Thursday, October 2, 2014

37 and 38 Weeks

Tomorrow I will have made it to 38 weeks! I'm pretty impressed, since that's unusual for a twin pregnancy. All of those prayers paid off, thanks everyone! I also think it's funny since every time I saw a medical professional they predicted an imminent birth, from 33 weeks onward.

I've been pretty busy as we've waited these last days for the twins to come. My mom got here around 1:30 am Wednesday, and she treated me to a lovely pedicure on Friday. It felt great, but didn't get labor started. Friday night we were all sitting around watching tv when we heard a knock on the door. Who could be knocking at 10:30 pm, we asked? My brother! He came down and surprised us before he leaves for tech school. Saturday morning we went and walked around a baby expo at the mall, and in the afternoon we went down to the oceanfront to the Neptune Festival. I thought all the walking might start something, but no dice. Miah had to leave first thing Sunday morning, but it was so nice to get to see him one more time.

Sunday evening Daphne and Brian (my in-laws) arrived with Alie and Elvis, our 5 year old niece and 3 year old nephew. We've spent some fun times at the beach wearing the kids out! My mom took some cute end of pregnancy shots of me in the ocean.

Wednesday I had my last Dr. appointment. She was pretty incredulous that I was at my appointment and said she'd been watching the postpartum list to see if I'd had the babies. She went ahead and stripped my membranes but doubted it would do anything since I've been so dilated for so long, and she was right. We went ahead and scheduled what is technically an induction for 7 AM Friday morning. I say technically because I'll be booked in to the hospital ahead of time, but all they are going to do is break my water. I'm a stretchy 5 cm dilated, so that should start things. This hospital is really supportive of moving around and laboring naturally so I am hoping things will go well, even with all of the rules and restrictions that go along with having twins.

I'm trying to write a semi-coherent post about the last week of this pregnancy but in all honesty I'm so tired I can't even think straight. I'm still doing well and could probably hang in there and bake the babies a little longer, but I won't cover up that the last week has been really difficult. I've felt sick and nauseous for most of every day, and I barely sleep at night. Exhaustion definitely makes me more emotional, less patient, and stress is worse. In the last five days I've suddenly gained six pounds (the Dr. promised me it is water weight) and I've notice my ankles look a little puffy for the first time. Basically, I'm falling apart at the seams!

I will really miss my big belly though, for as hard as it is to haul around, and feeling the babies kick around and play. It's the most incredible thing! It's sweet the way the littles pat it and kiss the babies. Shane told me tonight that he can't wait to hold his babies, and he will be really careful with them. I can't wait for the kids to meet them tomorrow!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Azaria's Birth Story

This is going to be long, and as detailed as my memory can make it. You've waited two years for me to put your story to paper, so I am not going to spare words. I wanted to write this story as soon as you were born, and it kept getting pushed back in the chaos of two under two, and a newborn who never seemed to sleep at night. It got pushed back so far that I was robbed of all of the beautiful pictures I had of your birth, your first few moments, your first two weeks. I mourned the loss of those pictures and I lost the motivation to write your story. And I lost interest in writing for nearly two more years. I'm sorry, so sorry, that I didn't chronicle your life like I have your brother's. Someday maybe you'll have a little one, and then maybe you'll have a second, and you'll understand why mama didn't have as much time to write.

But mea culpa isn't the point of the story, this story is about the beautiful moment when I brought you into the world to meet your family. And thanks to cell phones and friends and a recent visit back to the birth center where we welcomed you, I do have pictures to remember.

I had prodromal labor with you for weeks. Every night, around 11, I'd go to bed and have a few contractions, and then they would go away and I would fall asleep. Grandma flew down the Friday before you were born, May 11th. Saturday I decided to take her for a pedicure for a Mother's Day gift. Why we didn't wait until Sunday I don't know, but we all were saying you might be a mother's day baby. I treated us to the deluxe pedicure: extra long massages, hot stones, paraffin wax, very decadent. I'll always swear the pedicure is what put me into labor! It was so relaxing to have a little pampering, and it was Grandma's first spa pedicure!

That night followed the same pattern of going to bed and having contractions. Daddy went out to a friend's house and Grandma and I went to bed. Around 11:30 I think I started to realize that my contractions were not going away, but I determined to get as much sleep as I could because I knew if I really was in labor, I'd need the rest. I think they started at about 7 minutes apart. Maybe an hour later I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, so I used an app on my phone to start timing them. Eventually the contractions got strong enough that I couldn't lie down anymore, so I got up and started doing some things around the house. My body started "clearing out" in preparation, but I wasn't convinced I was really in labor (and I wasn't convinced really until you were nearly born!) but I thought at least I could get some things done while I waited for the contractions to go away. I bounced on my exercise ball in the dim light of the oven hood, and got on the computer to clear off my camera's SD card. I called Daddy, and reminded him that we had church in the morning so he should come home at a reasonable hour. Sometimes I stood and swayed, or leaned back against the wall, or leaned forward against the kitchen island. I'll never forget the way I just hung my head, relaxed all of my muscles, and breathed deep deep breathes. "Open", I told myself, and relaxed my jaw and my hands. 

I called Daddy a few more times. We have church in the morning, I told him. You should come home NOW.

Around 4, I think I called my midwife Emily and told her what was going on. The birth center was 45 minutes away, and I wanted to know what to do. I think I apologized ten times for waking her. Come in, she said. We'll hang out, and if you're not really in labor you can go home and we'll see you again another day. Later I found out she knew: she knew it was real but I wasn't convinced that anything I could go through with such relative ease could bring me a baby.

Finally I called Daddy again. "Why aren't you home?! I'm in labor for Pete's sake! I've been asking you to come home for hours!"
"Why didn't you just tell me that before," he said, "I would've come right away." Like I said, I never was really convinced enough that I was in labor to tell him. Oops.

I collected things to take to the birth center. Ingredients for the special post-birth meal I wanted, jugs of water, snacks for labor, your little outfit and blanket to come home in. I baked you a chocolate mayonnaise cake with whipped cream cheese frosting. Later that day, after you were born and we sang you happy birthday and we ate the cake I realized that it was lumpy because I had the lights so dim I couldn't tell if I had mixed it all the way! I called my friend Casie to come over and be with Shane, and I woke my mom up. And I swayed, and I breathed, and I swayed, and I breathed. 

I don't remember what time we left for the birth center, but it was still dark. I think it was a little after 5 AM. Nathan drove. Mom sat behind me and rubbed my shoulders. At one point I remember telling her to save her hands because I would need their strength later, when things got intense, and I didn't want her to be worn out too early. Looking back I am sure I went through transition in the car. I cried about ruining Shane's life and how he was too young for a sibling, that I was robbing him. I'm sure mom and Nathan had something reassuring to say, but I don't remember it and like a spring rain, the storm of emotion quickly passed.

We got to the birth center as dawn broke. I remember posing for one last bump picture in the early grey light, as the early morning sun rays peeked over the horse pasture in back, in my magenta tank top and my familiar old black athletic shorts with the white stripes on the side. The same ancient shorts I'm wearing now, in fact. I went inside, I think, and mom and Nathan unloaded the trunk while I talked with Emily. 

My birth record and Azaria's newborn exam.

I was able to get my birth record when we went back to Texas recently and it's so neat to see everything spelled out in black on white. Emily did an exam at 6:17: temperature, blood pressure, fetal heart rate. She didn't check my cervix, I didn't want to know. My contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and about a minute long. Nathan did something with electronics so we could watch a movie, and I bounced on a big red ball. We all hung out and laughed together: me, mom, Emily (my midwife) and the two birth assistants, Jenn and Amanda. Nathan went to my room and slept. At some point mom brought me a yogurt and prayed over me, and Emily gave me a hot rice sock for my lower belly. I leaned over the back of a chair and rocked and bounced. 

The room where Nathan slept, and I ended up for my first "check" and after birth.

After a while, maybe an hour, I felt that my contractions had kind of petered out. They had been so easily handled that we all thought I was only in early labor and had hours to go, so I asked my midwife if we should maybe go for a walk to get things going again. It was early enough that it was nice and cool, the sun was still early morning beautiful, and I thought it would be nice to walk down the road to see Emily's horses. They checked your heart rate, and then Emily, mom, and I walked out to the road. I think we got maybe five steps down the road before I needed to stop for a contraction and when it was over I looked at Emily and told her "that felt pushy". So she hustled me back into the center and to my room, where she asked if she could check me.

The birth stool is what is holding up the blue ball.

I sat on a birthing stool and when she checked she asked if she could wait for a contraction. Well, on my next contraction my water EXPLODED all over her! She exclaimed, "If you want to have this baby in the tub you'd better get in there NOW!" I think I stripped my shirt and bottoms off as I ran for the hot tub room, calling to Nathan to wake up as I waddled. 

I leaned back against the side to the left, and everyone crowded around across from me by the shelves.

I got in the tub and Nathan kneeled outside the tub behind me. Each contraction, he'd hold me up by locking elbows with me. I loved my water birth, but I actually was really uncomfortable in the tub because of my floating semi reclined position. This was the hard part of your birth, Azaria. Labor had been so wonderful, calm and I was able to relax myself. I felt so out of control once I got in the tub because of the position I was in, but I wasn't able to move either because once you decided to come, you were going to come! I wasn't pushing very efficiently, and I remember feeling every inch of your head pushing my pelvic bones apart. At one point I remember growling, "I don't want to do this anymooooore!" I watched you crowning with a mirror on the bottom of the tub. I touched your head as you were born. And then your head was there, eight minutes after my water broke, and Emily guided your grandma's hands and my hands to pull you right up to my chest. It was incredible. You seemed so tiny, I swore you were only six or seven pounds, and you looked around with your alert little eyes and your purple little self and I cuddled you so tightly.  

You were born at 8:29 AM and I wanted to let you do the breast crawl, but you had some mucous and your lungs were making some crackling sounds so by ten minutes your APGAR had fallen to a 7 for low muscle tone, color, and breathing. I was asked to nurse you then rather than waiting for you to do the crawl and you improved very quickly. By the time I was ready to birth your placenta, you were ready for some skin to skin time with Daddy. I think you got a few drops of Rescue Remedy, and you were perfect after that. 

The women helped my out of the tub and dried me off, then wrapped me in a snuggly pink robe. They settled me in a nest of pillows on the bed, gave me warm compresses (way better than ice!) and covered me up with warmed blankets. I got you back and we snuggled skin to skin. 

I ate a string cheese while you had another nurse, and we relaxed together. I think Daddy was next to us on the bed, sending your picture to all of the family.  Around 9:30 Casie brought brother to meet you. He was so excited to meet you! He sat on the bed with us for a little while, but he wasn't even two yet and soon went to play with toys in the next room.

Shane meeting you. Casie is in the doorway and the little girl is Faith, Emily's daughter.

You feel asleep and Grandma held you while I had a peanut butter and honey toast, and around 11:30 I was helped into my fragrant, warm herbal bath. The herbs are a blend made by Emily that promote perineal healing for mamma and also help baby's umbilical cord heal up more quickly. It's also super relaxing and bonding for mamma and baby. I'd looked forward to that bath every single visit when I went into the bathroom, and finally it was our turn! I relaxed by myself for a while until the water was a cool enough temperature for you, and then they brought you to me and I held you so that just your mouth, nose, and eyes were above water. The second your ears went under you relaxed completely, uncurled, and just floated around completely at ease. I rubbed the vernix off you and out of your hair, and we just loved on each other until the water was cold and it was time to get out.

You snuggled with grandma and had a little snooze while I got stitched up. There is one moment, and I had captured it on the lost SD card but I still can picture it perfectly, when grandma was holding you and talking to you and you locked eyes with her and just listened. It was like you'd known her forever.  Finally around 1:30 our special macaroni and cheese was done cooking and we got to eat! I don't know if a meal ever tasted better. We sang happy birthday to you and ate some cake, and then around 2:30 it was time for your newborn exam!

My corner is the far end of the long couch, by the end table.

I curled up in the same corner of the couch where I'd sat so many times before for my appointments and the midwives set up a heating pad covered with blankets for you. They did your exam right there on the floor of the living room so that I could watch and bubby could "help".  He helped measure your head (14 in), your chest, (13.5 in), and your length (19.75 in). Then he helped weight you. I might've been convinced you were teeny tiny, but you were actually 8 lb 4 oz! I guess I just forgot how tiny newborns are. They finished up their exam and grandma got you dressed, just like she did your brother, for your trip home.

Dressing you in an outfit made by Aunt Erika, on your blanket made by Grammy

By 3:20 we were working on getting discharged. I nursed you again while Daddy loaded up the car and by 3:45 we were on our way home!

I couldn't have imagined a more perfect birth, little love. I am so glad to have had such a special experience just for you! We all went home and spent the rest of the day learning all about you. Happy birthday, Azaria Natalie!

Shane: Eye Update

Shane had a follow up appointment at the eye doctor today and the results were as expected: his condition has worsened rather than improved and he will have to have surgery to correct his eye muscles. It's an outpatient procedure and he will have to be put under general anesthesia. During the surgery they will basically be tightening some eye muscles to help his eyes look at the same thing. He is young enough that we are hopeful he will be able to develop some depth perception. It's about a 50% chance that it will be fixed within one surgery, otherwise he may have to have a second surgery down the road but the first should help for a while at least. The ophthalmologist said it's very rare for the condition not to be fixed by the second surgery.

The good news is, he doesn't have to wear his glasses anymore! There is no point since they are not helping at all, and his actual eyesight is perfect. I've gotten so used to the way he looks with glasses that now he looks odd to me without them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

36 Weeks {4 Days}

I guess I'll do a brief update, since I had a Dr appointment today and who knows how many days I have left to be pregnant!

I had one final growth ultrasound first, and the tech scared me at first by saying she thought that Dean had flipped to breech. Dean is Twin A, and if twin A is breech they won't do a vaginal delivery, although they don't care if twin B is breech. As it turns out though, they are just so squeezed in there that she was having trouble distinguishing body parts and both are still head down. Whew! She mentioned that there is a large margin of error at this point, but Dean is estimated to be 5 lb 8 oz, and Dani is estimated to be 5 lb 10 ounces. 

Then I saw Dr D, who I've been requesting ever since I went to L&D just for continuity of care (and I like her). We talked a little about some things going on, and she checked me and found me to be another cm dilated (5) and with membranes bulging. I told her I wanted to make it to 38 weeks and she said I could certainly try--I've made it past what everyone guessed so far. She doesn't think I will though, and I guess I don't really either. 

I've felt really nauseous and "off" today, and had a few other signs that labor might be coming. It might be something I ate, or it might really be coming, but either way I called my mom and asked her to come. I burst out in tears at the very thought of it, and when I talked to her on the phone, and that's completely unlike me so I really feel like it was one of the emotional sign posts and hopefully it was the right thing to do. She's on her way now! I've felt for the last few days like maybe I'm just holding out until she gets here, so we'll see. I would really like to make it to Shane's eye Dr. appointment tomorrow!

Friday, September 19, 2014

36 Weeks

We made it! Praise Jesus! Only one more week until twin full term, and really good lung maturity! This weeks the twins should be around 6 lbs each and around 18 1/2 inches. 

I had an appointment today and I dilated another cm to 4, but no changes in effacement or Dean's station so that's good. I'm not technically on bed rest anymore, but the Dr. said to continue to be lying down as much as I can since that's when I have the least contractions. Moving around throws me into strong and closer contractions, so I'm trying to "Let it Go". I hate that song so much, by the way. It's been nice to have Nathan home this week to let me keep the babies cooking! The babies look good; they both had heart rates of 134 today, and I'm doing well too. Low BP,  no weight gain or loss, no swelling, etc. 

Want a glimpse into our week? This is how we do story time every night now. Cuddled up together on the big bed!

And one last picture, just for fun. 

SO, SO happy to have made it to 36 weeks! Thanks for the prayers, all. I keep reminding myself that their birthday has already been chosen, and it is not in my hands.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shane Goes To School

You asked me for MONTHS if it was time for you to go to school yet. MONTHS. Every time I told you, "in the fall, baby". Then it was "next week, baby". Finally, after a fun weekend and Uncle Jer and Aunt Heather's house, it was "one more sleep, baby".

And then it was the day!

We warmed up to it with a special day of school shopping for your markers and crayons and picking out a red folder. Grammy sent you a special lunch box with Pirate Jake, and mommy ordered a doggy backpack you picked out.

When we walked out the door that morning, you said "mommy, I'm nervous". "It's ok, baby," I said. "It's ok to be nervous. I bet you'll have lots of fun once you get there though!"

And then you melted down over taking a picture, because there were Cicada shells stuck to our favorite tree and you didn't want bugs to get on you, even though I promised they were just empty shells.

I don't waaaaaaaana take a picture waaaah!

I'm going to whine AND smile. 
Oh wait, I forgot, I AM excited about going to school.
Daddy got to go in to work late so he could go to school with us on the first day, and sister tagged along with her little puppy lunchbox so she felt included. We stopped after we got out of the van to pray over you and take another picture. 

We had visited your classroom and your new teachers the week before, so you were familiar with where you were going, but the halls were packed and chaotic and I could feel your little hand grip mine more tightly. We stopped to take one last picture at your teachers sign, and she was waiting right there to welcome you to class.

You gave us all hugs and kisses, and walked right in to look for your special backpack hook and your teddy bear to match up to the attendance board. 

The first afternoon I picked you up you were about the grumpiest I've ever seen you. You were pretty happy after a long nap, though, and every day since then when I pick you up and I ask you how your day was, you say "great, mommy!" or "it was awesome!" I'm so glad so see how much you love going and all of your activities. Every day you bring home papers and I'm not sure what to do with all of them, but I enjoy getting a little glimpse into what you did that day. 

Miss Charlotte says you are doing really well and this week she started a new chart she sends home with you every day that has a red, green, or yellow mark on it to show us how well you listened and participated that day. You are so proud to show mommy your chart and another green dot. The only day you have gotten a yellow dot was the day we had to take you to Miss Cassie's in the middle of the night and you got up extremely early. Extenuating circumstances, I think. You love earning your "lovey" pompom for good behavior every day and getting to pick a prize at the end of the week. This week you got the classroom helper job you've been telling me you wanted since the first day of school: the lunch box distributor! Last week you were the caboose, and the first week of school you were a trash helper. 

Once in a while you come home telling me someone is weird, or someone was mean to you, and I hope in those moments that I'm teaching to how to be kind, how to love people that aren't like you, and how to stand up for yourself too. 

It's hard for me to believe you are already big enough to go to school. Yesterday I think you were giving your new sissy kisses and the day before that you were laying on my knees in the soft glow of a sunrise on the morning after you were born. You are kind, and boisterous, and you love to help. You are frustrating, and challenging, and four big years old. You want to be in the Navy or the Air Force when you grow up, and "drive a boat like Daddy". Your favorite color is orange, you say the most incredibly precocious things, and you still crawl into bed with us many nights. I couldn't imagine my life without you, precious boy. I love you forever and always. Mommy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Second Trip to Labor and Delivery {35 weeks + 3 days}

Many many moons ago, Dr H suggested I schedule my L&D tour early, since "most twin moms end up there early". I scheduled the tour and we took it, but in the back of my head I thought, not me! I won't be there early. I'm holding out until the end.

Ha. Haha. Just to warn you, this might be a little on the TMI side. Such is the nature of having babies!

Monday afternoon we went to the library and had Sonic for dinner. I went to bed around ten, feeling a little nauseous and off, and fell asleep by 10:30. By 11 I was awake, cramping and miserable. You know how you get awful stomach pains when you really need to use the toilet? And all you want is just to die? It was like that for about three hours. I blamed it on the Sonic I'd had for dinner, since it was kind of greasy, but eventually I realized there was nothing left to clear out and the cramps felt more like contractions. I timed them randomly and tried to doze through them, but it wasn't happening. Not too long after Nathan went to bed I couldn't lay down any more and realized that every time I had a contraction it wrapped around my back and down my thighs. At this point I wasn't sure what to do exactly: I didn't want to be in labor but at the same time, that was how labor started with Azaria and I was in denial about it being true labor almost up until she was born. I called my mom at 1:25 and talked to her for a few minutes, deciding to try a warm shower and see if that helped stop things, since I'd already been drinking a lot of water and lying down wasn't happening any longer. I spent quite a while in the shower, and at 2:04 I texted mom,

"Shower didn't stop much, maaaaybe slowed it down. I'm going to try relaxing on the couch and using a rice sock for a while and see if I can sleep it off."

She texted: "Well do you think i should leave?"

I decided to time them for a while, and they were pretty steadily 3 minutes apart, lasting for a minute or so. Normally I would have labored at home for a while, walked around and bounced on my ball to get things intense and regular, but since I was still so early I didn't want to do anything to make labor progress. I called the after hours line at my Dr. office at 2:35 and got a call back from the midwife on-call at 2:46. She said to go on in to L&D and get monitored. I woke Nathan up to get last minute items, make Shane a lunch for the next day, and load the van with my hospital bag and the "bug-out bag" I'd packed the kids. I called my friend Cassie at 3:04, to ask if I could bring the kids over.

I texted mom, "Just going to go in and be monitored , see what they say." 3:26 AM. She headed out. I told her I wasn't sure if it was the real thing, and I hoped it was false labor, but that she could turn around and go home if it ended up being nothing.

I'm not sure what time we actually dropped the kids off at Cassie's house but it felt like it took forever to get the kids and everything in the van and get there, and she only lives down the street! Thank you so much Cassie, for taking the kids in the middle of the night! I later found out that they went back to sleep and did well at their "sleepover".

We got to the hospital and had to go in through the empty ER. A tech came down from L&D to escort us up to the nurse's station, and then Jane got me into a room and onto monitors: one for Dani, one for Dean, and one for contractions. After she monitored for a while she came in and said the on-call doc had ordered an exam. She found me to be 2.5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and Dean at -2 station. The past two weeks the Dr I had seen had found me to be 3 cm, so I'm thinking it was difference of finger size! Of course as soon as I got in the van contractions really slowed down, so nothing much was happening.

At 4:56 I texted my mom to let her know that things had really slowed down once I got to the hospital, and they just wanted to monitor me all night until the new on-call Dr. was in to re-check. She decided to just pull over at a rest stop and sleep until we knew if it was going to get more serious. I was on the monitors all night, and my contractions were steadily five minutes apart. Dani HATES the monitor and kicked it almost the entire time we were there, and the contraction monitor kept slipping so I had to keep a hand on it. I dozed for about a half hour, but I honestly don't know how people get any sleep when they are in a hospital being monitored! Those things are itchy and uncomfortable! At one point Dani had the hiccups and they sounded so funny through the monitor. SO LOUD!! Nathan slept on the little pull out bed, which was broken but he rolled up in a blanket and slept through most of the nurse visits I think.

Around eight the new on-call Dr. came in and checked me, calling me a 3 again. She said because I'm still so early it's against policy to induce, which we wouldn't want anyway since we want them to be in as long as possible. They gain about 40 grams of weight a day, and every day they are in is approximately two they don't spend in the NICU. She said I could go home, and be on bedrest until Friday at which point I'll be 36 weeks. She also changed my weekly office visit to Friday, so we can know if anything has changed before the weekend.

And so I was discharged and had to take the "walk of shame" back down through the hospital and out the ER to the van. I called my mom and told her I was discharged, so she went back home and went to work. Nathan teased me mercilessly. I felt bad for inconveniencing my friends. By that point, my friend Heather had picked up my kids to take Shane to school (her son goes to the same preschool) and let Azaria play with her little daughter. She VERY kindly kept the kids for us all day until just before dinner time so that Nathan and I could sleep. Then my friend Joy brought us over some dinner. I am SO very grateful and blessed for all of my friends' help and generosity! Thank you guys so much! I was also surprised to find that my stomach was really sore from all the time the kids spent kicking the monitors and the contractions.

Nathan was given special liberty by his command until Friday, which is wonderful and makes it possible for me to relax. Today, I'm not contracting very often as long as I'm sitting still. When I get up or walk around on my potty breaks they do come back. I'm still holding out hope for the end of September! Stay in twinsies!

And that's my drama for the week.