Tuesday, December 20, 2016

(25) What’s in a name?

At 28 weeks, everything seems to be stable.  Even though I’ve got more on my daily “to do list” than anticipated, all is well in the womb.  The doctors are not as concerned with my short cervix anymore, whew!  It’s been stable for the last 4 weeks, so my pessary must be doing its job.  I get to see Dr. Merrill at this week’s visit, and he tells me it’s very important that I get a Flu shot.  Ugh, really?  (insert whiny voice here).  I’ve never had the Flu (or a Flu shot) before.  And I’m concerned about any possible side-effects on my passengers.  But Dr. Merrill tells me that getting the flu while pregnant can be dangerous to all of us, so being the good little patient that I am, I listen to the doctor and agree to get the dreaded shot.  When the nurse arrives, I ask “Can you give it to me in my butt? It’s still numb from all my other shots!”   She says: “I don’t care.  Wherever you want it is okay with me.”   So add this to my list of future “payback”chores for these boys.  Oh yes, Holly is keeping tabs on how many car washes I’ll need, foot rubs, etc…

Later that week, Tom and I met Holly and Darren at Panera for dinner.  We all sat down to eat our yummy food, mine low carb of course.  At the end, Holly passes me a little gift bag with a card.  I open the card to read it, and I at first was a little confused.  It mentioned something about the baby names.  You see, after the Multnomah Falls family reveal, we learned Holly and Darren’s name choices for the boys.  Baby A would be named Noah Jude.   Baby B would be named Jace Beckom.  Baby B’s middle name is a combination of my name (BECKy) and Tom’s name (tOM).  But the card I am reading now says that Baby B’s name will be Beckom Samuel.  So what happened?  It turns out that Holly, Darren, and their families liked the name Beckom so much that they decided to make it his first name!  We were stunned, but in a good way.  It is such an honor to have one of the babies named after me and Tom.  Now this “project” seems more special than ever, if that is even possible.

Beckom Samuel <B
August 20th - 28 weeks

    Kaela painted a picture for Holly to hang in the boys bedroom.  It was of a book Holly holds dear to her heart.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

(24) I guess we’re not done poking me

It sounds silly now, but my first concern after hearing I had gestational diabetes was that I’d have to give up my favorite pizza.  I’ve been making a special effort to eat healthy foods throughout this pregnancy, and the pizza was one of the few exceptions.  And it wasn’t really that unhealthy…  Deep down, I know that my diet had nothing to do with the diabetes diagnosis, but I’m still pretty shocked by the news.  And for the first time, I’m actually a little concerned about myself.  Gestational diabetes is typically temporary (going away after giving birth), but not always.  Permanent diabetes isn’t something I bargained for.  With an inward sigh, I remind myself again to be positive.  Be positive.  Be positive.

The nurse with the diabetes diagnosis also provided the number to the closest nutritional counselor.  It was close to my house (not in Portland or Washington, or worse), so maybe my luck is already turning around.  On the following Monday, the very nice nutritionist let me know that I just barely didn’t pass the gestational diabetes test.  But even a mild case is taken very seriously, especially for any pregnancy considered high risk (like mine!).  To my relief, she also tells me that my favorite pizza and peanut M&Ms are not off-limits after all.  I just have to refrain from feasting on them.  Can do!  Now I’m really feeling that my luck is turning around.  Then, the nutritionist provides an organized outline of what I should eat and when.  Basically, it’s a good guideline of how you should eat all the time, gestational diabetes or not.  And, it’s really not far off from how I’ve been eating during this pregnancy already.  Can do.  Next, I get the blood testing kit from her.  It’s small and portable, and appears easy to use.  But yes, it does mean poking my fingers three times every day, on a very specific schedule.  More pokes...  But at least these are minor compared to the progesterone!  OK, so now I know the new rules.  Anyone who knows me can confirm that I’m a “rule follower”, so this situation is no exception.  Besides, I’ve got my precious cargo to keep me motivated.  I do exactly as I’m told.

Now I’m recording my blood pressure AND blood sugar levels, three times each day!  I even created a special “spreadsheet” to keep everything organized.  After all, I have to turn in these readings during my many doctor visits.  After the first week of this, Holly and Darren came over for dinner.  For moral support, Holly suggested we all do a finger poke.  Holly steps up like champ, even letting me push the “needle release” button on the testing meter.  If you know Holly, you’d know that she doesn’t give up control of something like this lightly.  Tom was next.  No issues.  Then it was Darren’s turn, and it was clear he was not so enthusiastic about participating.  This was not his idea.  Reluctantly, he stepped up to the table, and nervously sat down.  I demand a finger.  It’s pretty comical how he starts to comply, then pulls his finger back.  He’s smiling, but is not happy.  I finally grab his ring finger and push the needle release plunger, but Darren’s finger shows nothing!  He thinks he’s done, but Holly and I are not satisfied without seeing that telltale small blood droplet.  This just means a slightly deeper setting is needed, and I proceed by making the adjustment on the meter.  This time, he pulls his finger away so fast that I couldn’t grab it for a re-poke.  He cried “deeper, why?!”  He knew why.  But I calmly reminded him that we saw no blood on the first try, likely due to thicker skin or a callous on his finger.  Resigned to his fate, Darren agreed to a 2nd try.  As the needle penetrates his finger, a look of panic crosses his face, and an exaggerated expression of pain follows.  PRICELESS!  

Sept 6th - 26 weeks

June 21st - 15 weeks Bare belly

Sept 6th - 26 weeks Bare belly

Saturday, November 5, 2016

(23) Feed me!

I continue see a doctor at least once per week, and so far I haven’t had any new issues.  Yes, I still take BP medication.  Yes, my cervix is still short.  Yes, I still have the pessary in place.  But at least things seem stable.  I’ve hardly noticed a difference with/without having that hard plastic pessary inside me.  Maybe a little TMI, but the only time I notice it is during my nightly Progesterone suppository routine.  I try to get them as close to the cervix as possible, so yeah, I feel the hard plastic.  And for those who are wondering about “intimacy”, there is none of that happening!  Officially not allowed.  I’m wondering if my husband will go bonkers by the time this is all over.  He and I are handling it well so far (I think!), but it’s not a restriction we were anticipating.  Another small sacrifice.

At almost 25 weeks, it’s that time in my pregnancy for me have the glucose test to check for gestational diabetes.  I’m pretty confident I’ll be OK.  I certainly don’t want to worry Holly with anything beyond the BP/cervix/pessary situations.  The test starts early (7:30am) at the doctors’ office with a “fasting blood check”.  To prepare, I have been instructed not to eat or drink for at least 8 hours before this test.  So I’m waiting with four other hungry/thirsty pregnant women to get finger pokes.  Not exactly a happy bunch.  To pass the time, we chat about the babies to be, so I fill them in on my little adventure.  Usually people react with positive enthusiasm when they hear my story, but not everyone.  Some people believe you shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature.  Luckily, I don’t encounter any such negativity today.  After we all get the first finger poke, we get to drink a lovely syrupy drink.  Yuck.  I chose the lemon/lime because I was told it’s the best one, but it was still bad.  We had 15 minutes to drink it.  Then we get two blood tests: the first after one hour has elapsed, and then another after two hours have elapsed.  Needless to say, we are all starving by the time the test is over.  Afterwards, I have an appointment with Dr. Winkler, one of my favorites.  I haven’t seen him in a while. They do the normal checks.  My weight has been pretty steady lately.  I’ve gained about 29 pounds, which must be OK because it’s never brought up as an issue.  They check my cervical length too (again).  No surprise, it’s short, but unchanged from prior checks (measurements are generally between 1.8-2.1cm).  After my appointment, I go to my favorite pizza place (Life of Pie) down the street from the doctor’s office.  It’s starting to become a ritual.  But I can’t help it because it’s that good!  If you’re ever in NE Portland Oregon, you can’t go wrong eating there.  At 5:30pm my phone rings with the glucose test results.  Yep, I have gestational diabetes.  Crap!

Monday, October 31, 2016

(22) Emotional Roller-coaster Ride

Today is a very special day.  We’re 1 day past the 24 week milestone.  It is one of the most important milestones we’ve been hoping to reach.  Now it’s time to execute the Multnomah Falls “reveal” plan.  We’ve been talking about this day since before I was even pregnant and IT’S FINALLY HERE!  I didn’t sleep well last night because of my giddy excited nerves.  This morning, I carefully selected my clothing, because I want to make a good first impression on this new extended family I’ll be meeting today.  I also take the time to straighten my hair, because I have this horrible frizzy stuff that I usually just put in a ponytail.  My daughter Kaela reluctantly gets out of bed early.  She is a teenager after all, and it’s summer.  She’s part of the plan, so she has to get up.  We head for Multnomah Falls which is about a 30 minute drive from our house.

We arrive early so we can avoid seeing Holly and Darren’s families in the parking lot or by the river where they are holding their memorial.  We sit on the built-in bench in front of the Falls, and I have Kaela whip a drawing up of the bridge above.  She completes an amazing drawing in just a few minutes.  My plan is to act like I’m drawing while they all line up in front of the railing for a memorial photo.  Then Holly and Darren will ask “strangers” Tom and Kaela to take a picture, which won’t be a picture but actually a video.  We’re so sneaky!

Kaela's quick draw of Multnomah Falls bridge

At about 9am, we see the unsuspecting crew trickling in.   I’ve never met any of their families but I’ve seen photos on Instagram and Facebook.  I can also sense someone standing behind me so I take a peak.  It looks like Holly’s father -- EEK!  He appears to be checking out “my” drawing (Later, he tells me how impressed he was with the drawing – Thanks Kaela!).  There are a few other people around, but it isn’t too busy this morning, thank goodness, because we are about to blow the minds of everyone gathering here to memorialize the loss of Jude and Brinly.  After a few minutes, Holly and Darren’s families somberly gather together for the picture.  Holly walks up to a handsome stranger (Tom) and asks him to take a picture, while Darren hands Kaela his phone.  I just continue to pretend to draw.  As Tom starts counting 3-2-1, I get up and casually walk right into the group, trying to squeeze between Holly and Darren.  Everyone still smiles for the “photo”, but they are clearly confused and shocked at my rudeness.  After they thought the photo taking was done, Holly’s mom even says “can we take another one?”   I’m sure she was thinking “who is this rude woman who just photo-bombed us?!”

Then Holly turns and puts her hand on my belly and announces “this is our surrogate, Becky”.  Instantly, Holly’s mom FREAKS OUT!  She starts crying “What?!...  What?!...”  Nobody was ready for this.  Nobody even had the slightest suspicion.  They just completed a heart-breaking memorial for the lost babies, and now are hearing the heart-warming news of a new baby to be born.    I say “baby” because we are saving the “twin” surprise for later today!  Holly has a sonogram of one of the twins to show everyone.  The emotional roller-coaster ride has only just begun....

Holly and Darren had previously arranged memorial brunch at their house, which has now transformed into a bubbly gender reveal party.  All of their family members are still in shock, but now in a good way.  The excitement is electric as we all grab a bite to eat.  Then while everyone is finishing up, Holly and Darren pull out the gender reveal box.  Just one box at first.  But just before the box is opened to reveal either pink or blue balloons, Holly and Darren pause the action to bring out a second box.  And then another round of freaking out erupts, as expected and planned.  Twins!

Me and Tom before the reveal

August 23rd - 24 weeks

Holly, Becky and Heidi (Holly's sis ~30 weeks)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

(21) Positively Planning in advance

As my belly grows, so does my love. These two little boys may poke and prod me causing me pain, but that means they are alive, so bring it!  I have learned while doing this that it is not to be taken for granted.  I feel for all the women in this world who struggle with infertility.  I was blind to all of this, for which I’m grateful to finally have this eye opening experience.  I don’t know of anyone who has ever done this, so I think I’m one of few.  In the beginning I thought it really was NO BIG DEAL.  But, the farther along I get I’m realizing it is a big deal.  I did this for more than just Holly and Darren.  I did it for these two little boys and they haven’t even been born yet.  I know these two little guys are going to special! 

I remember meeting with Holly and Darren back in February for breakfast.  We were discussing how all my preparations were going and then Holly announced that her sister was pregnant.  I could tell she was really happy for her but at the same time sad.  She couldn’t believe her sister just ran a 5k then tells the family about the pregnancy.  Woman who struggle with infertility usually wouldn’t be running marathons while in the first stages of pregnancy.  After this crazy news I told Holly that I was confident this would work.  I assured her “I get pregnant really easy” so don’t worry.  I had to apologize to her later on because I thought it was really insensitive of me to say.  She said normally that would be a hard thing to hear but because it was me, she loves my special ability.

We start to discuss the future of something that is still just a hope and a dream, how to tell their families about me and my passengers.  That’s right I’m not even pregnant yet and we’re discussing this!  Holly had already decided she wanted to have a memorial for Jude at Multnomah Falls.  We started developing a plan as to how far along and 24 weeks gestation was decided.  This is when the medical world will take extreme measures to keep a baby alive when born this early.  The percentage is low, but there is a chance.  This is Holly’s milestone to reach before they inform their families.  They didn’t want them to have to go through the possibility of another loss.  It takes great courage to shield these feelings from them and Holly is overflowing with it. 

Luckily I’ve never met any of their families so they won’t recognize us at the falls.  We decide on Sunday August 24th at 9am.  How appropriate, I’ll be 24 weeks and 1 day on the 24th of August!  

What to wear, what to wear! 

August 9th - 22 weeks

Me and fruit comparison photo! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

(20) Wait, you’d like to put WHAT inside me?

It’s week 21, and I’ve got another doctor appointment today.  Not a surprise since I go weekly now.  But because of these frequent appointments, it seems like I am seeing a different doctor every time.  Don’t get me wrong, they all seem very knowledgeable and I respect them, BUT I was hoping to stick with one doctor or maybe two at the most.  I think I’m up to five now!  I really shouldn’t care, but maybe I do because of my past experiences.  With my son, I had just one doctor, who I loved.  With my daughter, I had several, and I didn’t exactly love the one who delivered her.  Anyhow, all these different doctors tend to form their own opinions from looking at my chart.  Not always a good thing in my opinion.  Today I get to see the only woman doctor at this location.  Dr. Robertson is a dead ringer for a girl I used to work with at LensCrafters.  Even her mannerisms are the same.   It’s quite remarkable.  So we talk yet again about my short cervix measurements.  I’m starting to believe that I just naturally have a shorter cervix than most women, and all of these weekly scans are just confirming this.  But now the doctors are suggesting something new.  I’m not thrilled about it, but maybe it will ease everybody’s minds.  
Apparently, I’m about to be a part of something that won’t mean much to the average person, but is very interesting to doctors who specialize in maternal fetal medicine (MFM).

Have you ever heard of a Pessary?  Me neither.  It’s a small plastic ring, designed to be placed on the cervix. It essentially holds the cervix closed (not allowing it to dilate) the more pressure put upon it.  The UK has been doing case studies of using a pessary to prevent preterm labor.  This is just one of its many uses, and I hope no one ever has to have one outside of pregnancy!  They have had good results over in the UK, and Dr. Robertson thinks I’m a great candidate to try it out.  They typically don’t choose woman pregnant with multiples, but at this point with my cervix being “dangerously” short, it can’t hurt (I guess!).  Holly is with me today, and she is so worried about me enduring another obstacle.  Seriously?!  I assure her that I have absolutely no objections.  Practically anything is OK with me now, provided it helps keep these two little guys in there longer.  I ask the doctor about possible side effects, and she says I might not be able to pee.  Gee, that doesn’t sound good to me at all.  So that’s the first thing we need to check after the doctor finishes the pessary “installation”.   Holly still is hesitant about this, but I say “let’s get it over with”.  Holly leaves the room, because yeah she’s not seeing this.  Were close, but not that close!  I undress, and Dr. Robertson comes back with two white plastic rings, one somewhat larger than the other.  Luckily, she chose the small one for me.  Whew!  A minute later she says “Okay, go to the bathroom, fingers crossed!”  Luckily I have to go to the bathroom, yeah pregnant, that’s all the time!  Yes!  Success!  

For you visual people. Here is what it looks like in place!

So let’s make a check list.  BP medication – check.  Heartburn medication – check.  Two daily Progesterone suppository’s – check.  One pessary – check!  I’m hoping the pessary will be the last of the “special” treatments…..

My week 22 appointment shows no significant cervix changes, which I’m taking as good news, especially since we now have the pessary “insurance”.  Basically, everything looks just like is has for the past month. That’s why I’m now convinced I just have an abnormally short cervix.  The only way to find out for sure would be to have it measured when I’m not pregnant.  Yeah, that isn’t high on my to-do list when this is over!  I think I’ve had enough “invasion” down there for a lifetime…

We are getting close to our 24 week milestone.  Even before the boys were growing inside me, Holly and Darren have been planning a special “reveal” for their families at Multnomah Falls, a popular scenic location just east of the Portland area.  Remember:  their families still have no idea this is happening!  It will be a very emotional and exciting milestone to reach for all of us, especially Holly.  

Aug 9th - 22 weeks

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

(19) Snickers out - M&M’s in!

 As the days turn into weeks and my belly grows bigger and bigger, I can’t help but to reflect back to when I was pregnant with my own children.  It was a very long time ago, when I was young and invincible.  I didn’t care that much about what I was eating.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I got really drunk on Margaritas before I even knew I was pregnant with my son.  I feel horrible about that now, really horrible, but I was 21!  I didn’t have a care in the world until I took that pregnancy test.  So there I was, 21 years old, not married, and pregnant.  Sometimes I wish I would have made different choices with my life growing up.  But fate is interesting.  Had I made different choices, I wouldn’t be here today carrying these two precious little boys for Holly and Darren.

While pregnant with my son, I remember eating a Snickers bar for breakfast almost every day!  I worked at a manufacturing company, and I had to be there by 5am.  That Snickers bar seemed like a great early morning pick-me-up.  In my 21 year old head, it was a great breakfast – of course with a nice hot cup of coffee too.  I think I at least switched to Decaf (maybe!).  I also remember craving mac-n-cheese all the time, and giving in to this temptation almost every time.  Again, what was I thinking?!  I guess I thought that if my pregnant body craved it, my pregnant body needed it.  Despite these questionable eating habits, my pregnancy went smoothly.  But at my final doctor appointment, I learned that I had a narrow pelvic bone opening, which made the Doctor concerned about a vaginal delivery (I know: TMI.  But I’m beyond modesty now…)  As it turned out, the Doctor’s hunch was right, and I never progressed past 4cm dilation after 10 hours of labor, and I ended up getting an emergency C-section.  Fast forward almost 5 years later, and I’m now married to Tom, and we are about to have our daughter.  This pregnancy was just as easy, with the typical unimportant “ugh, I can’t see my feet” and “do I care if my legs are shaved?” topics.  My current doctor wants me to have a V-bac (vaginal birth after cesarean) which I do not want.  Anyway, he wins (I’m not happy about this) and I have my daughter after about 8 hours of labor.  His plan worked.  He induced me 2 weeks early so she wouldn’t be too big.  Zach at 39 weeks was 9lbs 1oz and Kaela at 38 weeks was 7lbs 11oz.  Two healthy babies, ~5 years apart.  I can’t help but wonder how much these guys will weigh.

Back to the present:  Over the last few weeks we’ve been wondering if the boys are identical or fraternal twins.  Since we placed two frozen embryos in, we have assumed they are fraternal, but the doctors say there is a 10 percent chance they could be identical.  It’s possible one embryo didn’t “take” and the other one split.  We’ll have to wait a while longer to find out for sure.

When you are carrying twins, there are certain questions/concerns that don’t apply to a singleton.  One question:  What type of twins are they?  It turns out I am carrying Dichorionic twins.  This means they each have their own placenta to supply nutrients to them.  Monochorionic twins share a placenta, which can lead to a dangerous possibility of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.  I’m so thankful they are Di-Di twins (Di-Di meaning separate sac and placenta).  It’s really fascinating watching the ultrasounds, because you can see the thin lining separating them -- and it looks so delicate.  As I watch these two Kung Foo fighters, it seems like the lining could rip so easily.  But it is apparently much stronger than it looks.  And yes, sometimes their movements hurt me a little, but it is also a unique and beautiful feeling all rolled into one.  If it isn’t Baby B pushing on my right rib cage, then it’s Baby A jabbing at my cervix.  The cervix jabs are by far the most painful and disconcerting.  With the rib cage pokes and pressure, I can sometimes bend to the other side to alleviate the feeling.  But with the cervix pokes, there is nothing I can do except breathe through it.  Ugh.  But I don’t hold it against the little guy.  He is just trying to move around with what little room he has.  I can only imagine if these two aren’t jabbing me, then they’re probably jabbing each other – acting like young Kung Foo fighters! 

I’m trying to eat as healthy as I can for these two.  No mac-n-cheese or snickers this time!  Although I do allow a little nightly treat of peanut M&M’s, I stick to the small Halloween-size bags.  I’m also drinking so much water that it seems almost crazy.  Trips to the bathroom hourly, yes!  But I hear horror stories of women who don’t drink enough water, and their amniotic fluid is compromised because of it.  I DO NOT WANT THAT!  So at 21 weeks, I’ve gained around 23 pounds.  I’m happy with that.  I want to give these two the best possible start.  After all, they were frozen for 9 months before we “met”.  Isn’t science great!

Not a flattering picture. Me at LA fitness pool
21 weeks, they are the size of carrots

Thursday, September 15, 2016

(18) The Bikini Still Fits!

It seems like Holly and Darren are constantly thinking about how to make my life a little better during this pregnancy.  At 20 weeks along, they have invited Tom and me to Lincoln City for an Oregon coast beach getaway weekend.  This was a little tricky for them, since it’s a popular thing to do together with their own families.  Another secret to keep from them (for now!).  Holly and Darren drive us to our accommodations for the weekend: a luxurious multi-floor condo, located on a high bluff right next to the ocean.  The view is amazing.  The sound of the surf is mesmerizing.  The cool ocean breezes are relaxing.  If this was meant to lower our stress levels, it’s working so far.

Since I’ve been advised against vigorous exercise, we’ve planned for non-strenuous activities this weekend.  One such activity was “movie night”, where we watched the 1980’s classic “Twins”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.  It was super-cheesy, complete with brutally bad acting and over-the-top 80’s fashion, but I doubt we could have picked a more appropriate movie for the occasion.   

The next morning, Darren whipped up his famous French toast.  Delicious!  I’m pretty sure the twins enjoyed them too.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself after my third piece…

Shopping was also on the agenda, and the outlet mall served us well.  I never thought I’d be shopping for little boy clothes again, but it’s so much fun!  Everything is so so cute, and I can just imagine these two little ones getting dressed in matching outfits, even if they don’t turn out to be identical twins.  I want to buy everything, and we couldn’t resist picking up a few items.  I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we give in to the temptation of buying some cute things for the boys.  At least I hope not!

The cutest Monster hats!
Also on the agenda: Beach relaxation.  Holly convinced me to wear a bikini, hoping to live vicariously through me in all my pregnant glory.  We have no photographic evidence of my 46 year old pregnant model-like physique (which I regret today).  So let’s just say I rocked that bikini!!  I was mildly annoyed to be the only one of us wearing true beach attire, but I’m sure it just made me stand out even more!  Since it was very windy, we tucked ourselves into a small sheltered area near the base of the bluff.  With the bikini, I guarantee I got the most Vitamin D.  Good for the boys too, right?

Nighttime S’mores were made more challenging by the relentless wind.  After the men finally had the fire going we all sat around and roasted our marshmallows.  I had 3 wonderful servants at my beck and call for each delicious S’more.  With the combination of good eating and minimal physical exertion, a state of lethargy has caught up with us.  Anyone want a second S’more?  Nope.  Luckily, Darren’s SUV handled the sand well so packing up was easy and I didn’t have to walk up those dreadful stairs again. 

Thank you Holly and Darren!  It was a memorable weekend!


July 27th - 20 weeks, 1 day

Sunday, September 11, 2016

(17) Stay in there!

It’s Thursday, July 17th, and the day has finally come to confirm what I already know to be true.  Two little boys are growing inside of me!  And I fall in love with them even more as the days go by.  I know I shouldn’t, but for some reason I can’t help it.  I know they are not mine.  I know I’ll be willingly handing them over to their real parents when the time comes.  But I still love them.  Silently, I promise that I’ll take the best possible care of them while they’re inside of me.

They are getting pretty big, so I often get a kick to my rib from one baby, and a kick to my “lower region” from the other.  It is such a strange feeling to describe, and it isn’t pleasant.  It’s like he’s trying to claw his way out.  But we need both of them to stay put for a while.  We’re almost 19 weeks along, but that’s still too early for these two to survive on the outside. So, stay in there!

We meet Holly and Darren at the MFM office for the lengthy anatomy scan.  It will be around 2.5 hours with the scan and doctor visit afterwards.  Since I was there three days ago for the scary contractions, they start with a cervix measurement.  Of course that means removing my bottoms during the scan because they have to measure this internally.  The guys decide to stay in the waiting area until we tell them I’m dressed.  Holly asks if she can be in there.  I tell her “absolutely”, and I’m a little surprised she still asks.  Of course she can be there!  It really isn’t a big deal to me.  It’s not like I’m lying there naked.  I have a sheet covering me!  Sure, it’s a little awkward the first few times, but we’ve already shared some intimate details with each another.  What’s one more modesty-busting detail at this point?

We call the guys in after the cervix measurement, so they can witness the rest of the anatomy scan.  The ultrasound tech starts by just looking the twins over in general.  She also confirms:  two boys!  Then they start measuring the circumference of their heads and the length of their arms and legs.  She shows us their full bladders and then empty bladders just a few minutes later.  They check things that I didn’t even know they could.  She takes a short video of their heart function too.  We learn that the boys are about 1 pound each.  It’s very high tech.  I feel fortunate to be able to witness this first hand.   The ultrasound tech doesn’t quite get all of the measurements and explains that they’ll finish up next time.  I’ve been lying on my back too long, so she gets the important stuff for the doctors.  This often happens with multiples:  too much to do in the allotted time frame.

We are then taken to another room for the doctor visit.  As always, Dr. Merrill is happy to see us.  But, he says my cervix has shortened again and decides to prescribe some drastic measures to stop whatever might be happening.  He explains that I might just have a short cervix to begin with, but since they don’t know for sure, he asks me start using a progesterone suppository every night.  I can tell this is worrying Holly.  She tries to hide it, but this new unknown scares her.  He also ups my BP medication.  I’m not having any side effects so I’m okay with it.  I’m a little weirded out having to put two suppositories in my nether regions daily for the next 18 weeks, but I suck it up.  Anything to help keep these kids cooking in here longer.  I know once we hit 24 weeks, Holly will be able to relax a little.  Plus, that’s when we plan to finally reveal our very well kept secret to Holly and Darren’s families. That night I attempt my first suppository deposit, it doesn't go very well:-(  It says to stand while inserting (obviously a man wrote these instructions!)  My second attempt the next night goes way better.  I lie down on my bed this time, yeah, way easier!

Monday I was told “no more gym”.  I didn’t like to hear this, but I completely understand the reasoning.  The more pressure I put on the uterus, the more likely it is for me to go into premature labor.  Why risk it?  I ask Dr. Merrill if I can still use the swimming pool.  He is reluctant to say yes.  He doesn’t want the drive to the gym or any other potential (avoidable) stress to be added to my day.  I assure him it’s only a few miles from my house.  I also tell him Dr. Winkler sees the benefits, so Dr. Merrill agrees (for now).  After all, I’m now coming in weekly to have my cervix length checked.  I hope the cervix situation improves.  If not, even more drastic measures might be needed…

It's a BOY!
It's another BOY!

Good 3D of baby A

Baby B sucking his thumb

Baby A yawning profile
Baby B profile

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

(16) Wedding Bells and Hot Saints!

I’ll be 18 weeks Saturday July 12th so the babies are estimated to be the size of Bell Peppers. I’m not sure who comes up with these lists because the fruit and vegetables they pair them with are ridiculous!  Most fruits and veggies are capable of coming in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Anyway, I take my usual 18 week belly bump picture in the morning. We have special place to be tonight….

One of Tom’s co-workers is getting married today. I don’t dress up often so I take advantage of my hair and makeup being done. I take a picture with the bell peppers before we leave for the wedding.  It was a long drive to McMinnville, Oregon for the wedding, mostly due to traffic. It is also unseasonably hot this weekend! Now, I’m from Arizona so I can handle hot, but being pregnant with twins just adds to the discomfort. I don’t want to overheat but these little buns in my oven are making it very uncomfortable for me, sheesh! The whole drive I’ve got the sun beating down on my stomach through the windshield.  The A/C is blowing but it is still too hot, I even take a sweater to block the beat down happening from the unruly sun! I should have sat in the back and let Kaela ride shotgun!

The three of us finally arrive. As we walk to the table with our seating assignments, we have a special surprise waiting for us. Our table marker says “Saint Becky, Tom, and Kaela Meixner table 10.” Now, I’m extra hormonal so it brings tears to my eyes that someone would think of me as a saint!  I still in my heart feel that this is just a small sacrifice for a lifetime of joy.  Since I’m completely overwhelmed with emotion I try to laugh it off. The wedding is held outside on a beautiful bluff overlooking the valley below. There is a huge awning where the tables are set up for the reception, but the ceremony takes place just outside of it. We chose to sit in the third row towards the middle, big mistake! I wish I would have sat at the end of the row because I would have got up and went under the awning. That hot sun was beating down on me and the poor twins. I tried to stay hydrated while at the wedding, as usual water was my friend. People were very curious as to my condition and situation, so by the end of the night I was tired of talking. We stayed for about 2-3 hours enjoying the festivities and good company. When we got home I was feeling a little off.  It was a long hot day so I took a cool shower and went to bed early.

The next day (Sunday July 13th) I am feeling sluggish, super thirsty and overheated. By the afternoon I’m starting to feel light contractions. I don’t want to freak out so I drink extra water and lie down for the day.  I could feel the boys moving around so I didn’t panic. We turned Sunday into a movie fun-day, or at least I did!  Monday morning rolls around and I am still feeling contractions so I call the MFM office.  I go in and see the triage nurse, again. I am here so often now that everyone knows me. I just walk in and they’re like “Okay, Becky you’re all checked in.” When they call me back they start with measuring my cervix.  Here we go again with my modesty being thrown out the window.  I never thought before doing this I would be undressing so much. I’ve decided skirts are my best friend while I’m pregnant. When you are potentially in labor your cervix starts to shorten and then open for the baby to be born. They start off with an internal ultrasound for this measurement. That is the best way to get a measurement of the cervix length.  Once again, modesty has left the building! My cervix measures around 2.1mm which is on the short side. After measuring the cervix and looking at the twins they hook me up to a machine to monitor me for contractions for about a half an hour. It isn’t too concerning so they let me go and tell me to rest. My next appointment is in 3 days so they will reevaluate the situation then.

I inform Holly that I went in for an evaluation, I really do hate giving her this kind of news.  She is so guarded and worries about all of the things that can go wrong. I try to assure her everything will be okay “B positive” I say over and over! 

Holly and Darren also recently bought me a gym membership. The gym I belong to is just machines and free weights. I was told by Dr. Winkler that swimming is great while pregnant, so Holly paid for a gym that had a swimming pool. I just got the membership and now I might not even be able to use it!  Fingers crossed! Being weightless in a swimming pool sounds heavenly. 

July 12th - 18 weeks
18 weeks - Twins are the size of Bell Peppers

Baby A looking lovingly at his placenta above him!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

(15) Wendy’s and Walgreens here I come!

In the last 7 days, I’ve had three MFM visits, all with ultrasound checks.  So I got to see the little Kung Foo fighters more than usual, which is OK with me.  I’ve even convinced all the ultrasound techs to give me their gender guesses.  They’re pretty good at it (since it is part of their job, after all), but my own eyes can see what’s happening down there too.  Circles, lots and lots of circles!  With these latest checks, and the earlier ultrasound tech guess, I’m very sure one of the babies is a boy.  I’m a little less confident in my guess for the other baby, partly because the guesses weren’t unanimous among the medical staff.  We’ll officially find out in a few weeks, but I’m planning an early surprise for Holly and Darren with my guesses.

For the surprise, I decided to take some muffins I bought at Costco, put some gender neutral frosting on the outside, and fill the inside with the gender colors.  Why Costco muffins?  (1) I already had them (minimum preparation!), and (2) they taste like chocolate chip cupcakes (yum!).  I just had to whip up some frosting.  So just one day after Holly and Darren returned from their “Babymoon” in the Bahamas, we met them for dinner at Wendy’s near the Portland airport.  It’s a nice mid-way meeting point for us (from Oregon) and them (from Washington).  It was a fun “reveal”.  Watch the video below (taken by Kaela) to see their reactions.

Two boys!  Darren was a little worried about this possibility, thinking two boys might conspire against him with some extra-clever mischief.   We’ll see!  Anyway, I’ll get my scheduled anatomy scan in a few weeks, where we’ll officially learn the genders.  Even though I say I’m not completely confident about the genders, I’m pretty confident.  I’ve been looking at them for a while now, so I think I know.  Kaela came with me to my recent doctor visits, so she has seen too.  Tom has not, so he was in the dark as much as Holly and Darren.

The next week Holly accompanied me to one of my appointments.  Almost always, I have company during my visits, but who comes varies depending on people’s schedules.  Usually, it’s all of us only when there is a big sonogram scheduled.  Today, it’s just me and Holly, and we both get to see the “boys”.  Early on, they were saying “Baby A” was on my right side, and “Baby B” on my left.  They determine this by who is closest to the cervix.  Baby A would be born first if I went into labor.  Well now they’ve changed, and are saying the baby on my left is Baby A and the right is Baby B.  So confusing!  Geeze, one more thing to keep track of! 

The regular check shows my blood pressure is high yet again!  They asked me to bring in my home tester to verify it is calibrated, since my BP is fine at home.  But even before this check, Dr. Merrill decides it’s time to start BP medication.  I’m worried about any medications, and their possible effect on my passengers.  Dr. Merrill assured me that the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially since he is prescribing a low dose (30mg Nifedipine).  These doctors are fetal specialists, so I have to trust that they know best.  While we’re at it, I also ask for some better Pepcid because my heartburn is out of this world uncomfortable.  I have had acid reflux for about 10 years now, and now that I’m pregnant (with twins), it’s not exactly improving.  Luckily I live in a time where these drugs have been proven safe with pregnancy.

Side note: I referenced "circles" earlier and I'm sure everyone was confused.  That was a message to Holly.  I'm sure she had a good laugh and I'll fill you in now.  Holly told me when she was younger she referred to the male anatomy "testicles" as "circles".  I could see "circles" on both boys clear as day when I hit 12 weeks and even better as time passed.  If only the nurse hadn't planted the seed of doubt in my head, baby B could watch this video with confidence!  

June 28th - 16 weeks

Me and my double BP check -  My home tester says 156 /103 Yikes!

Darren scared for two boys
WOW, two boys!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

(14) Kung Foo, anyone?

At 14 weeks along, Darren and Holly decide to host a get-together with a couple of old co-workers (Lily and Olga) and their families.  We decided to inform them of our little “adventure”, using a similar prank as we used with Tom’s siblings Sheila and Andy a few weeks ago.  Keep in mind that no one from Holly or Darren’s family knows about this, and won’t for another 10 weeks (when we reach 24 weeks – at least that’s the plan!).  In fact, I’ve never met any of Holly or Darren’s family members, so there’s little chance of any accidental encounters/recognition.  Anyway, I wear a snug outfit to show my curves.  I’m not huge (yet!), but I’ve got a little pot belly to show for my efforts.  I am carrying twins after all, which are now about the size of lemons.  Lily and her family arrive first, and we just play it cool.  But in the course of our casual conversation, I nonchalantly mention that I’m pregnant.  Lily didn’t say anything right away, but she didn’t have to.  Her look said it all.  Let’s just say her expression screamed “WHAT! How old are you?”  Calmly, and with some fabricated sadness, I say “Tom isn’t the father either”.  Now Lily is really confused.  Tom isn’t here, which really adds to the mystery of what I just said.  Then she looks over to Holly and Darren for some help with this suddenly uncomfortable social situation.  But Holly just couldn’t play the game.  She had this huge smile on her face, and started crying (happy tears of course).  Lily was shocked, and didn’t seem entirely pleased with our trick.  But she’s excited for us.  She is also pregnant and about 3-4 weeks ahead of me.  Then we all calm down and discuss the details of what has happened so far.  Olga arrived fashionably late as usual, and we pull the same trick on her.  Like Lily, Olga was really confused.  But, we don’t string her along too long, since we already had enough fun with Lily. 

At this time, I also decide to tell my family back in Arizona.  Even though 38 weeks seems a long way off (it’s now mid-June, and my projected delivery timeframe is late November / early December), I feel confident that we are going to see this through to the end.  Be positive, right?!  I called when most of my family was together for dinner.  I told them all individually as they passed the phone around.  In hindsight, I should have just had it on speaker…  Everyone sounded excited and supportive over the phone, but I wish I could have seen their reactions in person.  My son Zach wasn’t there, so I had to tell him at a different time.  When I explained it to him, he didn’t quite understand what was really happening, and was initially pretty upset.  Boys!  A few days later after talking with a co-worker, he called me to tell me how cool he thought it was.  His co-worker helped him understand (thank you co-worker!) 

Holly and Darren decide to take a babymoon.  Huh?!  I don’t think such a thing existed when I had my kids.  They chose a cruise to the Bahamas that leaves June 21st.  They invited us too, but I didn’t want to travel all that way while pregnant.  I’m being positive, but also cautious.  I’ll save vacationing for after delivery.  We discuss the appointments I’ll have while Holly is gone, and I have strict instructions to keep her informed by email. 

It’s now June 23rd, and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been to the doctor (and a few weeks from the scary bleeding incident) so I’m excited to see Dr. Merrill.  He always seems excited to see me too (I wonder if he’s like this with everyone), but I think I’m just special.  A quick check shows my blood pressure is up, again!  I’ve been logging my BP for the past 12 days and everything is fine when I’m at home.  White coat syndrome people!  He is still worried, so he takes my blood for a Pregnancy Induced Hypertension Panel.  It’s a little annoying, but if it puts everyone at ease to take my blood and check my BP 24/7 then I’ll do it.  Dr. Merrill is legitimately concerned, so he has me come back on Friday the 27th and Monday the 30th to have the nurse do some monitoring.  It is pretty crazy because my BP is fine when I’m at home.  Now I’m starting to worry because they’re worried.  It’s a viscous cycle.  On a positive note, I got to see more ultrasounds of the active twins.  They were so wiggly that the sonogram tech commented that they must be Kung foo fighting in there.  Pretty cute!  When they calmed down a little, one baby was sucking his/her thumb.  The other was face down and the tech (being funny) said “it appears this baby is sucking the placenta”.  We both laughed at that because it did look that way!  I decide not to update Holly with all of my BP appointments.  No use worrying her and Darren while they are vacationing.  I just give her the highlights of what the babies are up to.  When they get back, I plan to reveal the genders of the twins to them, with a special surprise…

June 14th - 14 weeks

Saturday, August 20, 2016

(13) A Scare and a Secret

It’s June 2nd and I’m now 12 weeks pregnant.  It’s time for another doctor appointment.  Only this time, I don’t get to see my usual fun-loving Dr. Winkler.  Instead, I see Dr. Merrill.  He turns out to be awesome too, but I guess I was looking forward to having Dr. Winkler the whole time.  Dr. Merrill is one of about 6 regular doctors at this facility.  Anyway, a quick check shows my blood pressure is elevated again, so he was somewhat concerned (even though it went down again when he checked later).  Something to keep an eye on.  The scale says I’ve gained about 10 pounds in my first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  They say that with twins, if you are of normal weight to start (which I was) then you should gain only about 4-6 pounds the first trimester.  Ooops!  And I still have two weeks of the first trimester to go… But then it also says “weight gain is especially important between weeks 20-24 of pregnancy.  If a mother of twins gains 24lbs by week 24 of pregnancy, she reduces her chance of preterm labor.”  If I gained a pound a week for the first 24 weeks, I would be right on track, right?  So I’m not really worried.  I am eating super healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly.  I think the only “bad” thing I eat too much of is peanut butter, and it’s not that bad!

Fast-forward to June 10th, four days after my final Progesterone shot.  I’m very worried.  In fact, I’m pretty close to freaking out.  Despite being assured that stopping Progesterone “cold turkey” (and not tapering off) would be OK, I’ve started to bleed.  Please please please don’t let this be a sign of an impending miscarriage.  Please!  Close to panic, I send Tom a text at work, and then call the MFM office.  They advise me to come in immediately to get checked out.  I decide not to tell Holly or Darren yet, because I don’t want to stress them out for no reason if everything is OK.  Tom offers to go with me, but I told him I could handle it.  Be positive.  Be positive.  When I get to the office, it’s just like a regular appointment, starting with a pee sample and a weigh-in.  Soon, the triage nurse comes in with the portable sonogram machine.  She asks about my symptoms, and takes my blood pressure (which is really high now, because I’m stressed!).   I tell her that I stopped the PIO injections last Friday, and I woke up to blood this morning.  Calmly, she tells me to lay back so we can check out the twins.  I lay back and she hits me with the cold gel.  Brrrrr.  She starts panning around and says everything looks fine.  They are both wiggling around and their water levels are great!  She checks their heart rates, which are perfect (unlike mine).  Excellent!  Now I’m starting to calm down.  I knew this could happen but when it’s reality, it’s hard not to freak out.

Then she asks me if I want to know the sex of each one.  I say “of course!”  She informs me that at 13 weeks, it’s a little early to tell, but reveals that one baby definitely looks like a boy.  The other baby was a little shy and didn’t want to show “the goods” to the camera.   She checked my BP again, and it has dropped (compared to before), but is still elevated.  She’s concerned, so she puts in an order to the pharmacy for a home blood pressure monitoring machine, and asks me to start recording my BP three times per day – and bring the results to my next appointment in two weeks.  Oh joy!  I thought this was an overreaction to my stressful situation today, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we deal with elevated blood pressure.

Baby A on top (facing back)  Baby B on bottom (facing forward)
Baby B profile

I waited until the afternoon to call Holly and Darren.  They were happy everything looked good, and appreciated the fact that I waited to tell them.  Holly loved the fact that she only had to worry for about a minute.  I know Holly is particularly sensitive about any and all things that can go wrong.  We both shed a few tears because "life" is fragile especially at this stage.  I want to protect her from the bad as much as I can.  I even thought not telling her would be best but these little babies are hers and she has a right to know.  However, I didn’t mention that I found out one baby is a boy.  That will be my little secret for now.  BTW, Holly thinks I’m carrying 2 girls, hehehe.