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!