Thirty-four week report

May 20th, 2010

Well, this week has been a full one, with determined efforts to rest sandwiched between all the activity!  But throughout last night and so far today our three youngest have been attempting to fight off some sick germs by way of fevers, so they’re all lying about with blankets and pillows.  It’s amazing how quiet the house is!

This post will be my attempt to sum up all the pertinent facts about my pregnancy as well as Verity’s physical condition, and what we are working toward on both fronts.  So if that sounds dull to you, consider yourself fairly warned!

My pregnancy:

I am 34 weeks pregnant today, so only 6 weeks to go!  At 32 weeks I always feel like the due date is a long way off, but at 34 weeks, I begin to feel like I’m on the home stretch.  If Verity’s shelves were ready, I would be in the middle of the joyful task of laundering and organizing her things.  The itch to prepare for her arrival is now constant!

My hyper-thyroid and resultant high blood pressure have been kept under control since the first trimester by taking the amino acid l-carnitine.  After my blood pressure fell too low a month ago, I cut the dosage in half, but that caused the blood pressure to rise too high, so I’m back on the full dose.  (Yes, I am following my midwife’s recommendations in all this!)  It hasn’t dropped too low again, probably due to the natural slight rise that occurs toward the end of pregnancy.

For many weeks now, I haven’t been able to go out walking with my neighbor.  It was causing many hard, regular contractions that lasted for several hours past the walk, although I would spend the rest of the evening lying down.  Joe told me it was not worth it, and to stop!  That decision was vigorously seconded by the obstetrician last week.

The three complications that are more likely to crop up near the end of a Down syndrome pregnancy are 1. pre-eclampsia (no sign of this so far), 2. the amniotic fluid levels can quickly rise or fall to abnormal levels (fluid levels were perfect on Tuesday), and 3. preterm labor (I have a history of going slightly overdue, and we’ve been praying that she’ll stay put until July 1st!

Verity:

Has been approved to go through labor and delivery!  Praise the Lord for this mercy!  The level II ultrasound on Tuesday showed that no new problems have cropped up, and that she is thriving!  From all outward indications, I was fully expecting to hear this good news!

During the ultrasound, she was breech, which is not at all a cause for concern at this early date.  BUT today has been marked on my calendar as the day to begin all my best efforts toward helping her into a good position for birth.  This will be our second attempt at a VBAC.  The twins were born by C-section due to their poor positioning (both transverse) and my pre-eclampsia.  Then Stephen was born by an uneventful VBAC.  A normal delivery would be most beneficial for both Verity and me for many reasons, including the link between C-section and breastfeeding troubles.

She is in the 77th percentile for her size!  Her weight was estimated to be 5 lbs. 9 oz, so if she continues to gain at a normal rate (half a pound per week) and goes full term, we would expect her to be about 8 1/2 pounds at birth, hopefully closer to 9 pounds.  This is a blessing, as we are expecting a very slow weight gain after birth.  This slow gain would be caused by her inefficient heart taking more than its share of the energy, leaving less energy for growing.  We are also prepared for her to have various difficulties nursing, and those can contribute to slow weight gain as well.  So we are thankful that she has not been falling behind in this area.

We are very committed to the eventual goal of total breastfeeding.  Verity will be more in need of this than any of her siblings had been, but it will most likely take much more time and effort to get her to that point than it did with them.  I have heard stories of this process taking no time at all, and stories of it taking six months, and everything in between.  It took the twins nearly 7 weeks to get there, so we have some hard-earned experience in this area!  We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.  A thoughtful online friend mailed me a little booklet titled, “Nursing Your Baby with Down Syndrome,” which I hope to have memorized by birth time!  I’ve also received other kind advice and encouragement, and am armed and ready with a list of other helpful resources.

So at this point, we are hoping and praying for another successful VBAC delivery right at full term.  The obstetrician said that Verity will need to be in the NICU while we are in the hospital, but in spite of that we are hoping that after being checked over, she will be approved to room in with me until we are discharged.

She will need an echocardiogram before she is discharged.  This is more accurate than a fetal echocardiogram, as there are fewer layers for the sound waves to pass through.  Sometimes it reveals problems that were not detected during pregnancy, and sometimes it shows that the known problems are not as severe as it had been thought.  But from all we know now, and have been told to expect, she will not need open heart surgery until she is between 3 and 6 months of age, depending on several factors, including her weight and condition.

We are thanking Him for gently sustaining our little girl thus far!  As if all this happy news isn’t enough, God has been raining more buckets of blessings on our heads and I can hardly wait for my next rest time to write them all out here!

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

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7 Responses to “Thirty-four week report”

  1. Joy Horton says:

    Thank you for the update, Susanna! I feel like I have a much better understanding of things now!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I do too, Joy.
    Susanna, I am so happy for you to hear this update!  Truly wonderful news.  I will pray for good positioning for Verity.
    :)

  3. Tanya Geraci says:

    Susanna,  I just want you to know you and Verity continue to be in my thoughts and prayers often. I’m not on Momys as much lately and haven’t talked to you in some time but it doesn’t mean I don’t think of you often. I’ll be praying for a safe and healthy delivery and a beautiful time of holding, kissing, praying and getting to know your daughter soon after she is born.

  4. Thanks for sharing an update, helps me know how and what to pray for.  Continued prayers for you and your precious Verity!!

  5. Shannon says:

    What a wonderful update, Susanna! 

    Blessings,
    Shannon

  6. Sabrina says:

    So glad to hear that everything is going well.  Good job getting your rest.  Enjoy these last few weeks…she’ll be here soon!

  7. Kristin says:

    What a great update!  A was born at 34w3d and was 5 lbs 11.5 oz, so it sounds Verity’s about the same size (though I’m really hoping you bake her at least 3 more weeks :) )  If you need to talk about bf’ing a baby with DS, feel free to call (though we didn’t deal with the heart stuff).

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