August 27, 2012

Mixed Emotions

On one hand, I exhaled a small sigh of relief yesterday.  On the other hand, my anxiety increased ever-so-slightly.

Yesterday marked the 28-week point in my pregnancy for baby #3.  

Yes, for those of you that are scratching your head -- both due to the lack of an announcement and also general confusion due to my declaration of not having any more babies -- I am pregnant.  To put it simply this pregnancy wasn't intentional, nor in our plans, just the opposite in fact, but apparently this baby is determined to be here no matter what.

There is no way to tell if I'll have the heart problems like I did after Baby Girl was born.  Some doctors say it's not a matter of IF but WHEN, while others are saying we have a safer prognosis if monitored very carefully.  

No matter the case there are two things I do know:
  1. There is very little they can do for me, if my heart does start to fail as long as I am pregnant (because technically, any DECLINE in heart function is classified as the beginning of heart failure).  The usual such as bed rest, limited activity, etc. applies but at most will only help slow down the progression.  Medication is the only feasible option to STOP -- and begin to reverse -- the damage but is only an option if I have delivered the baby.
  2. The end of the pregnancy and immediately following delivery are the most dangerous times for me.  As the baby gets bigger, it's actual size and the stress of the pregnancy in general will put more stress on my heart.  Also an increase in blood volume being pumped by the heart enlarges and tires the ventricles, further contributing to the stress.
So why the mixed emotions?  At 28 weeks I'm entering the home stretch -- when baby gets big and the chances of having problems increases.  (Most cases occur in the month preceding delivery and in the couple of months postpartum.)  As hard as I try it's difficult to not think about the what-ifs and become slightly anxious.  Every time I notice the slightest bit of swelling in my extremities, experience shortness of breath or feel an erratic pattern in my heart rate I have to fight a touch of anxiety that wants to build in the back of my throat.

Fortunately for me, the medical staff I'm currently working with are monitoring me and the baby closely.  Making sure that anything abnormal is closely examined instead of being written off as "normal" pregnancy symptoms (which many beginning symptoms of post/peripartum cardiomyopathy are identical to other common ailments in pregnancy).  

And although not an easy option by any means, there's a bit of consolation knowing that baby would have a good chance of survival any point from here on out.  If my heart started to fail/decline we'd have much less risks with an emergency c-section delivery.  I certainly don't wish to have a premature baby but it would mean they could deliver and begin treating my heart instead of walking the line, trying to gauge who (i.e., me or the baby) is at the greatest risk.

To say it's been an anxiety-ridden spring/summer would be an understatement.  Not a full explanation but at least a partial one on my lack of posts around here.