Coming home part one

Published July 5, 2016 by Jennie

After an 11 day stay in the NICU we got to bring one of our babies home. While it feels like it has been a long time, it could be worse. When my water broke they told me to expect the babies to stay in the NICU until around my due date (August 4th). We have also met several other NICU families who have had to endure much longer stays. Two days ago I met a NICU momma who was on day 98 with no end in sight.

Lauren spent her time in the NICU learning how to eat and gain weight. She received phototherapy for jaundice and did not develop any other medical issues.

Parenting in the NICU is tough but the nurses are amazing. The twins have received great care and the nurses always take the time to let me know the babies are doing. The NICU is also supported by some wonderful volunteers who do all kinds of nice things for the babies. For example, they made them the cutest 4th of July hats (Lauren is on the left and Luke is on the right).

We are thrilled to have Lauren home and hopefully her brother will soon join us. To come home, he needs to outgrow bradycardia and be able to eat entire feedings without a tube.

I had never heard of bradycardia before the twins were born but I have since learned that it is extremely common among preemies; so much so that it is more expected for them to have it to some degree than to not have it at all. Luckily it does not cause any long term problems and Luke’s case is very mild (he has about 1 to 2 self-resolved bradys a day). If he has not outgrown in in the next week or so, they will start treating it with caffeine.

Eating wise he still has some work to do but is getting better. He usually eats about 2/3rds of his feedings with a bottle and the rest through a nasogastric tube. Sometimes he does even better and we can avoid using the tube for the entire feeding. Other than these relatively minor issues he is healthy. All in all we are thankful that they are both doing so well.

Fingers crossed we will soon have another homecoming. Now that Lauren is home it is going to be harder for me to get to the hospital and I sure do miss our little guy.

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Our Birth Story

Published June 26, 2016 by Jennie

Thank you so much for all the well wishes! It has meant a lot to me. I thought I would share our birth story. It was definitely a whirlwind and some parts are hard to remember.

On Friday the 24th, I woke up at about 4AM to my water breaking at 34w1d. I woke up my husband and we drove to the hospital. We were both surprisingly calm given the situation. I think we were both in shock.

When I got to triage the nurse told me that since I was not in labor they would try to hold it off since I was early. The original plan was to admit me and try to push back delivery as long as possible. I then spoke to the doctor on call. He said sometimes the risks of prolonging the pregnancy would outweigh the benefits. The longer we waited, the higher the risk of infection (the risk of infection increases after you rupture your membranes). He said 34 weeks is usually the point where the will not try to prolong the pregnancy anymore.

Since I was not in labor, he decided to give me a steroid shot to speed up lung development. That takes a day to work so we were going to deliver on Saturday. Even so, he said that the research on giving steroids at 34 weeks is mixed. At that point it probably does not help much but since it only takes a day to work it was worth a shot. Basically he was ok with trying to prolong the pregnancy for one more day but nothing more than that.

We scheduled a C section on Saturday. About 10 minutes after the doctor left I went into labor. It happened super fast. I went from no contractions to significant contractions very quickly. The doctors were surprised by how fast it happened. Luckily I had an amazing nurse who got the ball rolling so I could deliver.

The C section went smoothly. I originally struggled with having a C section versus a vaginal birth but once it came time to do it, I was just glad we had a way for me to deliver them safely. One I delivered, we got to see them and hold them for a few minutes and then they went to the NICU.

That evening I started feeling pretty bad. We found out I had a severe allergic reaction to the tape used on my incisions. The doctor actually told me she had never seen a reaction like that before. In the grand scheme of things it is not my biggest concern. It is frustrating though because it makes it harder to get around and the medicine used to treat it makes me pretty loopy.

I have attempted to pump and so far it is an epic failure. I pump every 2 hours using a hospital grade pump and have yet to get even a single drop. Not even one. I hate it.

I do plan on writing a post about our NICU experience. For now I will say it is the best and worst place I have ever been to. I am so thankful that our babies are getting such good care and the staff in the NICU are nothing short of angels.

Here are a few pictures.

 

We are also incredibly fortunate that both babies are doing remarkably well. They have breathed on their own the whole time (that is a big deal for preemies) and are eating. Yesterday they had all their IVs removed. Today they were removed from their incubators and are in regular beds. I know they need a little more TLC but I am so ready for them to come home! – Jennie

We are closer than we thought

Published June 23, 2016 by Jennie

Today I am 34 weeks. Holy cow! Yesterday we had at non stress test (NST) at our OB/GYN’s office. It took a while for the test to differentiate the babies. Apparently they like to be active and calm at the same time. Ultimately though they got a good reading and they both passed, yay! We will be doing these tests weekly until I deliver (although we may not have many more weeks to go).

Last week we had a biophysical profile (BPP) at MFM. We go there every four weeks. During our BPP the babies did not want to wake up so the doctor had to buzz them. That was the weirdest feeling ever! I thought they were going to jump out of my stomach. They passed this test as well as a growth scan and placenta assessment.

The doctor then checked my cervix and immediately said I will not make it to term, which is 38 weeks for twins. It measured at 1.7 cm and has been over 3 cm for all my other checks. He estimated I will deliver around 35 to 36 weeks but of course can not tell for sure.

Even though I can not control when I deliver, the fact that they will likely be premature is difficult to accept. I have done everything I can think of to have a healthy pregnancy and I am still not going to be able to carry them to term. Part of me feels like this is my first mommy failure. Logically I know this is not the case but it is still hard.

My doctor did help me feel a bit better about things. He told me that the average gestation for twins is 35 weeks. Also, they both look healthy. We are delivering at a hospital with a level IV NICU so if there are issues they will be best equipped to handle them. The thought of spending time in the NICU is scary but I am going to try not to think about it until it is necessary. Lastly, I know that there are different levels of prematurity and it could be much worse.

For now I am laying low at home reading every baby book I can find and trying my best to get everything ready for the babies. Even so, the more I do the more unprepared I feel. We will have help when the babies get here but I am worried I am not going to know what to do.

I am also trying to figure out how to make this as easy on my dogs as possible. I know this might sound like a silly concern but they have been our babies for 10 years and are used to being the center of attention. Here is a picture of them. Aren’t they adorable!

dogs

I know our priorities will change but I do not want them to feel completely neglected. Does anyone have any good advice on how to do this?

Right now I am super nervous but also really excited to meet our little ones! We have been waiting for over 6 years and we are now down to a few weeks (or maybe less). I am also thankful for all the support from my blogging family. It is nice to know that there are other people out there going though similar things. You guys are awesome! – Jennie

We did a photo shoot!

Published June 13, 2016 by Jennie

So anyone who has ever met me may be surprised by this. Normally this kind of thing is not my style. I do not think there is anything wrong with maternity photos at all (in fact I always enjoy looking at ones that people post). I am just not a picture person. In fact, I mentioned in my last post that up until this point, I had only taken one picture since we did my transfer, and that was at graduation.

Several people have told me that in the future I would regret not having any pictures of my pregnancy. They are right. Even so, I did have to get over some vanity issues. I feel like I look awful. I have experienced a TON of swelling (I can only wear flip flops and crocs that are a few sizes too big). I have also gained almost 40 pounds (yikes!!!). This is actually within a normal range for a twin pregnancy at this point (I am 32w4d) but I feel huge!

It also recently occurred to me that we started our first IVF cycle almost 2 years ago. That means with the exception of a few months after my D&E, I have spent the last 2 years either pregnant or on crazy IVF meds. It has been a while since I have felt like myself!

I did not expect to enjoy this photo shot but I ended up having a great time! Part of that was due to our fabulous photographer, Claudia. She really put us at ease and made us feel comfortable. She is also very talented. You can see some of her other work on her website and facebook page.

Another thing I really liked about our photo shoot is it showed me that my husband sees right past all my petty vanity issues (either that or he is a really good actor).

Well here are some of the pictures. They were taken at 32 weeks pregnant with our twins.

Claudia also wrote a really cool post on her own blog where she talks about our story and shares a few more pictures.

Some people may notice we have some baby names in the pictures! I had mentioned in an earlier post that I decided to let my husband name the babies and I did not want to know the names until they got here. Well he still named them but I decided to go ahead and find out what he picked. One challenge with this pregnancy is having it feel real. I think this is primarily due to our history. Knowing their names has helped with this. I also really like the ones he picked (if  I didn’t I would have told him and he would have picked something else).

If anyone is curious, the boy is named after my husband’s favorite football player. The girl is a little trickier. He won’t admit it, but I think he got the girl name from the most recent season of the Bachelor. I watch every episode (please don’t judge my guilty pleasure) and sometimes he watches with me (although he says he only watches it to comment on how dumb it is). I think he liked that season’s winner.

I guess that means that I have these people to thank for our baby names! I am good with that 🙂

Hope everyone is doing well! – Jennie

 

Things are starting to get real!

Published May 26, 2016 by Jennie

Today marks 30 weeks! I  can’t believe I just typed that. Everything still feels surreal. We have been on this journey so long and it’s crazy to think we are just a few months away from meeting our babies.

Not much is going on right now but I feel like this is the calm before the storm. While waiting for the coveted title of mom I did obtain another title a few weeks ago….Dr! I was originally not going to go to graduation but my husband talked me into it. I am glad he did. It is cool to think that my babies were with me when I got my PhD. Here is a picture of graduation 🙂

grad

This is actually the only picture of me that has been taken since we did our transfer in November. I am really weird about stuff like that.

People keep asking me how I am feeling. Sometimes it is hard for me to answer that. We have been through so much to get pregnant and it does not feel right to complain. Even so pregnancy (and in my case a twin pregnancy) is challenging and I think it is okay to talk about those challenges. With everything going on, I am still thankful for every day this pregnancy continues and my number one goal is to keep them cooking for the next eight weeks.

Symptoms

Carpel Tunnel – My worst symptom right now by far is carpel tunnel syndrome. I never knew this could be a pregnancy thing before I experienced it. My hands hurt all the time and my left hand is worse than my right (I am left handed). It makes everything from brushing my hair to lifting things to grocery shopping a challenge. I have started doing a lot of things (like typing this post) with my right hand but even that takes a while. This has been frustrating because I have a lot of stuff I need to do and its hard to get things done. I do wear a splint but it does not seem to help much.

Swelling – OMG the swelling is crazy! It doesn’t help that I live in the South and it is summer. It has gotten a lot worse the last few weeks despite me drinking water like it is going out of style. For example, at 28 weeks I had gained 28 pounds, which is exactly what I was shooting for (research shows that 28 lbs by 28 weeks greatly reduces the likelihood of preterm labor for twin pregnancies). After that, I cut back on calories but kept up protein. Even so, I gained almost 7 pounds between weeks 28 and 30. My dr said this is almost all due to swelling. My concern is that this can be a sign of preeclampsia especially if it is paired with other symptoms. My dr is watching things closely and I am taking my blood pressure twice a day. So far so good.

Movement – I have mentioned in previous posts that movement has been an issue. It is getting better but nowhere where I would like. If I followed kick count guidelines I would be calling the nurse on call everyday. Even so, they are always active during every ultrasound and are growing on target. At 29 weeks baby A was 2 lbs 9 oz and baby B was 2 lbs 14 oz. I freaked out a bit because they were different but MFM said that is normal and they will have growth spurts at different times. As long as the difference does not exceed 20% we are good!

I did find out that the babies respond to loud noises. At a recent appointment my doctor’s office was testing the fire alarm. The babies went nuts. It was awesome! Everyone else in the waiting room looked annoyed and I probably looked like a crazy person sitting there with a big smile on my face. I also recently went to a baseball game where they had fireworks and they responded to that as well.

Hope my readers in the US all have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend and everyone is doing well! – Jennie