Four weeks, two days

My progesterone level has, well, leveled off in the mid-70s. This is well above the usual. My hCG levels quadrupled from Friday to Monday, from 179 to 750 (normally you look for them to double). This is exactly what happened with Thomas, though; the numbers were so high we were convinced we must be having twins. And then there was Thomas.

Meanwhile, it is amazing how quickly pregnancy smacks you upside the head. I had forgotten how tired I would be how soon, how scatterbrained I would be how often, and how much I would *not* want to be able to smell my food. My husband has been forbidden the word “sausage” for a little while.

Back to the countdown… Three weeks, six days

A lot of thought went into our decision to try to give Thomas a sibling. My age (ungodly old), Michael’s age, our finances, our house size, the need for a minivan… the list of things to consider wasn’t short.

But ultimately, it just came down to our feeling that Thomas needs a brother or sister. Someone he can look out after, someone who will look out after him. Someone who will aggravate him, tease him, push him along. Someone who, God willing, will be his go-to person his whole long life long.

Trying it on our own got us nowhere. So back to the good docs at Texas Fertility we went. With no insurance coverage, and a toddler in tow (or, as we call Thomas when we’re there, an alumnus). I carried just enough residual ambivalence in with me to feel like if our first try didn’t work, we didn’t need to try again.

But it worked.

As of this morning, six days before my next cycle should have started, two lines. A follow-up blood test shows a progesterone level of 78 and an hCG level of 179. (At three weeks and six days, Nurse Erin says, they look for progesterone at 20 and hCG between 50 and 100.) Bloodwork again on Monday, and a schedule of appointments to follow until they look to find the heartbeat at six weeks.

So. Many things could still go wrong. We know that. But we are on the way.

And Thomas has no idea what’s in store for him.

What comes next…

The 40 weeks of pregnancy… well, 38-plus… were, overall, wonderful. I wouldn’t trade them, even the incessant need for a bathroom and the other physical discomforts.

But those weeks are over, and now we’re well launched on our new adventure. We’re documenting it at a new site, Thomas Today, as well as on Facebook and at a Shutterfly share site. The new site is so far just photos, because I am generally operating my computer with one hand while I have a baby on the other, and it is a rare five minutes that I have to write anything as full as a post. I may go back and add a Thomas-related FB status from each day to that day’s photo, if I can swing it, and at some point I would actually like to have text in a post.

Just one photo for each day, so you may have a good time seeing whether I can actually edit myself down that far. Though on days like Thomas’ one-month birthday or his bluebonnet safari, there may also wind up being links to larger collections.

Come on over. And thanks for reading, supporting, and being not just lovely readers but wonderful friends.

Not to belabor the point…

Week 39, Day 5
One Week

So, when last I posted before Thomas’s birth, I was anticipating The Way Things Would Go. And then Things Went The Way They Actually Went. The midnight procedure was apparently less uncomfortable than the 8:30 one, since I don’t remember it very well, and those two procedures combined not just to get things started, but to trigger a rapid labor. I woke up weeping in pain from very strong contractions that were not far enough apart, gritted my teeth, and said “EPIDURAL” to the nurse. I wasn’t actually able to speak much; it took everything I had just to breathe through the contractions. I didn’t want Michael’s help, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to get through it.

It took two hours for them to give me enough fluids for the epidural, and then they had to call the anesthesiologist twice. While we were waiting, I was practicing getting through the contractions without flinching or moving, since I would have to do that as they did the epidural, and when Dr. Epidural finally arrived, I was able to do it. “Here’s one,” I’d say, just in warning, and he’d keep working and I’d keep focusing on long breaths, and then it was in, and then pain relief started to kick in. This was around 6 a.m., and I was at 3 centimeters. My OB, the wonderful Dr. Oliver, came in sometime between 7 and 8 (I had stopped clock-watching and in fact was sort of in and out of sleep) and I was at 7 centimeters. By 10 a.m., I was at 10 centimeters and ready for pushing. Dr. Oliver was back at her practice across the street, having given instructions to be called when it was close to time to deliver.

We had a rock-star OB nurse, Karen, who took care of me during the pushing session. She and Michael and I were the only ones in the room; she and Michael were my medical crew. Basically, thanks to the epidural, pushing consisted of “There’s a contraction,” and then three pushes that seemed, in my relatively pain-free yet exhausted state, more like crunches than anything else. Karen called Dr. Oliver as instructed, and then realized that Thomas was arriving sooner than expected, so in the middle of a set of crunches, instead of “Third push,” I heard “DON’T push.” And Dr. Oliver came in, and there were two quick sets of pushes, and there was Thomas, all lungs and legs and squishy potato head.

And we held him, and he got cleaned up, and Michael took some pictures, and the nurses took some pictures, and all my medical stuff got wrapped up and Dr. Oliver hugged me and whispered a fairly intense “You rock” into my ear, and in the space of just a few hours plus 38 weeks and 4 days, we had become parents.

Thomas Lawrence Usey, about 20 minutes old.

Michael and Thomas

Thomas will have a lot of this smooching to put up with.

Thomas and Dr. Donell Oliver, who got us started on the road to getting Thomas here and guided us every step of the way.

With our terrific nurse, Karen.

Little Dude in the nursery with his daddy, undergoing his first bath

Creating the universe

Week 39, Day 5
or, One Week

No sacrilege is intended in the post title… it’s just that, as everyone said, life has changed so much in the past week that it’s as if the universe has shifted somehow and we’re in a whole new dimension.

Don’t worry. I am not a complete freak. The bulk of the work on this announcement was done before February 10. And a good thing too, because it’s taken me all week to get back to the blog long enough to post it. I’ve been busy doing other things, like learning how to be sleep-deprived, learning how to feed my boy, and learning how to stop gazing at him with complete adoration and let him sleep already. He is one week old today, and we are one week more besotted.

Hey! Ho! Let’s go!

Week 38, Day 4

Keeping it short and sweet, even though all the hard work at the house this week means I could show you a nursery tour… if I weren’t at the hospital being induced. In the last three hours, we’ve gotten me all checked in and checked out, and labor nurse extraordinaire Monique has gotten things started with some interesting drugs and we’ve had a round of contractions. I got through the physical exam thanks to her coaching (and my little soft comforting bunny) and Michael’s hand-holding. Other highlights so far… the cherry popsicle, and the promise of one last small meal, a little turkey sandwich with the sleeping pill that’s coming in 10 minutes.

Then the promise of being woken for two more very uncomfortable little procedures at midnight and 4 a.m., and then Dr. Oliver arrives at 7 to really get the party started.

Twenty twenty twenty six hours to go…

Week 38 Day 3

…until I get sedated…

Seriously, they’ve said that after we check in at the hospital tomorrow night, they’re going to sleeping-pill me so I can rest up a bit before Friday. Which, considering that the last several nights I’ve been sleeping about 20 minutes at a time, is probably a very good idea. My bags are packed, I’m ready to go, and a teary meltdown I had in spite of myself last night (the kind where you walk around the house with tears running out of your eyes trying not to let everyone hear you hiccup and cry because really, you’re 42 and not a baby anymore, but there it all is and you need a Kleenex) resulted in several hours this morning of my sweet father- and mother-in-law organizing and moving all of the construction and renovation tools and debris and trash and bags and receipts into the garage so the living room wouldn’t be piled with everything anymore, and my alarmed husband getting some more nursery projects done, and my being able to take a deep breath now today and get a few last things done myself.

For instance, I…

My little rabbit for my little Rabbit

* finished packing, including the little rabbit I found at the baby boutique on Tuesday after a good friend gave me a gift card. It’s incredibly soft, and as several Chinese friends have noted, Little Dude will be born in the Year of the Rabbit, and I still didn’t have a focal point or anything to kind of hold onto during labor and couldn’t resist the nod to She’s Having a Baby (though it won’t be across the room with an obstructed view)

* figured out the last thing I want on the walls of the nursery, which is a picture ledge I can use to display art and letters and photos from Little Dude’s cousins

* washed one last dozen cloth diapers to have ready (these hemp inserts require six rounds through the laundry before first use to ensure absorbency! though I will say they are indeed getting softer and fluffier)

* packed the last of my office supplies onto the new shelves in one of our front closets and transformed my former sewing drawers into Little Dude Closet Drawers for swaddlers and crib sheets and so on

Are they inspired by the little Mutts figurines? Or the fleecy organic goodness of the changing pad?

* shooed the cats out of the nursery not one, not two, but three times in an hour (let us hope to high heaven that Little Dude doesn’t have allergies)

* found a place for my sewing machine and sewing table and thus opened up a nice big space in the dining room for us to work with getting the dining table out of the living room

* went around crossing off all these items from the to-do lists I’d posted outside each room yesterday (thanks to Nana and Gramps and Michael and even a little work by me)

Now all I have to do is figure out what I want to eat for an early supper tomorrow night on the way to the hospital (suggestions welcome!) and draw up one last to-do list for tomorrow. “Nap” will be a big item, I’m thinking.

Three days and counting…

Week 38, Day 1

After Friday’s dry run at the hospital, we had a relatively quiet weekend, enlivened by a lovely Super Bowl Sunday shower given for us by one of Michael’s colleagues. (No football theme, just a brunch with the promise of getting folks out and home in time for some good pre-game coverage.) Many sweet and lovely people came and gave us wonderful books and adorable clothes and a full afternoon of friendship to bask in. (Facebook friends, there’s a photo album up.)

After the shower: Michael came home a little early to keep laying floor, but when I got home, he acquiesced to my request for one more photo.

When we got home from the shower, Michael’s parents had arrived from Longview to help us get through this week and to take care of our menagerie while we’re in the hospital at the end of the week, and they’ve spent the day today cleaning and caulking and helping Michael finish the laundry room. Which will actually get finished tomorrow, allowing us to move the washer and dryer back in there and out of the breakfast nook, then to start doing laundry (more cloth diapers!) while we also move our big full-of-food freezer in there from the garage and keep pushing to get cabinets done so more things can get put where they belong instead of all over the living room floor.

This morning, we had our final pre-natal checkup with the marvelous Dr. Oliver, who checked everything out one last time and said that while things are moving along, she felt like we were going to make it to Friday. So on Thursday night, I’m supposed to eat supper (nothing too violently spicy or rich) and head on to Seton Medical Center Austin for a 7 p.m. check-in, and things will really start moving along. Barring any earlier surprises, we expect to have some news of Little Dude’s arrival sometime on Friday or early Saturday.

(And yes, I checked, the maternity floor has wi-fi, so there will be updates while we’re there.)

A dry ice run

Week 37 Day 5

Austin’s forecasted one to two inches of snow was supplemented by some ice, and the roads all over the city were treacherous or impassable. Up here on our hill, we weren’t sure how we’d ever get down. Dr. Binka-Binka’s office was closed by the weather, but when we had a phone conversation about the mid-night symptoms, he wanted me to go to the hospital. Dr. Oliver’s nurse said the same thing. So we finished packing The Bag and plotted a route that would have the minimum number of gullies we might slide into on the way down.

Taking a moment before the big drive (and the possible hospital stay). Here we (might be) go(ing!)

And then we set off. It wasn’t too bad. Our first route led to a turnaround when there was a problem on a bridge up ahead, but our second route after that, while circuitous, got us to the hospital in about 35 minutes. They were waiting for us, apparently, and everything was handled with ease and efficiency. After my whole patient history was recorded (a step that will save time later), a thorough check of the situation revealed that I was not in fact in early labor as Dr. Binka-Binka had been concerned, but instead was just getting ready to go there sometime in the next week. Blood pressure low, pulse steady, Little Dude putting out yet another great track on the fetal monitor. He is just fine, and with the exception of a little swelling of feet and face, so am I. No actual centimeters of dilation yet, but with the exam came the prediction from one of the nurses that I might not make it to next Friday. (So, ladies and gentlemen, start your pool!) Plus now I know what to expect when we go in, which in my expectation-driven book is always a huge plus.

The drive home took more than an hour, as we kept coming across roads that were blocked by accidents, but now we are home and everyone from the cats to sweetoldyellowdog Bailey to the two of us are going to take a nice long nap.