Sunday, September 27, 2009

28w6d - GD test & biophysical profiles

This week brought yet another marathon 4-hour appointment at the perinatologist. It was probably the last appointment I could drive myself to, given that we live more than an hour away from the doc and the appointments will become a weekly trek from this point onwards.

The perinatologist is nothing if not thorough, which I appreciate tremendously.

The glucose drink for the gestational diabetes test wasn't bad at all. A Dixie cup filled with a sweet, fizzy orange drink, which kind of tasted like Fan.ta Orange. An hourlong wait during which you're not allowed to drink water, eat anything, chew gum, or smoke, as the nurse practitioner kindly reminded me. I've never smoked, so I thought that was pretty funny. They had to draw blood to check my thyroid function and other things anyway, so it was no big deal. What's a few more vials?

I've had some edema, spilling of protein (just +1), and headaches, so they're watching me carefully for pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure is still fine, 124/70, but given that I'm usually around 106/60, it is slowly creeping up.

The girls aced their biophysical profiles, each scoring 8/8. (We're so proud.) The BPP ultrasound for triplets can take up to an hour and a half as the babies each need to make a certain number of breathing and other movements in a 30-minute period. Thankfully the babies cooperated beautifully and it went much faster. The sonographer let me sit up in between to prevent that awful woozy feeling.

My fundal height is now at 40 cm = full term. I keep thinking that if I was pregnant with one baby, this would be about as big as I'd get. A walk in the park compared to what awaits! (Seriously - no offence intended to moms who have one baby at a time. I know pregnancy is hard whichever way you slice it.)

The belly bump circumference is a whopping 45 and a half inches, and I've gained 33 lbs total. I've read of other triplet moms who have circumferences of 52 inches towards the end. I've read much pain and suffering lies ahead...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

27w5d - Girl Girl Girl Gear galore

We have had not one, not two, but THREE baby showers! The girls, my husband and I are so incredibly spoiled by our friends and colleagues. Not just with the unbelievable baby showers, but with the most amazingly thoughtful 2nd hand clothes, blankets and other gear like high chairs, playmats and swings we have received from our generous friends.

In the words of a colleague, "Baby shower? Gmph! It's more like a baby thunderstorm!"

We started gearing up pretty early, knowing that I might be on bed rest towards the safer part of the pregnancy. After IVF, it required a huge leap of faith to start acquiring baby stuff. On the other hand, since this will most probably be my one and only pregnancy ever, I didn't want to miss out on a single moment of the experience.

Dh and I started boldly: by buying a 2nd hand triplet stroller and a previously owned minivan - all in one morning - when I was barely out of the first trimester! I was researching strollers online, reading advice from other triplet parents, when I came across a Triple Decker on eBay.

The wonderful family with triplets we bought it from had 3 Graco Snugride seats, six bases, and threw in 3 car seat sleeping bags, a must for our infants arriving in the fall.

We kept in touch with the triplet family, and they sold us their 3 bouncy seats, 3 exersaucers, 3 Bumbo seats, Podee bottles, and threw in lots of extras.

We had toyed with the idea of getting a minivan, but we weren't planning on purchasing it so soon. Then an incredible deal on a previously owned 2009 model turned up. The minivan was practically brand new, just owned for a month.

Craigslist proved very useful: we purchased two changing tables (still boxed and new) and things we won't need for a while, like the North States Super Yard XT.

Gift cards and gifts of cash from the baby showers enabled us to buy three Graco Lauren 4-in-1 convertible cribs. Target had a huge Labor Day baby gear sale where you could get the mattresses for free if we bought the cribs there. Not only were their cribs the most affordable (beating out any price I could find online - and even Wal*Mart), but getting the mattresses for free saved us $240.00.

It was quite the spectacle when my husband and I walked out alongside the Target employee with the rolling cart loaded to capacity with three humongous boxes and three mattresses.

There was a guy sitting on a bench near the loading zone waiting for his wife and he looked on in amazement. "TRIPLETS?!" I was so exhausted I almost responded with, "Nah, we're just getting a few extra because it's such a good deal." But I bit my lip.

My gracious husband responded with a proud father chuckle and said, "Yeah" as they started loading up our new minivan. The conversation continued with funny banter as the guy's wife and kids arrived and he went over the details of the unfolding spectacle again. They seemed very happy for us, and not at all intrusive, so it was fine by me. Better get used to it, eh? Once that Triple Decker starts going places with us and the trio, I'm sure it will be an attention-grabber.

All I really keyed into was how unflustered my hubby was with all the attention. That's a good sign.

In terms of other baby gear: we received a Boppy pillow, and bought two more, and purchased three matching covers. We have bought a few things new, including 3 Kiddopotamus cotton swaddle blankets and a Dr Brown's formula pitcher, which so many triplet moms recommended.

I think we're as ready as we'll ever be with baby gear, so if I have to go on strict bed rest at home, or heaven forbid, hospital, I can relax knowing we have tons of diapers, wipes, and all the gear in the world. :D

We're already looking forward to a humongous garage sale!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

26w6d - U/s growth scan update & NICU tour

Our baby girls continue to amaze the perinatologists and sonographers with how well they're growing (not just compared to triplets, but compared to singletons!) My peri is ecstatic with their progress - she gave them a thumbs up for sharing their "real estate" equally, and growing consistently:

Baby A: 2lb5oz, 142 BPM
Baby B: 2lb2oz, 142 BPM
Baby C: 2lb4oz, 134 BPM

That's almost 7 pounds of babies! When asked at what point they might schedule the C-section, the peri said if everything continues to go this well, and I'm still feeling good, they may even let me go to 36 weeks and a few days. (One can dream! First, I need to get to 28 weeks.)

A very good sign is that all of the girls are measuring pretty close, which bodes well for the next two months or so. I've only gained 0.4 lbs the past two weeks, but given how well the girls are doing and my overall weight gain, my peri wasn't concerned. Phew. The heartburn has been making it challenging to eat. My cervix is still as short as ever (a scary 2.4 cm), but still no funneling or dilation.

My Dh and I went on a tour of the level III NICU. They can admit almost 60 preemies, and they approximately 280 people on staff. The wonderful charge nurse spent 45 minutes with us going over their protocols, and describing different treatment scenarios.

Seeing so many babies fight for their lives is extremely disturbing and frightening. I just wasn't prepared for that. The upside is that it is also an immense motivator to see exactly how fragile the preemies are, because it makes me want to do everything in my power to grow our girls for as long as possible.

Having visuals of the space, equipment and people has alleviated a lot of anxiety.
The nurse said my Dh will be able to see our babies in the NICU within 30-45 minutes of their birth. If all of the girls are admitted to the NICU, they will be split up into different areas to help ensure that they don't get mixed up.

Up to four people, including the parents, can visit at any given time. They welcome parents calling in to check on their babies when they can't be physically present. Parents are welcome to visit any time, except for the half hour or so when shifts change (and the neonatologists and nurses share confidential information about all of the babies).

Visitors are only allowed when accompanied by one of the parents, which is very comforting from a security standpoint. (Also: I read about a triplet mom whose inlaws gained access to the NICU and they bathed her babies. When the mom arrived, not only had she missed out on giving them their first bath, but she couldn't touch her babies because they had already received so much stimulation that day.) I'd be livid, especially given how little opportunity for "parenting" exists in the NICU and how precious every one of those moments are.

I think the sweetest thing the nurse said to us at the end of the tour was, "I hope we don't have to see you or your triplet girls here!" Amen.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

26w1d - Random thoughts - pregnancy, NICU & childbirth classes

Before we get to the update, I wanted to let you know how much your comments mean to me. Every single comment lifts me up, and gives me the strength and encouragement needed to stay positive. So thank you!

Today the belly circumference measures a whopping 44 and a half inches. It's feeling heavier, to the point where I want to lift the belly with my arms to reverse the forces of gravity. An amazing triplet mom gave me her maternity support brace, and I believe the time has come to forget about vanity and to start wearing it religiously.

I've gained 26 pounds so far. Gaining weight definitely became easier from 20 weeks onwards, just as the nutritionist said it would. (Yes, I was skeptical.) I can suddenly tolerate coffee and chocolate again (hooray! life is good!), but I have been careful to limit my overall caffeine intake.

Remarkably, there have been no pregnancy cravings yet. And this from a woman who has always had regular, intense cravings during PMS (for super sweet and super salty foods, often combined, that I had to have RIGHT NOW. Like sushi with tons of soy sauce, and then some chocolate.) The absence of cravings is truly weird. I thought for sure I'd have to send Dh on a few wild goose chases after midnight, but so far he has dodged that entirely.

Interestingly, during the first trimester, I would get nauseous if my stomach was empty. Now, I get heartburn whenever I go too long without eating. I've been alternating between papaya enzyme chew tablets and T.ums, and only taking something when it gets REALLY bad. My definition of "REALLY bad" is definitely changing as the heartburn becomes a constant companion. I guess one learns how to cope, which includes cutting out tomatoes and only eating fruit with other food (not on an empty stomach). Milk has helped too.

The contractions come and go, but fortunately they've never reached the frequency (more than 4/hour) where I feel I need to call the peri. May this last, as I want to avoid terb and the other awful meds as long as possible.

Rolling over in bed is a production. I often joke that it's the equivalent of an unsuccessful 3-point turn in a narrow road. Our king size bed is not big enough for me and all the pillows. The pregnancy pillow is too cumbersome, so I'm back to using an assortment of loose pillows. Despite the nest I build and rebuild for myself all night long, I'm still waking up with the most intense hip pain every morning. 4 a.m. is my limit. That's when I can't take the tossing and turning anymore and simply call it a day, or a night, or whatever. Watching the sunrise every morning and hearing the birds wake up have been unexpected, rediscovered pleasures. This ritual is usually accompanied by breakfast at 4:10 a.m. (I'm a night owl, hate getting up in the morning, and don't do breakfast. Oh how things change.)

The girls are kicking often, but I haven't felt a hiccup yet. I've noticed that Dh touching my abdomen always gets them going. Usually, they go from being completely quiet to kicking right where his hand is, which is pretty special. If I touch my belly, or someone else touches my belly, nothing happens. Whether the babies can sense their dad, or whether there are physiological changes in my body when he touches me, I don't know. I just know that it's no coincidence as we've tested this in various circumstances and at different times, mostly without him making even a sound. I love that he can communicate with his children already.

We're looking forward to the girl's growth scan on Friday. I've made special arrangements for my husband and I to tour the NICU beforehand, which will hopefully alleviate some anxiety. This is like the insurance of carrying an umbrella - it will only rain if you forgot your umbrella at home.

We'll be part of a larger group to tour the L&D unit later this month, and we also hope to make it to a 3-hour Multiples Class in October. I was so happy to see that our hospital offered something for multiples as I didn't want to sit through hours of information on natural birth when that will clearly not be an option for us.

Monday, September 07, 2009

26w0d - Letting go

My friend Carrie is expecting 3 boys - the perfect complement to our 3 girls. Her efforts to keep growing her boys through multiple scares, while on hospital and now home bed rest, and caring for her young daughter has been nothing short of heroic.

Since Carrie asked for more frequent updates, and she has been my inspiration, I simply can't refuse. So here goes:

As we're gearing up for the girls, I'm also trying to let go and have faith that everything will work out with this high-risk pregnancy. Surely everyone in the IF community can identify with this apprehension.

As much as I've been bonding with the girls, feeling them kick and watching their progress on the ultrasounds, there is a part of me that is still super cautious. I thought that would lessen with each milestone: seeing the fetal poles, the first heartbeat check, receiving the CVS results, passing the first trimester... Now that we're just two weeks away from the major 28-week milestone, I know I won't begin to believe it will work out until they're home with us, and then a new phase of caution and fear will start.

Reading about NICU experiences and triplet losses have helped me understand that my optimism won't protect me from things going wrong. Will simply believing that everything will be okay, make it so? Or is that living in denial?

I guess I'm living somewhere on the fence between optimism and realism. I like to be informed: prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best outcome.

As a result, I've been holding onto my leftover IVF meds: a flare protocol cycle's worth of Lupron, Gonal-F pens, Ovidrel and prometrium. Although we paid out of pocket for our IVF cycles, the insurance miraculously covered our meds. After our failed cycle, I ordered a new round of meds, and then found out that our clinic would give us some meds through a grant program. After we signed on to the grant program, I found out the pharmacy wouldn't take the meds back. Since I didn't have any hope that cycle #2 would work, I kept the meds for cycle #3, knowing I would donate it back to the clinic if I didn't need it.

It's been like a mental safety net to open the fridge and see the Rx stockpile. I realize now that it is also preventing me from truly believing that my babies will be okay. So this week, I'll stop by my IVF clinic, drop off the meds and try to let go of some of the fears that have been holding me back.

I'm worried about walking into the clinic with my pregnant belly, and upsetting the other women. I'll attempt to go in the back way. I remember vividly how crushing it was to see a pregnant woman in that waiting room, regardless of whether she was a "success story" or there to support a friend. It made me jealous, weepy, angry and frustrated and I'd hate to do that to anyone else going through the life crisis that is IF.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

25w6d - Funny triplet comments

Some days, I feel like I'm going through an initiation process. Every funny look or strange comment about our triplet pregnancy is preparing me for what lies ahead.

This one is the prize-winning conversation of the week:

Neighbor: I heard you are having triplicates.

Me (having a hard time keeping a straight face): Yes, we sure are.

Vocabulary-challenged neighbor: Now, will they all be the same?

Me: We're expecting three girls - they're fraternal.

Neighbor: So, will they look the same?

Me: No, they're not identical.

Neighbor (still confused): So they'll just look like sisters and not like triplets?

Me (at a loss, but trying to escape the Spanish Inquisition): Yes.

Someone who hadn't seen me in five months and who didn't know I was pregnant, did the best double-take I've ever witnessed.

She (smiling knowingly): "Whoa! What happened to you?!"

Me (straight face): "I got knocked up."

She: Apparently! (laughing) Congratulations!

Me: Thanks!

She: When are you due?

A male friend of mine who has a wicked sense of humor, was witnessing this exchange, and piped up, "Oh, she's about 2 weeks along." That cracked me up, because I'm 6 months pregnant and feel as big as a house.

She: (confused) ?

Me (laughing): I'm about six months pregnant.

She: ? (even more confused because the size of my belly and what I'm telling her doesn't add up)

Me: It's triplets.

She: ???!!! Whaaaatt??? Seriously???! Wow! That's wonderful!

It was totally worth dragging it out for that response.