The Joys of Napping Twins (Said No One Ever)

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If I could just subtract naptime from the equation, I swear my life with my boys would be perfect. Most days are great.  They really are happy, funny, pleasant little guys.

But, dear Lord.  Save me from having to coordinate 4 naps a day for 10-month-old twins.

Up until recently, naps were going well.  I had them on the same schedule.  I figured out a soothing routine that allowed me to snuggle each of them and still keep us on schedule.  Both were napping 1-1.5 hours, 2 times a day.

Until recently.  Somehow, I’ve must have angered the nap gods, and this distinct wave of dread floods over me every time naptime approaches.

This is what naps had been looking like:

About 15 minutes before the target sleep time, I would put them both in the swings to settle them a bit. Then I would bring James into their room, white noise on, room dark.  I would rock him for 5-10 minutes, and he would fall asleep in about 3. Then I would put him in the crib and repeat the same thing with Michael.

Up until recently, I could bring Michael in the room while James was sleeping, and he would stay asleep while I rocked Michael.  I would put Mike down without tears, and I’m sure I tempted fate by quietly closing the door behind me and thinking, ‘That was too easy!’

On days like that, usually Michael would wake up earlier, and I could rush to get him out before he woke up James.  And on most days, I was successful.

But that has not been our house recently.  Recently, naps look something like this:

Bring James in and get him to sleep.  Bring Michael in. Michael decides he wants to talk. Loudly.  And James wakes up.

At this point, there is no getting them both back to sleep without some serious soothing from me, and starting the routine all over again – i.e. bring Baby #1 back to the living room in the swing, settle Baby #2 in the room, get him to sleep. Then get Baby #1 and repeat.

I’m sorry. I just don’t have it in me.

Theoretically, I let them fuss until they fall asleep.  But that doesn’t happen.  Instead, they just squawk and chat and cry and keep each other up. If I look in the monitor, I see Michael crawling back and forth in his crib.  James?  He is just picking up one pacifier, taking out the one that is in his mouth and putting in a different one.  This could go on for hours, if I let it.

So, scrap nap #1.  We will try again in the afternoon. And it looks like a shower isn’t happening (again) today.

In the meantime, I’m scouring the internet, looking up every article on napping, twin napping  and anything remotely related, while re-reading all relevant sections of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Regardless of all the sage advice, nothing seems to fit my issues, and I’m getting more and more frustrated at this scenario.

At this point, the boys are in high chairs, waiting for their snack while I’m reading.  It’s 2 Cheerios on Michael’s tray, 2 on James’ tray, and a handful in my mouth in between paragraphs. Repeat for about 20 minutes (read: when the box of Cheerios is empty and the boys are crying because I ate all their Cheerios).

According to the book, it’s about catching them at the right point of tiredness. I watch for the signs and try again.

OK, repeat soothing routine.  I bring James in first.  Just as he is about to nod off, he gets the hiccups.

Seriously? The hiccups? It’s the hiccups that are going to thwart naps today?

OK. I bring James to the swing in the living room and try to get Michael to sleep while James is wearing off his hiccups.  Just as Michael is about to drift off, I hear James start to scream. I hear this over the noise machine and a closed door.  Of course, Michael’s eyes fly open at the sound of his brother crying.  Wiggling and wide awake. At this point – there’s not much I can do but to let them cry it out and fall asleep. Except they don’t.

Scrap nap #2.

Now I’m really stressing because I’m scared their lack of sleep during the day will mess up their night sleep, which is great.  I decide to move bedtime earlier – to catch up on their sleep debt and because my normally fun, pleasant silly little boys are a little less fun, pleasant and silly.  And now, I’m thinking of how to explain to my husband why I am still in my bathrobe and why we need to order Chinese tonight.

A whole day shot because of naps. Or lack thereof.

Now, this is just one scenario.  There could be any number of variables that sabotage naptime on any given day.  Some days, if I happen to get them to fall asleep, any one of these scenarios might happen:

Get James to sleep. Get Michael to sleep. Michael wakes up early and wakes up James.

Get James to sleep. Get Michael to sleep. James wakes up early and wakes up Michael.

Get James to sleep. Get Michael to sleep. As I’m walking out, one or both wake up.

Get James to sleep. Get Michael to sleep. UPS knocks on the door. Both wake up.

Let them cry. Neither one goes back to sleep.

Now, I could cry.  Why don’t they just sleep???  How hard is that?  I mean, who doesn’t want to sleep???

Well, my sons. That’s who. That’s who doesn’t want to sleep.

With resignation, I realize this can’t go on. Something has to be done. So, like it or not, I’ve got a new full-time job in cracking the code to get my boys to sleep again.

People say having twins is twice the love, twice the cuddles, twice the laughter.  It is. It’s all that. But sometimes, it’s just twice as hard. Especially when it comes to naps.

Worth every second. But sometimes, still hard.

I sometimes think, “If I had only one baby, naptime would be so easy…”

But, c’mon. What baby would I give up because I want an easy naptime? Seriously.

I’d rather have it hard with both of them than be without either.

So with that being said, let the nap games begin. They are lucky they’re so darn cute.

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Our Twins’ Birth Story, Part 2

When I wrote Part 1, I never anticipated that it would be 4 months later that I would get around to writing Part 2, which is the real story.  I was hoping it would fortuitously land on a significant day, but I missed the 37-weeks-in-37-weeks-out thing and their 1st birthday is still 2 months away, so, well, the boys are asleep, it’s too cold to go food shopping, the husband is watching football….in my world, that means the stars have finally aligned to tell this story.

April 2nd. To be honest, all I remember about waking up that morning was a surreal feeling – disbelief that this was really happening: that in a few hours, these babies would here. In a few hours, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. I would be a mom.

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Last bump picture, before we left for the hospital

I had to be at the hospital at 10:30 am, so after a last-minute pit-stop to get batteries for the camera, we arrived.  We were the only ones in the labor-and-delivery waiting room, and we just mindlessly watched TV, not saying much. As I automatically began rubbing my belly, a million disjointed thoughts were going through my mind, but none that I could shape into any coherence.

Finally, we were called, and as it turned out, a mom of some former students was my nurse.  Her familiar face and caring touch put me at ease.  Another reminder God was with me.  I was somewhat on edge because of the scare we had the week before, so I felt tense until the monitors were on and I could hear the heartbeats for myself.  And hearing the ‘swoosh, swoosh, swoosh’ of their hearts was the next best thing to hearing their cries just a few hours later.

My C-section was scheduled for noon, but it became really clear we were running late.

There was a few ‘comic relief’ interludes (that didn’t seem funny at the time), like my husband leaving his wallet in the men’s room. Really???  Today you do this? Not only was I freaked out that it was stolen, I was worried he would miss the delivery while he was out looking for it. (He found it. Thankfully.).

Then, the nurse told him to get something to eat – that he shouldn’t be in the surgery with an empty stomach. Again, I was worried he would miss something.  But after he came back, he felt sick and needed to find Tums. Nerves or hospital food, we weren’t sure (yet).   This, all the while, with my parents in the waiting room, on pins and needles. Every time J. came out for something else, they thought it was the grand announcement.  Every time, they thought he was toying with them.

Nope, he said. Still waiting.

Finally, some time around 1 pm, they brought us in to the operating room, full of staff, all in their specialty teams.

They started the spinal tap on me (and informed me I had scoliosis, by the way. I guess it had been a long time since I bent over to touch my toes and had the school nurse feel my spine).  The anesthesia wasn’t spreading high enough like they wanted, so they tilted me to a 45 degree angle, with my head down and feet in the air.

And soon, it was go time.  The curtain was up, J. was holding my hand, and the doctors got to work. Again, just a surreal feeling, like it wasn’t really me in this moment. I felt some tugging and movement, but I was so in my head…just praying and waiting and holding my breath. I couldn’t really grasp that Baby A and Baby B who had been moving around in my belly, a part of me, for 37 weeks, were now actually going to be real, live babies that I could hold and know. Babies that would be alive apart from me. Babies who would be separate, distinct individual beings.

Then, at 1:57 pm, I heard a cry.  J. and I looked at each other. Boys or girls??? Then we heard my doctor say, ‘We have a boy!’  I let out a laugh, and then tears filled my eyes as reality sunk in: We made it.  We actually made it to the other side of infertility. We have boys.

Then I heard another cry. Our second boy. By this point, J. was moving around the room taking pictures.  I looked sideways to my left to see Baby A  – well, Michael Robert – and the first thing I said was, ‘He has hair!’

I couldn’t see Baby B- James Anthony – but soon, the nurses brought both of them to us.  I held James and my husband held Michael.  All I could do was just look at him and kiss his little face and cry.  I couldn’t believe I had my babies. Beautiful, healthy, perfect little baby boys.

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Meeting my James for the first time

While all of this was going on, I was aware enough to listen for Apgar scores.   I wish I could remember what they were, but for both boys, both numbers were high – 8s and 9s and 10s, I think. I kept waiting to see if there was going to be some kind of bad report – but it never came.  Just two beautiful, healthy boys – Michael was 6 lbs, 4 oz; James was 5 lbs, 12 oz.

The nurse took many pictures for us – our first family photo shoot – and then after they stitched me up, they wheeled me to recovery.

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At this point, my parents were still waiting.  Instead of J. going out there to tell them, the nurses brought them to us so we could tell – and show- them ourselves.  Our little boys.

The nurses laid each boy on my chest in turn, seeing if they would breastfeed. I’ll never forget holding each of them on my chest for the first time. Utter perfection. Utter peace. It sounds cliche, but I never wanted that moment to end.

However, at that point, another doctor wasn’t totally happy with how they were breathing, so she wanted them to go to the NICU for a little while.  She assured me this was common with C-section babies and that all was well. So we said goodbye as they wheeled our babies away.

Once they left, I realized I was feeling the effects of the anesthesia and I was FREEZING.  I mean, shivering to the point where I could barely talk.  I was brought to my room to recover, and J. went to the NICU to check on the boys and bring me reports.

The rest of the time in the hospital is a bit of a blur, but here is what I remember, in somewhat random fashion.

I didn’t think the C-section recovery was that bad.  I mean, the first few days it hurt, especially trying to sit up, but I took pain meds on schedule, whenever they offered it, trying to stay ahead of the pain.  That helped.

I didn’t find the PP nurses especially helpful. I didn’t know I was supposed to take off the compression belt or I’d have excruciating pain.  No one offered to help me shower. I had to request a breast pump – no one offered.  I had to request a lactation consultant. I just felt like they assumed I would know what was going on and what to do. I didn’t. I was a brand new mom. Was I really supposed to know all this? Thankfully, a girl from my church who is a post-partum nurse was working, and she was amazing. (The L&D and NICU nurses were fantastic, though).

The NICU was a floor below mine, so it was an ordeal trying to get to my babies.  When my husband wasn’t there (more on that later), I had to take it on myself to get there.  It took too long to wait for hospital transport, so I would either wheel myself there or walk down holding my wheelchair. After a C-section, both were very difficult. And painful! But I was determined to be there at feedings and to hold them (my milk hadn’t come in yet, so I couldn’t nurse).

Even though it broke my heart to see them in the NICU, I was assured they would be okay.  I still couldn’t believe they were mine. Not only was I allowed to be there and hold them, I was supposed to be. I was their mom.  It just didn’t seem real.  There were lots of tears in that NICU as that reality sunk in. The first time I reached my hand in to touch Michael, he screamed.  Didn’t he know who I was??? I was convinced he hated me.

So back to my husband.  He stayed overnight the first night, Thursday, but wasn’t feeling great.  So, on Friday, he went home to feed the cats, snooze a little and come back.  When he came back, he still was feeling sick.  Then I started to worry – for him, yes – but I didn’t want him near the babies if he was sick!  He planned to stay the night, but I told him to go home and get some sleep. Well, turns out, he had to pull over on the way home to throw up. When he told me that on Saturday, I insisted he go to the doctor. If he had the flu, he could not come near us!

A few hours later, I got a call from him and he said he was at different hospital.

‘Um, hon? We aren’t at that hospital!’

‘No, I’m IN the hospital. In the emergency room!’ 

The doctor sent him to the ER, and of all things, he had food poisoning.  From the food he had eaten at this hospital!

Needless to say, J. wasn’t coming back that day, so he really missed so much of the boys’ first days of life in the hospital, which was a huge bummer. However, I had James to keep me company on Saturday. He was discharged from the NICU to my room, so I was able to have at least one of my little guys with me. The lactation consultant in the NICU was great, but the one on my floor was useless.  (“So, what do you have questions about?” Really?  “Um… everything. I have questions about everything.). Thankfully, a friend came that night and coached me through.

Michael never got discharged from the NICU to my room, but he was discharged from the hospital the same time as James and I were. We all went home together on April 5. Easter Sunday. A day celebrating new life. Perfect.

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It was hard to believe they were actually letting us take home these babies. I have NEVER seen my husband drive so carefully. We felt so unprepared. So inadequate. I had spent so much thought and energy getting through the pregnancy, I did not feel ready to be a mom. I hear that no one ever really feels ready.

But I knew I was ready to meet them. I knew I loved them with all my heart, and I could already feel that growing even with the first hours and days. I knew that these two helpless little human beings had stolen my heart and had changed our lives forever. And as unprepared as I felt, I didn’t feel fear. I truly felt peace in my heart, that somehow we would all be okay. Us and them.

And that’s how our life together began.

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Our first few hours at home together

Goodbye 2015, Thanks for Everything

imageI know I’m behind here (story of my life lately) for the looking-back-looking-ahead-tributes, but I just can’t move on to 2016 without giving a salute to 2015.

My typical reflections of past years usually end with a conclusion that the year was a mixed bag, full of ups and downs, lessons learned, la, la, la. On some level, that is true of 2015, too.

But, 2015 was a great year.

Sigh.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that, but for 2015, it’s the  truth.

If you’ve been reading any time at all or if you know me in real life, the reason is obvious. The birth of my twin boys. After starting 2015 with so much fear and excitement and nervous energy and questions as to how this pregnancy would turn out, getting to the end of the year and seeing the culmination of years of praying and crying and hoping in the faces of my boys has such a rewarding and gratifying and incredulous experience.

I look at their gummy grins when I get them out of their cribs in the morning, hear their belly laughs when they are running wild on their door swings, feel their little fingers rubbing my hand as they are falling asleep and I still think, ‘Is this real? Do I really have not one, but two beautiful babies? Did this year really happen?’

How I got so lucky to be their mom, to be the recipient of their wet kisses and warm snuggles, to be the one to witness them discovering the world and something new every  day, I’ll never know. I’ll never deserve. But these boys have filled my year, filled my world, with so much joy and love – and yes, so much happiness.

It was a long, painful, road to get here, but I am oh, so thankful. It has had its hard, tiring moments, full of adjusting and learning curves, but it has been everything I dreamed it would be.

If I could encapsulate 2015 in a phrase (or Bible verse), it’s this:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12).

For many years, I felt like my life was always the ‘hope deferred’ part. Waiting was painful. Disappointment was painful. Even hoping was painful. It really felt like the desire would never come. But when it did?

Oh, man. It takes my breath away.

And really, it’s not 2015 I’m saluting. We all know this. It’s God. I’m still undone at His generosity and kindness to me in the gift of my boys. Still in awe and still almost daily brought to tears by it. Truly don’t get it. Don’t understand it.  But I’m learning more about His heart as my heart explodes with the love that is in it for my boys.

This will always be a magnificent, milestone, life-changing year in my life. I know this doesn’t happen every year, but I have to give a nod that 2015 was one for the books.

I’m usually the resolution-goal-get-er-done girl, but I’m not really doing any of that this year (partly because I can’t really even think past the bottles, feedings, naps, cartoons of any given day). I know I have things to work on and areas to grow, but this past year has been good for me.

Learning to let go.

So much I can’t control.

Letting God speak to me and lead in the moment.

Relying on God for everything.

I’m having to learn this. No choice. I’m so inadequate and unprepared for this task of being a mom.  It’s scary that these little lives are dependent on me for their well-being.

So I guess my “big” goal, then, for 2016 is just to be better at trusting God more. Even my little goals are somehow tied to that, too. This is all a little uncomfortable for me, but I’m finding it strangely freeing at the same time.

To 2015, I say goodbye and thank you for the best year of my life so far. It’s changed everything.

To 2016 – you have some pretty big shoes to fill.

 

 

Our Twins’ Birth Story, Part 1

Being pregnant with and giving birth to twins didn’t leave much time or energy to blog about the experience.  I find my memories getting fainter and fainter, here it is, as best as I remember it:

God was so good to me through this pregnancy.  I made it to 37 weeks, 1 day, which is exactly what the doctors wanted.  As far as mono-di pregnancies go, this one was textbook.  Every appointment, every sonogram was a good report.  More often than not, I’d hear, ‘Everything looks perfect.’

Perfect.  Who would have thought?

The home stretch during the last trimester wasn’t without incident, though.  I fell on the ice in my driveway and had to spend a night in the hospital for monitoring.  They couldn’t control my gestational diabetes through diet or pills, so I had to take insulin shots daily. The last few weeks, instead of one daily shot of lovenox, I had to take 2 shots of heparin; that was for my auto-immune blood-clotting issues.

Small matters compared to having healthy babies.

I worked until 34 1/2 weeks, and that was probably a week too long. I waddled my way through the hallways, getting open stares at my belly from the little kids as I walked by.  I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time; I was out of breath when I was teaching. Dropping something on the floor was almost enough to bring me to tears – how in the world was ever going to reach that???

Going to the store and standing on line was out of the question.  Sleep was anything but restful.  Trying to roll from side to side was a feat of strength; when I paused on my back to take a break, I felt like a Mack truck had parked on my belly.

I had a few weeks off from work before I gave birth, just as I had hoped. My mom and I were busy shopping and nesting. My dad was gracious enough to do some construction on the babies’ room and kitchen. Tt wasn’t the restful start to my leave that I envisioned,, but it was all worth it for Babies A and B.

This is what I was looking like by the end.

32 weeks

32 weeks

35 weeks

35 weeks

My doctor and I had a few conversations about the birthing plan.  Baby A was head down, and Baby B, who had been transverse (horizontal), was now breech.  Rather than risk complications with a breech natural birth, I opted for a c-section.  It was a no-brainer for me. I just wanted those babies out as quickly as possible.

We talked about a date. Between 36-37 weeks was ideal.  Too early and the babies might not be fully developed, especially their lungs; too late, and there was the risk of ‘fetal demise.’  I almost questioned her as to what that meant, but then that scary phrase took shape in my mind: I could lose the babies if we waited too long.

We landed on April 2 as a first choice.  Turns out, lots of people wanted April 2. And April 3. And March 30 and 31. But April 1 was wide open – for obvious reasons.  My doctor didn’t feel comfortable waiting until the next week, so April 1 it was, as much as I internally protested. April Fool’s?  Really? I had to remind myself that timing was everything.  A less-than-desirable due date was clearly the least of my concerns.  However, we were put on a ‘waiting list’ for April 2, if someone ended up going early.

All was pretty uneventful until Friday, March 27. I was 36 weeks, 2 days, by that point, and I went in for my sonogram (by this point, I was going in 2x a week ).  Well, at this sono, they couldn’t get a good measurement of Baby A’s head because his position was so low.  According to the measurement, it looked like he hadn’t grown in two weeks.  The knot in my stomach grew, and all I could think was, ‘Well, here it is.  This is it. This is where it goes bad. Only a matter of time.’

My doctors weren’t overly concerned.  Everything else looked ‘perfect;’  they were certain that the discrepancy was just because they couldn’t get a good read.

Well, that wasn’t good enough for me.  The fears and anxieties that I had managed to keep at bay for most of the pregnancy came on in full force, and I just didn’t have the mental strength to fight it.   That phrase, ‘fetal demise,’ was deafening in my brain.

All I could think was, ‘What if we got this far and screw it up this last week?’  I had worked desperately hard to take care of myself, to take care of the babies all pregnancy long.  Prayed my guts out. Taken every precaution. Followed every old wives’ tale. What if, this last week, we do something wrong, make a bad decision? What if something was wrong and we wait too long? What if we get to 36 weeks, and then we lose them? I was still a week away from April 2 (yes, we got April 2).  Maybe we should just go ahead and take them early.

The doctors still felt we should wait til April 2. My husband felt like we shouldn’t cower to fear and just trust God and the doctors.  Me, I wasn’t so convinced. What if….?

Ultimately, it came down to the reality that God had gotten us through to this point, I needed to trust Him down to those last few days and hours, right to the very end.

I suffered through the weekend, vacillating between faith and fear.  Against all better judgment, I googled ‘fetal demise,’ and that always makes you feel better, right? There were women who insisted that anything over 36 weeks was risky.

More often than not, fearful images larger-than-life tormented me all weekend long.  I was counting every kick and movement but still wasn’t convinced.  Was that Baby A or B moving? Were they still okay?

My next sonogram on Monday seemed light years away. I just needed assurance that everything was okay. I went in Monday – and it was. The sono showed the same thing: couldn’t get a good read on Baby A, but the babies were fine – heartbeats were strong, blood flow was strong.  So, dragging my heels the entire way, we decided to wait it out.

Now, we were down to days… even hours.  The babies’ room was done. The clothes were washed and put away. The furniture was built and set up.  My husband and I went on our last pre-children dinner date. We were ready.

This was my Facebook post the night before I went to the hospital:

“It’s been counting down months, then weeks, then days…and finally, we are down to hours (16, by the way). Tomorrow at noon, we finally get to welcome Baby A and Baby B to the world! I don’t really have the words to express how excited and how thankful I am to have reached this point. Completely overwhelmed by God’s goodness and faithfulness to us through this pregnancy. I am so in love with these babies already, and I am SO READY to finally meet them face to face! Can’t wait! Just 16 more hours.”

Just one more sleep….

To Be Continued in Part 2

Pregnancy #3, Final Update: Rainbow Babies Have Arrived!

I’m way behind here – about 3 weeks to be exact- but our long-awaited, miracle rainbow babies are here.  Sleeping in their swings, in fact, as I type.

On April 2nd, at 1:57pm,  Michael Robert (6 lbs, 4 oz) and James Anthony (5 lbs, 12 oz) entered the world and our lives, and I feel quite certain our lives have changed forever for the better.

We are incredibly grateful to God. We know we owe these babies to His grace to us, grace we certainly don’t deserve.  But still, we are so so, thankful.  From the minute I heard them cry and laid eyes on them, I was smitten.  I still hold them and look at them and rock them and can scarcely believe they are here. Three weeks later, I still cry when  I look at them.  These perfect little faces. The other side of infertility.

Thank you, Jesus.image

Eventually, I will get back to blogging and I’ll tell the stories, but for now, here’s a glimpse of our miracles:

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Pregnancy #3, Update #6: Final Lap – 3rd Trimester

It’s unbelievable that I can even type those words:  Third. Trimester.

But it’s here. A day away from 31weeks. Only 6 weeks to go.

What a miracle. And, now, it’s getting real.

My blog updates have been scarce, but thankfully, there hasn’t been a lot to report.  I’ve been seeing the doctor every two weeks, sonogram and all, and every appointment has shown Baby A and Baby B to be growing on schedule.  Heartbeats have been great – usually between 140-150 for each. They are smack in the middle of the growth chart, last time moving up to the 59th percentile (compared to singletons!).  Last visit, at 30 weeks, they both weighed in at 3.7 lbs – the high end of the norm, according to ‘The Bump.’  Most times, their weights and heartbeats have been nearly identical – most recently, only a 1% differential (under 20% is considered normal).  Amniotic fluid has been perfect – no sign of twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome.  Cervix has been long and closed the entire time.

The sono-tech told me, for mono-di twins, ‘everything looks perfect.’ Good movement, breathing, heartbeats, weight…perfect.

A sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks after every single appointment. Every single one has given a good – no, a great- report about our babies.  It never fails to fill me with awe, considering so many risk factors, considering so many possible complications.

As I’ve gotten good report after good report, after holding my breath for months, I’m slowing exhaling – slowly – and believing that this is really going to happen.

I have been really cherishing every part of this pregnancy. I don’t take one second of it for granted. I have the typical pregnancy annoyances – leg cramps when I sleep, shortness of breath, pressure below the belly and on the top, crazy nose bleeds almost daily, waking up every few hours because I can’t get comfortable or I have to go to the bathroom…but I am grateful for it all. You’ll hear no complaints from me. All those things mean is that I’m actually pregnant with a healthy pregnancy.

My favorite part is the end of the day. After work, after dinner, I just lay on the couch and wait for them to move.  Best. Feeling. Ever. It’s sometimes hard to know who I am feeling – there are arms and legs everywhere, but I just love feeling them kick and wiggle and bounce around.  I seriously could lay there all day just feeling them move. Sometimes they tickle me, sometimes I see them moving and squiggling…but every time it reminds me my babies are doing good.

Babies are good – I’m the one who is having complications.  Still on daily Lovenox injections.  I failed my glucose tolerance test twice (Grrrr!) and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  Apparently, t’s pretty common in  multiple pregnancies. Being a mild case, my doctor thought we could manage it with diet and exercise and doing the 4x a day finger-prick blood test.  Well, after a week or two of testing, my numbers weren’t crazy high, but they were a little higher than they liked, especially my waking/fasting numbers.  So, they started me on Metformin with my dinner to try to bring those numbers down.Basically, I just need to eat more protein with my carbs, and if I walk for about 15 minutes after a meal, that seems to do the trick.  Not the end of the end of the world.

The plan for the last weeks is this:  At week 32, my appointments will become weekly.  Between 32-34 weeks, the babies will likely settle into their positions, and we can start to think about a birth plan. Babies will be delivered between 36-37 weeks. Right now, Baby A is in position – lower than B, head down.  Baby B is transverse, with his/her head on the far side of my stomach.  The doctor said that as long as A is in position, I can try naturally, and they can try to turn B, either internally or externally, after A comes out. However, there’s a chance B might still be breech, which would require an emergency C-section.

I’ll be honest.  That plan doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to end up in the scenario where I have to recover from a natural delivery AND a C-section. I just want these babies out in a way that has the least risk possible.  If they leave it up to me, I’m going for a C-section unless they can assure me with some high odds that I will be able to deliver both naturally.

Last week, we went checked out the labor and delivery unit at the hospital.  (Yikes!  Definitely made it all more real!). The hospital has one of the best NICU departments on the island, should we need it.  Each room is a private room, so that is definitely a plus. I feel so much better now that I can visualize where I’ll be.

Last Saturday, I had a shower given to me by the ladies at my church.  It was the sweetest ever, and those ladies made us feel so loved and supported.  On Friday, I had a work shower.   All the teachers were waiting at the door when I came in with balloons to surprise me.  We had a dress-down day (K-12), and they got all the kids to wear pink or blue in honor the shower!  They had food throughout the day that started with ‘A’ or ‘B.’ Completely amazing and so over-the-top. This Saturday is the shower from my family.  We have been totally overwhelmed by all the love and excitement for our babies. So humbling to know that our babies are so anticipated and loved already.

I have about 3 more weeks at school and praying I can make it to March 16. I am really big and cumbersome, and I admit, sometimes, I feel a bit like a spectacle with the kids. For the most part, they have been enthusiastic and interested, but I feel a little self-conscious sometimes.  However, I am getting tired.  My doctor keeps telling me not to push myself, but I sort of wish she would just give me orders to stop working. I think I’ll know when I’m done, though; right now, I have a little more left in me (not losing any pay is also a good motivator).

We are still working on the babies’ room.  Lots still to do . My husband hurt his back shoveling snow, so that has slowed us down. But my parents got here over the weekend, his parents are coming from TN for the shower, and we have some other friends on stand-by to help. So, hopefully, we will get it together in time.  Honestly, I don’t want this to stress me.  As J. says, babies have been born for millennia without showers or nurseries, and the human race has survived just fine.  While I roll my eyes, I know he is right.  I want my focus just to be on the joy of these 2 little ones making their entrance, and I don’t want anything to rob me of that joy.

Just to give you a visual, this is me at 30 weeks:

30 weeks

30 weeks

Six more weeks of growing to go. They are supposed to add a 1/2 lb. a week…not sure where all that baby is going to fit! But we are on the home stretch. And I just can’t wait to meet these babies.

Pregnancy #3, Update #5: Halfway There

This is a long, overdue update.

First, all is well.

Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out to me while I was absent.  That I was still even in your thoughts, prayers, and ‘wonderings’ means so much to me.  The silence wasn’t intentional – just super-busy at work, behind on projects that needed (and still needs) to get done.  Being a perfectionist, I’m always waiting for the right time to post (the right ‘milestone’ weeks, the right pictures) – and that being said, that time never comes.

So, I still have midterms I needed to finish writing, work to be graded, and editing that needs to me made on a class book from last year…but I have a little bit of extra energy, my husband is asleep on the couch before his night shift, and I feel a bit of motivation – so here goes, summing up the past 2 months as succinctly as I can.

The last post I wrote was when I announced we were having twins, at about 13 weeks.  Currently, I am 21 weeks (and 3 days), and it has been wonderfully uneventful.  Babies A, B and I are all doing well.  No complications thus far, no concerns…all is well.

Shortly after my last post, my OB (well, all of the doctors at the practice) decided to transfer me to the high risk doctors for the duration of the pregnancy.  The main reasons for this are #1, my age, and #2 – the type of twins I’m having.  For anyone interested, I’m having ‘monochorionic, diamniotic’ twins – ‘mono-di’ for short.  The simple explanation is that they are identical, have separate amniotic sacs but they share one gestational sac as well as a placenta.  With this kind of pregnancy, the risk for complications is higher, especially that placenta would not feed them equally and that they wouldn’t grow equally (also known as ‘twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome’ or TTTS).

Basically, what this means is that I go to the doctor every 2 weeks for a sonogram where they check the heartbeats, the amniotic fluid, and my cervix; every 4 weeks, they compile a new set of measurements to make sure the twins are growing properly.  To be honest, it’s very reassuring to go every 2 weeks.  The doctors keeps apologizing, like it is an inconvenience to me, but I actually prefer it.

And so far, all has been well.  I had my big 20 week anatomy scan, and everything looked great. No sign of TTTS. Their heartbeats were both 157.  According to ‘The Bump,’ they should be about 10.5 oz.  Baby A was 12 oz. and Baby B was 11 oz.  They did all the measurements, and there was only an 8% differential (anything over 20% is concerning, so they were well below that).  They were wiggling around like crazy but ‘very well-behaved,’ according to the doctor; they were actually able to get all the measurements they needed not just from one but both.

The past two times sonograms, Baby B had his/her butt in Baby A’s face. This has convinced my husband that we are having boys.  However, my sister said, “Maybe Baby B was saying to Baby A,  ‘Does my butt look big?'” – therefore concluding that we are having girls.  Regardless, I have a feeling I know who Baby B will take after…

Speaking of gender, we are waiting to find out.  The doctors were able to tell last week what we are having, but we didn’t want to know.  So, we’re holding out.

I haven’t felt them moving yet…just a few flutters this week, but nothing too significant.  The doctor told me that usually between 21-22 weeks, so I am hoping to really feel them any day.

My belly is definitely getting big (I’ll post pics on my next update).  I have a very good friend who is 32 weeks pregnant, and I am definitely catching up; there isn’t much of a difference between us at all.  I’ve gained 17 pounds so far, and right now, it is mostly all belly, thank God.  But I have a long ways to go, still. Another friend sent me a picture of her mom pregnant with twins at 37 weeks.  Sweet Jesus.  I’m definitely going to get A LOT bigger.

I’m still feeling pretty good at work.  If all goes well, my last day will be March 27, which is 36 weeks.  The doctors said that they won’t let me go past 37 weeks, so, if I can go until then, my due-date is April 2 (but I’m praying for Easter babies).  Thankfully, I have enough sick time to get paid through the end of the school year.

That’s most of the physical stuff.  As for the emotional side? Well, it’s been a really happy time. It’s such a switch to have happy doctor visits and laughter as we are looking at the sonograms. My coworkers and students  and everyone else have all been so excited for us which has multiplied my happiness, too.

It’s been really happy for me and J. too. I guess I didn’t realize what a toll infertility and TTC had taken on us.  Sure, we have our bickerings and our concerns about finances and space once the babies come,  but life has been so much more relaxed and enjoyable for us, with this incredible blessing to look forward to.  Sometimes, it feels like we are in a honey-moon stage all over again.  And it is so refreshing. Like we can breathe again and this burden is lifted off of our shoulders.  It’s been a very happy 20 weeks for us.

Spiritually, I’m still doing my best to fight my fears. I certainly have them, but I’ve been trying really hard to not feed them.  I can tell that, sometimes, my prayers are laced with more fear than faith. Sometimes, I feel like I subconsciously keep God at arm’s length because I’m not sure what He may allow me to walk through or what will happen.  But I am trying to overcome that, too – because underneath that fear, I really do know that He wants me to celebrate this miracle WITH Him. It’s His miracle. I’ve had to be very conscious to stay away from anything that might feed my fears – from books to articles to TV shows – and to fill my mind with lots of faith-filled Scriptures, devotionals, music, etc. And it’s been helping.  I feel like I am starting to experience this pregnancy with hope and anticipation rather than the fear of what could go wrong.

So, we are halfway there. More than that, actually – about 15 weeks to go.  We haven’t done anything concrete to get ready – like registering or the nursery or buying things. I’d say that after the holidays, we’ll put that into motion.

It still feels surreal.  Sometimes, I look down at my belly and it is hard to believe that I’m legit pregnant.  And when I’m praying for the babies – usually on my way to work-  it’s just about daily that I am brought to tears over God’s graciousness to us. I still wonder about that. I know so many  have been persevering so long, waiting so long, have been through so much heart-ache.  Why did God choose now to answer our prayers? Why us?  I don’t know. We are no better and no more deserving than anyone else.  It’s hard for me to try to understand. But I am completely humbled by what God has done for us. Undone. I don’t know why He did this for us, but I am brought to tears every time I try to absorb this reality.

I can clearly remember last December. I had just had miscarriage #2 – my 2nd within a year’s time  – and I was so worn-out and broken over this whole infertility trial.  I remember just wanting to forget TTC and just feel like a normal human, trying to enjoy the holidays. But even then, God gave me the word ‘hope’ to hold on to.

A year later – 5 months pregnant.  Today, I decorated the tree, and I saw the snowflake birthstone ornaments for Baby #1 and #2.  It brought back all kinds of memories, and I felt a pang of sadness for my 2 babies that I never got to meet. As happy as I am to have A and B growing inside me, I never want to forget #1 and #2. But I admit, sometimes remembering is really painful and – right or wrong- I sometimes choose not to go there. Or at least not stay there. But right behind those ornaments was the ornament my secret Santa got me last year – an angel and star with the word ‘hope’ on it.

This year, our hope is becoming reality. And for anyone who is still waiting, especially my girls waiting for their babies, that is my constant prayer for you: that you don’t lose hope,  that God will make your hope become reality. Soon.

I really pray that Christmas reminds you of that. That Christmas gives you hope.

Really, that is the heart of Christmas: God made Hope reality. That’s what He did. That’s what He still does.

Pregnancy #3, Update #4: Game-Changer

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It’s been about 4 weeks since I published my last pregnancy update. And the silence was intentional.

It’s not that I didn’t want to blog about it. I did. But, I was finding that my real-life and my blog were bleeding together, and there was some material I wanted to share with my blog-people but not necessarily with my real-life people – mostly, my work environment. So, I had to go dark for a while.

All this, the down-side of being a non-anonymous blogger.

However, it was about a month ago that we got some news that has changed everything.

I wrote about my 8 week appointment here. All the details there were true. But I sort left out the middle part of the story.

Here it is:

So, J. and I were in for our appointment, me – a nervous wreck as always. The sono tech (the girl I usually have – she hadn’t been there the week before) gets things going and a few seconds in, she suddenly stops. She turns to me, puts her hands on my knees, and says, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this.’

My heart and breathing stopped simultaneously. Please, God. Not this again.

“I don’t know how to tell you this,” she began again, “but you’ve got two babies in there. Twins.”

My eyes got as big as marbles. What? Twins? How in the world….? Only one embryo took.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Here’s one….and here’s the other. They are in the same gestational sac, so they are identical – two boys or two girls. I don’t know how I missed this last week!”

“Wait! You didn’t miss this. Last week we had the other girl, not you!”

“Well. That explains it. But you are definitely having twins. And both of them look great.”

J. and I just started to laugh – and we couldn’t stop. Complete disbelief. Totally unexpected. What in the world. Twins? It was too much. One was miraculous enough – but two? We were shell-shocked. Stunned. We were having twins. Identical twins.

And those details I gave in my last update? Totally true. But that was just for Baby A. Baby B was right on par with heartbeats and measurements, too.

So how did they miss it? Well, our first sono showed just one gestational sac. Only one embryo took. So, at the next sono, they were only looking for one fetus, one heartbeat. Once the sono tech found it, she didn’t look around for anything else. And missed Baby B.

That was five weeks ago. Tomorrow I will be 13 weeks, and every appointment has been great. Heartbeats beautiful, size beautiful. Both doing great. What a totally different experience to go to doctor’s appointments and sonograms and actually smile and laugh and enjoy them. I have been savoring every single positive experience and realizing how lucky I am to get this chance.

Around the time of my last post, I had some random people at school either say something to me or say something to someone who then told me – about me being pregnant. I just didn’t want the news about the twins to get out ahead of me, so I had to keep silent on here. Today, I told my co-workers, I told my students, and Facebook will be updated tonight -so now it is pretty much public knowledge. A scary step of faith to bring this out in the open. But honestly? I am starting to show, and I really couldn’t hide it any longer. People were definitely talking.

It’s been a roller-coaster month. Definitely felt nauseated a lot – usually the afternoons and at night. Definitely tired. Definitely stressful having to hide it – to have all this going on, having my belly starting to grow, not having any clothes that fit – and having to keep this secret all the while. But I promise I’m not complaining. I will take this any day of the week compared to the past 3 years.

I have definitely had my meltdown moments. Around week 10, the night before my sono (the meltdowns usually begin 24-hours in advance), I was convinced I was going to get bad news. The flashbacks of this time last year, crying my eyes in chapel out during our school’s Spiritual Emphasis Week because I was miscarrying. Again. The flashbacks of the last time I was in my OB’s office on the sono table, being told there was no heartbeat. I was just convinced this one was going to end badly, too.

But it hasn’t. And my heart lets out the hugest sigh of relief every time I hear the precious swishing of the heartbeat. HeartbeatS – both of them.

I’ve had to meet with the high-risk doctor a few times so they could scare me to death about everything that could go wrong – and I found out today they are transferring me to the high risk doctors for the duration. Initially, there was disagreement over whether I had one or two placentas, so I was back and forth between the two doctors. They finally got it figured out. (I have 1, by the way – I’m considered ‘mono-di’ pregnancy – one gestational sac, 2 amniotic sacs).

It’s all a totally surreal experience. I’m still nervous and scared, but with every milestone and every positive appointment, it is starting to feel real. Still haven’t full-on accepted this is really happening; I can’t pretend I’m naive to the ‘what-ifs’ – regardless of the stage and milestone. But thus far, God has been so, so gracious to us. He truly is the only One who could have done this. He gets 100% of the credit.

The only downside is that I know that so many of my IF girls are still in the fight and still suffering. My heart aches for those who have yet to experience a good pregnancy, and I am praying every day that your day comes. So very soon.

The day after I told my parents the news, there was a double rainbow outside of my mom’s home. She sent me the picture and said that was my double-blessing – our double rainbow babies. She said,’ Kate, you lost 2 babies, but God is giving you back two.’ And that weekend, another blogger friend- Faithrises- posted this picture.

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A prisoner of hope. I know what that feels like. Being held prisoner because you can’t give up or let go. You become a prisoner of, chained to – hope. There are worse prisons to be in.

Hope. That was the word God gave me for this year. My dear friends, don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. God is still a God who returns double. I’m proof. Baby A and Baby B – they are proof. Hold on to hope. xoxo

[Photo Credit: Faithrises (I can’t find the link to her blog! So sorry! Please help and I’ll give proper credit!]

(OH MY GOSH!!! WE’RE HAVING TWINS!!!!! GAHHHHHH!!!)

Pregnancy #3, Update #3: Graduated

imageIt’s the day every IF patient prays for: getting discharged from her RE’s office back to her OB. Because she is pregnant. Graduating.

Today, I graduated. I was in for my 9 week sono, and I knew my day was coming, but I wasn’t sure it would be today.

We had a great visit at 8 weeks. Measurement: 8w1d. Heartbeat: 151

We had another great visit today, at 9 weeks: Measurement: 9w0d. Heartbeat: 165.

And with that, I was done there. They had done their job, and it was time to hand me over to my OB.

The past two visits have been so good. So healing. There was still the nerves the night before and the heart palpitations the morning of. There was still the deep breaths on the table, waiting to see what we would find.

But this time, there was excited chatter as the sono tech explained what we were looking at. Questions not laced with fear and dread. Laughter.

Laughter. During a sonogram. Imagine that. Something I’ve never experienced.

I never had an 8 week sonogram without getting ominous, hopeless news. I never had a 9 week sonogram with a baby that survived.

This time, I did. Not just ‘surviving,’ but ‘doing great.’ ‘Strong.’ (Their words). The wiggling of the hands and feet buds.

Never had that. But today, I did.

A year ago, I had just found out I was pregnant with number #2. Right around my mom’s birthday. That was my gift to her – news of grandbaby #9. But within weeks, it was over.

This year, I’m 9 weeks along with a healthy pregnancy.

I still have my worries and fears, but with each positive sonogram, I am breathing a little easier.

I’m feeling pretty nauseated on most days. It comes on at 3pm and 8pm like clockwork. I have it through most of the night, so sleep isn’t so great lately (guess I should get used to that. For the rest of my life, lol). I don’t really have a lot of symptoms otherwise: boobs occasionally sore, but not much; fatigued at times but not consistently; crazy dreams – but that is really it.

Work is definitely exhausting for me right now (a big reason why I haven’t been blogging. So much take-home work, so worn out by the time get home). The beginning of the year is always draining no matter what, but I’m teaching a new class this year as well as trying to get caught up on the summer projects I didn’t get to finish. On top of the normal stuff. All of which wearies me.

My clothes are getting tight, and my belly is pushing out. Not sure if it is bloating, hormones, leftover IVF meds or whatever, but I’m bigger. And, it’s getting harder to hide at work. It looks like I’ve been pounding down the cookies, but I hate people thinking I’m just gaining weight for no reason! We still have 3 more weeks until our news is public.

I have a feeling (and a fear) that our news is more public than I’d like. Now, I know. It’s probably my fault. I mean, I blog about it. It’s out there. But, I guess I just don’t want random people to know about it yet. For instance, a student in our school – one I don’t know and have never had in my classes – asked my coworker ‘how far along is Mrs. Landry?’ What????

I don’t look that pregnant – so, someone must have said something. That’s the kind of talking I don’t want. I guess I want to be the one to control who knows and who doesn’t. Frustrating. Even though it would be easier to tell, I know it’s smarter to wait until 12 weeks to share it officially.

So, what’s next? Not sure, exactly. I dropped off my records at my OB today, and hopefully, they will call me tomorrow to schedule an appointment. I’m not sure how often they will want to see me. There was something very comforting about my RE looking out for me so closely. I’ll miss that.

It was bittersweet leaving there, today. As they were getting my paperwork today, I said, ‘So I guess this is it, then?’ And it was. And, suddenly, I got all choked up. I started thinking about all we had been through, the past years of miscarriages, failed treatments, bad news, disappointments, heartaches, so many days of fear and dread, so many nights of crying myself to sleep…

And here we were. Pregnant. With a healthy pregnancy. Graduating. And I started tearing up. I felt so grateful for this team of people who had helped us so much. So grateful.

So I gave a hug to the doctor, crying. To the nurses, crying. To the sono tech, the phlebotomist, the NP, the receptionist – crying the whole time. I was sad to leave them. A little bit scared to leave them. I felt like they were all on ‘Team Landry,’ coaching us and cheering us on – an intimate part of our this whole roller-coaster, emotional experience – so invested in our failures and success. And finally – something to celebrate.

It was really hard to say goodbye to them – even though I knew that the fact that I was leaving was a really, really good thing. They had done their job. They were tools in God’s hands to help us get pregnant. Part of a miracle.

Another major milestone reached. Many more to go, but I’m going to celebrate each one.

All I can really say is – to God be the glory. It’s all Him. We still have a long road ahead, but I’m sincerely moved to tears thinking about how good He has been to us. Humbled. Thankful.

And I’m smiling. It’s graduation day.

[And for my IF sisters still in the fight, I’m praying diligently for you, for your miracles. God doesn’t have a limited supply. I’m still following your stories, and I’m still praying. Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes, even though you are still struggling through yourselves. I’m sincerely touched, and I’m believing God for your babies.]

[Photo Credit: Pixabay]