wake up every few hours to use the bathroom anyway and have to start all over again. Sleep is no longer my favorite.

Purchases: Picked up a bunch of the remaining things on my registry, so Baby Foxlet’s nursery is really almost 100% done! Just waiting on a replacement part for the bookcase I ordered, and then Sean has to mount something on the wall for me and it’ll be complete! Can’t wait to show off the full, finished thing to you guys.

Looking forward to… CM Week — our annual work conference at Yelp HQ in San Francisco. I fly out Sunday, and for now I’m going to be optimistic and hope that the joy of seeing my coworkers and being busy with work stuff will be a nice distraction from all the pregnancy aches and pains. A few of my coworkers are also pregnant right now, so I think it’ll be fun for us to see each other for that reason as well. And at least the weather will probably feel great in the Bay Area! Tends to be MUCH cooler there than it is here at this time of year, hehe.

NOT looking forward to… getting on a plane this Sunday. My OB cleared me for travel at my appointment yesterday, assuring me that there are literally no signs or indications at all to think I will go into premature labor or have any reason not to fly.

That said, I’m sure I’ll still be very uncomfortable and my feet will probably swell up on the flight. I’m flying Virgin America, so their seats tend to be on the somewhat roomier side, and they have the nice screens that let you order drinks and food and stuff really easily at least. My plan is to wear my compression socks on the plane, drink tons of water, and to waddle walk up and down the full length of the plane at least once an hour. Fingers crossed!

Maternity Photos!

So every now and then I do this thing where I post something totally self-serving and entirely un-humble (as if that wasn't already the entire reason behind me blogging in general), and — spoiler alert — this is gonna be one of those times.

This past weekend, I had my maternity photoshoot with Taylor & Ben, and I could not be more thrilled with how the pictures turned out! You guys know that I talk a big game about self-love and body confidence, and honestly it's been easier than ever to legitimately love my body while it's been baking this tiny human. Pregnancy absolutely changes your perception of your body, and while the physical symptoms of this pregnancy haven't been easy for me, the mental and emotional changes I've gone through with regard to my feelings about my body have been very positive.

All that being said, I was still a little bit nervous that as a plus size mama-to-be, I wouldn't be able to achieve the "look" that I was going for with my maternity photos. I didn't want all this body-positive energy to be suddenly snuffed out by feeling bad about myself in photo-form, after all! Well, turns out neither my weight nor the 100% humidity destroying the hair I had carefully curled at 6 AM that morning could stop this photo magic from happening!




I remain eternally grateful to have such talented photographers in the family, not to mention the devoted willingness of a husband who absolutely hates having his picture taken, haha.

I've got my next OB appointment tomorrow morning, so I'll be delaying this week's pregnancy update 'til Thursday so I can make a full report. 'Til then…!