As a result of the drama last week, my mom changed her flight and is coming this weekend. Yippee!
Pretty much. I eat, sleep, and then eat some more. I’m doing my best to pack on the pounds. 😉
The week has been a doozy in terms of doctor’s appointments:
Monday, October 14th
This was my regular, every 3 weeks appointment. The plan was an ultrasound and then consultation with the doctor.
I look forward to ultrasounds like Christmas. Ultrasounds allow me to know the babies are alive and healthy, see their faces and learn more about them (size, etc.) However, I have a really hard time lying flat on my back! I get dizzy, nauseated, breathless, and sweaty. I turn on my side repeatedly but the ultrasound tech will constantly motion for me to turn back. By the time I get up, I’m seeing dark spots and have to hold on to the wall to make it out of the room…and I’m dripping in sweat. Luckily, this one was quick. Baby girl is head-down, engaged and will be born first. Baby boy is breach. Baby girl is estimated to be 2.3 kg (5lbs 1oz) and baby boy is estimated to be 2.6 kg (5lbs 11oz).
The reason I mention being “supine-challenged” is about ten minutes after the ultrasound, the nurse took my blood pressure and it was 157/90. (Too high.) The nurse said, “uh-oh, if we can’t get it down…then we’re going to have to tell the doctor.” (This made me laugh, It felt like warning a child that naughty behavior would be reported to their parent.)
The nurse had me sit down, drink water, and breathe deeply and re-test later but it was still high. My OB/GYN ordered a urine sample which showed protein so pre-eclampsia was mentioned. Then he referred me to a cardiologist. The cardiologist sent me home with an ambulatory blood pressure monitor that took readings every 20 minutes.
Tuesday, October 15th
I went back at the hospital to have my blood pressure monitor removed. Most of my readings were fine but 5 or 6 were concerning. The cardiologist did an echo-cardiogram (ultrasound) of my heart. I have a large pericardial effusion. The pericardium is a sac around your heart and mine is filling with fluid. This can occur during pregnancy but the volume of mine is abnormal. It’s squishing my heart and not allowing it function properly. (This was actually very validating because it explained why I get out-of-breath while doing things as minimal as walking to the kitchen.) The cardiologist gave me medication, re-recommended bed rest and minimal exertion, and sent me straight to the ER for IV medication. D came to visit us and brought us my favorite treat: Orange Dream from Jamba Juice.
Thursday, October 16th
Follow-up with the cardiologist. I felt calm, good…great! I was sure my blood pressure would reflect my serenity with a reading like… 90/50. The nurse took my blood pressure and it was 158/115. C’mon!!! Seriously?!! However, my edema had improved and the doctor thought my heart sounded better. Anytime my blood pressure is above 140/90 I’m supposed to take a drug called Norvasc and lay on my left side for 2 hours. If it doesn’t improve then I go to the ER.
Friday, October 17th
Follow-up with my OB/GYN. Again, my blood pressure was too high (155/86). I gave another urine sample (tmi) and this time there was no protein so pre-eclampsia was ruled out. And since hypertension can be managed with medication, there will be no emergency c-section. Instead, a scheduled c-section will take place between 37 weeks and 38 weeks.
The doctor said during the c-section I will need general anesthesia (as opposed to regional anesthesia where you are numb only from the waist down, but are awake and hear the babies’ first cries and see them seconds old.) He is concerned that the stress of the c-section is risky with my blood pressure/heart issues and can be better managed with general anesthesia. I understand. Then he said “since it’s general anesthesia your husband won’t be in the operating room.” (Background: In Korea, husbands are not present for c-section births. However, a main reason why we chose this hospital is that they make an exception for foreigners and allow husbands in the Operating Room.)
I begged the doctor and said it was SO IMPORTANT to us that D can be present. (We have a myriad of reasons. Not only does D really want to be there; but I will go from pregnant to empty and will remember nothing. I need my husband to tell me the story and be the witness their birth as my proxy.) My sweet, cute doctor said, “Maybe your husband can come in once you are under but he would need to leave at the same time the babies do.” Deal!!! Big smile on my face. (Note: Although D leaves at the same time, he will not be able to watch them in the nursery. In Korea, husbands are not allowed in the baby nursery. It’s considered improper.)
Saturday, October 18th
D and the kids got flu shots. I am SO PROUD of Kimchi and Tofu that they willingly got shots to protect their baby brother and sister.
Some interesting observations this week:
I had an doctor’s appointment two weeks ago for a non-stress test (NST.) This is the test where they hook up sensors/transducers to monitor each babes’ heartbeat and uterine contractions. They couldn’t find baby boy’s heartbeat for about 10 minutes. Of course, there’s the language/cultural barrier and no one said a word to me what was going on–just more nurses and techs kept coming in and pushing on my stomach with increased urgency. I worried for a moment or two but then recognized I could feel him moving around. Once they found it, they used a “stimulator” on him. I’m not quite sure what it was but it frightened the daylights out of both of us and drastically increased his heart rate, which seemed to please them.
PUPPPS. Several weeks ago I went to the doctor for intense itchiness. He diagnosed PUPPPS, a pregnancy-related thing that is completely harmless to the babies. At the time, I didn’t have any marks or rashes from it. Then a few days ago I woke up with a rash across my chest & neck, swollen eyelids and lips and tons of little sores on my stomach. (Don’t google-image PUPPP; it’s disgusting.) Anyway, despite the previous doctor’s appointment, I was worried and had no idea what it could be. I emailed my brother-in-law (who is like a walking encyclopedia of medicine) who told me what was going on and gave me lots of good advice.
The funny thing is, everything has been going SO WELL. It’s as if I made a mental list of wishes and every wish, one-by-one, was being answered. First, D bought fans and our nights have really cooled down. Being cooler means less edema and MUCH better, deeper sleep. Now that I’m not sweating constantly my face is clearing up. 🙂 The mosquitoes seemed to lose a taste for me. Yippee!! And although we’ve never asked for it, and heaven knows I can get up briefly to make food, we’ve had several people ring-and-run meals. (Taco Soup with BEANS and GROUND BEEF. A total luxury in Seoul. The food must be from a military family.) AND I’ve been feeling baby boy move a lot more. Plus, while on bed rest, I’ve had little-to-no back pain. And heartburn could be much worse. …In short, I guess I’m overdue for my pregnancy trial-by-fire and it looks like it’s going to be PUPPPS. The itching is making me quite insane, sleep-deprived and very irritable. Sometimes it has even made me want the babies to come earlier rather than later (…in waves, I know it’s wrong. I love my babies. I just itch like MAD!) I have to remind myself that the longer the babies cook, the better. And there are so many things I will miss about being pregnant.
We are still getting eaten alive by mosquitoes; we figured out that they are coming through drains and air vents. (They are itsy-bitsy but leave vicious bites the size of quarters.) Anyway, LUCKY Tofu gets hardly any bites and we’ve commented several times how fortunate she is. Out-of-the-blue, she gave this explanation:
“I don’t get any bites because….I’m smelly. I don’t wipe. Mommy! Daddy! Maybe if you don’t wipe either mosquitoes won’t eat you!!”
And a Kimchi quote:
“Mom if you could fold in your arms and legs in, you’d look just like a bowling ball.”
Tofu (repeated twenty times a day):
“I want to name my baby sister ‘Juicy.’ “
Kimchi is at all-day school, south of the Han river, so Tofu and I don’t see him nearly as much as we see each other. We miss him so much. School is stressful for him (he struggles reading and rather than spend more time on it, he avoids it like the plague or goes to great efforts so no one notices.) Ironically, one of his favorite things is to be read to; so we have that going for us. Anyway: by the time he gets off the bus at the end of the day, he is clingy and huggy and just wants to be physically close and quiet. In addition, I got a call midday from the school nurse saying he had lots of blood coming out of his ear. I took a taxi and picked him up and took him to the ENT. His ear drum had burst. (Ear drums heal themselves–I had no idea–but it could be weeks or months until his hearing is normal in that ear.)
In the beginning of the summer, we visited Kimchi’s great grandparents on their farm in Canada. Kimchi LOVED horseback riding with Gramps and would ride for hours every day. He rather ride than eat or play.
We spent the latter part of the summer at my parent’s place in Washington state. My sisters and I read to him the first Harry Potter. Kimchi has a great attention span for novels; he would beg for more until we had read for hours without a break. We read the first book aloud in 3 days. Kimchi loves Harry Potter. The school he attends here in Seoul is a British school; the students are divided into 4 houses and earn house points. Naturally, Kimchi is exuberant about the parallels to Harry Potter. The only disappointment is that the school lacks a Quidditch team. For Halloween, he wants to be Harry and decided Tofu should be Dobby (the bald house Elf.)
Kimchi also loves Pirates. We had a combined Pirate/Tinkerbell party for Kimchi and Tofu’s birthdays. It was a “drop-off” party and Kimchi was allowed to invite 4 friends and Tofu could invite 2. We are so glad we kept it small and low-stress. The party was right after I was asked to go on bed rest, so although I broke parole, D ran the show.
Kimchi’s school offers Mandarin classes–we thought it was kind of silly to be learning a language other than Korean when we live in Korea–but Kimchi was extremely interested. He’s taken to it like a fish to water. Anyway, when we were singing “Happy Birthday” to the kids, we did our usual English and Spanish (Las Mañanitas), then Korean, and Kimchi insisted on Mandarin.
I LOVE my boy to the moon and back. He knows it. He tells me so. I tell him, he makes me laugh everyday–most often when he is telling me something in utter seriousness. He is so loving and perceptive of me. I am very lucky to be his mom. Here’s to an awesome new year!