Thursday, May 31, 2012

Party of Five

Sorry for going AWOL on you. I know it sounds cliche, but the past week has been the fastest of my life to date. As you have probably figured on your own, we are the proud (and busy) parents of two more little boys!

We were less than 12 hours away from our scheduled c-section when the babes decided to take matters into their own hands, and they were in our arms barely three hours later. Planned delivery? Nope, thanks for offering though! We even had a white-knuckle trip to the hospital and a doctor yelling at me not to push. It was an exciting evening. I will write and share their birth story soon (when I'm not so strung out on narcotics) but I wanted to poke my nose in to belatedly announce that we are all here and all okay. Some of us, in fact, are better than okay, and those persons would be our two big, beautiful, healthy boys!

They arrived on Thursday, May 24th, just three hours shy of 38 weeks gestation. Baby A weighed 6lbs, 10oz and Baby B weighed 6lbs, 11oz - just one ounce apart! They were given a clean bill of health in the OR and roomed-in with us for the rest of our hospital stay. We had to give in to a little bit of formula supplementation while waiting for my milk to come in, but we have since switched back to 100% breast milk and, for now, my body seems up to this task. Hooray! There are no words to express how head-over-heels in love with them I am, and with our whole experience this time around as opposed to last time. It's more than just having a redemptive hospital/birth experience (which I did), but the experience of "becoming" a parent for a second time is very different too and, in my case, it's been one characterized by pure, unadulterated bliss. More to come on that soon, I hope. In the meantime, I must get back to snuggling two of the world's most amazing new arrivals...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's not over until the fat lady cries.

And that day would be yesterday, so feel free to come out any time now, boys!

I just realized I never updated after my last OB visit (oops!), but my c-section is scheduled for Friday morning, which will be 38 weeks on the nose.

It is really difficult to carry twins to 38 weeks, both physically and emotionally. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) It seems silly to say I'm surprised by how much so on both counts, but I am. Of course it makes sense that the experience would be taxing, in a theoretical sense, but (1) I NEVER expected to carry them this long so I never gave a lot of thought to what being 37w4d pregnant with twins would *feel* like, and (2) like so many things in life, I don't think you can appreciate the entirety of it in advance anyway.

Getting through these final days is proving to be the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I've never thought of myself as an Amazing Race kind of person (If you know me outside the computer, don't laugh. I'm not delusional - I still don't.) but I would put full-term twin pregnancy up against any of the endurance challenges those contestants go through. So much of it is mental - giving myself pep talks about how short 4 days really are in the grand scheme of things, when the distance from Monday to Friday sounds like an insurmountable ravine of time - but much of it is physical, too. (TMI alert about some of the disclosures to follow.) I ache from head to toe. I am lucky to get 3-4 hours of sleep cobbled together per 24 hour period. I am retaining massive amounts of fluid, as evidenced by my 7 pound weight gain last week (and 5 the week before), despite my food intake dropping way down thanks to my matchbox-sized stomach. The swelling in my hands, feet, ankles and calves was expected, but the giant mass of pitting edema that spreads further across the bottom half of my belly each day has been a surprise. It's tender to the touch and horrifying to look at. All of my organs are compressed and/or displaced which causes nausea and other assorted GI discomforts at least every day or two. I have to hold my belly up to pee or else it crimps some internal part of my urethra and nothing comes out. I have so much sympathy for men with prostate issues now! I have acid reflux that burns all the way up into the back of my mouth. My weight gain alone makes it difficult to move, let alone get in and out of cars, push myself up from lying down to sitting, and complete other assorted daily activities.

All of that said, I know how lucky I am that my body has cooperated to keep these boys in this long, and then to keep me as active as I am on top of that. We had a full weekend - farmer's market, a birthday party for E's best school bud, a (seated) concert Saturday night, house chores and errands - and with the exception of a zoo visit on Sunday morning which I sat out, I was able to keep up and spend just about every minute with my people; our last weekend as a family of three. However, I probably overdid it because by late Sunday night, I felt terrible. I went to my NST and OB appointment on Monday with the goal of talking my OB into putting me out of my misery sooner rather than later. I felt sure that one of my health indicators would reflect that sheer agony I was in and she'd have the medical grounds to move my c-section up. With each test, I awaited the results that would be my golden ticket out... BP? 106/64. (Damn.) NST? Passed with no concerns. (Ugh.) Urine? Concentrated due to fluid retention, but no trace of protein, ketones, or anything else concerning. (Crap.) Weight gain and edema? Severe enough to garner genuine sympathy from my OB, but not quite enough to warrant a pre-38-week section without a second criterion of Pre-E or other health threat. (Nooo!) Temperature? 96.8, my norm. (You get the picture.) My OB was thorough and asked lots of questions, trying to uncover anything else I was forgetting to mention, but all I could come up with was that I just felt lousy all over. She took lots of notes and flipped back and forth through my chart a few times and then turned to face me before saying, "I keep looking through this in hopes I can find some reason to section you tonight, but there's just... nothing. You look great. Well, you don't look great, you look miserable, but clinically, you are doing awesome." After a bit more chatting and a little tearing up on my part, she encouraged me to call as often as I want to this week and come in as needed, but that barring any exciting changes, she'd see me bright and early Friday morning. I left feeling hopeless and sure I'd never survive four more days of this pregnancy.

Yesterday afternoon and evening were terrible. I continued to feel weak and achy and the mere thought of food overwhelmed me with nausea, as did lying on my left side at all, even for only a few minutes. The one upside to the fluid retention is that despite the huge amount of water I'm drinking, the frequency of my trips to the bathroom has dropped way off, which let me get a bit of a nap in while sitting in the nursery recliner. Late last night, I was able to stomach some rice cereal and a banana, and after a long talk with M, I felt better than I had all day. It's amazing what a pep talk from your amazing, super-star partner can do for your spirits. I got about five hours of sleep last night (in only three chunks!) and am feeling even better today. (This post would have been uglyuglyugly had I written it last night as I intended to.) I still feel like Friday is a long way off, but 2 days, 18 hours, 6 minutes, and 14 seconds (per the countdown on my iGoogle page) feels more do-able than the numbers I was staring at yesterday. I'm sure tomorrow's will be even more reassuring. Like it or not, my body is intent on seeing this through, and I'm just along for the ride at this point. All I can do is try to keep my mind and emotions in check. I doubt I could manage this on my own, but I have M in my corner, and we can do this together.

So, 2 days, 18 hours, (now) 3 minutes, and 25... 24... 23... 22 seconds to go and then this part will be over and our babies will be here. I've never been more anxious to meet two little people.

p.s. Speaking of having people in my corner... I want to thank all of you who commented on my last post. Your words meant more to me than you can know. It's been a big couple of weeks for mom-petition in the mass media, and I'm ashamed to admit how quickly I fall into the trap when it comes to natural birth stuff. This could turn into a long post unto itself, so for now I will just say that your comments were grounding and affirming and provided me with a much-needed touchstone, so thanks to all who took the time to reach out. You gals rock. :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

closing in on 37 weeks

I am 36w5d as of today, and feeling every hour of it. I'm doing what I can to focus on the goal of keeping the boys inside as long as possible and ignore everything else, but whew, my body is hurting! A lot has happened since I last updated, so let me take a few steps back...

I had an OB appointment on May 5th - my first since the ultrasound on April 30th where we learned both babies were head-down. I did the NST first and the monitor picked up three good contractions. One was especially strong and caused my OB's eyebrows to shoot up when she saw it on the strip. She asked if I was having many contractions like that one and I said that I had been - some that were strong enough I couldn't think or talk through them - but they were very irregular. Still, she decided to check my cervix for progress. Alas, there was none to be found - no dilation, no effacement. I'm not sure how much that influenced the conversation that came next, but it's something I've thought about a lot since in trying to make peace with things.

My OB paged through the ultrasound report and told me the babies' sizes are great, but farther apart (and with the "wrong" baby being larger) than she'd like to see for a VBAC. Baby B's head measuring so far ahead for the second ultrasound in a row is another major concern. Based upon these things, she took the VBAC option off the table. I was crushed and asked if we could at least try it, but maybe throw in the towel earlier than we might have otherwise if it didn't seem things were going well. She said no based upon the worry that I might have no trouble delivering (smaller) Baby A, but before I was dilated enough to deliver (larger) Baby B, and that once A was out, there might not be sufficient pressure on my cervix to for me to further dilate and push B out. In this case, she'd be forced to do some kind of assisted extraction, and the risks of those procedures are too great with a uterine scar present. I asked about the known margin of error on ultrasound size estimates and she said the problem is that Baby B has measured larger for months so we have to assume that is accurate to at least some extent. With the last size differential being a full pound, she's just not comfortable "ignoring" that. The only compromise I was able to strike was holding off on scheduling a c-section. My OB said that since we know that will be the outcome, she'd prefer I not labor at all as there is no need to put any unnecessary stress on me or the babies. I asked to be allowed to go into labor on my own and she agreed as long as (1) I promise to come to the hospital ASAP once it begins - no messing around in hopes of having an "accidental" VBAC and (2) it happens by 38 weeks.

I left feeling really frustrated and upset. Even if I had the energy or desire to doctor shop at 35 1/2 weeks pregnant with twins, what are the chances I could find another OB to take me on? I felt really stupid for believing that she'd honor my request for a VBAC even though it went against the personal preference she repeatedly expressed to me. Even if she had the best of intentions of respecting my wishes (within reason), what were the chances we'd make it all the way to delivery without something coming up to spook her out of it? If it wasn't the boys' size difference, it probably would have been something else. She was never 100% on board, and I regret not seeing that for the red flag that it turned out to be. But, hindsight is 20/20. I always knew there was a chance - maybe even a likelihood - that we'd end up with a c-section. I just thought that if we got to that point, it would be our choice, after seeing for ourselves that a vaginal delivery was not progressing the way we hoped or was otherwise unmanageable. I didn't expect it to be decided for us weeks in advance, especially after our last ultrasound. Stupid, perhaps, but her decision came as quite the surprise.

Despite how upset as I was following the visit, I've mostly made peace with it now. Here's the thing: I don't have easy labors. I wanted to confirm through experience that this one would be no exception rather than just assuming that would be the case, but even without getting the opportunity to do so, I know there's at least a reasonable chance things would not have progressed smoothly or quickly. It would have been nice to see that for myself, but on the flip side, this relieves me (us) from having to make the decision in a state of exhaustion, stress, pressure and pain, and the second-guessing that surely would have followed once the fog cleared. I don't have to worry that we'll be divided - that I'll want to continue laboring and M or the doctor will want to call it, and that it'll end up being something I harbor anger or frustration over. It's cleaner in many ways, and there are pros to that. Also, I have time now to grieve the loss of the VBAC, instead of that being something I have to incorporate into those early postpartum hours and days when there will be other more important things competing for my attention. The fact that my cervix showed NO changes after lots of tough contractions was not inspiring. I know that might change very quickly once the regular contractions of actual labor start, but maybe not, too. It didn't with E. I have a stubborn cervix: Good for keeping twins inside to term; bad for getting the babies out once the time comes! On top of all of that, I'm getting more tired and sore by the day. I'm not in good shape for any type of labor right now, let alone one with the extra challenges my twin-VBAC-with-larger-Baby-B-and-marginally-supportive-OB would present. (Yes, I'm aware I'm rationalizing and all of these "arguments" are on the flimsy side, but I have no power to change the situation at this point, so what else can I do but try to make sense of it somehow?) So anyway, a c-section it will be. Having experienced one before, I am in no way looking forward to repeating the experience, but it will be quick, and surely less scary since it won't be an emergency and I won't be delirious with exhaustion, pain and infection.

I'm trying to focus on all the ways this c-section will likely be different from the last one. I'm far enough along that there is a really good chance the babies will be able to come back to our room with us. E was whisked straight to Special Care and stayed there for a full week. I won't be sick, so I should be able to see them right away and even hold and try to nurse them before too long. (Right? I actually have no idea how a "normal" c-section works. Everything about E's delivery was wrong and scary and only got worse in the days that followed.) M will be in better shape too, and we'll be able to take happy "new additions" pictures in the OR. All good things. This is going to be okay. *deep breath*

Moving on... I'm still up and around and getting out of the house every day, so the rest of last week was spent going to chiro appointments, running errands, continuing with house preparations, and waiting for babies. The most exciting thing to happen last week was that M's parents offered to help us finance the purchase of a larger, more reliable car. We already bought E a narrower convertible seat in order to make my (paid off) 11-year-old compact SUV work for 3 kids, but then a couple of weeks ago, my car started making some funny noises, not four months after we spent $1000 on a substantial repair. It was enough to scare both of us into brainstorming what to do if/when the next costly repair bill comes in on my car. We've obviously reached the point where any such investments would be part of a losing battle. We have great credit, but we're not in a position to take on a new car payment right now, certainly not the sizable payment it would take to get us into something larger and more reliable than what we already have. M decided to ask her parents to think about whether they might be willing to give us a car loan with a flexible repayment plan, once the feared repair bill comes in, most likely sometime in the next 6-12 months. Her parents surprised us by telling us to go shopping post haste and on Saturday, we bought a Honda Odyssey! It's used, but certified and it is in great condition with low miles. I've had some angst over making the move to a minivan, but I know it's the right tool for the job, and I have to admit it has some pretty swanky features. I'm definitely looking forward to the extra elbow room it will give us all.

OB appointment this Monday was uneventful. NST was long, again, but both babies looked great. Fundal height is up to 47cm. Those strong contractions I was having have all but stopped - maybe my uterus got the message it's off the hook and decided to stop practicing? My BP is still low (100/58) and there is no protein in my urine. I'm up to twice-weekly NST/OB visits now, so I go back tomorrow, and I suspect we'll schedule the c-section for 38 weeks, which will be May 25th, or whatever day closest to then she can fit me in. I'm still hoping to go into labor on my own before then, although the steep decline in contractions isn't encouraging. My chiropractor has been offering to stimulate some induction acupressure points at whatever point I decide I'm ready, so I will probably give her the green light at my appointment on Friday (37 weeks), and I'm considering paying a visit to my acupuncturist as well. I'd prefer to let things unfold even more naturally than that, but with that 38 week deadline looming closer and closer, I'm ready to get creative! I know every hour in utero counts and I really want the boys' to decide when their stay there should end. That said, I am so, soooo uncomfortable, so if they felt like coming, oh, I don't know... now, I wouldn't be terribly disappointed or anything. :-)

Just for fun (or terror), here's a picture of my belly from yesterday. This is what a 47cm uterus full of 12ish pounds of baby (maybe more?) looks like on a 5'2" frame.

Sorry for the epic post. There's just a lot going on right now and I want to capture it all before things get crazy around here, which could happen at any moment!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

branching out

I have an annex! Check it out over here.

Here's the backstory: I intended to move my whole blog over to Wordpress before the twins' arrival so that I could do a password-protected post with their names and pictures once they come. I finally sat down to tackle the project this afternoon and after importing 466 posts and while spending an hour or two trying to make the new digs look halfway decent, I found that I hate Wordpress. So, I deleted all 466 posts and decided to use it to house only those items I want to put behind a password - probably just photos (hence the name Media Nest) but maybe other things too. We'll see. I may make the big move sometime down the road if I figure out a way to make peace with Wordpress but in the meantime, I'll keep everything else here (and publicly viewable) and just give you all a heads up when there's something new to see over there.

So about that password... If you want it, shoot me an email at romancingthestork [at] gmail. I will be happy to share the password with anyone who is (a) a current or past commenter on this blog, (b) a fellow blogger who doesn't mind sharing the link to their online abode, or (c) someone I have some other connection to. If you don't fall into any of those categories, PLEASE don't take offense. I'm just feeling a little anxious about my internet exposure these days.

I can't wait to introduce you all to our newest family members!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Several months ago, I started answering the "when are you due?" question with, "technically, the first week in June, but it's twins so I'm just hoping to make it to May." Sometimes that seemed like a realistic goal; sometimes it seemed downright impossible that I'd be able to keep them in that long. But, here we are! May 1st (34w4d) and two boys still baking away in the oven.

I had another OB/MFM double-header yesterday. OB was first and my should-take-40-minutes NST took an hour and a half, mostly because Baby A decided to take a nap through his 20 minutes of fame and then some. Such a diva. My fundal height was a whopping 45cm. The swelling in my feet and legs is out of this world, but my blood pressure is good (hanging out around 110 over 70) and no protein in my urine, so no red flags and we're still on a weekly visit schedule. The extended NST made me late for my growth scan, but fortunately they were able to work us into the afternoon without much waiting around.  The ultrasound went really well. I confessed my fear that we were going to get a delivery room surprise of one of the babies being a girl (in which case I have already gone on record with M of needing a full week to decide on a name, since we haven't had one single conversation about girl names in months). I know it sounds crazy given all the ultrasounds we've had, but they haven't really looked at That Area since our anatomy scan at 18 weeks, so... The sonographer checked to put my mind at ease - two boys, no question. Baby A is estimated at 4lbs, 11oz and Baby B is estimated at 5lbs, 10oz. Also, Baby B has turned head-down! My OB felt around just last week and guessed that he'd gone from transverse to breech, but even if that was true then (which seems unlikely, given his size), it's not the case anymore. Both of their heads were very close together and very low, which explains a lot about how (not) well I've been getting around lately. Two head-down babies bodes well for trying for a VBAC. Baby B's head measuring 2.5 weeks ahead of schedule... not so much. Yup, for the second growth scan in a row, Baby B's melon is off-the-charts huge. I asked my OB whether we should be worried about it and she did a so-so job of suppressing her chuckle while reminding me that identifying signs of things like hydrocephalus is pretty much all the sonographer and MFM do with their years and years of schooling and experience, and some people are just born with big heads. Point taken.

I went in to work on Sunday so I could take advantage of the vacant office and silent phone to wrap things up there, so I'm officially on maternity leave as of yesterday. I had some guilt about checking out "early." I know that working to 34 weeks with twins is nothing to scoff at, but part of me just felt like without any activity restrictions in place, I shouldn't voluntarily sign myself out until I have to. The last couple of days have confirmed for me that I did the right thing. I am in no shape to be working right now. I'm hoping most (all?) of why I'm feeling SO lousy is the terrible cold I managed to pick up last week. My throat feels like it's on fire, every square inch of my head is aching from pressure, and I can't sleep for more than 15 minutes without waking up in a coughing fit. (Not sure how many of you have experienced a coughing fit with your abdomen stretched around a 45cm uterus, but it is a rare treat, let me tell you.) I could really use a little burst of energy right now to finish some pre-baby errands and house chores, and I'm hoping banishing this cold will bring it, but we'll see. I may just be down for the count, whatever that count may be - a day? a week? three weeks?! The unknown sure is tough!

But, we made it to May (phew!), and the babies are within striking distance of 5 pounds. It's a good place to be, so more than anything, I'm just feeling more lucky and grateful than ever.