Friday, August 29, 2008
Side cramps or "stitches" are caused by a muscle spasm in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the dome shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity and it assists in the breathing process. It moves up when we inhale and moves down when we exhale. When we run, our internal organs are bouncing up and down and at the same time as we exhale our diaphragm is moving down. This act of the organs and diaphragm going in opposite directions is what causes the spasms.
How did I fix this problem? I began concentrating on taking deep breaths while I was running instead of taking short breaths. Now I have virtually eliminated my side stitches so that I can keep going!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Like all kids, since they were born their pediatrician has monitored their growth and development and while they caught up quickly with head circumference and weight, they have lagged behind a great deal in height. I have continuously called my girls "short-stacks."
Yesterday they had their 18 month check-up with their pediatrician. It was the final appointment they will have with her because we are moving an hour away. (I am extremely sad about this because she is the best doctor I have ever met. I would love for her to be MY doctor that's how much we liked her! If you or someone you know live in the Cincinnati area and need a good pediatrician, drop me a comment with your email and I will give you her name and practice.)
The girls' check-ups went well and their growth is moving right along. However one thing completely stood out at this appointment that took everyone by surprise. Both of the girls measured in the 60th percentile for height when 3 months ago they were only in the 20th percentile! The pediatrician re-measured to be on the safe side because it was such a huge jump, but it was in fact true. My preemies had FINALLY caught up in height with all the other February '07 kids!
What made it especially cool was our doctor had told us when they were just tiny babies that they would eventually catch up in height by their second birthday. When I was told that, it felt so far away. It is a strange thing...It has ONLY been 18 months, but then again, look at how much as changed since then. Wow, babies are amazing, huh?
So, I look at the babies catching up so quickly this way - our lives are getting ready to change when we move and many things will be different than what they have been. Maybe in some crazy way, the girls caught up for our doctor to see before they move on. A little, "Hey, look Doc, you did a good job!"
My 4 lb preemies are growing up. And just like life, they will continue to grow, change, evolve and one day will move on from me, too. I just hope when that day happens, they can say, "Hey, look Mom, you did a good job!"
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I had two major childhood injuries - when I was 3, I fell on a sheet of metal (don't ask why I was even around it) and broke a bone in my wrist and cut two tendons in half. In another incident while playing football with my old brothers (6 years and 4 years older), I dove for the ball and ended up breaking my collarbone.
So needless to say, Jelly Bean gets it quite honestly. I can always count on her to fall and get hurt no matter where we are. It is not like Peanut doesn't fall - they have only been walking for a little over seven months, but she stands up with a smile on her face and only later on does the bruise surface. With Jelly Bean, there is a fall and then you can literally count seconds...wait for it..."aaaaaAAAAAAHHHHH!" She will sob and sob...for a long time. If I give her any amount of attention minutes after the last tear has dried up, it will set off the crying all over again.
So, today we decided to take advantage of the nice day and we went outside for awhile. They love being outside and of course start to run around in opposite directions, so I have to put on my running shoes in order to keep up with them. They are so funny because while they are running, they have these goofy smiles on their face and are yelling with delight. It is hilarious to watch...Well, I digress... Jelly Bean decided to run up on the patio and bit it on a piece of uneven concrete. Down she went. At first I thought she would be okay, but then the wailing started. When I finally got to inspect her, I saw the scraped up knee. Nothing too terrible, but I did have to scoop them both up and go inside where I cleaned her knee and dabbed it with a little Neosporin.
Later in the day, we ventured out again into the wild back yard so they could run off some more of that 18 month old energy. Through all the giggles, shrieks and me saying,"Be careful!", it happened again. Down Jelly Bean went on the patio again. This time she found another spot to trip over, but the SAME knee suffered even more abuse! I ran over to her and picked her up as soon as the wailing started, inspected the knee, scooped up Peanut in the other arm and back in the house to clean the wound and apply another little dab of Neosporin.
While Jelly Bean scrunched up her face and whined about her new boo-boo, Peanut was chewing me out in her ole' Peanut fashion because she didn't understand why we had to come back in again. She was having a good time and didn't get hurt, so why did she have to suffer? Well, we were all suffering so I didn't have much sympathy for Peanut.
It was an honest attempt to get the "stink blown off" of my girls who have been stuck in a house because it has been hot, humid and sticky for a while now here in Ohio. I want them to be outdoor girls and love to play out in nature and not be cooped up indoors all the time like some kids. And they will be...just next time, I am bringing some bubble wrap.
Monday, August 25, 2008
However the weekend that we eagerly received the keys, we walked into the now empty house and finally saw it more for what it was. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice, older home and we knew that we found a good one. We also knew that in time we wanted to remodel it to suit our own tastes, but we didn't anticipate having to do much to it in order to move in.
I don't know if it was the lack of furniture or the reality that it was ours, but suddenly we have found a million projects that need to be done before we move our 18 month old twins into the house. So my husband has been leaving work almost every night and driving straight to the new house and working hours by himself to make it suitable for the family. He has been killing himself to make it happen for all of us.
So, I wanted to send out a special "shout out" to my man. He is working very hard for me and the girls and I want him to know how much we appreciate all of his hard work. He isn't complaining, but instead is just making it happen. And we love him so much for working hard!
Yesterday was our anniversary and we didn't get to spend a lot of time together, so I want him to know how much I love him and also how happy these last six years of marriage has made me. We have had an interesting eight years together (I would need another blog to relive all of our crazy pursuits), but I wouldn't have changed anything. From all the moving, living in Florida and evacuating several hurricanes, various jobs and crazy work people, many endless nights of alcohol and talking, dreaming, listening to music and discovering how much we have in common to being twindada and twinmama and having to grow up a little so we raise our little ones right (although I think we both would admit that we will never grow up completely...what's the fun in that?), I have loved it all!
Thank you for making my life complete, twindada!
(Okay - everyone else can stop gagging, my mushy stuff is over with now.)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
So after finally figuring out who was going to watch Peanut and Jelly Bean (Thank you, Mom!), I was able to get up early Saturday morning and attend an all day (8:30am to 5pm) course at the Cincinnati chapter of the American Red Cross.
I have never taken a course through the Red Cross before, but I was very pleased by the instructor's knowledge and professional experience. He has been a paramedic for over 23 years and had quite a few - good and bad - stories to tell us from his time on the job. It was just enough to make me slightly paranoid, but probably was also a good reminder that even though I am gaining experience as a parent and becoming more "relaxed" on the job, I shouldn't allow myself to get too relaxed with my kids or get too preoccupied with other things.
Just last week in Cincinnati, a mother forgot that her 11 month old child was in the car and went to work only to discover the baby later in the afternoon. The car temperature got to 130 degrees and the little one didn't stand a chance. When I hear stories like this it absolutely breaks my heart. I am also interested to hear what people say about it like "How can that mother forget her child?", "What is wrong with her?" and comments get more and more critical.
My take on it is simple. People have way too much going on and some people are paying for it. None of us could fathom doing it, but I bet the week before, this mother could not have imagined doing it either. It was a horrible, tragic and cruel accident that occurred and she gets to spend the rest of her life reliving that day of finding her precious child gone from this world.
So, although I cry when I think about that child and how their life had to end, I refuse to throw the first stone at the mother. Instead I cry for her and her family and will use this opportunity to take a good look at what I can do to make my family safer and help other families that I know keep their children safe, too.
I have listed a few ideas, but I would love to hear from other people about what we can do to help protect every child out there. As a stay at home Mom, I may not be rushing to a job every morning, but there are other times in my day when I have errands to run that things may start to get busy, so every mother should take caution when transporting our little ones. Take a look at the list below. Some are easy, some would require a lot of work, but these are just a springboard to help protect our children.
1. Take a Pediatric CPR/First Aid course. Check out the American Red Cross or your local hospital.
2. Set a reminder in your email to alert you each morning "WHERE IS YOUR CHILD?"
3. Make an agreement with the child's babysitter or daycare center to call you on your cell phone at a specific time if the child has not shown to school.
4. Encourage auto manufacturers to install devices that will sound the car alarm when the doors are locked, engine off and someone is still in the car.
5. Create a phone tree with other mothers to check in with them in the early morning and vice versa. (A good way from SAHM's to help mamas that work outside the home.)
6. Put a huge obnoxious sticker on your dashboard or steering wheel that always makes you think to check for your child. Change the sticker every so often so you don't get used to seeing it.
7. Check in with your spouse first thing if they are the one dropping the child off to the sitter or daycare center.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Well, my sweet little baby girls in their pink and purple have been nothing but a joy. They don't have meltdowns or throw fits...right? Well, if you read my "Abandon Ship" post you know this isn't true. Despite all of this, they aren't bad kids at all and are very sweet and lovable. They both have smiles that light up the room and giggle like little girls when strangers speak to them. So, I have it pretty easy and am very blessed.
However there is one thing that I wasn't counting on at this age and that is the one aspect of melodrama that occurs with most teenage girls - the clothes diva. I figured by thirteen I would be breaking up arguments over clothing and personal items, but I didn't think that I would have to deal with it now.
Peanut has discovered that clothing is quite important to her. She has a few very select favorite T-shirts that she runs for when the dresser drawer is opened. I know which ones they are and try to put those on her because I know how much they mean to her, but this morning, she threw me off. I put a T-shirt on Jelly Bean that was cute, but not any of Peanut's favorites. It is a red T-shirt with a tree on it and stars and says, "Red, White & Grow". Seemed like a harmless shirt to put on my Jelly Bean.
Well, according to Peanut this was unacceptable. As soon as she saw it, she walked over, pointed to the graphic now draped across Jelly Bean's chest and started to cry. I mean, really cry. She had tears streaming down her face! She looked at me like I just took her prized possession away from her and in her own frustrated baby babble chewed me out. I tried to calm her down, but it was useless. I had to come up with a quick solution.
Of course, I can never keep up with laundry, so I wasn't sure of what was available for Peanut to wear that day. I prayed there was something really good in the drawer that would stand a chance of being as wonderful as the tree shirt. To my delight as much as Peanuts, I found the most beloved of all of Peanut's garb...the Minnie Mouse T-shirt. Threw the tears, she stared at me as I quickly showed her the shirt shouting, "Minnie Mouse! Minnie Mouse!"
Her tears dried up and she started smiling as I gave her the shirt. Standing in only a diaper, Peanut held it up and pointed to Minnie Mouse and said, "Yeah!" Another fashion crisis averted, but what will come next? I have decided that their father is taking them prom dressing shopping.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The entire weekend, the girls only took their one nap. The mornings usually started off okay because they were refreshed from their evening slumber, but by about 10:30am my sweet lovable babies turned into irritable, crazy little aliens who wrecked havoc on the living room and all of its contents. I have to say that I have never feared so much for the well being of any doll or stuffed animal before like I did this weekend. Stuffed bears were being thrown, dolls were clunked on their heads and Lego's were being used as weapons. It was complete baby anarchy. Marshal law was next.
On top of all of this, Peanut and Jelly Bean learned a new trick. They can now officially climb up on the couch by themselves. I am so proud! I have never been so happy - now they can cause all kinds of chaos on other altitudes, too! GRAND! And this proved to be a huge source of frustration for everyone this weekend because they aren't capable of just sitting on the couch and chilling. No, there is way too much bouncing and running and falling and oh they almost hit their head on the end table kind of fun. Babies don't know how to relax - what am I thinking? Especially hyped up babies who are running on less sleep than normal.
Our weekend ended with a stand off between me and two angry little babies. They wanted to climb onto the couch and I decided that they weren't allowed since they couldn't sit still. As I picked up each offending baby from the couch, she would arch her back and scream with frustration. "How dare you take away my fun, " their little beady eyes would say to me. At one point, Peanut decided to retaliate with a hand swipe to my face. Now violence had ensued. Our family harmony had completely broken down...
This morning, I laid the girls down in their cribs for their morning nap. In the afternoon, they took another nap. I am pleased to report that everyone is in good spirits today. So, my girls aren't ready to give up that morning nap and that is okay. We ventured out into uncharted waters to give it a try, but it wasn't right for them just yet. I would rather them be ready to do new things or give up old ones when they are ready, not when the textbooks and the Internet says they should be ready. In parenthood I have learned many things, but this one holds true - it's okay to give something a try and see how it goes, but nothing is set in stone. Sometimes there is smooth sailing to a new way of living for the family and other times we just have to know when to abandon ship.
I have heard the stories of outdoor runners tragically hit and killed by an on-coming car. It can be of some risk to run on an open road especially on busy roads or roads with higher speed limits. Even if a jogger opts for a sidewalk, he or she must watch out for people backing out of their driveway or crossing the street. It's a jungle out there.
It goes without saying, but I must say it anyway, that it is absolutely imperative for mommy joggers to take even more precaution when out there hitting the pavement. We are pushing the most precious cargo in the world and our number one job is to keep those little ones safe.
Below are safety tips to remember:
1. The safety strap - use it. Jogging strollers are equipped with a safety strap that goes around the wrist. This is there so that in case the jogger gets away from the runner, the runner is still attached to it and can pull it back. If your jogger does not have this, buy a nylon strap and attach it in the back of the stroller toward the bottom of it. Do NOT attach the strap to the handlebar, pulling it back quickly could cause the jogger to fall backwards.
2. Look for joggers that have additional brakes. Every stroller (regular ones and joggers) have a brake that will stop the wheels from rolling. Always put the brake on when the stroller is stopped and your hands leave the handlebar. In addition, look for joggers that have a brake on the handlebar like a bicycle brake. If you have to stop suddenly you can quickly squeeze this brake.
3. Know where you are at and where you are going. I think that before you take your coaches out for a spin in their jogger, you should know the area well enough to anticipate the areas where traffic may be heavier or people may be out in your path. By all means, use the best judgment when hitting the road with a jogger. Jogging on the road is not a bad thing and actually is easier on the body, but being aware of all obstacles is extremely important. If the street is just too busy, suck it up and use the sidewalk. Sorry. Safety first, right?
4. Make eye contact with drivers, bicyclists, etc. Before crossing the entrance way of a parking lot or running past a driveway, make sure that any drivers who are pulling out of it see you. Don't assume because you have the right away that they will magically stop. A smile and a wave will help them see you and hopefully lighten the mood you have caused them for being in their way. :)
5. Gauge your body. We all want to push ourselves and accomplish our very best. Running is about beating yourself on a daily basis (quit slapping yourself, that is not what I meant!) There are times though when pushing ourselves does not make it safe for everyone involved. If you find yourself getting light headed, dizzy or feeling faint, stop running and walk your way home. You will do yourself no good if you are unable to get you and your loved ones home safely.
Be safe and happy running!
Friday, August 15, 2008
With Peanut and Jelly Bean sitting in tow, we walked by my friends' parents' old houses. Everyone has moved away now. New people inhabit these dwelling places that marked part of my childhood. New children played in the yards and different people were coming and going.
It made me think of the childhood version of me. Can I remember what I was like? I remember being pretty content with my life for the most part, somewhat self conscious and very naive to what this world was all about. But I was a dreamer. A BIG dreamer. I wanted to be anything and everything that this world had to offer. And I truly believed that I could be any of those things. I dreamt of being a writer, a college professor, a journalist, a dancer, a singer, a politician, a lawyer....I could go on. And I really believed that there was nothing stopping me from pursuing these things...when I was a kid.
The reality of my circumstances came crashing back to me when I saw my hands connected to the handlebars of a stroller. I was not any of those things that I thought I would become. Sure, for seven years of my life I was in marketing, but now I have given that up to be ...a mom.
A mom did not sound nearly as cool as any of the jobs that I had dreamt of being as a child. I mean, I guess I assumed back then that I would be a mom, but that was kind of a sidebar in my mind. Many people are moms, so there is not anything special about it...
But then I looked again at my hands holding on to that stroller and went past them to see the two little girls seated inside. It wasn't the title of being a mom that made me special now. It was the title of being Peanut and Jelly Bean's mom. It's not about the name that we are given, but about the responsibility that comes with it. I was commissioned by God to be the mother of twin baby girls named Peanut and Jelly Bean. They are special and unique and designed perfectly by Him. And He gave them to me. So, my job may not be what my child version dreamt of, but God knew there was something better waiting for me when I grew up.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I had the most fitful night of rest. I was dreaming about who knows what because I can't remember now, but I am thoroughly exhausted from whatever was going on in "La La" land. So my day started out slow. Of course, Peanut (my alarm clock) was ready to go this morning happily bouncing in her bed and shouting, "Mama, Mama" into the monitor. I awoke Jelly Bean (she is like her mama and enjoys sleeping) and we started our day. The girls have been competing for my attention lately, so I am starting to see this thing where they are pushing each other out of my lap so they can get to me. It is usually followed by shrieks and tears and reciprocal hand swipes to the face. It is quite pleasant, especially for someone who apparently scaled Mt. Everest in her sleep last night.
After the girls went down for a nap, I received a series of strange emails or phones inquiries resulting into various issues that I had to deal with. One a follow up on a job inquiry that I was initially excited about, but received a quick reply that I may not be qualified enough for it. So, shot down in 5 minutes. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Another from someone who found something that I lost, but I didn't know that I lost it. Now I feel secure, too! And yet another from the bank, but this was just for an address change. Whew...okay...we are still moving into our new house.
Now I am trying to find ways to remove really old wallpaper. Oh yeah, did I tell you about all the "to do's" we have to do to move into our new digs? Yeah, it will be fun.
Okay, breath. I guess with the turbulence of life inside and outside the home, I am constantly on guard that my lifeboat is going to flip me out. But I am holding on. Holding on tight. And if for some reason my boat sinks, I do have somethings to hold on to. My faith and my family. My faith - the beacon of light that is always present and points me the way to swim and my family, the people who will stay by my side and tread the water with me.
Tomorrow...me...the babies...the double jogger....we have a date with running destiny. We are going to get out there after the sippy cups of milk and cheerios have been consumed. After the diapers have been changed and the pajamas are replaced with the day's clothes, we are getting out there and getting it done!
My plan is for a two mile jog around the neighborhood. Hopefully my little coaches - affectionately referred to as my two "mean" little coaches - will tour the neighborhood in comfort and in style while I sweat and gasp my way to my goal. I look forward to this. I am going to do it!
You may ask, "Why are they my MEAN little coaches?" Well, I figure that in order to motivate someone, coaches have to be hard on the one they are helping to train. They push them and make them do more than what they thought they are capable of doing. So, in my case my 18 month old twin girls don't necessary yell at me and tell me to go faster or work harder. But they do get mad when we are going slow, so in essence, I guess they are. I know they enjoy going fast and feeling the slight breeze of the morning. So, I know I have motivation to run when I put them in the jogger.
But the real reason that I teasingly say they are "mean" is that everyday that I think that I am making progress is really just for that day. While I am hitting new goals, the girls are getting bigger and bigger every day. The weight that I am pushing while I take each step is getting to be more and more. So, my little coaches are helping to make me stronger and build my endurance just by growing into the little girls that I am helping them to become. I say they are mean, but it isn't a bad thing. They are part of their Mommy's workout and hopefully when they grow up, they will want to push themselves to accomplish their goals, too.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
My husband and I decided that I would need to work part time to bring in some supplemental income since we were moving into our new home. When it was finally decided that this was the path to go and our offer on the home was accepted, I went into turbocharge trying to find a job. I would love a work at home opportunity like the millions of other stay at home Moms out there and I do have experience working from home in my last full time job (I couldn't work at home full time though.) So, that is definitely an option and I have been regularly cruising wahm.com and researching every lead out there.
One time, I had created a list of 12 possible opportunities. I diligently started researching and pursuing all of them. It was getting crazy as to which ones I had applied to, who I needed to test with and what in the world is that all about? (These were the ones that I didn't remember doing.) Plus on top of all of this, I decided to blog.
I was spending most of my days baby wrangling, cooking, cleaning, blogging, cruising for jobs, doing errands, packing up boxes, and very little relaxing with hubby, enjoying my kids and well, sleeping!
Then I hit a brick wall. I can't do it all. I am tired. I don't want to put one more thing on my plate. In fact, I wanted to lighten my plate. So, I prioritized every aspect of my life. I have my bible study and time with God that is an absolute must. I am usually good about keeping up with this, but have been struggling with staying present in my studies. So, I have to work constantly to stay focused on His word and not think about the million of "to do's" that I have waiting for me. When it comes to my family, I am always here for them. I will enjoy my ability to stay home with them and relish in the fact that I get to see their most important moments unfold before my eyes. Everything else will fall into place. The right opportunity for part time income will present itself and I will know it.
So instead of frantically eyeing the clock worried that I won't be able to get the girls' diapers changed, drop my entrecards, make dinner, call the utility company, write new post or pack up that next box, I am going to cuddle my babies.
So, see ya later, I am busy being a Mom the rest of the day.
I actually was thumbing through a Children's Place catalog and saw some very cute clothes for them, but then realized they were only for up to 12 months...this sent off some serious sprinklers from my eyeballs. I lost it! Peanut and Jelly Bean just kind of stared and me. I could imagine what they were saying..."There goes that crazy woman again!"
When I think about my babies, I get really emotional. Do you? I guess from everything we have been through, I just can't help remember what it took to get here and how so incredibly blessed I feel to have beautiful, healthy little girls. I don't take my blessings lightly and know that others aren't so lucky. So, even though the days are crazy and can be far from perfect, I know that these are the best of times.
Thank you, God, for my family. My family...sniff, sniff...there I go again...
Monday, August 11, 2008
When my eyes opened, I saw a couple nurses walking around the recovery room. They were trying to talk to me, but I was so out of it at first and kind of confused. Then it hit me. The sheer anguish of pain.
"Honey, we are working on getting your Morphine drip set up. It will just be a minute or two before it kicks in." One of the nurses explained.
Now, I don't know what other people have experienced after C-Sections and general anesthesia, but to have been cut in half, sewed up and awaken to not one bit of pain medication flowing in my body was worse than all the contractions that I went through. I have never writhed in pain like I did at that moment. In a couple minutes, I started to slowly feel the Morphine take over the pain and was able to gain some composure. Then, in a single statement my life changed forever.
"The babies are fine...you had two girls."
I can't write this without choking up.
Remember me telling you how waiting was so worth it? It was worth it for that moment. That moment when a second in time existed between the world of not knowing and having two daughters. I had daughters. I had daughters. I was a mother of twin girls. My life was forever changed by two little bundles of "pinkness."
My husband entered the room and I could see on his face that he was in shock and relieved at the same time. The sweet young nurse who stayed by my side was the one that came running out of the OR to tell him what we had. It is so rare these days for people to wait that she was just so excited when she found out that we didn't know.
Since the babies were born 6 weeks early, they were being immediately evaluated in the Special Care Nursery (SCN). The nurses reported that the girls were breathing on their own, but needed to stay in the SCN for further evaluation and they were little, too. Peanut was born at 6:41am weighing 4 lbs 1 oz and 17 inches long. Jelly Bean was born at 6:42am weighing 4 lbs 6 oz and 18 1/2 inches long.
Did you notice from the time my water broke at 3:15am to the time Peanut was born at 6:41am was three hours and 26 minutes? Yeah, I know...
My husband was the first to go back and see the babies. He was so eager to show me the pictures on his camera phone that he had taken. They were beautiful. I was still trying to recover and wasn't able to get out of bed yet, but was so eager to see the babies. It was hard because they were just with me and now me, their mama, wasn't able to the be first person to hold them. I wish that would have been different.
We finally had a moment to ourselves to talk about everything that had just happened. When I asked him what he thought about having two girls, he got really quiet, shook his head and said softly, "When I was told my immediate reaction was, of course. That feels completely right."
He was already in love with two other women...
My husband stood at my right side telling me quietly that I could do it. My doctor was scanning Jelly Bean (a.k.a. "Little B" in the womb) and announced that the baby was transverse which meant that the baby was breach laying sideways. There was a nurse to my left and another at my feet both talking me through the pushing. With every contraction, I held my breath and pushed down as hard as I could. Peanut (a.k.a. "Little A" in the womb) was right there, but wasn't coming down even after all the work that I was doing. It was the most frustrating process that I have ever had to endure. I was working my tail off and nothing was happening.
About 40 minutes into pushing, the doctor announced we were going into the OR (operating room) where I could continue pushing and if needed they would perform a C-Section. I know they were very concerned about Jelly Bean because she wasn't even attempting to move into position. Looking back, it is so her personality. She was comfortable, knew it wasn't time, so why bother? She was living the good life in the upstairs penthouse while her sister was smashed face first in the basement.
They wheeled me into the OR while another nurse took Andy to change into scrubs. It was all so crazy and I was in so much pain that at one point, I told the nurse that I was done. I had completely lost control of my ability to stay calm and get through the painful contractions. I had prepared myself for such a long time and I really had wanted to have a natural, epidural-free delivery. I think that my failure to compose myself came from four major hiccups in my well thought out plan: 1) I never got to truly labor for a long period of time - it was like going from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds. 2) With Jelly Bean breach, I was concerned that I would end up having one natural and the other Cesarean. No one should have TWO owies. 3) When I was told there wasn't even an option for an epidural, I panicked. I was trying not to have one, but I wanted the OPTION. 4) I have learned that it is kind of ridiculous to set expectations because deliveries usually never go how anyone plans them anyway.
I pushed for a little bit more while the staff prepared the room. My husband was still not in the room and even though there were probably 5-10 people in there, I felt incredibly alone with the exception of one sweet young nurse telling me that I could do it. But as time went on, my Peanut just wasn't coming down the birth canal and Jelly Bean was unchanged, so the decision was made to perform a C-Section.
Behind me stood an anesthesiologist who was looking over me. He became my new favorite person. Since I was not able to have an epidural, it was required that I was given general anesthesia meaning that I would be asleep during the procedure. This also meant that my husband was not allowed to be in the room. The nurses were good about telling him what was going on, so he was aware of everything.
Pain and chaos continued until the kind anesthesiologist got my attention and said, "Honey, you are going to sleep now. Nighty night." And instantly I was out.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Weeks 32 through 34 were pretty uneventful. Since I stopped working when I went into the hospital, I decided to not continue working from home. It was getting difficult laying on my side and trying to work without sitting up too much. Very awkward if you haven't ever tried it. So there I was reading and watching TV.
One Saturday night, my husband came home and told me that his truck headlights were not working. It was getting dark and people were flashing their headlights at him letting him know. So, I say casually, "Well, you should probably take a look at them tomorrow because you never know when these babies are coming." Yeah, you know where this is going, don't you?
I felt kind of irritable that night. My husband said he noticed me being quite moody, so I went to bed early. Around 3:15 a.m., I awoke to do my normal nightly bathroom ritual. I noticed that I felt a little leaky, but dismissed it because I experienced a lot of cervical fluid throughout my pregnancy and was always wearing liners. I got up, went in the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and suddenly it was like the flood gates open - WHOOSH. I began freaking out because I knew that was something that I had never experienced before so that had to be my water breaking, but I couldn't check because I immediately began peeing afterward. I couldn't see over the big belly and I couldn't stand up to check because I was peeing. After I had finished, I wiped, stood up and looked. The bowl looked full, but it looked like pee. Ahh!!
I found some composure from the bathroom to the bedroom to awaken my husband. He was startled when I nudged him and told him that I thought my water had just broken. He asked me if I was sure. I told him, "Yes, I think so." but I wanted to say, "Yes, I have never had the Niagara Falls pour out of me before, okay?" While I was calling the doctor, he went to get ready. We calmly decided since I wasn't in any pain that we would not panic and rush, but he did have to go check on the truck to see if the headlights could be fixed.
Now here's the deal. We had another car - mine. The problem was I hadn't driven it since before Christmas and we had a lot of snow that year. It was buried under a ton of snow with ice. Ice. Lot of ice...
While my husband worked on the truck, I finally got hold of the doctor who told me that it could have been just urine, but I should probably get checked out at the hospital just in case. (It was so not urine, you would think that I would know, right??) I began packing up my stuff and by this time it was going on about an hour since my water had broke. Things were completely fine until the first painful contraction hit me. Ouch. A few minutes later, another one. Yikes. A few minutes later, it got even worse. WHOA! I was now having contractions less than 5 minutes apart.
My husband was still outside, but now had given up on the truck and was in the process of digging out my car. We didn't own a snow shovel (don't ask.) He was using a garden shovel to dig the ice and snow just so he could get to the door. As each contraction brought streaks of pain running through my body, I knew that things were happening quickly and if we didn't get there right away, we were having a home birth. I started to get panicky and a little pissed off and I remember opening the front door and screaming at him, "I need to go the hospital NOW!" My husband who was equally pissed off from being outside in the freezing cold at 4 o'clock in the morning desperately trying free up a car so he could take his pregnant wife to the hospital, turned around and yelled, "Go inside and lay down!"
I slammed the door and began pacing back and forth. I thought about calling an ambulance or the city police for a ride. My husband was now in the car and I could hear the whirring of the tires as he had the pedal to the floor trying to release it from the driveway's icy clutches. Finally I heard it roll out of its spot. He came in, grabbed my bag and we were on our way.
The contractions were so intense that I couldn't keep my bottom on the seat. If I hadn't been in so much pain, I probably would have minded the fact that only my husband's side of the front window had the snow cleaned off. I couldn't see anything at all! Luckily, I didn't care whatsoever.
We arrived at the hospital and we left the car in front of the ER doors. I was given a wheelchair, but I still couldn't sit down. We waited. And we waited more. Labor and delivery had forgotten about us and we sat there for 15 minutes before the kind receptionist personally took us to the correct floor.
Finally we were in a birthing room and I was laying in the bed trying to stay comfortable. A nurse was getting my vitals and everything was calm and peaceful in there. My husband decided to go move the car since we had left it on the curb. The doctor would see me in a little bit and everything looked under control. We thought he had time to move it.
While he was gone, a resident came in and checked me. Her face went from smiling to surprise when she announced that I was at 10. It was time to push. The nurse went to go get my doctor. In a matter of minutes there were half a dozen nurses, 2 doctors, an ultrasound machine and two bassinets in the room. We had a lot of things in that room, but we were missing my husband.
"Please get my husband! I need him here!" I cried. I wasn't about to go through all of this without him. They began paging him and a nurse started scouring the hallways looking for him. Finally he walked in and was immediately taken aback by the party that had accumulated in our room. It was explained to him that I was ready to push.
Finally, the gravity set in with me. I remember looking at the resident and asking, "So is there any chance for an epidural?" She smiled and said, "No honey. It is too late."
Sunday came and the specialist walked in, examined me and announced more surprising news. "You are now 4 centimeters dilated."
What this meant was because we were only 30 weeks along, if the babies were to have been born at this point in time, they would have needed to be in a level III NICU. This hospital that I was staying at had that. The hospital that I was planning on delivering (and closest to our home) didn't have that and was only equipped to handle babies born after 32 weeks. (Who would think that 2 weeks could make a difference, but in the world of growing fetuses every DAY matters.)
So, there I stayed for the next two weeks. Every morning the specialist would come in and check me and ask how I was doing. I felt fine. I never had any painful contractions, no spotting, lots of movement from the babies, the babies heart rates were good and I was in pretty good spirits. So...why exactly was I still there? I decided to ask him some questions one day.
Me: "So, when could I start dilating more?"
Him: "You could start dilating more today or weeks from today." (Hmmm, quite specific.)
Me: "When do you think I will deliver?"
Him: "Could be today or weeks from today." (Okay, I am starting to notice a pattern here...)
He said all of this with a smile that made me realize that he was a specialist not God. He knew that, of course, and it was just a matter of time for me to figure it out. His job was to keep the babies and me safe for this period of time and then when we were past 32 weeks, I was going home. His job would be done. My Super Specialist would fly off into the sunset to save another high risk pregnant woman in distress. And that was what happened.
On the day that I hit 32 weeks, I was discharged from the hospital. I was still 4 centimeters dilated, but nothing else had happened, so I was hitting the road. I cried as I got ready to leave the hospital and my husband was alarmed. Why would I miss living in a hospital? I wouldn't miss living in a hospital. I would miss the team of people who were dedicated to my little ones' lives and my life. Hearing the twins' heartbeats several times a day gave me reassurance that they were okay and that was something that I looked forward to. I had peace of mind that if something were to start happening that I was right there and other people would know what to do. Now I was being released back into the wild to fend for myself.
I got home, laid on the couch and turned on the TV. Back to the grind.
I laid on the ultrasound table looking at a TV that was mounted up on the wall . On the screen, there were my babies. They were already little superstars. My husband and I were anxiously waiting for the specialist to come into the ultrasound exam and give us any information about what was going to happen. When the tech was finished, she stepped out and returned with the specialist.
I didn't know what to expect. I have never seen a specialist before. But in walks a well put together man probably in his 40's with a warm smile and a bedside manner that quickly eased both me and my husband. He examined me and confirmed that I was two centimeters dilated. He then asked if we knew the sex of the babies and when we told him no, he said, "Okay, but I need to know." So, he scanned the babies for their gender and immediately stood up and said, "They are going to be fine. If they are delivered tonight, they will be just fine." Wow, confidence. It was the kind of confidence that the midwife the day after Christmas had. Just, don't worry, everything is going to work out here. And anyone knows that no one can truly predict an outcome, but when he said that it was like he was wearing a cape and was Super Specialist! Okay, weird, I know...
Looking back, it makes perfect sense why he would have to know the sex of the babies. Boys and girls differ when it comes to lung development. Girls' lungs are usually developed much earlier in utero than boys. If I would have had this knowledge at this point in time, I probably would have understood that I was carrying two girls without him having to tell me.
The specialist ended our visit with letting me know that I was getting a steroid shot to help speed up lung development in case we were to deliver early. Also, I wasn't going anywhere until Sunday afternoon when he would evaluate me again.
So, I was moved to a holding cell...I mean, patient room and I spent the weekend being monitored, being waited on by great nurses at the hospital, reading, watching TV and getting visitors. It was kind of like a resort, but it was a hospital...No big deal, Sunday was just around the corner and then I would get to go home after I received the second steriod shot (you have to have two within 48 hours of each other.) I would be back in my own bed in no time...right?
It was a long ride to the hospital the day that my doctor announced that I was two centimeters dilated. We were told to go immediately there and the staff would be ready for us. I called my boss on the way and left a message saying, "I don't know what is going on, but I have to go to the hospital to be evaluated because I am dilating."
It was a somber mood for both me and my husband. Strangely, I was anxious, but from the quietness of my husband, I think that I was handling it better. I think that it was probably because I didn't feel bad and the babies were fine. I knew that I did not want them born just yet, but also felt safe knowing we were going to a hospital that had the best NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in the area.
Throughout the time we were trying to conceive and then when we became pregnant with the twins, my husband had continued to be the rock for both of us. He often would tell me to stay positive and we were definitely leaving it in the hands of God. He gave me this little poem one day that he had written based on scripture and it was something that I recited to myself often when I was having a weak moment of doubt or fear. It goes like this:
"There is no trouble in my heart
and I am not afraid
I put my faith in Jesus Christ
and everything will be okay."
It is so simple, but so calming and strengthening. I often would find myself reciting it when I was spotting in the beginning or when walking into the doctor's office or just those moments when I could feel myself getting scared of something happening to my babies.
On that particular day as my husband and I were on our way to the hospital I said it out loud. My husband looked at me and nodded. We both knew that no matter what happens, we were going to get through all of this.
We checked into the hospital and I was put into a high risk area where they were monitoring the babies' heartbeats and my contractions. The staff was waiting on us and amazing! They immediately made us feel comfortable. My husband went home to get my stuff while I laid there staring at the monitors. At one point, one of the nurses came bolting in because I was apparently having major contractions, but I could not feel anything.
A couple hours into monitoring me, my husband returned. We were then taken to a floor where I was to have an ultrasound and see my new favorite person...the specialist.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I continued to work from my bed once put on bed rest. Every day, my co-workers would cautiously send an email or call to see if I was still around. I would answer immediately saying, "Yep! Still here!" Every evening before I signed off for the day, I would keep track of what I was working on, so that at any given moment, someone would know where to pick up my work.
One Friday, I had a doctor's appointment so my husband had to take me as I was not allowed to drive anymore. I started looking forward to appointments because that was the only reason I was allowed to go anywhere. So, I waddled into the office for my appointment. At this point, the doctor was checking my cervix weekly to determine if there were any changes. The doctor told me that I was going to have my cervix checked weekly, so I expected it. This particular appointment the doctor listened to the babies' heartbeats, but didn't check me. He was about to finish up when I asked, "Are you going to check my cervix?" Now I must say, it is not like I was looking forward to him examining me, but I was TOLD that I needed to be examined every week, so being a detailed, thorough person that I am, I reminded him. He looked at my chart and was surprised to find the notes regarding this routine. He then examined me, stood up and said, "Well, I am glad I did because you are two centimeters dilated." I was 30 weeks along.
My husband and I were again shocked and concerned about what was going to happen next. He asked us to wait there and went out to make a phone call. I have learned from this experience that is usually meaning they are consulting someone else about what to do. That makes a person feel good, huh? He returned to the exam room and proceeds to tell us that I must go over to a nearby hospital and check in for observation where I will meet with a specialist. A specialist. Hospital. Check-in. My bed rest had gone to a whole new level.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The week that we saw the midwife and she put me on bed rest came and went. It was kind of a much needed break for me to just be off my feet and hang out. I had the week off from work following Christmas, so it was a nice excuse to just "chill" instead of completing a long list of tasks. I lounged mostly on the couch watching TV, surfing the web, reading books and magazines and hanging out with hubby and the dogs. When the time came to go back to see my doctor, I was ready to have a break of being in the house and of course we were very curious as to what he would have to say.
When the doctor examined me and decided there was no change, he announced that my days of working were over. I was put on bed rest until the babies were born. Whoa. My husband and I both should have been more prepared for the news, but we still were surprised. I was planning on eventual bed rest, but wasn't planning on it happening for another month. There goes making plans when you are carrying babies! So, the week that I enjoyed being "off" so to speak actually turned out to be my life for the next couple of months.
I wasn't allowed to sit or walk around a great deal. I could stay at home, but I had to lay down on the bed or on the couch. I had to put as little pressure on my lower quarters as possible. I would lay and type on the computer. I could get up and go to the bathroom and get a quick bite to eat, but no standing up cooking or doing laundry. I could sit up and eat my meals, but immediately had to lie back down afterward. (Talk about major heartburn doing this! It became a ritual every night that I would drink a small glass of milk before bed and this would help my heartburn.)
I had to call my boss and tell him that I wasn't going to be able to come back into the office anymore, but I decided to continue to work as much as possible. I would lay in bed and do my work from my laptop. It was kind of funny actually. My co-workers would ask me all types of questions if I was on a conference call about what was going on. I never thought I would be talking to my co-workers while I was laying in bed. Weird! But everyone were very good sports about it all and I was able to work for about two more weeks before the next phase of this roller coaster ride took place.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Throughout the second trimester, things seemed to be truckin' along. The babies were doing well and I was still working. I was making a 45 minute commute one way and it was starting to take a toll on me, but I was determined to continue my job as long as I could so I could have all of my maternity leave time with the babies.
Thanksgiving came and went and I was starting to pop out, but many people marveled over the fact that I was carrying two babies. It was still pretty early, so I didn't mind that my belly hadn't taken over my body yet. But I was enjoying the little ball in front of me. When I am not pregnant, I am always trying to get my stomach flatter and sucking in. My belly has always been a problem spot for me and has plagued me for as long as I could remember. Now that I was pregnant, I didn't have to worry about that anymore. It was wonderful! I proudly carried my pregnant belly around and enjoyed not having to worry about it. Now my belly was the home of two little people and I wanted it to get as big as it needed to be so I could have healthy babies. So, grow belly, grow! And it also helps that the boobs kind of grow with the belly so it was all looking good. (I am not well endowed, so I enjoyed the extra boob-age.)
When December rolled around, I was starting to have on and off again contractions that are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. They are painless contractions that can occur anytime throughout the pregnancy and are not a result of active labor. So, when they occur they are not a reason to be alarmed. I think that it is always wise to tell your doctor whenever anything is going on during a pregnancy, but more often than not it is not a big deal. I started having these painless contractions mid second trimester and they continued to get more frequent. The best way I can describe them is that I felt a tightening in my belly in various places and then it would go away. There was no pain associated with them at all, so if you experience painful contractions, call your doctor immediately.
As the month started to come to a close, I was looking forward to Christmas. I had decided to take the last two weeks of the month off from work. I remember my last day of work saying goodbye to my co-workers and telling them that I would see them next year. (Ha!) One of my co-workers looked at me and smiled and said, "Please come back!" It had been a regular joke as to when I was going to be put on bed rest. My doctor at this point had already told me that most likely I would be put on bed rest and it could happen by the end of January or so. So, I remember telling him, "I will be back! I won't need to go on bed rest until later." Well, I wish that I hadn't been so sure because the day after Christmas proved to be a turning point in the pregnancy.
On December 26th, my husband and I went in for a routine ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech mentioned that she couldn't find my cervix by scanning top of my belly. She decided to do a vaginal ultrasound to find my cervix. (This is where a vaginal probe is inserted in order to perform the ultrasound. This is commonly used in the first trimester.) When she continued the scan, the tech became very quiet. When she was finished, she asked me to get dressed and wait in the waiting room. I remember feeling anxious and my body felt very warm from my blood pressure rising. A million things came over me when she told me to wait. I knew the babies were fine, but when she scanned my cervix her mood changed. So, we waited for her to finish her report and get a doctor. Since it was the day after Christmas, the office was a little scarce and we ended up seeing one of the midwives. And it was best thing that could have happened.
We went into an exam room and the midwife sat down. She explained that my cervix had shortened. This is a sign of pre-labor when the cervix begins to efface and become ready for delivery. I was 27 weeks at this moment, so delivering the just over 1lb babies was not a good idea. We were very scared and didn't know what was going to happen, but when she spoke she calmed both of us down. She gave us the confidence that we needed to feel like everything was going to be okay. Although no one can ever guarantee outcome, having a positive attitude makes a huge difference. She told us that if the babies were born today that they had a good chance of survival. She decided to put us on bed rest for the week and told me to come back later in the week for a check up. So that is what we did...