Expecting Again: MK Meier Kid #4

Baby Seth Adrian Meier at 15 weeks

Stephen and I had about decided that we were perfectly content with our little family of five.  We had been blessed with two boys and one girl and we thought it was probably time to ‘close down the factory.’  I was still undecided as to my role in the whole process.  Something in me felt strange about ‘tying my tubes.’  I guess it was hard to think of myself moving beyond the stage of life that I like to call ‘the child-bearing’ years.  Of course, I realize that plenty of women have made this decision at a younger age than my current 35 years.  But it just felt so “old” to me.

It was mid-April when I ran out of the birth control pills that my doctor from Ecuador has prescribed for me.  I had not yet found a new gynecologist since moving to Texas.  So, I decided it would be easiest to use ‘natural birth control’ for a few months while I shopped around for a new doctor.  I began taking my temperature every morning and felt like I was keeping a good track my reproductive cycle for that first month.

However, I started to get worried when that cycle did not end with its usual menstruation.  I didn’t want to believe we were pregnant, because after all, I had been keeping Stephen on his side of the bed for several weeks, (except for the night of his birthday). I finally decided that I needed to take a pregnancy test on May 23.  The pregnancy test proved that it really does only take one attempt to get pregnant.

I stared at the test in shock and fear.  Fear flooded my mind in the form of physical and financial challenges.  First of all, the sound of my doctor’s voice in Ecuador telling me, “If you want to have another baby, you’ll probably lose your uterus,” ran through my head.  I had experienced placenta accreta with the delivery of both Luke and Grace, and the risk of it happening again would be greater with any future pregnancy.

Secondly, the school where Stephen is employed did not offer health insurance to its employees because so many of them are covered under their spouse’s plans who work for other companies.  We had to purchase our own health insurance and were not allowed, under the private plan, to receive maternity coverage.  We didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, because we weren’t planning on getting pregnant.

Now, there I was, staring a pregnancy test and wondering how in the world we were going to cover the costs of a pregnancy without help from our health insurance plan.  I was also not very excited about having another baby while its older sister was still so young.  When I calculated the due date, I realized that my oldest child wouldn’t be quite five and a half before I would give birth again.  That’s four babies in less than six years!  How in the world did I manage to do that?

I can’t say that I began my fourth pregnancy with the best attitude about this added blessing in our lives.  My next shock came soon after when the surprise pregnancy almost became a surprise miscarriage.  I had just visited a new doctor in Lake Jackson at 5 weeks of pregnancy.  I came home that day and began experiencing heavy bleeding and sharp, cramping pains that felt like early labor.  I rushed myself to the Lake Jackson hospital where they did an emergency ultrasound.  It didn’t reveal very much, because it was too early to detect a heart beat on the monitor, but it did show us the small, peanut-looking object that assured us of the presence of a growing fetus.  The blood work done that day to test my hormone levels also showed that my pregnancy hormones were increasing at the appropriate levels.

So, I was sent home with orders to stay off my feet and get as much bed rest as possible.  Please, someone laugh with me, and try to picture a mother of three kids between the ages of four and one being able to get much bed rest all day.  However, the Lord provided during that time.  I was so grateful that this was all happening at the beginning of summer break.  Stephen’s working hours were shorter and he didn’t have to work on Fridays at all.  He was able to help me with the kids when he wasn’t working and we always had lots of three day weekends.

Another hidden blessing for me happened to be the European Soccer Cup of 2012 that took place in England.  The games aired our time at 10 am and 1pm every day for several weeks in a row.  I was able to find activities for the kids to do in the living room while I rested on the couch. I would watch the afternoon game while the kids took their nap.  Usually, I fell asleep during those games and got lots of much needed naps. The soccer games were something that took my mind off of all the things that I thought I should be doing while I was supposed to be resting.  I didn’t miss a single game of that tournament.  By the time the final match was played and Spain came out victorious, the risk for miscarrying was gone.

During that time, I decided that I needed to find a new doctor.  The doctor I started to see in Lake Jackson told me that she didn’t handle high risk pregnancies.  Someone recommended a doctor in Houston, so I began seeing her.

So, my high risk pregnancy began with two major bleeding episodes, but has continued as normal, otherwise.  By the time summer was over and another school year started, I was in my second trimester and regaining the energy I had lost during my first trimester.

We discovered at 15 weeks that we are going to have another male bundle of joy added to the family picture.  Every time I try to tell someone that we are only going to have one girl in the family now, Jared insists on correcting me by saying, “But you’re a girl, too, Mommy!”

As the month of October comes to a close, so does my second trimester.  Little Seth Adrian Meier was measured at his last ultrasound to be growing at a rate four days faster than his due date and was weighing a little over two pounds at 27 1/2 weeks.  He’s already positioning himself head down and he is quite the mover and kicker.

Currently, the biggest concerns with this pregnancy are:

1) My placenta – The doctor has said that she plans to thoroughly check the position of my placenta around the 32nd week to decide whether she thinks it will be necessary to perform a C-section and a possible hysterectomy during delivery.  We are praying that neither scenario will be necessary.  I have given birth vaginally to my first three children and would prefer to keep my uterus even if I don’t want to fill it with future babies.

2) My varicose veins – As with my pregnancy with Grace, varicose veins have taken over my legs and feet.  My OBGYN happens to be married to a vascular surgeon.  I already made one visit with him.  He looked at my veins and recommended that I use compression hose and take aspirin.  So, my hope none of my veins will not develop blood clots that produce any type of thrombosis after I give birth.

My due date is January 23, 2013 and a dear friend of mine is organizing a baby shower for me to take place on Sunday afternoon, December 9.  I have created a baby registry at Target (www.target.com) for those who are interested in seeing what our current needs are to prepare for our third son.

Cristina’s Pregnancy Update

Just as I was entering my final ten weeks of pregnancy, the Lord blessed me with a lighter teaching load for the second semester of the school year.  My English Department Head Teacher told me that he had decided to cancel my English class for second semester, which was supposed to be a small group of students taking Speech and Debate.  He figured that it would be easier to put all the students into other established classes for second semester than try to supervise and train a substitute teacher to take over the final half of the semester when I would go on maternity leave.

So, my rushed exit from my home, to arrive at a 9:30am English class each day, was suddenly out of the picture.  A couple weeks after he told me of this development, the registrar’s office informed me that there were no high school students who needed to take the sixth period keyboarding class that I had been teaching directly after lunch.  Therefore, my teaching load went down from four classes to two.  Since then, I met with the director to talk about some projects I can work on to keep me on the same funding as before and he gave me a video project to work on that I hope to finish before I go on maternity leave.

I have felt significantly less stress this past month as I have been teaching only my two middle school Computer 8 classes for four days out of the week.  This is a good thing as my body seems to be slowing down a little more with each passing week and as my belly continues to inflate. 

By tomorrow, I will be officially 34 weeks pregnant.  I am excited that God did provide the money for my mom to come and stay with me for three weeks in April.  She is set to arrive on April 4…just four days before my due date and will stay until the end of April. 

I also had my third trimester and final sonogram today, February 24, and the doctor was able to confirm that the baby still looks like a girl.  He scared me for a while saying he wasn’t sure, but would check again before he finished the sonogram.

From this point on, I begin weekly visits to the doctor.  He is predicting that I will make it full term, but start thinking in terms of giving birth sometime between the last two weeks of March or the first week of April.

I am looking forward to taking my final blood tests this weekend.  Also, some of the ladies at the school are planning a baby shower for me to take place next Thursday, March 3.

So far, everything is progressing as normal.  The only concern my doctor had with me is that my thyroid is still working too hard and he has told me to take a higher dose of the thyroid medication that was prescribed for me. 

I am planning on teaching until my due date on April 8 or until Grace Erin is born…whichever comes first!

Cristina can still pick up both her boys at 33 weeks of pregnancy...as long as they don't get in the way of her belly.

Girls Come Early

Everyone knows that there are old wives tales about pregnancy and raising children.  I heard many during my first pregnancy with Jared, and continued to hear them when I was pregnant with Luke and now with little Grace. 

However, there are certain things I have heard only here in Ecuador.  Perhaps they are not exclusive to this country.  I just know I haven’t heard them in the U.S.

So, here is a short list that I will try to add to as I hear more.

1) Girls Come Early

Actually, the first place I heard this was in my pediatrician’s office in Quito, when I took Luke in for his two-year appointment.  It was the secretary who told me this.  I just smiled and nodded at her.  I didn’t want to sit there and give her a list of all the baby girls I know who were born past their due dates.  First example is…me.  My mom told me that I was born over a week late of my due date.

Our nanny told me the same thing the other day…that this baby would be born earlier because she’s a girl.  But then after talking some, she revealed that neither one of her daughters were born early of their due dates.  However, she still believes the saying in Ecuador that girls are born before their due dates and boys are born after their due dates.   Hmmm….

2) Eggs should only be fed to children in the morning

I remember the first nanny we had would not give Jared a snack of scrambled eggs after a certain point in the morning.  She stated that it was bad for one’s health to eat eggs in the afternoon and evening. But then, I guess she’s never been to the countries that serve egg products as part of lunch and dinner meals.

3) The Magical Cure to Any Ailment: Manzanilla Tea

The herb known as “manzanilla” is translated “chamomile” in English.  So, yes…the Ecuadorians drink a lot of chamomile tea.  In the hospitals, they call it “aromatic” and ask if you want pure water or “aromatic” when you ask for something to drink.  They will use this tea for all sorts of reasons.  They say this tea will cure stomach problems, help babies with colic, help decongest someone with a bad sinus or chest cold, aids digestion, helps to make you thinner and many more.

*Note: My pregnant brain can’t remember any more at the moment.  I will add more when I can think of them later

My First Christmas Present

The schedule of ultrasounds has changed since I gave birth to Jared.  Or at least, that is how my obstetrician tells me.  With both Jared and Luke, the first important ultrasound did not take place any earlier than 16 weeks into the pregnancy.  Now, my doctor tells me that the crucial time to do the first thorough ultrasound is between 11 to 13 weeks.  He insisted that this is the important window in discovering any possible early defects in the development of the baby.  However, it is also too early to find out the gender of the baby.

My doctor also insists that it is important to have an ultrasound for each trimester.  So, I was going to have to wait until the second trimester ultrasound to find out if I was having a girl or a boy.  During my November check up, my doctor said that we should probably go ahead and schedule the second trimester ultrasound for sometime in December. 

“Maybe the middle of December sometime…what do you think?”

I looked up at him sheepishly and said, “Well, my husband is going to be in the U.S. during the first week of December.  It would be nice, if he could return with specific clothes for a baby boy or a baby girl.  But doing the ultrasound then would be too early, right?”

The doctor scratched his head for a minute or two and looked at his calendar.  He starting thinking out loud about how many weeks pregnant I would be at that time.  By the end of the first week of December, I was going to be 22 weeks pregnant. 

Finally, he said, “Alright, how about the first day of December?  Then, you can call Stephen in the U.S. and tell him what to bring back down.”

I was completely thrilled to hear the news and began to count down the days to my next ultrasound.  The weekend before December 1, Stephen and I put up the Christmas tree and pulled out our Christmas music and our Christmas decorations.  So, I really felt like I was in the Christmas mood when I went to see my doctor for the ultrasound.

I tried not to act too antsy or impatient as he went through the routine process of checking the baby’s head, face, legs, arms and vital organs before checking the area of gender discovery. 

“So, what do you think it is?” he asked me as I looked at the screen of a squirming little body with its legs spread wide open. 

I wasn’t sure what to assume.  It didn’t exactly look the same as Jared and Luke, but I was afraid to get too excited. 

“It’s not a boy?” I asked lamely.

“It’s a girl!” he told me confidently and then typed “xx” on the screen.

I could hardly believe it was true.  “Are you sure?” I asked him. 

He pointed to the screen to show me where obvious male organs were missing and where you could clearly see that the child was a female.  My heart leapt. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love both of my sons very much and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  But I had felt for many years that God was going to bring a daughter into my life and that I was to name her Grace.

And there she was on the screen.  She will be our little “GEM” because her initials (Grace Erin Meier) spell that word.  Jared and Luke already refer to her as baby Grace.  I don’t know if Luke really understands much of what is going on, but I think he will be a wonderful big brother when our little GEM comes into the world in another three months or so. 

As my doctor finished the ultrasound, he said what a pleasure it was to do my ultrasound and that everything was “immaculate” with the baby’s progress and growth.  I felt double blessed.  Not only am I expecting a daughter, but she is healthy, as well.

Cristina poses at 25 weeks of pregnancy on Christmas eve.

Pregnancy Update

I have been so busy the past few weeks, I’ve hardly had time to stop and contemplate this third pregnancy that I am now experiencing.  So far, we have had two sonograms to confirm that I have one, healthy growing baby inside me.  Yet, both sonograms were done before it was possible to detect the gender.  So, this part remains a mystery.

One of the things I do know is that my morning sickness is finally decreasing.  I’m also not quite as tired as I was last month (unless I get less than six hours of sleep at night).  I just finished my fourth month of pregnancy and I have to wear mostly maternity clothes as my belly is protruding a lot faster than it did with Jared or Luke.

I also know that my due date is approximately April 8 and the baby seems to be developing at a normal pace.  There are only a few areas of concern with this baby:

1) My right leg is virtually exploding with varicose veins I’ve never had before.

2) My doctor told me in my last ultrasound that I seemed to be lacking in amniotic fluid and that my placenta seemed a little low.  He said that 80% of these cases, the placenta moves up in the uterus by the 20th week.  I hope that is the case for me, because I don’t want to have to deal with placenta previa when I’m trying to give birth to my third child.

3) My thyroid is “hyperactive,” meaning it is overworking itself which can cause low birth weight and development of the brain of the baby.  So, I’m currently taking a hormone pill to help regulate my thyroid.

Besides that, I am feeling fine as I try to balance my time with my boys and my class work and still get enough sleep to make it through each day.

Cristina's profile at 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Meier Prayer Requests for September

Meier Family (August 2010)

As we begin the new 2010-2011 school year, please keep us in prayer for the following needs:

1) Financial – We had a tough summer this year.  Our renter moved out of the townhouse we own in West Virginia at the end of June, just as we were needing the extra money for our summer trip to the U.S.  Fortunately, we only went one month without renters.  Our new West Virginia real estate agency found renters to move into the home on the first of August.  However, we are still recovering from the deficit created for the month of July. 

2) Future prospects – Stephen and I are looking at making this our final year ministering at the Alliance Academy International of Quito, Ecuador.  We are looking at other international schools where we can continue to minister or to a Christian school in the United States.  Please join us in prayer for wisdom and discernment as we make a decision as to where we will move after this school year is finished.

3) New pregnancy – After two pregnancies without any complications, Cristina is trying not to worry about anything going wrong with this third pregnancy.  Keep this new child in prayer that he/she will develop to be a healthy new addition to their family.  Their first doctor’s appointment is scheduled for next Tuesday, August 31 and they believe she is about eight weeks (roughly two months) pregnant.

4) Raising godly sons – Be in prayer with us as we are raising our sons, Jared and Luke, to be godly examples to those around them as they learn about the world around them and the God who created it all.

5) New school year – Be in prayer with us for the new teachers as they start a new year in a new school and learning a new system.  We have around 30 new teachers for middle and high school alone.   Also be with the returning teachers that they will find new passion for their classes and their ministry to the students they will teach this year.