4.28.2012

{Quad Squad} 25 Weeks & A Video Greeting

We've made it yet another milestone! Today I hit 25 weeks, which has increased our quadruplets' chances of survival by an estimated 20% since last week. (Don't forget I have a medical degree and all, so my facts are never off, lol.) Getting to 26 weeks will see another significant improvement and every week we progress after that will be truly all the more amazing.



The quads have started growing and fast—I'm exhausted much more of the time than I ever have been during this pregnancy. Which comes in handy when you're on hospital bed rest and napping is one of the most efficient ways of passing the time. As always, though, things are never boring, I now have gestational diabetes. I took my one hour glucose test this past week, which I failed. My blood sugar levels were only slightly elevated but it still called for the three-hour glucose test. That one's just a daisy. After fasting all night (no, seriously, I normally eat two to three snacks during the night!), about 4:30am the nurse brought me the most sugary tasting drink I've ever had. It was like drinking a can of Mountain Dew with six extra packets of sugar in it. Gross! After that, they drew a vial of blood from the back of my hand every hour for three hours. It's totally the best way to start your day. (And that was total sarcasm, by the way.)

Turns out, I failed that test too. Again, it wasn't anything extreme but still failed. My doc said the main goal was for me to keep eating and gain weight so the babies can grow—so no diabetic diet for me. I don't have to change my eating habits or anything, the nurse just pricks my finger once a day after breakfast or lunch to be sure my levels aren't crazy. So far, so good. I knew gestational diabetes was common for multiples, but wasn't sure exactly why. So I read up on Google and it sounds like it's due to the placenta, which produces hormones that effect your body's ability to process sugar. The pancreas often has to produce two to three times the normal amount of insulin for a singleton pregnancy, and with four placentas to deal with, mine simply can't keep up. So ta-dah, gestational diabetes. My doctor even chuckled a little when he told me, he knows it never ends with this quad pregnancy, always something! He said it was actually not a terrible thing, since the extra sugar in my system will help the babies grow a little more. Where will they find the room!?!

I've had a couple rough days this week, especially the day after the glucose tests since I was exhausted from being up all through the night. So I've had no shame in accepting some Ambien lately to help me sleep. I feel weird taking drugs while pregnant, but I am in a hospital surrounded by medical professionals who know what they're doing. I've been assured time and again it's fine (just avoid it during the first trimester, they say.) Then I was concerned about getting addicted to it if I'm taking it while staying long-term here, but a nurse yesterday pointed out I'd be going home with four babies and should have no problem getting exhausted and falling asleep when my schedule allows!

My friend, Ashley, who was pregnant with her quads in the hospital down the street, had her babies last week. I'm thrilled for her—she was 28w5d and the kiddos are doing great. She was kind enough to share her birth story on her blog, which you can read here. They are already over a week old!

To celebrate 25 weeks, this time the husband brought fajitas. (Last week it was steaks for the big 24!) I decided I was sick of eating in bed so I moved to the chair nearby and my husband pulled the bed table up and loaded it down with all the trimmings. Yum!


We just got back from a quick wheelchair ride and a trip to the cafeteria downstairs for some iced tea and some yogurt—which I loaded down with toasted coconut, chocolate chips, sprinkles and fudge sauce. It was just what my gestational diabetes needed, I figured. The nurses that sent me off in the wheel chair told me to enjoy, I'd already passed my finger prick test for the day!


So it's off on another week, still trying hard to take it day by day. There are days I'm kinda depressed being stuck inside these walls and not getting to have my normal life. Sometimes 30 weeks seems like light years away, and other times I feel more determined that I'll make it. I've also spotted my first stretch marks on my stomach, they're very faint but they have arrived. I know, I know, 25 weeks with quads before they hit isn't bad. I knew they were coming at some point but still not exactly a thrilling moment, to be sure. Pressure on my bladder is growing, so now I'm up for bathroom breaks as often as 20 to 30 minutes. It's annoying since I have to take off my contraction monitor, haul myself out of bed and roll my IV stand with me. And my ligaments are starting to hurt from the sheer pressure and speed at which I'm growing and accommodating space for the quads. These babies better appreciate it all when we're done is all I have to say! Here are a couple of 4D photos of two of the quads, Harrison (C) and Kailey (B), they were cooperating during the ultrasound. Their little faces are so cute and the picture of all the arms and hands crack me up!






To sign off, I leave you with a video greeting to "meet" all my new followers and supporters and just thank everyone for being so positive and encouraging. Both the husband and I feel very loved!


video

4.25.2012

{Quad Squad} The Wheelchair Route

I wanted to be sure to get a quick update posted today—the last two days here in my hospital room have actually been very busy between a few visitors, nurses, heart rate monitors, growth scans, various consultations and so on. It's amazing how much my door opens and closes sometimes!

The weekend was a great one, as I mentioned before the husband and I celebrated 24 weeks and our first point of viability for the quads. He brought me a steak from Texas Roadhouse—which I devoured every bite of!—and on Sunday his brother and his girlfriend visited and we ordered pizza.



Twice over the weekend, I got my first dose of outside air and sunshine. It was amazing!! I hadn't been outside in two weeks. My husband even thought to bring up my sunglasses so I could sit in the sun without squinting. It was pretty weird getting taken out in a wheelchair with an IV still attached to my arm. People give you funny looks as you get close to the exit like you're making a run for it. Or it could have been be me yelling "FREEDOM!" all the way out the door.


He parked me right in the sunshine and we sat and talked for a minutes, joined shortly afterward by a fellow preggers mom with twins at 33 weeks and her husband. She was also on the magnesium sulfate IV (the one that makes us all so sick) and was jonesing for some fresh air. It was a pretty hilarious site, us chatting wheelchair next to wheelchair, big ol' stomachs and IV poles and all. Later, a dad-to-be drove up with his pregnant wife in the passenger seat. He was making a trial hospital run as she was due soon and came up to us asking for the best way in to labor and delivery. Clearly, we looked like the experts! Both our husbands immediately told him exactly where to head when the big day arrived. Ah, how my life has changed.



I even managed to break a small sweat in the daylight, a luxury I actually relish. I am a sun baby to be sure! After we returned to the room, the husband and I watched movies and relaxed and he spent the night. He is such a trooper, I have cherished all the time he's spent with me at the hospital—and he never complains!

My newest "torture device" involves daily heart rate monitoring for each of the babies all at the same time for about 30 minutes. It's a semi-disturbing picture, but photos speak louder than words in this instance! They first have to locate each of the heart beats, which generally tend to stick in the same area, then they strap on a monitor and move on to the next one. It's uncomfortable, to say the least, but it gives the doctor a good "view" of their heart stability and that there are no blips or potential issues.



It's been a week of ups and downs for me, as far as hospital life goes. It's always the same story—one day I'm doing good and in great spirits and the next day I can hardly stand to be in here anymore. I'm constantly connected to my contraction monitor, my IV stand and leg pumps and was about to throw them all out the window today. It literally takes me several minutes just to get out of bed for a bathroom break... and that happens every 20 to 30 minutes these days! Ugh!

Last night I'd had a time of it and stood in my bathroom in front of my mirror and reminded myself that going ONE DAY at a time is the best way to go. It's harder than it sounds because, while laying in bed, your mind tends to wander and think ahead and contemplate the big picture. But I am determined to reel myself back in and focus on the next 24 hours and try not to go past that too much. It can literally drive me crazy. Long prayers each and every morning and evening also help keep me calm—I talk to God about my feelings, I re-dedicate the babies to him constantly and I pray for my doctor that he'll make all the right decisions, as I feel he's done so well up to this point.

Yesterday, at long last, was a growth scan for the babies and I was thrilled with the results! At 24 weeks and three days, here are their weights:

Trystan - 1lb 9oz
Kailey - 1lb 8oz
Harrison - 1lb 120z
Logan - 1lb 6oz

They are all doing really great and developing right on track. It's good that Harrison, our boy, is still the biggest because both the doctor and nurses have mentioned how girl preemies do better than boy preemies. So he'll need every advantage he can get! The nurses have also told me you can add about two pounds of extra weight per baby for the placenta, amniotic fluid, etc. With a rough bit of math, that means I'm carrying an estimate of 14 lbs. in my stomach!! And weeks to go...sometimes I have no idea how it will all work out but then again, being pregnant with quads isn't something I knew how to anticipate either. ;)

I also had a regular ultrasound and cervical check today, and my cervix is still holding strong and measured 4.2cm. It measured 3.7cm last week, which was also good. It's normal for its length to fluctuate and is obviously better for it to be going up than down. As long as there is "length" that means my cervix is still closed, which means my body is not about to go into labor just yet. I have been having quite a few contractions over yesterday and this morning, but the more I can keep myself horizontal the more inactive those become. That said, I'm signing off to recline in bed and try to get a little shut eye. Hospital life can be rough business, but I'm encouraged with our good results and am hanging in there another week! Thanks for all your comments and prayers, as always!

4.21.2012

{Quad Squad} 24 Weeks!

Today is a very important day...we have reached 24 weeks! Here's a sort of breakdown on the details of preterm delivery for multiples from the book When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy.

Weeks 20-24—the border of viability: Most babies born during this time zone do not survive. Those who do must remain hospitalized for many months. Their chances of experiencing permanent adverse health effects are high.

Weeks 25-28—very early preterm: The odds of survival are better, but babies born during this period must still spend weeks or months in the NICU. They are at risk for long-term medical consequences.

Weeks 29-32—early preterm: Many triplets and quadruplets are born during this time zone. Although the babies typically remain in the hospital for several weeks, or more, the outlook is generally good.

Weeks 33-35—preterm for multiples: Twins are often born during this time period. If they are well grown, they generally spend a week or two in the hospital and are unlikely to experience any long-term serious effects of their early birth.

The percentage of survival for the quads drastically increases between 24 and 25 weeks and again at 26 weeks. It continues to rise after that, but most assuredly our next HUGE goal will be 26 weeks. In the meantime, every day we get past 24 is a blessing. I continue to pray that our little babies are strong, healthy fighters! They at least seem to have the fighting part down with each other in my stomach. ;)


These days my photos include no makeup, hospital bracelets, an IV and a curtain for my backdrop. Not quite like the pictures I prefer to take, but I refuse to give up on my weekly snapshots! The stomach is getting pretty huge, especially for my 5' 3" stature. I'm measuring 40+ weeks pregnant for someone my size and have gained approximately 32 pounds to date. I can tell the quads are growing, because I'm eating normal-sized meals for the first time my entire pregnancy and managing a few snacks in between. That's never happened! Normally there isn't enough room for me to store much food but they are blazing through the calories, I think.


(I feel like my face is getting a little more round and my eyes are pretty relaxed from the magnesium sulfate IV I'm on, but I'm sharing the pics anyway!) The husband continues to amaze me with his endless efforts to be sure I'm comfortable in my hospital room. He visits me every day after week and extensively on the weekends. Today, he'll be bringing up steaks from Texas Roadhouse for our early dinner to celebrate 24 weeks and he'll be taking me on a short wheelchair ride later! I haven't been out of my room in days and I've not been on a "joy ride" yet, due to either medications, contractions or feeling bad. But I think I'm up to a short outing today, I need to see something other than these four walls!


My mom has also been an enormous help during her frequent visits. Not only does she keep me company at the hospital during the day when she's here, she rubs my feet, arms and legs (which are all sore from inactivity and the magnesium IV), makes me tea, helps me to and from the restroom and more. And then she feeds and tends to the pets at our house when she's staying in town, which is a huge advantage for the husband so he can get to work on time. What an incredible mom! I've learned from the best. :)


Recently, some close friends of ours came up to visit and brought fajitas with them for our dinner. The husband and I love their two kids dearly and I was thrilled to see them after many weeks. Thank you guys for stopping by!

Things are continuing to go well at 24 weeks—because the babies have now reached their first point of viability, their heart rates will be monitored more extensively each day. I'm also looking forward to the anatomy scan I get this next week that will reveal how much they all weigh now! The husband and I hope they are all at least 1.5 pounds, but it's hard to say. I have no idea how I've got the room for four babies on any given day.

Thanks to you all for your amazingly supportive comments, emails and messages. I read each of them to the husband and they have truly brightened our days! Time to keep on truckin'...

4.19.2012

{Quad Squad} My Temporary Home

After talking with my doctor this morning, things are looking pretty good. I'll be 24 weeks on Saturday and my body seems to have adjusted to the magnesium sulfate IV I'm on enough that I'm not absolutely miserable around the clock. It still makes me feel sick, nausea and extremely fatigued—but I handle it for the sake of the babies, I told him. So we're keeping with the mag IV...for good. Most likely until I deliver the quads. I figured that bit of news was coming, so at least I'm prepared. But my doc is so careful that he's still putting me on a 48-hour round of Indocin starting tomorrow, which, if you recall from my posts last week, is also an anti-contraction medicine. For me, it proved extremely effective and very little side effects. Doing this routine every week should keep my uterus and my body calm and buy me several more weeks of time, at least that's the plan! It's daunting sometimes to wonder how much longer I have to feel this way and if I can really take it, but fortunately today is a better day than yesterday so I'm having a surge of positive thoughts. This whole experience is overwhelming on a constant basis, but at least some occasions it's easier to deal with than others.

In other complaints, I think this pregnancy is finally catching up with me physically. I know that sounds weird, but up until the last two weeks walking around, sitting down in chairs and picking things up off the floor or whatever didn't really pose a huge issue. Yes, I got tired faster than the norm but I was still able to function. Now, I struggle to get in and out of bed, I'm frequently out of breath from the smallest exertion, my back is beginning to hurt and there's a lot of uncomfortable, sometimes painful, pressure you know where. (What, like that's a surprise!?) I'm sure some of the exhaustion is due to the magnesium sulfate, since it relaxes smooth muscles and tends to make you feel like a wet piece of spaghetti, but I think these babes are taking their toll. I'm 40+ weeks in term of size and girth for my pregnancy, even though I'm barely 24. And one nurse estimated I have about 12 pounds of weight in my stomach between the babies, placentas, fluids, etc. I have had some cramping for the first time and slight pains in my stomach, but they aren't showing up on the contraction monitor, so we're assuming it's growing pains. Which makes sense, this is the time the babies really start zooming up the growth chart.

Recently, they moved me rooms just across the hall to a slightly larger space with two windows instead of one and a bit more free area for chairs, furniture, etc. It's nice to not be super crowded. My door has been quite the highlight with all the nurses! Thanks to our friend, Laura, who had that banner made for one of our shower's she and her husband hosted at their home back in February.


I really have a hard time accommodating visitors, even though I'd love to see everyone. There are nurses, techs, consultants and doctors in and out of my room around the clock and sometimes I lay on my bed in the quiet and rest between it all. Having visitors is a bit complicated and the mag IV I'm on doesn't make me the most eager for conversation. Needless to say, I appreciate all the thoughtful offers to come visit and hope folks will hold on to that idea for when the babies come home—we'll need extra hands to hold 'em! In the meantime, encouraging notes, flowers and tidbits truly light up my life here in the hospital. People are so nice!


Here's a view from one of my windows, partially looking out over the zoo. I've yet to spot animals.


This is what I look like most of the time (photo below). I put together a blog post when I feel okay and do a tad bit of work here and there to keep up. The rest of the time I rotate between my left side and my right, watching movies and keeping still. The husband put the TV on a rolling table so it can be switched from one side to the other for my film watching pleasure.


In closing, thanks to everyone for all your wonderfully encouraging blog comments and emails! I've met so many new people the past two weeks through my blog and I really appreciate y'all taking the time to drop a line and introduce yourself—including a couple new quad moms! Next up: a post on how we chose our quad babies' names and a 24 week photo and update...


4.17.2012

{Quad Squad} If I'm being honest...

This quad pregnancy is one of the hardest things I'll ever do in my life.

For 11 years I was a synchronized swimmer and lived by that all-too-familiar athletic motto, "No pain, no gain." Pushing past the hurt, the tired, the injuries and the frustration was just something I could do. I've had to endure some tough situations in my life, learn to be independent, fight for I wanted. There were those days where I felt I couldn't go on any more.

But all of it pales in comparison to this experience. As with any pregnancy, being responsible for growing a life and taking care of yourself for the sake of someone else inside you carries great burdens. You can't just throw yourself around anymore or push yourself to the limits because it could result in dire consequences. With a multiple pregnancy like mine, the effects are only intensified and the self-caretaking starts so much earlier on. It is a huge responsibility to carry and grow four babies and it's not one that comes lightly. Which is why I felt inclined to write this post...

I try really hard to stay positive. If you've been reading my Quad Squad posts, you know that I've said time and again it doesn't do any good to get worked up over things or stress myself out because I have no control over them and it would just strain my body anyway. But that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I told my husband recently that being in this damn hospital must've sprouted the water works. I've shed more tears in here in one week then I have in years!

Not one to cry very often, there are days during this pregnancy where I just have to let it go and bawl my eyes out. Some mornings I wake up and I'm just not sure how I can do another day. While the very next morning, I might wake up and feel so positive about things that I'm ready to conquer it again. I think it's important to feel the bad stuff with the good, because it's reality. And sometimes reality just sucks!

Just days past my 22 week mark, I got admitted to the hospital. In here, I wear four bracelets on my right wrist announcing everything from my lack of drug allergies to my last blood panel. But really I'm just convinced it's so they don't lose me. They put a yellow bracelet on there that reads "fall risk" in case I should decide to go galavanting by the nurse's station. Sweet.

My IV was relocated from my left arm to the back of my left hand and it hurts so bad. I can barely flex my entire hand as it is, and now I have two IVs pumping through my veins, which feel like they're about to explode. I just have to endure it until the end of tomorrow, which is when my weekly two-day sentence of magnesium sulfate ends. (For such an awful medicine, it's really great for the babies and calming contractions.) I'll be rid of the terrible side effects that make you feel like you have the flu complete with full body aches and leaves you feeling off balance and very whoozy. So if some of this post sounds odd to you, well, tough shit—I can't think straight!

This update is literally the biggest thing I'm doing today, the rest of the time I lay and watch TV or movies. Reading a book makes my head spin right now. My right hand is still nearly completely numb and has been since early last week. Doc says it's probably all the extra fluids in my body weighing down on some nerves. I can grab certain things with my hand, but other times it doesn't quite work all the way and starts to hurt. My stomach is getting so big for my stature that it's an immense struggle to get out of bed, much less turn over. The other day I literally got stuck on my back and thank God the husband was around to help me the rest of the way. It's like seeing a turtle flopping around in an overturned shell. Some stuff just ain't pretty, y'all.

And during all this, I have to gaze out my hospital window and wonder what the world is up to. I've been under such extreme circumstances for so many months, that it's starting to play tricks with my head. It becomes harder and harder to ever envision myself as being back to "normal" or feeling like myself again. I know I will, it just seems like that was another lifetime. Even being in the hospital and being pregnant doesn't seem real sometimes. Like I'm here, but this isn't me. It's weird. And I'm constantly wearing a contraction monitor that shows the activity level of my uterus and when it starts going up, I worry that my time may be limited.

I anxiously await each of my weekly ultrasounds to see the babies and know they are okay, and to be sure my cervix is still holding on and not trying to prepare for delivery. Yesterday I had a bit of spotting (light blood), but it stopped quickly and was very minimal. Doc said it was normal but it still gave me a scare. And when the nurse checked the babies' heart rates (they do this daily using a small handheld doppler device), Logan's heart rate plummeted three times while we listened, slowed down and finally picked back up but still sounded irregular. It made my own heart drop. What if something was wrong with her? They checked it twice since and she's been just fine. The doctor say says it's completely normal, sometimes the baby will manage to sit or even squeeze it's own umbilical cord in its hand. When the blood flow slows down, they release it. Like an awful game to give the mom cardiac arrest if she happens to hear it. C'mon, Logan girl, I know you're bored but let's not get that bored, okay!? At the end of the day, a nurse came by to ask if I was okay and I started crying. It just happened—the stress of those two events was enough to trigger the water works again and if I was growing flowers on my bed sheet I'd have a garden.

So you see? It's not all daisies and roses in here and this pregnancy really has been a challenge. But it's amazing what our bodies are capable of taking on and preserving through. I pray every day for God's strength that I can do what it takes to keep these babies growing, and I pray for each of them that they will fight for themselves and each other as we near the final weeks, however many they may be. I am so grateful for all the people who have selflessly spent hours praying for me, the babies and my husband—we are so protected by His angels! And I hope that by keeping things real and sharing both the ups and downs of our quadruplet journey, my husband and I are able to strike inspiration, hope and peace in the lives of others who are dealing with their own challenges. Truly, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger...

4.16.2012

{Quad Squad} A New Week

Things are going well as I write this post—my contractions have definitely slowed down and spaced out and the doc is pretty happy. The after-effects of the contraction medicine I was on is likely to finish wearing off by now, so we're taking precautionary measures and I'm going back on the mag IV for two days starting tomorrow. This is the medicine I had a very difficult time with when I first got here last week, but it's also 100% effective in keeping contractions from happening and helping me stay pregnant longer. So it's worth the struggle. If I know I only have to deal with 48 hours of misery versus an unknown amount of time, I think I'll do a little better powering through. Plus, the nurses are prepared this time to give me some meds to counter the side effects and help things go a little smoother. I'll be 24 weeks this weekend and that's our first big goal! Every week after that will be icing on the cake.

Hospital life is going...well, like hospital life. I try to change clothes every morning and shower everyday (sometimes this is harder than it sounds when you're hooked up to a contraction monitor, IV and leg pumps). Eating the same food from the hospital menu is already getting to be a bore and it's not the best food in the land, but passable. Here's a shot of my breakfast, because I know you were just dying to see what I had!


Hashed browns, hard boiled eggs, Canadian bacon, cranberry juice, cereal and protein powder. The breakfast of champions, right? I have at least three concentrated doses of protein a day, whether it's the powder packet or a protein smoothie or drink. This helps round out my diet and provide enough nutrients for the quad squad that I hope is growing rapidly!


And there's me in all my glory—no makeup and early in the morning, proudly sporting my "Got Quads?" t-shirt. I am doing my best to stay calm and stress-free, because I know it won't do my body any good to get all worked up about things. And as of right now, things are fine so there's no reason to get anxious just yet. Although I'm eager to get to my ultrasound on Wednesday to see all the babies and also find out if my cervix is holding strong. If it's shortened a lot then we may have to take more drastic precautions, and if it's about the same then I'll be hugely relieved.


This is pretty much what I'm trying to do around the clock this week until we reach the 24 week mark. Not that things will change much after that, but it's so important I get these babies to their first point of vitality. So the flat screen my husband brought up here has been a huge life saver since I can now watch DVDs. These help pass the time and they're also one of the few activities I can do while remaining completely still and laying horizontal in bed. Even my computer time is extremely limited, since I can't sit up for very long and I already use some of my "sitting up time" to eat my meals. (Sitting up puts a lot of pressure on my cervix with four babies hanging out in my stomach, and also tends to create more contractions and activity, while laying down keeps these things to a minimum.) The little purple bunny in the photo is a new addition to my room courtesy of that husband I was telling you about. :)


And there he is, my knight in shining armour. This guy has made my life so much more bearable while in the hospital—he's been incredibly thoughtful, supportive and positive from the very beginning. In fact, he's been that way this entire pregnancy and I could have never gotten this far without him. We make a great team and he has truly risen to the occasion on this one. I love him so much and am constantly amazed at the incredible man I married and the guy who's going to be an outstanding father to our kids. 

I hope to continue to have good news this week and into the weekend. Now you know what I'll be doing, so if you have any good action movie recommendations, feel free to share! I love action, blood and gore, ha. Probably not the most ideal choice for being in the hospital, but watching eight million chick flicks would just be too painful, I think. ;)

4.14.2012

{Quad Squad} 23 Weeks + Quad Names Reveal!!!

It's now Day Six of my hospital stay and I'm doing well, feeling great and eating like I just might be pregnant with four little babies, ha. After my last post, we were happy with our new plan and hoping for an uneventful week but just three hours after the doctor left I began contracting frequently. At one point, I had 10 in an hour—that's a lot for someone that needs to be far from delivery right now! And the better we do at controlling and limiting my contractions, the better our odds are of avoiding pre-term labor, which unfortunately can't really be stopped once it starts rolling. It's simply too early to deliver the babies right now, they need to make it a couple more weeks at least. So for now we're aiming for 24 weeks, which is next weekend, then we'll set our sights on the following week, the week after, the week after and so on.

The situation changes so rapidly around the clock that sometimes it's almost hard to keep people informed because we may have gone through three different plans since we last spoke to someone! It's definitely a day-by-day and week-by-week situation, but we've also figured out that by me staying calm and laying down most of the time seems to help my body stay relaxed and keep from contracting as often. My last dose of the Indocin contraction medicine is at noon today (you can only take it for 48 hours about once a week), so we're a little concerned about what will happen when the medication wears off and whether or not my contractions will return. I'm having very, very few right now, which is great. And I'll remain on the Procardia, which is also supposed to help, so you can bet I'll be laying down taking it easy. (Would you believe half of this blog post was written with one hand while lying on my side!?)

On to some exciting news, here's my 23 week photos for which I slapped on a little makeup and even changed clothes just for you guys! Hospital life doesn't call for good looks as part of the deal and when you're on a new medication every other day, beauty concerns can easily go out the window. My face looks really tired in these, no matter how hard I tried.



And now for (drum roll).... 
the BIG NAME REVEAL!!! 
Folks have been asking for awhile now if we had names picked out and we hadn't finalized them until last week. So now we are excited to share the official names for each of our quad babies, in order from Baby A to D (remember Baby C is the boy in the bunch).
So Harrison is our boy and the other three are our feisty little gals. You'll notice they all share the same middle name as a sort of tribute to their life as quadruplets. It's subtle but meaningful to both the husband and I, and we are thrilled to become even more attached to our sweet kiddos now that they each have a name. :)


That's all for now, folks, it's time for me to relax and be still for awhile. It's hard not to get to do much, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes for these babies to stay in as long as possible. The husband is here with me this weekend and I'm loving getting to spend some time with him. He even bought me a 32-inch flat screen and brought it up to my hospital room with our DVD player. Can you believe it!?!? He seriously thinks of everything and has been so thoughtful and diligent in being sure I have things to keep me comfortable and entertained. (The hospital TV is pretty small and doesn't have DVD-capability.) I am truly blessed to have such an incredible husband, he's sort of the unsung hero in all this because he's been balancing a boat load of things just since I got admitted on Monday. And he does it all with a smile, showing up to the hospital every day with an armful of goodies, whether it's a burger or clean clothes or some new movies. It all just makes me realize what a wonderful dad he's going to be. :)

4.12.2012

{Quad Squad} Hospital Life

Well, I'm on Day Four of my long-term hospital stay and thankfully I can report that things are going better now than they have the past couple days. My wonderful doctor is very conservative with our quad pregnancy and is all about preventative measures, so when I came in on Monday he started me on an IV of magnesium sulfate to stop any contractions. I mentioned it briefly in my last post and also about the side affects that come with it—boy, those are no joke. That medicine is rough. Some people tolerate the side effects better than others, but I can not be counted among them. The first initial bad patch was the fluid restriction. Mag can cause your body to retain more fluids than necessary, which can result in major swelling and fluid spilling over into your lungs. So you are restricted to the amount of fluids you can drink and the nurses measures how much you take in and how much you expel to be sure they add up close enough and that you aren't retaining.

The husband and I getting ready to leave for the hospital. I'm 22 weeks here.
I can easily drink four gallons of water a day with this pregnancy, it's been that way since the beginning. I am always thirsty for water. So I went from that to just 1/2 a gallon for a 24-hour period. Not the happy camper was I. It was really hard for me and even affected my ability to eat because my mouth was so dry and I didn't have enough fluid allocation to properly wash down meals if I wanted to be able to have sips of water the rest of the day and through the night. I spent 22 hours on the magnesium before it finally took it's toll. I was trying to nap and suddenly woke up with a really hot face, chest tightness, throat swelling and soreness and dizziness. They took me off the mag, ran a blood panel, did an EKG test on my heart, took my vitals, gave me water and the doctor came to check me out as well. I could barely talk and I was really lethargic. After getting some water in me over the next several hours, I worked up to food and by late night was feeling much better. I got some sleep and woke up like a new person the next day.

"Here we go!"
But I knew we were going to try it all again, because the doctor really wants me to be having no contractions—that means no pre-term labor, which is what we want. So I geared up and gave it my best shot, we cut the dosage in half and started again. This time I only made it six or seven hours before my body started responding badly again with mind-splitting headaches, nausea and vomiting. They stopped the medication, I slowly started drinking more water and took most of the night to recover.

Waving our goodbyes, knowing I won't be home until the quads are born.
This morning, the husband (who was so sweet and slept over with me at the hospital because I was so sick) and I pow-wowed with my doc and came up with a new plan. I'm now back on the Procardia to help keep contractions at bay—it also lowers your blood pressure—and am on a contraction monitor around the clock. About once a week, he plans to give me Indomethacin (get details here) for a 48-hour period to calm any contractions and attempt to keep things docile. I can feel like crap for 48 hours, just not around the clock for weeks at a time! Please say a prayer that this plan works well, as we need at least three more weeks for these babies to grow and mature. I can't believe I hit our first "vitality marker" next week when I turn 24 weeks. Crazy! There's also the concern that my cervix has shortened from 4.4 to 3.6 cm, so we'll be keeping an eye on that as well. It really needs to stay around there and not change much and I'm hoping that this hospital bed rest and limited activity enables that to happen.

*Update: My contractions have increased, so I am now on the Indomethacin for the next 48 hours to see if they can be stopped. If they don't, I'll likely go back on the magnesium sulfate IV.

Yours truly holed up in "hospital jail."
Overall, hospital life stays pretty busy. Nurses take your vitals every few hours, check my contraction monitor, take the babies' heart rates once a day, bring me my medicine, apply my foot pumps (they inflate around my calves to keep blood clots from forming) and so on. Then there's the meal deliveries and random visits from staff members like head nurses, the local chaplain and such. Sometimes there's a knock on my door nearly every 10 minutes and other times it stays quiet for awhile. I'm doing better with sleeping at night as I get used to my surroundings, so hopefully soon I'll be able to take naps as well. I haven't been able to do much the past few days, but now that I'm feeling better I'm getting a little work done and plan to catch up on magazines and the Food Network. I stay fairly exhausted most of the time because of the medicine and, well, the fact that these four babies are now growing faster than ever. I'm hoping by next week I'll have adjusted to the contraction medication and gotten more rest and will be able to start accommodating visitors!

The glamorous hospital life.
A nutritionist met with me this week and thankfully wasn't as concerned with trying to stuff me full of calories I don't have a lot of room for, but rather focusing on foods that counted and giving me a high protein shake and protein powder twice a day. I'm also eating three meals and two small snacks—or attempting to eat that, anyway—each day to ensure I'm getting enough food to fuel the quads.

I can end this post with a good solid bit of news, fortunately. At my ultrasound yesterday, the babies ALL scored an eight out of eight on their biophysical profiles! This takes into account things like their lungs and breathing, hearts, movement, etc. I was definitely one proud momma! The tech said several times that they all looked so good for quads. Now we just  need them to grow, I'll be anxious to find out how much they weigh at our next anatomy scan but that's not for two more weeks I think.

The kiddos move so much and it's so fun to watch them on the screen. At one point, Baby A (the strong little girl at the bottom of the pile that we lovingly refer to as the "gatekeeper" since she's holding everybody in) decided she really needed to relocate a bit. Her lungs started puffing like she was working up to it, then she surged forward, kicking Baby B in the head to accomplish her movement and re-situated in a new spot. And during a recent heart rate check, Baby D (our "trouble maker") must've gotten annoyed. The nurse was searching for her and all the sudden D kicked the doppler square on so hard it made the nurse's hand jump! And of course, Baby C (our boy) moves the most still, and seems to often be kicking and pushing his sisters over to make room. His new thing is to face downward and arch his back, which produces an odd-looking lump on my stomach. So to say their personalities are already forming is a bit of an understatement.

I'll be back with another update over the weekend and our grand baby name reveal! Thanks for reading and for all your wonderful prayers!

4.08.2012

{Quad Squad} 22 Weeks & Admitted

Holy cow, we are only two weeks from our first big goal! Reaching 24 weeks (remember, it's the earliest opportunity the quads have at survival should they be born) hasn't really been as prevalent up to this point because the husband and I were just biding our time with this quadruplet pregnancy—focusing on keeping me rested and off my feet and taking the doctor appointments one week at a time. But all the sudden, it feels like we're in the serious hours now. (Not that any hours of a multiple pregnancy aren't serious. But now it's just getting really, really serious. You know what I mean!)


To kick off this week's update, it now appears I may have swallowed two basketballs instead of one. That will only continue to increase in appearance until I have these kiddos. In addition to my body attempting to accommodate a cargo load much beyond it's originally intended capacity, my ribs are still hurting pretty badly most of the time and I now fear I could be one of those horror stories you hear about where the mom gets cracked ribs due to all the pressure and one ill-timed sneeze. Although last night, I felt the baby at the top of the pile (Baby D) sort of wriggle her way down into my side. How there was room for that I'm not sure, but it did get her out of my rib cage for a bit. Though I'm pretty sure she's back up in there now. And the first baby (Baby A) feels like she's about to sit on my thigh, she is so low in my stomach it's unbelievable. Doc says it's normal, she's gotta go somewhere! But it makes me nervous to feel movement that low, like she's, er, about to walk right outta there. She is what we lovingly refer to as the "gate keeper" meaning she's taking the heat from three other babies stacked on top of her and is holding everybody inside as long as possible. Once the ranks break, we'll be in trouble!


The Procardia I've been taking (a blood pressure lowering medication to help keep me from having too many contractions) still tends to make me feel very dizzy and light headed. The feeling usually passes in an hour or two, but it's not much fun. Things are about to likely take a turn for the worse feeling-wise as I'm getting admitted to the hospital tomorrow and the doctor is going to start me on magnesium sulfate. This is an intravenous medication used to slow uterine contractions and is known for having some less than desirable side effects like blurred vision, muscle weakness and exhaustion, vomiting and nausea. He's planned to put me on a high dose for the first two days to knock out any "movement" in my uterus and stop all contractions (I have a few every few hours but so far they are painless, it's more of a tightening sensation), then he'll lower the dose drastically and hopefully I will not have any side effects moving forward. I'll let ya know what really happens...


But back to the admission part. We knew it was coming and that I could get admitted to the hospital any day now. There's so many reasons that could change my situation and land me in a hospital bed faster than I can say "quadruplets." Fortunately, for me, nothing in my situation has changed at 22 weeks. My cervix is still closed, I'm not having intense contractions and all the babies are doing fine. I figured I wouldn't get admitted until my cervix changed, even just the tiniest bit, because I know I make my doctor nervous "running around" during the week and him having no idea how we're doing until we get back to the office! But he had hinted that around 23 or 24 week he'd likely admit me to keep a close eye on everything and be in a situation where he could treat any complications right away. He said I'd been doing so well thus far, why would we change that? So I didn't argue when he sat down and slowly broke the news to me last week that I'd need to come in Monday morning with a packed bag and ready for "hospital jail." (Although the husband said I did roll my eyes once or twice and looked like I was racking my brain for an excuse not to go... he said it was all very "cute" and he knew I was trying to behave, ha.)


Our doctor is so personable and wonderful and we trust him implicitly as he's led us through this pregnancy so well thus far. And I pray for him each week and I truly feel that God is leading us safely through the pregnancy through our doc. So I did my best to buck up and prepare myself to spend a very extended stay in the hospital beginning tomorrow. Once he'd left the room, I got a little teary-eyed and the husband said he felt really bad for me, but I pulled it together before we left the office and told my doctor that I'd see him on Monday and bah-humbug! 


So ladies and gents, that's where we stand at 22 weeks. Looking good and ready to take over the hospital and be the "talk of the town" with these little quads in my stomach! It's overwhelming a little bit to have already been on bed rest since roughly 17 weeks and now go from that to strict bed rest in a single hospital room. But I intend to make the best of it as possible! I've ordered some new books and movies, I've got a few articles to finish writing over the coming weeks for work, friends promise to come visit and my husband will be up to see me every day when he gets off work. Plus, my mom and step-dad are still in town—they decided to stay a little longer when we got the news I was going into the hospital—and will be spending some time there with me this week to help me get settled in. 

A teeny part of me, though, is ready to go in and let the professionals take care of me. No more worrying about how low my blood pressure is or how many contractions I've had in a day or trying to stay off my feet and not walk around the house or trying to remember the last time I took which medication. All of that will be taken care of! It's exhausting to be pregnant with quadruplets and it's more exhausting to do all the "upkeep" that goes along with it. I know some days will go by quickly and others will creep by slow as ever, so be sure to visit the blog often as I'll be updating from my new post as soon as I'm settled! I'll need lots of encouraging comments! 

I may not be leavin' on a jet plane, but my bags are packed and I'm ready to go...

4.05.2012

{Quad Squad} 10 Things About My Pregnancy with Quadruplets

Everyone has been so great about delightfully commenting on my "Quad Squad" posts—I'm surprised you're not all sick of hearing about baby- and pregnancy-related stuff yet! I looked back over my blog for the past several months and that's all it's been. Of course, it's definitely been my number one focus and quite prevalent where my day-to-day activities are concerned (or lack of activities, I guess, being on bed rest). And so since I'm still pregnant with quadruplets and folks have seemed to enjoy my sharing of both relevant and non-relevant information, I decided to jot down 10 random things you really probably don't need to know about being pregnant with quads. Here goes...

"Why hello feet! I'm so glad to see you."

1. I can now spell the word "quadruplet" forwards and backwards. I've also developed other nicknames you may have read, like quad squad, quadlets and quadlings.

2. There's nothing more incredibly weird than having four little babies start squirming and kicking in your stomach while you're trying to, um, tend to business in the bathroom. Dude, it's strange and I don't even care if that's TMI. Aren't we past that, by now?

3. I have spent the better part of many hours trying to figure out how we'll accommodate three teenage girls in our house (since we're having three girls and a boy, little man gets his own room, naturally). They won't be able to have their own rooms, but do 16-year-old girls really want to sleep in bunk beds?

4. Thanks to some fellow moms of multiples, we've ascertained that we'll plow through roughly 400 diapers per week. That's 1,600 diapers a month, y'all!

5. I never realized how convenient it is to be able to bend in half, bend over, bend backward...basically there is no more bending of anything these days. My stomach has gotten big enough that I can't even rotate my mid-section. Turning around requires I rotate my entire body 180 degrees. You could totally sneak up on me from behind.

6. I think my anxiousness is rising with each passing week as we get closer to the end goal, and sometimes it seems to slightly overrun my excitement about actually having quads. So I'm trying to focus more on the positive and the amazing end result—four babies!

7. Only I would reference the length of my cervix and eating a double cheeseburger in the same sentence, as per one of my recent status updates on Facebook.

8. Every day—and sometimes twice a day—I lather my stomach in Bath & Body Work's True Blue Shea Butter Super Rich Body Cream. It literally takes several hours to completely absorb, it's so thick. I joke that if someone were chasing me, they'd be able to overtake me pretty quick but they couldn't catch me, I'm slippery slip!

9. Having multiples, hell just being pregnant, has been a huge lesson in humility for me. I am very independant and strong-willed and that has occasionally made it difficult for me to slow down, stick to bed rest and even accept assistance from others. But it has also made me understand the difference between those who pity you and those who truly want to help; it has helped me learn to be patient and to be enormously grateful for all the incredible people in my life; and it will inevitably make me even more thankful for when I'm post-pregnancy and able to "move" again and appreciate all my little freedoms.

10. I have accepted the fact that seeing my feet, among other things, is a rare luxury.

4.03.2012

{Quad Squad} 21.5 Week Update

Today's anatomy scan appointment was the best one of the bunch so far! It all went very smoothly and they took measurements and weighed each baby. They all measured in the 40-50 percentile range for average growth and development at this stage—a great percentage that we'll happily take with quadruplets!—and they had all gained half a pound or more.

Current weights at 21.5 weeks:
Baby A - 15 oz.
Baby B - 14 oz.
Baby C (boy) - 1 lb. 2 oz.
Baby D - 15 oz.

As you can see, Little Man has to outdo his sisters already! We are very pleased with their current weights and development and look forward to getting another update three weeks from now. Until then, I'll try to dutifully down my two Ensure every day (blech!) and keep eating as much as I can possibly squeeze in. Meals and frequent snacks are all still tricky since I often still feel so full or just have so much pressure and stretching in my stomach.

The even better news is that my cervix is still completely closed—meaning my body is showing no indications of trying to force labor on itself, basically—and even lengthened from 4.4 cm to just over 5 cm. Granted, this can so quickly change and go in reverse but I'll take longer versus shorter any day!

And for the highlight of this post, we got some great 4D photos—including some beautiful little profile shots of a couple of the babies that would cooperate and face the right way. Love it! They are little people in there already. :)









Stay tuned for my 22 week photo, new belly pics and a 22 week update later this week!

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