Saturday, February 27, 2010

Because I'm curious...

No, not about your views on health care reform. How far do you think I can go with these chunkers? If you feel so inclined, please take my pregnancy poll in the right sidebar.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Imagine the Rocky song "Eye of the Tiger" playing quietly in the background as you read this post

It was so much fun answering your questions this week, but now it's time to get back to everyone's favorite topic... my cervix.

Today was my weekly OB visit, and the last time they will check my cervical length via ultrasound. After 32 weeks (I turn 33 weeks this Sunday), the measurement is no longer reliable or meaningful. My doc did warn me last week that if my measurement was significantly shorter today, that she would recommend hospitalization. I've been super anxious about it for several days now. But apparently I earned some karma points by not doing anything fun and eating bird food for the past two months, because the appointment went well.

My cervix measured between .9 and 1.3 cm. It's still short, but holding steady, which is a good sign. And NO MORE LENGTH CHECKS!

Aaaaaah. Biggest sigh of relief EVER.

I could still be admitted for contractions or dilation, as the doc will be checking my cervix externally. But that likely means the boys are on their way, which is much different than the pure torture of simple hospital bedrest. You can practically hear your will to live seeping out of your pores and floating out the door.

We also did another growth scan today. I don't understand why this happens to me, but I continue to grow obscenely large babies. Twin A measured 5 lbs 15 oz (90th+ percentile on the singleton scale) and Twin B measured 5 lbs 3 oz (87th percentile on the singleton scale).


This is especially puzzling to me because my blood sugars have been kept low and my weight hasn't gone up an ounce in a couple of weeks due to previously mentioned bird food diet. "Genetics," my OB explained. I guess because there are 8-9 lb babies on my side of the family, and 8-9 lb babies on DH's side, it combines to mean that I give birth to newborn elephants?

The other awesome thing that happened during my ultrasound was that we got to see both babies practice breathing. A very good sign! Even if they are born relatively healthy preemies right now, we'd still expect 2-3 weeks in the NICU. But they are showing themselves to be two brutes in the womb, so I'm hopeful they would be strong and make it home okay eventually.

It's weird to think that I will be on bedrest for no more than 3 additional weeks, as restrictions and meds are lifted at 36 weeks. The past 8 weeks have gone by relatively quickly. Although I am feeling okay now, I don't think I'll make it past 35 weeks, just for the sheer size of these twins. They have gained roughly a pound each in the past 9 days, and there's no way my old ute can handle two 8 pounders.

Let me repeat: GOOD. LORD.

At this point, I am praying to make it at least another week. Bean turns two (TWO! GAH!) next Friday, and his party is next Saturday. I hope I'm able to be there, in all my whale-like pregnant glory.

Please oh please, give me 34 weeks!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

You asked, I answer (Part III)

Mrs. Gamgee asked what my strongest cravings have been during this pregnancy, and conversely, what I am hoping to enjoy after the birth that I haven't been able to handle the last few months? You know, I haven't had a lot of cravings with either of my pregnancies. If I did, it was in the first trimester, and it was more of a moment-by-moment preference. Like when it came to a meal or a snack, only one specific thing would do, but it wasn't anything consistent. My stomach was ruled more by food aversions than cravings. The strangest thing ever was that I didn't want chocolate -- and I always want chocolate, it's one of the most beautiful and perfect creations on this planet. But my Tillamook Mudslide ice cream sat in the freezer, growing crystals. CRYSTALS, FOR GOD SAKES! It was heartbreaking. My tastes are basically back to normal now, although I still can't stomach the delicious eggrolls from my favorite teriyaki restaurant. I look forward to eating those again with our weekly Friday carryout, as well as all of the myriad of yummy desserts I am denied because of the gestational diabetes.

My IRL friend Sarah (who is welcome to come visit any time! although I doubt it will feel like "personal time away" lol) asked:

1) Did you get a twin breastfeeding pillow? What do they recommend - feeding them both at once, getting them on an immediate schedule? Can you do it on demand like a singleton or will you be feeding all day long? I didn't get a twin nursing pillow, although I've seen this one. From what I've heard, nursing both twins at the same time can be quite a challenge and isn't necessarily sustainable as they get bigger, so I'm hesitant to invest in more than my trusty old boppy pillow. (Edited: I just ordered the pillow on the advice of Carrie and MissMVK and mamas on the twin forum.) I've read different recommendations on feeding schedules (or lack thereof) with twins, and I'd love to hear from any twin nursing mamas out there on any of these issues (Kristi? Gena? Pufferfish? Jamie? Carrie? Bueller?). On demand is ideal for the kiddos, of course, and I'll do my best. But there comes a point where you can't function being awake 24 hours a day, and I'd rather not end up wandering the neighborhood in my robe in a daze, promising to take everyone to Heaven in my spaceship. I'm hoping at night to wake one baby to eat right after the other baby wakes to eat, in the hope that I could actually sleep for a full hour at a time. We'll see how that goes.

2) Will you put all three kids in matching outfits, just the twins, or forget it. Nothing like a couple in matching flannel (yikes!), why not the kids? As of now, I don't even think we have any outfits for them that are the same. Coordinating can be cute -- like the onesies that come on the same hanger at Carters. I think we'll just be lucky if they make it out of their jammies on any given day (diaper explosions notwithstanding, of course). In the long run, I'll let them decide if they want to match... but unless it's a holiday and I want them all in complementary colors, I can't see myself taking the initiative on that effort. Although this family looks pretty darn happy about it, and even the dog can participate...

3) Will your mama stay with you for awhile when the babies are born? Thank goodness, yes! She said she will stay with us until the end of April... I just pray we don't drive her crazy before then. We are relying on Bean for this, as it's his cuteness and complete attachment to his grandma that's clinching her stay for us now.

4) How is DH handling all this? Would he mind posting on your blog about his perspective of bedrest and the thought of having twins etc? His fears and thrills?

His perspective on bedrest: "It's stressful. There is constantly something that needs to be done. I feel like I am always behind. And I have been on edge every day for the past 7 1/2 weeks worrying that the babies could come any second. And I haven't been able to see Sunny very much, either, which is hard."

His fears about having the twins: "Making sure Bean gets taken care of and isn't overly stressed and neglected. And then in general, our ability to handle double, maybe even triple the effort of having an infant. And how I'll handle the sleepless nights given my previous... difficulties with that." (Me: So you aren't worried about your wife being overwhelmed, staying home with all three of them all day?) "Yes, very much so, I'm worried about that. But mostly I'm worried about the pooch. *laughs* But no honestly I do worry about her, too."

What he is most excited about: "I really look forward to the day when I come home from work and have three happy boys who are excited to see their dad. Wrestling with them, playing with them. And I think Sunny will be super cute surrounded by her men, being taken care of by her men, even when they are tiny men. That'll be hilarious, won't it? Three little dudes, strutting around saying 'Football, mom. Football!'"

On whether he'd write a blog entry: "ME?! Yeah... I don't think I'll get around to posting any time soon." *laughs*

5) Besides sugar and carbs, what would be the number one thing you would be so happy for after the babies are born? A haircut, someone to clean your house, a massage, a new razor? What I am looking forward to most (even more than the desserts!) is playing with Bean again. Even though I've been lucky enough to spend most of my bedrest at home so far, I still miss out on so much being stuck in my bedroom all day. He comes up to visit a lot and sits on my bed with me, but I have to remain laying down so I'm very limited. I can hardly believe the things he's been doing and saying lately, which I hear about from my Mom and DH, and I'm so excited to be a part of that again. Otherwise, yes, I am looking forward to getting a haircut, visiting the dentist, putting on make-up, styling my hair, wearing clothes that aren't men's XL t-shirts, and using a real razor instead of the electric one. (Although it is kinda fun sometimes, like shearing a sheep!) With my Mom living with us, our house has never been cleaner. But yes please to the massage, and a mani/pedi while we're at it.

E asked what troubles I had with breastfeeding Bean. When I was pregnant the first time, many of my friends told me how breastfeeding was more difficult than they expected. I appreciated the warning, so I made sure that I attended the BFing class at our birth center. I also read a bit about it, and naively thought that just knowing that BFing could be hard would somehow help me overcome the difficulties. HA!

We were off to a bad start immediately. I had a traumatic birth experience that ended in a C-section at 10:30 pm. I had a jaundiced, sleepy newborn and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to get him latched correctly. Meanwhile he cried and cried! The nurses tried to help, but they were not BFing experts by any means. The birth center did have two Lactation Consultants (LCs) on staff, but they had limited hours, and I was unlucky enough only to work with the mean, judge-y one while I was still in the hospital. She made me feel worse about myself! A couple of days later, in the dead of night when DH and I were completely overwhelmed, one of the nurses offered to help me use a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to feed Bean some formula, and I readily agreed. I wasn't happy about it, but we were relieved that Bean finally seemed satisfied.

We went home, and I was still optimistic that things would get better. But they didn't. The horrible latch problems endured, and I didn't realize my poor guy was getting NOTHING from the breast. We were giving him formula in between tries. I made a decision at that point that I was going to exclusively breastfeed this child, no matter what it took. I knew I could do it because I had nothing else to focus on but feeding one baby (honestly if the twins had come first, I doubt I would have overcome our problems) and my infertility is not hormone-related so there were no medical issues that would prevent success.

I made an appointment to meet with the other wonderful, supportive LC at the birth center and she helped get us on track. She said Bean had a weak suck, showed me what his latch should look like, and pointed out the signs that he was sucking and swallowing appropriately. We came up with a plan to increase my supply so I could gradually decrease the formula. (Because he hadn't been getting anything, my supply was ridiculously low at that point. No demand, no supply! Some people told me to completely ditch the formula immediately, but I wasn't comfortable doing that, and my LC didn't advise it because of my low supply and Bean's jaundice.) I loaded up on fenugreek, oatmeal, etc. I fed him on demand, as much as possible. Sometimes through an entire movie! And after he would get everything he could from me, I would pump each side for 20 minutes, even in the middle of the night. We rented a hospital grade pump to help with this, and it was worth it's weight in gold! We soon could use what I pumped to supplement our feedings, instead of formula.

I can't overstate how difficult it was for me to establish our nursing relationship. I was feeding him and pumping around the clock, I was exhausted! I cried about this a lot. During their visit, my parents were worried about me and struggled to understand why I wouldn't let allow them to give Bean a bottle so I could sleep through a feeding. But finally my efforts paid off -- my supply was established and I could return the pump.

My advice to anyone who plans to breastfeed is to have a support system in place for after the baby comes. It is very hard to prepare in advance for staring down at a screaming newborn who won't latch, or whatever problem you may have. Many women don't have any issues at all, nursing is easy as pie. (Mmmmmm... pie.) Hopefully you'll be one of those women! But for the rest of us, we need to know where to go for education and support. Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who will come to your hospital or home. Bookmark Find a supportive breastfeeding forum. I can't tell you what it meant to me, having the encouragement of women who had been-there-done-that, telling me that I would get past this and it would get easier. They were so right!

In the beginning, I honestly really hated breastfeeding. Obviously it was hard for me, but I knew it was best for Bean, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. By three months, I thought it was a lot of work but not so horrible. By six months, it was a lot less work but I was still ambivalent. By twelve months, my final long-term goal, I absolutely loved it. He was so busy by then and nursing much less, but it was our special quiet mommy-son time. A connection he did not have with anyone else in the world. I decided to let him self-wean, which he did when I was about 2 months pregnant with the twins. He was 18 months old.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You asked, I answer (Part II)

Geek by Marriage asked about the definitive moment during this pregnancy that I will laugh about for years to come. The OMG I cannot believe that just happened moment. This is a tough one... it's been a different sort of pregnancy all along. I don't have any fun stories of running through gridlock traffic while 7 months pregnant like I did when baking the Bean. It was mostly uneventful until it became extremely uneventful during the past 7 weeks of staring at the same four walls all day. But as far as the "OMG I cannot believe that just happened" reaction, it had to be when the RE wanded me and I saw two tiny little beebs on the ultrasound screen. Actually it wasn't so much "OMG" as "Oh shit, it's twins. Oh shit." The RE asked if it was an excited, happy "Oh shit" or a worried, freaked-out "Oh shit." I won't tell you what I responded, but needless to say that is the moment during this pregnancy that will stay with me forever.

Lisa, E, and Mary wonder about the names of our little twinklets. Yes, they both have them -- first and middle. (And last! We thought we'd stick with ours.) The twins and I are a fearsome threesome fighting off preterm labor together, and I've needed to know their names to address them in team meetings. DH and I aren't announcing what they are until the boys are born, just in case we suddenly decide matchy twin names rock after all and go for Steven and Stephen. Oh, and in case you were wondering, there is at least one winner on the Name Game post! Will it be you? Wait and see! Lisa also wonders how the minivan is treating me. Crap, I do own one, don't I. I haven't been in it in about two months, I blessedly forgot. Honestly though, I am really glad we got it. The convenience is unmatched. I will soon have two infants and a toddler, the least of my concerns will be the fact that my vehicle has the style and maneuverability of a space colony.

Oh, and to answer Mary's second question -- my Mom is absolutely LOVING her time with Bean. She says she's getting more benefit out of this extended visit than the rest of us are. Which is entirely untrue, but all the better for me and DH if she believes that. Thanks for your help Mom!

Nicky asked if I will be cloth diapering three butts this spring. Nope! Not immediately, at least. Bean has been in 'sposies since bedrest, as our collective plate is overflowing and we try to keep things as simple as possible. Less laundry, and I don't have to redo everything when my poor Mom tries to assemble the proper inserts into each cover. And I am nervous enough about my fragile sanity being home alone all day with three boys born in two years, so again, keeping it lowest-maintenance after the birth. But if I ever get the hang of parenting multiples, I do plan to make the switch back to cloth.

Hilary delurked (hi!) to ask why DH and I are headless on my blog, but other people are not, as she'd like to see who Bean looks like. I first made myself headless in my blog because in my job as a mental health counselor, it's important to maintain a thick line between my clients and my personal life. I didn't want someone stumbling across my blog and learning something that would be damaging to our professional therapeutic relationship -- like my intense dislike of mushrooms and onions. Although I am a SAHM now, I do plan to go back at some point (or at least that's what I tell my DH) so I've kept it up. I obviously post pictures of Bean, which I am very conflicted about. I want to keep his privacy, but it's also been great to share him with friends and family who live far away. I could password-protect my blog, or have a separate way to send pictures. But I just don't want to do that! So for now at least, DH and I are headless and the kids are not. (And as far as our extended family, I've asked and they don't mind having heads on the blog.) Who does Bean look like? I have no idea. Both of us, definitely, and neither of us. We have brown hair and brown eyes, he has light hair and blue eyes. He's our little recessive-gene munchkin. Although I'm pretty sure his hair will get darker as he gets older. I think the person he resembles most is my Dad, his Grandpa J. I am dying to see what his brothers look like!

Hilary also asked about whether the twins are fraternal or identical. We are quite confident that they are fraternal. First, we know from ultrasounds that I released 2-3 eggs on the treatment cycle that we conceived them. The chance of both of them fertilizing and implanting is far greater than the chance that only one became an embryo and split into two -- although it does happen! Second, they are dichorionic-diamniotic twins, which means they are developing in separate sacs with separate placentas. This happens in 100% of fraternal twin pregnancies, but only about 25% of identical twin pregnancies (they more often share a placenta). There, a little biology lesson for you, too. You're welcome.

And my IRL friend Allison asked:

1. Who's the most wonderful person you keep in touch with from high school? :) I assume you mean other than DH? And I also assume that you are fishing for a compliment? Well then I have to say you, Al my Pal. ;)
2. Do you remember the strange flash of light we saw on 7 Mile Road, and, what was it? Of course I remember. And it was aliens. Most definitely aliens.
3. Are you thrilled to have me as a house guest in July? Absolutely! You like getting up with babies in the middle of the night, right?
4. Have you or someone else given you a mani/pedi yet? I've used cuticle cream, lotion, etc. but not polish. I am worried about getting it on my white sheets, considering they already contain evidence of my meals for the day. Looking around, I can clearly see that I ate a salad recently (with Italian dressing) and some sort of sandwich with avocado.

Last but not least, IF Optimist proposed an outing to the park in August. A double twin date, with her sweet little angel girls and my wild pack of monkey boys. You are on, T, can't wait!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You asked, I answer (Part I)

What a fun game, thanks for playing along you guys! I got many great questions, I'll break them up into a couple of posts. So here goes.

Kristina P. cut right to the chase and asked if DH and are done having kids after the twins. Yes? Probably? The one thing I can say for absolute certain is that we are done with infertility treatments, which seeing as we went three years without producing a pregnancy on our own likely means the old ute will be in retirement very soon. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I daydream about having one more baby for a nice even four kiddos. I did in fact already post on a twins forum to find out if the mamas who were formerly on bedrest had the same trouble with any subsequent singleton pregnancies. I think flirting with this possibility helps keep me from mourning this pregnancy as my last, as outrageously fun as it's been. I love being a mother more than I ever imagined I would when I firmly declared I wanted no more than two children. But I have only one child now... in a few months I could easily be racing DH to the doctor to ensure that this set of stretch marks is my last. Let's just say this is probably it for us, but I have no immediate plans to give away my maternity clothes.

Martha asked how I met my DH. The short answer is that we grew up together, from elementary school to high school graduation. I've had a crush on him since 6th grade and asked him out on our first date when we were 16. He claims he had a crush on me too, and would have asked me out eventually -- but I didn't want to wait until I was in my 50s. For the long and detailed answer, I'll refer you to my anniversary post from a year and a half ago. Martha also wondered what reality shows I enjoy. I've been watching a whole lot more since being on bedrest, and only some will I admit to. Not all are in season right now, but here's a list: Top Chef, The Bachelor, American Idol, LA Ink, So You Think You Can Dance, 16 and Pregnant, Project Runway, Shear Genius, The Little Couple, What Not to Wear, People's Court, Judge Alex, and America's Funniest Home Videos.

K and Jen asked about my biggest fears about raising a toddler and twin infants. Hmmmm... how to narrow down the biggest of 1,263 fears. I worry how there will possibly be enough of me to meet the needs of three little munchkins at the same time, plus meet the needs of myself and my marriage. I worry that Bean won't adjust well, that I'll lose my connection with him, that he will no longer be mommy's sweet little buddy. I worry about the logistics of nursing two infants with a toddler at home, as breastfeeding is very important to me. I worry about how we will afford a family of five on one salary. I worry that we won't be able to participate in many of the fun activities we do now, because I'll be overwhelmed with the effort and cost involved. But honestly, even with all these fears, I am so excited for the future of our family. The beginning is going to be the biggest challenge of my life, but the rewards even greater. To have three children with the man I love most in the world... it's mind-blowingly awesome. K also asked what will be the first sweet yummy dessert I'll eat after having the boys. Whatever is closest to my hospital bed at the time, which will likely be a packet of sugar or creamer they have sitting out for coffee. My hospital does have wi-fi, so I may try to order a box of fancy truffles or sampler of popcorn during my C-section. Rush delivery, of course.

Third, K wondered about what to expect when parenting after infertility (IF). I wish I had some good advice on this, but all I can do is share my experience. It seems to be so different for all of us, depending on what we went through and how much we identify as an Infertile.

One of the hardest parts of IF for me (and for many women, I imagine) was the feeling that my body was constantly failing. As cycle after cycle of BFN came to pass, even though it was another month of delaying motherhood, I was more upset that my body was the WRONG variable in an equation that was otherwise completely RIGHT. So when my attempt to deliver my son felt like an utter failure (24 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, baby hadn't budged so C-section time), then breastfeeding was such a train wreck for several months, it seemed to confirm to my hormonal, emotional, sleep-deprived self that I was a sub-par woman. And even besides the delivery and nursing issues, I struggled to adjust to motherhood all around. Although I would have stepped in front of a bus for him (and it kinda felt like I had), I was miserable at home all day, isolated with my newborn. Did I make a horrible mistake in fighting so long and hard for this?

I remember our first day of co-op preschool. Bean was 6 months old, and we sat in a circle with about 10 other moms and their infants. I felt like an impostor, as if somehow they were "natural" mothers and I was a fake. Then we had the opportunity to go around the room and share our pregnancy and birth stories. Hearing about the struggles they had, whether with IF or giving birth or otherwise, helped me feel so much more normal. It's always good to remember that just as your IF scars are not usually visible to others, neither can you see what they have been through. It is often more than you'd guess.

From that point, things only got better. Bean and I became champs at breastfeeding and got into a groove on other aspects of keeping an infant alive. Each month, motherhood was more enjoyable as he got both cuter and more talented. I gained confidence not that I necessarily knew what I was doing, nor that I was always doing "the best," but that I knew where to look for support and could make reasonable choices that would minimize the duration of his inevitable future therapy. I started feeling (and still feel today) like I am a real mom, worthy to sit next to any other mom at a playdate. Except for this one woman who is tall and thin with such a fantastic sense of style. She's super nice but I prefer to sit farther from her.

And also as the fog of new motherhood lifted, I could clearly see how my IF has made me a better mother than I would have been otherwise. Of course I am several years older and more financially stable, which helps. But I am also so much more appreciative of what I have, and thus more patient and able to live in the moment with Bean. Because this was not a guarantee. My automatic assumption that I would one day have a child was completely shattered, so motherhood feels more like it was earned than given. At the risk of completely throwing myself over into the cheese (TOO LATE!), every day with him is a bonus, one that could possibly have never have happened if our treatments had not worked. That's not to say I don't have the occasional frequent fantasy about a (long, very very long) getaway alone with my hubby -- no Gerber allowed. I'm human, after all. But although IF can leave a permanent scar even after parenthood becomes reality, it fades into what can also be a reminder of your strength to endure, and what an incredible blessing was waiting at the end.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

32 weeks and a cop out

The past couple of days have been hard for me, for some reason. I've just been... sad. My spirits have been relatively high for the past 7 weeks of bedrest, but suddenly I found myself listening to this song on repeat with tears in my eyes:

The timing of this crash is rather strange. I am relieved that we hit 32 weeks today, my bedroom is filled with fresh air and gorgeous sunlight, and it was nice to finally get that apology from Tiger Woods. But I guess everything catches up to you at some point, and you just need the release of an angsty bald dude singing a pop ballad.

I have a few things I could post about... I have been given a couple of wonderful awards from Stephanie and Jingle. And Coffeegrl suggested I give some diet tips that I've learned from The Diabeetus, which really is keeping the non-belly areas of my body nice and slim. (Quick tip: Avoid anything that could be labeled "yummy" and focus on foods that look like things your child or pet brought in from the backyard.)

But you know, I'm just not in the mood quite yet. So instead, I'm copping out and asking YOU to help me post. Do you have any questions I can answer... about what's happening now? My plans for the boys? Who I think Jake the Bachelor should choose to fly on the wings of his love? (We all have to be in agreement on that one, not the annoying chick who looks like a donkey.)

I feel so narcissistic asking to talk about myself, but I've been blogging for 2 1/2 years now, I think I blew narcissistic out of the water a long time ago. So... is there anything you'd like to know?


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Moving the carrot

I really wish I had more interesting things to blog about than my frequent doctor's visits, but not only is the other excitement in my life limited to watching idiot TV and googling "nicu stay by gestation" for the 1000th time, but it's been impossible for me to focus on much more than what's happening with my rapidly expanding belly and rapidly shrinking cervix.

I like to think of it as Whale Watch 2010.

With that apology out of the way, let's get on with it.

My weekly OB appointment was today... (drumroll please)... my cervix is unchanged since last week.


I was hoping it'd be a tad longer for all of our good efforts, but at least I'm grateful that they didn't want to keep me in the hospital. And for what it's worth, My Favorite Sonographer did say it looked stronger to her, even if the length was the same. (She also said that they all agree I'm the best-behaved patient of the practice, but I don't want Jen to feel bad so I won't mention that.)

I also got to see my regular OB again, finally. I have been dying to discuss the larger picture with her, as if somehow knowing The Plan would ease the continuous days, hours, minutes, seconds of worry.

I can't remember everything I asked, but here is generally what we are looking at now:

*She said she will be pleased when I reach 32 weeks, very happy at 34 weeks, and ecstatic at 36 weeks. No odds of making it to any certain point, we just keep taking it week by week.

*The last time they will check my cervix by ultrasound is at my appointment next week (32 weeks 5 days). After that point, the measurement is unreliable. However, if it is shorter next week, she will recommend hospitalization. She doesn't want it to get so thin that we end up delivering two preemies at home. Ummmm, cha.

*After 32 weeks, she'll check my cervix manually for dilation. And we'll continue to be vigilant for signs of preterm labor, and head to the birth center (if I'm still home) if/when needed.

*At 34 weeks, she would no longer use the heavy-hitting drugs to try to stop labor. If my body is done, it's done, and we'll welcome the boys into the world without a fight.

So I'm feeling a bit like the carrot moved from 32 weeks to 34 weeks. It's only 2 1/2 weeks away, yet it's a lifetime away. I wonder how I will make it through the constant uncertainty of bedrest, but then I know that the uncertainty of the NICU is far more heartwrenching.

And... yeah, that's pretty much it, I guess. My belly is measuring 38 weeks compared to a singleton pregnancy. The boys continue to look stellar in every way. Oh, and I seem to have developed vertigo, probably as a result of laying flat on my back for the last 6 1/2 weeks.

To cheer myself up, I've been looking at the old pictures of Bean that DH uploaded from our cell phones. (We just "upgraded" from phones with no features or apps to other phones with no features or apps, so we saved the pictures on our computer to not lose them.) I didn't fully appreciate the gift of delivering a healthy full-term baby who could room in with me. Although I really don't remember him sleeping that much. Or at all, actually.


Friday, February 12, 2010

So basically I'm *too good* at gestating, is what's happening here

Well, I had my weekly OB appointment, and I am home again... but like last time, I'm just squeaking by. It was not good news.

The fun started at noon when the phone rang. It was the OB's office, and the nurse asked, "Did you know you had an appointment today?"

"Ummm, yes," I answered, confused. "It's at 1:15 pm."

Actually, no, she informed me. It was at 10 am. But they could squeeze me in if I raced over there immediately, which of course DH and I promptly did. (He tried to take yesterday off for my birthday, but he couldn't, so he took today off instead. I am so glad it worked out this way instead...)

I brought my schedule with me, the one THEY had written all my appointments on, and showed them my 1:15 pm on February 12th. Well, it turns out that one of the front desk ladies had rescheduled some of my ultrasounds and neglected to tell me. Which was lovely of her.

This is not the first time I have struggled with appointment scheduling here. I tell you, for how wonderful the doctors are at this practice, the front desk ladies don't seem to have two brain cells to rub together between the lot of them.

With all due respect, of course.

So my cervical check was up first. Lots of internal funneling, only .9 cm of cervix left (down from 1.9 cm last week).


Then we got a growth scan. Twin A is measuring 4 lbs 15 oz (90 somethingish percentile) and Twin B is measuring 4 lbs 5 oz (80 somethingish percentile).

So I have 9 lbs 4 oz of baby in me right now, plus two placentas, plus two bags of waters, plus... yeah, you get the idea.

As an aside, in case you are wondering what that looks like, here I am this morning:

So I used to think that Bean was so huge at birth (9 lbs 14 oz) because I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes, despite passing my three-hour test. But with this pregnancy my blood sugars have been spot on, if not on the low side, and they are still turning into sumo fetuses.

I grow them TOO well, what can I say? And it's my poor cervix that is paying the price.

The doctor (not the one I usually see -- but my regular OB will be back next week from maternity leave, hooray!) gave us two options: go on hospital bedrest, which is in theory more strict than home bedrest; or go home for continued bedrest. When I explained to her the extent that I can stay in bed at home (no more going downstairs for me), she agreed it's basically the same as being in the hospital. So that leaves two benefits of being admitted, 1) the constant monitoring for contractions and 2) the ability to deliver the babies immediately should they need to come out.

DH and I talked about this and both agreed that we'd rather have me at home. Hospital bedrest is incredibly stressful and uncomfortable, it's impossible for me to sleep without an Ambien, and we just aren't convinced that those benefits are worth it. I have been super vigilant watching for contractions, and I am not feeling anything whatsoever. With my mom here 24/7, we can jump into the car and race to the birth center at the first sign of trouble.

I am absolutely convinced that being in the hospital won't help keep these twins in any longer than I can do at home by resting. Let's face it, I have more baby in there now than most women have even at full term with a singleton. My body is only going to take what it's going to take. We are WAY past the window of a cerclage, and if my cervix is going to disappear while I'm laying flat on my back all day without any discernible contractions, it's going to disappear no matter what.

It's been 6 weeks since I was given steroids to help the babies' lungs, so the doc is giving me another round. I had one half of the shot today, and we head to the birth center tomorrow for the second half. And possibly another cervical check but I'm not positive on that.

I was really getting hopeful that I could go until 35 or 36 weeks, but now I'm just praying to make it to magic number 32.

Nine days to go.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Three oh!

As of today, I am in my 30s.

Early 30s.

I'm 30.

The thought of starting this new decade has never intimidated or depressed me. I remember back when I was 21 years old, a senior in college and planning the next 9 years of my life. (Being a woman, I am genetically obligated to do this, you understand.) With a ring already on my finger, I knew I'd be marrying my beloved at 22. We'd move to Colorado, as I had wanted to do since I was 16, then I'd spend four years establishing my career. At 26, I'd have my first child, and at 28, I'd have my second. By my 30th birthday, I would be secure in my profession with a full family; settled. The hard part would be over, and I could enjoy the fruits of my labor for the next 10 years and beyond. Because it's that simple, right?

Despite my conviction that good planning and hard work would ensure this path, we quickly detoured. Colorado was not in the cards -- we fell short and landed in St. Louis for DH's new job. After receiving an insulting job offer myself (less money than I made babysitting, and less appealing than cleaning spit-up off my shirt) I finally had to face that fact that I absolutely hated my chosen profession. At 23, I was certain that I would never have a fulfilling career, and to make matters worse, I was isolated in an apartment all day without a single snow-capped mountain in sight.

After swallowing my pride (and my $120,000 degree) I took a temp job, which surprisingly turned out to be one of the luckiest decisions of my life. Through a fortunate chain of events stemming from that placement, I ended up doing what I swore I never would -- going back to school. And I loved it. I had *finally* found my passion in mental health counseling. So instead of establishing my career, I spent 3 years working full time and going to school in the evening to earn my graduate degree. DH was doing the same thing, and it was not an easy balance. Weekends were filled with homework and basic survival tasks instead of relaxing and building friendships.

Then it came time to have that baby...

...and, well, you know how that went.

Bad. Horrible. A nightmare.

Those two years of hoping and heartache, tests and surgery, treatments and tears left us completely drained as human beings.

And pregnant.

I was finally ready to settle into life in St. Louis when DH got the offer to transfer to Seattle. Expensive, rainy, backward-voting, barely-still-on-the-continent Seattle. Over my dead body was my first thought. This was not the time for a major change, with a baby on the way and my career finally gaining some ground. I commented dryly to a friend, "Yeah, DH might be moving, but I'm staying here."

But alas, I am both still alive and living in Seattle.

Like the years before it, the last two of my 20s were both more challenging and more blessed than I could have imagined. It was unspeakably difficult for me to become a new mom while living 2200 miles from my friends and family, but I was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with Seattle despite it all. My years spent working as a relocation consultant during grad school paid off, and I quickly joined my local LLL group, the MOMS Club, and a co-op preschool to put down roots. And again, lucky me -- they grew into beautiful friendships.

Then a chemical pregnancy, a brief foray into secondary infertility, and the mixed blessing of a twin pregnancy that has turned our lives upside down.

Laying here on the couch in fear of preterm labor, not eating a gigantic cookie cake, feeling the twins tumble energetically around in my huge belly as my son drives his cars over it, and worried about how we will survive having three children in two years, I am saying goodbye to my 20s in a way truly befitting the decade -- feeling better and worse than I expected all those years ago.

But mostly better. Sure, I feel a bit sorry for myself that I have to make so many sacrifices to have family. I really wanted to celebrate the beginning of my 30s on a date night with my husband, and perhaps getting mani/pedis with some friends. I currently have no more career than the teenager dressed as the Statue of Liberty on the street corner, waving a sign that advertises tax preparation services. And have I mentioned that cookie cake?

However, my 20s has changed me in so many positive ways, and the blessings far outweigh any temporary discomfort. I discovered how strong I can be when I need to be, how strong my husband and I are as a team. I discovered how utterly amazing it is to be a mother. I discovered that when my parents say they will always be there for me, they truly mean it. I discovered that sometimes it takes a village to raise a pregnant woman, and friendships are worth their weight in gold. I discovered that while plans are usually a good idea, it pays to be flexible, because sometimes it is exactly when those plans go awry that you really find happiness.

Here's to the next decade: my 30s. I'm ready.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Another week bites the dust

That's right, my friends. I am now 30 weeks (and one day!) pregnant. It's a meaningless milestone in terms of fetal development, but it's quite a mental boost for someone who lays on the couch browsing The Popcorn Factory and Vosges Haut-Chocolat web sites all day. Some day soon, my lovelies... some day soon...

On Saturday was my baby shower. I styled my hair and put on make-up for the first time in over a month, it was divine. But the best part was that I got to eat a cupcake didn't have to play the games spent time with my wonderful friends. I feel so blessed to have these people in my life, wow. It was fun to catch up on what everyone has been up to, and I got to hold a five day old baby girl! Although my friend, who had given birth to her at home that previous Monday, looked ridiculously wonderful and I kinda hated her for that. But you know, it's fine. I'll probably be doing that great again at some point... in like 6 years.

I don't have a picture of me eating the beloved chocolate cupcake -- which didn't seem to do damage to my blood sugar that day, for the record -- but I do have some shots of Bean eating one of the leftovers after the shower. He's much cuter and pulls off the whole thing with more style than I could, so I thought I'd post these pictures instead.

The pooch was exhausted after barking through the entire shower in her crate in my bedroom (I tried to give her away as a door prize, but there were no takers), so she had to relax on the new velour crib sheets that Jen gave me for the twins.

And in random pictures, Bean tickles the ivories with his Grandma and Daddy. It was... ummmm... beautiful.

He also likes to pick out his own clothes these days, which is why he is often either wearing his green MSU football jersey or a maize and blue outfit with a football stitched on it. He's got both his Daddy's and Grandpa's rival teams covered that way -- he's either a future diplomat or the next Keith Jackson. (And yes, I included that wiki link because I had no idea who he was, either.)

Ever since Bean could grasp objects, he's been moving things from one place to another and organizing them. I am hoping this isn't an early marker for OCD, but instead some hint into the rewarding, lucrative career he will have one day. In stacking and sorting. That's what hedge fund managers do, right?

"I see you, Mom."

Since the baby shower (and with doc's permission), I have started coming downstairs and laying on the couch during the day, instead of staying up in my room. It's been really nice, save one kink. The dark red blanket on our couch SHEDS. Imagine the dog breed that sheds the most, and then times that by a million, and you'll come close to picturing this blanket. My clothes and pillows are absolutely covered in fuzzies, it's like I'm slowly being enveloped by an alien cocoon or something. When I eat, I find pieces of the blanket in my mouth. I went to the bathroom yesterday and thought OH NO! I'M BLEEDING AGAIN! But upon closer inspection, it was just fuzzy red blanket in my underwear. I got suspicious looks from DH and my Mom when I told them about it, but I swear I have no idea what's going on. I'm just documenting this so that if something were to happen to me, you can start by questioning the blanket. It's totally X-Files, you guys.

This morning I finally got a call from my OB's office, they scheduled my C-section for April 7th. To which DH laughed and said, "Yeah, right. Should I bother writing that on the calendar?" The general feeling at home is that I'll go around mid-March (35-36 weeks), but I still give myself a completely unscientific probability of 5% that I will make it to April 7, which would be 38 1/2 weeks. Apparently they can't schedule it for April 2 because they require an amnio (to determine lung functioning) to plan a C-section before 38 weeks, and that'd be 2 days shy. *eye roll* Whatever. It does feel good to have that date finally set, and I added a ticker over there to the right to help you me countdown the days. Because I know the eerie floating fetus ticker is everyone's FAVORITE, right? Me too!


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Yesterday I had my weekly OB appointment. My favorite sonographer was working, so I was pleased (if nervous) when walking with her into the ultrasound room. First we took a look at the boys and their fluid levels, which are spectacular as always. For my benefit, she tried to get a good look at their faces but was having trouble.

"I can't get a shot of this baby's face because his brother's butt is pressed right up against it," she explained. And then she added, "It won't be the last time that happens. One of my sons told the other at dinner recently, 'If you don't stop farting on me, I'm going to slug you.' And I looked at the guilty party and said, 'Well, you've been warned!'"

While I'm not looking forward to the sulfuric stank of renegade flatulence wafting over the gourmet family meal I cooked from scratch the pizza I had delivered, I had to smile at the happy thought of DH and I sitting at the dinner table one day in the future, trying not to giggle at such an interaction between our boys. I'm a simple person, I guess.

Then it was time for the cervical check. Come on, 2.4 cm, I silently prayed. I've been so good, surely we've been holding steady! But blech, it was shorter, averaging about 2.0 cm or just below. The sonographer tried to cheer me up, "That's still a lot of nice closed cervix." But I was instantly swept by a wave of defeat. They transferred me to the exam room to wait for the doctor, and I slumped over on the table. I knew they wouldn't hospitalize me, but I was feeling DONE with this pregnancy. DONE with the bedrest, DONE with the stupid diet, DONE trying to fight my body over something it is reluctant to give. I felt like such a failure in giving my boys what they need -- a safe, closed womb. Maybe it would be better if they just came out now and let people more capable than me take care of them. Of course intellectually I know this is completely wrong, every day inside is incredibly beneficial for them. But emotionally, it was a weak point for me.

Fortunately I felt much better after talking to the OB. She is a very smart woman (graduated cum laude from Harvard) but has an informal, comfortable demeanor (how many doctors use the term "shit a brick" during an appointment?). She said it'd be nice if the cervix was longer, but it's not overly concerning, based on where I've been in the past.

She took a look at my blood sugar chart and said it looked wonderful. "How's it going with the diet?" she asked.

"Well, it seems to be easy to keep my levels down with the right food, so that's good. But I am feeling incredibly sorry for myself that I can't have any chocolate at my baby shower, or on my 30th birthday, or on Valentine's Day," I pouted.

She responded with a smile: "I thought you were going to say it was the worst thing ever in your entire life. You know, there are some people out there who question why we even test for gestational diabetes in twin pregnancies, because we want the babies to grow bigger." (For the record, I think that's stupid, and there are other risks to untreated GD than just gigantic babies.) "If you really want to have a tiny bite of cake at your shower, it's not the end of the world."

Well what do you know... I was thinking the same thing myself. Especially since I am kicking GD's arse ever other minute of the day. I'm still going to have DH wait on getting me a giant birthday cookie cake until I can eat at least two-thirds of it, but the appointment was looking up.

"Speaking of my shower, I'm wondering if it'd be okay if I walk downstairs on Saturday and then sit upright for the couple of hours that my friends will be over," I asked.

Her response: "You haven't been using the stairs at all? Even to go down to the couch?"

My response: "Ummm, no, just for these appointments." (I can't recall who gave me the impression I shouldn't be bouncing up and down the stairs unless absolutely necessary, but it was someone with an M.D. after her name...)

So yeah, she said that would be fine. I'm glad, because you can't imagine how awkward it is trying to talk to a group of upright people while laying flat on a couch until you've tried it. And let's not get started on the perpetual triple-chin I'm rocking because of how I have to hold my head. Sexy.

We discussed scheduling my C-section (waiting for a call from the hospital, praying it's not on April Fool's Day) and going off the ibuprofen (it is used to stop preterm labor; I'm worried about the effects on the babies but she'd like me to continue until 32 weeks). I also asked about why I won't be having any more cervical checks via ultrasound after 32 weeks and the long-term plan for bedrest. I'm kinda fuzzy about what she said, so I won't even try to explain. My regular OB is returning from maternity leave in a week or so, and I'll be asking her the same questions again anyway. Suffice it to say that I was pretty pleased with what I did understand, and bedrest is feeling a bit less oppressive and more temporary.

I should end right now because this post is way to long and boring already, but I also wanted to squeeze in my follow-up appointment with the dietitian at the diabeetus center. She was young and cute and friendly and six months pregnant herself... but sadly, it was obvious that she was on crack. Because after reviewing my blood sugar levels and telling me how well I was doing, she said I SHOULD CONTINUE THIS DIET AFTER GIVING BIRTH TO REDUCE MY RISK OF DEVELOPING TYPE II DIABETES LATER IN LIFE.

Okay, I appreciate her concern about my health, it's really touching. It's true that I need to be careful not to let myself go wild and balloon up. But if she thinks that I am never going to have another brownie, another cookie, another dish of ice cream, another (real) muffin, another heaping bowl of pasta, another piece of cake FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE... then she needs to be drug tested for the safety of her poor fetus. Because come on, seriously? Would a sober person suggest that?

But that does bring me to the worst part of having GD. I am fairly sure it is going to ruin one of life's great pleasures forever. Because now I know how to eat better, and maybe some small part of it will stick, but overall I am attached to my previous eating habits and can't wait to return. But I'll always know. I'll always know that my choice of grains isn't good for me, that my portions are too big, that my body is silently working overtime to compensate for that candy bar and wishing I'd have opted for a bowl of plain rolled-oat oatmeal instead of my yummy breakfast shake. And that is something I could surely have done without.

Well played, gestational diabetes. Well played.