- 2001.09.05 — New Photos Added
Four photos have been added to the 7-Day Old section, and 8, 9, 12, and 20-Day Old sections have been created in the Photo area as well. Additionally, a baby picture of Allison is now available in the Family section. Check out the resemblance!
- 2001.09.04 — Natasha Loves the Cats!
Was there ever any doubt?
- 2001.08.28 — Three-Week Checkup
Natasha went for her three-week checkup today. I'm feeling old, as the nurse practitioner we saw was in my first university fencing class (she did quite well, finishing second in the class tournament after hurting her hand in the quarterfinals). Natasha now weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces — a gain of one pound, five ounces from birth. This is an exceptional three-week weight-gain for a breast-fed baby. Otherwise, she is doing well.
- 2001.08.04 — She's Here!
Allison came "unplugged" about 6:00 PM yesterday, and I prayed for baby to come before the weekend at 6:30 PM. Allison clearly didn't agree with my request. Nevertheless, her water broke an hour later. After 17.5 hours of labor, our daughter entered the world! She was born two weeks early, to the day.
I've never been more proud of Allison. We had long ago together decided to attempt to avoid an epidural due to the associated prolonged labor and increased incidence of "doctor-assisted delivery." Allison was more adamant concerning this than I. After only two or three hours of labor, it became obvious that she was experiencing tremendous pain. Nevertheless, she accepted only one-half the normal dosage of Stadol, and even then at significantly greater intervals than she was allowed. Although offered an epidural at seven centimeters, and again at eight, (after "stalling" at seven for several hours), she immediately and steadfastly declined each time. [By this point, fifteen hours into labor, I would have accepted them both without hesitation. :)]
As expected, Allison experienced some anxiety and behaved in quite a bizarre manner during the first two or three hours of labor. Amazingly, however, as the labor progressed, Allison became more and more composed, rational, and determined. She remained true to her initial intentions in the face of great pain and discomfort when it would have been a simple matter to justify reversing course: No one would ever have questioned her for doing so. It bears repeating: I've never been more proud of her.
It is not possible to describe the joy I felt upon first setting my eyes upon my daughter as she emerged from her mother, or that which overtook me when I first held her. I've been in love with my daughter for quite some time now. Finally, we can begin living our lives together.
- 2001.08.03 — Non-Stress Test
Baby was more active today during any previous non-stress test. Her baseline heartrate is approximately 140 BPM, with movement producing up to 180 BPM.
- 2001.08.03 — Prenatal Exam
The doctor reaffirmed that baby is head-down and that Allison is partially effaced. She is currently dialated at 1.5 CM. Baby could arrive any day now!
- 2001.07.27 — Prenatal Exam
The doctor reported that Baby has taken a dive! She is now upside-down, her head in Allison's pelvis, ready to go! Otherwise, all is normal and well.
- 2001.07.26 — Non-Stress Test
This time, Baby was active during the test. Her heartbeat was between 140-145 BPM when she was still and 160-165 BPM when she moved. Both are normal rates.
- 2001.07.23 — Childbirth Class
Our last childbirth class primarily covered pain-management techniques and delivery methods. It included a breastfeeding video which more effectively demonstrated proper/improper technique than ninety minutes of discussion at the health clinic. I can't help but wonder why the breastfeeding class didn't make use of such a video. We once again toured the labor and delivery area of the hospital, but we didn't see as much as we did the first time because all of the rooms were in use. It's baby season.
- 2001.07.20 — Breastfeeding Class
This class was taught by an RN from the health department. Allison thought it was a very helpful class. I don't have breasts, so I'm not so sure. We'll ask Baby after she has a chance to snag a couple of meals.
- 2001.07.20 — Prenatal Exam
The doctor reported that Allison's cervix has already become soft and pliable. Therefore, it is unlikely that she would face major complications in that regard if Baby decides to move into Mommy and Daddy's place earlier than scheduled. Allison was tested for strep. If she is found with strep just before baby arrives, antibiotics will be administered during labor and delivery in order to ensure that Baby does not contract the illness.
- 2001.07.19 — Non-Stress Test
Baby was sleepy, so the nurse-practioner gave Allison a very cold beverage in order to wake her up. It worked. The test results were normal. Baby is far more active at night (and after eating chocolate ice cream) than during the morning hours.
- 2001.07.18 — Happy Day!
Baby is prepaid. We'd hate to be in debt for her before she arrives!
- 2001.07.09 — Childbirth Class
Our second childbirth class was — overall — much better than the first. Some new information concerning our hospital's specific labor and delivery procedures was presented. We found the Lamaze breathing excercises, however, to be less valuable than we expected. It was very difficult for Allison to "imagine" that she was having a severe contraction when she has never before experienced labor, and equally difficult for me to telepathically identify which muscles in her body were tense and which were relaxed. Because the class was abbreviated from four nights to three, perhaps we were short-changed in this regard. If so, my feelings aren't hurt. Nevertheless, Allison continues to practice her breathing exercises as best as possible.
- 2001.07.06 — Prenatal Exam
Today, we saw the nurse-practioner that Allison and I like so well. She spent quite a bit of time with us, taking great care to answer all of our questions. A non-stress test (in which baby's movements and corresponding heart rates are monitored during her mother's inactivity) was scheduled and we were told that this test would be administered each week until birth. Non-stress tests are routinely administered during late pregnancy when the mother has most any medical condition, and Allision's hypothyroidism qualifies her and baby for these exams
- 2001.07.02 — Childbirth Class
Our first childbirth class was largely uninformative, as Allison has researched so extensively throughout her pregnancy (and passed the resulting information on to me.) However, we still picked up a few bits of information.
- 2001.06.22 — Prenatal Exam
We were examined by the only doctor we had hereto not met. He impressed me as both experienced and compassionate. Of the five Ob/Gyns, I will be extremely pleased if any of three of them delivers our daughter, content but cautious if a fourth is on the scene, and watchful and suspicious if the remaining doctor is on duty during that time. He answered many of our questions concerning labor and delivery procedures, especially pain-managment and baby-monitoring techniques. As always, both Allison and baby are well.
- 2001.06.01 — Bloodwork/Injection
We reported to the hospital at 7:30 AM as ordered for routine bloodwork, Rh injection, and toxoplasmosis test. All went well. Additionally, we spent some time looking at newborns, took a brief tour of the labor and delivery areas, pre-registered at the hospital, and obtained pre-authorization for an epidural in case Allison opts for this procedure during labor.
- 2001.05.25 — Prenatal Exam
After the ultrasound, a doctor briefly examined Allison and baby and reported that all is well.
- 2001.05.25 — Ultrasound
If David is growing weary of seeing us, he in no way indicated it during this third ultrasound, as he was as cordial and helpful as before. As expected, Baby has grown so large that it was very difficult for Allison and I to make out specific features, but David assured us that she appears "perfect," and that "She's still a girl!" The best still images of this ultrasound are posted in the photo area.
- 2001.05.01 — Prenatal Exam
The doctor whom we were scheduled to see was called in to the hospital for a delivery, so Allison and Baby were examined by a nurse practitioner, Janice Thurmond, in his stead. She was comforting and friendly as she thoroughly answered all of our questions (and Allison had many on this occasion). At our request, she scheduled Allison for another thyroid test. (I am dumbfounded that not one doctor or nurse we've spoken with concerning this matter has thought another test important, considering that Allison's thyroid medication (Synthroid) dosage wasn't stabilized until several months into her pregnancy, and that a second test to confirm that thyroid hormone levels have remained within normal tolerance has not been conducted since the dosage was stabilized.) We also learned that a test for "kitty litter disease" (toxoplasmosis) either wasn't completed or wasn't filed, despite Allison being informed by a nurse during an earlier visit that it was completed and that the result was negative. I'm sorry to say that this development doesn't at all surprise me. Nevertheless, as Allison lived nearly her entire childhood sharing her home with cats -- and as she was usually the one to whom litter duty fell -- the nurse agreed that it would be very surprising if her body did not long ago develop antibodies to combat this disease. The toxoplasmosis test, a routine glucose test, and the treatment that Allison and Baby require due to my positive blood type will all be administered on the same day (on or after June 1).
Additionally, it appears that Dr. Deeter had previously ordered a third ultrasound at 28 weeks, though neither Ali nor I remember this. Therefore, Janice scheduled it for the morning of May 25, just before a prenatal visit with the elusive Dr. Drake. (More baby pictures!) It is our understanding that Baby will be so big by this time that it may be difficult to "make out" much, but I'm still hoping for a close-up of her face from straight-on. Baby is thumping along at 135 beats per minute. Allison hasn't gained an ounce since the last visit, and Janice indicated that it would not be surprising if she actually weighed a somewhat less after her pregnancy than before it due to her thyroid condition not being corrected until well after baby was conceived. After reviewing the results of a recent blood test, she also commended Allison for obviously adhering to a healthy diet. She's already a fine mother!
On a personal note, I am very, very excited about my daughter. I believe that God's greatest demonstrations of power are those times when he changes a heart. (To a degree, man can change his actions, his environment, his world; but only God can change a heart.) Once again, he has certainly changed mine. A few months ago, I definitely did not want children in the foreseeable future, and I could provide an extensive list of irrefutable reasons supporting this decision. Now, I can hardly wait for Baby to arrive.
- 2001.04.06 — Prenatal Exam
Again, all is well with Baby and Mother. The vital sign check once again revealed that Allison has gained only five pounds during her pregnancy, but all nurses and doctors with which we've discussed this matter have indicated that this is not at all unusual, especially considering Allison's hypoactive thyroid. We saw Dr. Cook once again, this time near the end of his day. Though obviously exhausted, he patiently and thoughtfully answered all of our questions, and was both friendly and witty throughout. Baby's heart rate was approximately 140 beats per minute. I wouldn't mind at all if he delivered our daughter.
- 2001.03.23 — Ultrasound
It's a girl!
David was once again exceptional, both personally and professionally, as he administered the ultrasound and walked us through the process. The first step was to measure features of the baby's anatomy several times in order to obtain an average (and accurate) measurement for each anatomical member. The baby is 6-8 inches long (she was tightly curled during this portion of the procedure, so an overall length was difficult to gauge), and weighs approximately .5 pound. According to the anatomical measurements, the baby is 18 weeks, six days old today -- exactly what we estimated based on the less accurate results of the first ultrasound (impressive, David). Her heart-rate was 157 beats per minute -- well within normal range. She was initially a little lethargic, but soon became quite animated and eventually was, according to David and Allison, talking non-stop -- mostly with her hands! She kicked, waved her arms, and rolled over (toward Ali's back, unfortunately, preventing us from getting a good frontal facial view). She was thoroughly examined: all fingers and toes appear to be accounted for, her spine is fine (unfortunately we didn't get an ultrasound screenshot of the baby's spine, but we could see it clearly enough to count vertebrae), and she is otherwise normal. And pretty! She has a prominent "Buddha-belly," as David calls it. Dr. Green, whom Allison and I like so well, dropped in unexpectedly approximately half-way through the ultrasound and stayed until nearly its completion, which was very thoughtful of him.
David was confident that we have a girl. I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed, as I wanted the oldest child to be a boy so that he could better protect his sister; and I feel that I could offer more specific guidance to a boy in certain important matters (as I suppose all fathers believe). However, I will love my daughter no less than I would a son, and will make no less of an effort to pour myself into her and her life. Our Father, God, knows best: This is the child He has chosen for us.
- 2001.03.20 — Blood Test Results
All is well with Baby. The generic form used to report the test results indicated that it was an alpha-fetoprotein screen rather than the quad screen that was actually ordered, but it was completed and signed by Sula, with whom we discussed at length the test type we wanted, so I'm sure the quad-screen was actually performed. We will verify this Friday at our next ultrasound.
- 2001.03.16 — Prenatal Exam
After the preliminary nurse's exam, Allison and Baby were examined by a fourth doctor, Tom Green. Dr. Green is Allison's usual Ob/Gyn, and I believe I now understand why she thinks so highly of him. Like most of the other doctors, he took time to answer all of our questions, but his explanations were more detailed. Additionally, he is, as Allison puts it, "very gentle." He is the first Ob/Gyn who has impressed me as confident and competent without also conveying arrogance. Dr. Green quickly found the baby and we once again heard the heartbeat, this time at 148 beats per minute. An ultrasound was scheduled for next Friday, one day before Baby turns 19 weeks. It is likely that Baby's gender will be apparent at that time. Perhaps then my brother will stop calling the Baby "Pat." :) The results of the quad-screen blood test will be known before this ultrasound.
- 2001.03.13 — Blood Test Ordered
We opted for the quad-screen rather than the less accurate triple-screen or Alpha feto-protein blood tests for both Baby and Mother's benefit. Results will not be known for five or six days.
- 2001.02.16 — Prenatal Exam
Today, Allison and the baby were examined by yet another doctor, who checked the baby's heart rate and found it normal at 156 beats per minute. After waiting until the end of the visit for the doctor to inform us of the result of my blood test (and its ramifications upon Allison and the baby), I took it upon myself to inquire about it. After looking up the results, the doctor revealed that I have A-positive blood. (I must say that my confidence in these "professionals" hasn't been bolstered by our first few visits.) Therefore, Allison must undergo the Rh (?) treatment detailed below, which the doctor assured us was routine. The doctor reminded us to "show up" at the clinic in 2.5 - 3.0 weeks for the triple-screen maternal serum blood test we opted for during our initial consultation with the nurse practitioner. This test detects Downs syndrome and other birth defects. Of course, we opted for the test so that we could take steps to help the baby if anything abnormal was found, and for this reason alone. Lastly, the doctor told us that the next ultrasound would be scheduled at our next visit, and would likely take place between the 19th and 21st weeks. Other than these developments and the usual vital-sign/blood/urine check, this visit was uneventful.
- 2001.01.25 — Prenatal Exam
After this morning's ultrasound came the obligatory vital sign-check by a nurse's aide. No one (including Dr. Cook) seemed to know why Allison was scheduled to see a doctor after the picture session. Dr. Cook met with us momentarily, assured us that all was well with both baby and mother, and arranged for a nurse to write a lab order so that I could learn my blood type. (David told us before we met with the doctor that this would be necessary in order to learn whether Allison will have to have some routine injections later in order to protect the baby from being recognized as a foreign body (and thus attacked) by Allison's body. This would occur if I have any positive type of blood, since Allison has O-negative. I later had my blood taken at the medical arts building, and expect the results at our next prenatal visit on 2001.02.16.) The doctor didn't stay long, but what could he do? He had no reason to even see us. This visit was short. We were in and out in approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.
- 2001.01.25 — Ultrasound
The ultrasound was administered by a man identifying himself only as "David". Allison tells me that many LifeHouse clients and friends have commented positively concerning this man. I can only concur. We've thus far seen three doctors, one nurse, three nurses aides, and innumerable office workers, and — although I am pleased overall with all personnel encountered (with one exception, noted in my report on our initial prenatal visit below) — David impressed me most. He seems irreproachably personable and professional. He immediately set us at ease, answered all of our questions, and offered much unrequested (but valuable) information. The baby was very active. At one point, David said "I'm having a very hard time keeping up with him." Allison thought that the baby looked like he or she was fencing (arms and legs going everywhere). The heartbeat was surprisingly visible. Thumper looks like a wild one. I found this experience quite . . . heart-warming.
- 2001.01.20 — Prenatal Visit: Initial Physical Examination
We spent approximately one hour and fifteen minutes waiting, ten minutes with a nurse's aide, and thirty-five minutes with the doctor. The nurse's aide once again questioned Allison concerning her menstrual cycle and recorded her vital signs. The doctor was highly personable and accommodating, but expressed extremely suspect opinions concerning the merits of oral contraception and evolutionary theory that cause me to question her wisdom in other areas. I was about to inform the doctor that I strongly disagreed with these "informed" opinions when an aide entered the room in order to assist with the physical examination. I decided not to embarrass the aide or the doctor by a confrontation. Allison later told me that I would have embarrassed her as well, and that she was therefore glad that I bit my tongue. I'm not certain how I'll behave the next time we see this particular doctor. In response to Allison's queries, the doctor told us that the over-the-counter prenatal vitamins we had procured were no less beneficial than the more expensive prescription prenatal vitamins that were previously prescribed by a clinic nurse seventeen days earlier. The doctor estimated the due date to be 2001.08.25, very near our own, unprofessional estimates. The doctor believed Allison to be eight to ten weeks into her pregnancy based upon the information we provided and this day's physical examination, but ordered an early ultrasound for the following Thursday in order to confirm this estimate.
After searching for what seemed to me some time, the doctor detected the baby's heartbeat. I was amazed at the its high rate and great strength (and have since taken to calling our child "Thumper" until we learn its gender, if indeed we choose to do so before its birth). I was surprised to find the experience of hearing the baby's heartbeat exhilarating. It was the first direct evidence of the baby's existence since the positive pregnancy test, and it seemed much more real to me than two pink lines.
In addition to the ultrasound, a prenatal visit was scheduled for 2001.02.16.
- 2001.01.03 — Prenatal Exam
This visit required approximately two hours. After waiting thirty minutes, we saw a nurse's aide, who recorded Allison's vital signs and asked numerous questions concerning her menstrual cycle and general health. We were then taken into an examination room, where we waited an additional thirty minutes before the nurse arrived. The nurse spent approximately 30 minutes with us, during which time she made eye-contact with me — and addressed me — only in response to the questions I asked. From the moment she entered the room, it was obvious that she was concerned only with Allison, and I would not be surprised to learn that she was irritated with my presence. This nurse made no attempt to involve me in critical decisions, such as those concerning the measures we wish to undertake in order to detect and correct any developmental and genetic problems during pregnancy. She quickly offered the information that Allison could choose to abort the pregnancy if any such anomalies were detected, but only reluctantly — in fact, grudgingly — admitted that steps could be taken to improve the baby's health and prospects in life when I confronted her directly with this possibility. A reprehensible process repeated without digression: The nurse would present Allison with a decision, Allison and I would discuss the choice, and the nurse would respond only to Allison's report of our decision.
I realize that only Allison has a legal right to make such decisions, but, in my correct opinion, the nurse should have acknowledged that Allison intended to seek my full involvement in this pregnancy (and that I intended to be fully involved) and all related decisions. This experience was hurtful and infuriating. It is a most terrible reality that my signature would be required in order for our baby to be adopted, but that the child could be killed without my permission (or even my opinion being sought). I cannot understand why I am legally and socially expected to support a child (because "the father has as much responsibility to care for him as his mother"), yet I have absolutely no right to affect his future during pregnancy.
This experience was most disturbing, and it is one I do not believe I will ever forget. Allison's first physical examination was scheduled for 2001.01.20.
- 2000.12.21 — Detection
Allison awakened me this morning by sticking a small white palette in my face which displayed two pink lines. Uh-oh. Game Over.