Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodbye Jack

Today was the state funeral for Lay.ton.  Of course, I spent 2 1/2 hours on and off in tears but I have to say that the funeral was one of the best I've ever seen.  Truly a celebration of life ... as he wanted it to be.  There were tears, of course, but lots of laughter.  And the whole thing ended on a very high note when Lorr.aine sang Rise Up bringing everyone in the hall to their feet, clapping along.  Now that was nice to see.  And through it all, his wife and family managed to maintain a composure that has earned them the greatest of respect.  Absolutely amazing.

I had the privilege of seeing him off on The Hi.ll on Thursday.  I work only a block away and wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Yes, I have to make up some time at work but how could I not be there?  My dad met and worked with him way back in their municipal politics days, Jack representing the city of Toronto and my dad the mayor of our home town of 5000.  My dad knew there was something different about him.  Jack never forgot my dad and as he transitioned to federal politics he approached my dad to run ... more than once.  It wasn't the right thing for my dad but eventually my dad found his way to the provincial secretaryship of the ND.P in Saskatchewan.  That meant regular meetings of the wider party and that meant working with Jack.  I felt it was important for me to be there Thursday since no one else from my family could be.  And I'm glad I was. 

Leaving Parliament one last time
The day started out looking to be a miserable one.  It was cool and grey and it looked like it would rain later in the day.  Then by noon the clouds had been pushed out to be replaced by a nearly cloudless bright blue sky.  The ceremony was sombre and dignified but uplifting at the same time.  The second song played on the carillon in the Peace Tower was Lenn.on's 'Imagine'.  The last song played was one Lay.ton's own great-grandfather composed.  The crowd of ~2500 was quiet until they started to drive and then it broke into applause. 

Now that the week of mourning is over for the public we are left with his accomplishments, those things he had yet to change, and his final letter to Canadians.  These are the final two paragraphs he left with us:
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
It is now up to each and every one of us to determine what kind of country, what kind of world we want to live in and create for our children, our grandchildren.  It is now our turn to step up and do our part.  We can make a difference, each and every one of us.  I know it because I've seen it.

Thank you Jack.  Merci Jack.

The flag at half mast atop the Peace Tower

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Level 2 U/S Results

Back to our regularly scheduled programming ...

I think I was a bit worried about the u/s today because I totally missed the ear.thquake.  Either that or the area I was in just wasn't affected even though it was noticeable in the city.  I left Virg.inia on Sunday and am happy to report that my friends are fine.  But you didn't come here to read that, did you?

This u/s was far more in depth and I had the same tech I did 2 u/s ago.  He was great about explaining everything and exactly what was on screen which was really nice.  He clearly pointed out a 4-chamber heart so I knew that part of the scan was fine.  When he was done his bit I got to go to the bathroom (and wipe masses of extra gel off the belly - this guy is crazy with the gel!) and then the radiologist came in to peek at the heart.

The echogenic focus is still there but the good news is that seems to be the only issue.  The IPS screening came back negative and all the measurements are normal and all match timeline wise.  There is nothing to indicate limbs that are behind schedule, which can be a marker for Down's.  The radiologist says that the heart is normal, which I had expected, and that this doesn't need further monitoring as it will resolve on its own.  Okay then ... I was hoping to get one more u/s to check on its resolution but if this means there is no problem then I'm okay with that. 

The baby wasn't completely cooperative this time either but thankfully baby was more active.  At one point the tech was moving the probe over my belly and just at that time we got a look from below right when baby decided to spread the legs.  It is most definitely a boy and he showed off the boy bits ... and probably not for the last time.  LOL  The tech went over that a couple times just to make sure he saw what he did especially since baby seems so stubborn.  He said that if he hadn't seen that he would have guessed girl.  So, I'm relieved to know the first tech was right and that there is absolutely no doubt this is a boy.  The issue is settled and I'm good to shop now.  ;-)  The stuff I bought down south is more gender neutral that a lot of other people would pick but it is nice to know I don't have to give any of it away to my nephew. 

For now I'll sit tight until my next OB appointment on the 12th.  If there had been a major problem I'm sure the radiologist would have said something.  Instead he said I don't need further monitoring.  And since I'm not doing any more testing between now and the next appointment I shouldn't have any surprises waiting for me when I see him next.  Yay!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Very Sad Day

No, this isn't about me.  I'm fine and I'm heading to my level 2 u/s tomorrow afternoon so no updates on that yet.

Nope, this is about the absolute, sheer waste and loss that cancer creates.  I've been in tears off and on all day today over the loss of J.ack La.yton, the leader of Canada's opposition.  After years of struggling, working hard every day in the trenches, fighting for everyday people, finally to become leader of the opposition (a huge feat for the N.DP as it was the first time they reached that goal) in May 2011, he was snatched from us by cancer ... at 61. He spent just 3 short months as the leader of the opposition unable to truly enjoy the fruits of his labour. 

He was a man of principle who never backed down from a fight even when it looked like it was a losing battle.  He was always optimistic but also a serious pragmatist.  While he certainly wanted to win over voters he never shied away from a principled position even if it made him deeply unpopular.  He was a great debater but never maligned anyone in his rise to the top.  He talked to everyone and ignored no one.  He inspired people of all ages but most importantly young people who had turned away from voting and the traditional political process.  He truly believed that Canada is great and that we could make it even better, so much so that 2 days before he died he wrote a letter to Canadians which is truly inspiring ... he thought of others right until the end.

Our country is in mourning, a truly deep and heartfelt feeling of loss has gripped this country.  RIP Jack, you made this country a better place for everyone.  You will be greatly missed.  Those of us who remain will continue the fight with renewed vigour.

And my last words on this post, which I think are entirely appropriate ...
"Courage, my friends, 'tis not too late to build a better world."  ~ Tommy Douglas

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Need a Level 2 u/s

My 100th post and I never thought I'd be writing about this. 

I got home from my business trip at 12:30 last night and had a message waiting from the OB.  I've been scheduled for a level 2 u/s on Tuesday afternoon because they saw an echogenic focus in the heart on the u/s last Friday.  The OB said this is very common.  My research said this shows up in 3-5% of pregnancies and with some ethnic groups as high as 30%.  But he said it is a soft marker for Down's.  Cue the panic and tears.  He said he isn't really worried because my IPS screening results were so good.  From my research it looks like 1% of these = Down's which is really, really low.  The risk jumps with bad screening results but I didn't have that.  The risk jumps if they find something else on the u/s.  The OB didn't mention anything else in the message but I think they'll be looking really in depth at the u/s next week.  I'm just praying they don't find any other indicators.  The risk also jumps if you are AMA, and I'm 37.  The risk doubles. 

There are no worries about an actual heart defect as this is a calcification and for some reason that seems to happen.  It generally resolves in the 3rd trimester and if not then certainly after birth.  So I'm not worried about that.  I'm really worried that this is an indicator for Down's.  IPS screening catches 90% of Down's cases.  And this indicator + my age = a 2% risk.  Yes, I know that is still really low but someone has to fall into that 2%.  No one wants to be that 2%.

I thought I was out of the clear but now I feel horrible. 

I'm going to try to focus on the small risk factor so I can enjoy my weekend away but it is going to be really, really hard. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Holy kick, batman!

I just felt the first kick from the outside.  Cool!  Either that or it was a serious bubble of gas in entirely the wrong spot in my abdomen and that wouldn't be such a good thing.  ;-)

Passed the IPS Screening

I saw the OB today and got great news:  I passed the IPS screening and do NOT have to go for amnio.  I am so relieved.  I understand that IPS does not catch everything as it looks at risk for very specific issues.  There is always a possibility that something was missed and I have a false negative.  But I'm going to consider myself as falling into the true negative category and be happy and content with that. 

Baby was fine today.  A little quiet all day but the heart was fine.  The OB had no trouble finding it at all today.  The h/b was at 151 today so pretty consistent with Friday and about 5 weeks ago when I saw the NP.  I go back in 4 weeks and at that point will get a requisition for thyroid testing and the glucose tolerance test.  Yuck!  I always get sick when I have to do a 2 hour GTT so I'm not looking forward to having to take a day off just for this test, again. 

In the off chance that the tech wasn't able to get the measurements she needed at Friday's scan I will get a call in a couple weeks to go back for another try.  I won't mind getting another peek but I'm still convinced I've got a bit of a stinker in here and I'll still need a specific gender determination scan.  I'm still seriously considering it, though.  The worst I can do is make an appointment and cancel it because I have another diagnostic before that. 

Other than that, nothing new.  I'm feeling more activity overall and it mostly feels like popping bubbles or popping corn in the popper.  Best way I can describe it.  Baby was pretty quiet today, as I mentioned above, but there were a few movements I could feel. 

I'm off to deal with the garbage and pack for an overnight business trip.  My flights back had better get me home because I'm set to head out on another flight Thursday for a girls' long weekend trip in the States.  Fingers crossed I don't run into any problems or I'll be really, really angry. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gender Abmiguity

Okay, I'm now officially paranoid that the scan on Friday wasn't accurate.  Without a completely cooperative baby I am worried the tech might have been wrong. 

I walked out of the appointment thinking it was a boy and was settled on it being a boy yesterday.  And now I'm worried it isn't a boy.  I am great, happy with a boy and don't want this to be a girl now that I've got my mind set on a boy.  My niece would have other ideas.  lol 

So, I think I'm going to go for an elective u/s.  I am sure my OB will not order another one at my appointment tomorrow just for a gender peek.  And thanks to a helpful poster at FF I now know that there are clinics that do elective gender scans and u/s in Canada.  Who knew that was even legal up here?  I didn't.  She told me to search for 'non-diagn.ostic ultr.asound'.  I found 2 places in the city: 1 way out in the east end and 1 not a far drive from my place.

The other option is to book a scan in the US when I'm there this weekend.  I could get one done on Saturday morning which offers pretty much everything the Canadian ones would.  Except the cost is $100 and the Canadian ones range from $169 - $200+.  For the same darned thing!  Grrrr!  The benefit of getting it done at home is that if the baby isn't cooperative, yet again, they'll have me come back for the gender determination for free.  The US clinic offers it too but because I'm there for such a short time I wouldn't be able to go back a second time. 

I'm going to call the place nearer my house tomorrow after my OB appointment and see what their availability is.  If I can get in over the next couple of weeks I might just do that.  Bite the bullet cost wise, anyway.  And I'll see if I can book it during baby's busy period which seems to be between 11 am and 2 pm.  That is certainly when I feel more 'kicks' and popping in my belly. 

The worst that can happen is that I'll have spent some money only to get the same answer as I was given Friday.  But if we get a better look it will be worth the peace of mind ... I think. ;-)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

19 weeks ... It's a ...



I'm totally flabbergasted.  Now, I had a feeling right from the start this was a boy.  I think my IUI timing was perfect for a boy so much so I thought this one was horribly mistimed.  I had a feeling that since I had girl names all sorted it would, of course, be a boy.  lol  And when I started feeling kicks, albeit intermittently, 3 weeks ago I was sure it had to be a boy as I've heard that boys kick harder than girls so you might notice their movements earlier.

I told the tech at the scan yesterday that I was interested in finding out if the little bean was cooperative.  I even had a glass of orange juice before hand to try to get the bean to move but to no avail.  I think the bean was snoozing or in deep rest ... or something else that equaled chilling out.  lol  He was on his side with the knees tucked up to his chest and his hands tucked behind his head.  His butt is literally sitting right on my cervix in perfect breech position so that would explain the cervical pressure and pain I've been feeling.  He was content to sit like that the entire time even when she moved the probe around.  The tech showed me his developing brain which is developing on both sides, his 2 kidneys, bladder, etc. and he has everything they look for at this stage.  The heart was working well and the heartbeat came in at 147 beats per minute so nice and strong again.

Halfway through the scan she was covering the nether regions and couldn't get a good look so she zoomed in and pointed out the protrusion to me on the screen.  She said that was a boy.  She continued on with the scan and at the end tried to get a better look but he would NOT cooperate.  She did point out the bottom of the butt and all I saw was baby butt.  However, she is trained and pointed out something that must be a scrotum.  She told me that had she not seen that and the protrusion she wouldn't even have guessed.  So, I'm going to trust her and believe this is a boy.  Girls don't come with protrusions between their legs.  LOL  Although if she is wrong my mom is going to have an awful lot of boy clothing she purchased today to return.

I'm sort of at a loss about this.  I'm not disappointed.  That is definitely the wrong word for it.  I think I'm just really surprised because I've never imagined myself as a mom to a boy.  Never.  I always thought that if I had one or more kids it would be all girl.  I'm used to being around little girls even though I have a bunch of nephews.  Three of those nephews are overseas and I've only met the oldest one.  Most of my cousins are girls and they are a lot younger than me and my sister.  I asked my mom today, "What do you do with a boy?".  Really, I just don't know once they get past baby stage.  My mom was like that too but the complete opposite.  My mom had a younger sister and brother but 2 nephews so she was used to boys and didn't quite know what to do with a girl.  And my mom isn't super girly either so I can only imagine being surrounded by pink. 

There are positives to both girls and boys.  I was thinking it would be easier to have a girl in a very practical sense ... when out in public I never have to worry about her being too old to use the same washroom as me.  I'm not quite sure when I can trust my son to do that and be safe.  My job makes me slightly paranoid.  I'd also love to be able to give my niece's wardrobe another turn as would my sister.  She had so many lovely girl things and as the first grandchild on both sides she had a LOT of really cute stuff.  But I've asked my mom to tell my sister not to get rid of anything yet.  Just in case ...

Boys?  I've heard they're actually a lot easier in many ways after you get past the hard spots when they are young.  The massive appetite as teenager does scare me a bit but maybe that is because I lived with a family with 3 teenage boys who are all now 6'2" and over.  lol  One great thing is that since boys don't have ovaries they can't get PCOS.  That is a huge relief.  I did have a bit of a breakdown last night and started crying because I got sad over the fact that my son won't have a father in the house to be a role model.  But I know that this will affect a little girl as well just in different ways perhaps.  No matter what, any child of mine is definitely wanted and will be loved and he will know that.  I just wish I lived nearer to my family.  My dad is great: he's respectful of everyone, especially women, smart and incredibly funny and great with little kids.  We'll just have to make due with visits and hopefully quite a few business trips home from age 13 months to 2 years when he can fly free on my lap. 

I still have no intentions on going all blue with the baby room or with the clothes.  My mom said she found lots of really cute non-blue 'boys' clothes at Cos.tco today and I'm happy with that.  I'm leaning towards primary colours since I found some really cute vegetable garden theme curtains at Ik.ea. 

I'm a bit stuck on a name and will have to spend some time researching that one to find just the right one.

Other than that I'm feeling fine.  I've had a headache for 3 days now and nothing helps so I think this is just a hormonal shift thing that I've had before with this pregnancy and just have to wait for it to go away.  Hopefully sooner rather than later because I've done nothing all day except sit on the couch.  Kitty may be happy but I'm not.  I've got way too much to do to be sitting around all day on a Saturday. 

Anyway, if you've made it this far and you don't already know Shannon please head over to her blog Chasing Rainbows to give her some support.  Her little guy was born in May and she just received very difficult news about a tumor found with an MRI scan.  I just can't imagine going through what she did only to get this diagnosis.  She has a good support system but I think there is no such thing as too big a support system.  It sounds like this was caught very early so I'm hoping for a good prognosis.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

18w1d ... busy, busy, busy

Sorry I've been away readers.  I've just been really busy.  Here is a non-exhaustive list of what I've been up to:
  • Getting over that head cold that lasted 3 weeks.  Not a head cold from hell, no, but problematic, yes.
  • A week long business trip over a weekend.  Allowed me time to see my niece and nephew and get started on baby shopping.
  • Aborted attempt to fly back from said business trip because it was too hot and the airport was using the short runway because of construction on the other.  They couldn't take ANY checked baggage on the flight to Toronto and since I sort of need to fly with my work bag even if checked I volunteered to get off the flight and take a credit which I have a year to use.  I think they removed between 10 and 15 people from the flight.  Stayed overnight at my parents', unexpectedly, but got to see 2 waves of awesome lightning that night.
  • 2 weekends working in the yard which has yet to become a garden of any sort.  ;-)
  • 1st weekend I decided to work in the back on a Sunday morning.  Holy hot sun when the temp is only 23 Celcius at most!  I was done at noon and hadn't even gotten everything finished.  Thank you stupid sandy soil packed so hard it was like digging through a brick.  Planting completed the next night when it was much cooler.  Lessons learned:  no gardening in the back yard at any time other than the evening AND getting the yard in planting shape is going to take way more work that I anticipated.  More planning must be done this fall.
  • 2nd weekend turned into 2 mornings of working in the front yard which is heavily shaded in the morning.  In fact, my entrance is shaded 24/7.  First morning I dug out the weed patch next to the front porch area (we don't get eavestroughs installed by the builder and until a month ago that area of my lawn was rotting from all the water and the only thing that seemed to grow was a crazy variety of weeds ... which I don't want).  Worked up and added soil so I can plant things easily next year.  Then tackled the weed patch under my city tree.  Watered city tree and covered the ginormous hole (way bigger than anyone else's on the street) the sod guys left with cedar mulch.  Awesome tan started developing.  Second morning I finished up the patch in front of the house and covered with cedar mulch to discourage weed growth.  Raked the sad looking front lawn of dead grass (unusually dry summer + water ban = dead lawn) and cut the parts that are actually okay.  Then that evening watered it to see if I can salvage any of it.  Bought extra soil and organic material for yard stuff next year.  I won't have time to just pop down to the store.  
  • August long weekend - took the Saturday to do something fun.  I went to the National Art Gallery to see the Cara.vaggio exhibit.  My other bright idea flopped since the store in the mall downtown had closed, unbeknownst to me.  No new shoes and must do that in the U.S. in a couple weeks. Bought the best organic oatmeal I've yet found at the health food store a 1/2 block from where I used to live and popped into a French bakery for a couple of pastries which I still haven't finished.
  • Cooking and baking up a storm in the kitchen so I don't have to do lots of this while 9 months pregnant and after baby arrives.  On the long weekend I got a pot of split pea soup made.  Not as tasty without the bone but at least I had some leftover ham in the freezer.  Had to discard the other container of frozen ham since it had gone bad.  So, no double batch of soup.  This weekend I made 3 batches of blueberry muffins.  Would do more but I might run out of blueberries.  Besides, I have to catch a plane today.
  • Headaches caused by my home builder.  I took a Wednesday off before the long weekend so they could come in and fix the outstanding items from my 1-year inspection.  The guy who booked the appointment forgot to schedule stuff!  I was livid and sent a terse email telling him how I would now be 1 month behind on setting stuff up for my impending baby.  Not impressed.  But drywalling guy came to 'fix' nail pops.  I will have to redo them in the future since they weren't screwed in further, just covered.  They came Friday to do other things and discovered they can't rip up the floor to fix the creaks because the carpentry guys finished at 1 pm.  Rebooked that and insulation installation for the 24th ... An inordinate amount of time was spent moving things over the past 3-4 weeks from my bedroom to the front 2 bedrooms to allow them to access my attic and the creaking/cracking floor.  I feel like I am living out of a suitcase in my own house.  And baby organization is on hold.
  • Aborted attempt to get to book club on August 2nd thanks to a nasty headache that developed during the day and just got worse.
  • Purchased diaper bag at BR.U.  Got a brown, hobo style one that I can wear cross body which is great since I don't have great shoulders and purses and bags just fall off. 
  • Purchased crib mattress yesterday.  Took 20 minutes to find someone to help me ... discover I have to pay then go over to the extra Ik.ea warehouse I didn't know existed.  Pretty seamless once I discovered the necessary process but annoyed there was no one in the children's area for 20 minutes.  Mattress fits snugly and perfectly in the crib.  Discovered some really cute fabric and curtains that I might be able to consider.
  • Watching my summer obsessions on TV:  Tr.ue Bl.ood and Roo.kie Bl.ue.  Combine that with raging 2nd trimester pregnancy hormones and all I can say is that the Viking and Officer Swa.rek can visit me any time.  ;-)  I didn't realize I'd seen AS in things before TB but I'm a big enough girl I can admit I've had a thing for Ben since I first saw him on Fore.ver Kni.ght.  Oh boy, that takes me back quite a ways ...
Then there is just everyday life stuff that happens.  Oh, and discovering someone swiped the back bumper of my car that I've had for just over a year and has just 3800 km on it.  *sigh*  Really?  I have to figure out what to do with this one and whether it is worth claiming it or just paying out of pocket with money that should really go to student loans or my baby but what the hell, I must have lots of cash so why not just hit my car parked far away from all the others in the parking lot.  Grrr ...  Nasty status update on FB ensued.

I've been stocking up on things that have gone on sale just so that I don't have to get them for a while.  I had a decent toilet paper collection started but it has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few weeks.  Stocking up on tissues too ... allergies and baby spit up.  And laundry detergent.  I was always mad that I never seemed to be able to hit the sales on the day they started and by the time I got there the next day or day after that there was nothing left.  Seriously, who doesn't work in an area of new houses such that they can line up at the stores and buy all the laundry detergent on the first day of a sale?  I used to be a cashier ... the strange things people do.  Decent sales at a pharmacy and grocery store lately so I've stocked up nicely.

Oh yes, and I told the team at work.  Some people are surprised especially because I haven't been sick.  Um, not everyone gets sick you know.  And our admin assistant, as sweet as she is, can really stop asking me every single day how I'm feeling.  Really, I was 16 1/2 weeks pregnant before you found out and no one cared how I was doing enough to ask every day so it isn't required to check to see how I'm doing every day now that you know.  Only one person touched my belly and I actually like her so I didn't get highly annoyed.  Just a little. ;-)

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way I can say that my belly is trying hard to pop out.  Some days it is very flat and others it is definitely more noticeable.  Here it is at 16 weeks before heading out on errands:
Belly at 16w0d
I can't believe I didn't post a shot between 12w and 16w but such is life.  ;-)  And here is the shot from yesterday at 18w0d.  I'm now in maternity clothes because they're just more comfortable but they definitely allow the belly to protrude further.
Belly at 18w0d
I'm off on another business trip today, albeit a shorter one at just 3 nights away.  My parents are going to join me for a couple nights so they can do some shopping at Lee Val.ley To.ols which they don't have in their city.