Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

We are just a few minutes before midnight and Eddie and I have been talking about all the things we have to be grateful for and our plans for 2008. This time last year, we had no idea what the year had in store and look where we are now!

Gracie and Luke will be 4 months old on Saturday. In the last week or so, they have gone through a major transformation. Gracie's hair has begun to thicken (well, except for that awful bald spot on the back of her head) and she doesn't look as small as she did before. If you put the babies next to one another, Luke looks a little stockier, but that's it. Luke has stopped losing his hair and is having lots of fun making his "talking" noises. He giggles like crazy and has learned how to push himself up (not so helpful when trying to put him in his car seat).

I have tons of pictures to share and lots more to write about. Look for more updates soon!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The Top Ten Things Jen & Ed are Thankful for this Christmas

10) The 2006-2007 Chicago Bears made it to the Super Bowl (even though they lost)!

9) Jenny Craig really works!

8) For pregnancy tests that leave no doubt that you are positively preggers

7) For the amazing technology of ultrasounds that let you see you are expecting twins at four weeks pregnant and that let you see your babies are genetically healthy and are a boy and a girl

6) Dr. Steven Hartford is such a fantastic OB and was at Huntington Memorial Hospital the day the babies tried to come early (he is awesome!)

5) For the wonderful, kind, reassuring, funny, caring nurses in the High Risk Unit who took care of Jen and helped her gain twelve more weeks for the Twinsies!

4) For Dr. Tun who fixed Ed’s leg when he broke it after flirting with the nurses in the High Risk Ward (on 7-7-07!)

3) For our family and friends whose love made Jen’s time in the hospital and Ed’s recovery time so much easier

2) AFLAC! That duck really does pay!

And the Number One thing we are thankful for this Christmas…

Graciela Eva-Loretta and Lucas James,

the best gifts we’ve ever received!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Guess Who's 3 Months Old?!!

You guessed it! Gracie and Luke are 3 months old today!
They celebrated their 3 month birthday by sleeping through the night for the first time. Daddy got a full 7 hours of sleep with the babies. He was very happy this morning.

If the bathroom scale is correct, Luke is now a healthy 12 pounds and Gracie is a petite (but healthy too!) 9 pounds. Their favorite pastimes are smiling and cooing at Mommy and Daddy. Their favorite place is the changing table where they can see Mommy, watch their Chicago Bears mobile go around, and look out at the sunshine.

Gracie is a total morning person. She can be in a dead sleep, but as soon as I pick her up to go change her diaper, she is smiling and trying to laugh. We are having lots of fun putting different bows and headbands on her and collecting lots of great blackmail photos for when she is a teenager.
Luke takes about a half an hour to wake up. He will lie in bed next to Mommy and be moving his legs and arms, stretching, but not really be awake. His newest fun thing to do is hang in the jumpy seat and move around when he kicks his feet (this is good since he hates the bouncy seat and the swing).

Today we are taking our Christmas photo and attempting to put up the Christmas tree. Daddy is determined that the tree will be up for the Twinsies first Christmas. I'm wondering how we are going to do it!

Eddie and I can't believe that 3 months have already passed. Everyone told us that the time would pass quickly, but I never thought it would pass this quickly!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can I possibly be more tired?

Lots of people have said things to us about twins being very hard.

"Oh, that's going to be double trouble!"

"Yikes, you're going to be busy!"

There are a multitude of things they have said to us and it leads us to the conclusion that some people are lame. Now, if you are one of the people who have looked at Eddie and me with sympathy, don't worry! We don't think you are lame! It is the people who are randomly passing us in the store or happen to see us packing the babies into the minivan. If I had a dime for every comment about how hard twins are, I could stay at home until the babies are ready to go to college!

Twins aren't hard, they just require some serious organization and the understanding that if you don't follow your schedule or keep a list of things to accomplish, you will never get anything done. I can get us out of the house on time if I know my "drop-dead" time (aka the absolute last moment I can leave and get to my destination on time).

Now ask me if I can manage to keep to a daily schedule.

NO!

When I first sat down to write this post, I was doing pretty okay. The babies were sleeping most of the day and I did not mind that I was only getting a shower every second or third day. Today, however, I'm starting to get really frustrated. I don't understand why I could teach 80 seventh graders, manage 3 websites, and be crafty, but I can't keep 2 tiny babies and one husband on a schedule! Everyone thinks I am super organized, but I am seriously doubting my abilities.

My Mom called me today and it took all I had not to break down crying and pull out the "Mommy" wail. I have so many things to do and I can't figure out how to get them done. I have thank you cards to write, announcements to send out, Christmas cards to send, a living room to clean, a kitchen that desperately needs to be cleaned, plants dying from lack of water.

What was I thinking?!!! There is no way I am going to be able to work and be a Mommy to twins. I worry all the time about Eddie being at home by himself with them. I also don't know how I am going to get all of my work done and help my babies grow and learn.

Babies are hard work. Even when they are sleeping, you are working: laundry, dishes, vacuuming. Some days I am so worn out, I forget to take a shower! That is so not me! I am a fanatic about a shower every morning. This morning, I realized I was in the same pajamas I put on two days ago.

On top of all this, I can't manage to take pictures of the babies. We bought a video camera and haven't video taped them once! Who can do this? Will it ever get easier?

The thing is, I think this would be just as hard if there were only one baby. The fact that there are 2 doesn't make it twice the work. At least not yet.

I love my babies. I just wish they came with an instruction manual to help me figure out how to do everything AND sleep.

P.S. Ms. Stith: If you read this, I apologize for my lack of writing consistency. I'm surprised I spelled most things correctly.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Announcements

Babies are expensive. Ask anyone who has them and they will tell you that they are watching their pennies. When having to choose between that grande vanilla latte at Starbucks and a fourth of a bag of diapers, the diapers will win every time.

So, when I started looking into baby announcements I tried to find some that were pretty and allowed me to include some photos. I did not have any interest in handwriting announcements (can we say TWO babies?). I found some on the internet that I really liked, but the sticker shock was too much for me: $2.00 per announcement. WHAT?! There was no way I was going to pay that.

So, I fired up Photoshop, got out my cute fonts and the multitude of photos we have taken, and created my own announcement. Here is the result:

Then, I saved it as a jpeg and uploaded it to Walmart Photo Center. Voila! I was able to order my announcement as photos and paid $35.00 for 100 announcements (50 5x7s and 50 4x6s). That's a savings of $165 by making my own.

Can you tell I'm feeling pretty proud of myself?

Monday, November 5, 2007

2 Months Old and Growing

Guess who are two months old! Yep, you guessed it! Luke and Gracie are 2 months old today. This picture is of them on a beautiful quilt made by Auntie Alison (Mommy's friend from work).

Everyone tells you to pay attention and enjoy every moment because they grow SO fast. People do not lie! It seems like I blinked and Gracie isn't a preemie any more. In fact, we took the babies for their 2 month check up and we were stunned to learn that Gracie (who was 3 lbs 7 oz at birth) is now 7 lbs 4 oz and Luke (who was 5 lbs 8 oz at birth) is now 9 lbs 8 oz. Can you believe it? I can! My back is killing me from carrying them around. The Twinsies' pediatrician was so excited that they are growing so well. People in my family say I should patent my breast milk - 4 lbs in 2 months is amazing growth!

Luke is trying desperately to talk. He makes these funny sounds that I think are meant to be cooing, but sound more like someone is pushing on his stomach. He is also trying to laugh, but it is coming out like the laugh of the nerds in the Revenge of the Nerds movie! He loves to lie on the changing table and kick his legs at the sunshine. He gets so excited and smiles like crazy. He is really getting beefy. His hands have always been big, but now he has the belly and legs to match. He has become my buddy - he breastfed from the beginning and we try to breastfeed at as many feedings as we can. He is holding his head up and constantly scares us by throwing his torso around. He has these amazing eyelashes and brown eyes that can melt your heart at a hundred paces.

Gracie has changed so much, I can't believe she is the same baby. Her cheeks have really filled in and she no longer looks like a preemie. She has chunky legs and can really kick when she wants to. She has a heart stopping grin to match the heart stopping scream she lets loose when she feels neglected. She loves to play with her daddy and is already showing signs of having a major crush on him. Eddie loves her right back! She is following Daddy's fingers when he draws designs in the air and smiles at almost everything. I'm having the best time putting hair bows on her, but she doesn't need them. Gracie looks like a girl, whether she is dressed in pink, purple, wearing a headband or naked. Her eyelashes are getting longer and longer. She is definitely her father's daughter.

People like to try to figure out which of us the babies look like. Depending on who it is, some people think Gracie looks like me and Luke looks like Eddie. Others think the opposite. Frankly, other than Luke's hairline and the babies' eyelashes, I don't see either of us in them. Right now, they are their own people. Maybe a couple of years from now, I'll be able to declare that they look like one or both of us. Right now, I don't have a clue.

One thing I can tell you is Eddie and I are completely in love with our babies. With faces like theirs, who wouldn't be?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch

Every year, the Cook-Arteaga-Uribe-Uribe Clan heads to Cal Poly Pomona for the Annual Pumpkin Festival. Ten years ago, it was just Hailey in her tiny onesie and a bunch of adults asking her if she liked the pumpkins (she was all of a month and a half old). Today, there are six grandchildren: Hailey, Bianca, Brandon, Nathan, Gracie, and Luke. For Nathan, Gracie and Luke, it was their First Pumpkin Patch and their mommies were taking pictures like crazy.

What is it about a holiday, some cute outfits, and some props that turns the most mild mannered mom into a crazed amateur photographer? You should have seen us propping up babies on pumpkins, arranging all 6 grandchildren in a circle of pumpkins. We were crazy. Between Aunt Bec, Auntie Kristen, Nana, and me, we must have 200 pictures. And let's be clear: it's only kids and pumpkins. For crying out loud! I must really be a Mommy now if I feel the need to take thousands of pictures.

Gracie and Luke have 2 different Halloween outfits, but they wore Nana's Halloween outfits today along with Jack-O-Lantern hats that our friends Ida and Olivia gave to them. Gracie's outfit has a witch on the long sleeve onesie and orange and white striped pants. Luke's outfit is one I have seen on countless boys lately: a tough guy shirt with black fleece pants. The shirt says "Daddy's Little Monster." It was pretty warm out there in the field, so the babies wore the outfits while we were looking at pumpkins and then we stripped them and put them into comfy cool onesies.

In the end, we did not buy any pumpkins (although, everyone else did). We did, however, buy a fabulous funnel cake and some fantastic pumpkin bread. Now I just have to find another reason to wear the second set of Halloween outfits!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who switched my babies?

Something mysterious has happened in the past week or so. My babies have switched personalities. Either that, or someone came in the middle of the night and switched them.

Gracie, the smaller of the Twinsies, has been, since birth, the more anxious of the two babies. She screams like a banshee and goes from quiet and happy to inconsolable in less than a second. Luke was my laid back baby. Gracie could scream and scream and scream and Luke would continue sleeping like nothing was happening. His cries were half hearted at most.

This past week, Gracie has really changed. Not only is she growing like crazy, but her movements have smoothed out and she takes longer to agitate. Her big eyes are staying a dark blue-gray and her eyelashes are so long! She no longer looks like a preemie, instead, she is starting to look like a baby. Even her preemie clothes are starting to be snug! Don't get me wrong. She can still scream louder than the engine of an F18 fighter jet, but it takes longer for her to get upset and she responds more quickly to the sound of Ed's voice or mine.

Luke's face has thinned out and he is the smiler. Even in the NICU, he was the laid back one. When Gracie got a reputation for being "feisty" (read high maintenance), Luke was the baby the nurses enjoyed working with. Recently, he has started to be easily agitated and needs to be held constantly. His cries are heartbreaking! He often cries so hard that he makes himself throw up. He is guaranteed to get the hiccups from crying as hard as he does.

I'm just trying to figure out what happened. Who switched my babies? And who do I have to talk to in order to get them switched back?

Seriously, it is so much fun watching them change. The bonus, of course, is that all this change presents a challenge for Mommy and Daddy. We love challenges. Especially ones as cute as these!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two by Two is Easy...Two by One is Hard!

For the 4 weeks that the babies have been home, Eddie and I have been pretty much confined to home. We've attempted a few outings (trips to the doctor, one harrowing trip to Target, trips to visit Nana, a long day at Grandma and Grandpa's house), but for the most part, we have been at home. We've really been enjoying watching the babies grow and interact with one another.

While Ed is still in his wheelchair, we've worked out ways for us to tag team baby care. Ed is an expert baby holder and putter-to-sleeper. I am a master at diapers and pumping (don't get me started on that). When the babies wake up in the night, Ed goes to prepare bottles and I change the babies. It has been working for the most part. We are both pretty exhausted, but we are able to function better now.

The key to our success thus far has been that there are TWO of us and TWO babies. Two parents by two babies is not simple, but totally doable. When isn't it doable? When there is ONE parent with TWO babies the chances for success are slim.

This past weekend, Ed had to run an errand in preparation for the Aloha Babies Party coming up on November 3. His plan was to be gone for a few hours and return by the evening. I wasn't worried. The babies had been sleeping for most of the morning and chances were, they'd stay asleep. I could eat my lunch and maybe even take a nap! This is where I made my critical error: assuming anything when it comes to tiny babies.

As soon as Daddy left, Gracie started to cry. She got Luke going and for the next 3 hours, I could not put them down without the babies crying so hard I thought they would hurt themselves. As the hours past, my stomach seemed emptier and emptier. I did not have any snacks I could just eat. Everything had to be heated. I tried to spread a blanket out on the carpet and pretend we were in bed. This did not work and so I continued to go without food and held babies for 4 straight hours. I started crying with them around hour 2. I couldn't take it anymore....

Ed finally called about 4 1/2 hours after he had left. I had one sentence for him: "When are you coming home?" I must have sounded desperate enough for Ed to hear the hysteria in my voice. He told me he was stopping to get me some dinner and then he would be home.

Of course, the moment I hung up the phone, the babies stopped fussing and I was able to put them down. They slept for the next 1/2 hour and were still asleep when Ed came home and for 2 hours after that. Honestly, what did I do to deserve this?! Ed knew I wasn't making up the hours of crying babies, but it doesn't support your claim when your babies are sleeping peacefully.

The moral of this story is this Two by Two is Easy, Two by One is Hard (or at least challenging).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You have to see this!

Luke found his thumb the other day! It is too cute. (Sorry about the picture quality. I took it with our digital camera)


Gracie had to take bubblegum flavored antibiotics. She got so excited about it that she would make little piggy sounds when Daddy tried to give her the bottle.

Friday, October 5, 2007

One Month Old!

Can you believe it has already been a month?

I am sorry that we haven't been better about updates, but WOW! I was prepared for the lack of sleep, but Eddie wasn't. We are both walking around like zombies but we are loving every minute of it.

Since Gracie and Luke came home, we have been working on some sort of schedule for the babies. In the beginning, we stuck with the NICU schedule, but Gracie and Luke decided after the first week that that wasn't working for them. We still haven't found the best option. We're working on it though.

My mom (a.k.a. Nana) came to stay with us for a few days. We wish we had had her longer. Just as we figured out how to use her (why I did not ask her to take care of the babies one night so we could sleep, I'll never know), she had to head home. Eddie and I have been on our own for the last week and a half. For the most part, we are doing okay. Frozen tv dinners and McDonald's are getting old though!

The babies made their first public appearance at the Diabetic Walk on September 30th. Eddie was a very proud papa and everyone seemed happy to meet the babies. The only bad thing was that Eddie caught a cold, which he passed to me and I passed to the babies. We all have stuffy noses, coughs, and are generally feeling yucky. Gracie ended up with an ear infection and we have to give her bubble gum flavored antibiotics. I can't believe she's already having to have antibiotics. I am hoping this is just a fluke. I was very sick as an infant and eventually had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was 2.5 years old. I also had to have tubes in my ears. I don't want Gracie to have to go through that!

Both babies have been changing very quickly. Every day they look a little different. Gracie has been gaining weight like crazy and now weighs 5 lbs! Not too long ago, she weighed 3 lbs 7 oz! Luke is just shy of 7 lbs and is starting to look like a Cabbage Patch Baby (he has those adorable cheeks). Gracie's face is filling out and she doesn't look like the same baby. We've gone on a few driving adventures and both babies seem to like riding in the car. My mom and I worked out a game plan for any trip and it seems to be working well. If we feed the babies right before we leave, we have 2.5 hours before we have crying, hungry babies.

The babies are very excited to meet everyone. If you would like to come hold babies, please give us a call. We'd love to see you!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our New Family

I've sat down about a dozen times to write this post and each time I do, I hear a whimper or a cry from another room and have to get up to check on the babies. Having them home is so wonderful. No more NICU! I really love taking care of them, holding them, feeding them. I am constantly awed by the fact that I am somebody's Mommy, let alone, two somebodies.

It isn't easy. I don't have anything to compare this to, but I can certainly say that I am exhausted and am desperate for some sleep. It has been hard because Eddie is in his wheelchair and can't help me with everything I need for the babies. We haven't gone grocery shopping either. He needs someone to help him and I need him to get someone else to go with him. The babies are generally fine for the first hour or so of an outing, but if I can avoid going out with them, that is the preference. It isn't that they aren't perfectly wonderful on a trip. It is just that an outing is like planning a military campaign and by the time the babies are in the car, I'm ready for a nap.

Gracie and Luke are growing like weeds. Gracie has already gained a pound and a half in the week or so since they have been home. Luke has gained several ounces, but they would like him to be gaining more. He is a pretty hefty 6.25 lbs, while Gracie is 4 pounds 12.5 ounces. Pretty great considering we haven't reached their due date yet. The nurses keep telling me the babies shouldn't even have been born yet. Gracie's face is filling in and she is looking great! Slowly, she is starting to look like a baby instead of a preemie. Luke has the sweetest face and makes these adorable sounds when he sleeps.

This Thursday will be the end of our second week home with them and they will be 4 weeks old. I promise to try to be better at posting updates!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

They're Coming Home!

So many things have happened this week. I had every intention of sitting here and writing about how much the babies have changed, the challenges of pumping (what seems like constantly), getting to feed the babies bottles, etc. But all of that has flown completely out of my head because the Twinsies are coming home today!

September 20th has always been a special day for Eddie and me. It is the date he first asked me to go out on a date. In fact, it was 19 years ago today that he got up the nerve to call me. Now, it will be even more special because it will be the day the Twinsies came home from the hospital.

Once they are home, I will sit myself down with a baby on my shoulder and tell you all about it. Right now, I feel like crying from the joy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gracie and Luke are One Week Old!

I can't believe it has already been a week since Gracie and Luke were born! So much has happened in the past 7 days. I can't even begin to take you through all of it, so I'll just share the highlights and info about the babies. Of course, a post about them would not be complete without pictures!

As I wrote last week, Gracie and Luke were born about 8:55 pm on September 5th. Both were taken to the NICU where they both started in Room A. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is arranged by room numbers indicating the level of care a baby requires. Room A is for the most critical babies and babies progress to Rooms B, C, or D as they improve.

By last Friday, Gracie had made her way to Room B and then on Saturday was moved to Room D! She is wonderfully healthy and just needs to grow. She started out at 3 lbs 7 oz and lost a bit of weight as the amniotic fluid was flushed from her system. On Sunday, she weighed 3 lbs 5 oz and is gaining a little bit of weight every day. The NICU measures weight in grams. She is currently at 1650 grams and when she hits 1800 grams, she will be moved to a regular bassinet instead of the intimidating isolette where she currently resides. She is already drinking from a bottle and has already expressed her preference for Mommy's milk instead of that yucky formula! I got to feed her her very first bottle on Monday, the 10th. She has made great progress in the feeding department and is taking an ounce of milk every 3 hours. This may not sound like a lot, but considering that she was only taking in one-sixth of that last Thursday, it is awesome! If she can only gain 9 more ounces and drink from a bottle at every feeding, she will get to come home.

Luke was in Room A until Monday, when we came in to visit and he had been moved to Room B. Luke's main issue continues to be his respiration. He was born needing lots of help getting in enough oxygen.
His lungs were not quite ready for the real world and so he had to use a lovely nasal canula. He still has them now, but they do not have to keep him on the same levels of oxygen as they did early on. His chest moves slower now and he does not lose his breath as much. He gets the hiccups often; not surprising since he had them 3 to 6 times a day when he was in my tummy. he no longer needs any antibiotics and had his IV removed yesterday. He is much happier now! As for his eating, this past Sunday, he was only eating 10 ccs of formula. Today, his nurse reported that he is up to 45 ccs (an ounce and a half). He is eating more than his sister, but he has a bigger body to maintain. She still wins for the first one to an ounce. The neonatologist called us this afternoon and told us that he is now on room air and the nasal canula will be removed tonight. If he does well with out it and can drink from a bottle for the next 36 - 48 hours, he will be able to come home this weekend!!!!!

Yesterday, they moved Gracie over to be with her brother in Room B. They like to keep twins together, so now, Daddy and I can visit the twins together. We were able to take our first family photo today! How exciting that it happened on their One Week Birthday!

Daddy and I visit the Twinsies every day and are already changing diapers, holding pacifiers, and staring at them for hours on end. Daddy has already been practicing lullabys with them. The other Moms and Dads will smile when they hear him singing and the Twinsies just love it. They smile at him and hold onto his fingers.

We are so excited to be a family and can't wait for the babies to come home!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The NICU


Within moments of being born, Gracie was wisked off to the NICU. Being only 3 lbs 7 oz at birth, she was too tiny to make her way to the regular nursery. She is very tiny, but when I see other babies in the NICU, she is good sized. Luke started in the regular nursery, but had problems breathing and soon found himself in the NICU as well.

Nurses can tell you about the NICU, but they can't really prepare you for the emotions you will go through seeing your babies there. I did not get to see the babies until the day after they were born. Daddy had already seen them three times and was already much more comfortable in the NICU than me. He knew his way around the NICU: how long to wash your hands, carrying a piece of paper towel so that if you need to touch something outside of the baby's area you don't need to rewash your hands. He had already seen the NICU and was prepared for the alarm sounds and the wimpering of the tiny babies there. I wasn't ready for it. Seeing Luke laid out in the bed with the oxygen and multiple leads attached to his chest was almost too much for me. He looked so small and the machines around him very intimidating. He was one of the wimpering babies. His chest rose and fell rapidly in an unnatural pattern and was very scary to watch. Gracie was slightly better. She was simply lying in her bed, much tinier than her brother.

It is very scary seeing the babies you have held safe in your tummy for 36 weeks lying spread out with tubes and wires attached to them. I feel an incredible sense of guilt whenever I see them. If only I could have kept them inside me for a bit longer, maybe they would have been stronger and would be able to be with me in my room. Instead, because they came so early, now they are lying on those beds where I can't hold them. It makes me so sad to see them there. I feel absolutely helpless.

Daddy tries to get me to look at the upside of it all: Luke is breathing room air with the aid of those fancy nasal tubes you see on ER all the time and Gracie is already demanding food. She is known as the sassy one and was such a screamer, that they had to move her to another room. Both babies have their Daddy's blood type and Luke looks just like his Daddy. He has the hairline to prove it! Once Gracie puts on some more weight, I'll be able to tell who she looks like. Right now, she is rather skinny.

The nurses seem to think that the babies will only need to stay in the NICU for a few weeks. I'll be going home tomorrow. Being separated from them will be hard, but Daddy assures me that we will be here all the time and as soon as we are able, we will get to feed Gracie.

There is a support group for the parents of NICU patients and Daddy and I are planning to go. We need to feel more of a connection to the place and get reassurance from the nurses who work there. While they are very supportive, I don't think I have been really paying attention to what they tell me about the babies. I am so focused on my babies that I shut out everything else.

Please keep Gracie and Luke in your prayers.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gracie and Luke are here!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Graciela Eva-Loretta and Lucas James entered the world about 8:55 pm on September 5, 2007.

Gracie weighs 3 lbs 7 oz.


Luke weighs 5 lbs 8 oz.

They are both in the NICU, but are doing well. See more pictures here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tonight's the Night!

Only one person voted for before September 6th as the day the babies would be born. How intuitive and brilliant she is (Good job, Martha!). Tonight at 7:30 we will be going in for the c-section and Hermie and Iggy will be here.

Oddly enough, I am very calm. I thought I'd be all crazed, but I'm just tired and relieved.

Watch the blog in the coming days for a birth announcement and pictures of the Twinsies!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Naked Belly!

For the past 12 weeks, I have had a monitoring device strapped around my belly. The TOCO monitor is designed to sense changes in the uterus. It can tell whether or not I am having a contraction. Some days, it does a better job than others depending on whether it has been placed correctly on my belly. In the beginning, it wasn't that bad to have it strapped on, but as the babies grew, the pressure of the TOCO became more and more uncomfortable. I had to wear it 24 hours a day (well, except when I was in the shower). The nurses and I started to joke that Hermie would have a TOCO imprint on her forehead when she was born.

Today, Dr. Hartford changed the orders concerning my TOCO monitoring. The TOCO was meant to tell the nurses and Dr. Hartford if I was contracting too much so that they could take actions to stop my labor. Now that we are only a few days away from Hermie and Iggy being born, I no longer need to wear it every hour of every day. I only need to wear the TOCO monitor when I am having an NST (non-stress test) and the babies' heart rates are being recorded. I officially have a NAKED BELLY! For the first time in 12 weeks, I can put my hands on my tummy and feel both Iggy and Hermie move. No more strap in the way. No more TOCO in the way. No more irritated skin under the TOCO. Just my naked belly and little babies moving under my skin.

I feel so free!

The latest update, by the way, is that the babies will be born by the end of the week. Dr. Hartford says it is time and is hoping to have his nurse schedule the surgery for Thursday or Friday. Woo hoo! (Eddie is excited because the babies will be here for the official beginning of football season. The Bears play on Sunday.)

We're almost there!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Months Ending in "BER"

We've already established that I'm a planner. I like to know when things are happening. I like to know when I am supposed to be somewhere. I like to be early for family events and work activities.

My due date, October 4th, was just a date. I'd read lots of books and articles that said most people did not give birth on their due dates and that I shouldn't count on it. I wasn't locked into the 4th, but in my head, I was going to give birth in October. October was an exciting month. If I gave birth in October, then my Mom would have grandchildren with birthdays in July, August, September, October, and November. I thought it was kind of cool.

When we entered the hospital in June, the dates of the Twinsies' birth became rather murky. I did not know if I was going to have them that moment or what would happen. As we passed into July, the date they would be born left my head. My job was just to grow babies. I focused on getting through each day. I tried not to let runs of contractions scare me. I never thought about the end of my pregnancy.

Then came the day I hit 34 weeks. We reached 34 weeks on August 23rd. Mentally, my job changed. I knew that the babies had hit a major milestone. According to my twins book and lots of websites, the Twinsies had completed the majority of their developing. Now, it was up to them to gain weight and finish their final development. If they were born now, very few of the scary things the neonatologist had told me about would affect them (things like brain hemorrhages, blindness, immature lungs, etc.).

Week 34 made me start to realize that we might actually make it to September. September 6th specifically. September 6th is, of course, the ultimate goal: 36 weeks. If the Twinsies are born then, there is a very good chance that they won't spend any time in the NICU; they may actually go to the regular nursery and be able to visit me in my hospital room instead of me visiting them.

A major shift occurred in my way of thinking. I was no longer just growing babies. Oh, no! I was beginning a countdown. Countdowns, I have since learned, are an entirely different animal from passing the time. Passing the time goes quickly because you don't know where the end is. You can go from day to day and not keep track of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. You can just watch Forrest Gump or A Few Good Men for the 7th time and it doesn't really matter. But when a countdown commences, you start noticing things. For example, you start recognizing the same litigants on Judge Judy and The Peoples' Court. The clock becomes a greater focus. You pay much more attention to the date and correct people very quickly if they make a mistake. I, for example, took my calendar off the wall and started a countdown to September 6th. I actually worked backward from the 6th to wrote numbers for the countdown. Every person who walked into the room was reminded of the number of days I had left. In fact, every person who called me was also reminded.

Ick! Countdowns are awful. The sad part is that I did not realize I had subjected myself to the negative consequences of a countdown until it was too late. I specifically remember having 10 days left until September 6th and wondering if I was ever going to make it to single digit numbers. This counting down thing is torture!

When September 6th fell through as the day for the Twinsies to be born, a new obsession was born: I refused to let myself go into labor in August. I was determined to make it to September. I even told one of the nurses: "I will not give birth in a month that does not end in "BER." On Tuesday, August 28th, I had a lot of contractions. All day long, my eyes were on the contraction monitor and my tummy was sore! I told Dr. Hartford about my contractions the next morning and he decided to do a pelvic exam to see how we had progressed. He actually asked me when the last time was that we had done an exam. He seemed a bit surprised that it was back in June. When he checked me, he announced that I was 80 - 90% effaced. "Where is your husband?" he asked me. "He's close by, right?"

Aaaah! All of a sudden, my countdown was changed again. Dr. Hartford made it seem like we would be going into labor in the next few days. When I called Eddie and told him he needed to stay within 30 minutes of the hospital, he went into shock. All of a sudden, the babies were coming NOW and he wasn't ready for them. He told me later that day that he sat staring at a wall for hours trying to figure out if we were ready for babies to come. To this day, he is still in shock.

Every day following Dr. Hartford's exam slowed to a crawl. It was August and it was much earlier than my countdown had allowed. Friday, as a consequence, was torture for me. It was the last day of August. The babies were especially active that day and were making my uterus crazy! Iggy had the hiccups 6 times that day and all of the activity made me tired and cranky. I watched the clock like a child waiting for school to let out. If I could only make it 10 more hours...6 more hours...2 more hours. When the clock finally passed midnight, it was an enormous relief. We made it past August and into September. Yay!

It may seem silly, my need to make it to September. But when you've been in the hospital for almost 12 weeks, you focus on strange things. Here are some other things I have been focused on:
  • The hair on my arms used to be blond because I drove with my sunroof open. Now it has reverted to my actual hair color and the little dark brown/black hairs are making me feel ugly.
  • I haven't had a hair cut in almost 6 weeks. It has started to look rather wild. I don't do anything with it other than wash it and brush it. Sometimes, my bed hair makes me look like a crazy person. Lately, I have been getting up several times a day to wet it down and brush it so that the curls are slightly tamed.
  • I check my email at least 20 times a day. Heaven forbid some one's message waits longer than 5 minutes for a response.
  • I will not allow any trash to accumulate in any proximity to me. I will get up and waddle around my hospital room, collecting napkins, straw papers, etc and throwing them away. I almost drove Eddie crazy the other day, getting up and cleaning up after him. I just can't handle the idea that trash is around me. It needs to be in the trash can. Related to the trash obsession is the breakfast/lunch/dinner tray obsession. My trays cannot be allowed to stay on my table for more than 20 minutes before I start getting antsy.
As of today, we have begun what I hope is the last week of my pregnancy. We are 4 days from September 6th and I have decided to pin down Dr. Hartford to a date when he comes to see me on Tuesday. I want a plan. I need a plan. The murkiness is really bugging me (and pretty much everyone around me). The nurses say I should cry. They think that will work with him. Dr. Hartford is stronger than that. He won't be swayed by tears. A bribe might work though. He loves Eddie's pecan pie. I wonder if Eddie can bake from his wheelchair?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pregnancy as a Life Lesson in Lack of Control

This entire pregnancy has been a huge life lesson for me. I've never been a complete control freak, but I like being organized and having things prepared. When Eddie and I discovered that I was pregnant, it was a huge blessing. It was also 8 months earlier than we had planned. This was lesson number 1 in you can't control everything. The plan had been that we would hopefully conceive in August or September and the baby would be born at the end of the school year. Hopefully, I wouldn't have to miss any work time. Instead, the baby was due in October and I was looking at missing 6-8 weeks of school.

Oh, well. I decided I could live with it! Babies are totally worth giving up time in my classroom and it was just one baby. Eddie and I could totally swing one baby. So, ha! It was totally doable.

Then, 2 weeks later, we were told that we were expecting twins! Twins! That threw me for a loop. One baby I could figure out, but 2 babies! At one time! Huh?! I started getting a little anxious. In fact, I developed a twitch under my left eye. This was a little more stressful. I made an appointment with the human resources department so that I could start planning for missing work and having 2 babies. Not to mention, that Dr. Hartford had let drop that I would need to go on bed rest at 25 weeks (i.e. the week Summer School was due to start). I assured the HR department and the Summer School Director that I would not need bed rest and that I would just cut back my hours a bit. After speaking with HR, I had a better idea how I needed to save money and started to feel a bit more under control. Again, this was kind of totally doable! It was a little worrisome. My summer school salary was much needed if I was going to make it work.

As time went on, my body started to feel like it was being taken over by aliens. After having lost over 50 pounds and actually enjoying exercising, pregnancy was a rude awakening. Anyone who has ever been pregnant will tell you about the nausea, the constant sleepiness, the frequent trips to the bathroom. It seems like you have no control, whatsoever, over your body. That drove me crazy. I had so many things to do: exercise, grade papers, plan classes, web design work. Yet, my body would not let me do any of it. I felt like crying all the time. This was yet another hint from God that I was not going to get to be in control this time.

Then came June. You may have read my previous post about my journey to bed rest. That was the rudest awakening. I did not even make it to 25 weeks before I found myself lying flat in a hospital bed on IV drugs and strapped to a contraction monitor. I think this was the point when I started to surrender. I mean, how many times do you need to be hit in the head before you finally duck? I got the message, God, you can give me a break now!

For 10 weeks, I just let my body rule and waited as the babies grew. When we finally hit 32 weeks, I actually started getting excited about the end. When Dr. Hartford returned from his 9 day trip to Hawaii, I asked him about scheduling my c-section. We agreed to try for September 6 at 7 am. I should have known better. Making any plans during this pregnancy has proven to bring some new lesson to come slamming down on my head. Sure enough, the hospital wasn't able to schedule me for September 6th. Or 7th. Or 8th. Another subtle reminder from God that I don't get to decide how this pregnancy goes.

Now, here I sit, again with a murky end to the Twinsie Journey. I have finally just let it go. Millions of women have been pregnant and not known when their journeys will end. Who am I to declare that I will be anything other than one of their number?

Pregnancy has definitely been a life lesson for me. I've been in control of everything for so long, that I needed to be reminded that it was truly just an illusion. I can only imagine the chaos that the birth of the Twinsies will bring. I'm sure I'll try to be in control of feeding times and sleeping times. I may even try to plan an outing when they are 2 weeks old. And God will return to slap me in the head and bring me back down to earth. Sometimes you really do have to just LET IT GO. After all, what is the point in trying to hold desperately onto control when life is so much more fun when you roll with the punches???

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

CPR, Ultrasounds, Football, and the Theory of Relativity

Today was the first day of faculty meetings at school. I woke up early as if I were going to take a shower and drive to school. That was before I heard the IV beeping for attention and felt Iggy kicking me to make me turn over. I'm sure that there are a lot of teachers at school (and I have always been one of them) who hate CPR day. Every year we have to renew our CPR cards and many of us feel like we could teach the course. CPR day has always been a day to be endured. We all sit there and hope that we got the "cool" instructor who will make it short and sweet. Today, I actually missed that time sitting with other teachers, quoting lines from the Red Cross videos, and taking silly pictures of one another practicing rescue breathing. I missed hearing everyone's summer experiences and their new plans for the school year. There are still several more days of faculty meetings and it is difficult to lay here in bed and miss knowing the plans for the school year. I'm keeping my eyes on the prize though! In just 15 days, we'll have babies!

On Monday, we had an ultrasound. Our ultrasound showed two very active babies. We were able to see Hermie's chest expand and contract as she practiced breathing the amniotic fluid. It was absolutely exciting! Dr. Bruce had a hard time measuring the Twinsies because they are so confined in my belly. Iggy looks to have gained a pound. He is not so certain about Hermie.
According to his measurements, she lost an ounce over the past 2 weeks. This is quite worrisome. However, Dr. Bruce took the information from the ultrasound back to his office so that he could do some recalculating. Everyone keeps trying to reassure me. Even Dr. Hartford got into the act, telling me about other patients who ultrasounds like mine that did not make any sense. Since Dr. Bruce hasn't contacted Dr. Hartford with any concerns, I've been told not to worry. Still, I am concerned about Hermie's apparent weight loss. I'm drinking the Ensure again just in case. Please keep some positive thoughts and prayers that Hermie's weight is higher than we actually saw.

The Twinsies got to be present for their first pre-season Chicago Bears game last night. Daddy came to visit and we watched the Bears beat the Super Bowl Champion Colts. Needless to say, Daddy was very excited (he had to be reprimanded by the nurses not to yell ). It also helped that we had a good television signal as our Directv at home is on the fritz. The Twinsies were not to impressed by the game, but I'm sure once they can actually see the game, they will be just as excited as their father.

Since we started the countdown to September 6, time has started to crawl by. When we were trying to gain time, things seemed to go much faster. Now, I live from meal to meal, checking each one off as we inch toward the big day. How strange that having an actual due date has changed my perception of time so much. I guess it's all relative. Other mommies trying to gain time are probably experiencing the dragging by of each minute and second.

15 days and counting! Tomorrow we celebrate 34 weeks pregnant. I realized that if the babies are delivered September 6, I will be kept in the hospital for 4 more days to recover from the c-section. That sends me home one day shy of 13 weeks in the hospital. That just doesn't seem right to leave without completing a full 13 weeks! There has to be a gold watch or a trophy or something for making it that long. Here's to the next 15 days flying by!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We've Started the Countdown!

It's been confirmed! September 6th is the big day. My c-section is scheduled for 7 am, so we'll have babies by 8 am. Just to bring that home to you, September 6th is only 18 days away. Can you believe that? If you are dying to know the babies' names, remember that you aren't alone. If you are interested in receiving the Baby Name Unscramble Email, send an email to me and I'll add you to the list.

Eddie estimates the babies must weigh about 5 lbs each by now. We'll have our ultrasound to confirm it, but I would not be surprised if he is right. I feel like I am all baby now. They are so very active and it is hard to get a lot of solid rest. Instead, I've been catching cat naps here and there. I'm a little worried. Does all this baby action mean the same kind of action when they are born? Will they ever sleep? My sister says she had one baby who was active all the time and then slept constantly once she was born. Another hardly moved and once born was awake all the time. I'm kind of hoping that her experience will be mine. I don't know what Eddie and I will do with to very awake babies.

This Tuesday, I will have been in the hospital for 10 weeks. This past week has been the hardest on record. The nurses have determined that I have an allergy to Hipocleanse, a solution used to disinfect and clean an area being prepped for a procedure. They have been using Hipocleanse for the PICC line areas for the last several weeks and I have developed horrible rashes on my left arm and now on my right arm as a result. The good news is that we figured this out before my c-section! Hipocleanse is used to prep areas for surgery as well. That would have been so awful! I'm hoping that the rashes on my arms will be gone by the time the babies are born. They are kind of scary looking, not to mention uncomfortable.

Get excited! 18 days is so very close. It is actually kind of intimidating. I'm too young to be a mom (yes, I know I am 35) and they are going to let me take 2 babies home?!! I haven't had any baby care classes or anything. Ahhhh! They should at least make you have a baby license or something. Anyone else ever feel like this?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wow, These Babies are Getting Big!

Today, I feel really big! It is hard to breathe and the babies seem to take up more space by the second! Aunt Rebecca came and took pictures of us today so that we could share the size of my belly. Of course, the print of my dress seems to camouflage its actual size. It was the first day I've blow dried my hair and put on makeup in 9 weeks.

She took us outside to one of the side patios where it was really hot! Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!
If you would like to see more pictures, here is a link to my PhotoBucket account. The good news today is that we have a date to expect the Twinsies: September 6th. This seems to be a big day all around. It is the day Aunt Loretta left home to become a BVM, it's the day before Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Mike's wedding anniversary, and, I'm told, if you are a swimmer, it is the cutoff date for age requirements. See! It was meant to be. Dr. Hartford told me that we still have to confirm that all is well with the babies and as long as they are doing okay and I don't go into labor naturally, then we can expect them on September 6th.

Get ready! That is only 24 days away!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Why didn't anyone tell me my belly was that huge?

Over the past week or so, I've noticed changes in my body. My belly seems a little rounder and it has been more difficult to get out of bed. I'm starting to get worried that I am going to need a forklift to get me out of bed and in and out of the shower! My ankles are still small, but I am sure that won't last much longer.

I've been taking Benedryl for the past few days because of a sensitivity to the plastic tape used to hold my I.V. tubing in place. I don't know about you, but Benedryl makes me super-sleepy and I was out of it until about 1 pm yesterday. At that point, I decided I wasn't going to remain comatose all day and made myself get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, and order lunch.

An hour or so later, I was feeling pretty proud of myself and decided I wanted some chocolate. Eddie and his dad had left some money with me for the vending machines, so I got myself up out of bed, dragged my I.V. pump along with me and headed down the hallway. I had to stop a couple of times to catch up with nurses and by the time I made it the 50 or so steps to the vending machine, I felt like my belly was going to fall onto the floor.

Right before I got there, I looked up at the windows and saw a woman outside who was seriously pregnant. I mean huge! I remember thinking: "Wow, I hope I never get that big. That looks really uncomfortable." She looked like she was about to topple over from the weight of her belly.

At that moment, I realized that I wasn't seeing a stranger outside of the window, I was seeing a reflection...a reflection of ME! That was MY belly that looked ready to burst. Why did no one tell me that my belly was that enormous????!!!

The only mirror in my room ends at mid-chest height, so I haven't seen my belly except when Eddie took a picture of me a few weeks ago. I was big then, but not this big! I've told my nurses that they need a full length mirror in these rooms so that longterm patients like me can see how their bodies are changing. I may just have to donate one for this room. No woman should have the shock I had yesterday! I think I may be traumatized for life!

Friday, August 10, 2007

We made it to Week 32!

Honestly, I'm not sure I can keep it together as I write this. Eight weeks ago, I thought the twins would be born way too early and that they would be spending the next several months of their lives in the NICU. I feel so amazingly blessed that Eddie and I chose Dr. Hartford and that Dr. Hartford happened to be at Huntington Hospital the night we went into pre-term labor. Being here has made all the difference. I wish you could meet the fantastic, loving, superbly talented nurses who have dried my tears, made me laugh, answered all hundred thousand of my questions, and listened to all of my stories. Everyone of them is outstanding and the twins and I have been SO very lucky to have had these amazing women in our lives!

As of today, the Twinsies are still considered preemies, but they are no longer in the micro-preemie or moderately preemie categories! If they were born today, their main concerns would be feeding as they are developing their suckling and swallowing actions. If they were born today, they would have a 95% chance of survival and would still spend time in the NICU, but not as much as they might have if they had been born prior to 32 weeks.

At our ultrasound on Monday, we got the fantastic news that the babies had each gained over a pound in the past 2 weeks. They both weigh 3 pounds 14 ounces and are on their way to over 4 pounds each. This was such wonderful news. Just 2 weeks ago, Hermie had only gained 2 oz and the doctors started having me drink Ensure twice a day to make sure that I was getting enough calories for the babies. That, coupled with the homemade meals Grandma Rosi had delivered and Eddie's contraband fast food, not only helped the babies gain weight, but me, too! The Twinsies are right on target for 32 weeks and should gain another half pound for each of the weeks the three of us stay together. I can tell they are growing because of the size of my tummy. Wow! I did not know your stomach could stretch this far!

We are getting so close! Believe it or not, we are only 4 weeks from my goal of 36 weeks. That is just 28 days! Technically, the babies can be born anytime now, but the three of us are focused on September 6th! Everyone told me that this pregnancy would go very quickly, but it hasn't. It isn't just the hospital stay that has made it long. Even when I was at home, it seemed like time was in slow motion. Now that we are down to the last 28 days or so, I am getting so excited to meet Hermie and Iggy.

Rest assured that their "real" names have been chosen and Eddie is already planning how he will share their names with everyone. My sisters have been trying diligently to get us to tell them what the babies' names will be, but Eddie and I have held firm. There are so few surprises left to us that their names have to be kept secret! Eddie has promised Rebecca that he will create a word scramble for her of the babies' first and middles and email it to her the night before they are born. If she can figure it out, then she'll know the names before he announces them.

My sisters and my mom are headed to our house this weekend to finish putting the baby alcove together so that the Twinsies have what they need when we come home. They bought us most of the basics, so when it comes to diapering and bathing, we are all set. Luckily, we have lots of clothes. We still need lots of things, but I know we will still have time to buy things like swings and bouncy seats and the rest of the things we chose on our registry. I'm keeping my eye on Babies R Us to see if they will l be having a Labor Day sale (it only makes sense that they would).

Well, the countdown has begun!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Growing Babies...

Today, we had our latest ultrasound. The last ultrasound left me feeling scared and worried because the babies hadn't gained a lot of weight. The doctors put me on 2 daily Ensures and Rosi (Eddie's mom) decided to feed me as much as possible. She's brought wonderful food over the past 2 weeks. It certainly worked. I gained 3 pounds a week ago Sunday and this past Sunday had gained 5! (The doctor doesn't think this is all real weight. He thinks some of it is the Magnesium Sulfate and bed rest.) That isn't the best part. The ultrasound is estimating that both babies gained over a pound each! Iggy and Hermie both weigh 3 pounds 14 ounces! They are back on track and perfect for almost 32 weeks. Plenty of amniotic fluid. Iggy is still right in position to be born (determined to be born first). His head is in my pelvis and his body wraps up along my left side with his feet directly under my belly button. Hermie is breech, her head directly under my ribcage and her body wrapped to the right side, her feet under my belly button. Apparently, they have been kicking each other's feet for quite some time.

Now that I know what I am feeling for, I feel Iggy have the hiccups at least twice a day. As I write this, he is hiccuping like crazy. It is such a fun feeling. Everyone keeps saying, "Oh, that must be so annoying!" Are they crazy? What an amazing feeling it is! As uncomfortable as I am starting to become, I treasure every moment of this pregnancy. I have babies in my tummy. I never thought I would. So, darn it, I'm going to love feeling the hiccups! It is so incredibly sweet.

Belly buttons are my new thing. I'm waiting for my belly button to go flat. It has been getting shallower and shallower, but I still have one. Becca lost her belly button with each of her 3 pregnancies, but Kristen never lost her belly button. Hmmmm. I wonder which way I'll go?

The babies' names are still top secret, but Eddie and I have finally decided what their names are. We had 2 girls' names and 2 boys' names on a piece of paper and were going to choose when the babies were born, but I feel like the babies have already decided their names in utero. Is that weird? Everyone keeps trying to get the names out of me, but I've held firm. Eddie says that everyone knows they are twins and knows they are a girl and a boy so their names have to be a surprise. There are so few surprises left in the world. So, the babies names and what they look like are it. I have given them one hint: both of the babies' names have the letter A in them. Hehehehehehehe!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Baby Showers at the Hospital

One of the things that made me sad when I found out I would be staying in the hospital was that I would miss the 2 baby showers that family and friends had planned for me. Both of the showers were postponed until after the babies are born. We thought it would be fun if we had Welcome Baby showers instead. In the meantime, I was scared that we wouldn't have any clothes or essentials necessary for the Twinsies.

To the rescue: My Mom, my sisters and my mother-in-law.

Since I couldn't go to a baby shower, the baby shower came to me. My sisters and my mom went crazy using the money they would have spent on a baby shower and bought tons of things for the Twinsies. They bought clothes, our bath tub, towels, wipes, blankets...They went above and beyond! They had the shower out on the patio in the midst of all the flowers and sunshine. Hailey, Bianca, Brandon, and Baby Cousin Nathan were there. My sisters served sliced apples and strawberries with whipped cream! We had so much fun opening everything. Grandma Rosi contributed to the day, too. She took all of the clothes she purchased and hung them on a clothes line. She then layered them in a laundry basket so that I would have to pull out the clothes line...revealing each outfit one at a time. It was such an adorable idea! The whole time was wonderful (even though it was super hot outside).

Then, today, Grandma Rosi planned a Diaper Shower. Lots of women from the Uribe/Villalvazo side of the family came with diapers. Her goal was to have over a thousand diapers. Sure enough, we came in at 1064 diapers! Of course, there was food too! El Pollo Loco, homemade potato salad, and fresh sliced fruit. We had lots of fun and Eddie and I were really impressed by the number of diapers we collected. It was a nice way to start our nursery.

We can't wait for the Aloha Babies! Shower coming after the babies are born. Everyone will get to hold babies and we'll all get to spend time together. Lots of fun to come!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The joys of bed rest

As of today, I have been in the hospital for 7 weeks and 5 days. While that number seems long, I've started looking toward the amount of time it is until the babies are born. This past Thursday, I celebrated the end of week 31! Since our goal is 34 to 36 weeks, that means I have only 2.5 to 4.5 weeks until my babies are born. It is so amazing. I remember back when I had 12 weeks to go.

There are many things you don't realize about bed rest until you have to do it. Lots of people think, "Cool! I wish I could be on bed rest. All the TV I want and people waiting on me hand and foot." Um, yeah...so the "cool" factor evaporated the first week. Lying in bed for as long as I have has been tough. I get out of breath walking the 10 steps to my bathroom. If I sit up in a chair for longer than 45 minutes, I get light-headed and nauseous. My legs (which were starting to look slim after all my Jenny Craig/exercising) have lost so much muscle that they are losing their shape. I had to have a PICC line installed in my arm for the IV fluids and the Mag Sulfate. It has to be wrapped every time I want to take a shower so that it doesn't get wet. Plus, I have to remember that I am hooked up to an IV...I can't just move my arm when I want.

Bed rest in the hospital is even harder than at home. Nurses have to monitor my blood pressure and temperature every 4 hours. I have to have blood drawn every 3 days to check my Mag levels. I have to be creative about my meals because I have officially eaten everything on the menu. The hardest part is that I can't go visit anyone. People have to come visit me. I feel very guilty that people have to drive so far to come see me. Often, I worry that I am not entertaining them enough!

Even though bed rest is boring, frustrating, challenging, etc., I just have to keep my eyes on the goal: to deliver healthy babies. Every moment I stay in bed and keep from delivering is another moment our unborn babies have to grow and be born healthy. What an amazing thing that is! What a gift to give to our children!!!!

Besides, everyone keeps telling me that once I have my twins in my arms, I will forget all of these weeks in bed. I'm not sure about that, but I know they will seem inconsequential then.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's been a long, tough road.

Who knew back on January 27th that our journey toward parenthood would be so challenging? In the beginning, it was all just so amazing and exciting. After 12 years of marriage, we were so excited to learn that we were pregnant for the first time. It was an absolute surprise, not only for us, but for both of our families as well. Then, on February 14, our OB told us that there were 2 babies! Twins! Again, we were beside ourselves. How could we be so lucky?

Technically, Eddie called it from the beginning. The day we discovered we were pregnant, he started telling me that we were probably having twins. I, of course, told him he was insane and that "there better only be one baby in there!" Now, I have to take that back and apologize to the twins on a daily basis for swearing there should only be one of them.

Dr. Hartford warned us from the very beginning that a twin pregnancy is not the same as a singleton pregnancy. He talked about things like bed rest, c-sections, possible pre-term labor...All of which I blew off thinking "Oh, that won't be me! That's other people." I should have gotten the hint when I started having "all day" morning sickness. While I did not throw up more than twice, I was constantly nauseous and very little made it better. I went searching for different "cures" for morning sickness and came across a crazy idea to use Sea Bands. Eddie took me to the drug store on a Friday evening and I put them on as soon as we paid for them. Amazingly, they started working right away! They did not make the nausea go away completely, but they took the edge off and that is all that mattered. The nausea stayed with me all the way through the first 18 weeks and finally trailed off, coming and going when I least expected it.

One thing I did not expect was that very few people could relate to all of the things I was going through. Very few understood about the constant nausea and still others could not relate to my absolute lack of an appetite. Some kept saying I was experiencing things too early or that I couldn't possibly be feeling the things I was feeling yet. So many people wanted to help, but were not sure that their experiences with singleton pregnancies would help them relate. It made it hard to get advise!

I finally bought a book by Dr. Barbara Luke called When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads, Revised Edition: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy. At first, I thought it was written to scare me to death, but I soon realized it was trying to tell me what I hadn't heard when Dr. Hartford tried to warn me that my pregnancy would not be the same as everyone else's. As I read about pre-term labor, the need to gain weight quickly, and stays in the NICU, I began to realize that maybe Dr. Hartford hadn't been trying to scare me. The best part about reading that book was that when things went crazy in June, I was ready for them.

By the time we r
eached our 12th wedding anniversary, I was 20 weeks pregnant. My tummy was starting to show my pregnancy, but not enough for people to really see. The best way to see where the twins were growing was when I was lying down on the bed. Looking at my belly today, it was really small back then! I knew it would get bigger, but geez! I remember being really tired all the time. I just did not have energy to do much, but I never seemed to rest completely. I had so many things to do and never seemed to get ahead of them. I was still very "Pollyanna" about my pregnancy. Summer School was coming and there was no way I was going on bed rest. I think even then, my body was lobbying for bed rest. I was wiped out driving home from school and it was torture to get up every morning.

Eddie and I planned a Babymoon for the first week of June. We knew that I would be working through the first week of August on Summer School, so we decided we needed to get away on one last "Just the Two of Us" trip. We drove to Monterey and spent 4 days exploring Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, and the surrounding areas. Looking back now, my body was seriously overtaxed. The drive from Sylmar to Monterey was torture and I had a lot of contractions that week. I was so tired that Eddie had to travel out to bring us meals several times. I just couldn't leave the hotel room. On a happier note, we really enjoyed our drives and spending time together. We laughed a lot and talked about things like baby names and what the babies would look like. It was a wonderful trip. Little did we know that the next week would bring a medical emergency.

On Monday, June 11, I started feeling like I was having a lot of contractions.
I noticed some changes in the feelings in my stomach and realized that my contractions felt different. When I went to see Dr. Hartford on Tuesday, he did some tests and sent me home, telling me I needed to be on bed rest. One of the tests he did, a fetal fibronectin test came back positive later that day. The test is used to test the possibility of pre-term labor starting. I completely freaked out when they called to tell me that it was positive. I had forgotten everything Dr. Luke had said about the FFN test and my stress level went through the roof. Crying, I heard the nurse say that they had ordered a terbutaline pump that would keep me from going into labor, but before that could happen, my contractions started to escalate. I started timing contractions and, an hour later, we were told to go to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. Dr. Hartford was there delivering another twin mom who had made it to 28 weeks. He was pretty stressed out and seeing that I was in preterm labor at 23 weeks and 5 days did not help his stress level.

There, Dr. Hartford discovered that I was having labor contractions and they attempted to slow them by giving me injections of terbutaline. For most women, terbutaline works to slow contractions. Mine did not slow. At some points, I was having contractions every 3 minutes! Eddie sat by my side in Labor and Delivery, holding my hand and drying my tears. He worked so hard to distract me that he even read to me!

They decided to admit me and I was put on magnesium sulfate to try to stop contractions. Luckily, the medication worked and the contractions slowed. I was hooked up to a monitor for the contractions, most of the contractions were just Braxton Hicks contractions. They did an ultrasound the following day and both of the babies looked totally fine. Their heartbeats were strong and they were moving around. My cervix, which the night before had started to become effaced, measured at 3.4 cm. This made the doctors very happy. They decided that I had a good chance of holding on to the babies as long as we kept the contractions from returning. The plan was to obtain a terbutaline pump for me and send me home.

Unfortunately, when the terbutaline pump arrived 4 days later, it did not work for me. As soon as the magnesium sulfate was removed, I started having contractions again. They tried upping the doses, but that only made my heart beat like crazy and my hands shake so hard I could hardly eat. The doctor decided to put me back on the magnesium. Soon after, the contractions slowed. The whole thing was very scary!

Because magnesium sulfate has some nasty side effects, I had to remain hospitalized. Nurses needed to check my breathing, reflexes, and kidney response often. Mag sulfate can be toxic if it builds up too much in your blood stream. This translates to an extended visit to the hospital. Considering the last time I had stayed overnight in a hospital was in 1974, I was a little discouraged. Eddie spent the night with me for several nights in on a cot next to my hospital bed until I sent him home. It is really hard to get a full night's sleep when there are nurses coming in and out of your room every 4 hours.

As the days passed, I still felt worried that the babies could be born at any second. Somehow I hadn't gotten the message that the babies had chance of staying inside me. The positive fetal fibronectin test predicts that you have a 40% chance of going into labor in the next 2 weeks. I took that to mean that the babies would come in the next 2 weeks. I did not even think that I might make it past that time. All I knew was that the babies were TOO small and they had a 70% chance of survival.

Flash forward 7 weeks...

Today, I have made it to 31 weeks! I can't believe it. Back at 24 weeks, I could only focus on making it to 28 weeks. Anything past that was a dream. Now I am looking forward to 34 or 36 weeks. How amazing!

Happy 10th Birthday!

There's nothing better than bringing cupcakes and having free dress on your 10th birthday! These two were so excited that they kept r...