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For the past five years I’ve been telling your stories, here is mine.

Over the past five years, I have met so many wonderful people, who’ve trusted me enough to share their stories.  Since 2012, when I accepted the job as Healthy Living Reporter at WFMJ TV in Youngstown, I’ve focused primarily on…you guessed it…health-related stories.

So, when my husband and I learned we were expecting our first child this past December, I had contemplated whether or not to share my own personal health story…a story that first began to unfold about 10 years ago.

However, after thinking things through, I decided against opening up because I was still trying to wrap my mind around what my high risk pregnancy would entail.  You see, while I’ve known for years I would be considered ‘high risk’ when I got pregnant, hearing those official words from the doctor’s mouth made it all that more real…and scary.  Heck, learning you are going to be a parent for the first time is nerve-wracking enough.

Thankfully, over the past 30+ weeks, I’ve been able to enjoy a very smooth and uneventful pregnancy. Although, I’ve been on edge the entire time thinking something is bound to go wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a blog, from another woman, who has the same, rare condition I do.  Ironically, she also works in TV news.  She has been documenting her second high risk pregnancy online.  After reading through her blog, I gained a sense of calm about my own pregnancy.  It was at that moment, I decided it was time to share my story.  So, here it goes.

(Scroll to the bottom of the page to begin reading.  Blog posts begin with Entry 1.)

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Entry 14: Meet our little BOY!

I would like to start off by apologizing for my lack of blogging.  I hope you give me a free pass though because for the past (almost) three weeks, I’ve been busy learning this whole mom thing!

On August 21st, we welcomed a little BOY into our family!  Because he was breech, my doctor scheduled a c-section for 7:00am that day. My husband and I tried to go to bed early the night before so we would be well rested for our big day, but that didn’t work as we had hoped!  We were both too excited to sleep.  Plus, we had to leave the house at 4:15am to be at the hospital by 5:00am to begin the c-section process.  So, we ended up laying there tossing and turning until it was time to get ready anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little nugget.

Because I had known most of my pregnancy, I would most likely have a c-section I was mentally prepared for the delivery.  I started off in the recovery room.  That’s where the nurses prepped me for the OR.  The anesthesiologist came in and explained how he would numb me.  Dr. Nalluri popped her head in to say hello.  Then it was go time!  I walked to the OR.  Once I was all numbed up, they brought my husband into the room and immediately got to work.

At 7:22am, Dr. Nalluri pulled out a 7 lbs. 7oz. little boy!  We are absolutely in love with him!

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It took us a while to decided on a name.  Because we chose not to find out what we were having, we had names for both sexes.  Our top boy names were Declan and Copelan.  However, we weren’t swayed one way or the other.

However, not long after he arrived we learned he had a true knot in his umbilical cord.  That means at one point during my pregnancy he looped himself through the cord creating a knot.  I’ve read true knots occur in about 1% of pregnancies.  Had we had a vaginal delivery, we could have encountered some serious problems.  I’ve learned as babies with true knots descend down the birth canal, the knots can tighten sometimes resulting in death.  The nurses told us we were very lucky!  Thank goodness we had to have a c-section and didn’t have to experience that!

Soooooooo, because of all of the things we were up against during this pregnancy with my uterus didelphys… an increased chance of miscarriage and an increased chance of preterm labor and then learning of the true knot, we felt so incredibly lucky to have gotten through the whole pregnancy process without any complications.  Because luck was on our side, we chose to name him Copelan because it had 7 letters. Declan had 6.  We thought it was fitting he weighed in at a lucky 7lbs. 7oz, too.  So, five hours after we welcomed him into this world, he finally got a name :)

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These past few weeks have been wonderful getting to know our little boy.  Yes, sleep deprivation is a real thing, but it’s all been worth it!  Besides being incredibly handsome, Copelan is very healthy and is growing quickly.

Thank you so much for following me on this journey. It’s hard to believe the pregnancy part is over with and we have begun the parenthood portion.  We feel so blessed to have been chosen as Copelan’s parents :)

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Entry 13: We’re in the homestretch!

We are in the homestretch!  Who would have thought we would have made it this far?!  I certainly didn’t and I am pretty sure most of my doctors didn’t anticipate me making it this far either.  I am sure glad we have though!  Tomorrow, I’ll hit the 38th week mark, which means we are just one week and one day away from meeting our little nugget…that is unless he or she decides to come early.

I went to the doctor on Monday.  The baby was very active during the non-stress test, which is good.  Dr. Nalluri had the ultrasound tech scan me to check on the baby’s growth.  Baby Keller is measuring in at 6lbs. 10 oz., which is about a week behind what it should be measuring, but Dr. Nalluri wasn’t concerned at all.  I head back to the doctor on Thursday and then again on Monday.

I’m adding a poll to this blog.  I am curious to know if people think baby Keller is a boy or a girl?  Just yesterday, I was out on a story and a lady came up to me and said, “So, you’re having a boy?”  When I told her we’ve chosen not to find out the baby’s sex, she said, “Oh, it’s definitely a boy.” Now, this isn’t the first time someone has told me what I am having.  As anxious as I am to know, I have no gut feeling one way or the other.  At first I thought girl, but then I was convinced it was a boy because my symptoms were different from my pregnant friends, who knew they were having girls.  I’ve only had a few pregnancy dreams. During one of them, I gave birth to a white, fluffy dog.  Weird, I know.  In the other two, I gave birth to girls.  So, I really have no clue or gut feeling as to what baby Keller is going to be!

I would like to know what you think.  Please vote in the poll below.  Here are some facts about my pregnancy that might help you decide.

-I have been carrying the baby high or at least it appears high since it’s head up instead of head down.

-The baby’s heart rate is usually between 135-145.

-I didn’t have any morning sickness.

-I didn’t have any food cravings.  Although, I struggle to turn down sweets.

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Entry 12: Belly What?

A few weeks ago my co-worker, Jennifer Brindisi, came to me in the newsroom to ask if I would be interested in helping her with a story about belly casting.  Now, I had heard of belly casting before, but that was about it.  I didn’t know how it worked.  I had never looked into it and I certainly never envisioned myself going through the process.  I hesitated to answer her when she asked me.  I mean, I know I’ve been very open about my high risk pregnancy, but I thought to myself, ‘Was I really interested in baring my big ol’ belly for all of our viewers to see?’  I asked Jennifer a few questions about the process and she began telling me about the two women behind it. Diane Zarlingo, who owns Mama and Me in Boardman, and her artist, Alane Jewel, have been belly casting women for about 15 years.  Both women have experienced complicated pregnancies that have included loss and premature births.  Realizing not everyone gets the chance to be pregnant or stay pregnant, the two women began casting pregnant bellies.

10346545_10152535645199043_6061226615275065818_n(Photo courtesy: Alane Jewel)

After hearing that, I agreed to participate.  A week or so later, we headed to Diane’s studio to begin the process.  It only took about a half hour for the entire casting.  Diane and Alane covered Brooke (another soon-to-be mom) and I with a Vaseline-type substance.  Then, they dipped each strip of casting material into a bowl of water and then draped it over our bellies until the cast was complete.  After a few minutes of drying, the whole cast popped right off.  Over the next few weeks, Diane and Alane will reinforce the cast with more strips of casting material and then Alane will paint it.

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(Photo courtesy: Jennifer Brindisi)

When we finished, Jennifer interviewed Diane and Alane.  She then asked Brooke a few questions and then she turned to me.  Mind you, I had no idea she was going to interview me.  I thought she just needed an extra belly for video purposes. Wrong! We clipped on the mic.  Paul, the photographer, hit record button on the camera.  Jennifer asked the first question and I immediately turned into a blubbering mess (click link to view story).

WFMJ Belly Casting Story

 

It was at that moment, I realized how incredibly lucky Patrick and I have been during this entire pregnancy.

When we first began this journey, we were told our chance for miscarriage could be as high as 70%.  From week six, when we first learned we were expecting, until the end of the first trimester, the time when miscarriage is most common, we held our breath and kept our fingers crossed.  Every new feeling, every new change to my body made me nervous.  Thankfully, though we made it through.  Heading into the second trimester, we were able to relax a little bit more.  Our chances for miscarriage had lowered.  However, we were still cautious, never wanting to get too excited in case something would go wrong, especially since during that time, two friends of mine, who were due after me, went into labor delivering at 24+ weeks and 28+weeks.  Talk about strong women!  Knowing that patients with uterus didelphys have a higher chance of preterm labor, I entered the third trimester with the same fears I experienced the first trimester.  Thankfully, it’s been smooth sailing and all of the changes I’ve been experiencing this trimester are normal.

So, as I sat getting interviewed, I couldn’t help but think back to all of the times I worried things wouldn’t turn out in our favor, the times I thought we would struggle getting pregnant, the moments I worried we would lose a baby before we could meet it….all of those things that very well could have happened to me, but didn’t.  That’s when the tears started falling.  I realized I had a lot to be thankful for, not that I haven’t been thankful this entire time, but I’ve finally reached a point in my pregnancy where I truly feel comfortable with how things are going.

Now… to enjoy the next three weeks of my pregnancy with this big ol’ belly that is now preventing me from clasping my sandals, bending over, walking up the steps without running out of breath and rolling over in bed without grunting.

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Entry 11: Baby Keller’s Birthday Party Will Begin….

As long as baby Keller doesn’t decide he or she is over this whole pregnancy thing before next month and assuming he or she doesn’t do the master of all somersaults, the doctor will move forward with a c-section at 39 weeks.

At my appointment with Dr. Nalluri on Thursday, the baby was still breech, but appearing very healthy!  He or she was pretty active during my non-stress test.  This is the second time I’ve been hooked up to the NST machine.  They wrap these two belts around your belly and give you a game-show-like buzzer and every time you feel the baby move you press the button.   It then prints out a sheet of paper that shows the baby’s heart rate and any contractions the mother may have had.  While I didn’t feel any contractions during my 20 minute test, the doctor said I was having them, which prompted her to do an internal exam.  We weren’t going to start internal exams until week 36, but because of the contractions and some pressure I’ve been experiencing, she decided it would be best to go ahead and check me out.  Thankfully, my cervix is still closed. I’m hoping it stays that way for another four weeks!

If by chance my water breaks before the scheduled c-section, my doctor will deliver baby Keller.  The hospital doesn’t stop labor after 34 weeks and I’ve already made it past that point.  If baby Keller decides to flip around and get in position, we will cancel the c-section and wait until he or she decides its time to come into this world.  Although, my doctor will induce if the baby hasn’t made an appearance by 41 weeks. Although, so far, a c-section it is.

Next week, I head in for an ultrasound.  I’ll be anxious to see how big the baby has gotten over the past two weeks.

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Entry 10: Baby Keller sure loves its mom

Baby Keller’s love for me is apparent already.  He or she insists on being as close to my heart as possible.

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Patrick and I went to my maternal fetal medicine appointment this morning. I was very anxious to hear what the doctor had to say.  At our last appointment with the high risk doctor, baby Keller was breech and measuring a tad small, the 34 percentile.

After the ultrasound tech snapped about 50 images, we met with the Dr. Khawli.  He was very happy with our progress.  Baby Keller is now in the 47% percentile when it comes to size.  He or she is weighing in at approximately 4lbs. 10oz.  Baby Keller is still breech, which I’ve known because its head loves to hang out near my heart/lungs and its feet run marathons on my bladder.  While Dr. Khawli said he or she had time to turn, it’s less likely to happen because of my uterus didelphys.  He said there just isn’t a lot of room left in my left uterus for baby Keller to flip into position, but I’ve known that.  I honestly think if baby Keller did flip, I would be a lot more scared about this whole having a baby thing.  My mind is at peace with the idea of a c-section.  At this point, a natural delivery would make me nervous.  We shall see!

The ultrasound tech snapped a few 3D images for us.  Each time we’ve tried to see baby Keller’s face he or she has its hand in front of its face or the umbilical cord is in the way. Of course, this time was no different.  The cord was in the way.  That is what’s covering the baby’s eye.  Although, I’d say we got a pretty good glimpse considering its a computer generated image.  Poor thing appears to have my pug nose, but look at those chubby cheeks and full lips.  I’ll be anxious to see if baby Keller ends up looking anything like the images.

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Baby Keller is already winning points with me.  Because we don’t want to know if it’s a he or a she just yet, we have to let the ultrasound techs know we’re team green before they start scanning.  The last two times we’ve had ultrasounds, baby Keller is sitting with its legs tightly crossed.  He or she must know we want to be surprised or it’s just a modest baby!

Speaking of surprises, Patrick was off work today.  So, on his way home from the appointment he stopped at the store to grab some odds and ends.  We needed garbage bags, butter and some juice.  Well, he must have been on cloud nine after hearing the good news at our appointment.  This is the text message he sent me after his shopping trip.  Hopefully he doesn’t hate me for sharing.  It just warms my heart knowing how excited he is to meet our little nugget.

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My next appointment is with my regular OB/GYN on Thursday.  I am sure she will be happy to read Dr. Khawli’s report.  Keeping our fingers crossed for a good, uneventful check up!

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Entry 9: Baby Keller’s Nursery

Because we don’t know if baby Keller is a boy or a girl, we decided to stick to a very neutral-colored nursery.  I wanted to incorporate the bird cages from our shower into the baby’s room.  So, in my attempt at being crafty, I added some burlap ribbon to three bird cages, which now decorate the baby’s dresser and painted some burlap wall hangings that sit behind the dresser.

It’s been fun decorating.  Thankfully, the full size bed we had in that room fits for the time being.  I am sure it will come in handy during late night feedings and diaper changes.  My mom, who made all of the baby’s bedding, was able to use the left over material from the baby’s bedding to make a matching comforter.  Thank goodness, because I am all about matching!

I am sure once we know if baby Keller is a boy or a girl we will add some pink or blue to the room, but for now it’s very plush and light!

 

 

 

 

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Entry 8: My visit to maternal fetal medicine

When I first started seeing Dr. Nalluri she told me she would be consulting with maternal fetal medicine doctors as I neared the end of my pregnancy.

She has been keeping close tabs on me throughout the second and third trimesters.  At first, I saw her every two weeks.  Then, we scheduled visits for every three weeks.  There was one time we put four weeks in between appointments. Now, I am back to seeing Dr. Nalluri every two weeks.

At my 28 week appointment, Dr. Nalluri said she wanted the maternal fetal medicine doctors to see me around week 30.  The maternal fetal medicine doctors are the experts when it comes to the baby’s size and its growth and a bunch of other things that I know very little about!  Because I have uterus didelphys, my uteri are about half the size of a typical uterus.  The baby is in the left horn and when I had my surgery back in September to look at both uteri, doctors were able to see that they were about the same size.  Thankfully, it appears my left uterus is stretching just as it should.  If you’ve seen me lately, you would probably agree.  I’m certainly rocking a bump!

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I was a bit nervous to meet with the maternal fetal medicine doctor.  Dr. Nalluri had been happy with my progress so far, but I wasn’t sure if this new doctor would agree.  As I understand it, maternal fetal medicine doctors specialize in high risk pregnancies.  So, they have more experience with patients such as myself.  Because of that, I was curious as to what this new doctor would say.

This entire pregnancy, I’ve been waiting for bad news.  I know that sounds terrible, but being a first time mom and knowing that I am considered high risk, I’ve tried to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Thankfully, my husband and my mother were able to attend my first high risk appointment.  There were a million things going through my mind that day.  Would the doctor think I could make it to full term?  Would he think the baby would come early?  Was the baby growing as it should?  Was my cervix holding up?  Was there enough amniotic fluid surrounding the baby?

After meeting with the ultra sound tech, who snapped what seemed like 100 images, I met with Dr. Oscar Khawli.  Thankfully, he was very happy with everything he saw.  The baby’s heart beat was strong.  It’s blood pressure was good.  There was plenty of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.  They could see all four chambers of the heart.  My cervix was long.  A short cervix can indicate preterm labor.

The only downsides, to me, at the appointment were hearing the baby was still breech, which I knew, and hearing the baby was measuring a tad small, the 34 percentile.  However, Dr. Khawli wasn’t concerned with either of those things, though.  He’s seen babies flip at the very last-minute.  Although, from my research, most women with UD end up having c-sections because the babies don’t get turned in time.  He also wasn’t concerned with the baby’s size.  He said all of its measurements were proportionate.  The small measurements just meant I will be having a smaller baby.  Weeks prior to my high risk appointment, Dr. Nalluri had said she anticipated me delivering a somewhat small baby.  She is hoping baby Keller weighs 6lbs-7lbs.  She doesn’t anticipate a 9lbs or 10lbs baby.

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So, the stress I placed on myself for that appointment wasn’t really necessary.  I head back to the high risk doctor for another check up on July 15th.  I am crossing my fingers for another positive visit.  Thankfully, I have less anxiety about this next visit!