Saturday, December 17, 2011

Waiting for Our Angels

           A few months after we got married in 2008, we decided it was time to start trying to add to our family.  We thankfully got pregnant right away and were elated, we told everyone and even started to buy baby gear.  On Thanksgiving at Russ’s family’s house I started to bleed, we were destroyed.  The following week we went to my ob who confirmed there was no heartbeat and at 12 wks the baby had simply stopped growing.  I was beyond devastated, I felt like my whole world was falling apart.  After an incredibly grueling miscarriage that ended in an emergency D & C and a switch to a different OB practice, we were given the go ahead to try to get pregnant again, and we did on the first try!
            My new OB practice had found a quite large ovarian cyst and we were discussing the surgery options when I realized I may be pregnant.  Safe to say the surgery was put on hold when we found out I was pregnant.  At 7 wks we had our first ultrasound and everything looked wonderful, of course after the extremely traumatic miscarriage we were so nervous.  But everything with the pregnancy was mostly calm, other than I was nauseous all the time day and night and seemed to be starting to show earlier than most.  My nana kept saying “are you sure there’s only one baby in there?” which just made me feel awful. 
            The weekend before I was to be 20 weeks in the pregnancy, I was at a bridal shower and I started to spot.  Of course I totally freaked out, but was an hour away from home and with my mother in law and sister in law.  I called the doctor, broke down on the phone, and was inconsolable because I thought the miscarriage was happening again.  My OB told me to go right to the hospital so I did, with my husband meeting me there.  We spent a few hours in the emergency room just waiting to hear the crushing news.  I was sent down to get an ultrasound and that whole experience was really strange.
            The ultrasound technician measured the baby and then said she needed to take some more measurements.  We were so confused and didn’t know what was going on.  We just kept asking what was wrong with the baby, and why she had to take additional measurements.  We kept asking was he/she not growing properly, etc.  Then the ultrasound technician said she needed to make a phone call and she’d be right back.  At this point we were terrified and bombarded her when she returned.  She then said, “I can tell how nervous you are, so I’m going to tell you, but when you go back up to the ER you have to promise not to say anything”, of course we agreed we wanted to know what was wrong with our baby.  She turned to me and said “Congratulations Happy Mother’s Day you’re having twins!” (it was the day before Mother’s Day).  We were shocked!  But it was a great shock!  When she did the ultrasound and showed us everything the only thing she said was that there was no membrane between the girls which meant that they were identical, which we thought was really cool!  We shared with our family the wonderful news and everyone was so excited for us.  The next week we had a follow up with my practice to check out the twins.
            The doctor did an ultrasound and said there was a membrane in between the girls so there was no way to tell if they were identical or fraternal.  The doctor did refer us to Maternal Fetal Medicine and said because they were twins there would be additional monitoring and ultrasounds just to make sure both were growing properly.  The following week we went to MFM and met with the staff and had an ultrasound to find out the gender of our twins.
            The ultrasound technician at MFM wouldn’t say anything to us while she was doing the ultrasound and I just kept telling her one ultrasound technician said there was no membrane but the doctor said there was and how excited we were to find out if they were identical or fraternal.  Immediately after she left the doctor returned with her to show us there was indeed no membrane.  He then explained what that meant, we were having monoamniotic/monochorionic twins and congrats they are girls!  Tears filled my eyes as we learned about the incredible risks to our sweet angels.  He told us that he was surprised I hadn’t miscarried yet and that there was a 50% chance of loss until 21 wks.  He told us how they’d be delivered by 32 wks. by a c-section and that I’d be advised to go inpatient at 26 wks, although if I preferred I could simply come in every day for monitoring.  The last thing he said to us at that appointment was not to look on the internet when we got home, of course that’s the first thing we did and all the stuff posted was so scary.  The next few weeks flew by and I had myself and my husband convinced that I’d be driving the 30 min to the office every day to be monitored.  The pregnancy was going well; I had quit my job since they were less than supportive of all my appointments and me taking time off when I didn’t feel well, so I was enjoying getting our one bedroom condo ready for the girls.  We had the condo on the market and were looking for a house.  We found the house we are in now and were just waiting for the condo to sell. 
            At 26 wks I went to my first NST appointment to check for cord compression and to see through ultrasound how the girls were doing.  Everything looked okay so it was an uneventful ultrasound.  Then the doctor came in to talk to me about my choice to not go inpatient.  He told me if something happened right after I left my daily appointment I would never forgive myself.  After breaking down in the office, I sobbed all the way home and told my husband I was going inpatient tonight.  I got home from the appointment and called everyone to let them know and started to pack my stuff.  Russ brought me in later that night when he got home from work.  After the exam and lots of waiting I got moved upstairs to the place I’d be spending the next few wks at.  North 8 Room 22 was my home away from home until the girls would be delivered at 32 wks.  My inpatient stay was mostly uneventful.
            Of course I had the occasional contraction from not drinking enough but with fluids it always corrected itself and I never actually felt one contraction.  I tested borderline with gestational diabetes so they put me on a strict diabetic diet.  I started to get double the amount of protein; I’ve never eaten so much chicken in my life.  I was on top of everything.  I did a journal to show what I ate and what my blood sugars were and adjusted my meal choices if something I ate made my sugar higher.  I was not on bed rest so I moved around and visited people.  I even made friends with another pregnant woman on my floor who couldn’t get out of bed due to an incompetent cervix.  I always had a private room, so I decorated it with pictures all over everywhere.  My mom brought in a glade plug in thing so it didn’t even smell like a hospital room.  I had a routine every day, I was monitored at 5 am for an hour, blood sugar was tested, got up had breakfast, did my laps around the floor, took a shower, blood sugar tested, had lunch, did my laps around the floor, had snack, blood sugar tested, had dinner, did laps around the floor, blood sugar tested and insulin and snack before bed.  My friend brought a portable dvd player so I watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls while I was in the hospital.  I had many visitors, friends and family.  My husband’s grandmother’s church members came in every day to pray with me.  I had visits from a therapy dog, and Reikki massage that was provided through the hospital.  I took naps, played cards games with my mom and best friend almost every night.  I colored in coloring books, lived on facebook and the internet, played Soduku and counted down the days to when the girls would be here.
            My blood pressure was starting to creep up at the end of the pregnancy and it was being carefully monitored.  I made it to 32 wks 1 day when the c-section was scheduled and there was never any evidence of problems with the girls.  I had my last steroid shot a couple days before the c-section to help the girls lungs develop and an extra amount of insulin (before every meal) to make up for the increase in blood sugar due to the steroid, but I survived.  The morning of the c-section I got monitored as normal and got my blood sugar tested, I just couldn’t eat.  We went down to labor and delivery at 9:30 am and got taken into the OR at 12:30.  The resident had a little bit of an issue getting the spinal in but all the nurses and doctors were joking with me about tattoos and sharing their tattoos with me (I have four on my back), with one of the nurses even pulling down part of her scrub pants to show me one!  The spinal was administered and they tested to make sure I couldn’t feel anything.  Russ came in and I felt very nauseous but I just kept slowly breathing and the feeling was better.  Then all of a sudden we heard a whoosh like in the ocean as the doctor broke my water, she said she was thankful that she had her pants and shoes covered because it was like a flood in there.  Courtney was delivered at 1:05 pm and almost immediately Isabella pushed her feet through the incision site and was also delivered.  Courtney was born at 3 lbs 15 oz and Isabella at 3 lbs 8 oz.  We got to see both of them and then they were whisked away to the NICU.  I was brought to recovery for a couple hours then back upstairs.  I immediately went down to visit!  The girls were hooked up to CPAP and had their IV’s in.  I had a spike in my bp that night and was sent down to labor and delivery to be put on magnesium for 24 hrs to prevent seizures and damage to my body.  So for 24 hrs I couldn’t see my girls, but I was counting down the minutes til I could and harassed the nurses to get me transferred back upstairs.  I was discharged on bp medication and had to take it for a few months after the girls were born, but it eventually returned to normal.

  Overall the girls were very healthy, Bella spent a few days under the tanning lights due to jaundice and Courtney had a few times where she’d forget to breathe (which kept her there an extra day).  Bella came home with us under 5 lbs and after 3 wks in the hospital.  Courtney came home at 3 wks 1 day.  Courtney had no concerns, but there was one concern with Bella.  When she was born she had a sacral dimple which they medical staff was concerned that she could have spina bifida.  It turned out to be nothing but she did have an issue with her kidneys.  She was diagnosed had hydronephrosis on both kidneys which causes them to swell, and diagnosed with partial duplicating collective system on one ureter.  We’ve had ultrasounds every year and it has drastically decreased on one side and completely gone away on the other, and we just follow up once a year with the pediatric urologist.  Although there is an increased chance of UTI’s she’s been blessed to never have any.
Today the girls are 2 yrs old and thriving.  They are at the top of the charts for height and finally about 50th percentile for weight.  They say so many words I can’t count them all and say up to 10 word sentences!  They’ve met every developmental milestone and continue to amaze me every day!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We beat the odds - Jenna and Makena are the 1%

After two miscarriages, one naturally and one via IVF, I was told it was literally hopeless that I would be able to conceive.  I have two teenage sons from my first marriage and my current husband and I so desperately wanted a child of our own we tried just about everything.  I even had a failed IVF cycle with donor eggs.  I was told that my FSH levels were so high that I could never conceive a child on my own.  So my husband, John, and I decided that it did not matter if I was pregnant, what mattered is that we wanted to be parents.  We started the adoption process and were matched with a beautiful 13 month old baby girl in July of 2010.  It was then that I put all of the books on trying to conceive, ivf, etc. away.  i stopped my daily ovulation tests and just committed myself to this little girl from China who so very much needed a mom, as her mom abandoned her in a bathroom at 3 days old.

In August of 2010 we left for Maui and had a great trip.  We had a little girl to look forward to and my boys had quality time with their mom.  Life went on and we were waiting to hear when we could go to China.  We found out in September 2010 that we would have our little girl by Christmas!  We were to leave December 2nd and get her December 6th.  We were so excited!  The first week of October I could not button my jeans.  I thought this was really strange beause I was working out and exercising daily so I thought it was PMS.  But when I looked at the calendar I realized I was late - about a week late.  I took a home pregnancy test and it hit the double lines right away - WOW!  Then I thought it was probably a chemical pregnancy and I would need to just prepare that it would probably not work out.  My husband was shocked as well so we decided to take it one day at a time, preparing for the reality that  it might not happen.

I called my doctor and because we were set to leave for China she saw me at 7 weeks.  I told her I did not want to get my hopes up so please do not let me look at the monitor if there is no heartbeat.  On the way into the ultrasound room she says "Wouldn't it be a riot if we saw two heartbeats?"  thinking since I was in my 40's multiples are common.  She started the ultrasound and said "Look!  A strong heartbeat!"  I was so excited.  The she said "Wait a minute....I see TWO strong heartbeats!"  I thought she was joking until she showed me these two little tiny beings, with their hearts beating in unison one in front of the other.  The she said she could not see a dividing membrane and she was concerned that they could be conjoined.  So my moment of excitement went directly to fear. A feeling that never stopped until April 13th.

At 11 weeks I had a high resolution ultrasound and they confirmed they were not conjoined but were in fact monoamniotic.  I went home, went on the web and researched the info and burst into tears.  I was so sad and concerned I did not sleep much each night just thinking about it.  My OB would not clear me to travel, and referred me to a perinatologist who I saw every two weeks.  I would go in, have an ultrasound to try and see the cords and was told "Looks good, you made it another two weeks."  I never left feeling good about things, just more worried.

Meanwhile, I could not go to China so my husband went without me and brought back our daughter Maleia on December 19th.  I was in my fourth month, went on medical leave from work and focused on bonding with her not only for her benefit but also to help keep my mind off of things.  I had CVS testing and it confirmed that everything was fine and I was having girls!  Quite a change to prepare for so many girls considering I had raised boys before this!

In March, at 29 weeks, I went into the hospital for continuous monitoring.  Week 28 I did outpatient monitoring every day.  The biggest fear would be when the girls would drop off the monitors and they could not find their heartbeats.  Then the doctor would have to come in and do an ultrasound, even though they were kicking the heck out of me - They moved day and night, which brought me a little comfort.  Between being woken up from the nurses and the movement of the girls I rarely slept more than 3 hours each night.  I almost wanted them to calm down a bit because I was so afraid they were entangling themselves!

As the days went on and were uneventful, they would let me off the monitors to go for walks, visit with my family and try to get more sleep.  The C section was scheduled for April 13, 2011 at 10AM.  I did not feel well and felt rather large so by April 12th I was looking forward to my C Section.  I laid out my makeup, camera, etc. so prepare for the morning.  BUT - the girls had other 3AM on the 13th, 7 hours before my scheduled C section, I got out of bed to use the bathroom and my water broke.  I called for the nurse and within 10 minutes I had an IV put in me, my stuff packed up and was calling my husband and my mom to tell them I was going in NOW.  The doctor arrived 15 min later, then 10 minutes after that my husband.  My water broke at 3AM and the girls were born at 4:09 & 4:10AM.  Jenna and Makena.

I had been panicked in the weeks leading up to the C section because my boys were vaginal births.  But the girls caught me off guard and I had no time to worry about it!  They came on their own terms, healthy and so beautiful.  They stayed in the NICU for one week, then were transferred to a lower level NICU near my house and spent the remaining 4 weeks there, so 5 weeks total.  Jenna had a lot of A's and B's and Makena her fair share which would earn them additional weeks in the NICU.  Other than that and some jaundice they were very strong healthy girls.  I am so grateful - it was a long hard journey but worth every second.  Everytime I see their smiling faces I want to cry - I am overwhelmed with joy.  Adopting Maleia led us to these girls.  It was all for a reason.  So we are enjoying the crazy happy life of raising 5 kids we love so much!  Whenever someone talks about odds I just laugh.  We beat every odd, we are the 1%!