Thursday, June 25, 2015

Week 21 Update

It seems like last week rushed by so it doesn't feel like much has happened since then.

Feeling blah enough at 21 weeks 1 day.
I didn't feel like including a face picture or like matching my clothes!

I did learn what it is like to be sick while pregnant. I've had a bit of a nasty cold. Yuck! I've had so much congestion I feel like I can't breathe through my nose and the babies are settling into my abdomen so it feels like I can't breathe deep into my lungs, either. Coughing isn't fun as I find myself gagging and close to vomiting on my own mucous. Thank you pregnancy gag reflex! I am slowly getting better (yay) with a new appreciation for the added discomforts of pregnancy on top of cold symptoms.

Today I was feeling bored alone inside my house so I went for an evening walk. It was so beautiful -- green and lush and a perfect temperature. But I felt my time for enjoyment running out quickly as I could feel myself waddling ever so slowly through the neighborhood. Luckily there weren't too many people around to notice the poor pregnant girl barely making it back home, huffing and puffing, feeling her hands swell and go more and more numb, and trying to brace her back in that classic pose of pregnancy (only failing, because the numbness and pain in the hands prevented me from even sufficiently doing this). But it was lovely while it lasted. And maybe it is time for one of those pregnancy back support braces because I seem to get achy and crampy with any more walking than to and from the car! (Anyone have any suggestions on this?) Oh, and how do people continue to run (or exercise) in pregnancy! --I've not had good luck with this despite my best intentions.

Erin's eye-view of my slowly moving belly on a summer night's stroll

I also had my first "are they identical?" question...after I told her it was a boy and a girl. Previously, Abe and I had said we would answer this question YES! every time. We might even add, "In fact, we have to put bows in their hair in the tub so we don't get confused." Think about that one for a minute.

But I couldn't say that to this nice lady and so instead explained to her that they are fraternal twins. As a twin myself, I have a hard time understanding the confusion on this (it is something I've known from an early age), but I guess some people just don't know.

So, to fill you in just in case:
  • Identical twins split from the same egg. This means they share the same DNA, or genes. So, for all intents and purposes, boy-girl twins are not identical. These are also called monozygotic twins.
Two peas in a pod, my identical twin and I.
I hope our twins still have that unique bond from growing up together.
  • Fraternal twins are from two separate eggs and are as much alike genetically as they would be to siblings born at a separate time. These can be boy-girl, girl-girl, or boy-boy. Also called dizygotic twins.
My babies will be as genetically similar as my own brother and I are to each other.
If they are like my family, that may mean they still look a lot alike!
Being identical or fraternal doesn't come down to how much alike you think twins look to each other. Growing up, people would argue with my sister and I on occasion, stating they could tell differences between us so we couldn't be identical. They were right in a way, as our mantra was "Similar but different!" But it really does come down to the DNA so isn't up for debate. Most twins probably need DNA testing to know for sure, unless you are boy-girl (fraternal) or share a placenta (like my sister and I, who are identical).
    • Interesting trivia for the day: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson are rumored to be fraternal twins despite building a billion dollar brand on being twins! So sometimes looks can be deceiving!
    • Our triplet baby C would have been another boy with DNA matching baby B, if he had survived = identical to baby B, fraternal to baby A.

Week 21 day 0:
Weight: 165.3 lbs (home)
Total Weight Gain: 23.3 lbs
Baby A: Girl!
Baby B: Boy!
evening tiredness
arm/hand numbness -- this seems to have stabilized with only mild and occasional pain
gagging and vomiting after brushing my teeth (decreased)
minor hand and foot swelling (continues)
severe reflux -- Tums and Maalox (not quite cutting it!)
discomfort -- it's getting hard to move from a sitting position, shortness of breath at times, feeling big and tight in the belly
cold symptoms -- yuck!
sleep -- all I need to say is this is what my bed looks like in the morning, a mess of pillows and blankets

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gender Reveal

We can't wait to spill the beans!

Its a girl! And a Boy!

We found out at 16 weeks 2 days that we were having a little girl and a little boy! I had an unexpected ultrasound a few days after my 16 week appointment because I was having some spotting and cramping. Luckily, everything checked out fine and we found out about a month early about the flavor of beans we would be having!

We decided to keep it a secret for a few reasons. First, we knew it was early and our OB warned us it was possible it would need to be confirmed on our 20 week scan. And secondly, we weren't sure if we wanted to do a gender reveal party to announce or not so our indecision caused some delay.

After thinking about it all this time, I decided I didn't have the energy, creativity, or number of friends (at least in the area) to make a party worthwhile. So $20 worth of jelly beans later (man, at $7.99/lb those cute candy stores really get you fast!) we let our family know what kind of beans we were having and made the rest of you suffer in suspense another month or so. Sorry! It was awkward when people would ask so I would try not to be too misleading by saying something like, "We are supposed to find out in June."

Announcing to some of our family last month at one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago.

We are very excited! My instinct was a boy and a girl but I had a dream the ultrasound showed two girls. I was disappointed in my dream because I really thought it would be one of each and was emotionally prepared for that outcome. I thought baby A would be my girl and my busy baby B would be my boy.

My doctor found baby A right away so I was nervous, wondering if my instinct would be right or if I would get two girls like in my dream. Abe wasn't there when I found out but was able to sneak away from work shortly after to see for himself. It was kind of cool to predict not only the genders but which baby was which!

So the heartbeat predictions weren't correct (people were telling me it was probably two girls because the rates were in the 160s) at first but interestingly now, our girl baby A is running about 20 beats faster than brother. Maybe those old wives know a little something?

Now to choose some names!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Week 20 Update

This week felt like a milestone week! 20 weeks: most women's half-way mark (less for me -- hoping for another 18 weeks!), anatomy scan, and only a few more weeks until viability. Yay. (Today I am officially 20 weeks and 2 days.)
Maybe it is the minor cold that I have but I have found myself feeling a little blah this week (can you see it in the pictures above?). I find myself huffing and puffing after simple tasks like changing my clothes, putting on my compression stockings (yay for those in the summer!), and even just lying in bed. Some nasal congestion combined with lost space for my diaphragm to expand and I guess that isn't too surprising. I find myself groaning to get off the couch or up from lying down. Is it the extra weight or my stretched out core muscles (?), because inertia definitely is getting me down. An object at rest wants to stay at rest! Or in my case, this pregnant lady just really can't seem to get off the couch (without help?)!
The past few days my belly seems to be feeling tighter. I was glad to make it into work when I started feeling compressed the last 20 minutes of my morning commute today. I keep wondering just how big am I in comparison to a singleton pregnancy? I keep feeling like I am third trimester big already and I guess I probably am as the recommended weight gain for a normal pregnancy is 25-35 pounds and I am almost to 25 already!
Best of all, we got to meet our babies again at our 20 week ultrasound! I haven't felt much of the babies yet so despite my ever expanding size, sometimes I still wonder if they are really still in there. Luckily, they still are! Not only are they there, but they are much bigger than before and seem to have all of their parts (okay, so technically they didn't confirm baby A's feet, but I'm taking those on faith). And my cervix is still long, which may seem like a weird thing to mention but when you have multiple babies in there it is a big relief to hear! I don't want them popping out too early, we three still have a long way to go until it is time to meet.

Week 20 day 0:
Blood pressure: 124/73
Weight: 164.2 lbs (home), 166.8 lbs (office)
Total Weight Gain: 22.2 lbs
Cervix: 4.4 cm
Baby A: FHR 163; 12 oz (63 percentile)
Baby B: FHR 142; 12 oz (63 percentile)
evening tiredness
arm/hand pain and some numbness -- much more manageable this week!
gagging and vomiting after brushing my teeth (decreased)
minor hand and foot swelling (continues)
gastric reflux (new), burping (getting worse) -- horrible, horrible burping (I probably shouldn't admit that!)
increasing discomfort -- it's getting hard to move from a sitting position, shortness of breath at times, feeling big and tight in the belly

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Weeks 17-19

17 weeks 4 days -- getting round!
Abe had his last vacation for the year. We didn't really have anything planned so we decided to do a little stay-cation and use it as an opportunity to get ready for the babies. I was able to get a few extra days off work so we headed up to Chicago.

We spent a lot of time shopping, including multiple trips to Ikea for furniture and a few Buy Buy Baby locations in search of our cribs and to order our recliner.
Our car is full finally after multiple trips to Ikea
We had some fun trying some new Chicago restaurants and some old favorites, and meeting up with Abe's brother for dinner.
Ramen and cute Japanese pastries at a Japanese market

When we got home, we spent the next few days cleaning out our second bedroom to become the nursery (making our whole house a mess) and putting together furniture. We aren't quite done yet and have a lot to do to get the house back in order. I have been trying to organize and declutter other parts of our house as well, but this has been slowed with my recent evening exhaustion.

Mini cribs --they still seem BIG in our small room

We went with Ikea custom wardrobes to maximize storage for us and the babes

Right after my last post I was really worried when I stepped on the scale and saw I had gained six pounds in five days. Luckily, I lost a few of those pounds right away (water weight?) and my weight gain seems to have tapered off. 

I learned another twin mom lost her babies a few days ago at 19 weeks. Sad! That reminded me of the potential risks of pregnancy with multiples so I am grateful I am doing so well. I feel like my energy came back and I felt amazing but tapered off again very quickly. Even so, I am still doing so much better than during the first trimester and work has been especially busy so maybe that's partly to blame. I am praying my arm and hand pain stays stable or does not increase so I can keep working. It hasn't been pleasant but I have been managing. I have been doing some home remedies like icing, trying to sleep with my right hand elevated,  and self instituted home "hand rest" -- hence my lack of blogging.

Trying some modified compression stocking on my arm at night
Giving the wrist brace a try now too

19 weeks day 2 belly
And, after driving my high school car for 15 years, I bought a new one! Upgrading to something a little bigger and more reliable for the babies.

Today, 19 weeks day 3

Week 17 day 0

Weight: 158 lbs (home)
Total Weight Gain: 16 lbs 

increased energy but exhausted after exertion
hand and foot swelling -- got my wedding ring but not my wedding band back on
gagging and vomiting after brushing my teeth 
multiple nightly bathroom breaks 
feeling huge and a little discouraged

Week 18 day 0 

Weight: 161 lbs (home)
Total Weight Gain: 19 lbs 

energy, motivation, nesting mode
hand and foot swelling -- wedding ring back off, mostly to prevent getting stuck
gagging and vomiting after brushing my teeth, worse in mornings
multiple nightly bathroom breaks

Week 19 day 3 

Weight: 161.8 lbs (home)
Total Weight Gain: 19.8 lbs

evening tiredness -- daily after work naps
increasing arm/hand pain and some numbness -- worse as the week progresses and in early morning
gagging and vomiting after brushing my teeth, mornings mostly
mild body discomfort in bed-- body pillows and no covers (hot!)

*I'm looking forward to our 20 week ultrasound next week (I love meeting our babies at these appointments) and starting to feel them move.*

Week 16+ update

Here I am trying out rockers for our nursery. I feel like this picture is a good representation for how I feel!
Tired and big and ready for a long break!

At the beginning of last week I was feeling pretty amazing. I told Abe I felt like I was really able to finally enjoy my pregnancy. I am so grateful to be pregnant, with two healthy babies, and that so far I am healthy, continuing to work, and finally feeling good.

Now at the end of the week and starting a new week, I have been feeling a bit discouraged. I feel huge! I guess that is the point of pregnancy, but I feel way bigger and more pregnant than I feel I should while still in the "teens" weeks. I feel like I am six or seven months pregnant instead of four! I really am not purposefully comparing myself to other pregnant women, but I am bigger than practically everyone (meaning pregnant women) I know, which so far is only people farther along than me and even another friend pregnant with twins about 1-2 weeks ahead. My hands and feet started swelling and I feel like I have sausage fingers. I expected this, but didn't know I would have to take off my wedding rings at weeks 16.5! It just seems so early. Today my arms and hands are tired and I worry about being able to continue my work if things only get worse. And today I felt tired and nauseated and more blah than I have felt in awhile. I am hoping it was all of the activity from a weekend in Chicago, sore hands and arms from a 20 mile bike ride, and hours in the car.

I am beginning to wonder more how things will go, like how big will I get? How swollen? When will I stop being able to reach my toes? Will I have complications? Can I keep these babies in long enough?

I have chosen to keep an attitude of faith and am planning on things going great. But I guess I am just having a moment of question.

17 week stats: 
Week 16 day 6
Weight: ??? I feel so big I didn't want to see

headache --frequent
tiredness -- mostly evenings
hand and foot swelling -- mild but I did have a painful struggle to remove my wedding rings (already?)
gagging and vomiting after brushing my teeth (yuck!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Week 16 update

15 weeks 3 days

I just got back from a quick trip to California. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great but it was still a nice little break and I can't begrudge them their rain!

The highlight was going to Disneyland with my MIL Kristin and my sister Brenna and her kids. 

We got caught in the rain for much of the afternoon but with a few ponchos we worked through it and managed to still have a good time. Next time I hope to also go back to the farm with my sister's family but it was great to see them for even a few hours.

The rain finally stopped!

We spent some time on Balboa island, enjoying frozen chocolate dipped bananas, shopping for maternity clothes, and meeting up with an old friend Rachel and her cute family. 

Love you Rachel

New maternity clothes

We spent some time with our cousins the Drapers who were very generous hosts. Betty even supplied me with my top cravings: pickles, gummy bears, and popsickles. I guess blogging does have some perks! 

I am starting to feel good! I feel like I am now able to enjoy my pregnancy-- feeling pretty good and it feels more real as I grow. My nausea seemed to peak a week or two ago but is now much less frequent and mostly at night but some bumpy flights on our way back home really didn't sit well with me! I continue to have frequent headaches and falling asleep has been difficult since getting home. 

My belly seemed to grow overnight again, and I have transitioned to maternity clothes. This has actually been a nice change, a lot more comfortable and I feel like I look smaller in baggier outfits. I cleared out my closet today and made room for my roomier clothes. 

I feel like I am going to be huge. I have a hard time imagining how these babies will fit in there. Right now they only weigh an ounce or two and I am a lot bigger than all of the pregnant ladies I know who are within about a month of me (and with only one baby) so it is hard to comprehend what it will be like when they are 3, 4, or hopefully even 5 lbs each!

I had a quick appointment today with my OB. I got to listen to the babies' heart beats for the first time, did the glucose screening test, and had a few blood tests drawn. I felt a little dizzy for the first time in years with the blood draw -- pregnancy related, I assume. I'm crossing my fingers my lab tests come back normal.

I am anxiously waiting for our 20 week ultrasound so we can learn what we are having!

16 week stats: 

Week 16 day 0
Weight: 157.2 lbs (home)
Total Weight Gain: 15.2 lbs 
Blood pressure: 132/67

Baby A: FHR = 160 bpm
Baby B: FHR = 170 bpm

nausea--infrequent, mostly at night
tiredness -- mostly evenings
pregnancy comments from strangers

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The struggle continues


I thought my struggle with infertility would end when I became pregnant.

Even so, I laughed when my fellow IVF mommy-to-be told me that the nurses in the "regular" OB clinic told her she wasn't considered infertile now that she was pregnant, even after all the treatments to become so. Deep down I could sense the ridiculousness of the thought -- that all of that infertility jumbled ball of emotion could be erased with one sudden success.

I guess I knew I wouldn't be able to immediately take off the label, disrobing the years of emotional turmoil to move suddenly into a fertile life. But, I thought I would easily put it on the back shelf of my life to eventually gather dust and cobwebs until those troubles drifted into the far past, brought up only in conversations of the future: "Oh yeah! I WAS infertile," or "Hmmm...Yes, I USED TO BE infertile. Once. But that was years ago."

I certainly didn't expect it to continue to haunt me like it has, and in some ways, my infertility has been harder than ever. My sudden burst of (assisted) fertility hasn't completely buried the years of hurt and my infertility emotions seem to be raging along with my pregnancy hormones.

Mostly, I feel bad admitting it (because it sounds and feels horrible to say), but I have been surprised by my response to the good news of others. Now it seems I have suddenly become one of many, like there are pregnant women all around. At least in the beginning, the news bothered me more than it has in the past. I thought I would be happy, all of us mothers-to-be together. But I feel a bit lost in the crowd of morning sickness and exhaustion; like I thought it was my turn but actually there is still a long line ahead of me (since I announced early there are still a lot of babies to be announced before mine arrives). And I feel guilty for feeling this way. The joy of others shouldn't take away from my own happiness. It certainly doesn't. But as illogical as it seems, it reminds me that I am or was infertile, like a bad cold I just can't shake and the lingering cough painfully reminding me that I am different than those with the carefree joy of a spontaneous pregnancy. I feel like the weird one, the one who couldn't do it the easy way, the free way, the buy-a-cute-present-to-announce-it-to-your-husband way, the way-it-is-supposed-to-happen way. As I progress in my pregnancy I sense these feelings start to fade, but it has been a surprising struggle.

Perhaps some of it is my survivors guilt. I mentioned before my fears for leaving behind my other infertile friends. Worrying and wondering how they are. Hoping my success is reason for hope rather than another painful reminder. I found myself crying last night thinking of those still struggling. I was so upset by failed fertility treatments, the surgical removal of reproductive organs, advancing age, financial constraints, the questions of unexplained infertility, and the progressive loss of hope. It just doesn't seem fair when I know these women and couples would be wonderful parents. I know the pain of thinking you will never be a parent and I feel guilty that I don't have to continue with that pain when I know so many others aren't finding relief. And I hate knowing that my growing belly or excitement makes some of those around me feel sad.

Also, I think I found some identity in my infertility. When you wear a label for too long, it begins to become a part of you. I was someone different in my infertility. I had a community of sorts. And now I don't really know who I am as a pregnant person or a person who can even become pregnant, or certainly in being a parent.

So I'm trying to get used to being another smile in a crowd of glowing faces. And realize that infertility has a lot of complex emotions that don't always make sense or make you feel like a good and compassionate person!