Saturday, February 23, 2013

34 Weeks

I feel like we've reached a big milestone! Weeks and weeks ago my doctor told me, "Just get to 34 weeks." If the babies were born at this point, they would most likely be fine to come home with me. So now I'm all like, "Okay, come out babies." Generally I'm 100% for waiting until your body and your baby (babies) decide to birth. I know that due dates are really just guess dates. I've been really encouraged lately by a couple of mamas who chose to go 41 and 42 weeks with their babies. Yep, that's my position on birth...just let it happen as it will!

It's hard to keep that in mind though when you get to this point, however. Days aren't so bad; nights are. Doesn't it always seem that way, though? Sickness, loneliness, whatever. It's always worse at night. All day I feel resolved; some nights I accidentally break down and cry. It's truly not THAT bad but there is a culmination of little things that wears me down. 

First of all, a couple of weeks ago I developed this little lump on the bottom on my stomach. At first I thought it was a baby part (bottom?) sticking out but it didn't move and it was tender. I searched and searched the internet for pictures of pregnant tummies that resembled mine but couldn't find any. At this week's doctor's appointment, I learned that I simply have pitting edema. On my stomach. Yes, my stomach is so heavy and my skin so stretched out that I have started to swell and a big fluid pocket has developed. And there's really nothing I can do about it. If your feet swell, you prop up awhile and feel better. Not so easy to prop your gigantic tummy up though! So, just in case there are other mamas out there searching for answers instead of calling their doctor (you know, like I always do) here are some really yucky pictures of my red, swollen belly. 

See the part that hangs down over my pants? That would be edema. Wanta see a closeup? Well, okay.

My stretch marks are red and itchy and kind of huge. Despite slathering myself in lotion twice a day, I'm still really itchy. Last night I took an oatmeal bath which seemed to help. The kids thought it was really something to see their mama in the bathtub! Jathan, Ryland, and Piper had to all come in and have a look at me and my "turkey" as Jackie so lovingly calls my stomach. I didn't care because he sat beside the tub and basted that big white turkey with my oatmeal water for about an hour, ha ha. I have some coconut oil that I think I'm going to try tonight. Anyone know any other itchy skin remedies?

So, problem challenge number 2 involves the sheer weight of my stomach. I've gained about 45 pounds so far, I think. Some of that is blood volume which can increase up to 50% than before you're pregnant (or more with multiples). My extra blood might weigh somewhere between 4 and 8 pounds. Some of that is chocolate consumption. Let's not think about how much that weights. But a whole heck of a lot of it seems to be just belly. Each baby weighs approximately 5 pounds. Each placenta weighs approximately 1-2 pounds. Each sack of amniotic fluid weighs about 2 pounds. And my uterus weighs around 2 pounds. So, not counting my edema, my stomach might weigh about 18 pounds more than usual. And guess what? That makes it VERY difficult to move in bed. I have been picking my stomach up to turn over for a while now but lately it's even getting hard to do that! It's crazy. I absolutely cannot imagine how moms of triples or more feel. 

Challenge number 3? Clothing. My doctor actually laughed when I mentioned to her that I have no idea what I'm going to wear over the next few weeks but I was totally serious! What exactly are you supposed to wear when maternity clothes get too small? I can't stand for pants to touch my stomach, so I've been in love with leggings lately but not many shirts cover my stomach! I've gotten out some of my flow-ier summer dresses and I'll guess I'll pair them with jackets when necessary. Around the house I'm just wearing Jackie's shirts. Yeah, just shirts. So if you knock on my door, give me a few minutes to answer because that means I'm scrambling to put on pants, lol!

Other than all that, I'm doing well! My doctor's appointment was last Wednesday when I was officially 34 weeks pregnant. There was no sign of pre-eclampsia which is a huge blessing! I was not dilated at all although my cervix is super soft and the doctor said she could make me 1 centimeter if she wanted. Both babies are now breech (well Baby A is sort of transverse but her bottom is curving downward toward my left hip). Baby B seems to be beginning to engage so I'm losing hope that they will turn allowing me a vaginal birth. I have a chiropractic appointment on Monday to ensure that I am properly aligned. I've been spending time allowing my belly to be a hammock. Who knows, it's definitely not too late! So if there are any praying people reading this, say a quick one for me that the babies (or at least the presenting twin) will turn head down before birthing time. 

Speaking of birthing time, my doctor advised me that at my next ultrasound, should the babies still be breech, the perinatologist will advise her to deliver between 37 and 38 weeks. She said I could choose a date to schedule a c-section the week of the 11th or the 18th. I'm very torn about what to do. As I've said before, homebirth is not an option for me right now. I also do not want to attempt to switch to a doctor who will attempt breech births at this point. Part of me really just wants to get this over with, be done with the discomfort! I'm confident that the babies would be fine and, really, a c-section isn't ideal but it isn't the end of the world. But another part of me knows scheduling a c-section at 37 weeks would be purely selfish. Some people would say justifiable. Not many people I know would blame me. Lots of people probably would think I would be crazier for waiting. Right now it just doesn't feel right though. I'm spending time in prayer. Wondering why. Searching for peace. Wishing someone or something would take the choice away from me, either way. Sigh. They say ignorance is bliss; I guess that's why I'm so miserable. I know too much. I think too much. I can't decide if my convictions are being tested or if I'm being asked to change them for a good reason. Ever been there? 

On a lighter note, I'm being treated to a baby shower today! This will be my first "real" baby shower. I had one with Jathan but I didn't get to have it until after he was born so I don't really count it. I'm excited to just get to have the experience especially given the fact that these are my 5th and 6th children! I'm so thankful for my sweet neighbor who volunteered to do this for me. = )

Thursday, February 14, 2013

33 Weeks

33 weeks, wow! That suddenly seems like a lot of weeks behind me and not many left in front of me especially considering that this is the gestational week that Jathan was born during! Also on my mind is the fact that my doctor said anytime after 34 weeks is usually great for twins to be born. To be born! As in, outside of my body and being cared for individually by me. Eeek!

I waffle back and forth between being so, so ready and wanting to hold on as long as possible. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, they are quite heavy. No, I don't have many clothes that fit anymore and I can barely put on my own shoes. No, I'm not getting much sleep. But. What if these are my last babies? Never take your fertility and your family for granted. You never know when God will only choose to bless you with different kinds of miracles from now on. I want to cherish each little movement and protect them with all that I have for as long as I can. I don't want to rush them into the big world; I want to cradle them inside their first world--right next to my heart where they are warm and safe and love is all they know, comfort all they feel. I will keep going for you, babies, until you are ready.

I'm realizing, however, that part of keeping going has got to be sitting down. Twice over the last week or so I've over done it and totally crashed and burned the next day. I didn't put it together at first but after experiencing the same symptoms twice after REALLY busy days, it finally dawned on me that I was suffering from exhaustion. Not as in, wow, I'm really tired but as in my body throwing me down on the floor and saying, "CUT IT OUT OR I QUIT." I  seriously had bizarre chills and aches and a low grade fever all of which led to lots and lot of contractions which became regular. It took tons of rest, hot showers, and a whole lotta hydrating to feel better each time. Duly noted, body. 

Other than feeling like death warmed over those two instances, things have been great! Keeleigh helped me set up the nursery corner of my room a couple of days ago. Bedding is in place, clothing is washed, changing table is set. When I add a few finishing touches, I'll post pictures for all to see! 

Next Wednesday is my next doctor's appointment at which I will be 34 weeks (holy cow!). The doctor will do an ultrasound to check the babies' position. Honestly, I don't think anything has changed. I have this weird lumpy spot low on my stomach that I'm pretty sure is Baby B's behind. At least I'm kind of hoping it is, otherwise I have no clue what it is! I feel movement all around from kicks and punches above my belly button (but well below my ribs, thank goodness) to hiccups on my hips. It's so hard to tell where they are in there! I am still not thrilled with the prospect of a c-section but am at peace with it. I know that it might not be 100% necessary as women deliver breech babies and twins in all sorts of positions every day but it just isn't for me to do since my doctor won't and home birth is not an option. Still, keep us in your prayers. God knows the desires of my heart and I trust Him with them. 

Isaiah 41:10 has been a huge help to me lately. I wish I would utilize it's truth more often. It says, "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Love it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

32 Weeks

A few weeks ago I was dreading the every 2-week and eventually every week doctor visits, but this week I was looking forward to it. I am growing closer and closer to my due date and, being in the third trimester now, am experiencing different things. My feet are sometimes swollen in the evening which is worrisome for a former pre-eclampsia patient but the doctor said that's normal especially when simply sitting upright at the dinner table cuts off the blood supply to my legs because my stomach is pressing down on them! I also am experiencing more frequent and more intense Braxton Hicks contractions. But after a check yesterday, I now know that I am not dilated at all so they are indeed "fake" contractions. It's comforting to have a little confirmation that everything is going remarkably well and that everything I'm feeling is normal, because although this is my fifth pregnancy, I don't have a lot of experience with normal.

I also had my monthly ultrasound on Tuesday. The babies are doing well and GROWING! Their estimated weights are now 4 pounds, 6 ounces for Baby A and 4 pounds, 9 ounces for Baby B. That means they are above average and already weigh almost as much as Jathan did when he was born! I suppose he will continue to hold the spot as smallest baby in our family.

I was disappointed to find that the babies are not in great positions as far as birthing goes. Baby A was transverse with her head on the left side of my stomach and her feet near the right side of my stomach kicking her breech sister in the head. Of course they do still have time and space to flip into better positions! In the meantime their weird positions are a help in keeping them in there longer since there are no heads bearing down dilating my cervix. I am planning a trip to the chiropractor, however, and am doing pelvic tilts and spending time on all fours each day to see if that helps. I go back to the doctor in two more weeks so I'll let you know!