4 weeks of needless worrying?

Pudding Club Diary @ 24 Weeks 2 Days

Today I went for my follow up ultrasound after Rocky’s bowel appeared to be ‘echogenic’ at our 20 week scan, and again it had shown up as ‘echogenic’ at the echo cardiogram at 22 weeks.  It was a relatively quick scan, Rocky was moving around a lot as usual, but the technician was able to get all the measurements needed quickly.  Rocky is on track for her growth and now weighs a grand total of 1lb 6oz!  At 20 weeks she was just 11oz.  Hew bowel was still echogenic but the technician said she didn’t think it was very bright.  And yes, Rocky is still a girl!  The technician showed us her lady parts, but I said I believe you if you say so, to me it looked like a blob of grey nothing much on the screen!!!

After the ultrasound I took the lovely glucose challenge test.  This test provides an indicator of Gestational Diabetes.  This test is apparently slightly different to how the UK does it.  I did not need to fast for this test. I  was given a small bottle of very sweet liquid to drink;  as I was reaching the end of the bottle the drink was making me feel slightly sick.  Bleugh.  The drink itself didn’t taste bad (I had the orange flavour – I could choose between orange and fruit punch!). 1 hour later I had my blood drawn which will be sent off to see what my glucose levels are at.  When the phlebotomist took my blood she noticed I was looking a bit different – the drink had made me feel a bit light headed!  She asked if I had eaten something (which I had) and offered me a snack before I left!  Depending on the results of this blood test will depend on whether I need to take the next type test which is the glucose tolerance test which requires fasting and testing over three hours.  Apparently that is what is ordinarily tested in the UK first?  I think my OB told me this because she used to live and work in Ireland and knows we are Brit expats.

Meanwhile, whilst waiting the hour to finish the glucose challenge test we met with the OB and she told us everything was looking wonderful with Rocky.  Phew!  We went over some housekeeping matters, such as completing a pre-registration form for the hospital, pediatricians and birthing classes.  I also had to sign a form that said we would not video record any part of the birth.  Well I wasn’t really planning on doing that anyway!!! Then she told us that even the echogenic bowel wasn’t looking bright anymore.  For some reason she decided to tell us that after we left 4 weeks ago she looked at the scan again a second time and thought perhaps it wasn’t as bright as she first thought.  And now she tells us!!  Could have saved us 4 weeks of worry! Sigh…..well, better to be safe than sorry I guess! But really???!!!?

Let’s hope the good news continues with the results of my glucose challenge test in a few days! Fingers crossed!

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It’s been a while!

PC Diary @ 24 Weeks 1 Day

It has been a while since I last wrote so this may be a bit long, but I have broken it up into chunks.  I took a mini break from my blog to focus on some other things that I really needed to get out of the way.  I have thoroughly missed it!  I have been reading other blogs, but not actively getting involved because quite frankly I am an addict after all and it is quite amazing how much I really care that others are finding themselves well on whatever stage their journey is at.  For me, my journey is literally in the middle of nowhere.  I know I am somewhere good, but feel like nowhere. Here is what has happened since I last put an entry in my pudding club diary….

I am 24 weeks pregnant today.  It’s insane because I am sure the last time I checked I was 20 weeks.  I have lived in a strange four weeks of madness – feel free to skip to the paragraphs that look like they might be the most interesting to you!

THE NEW HOUSE. After my mum flew back to the UK, Chris and I had to finish off getting our garden in order.  It was quite a mess when we first moved in.  My mother did a wonderful job of landscaping the front garden (she’s a bit terrifying when you give her a hedge trimmer!!!), but there was still more to do in order to make it look truly presentable and get it up to the standards of our new neighbourhood association.  We received a letter just after mum had left warning us that our garden needed tending to and this had been our 4th warning since April this year.  The association was not aware we had just bought the house so we thought – screw you we have worked hard at trying to get this all done!  As our garden is on a corner plot almost all of it is on view from the street.  But all our new neighbours have been commenting how lovely it is to see the garden restored and acknowledge that it will take some time to get it up to scratch.  Particularly the lawn which has been overrun with elephant grass.  With 100F weather the past few weeks and my pregnant state it has been slow going.  What is exciting is the beginning of our vegetable garden!  Chris built some raised beds and we planted carrots, turnips, radishes, squash and broccoli. Yum!  We plan on having three raised beds for rotating a variety of crops.  Homegrown food tastes so much better – assuming we can keep the neighbourhood wild rabbit and other various bugs away, stopping them from getting some early tastings in before us!

THE BABYMOON.  We went away on our babymoon cruise from Boston to Montreal.  I have written a separate post about this one.  But in short, we loved it (even if Chris got sea sick!!!) and the idea of arriving somewhere new every morning was simply wonderful.  There was also a lack of internet so this meant I lost touch with some blogs L But also took a break from the outside world.  It was nice and I wished it could have been longer.

THE INTERVIEW. The day after we returned from our babymoon I underwent a 3 hour test for the job I had applied for in my team (this would be a promotion for me).  Then the day after that was my interview.  It was a tough process because as I have said before I was up against some of my very talented colleagues.  I went out to dinner with all the other candidates the night before the interview (some of whom had flown across the Atlantic for the process) and it was very strange.  Strange, because I would love the job, I am certainly capable of it and wanted it, but at the same time would welcome any of them to join our team.  The type of community I work in is a small one, so we tend to all know each other somehow and the job opportunities are limited so it is inevitable that this happens.  When my boss later told me that I was not successful I was disappointed in myself, but at the same time equally happy for my friend who was successful.  Let’s call it a certain schizophrenic moment in my life.  I am hard on myself when I do not succeed, but equally I am happy that I did my best and have no regrets, so how can I ask more of myself?

THE FETAL ECHO CARDIOGRAM.  Back to the week of the interview, the very morning of my interview I had an appointment with the maternal fetal medicine specialist doctor.  This appointment was scheduled because we conceived through IVF, apparently there is an increased risk to baby’s heart.  I did some research on this issue and found that it was a very slight increased risk (like 1 or 2%) so I am not sure how essential it is, but we did get to see some very cool stuff!  I was a little worried, which I think is nothing unusual, and it was also probably bad timing having the interview lined up for later the afternoon.  Fortunately, Rocky was a little star – or a little show off according to the ultrasound technician.  The whole thing took about 45 minutes.  We got to see Rocky’s overall growth i.e. her head, brain, body etc were all measured, and the very cool bit – her heart.  We were shown all the different valves and atriums of the heart, the blood flow and its direction being pumped in and out.  Quite simply put, it was an incredible experience.

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The blood flowing through a valve appeared heart shaped!

Rocky was still showing an ‘echogenic bowel’ (where the bowel shows up bright as a bone on the scan) – that was identified from the anatomy scan at 20 weeks.  The specialist Doctor talked to us about that, she said she thought it was most likely she had swallowed some blood from a bleed I may have had in the early stages of pregnancy. Although I never had any bleeding (thankfully), it is still possible and not unusual with IVF babies according to the doc. She also asked if we had tested for Cystic Fibrosis.  We didn’t test for this because we thought as it’s a genetic disease and we don’t have anyone in the family that has it that we wouldn’t bother.  It turns out we were completely wrong with this assumption.  We had no idea how common it can be to be a Cystic Fibrosis carrier!  I looked into this some more and it is interesting that some carriers can actually exhibit mild symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis.  I have had this disgusting and unexplained phlegmyness that builds up over time ever since I returned from Iraq…I’ve always been seeking an explanation for this and there is some evidence to suggest that some symptoms can be triggered by a traumatic event. Weirdly coincidental?!  So perhaps I should get tested after all. We have a follow up scan scheduled for Tuesday so we can see if the echogenic bowel comes up again.

My mum pointed out to me that it was far easier in her day because you wouldn’t have to worry about these kind of soft markers for potential problems.  I am inclined to be in some agreement.  Ignorance may be bliss.  The silly thing is that even if Rocky were to have Cystic Fibrosis, medicine is very good that she is most likely to have a very normal life.  Actually my biggest concern isn’t Cystic Fibrosis as a diagnosis, it is the association of an echogenic bowel with intrauterine growth restrictions leading to pre-term labour.  This is my personal biggest worry.  Currently as at our last 22 week scan Rocky is within the normal percentile…and my bump is growing nicely so my worries are most likely irrational.

One last thing about our scan with the maternal fetal medicine – the doctor said there was some slight regression of blood pumping through one valve, she thought that as it was still very early this wouldn’t be an issue as she is so tiny still and can grow stronger with no problems.  She said she will put it on my notes and my Obstetrician can make a decision whether or not to book another echo cardiogram later on to be sure. So we continue to wait.

MY EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT.  So another reason I have been off the blog is that I attended my first residential course that kicked off the start of my executive development programme.  I am on a programme with 23 others from across my organisation, coming from various countries with various nationalities (like me an expat working in another country) and various professions, ranging from technical geeks to financial gurus to human resource ninjas.  The aim of this residential course was to ‘Know yourself’.  Yikes.  We all turned up thinking we knew ourselves….but apparently not after being put through a variety of exercises that required a lot of internal reflection.  I was beat by the end of the week.  At one stage I was feeling a little anxious at how vulnerably open I was with all these new people.  I talked about IVF, my blog, Brussels attacks, my deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan – my feelings about myself and others I work with.  Nothing was off the table!!!  It was also intense as we were forced into exercises that meant we quickly got to know each other.

We formed teams for our project work that was based on real life organizational problems.  I decided to work in a team that was tackling a big problem that was out of my comfort zone – some of the other projects were within my technical capabilities.  And I am glad I decided to do that, although it might sound crazy to not take the easy path, I think this project is something I have more of a personal interest in…so when it is late at night and I need to do research and I need to find the motivation I may actually want to work on it because it interests me.  I found this works well when I chose my modules for my Masters degree.  Modules I didn’t choose I found hard to motivate myself to complete…modules I chose I often read around the subject more.

The distance modules start next week and the next residential course is in November…I’m excited to be doing this course, but the first week was pretty intense emotionally!  I am not sure pregnancy hormones helped much :-s

PREPARING TO BECOME A MUMMY.  After my list of things to do blog post several weeks ago, I have done very little to check anything off of it.  Mostly because of all of the above busyness!  And also I am kind of STILL in denial.  Yes I know, I really need to get over that!  I went shopping for some maternity clothes whilst I was in the UK (which by the way was very disappointing as most stores only do maternity stuff online…blah blah blah) and ended up in the baby section.  I love the clothes in the UK compared to the US.  I think it is because I feel that clothes in the US are overly girly and garishly pink.  I like pink, but not that much, I equally do not like the fact that even animals in the US are genderfied (I am not even sure that is a word!!!!)  In the UK, there seems to be more baby clothes that can be girl or boy.  Anyway, I picked a whole bunch of stuff up. Then absolutely freaked out when I thought about the sizes I was picking….in the UK they use baby sizes ‘tiny baby’, ‘newborn baby’, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months etc….All I could think of was, what if I get all this stuff and something happens to Rocky?? What if she doesn’t make it? I understand that this is a common feeling amongst all pregnant women – I mean it would probably be unnatural not to have these thoughts.  So I put everything back and walked out of the store empty handed and decided to go home.  Now….I did let my parents choose some outfits for Rocky when we were out together.  If I hadn’t let them I think they may have been a little upset because I know they want to and it was probably the only chance we would get to shop together before Rocky’s arrival.  So they bought Rocky some very sweet, non-pink outfits and I love them.

This is not to say I have not been thinking about Rocky’s arrival and completely bury my head in the sand.  I’ve started to do some research into the long list of baby related items we need to buy!  There is so much choice out there!!  I bought a couple of British baby magazines to flick through and get ideas (which by the way are waaaaaay better than the US baby magazines – I can’t put my finger on why I think that, I may simply be biased).  I will pat myself on the back, however, for finally booking a weekend birthing class as well as a parenting class for the end of November, beginning of December.  I really hope Rocky doesn’t arrive before this because all the classes were full up ‘til then!  I’m not overly happy about these classes because I would much prefer to do something longer for the birthing side, but our work schedule is not overly conducive to regular classes.  Perhaps when we eventually find a doula she may offer private classes that we could do.  This is the next task on our list…find ourselves a lovely doula!

THE BUMP.  So at some point during the residential course my bump ‘popped’.  Two people commented – Chris and someone I had just met on the course. Chris saw my bump on skype and was like – your bump is sticking out further than your boobs now!  And the other person I had just met said something had changed in the size of my bump over the week I had been there.

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As I was queuing up at the airport security one of the officers noticed I was pregnant and said I should have a body scan rather than walk through the scanner (I don’t know why, but I guess it has something to do with not needing an extra search if the buzzer goes off).  Also when I was on the tube someone offered me their seat.  Which was very kind, but I didn’t need it.  I had ordered a ‘Baby on Board’ badge to arrive at my parents’ house for my London trip, but I didn’t need it in the end because generally the bus from the hotel to the school usually had seats available. The one thing I am finding more difficult now is bending over to put my shoes and socks on.  I need to sit down for starters as well as really reach to get to my toes.  I think some more yoga is needed!  Rocky has been kicking my bladder a lot this week and generally being a little wiggle monster.  When I was sat next to one particular guy on the course, every time he spoke she kicked! It was quite funny!! But I absolutely love every single move she makes, it makes me very happy indeed.

THE END.  OK, most of you have probably gone by now…but I had 4 weeks to catch up on and I am sat on a transatlantic flight! If you made it to here I give you a big hug and a high five.  I will post an update after our scan on Tuesday (oh I also have the lovely gestational diabetes test then too :-S)

PC Diary: Anatomy Scan & an Echogenic Bowel

The Pudding Club Diary @ 20w3d (16 Aug 2016)

I have been really nervous about the 20 week anatomy scan for the past several weeks.  I was initially worried because of my lack of weight gain, but in the last 2.5 weeks I managed to finally put some weight on!  In that time I have put on 5lbs; I was worried that this could affect Rocky’s growth.  But today, we found out that my worries were unfounded.  Rocky is growing perfectly within the normal percentile and is the grand total weight of just 11oz!

The anatomy scan took a while because Rocky was moving all over the place and the technician had to poke her (very hard!) several times to get her into a better position.  Rocky’s legs, arms, total length, tummy and head circumferences were all measured.  We saw her various body parts, including the spine, heart (including all four chambers!), lungs and bowels. Very cool! Oh and she was completely spread eagle, so Rocky is definitely a girl!!!

Afterwards with the doctor she told us that everything was looking good and that Rocky is right on track.  The only thing that came up on the scan was something called an echogenic bowel.  This is known as a ‘soft marker’ or a non specific finding i.e. it is not an abnormality but indicative that there may be an increased risk of several associations to other issues such as Trisomy 21, 18 and 13, cystic fibrosis, infection and intrauterine growth restriction.  Somewhere between 60-70% of the time an echogenic bowel resolves itself and disappears on the next ultrasound, and 90% of the time there is nothing wrong with the baby when it is born.  So basically, it is nothing to worry about for the moment, especially as the blood test for the three Trisomies came back negative.

The plan is to have another ultrasound in 4 weeks time to see if the echogenic bowel is still there.  Fortunately, we have an ultrasound scheduled with the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists for Rocky’s fetal echocardiagram (because apparently as Rocky is an IVF baby there is an increased risk of heart related issues)….so we will get them to look at the bowel again then.  Our doctor said the chances are there will be nothing there when we go to the specialist!!!  But at least we don’t have to wait another 4 weeks, just 2 to get a vague idea of where this might be heading.

So all in all, Rocky is doing just fine, most likely.  Of course the scan couldn’t have just been normal!  But I’m not going to worry, if the doctor isn’t worried, I’m not worried. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

If you would like to see Rocky the scary alien that looks like she might murder you in her sleep, and actually not too bad of a 3D pic of her face, I have put a couple of pics up on my Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/thegreatpuddingclubhunt/?hl=en