The Specialist and Results

Due to TW’s age, weight, blood pressure during her first pregnancy, how small TK was at birth and what happened with the last pregnancy, the Baby Doc had us consult with a high-risk specialist. We had the first appointment with them yesterday.

The HRS did an ultrasound before we actually sat down to discuss anything. Things are progressing nicely, the HRS said that she size, heartbeat, and other developments are looking good.

TW’s blood pressure was a little high during the pregnancy with TK. We had weekly checks on her blood pressure and TK’s heartbeat. The HRS said that she thinks that we should definitely be checking the baby’s size along with TW’s blood pressure this time.

TK was small at birth, she weighed in at 5 lbs, 13oz when she was delivered and, I think she was only 5lbs 8-9oz when we checked out. She was born 5 days early so her size wasn’t due to her being premature. I did need to run out and find some preemie clothes, all we had were newborn sized and those were very big on her. Today TK is in the 99th percentile in height and weight, she is the tallest kid in her preschool.

The HRS said that everything looked good so far. We didn’t have the results of the genetic screening yet but she did some reassuring. She said that there is a 3% chance of a genetic problem in a normal pregnancy in someone under 35, TW is 40 so the HRS added one percent for age bringing us up to a 4% chance of a problem. She also said that that add 1% more if there was a previous instance, bringing us up to a 5% chance for a genetic problem. Those are pretty good odds in my book, 95% chance of a “normal” baby. TW was still worried because we had a 4% chance with the last pregnancy and ended up with a problem. I am staying cautiously optimistic until we get the results.

In the time it took me to write the bulk of this story we had some good news arrive. We were sitting on the couch watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with TK when TW got a call from and unknown number. Now I don’t know about you, but TW and I don’t answer the phone for numbers we don’t know. If it is important to the caller they will leave a message and if there is no message then it must not have been important. A few minutes after the phone rang her voicemail notification pinged.

The call was from the Baby Doc, the results of the screening came in today and……….

Everything is ok, the screening came back negative for any genetic problems. We have a healthy baby. We have an appointment with the Baby Doc on Tuesday and will be finding out the sex of the baby then, unless the suspense gets to TW and she calls the Doc back sooner.

I feel great right now. This was a major hurdle to get past. Not knowing the results of this screening was preventing me from really getting into “Baby Mode” but now that we have the results I can feel it coming on. I can’t wait to find out the sex so I can start looking for names and clothes and toys and all the other things that are gonna come along with becoming a dad again. I might even celebrate this with a beer or two after TK and TW go to sleep tonight!

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One Week

Yesterday marked the second doctors visit and came with a side of ultrasound! The ultrasound went well, it confirmed the due date, we’re looking at mid February if everything goes well.

We heard the heartbeat, the tech said that it sounds good and the rate was normal. I’m really trying not to get too attached yet. Yes, we’re 9 weeks into this, yes the tech didn’t see anything abnormal, yes the doctor said everything looks good so far. But, everything looked good with the last one, until it things stopped looking good.

The doc said that TW could get the genetic screening done during week 10. We have one week to wait until the blood gets drawn for the test. Then we have about two more weeks for the results. This is the big hurtle. If the screening results come back clean then I can stop worrying and start getting attached. I can start planning, and start hoping again.

If the screening comes back showing a problem, we’ll have to start dealing with things. A whole new set of decisions need to be made, a whole different mindset adopted.

I’m really trying not to let the “If’s” and “What If’s” take over my thinking. I mean, the first pregnancy went well, TK was a little small at birth, but she is in the 99th percentile for height and weight now at age 4.

I think that your first time going through this process makes you worry, it’s a new and unique experience. You naturally worry, “Am I ready for this?” “What if …” “How will I …” “Can we handle …”. The second one finds you in a different place, “I am ready for this.” “If ____ happens then we’ll do ____.” “I know how to handle …”.

But for us week 12 was the week that we were handed something we weren’t prepared for. The results of the screening showed a problem and it wasn’t a good one. But TW and I got through it, we dealt with it and took our bumps and bruises and learned that not all pregnancies will be good ones.

So here we are, pregnancy #3, getting screening #3, and waiting for the results. If everything is ok, we know how to proceed. If something is wrong, we know that we will get through it.

On a lighter note, we told TK about her possibly getting a sibling. TW and I discussed it and decided that she needs to know, and if something goes wrong she should know about that too. This way if she see’s me or her mom sad we don’t have to make up a reason and she will understand why we are emotional.

I asked TK last week if she wanted a little brother or a little sister. She thought about it for a second and said that she wants a sister. She thinks it’ll be fun to have a sister to play with and teach and talk to. I asked her how she would feel if we found out she was going to get a little brother. She thought for a second and the scrunched her face up a little and said that she would be disappointed. I asked her if she would be happy or sad if it was a little brother, she said that she would be happy but disappointed.

I’m just hoping that she gets a sibling. We can quibble over everything else later.

First Baby Doc Visit

We had the first visit last night. The doctor said things are looking ok, as far as he can tell at 6 weeks.

We are going for the first ultrasound in three weeks. He went over the usual info, breaking down how often we’ll be visiting, reminding TW about what she can and can eat and do.

The doc joined a different network of doctors since we were last there, he recommended that TW see a high risk specialist due to her age, her last pregnancy, and the fact that TW’s blood pressure got a bit high with TK and how small TK was when she was born.

I sometimes forget how small she was. She was born 5, or so, days early and was 19 inches long and 5lbs 13oz. I remember running out before we took her home and trying to find preemie sized clothes for her. After being out in the world for a few months she gained weight and length (height?) and went from the 10 percentile in size and weight to where she is now in the 95th percentile for height and weight.

The genetic screening had to wait until the 9th week so the doc said that he would discuss and order that when he sees us for the ultrasound.

TW and I are both hoping for better news than last time.

Two Pints of Ice Cream and a Six Pack of Beer

If you were a cashier in a grocery store and a youngish man placed those items on the belt, what would your first thought be? My guess is the answer depends on your age and/or life experience.

For example, if you are an unmarried person with no kids your answer might be, “what an odd combination of items, what would you need with two pints of ice cream and a sixer of beer? Maybe the guy has a weird party he’s heading to, on a Wednesday night.”

Now if you are married or a parent you reaction might be similar to the cashier that I had yesterday when I placed those exact items on the belt. The 50+ year old woman with graying hair looked me right in my tired eyes and said, “Congratulations, is this your first or second child?” To which I politely replied that this was the third pregnancy but will be the second child of everything goes well.

I have written in the past about the problems TW and I faced with the second pregnancy and what ended up happening, you can read that post here. The short version is, we had the genetic testing done and a problem was found, after multiple tests confirming the results of the test, my wife lost the baby.

Now, I know there is all sorts of protocol about that needs to be followed regarding the announcement of a pregnancy, and I know I’m breaking that protocol by saying that TW is pregnant and that she is only about 5 weeks along, but there is a lot of baggage that comes with the first pregnancy after an unsuccessful one and I need to unpack a bit of it. I mean, we haven’t even had the first Baby Doc visit yet, though that will be occurring in a couple of days.

We are both scared. That is the big cloud hanging over us right now, all of the “what if’s” that come with a “normal” pregnancy situation, but with so much more emotion behind them since we have had one successful and one unsuccessful pregnancy. What if they find a problem again? What if it’s worse than the last one (I don’t think it could be, but you never know)? What if there isn’t something wrong and we’re worrying for nothing? What if this pain is the sign of something bad and not psychosomatic? What if the reason TW feels “off” isn’t just normal pregnancy stuff and it’s the sign of something bad? What if the reason TW feels “off” is just normal pregnancy stuff? Is the stress that TW is feeling from work affecting the pregnancy? If the pregnancy the reason she feels more stressed about work? Experience had shown us that anything can happen, that these worries are all justified, these questions are all valid.

A successful pregnancy, the one resulting in the awesomeness that is TK, taught us to roll with the changes and that things will be just fine. A pregnancy has its ups and downs and in a few months they will all be part of the story you tell friends and family when the subject comes up. None of that is gonna matter anyway since you’ll be too busy with the newborn to have a coherent thought for a few months after he/she arrives.

The unsuccessful one taught us this is all out of our hands. It’s like waking into a casino, the odds say you can win or lose, and in reality a casino’s odds are skewed towards the house, but with a pregnancy there is a lot that goes into the odds and depending on those factors the odds can fall either way. We rolled the dice once and won, our daughter is awesome, right now she’s chasing Muttley and Droopy around the house because it’s raining and there is nothing better to do. We rolled the dice a second time and lost. That loss sucked worse that anything else I have ever been through. It is something I, and TW, think of often and still hurts.

Here we are now, the dice have been thrown and we’re waiting to see where they fall.

I’m trying my best not to let the “what if’s” take over. There is a lot of waiting that still needs to happen. Our first step is getting to the Baby Doc, after that we will do the genetic screening again. Then we wait for the results, the results will either be good or bad. If they are good then great we move on to the next steps. If they aren’t good then we move on to the next steps.

We just gotta hurry up and wait.

Heartbreak

There have been many points in my life where I looked at some part of myself and wished it was different. I think this is true of most people, some deal with it better than others. The earliest one I can remember is around junior high, as puberty hit I started to get dark hair on my legs, and it seemed to start at my ankles and work it’s way up. I tried to hide it by pulling my socks up but that drew more attention to my legs and that made me more self conscious. Eventually I accepted that this was me now and it stopped bothering me.

I know that compared to other problems this is insignificant, and that in the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal. At the time though, it was the most difficult thing I had to deal with. And there have been many other instances where I have looked at myself and decided that I needed to change or accept that this is who I am, but this is the first one i remember.

I never, in all of my life, thought that my 4 year old would look at herself and be sad about who she was. I mean, she’s 4, how could she possibly even come close to feeling like that. I had never considered that self image would be something she would even be thinking about yet. I felt that those feelings would come but that it would be later in life when TW and I could help her through it and she would have the ability to understand how to deal with those feelings.

Realizing that I was wrong and hearing the sadness in TK’s voice broke my heart in a way I never thought it could break.

TK and I were driving to the vet to pick Droopy up after getting neutered (don’t even get me started on how hard it was to explain neutering to a 4 year old) and listening to the Moana soundtrack. TK has recently become obsessed with Moana and I added a couple of songs to her playlist on my phone. In the middle of “How Far I’ll Go” TK stops singing and asks me to turn down the radio.

After I turn down the music she says, “Daddy, I don’t like my voice, I don’t wanna sound like this any more. Can I change my voice to sound better?” Cue the heart ache, no parenting book or advice column can prepare you for a question like that. A hundred different reactions fly through my head in the next second as I try to figure out how to respond to this.

Finally I say to her, ” TK, your voice is your own and will change as you get older. You might like how it sounds or you might not, just know that I love the way it sounds, I love the way it sounds when you sing and when you talk, I love all of the different sounds you make and wouldn’t want you to change it at all.” She said, “Ok daddy, I won’t change it. Even though I wanna sound like Moana.” Another shot to the heart. “TK, I think you sound just as good as Moana does, and I love hearing you sing her songs with your own voice.”

That got another ok daddy, and then she asked if I’d turn the music back up. I did and we both kept belting out the songs together. We even continued the car concert after we picked Droopy up from the vet, he even joined in with a few howls of his own.

Lots Of New Stuff

A while back, when we were first starting the potty training process, TW promised TK that she could get a puppy when she starts going #2 in the potty. After many (I mean MEAAAAAAAAAAAANY) weeks and many more accidents including two bathtub accidents and one middle of the bathroom floor accident TK finally went #2 in the potty and the first thing she said was, “yay, now I get a puppy!”

Now when my wife initially made the puppy offer, my jaw hit the floor. I have no problem offering rewards for achievements, we had a prize bucket for TK to choose stuff out of to get her to use the potty initially. She would have to pee, she would tell me, we’d go to the bathroom, she would pee, clean up, wash up, and go and get a potty prize. It was a good system, but she would not do a #2 no matter what the prize was. But a puppy?!?! I thought a puppy was a bit too large of a prize. I was sooo happy when she finally did, I mean, I haven’t been that happy about poop before and probably won’t ever be again. But then we had to make good on the puppy promise.

Muttley’s patience would be tested even further with the addition of another dog into our pack. My patience would be tested training this new addition to our pack. TK would be happy either way. TW would have her patience tested too. When we got Muttley TW was just TGF (The Girlfriend) at the time and only saw Muttley on weekends when we were able to stay at each others places. By the time we moved in together Muttley was the well trained/behaved dog he still is today.  She has had dogs before and knows what it is like house breaking them and moulding them into “good boys” but it has been a few years since she’s had to.

We spent the next few months stalking the Facebook page of the shelter where we got Muttley and finally found one that TW and TK agreed was good. We loaded everyone, including Muttley into the car and headed to the shelter. Once we got there TW started having second thoughts. We left that day without a puppy and with a very angry toddler, TW tried consoling TK but she wasn’t happy at all with the decision not to get the puppy the four of us played with for almost an hour.

A month later TW saw another puppy she liked at the same shelter. Quick side note about this place, they are small and their turnover rate is amazing, they will have a transport come in with 30 dogs on it on a Saturday afternoon and by the time they close 20-25 of those dogs will have been adopted. They post pictures on Friday night of what dogs they are receiving Saturday and people will be in the building an hour before the transport shows taking numbers for the animals they want to see. TW noticed the dog she liked on Saturday afternoon, right around the time the transport showed up, so there wouldn’t be time to run out there and see him before the shelter closed for the day. TW said, “If he is still there on Tuesday, then he was meant to be ours. You ,TK, and Muttley can go ther after TK gets done with school and if he gets along with TK and Muttley and you think he’ll be a good fit we can get him.”

That’s how it happened too, I loaded Muttley into the car when I went to pick TK up from school, we went to she shelter, all three played well together, TW watched via FaceTime, and an hour later we took Droopy home with us.

Droopy has been a ball of crazy energy but is fitting in well. The first week was rough getting him on a potty schedule and there have been many instances and accidents since then but I can say that this is the first accident free week we’ve had since bringing him home. He’ll be getting neutered next month, and microchipped shortly after that. Muttley originally had some territory issues inside the house but since the end first week they have done nothing but play and even ocasionally nap on or next to each other.

We stil have a ways to go to get Droopy to full-time “good boy” status but he’ll get there.

A Holiday Scare

We had a major scare this past weekend.

TW decided that this would be a good weekend to do the Christmas decorating, the weather was nice so I could easily put up the outside lights and my family wasn’t getting together for Thanksgiving because my mom was in the hospital so we’d be well rested enough to put the tree and stuff up. The outside lights went up easy enough, I have a pretty good system in place for doing everything and, since this is my third year doing it, everything went smoothly.

Putting the tree and stuff up is a bit harder, it is all stored in the basement in a storage area under the stairs, we also have more decorations than we have space so some of them are brought back down and put back into storage. To make the process a bit smoother I put Muttley and Droopy in the back yard for the duration, it’s hard enough lugging boxes up stairs without two dogs under your feet. After moving the Halloween decorations out of the way I brought the Christmas boxes upstairs, TW began searching for what she wanted to put up as soon as the first box came up and TK was happier than I have ever seen her. She was literally jumping up and down the whole time I was bringing boxes up, she giggled at every decoration that came out, and wanted to help put every one up, even the ones she couldn’t reach.

We have a fake pre-lit 7 foot tall tree that we got at a wholesale discount store a few years back, it goes up easily, and looks nice enough. I cleaned off the top of our entertainment center and put up my A Christmas Story houses and figures and my Hallmark Peanuts musical light up figures. TW and TK started work on the tree. I took down and carefully wrapped my small brewery growler collection and put our stockings on the shelf that held them. TW put her metal angels up on the remaining area on the entertainment center. We were making good time and I stopped a few times to look out the back window and check on the dogs.

After a while I decided that I would start taking the empty and refilled boxes back downstairs. I want to pause for a second and add this, we have a finished basement. There is a carpeted family room and extra bedroom, a laundry and storage area and a full bathroom as well. The stairs leading to the basement are carpeted as well. At the top of the stairs there used to be a door, the previous owners took it off the hinges and stores it in the storage area in the basement. We decided that keeping the door off made the hallway feel more open so instead of putting the door on we added a semi-permanent Baby gate where the door should be. It is screwed into the door jamb and secured both with a thumb latch and the gate needs to be lifted slightly to open.

I had just finished bringing the last box down to the storage area and was starting to pack the storage room back up when I heard a couple of bangs from upstairs. It sounded like TK had knocked something off the couch or had dropped a couple of things. Then I heard TW call out for TK and figured that TK fell or knocked something down upstairs and TW was getting ready to scold her. But then I heard TK crying. Only she wasn’t crying from upstairs, it sounded like she was crying from the basement. This shouldn’t be possible, I know I latched the baby gate and TK doesn’t know how to open it. I dropped the box I had in my hand and ran to the stairs just in case. As I turned the corner I see TK standing at the bottom of the stairs bawling and red faced. I instantly grab her and sit her on my lap as I sit on the stairs. TW arrived at the stairs st the same time I did and came to the bottom to see if TK was ok.

I just sat there on the stairs and held her while I rocked slowly back and forth telling her, “it’s ok, sweetheart, it’s ok” while hoping that was true. After a couple of minutes she calmed down and I stood her up in front of me, I wiped the tears from her face and asked her what happened. She said, “I don’t know daddy” I asked her if she fell down the stairs, she said, “yes, daddy.” I asked her if she hit her head, she said, “no, daddy I hit my butt.” I asked her where she was hurt and she pointed to her hip. I pulled her shirt up and her pants down and looked at her hip, she had a small red spot. I checked her arms, hands, neck, head, back, and legs and didn’t see any other redness or scrapes or any bruises or bumps starting to form. I fixed her clothes and sat her on my lap and just held her for a bit, TW was sitting on the floor next to the stairs trying not to cry and not doing a very good job at it. I held TK so she wouldn’t see the look of panic on my and TW’s face while we composed ourselves.

After we all calmed down we went back upstairs and TK said she was hungry so we made some lunch. I must have asked her a dozen times if she hit her head and each time she said, “no.” I asked her what happened and she said that a ghost opened the gate and she did a summersault down the stairs. I am pretty sure that my house isn’t haunted so I asked her if it really was a ghost and she said, “no daddy, the gate opened and did two summersaults down the stairs.”

We kept an eye on her, checking for signs of a concussion or any other pain she might be feeling. She said that she felt good every time we asked her. She even reminded us that we planned on going to see a big musical Christmas tree at an outdoor mall not far from where we live. She begged to go and after an hour of listening to the begging we went. She laughed and danced along to the music and was as well behaved as she usually is while we did a little pre-Christmas browsing. And still every time I asked her if she hit her head her answer was no.

She slept well that night and TW and I were sure that she would be feeling some kind of soreness the next day. TK amazed us when she woke up and told us that she felt good and wasn’t sore at all.

This, by far, by leaps and bounds, was, hands down, THE scariest thing that I have been through as a parent. TK seems to be fine, here I sit two days later, and she doesn’t have a single bruise or scratch on her. She was even laughing when she told my mom that she fell down the stairs. TW and I are watching her like a pair of hawks, looking for any signs of any problems and so far we haven’t seen anything.

Kids are resilient and, I’m pretty sure, are made of rubber.