This spring, Janine donated her body to science in the quest for a baby. Science didn't let her down! She is now pregnant with fraternal twins, due at the beginning of February. This should be an interesting journey!
This is the first picture taken of the babies. They had been fertilized 5 days earlier. This picture was taken on the day that they were placed into my welcoming womb in Pasadena. They were top-quality (grade 1) fully-expanded blastocysts, ready to burrow into my lining. Aren't they cute?
After a fairly miserable first trimester, I'm happily ensconced in the second trimester. The food aversions are gone and my energy is back just in time to assist me in lugging around my huge belly. Gisele is rather underwhelmed by the prospect of two little brothers, but it's probably hard for her to comprehend it all. Nels is quite excited to get some relief from the world of fairies and Disney Princesses, but we're both a little leery about two little wild things tearing our house apart.
The medical side of things is going well thus far. I've had ultrasounds every two weeks, high tech blood tests, and now the "big" ultrasound. The ultrasound technician immediately confessed that when he saw that he had a twin patient, he was dreading the appointment. But the babies were so well behaved that he quickly changed his tune and said "I love these babies". They are definitely boys, and everything looks good with them so far. Hip hip hooray! Mama just needs to keep stuffing her face. I'm supposed to gain 45-50 pounds this pregnancy, and I'm on my way. So far I've gained about 22 pounds, and already my belly is huge. I don't think that I can elude stretch marks this time. We're expecting our bundles at the end of January or so.
This week started off with a bang when we were evacuated from our humble home on Monday morning due to the out of control fires nearby. We drove down to Bonita to stay with Nana and Papi Gillot. We spent the next 3 days inside to avoid the smokey air and 90 degree temperatures. Ah, autumn in San Diego. There were no complaints from the babies about the food I consumed-- Nana kept us supplied with chocolate, pie, cookies, homemade french fries, etc.
In related news, Nels was a little shocked to see that I now weigh 10 pounds more than he does. I'm supposed to gain 24 pounds by week 24, and as of week 23 I've gained 30! I'm very proud of this achievement. At my 22 week appointment my uterus was measuring 29 weeks. The babies are probably over a pound each. I know that they're growing because I can feel them more than ever bumping around inside. I can't really tell which baby is moving, though. One is lying sideways across the top of my uterus, and the other is below, in a breech position. Their heads are next to each other, which is kind of cute.
As expected (by me), I've been told by my doctors to slow way down to moderate bedrest levels. My cervix, which was strong enough to handle a 9 pound Gisele, is starting to change too soon. It has shortened a bit and is beginning to "beak". So if I can mange to lie down more often, it will take the weight off my cervix and slow down the changes. I'm measuring the same size as a 34 week singleton pregnancy, so my body may be confused. Besides being confused, it's also pretty sore. At night my hips ache unless I put a pillow between my legs and during the day my abdomen is stiff and sore. But the changes are still fun in spite of the discomfort they bring. And I have to admit that Nels is waiting on me hand and foot. His new duties are the laundry and dishes, and whatever else I can worm out of him.
The babies themselves are doing great. One is in the 53rd percentile for weight and the other is in the 57th. They are about 2 pounds now, and move almost all the time. Here's a blurb about 26th week development: "Your baby measures about 9.2 inches from crown to rump and weighs almost 2 pounds now. Its hearing is fully developed. As the fetus reacts to sounds, its pulse increases. Your baby will even move in rhythm to music. Lungs are still growing but are not yet mature. Patterns of your baby's brain waves appear like a full-term newborn. It also has patterns of sleeping and waking."
There have been some troubling developments recently. The Monday before Thanksgiving I had my normal check-up and the doctor found that my cervix had once again shortened, and that I was contracting. So nana Gillot came to get Gisele (who by this time was bored with my extended appointment and was watching the activity in the hallway), and I was admitted to the hospital for pre-term labor. First, I was given magnesium sulfate through an IV to stop the contractions, then I was given a steroid shot to develop the babies' lungs should they need to be delivered early. The magnesium is a muscle relaxant and besides relaxing my uterus, it made my legs rather wobbly. But who needs legs when you're on bedrest? Magnesium also makes you very thirsty, but ironically, the mean nurses limit your drinking water to 5 coffe cups per 24 hours. Additional fluids come through the IV, but not enough to slake thirst. I was held at the jail, I mean, hospital until Friday morning. Now I'm home on strict bedrest and I found out that Gisele doesn't seem to miss me much when I'm not around. She came to visit me once, but declined to on the other days.
Now I'm home, living the life of a queen termite. I mostly lie around and am tended to by Nels and Gisele. Nels also does all chores, cooking, and shopping. He even returns home from work at lunchtime to take Gisele to preschool. Nana drives up after work to pick Gisele up from school. Annick has been cooking us meals so that we don't have to always eat frozen food. Once I make it to 32 weeks, it will be quite safe for the babies to be born, but 36 weeks would be ideal.
My appointment yesterday showed that bedrest is working and that my cervix is stable. I have lost 5 pounds in the past week and a half, so I need to try to eat more to make up for the terrible hospital food. Once, the afternoon snack they sent to me was a packet with 2 saltine crackers! But the babies are still big for their ages; over 3 pounds each, and they move a lot. They are both transverse, which means that they're lying across my stomach. They are opposite to each other, so I worry that they're kicking each other in the head all the time. If one doesn't turn down, it will be a definite c-section for me.
I'll tell you what else can go wrong: mama's glucose levels. So now I might have gestational diabetes on top of the over-active uterus and wimpy cervix. I finally made time to take the 3 hour glucose test, and to my surprise, failed it! Now I have a diabetes test kit to test my blood after meals, and if my glucose levels look bad I'll have to take insulin pills. Twins bring all sorts of complications with them. On the bright side, my cervix hasn't changed in about a month, so the bed rest and pills to stop contractions are working. It looks like I'll be home for Christmas and not in the hospital. Whew!
The babies themselves are still doing very well. The pictures above are of each of their faces, which have a less skeletal look than in earlier ultrasounds. This is due to their thicker fat layers. I had a growth ultrasound at 30 weeks and they were each about 4 pounds, which is large for their age. No wonder my tummy is really taking off these days. My OB measured my uterus to be the size of a 39 weeks pregnant uterus (39 weeks pregnant with one baby, that is). It takes a lot of effort to get up from the couch or floor these days because I'm so heavy and I'm getting weaker from bed rest. I get tired from standing for more than a few minutes! But since I'm not supposed to stand up much it's not a problem.
The chances for a vaginal birth look pretty slim. Both babies continue to lie in transverse positions, and for a vaginal birth the bottom baby has to be head down. But there is still time, although it becomes harder for them to change positions as the grow. So the doctor says that she'll schedule me for a c-section around 37-38 weeks, which would be the last week of January. I hope not to go longer than 37 weeks, though.
Stretch mark watch: none yet!
I had my second stint at the hospital at 33 weeks when I started contracting too much. I was very reluctant to go get checked out because my November time at Zion hospital was not fun at all, but when I talked to the nurse about my contractions, she insisted. So they gave me magnesium again to stop the contractions, and it worked very well. My cervix was dilated to 2cm and I was 75% effaced, so the doctor said that if I was released I'd have to come in right away if I had too many contractions because there wasn't much cervix left. Now that I'm 34 weeks they won't stop labor if it comes on.
I think I make a whiny patient, though. I didn't recognize it until my roommate joined me a day into my 4 day hospital stay. With just a sheet between us I heard all about her breast cancer and chemo treatments that started months into her pregnancy. I heard about the plans to take her baby out at 33.5 weeks so that they could give her more heavy-duty chemo, and I heard her mention that her husband had just been laid off. While I complained about the spartan diabetic food I received, she told her parents that she felt like she was at a hotel with room service. She sounded sunny and upbeat while I battled with the nurses to remove my un-used IV. I also drank much more water than I was allowed.
Week 34 has been much more pleasant. Nels and I went to a growth ultrasound a couple of days ago. The babies are both still measuring large for their age. One was 5 pounds 12 oz., and the other was 5 pounds 15 oz. Maybe they'll make it to 7 pounds! My doctor has decided to keep me on Procardia (anti-contraction medicine) for another week. So I'll stop it at 36 weeks, which is January 19th. But I don't know how soon I'll go into labor after that.
Gisele has been cropped out of the picture above because she is self-conscious of the injuries that she sustained while I was in the hospital. According to Nels (the sole witness), she propelled herself off of the bed and hit her forehead on a bookcase. There's a purple lump on her forehead and she has two black eyes. No one wants to take her out in public anymore.
Stretch mark watch: Yes! no more skimpy bikinis for me
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