Meet Gracie and Luke, our six-year-old twins!
We waited for them forever and can't remember life without them.

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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.