A roller coaster ride it has been

Well, with all that’s been happening I guess I’ll be posting on here more often. This is just the easiest way for me to get word out to everyone about what has happened. It keeps me from having to tell the same long story over and over again, which in itself can be wearying. Suffice it to say that everything is good and stable for now, but these last 53 hours or so were certainly hectic and a little scary.

On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I had a significant amount of blood loss, which puzzled us since I had experienced absolutely none the night before. I wasn’t concerned, but I’m not a doctor and losing about 250 cc’s worth of blood is apparently a lot. So after I sent Kevin to work on Wednesday morning our doctor came in and said that he was moving me back to labor and delivery for constant monitoring. I was not thrilled with the idea since I had been so miserable last time I was there, but a good mother makes sacrifices for her children, so back I went. I finished off breakfast reluctantly (thank goodness I did!) and got settled. One of the perinatologists, Dr. Ruma, came in and updated me on the gravity of the situation: I had lost enough blood to concern them greatly, and if it continued to happen then into the OR I would go for them to deliver the girls. Obviously it was way sooner than we wanted our girls to come. The chances of survival are not that great, and the possibility of a long term disability manifesting itself is greater at an earlier gestational age. And the biggest shame is that the girls are doing fantastic; it’s just mommy that’s causing all of the problems now. We get daily ultrasounds (called BPPs, or Biophyical Profiles) and each one shows how well the girls are doing. Oh, and by the way, we got some approximate weights on the girls during our big ultrasound on Tuesday. Abigail weighs about 562 grams (1 lb 4 oz) and Eva weighs 672 grams (1 lb 8 oz.), both way above what the NICU considers to be the cutoff for survival, which is 400 grams. That was music to our ears, and another reassurance that our girls are just developing wonderfully. What can I say? We serve a good and faithful God. 🙂

Since there was a concern that I would have to get a cesarean I was restricted to a clear liquid diet: water, sprite, jello, juice, and chicken broth. And believe it or not that was actually the easy part of my time in labor and delivery! I was put back on the monitors so they could watch the girls’ heart rates and my contractions 24/7, and THAT’S when things get uncomfortable. There is no moving when the monitors are on. No shifting from side to side, absolutely nothing, or else they will lose the heartbeats and then the nurses have to trudge back in and find them again. Thankfully almost every nurse we had was awesome and really did everything they could to make me comfortable, but once again my back was killing me within hours. Visitors helped to make the time pass (both my niece and nephew were brought by for a visit, and they were quite entertaining!) but it was still a little rough. Anyway, having all those monitors hooked up to my belly and being uncomfortable did not make for a restful night. To add to that around 5:30 in the morning the night nurse walked in and told me I had been having contractions for the past hour every 2-4 minutes. Yikes! I had felt them, but there was no pain associated with them, so I didn’t know what to think. With a high risk twin pregnancy one can never be too cautious, and they definitely wanted to make sure I wasn’t going into labor. I wasn’t, and the cause of the contractions was all the bleeding I had been having, so none of the doctors were too surprised but they still weren’t happy with everything that was going on. They decided to put me on magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions, and if you’ve never been on that stuff I seriously hope and pray you don’t have to. You basically feel like you’ve got the flu while you’re on it, especially for the first 20 minutes when they give you the high dose. It was yucky stuff, and Dr. Ruma came in later and told me he would have me taken off in a few hours. Unfortunately he was overruled by the OB, and my magnesium sulfate misery lasted until about 4:00 this morning when I woke up with some difficulty breathing. Until that time I was out of it. My mom told me later it was if I had been drunk. People came in and poke and prodded me, had loud conversations and I missed all of it. And not to mention that I emotionally lost it a couple of times. I consider myself to be a strong person (though Kevin calls me Fix Or Repair Daily every time I tell him I’m built Ford tough) but it was starting to get to me. Me being out of it for half of the day is the only thing that made my day bearable. I actually found out this morning that my clear liquid diet had been cancelled yesterday morning and the nurse just never bothered to check it. Good thing she wasn’t here this morning because I actually may have chewed her out for putting me through more agony for an extra 24 hours!

So to wrap things up, once they took me off the magnesium sulfate I started to feel much better. I was able to get up and use the restroom (for anyone who has read the Hiding Place, the restroom was to me what the fleas were to Corrie Ten Boom; thank God for the fleas!) instead of being restricted to a bed pan, and I got to eat real food again! I’m still having some bleeding, but it’s considerably less than what I was experiencing on Tuesday night. I’m now back in a regular room, although they kicked us out of the room with a double bed. I’m gonna have to fight for that one tomorrow. If I do happen to have another night of heavy bleeding they will still go ahead and deliver the girls, because it won’t do anyone much good to have me in peril; the girls and Kevin all need me to be healthy. If we do end up having to deliver early and the girls have problems later on then we are confident that God has given us the strength to deal with that. Having worked with Deaf kids I know that having kids with difficulties like that is not the end of the world. Some of the greatest kids I know have “disabilities” and believe me, parents can underestimate how much those kinds of kids are capable of. And long term disabilities could mean something as trifling as asthma. We have so many people praying for these girls, and several of them feel like the Holy Spirit has given them confirmation that Eva and Abigail are going to be okay, although what that exactly means still remains hidden. God usually doesn’t show His children the whole plan, but usually it’s just the next step, just to keep our own faith strong. I personally feel like this is going to be a rough time that will ultimately allow God to manifest His glory. It’s all in His hands anyway, and we are confident that God has already done and will continue to do good works through our daughters. I want to reiterate that I love having visitors come, but in light of the past few days it would probably be best if people contact me or Kevin first before coming down. That way no one will go to the wrong room, or come at a time when I’m completely exhausted and incoherent and probably not the best conversationalist. I do want to thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. The Bible promises that, “Where two or more are gathered in my my name, there I will be among them,” (Matthew 18:20.) How can these girls not be in His care when so many people are lovingly putting them before Him? And just know that Kevin and I love you all. We may not know you, but we love you all and are glad you love us and our daughters enough to be there for us in small ways. We are just thanking God for every day that the girls stay in the “oven,” because it means that much more of an opportunity for their success. Thank you all.

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Now at the hospital!

Update update….so we are all checked into the hospital now. The reason we are here is because they want to not only monitor the girls but they want to monitor me as well. When we saw the perinatologist on Wednesday, he actually said the girls were doing well enough that he didn’t see the need to put me in the hospital yet. That was until I told him about the bleeding. It put a whole new spin on things. Although the bleeding hasn’t been excessive, it has been nightly. So he basically gave me a day to wrap up some things, and after visiting our OB we were sent directly to the hospital to check in. So here I am! And I’m determined to make the best of it. I’m hoping to be here for a couple of months, because the longer I’m here means the longer the girls stay in me, and the healthier they, get, too. A nurse told me today to think of it as one day in the womb is two less days they will have to spend in the NICU. I love that family has promised to spend lots of time here to help alleviate the boredom, because I’m pretty much stuck in bed until the girls arrive. The days may get a little long.

After talking to another one of the perinatologists (there are a total of five that we will be seeing) it looks like I’ll be getting daily ultrasounds, and I really have to be careful about what my body is doing. Any contractions, heavy bleeding, any changes and I need to let someone know right away. As I said in an earlier post, the girls will be delivered by a caesarean, and Kevin and I are in agreement that whatever needs to be done for the safety of the girls is what we will do. Every measurement we get on them shows that Eva’s fluid levels are at a normal level, and Abigail’s is still below 3 cm. But at least they are stable! The doctors are still calling it Stage 1 for TTTS, but the one we saw today said the stability of it gives her a good feeling that we will go at least a minimum of another month. We could even make it to 34 weeks, which would be absolutely wonderful. Of course, I’ll be huge at that point, but it’s a small price to pay for two healthy daughters! 🙂

We have had quite an adventure since we’ve arrived here. The first night they put us in a room with only one bed, so Kevin had to use the pull out bed from the chair in the room to sleep. And I’m told it was pretty uncomfortable. So the staff here was incredibly nice and moved us into a room with two beds. Kevin was very much looking forward to having a good night’s sleep. And then I had a bleeding episode that seemed normal to me, but the nurses deemed to be problematic. So I spent last night in Labor and Delivery so they could monitor the girls all night. It was pretty uncomfortable for us both. Poor Kevin had to sleep on the couch in the room. I had to sleep in the same position all night (by this morning my back was killing me because I couldn’t move all night long) hooked up to an IV and several monitors, and nurses came in every couple of hours to check up on things. We had a rough night and got very little sleep, and we are definitely hoping we don’t have to do that again! The nice thing is they said the girls looked great all night. We found out that at 24 weeks it’s next to impossible to get both heartbeats found, and yet they were able to for Abigail and Eva. So God has really had His hand on them, and for that we are thankful. Every ultrasound shows us that they aren’t having any major problems, and as long as they are healthy and I am healthy we will just deal with the bleeding for now. Now that I’m on modified bed rest we are hoping the bleeding will stop soon.

I can’t thank everyone enough for your prayers, support, and encouragement. So many people have invested in these two little girls that I’ve been truly touched. People at work have been phenomenally understanding and generous. Friends and family have already stopped by to visit. I have six doctors who easily have over 100 years of experience between them with their watchful eyes on our daughters. The nursing staff here has been so friendly and accomodating that things have been remarkably easier for us. And last but certainly not least, my husband has been a trouper for this whole thing. I’m very glad me being here takes a huge weight off his shoulders, but him working and spending the rest of his time here has got to be hard. Plus he still has to take care of things at home. And if it’s going to be a while before anything happens then I can only imagine how wearying it will be on him. I’m really blessed with such a great man.

I suspect our stay here at the hospital will be somewhat eventful. Hopefully not too much so! If anyone wants to visit please let me know. I will be here 24/7 so visitors are always welcome. Much love to everyone. I can’t wait for you all to meet our girls.

Another change of plans…again

It feels like every time I write on here it’s because of something new and dramatic that has happened in our lives. But quite honestly, it’s because I’ve never wavered in my desire for information and informing others what to expect when something like this happens. I know doctors say not to google things, but I’ll admit I feel like sometimes they are withholding info to put my mind at ease. And doggone it, I just want the truth! I know every pregnancy is different, but now that we are having twins with TTTS information is more and more scarce. So I write this stuff in the hope that maybe someday someone who is also in my situation will stumble across this blog and be comforted, or aware, and not be in a fog of confusion.

I had experienced some bleeding for several nights earlier this week, and naturally it concerned me. On Saturday morning at 4:00 AM I called my OB in a panic to ask what I should do, especially since twins have a higher possibility of causing preterm labor. His advice was to put a pad on, check it in an hour, and if there was lots of blood to go to the ER. So I followed his instructions and since nothing came of it, I just rested all day. Two nights later, the same thing happened again. I didn’t call in a panic, but waited until the OB’s office opened and called. I left a message to have him call me back, which he nicely did later that afternoon. I was told if there were any contractions or lots of blood then to go to the hospital, otherwise there was nothing that could be done at this point. Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing my OB because I really do like having him as a doctor. But this is a high risk pregnancy, so I decided from now on to call the perinatologist if something comes up. It actually did once again, so Dr. Joffe decided he wanted to take a look at the girls and make sure they were ok.

They are doing fine, thank goodness. Nothing has really changed. Turns out Abigail’s foot is in a perfect position to the placenta that when she kicks, she may have caused a little tear and bleeding. But I guess it’s more common than I was initially aware of. Next week I will have to get steroid shots to hurry along the girls’ development for the best possible outcome, which is fine with me. Heaven knows with my JRA I’ve had to deal with plenty of needles.

The bombshell that we got from Dr. Joffe yesterday is not necessarily a bad one, but it took us off guard. I guess Kevin and I need to have a discussion about me staying at the hospital until the girls are delivered. I said in the last blog that they can be delivered as early as 24 weeks (which is next Friday) but that’s not an optimal situation. But they can be monitored on a daily basis at that point. I’m not sure what that completely entails, but it does involve me basically moving into the hospital until the girls arrive. So I could be there starting next week, and I may be there for a while. Obviously at that point I would be unable to work, and the idea of staying at the hospital for several months is a bit daunting. I had just assumed that I would be staying home until Dr. Joffe told us it was time to deliver. So we could really use a lot of prayer on this decision, because we do want to give both girls every chance for a successful outcome. I’m praying that just because I may be at the hospital doesn’t mean I have to deliver until well into the 30s as far as weeks are concerned. It’s very encouraging that at every ultrasound the girls look very healthy, and they have become quite abusive in their kicking! We sure do appreciate everyone’s encouragement, thoughts, and prayers. We love you all so much and we are hoping you are all rewarded for your faithfulness by getting two very precious and healthy girls!

Where we are at now

So I thought I’d post a new blog with all of the nitty gritty details of what is going on with this pregnancy. When I wrote the last one I was still in shell-shock mode from the news that we were having twins. It was overwhelming news, but at the same time very exciting, too! Lots of people have told me they would have paid good money to see Kevin’s face when we got the news. It was pretty amusing, let me tell you! So aside from all the unpleasantries that accompany pregnancy (let’s see…burping all the time, difficulty breathing since they’re pushing up my lungs, ill-fitting clothing, and the ever-present pregnancy waddle) I’m actually thrilled for my girls.

In the last blog I wrote that we found out the girls had TTTS, and two weeks ago I had no clue what that meant. I have since done my research and have a better idea of what’s going on. Eva, my bigger girl, is apparently getting more blood than Abigail, my smaller girl.
As a result, she has more amniotic fluid around her than Abigail. For a normal twin pregnancy, the amount of fluid around babies should be between 3-8 cm. I don’t have the numbers for our first ultrasound, but for our second one the numbers were 1.4 for Abigail, and 8.5-9 for Eva. TTTS has four stages of progression, and the first stage is this uneven amount of fluid around the girls. The second stage is when Abigail’s bladder can no longer be seen on a detailed ultrasound. The third stage is when the blood flow for one or both of the girls is absent or reversed in their umbilical cords or in a specific vessel near their hearts. The fourth stage is when one of the girls (probably Eva) shows evidence of hydrops, which is swelling that indicates heart distress or failure. On last week’s ultrasound as well as today’s we saw good-sized bladders on both girls, the blood flow for them was in a normal range and forward moving, and there was no evidence of hydrops. Today’s fluid measurements were 1.5 cm for Abigail and 5 cm for Eva. So things for Eva have improved considerably! That was very reassuring to hear. We are still a little concerned about Abigail, but this means we are still in stage one, which is a HUGE answer to prayer! According to a study I found online 70% of stage one cases either remain stable or completely regress to normal. That’s an encouraging number! And tons of prayer works miracles, as we are seeing today. 🙂 We are still being monitored very closely because TTTS can really progress quickly, and if it does for us we may have to go to Houston for surgery to even things out for the girls. But God has them in His hand, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather have them. I’m doing the few things I can to ensure they are getting what they need (pretty much eating non-stop, resting whenever I’m not working, and downing protein shakes like they are going out of style) but now we just have to sit and wait for them to grace us with their presence. After today’s good news I’m thinking we may make it to January after all. Our OB has told us he can pretty much guarantee they will have to be delivered via c-section, so at least we have an answer about that. But the girls are making themselves known to us with lots of vigorous kicking! I think they have their dad’s quad muscles. 🙂

It’s been great to have so much support from everyone, too. People have really stepped up to help out. Both moms have done lots of cooking already so I can have a chance to rest as much as possible. Thanks to my mother-in-law, Michelle, and Gina I now no longer have to buy maternity clothes. Grandparents are taking care of cribs. Sister-in-law Sarah is donating a pack-and-play. My Aunt Cathy has a double stroller for us to use. All of my bosses are being incredibly understanding and have told me whatever I need to do for the girls to just let them know and they will make it work. I’m sure I’m forgetting other generous gifts because God has really blessed us with amazing people who love us, are excited for these girls, and want to help out in any way possible. God has commanded us not to worry in Matthew 6, and He has given Kevin and I a peace about whatever may happen. I’m not saying it’s all roses from here on out, but it’s considerably easier than it could have been.

So I will be sure to keep everyone updated about how the girls are doing. We have another ultrasound Friday morning so keep praying that God will take care of our daughters. They can safely be born in just two and a half weeks, but we’d rather them to get bigger and healthier in mommy’s tummy, of course!