Friday, April 26, 2013

The Cry-Baby of Birthing Class

March 9th: Birthing Classes Start (29 weeks, 4 days)
The birthing class that worked best with our schedule was one through Sparrow's Expectant Parents Organization. We were going to have class for 2.5 hours for three Saturdays in a row. We were there with about 8 other couples. On our name tags were our names and due dates. As we looked around, we noticed the due dates ranged from mid April until June. Our due date of May 21st seemed to be nicely sandwiched in the middle, which made me feel good since many of the things we are doing are a little more 'last minute' than most 'normal' expectant parents.

Our instructor welcomed us and gave us our first task to get to know each other: We were to tell our due date and if we knew what we were having. Then the moms were to say what has been the most scary part of pregnancy and the dads were to say what has been the most exciting. Josh immediately stared at me with a look that said, "How in the world are you going to answer that question?!" I thought the same thing. 

As she went from one couple to the other, the moms continued to share that the scariest part of pregnancy is the thought of labor pains. They are so NOT on my level of crazy, I found myself thinking. I haven't even allowed myself to think about labor and birth for goodness sakes.  The dads kept sharing that they were most excited to be dads or that they have enjoyed watching their parents get excited about being grandparents. 

Finally, it got to Josh and I. My response was something like this "I'm Kristin and this is my husband Josh.  We are having twins, we don't know if they are girls or boys, and our due date is May 21st.  We have had a long and difficult road to get to this place so I would say that the scariest part of pregnancy for  me was everything especially in the beginning few months."  I left it at that and felt satisfied.  Josh spoke next and shared something like, "The most exciting thing for me is thinking about Kristin and what a great mom she's going to be." 

Okay.  First of all, my husband is AMAZING.  That goes without saying.  Second, we have been in class for about 10 minutes and already I am crying.

As soon as I compose myself we watch a video about preterm labor.  In this, we see a family who have a baby born born in the early 30 weeks.  The baby, who ends up healthy and great, is strapped up to all these monitors and is hooked up to a vent.  Here the tears come again.  I look around and no one else is crying.

Next, we actually watch a baby being born.  I am now not crying anymore but full out sobbing.

I am emotional anyway (thanks Mom), but being overwhelmed with gratitude at even sitting in this class is more than I can handle.  There are so many milestones in pregnancy, like this one, that I thought I may never reach.  All of these little things are SUCH a big deal to me. 

Maybe next week I can keep it together, but if not, oh well :) 

Keep hoping... keep praying...

Registering

March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd: 
(28 weeks and 3, 4, and 5 days)
I promised Josh, a piece of paper, and my therapist that I would begin to move forward after a good 28 week doctor's appointment.  At our doctor's appointment, both babies had a great heart rate, and this was the first time they gave us an estimated weight and growth percentile.  Baby A was in the 77 percentile and Baby B was in the 61st.  Each measurement that was taken, they were ahead of schedule.  The doctor we saw told us that if I was to carry these babies to term, they would each be at least 8.5 pounds!!!!  Basically what he said that meant is that I would probably deliver early, but that our twins would be nice and big.  That is exactly what I was going for!  I guess my protein is really paying off. 

After the appointment, we spent the weekend registering for gifts, a huge step for me.  As we walked down all the baby aisles at Babies R Us and Target, it occurred to both of us how different registering for a baby is compared to registering for wedding gifts.  We had done plenty of research on items, but it still felt very unknown compared to picking out dishes or towels.  We knew we needed things like baby lotion, but how much?  We knew we needed highchairs, but what kind?  As fun and exhilarating as that process was, I think we both felt a little blind. 

My mom came with me Saturday to register and that helped a lot!  Having five kids and being a nurse in the NICU does give you some good knowledge and expertise. 

Were there tears shed in those baby aisles?  Yes of course :) 

One of the big things we researched was baby monitors.  I have to be careful when buying products like this because there is a fine balance between products that HELP my crazy and products that FUEL my crazy.  I knew I wanted something more than a traditional monitor, but wasn't sure what kind that might be.  After much deliberation, we decided on the AngelCare Monitors with the movement sensor.  Essentially, you put a little pad underneath where the babies sleep and if that pad senses no movement for 20 seconds, an alarm goes off.  This monitor got amazing reviews and is recommended by NICU nurses.

I am hopeful that this monitor will HELP my crazy.  I am happy to accept the occasional false alarm and feel that I might rest easier knowing that something is making sure our babies are breathing.  I read stories from parents about this monitor saving their baby's life and I was further hooked. 

I thought about a video monitor, but decided that would FUEL  my crazy.  I had visions of myself being up all night long staring at the screen watching every single movement, twitch, etc that either of our babies might do.  I feel like I would wake up and check that WAY too often that I would end up more sleep deprived than I'm already going to be. 

I know myself well enough to know that no matter which monitor we chose, I am going to be crazy with worry for a while and I accept that. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN

The Twin Diet
I have no real complaints about the care I've received from Lansing OBGYN.  Sure, I would like to get seen more (weekly?  daily?  hourly?!), but all the doctor's we've seen have been knowledgeable and kind and have dealt quite well with  my crazy.  I have, however, felt no different in my twin pregnancy as someone with a singleton pregnancy.  They don't see me more often and have no extra advice on how I should take care of myself.  This has never been good enough for me.  I have continued to read a lot throughout my pregnancy and SWEAR by one book in particular: When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke.  This book, in my mind, has been a God send.  Dr. Luke used to run a multiples clinic in Ann Arbor and conducted research just on multiples.  She changed a few variables with her patients, in particular, the kinds of food they ate and how much and came up with stunning results.  Patients following her diet and other advice on average had babies at least 30% bigger than the normal average American multiple pregnancy.  Also, you can read story after story after story on her behalf of people who carried their twins a long time: 37, 38, 39, 40 weeks...even overdue for goodness sakes.  50% of twins are born sometime during week 34. 

I have never been interested in needing my mom's 30+ years of NICU services and have always said it was my goal to "cook these babies for as long as possible."  Dr. Luke's research and extensively great results, made me take this book seriously. 

As I read it, the biggest changes I needed to make was about how much "rest" I was allowing myself to get and also about my diet. 

REST:
For multiples, her advice is for all moms to stop working at 28 weeks (which I knew wasn't going to happen for me) and to also take a morning and afternoon nap.  Basically be on partial bedrest.  This did open up my eyes to the life I lead and if what I was doing each day was really what was best for these babies.  Is working 12 hour days really what's best?  Is continuing to stay for this meeting and that meeting and running this errand and that errand after work really what's best?  NO!  So I began to make some lifestyle changes.  Although I continued to get sucked into school, I did make sure that once I got home, I stayed off of my feet.  I began to utilize our Lazy Boy chair like it was solid gold and also went to bed earlier if for no other reason then to be laying down earlier. 

DIET:
For twins, Dr. Luke recommends consuming 3,500 calories a day with nutritious foods and the biggest component to a healthy twin pregnancy is to eat at least 175 grams of protein a day.  When I first read that, I didn't think much of it.  I had never counted protein, but figured with my normal foods I had to come somewhat close right?  WRONG!!!!!  For a day I ate "normal" and counted protein...I don't even think I made 50 grams happen.  The next day, I decided to try to eat as much protein as possible and see where that took me...I didn't even make 100 grams.  Some serious work needed to be done. 

At a work breakfast on a Friday morning, I was talking to people about this protein thing and how hard it was for me to get what I needed.  Luckily, some fabulous teachers I work with have great knowledge on the subject of protein because they have been on super protein diets themselves.  Next thing I knew, I was getting shakes and bars thrown at me.  I got introduced to a shake you could make that has 50 grams of protein, plus 18 more if you use two glasses of milk to make it.  I also got introduced to a protein bar that has 20 grams.  If I were to eat those every single day, that would already get me to 88 grams before eating a single other thing.  YAY! 

So it began....protein, protein, protein.  Protein is used for many to "bulk" up.  Dr. Luke adapts that same thought  with growing more than one baby.  You bulk up, your babies will bulk up too. 

While I never have gotten the 3,500 calories a day (you think that'd be easy too, but not when you have two humans making your stomach capacity small and you're trying NOT to eat cake for every single meal) I have been counting protein like it's my J.O.B. and with babies now over the 70th percentile for weight, I have seen this pay off! 

What's nice about this diet too is that those bars and shakes have a lot of added calcium and other vitamins and minerals I need plus I will be happy to never EVER see those again once I give birth.  I feel like it will be a little easier for me to loose some baby weight because essentially that will be one of the big things I am cutting out.  It would be a lot harder for me to cut out the extra bag of chips or chocolate or ice cream rather than these only sort of good tasting protein magnets. 

If anyone out there learns they are carrying more than one pregnancy, I would SO HIGHLY recommend this book.  I really do believe it has been one of the keys to success thus far.  It also helped me to feel like I was being proactive on behalf of these little miracles and was giving them a different kind of care than they were getting just at the doctor's office. 

Keep hoping...Keep praying...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Highlights: February 2013

February 2013: Weeks 25-28
Here are some highlights from the month of February...

Monday February 4th: Discuss future (24 weeks, 6 days)
I finally discussed maternity leave plans out loud with people other than Josh.  I beat my signed deadline on this (thank you very much!) and it felt good to start to get plans into motion.  I knew that I would definitely be off of work by May 1stish (I'd be 37 weeks then), but put it out there that it could be as early as spring break (34ish weeks) depending on how I was doing.  Research shows that about 50% of twins are born between 34 and 36 weeks so I needed to be smart with my planning ahead. 

Saturday February 9th: Hiccups! (25 weeks, 4 days)
Josh's cousin Alesa is also having twins.  She's due in early April.  It was so nice to go to her baby shower and see some of the things she was getting and had registered for since Josh and I hadn't even begun to think about doing that (let's be serious here, that is completely and totally my fault....too early to plan those things...too scared....too superstitious).  Anyway, during the shower Alesa was talking about how much she can feel her babies hiccup.  I had not felt my twins do that yet.  After the conversation was over, I begun to feel what felt like a little kick, but in rhythm.  I was describing it to the people around me, including Alesa and my mother in law and sure enough, they believed I was feeling hiccups!  They were precious!!!!  How funny that we had just talked about that.  Josh's mom also got to feel the babies kick for the first time :) 

Saturday and Sunday February 16th and 17th: Cottage (26 weeks, 4 and 5 days)
Josh and I have not been doing much traveling since I've been pregnant.  It seemed to risky and scary to be somewhere not near a hospital.  Basically the farthest we've went was Ann Arbor for my birthday in September.  We were minutes away from my fertility doctor's office and minutes away from the U  of M hospital so that was an acceptable trip.  To think about being in the middle of nowhere in Canada, 45 minutes away from the United States was a whole other ballgame.  However, after much thinking, I decided we could do it. 

We went to the cottage with  my dad.  While up there, there were more hiccups again and my dad got to feel the babies kick.  It was a great and relaxing trip that was much needed. 

Tuesday February 26th: 28 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hhhhheeeelllllllllllloooo Third Trimester!

I won't ramble too much about what a huge deal this is, but wow. There were so many time throughout this infertility struggle where I never thought I would make it to this point. I wish there were more words to describe the overwhelming feeling of gratitude, but I am beyond thankful. 
 
This entire pregnancy, 28 weeks has always seemed like a magical number for me.  Since my mom is a nurse in the NICU, she and I have had many conversations on what is developed at what weeks, what percentage of babies live at which weeks, etc.  My mom continued to refer to 28 weeks as the time where the babies WILL go home with me.  Granted they would be in the NICU for a while and would have a lot of hurdles to over come, but the thought that if something went wrong and they needed to come out, they could still come home with  me in the end is extremely reassuring for someone like me.  I am constantly waiting for my body to do something wrong.  It has not cooperated enough times with fertility related issues that I just don't trust it.  On this day, my prayers were full of praise and many tears of joy were flowing.

I knew that maybe, just maybe, I could let myself start planning for these babies...just a little bit :)   

Keep hoping, Keep praying
 


Almost 25 weeks!


New trimester, New shirt! :)


 

Highlights: January 2013

January 2013:  Weeks 21-24
As  I continue to get behind on what I'm posting, I thought I would roll things together by month and reflect on the highlights of that month during the pregnancy. 

Thursday January 10th:  My Dad's B-day (21 weeks, 2 days)
While we were over at my parent's house having cake and ice cream, my mom and my youngest sister Rachel got to feel the babies kick! 

Sunday January 13th: THE FALL (21 weeks, 5 days)
Josh and I were having a conversation as I began to make my way down our basement stairs.  Apparently, I was focused too much on what we were talking about and not enough of paying attention to my walking and I tripped and fell down some of the stairs.  My ENTIRE focus as I felt like I was falling in slow motion, was to land on anything but my abdomen region.  I grabbed the railing right away and used my arms to try to lift up my butt in hopes to lesson the fall to my back.  Luckily, I fell on the backs of my legs instead.  Josh watched the whole thing and was by my side in an instant.

Tears came and came and came.  It is crazy how easy it is to feel like a failure of a mother even though these twins haven't even been born.  How could I possible be more wrapped up in a conversation than where I'm walking? How could I be so completely stupid as to not hold on to a railing when walking down stairs?  What if I hurt the babies? I could not stop sobbing for a very long time and refused to get up until I had felt some movement from the babies.  All appeared to be normal and it really was a soft fall in comparison to what could have been.  Thankfully, after speaking with the doctor, they said I could come in Monday and check heartbeats just to make sure all was well. 

Monday January 14th: After THE FALL (21 weeks, 6 days)
Doctor's appointment went well...both babies were accounted for and their heartbeats were in a good place.... Baby A = 155, Baby B = 129
Thank you, thank you thank you! 

Thursday January 17th: Coldplay (22 weeks, 2 days)
Driving home from school I listened to Coldplay.  The babies kicked me the entire way home.  Maybe they will have phenomenal taste in music like their mama ;) 

Sunday January 20th: More kicking (22 weeks, 5 days)
My mom, my sister Colleen, and sister Rachel got to feel babies kick! 

Friday January 25th: Doctor's Appointment (23 weeks, 3 days)
Josh was able to score us another ultrasound (he's so good) while I was in the bathroom. Although we got no pictures to take home that day, it was amazing to see the babies as it always is.  We continue to be in awe at how big they look and fall more and more in love every time we see them. 
Baby A= Heartbeat of 169, head down
Baby B= Heartbeat of 153, transverse
Babies were in an L shape :)

Monday January 28th: Dream (23 weeks, 6 days)
I had my very first dream about our twins.  In my recent dreams, I have been pregnant during the dream, but have gotten no data as to what these twins might be.  In this dream, I delivered a boy and a girl.  Baby A was a girl and came out right away.  Baby B took a little longer and was trying to squirm around and stay in.  That baby was a boy.  Both babies were over 7lbs!  We'll have to see if I end up being right!

Keep hoping...Keep praying...