Friday, April 18, 2014

An Uncertain Diagnosis: Ventriculomegaly

It all started last Wednesday. We went to the doctor for our 20 week ultrasound. The dreaded ultrasound that tells you any possible problem that could go wrong with your baby. The doctor does the ultrasound for 2 minutes before finding a spot in the brain he didn't like. He said that he thought he was just being paranoid but that he was going to send us over to Duke Perinatal to get a better ultrasound just for the "1% chance that it's what I hope it's not" (Doctor's words). 

That 1% chance didn't calm me at all. I've always felt my entire life that I was going to have a child with special needs. So when we waited the day and a half to get our second ultrasound, I didn't have high hopes that the prognosis was going to change, and it didn't. The ultrasound tech at Duke found the same spot our first doctor did. She then went to get the specialist that was going to be working with us and he explained to us that our baby does in fact have Ventriculomegaly. This means that one of the ventricles in our babies brain is slightly enlarged which will allow excess water to pool in the brain which can result in permanent brain damage. The good news is that our baby could also just have naturally larger ventricles and she could just be normal and fine. The ventricles could also shrink before birth, and she would also be fine. But there is a risk of her also being severely handicapped so this diagnosis is so vague and we really won't know more until the pregnancy progresses and until after delivery. 

I received an amniocentesis on Friday to see if there were any genetic/chromosomal reasons for as to why this happened. We won't get the results for up to 10 business days, but will be sure to update when we learn more. The good news is that the baby looked 100% normal, fine, and healthy on the ultrasound except for the one ventricle in her brain which indicates to the dr that this isn't a chromosomal abnormality, which makes for a better prognosis looking forward for a positive mental development of our baby. 

For numbers sake, so you know where we're at, the normal range for brain ventricles is 4-8mm. The upper limit of what they will accept as normal is 10mm. We're at 13mm. I've read since being home that 12mm and under has an excellent prognosis for normal cognitive development after birth. We're only 1mm away from that! Such good news right? So if everything stays the same so far, and doesn't worsen through the pregnancy, or if the ventricle luckily shrunk down just 1mm, we would be in the excellent territory! 

On the other side of the spectrum, ventriculomegaly can progress into hydrocephalus, which would require an MRI and shunting at birth (shunting still may be required if it doesn't progress into hydro as well..) to reduce the water levels in the brain and then from there, the outlook for hydrocephalus is well... not as promising. 60% chance at best for normal cognitive development at that point. Which yes, is above average, but not good enough when your talking about your child's entire livelihood. 

The good news is that there is nothing that I could have done differently to prevent this. It's a random occurrence as of now, until we get the results from the amniocentesis and if they state differently, than it's not a random occurance, but still completely nothing I could have done about it.  

More good news is that as I look online for stories from other moms going through ventriculomegaly, they all basically say that they're babies did need physical therapy to help them out, but they were pretty much on track and normal by the time they were 18 months. I've tried looking for the bad cases where moms haven't been able to get their kids on track, and haven't found those stories yet. I'm hoping that if this stays as ventriculomegaly, we won't have a horror story or anything to worry about. It's really the development into Hydrocephalus that scares me, I don't want that, at all. 

The worst part is just that we're in a huge waiting game. We have to wait a few months just to see the baby and get a better idea of what we're looking at. We're most likely not going to be able to tell the baby's cognitive ability just by looking at it, so we're going to have to wait at home for a few months to see if they're hitting those developmental milestones to know whether they're on track or not. 

It's easy to say, "why us". In the last 24 hours I've gone back and forth from being upbeat and positive, to crying, to grieving the possible life this baby may not have, and then back to positive again. And that's just probably how this entire thing is going to play out over the next few months. The biggest thing that we need to do though is just have faith that everything is going to work out. We need to have faith that the ventricles will either get smaller or stay the same. We need to have faith that we can handle this. Faith is the only constant we have right now. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

I guess you could say I've been a little obsessed with baking cookies lately. But how could you blame me? After I finally mastered the perfect chocolate chip cookie, it's been my goal to put my cookie skills to the test on any and all cookies. Like these oatmeal raisin ones I made a couple weeks ago now. 

For this recipe I knew an M&M cookie wouldn't be too different from a chocolate chip, so I started off with the base of my chocolate chip cookie recipe and then built off of it from there. The only changes I made were replacing 1 cup of chocolate chips for a 1/2 cup, and then putting 1/2 cup of M&Ms into the batter along with it. I then used 1/2 cup of M&M's to press into the tops of the dough balls before going into the oven to give them a better aesthetic appearance. And because no one hates having more chocolate in their cookies. 

Luckily I've finally gotten myself back into the habit of exercising a couple times a week to balance out all the sweets I've been eating. I've been basically just doing the treadmill for one hour a couple times a week and it's made such a big difference in my energy level through the day. I only do between 3-5 miles in that one hour, but I'm at risk for blood clots and get bad vein pain in my legs so frequently that getting active is not only necessary, but has really helped to reduce the pain and swelling in my legs a lot! 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup M&Ms, divided
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, cream together your butter and sugars. Mix in the 1 egg, followed by the vanilla. Next, mix together the water and the baking soda, and then add and mix into the batter. Then add in the flour and mix until just incorporated. Add in the M&Ms and chocolate chips and mix long enough to become just incorporated. 

Scoop batter using a tablespoon as a scoop. Get a rounded table spoon of dough and then roll into a ball between your hands like a meatball. Place on an u greased cookie sheet, and then place a few M&Ms gently into the dough. Repeat this for the rest of the dough. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Structured Jacket & 22 Week Bumpdate

Yesterday I went through my closet and pulled out 11 different items (including accessories,) and made up 4 different outfits that I haven't worn before. Derek and I took pictures of all 4 outfits and they are what's going to comprise fashion posts for the next couple weeks. I love being able to make new outfits out of clothes I already have instead of feeling like I constantly need to be adding pieces here and there. So this was a positive day for me, especially when I'm trying to stretch my wardrobe (literally and metaphorically), through this pregnancy. I mean, I know I'm going to have to buy more clothes that fit me as I start growing out of old ones, but the longer I can put it off the better. 

This outfit was one of my favorites from this little closet round up. I love this structured jacket and don't wear it nearly as much as I should! It only cost me $11 on Target clearance last spring, and it's super cute, I should definitely be wearing it a lot more!

Jacket: Target (Old)| Tank: Forever 21 (Buy Here)| Pants: Pea in the Pod via Destination Maternity (Buy Here)| Shoes: JustFab (Old)| Necklace: Forever 21 (Buy Here)

How far along? 22 weeks How big is baby? The size of a spaghetti squash Total weight gain? 17 pounds (Finally at 130!) Maternity clothes? Definitely for pants, not as much for shirts Sleep: Fine minus bad constipation induced stomach cramps two nights ago (TMI but woof that was killer!)  Best moment this week? Relief from the previous question Food cravings? Ham, and rolls, and potatoes... I'm a little excited to eat Easter Dinner Food aversions? None Symptoms? Constipation (yep, went there) Gender? GIRL! Movement? So many little wiggles! Have you started to show? Yes! What are you looking forward to? See next question Next appointment? Today! We're getting the big sha-bang ultra sound! Pray everything is looking good with baby for us... if you're into that kind of thing!

Linking Here Today!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cajun Shrimp Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

This salad was so good. If there is one thing that I've been craving this pregnancy, it's shrimp. Such a strange thing to crave, but my pinterest feed has been going crazy with shrimp recipes lately, and I've wanted them all. This one was no exception. I made this last Monday night for dinner and it was devine! I'm not going to lie and tell you that my toddler ate it all up. He actually only wanted the corn, and that was it. This salad also wasn't manly enough for my meat and potatoes kind of husband, but it was good. Since my boys left me with so many leftovers, I got to enjoy this again, and again for lunch throughout the week, and I wasn't complaining. However, all was made right with the world the following night when I made these beef and bean burritos.  

1 pound shrimp, peeled, and deveined*
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp creole seasoning 
4 slices of bacon, cooked and diced**
2 large eggs
5 cups romaine lettuce
1 avocado, halved, peeled, and diced 
1 cup canned corn, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese

For Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
1 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
1 jalapeno (optional)
2 cloves garlic***
kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp oil****
2 tbsp cider vinegar

To make the dressing, place all ingredients together in the blender and then blend until combined. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400°. While waiting for the oven, start a pot of boiling water for the eggs. Hard boil the eggs by putting the eggs in the cold water, bring the water to a boil, let boil for 1 minute, cover with a lid, and turn off the heat. Leave the pot on the hot burner for 10 minutes, then drain and cool, and peel and dice. Cook bacon and dice, and set aside. Prep the avocado, corn, feta cheese, and lettuce. 

Toss shrimp in a bowl with oil and creole seasoning and then spread out in an even layer on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven for 4 minutes and then remove. Place the lettuce in a large bowl, and then layer the ingredients in rows accordingly. Serve immediately with prepared dressing. 

*I used frozen shrimp that was already peeled, deveined, tails removed, and cooked. I thawed shrimp in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes before preparing for the oven. 
**I used precooked bacon that you can find in the deli section. It's cheaper than the uncooked, and only needed to be microwaved for 20 seconds before dicing. Easiest bacon prep ever. 
*** I used already minced garlic that is stored in a jar in the fridge. It lasts forever, and can be found in the produce section of grocery stores. Makes any recipe needing garlic so easy!
**** I used vegetable oil instead of olive oil, still tasted great, but I'm sure olive oil would have been better, and healthier, but we were out. 

6 Easter Recipes I'll Be Making This Week

Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. While I love Christmas, it's season, and it's purpose, there is nothing like the renewal of spring, and remembering our Savior and what he did for us. I'm not the kind of person that goes crazy making treat plates for people during Christmas, mainly because that time of the year is full of travel and I just have too much on my hands as it is. However, I like to make up for that at Eater time and spend usually an entire day in my kitchen whipping up yummy treats to deliver to people. This year, I'm definitely going to make some tried and true recipes I've done in the past, but I'm looking forward to trying a couple new ones from The Pioneer Woman (has anyone made one of her recipes that hasn't tasted amazing?! I'm obsessed), and a new recipe for these bunny bum cookies pictured below!

1. These bunny bum cookies just look adorable, how could I not make them?

2. These Easter Egg Rice Krispies look super easy, and delicious.

3. I made this Italian Easter Bread for friends a few years ago and everyone raved about it. Definitely a good repeat recipe.

4. I love, love, love hot cross buns. Growing up in NY my mom would buy them every year. Unfortunately, I apparently grew up with some fake version of the real deal that is now discontinued by Freihofer's bakery, this year I'm going to cave and give into the real deal, via Pioneer Woman of course.

5. These Reese's Eggs Copycats are super easy, and seriously, who doesn't love a Reese's Egg?

6. What's more Easter than making a carrot cake? I made this one a couple years ago, but I'm thinking I'm going to try cupcakes this year. They're more friendly when giving to a bunch of people.