Eggs, Cancer, and Sleeping Lions

Yesterday, Ellie got diagnosed with a food allergy, and I was overjoyed.

Let me back up.

We gave her egg for the first time when she was about eight months old, and she immediately broke out into angry red hives. Seriously, she had three bites of scrambled egg and a rash developed around her mouth. Then her cheeks turned bright red like she’d been slapped. Five minutes later her body was covered in hives. She wasn’t terribly fussy, and she didn’t have trouble breathing (thankyougod) so the nurse we talked to at our pediatrician’s office told us she was probably OK. The next morning the hives had turned into small red bumps and her eyes were puffy, so her pediatrician told us to make an appointment with the allergy clinic at the children’s hospital in our city.

Yesterday was that appointment and her allergy was confirmed.

Allergy

After the scratch test confirmed the allergy we had her blood drawn to determine the best course of action (food challenge with egg baked into something? Food challenge with pure egg? Avoidance of all egg forever and ever amen?). We also had a stern talking-to by a nurse about the protocol for epi pens, cross contamination, forms for daycare, medical alert bracelets (!) and the like.

So why am I so overjoyed about this?

Well, at this particular children’s hospital, the allergy clinic shares a wing with immunology, hematology, and outpatient oncology. This meant we were sharing a waiting room with some very, very sick kids.

Now first of all, if my kid had cancer, I would be pissed that she had to hang out in a waiting room with a bunch of germy kids. Seriously, is it too much to ask for our own waiting room? Damn.

But from a (horribly, incredibly) selfish perspective, it was terribly distressing to see pediatric oncology patients. Cancer is absolutely one of those worst nightmare situations, a hypothetical that my mind cannot fully contemplate. Any time my thoughts turn to that particular nightmare, I immediately disengage and zip off in another direction, like the mere mention of cancer actually burned my brain, like the word cancer sends an electric shock deep into my psyche.

Seeing those kids brought my woe-is-me-ing into harsh perspective, because here’s the truth: yes, it does suck and it is scary that Ellie has this allergy. I really don’t have any experience with the food allergies, and I now have another thing to add to my mental list of things to freak out about when I’m trying to fall asleep: anaphylactic shock. Fun!

But you know what is awesome? How incredibly, shockingly lucky we are.

We have access to world class doctors at a hospital entirely devoted to children that is five minutes from our house.

We can afford to pay to be seen by those doctors.

We can afford medications that will keep our daughter alive in the event of a severe reaction.

We send our daughter to a daycare that will take her allergy seriously and have members of the staff trained to administer epi pens as needed.

We are educated enough to understand her diagnosis and treatment.

We are empowered enough to advocate for our child.

It is a food allergy. Not cancer.

So last night, Ellie and I put on our dancing shoes and had a dance party in the kitchen while we made our (egg free) dinner. Our song came on, and we kicked up our heels to the mighty jungle and howled at the moon and the peaceful village and toasted our good luck and great fortune.

 

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Things that are Weird

Weight gain is weird.
I lost five pounds in the first trimester due to a chronic case of gagging upon thinking about dinner, but gained 15 in the second, due to a chronic case of discovering food again. I’ve been more than steadily gaining during the third trimester, enough to the point where a nurse practitioner (who I actually like a lot) had a little chat with me about it. I was basically gaining twice what I should in a week. This little chat was at my OB appointment just before Thanksgiving. I fretted and stewed over this, especially her warnings of a 10 pound baby. Despite all this worrying, I did exactly nothing differently (except eat, if possible, more – it was Thanksgiving after all) in the two week gap between the Weight Discussion appointment and my next appointment, but you see where this is going, right? I lost three pounds. How is that even possible?

(Side note: I’m not used to gaining weight. Please do not hate me, but it’s one of the few ways I’ve lucked out in the genetic lottery. (I’ve “won” plenty of other shitty shitty genetic traits, so seriously, don’t hate me too much.) I know I’m supposed to gain weight during pregnancy, and I certainly AM, but it’s so, so odd for me to catch glimpses of myself in the mirror and think, “who is that chubby pregnant woman?” only to realize that, hey! that’s me. I was looking at some pictures of me from our baby shower over Thanksgiving weekend and was astonished to find photographic evidence of a double chin. And an ass that, how can I put this, just won’t quit. Ultimately, I’m not too crazy far outside of the recommended weight gain range, and my mom (who is super thin) gained like 50 pounds when she was pregnant with me (and lost it all within a month or two). I know everyone gains and loses weight differently, especially in pregnancy, but damn it is a strange and not entirely comfortable phenomenon.)

Baby size is weird
La fetus has been measuring ahead this whole pregnancy, basically since the very first ultrasound when she was nothing more than a squiggle and a cheerio. I like to joke about how advanced she is, but now I’m getting all kinds of worried because she’s measuring two whole weeks ahead. The perinatal doctor (where my OB sends me for ultrasounds) and the ultrasound tech kept asking me if I have diabetes. Excuse me, I can’t hear you over the sound of me crunching on this kit-kat. What was the question again? (No, I don’t have GD.) After the ultrasound, in which the tech told me she looked perfect but was “just big…all over big…BIG baby,” I had a sit down with a high risk doctor. She also warned me about the size of the baby (93 percentile!!!!!!!) and then segued into a discussion of the hospital policy on cesarean birth.

(Side note: the doctor asked me if I was a big baby (nope, 7 something pounds) and then tentatively asked me if I knew how big “the father” was at birth. We told her we didn’t know how big the donor was at birth, but as an adult he is 6’1” and 170lbs. So, not enormous, but not a shrinking violet, either.  Tammy then volunteered the information that she was a big baby, being over 9lbs, mostly just to make conversation and to point out that her mom had vaginal births will all of her kids, all of whom were over 9lbs. The poor doctor was very confused by this information but did her best to integrate it into our discussion by saying that Tammy’s birth weight explained why I was carrying a big baby. Ha! Not so much. Poor confused doctor.)

Now, first of all, I know that ultrasounds are not the best predictor of birth weight. The doctor even admitted that their measurements can be up to a pound off, and when we’re talking about a fetus that weighs 4 pounds (per the internet average) or 5 pounds (what the ultrasound measured my baby at), that’s a margin of error of 20%! My fundal measurements are a lot closer to where I know I should be (sometimes a week ahead, sometimes only a few days ahead).

But, with that out of the way, what if I DO end up with a big baby? I would like to avoid a c-section if possible (what the fuck was the point of taking the damn Lamaze class, I ask you) but at the same time I don’t want to spend all that time (and pain!! Let’s not forget the pain!!) in labor only to end up with an emergency C anyway. It’s like the worst of both worlds.

Basically, the hospital policy is that if the baby looks like it will be around 10 pounds they strongly recommend a scheduled C. The baby is head down, so I could probably have a chance at a vaginal birth, but my hopeful suggestion to the doctor that big = come early was shot down, as was the suggestion that they induce me around 38 or 39 weeks. Apparently the risk with big babies and vaginal births is that the risk of the baby getting “stuck,” either head or shoulders, is higher than with an average or smaller baby. And that could potentially cut off oxygen to the baby and all sorts of other dreadful things.

I’ll probably have another ultrasound in a few weeks to see how the baby’s grown and figure out the plans from there.

While I’m quietly freaking out over this new development, I do have to laugh. In all those panic attacks, all those meltdowns, all those hysterical moments to Tammy, not once did I worry I would have a baby that was too big. I worried about miscarrying, I worried about her health, I worried about preterm labor (I love that I said I wasn’t worried about preterm labor in that post. LIAR!!!), and on and on and on. But a big baby? Never entertained the possibility.

Ha. Ha. Joke’s on me, I guess. But you know what? If this is the “worst” thing that happens, I’ll take it. Every single time.

Ramblings

Tammy did not get that job that would have required us to move, after three rounds of interviews. On one hand, I’m incredibly relieved that moving is no longer on the table (for now), especially because my parents are closing on a house in our neighborhood on Friday. On the other hand, I had worked myself around to a place where I could view moving as an adventure and an opportunity for us, and a chance for me to stay at home with the baby in January.

Tammy’s getting more and more excited about having a baby. As she puts it “my excitement is directly proportional to the size of your belly”. Even I can’t deny that I have a distinct bump that can only mean one thing. Random people have been more comfortable coming right out and asking me if I am pregnant, which is oddly discomforting. Saying yes feels almost…embarrassing, like I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. Or like a teenager caught smoking or something.The flip side to this embarrassment is that I’ve become much more comfortable talking about the work it took for us to get pregnant. I drop IVF and frozen embryos into discussions of pregnancy and siblings like it’s no big deal at all. Look at me, normalizing IF and shit.

Speaking of normalizing, I’ve been working on acting like a normal pregnant lady who’s relatively assured of a baby at the end of this process. Tammy’s been painting the baby room, and we’re planning what furniture to buy. I’ve been researching day care options (OMFG expensive). I’m planning meals to make and freeze for the early days after the baby’s born and I even made my first one: tomato soup from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made the recipe a few times before, but this was my first time making it with fresh tomatoes from my mom’s garden. I did the whole blanch and shock thing to get the skins off easily, which worked like a charm. The fresh tomatoes (as opposed to canned) made the soup taste much more…tomato-y, if you know what I mean. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

I’m planning to make a few more soups (potato, broccoli cheese) and casserole type things (lasagna (don’t have a link to the vegan recipe I use), chicken pot pie (again, don’t have a link but it’s from here, which I highly, highly recommend). Any other suggestions, especially healthy suggestions (note my decidedly unhealthy options above) for freezer meals? Keep in mind that I’m vegetarian and Tammy’s vegan, but I’m pretty good at veganizing recipes (i.e. subbing veggies stock for chicken stock, faux meet for real meet, almond/soy/rice/etc milk for cow’s milk, etc).

I have a few posts rattling around in my brain but the biggest one is about religion and faith*. So, obviously a very light post that is a breeze to write. Another one is my struggle to be sensitive to people trying so hard to get pregnant while celebrating my own pregnancy. So, also quite fun and light. Slightly less heavy is the post on the second parent adoption proceedings that Tammy will go through after the baby is born.

Happy Fall, everybody.

*Working title: “On Why I Burst Into Tears When Discussing God and Death, or Spiritual Malaise”

9.5

Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. [Hi, Sarah.]

I’m 9 weeks, 5 days today. I vacillate multiple times a day between joy that I’m pregnant and fear that the b-b-b-baby is dead.

I’ve been feeling physically better since my post a few weeks back. My doctor recommended I take vitamin B-6, and it seemed to help. I also stopped taking my prenatal vitamin, at least for the time being, as it increased my nausea and caused crippling constipation. In the next few weeks I’m hoping to ease back on to it; I know it’s important.

Care to indulge me in a little game I like to play? It’s called, “Is the Baby Still Alive?” To play, we run through my symptoms at any given moment. Here, let me show you:

-Nausea has decreased dramatically. Could definitely be +1 on the Dead Baby side, but could just be a result of the B-6, lack of prenatal vitamins, and time. Let’s call this one a wash. (but secretly I always count this on the Dead Baby side.)
-Bo.obs have grown 2 cup sizes. +1 on Live Baby side.
-Food Cravings and aversions noted. Could be +1 on Live Baby side, but also could be just in my head.
-Tammy says I have a “glow”, but I call bullshit on that one. In punishment for her (sweet) lying, I’m putting +1 on Dead Baby side. Because the universe is a bitch.
-Peeing a LOT – waking up multiples times a night. Also very thirsty. Could be +1 for Live Baby, but it’s also summer, so it makes sense that I’m drinking more. Ok, I’m feeling generous, so I’ll give this to Live Baby.
-Bought maternity clothes. Definitely a +1 for Dead Baby.
-Toilet paper checks come up clear every time. +1 for Live Baby.
-LOTS of twinges, pains, cramps, twitches, pulls, stretches, etc in the abdomen. +1 for both Live and Dead. Could go either way.

OK! Let’s tally the score! One plus one plus one, times eleventy, carry the fuck, and you get a win for Live Baby. Unless you count the secret point for Dead Baby and then it’s a tie.

Damn, I wish I could have another ultrasound. I feel like sending an email to my fertility clinic, begging for a fix. I’ll take my pants off in the waiting room! I’ll have Tammy do the ultrasound! We’ll clean up after!

My next scan is July 12th, with my (gulp) OB. I’ll be 11 weeks (in theory). My biggest fear is being told it’s been dead for days or weeks. I’m not sure why a missed miscarriage seems so much more terrible than a regular miscarriage, but to me it does. Don’t misunderstand me, either would be absolutely devastating. Maybe It’s a control thing? With a regular miscarriage the cramps and bleeding would give you some kind of warning, no? Not that it would be less terrifying to look down and see blood than it would be to look on an ultrasound screen and see…nothing, but…oh shit. I don’t know.

Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. [Hi, Sarah.]