01 March 2009

Aidan Ryan, the fiery little king himself!

Twelve tests later (ranging from viral to genetic), and I at least had some answers. The first was that my progesterone levels were unusually low, which can cause miscarriages early in the first trimester. The second came in the form of an autoimmune disorder called ANA (Anti-Nucleic Antibody). A positive ANA can be indicative of lupus or RA, but my titers were low and so I have neither, though I can still develop them in the future. ANA is also known to cause blood clots in the placenta and cord, which starves the fetus and results in miscarriage. The third involves an unfortunately named enzyme called MTHFR, which breaks down folic acid into a form the body can use. I have one defective copy of the gene that codes for this enzyme, so I need to consume much more folic acid than someone with two normal copies in order to get enough of it. The lack of folic acid can cause nural tube defects and a whole host of other problems that may result in miscarriage. Like ANA, MTHFR is also a blood clotting disorder.

With these test results we were able to develop a plan. In September 2007 I began taking a baby aspirin each day, as well as injecting 10,000units of heparin subq. Then late in October, following a weekend in Iowa with Chad, I awoke the morning of 29 October at 5am with, shall we say, a strange urge to pee on a stick. It was positive - we were pregnant again! Doctors put me on progesterone suppositories 2x/day and monitored my hcg hormones until they were high enough for an ultrasound. My hcg hormones sky rocketed, and at around 6 weeks we saw a healthy heartbeat on ultrasound. It was exciting and frightening all at once.

My pregnancy wasn't a particularly easy one, though compared to some I suppose I was quite lucky. I bled on and off pretty much the whole first trimester and half of the second. When the bleeding stopped, the Braxton-Hicks began. Not a month went by that I didn't have some scare or another that I was either miscarrying or going into preterm labor, but no matter how bad things got for me, the baby was just fine.

I traveled a surprising bit considering my pregnancy. In late December I returned to NJ to visit family for Christmas. By then I was already showing enough for people to give up their subway seats for me (which I milked for all that was good and holy). I was horribly morning sick until around 14 weeks, and often wondered why, indeed, it was called *morning* sickness when I was sick *all* the time. Then at around 17 weeks, Chad and I went to Florida with his parents for some R&R. We even got to see the Atlantis launch from Coco Beach, which was totally awesome! No one could deny my belly bump by then, and I learned that a pregnant woman as the right to use any available toilet regardless of whether it is maintained for staff only. I'm convinced that Aidan was using my bladder as a pillow and my ribs as a foot rest, because he was constantly kicking me in the ribs, and not an hour went by, day or night, that I didn't have to run to an empty toilet to pee. Ah, the privilege to be pregnant.

Though I had a total of 20 ultrasounds during the course of my pregnancy, my favourite was definitely the 4D ultrasounds, and the best one we got was at 18 weeks. After that point, Aidan turned head-down and stayed there, so it was increasingly difficult to get a picture of his face. He measured on track or slightly ahead the whole time, and kept a nice and steady heart beat. At around 22 weeks I started getting impatient to feel him kick, so I bought a fetal doppler so I could at least hear him. That little machine proved to be my saving grace, and I highly suggest it to any pregnant woman in need of a little extra assurance. The placenta was anterior so I didn't really feel Aidan kick until 24-25 weeks.

Anyways, the only pregnancy symptom I didn't get too badly was heartburn, but I was forever short of breath and crampy from the Braxton-Hicks. I have a pretty short torso so there wasn't really anywhere for Aidan to grow except straight up and out. By 38 weeks I was a blimp and ready to be done. I gained 42ish pounds and had the darkest linea nigra ever (which, btw, is still not gone 8 months later).

My induction started out really well. The nurse stripped my membranes and put some gell in my cervix to soften it, bringing me immediately into early labor. When given the option of going home to labor a while, or to have my water broken at 3cm, I should have just gone home. Instead, I let them break my water. I was terrified of loosing Aidan during labor and giving birth to a stillborn baby. Women with blood clotting disorders have a much higher risk of stillbirth, and I was practically sick with worry. Of course with the breaking of the water came pitosin (which I didn't want), and an epidural (because I wasn't willing to have one without the other). I then proceeded to spend the next 14 hours on my back in relative comfort. It was boring, though. Everything I had wanted to do during labor (especially walk) was made impossible by the epidural. Then around 11pm, after being checked by the nurse for what seemed like the hundredth time (8.5cm) my epidural failed, and thus began 6 hours of excruciating pain and useless contractions. I did eventually make it to 10cm and pushed and pushed and pushed and succeeded in doing nothing other than further misshape my son's head. At 5am my doctor released me from my torture and did a c-section. Aidan was born at 5:40am, 28 June 2008, on the morning of my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. He was 7lb 3.6oz and 21" long with huge hands and feet and a cone head like you wouldn't believe. He was completely stuck sunny-side up in my pelvis, so had I delivered him vaginally in that position it would have been quite traumatic for the both of us. At least with the c-section, it was only traumatic for me :P.

I should probably mention right now that while there is no right or wrong way to have a baby, I do not recommend a c-section unless it's your last chance...particularly after being in excruciating pain for 6 hours. I wouldn't go numb so I had to be put totally under. I woke up still in pain and horribly confused. With the after contractions I thought I was still pregnant. I also had a really hard time seeing or focusing on anything.

But Aidan was healthy and so it was totally worth it. Welcome to the world, baby boy. This last picture was actually taken day 2, when I was much, much more with it all and less heavily drugged :).

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