So, you may have noticed in our Maui pictures that I am looking quite, ahem, large and in charge. The reason for this is three-fold:
1. We ate ice cream every day. Sometimes twice a day;
2. My body is still relatively wrecked from Norah. I blame her (well, her and the ice cream) entirely. Which I feel totally okay with because I know she will blame me for way worse at some point in her life; and
...wait for it...
3. I'm pregnant. Oh yes. Pregnant. A little over 15 weeks, so if you're doing the math, just shy of 4 months. We're completely 'out' with the news now, so I thought I would do a little answer session with the most frequently asked questions we've been getting.
Was this planned or a mistake?
Um, have you met me? Planned. [This was, I kid you not, asked by the ULTRASOUND TECH at my first appointment. You gotta know I filled out a comment card on that one...]
When are you due?
March 7, 2011.
How are you feeling?
I am just now turning the corner on 14 or so weeks of feeling like absolute and total crap. There has been way more puking and general malaise this time around. I am sure that has a lot to do with the fact that last time I would go to work, collapse on the couch, and stay there the rest of the night. Norah isn't into that idea so much, so I am far more tired and icky feeling. I do have to say, I can't imagine how stay at home moms deal with subsequent pregnancies. I have to go to work during the day, but most of the time I can just hole up in my office and lay on the floor if I need to.
Are you going to find out the gender?
Yes. All preliminary indications are that it is another girl. We should know for sure soon. Please start sending BVZ beer now.
Have you chosen a name? Will you tell me what it is?
No and no. Much like with Norah, we will come up with a short list and then wait to decide for sure until the baby is born. And no, we won't be sharing the short list. For a couple reasons. First, we love you but don't want your opinion, and second, since I am a chronic over-sharer it is nice for at least one thing to be a surprise. Right now, we are calling the baby Marty Funkhouser in honor of my favorite character on the show Curb Your Enthusiasm. BVZ is pushing for Norah 2.0.
Have you told Norah? What does she think about it?
We have told her and I am not sure how much she actually gets. She talks to Funkhouser and asks to see my belly every now and again. She really likes babies and is in love with the little brothers of her friends (Lucas and Kevin). Whether or not she'll like a sibling of her own is yet to be seen. She's really into her baby doll, for whatever that's worth. She likes to put paper towels down her shirt and tell me that she has a baby in HER tummy too.
Really? Another one? I thought you were the type to be 'one and done'.
[This was asked by the same person who told me the first time, 'Hmmm. You just don't seem to be the maternal type.' WTF?]
Actually, I struggled with this a lot. I am mildly obsessed with Norah and for a long time couldn't even possibly imagine sharing the tremendous love and affection I have for her with anyone else. Plus, we survived baby with our house, marriage, and sanity intact (sometimes just barely on more than one front), and I couldn't fathom why we would want to do it all again. It was tremendously important to BVZ that, if we were able, we do our best to give Norah a sibling. While I don't feel as strongly about it as he does, I definitely see his point and couldn't have imagined my childhood or adulthood without my sisters. Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to the fact that although we are far from perfect, we are really good parents with a lot to offer. I think our little family is kind of awesome and I am excited to have one more person join it. Plus, we really LIKE being parents and get a lot of joy and contentment out of our roles. Also, we need to double our chances of having someone to care for us in our old age...
How much time are you taking off of work?
Well my agency's policy is to allow you up to a year (awesome), but of course, after disability payments, it's unpaid (not so awesome). So, the short answer is that I will take as close to a year as possible.
Are you going to have that disgusting skin problem again?
I sure as hell hope not. But, that's where things get kind of tricky. Everyone always assumed I suffered from PUPPPS (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy), especially since it went away for the most part after Norah was born. But, I continued to have random flare-ups during her first year, to the point in which my primary doctor made me go see a Rheumatologist. Lots of blood work, a few skin biopsies later, and it was determined that I have a connective tissue autoimmune disorder. Bear with me, this is where it gets complicated.
Autoimmune disorders (AD's) are ones in which the body attacks itself for some unknown reason. Multiple sclerosis is an AD. As is asthma. There are over 100 different types of AD's, each one affecting different people in different ways. Diagnosing an AD can be extremely difficult because it requires two things-both the positive presence of particular blood antibodies and the presence of identifiable symptoms. I have an extremely high amount of the blood antibodies that are indicative of Lupus and/or Sjogren's Syndrome. I have no symptoms whatsoever of Sjogren's, but I do have 2 severe and reoccurring symptoms of Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus, namely unexplained outbreaks of rashes/hives and extreme sensitivity to the sun. For a clinical diagnosis of Lupus you have to have 4 of 11 symptoms, which is why my 'official' diagnosis is a non-specific connective tissue AD. Lupus is a shitty, shitty disease and I am very thankful, at least for now, that my case is as mild as it is. You can't cure AD, you just treat the symptoms.
It is likely that I have had this AD for many years now, as I had identifiable symptoms as long as 7 or 8 years ago. Anyway, why this is relevant now is because it makes pregnancy a lot more complicated. There is a chance, albeit small (like only 1-2%) that the AD antibodies I have could pass to the baby in utero. It has the potential to cause a condition called Neo-Natal Lupus. It can cause a skin rash at birth, which is no big deal. But, it can also cause a congenital heart block to develop, which is in fact a very big deal. The heart block affects the electrical impulses that control the flow of blood between chambers of the heart and can be mild (requires monitoring but no treatment), moderate (requires a pacemaker), or severe (worst case scenario). The worst case scenario is so unlikely that right now it isn't even on my worry radar (and you know, I worry a lot).
If, god forbid, there is a heart block it can be diagnosed before the baby is born. Which is why, starting next week, I will be having fetal echo-cardiograms (which is just an extra long ultrasound that focuses on the heart), every other week until the baby is born.
Holy shit! That's intense! So, could Norah have a heart block that wasn't detected because no one knew about all of this?
Funny, that was my very first question when we found out all about this. Yes, she could have, but she has been tested extensively and she is absolutely fine. Which actually bodes well for this kid too.
Do you have to have a special doctor for all of this?
Oh, yes. I am officially considered 'high risk' and so I am going to a practice that specializes exclusively on tricky situations. I have a specialist at Stanford who is the leading expert in AD in pregnancy in the entire country. I will have to deliver at a different hospital this time (Stanford), but I am totally fine with that. I am very glad to be rid of my last OB, who told me 'It's just a rash, what do you want me to do about it?', who I hereby refer to forever as Dr. Douchebag.
Will you have another c-section?
Undecided. If you had asked me 16 weeks ago I would have said 100% yes. But, the new practice I am with is very pro-VBAC and has some of the highest success rates in the country. But, this post is already ridiculously long so we'll save that topic of conversation for another day.
So, yay for new babies! Any other burning questions? Send 'em my way!