Thursday, April 27, 2006


We had our weekly meeting with Dr. G. today instead of Friday. All is still well with Natalie's heart in terms of size, function, etc. but Dr. G. did point out that a very minute amount of tricuspid regurgitation (TR) was present. She repeated several times that she was not worried about this, and that we shouldn't be either, and that it was most likely of a transient nature, but it's hard not to feel anxious and scared. DH and I are not worried, per se, and I know that Dr. G. would not hesitate to let us know if she was truly concerned based on our past experience with her, but it's hard not to become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety over the slightest little blip, when we want so badly for every doctor's visit to be perfect.

On top of that, I have spent the past few days trying to deal with thousands of dollars in medical bills, insurance problems, benefits, claims, referrals, authorizations, etc. No one seems to be on the same page, everyone is giving me the run around and pointing the finger at some other department, and it's starting to wear me down and put me in a nasty mood. Welcome to the joys of high risk pregnancy and obstetrics.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."

Thus begins and ends what Ernest Hemingway called the best short story he had ever written, the legend of which is mentioned in Daniel Raeburn's "Vessels" which appears in the Personal History section of this week's New Yorker. Robert pointed the piece out to me yesterday. The subtitle, "Irene Raeburn: Born December 28, 2004; Died December 24, 2004" leapt from the page, as did the hauntingly beautiful photograph of Raeburn and his wife, one year into their grief over their stillborn daughter.

I hesitated before reading the piece, although I was immediately impressed and encouraged by the magazine's decision to include it at all. Parents of babies who died share a silent grief (most often silenced by cultural and societal forces), which often goes unnoticed in popular culture and the media, so I'm always heartened by the acknowledgement of this experience as something that can and does happen, and not just to your neighbor's sister's best friend's co-worker. At the same time, I'm often cautious about reading such accounts, because I wonder, "Is this something that I would want to share with someone who hasn't experienced the loss of a child? What if it leaves something out? Will it give them the 'right' impression of what our lives are like? Does it too easily let them (the medical staff who responded inappropriately, the friends who stopped calling, the family members who grew distant, the colleagues who averted their eyes when we passed in the hall) off the hook?"

In the end, Robert helped to remind me that as the piece is a personal narrative, there is no 'right' or 'wrong,' and that every experience is unique and should be honored how ever the parents choose to perceive or process their individual tragedy. That being said, Robert and I discussed the article after we'd both read it, and came to a few of the same conclusions: it was nice to have a father's perspective, but a shame that the mother's perspective was not particularly addressed, as we imagine hers would have been quite different; the story focused on the time period immediately following the birth and death of Raeburn's daughter Irene, but didn't touch on the complicated grief that most likely emerged in the months and years following the loss of their baby, which might give the unknowing reader the sense that parental bereavement has a beginning and an end, which we know couldn't be further from the truth.

In fairness, this is Raeburn's story, not ours, and no one essay can be expected to cover everything we wish it would. All we can do is continue to tell all of our stories.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oops, she did it again

Celebrity Baby Blog confirmed what we already feared: Britney is pregnant again, only 6 months after giving birth to her son Sean Preston via c-section (I'm sure her OB would not have recommended another pregnancy so soon). Yes, after the driving in the lap incident, and the "he fell out of the high chair" excuse, she's ready to irresponsibly parent baby #2. Don't get me started...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The glass is officially half full

We had a great visit with Dr. G. on Friday, who assured us that Natalie's heart is still looking good. However, she still wants to see us every week until delivery since Julian's heart problem wasn't discovered until very late in my last pregnancy. Fine with us. I wouldn't want them to miss something that could potentially be treated in utero. Now that I'm further along, and feeling that there's a good chance Natalie will get to come home, I'm getting excited about labor and delivery.

Giving birth to Julian was probably the best thing I have ever done, and I can't wait to have that experience again. This time, though, I would prefer that the experience not include the need to whisk my baby away from me before I get to see her, or keep her away from me for extended periods of time. I want to be able to hold my baby girl right away, to bond with her, to feed her. I want my face to be the first one she sees.

I have been worried that I would be robbed of the natural mother-infant bonding process due to the high risk nature of my pregnancy. Although Dr. G. isn't my OB, I trust her and know her a lot better than I know my OB, so I asked her what she thought would happen after delivery, if things continue to look good. I was very surprised and happy to hear that she didn't think that Natalie would need to spend time in the NICU, and would probably start out in the transitional nursery, then go to the regular newborn nursery if she continued to be stable. It was so comforting to be told that she didn't see a reason why I shouldn't get to bond with my baby right away. She also said that she didn't think there would be any need to keep Natalie on medication, but that she would want to see her for an echo before she leaves the hospital, and again at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. I really did not expect to hear that we would get to experience anything remotely close to a "normal" labor and delivery. I still have 3 1/2 months left to go, but I am trying to keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak.

In other good news, my labs came back and I do not have pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes at this point. DH and I are both sick with horrible colds, but have been having a great time behaving badly with our dear friend, Mich, who is staying with us this weekend. From celeb spottings at Pastis to a delicious and leisurely lunch at the Culinary Institute of America , to enjoying big art at Dia Beacon , his visit has been a wonderful diversion. This is the most fun I think we've had in ages.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Congratulations, Anam!

While I was foolishly and shamefully posting about celebrity babies, I completely missed out on the news that Anam had her baby. Congratulations on your little boy, Anam!

The subsequent baby boomlet begins!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This just in...

You all must know by now that I have a "minor" celebrity baby obsession. (While I can hardly bear the thought of looking at other pregnant women, babies, or photos of babies of people I know, something about celebrity babies seems to satisfy my not-so-secret baby obsession without the need to get too close and risk falling apart.) Anyway, I have been checking Celebrity Baby Blog several times a day, awaiting news of Brangelina, TomKitten, and whatever it is they're calling Brooke Shields' second baby. I just checked for the third time today, and it turns out that Katie and Brooke welcomed baby girls Suri and Grier today! How ironic, considering Tom & Brooke's ongoing feud over post-partum depression. Check CBB for updates, if you are so inclined.

15 weeks to go

I can hardly believe I'm 25 weeks already. Only 15 more (and 15 more echocardiograms) to go! Well, only 14 if you factor in the fact that my OB said she'd be willing to induce me at 39 weeks, and 13 if you take my master plan to go into labor naturally at 38 weeks into account. We'll see.

Given that we've had a few more good echos, I've been feeling more optimistic about the chances we'll actually get to bring our baby girl home. I've bought a few more clothes, and even "came out" to a colleague over lunch yesterday, who asked if I thought I would have any more children. I began with "Well, actually..." and before she could get too excited, I warned her that there were "concerns." She was very kind, responded appropriately, and was shocked to hear that I am as far along as I am.

Funny, because I have been really conscious of how obviously pregnant I look lately, to the point of employing various techniques used by wardrobe and makeup staff on TV shows where the actress is pregnant but the character is not (creating angles and distractions by drawing attention upward, interesting placement of scarves and other accessories, appearing to be engrossed in magazines and newspapers, sitting behind a get the picture). Good old DH looked at the extra-long Pucci scarf I awkwardly draped around my neck the other morning and smiled as he commented, "No would would ever know" and sent me off to work with a kiss.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

So long, Byron

We received sad news yesterday that DH's best friend's dog, Byron, had been hit by a car and died during their weekend trip to the country. I've had many dogs in my life, all of whom I've loved, but even I have to admit that Byron was the best dog in the whole world. He was handsome, charming, sweet, well-mannered, and loved by everyone in the neighborhood. He was a wonderful friend. Yesterday was a hard day for all of us. Goodbye, old chap. We'll miss you.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

My other babies...

...Sylvester and Seamus, who fight over who gets to sleep with mommy.

Friday, April 14, 2006

On stress

Poor papi woke up with a horrible rash on his back on Tuesday. My guess that it was shingles was properly diagnosed by a doctor yesterday. On top of the discomfort of the rash itself, he's also got a horrible cough and flu-like symptoms that typically accompany shingles. The doctor says I should be okay since I've had chicken pox (shingles can only occur in those who have had chicken pox, and is only worrisome for those who have not been exposed to the chicken pox virus). Still, it's not pretty, and just goes to show how stressed DH truly is.

On the theme of stress, I'm happy to report that we had another good ECG this morning--Natalie's heart is still looking good, and the rest of her is measuring according to dates. The doctors were nice enough to see us before the office opened at 8am, so we were out of the hospital by 10:30am, once I'd had my glucose challenge test (the screening test for gestational diabetes, which involves drinking a bottle of disgusting syrupy sweet liquid, then having a blood test an hour later). I'm not worried about GD, but apparently the doctors are worried about pre-eclampsia since I had it at the end of my pregnancy with Julian. Even though my blood pressure wasn't too worrying and there was no protein in my urine, I got sent home with the 24-hour urine collection kit for the second time in this pregnancy, which means I know what I'll be doing on Sunday. Ugh.

I've noticed lately that, although my coping mechanisms are set on high in terms of dealing with stress, instead of "not sweating the small stuff," my responses seem to be the opposite. I can handle the life and death stuff. I've been there before, and that kind of stress has become like an unpleasant, but familiar dark tunnel. It's life's daily challenges that send me into a tizzy. Making minor decisions (chicken or fish?), scheduling meetings, and trying to find a cleaner who will wash my down comforter are enough to send me over the edge (apparently, it's easier and cheaper to find someone to wax my nether regions than it is to get someone to wash a freaking duvet in this town). DH and I hadn't planned on a vacation during this pregnancy for safety reasons, but I'm starting to think one may be in order before I go too crazy. After all, I've already deluded myself into thinking that if I walk really quickly and wear lots of makeup and jewelry when I'm unable to avoid showing my face, I'll have this baby and no one will be any the wiser. I may not be fooling anyone with my attempts at "passing," but I'm happy to say that this approach has helped me to avoid a whole other kind of stress. So far.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Three's a charm

I'm so happy to report that we had our third problem-free fetal echocardiogram this afternoon, and we only needed to spend 3 hours in the hospital today! In other good news, Natalie has been very active lately, and I've been feeling a little less nauseous from the medication (still a bit spacy during the day, though). In case anyone wants to know, I also had success in procuring a minimally painful bikini wax, done by a very nice older Eastern European woman who was quick, thankfully kept her chatter to a minimum, and didn't ask too many questions about the baby. Score! Keep sending those good vibes our way, everyone!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm not crazy

So I went to see my shrink, Dr. B., yesterday, to fill her in on what's been going on these past few weeks. I should say here (psychiatry gets such a bad rep that I feel like I have to stick up for it) that Dr. B. is great--she is one of the only Black female psychiatrists here in the city, and I've known her for several years, so she takes my whole person into account, not my post-Julian self. Anyway, our time together always feels like a conversation about current events between two educated, rational people, never anything creepy or manipulative as Tom Cruise and his friends might have you believe. She asked if my team of doctors felt that there was any problem with my taking Zoloft and I said no, but that I had some concerns about taking it during my third trimester, given recent studies that show that newborn Zoloft babies are often shaky and irritable. Julian was certainly crabby during his brief life, and required sedation, but I suspect that had more to do with his bad heart and not enjoying all the medical intervention he was subjected to. Dr. B. suggested that I cut back to 25mg for the next several weeks, then to 12.5mg, then finally wean in my last 6 weeks. I have to say that I am a little surprised that she finds me sufficiently un-crazy enough to wean at this point. I thought for sure she's say no way, and I'd be like, oh well, I tried. Now that she's given me the go ahead, I'm a little nervous. What will I do without "mother's little helper?" Here goes nothing.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I hate goodbyes

I had my last acupuncture session with Janine today, and inevitably got very teary-eyed when we said our goodbyes. After all, I've been spending more quality time with this person for the past eight months than anyone else I know, with the exception of DH. She is one of the most genuinely compassionate and peaceful souls I have ever met (must be her Buddha-nature), and I am really going to miss her. She hugged me and wished me and the baby well, and I know she was moved too. She left me with the dietary advice to eat chicken hearts (some Chinese medicine cure for weak hearts). Um, yeah, I'll get right on that.

In other news, I am trying to focus on remaining calm and hopeful about bringing Natalie home. I think I am doing a pretty good job, but I have curbed my baby shopping for the time being. I just can't bear it right now. It makes me feel foolish. Instead, I spent $200 on cosmetics this weekend (doh!). I may feel like crap, but at least I will look good! Speaking of which, I fear it's time for the dreaded bikini wax (forget about DH, this is just so I can stand myself!).

Signs of good things: I have been having lots of dreams lately, two involving me babysitting the same baby (a certain infant heart transplant recipient/local celebrity) and really enjoying holding and caring for him, despite my real-world vow that I will not hold another baby until my next one arrives safely in my arms. The second good sign is that my replacement driver's license arrived today. This is the last of the replacement items I have been awaiting since my wallet was stolen 3 weeks ago. The DMV said 4-6 weeks, but it only took 2. It's amazing how quickly everything was resolved. I also found a new wallet at an extremely low price to replace the stolen fancy-schmancy wallet I searched so long for. It's not ideal, but it will do.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


The number of new white hairs found on my head in the last two weeks.