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!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My busy night with a creepy crawly in the hospital

Just thought I'd make you laugh:

So I have a corner room here at the hospital and my wall/window is backs up to a garden planter. When I first was admitted, we killed 3 spiders (no idea if they were dangerous) and noticed some ants trying to start a conga line in my shower. I haven't seen spiders in a while and since the spring/summer cleaning last week, there haven't been any more ants.

Last night, I got up to go to the bathroom and saw something about an inch long crawling across the floor. Now, I was a biology major, so bugs don't scare me. But at 5 am, in the dark, with a pregnant belly, dark shapes on the floor are a little disconcerting. So, I got myself back up onto my bed, tucked my feet up, and turned on the lights just to make sure that I did not have a roach or something in my room. Once the lights were on, I saw that the bug had more legs than I had ever counted in my life! It looked suspiciously like it could be a centipede. A centipede! In Pasadena? In a hospital room? Are they poisonous?

So, I pushed my call button and kept my eyes plastered to the little thing now making its way along the wall trying to hide. My nurse came in and I told her my story. She had to move aside the cart with all of the monitoring devices, but sure enough, there it was. And, YES, it was a centipede. She told me that in the foothills of Pasadena, there are indeed centipedes? How come I did not know this? Again, biology major! How did I miss it? I thought they were in South America or something!

Rather than try to capture him and put him back outside, the nurse smushed him and gave him a burial at sea (hehehehehe!). She checked the rest of the room for any other night visitors and went out to share the news of my "Centipede Attack." I attempted to go back to sleep, but the creepy crawlies, and my newly awakened Twinsies, kept me awake. I kept thinking: "If there was one, there could be more." Yikes! Again, are they poisonous?

Any hoodle, I'm contacting the customer service people today. I can handle ants (I'm in So Cal for crying out loud), even spiders (as long as they are far away from me), but centipedes put me over the edge. Hospitals should be a little more attentive to these kinds of things. Honestly!

Hope you enjoyed my "Centipede Attack!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

OH, MY GOSH! Week 30!

Do you believe it! We made it to Week 30! I am beside myself! Even Dr. Hartford is pleasantly surprised and excited! We should seriously have a party!

The babies are getting SO big and it is getting harder and harder to move around. I didn't realize HOW big I was until Eddie took a picture of me standing up the other day. YIKES! I don't know how I would be able to do anything if I was at home.

Things have been exciting: My doctor lowered the Magnesium Sulfate to see if my body could tolerate a lower dosage and the answer is : NO! I started having many many contractions and they were really strong, so back up the magnesium went. I also plan on lying on my side more.

From Monday's ultrasound, Iggy has himself positioned to be born already and he seems to be trying to encourage that. When I lie on my side, he is forced into a different position. The babies are no longer with their heads together. Iggy's head is in my pelvis and Hermie's head is up under my ribs. They weights are estimated at 2 lbs 10 oz for Iggy and 2 lbs 8 oz for Hermie. I get to drink Ensure twice a day to help get their weights up. I haven't been hungry and have been forcing myself to eat. The doctors want to make sure that I have all of the calories I need, thus the Ensure.

Rebecca and Kristen threw me a little family baby shower at the hospital on Sunday. They bought us lots of onesies, booties, hats, our stroller, and car seats. I was starting to get worried that the babies would be born and they wouldn't have anything! It was so much fun to sit out on the patio and open presents with my sisters, Mom, Eddie, and Rosi (my mother-in-law). We had a great time eating strawberries and sliced apples. Our little shower got us going, so we can at least bring the babies home when they are born.

I have officially been here for 6 weeks and 2 days! The nurses moved me out of my room and had it cleaned from floor to ceiling so that I could feel fresh and new. I even went through my things and tossed some things. Wow! I had a lot of junk. But now, my room is all clean, Mom!

Our next goal is Week 32. Then Week 34...then Week 36. After that Dr. Hartford plans to deliver them. Wouldn't that be amazing to make it to Week 36?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Umm, 29 weeks? No problem!

Today, the Twinsies and I have completed 29 weeks. Five weeks ago, it was iffy that we would make it this far, but now I am looking to 30 weeks and beyond with hope.

Earlier this week, my doctor was talking about trying to wean me off of the magnesium sulfate (the medication that keeps my contractions away), because I had had so few contractions. Then, yesterday, I started having some pretty strong contractions that lasted through the night. He has now nixed the idea of taking me off of the magnesium. It is likely that I will have several days of no contractions and then have them randomly start up again. It seems like the more the babies move, the more contractions I have.

The babies are getting very big! My stomach is very big and lopsided because of the babies' placements. Hermie (the girl) has been living on the right side of my belly, causing the lopsided look. She has also been trying to hang out in my ribs, so the two of us have been having conversations about staying down. Iggy has maintained his hold at the bottom of my belly, lying across my pelvis. He is determined to be the first one born and he isn't letting his sister move down at all.

Eddie is home from the hospital and is doing much better. He is staying with his parents until he builds up some strength to be able to go home. He goes to spend a few hours at our house to play with our kitties, Phoebe and Dee-Dee. They are both a little traumatized because they haven't seen me for so long and because their routine has been so disrupted, but I hope that things will be better soon.

The latest news is that Dr. Hartford expects that we will deliver the Twinsies between weeks 34 and 36. Generally, when someone has been on bed rest as long as I have (37 days today), they like to deliver the babies as soon as they are over 4 pounds. Dr. Hartford would like to let the babies stay inside of me as long as possible, but the other doctors get nervous that something bad will happen. They feel that it is better to deliver the babies early and have them spend some time in the NICU than have something go wrong when they are inside of me.

Here's a cute memory for you: Rebecca has been bringing the kids to see me. Bianca loves the idea of her "baby cousins" and is determined to have them in her tummy as well. A few days ago, we came back from my wheelchair parole and the next thing I knew, Bianca was lying on my bed, her arms and legs splayed out, with her belly bare. "Look, Nina, I'm having baby cousins too!"

Hailey is working on becoming the champion Uno player. I'm giving her a run for her money, but she's getting better. Bianca can play as long as all she needs to do is put down a similar color or number. I am really grateful to be able to spend time with Rebecca and the kids. They do a great job of distracting me as do my other visitors. Eddie has been sneaking in contraband meals (they aren't really contraband) and he and my sister have been keeping me in fresh nightgowns so that I don't have to wear the hospital gowns.

We are in the home stretch now! In the next 36 to 49 days, the Twinsies will be born. I hope everyone is getting ready. I'm so exhausted from being in bed that I'll need all the help we can get with the babies. You know you can't wait to hold them

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Goal #1 - Check!

Today is the big day! The babies and I have completed 28 weeks of pregnancy. 30 days ago, we weren't certain I would make it this far, but today I feel like having a tea party!

Monday's ultrasound was very positive. The babies have lots of water around them and are growing very well. The ultrasound machine is projecting that they weigh 2 lbs 8 oz and 2 lbs 4 oz. As usual, they are turned so that their heads are near one another (secretly plotting against us already!). Dr. Bruce, the Chief of Perinatal Medicine here at Huntington, was very pleased with them. He says my body looks like it has no plans of going into labor anytime soon as long as we keep the contractions at bay.

Eddie and I have had a few set backs this week. As many of you know, Eddie fell on Saturday when he was leaving the hospital and broke his leg. At first we thought it was his knee, but it turns out it was his femur that was broken. He had surgery on Sunday and will be leaving the hospital today or tomorrow. Then, yesterday I started feeling weak and very warm. When the nurses took my temperature, I had a fever of 102. After lots of blood draws, the doctors have determined that I have a couple of infections and may also have the flu. I am feeling better today. My fever is down and the babies heart rates are back down as well. They have been kicking me and playing, so hopefully all is well.

Our next goal is 30 weeks, a mere 2 weeks away! The longer the babies stay inside me the better and as I've said many times "Anything for the Twinsies!"

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...