Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I saw the cardiologist today and he was really nice.  It was a relief, as I hardly had time to process the fact that I needed to see a cardiologist, let alone choose who I saw.

He was very laid back and friendly.  He had all of my previous cardiac imaging, but didn't really comment a whole lot on it.  He is repeating the imaging for himself, so next week Friday I am doing a stress echo (imagine a nearly 8 month pregnant girl, huffing and puffing on a treadmill, with electrodes all over her.  Okay, don't.  It's disturbing.) and then I'll wear a heart monitor for 30 days. I will follow up with him when the 30 days are over, and we'll go from there.

I was very pleased with this.  He didn't get ahead of himself and starting giving me all the things that could happen, he kept it right in the present, and we will deal with what we're given, and I like that a lot.  It's not so overwhelming. 

So next Friday is the stress echo, then I see my OB the following week.  I am assuming this will be the appointment that determines the rest of the course of this pregnancy.  I have spent the past several days researching everything under the sun, so any scenarios that become reality, I will have a game plan.  Might not be an EASY game plan or a cheap game plan, but it'll be a game plan, nonetheless.

In the meantime, life will carry on as it has always been.  I am not restricted from working, I will simply be taking the precautions I have been all along because of being pregnant, and continue taking things one day at a time.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I had my high risk OB appointment last Thursday at 28 weeks and to say it didn't go as planned would be an understatement.

It likely doesn't help that my regular OB is very laid back.  Any concern I've ever had she dismisses, and to be honest, I liked that.  Kept my anxiety nice and low.  Maybe the fact that she sent me to a high risk OB should have turned on a light bulb in my head, but it didn't.

The doctor came in and had my heart imaging that I have had over the past 2 years with him.  All this time, all the doctors I have seen have been focused on the ejection fraction percentage and nothing else, so that was what I focused on as well.  My last two heart echos had normal ejection fractions.  This doctor agreed that being that they were normal was a good thing, the fact that structurally my heart is abnormal is "disconcerting."  My ventricles are dilated and the walls of my heart are enlarged, indicating that although the pumping strength of my heart has normalized (which is what the ejection fraction percentage represents), structurally my heart is indicating that it still has to work harder than normal to function and pump blood throughout my body.

Looking back, I should have been seeing a cardiologist all this time.  Too late for that, though, but now that I know, I will be seeing one the rest of my life.

The scary part is, from the 28th week of pregnancy until 48 hours after delivery (his words, not mine), the heart is under the most pressure, as the demands of the baby are very high, and the amount of extra fluid the body has to deal with is also very high.  A normal heart works harder at this point, and when you have a heart that works harder under regular conditions, pregnancy can be very, very taxing.

The doctor did not like this at all.  He got me into a cardiologist for this coming Tuesday, and took me off work until I am evaluated, as any unnecessary stress can be very harmful to me.  It's super scary.  I know my baby is perfectly healthy (I had an ultrasound last week and everything looked great).  But my health is on the line in a way I never realized.  I am at a huge risk for going into congestive heart failure, and other scary things that I refuse to think about.  Another scary thing is I am new to this health system and I do not qualify for FMLA leave until March 16.  If I am taken off work after I see the cardiologist, which is a HUGE possibility, I lose my job and my benefits.  This thought makes my feel physically ill, so I refuse to think about that right now, although Jay and I have run through every single scenario, and I do feel we are mostly prepared if something happens.  I am going day by day.  If I can make it to March 16 and start my leave, that still only buys me 12 weeks of protection, with a SMALL amount of income, but I'd still have benefits and my job would be held.  But only for 12 weeks.  In an ideal situation, I would carry this baby as close to term as possible, but at most, that would give me 4 weeks after the birth to still have job and insurance protection.  I would not be able to return to work at 4 weeks post-partum no matter what, so I would still be put into the position of losing both my job and benefits.  The only way this situation would be better, is it would give me 12 weeks to figure something out, instead of losing everything immediately.  I also hold onto hope that the cardiologist will not be as alarmed by my situation, and allow me to work as long as I am able, but at the same time, I don't want to go into this appointment on Tuesday wearing my rose colored glasses and get knocked off my feet for the second time.  Again, I'll just take things day to day and hope it all works out.

In other news, with every little kick, wiggle, and squirm I feel out of my sweet little growing boy, I tell myself it is his way of reminding me that everything will be okay.  Because it will.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I had my 26 week OB appointment and it didn't quite go exactly as I had anticipated.

A normal OB appointment for me lasts MAYBE 15 minutes.  I never have any questions (I'm a pro, ya'll), my blood pressure is always 110/70 or some other normal range, baby measures on track, heart rate is beautiful, and I'm outta there.  Easy as pie.

Today, as soon as my doctor walked in I knew something was up.  She seemed nervous. 

Back track a little (and I likely blogged about it, but who knows).  December 2010, 2 months after my sisters cardiac incident, I went to the ER myself because I had been having these bouts of palpitations.  In the ER on the cardiac monitor, it showed ventricular bigemeny.  Basically, every other beat was abnormal, and I would run these stretches for 15-30 seconds at a time.  It resulted in me seeing a cardiologist, wearing a Holter monitor for 30 long days, a stress echo, a 2-D echo, and a cardiac MRI.  The initial testing showed that my hearts pumping strength was sub-par.  Not bad enough to say I had congestive heart failure, but not normal like it should be.  I was put on 2 cardiac medications, which kicked my butt.  I have always had a low blood pressure and a lower than normal heart rate (it was my normal baseline, so while outside the range of normal, it was normal for me) and these two medications made them both drop even lower, which meant I always felt like I was going to pass out and/or fall asleep.  I hated them passionately.

A year later, I had repeat testing and for whatever reason, my heart strength was normal.  I never faithfully took the medications (I skipped them more often than I took them) but after I got the normal results, I stopped them altogether.  When I found out I was pregnant with the baby I miscarried, I immediately made an appointment with my primary doctor.  That pregnancy was not planned (I was on the pill) and I was terrified.  I never got the chance to worry about it, because from the time I found out I was pregnant to the time I miscarried was a measly week.  

Fast forward to today.  26 weeks pregnant, in the home stretch, and my OB is too nervous to take on my case.  She wants me to see some high risk OB doctors at Oakwood.  I asked if this meant that I would just be seeing additional doctors and still see her.  No.  I don't see her anymore, period.  Done.  I feel a little abandoned.  This pregnancy has been so easy, and now I was being transfered to high risk?  It's hard to wrap my mind around.  I am a planner and I don't like surprises.  Knowing this was my last baby, I had this picture of how everything would go:  no inductions, I would labor at home as long as possible, deliver sans epidural (no, not because I'm super mom and LOOOOVE PAIN! ...but for other reasons when I had one with Allison that I don't really want to relive), have the baby be with me the moment he was born, and go home the next day.  Then take a gloriously long maternity leave and enjoy my summer with the three loves of my life.  Now I know I am jumping the gun, but being high-risk, I worry that my "freedom" with my plan will be hindered.  Can I even have a regular delivery or will they throw around the idea of a C-Section?  Will I be hooked up to cardiac monitors throughout delivery?  Because I had to wear oxygen when I delivered Ethan and it made me insane!  I hated the lines... I wanted everything OFF me.  Can I have my baby right away or will I be whisked away for heart imaging to make sure I was okay?  Can I go home the next day or will they make me stay to make sure I was okay?  And above all this...will I even LIKE my new doctor?  Who will it even be?  Where is their office and will I be comfortable with him or her?  Delivering a baby is so intimate to me.  It's an AMAZING experience and I don't want some doctor that is going to make me feel uncomfortable.

So yeah.  Today didn't go as planned. At all.  Thankfully, I do trust my OB and her judgement.  I wouldn't have stayed with her so long if I felt otherwise.  She spent a ton of time with me today and even hugged me and apologized for sending me away, stating I was a "dream OB patient". 

My next appointment will be with my new doctor. I don't know when yet, and apparently I don't have much of a choice when, as it will be determined after a discussion is held between both doctors.  I should know soon, though, and I will say I'm a little nervous.

I have enjoyed much of this pregnancy and have not been in a hurry to deliver, just because I  know this is for sure my last pregnancy, but after today, I am ready to have my baby boy at home with me in my arms... just how it is meant to be.