Friday, December 31, 2010

Maternity photos

As promised here are some of my favorite photos from our maternity photo session. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

I hope everyone has a fun, safe New Year's Eve tonight. Billy and I decided last minute that we would go out to dinner tonight since next year we plan on having a little guy in tow! Nothing would make us happier than if this New Year's turns out to be our last New Years without the responsibility of babies or kids aka DINKs.

See ya' in 2011!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Belated Merry Christmas!

So sorry I missed wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! I wanted to post our Christmas card, but our scanner at home isn't working. And I've been working on getting all my new "toys" set-up so I can blog and share pictures with everyone from the hospital...and now I'm back at work, so I've been a bit MIA. Plus we had a very busy family-filled Holiday and when we weren't running around, my butt was parked on the couch. I know, excuses excuses :) We spent Christmas Eve with Billy's parent's at their house and went to the candlelight service at a nearby Methodist church. It was a very warm, relaxing service and I managed to only cry once; during Away In a Manger. It's one of my very favorite songs and if you really read the lyrics, it's a very sweet song. A lot of the Christian Christmas tunes were a little tough since so many refer to a little baby boy being born.

Christmas morning was absolutely wonderful! Billy, Mabel and I all woke up snuggled in bed together with snow falling outside. It was awesome! Billy then lit a fire (in the fireplace) and we exchanged gifts together and then Billy's parent's came over for Christmas morning breakfast. After exchanging some more gifts, we then went to see True Grit. Honestly, save your hard earned cash and wait for it to come out on video. I'd give it a 6 out of 10. Apparently the original is much better than the remake.

Later that afternoon my parent's came down from PA and we just hung-out at our house, exchanged gifts, and spent time together. Sunday morning, my sister, brother-in-law and my two nieces made their way down to our house from PA and the real party begun! My nieces will turn 5 and 2 in a few weeks so it was really fun watching them open their presents and run and chase Mabel around the house. Later that day we all headed over to Billy's parent's house for a big party and get together with lots of friends and family. My sister and her family went back to PA on Monday afternoon after a brief trip to the Natural History museum to check out the elephant, butterflies, and animals and my parent's went back to PA on Tuesday afternoon. All-in-all it was a great Christmas!

And Santa was very good to me this year as I did get all the tools I'll need to keep everyone up-to-date on Stephen while we're at the hospital. We now have an iPad and an awesome DSLR camera, so we'll be able to share photos and videos almost instantly with everyone. But we also received some really special gifts this Christmas that I'd love to share with everyone (I hope to post some photos later once I get things figured out).

You already know that I got the kidney/PKD necklace from Bill, but Billy also got me a very special garnet ring that I absolutely love. Garnet is January's birthstone, which will be Stephen's birthstone. It's beautiful and I love it so much and I dread having to take it off when I go to the hospital. My sister so thoughtfully had PKD awareness ribbon pins made bearing Stephen's full name for all of us. The ribbon color for PKD is teal. I love the pins and it was such an incredibly thoughtful gift and I will definitely be bringing/wearing that to the hospital. She and Kevin also got us our maternity photos which was also incredibly sweet and thoughtful. It was something I wanted to buy myself, but probably wouldn't have bought the whole collection, but I'm so glad I have them. I downloaded them to my iPad and computer already and hope to share with you some of my favorite photos. I will cherish those photos for the rest of my life!

But the most unexpected gift was actually from the photographer, Danielle Hobbs, who took the maternity photos. Danielle was so touched by our story (she herself is a Mom of three and had a friend go through a similar situation to ours) that she made us a beautiful photo album/book of our maternity photos. It's gorgeous and her thoughtfulness and generosity seriously touched my heart and made me cry. I still don't know how exactly to thank her...but I'm working on it! Words really can not express how much that book means to me. Please do yourselves a favor, if you haven't already, and check out her website. Her newborn pictures especially are just amazing!

Danielle - if you're reading this....thank you from the bottom of both Bill's and my heart!!!!!!

We also had a doctor's appointment thrown in there on Tuesday morning. Nothing new to report though. He's still sitting pretty in my belly growing like a bean stalk. We got a glimpse at his heart beat and the doctor said he was taking some breaths, so that was really cool. We go into the antenatal testing center Tuesday morning at the hospital to check his heartbeat again, so hopefully we'll know more then. But the #1 thing on the to do list this weekend.....pack our "to go" bags!!! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shot #2 and Other Debacles

Thanks goodness I took the day off yesterday!  It was a very long and frustratingly (is that even a word?) annoying day.  First off, apparently one of the side effects of the steroid injections that the nurse didn't tell me about is insomnia.  Of course the one and only side effect that I got was insomnia.  I slept maybe (if I was lucky) two hours Tuesday night.  And what do you get when you have a sleepy, uncomfortable, hot, very pregnant woman?....a very cranky irritable woman.  And that to a cranky, irritable husband (all work-related) and it's a recipe for disaster.

Shot #2 went off without a hitch for the most part.  We had to wait much longer for someone to administer the shot, but once they took me back, it was super quick.  Like the first shot, it didn't hurt much at all, but this one left a pretty dandy bruise on my love handle.

After the shot, we were off to the outpatient lab to have our blood drawn for the genetic testing.  This is where everything went downhill.  First, I thought I had all the correct paperwork, but it turns out I didn't.  So we had to go back to the geneticists office and get copies of the doctor and lab orders.  That set us back some more time.  Then when we got back to the outpatient lab, they wouldn't except Billy's paperwork because his name was written as "Bill" and his ID says "William."  Seriously!?!?!?!  Are you kidding me?? It's two vials of blood.  We're not trying to take a one-way flight to the Middle East with no luggage people!!!  So they needed to get new paperwork for Bill. 

Finally I went back to have my blood drawn and they didn't have the saliva kit.  So it was another call over the geneticist's office about that.  It was a serious mess at this place.  By the time they got Bill's paperwork, we had to leave to make my doctor's appointment.

So off to Dr. Khoury's we went.  We ended up having a short sonogram to check his head, abdomen, and kidney size and then met with Dr. Khoury to discuss a few things.  We found out yesterday that Stephen is up to 6 pounds 11 ounces, his kidney's are now 9 cm in length, his head and abdomen are about 2 cm apart, but his head is in the 50th percentile and his belly is in the 80th.  So far, that's okay, but they'll continue to monitor that as he grows over the next few weeks.  Our "homework" for next time is to discuss whether or not we want the doctor's to perform an emergency c-section if the baby is in distress during delivery or if we want to forgo any type of emergency c-section and hope that Stephen makes it through delivery.  An emergency c-section is definitely not ideal, and if I need a c-section, I'd certainly rather have it planned.  So we have to talk that over and let the doctor's know our wishes next time.  At this point, we're still planning for a natural (with drugs) childbirth and Dr. Khoury will allow me to carry Stephen up until 41 weeks and then we'll induce if nothing starts happening on it's own.  Still no sign of any changes yet, but hopefully we'll see something happening at my next appointment or first one in the new year.  I'm honestly not sure I can handle another month of all of this.  Although Dr. Khoury is in Lebanon until January 7th, so little Stephen needs to stay put until he's back in the States!

Oh and I asked Dr. Khoury what it will feel like when I start getting contractions and he just laughed.  I honestly don't know these things since I haven't taken any birthing classes or anything.  I thought I was having a contraction the other night on my way home from work in bumper-to-bumper traffic and paniced a little bit.  But they were just regular old cramps that I've been getting every day or two.  But seriously, if you know what DC traffic is like on 395 and 495 at 6 pm right before Christmas, you can understand my reasoning for panicing a little!!

After our appointment, it was back to the outpatient lab to have Bill's blood drawn.  It was quite a long and frustrating day, but I'm glad that we got everything out of the way and got the tests taken care of.  One less thing to do after Christmas.

And much to my surprise, I actually slept last night from about 1 AM until 8 AM this morning.  So we're all much happier in the Schwartz house today.  Plus I get off work at 3 PM today and I'll be off for the next 5 days.  Hallelujah!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shot #1

I had my first of two steroid injections this morning over at the hospital.  I think I've mentioned these injections multiple times before, but in case you missed it, the injections are supposed to help with lung development.  The technical terms for the injections are betamethasone and dexamethasone.  There's real no scientific evidence that the injections will help Stephen because of all the various issues he faces, but it can't hurt, so we went for it.  But I had the weirdest dream last night about the shot.  I guess I was anxious about it today after hearing they administer it in your butt!  In my dream, we were waiting in the main waiting area in the lobby of the hospital and the nurse came out and wanted to give me the injection right in the middle of the lobby and I freaked out.  It's so funny how you dream about something that's on your mind.

But the shot didn't end up being that bad at all.  And it wasn't completely in my tushy.  The nurse gave it to me in my back upper right hip.  Tomorrow's injection will be in the back upper left hip.  They have to be 24 hours apart.  And I got to hear Stephen's heartbeat while I was there, which is always a plus.  And I saw Dr. Khoury when I walked in this morning and he gave me a big hug, which was much appreciated.  It makes you feel good when doctor's recognize/remember you because you know they probably see at least 20 patients throughout a day.

Tomorrow I'll have all sorts of stuff to share since I get my second shot, we give our DNA samples for our genetic testing, and then we have our big 36 week check-up and get to see Stephen!!  Yipee!! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Monday!

Can you believe that Christmas Eve is just 4 days away?!  I just can not believe that in a few short days we're going to be celebrating Christmas, then New Year's, and then the baby will be here.  It's so crazy!!!  Billy and I had a super productive weekend filled with 3/4 fun stuff and 1/4 not so fun stuff.  And thank goodness he was around this weekend and not working, because I seriously wouldn't have been able to get anything done.  At this point, it's hard to spend much time on my feet before my back starts screaming at me to sit down.  And I always end up pushing it too far, and then I'm really in pain.  So it was such a blessing to have someone help me waddle through the mall to pick up the last of our Christmas gifts and push the cart in Costco.  Yes, you heard right.  We did Costco, the mall, Dick's, and Toys'R'Us all in one day....and the Saturday before Christmas no less!  And we survived with flying colors!  And to top it all off on Saturday, we had a really nice romantic Italian dinner, just the two of us, in Old Town Saturday night. 

Sunday morning was the "1/4 not so fun stuff."  We have been talking for weeks about what our wishes are for Stephen in the event that he doesn't live.  We've been going back and forth about it and haven't been able to come to a final decision, mostly because we don't want to make a decision, but we know that we're better off making a decision now than in the moment.  So we drove out to Fairfax Memorial to see if it was a peaceful place and a place we would want to lay Stephen to rest.  I don't really have an answer since the whole thing is just to sad to even think about, but I will say that it wasn't a terrible place.  And there were a lot of people there visiting loved ones, which made me a little bit better that at least it's well visited and taken care of.  Plus, they have a few sections of the cemetery dedicated to children which I like too.  But it was still really sad no matter how you look at it.

The rest of the day we spent decorating the house, the Christmas tree, and Billy put up lights outside in our bushes.  The condo looks so great and festive and I'm so glad we went to all the trouble to do it this year.  But just from this snippet about our weekend, you can see what an emotional roller coaster ride we live day-to-day.  One minute we're trying to figure out where to put the Christmas tree and then next we're trying to decide what funeral home and cemetery we might possibly use in a few short weeks.  It's really quite strange.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Check This Out!

Lucky for you guys, it's a two post kind of day!! :)  I just randomly found this article and video from CBS News while tracking down the phone number for Dr. Khoury's office.  The article is from 2008, but talks about the rise in the number of premature babies in the US and interviews both Dr. Khoury and Dr. Baker. And you can catch a glimpse of both of them in the video. How cool is that?!

Here's a link to the article:

Here's a link to the video.;photovideo

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

As you probably guessed, Tuesday wasn't such a hot day.  But yesterday proved to be a pretty good day and I think today will be much of the same.  I don't know what it was, but I just irritable, uncomfortable (my office share has been broken), hot (my office temp is close to 80 degress), and just plain pissed off on Tuesday.  I really shouldn't have been since I didn't work on Monday and Tuesday was a short day because we had a doctor's in the early afternoon; but it was.  I guess I'm entitled to one of those every now and then.  At least yesterday I was busy at work all day (which always makes the day better) and we ended up getting our Christmas tree last night and hung the Christmas wreath on the front door.  Christmas decorations and especially the tree just make me happy, no matter the circumstances!! 

Just to give you a little update after our appointment on Tuesday, the little guy's heart is still holding strong and he's definitely still kickin'!  We got to meet another one of the doctor's in the high-risk OB practice we're now going to; Dr. Nies, so that was helpful.  And we decided that we're going to go ahead and get the steroid injections.  Well, I'm going to get the steroid injections.  We first heard about these steroid injections way back in October from other Mom's who have had premature babies.  The purpose of the injections is to help the lung tissue develop.  There has been a great debate among all of our doctors about whether or not the injections would help Stephen.  All of them up until Dr. Baker told us that there no evidence that the injections would help at all, but Dr. Baker felt there was no harm in getting the injections and there have been some studies that have shown them to help in situations similar to ours.  And when I asked Dr. Nies about it, she agreed with Dr. Baker.  Everyone has had a differing opinion on these injections, but since they can't hurt anything, it's definitely worth a shot.  No pun intended!!

So next week, I'll need to get one round of injections on Tuesday morning and then a second round 24 hours later on Wednesday morning; both at the hospital.  Then we'll have another OB appointment Wednesday afternoon where we'll get to see the little guy again and they'll start checking me to see if we're getting close to delivery or not.  And from now on, I'll see the doctor once a week until Stephen is born. 

Unfortunately, no update on his size, but I can definitely tell you that he's growing and getting bigger.  I've been packing on the pounds (a lady never reveals her weight....sorry!) and my belly is growing,  but not much else has grown (except my poor little fingers, feet and ankles), so I know he's got to be getting big!!  Based on his growth so far, my guess is he's getting close to 7 pounds now.

Oh and in other news....I've given up on Metro.  After the fire in Metro center on Monday, a train breakdown and offload at Pentagon Tuesday morning (while I was there no less and had to wait 20 minutes until I could get on the next train), and a suspicious package yesterday morning also at Pentagon, which turned out to be a blinking Christmas ornament, I'm driving from now on.  Good riddance to Washington's broken public transportation system!  See ya' next year.....maybe. Now let's hope the snow doesn't totally snarl Washington traffic tonight!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Truth Is...

I am so tired of having to lie to people and answering their questions about my pregnancy and the baby with a smile.  It's only 1:45 PM and I've already have had to have more than 5 conversations with random people either at work or on the Metro about when my due date is, if it's a boy or a girl, and how excited I must be.  It's frustrating and annoying.  But what am I going to do, tell random people in an elevator that I'm due in 4 weeks, but my baby is sick and probably won't live, so no, I'm not that excited. 

I made the mistake once and told the lady in the fax room that my baby was sick because she kept pressing me and pressing me for more answers and I was always faxing medical records request forms.  She just looked at me like I had two heads, smiled, and didn't say another word.

Just one more reason why I just want to stay home and avoid people all together.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trial Hospital Run and Photo Sneak Peak

Bill and I had quite an eventful weekend this past weekend! As the title of my post explains, we had ourselves a little "dry run" Saturday night to the hospital.  Our plans for the weekend originally included putting up the Christmas tree and decorations and participating in a maternity photo session.  But our plans changed a little bit Saturday evening when I started getting really sick.  Luckily, we had taken our maternity photos earlier in the day, so we were still able to at least accomplish that. 

A good friend of mine had photographs taken of her newborn baby girl a few weeks ago and I loved her photos so much, that I contact her photographer, Danielle Hobbs, to see if she would have some time to take a few pictures of Bill, my belly, and me.  Luckily she did and after explaining a little bit of our story, she so graciously offered to take pictures for us.  So Saturday afternoon, we headed out to her house in Bristow for a photo shoot.  Danielle posted a sneak peak of our photo session on her blog and I LOVE them!!!!  Check out the pictures on her blog at

Thanks so much, Danielle!!!

After our photo session we stopped at Wegman's for some browsing and to pickup something for dinner.  Bill and I love strolling through Wegman's and since they don't have any inside the Beltway, any time we find ourselves near one, we have to stop.  And of course, it didn't disappoint!  But by the time we got home and started cooking dinner around 8pm, I started to feel really nauseous.  I hadn't felt that way since my 1st trimester when I had morning sickness all the time.  Unfortunately, I only felt worse as the night went on and around 11:30 PM we called the doctor.  Thankfully, she called us right back and told us we should go to the hospital so they could run some tests and make sure everything was ok.

Bill suggested we pack a few clothes, just in case, so we each packed a little bag with some clothes, toiletries, and our books....fed the dog a handful of treats and headed off to the hospital.  Lesson #1: never leave your gas tank empty when your wife is 35 weeks pregnant.  Lesson #2:  Pack your overnight bag beforehand so you don't forget important things like underwear.  Lesson #3:  Don't forget your wife's overnight bag in the car.

So not only was the trip to the hospital a success because I left feeling 100% better, but we learned some valuable lessons on how to be prepared for the next trip to the hospital!!  It actually was a success too because we found out how easy the check-in process was and how great the triage nurses are.  My nurse was actually 38 weeks pregnant herself (and looked fabulous) and was so nice and comforting...because I felt pretty stupid going to the hospital just to puke my brains out, get some IV fluids, and a little medicine.  But it was really good to hear Stephen's heart beat and know that he's perfectly fine and to get a clean bill of health.

Unfortunately, I think I've passed my little stomach bug onto Billy and he's home in bed today.  Oops!!! So we're taking it easy in the Schwartz household right now and Mabel's beyond thrilled to have Mom and Dad at home two days in a row!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NICU Visit

Last Friday we finally got to meet with the neonatologist and had a tour of Fairfax hospital's NICU and labor and delivery floor(s).  We had not actually met face-to-face with a neonatologist yet, so Dr. Baker was the first time we had met with a neonatologist.  There's not a whole lot to say about our appointment except that Dr. Baker spent a lot of time with us talking about all the different ways we could approach Stephen's breathing care and what would essentially happen as soon as he enters this world.  Basically we're going to take a step-wise approach to his lung care.  I won't get into all the details, but that basically means that if Plan A doesn't work, we'll go to Plan B.  If Plan B doesn't work, then we'll go to Plan C and so forth.  I think there are probably about three or four different options we have available, with the last always being providing comfort care to Stephen.  What I like so much about Dr. Baker was his sincerity, honestly, and compassion.  He was definitely a good listener to all our concerns and just had this really gentle way about him. 

I usually have one really bad/depressing a week (not counting the weekends) and last Thursday was it.  So I was already an emotional wreck going into Friday.  And when I expressed my concerns about seeing and holding Stephen before he's taken away, Dr. Baker was so good about listening to my thoughts and understanding how important that was to me. He also answered my question beautifully about his opinion on his Stephen's outcome.  I flat out asked him, "Based on what you've seen on the ultrasound reports and tests, do you think there is any chance he has any viable lung tissue."  He looked me straight in the eye and said, "There is no way of knowing what's going to happen when he's born, but there's no reason not to have hope."  That's all I needed to hear to know that he's going to do everything humanly possible to help Stephen breath. 

Dr. Baker then took us through the NICU to see how the babies are monitored and watched and to get a feeling for the shear size of the NICU.  I didn't know what to expect, but I definitely didn't expect to see so many little "incubators" and cribs.  I think the NICU has a capacity of about 75 babies and we must have seen at least 50 babies in the NICU.  It was huge! Because Fairfax has the highest level NICU in Northern VA (there is a high level NICU at Georgetown and Children's National), they receive a lot of transfer babies from other hospitals.  So luckily, they weren't all born at Fairfax, but a good majority were.  The only downside to the NICU is that during cold and flu season, only parents are allowed to visit.  So that could be an issue for us down the road, but our nurse coordinator says in special circumstances like ours, they might be able to make an exception.  If Stephen makes it through the critical first couple of days, Dr. Baker expects that he could be in the NICU for anywhere between 3 and 4 months.  And I know there will be some pretty unhappy grandparents (and Aunt Jess) if they can't see their grandson for 4 months!!! 

Since my post is already a small book, I'll save the rest of our visit at the hospital with Kelly and the hospital chaplain for another day.  Plus I think today's my "bad day" for the week, and I'm not really feeling up to it today.  Today is one of those days when staying in bed with Mabel would have been the best answer to my problems.  But enough whining from me for one day!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Big Birthday Weekend!

The Schwartz's had a busy weekend, and I unfortunately, didn't get a post up on Saturday to wish my husband a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!  So happy belated birthday, Billy!!! 

[Don't worry Billy, I won't disclose which birthday it was! :) ] 

Love you, B!!! XOXOXOXO

Unfortunately, his team lost on Saturday to Auburn, but I think all-in-all it was a pretty good weekend spent celebrating with family and friends! And I'd have to say it was a pretty productive weekend for this pregnant lady as well.  Made Billy a birthday cake and sent out a stack of Christmas cards on Friday, we tried out a new restaurant in Old Town Friday night (Pizza Paradiso....which was delicious), ran some much needed errands on Saturday, and was able to knock off one more person off my Christmas list Sunday morning.  Six down and only 3 more to go!!  Next weekend I hope to get the Christmas decorations out of storage and put up the tree and we'll also be having some maternity photos taken of me, Bill, and my belly.  I've been so terrible with taking pictures of the past 8 months, so I think the photos will be an awesome keepsake and remembrance of our time with Stephen before he was born.  But I'll share with more you later about that and our visit to the hospital last Friday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Check-Up Today

We had a routine check-up today at our new OB's office and got to see our little man this morning!  He's continuing to grow and is up to 5 lbs. 5 oz.!!!  I couldn't believe it.  Bill and I were sure he had to be around 4.5 lbs, so we were totally shocked to hear he's over 5 pounds now.  But we're so thrilled that he's continuing to grow.  His head size is right on for 33 weeks 5 days, and is abdomen is slightly ahead of schedule (35 weeks), but that's not too bad considering his kidneys are over 7 cm a piece.  To give you an idea of how big that is, an average adult female kidney is between 10 and 13 cm.  Right now his head and abdomen are exactly the same size, so that's also good.  As long as the abdomen doesn't surpass the size of his head, we're in good shape.

So based on the measurements they took today, we're back to delivering vaginally and not a C-section and we're just going to let nature takes it course between now and January 14th.  Once I get to the 14th, the doctor's will schedule an induction and we'll go from there.  So between now and January 14th, they'll continue to monitor Stephen's size and progress and my body's progress and we'll decide when the time arrives how he'll enter this world.  But it's definitely looking like we'll have a January baby!!