Sunday, April 24, 2005

A textbook pregnancy

Once I became pregnant I prepared myself for the typical first few months of morning sickness and general uncomfortableness. But thankfully, I had none of that. I had one morning, about 2 or 3 months in, that I did get sick. But that was it. I was able to walk throughout my entire pregnancy and basically had a pretty great 37 weeks (I'll get to that later).

The very first thing we did (after the gynecologist, of course) was to visit a nutritionist. I wanted to follow a vegan/whole foods diet, giving my baby the best start I could, considering we weren't starting out with the best of conditions. The nutritionist had no problem with my plan. I just had to make sure I ate plenty of soy products and other nuts so that I got the necessary amount of protein in my diet.

At about week 6 I did experience a little bleeding. We went to have an ultrasound ("to check for viability" I heard the doctors and nurses say to each other about my case). The baby was just fine, though, and we continued on. I just had to take it easy for a few days.

At 16 weeks I had another ultrasound - a Level II. This checked very closely for any signs of disability. What we saw on the screen was the most beautiful, perfect spine I have ever seen. Not a defect in sight! This satisfied our worries so much that we decided not to test further for disabilities. We also found out at this appointment that it looked like we had a little girl on her way. Yay! No more fighting over boys names!

Things continued on as normal until about week 30 or so when we went to meet with the anesthesiologists about alternative means I could use during delivery (I already knew I couldn't have an epidural due to the location of my defect on my lower back). Instead of a simple, quick meeting we were instead informed that this hospital did not feel comfortable delivering my baby and that we should go to a teaching hospital in one of the larger cities nearby (if you call an hour or more drive away nearby). We were devastated, as we were told very early on by my gynecologist that this local hospital could certainly take care of all my needs. With her away on maternity leave herself, I had the other doctors in the practice trying to help me out to enable me to stay with this hospital. But, long story short, it didn't happen.

Basically, the hospital was not comfortable delivering my child (even though my doctor - who would be back by my due date - was certainly comfortable and capable. I also showed no signs at all of any ensuing difficulties) And by this time, quite frankly, I was not willing to go to a hospital that basically didn't want me. I ended up delivering 3 weeks early at the teaching hospital 2 hours away from home with wonderful doctors who I can't say enough good things about. I was even able to have that epidural - just higher on my back than for another woman.

About delivering 3 weeks early - I started to develop signs of pre-eclampsia. So when I went up to the hospital for the first time, simply to meet with the doctors and see where I would be, they decided to keep me overnight for observation. My gynecologist back home had also seen just the day before that I was 2 centimeters dialated already. So, to keep myself and the baby out of harms way, I was induced and had my baby girl 37 weeks into my pregnancy. I had a relatively easy vaginal delivery and only had to push for 30 minutes. She came out a little small - 5 1/5 lbs - but otherwise in perfect, healthy condition. We've been a happy, healthy family ever since - with lots of fun, learning and interesting experiences along the way.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A resource for women with spina bifida

When my husband and I started thinking about getting pregnant, our first order of business was research. We went to bookstores and searched the web for anything we could find on women with spina bifida having children. Think we found a ton of information? Think again. I found lots and lots of information on being the parent of a child with the defect, but not a thing on the parent having spina bifida. This was bewildering, to say the least. I though, 'what, am I the only woman with spina bifida ever to want to concieve a child?" I did find resources for the disabled parent, but not for spina bifida specifically. I vowed right then and there that I would do what I could to help other women in my situation (or who aspired to be in my situation). This blog acts as that resource.

We visited my gynecologist, neurologist and chiropractor. Even they seemed a bit in the woods about what a pregnancy would do to my body. They all encouraged us to go forward, though, and vowed to work with me so that I had the healthiest, best pregnancy and delivery I could. But none of them knew for sure just what my experience would be. Would I end up in a wheelchair for my last trimester? Would I have to have a C-section? We'd have to wait to find out.

Doctors could tell me the likelihood of having a child with a birth defect - about 1 - 2% (as best as I can recall), as opposed to a healthy woman's .1% chances. We figured those odds weren't too bad, all in all. I did need to take a daily folic acid suppliment of 4 mg per day, continuing throughout my pregnancy. I had already been taking this amount for at least 2 years anyway, in case of pregnancy. So, with this little bit of knowledge, we went forward and, after about 1 year's worth of attempts (on and off) we found out on May 1st 1999 that our baby was on its way. We were ecstatic!

Along with my own story, I have links to some great sites that can help to answer many questions. My parents were members of the Spina Bifida Association as I was growing up. I also acted as a poster child for both The March of Dimes and Easter Seals when I was a little girls. All three organizations have been very beneficial to me, my parents and many, many others with all different sorts of disabilities. Check them all out today!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Introduction/Mission Statement

Hi! Welcome to my blog. My name is Amy and I'm a 30 something year old mom of a healthy, active and adorable 2 year old daughter. I am happily married to a wonderfully supportive man. And, oh yeah, I have spina bifida.

Spina bifida is a birth defect that can come in many different degrees of severity, from hardly recognizable as a problem at all, to total paralyzation from the chest down. Spina Bifida is a defect where the spine is not fully formed at birth. My degree of severity is not too terrible as it is low on my back, but I do need to wear short leg braces and walk with the aid of a walking stick to help with mobility. I also have no feeling or movement of my legs from the knees down.

I met my husband at work several years ago. He is a healthy, handsome, "normal" man. We knew even before we were married that we wanted to have kids. But before we got pregnant there were many things to consider and deal with due to my disability.

This blog is here to talk about our journey to pregnancy, how I and the doctors handled my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and how I now cope as the mother of that active, HEALTHY 28-month-old love-of-my-life. She is my new passion in life and I want to do what I can to share my passion with others, hopefully inspiring other women with spina bifida, encourage them to go after their maternal dreams.

I welcome and encourage feedback from my readers. I'd love to engage in a dialog with you and help you on your own personal journeys. I, of course, don't even pretend to know it all, but if I can at least tell my story, then maybe at least one woman in a similar situation can see that, yes, she too can realize her parenthood dreams.

So watch for future entries. I'll update at least once a week. I'll be watching for your comments. Talk to you soon!