Saturday, December 17, 2011

Let's get this party started.

Today marks the milestone of making it officially "full-term" with twins: 36 weeks. Prematurity is most likely a worry of last month and I'm hopeful that these girls will get to come home with us in a reasonable amount of time. This is - big sigh- comforting news.

But why am I still waking up at 4 and 5 am with anxiety about the coming days? Looks like these little people will be coming out sooner than I expected.

I had a great ultrasound on Thursday morning at the high risk OB. Everything looked great- the umbilical cords, blood flow, heart rates, movement, etc. The world's greatest ultrasound tech decided it would be a good idea to get some current weights on these babies and the grand totals equaled just over 13 pounds. Holy schnikes. Baby A is estimated at 5lbs, 5 oz and Baby B at 7 lbs 12 oz. I was immediately alarmed by their size differences, but no one else seemed to be. The doctor kept joking about the 12-ish pounds of baby in me and how if I was his patient, I'd be in the OR in 20. Ha ha, not funny. That is why I am not his patient, although he is great at what he does. He told me me was writing a letter that day to my normal OB recommending these babies be born by next Friday, 6 days from now. However, he was fairly sure I'd be in labor by then anyway. He said that his recommendation was based on the fact that these girls are identical twins, sharing 1 placenta. Does my placenta look like it is aging? No, it still looks great. It's a caution thing....which I get, and I don't.....but mostly, I get.

It wasn't until later that night that I got a call from my regular Ob's nurse asking if I could come in at 9am (opening time), that I started to get quite nervous. We did a non-stress test, which we all 3 passed, and an internal exam before the doctor said a word about what he was thinking. I was surprised that my blood pressure could still be classified as "perfect." I honestly haven't been that nervous for a long time. I thought about yelling, "Oh shit!" and laying in the fetal position on the floor with a binky. But, instead I pulled my big girl pants on and acted like a mentally stable and mature adult ( it is usually more socially acceptable.)

He was quite calm and kind as we talked, explaining the thought process to getting to this conversation, including a late night talk between the 2 doctors. When they started to really look at the weights of the babies, even with the potential for 30% error either way, it was still enough to wonder if Baby A is still getting what she needs. She has only gained about 1 lb in a month, where her sister may have gained 3. So, Tuesday is induction day unless I can get this party started on my own.

Now, many of you have been induced and you were fine with it. I should be because I've been mentally preparing for this conversation for 30+weeks, but, I'm not. I've been known to talk about the induction and c-section conspiracy on occasion. I am familiar with "The Cascade of Medical Interventions." I know the increased risk that a twin birth brings and all these compounded things equal a very shaky situation which has a high probability of ending up in a c-section. (Cue another "Oh, Shit" here.)

Hear me here: I will do what is best for these babies. I care way more about their safe arrival than I care about scars and inconveniences. I am not looking to hear your c-section story; I've heard all that and have friends who would have babies no other way. When it comes down to it, Nick and I will make the best decision for these girls. Bottom line.

But there is the fear of the unknown and the total lack of control. When Owen was born at 40 weeks, 2 days, my water broke at noon and at 4pm the contractions started. He was born at 7:30pm that night. It was a very quick first labor and I opted for the tub instead of pain meds. Ella's arrival was even faster. My water broke, 5 minutes later my contractions started, 90 minutes later she was born. No meds and no time if I would have wanted them. My husband and my midwife almost didn't make it!

I immediately must clarify that I am not bragging or trying to sound like a super hero for not having drugs and having fast labors. My body was ready, fast labors run in my family and quick does not equal less pain. These were 2 intense experiences that were good experiences in the end and that is all I know. I don't know what happens when my body is pushed in to working with pitocin, an epidural and the inability to walk the room freely.

And so, the pressure is on. This weekend my job is to go in to labor on my own. Or at minimum, get this cervix ready to go so that I don't need much prompting come Tuesday morning. I am doing all the tricks I know and praying like crazy and manipulating my mind in to imagining everything going perfect. (my default is to imagine an emergency c-section. NOT HELPFUL!)

I haven't shared this publicly yet, but the high risk Ob's love to talk and laugh about my cervix. (in a good way) One doctor says my cervix is "deluxe," which meant each time they measured the length it was double the length they wanted it to be. The other doc said it was so long, it was practically falling out. Although disturbing this may be, it was a real blessing with twins. I felt like that crazy cervix was built for carrying twins to term. But, now, I'm hoping it thins and dilates quick and on its own. The deluxe-ness of the situation is no longer helpful; we've got to get this show on the road!

So, send your prayers our way. And your good thoughts, vibes and whatever you've got to spare. We will take it all. We want 2 healthy babies and I would love to go in to labor on my own. Assuming all is well, we will have these babies home by Christmas.

And I would like to address one other thing that many have asked about: the likelihood of having another child born with Pierre Robin or a cleft palate. We don't know the chances because we have never done genetic testing for Ella (scheduled for January in Indy). But, naively as it may be, have always felt that was more random than anything. These babies are identical and so if one did have it, so would the other. However, from what they can see on the 15+ ultrasounds I've had, their chins and faces look normal. Coincidentally, my 1 ultrasound with Ella looked normal too. We opted out of all the early tests and the 4D ultrasound in Indy for our own self-preservation. There was nothing that can be done anyway. So, after about 20 weeks, I just stopped worrying about it. If they have it, at least we know how to manage all the complications. If they don't I will cry with joy and consider the fact that 2 healthy babies have to be easier to take care of then 1 sick one.

I'm not quite sure when, but I plan on feeling in their mouths early on. We will also be able to spot a recessed chin immediately this time. I'm more curious than worried about it these days. I've felt peace deep in my heart for months surrounding this issue and all I can do is keep calm and carry on from here.

Probably won't be back here for a while, which may shock you after 3 posts in one week (and 3 in a year before that!) But, I'm preparing for having no free time for about 5 years. If you want to know what is going on, permission to Facebook stalk granted.

Oh yea, and if you come over at all in the next 2 years, you are bound to not judge my dirty house and are forbidden from letting your mind wander to the show "Hoarders" or from thinking it looks like a dirty version of the Babies 'R Us showroom. :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

I want to update you all on Ella and her of speech/health stuff. After 2 years of driving around the state of Indiana searching for an answer, we found a surgeon who had some ideas. It only took about 5 minutes for him to win our approval. We immediately scheduled surgery for the week school got out in June and began mentally preparing for what was to come. This was not a quick fix, but it was a chance-- a long term commitment to her communication. There was an easy surgery that might work and a complicated, long surgery that probably would work. We trust him and agreed to try this simpler surgery first in hopes of avoiding the complications that can arise with option # 2, like life-long sleep apnea.

I have to brag on the the doctors, nurses, assistants and everyone at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. They were amazing. Ella has been a patient at several different hospitals and experience wise, this was hands down the best. She nor we even had a chance to cry or be scared during our whole trip, as they kept us smiling and eating orange sherbet the whole time. If you need a good Cranial Facial Clinic in Indiana, skip the trip to Riley and go see the Dr. Blocksom's team. We have been so impressed.

The surgery went perfectly. It was a procedure called a Z-plasty, where they were able to make her palate 75% longer.

And she got to drive herself to surgery in a jeep.
The hardest part for us was after surgery. Ella came home needing to be spoon fed for 8 weeks. This is quite difficult for an independent woman who goes to a Montessori school! But, she didn't want to tear out her stitches and would remind us when we accidentally handed her an utensil. Right away, things got progressively worse with her speech. Her muscles have all been moved to the back of her mouth, which means it is relearning time again. One step forward, two steps back. And all the progress she had made with sounds and being understood was pushed back to 2 years ago. It was a haunting deja vu. But, emotionally worse because she is so much smarter and aware. We cried a lot together this summer (partially from double pregnancy hormones) when I couldn't understand and she couldn't be understood. I imagine it was 1% of what it would be like to be deaf in our hearing world.

But in the past few months, we have seen small improvements. Her speech therapist has seen a bit more movement from her tongue and we have a V, people! Anytime we can add a consonant to her repertoire, we are opening the door to so many new words that people can now understand. It's not perfect; it's still completely emotional and near impossible for strangers to get more than a couple words. But, all we wanted was a chance and I think Dr. Blocksom gave us that.

Nick is set to take her back to Indy in January for another follow-up with the surgeon. At this time, they will scope her throat again and see if the muscles will ever be able to learn to work. If not, Plan B, which really feels more like Plan Z. Another surgery in the summer, this one much longer and more intense. A last resort for now. But I'm hoping not to go there. Most days, the hope is all we've got left. I know hope is never a promise, but God hasn't abandoned us yet and if he can grow an "impossible" muscle in her eye, then helping some muscles move doesn't feel like such a stretch. First day of school 2011

In other news, Owen is a kindergartner this year. He is eagerly and impatiently learning to read. He loves math and is quite good at it. My math skills will be useless to him after 4th grade and I'm serious! He is a good friend to everyone and overflows with compassion. He has been writing "I heart Angie and Nick" on everything. His future plans are to be a ninja and be married. That is about as far as he has figured out.

Sometimes I feel bad thinking of him reading this someday and wondering why I didn't write more about him. I hope he then finds this sentence: Owen, without you, I wouldn't have been able to get out of bed during all these hard things. Your heart is made of pure gold and we love you, not because you were easy and a parent's dream, but because you are a light in the dark. And yes, you are the bomb.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I don't think you're ready for this belly...

35 weeks! The relief in making it to 35 weeks and 4 days is a joy that is hard to put in to words appropriate for all readers.

I've been living from Saturday to Saturday for about 8 months now. Each Saturday morning, an alert on my phone congratulates me on making it one more week and telling me that my babies are the size of blueberries or kumquats. But yesterday morning, as I struggled to come out of my exhaustion coma, my alert came through with great news: my babies are the size of honey-dew melons. That puts their weights in the area of 5.25 lbs+ per baby.

Most of my pregnancy was a total blur, but I can tell you what I did just about every Saturday because it seemed like the only day that mattered. 35 freaking weeks. That is the average week twins are born, BTW.

And it really does take all these weeks to be mentally ready to have a baby. A flip has to switch between "please, God, keep them in" and "get these babies the hell out of me." My flip switched just the other day.

Friday night Nick and I went on a hot date to the grocery store to stock up on some gluten-free things that I would need in the next month or so. And coffee. We have a stock pile of coffee right now. We think running out of caffeine with 2 new babies could be a devastating affair.

My trips to the store over the last 2-3 months have all been the same: inquiries from obnoxious strangers about my due date, if I'm having twins, did I think I would deliver right there in the cereal aisle? I've been cordial so far, usually just letting them think I'm due any day with 1 baby. (If not, I am opening the door to questions about c-sections, breastfeeding and infertility treatments) But after Friday, all I have to say to all of you busy bodies is SCREW YOU.

I'm obviously tired (you let me know) and hormonal (duh) and all you should say is:


And when I respond with:


You then say:


We then part ways, me with a smile and you knowing you did a good deed. It is a win-win.

But this week, as I approached a grand milestone, your reactions changed severely. On our hot date the other night, I caught a lot of giggles, a lot of "whoa, she is overdue" and several gasps. A few people looked at me and laughed. Now, we can all get paranoid from time to time and I am no exception to this, but my observations were real. I was the Friday night spectacle and Meijer and I hated it. I couldn't decide how to respond: dirty looks, middle fingers, hateful words. Could this be the day I use my rehearsed response? I'M PREGNANT WITH TWINS, YOU'RE JUST FAT! Even with all the extra hormones I have, I couldn't do it. I just pouted instead. I yelled at Nick when we got home, ate a whole large box of Mike and Ike's and watched Glee on the couch.

What these ignorant shoppers don't know is that I am growing 2 babies, as in more than 1. Being pregnant with twins does not feel like being pregnant with a singleton plus 5 or 6 extra pounds. This experience required ultrasounds every 14 days, cervical length checks every 14 days after 24 weeks, extra nurses and extra doctors. Not to mention, the risk of Twin-to-twin transfusion, the fear of gestational diabetes, placental problems, not gaining enough weight and the constant reminder that my babies could very well be extremely premature. They don't know that I can't walk without the use of my Prenatal Cradle and no, my bra is not on backwards. They also don't know that I am very fortunate not to be on bed rest, as my overstuffed 35 week belly measures 44 weeks.

Yes, I look like I'm 4 weeks overdue. Don't hate.

I try and remember that most people don't think and their ignorance causes them to do and say rude things. Still, I hope the general population exercises kindness and politeness, especially at Christmas.

And especially to those of us with cankles who are waddling as fast as we can.

Because you all love me, I am trusting you with my first released pregnancy picture, from yesterday - 35 weeks and 3 days. Enjoy the belly; I worked hard to get it to look like this!