Sunday, March 02, 2014

flip baby, flip!

It was on my 34th week prenatal appointment that I've learned that this little munchkin is breech. I guess I kind of had an idea for a while since I can always feel something hard near my ribs when my stomach contracts. Although I always thought that it's his butt that I'm feeling and not his head. :) I asked my OB about the next steps. She said that the baby still have a couple of weeks to turn on his own. If he did not, we can try to manually turn him. Otherwise, C-section has to be done.

So I went home that day, feeling overwhelmed and honestly disappointed. I know that C-section is always an alternative if vaginal birth is not progressing. But the absolution that I had to do it is what disappoints me. I have come to terms with it though. Although that does not mean that I wouldn't try all means necessary to turn him as long as it's safe for the both of us. Specially him. I pretty much followed exercises and read all the I can in turning my breech munchkin.

On my 36th week appointment, he's still breech. I saw Dr. Siegel for that appointment. After the usual motions of a prenatal appointment, we talked about the options that I have with birth. He gave me 3 options. (1) Wait for me to get to labor, as the baby can still turn (although very minimal chance) from now 'til then. (2) Schedule his C-section birth on my 39th week. (3) Try ECV between 36-37 weeks. With the chances of 60-40 with him turning.

I chose option 3. Any way to turn him and hopefully give me the chance to delivery him vaginally, I'd take it as long as it's safe. With that decision, we move to the ultrasound room to check if I am a good candidate for the ECV. He checked the baby's growth, length of his femur, the amount of fluid I have and lastly the placement of the placenta. Thankfully, I am a good candidate for ECV. So we had that scheduled for Friday, February 28 at 9am. It has be done in a hospital since it's necessary to have an OR ready in this kind of procedure, just in case anything out of the ordinary happens. Dr. Siegel is one of the two doctors in the practice that I'm seeing who has a great success rate with ECV.

Since scheduling the ECV, I've read everything that I can about the procedure. The pros and cons. Other moms' experience. What can happen during the procedure. True enough, I've scared myself to the point that I've contemplated canceling it. It's a great thing that Topher came with me on that last appointment and ease my mind about it. He reminded me that I won't even be scheduled for one if everything did not look good for us to proceed.

Lat Friday was when I went it for ECV. We arrived at L&D before 9 in the morning and got admitted pretty soon after. I was hooked to the fetal and contraction monitors and got started on IV fluids. It took 3 tries for the nurse to finally put the IV on me and every one of them hurt like a mother! My veins are freakishly small, thus her struggle to find one to stick to. I needed to have IV because the meds (terbutaline) which will prevent the uterus from contracting will be administered intravenously. At around 10:30AM, Dr. Siegel came by, explained the procedure, the possible risks, what medication will be administered and it's effects.

A couple of minutes after the medicine was administered, my heart started beating like crazy. I was told that it will feel like I had about 5 cups of coffee, and boy it sure does. Good thing is that's all I felt. No shaking, trembling, drowsiness or nausea. I was then put in a comfortable position before doing the version. The doctor checked the baby's position through ultrasound. I was told that being calm and relaxed will help a lot so I tried to think of my happy place and do the breathing exercises we learned at baby classes. He started by palpating the baby's head and butt and then pushing and gliding them clockwise. It's definitely uncomfortable, because he digs deep into my tummy to palpate and glide the baby. He would pause after a minute and do an ultrasound to check the baby's position. Baby turned about 45 degrees before returning to breech position. Stubborn little stinker! The doctor gave me a couple of minutes to catch my breath before starting again, this time in the opposite direction and that one hurt! Baby did not move either. He dislike being pushed that way. One more try and that's it little boy. We're done. The doctor only wanted to try 3 times before calling it a day. He again gave me a couple of minutes to catch my breath and check how I'm doing, before trying clockwise turn again. This time he finally turned!!! Thank you God! He's being ultrasound-ed every couple of degrees while being turn to check his position. Then they put a binder around my belly to hold the little munchkin in place. Hopefully he stays in this position until go time. The fetal and contraction monitors were placed back again to check both our heart rates and if I'm having any contraction after the procedure.

We stayed for another two hours after the version feeling very sore after. The doctor came back 3 times to check me and baby. He made sure that we are both doing okay. I'm sooooo grateful that little munchkin is good after the version, after all he's my main concern. I know I'll be sore and it will hurt but I can deal with it. I don't want my little baby to get hurt in the process. God is good, He looked over us the entire time. We were discharged at around 1pm and grabbed lunch at Olive Garden (to celebrate) before going home. I was so exhausted and sore that I fell asleep immediately when we got home.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

pregnancy updates

Okay, so I haven't really posted anything about my pregnancy aside from the initial news when we found out that we're expecting. This is me trying to catch up before this little bean makes his grand entrance to the world.

My first trimester is not really as awful as what other moms-to-be experienced. I'm one of the lucky few who did not experience morning sickness, which I am super grateful for.  I did get nauseous a couple of times but not to the point of vomiting. Sorry TMI.  Food cravings and aversions - I really don't remember having food aversions. I remember eating a lot on the first trimester. Pasta and white sauce was something that I've craved a lot for. And salty snacks like cheetos! I loved those for a couple of weeks. I also remember having a heightened sense of smell, more than the usual. I can't stand the smell of sweat, it makes me super nauseous to the point of leaving the room otherwise I'll probably barf.

When I came in for my first prenatal visit, they did an ultrasound to make sure that the little bean is doing great. This ultrasound was done when I was at 8weeks. You can absolutely see my little bean here looking like a bean. :)

8weeks ultrasound
And then just 4 weeks after, we did another ultrasound. This time it is with the Maternal Fetal Medicine. We did tests for DS and other genetic disorder although there is no family history between the two of us. We may be being overly cautious, but who cares. The tests came back negative for any disorder, for which we are extremely happy and grateful for. Another upside of these tests is another round of ultrasound. We got to see our little bean again. :) It's amazing how as little as 4 weeks can make a huge difference in fetus' development.

at 12 weeks, waving his little arm to us :)
At around 18 weeks, we did a fall maternity shoot at the nearby Morton Arboretum. I thought it would be a neat idea to tell the world that we are pregnant. At the time, mostly those who knew were only family, relatives, friends here in Chicago and co-workers. So on a chilly Saturday morning, we went to the Arboretum to take pictures. I'd say we got pretty cool pictures to share to the rest of the world (FB world).

The second trimester was a breeze. The fatigue that I've felt all throughout first trimester is not as bad and was subsiding. And being able to feel the baby move is just plain awesome. The best thing this trimester? We've finally had the anatomy scan!!! ;) We're having a BOY!

Things began to become challenging when I reached third trimester. I could honestly say that it still is. It's harder compared to my first trimester. The weight gain is taking a toll on my back and it often hurts. Every day activities started to become increasingly difficult to do. There's pain when walking, sitting, rolling out of bed and turning from side to side. I've been swelling pretty much everywhere too. Hands, feet, legs, face. Everywhere. Hopefully this water retention would go away as soon as I give birth. *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


He was our first baby. Fur baby. Although technically he's not a baby when we got him, he was almost 7 years old then. He was given to us September 2012 by my college classmate and friend, Melanie. They have had Toby since he was a puppy but cannot keep him anymore since they had to downsize from their home to an apartment. Most of the apartments around their area doesn't allow pets particularly bigger dogs.

I can still remember that day so vividly when we welcomed Toby in our home. He's excited because of the new surroundings and he did not really know that he's now got a new place to live. When Melanie and her family left, Toby was so sad. He kept on barking at them. When we got to the house, he stayed by the door. He kept on looking outside hoping that they will come back for him. That first night, he stayed at our bedroom looking so lost. I felt so bad for him.

At Barnes and Noble Promenade. A day after we got him.
The first few days was hard for him. He would always just be at the door looking outside. I think after a couple of weeks, he started opening himself to us. Dogs like people have different personalities. I haven't had a dog like Toby before. He's very quiet and mellow. Like an old soul. He's not particularly playful. He pretty much just sleeps most of the day. However like most dogs, he likes to eat and go outside for fresh air. He's also especially fond of Topher. They have a special bond that Toby and I never had. Toby would always wait for him to get home. He's always so excited when Topher's home from work. Everyday they would go for his afternoon walks especially when the weather's nice.

We had a pretty good year with Toby. He brought laughter, joy and fun in our everyday life. He's a pretty damn good dog. Whenever we both had to go to work, he just patiently waits for us to get home. He'll be barking and wagging his cute tail with his toy cheetah in his mouth. :) He'll make a couple of circles around the house before dropping his toy and barking again. He wants to go outside at that point.

Then around late October last year, we noticed that he's not eating his dry dog food as much as he use to. So what we did was mix wet dog food with the dry, he would eat for a couple of days, then he won't eat again. Then we switch to table food with his dog food. It's the same thing, he'll eat for a day or two and then he'll lose interest again. We got concern because he's losing weight significantly. We scheduled for a vet visit and they had his blood tested. A day after, we learned that he has high amount of calcium in his blood. :( The vet explained that it could be a couple of things but the usual suspects are hyperparathyroidism or cancer. They have to do another blood run to rule out which one is it. If it is hyperparathyroidism, then we can operate on the tumor. If it is cancer, then it will be a harder battle to fight. The second blood run took longer to get results because it will be sent out of state for testing.

While waiting for the result, Toby had a very bad day. It was last December 11, a day after Topher and VJ's birthday (both are Toby's human dads). Toby was very weak and his breathing was very labored, I thought he's not gonna make it that day. I called Melanie to let her know about Toby's condition. They visited Toby that day. I felt it made a difference to Toby to see his original human parents, he survived that day. We received the results of the tests a few days after, it is what I feared it would be. The C word.

Topher and I talked about the results even before we received it. We've researched and read about the options that we have. We thought if it is operable like hyperparathyroidism, we can try to see if we can afford it. If it is cancer, and chemo is the likely option, we may have to opt out of it. As much as I want to cure Toby of this disease, chemotherapy in his age may not yield favorable results. He's almost 8 years old then and may not be strong enough to withstand the sessions. Shar pei's lifespan are 9-11 years on average. Honestly, it's also a lot of money. We do not have pet insurance for him. And we have a baby on the way to think of too.

After receiving the results of the second blood test, we told the vet that we would do the palliative care route. This is basically giving him steroids (prednisone) to get him his appetite back. After a couple of days with the prednisone, he's back to his old self. He started eating heartily again. He gain a couple of pounds. :) We celebrated the holidays happily with Toby. I've been talking to him, bargaining actually to make it through a couple of dates for us. The holidays (Christmas and New Year), his birthday (January 8), my birthday (January 26) and the birth of our son.

About 2 weeks ago, he started to not eat again even though he's still on medication. He lost the weight that he gained and more. He was also having significant muscle weakness, he flops from a sitting position to lying down. :( He still remains alert and would bark when the doorbell rung. Last Monday, (February 10) Topher mentioned that his muscle weakness was so bad that he cannot walk back to the house after relieving himself. :( He had to carry Toby back to the house. His breathing was very labored too. It will take him a couple of minutes before he can catch his breath back. I saw it for myself when I got home. He went to the backyard to pee before bedtime and it took him forever to come back. Then we saw him just sitting in the snow. :( He's too tired to climb up the deck. Topher had to carry him back to the house. I can't help but cry for him. Poor Toby.

It was last Saturday when we finally had to say goodbye to him. It was just the two of us that day, Topher went to CDH for work. Saturday is cleaning day and I just finished vacuuming our room and hauling the hamper to do the laundry when I fell on my butt while going down the stairs. I called the hospital and they said that I need to come in for observation (this warrants a different entry). Anyway, me and baby are okay, Thank God! When I got home, Toby and I went out the front door for him to pee. He was able to make it to his pee spot, but again had trouble going back. I carried him back to the house. Topher came home half an hour later and we had dinner with Gisselle and Jacq. They came by to get a couple of Gisselle's stuff.

While watching tv (NBA All-Star weekend), we noticed that Toby's breathing is not slowing down at all. Before, whenever he breathes heavily, it will take him a couple of minutes to be okay. Not this time. He can't find a position to be comfortable in. He tried laying on his stomach, sitting, standing, laying on his side. Nothing. :( This lasted for a couple of hours. Then Topher asked me if I want to take him to the emergency vet that night. He's telling me that maybe it's time for Toby to finally rest. He's in too much pain just to breathe. So I called the emergency vet to check and ask for details. The lady on the phone said to just come in whenever we are ready.

How can I be ready? How do you say goodbye to someone who has been with you for 72 weeks? Who gave us joy, laughter and sometimes tears? My heart broke that night. It's still broken.

On the way to the emergency vet, Toby was quiet. His breathing isn't labored and I secretly hoped that we don't have to go through the procedure. When we reached the pet hospital, we were given a room so that a vet tech can check him. We were told that he had to be given oxygen first that way he'll be comfortable before giving him the medicine because of his labored breathing. A couple of minutes later, the vet came to let us know that he suffered respiratory arrest even before they were able to give him oxygen. :( He's not breathing anymore and his heartbeat slow. When we saw him for the last time, it was unnerving to see him not struggling to breathe. He was finally at peace.

Our dearest Toby, thank you for staying with us for as long as you did. We miss you so much. We miss seeing you on your usual spots: by the foot of the stairs, by the doors, in your bed. We miss hearing your heavy paw steps and your barks when we come home. We know you're in better place, a place where there is no more pain and suffering but we're still having a hard time with you gone. We will always remember you Towb. We love you. 

eating snow was one of his favorite things to do


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