Thursday, July 31, 2008

31 weeks!

Today marks the completion of 31 weeks!

The doctors changed my monitoring schedule this morning to two non-stress tests per day, which really just serves to increase my stress. I didn't even get a shower this morning, so please overlook the hair.

Without further ado or self-deprecation, here are the 31-week commemorative photos:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

30 minutes

Every other day, I get to have someone take me out of my room in a wheelchair for a half an hour. Precious, precious time to fill my lungs and achy sinuses with fresh air. Here are some photos from Sunday, when Laurie, Korin, and daughter R were all here. Don't tell anyone I was standing!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Thirty-First Week

Thirty weeks, two days today, and miraculously, there are not a lot of changes to report. It's been a pretty good, if busy, few days. My nurses have really been a lot of fun, and I'm feeling more secure than in my last post.

poppies from Laurie

a little pretty goes a long way

the 30-week growth scan

On Thursday, we had our latest ultrasound. It had been 3 weeks since the last one, and I was anxious to see the boys and how they were faring. Sadly, there won't be any pics to share... it's just too crowded in there. I didn't even get a clear glimpse at their profiles.

Zeus (whose membranes are ruptured) has gone from 2 pounds to 2 pounds, 12 ounces. He's just a little peanut, in the 24th percentile. I'm hoping for a little bump for him between now and the birth, since I've started taking some supplements that have been shown to enhance the function of the placenta.

Oden went from 2 pounds, 6 ounces all the way up to 3 pounds 5. A pound in 3 weeks! He's in the 50-something percentile for his size and age.

The doctors also looked at fluid levels. We clearly anticipated low fluid for Baby A, since the sack hasn't (yet) repaired itself, but there was almost nothing to measure. It shook me a little, thinking of my sweet boy tucked away in the womb, surrounded by his collapsed sack.

fancy soap, books and other distractions help!

how can Zeus continue to gestate without fluid??

There have been some questions about this, so let me address the situation to the best of my ability without turning to Dr. Google. When the bag of waters ruptures preterm (before 34 weeks), and there is no sign of infection or labor, the pregnancy is allowed to continue. If the baby/ies are past 24 weeks, their lung development is finished, although the lungs are not yet mature, and apparently the presence of amniotic fluid is most important when the lungs are still developing.

The baby/ies receive all of their nutrition, blood, and oxygen through the umbilical cord, so this is why they are monitored on a daily basis by both non-stress tests and doppler; if the umbilical cord is compressed, they will detect a deceleration of the heartbeat. If this were to happen (a prolonged decel) while I was being monitored, they would just keep us on the monitors longer to determine if the baby was in distress. Fetal distress would be one of the reasons for an immediate delivery.

So, the amniotic fluid at this gestational age is not critical to the baby's development. Because it is replenished every time the baby pees (did you know that amniotic fluid is mostly baby pee at this age??), Zeus does have increases in his fluid levels, allowing him to flex and stretch his limbs and build his muscle.

I was also told this week that babies who have been "stressed" like Zeus and even Oden have before they are born early are for the most part stronger and more resilient than preterm babies born my surprise.

things necessary for a long stay in the hospital:
good lip balm, hydration for the body and the sinuses

things to anticipate

Yesterday I had my maternity portraits done here in my hospital room. I'm really excited to see the resulting photos. That should happen sometime this week.

Tonight, my sis is coming to spend the night, which is always welcome. She went to the Portland Farmer's Market today to get the lambskin I've been wanting for the babies, so I can't wait to see that, and as an extra bonus, she'll be able to take me on a 30-minute wheelchair ride. As long as it's not too hot, we'll go out to one of the terraces that overlooks the whole city and faces Mounts Hood and St. Helen's.

Our friend Miriam just sent out a box, containing in part a belly cast kit, which we'll probably do either this week or next. I'd like to wait for for the first week in August, but if there's any indication that I could deliver next week, we'll try to get it done. She suggested that a photo be taken of the boys in the belly of the cast after they're born, and then again at a year. Sounds really cool to me, thanks Mir!

My mom is coming out a week from tomorrow for several days, so that's a major excitement. She's never been to Oregon, so although she'll be here at the hospital for much of her visit, I hope she gets to see something of this amazing and beautiful place. The same week, my friend Julie is going to be coming through, so it's going to be a ton of fun.

As for me, I have a work deadline this week, plus I'm striving to finish writing a bunch of thank you cards and get some knitting started and completed! Oh, yeah, and the small thing of keeping myself pregnant, which no doubt will involve spending most of my time lying on one side or another in bed. But we're not really thinking about that part.

In terms of hospital life, I don't think we have any special testing this week. Just keeping on keeping on is the plan.

baby-related task for tomorrow:
choose baby announcement design from Oblation and figure out wording.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

holding strong

I've been thinking every day that I should post some kind of an update, and you'll all probably be happy just to know that we're all doing fine, but aside from telling you that, I have wondered how to fill the space here.

Every day in the hospital takes on a life of its own. Some days, like today, my sister or friend are with me, and it's a great distraction, even if we're doing nothing more than watching a movie. Other days, the visits are shorter, or my mood is more fragile, or it's so chaotic that I just about go out of my mind. Being in the hospital without a major injury comes with its own special kind of mental stress that I really had never considered before. This is neither a restful nor a healthy environment.

So, the good news is that we're all well. 50% of women with PROM (premature rupture of membranes) go into labor in less than a week from the time of rupture, and I have now clearly fallen on the more favorable side of those odds. Today is my 11th day in the hospital, and there is no sign of infection or fetal distress. On Thursday, I will be 30 weeks, and with each day and week that passes, the baby boys have a better and better prognosis.

The stress of being here is starting to take a toll. When I'm alone, I'm keenly aware of both my body and its many sensations and the clock on the wall. I have been feeling like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, like any of the variations in how I feel might herald the end of the pregnancy and/or danger for my babies. It doesn't help that spending 11 days "resting," plus the growth of the babies and my belly results in aches and pains heretofore not experienced. Is this back ache a sign of labor? Does the fact that they're moving less today mean they're in distress? Why do I have a headache? It's my responsibility to monitor how I feel, but all this time alone in this small room is like being trapped in a symptoms magnifier. It's mental torture. I won't even begin to tell you about the food situation. It's far too depressing.

Tomorrow I have another growth scan to measure the babies, estimate their weights, and check the fluid levels. I should have something to report then... hopefully a nice profile shot of each.

So, yeah. One month from today, August 21st, is my goal for the pregnancy. That's 29 days from today. Count it down with me, friends... one day at a time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

the past week

from Sunday, 28w3d

refreshing shower? yes! stiff upper lip? not so much.

flowers from mom and dad

this is the printout from a non-stress test. the two lines on the top are the traces of the babies' hearts, and the line at the bottom shows any contractions of the uterus (none!)

3 belts: a fetal heart monitor for each baby, and the contraction monitor for me.

compression "boots" to avoid blood clots in the legs

hydration & communication, and rescue remedy

supportive friends.
Korin, me, my awesome nurse/friend R, and my amazing sister behind the camera.

Monday, July 14, 2008

change in plans

28 weeks and 5 days today, and let me tell you, the days themselves have never seemed so important to me. I'm going to make this post a quick one, since I've been trying to put one up for days and keep getting interrupted.

I woke up from my slumber last Thurdsay night/ Friday (28w) morning to discover that I was leaking fluids. Made my way to the hospital with Korin, and upon arriving, experienced the horrifying sensation of my bag of waters breaking, at just 28 weeks.

By the grace of God, I'm still in the hospital, carrying my two boys in the safety of the womb. Every day is a gift to them, and I am hoping to be here in the hospital until the ripe gestational age of 34 weeks (or longer). They're looking good on the daily non-stress tests, visibly practicing fetal breathing, putting on weight, and moving like crazy. Throughout this whole time, the goal will be to stave off infection so that they can stay where they are.

I'm feeling optimistic overall, and while staying in the hospital is a drag, I can honestly say that I am willing to endure any discomfort in order to get the boys to a safer age to be born. I'll try to post as often as I can, to share the positive updates and document what this process is like here in the hospital with ruptured membranes.

So, with that, I'm going to rest. See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Work it, Zeus!

In lieu of belly pics, here are some of the ultrasound pictures from last Thursday. Unfortunately, they're only of Zeus, as Oden is positioned in such a way that it's impossible to get his face anymore. I've done some generous cropping, because some of these 3-D images are just plain creepy!

nose and mouth


Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Third Half

A couple of weeks ago, on a particular Saturday spent in the car, it dawned on me that an NPR junkie like myself should have thought to call the twins Click and Clack, rather than Zeus and Oden. Their gestational names shall remain, but I'm now taking it upon myself to call the remainder of my pregnancy The Third Half, a la the Tappert Brothers.

So here we are - 27 weeks came and went last Thursday, and I'm officially in my third trimester. The countdown reads 89 days remaining today, which somehow is completely astonishing.

The Babies

On Thursday, I went in for another ultrasound, the purpose of which was to measure the growth of the babies, the level of amniotic fluid around each, their positions, and to see how my cervix is holding out.

I'm pleased to report that we've got a 2-pounder (Zeus) and a 2# 5oz whipper snapper (Oden) in there - right on target for the exact day of gestation. As the fates would have it, they are also both head-down, which is very, very promising. Fluid levels look good, and mama's door to the baby house is still firmly shut. Praise Jesus.

Week 27: Fetal Development: Sense of Taste and Sound

Beginning at this stage of fetal development, your baby's length will be measured from top of head to toe — which makes your baby nearly a full 15 inches now. And at just over two pounds, he or she has doubled in weight from four weeks ago.
Most babies this age, yours included, still like to snuggle in a slightly curled position inside the uterus (thus the term "fetal position"). Even so, beginning at this stage, your baby's length will be measured from top of head to toe — which makes your baby nearly a full 15 inches now. And at just over two pounds, he or she has doubled in weight from four weeks ago.

Your baby's auditory development (hearing) is progressing as the network of nerves to the ears matures. And even though the sounds your baby hears are muffled (thanks to the creamy coating of vernix covering those ears), he or she may recognize both yours and your partner's voices. So this might be a good time to read and even sing to your baby (or rather, your belly) — and a good chance to start boning up on those nursery rhymes and lullabies you'll need to be repeating (and repeating) pretty soon. And while you're at it, here's another way to have some family fun: If your partner presses his ear to your belly, he might be able to hear the baby's heartbeat.

Your baby's taste buds are very developed now too (with more taste buds than he or she will ever have outside the womb, actually). Need a taste test? If you eat some spicy food (you hot mama, you), your baby will be able to taste the difference in the amniotic fluid (but keep in mind that you'll have different mealtimes, with your baby's coming about two hours after yours). Some babies will even respond to that spicy kick by hiccupping. And although hiccups (which feel like belly spasms to you) may seem like they're disturbing to your baby, he or she isn't stressed at all. It's just one more sensation that babies need to get used to.

The Mama

After witnessing my feet and ankles swell up like sausages a few days in a row this week, I had Korin bring home her BP cuff to make sure everything was still ok. Fortunately, my blood pressure is still a stellar 116/70-something, which is very encouraging, given the fact that I've been on meds for 3 years and my BP has never been so consistently low. Unfortunately, it looks like I've got 11 more weeks (more or less) of grossly oversized ankles to deal with. Oh, well... it's common enough, and at least it held off until now!

This week has also brought some new discomforts, key among which is lack of sleep. I'm averaging about 4 hours a night, with all the surrounding time in bed spent in various states of ache and pain.

On the other hand, people in public have finally started to acknowledge my pregnancy, which is a very happy thing. I don't know why it's so important to me, but I've been waiting for months for a little attention, so now that people are chatting with me, smiling at me (or gawking at me), etc, I feel, I don't know, recognized? Anyway, it's pretty fun.

The Rest

I wanted to give a little shout out to Julie - thanks for your comment last week! So cool to know you're checking in online, and I can't wait to see you!

My mom has also scheduled a visit in August - very exciting. This will be her first trip to the Pacific Northwest, and she'll get to hang out with my sister and me. I think I'm even going to leave the arranging of the baby clothes for while she's here - I have a feeling she'll like getting to see all the little outfits and put them away in the drawers of the bureau she was so concerned that I have. It'll be so much fun to have her here. It looks like we're also going to have a small birth blessing while she's visiting... I'll post details later in case you want to send along a special wish or a bead.

Well, I've been delaying this post for days in the hopes that I might have a belly photo to post with it... Laurie's coming over this afternoon, so if we happen to take one, I'll add it later.