The Snowball Effect

At my 35 week OB appointment, I was screened for group-B strep and e-coli.  They usually test later, but since I was early with S, they tested me at 35 weeks.  My water broke at 36 weeks.  Breech baby.   C-section.

My OB treated me with IV antibiotics both for the group B strep, which came back positive, and as a matter of protocol for a surgical procedure.

Last week, the yeast infection in my breasts started raging, most likely due to the antibiotics.  I was put on an antifungal, Diflucan, and Baby E was put on Nystatin.  My colitis, also most likely due to the antibiotics, started to flare last week as well.  I was already taking probiotics (the “good” bacteria) but I doubled the dose to try and avoid c-diff (the “bad” bacteria that grows when the “good” bacteria is killed off).  I took my anti-inflammatory medicine.  Nothing was working.  I did what I usually do — I started a course of steroids (Prednisone) on Saturday and planned to call my GI doctor on Monday to determine a medium-term course of treatment.

Prednisone, as luck would have it, encourages the growth of candida yeast.

My breasts were starting to feel better but I woke up this morning and all the burning was back.  I can’t believe I forgot about Prednisone and candida.  I called my doctor.  He prescribed a new type of steroid for me (it dissolves in the GI system so only 10% gets into the blood stream), a 6-day course of antibiotics (irony!), and upped the dose of all my anti-inflammatory medicines.  I am probably going to have to stay on the Diflucan for 6 weeks, the duration of the steroid treatment.  Baby E will probably have to stay on medicine, too.

All this from one dose of an IV antibiotic: necessary, yes, but evil.

July 12, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Other Sucky Things, The Magnificent Baby E. 2 comments.

“… And There’s Something Hanging Out of My Butt.”

Did you ever see the movie For Keeps with Molly Ringwald and Randall Batinkoff?  It is from 1988 and is not a cinematic gem, but I distinctly remember one scene where Molly Ringwald’s character, Darcy, is complaining about being a pregnant teenager and at the very end of her monologue she says ” … AND there’s something hanging out of my butt.”  “Out of your butt?” asks her baby-daddy, Stan (Batinkoff).  “Sometimes pregnant women get, you know… , hemorrhoids.”

Mind you, I can remember almost nothing else from 1988, but this scene stuck with me.

And now I know why.  Because there is indeed something hanging out of my butt and, thanks to For Keeps, I know what it is — hemorrhoids.

You would think with all of my pooping issues that I might have had them before, but if I did, they were very mild.  Since starting on the steroids the hideous diarrhea has abated only to be replaced by hideous constipation and I have discovered that neither extreme is pleasant.

I went to Target and bought enough witchhazel pads and Preparation H to soothe my sore tushie for several months.  Supposedly, most hemorrhoids go away on their own eventually but often get worse in the postpartum period due to pushing during delivery.

Worse?  Crap.

June 1, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4, Way Too Much Information. 4 comments.

Little Pricks

My midwife thinks I am “crazy” but she agreed to let me do blood sugar monitoring for a few weeks instead of the 3-hour glucose test.  “You know, MC, you are the only person who has ever requested this.”  I would so rather test for the rest of my pregnancy than do that horrible test.  I only need to test 2 times a day (one fasting; one postprandial), twice a week for two weeks to see how my numbers look.  If they are okay, I just stay on the ADA diet.  If they are not okay, I start to test more frequently.

My mom gave me my dad’s old glucometer.  Last year, this would have really upset me.  This year, I am too spent to invest any emotional energy in being upset about it.  I need to buy new test strips tomorrow.

In a strange twist, the steroids I have been put on for the colitis have nearly eradicated my nausea.  I can eat!  I can keep down prenatal vitamin!  I actually have energy!  It is awesome, actually.  Too bad I am on a 4-week taper because eventually I expect all this to go away, but for now it is such a nice change of pace.  I can also eat vegetables and tolerate dairy (with my Lactaid) so I am hoping she-beastie is storing up all these nutrients.   I even gained a whopping pound!

I am at week 31 as of tomorrow.  I regularly have about 30 minutes of Braxton-Hicks contractions when I lay down at night, which are just tightening at this point and not even painful.  My sciatica is starting to act up again, so I am wary of walking long distances.  It is actually a good thing I am not in Europe with my students.

We are starting to really work on the nursery.  I have three major projects before she-beasties arrival: 1) downstairs:  oversee building of a first-floor laundry room/new flooring; 2) nursery: paint/clean/furnish/stock; 3) research: finish article/send out book proposal/write book review.  I have a babysitter for 4 hours twice a week for S, my mom will take him another afternoon, and he goes to his play-care (2 hours at a day-care providers house, mainly for socialization), so I hope I have time to get all this done.  Unlike last time, I know that I will get nothing done once she-beastie arrives, so here’s to a few super-productive weeks.

May 24, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4. 3 comments.

Oh! OH!

(The answer to all of these is, “why, it’s MC!”)

Guess who flunked her 1-hour glucose tolerance test?

Guess who has to schedule her 3-hour glucose tolerance test this week?

Guess who just got put on Prednisone, a drug known for raising your blood sugars?

Guess who is going to flunk her 3-hour glucose tolerance test this week?

Guess who is going to just going to ask her OB if she can start the gestational diabetes protocol instead of taking that awful test?

Guess who is going to be put on a ADA-approved diet?

Guess who can’t stand meat or tolerate dairy and is not allowed to eat nuts or raw vegetables (bad for colitis)?

May 16, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4. 4 comments.

Life’s Not Fair

It’s not fair that I had two miscarriages.

It’s not fair I had hyperemesis while pregnant with S.

It’s not fair that I have ulcerative colitis.

It’s not fair my dad killed himself 5 days after S was born, and that is mostly what I remember about S being a newborn.

None of it is fair.

So here I am in pregnancy #2.  Migraines.  Hyperemesis.  So not fair.

My colitis is now also flaring.

I finally had to admit today that this was getting really bad really fast.  (You’re welcome for not sharing the details.)  I was worried about nutrients anyway due to all the nausea/vomiting, but now that it is coming out the other end, too, I am trying not to freak out.  I am forcing down the prenatal vitamins (because I puke anyway, right?) and drinking Ensure, just hoping that something absorbs.

I had to start on Asacol and Prednisone (4-week taper) per my GI doctor, in addition to the probiotics and fiber I was already taking.  All of this is class “A” (i.e. fiber and probiotics) or “B” (Prednisone, I guess, is technically a “C” but my OB and GI told me they both think of it as a “B”), but I am so sick of swallowing handfuls of pills while pregnant.

I am 29.5 weeks so about 10ish weeks to go.

As long a she-beastie is okay, though, I can suck it up;  I just need for her to be okay.

May 14, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4. 4 comments.

Oh, Goodie

I flunked my one-hour glucose screen.  The cutoff was 140; I was 149.

Now I get to take the three-hour glucose test.  The problem with this test, aside from having to spend three hours in the lab, is that if you puke, you have to start the test all over again.   While pregnant, I am a puker.  Telling a puker NOT to puke is like telling someone telling you NOT to think about an elephant, because then elephants are all you think about.  A completely empty stomach usually means ralph-city for me; downing that nasty sweet drink and then continuing to eat nothing for three more hours is a recipe for disaster.

Last time, the nice ladies in the lab let me lay down in a back room and only woke me for the draws.  It was the only way I could keep the stuff down, and even then I was using Jedi-mind control to will myself not to vomit.

Oh, and I think my colitis is flaring again.  Either that or the antibiotic I took for bronchitis is still messing with my intestines.  I am downing copius amounts of probiotics, which are actually good for both conditions.

One thing at a time, though.

May 6, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4. 3 comments.

Poop

I am 22 weeks and still nauseated and still getting migraines.  Not all that exciting, actually.  Nauseated is now my “default” setting.

Within the past week or so, however, I have been hit by awful diarrhea.  I had the opposite problem previously due to the narcotic pain killers, so this was a complete surprise.  My mom and Mr. MC also had the runs, so we just assumed it was something that we all ate.  Theirs went away; mine did not.

I think my colitis might be flaring.  Last time, pregnancy threw me into complete remission.  It did this time to, at least for the first half.  I am going through my usual rationales: “it’s something I ate;” “perhaps it’s just a bug;” or “I have been really stressed lately.”  I am giving it another week and then I am going to have to call my gastroenterologist.

I already take two antidepressants, baby aspirin, thyroid medicine and Lovenox shots, so this is far from an “au naturale” pregnancy.  I just hate to add two more meds (that are class B and “safe”) to my routine.

Oddly enough, with my bowels so, er, active, she-beastie is following suit.  She moves a lot and I have slowly been able to ween myself off of the doppler.   We are also slowly staring to prepare for the arrival, even though it is still months away.

March 23, 2010. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4. 4 comments.

Things I am Anxious About

(in no particular order)

1.  going to my ultrasound on Tuesday and finding nothing

2. going to my ultrasound on Tuesday and finding one sac, but finding nothing alive a week+ later

3.  going to my ultrasound on Tuesday and finding more than one sac, but finding nothing alive a week+ later

4. going to my ultrasound on Tuesday and finding more than one sac, and having them all turn into take-home-babies

5. whether I can travel internationally from weeks 32-34, assuming something sticks

6. tenure requirements (i.e. how I am going to publish as much as I need to)

7. whether my colitis is going to stop acting up if this pregnancy progresses

 

November 23, 2009. Another One?, Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #4. 3 comments.

Frackity Frack

Baby S is 9 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days old.  (We have a ticker on his blog; I am not actually that anal retentive).

I am still breastfeeding and plan to continue until he is at least a year.

It is my gift to him.  As I mentioned before, the risk of developing colitis is cut by up to 75% if one is breastfed for 12 months.  We are only nursing 3-4 times a day, so it is really not so bad anymore in terms of time commitment.

Except for one thing: the weight gain.

When Baby S was born I weighted 181 lbs.  I got on the scale this week and weighed 209 lbs.  HOLY FRACK!

I was never hungry when I was pregnant but breastfeeding makes me hungry all the time.  I eat almost everything put in front of me, even my veggies.  It is an even more intense hunger that when I was on Prednisone (steroids for treating colitis) and my CNM told me just to listen to my body as it is determined to make high-quality breastmilk.  She also pointed out that I did not eat well at all while pregnant, so my body is just trying to replenish lost nutrients.

But almost 30 lbs of weight gain while breastfeeding?

I joined a gym this week because if the apetite is going to be like this, something else has got to change.  I had to go out again and buy more “fat” clothes.   I read somewhere — and I am too lazy to go find it again — that 22% of women gain more than 15 lbs. while breastfeeding.  I was never told this.  It would not stopped me from breastfeeding, but it would have made me feel like less of a freak.

April 11, 2009. Colitis is Fun (Not), Other Sucky Things, South Beached Whale. 5 comments.

Mah Bewbies and Other Random Things

Mah bewbies are lopsided and I have had come to terms with it.  Even in their asymmetry, even allowing for the wee yeasties,  they have done a pretty good job.  My goal is to make it to at least a year with this whole breastfeeding thing.  Studies show that in kids that are predisposed to colitis (i.e. Baby S, as both Mr. MC and I have the disease in our family), breastfeeding for at least one year significantly reduces the risk.  They are not sure if it is because of the impact on the immune system or the fact that breastmilk is so easy to digest.  I will do whatever I can to help Baby S not develop this shitty (ha!) disease.

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I feel like now, at six months, I am finally getting this whole baby thing down.  Of course, people have already asked me when I am going to try for another.  (Cue maniacal laughter in the background.)  Ummmmm, no time soon.  I would like another one, but I feel like Baby S just got here.  I also do not “do” pregnancy very well, we will have to again contend with my uterus of death, I am up for tenure, etc…, which all make me want to wait.  Why are people so anxious to get knocked up so soon again after their first baby?

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I am having wicked, wicked mood swings.  In pre-baby world, I would call it PMS, but I am not sure when my cycles are going to start back up, so I don’t know if this is “pre-” anything.  I feel anxious, cranky, and super-OCD, and then the next day I feel fine, only to have it rear up again a few days later.  This started before Baby S started eating solids, so I do not think that is it.  But what do I know, right?

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My hair is still falling out.  Thank goodness I have thick hair because otherwise I would most certainly have bald spots.   It is not as bad as it was, but it still sheds more than normal except, conveniently, for the gray hairs at my temple.  Those, I am oh-so-happy to report, are just fine.  I assume that soon new hair will start to grown in?

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My carpel tunnel syndrome, which I developed in my last trimester but only got really bad after Baby S was born, has taken a turn for the worse.  It was in my left wrist and now has migrated to the right one as well.  My midwife told me it will go away when Baby S is about a year and that it is rarely permanent.  This gives me hope, but I still have to go out and buy another wrist brace.

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I only gained 11 lbs. when I was pregnant.  I lost it all the first week after Baby S was born and have proceeded to gain it all back while breastfeeding.  This whole “you-will-loose-weight-while-breastfeeding-because-you-burn-extra-calories” theory is a bunch of crap.  I am hungry all the time, I am still almost exclusively breastfeeding, I try to walk as much as the weather will allow, and I am still slowly gaining weight.  Like the lopsided bewbies, I have had to make my peace with it.

December 17, 2008. Colitis is Fun (Not), Life With Baby, Post-Pregnancy Fun, The Magnificent Baby S. 7 comments.

“Natural Childbirth is as Rational as Natural Dentistry”

I don’t know who first said that, but they may be onto something.

I went to the dentist for what I thought was a cracked filling.  It was not a cracked filling.  It was a cracked tooth, split right down the middle.  Cue the endodontist, the emergency root canal, and the Novocaine.  I now know where the expression “… about as much fun as a root canal” comes from as root canals are not, it turns out, any fun.

Thanks to my colitis, I can not take ibuprofen, which is recommended as it is an anti-inflammatory, and Tylenol and swishing warm water (!?) were just not cutting it for the pain.  I called back the next morning and they were apologetic that they had not given me anything stronger.  I immediately got a prescription for Tylenol with codeine, but by this point, the pain was really out of control.  I actually could feel my pulse in what was left of my tooth because it was so badly bruised from the procedure.  I called back again and they wanted to see me in person as “something was amiss.”  The nice young doctor, who I am sure just looked really, really  young but was perfectly certified to be doing what he was doing, shaved off more of the tooth as it was hitting on my bite (I didn’t ask for more details, which seemed to disappoint him; I just wanted them to fix whatever the heck was wrong) and they gave me a few days worth of Vicodin to get me through the worst of the pain.  (As an aside, you can nurse on these medicine, as long as you give your body enough time to metabolize the stuff.  I would pump, wait four hours, and then nurse or pump again.  After three hours, the narcotics are mostly gone.) I have another follow-up next week with the endodontist and then I have to go back to my regular dentist to have a crown put on.

Now, you ask, what the heck does this have to do with an epidural?  I must sheepishly admit that I had been feeling, well, like kind of a major wimp for begging for getting an epidural.  I really thought I would be able to do it naturally, but the pain proved too much for me to handle.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say I felt like a failure, because after all I birthed a healthy baby, but I felt like a wuss.  I read natural childbirth books, I watched “The Business of Being Born,” and I really did want to try and have a go at it, so I surprised myself at how quickly I gave in and asked for pain medicine when I was in active labor.

At my 6-week appointment with my midwife, it was still bothering me, so I asked her if all women experience labor the same.  If everyone felt what I felt, I have no idea how they could make it.  It was honestly like my body was being ripped apart, the contractions were just coming one on top of one another, I had to stay on my back, and I was only 3cm dilated, so I had hours and hours of this ahead of me.  My midwife was very reassuring and told me two things that made me feel better.  First, everyone experiences labor differently.  It depends on your pelvic size, the size and position of your baby, how many nerve endings you have there, and your individual pain tolerance.  Yes, it hurts, but how much it hurts can vary quite a bit.  Second, in her opinion (and 25+ years of experience with laboring women), the single most important factor regarding how women tolerate labor is how much sleep they had the previous 72 hours. “MC,” she said, “we were gong to admit you that night because you had not slept for days due to the contractions.  Anyone who has not slept has a markedly — and I mean markedly — decreased tolerance for pain.”  That made me feel better and much less wussy-ish.

Still.

It wasn’t until I was writhing in pain waiting for the endodontist to work on my tooth that I stopped feeling weird about having an epidural.  As soon as that Novocaine hit and he whipped out that drill, I said a silent thank-you to the universe for anesthesia.  For Pete’s sake, this man drilled out the nerves in my tooth and I didn’t feel a bloody thing.  The tooth, even though it needs a crown, was saved.  If I had asked, I could have done it without anesthesia, but why?  (The awful pain I felt afterward, in case you were wondering, was due to bruising in the surrounding tissue.)

Now, I am not going to argue that a shot of Novocaine is the same thing as an epidural.  The risks are not the same and the administration for the Novocaine is a lot simpler.  They are there, however, to take away the pain.  Why is it socially acceptable to get Novocaine but somehow I felt like a complete wimp for getting an epidural?  Yes, childbirth is “natural” but it still hurts like hell.  I also get migraines, which are also “natural” and also hurt like hell.  Why does taking away one kind of pain, be it from a migraine or a cracked tooth, seem the logical, rational thing to do and yet having epidural made me feel conflicted?

Women who give birth without pain medicine often say that they feel proud of themselves for doing what was best for their babies and themselves.  Yet if I had asked for the root canal sans anesthesia, people would think I was insane.  Why is there such a double standard?

(And why when I re-read this do I do it in the voice of a post-partum Carrie Bradshaw?)

September 14, 2008. Colitis is Fun (Not), He-Beastie's Big Debut, Other Sucky Things. 10 comments.

Curses, Foiled Again

My kid is very modest.  Or stubborn.  Or both.

I moved the 20-week anatomy scan up from the 29th to today because yesterday I had a rough day.  With hindsight, it was the beer-cheese soup (it is a Midwestern thing — it sounds gross but really is very good) I had for lunch, but I spent most of the afternoon doubled over in the bathroom with horrible diarrhea and even more horrible cramps.  Thanks to having ulcerative colitis for years, I was pretty sure the cramps were all lower GI (which is why I moved the scan up instead of driving to the hospital), but it is still really scary to cramp that much and be 20 weeks pregnant.  No bleeding, no fluid, but I still wanted to see wee-beastie with my own eyes.   

I called my OB’s office and they got me in today, just for the reassurance. 

I had horrible nightmares all night about sick babies and dead babies and how somehow I had done something to cause a sick/dead baby, so by the time we got to the hospital this morning, I was emotionally spent.  Pregnancy dreams are more vivid, but all the more horrifying when they are about sad or terrifying things.   

After two miscarriages, all I want is a healthy baby.  I was just really, really hoping to find out the sex today to help make this whole thing feel a bit more real.  I am still not able to grasp the fact that I AM HAVING A BABY.  Intellectually, I get it.  Emotionally, I just feel a disconnect with the fact that I could be holding my child in July.  Knowing the sex would allow me to better able to see wee-beastie as a future person, at least that was the plan.         

The measurements, at least the ones the technician could get, are all good: brain, heart, femur, head, etc….  Wee-beastie, however, was having none of this “looking at my bits” part.  S/he sat, cross-legged, tushie down, and refused to budge.  Judging from the heartrate of 140, which is usually around 160 when s/he moves around at night, I think we interrupted a nap — a cross-legged, butt-wedged-into-the-bottom-of-my-uterus nap.  How very rude of us!! 

They need some more measurements for some organs/appendages they missed and, obviously, we want to know they sex.  The nurse said the standard protocol is to reschedule in 6 to 8 weeks.  6 to 8 weeks???  I am going to beg my midwife for something earlier.  Then I am going to have a long chat with wee-beastie about how usually in life it is rather inappropriate to show your genitals to anyone who wants to look, but this is a notable exception and that mommy, daddy, and the utltrasound tech just want a quick little peak, and then s/he can go back to perfecting his/her omlette recipes.     

February 22, 2008. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #3. 8 comments.

Poop

My colitis is flaring. For real. I just took my Prednisone and I am not happy. Prednisone is actually recommended for some cases of recurrent miscarriage and is not really an issue in the first trimester (use in the third trimester can result in the birth of a Baby Huey), so there is no risk to the pregnancy. Still, I hate the stuff. It gives me insomnia, makes me puff up like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (without, unfortunately, her lovely shade of blue), completely destroys my metabolism, and then makes me constantly hungry, especially for eggs. It has saved my life many times over, however, so I really should stop complaining. I will, I promise, just as soon as I finish this two-week taper of the blessed stuff.

If you have colitis, you get these fantastic odds regarding pregnancy: 1/3 women will go into remission, 1/3 women will have a flare, and 1/3 of women will remain unchanged. The statistics do not help much, do they? In fact, why not just say “We have no clue what will happen?” That would be more satisfying for me, at least.

Both of my previous pregnancies threw me right into a state of complete remission. It was awesome, right up until the miscarriage/hemorrhage/complete emotional meltdown part. I arrogantly thought that this pregnancy would do the same thing for my colitis. It has not. Perhaps this is a good thing as I am all in favor of everything with this pregnancy being radically different from the last two.

The Plan is working quite well. The little sticks are getting darker every day, and now the test line is even darker than the control line. I only have two tests left and one week until my ultrasound, so it is back to the Dollar Tree I go. (I tried to go to a different store but the ghetto Dollar Store ran out of pregnancy tests —!?!?) For the sake of not introducing another variable into my experiment, I feel obliged to stick to the same brand.

November 12, 2007. Colitis is Fun (Not), Pregnancy #3. 7 comments.

Fertility Eve

Christmas Eve.

New Year’s Eve.

Here at my house it is Fertility Eve.

I am on CD11. Let the games begin.

I refreshed my stock of OPKs, so I have plenty o’ pee sticks for the near future. I am all stocked up on Preseed. I have been religiously taking my 7AM temperature for the past seven days, and I am actively not worrying about the fact that it looks like Zorro’s signature instead of a nice, subtle decline into the low 97.somethings.

The colitis flare is — for the moment — under control. I came off of a 6-day steroid taper Friday and so far, so good.

Perhaps the most important part of the equation is breathing on his own, out of the hospital, and back to work.

October 14, 2007. Colitis is Fun (Not), Trying Again. 4 comments.