February 28, 2004

The State of the Mess

Thank you, Mom and Dad. Even if you think our house looks like more of a mess than it did before you got here, it's actually doing much better.

Let me explain what I mean, for everyone else. The last two weeks have been extremely crazy and hectic. Ever since Elizabeth got sent to the hospital for pre-eclampsia, I'd been feeling overwhelmed. There were the trips to the hospital, then when Elizabeth got home, taking care of her. I had a new short-term job come in at my business. And there were the zillion things I'd wanted to get done around the house before the baby arrives, such as making room in the living room for Elizabeth's rocking chair (which she'll use for nursing), and making more storage space in the kitchen and bedroom.

My parents had driven their RV down to Florida to visit family and friends for a two-week vacation. Once Elizabeth went in the hospital, they asked if we wanted them to come up to Boston to help us out. We suggested they wait, since we didn't know what was going to happen. A couple of days after Elizabeth got out, I accepted their offer of help, because I was feeling too overwhelmed with stuff to do.

Mom and Dad could only stay from Tuesday night (when they arrived and parked the RV in our driveway) until Friday morning (because they had to return home to Illinois to go back to work at the end of their 'vacation'). But in the two full days here, they helped me to get a ton of work accomplished. I won't bore everyone with the details, but suffice it to say that things are more organized than they were before. Part of the re-organizing involved piling some dishes on the dining room table, and clothes on the bed. As they were leaving, my Mom noted that she thought I might feel things were messier than they had been before they arrived. I reassured her that, even thought things might look more messy, they were in fact more organized. Or at least, I was feeling much better about the state of the "mess" than I had been before.

It's amazing how much some simple cleaning and organizing can make a house feel so much better (at least to me). Now that we have more storage space for when the baby arrives, I feel better. And since so many of my "to do before the baby arrives" projects are now done, I feel like I can breathe again, and focus on taking care of Elizabeth, and maybe get back to accomplishing the items from those parts of my life that don't involve pregnancy and work that I've put on hold for the last couple of weeks. In summary: The State of the Mess is good. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Friday Update

My doctor's appointment went pretty well this morning. My blood pressure was OK, although I had a few high numbers at home, especially last night. But the NST went well, and the baby is moving around and generally seeming quite happy. She checked my cervix, and it's starting to soften up a little, but it's still not really ready for labor. The baby has not "dropped" yet, either (engaged the head in my pelvis). Hopefully that will happen soon, as it will make it a lot easier to induce labor if we need to.

My protein levels were up a bit, but given the good blood pressure and lack of edema, we're still in "wait and see" mode. She said if we can make it to 35 or 36 weeks (March 3 and March 10, respectively), then the baby will almost certainly be OK to come home with me (that is, she won't have an extended stay in NICU).

We "splurged" and stopped at IHOP on the way home, so I got to eat my breakfast sitting up with my feet on the floor. But now I'm back on the couch, and expect to stay here for the rest of today. I'll let you all know if there's anything new to report.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Tom's parents are here

Tom's parents have been on vacation in Florida in their RV, and decided to go back to Chicago via Boston so they can help us out for a couple of days. After all, it was only 1400 miles out of the way.... Thank you, Mom & Dad!

They got here last night, and today the house is transformed. They have finished all the furniture rearranging in the living room and the bedroom that we wanted to do before the baby arrives, and also helped set up a little better bed rest area for me by the couch (more table space that I can reach, etc.) Tonight, Mom will attempt to teach Tom how to cook meatloaf! I'm sure it will be an adventure for both of them. She's also going to make me some soup and/or casseroles tonight or tomorrow so we have some stuff that can just be reheated. (We have a tendency to eat a lot of frozen food normally, but it's all too high-sodium for me now). Then they need to head back to Chicago first thing Friday morning.

I've been pretty good about lying down today. Yesterday I was sitting up for a while, and my blood pressure got up to 157/98, which is definitely way too high. It's been around 130/80 most of the times I've checked it today, though. I see my doctor early Friday morning, so I should find out the results of the last round of blood tests then, and probably schedule another ultrasound. I'll post again when we get back from that appointment.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2004

Things are looking up

My appointment with the nurse-midwife this morning went very well. My blood pressure is down, and my water retention is also down. Not only did my weight go way down, my ankles have started looking like a normal person's again. The overall message was basically, "keep doing whatever you're doing, because everything looks good." They ordered blood tests again, and they'll call if anything on those doesn't look right, but otherwise, I'm just sitting tight here until I see the OB on Friday.

I'm also feeling better, and getting a little better at breaking up my day so I don't get too bored.

I'll post again if there's anything to report, but for now, no news is definitely good news!

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 12:10 PM | Comments (6)

February 21, 2004

Bed rest is a pain

Watch out folks - this is going to be a very whiny post. It's all worth it if it keeps my little girl healthy, but that doesn't make it fun! In some ways, it was easier when I was in the hospital.

Tom is being wonderfully supportive, but he can't really afford to wait on me hand and foot, and I would feel bad about asking him, anyway. He has gone out and gotten me some very nice tables and a lap desk, so I can at least use the computer and eat fairly comfortably lying down. But it's a big pain for him to have to come downstairs from his office all the time during the day to refill my water and serve me all my meals/snacks/etc. Plus, I'm now sufficiently hemmed in by tables at the couch that it's getting a little tricky to slide in and out to go to the bathroom. It's not as if it was easy to get up from lying down with this big belly before!

I've had a bad cold for several days (slowly getting better, finally), so lying all the way down is uncomfortable because my nose clogs up quickly. I can sort of prop my head up, but then my neck gets stiff. Lying all the way down also makes my normal pregancy heartburn worse. I'm supposed to be lying on my side, rather than my back, as much as possible, but of course that makes it difficult to type or to knit, and exacerbates the neck problem. I'm getting better at arranging pillows to prop me up appropriately, but the hospital bed was definitely easier for moving from one position to another.

I guess the biggest problem is just that I'm bored. I'm not much of a TV watcher, and you can only read for so many hours a day (or at least I can). A fast net connection is a help (having a wireless connection at home is great!), and I'm playing computer games and shopping online, but I can see an awful lot of empty hours between me and the end of this process.

I can tell that all this lying down seems to be helping, at least. My blood pressures have stayed fairly low (although not quite as low as yesterday or as in the hospital). On the other hand, I checked it right before and right after walking to the bathroom this afternoon, and my systolic pressure went up 10 points and my diastolic went up 20! They came back down again after I laid back down for a while, but clearly walking more than absolutely required is not a good idea.

We did get a cool toy in the mail today - Mom's good friend Cliff had a very nice fetal Doppler (that he got to listen to underwater sounds in his backyard pond). He shipped it off for us to borrow, so we can hear the baby's heartbeat at home now. It's pretty fun, although I don't want to use it too often. The baby always seems to get agitated about ultrasounds and NSTs, so I don't want to be sending sound waves in there all the time. But it's neat to be able to hear her.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 07:13 PM | Comments (6)

February 20, 2004

Robot maids?

So when is the technology going to get to the point where robot maids are practical and common? I know they have the Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner available now, but I'm looking for something to do dishes, dust, make the bed, clean the litter box, maybe pick up groceries (since the online grocer doesn't seem to offer everything I want that's in the 'real' store), etc.

I wouldn't mind a live-in maid, but I know I can't afford one of them. :-P

And yes, I've seen some of the work by Marshall Brain about the future of robotics. So I know I'm going to be waiting a couple of decades. But a guy can hope...

Oh, and if you can't figure out why I'm posting about robot maids, just check out some recent posts (one and two).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 06:53 PM | Comments (4)

Quick update

My doctor's appointment went very well today - another good NST, and great blood pressures (close to normal range). So now I'm back home, lying around for the weekend. As long as the blood pressure doesn't go up and I don't start seeing other symptoms, I may be here for quite a while before we have this baby!

The tests that came back from the hospital all looked pretty good, too. The only thing that is still noticeably elevated is uric acid, which seems not to be a terribly strong marker of problems (from what I've been able to read, anyway).

I'll post again if there is any news, but I expect a quiet weekend.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 12:56 PM | Comments (3)

February 19, 2004

I'm home!

As Tom mentioned, I'm home from the hospital, at least for now. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, where we will get the results of the 24-hour urine test that I finished there, and they'll also do another blood pressure check. So far, our home measurements since I got back from the hospital look about the same as they did there, so if I can manage to keep my duff in bed, hopefully I can stay home. Of course, that means Tom is going to have to get a crash course in cooking, since I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on my salt intake, so he can't just feed me frozen corn dogs any more. :-)

I had another ultrasound at the hospital this afternoon, which estimated the baby's weight at 6lb 13oz, which is huge for 33 weeks (99th percentile). The ultrasound estimates can be off by 20% or more in either direction, though. (The measurement by a different ultrasound place a week ago said 5lb 5oz, which would be 84th percentile - still pretty big, but not enormous. But we don't think she could really gain a pound and a half in a week). The weights are based on measuring the head diameter, the abdomen diameter, and the length of the femur. I also have a little more amniotic fluid than average (it measures "high normal"). The doctor who took the ultrasound said that the only potentially negative effect of this is that it can cause you to go into labor early, but that in my case, the preeclampsia would probably outrace the fluid as a determining factor for when labor starts, anyway.

Generally speaking, the perinatologist says there's not a whole lot that can be done for preeclampsia other than to try to slow it down like this. She says that it starts very early (maybe at conception), and that the only "cure" is to deliver the baby. So right now, it's mostly a balancing act between my health and hers. I'm in pretty good shape, and she seems fine on the ultrasounds, so they're not looking at inducing me yet. If there are signs that the placenta is becoming compromised (she starts moving less, her heart rate drops or doesn't accelerate appropriately on the NSTs, or they see reduced blood flow in the cord on an ultrasound), then they'll almost certainly induce me. If the blood pressure or other symptoms get serious enough to endanger my health, then they'll evaluate based on how well she would be expected to do out versus how well I would be expected to do with her in.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot to report. I'll post another update after my doctor's appointment, assuming I don't get sent back to the hospital. I don't have a web connection there, which is probably why I got a lot of work done today. :-) Thanks to everyone for the supportive emails and phone calls - I really appreciate it!

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 10:53 PM | Comments (1)

How to be notified of updates

OK, I just discovered that I can add email addresses to a "notify me" list so that you can get an email when a new update gets posted. Send me an email if you want to get these notices, and I'll add you to the list!

I wish people could add themselves to the list; if anyone knows how to set that up on MovableType, please let me know.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

Quick Eliz update, 2/19 night

Elizabeth is home! Yay!

Since she's home, I'm going to let her update her own damn status since she's just laying on her duff all day now. ;-) Just kidding. But I am asking her to post a detailed update on her status tonight, to give me time to catch up with other work.

But I wanted to post a couple notes in response to the various comments and emails from people.

In no particular order:

  • I don't know if she was allowed visitors besides me in the hospital. Probably; we can check for next time.
  • I don't know if there's any way for people to be automagically notified by email when this site gets updated. If anyone out there is familiar with MovableType and can help me, drop me a line!
  • She did not need books or stuff to keep her entertained. She brought with her some books, her computer (which had both music AND games on it, plus a screen-saver of our kitties to help create a nice atmosphere), some knitting, some patent work, etc. So she definitely had plenty to do!
  • Sleep?!? I'm supposed to get sleep?!?
  • Since she's home, I will be enforcing bed rest. I don't think she'll be too bad about it, now that she's gotten a bit of a scare from going to the hospital, but I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on her.
  • Thanks Adora for the medical info. :-) I'm glad you remember it all. We've certainly read tons and tons about just about every aspect of pregnancy, but after a while it starts to blur together.

I think that's all for now. If people have more questions and stuff, email them along. I'll certainly be available while she's at home, and if she has to go to the hospital again, I'll probably check email at least once per day.

Oh, and a big thank you to everyone for reading and sending such supportive messages!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

Eliz update, 2/19 morning

I spoke with Elizabeth this morning. The perinatologist (sp?) has been in already today, and thinks that she may discharge Elizabeth tomorrow morning. We'll have to wait and see the results of the tests they're running, but Eliz may be able to come home for bed rest for a while.

Her blood pressure seems to depend very strongly on whether or not she's lying down. One measurement they did this morning while lying down (and having been there for a few hours) was something like 130 over 70, whereas it's frequently been 145 over 85 while sitting up, and they got a couple of 150+ over 90 readings yesterday. So it sounds like she's going to have to stay horizontal. But if she does get to come home, at least the bun in the oven will get to cook for a while longer!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:19 AM | Comments (3)

February 18, 2004

Elizabeth Update, 2/18 night

I'm going to try to use my blog (which I haven't used much at all to date) to post updates on the status of Elizabeth and the baby. This way, I don't need to remember to email a billion people. I'll just email you all the blog URL, and you can keep checking back in for details.

OK, for those of you just joining the game: The baby is at 33 weeks as of today. Full term is nominally 40 weeks (based on the way they count). Starting a few weeks ago (maybe right before 30 weeks?), they noticed that Elizabeth's blood pressure had jumped up, as had her weight (which means she's retaining water). Those are signs of pre-eclampsia/toxemia/PIH (same thing, different names), which can be a major concern. They put her on more frequent exams, to keep an eye on her. The blood pressure seemed to be fluctuating up and down, but staying mostly reasonable. She'd never had more than traces of protein in her urine; if there are more than traces, then that's another, more serious, sign of toxemia. Some of her tests had been slightly trending in the wrong direction, and so her doctor started talking about needing to induce her early (but how early wasn't clear).

Given that things seemed to be stabilizing, we'd been hoping she could make it most of the way through the pregnancy, perhaps to 38 weeks. Well, on Tuesday (2/17), she went in for her twice-weekly exam, and they said that she'd gained 9 pounds in 4 days -- ie. she was retaining more water. The urine test also seemed to indicate some protein. They gave her an injection of steroids which help the baby's lungs to finish developing, and to give a surfactant effect (?) in the lungs so that if they do need to induce her real soon, then the baby would be better able to breathe on her own.

They told her she needed to get a second injection of the steroid in 24 hours, i.e. at 4pm today (2/18). They also were waiting on the results of some blood tests. Today, they decided that they wanted her to go into the hospital, probably to be admitted, because her platelet count was down to 135 (maybe 135,000?), plus all the other stuff. So we took her to Brigham & Women's hospital. They checked her in, gave her the 2nd steroid shot, drew blood for more tests, did a non-stress test (NST - where they monitor the baby's heart), etc. They then decided to admit her.

The baby looks to be doing great according to the NST, and according to an ultrasound from a week ago. Elizabeth also feels fine. She says the whole thing is annoying because she feels OK, it's just some machines that are telling her there's a problem. But they're doing a 24-hour urine test, which gives them a better profile of the proteins her kidneys might be spilling out, and to enforce bed rest on her.

So I left her at the hospital around 9:30pm tonight. I'll be heading back sometime on Thursday. We probably won't hear anything back on the 24-hour test until Friday morning. So we don't know what's going to happen. Maybe they'll send her home for strict bed rest. Maybe they'll induce her right away. Maybe they'll leave her in the hospital for a few weeks. Keep checking back every day or two to this spot for more details.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:35 PM | Comments (2)

February 04, 2004

Gay Marriage Brouhaha

The latest round in the gay marriage debate flurried about today (see the Boston.com story and/or the CNN.com story for details). It made me wonder: What's the big deal?

I simply do not understand the opposition some people have to gay marriage. The same people who oppose gay marriage often are in favor of civil unions, which mostly seems to be a semantic difference, for the most part. As far as I can tell, people oppose gay marriage for one of two reasons.

Reason one is based on religion (Judaic/Christian/Muslim, to my understanding; as far as I know, Buddhism and Hinduism don't have much to say about sexual orientation). Specifically, the Bible (or Koran or etc.) says that homosexuality is a sin; therefore, people believe that gay marriage is a sin and should not be allowed. But if you believe in any reasonable separation of church and state, then you can easily reject this argument. People's religious beliefs should not restrict other people's love lives.

Reason two is based in homophobia. If you hate gays (or even if you just have a really strong sub-conscious repulsion), then you don't want them marrying and "flaunting" their sexual orientation in public. Hatred, like religion, is not a firm basis for law, though, and therefore this basis for opposing gay marriage should be rejected.

Are there other reasons? None come to mind, but if you know of any, please pass the rationale along to me.

Just like heterosexuals, homosexuals are capable of long-lasting, loving, strong relationships. As well as short-lived, bitter divides. Heterosexuals certainly don't have a lock on firm, long-term marriages. Heck, given the high divorce rate in this country, why not allow gay marriages to help maybe bring the divorce rate down? And allowing gays to marry would make it much easier for them to adopt children. Think about it - there are lots of kids that are without parents, and could be raised by a loving gay couple to become much happier adults than would happen in an orphanage or series of foster homes.

Any way I consider it, I can't see any problem with allowing gay marriages. And so the apparent flurry of activity to try to pass a (state) constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages seems ridiculous and petty, to my mind.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 05:14 PM | Comments (9)