Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nursery and Shower Pictures

As promised several weeks ago. Bad blogger.

Great appointment yesterday, however! Dr. P is very happy with my cervix (still the same and stable under pressure) and the babies are looking great. I cannot wait to see how big they are on Thursday! They will have full growth and Biophysical Profiles as well. We hope to see them continuing to practice their breathing. We are hoping for around or over 3 lbs, 5 ounces (1500 grams). That is a big milestone for preemies and it would be wonderful to know they were past that should they decide to arrive early.

I have been promising pictures... so here are a few from baby showers and some nursery ones. I will post another set when it is finished.

The cute diaper cake my awesome neighbors made for me:

The cookie favor from my Mom's Group friends:

The cake from my friends and family shower:

My anniversary present! A new diaper bag (that has back pack straps... very important)!

A few nursery shots. Right now, we have two cribs in the only partially finished nursery, and one in our room. They will be able to co-sleep for a long time, but I know how often they'll be sleeping with us too!

We are putting up their art today, so updated pictures soon! As for the belly shot, it is coming... it might not fit on the screen.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reckless tag-pulling-off

29 weeks and 5 days today. Only 30 days until our C-section unless things change dramatically and then it could be even sooner!

Something big is happening in my house today. Tags are being ripped off of clothing, baby blankets are being washed, diapers put away. I am getting ready for our boys, our sweet boys to come home. Until now, the fear of loss has been too strong. The memory of our miscarriages, of the promise of life and babies taken away has stolen from us the excitement and joy that comes with most pregnancies. I was terrified to purchase anything baby related this pregnancy until 28 weeks, with a few exceptions. I imagined the pain of putting something into a box and hiding it in the garage should the worst happen, and our boys don't survive. Hope seems to be popping up around here, as we near the big milestone of 30 weeks. The fear seems to be getting pushed over a little bit.

Today I had a great appointment. I half expected her to say, "Just kidding! Into the hospital with you!" but remarkably, Dr. P is thrilled with me and our trio. My cervix is the same. THE SAME! It has not changed since 24 weeks, which is remarkable. After the ultrasound, she remarked, "Your cervical length is actually normal now. It was not normal at 24 weeks, but it has not changed at all, and anyone carrying triplets at nearly 30 weeks should have a cervix like yours." If my husband was not there to witness, I might think I hallucinated the whole thing.

The boys are looking busy and active, all getting 8 out of 8 points on their Biophyscial Profiles. This means basically, that they are practicing breathing, showing movement and muscle tone, and have normal fluid levels. Our guys are only eligible for 8 instead of 10 because I do not have to have an NST to go with it, thank goodness. Still no signs of TTTS.

My husband, sweetie that he is, asked Dr. P if I would be allowed out to dinner for our four year anniversary this weekend. She said yes, and we discussed our favorite local restaurants. We talked about where would be a good place for me to be dropped off and picked up, but then she said, "You can increase your activity a little bit, to your comfort level and assuming your contractions don't pick up. Still rest most of the time, but you can get up a little more now." I told her that I didn't want to do much, since I contract a lot when I am up, and get tired easily, but her giving me a bit of freedom was AWESOME! I think it will make all the difference in my sanity and hopefully will make no difference in my cervix.

Don't worry, Readers: I am always very good and lay down most of the day, more so if contractions pick up. I am not heading out to run a marathon (or even walk to the mailbox) but I have been cleared for Target Scooter Rides. I have not been in any store in about 8 weeks, and this is exciting! I have not been able to peruse baby clothes or gear unless online (thank goodness for the Internet) so this tiny bit of freedom is thrilling. I am so thankful to still be pregnant, a fact I never take for granted. This just feels like a bonus.

Something about being almost 30 weeks (Oh, and did I mention the negative fFN today?) and likely getting to 32 or beyond makes me feel a bit reckless. Watch out for bouncy seat assembly and major laundering of clothing at our house. All the while, I hope that I will bring three boys home later this fall, that we will be some of the lucky ones. Fear is still so present in most of my actions and my thoughts about the boys, but slowly, excitement is creeping in. Excitement and hope.

(I did not just jinx myself, right?)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Non-Substantive Belly Picture Post

Just for comparison ... and just because I like to see how small my butt once was.

11 Weeks

29 Weeks

35 days until our babies are born! (See that? That is reckless optimism, and I will probably pay for it, but I like to pretend like I am in control sometimes.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Don't smoke crack."

That title drew you right in, did it not? I saw the wonderful Dr. W today, and his ability to soothe me and also mock me a little is a surprising combination. Picture a British forty-something in a dress shirt and slacks who would definitely rather be wearing shorts (what he usually sports).

After he declared that all was well with me, my cervix and the babies, I told him I was worried about placental abruption. Why am I worried about this relatively rare condition in which the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus, leading to bleeding, premature labor and possibly fetal death, you ask? Since the risk of major complications and death from prematurity is low as we are past 28 weeks (woo hoo!) and we have a less than 1% chance of developing TTTS at this stage, I need something to worry about! Don't I? C'mon! Worrying is for me what stamp collecting is to others: a comforting pastime.

Me: How common is placental abruption? I am very concerned about it since it is more common in multiples.

Dr. W: We rarely see it. It is usually associated with high blood pressure, and your blood pressure is low.

Me: Hmm. But it is more common with multiples, right?

Dr. W: About 1% of pregnancies have an abruption.

Me: Ohh. And it usually presents with bleeding?

Dr. W: Yes. Most are minor and do not result in fetal death, just an earlier delivery which should not concern us too much as you are nearly in the 30's.

Me: Okay. (Furrows brow.)

Dr. W: You can do something that reduces your risk tremendously, actually.

Me: (Practically jumps off the paper-covered table to grab his arm.) YES! What is it?

Dr. W: Don't smoke any crack cocaine this weekend. That is the biggest cause. Ha, ha!

Me: I was going to have some crack with my popcorn for movie night, but I shall refrain.

Dr. W: (Laughing his English ass off...) Great! See you next week!

I have to say, he is good at making me feel like everything is okay while reminding me not to worry about things not worth worrying about.

28 weeks and 5 days baby stats!

Baby A: 2 lbs, 13 oz
Baby B: 2 lbs, 12 oz
Baby C: 2 lbs, 12 oz

Their weights are all within the normal growth curve for a singleton- about the 40th percentile. The sonographer commented on how long the boys' arms and legs are, indicating they will be fairly tall. I was able to see their cutie pie faces and watched them breathing and swallowing. And kicking each other in the head. Since Baby C is breech, his little feet hover right around Baby A's nose. Occasionally he gives his unsuspecting brother a little poke with his heel just to remind the twins that he is in there too.

My cervix is still over 2 cm! I am very pleased knowing they consider it to be quite stable. Dr. P said she would only hospitalize me if it was hovering closer to 1 cm (which, unfortunately, can happen quickly) and I still might have a couple weeks of cervix left to keep me at home. I am hoping with all my might that I will be among the lucky few who manage to stay out of the hospital until right before their C-section, or even drive to the hospital on the boys' birthday which we hope is Monday, October 26th!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Privacy, Protection and Publicity

Pregnancy update: My cervix is stable! I had a negative fFN! And the boys are all looking great, practicing breathing and I have a growth scan on Friday.

A few months ago, I read an especially appropriate post by Cassandra at Baby Smiling in Back Seat about using images and identifying information of oneself and one's children on a blog or other Internet-based forum. The question she posed to us: Do you/will you post images of your children on your blog? Facebook? Why or Why not?

At the time, I was at a loss. I have read many infertility-followed-by-healthy-baby blogs and always pictured myself following the progression of many of these. The entries sometimes begin with the IVF protocol (or the pregnancy), move to ultrasound and nursery images, belly shots and then when the miracle of the birth occurs: baby pictures! Sometimes pictures of tiny ones hooked up to wires in isolettes and sometimes bigger babies sleeping on a parent's warm chest.

Because I am 28-ish weeks pregnant with triplets, I seem to be especially excited to see photos of these threesomes when they come out on others' blogs. It is helpful to me to see what babies born at 29 weeks versus 34 look like so I can prepare for the birth of our own boys. (Aside from that, it is insanely cute to see triplets snuggled together in their crib.) Perhaps I am looking to see that they can really be born and come home into our family, which I still struggle to believe. At any rate, I look forward to these photos, and I somehow assumed I would post photos to share with my readers.

Cassandra's post, however, caused me to reevaluate this assumption. As you all know, I have a three-year-old daughter whose name or image has never been revealed on the blog. I have posted a picture or two of her back, but have protected her face, just as I choose to post headless belly pictures of myself. I made a conscious decision to never show the face of any of my family members. I do not refer to my husband or daughter by name, either, and never plan to.* Yet I somehow had imagined announcing the birth weight and name under a perfect picture of each of our babies.

Why the contradiction? Why did I assume that I would share photos of the babies, while protecting the likeness of everyone else in our family? Do I think it is some kind of reward for readers who have followed our journey, and support me immensely? Perhaps I felt that people would not want to follow our lives anymore if there was not photographic documentation along with my words. What I have come to realize is, once these boys (God willing) make their entrance into the world, I will be as fiercely protective of their faces as I am of my daughter's and I will not post pictures of our sons.

While I will want to shout from the rooftops and the Internet, "I had real babies! They survived! You want proof: here they are!!" if the boys do arrive safely, my desire to protect these innocent faces will override my desire to share pictures. I understand completely why parents would choose to share these images, also. Our friends and families read my blog, checking it for updates on the pregnancy, and it would be a very simple way to share pictures of the boys, and how they are changing. I personally love to see the adorable images of babies as they grow, and blogs are wonderfully easy to access (usually) and anyone you direct to your blog can see them.

What frightens me is what can happen to the images once they are online. I know how easy it is to "right-click" on an image and save it to my hard drive, allowing me to do with it what I wish. I never want anyone to have a picture of my child's face whom I do not know and trust, and the only way to avoid that is to not put them on my blog in the first place.

Many have suggested alternatives: use Facebook or another social networking site. Create a new blog and make it invitation only. I think for now, we will plan to share images of six little feet in snuggly socks, or a tiny hand curled around a grown-up finger, but not the identifiable faces attached to them. Unfortunately, this means the people whom I do trust and know, many of you, will not get to see their little faces.

This leads me to the next conundrum I am pondering: what will happen to this blog if the babies arrive safely? It could remain my home, and morph into a parenting-after-infertility blog, one that tells the story of our family as a novel with the many chapters of miscarriage, infertility, treatment, pregnancy and (hopefully) parenting multiples. I could also write somewhere else but leave this blog intact as a resource for anyone who many find it useful. Obviously, these musings warrant another post on another day.

What are your thoughts on the changing nature of an infertility blog? Should bloggers continue to tell their story, wherever it leads, from their original URL, children and all? Does a blog need a label like "Infertility" or "Parenting Multiples"? Should they set up shop somewhere else to spin a new narrative? What have you done? What would you do?

*I have realized how awkward it is to refer to my daughter as "A" and my husband as "My Husband", so I will be coming up with more appropriate pseudonyms for each of them. The babies will also be given some nicknames which will only emerge after I have the pleasure of getting to know them outside the womb a bit. Mel at Stirrup Queens has maintained nicknames for her children and it works seamlessly as it allows her to share stories and updates without revealing identifying information. Much to consider.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

28 Weeks! And Carrie Answers.

Today marks a day I have been looking forward to for months: we are 28 weeks pregnant today, meaning the boys have over a 90% chance of survival if born now, and a low risk of long term disabilities. WOOT!

My inspiring friend Michele, who has endured much loss, gave birth to her twins, Bobby and Maya a few days ago at 27 weeks and 5 days. They are doing remarkably well, and are beautiful to boot. Congratulations Michele and Peter!

You asked, I answer.

Q: Jill asks:

Will your house will be large enough to accommodate the increase in children from one to four?

A: We moved into a larger house last August, thank goodness! Had we lived in our old house, which was about half the size, we'd have been looking for a new one. Our current house has four bedrooms: One for my husband and I, one for Gramma, one for A, leaving one for the boys. Luckily, the bedroom is quite large and will be able to eventually hold three cribs. For now, two cribs are in the nursery and one is next to our bed, since I am sure I will be up with them at night for many months. Had the triplets been of both genders, it would be harder to imagine them sharing a room for a long time to come. As far as living space, I am sure that once they are home and the swings, bouncy seats, and other baby gear begin to multiply it will seem crowded, but it a good way!

Q: Nishkanu asks:

How you will handle the care of three newborns?

A: Copious amounts of coffee. Because we've parented a newborn before, we are aware of the crushing exhaustion and zombie-like state we will be in for many months. We can only imagine that times three! We realized quickly that we'd need a live in nanny or someone here most of the day at least. While we were not crazy about this idea, I have only two hands and two breasts, and an older child to care for, so we prepared for it. Then my awesome mother offered to quit working, sell her home and move it with us! To have "Gramma" helping raise the kids is a huge blessing. So the short answer is: Gramma (and copious amounts of coffee).

Q: Kendra, who is fifteen weeks pregnant with triplets (congratulations!) asks:

Is there was anything you have done to get this far in a triplet pregnancy?

A: Paranoia! In all honesty, and as all of my readers know, I spend most of the time in a state of mild to severe panic, sure that something is about to go wrong. If I could counsel you to do just one thing, it would be to educate yourself. Read as much about triplet pregnancies as you can. Learn the warning signs of preterm labor and whenever you are concerned, call your doctor, even if it is 4 in the morning.

You are the only advocate your babies have, so if there is something happening that feels wrong, or if your doctors are not completely answering your questions and concerns, persist. The nurses at my MFM clinic surely think I am a complete whack job and the doctors call me "The Worrier" but truly, I never want to regret not asking for another test or further explanation about what was happening. I would tell you to try to relax, but who the heck would I be kidding?

Q: Not the Path I Chose asks:

Did you do anything to help make your IVF cycle successful and how did you stay sane?

A: Well, I wouldn't really say I stayed sane. Infertility alone is stressful, and when expensive treatments and injectable hormones are thrown in, you have a recipe for insanity. As far as the chance-upping, the only thing I did that was not literally printed out for me on the protocol calendar was acupuncture. I do not know if it worked, though studies suggest it does, but it did me good in the sanity department. I tried to take it one step at a time: First, get through suppression, then get through stims to retrieval, then to transfer and finally to beta. It helped me to break it up into chunks so I could focus my anxiety and not melt down (as often).

I also listened to a wonderful series called "Health Journeys: Guided Meditations Help with Infertility" and loved it. I brought it with me to acupuncture, loaded it on my iPod and even played it while I did laundry. The visualization was very soothing for me.

Q: What If? asks:

What does a contraction feel like to you? How long do they last?

A: Interesting question, and one I am asked often! I would describe my contractions as a tightening around my abdomen that is forceful enough for me to notice. It could also be described as a squeezing sensation, and my uterus feels as hard as bone. Their length varies, but I would say they average about 45 seconds. I get more if I have a full bladder, if I have just stood up or am walking around or if I am dehydrated.

Q: Anonymous asks:

Was anything "special" done for your IVF cycle since you've had multiple miscarriages tubal issues?

A: After my HSG showed damaged and possibly blocked tubes, my doctor suggested we remove the fallopian tubes altogether to increase our chance of success. To this suggestion, I burst into tears and asked if it was the only way, knowing once the tubes were gone, I would be unable to have children without IVF. He felt very strongly that our chances of successful pregnancy would be increased exponentially if we proceeded with the surgery and delayed our IVF cycle. After he consulted with his other partners who agreed, we decided to schedule the surgery. The tubes were badly scarred and had pockets of fluid adhering to them. I would have been able to start stims 30 days later if not for the giant cyst that took up residence on my ovary.

We decided not to do PGD even thought we'd had miscarriages because the current method can decrease pregnancy rates and lower the number of embryos to choose from. After our cycle, they were especially conscientious to do extra HCG tests and ultrasounds knowing that we'd experienced pregnancy losses. Being vocal about my worry was a good thing- it revealed the triplets early on!

Hopefully you enjoyed the first edition of Ask Carrie! I go back to the doctor tomorrow afternoon and am hoping I have not jinxed myself with all of the cervical bragging.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ask Carrie! (and cervical showing-off)

At the risk of sounding like a complete braggart, my cervix grew again. Today it measured at 2.8 cm - 3.2 cm. Again, the cervix is a dynamic muscle which changes over time and will likely shorten as time goes on, and we expect it to as the triplets' birth draws nearer. I can hardly believe it actually grew. (I was a bit afraid to blog about it but I knew there would be an email onslaught if I did not update.) Today showed stability which translates into more time at home with the family.

Today the babies (except B, who was being a bit lazy actually) showed off their breathing, even fluid, and good Doppler measurements. Dr. W insisted I get a flu shot and reminded me how bad it would be for me to get the flu while caring for three preemies or for them to get it at all. I did, and took comfort knowing that it grants the preemie babies some immunity from the flu after birth. I am sure I do not need to tell you how immature preemie babies' immune systems are, and how protection for them is critical.

Here is Cutie Pants Baby C:

As promised, I bring you the first ever edition of Ask Carrie! I get many questions in the comments section from anonymous readers and some of you who I know well. I thought I'd give you a chance to ask questions- really about anything. No need to make them fertility-related or about pregnancy unless you choose.

As a reminder, I will not reveal doctors' or hospital names, our fertility clinic or any other info like that on the blog. If I know you, I will be happy to talk with you on email, so leave me a way to contact you if you'd like.

Looking forward to reading and answering them! I am still writing my post about privacy, pictures and identifying information about our children. Cassandra, in her usual pesky, thought-provoking form gave me even more to consider so it will be delayed a bit.

Oh, did I mention: 2 DAYS UNTIL 28 WEEKS? No? Well it is less than 48 hours now!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We've got cervix, yes we do!

It is a miracle I didn't have a heart attack during this ultrasound. The sonographer who was doing my cervical measurements announced that with no pressure my cervix was 3.2 cm, a marked increase! Then she applied pressure and said, "Ohhhhh. Look at the funneling! Now I get about 1.5 cm." She measured more in the 2.0's while I watched. Heart racing, I asked if she was sure and she said, "Actually, no. I am having a hard time being able to tell what this is... let me go show the doctor." So I laid there, half naked and thinking of being hospitalized.

Back in she comes, thankfully after only a minute, to tell me he said that was just cervical mucus and a shadow- the measurements were 2.2 - 3.2 cm. So yeah, my cervix ... grew. I wanted to cheer and get really excited but I was a little afraid a piano might fall on my head, like in the cartoons when the cat is walking along the sidewalk on a sunny day and BAM! Piano on head. (But I cheered inside.)

The boys look beautiful, with no signs of TTTS, plenty of fluid and practicing their breathing for us. Baby B had a wicked case of the hiccups which made his Doppler measurements challenging, but I loved it. All the little boys are still head down, which causes a great deal of rib-kicking, which I also love. Everyone's heart rates were nice and even, and their boy parts apparent (for those who still wonder if there is a girl in there). Dr. W, who is the stand-in for Dr. P breezed in for about two minutes and said, "Your cervix is great, the babies look wonderful. Go home; you live to fight another day."

I am so grateful! Home again with my family, spared the hospital this week. We are 27w2d, just five days until the biggest hurdle is cleared: 28 weeks. It seems like we might all make it through this but I am scared to say it out loud. Will I get to bring my boys home, to have a baby survive a pregnancy inside my body, and grow into a child of mine? I hope, hope, hope so.

Me and the boys at 27 weeks

Forthcoming posts:
1. The baby showers
2. Will we or won't we: posting pictures of our children and privacy issues
3. Carrie answers your questions (I have nothing but time on my hands!)
Are you excited or what? ;)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reporting live from...

... my living room! I am a very grateful and happy woman, surrounded by gifts from shower number one, watching my daughter run around, with the boys safe and sound.

(Contented Sighhhhh.)

A longer post is forthcoming, but for now, here is the update after my ultrasound.

Cervix: 1.8-2.2. Still almost exactly the same as it was at the last check, and less funneling this time. Keep up the good work, Cervix!


Baby A: 2 pounds, 4 ounces (!)
Baby B: 2 pounds, 1 ounce
Baby C: 2 pounds, 1 ounce

Yay babies! Their weights are all in the 30th - 50th percentiles for singletons, which is truly wonderful for triplets. I have not gained any weight in the last couple weeks, so it was very reassuring to see the boys are getting exactly what they need.

Dr. P was thrilled, which is not a word I would use to describe her very often, and said the boys look awesome, no signs of TTTS, and my cervix is stable. "Everything is in the green zone," she said. WOOT WOOT! Words I do not often hear that make me very happy. Dr. P is presenting at a Fetal Therapy conference out of the country next week, so I will be seeing two of her partners, Dr. W and Dr. K, both of whom I adore. Dr. K is quite the hugger/hand-holder which is obviously good for me. I told Dr. P I will not be in the hospital when she gets back and she said, "Maybe you'll walk right into your scheduled C-section." A girl can dream!

All of us know how quickly things can change, but for today, everything is good. I am at home, the boys are big and healthy, my contractions are not too intense and tomorrow marks 27 weeks, one week shy of our most important goal. Then onto 30 weeks (I still have a hard time imagining the "thirties") and then our scheduled C-section date of October 27th. Sounds like a great day to be born.

Your suggestions for stress-relief were all awesome! Thanks for the continued support and good thoughts. At the risk of tempting fate, I think they might be working. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Under Pressure*

No news to report yet. I have been chastised by my faithful readers for not updating more frequently, so I thought I'd better check in. I am feeling stressed out on the couch, and need some cheer from you all! (See below...)

Tomorrow I go back to see Dr. P and I am seriously considering "forgetting" the appointment. Okay, well not really, but I have been enjoying my week at home and am a little fearful (read: terrified) that my cervix will do that shortening thing it does occasionally and I will be back in the hospital. Of course, if the situation is serious or there is a real need for me to be there, I will go willingly, but if it is just to rest somewhere else, I would rather rest at home.

The next 10 days have some pretty important happenings and I want to be here for them (insert the god's laughter here):

1. Not one, but TWO baby showers this weekend! My amazing neighbors are throwing an impromptu one on Saturday followed by a friends and family shower on Sunday.

2. My three-year-old who still very much seems like a baby to me starts preschool next week. The first time she has EVER been left anywhere like a school or playgroup without me, Daddy or Gramma. I want to be here when she departs for her first day and Dr. P said I can even ride along to pick her up.

3. The 28 week celebration! I want to be in my house, rejoicing with my family that we've crossed possibly the most important milestone in prematurity.

So yeah, there is a bit of a mental buildup to tomorrow afternoon's cervix check, fFN test and growth scan. My doctor is a reasonable, although conservative, woman and I am pretty sure I could eek out a few more days at home even if I was on the "border". Not that I will do anything to endanger any baby boys, just that in triplet pregnancies, hospitalization can be mostly a precaution. I would love to stay home right up until my scheduled C-section at 34.5 weeks, but I will settle for another couple weeks here. Yes, I hear myself bargaining... I am practicing for my conversation with Dr. P tomorrow.

I have about 20-ish hours until I see how the ol' cervix is holding up, and since I don't sleep much, I will be awake for most of them. I'd rather not give myself a stroke before I even arrive, so...

Here is my question for you: when you are stressed, nervous, distracted about something out of your control, how do you deal? Make yourself laugh? Listen to music? Please remember, there will be no mind-clearing walks or jogs around the 'hood; bed rest means the stress relief must be sedentary.

This poster has kept me laughing for about a week. My brother sent it to me during my hospital confinement... and it still makes me laugh until tears stream down my face. Cat lovers, forgive me, but I am pretty sure every cat I've ever met wanted to chew my face off. Here is proof: "Is your cat trying to kill you?" Really, really funny stuff... go read it. :)

What helps you mitigate stress?

*Get it? Because the cervix is measured two ways, neutrally and "under pressure"! I have such a way with words sometimes.