Wednesday, July 19, 2017

36 Week Sonogram, Josh's Nesting, and Things I Missed Out On

I went in for my 36 Week sonogram yesterday.



Baby boy is 7 lbs and is super active! The sonogram technician was cracking up during the procedure because baby boy kept sticking out his tongue and at one point tried to put his foot in his mouth!



video

[Trying to get his foot in his mouth]
video

After the sonogram was over, Dr. Leonardi came in and told me there was no change from last week (heart and brain look good) and that he wants to induce me at 38 weeks. At that point the baby will be fully developed and he is already large enough, so he doesn't need to gain any more weight. It'll be easier for all the doctors to watch and take care of him after he's born. We then scheduled my next (and probably last) sonogram for next Wednesday morning. He will decide then when I will be induced. In all honestly I am nervous and excited. I have such great doctors and I know they are going to take great care of us!

That night Josh and I went to our third baby class. During this class we learned about inducing birth, c-sections, and birth plans. I know what I want (natural, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin, breast feeding), but I also know that I need to be flexible and do what is best for the baby.

Josh has also kept busy these last few weeks. On top of working insane hours and supporting me with all the baby stuff, he has been doing small projects every Sunday (the only day he has off all week). Last Sunday he replaced our hot water heater and a few Sunday's ago he built a laundry cabinet. I love how handy he is!



Due to my pregnancy I was not able to go to Utah this summer with my family. As a result I missed out on a huge family reunion AND was not able to attend my dear friend Heidi's wedding. 

[Family at Porter's baby blessing]

[Porter's blessing - I love this picture of Luke and his son!]

[Andie, Luke and baby Porter]

[Papa's] 

[Grandma's] 

[Heidi and Steve at their wedding - I heard it was beautiful!] 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

35 Week Sonogram, Hospital Tour, and Echocardiogram

Josh and I had a very busy, baby-centric day today. 

We left home at 9 AM and drove to Peoria. Since we knew we would have a long day, we went to a local BBQ joint (The Blue Duck) and got some delicious BBQ before heading to the hospital for our 12:30 sonogram appointment.

The sonogram went pretty quickly. The technician checked his brain and heart before getting some cute pictures of his face. At first he was cooperating and we got a few cute pictures of his face but then he got a little feisty and started scowling at us! The technician was laughing pretty hard. I love his little attitude!



 [Happy baby]


[Scowling]


After the sonogram was done, Dr. Leonardi came in and told us that there was "no change" and that I'll need to come back next week for my 36 week sonogram.

Next, we were taken on a tour of Labor and Delivery. The nurse showed us some of the nice, large rooms that I could be delivering in. She also showed us where the OR was just in case. 

  

After seeing Labor and Delivery we were taken to the NICU where we met with a nurse named Megan. She took us into one of the many brand new NICU rooms. We sat in the NICU room with the nurse while she explained what happens while the babies are in the NICU. She told us that there is a whole group of NICU doctors and nurses that will come in daily (along with our Pediatric Neurosurgeon and our Pediatric Cardiologist) to check on our baby. It was all a little overwhelming and I can't get pass the thought of my little baby hooked up to all those wires, but I know he will be in great hands.

After seeing the NICU we went and had an echocardiogram done. Baby boy seemed really tired of being looked at today and he was a little hard to capture. After about 45 minutes, the technician got what she needed and we were able to meet with the Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Albaro.

Dr. Albaro showed us some of the video and pictures there were able to get of the baby's heart. She then explained to us how the heart works and that his heart developed correctly (good news), but that the right side of his heart was working a little harder than the left side. She said this was "minor" and that it is common with Vein of Galen malformations. I asked her if we needed to come back for more echocardiograms and she said no and that Dr. Leonardi was aware of the situation and he will continue to monitor the heart during my weekly sonogram. We then talked about different medicines that the baby may need to be on after he is born so he doesn't go into heart failure.


After our meeting with Dr. Albaro, Josh and I left the hospital and headed to the hospital in Ottawa so we could attend our second baby class.

During this class we learned more about breathing techniques and what actually happens before, during, and after labor. I'm so nervous... and excited... and really scared! 


We got home after 9 and reflected on our day before heading to bed. I am so grateful for our team of doctors that will be watching over our little guy for the next few months. I believe he is in great hands and that they are genuinely concerned about us and our situation.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Aneurysm in the Vein of Galen

It was June 26th and I was sitting in my truck trying to compose myself. I knew I had to call Josh, but I was having a hard time trying to figure out what to say. I finally called, he answered, and I uttered the three words I had hoped I would never have to say, "He's not okay"

Just a few days prior, I was happily nesting and preparing for the arrival of our little one. I had decided that it was a good time to go to Babies R Us and buy the rest of our Baby Registry (at a 20% discount!) and after that I returned home to wash and fold all of the baby clothes.


[Baby clothes - organized by size]

[Baby's slide]

[Baby's hallway/room - we put up blackout curtains to help him sleep]

On June 26th I headed down to the hospital in Peoria so I could do my 33 week sonogram and meet with the GD Doctors. My GD has been going really well and because my numbers are so great I only have to prick my finger 4 times a day, 3 days a week (instead of 7 days a week). I figured since everything had been going to well this would be a routine check up.

[If you look closely you can see all the little bruises on the tip of my thumb from all the pricking]

I checked into the hospital, took my belly photo (we don't have many mirrors at the Raptor so it's hard to get a good belly shot), and was called back to get my vitals taken.


My vitals were great (I've always had low blood pressure) and the scale showed I had only gained 10 lbs during my entire pregnancy.

I was then taken to the sonogram room. A nice technician did my sonogram and she didn't even mind that I had to turn on my side when I got nauseated. She kept commenting on how cute his toes were (his second toe is longer than his big toe - like mine!) and then she did some 3D pictures of his cute chubby face (cheeks like his dad!).



[Long toes!]

After the exam was done the technician told me not to wipe the jelly off my belly because the Doctor wanted to take a look. I asked her what his weight was and she told me 5 lbs! I was worried that the Doctor was concerned about his weight so I started texting Josh and my mom asking them how big babies are in our families. Turns out both sides have pretty big babies!

Dr. Leonardi, High Risk Obstetrician, then came in and asked me if he could take a look at my baby. I said he could, he did a quick exam, helped me wipe the jelly off my belly and then told me that we were going to go to another room so we could talk some more. 

I was taken into a small room and left there. As I was waiting all I could think of was that there was a problem having to do with my GD. But I was managing it so well and doing so great.

After a few minutes the GD nurse, GD Doctor and Dr. Leonardi came in. 

Dr. Leonardi sat right across from me and told me the news.

He told me that baby Carlson has an aneurysm in the Vein of Galen. He emphasized that it wasn't my fault and the condition is rare and not genetic. 

He then told me that I would need to deliver at the hospital in Peoria (even though I was supposed to deliver in Ottawa - 15 minutes from where we live) because they had a NICU and a lot of Doctors who specialize in this kind of situation.

He explained to me that his vein is dilated but his heart looked healthy and strong. I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. I started to panic and cry.

"Why are you telling me about his heart? I thought the aneurysm was in his brain?"

He explained to me that if too much blood pools in the vein it can take blood away from other parts of the body. Mainly, the heart. Babies that are born with this condition can go into heart failure so they need to really watch his heart and other organs.

The doctor made sure that I had my questions answered and that I had calmed down a bit before they discharged me. I was also told that I would be meeting with a pediatric Neurosurgeon and a pediatric Cardiologist to further discuss the issues.

As I walked back to my truck I started to cry again. I couldn't comprehend what was going on. I then called Josh and my mom. I felt bad that I didn't have a lot of answers but I needed to feel comforted. 

The 95 minute drive home was painful. I thought of every situation possible: the baby being born healthy and strong - maybe they had made a mistake - all the way to where we would bury him if he didn't make it.

I got home and the crying continued. Once Josh got home we talked more about the situation and he showed me a video he had found, which helped explain the situation more.

http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/vein-of-galen

The next day I received a call from the hospital. They had set up a meeting with the pediatric Neurosurgeon (Dr. Lin) for us on July 3rd. After our meeting with Dr. Lin I would need to go have another sonogram and meet with Dr. Leonardi. 

The week in between the two hospital visits was pure hell. I cried almost the entire time. It was hard not to think about it. I would lay in bed, rubbing my belly, talking to my son, telling him how sorry I was and that I loved him so much.

I would wander around the house looking at all his baby stuff wondering if I should detach myself from him because he may not make it home.

A few days before our appointment, I back my hospital bag, the baby bag and my breast pump. I knew that there was a chance that the sonogram could reveal that his heart was failing and that they would have to take him early. If that happened, I needed to be ready.


On July 3rd, Josh and I drove down to Peoria for our appointments. We first met with the pediatric Neurosurgeon, Dr. Lin. He told us that two main things can happen: 

(1) The baby goes full term, is born without any heart failure, and comes back in a few months (after he gains weight) to do the procedure. At that time the procedure would consist of going into a vein in his groin and then following that all the way up to the brain where they would plug the Vein of Galen.

(2) The baby goes into heart failure, they have to take him early, and we would have to life fly him to Chicago where a specialist would perform the surgery. This surgery is more risky because the baby would be too small for the groin-to-brain surgery so they would have to go in through the back of his skull, directly into the brain, to plug the Vein of Galen.

So, pretty much we have to wait and see.

After Dr. Lin, we went to have my sonogram done. Josh has not been able to be at any of my ultrasounds since our gender reveal. This sonogram went pretty fast. The technician checked his brain and heart and then got some super cute 3D pictures.


[Sleeping with his hands by his face]

After the sonogram, Dr. Leonardi came in and told us some good news. He said that the vein is not anymore dilated then it was last time. He also went through my previous sonograms and it looks like the aneurysm is a new development. That means the brain was fully formed (or close) before the dilation happened. He also told us that baby's heart looks strong and he appears happy and healthy. He said for the situation we are in we are "lucky".

So what now? We wait and we pray. I have to go to the hospital once a week until he is born so that they can keep an eye on the little one. If all goes well I should be able to deliver naturally and at full term. He will still have to have brain surgery, which is terrifying, but if he goes full term then he will have a really great chance of getting the groin-to-heart procedure done and living a normal life.

Next week we have an appointment with the pediatric Cardiologist and they will do an echocardiogram on the baby (technology is pretty amazing!). While we are down there we will get a tour of the NICU and the Labor and Delivery area. I will also have another sonogram and a meeting with Dr. Leonardi. 

[I guess I should get use to getting these]

We do appreciate all the love and support we have gotten from friends and family. Please continue to send happy thoughts and prayers to our little one.

Josh's Birthday and Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary

Josh's birthday was May 15th and on that exact date we didn't really do much. That is because he had some really big presents coming his way over the next month. 

On June 8th, Josh went to see his favorite band, Tool, in concert in Chicago! I wasn't able to go (it's too loud for little babies) but Josh had a great time and sent me photos and videos all night!



After I got back from my Epic CA Trip, we went to the Verizon store so Josh could use my upgrade to get a new phone. He broke his old phone when he jumped in a pool on our honeymoon in Australia and he's been using an older model ever since. 

Since he got a promotion and is on his phone ALL THE TIME we figured it was time for an upgrade. Needless to say, he is VERY happy with his new iPhone 7 Plus :-)

Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary was on May 24th. I was in CA and Josh was still at home so we celebrated when we were both back in Illinois together. I got Josh some movies and he got me leather jewelry and a leather picture. Did you know leather is the traditional 3rd Wedding Anniversary gift?!




I love how creative he is when it comes to presents! Love you so much!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Trip to Balboa Island - Part II: Family Reunion

On Thursday, May 25th, my parents, Ryan and Missy and their three boys, joined me at the Balboa House. We had a super busy week which consisted of going to Newport beach (we saw Dennis Rodman on the ferry!),





attending my cousin Patrice's wedding,



eating local strawberries and cherries,


attending the Neilson Family Reunion,































attending my friend Jen's funeral,


going on walks around the island (mostly to get Balboa bars and doughnuts),


my mom and Missy throwing me a Star Wars baby shower,

















going on a Duffy Boat ride around the harbor (complete with Sprinkles cupcakes and sandwiches), 
















attending an Angels game, 









spending time at Corona Beach, 





seeing my Papa and Nana Neilson,



going to the Rainbow store to get baby Carlson and I some sandals (the $2 is from Papa Neilson),

and spending time together as a family!




What made the trip even better was the fact that Josh was able to fly out for a few days so he could attend the wedding and the family reunion. Even though he was only able to come for a few days it was still fun to be in CA together (since we haven't done that since our wedding!).

Overall the trip was a ton of fun! It was so great to see so many of my Neilson cousins and to spend my last kid-free vacation in CA. We missed Luke and Andie, of course, but understand why they couldn't come.

However, all of us will be in Ohio for Christmas this year! It's going to be so much fun!