Thursday, September 29, 2011

Full monty, at 38 weeks

Ahem.

Thought you were going to see something perhaps? Sorry, no photographs to share or to show. Did not the photographs here shock you? They shocked me; they're still trying to resuscitate me, now.

***

I have been teeter-tottering on just how much information to share here, because I want to be real and I want to be helpful to moms or moms-to-be who are looking for details or sharing experiences.

***

I'm 38 weeks with twins today. I'm still pregnant; the babies are still camping out inside my body. Between Tuesday and yesterday, most if not all of my mucous plug came out; I'll try to spare you the long, stringy, sticky details. Nausea has come back strong, accompanying acid reflux, attempting to form a big bang of a most unwelcome party. To add to the party favors, my right side has been cramping strong, like a person who has been working too hard on a cardiovascular workout. And, when I stand too long, my lower extremities swell. I'm on the verge of having hemorrhoids. I shall attempt to spare you any more details. I have PUPPs, leaving me with extremely itchy skin all over my body. Can't walk for long periods of time; read the bit about standing too long. Need I say more?

Don't get me wrong, I am thankful I've been able to carry these twins this long without any complications or difficulties - without high blood pressure, without an incompetent cervix, without gestational diabetes, without preeclampsia, etc. I am thankful the babies have been growing well, amniotic fluid levels have been decent, etc. I am not overlooking any of that or neglecting to appreciate the significance of that.

I am just saying, if I'm keeping it real, I have crying moments, where I'm not feeling strong. But, babies, stay as long as you need. I'm praying the damage to my body isn't irreversible. And, I'm praying and hoping for a smooth, healthy, natural delivery of each of the twins.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the cusp of 38 weeks of pregnancy with twins

Today, I am 37 weeks and 5 days with growing twins.

My appointments with the midwives are weekly. Had an appointment yesterday, at 37 weeks and 4 days. My midwife decided to check my cervix. First time I've been checked for dilation and such this pregnancy.

Those of you who are familiar with practices common to midwives, cervical checks and sonograms are not common, frequent practices. Every time a woman gets a cervical check, she is at risk for an infection and dilation isn't the most reliable predictor of when active labor will come.

When she started checking me, that was extremely painful. Yes, I am aware that that cannot compare with the pains of natural delivery (delivery without pain management or intervention, such as epidurals). Both of us, the midwife and I, were surprise by how far along I was. I was dilated 3-4 cm and 70-80% effaced. Being 3-4 cm dilated alone wasn't anything to get excited about, but being 70-80% effaced was something to note. My body's certainly preparing for delivery.

The midwife was so excited she started sweeping my membranes. Without asking ahead of time. I'm on a really great rapport with the midwives; when I voice concern or my opinion, they know I'm not yelling at them. I told the midwife that it would have been nice if she had warned me ahead of time what she was planning on doing or perhaps even ask. Sweeping my membranes was painnnnnnnnful.

She was very quick to offer a very sympathetic apology. She explained that she just got so excited. Excited about my body preparing for delivery. . .

My midwife said that sweeping my membranes could result in some cramping and perhaps some bloody (but hopefully not bright red) discharge.

***

I experienced neither cramping nor discharge yesterday.

By the way, a friend and neighbor was driving by and saw me. She inquired whether I was keeping a photographic journal of my changing pregnant appearance.

It's been a couple of weeks.

You should take a picture of how you look, now.

Okay.

So, I had my dad take some pictures.

Ready?
Are you really ready? Because I wasn't prepared for what the images would show me.

Still want to see? Prepared to be shocked?

This is me, pregnant with twins, at 37 weeks and 4 days.

2011-9-26

2011-9-26

I don't own any full length mirrors. Usually I see my chest upwards. I have definite consequences I can feel from growing larger, such as having difficulties putting on underwear or pants, squatting, walking, etc. But the sheer appearance of my largeness has left me aghast.

We won't talk about the stretch marks I've accumulated on my belly. Or my skin being so loose post-partum, I'll have to pick my skin/flesh off the floor.

***

But this morning, I had experiences that could be interpreted as my body further preparing for delivery. I went to the bathroom several times, first thing in the morning, emptying my bowels. Every time I've gone to the bathroom, not just in the morning but throughout the day, portions of my mucuous plug have been coming out. Some of the early morning stuff was greenish brown mucus plug stuff. Literally, every time I've gone to the bathroom, more mucus plug has come out. How much is there?!

Haven't started having any painful labor contractions. That's been disappointing, not so much because I'm ready to get this over with (I am frightened about all the responsibilities that come with taking care of four children five years old and under) but because I have several people who are on-call vigilantly: my doula and some friends who will accompany me to the hospital or be by my side.

My prediction is that if this pregnancy remotely resembles the previous one, with a fair amount of my mucus plug out, painful labor contractions should start soon. . .

Monday, September 19, 2011

36 weeks and 4 days pregnant with twins

I had better keep this short or nothing will end up getting posted.

I am 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant today. With fraternal twins.

People are continually surprised to see me still pregnant. And walking. And moving about.

I'm itchy all over my body. Again. Manda, you'll remember this issue that plagued me in my first pregnancy. Now I have a name for this pregnancy condition: PUPPs. A number of recommendations have been made to relieve these super itchy symptoms: taking an oatmeal bath, using hydrocortison (sp.?) cream, taking Benadryl. I tried taking an oatmeal bath yesterday. I was miserable, because I wasn't comfortable in a reclining position in the time (having two decent size beings inside my body towards the end of pregnancy) and I was also afraid I would be able to get out of the tub.

Am still regularly losing feeling in my left quadriceps while standing. Sitting doesn't necessarily relieve that.

Acid reflux is back with a vengeance, this time with stuff coming back up.

Charlie Horses are back during early morning hours if I am not consuming water throughout night time sleeping hours.

Sitting on the toilet is getting increasingly uncomfortable. Not only do I feel like a couple of watermelons are resting on my lap, but my nether regions - my labia and my anus - sometimes get swollen. Just from sitting. Or standing for that matter. Too much information? It's the truth.

Being on my feet too long or walking for any length of time can be painful in the nether region. My doula told me when that happens to lay on my left side and to elevate my right leg. I was trying to imagine doing that in the middle of Target when I was there over the weekend and this was happening.

I feel movement as high as right below my breasts, and I feel movement as low and as awkward a location as my pubic bone. Not joking. Yes, the twins are taking that much space and have taken over my body entirely.

I've got swollen legs and a swollen belly, from retaining water, a new pregnancy symptom for me.

Weird things are happening with my skin, besides the extreme itchiness. Like darkened pigmentation on certain parts of my body's skin: ankles, joints on the big toes, etc.

***

On the upshot, I've made it almost to full term. 37 weeks is considered full term. Just three days left to make that. But, by now, each twin should have the natural sucking reflex down. And each twin should be able to breathe on her and his own.

Each twin is a healthy size. When I had a growth sonogram done this morning, all the measurements, amniotic fluid, placentas look good. The girl's measuring approx. 7 lbs and the boy 6 lbs and 10 oz. By the way, in my personal experience, the sonogram weight has been off, with my previous pregnancies by about a pound or so, telling me the baby was heavier (via sonogram) than she ended up being in reality. Regardless, the babies are healthy weights.

I have at least two health care professional advocates who will help defend my birth plan: the midwifes and my doula. Lord willing, I am hoping for natural VBACs with each of the twins. . . I do not plan on letting anyone induce me, especially using something like pitocin (I think that is of the devil), unless you count nipple stimulation or walking.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potty Training Update

2011-9-8Link

This little girl of mine sometimes shows evidence of wanting to grow up quickly. One such piece is in the realm of potty training. Remember we started potty training awhile back? I guess the active potty training has lasted about a month. You're welcome to read about the last time I wrote a post about Victoria's potty training here.

Potty training seems to vary so much from circumstance to circumstance, person to person. Timing also plays a huge factor. If the time had been six months earlier, having or getting new panties was not a currency or a sell. But less than a month ago, getting new underpants definitely was a selling point for Victoria.

My attitude in potty training Victoria, who is a few months over 3 yrs old, certainly wasn't whatever goes. But, I also didn't pursue potty training as aggressively as possible. I'm not saying there is a right way and a wrong way for everyone to potty train. What I am saying is that I assessed how I would potty train, in part, by taking into account Victoria's personality and how she functions.

Some of the actions I followed in potty training Victoria included: having her sit on the potty as soon as she got up from sleeping and asking her to go frequently. In the more initial stages of potty training, I wasn't convinced that the process would be short. She didn't seem to show evidence of consistent bowel control, where she wouldn't leak in her diaper or underpants after a very brief period of time.

But, I worked with whatever spoke to her. Rapunzel underpants were huge. She liked them and not any other princess underpants or underpants in general. So, I informed her that she should take good care of them and not have accidents in them.

***

Up to this point in time, a few times, about a month ago, she would have little pee accidents in her underpants from time to time. But, after she converted to underpants, she was good about doing number two in the potty.

She wasn't intimidated by adult toilets or public toilets. Victoria would usually go and ask to go where ever and when ever I went. Keep in mind, I'm pregnant with twins; thus, my trips to the bathroom were and are quite frequent.

She doesn't always go to the bathroom and politely declines when others are caring for her, but she's kept her underpants dry for some time now. I haven't converted her out of diapers during sleeping time, for the most part, because she hasn't consistently kept her diaper dry and I'm not super eager to clean a mattress and wash a fitted sheet frequently.

Just a couple days ago, though, I started letting her sleep in underpants. And, she loves that she gets to do so for "big girl" reasons. We cheer, we get excited, and we talk about how she gets to wear underpants at nap time, because she keeps them dry and she's too big for diapers.

***

I can't tell whether any of what I'm saying makes sense. My brain has been like mush for a majority of this pregnancy. I apologize if what I have said is hard to follow. . .

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What does the 11th hour of pregnancy look like with twins?

My appointments with the midwifery group are weekly. We went from every three weeks to every week around the 32nd week of pregnancy.

Last week, given two things - my fundal height being as long as it was (44 cm) and how low the babies' heads are sitting (both are head to head) - she said to be prepared for the babies to come any time. I was 34 weeks last week.

Yesterday, when I went to see my midwife, the same midwife noticed a slight weight loss - about 1 pound. She said weight loss is typical as one's body is preparing for delivery. I'm 35 weeks tomorrow.

I'm fast coming to the conclusion she doesn't think I'll reach my due date of October 13th.

***

This afternoon, I felt the babies move just above or around my public bone. Really, really strange to feel movement there. I've also felt movement above my left pelvic movement, another place I'm not accustomed to feeling movement.

Taking advantage of the cooler weather, I made couple of things whilst Isabella was in school and Victoria was napping: cucumber salad and macaroni and cheese. I used rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and sea salt to make the cucumber salad. Something in one of the vinegars made me feel slightly like throwing up. Not much else, in the way of food, seemed tasty either. Then, I sampled the macaroni and cheese I made and baked. Didn't strike me well either. The girls are having it for dinner; we'll see if it's a pregnancy thing.

With the babies' movements in the nether regions and with the renewed distaste for food, could I be preparing for delivery? Intuitively, I don't feel as if my body is readying for delivery. But then again, I've had one (natural) vaginal delivery, and I haven't yet delivered twins.

Ideally, I'd like to make it past my birthday, minimally past what constitutes full term (37 weeks), and past the baby shower (on the 24th). I wouldn't be adverse to the babies coming after the 38th week (Sept. 29th is when I will be 38 weeks) or waiting until 40 weeks. Whatever is optimal for the babies' healthy and safe delivery and for a heartfelt desire for a safe and healthy vaginal delivery for me sounds splendid.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Wanting the twins to stay put despite discomforts


2011-9-2

This was me, on Friday, at 34 weeks and 1 day.

Been difficult the last few days: Little energy. Left quadriceps, while standing, feeling like pins and needles. That pins and needles feeling lasts longer and longer. Acid reflux bad enough at times that stuff is coming back up. My right side sometimes has pain similar to overdoing cardiovascular workouts (e.g. running). I have a lot of trouble taking deep breaths. Sometimes, breathing in general is a bit of a struggle. I'm retaining water in my stomach and legs; that's a bit frightening to me, because the experience is new to me. Putting a hand on my leg and having my hand impression stay there for several hours is a bit unnerving, when that hasn't happened before. The index fingers on both hands randomly lock up, also a pregnancy with twins thing. I'm super sensitive to hot or cool temperatures. I've got weird bumps on the upper part of my quadriceps on both legs. Did I mention just how exhausted and tired I am a majority of the time?!

2011-9-5

Here I am at 34 weeks and 4 days.

Yet, I must say, that list is not meant to be interpreted merely as a laundry list of complaints. I cannot provide a satisfactory explanation to the audience how it is or why I am certain the Lord has specifically purposed the lives of these twins for our family. I just am. My desire is for the twins to stay within me as long as it takes for the them to be healthy and ready to survive in the world. Ideally, when they make their entrance into the world, they will each be a healthy size, be ready to breathe on the own, be able to fully engage the sucking reflex (breastfeed/nurse right away), not have any issues. Lord willing, I am also hoping for a natural, vaginal delivery of both twins, without complications for any of the three parties involved (each twin or me).

Please, babies, stay as you need to inside of me. So long as most of the damage to my body is temporary, I'll figure out a way to get by. Thrive and grow you little wonders.