Friday, July 31, 2015

Life Snapshots

Pop pacy in. Stroke down the bridge of his nose. Presto! Eyes start to roll.

Sometimes I have superpowers.


Cora complains, "Momma, I'm boring!"

"Yes, yes you are."

Oops, too much snark.


Mac sits at his desk and draws.  Our playground - and it's recognizable!  A police car - and it's recognizable!  Fourteen pages of policemen chasing bad guy bank robbers swiftly follow.

My ream of paper is going fast.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Party of Five

We became a "party of five" on June 3.

Augustine John, "Augie", was born at 3:22 in the afternoon, exactly one week after his due date.  He shocked us all by being 9 lbs 9 oz and 21.75 inches long.  And so we repacked all the newborn baby clothes and went straight to 0-3 months.

The twins are absolutely in love and will spend many long minutes just watching Augie's sleeping facial expressions. 

A birth story will be forthcoming.  I had been getting some notes from people, wondering....  We are alive.  We are well.  We are now a "party of five". 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Violet is....

Still not here yet.  :-)

Did I trick you?  Lure you in, expecting a gender reveal or birth announcement?  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I've had to ban myself from reading labor symptoms online.  All these lists come with the caveat that such and such symptom could be a sign of impending labor.  Or not.

And in my case, symptoms are there. But not active labor.

The "worst" symptom so far is the inner thigh cramps that often accompany contractions.  Thank goodness only one leg is affected.  I almost fall over when I have these contractions each evening.

Monday, June 1, I will have my first dilation check plus a more "vigorous" check to possibly help get things going.  I've been turning down the dilation exams so far as I know they don't really signal too much.

If Monday's OB appointment doesn't get things going, then we will start some sort of induction on Wednesday.  I'll be 41 weeks then.   (!!!)

All this waiting and I still haven't packed my hospital bag. We live only about seven minutes away from the hospital and I have been procrastinating.  I do have a stack of things on the side of my dresser, so I guess that sort of counts?

I'll keep you posted!

PS.  I've asked this on Facebook but want to ask here as well. Do you have any prayer requests I can offer up during labor?  You can post a comment or email me. Or just say "a personal intention" if it's a private matter.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Signs

I am quite pregnant.  Though I haven't gained any weight myself in the last month, the baby clearly has.   That belly of mine.  Whew.

Side note: the perinatologist estimated Violet at over 9 pounds last Tuesday.  I am very skeptical, but we'll see who has the last laugh.

My due date is five days away. I have surpassed the point when the twins were induced. And when the twins were actually born (two days later).

I'm beginning to recognize some reoccuring signs of being pretty much full term.

1.  I have to preface any family phone call with "I'm not in labor".

2.  Anytime there is trash on the floor I just stare at it, debating.  Can I pick it up with my toes?  Is there a chance the kids will notice it and pick it up for me?  If I stare at it long enough, will I develop telekinetic powers and make the trash throw itself away?

3.  Pregnancy brain has seriously kicked in.  Case in point: it took me three tries to hang my front door wreath.  With a sticky hook.  My first attempt was about belly button level.  And yet I stared at it for a while, wondering if there was any chance it was passable.

In re-reading the above bullets, it appears I do a lot of staring and contemplating these days, wondering just how much lower my expectations can go...

All craziness aside, we can't wait to meet you, Violet!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

An ordinary snapshot

My lifeguard stand is the rocker in my bedroom, a safe distance from the flurry of splashes.

I know how long I last in a warm bath. And I know the twins passed that marker minutes ago.

Fingers are undoubtedly wrinkled prunes. My bathroom floor is sopping wet.

I didn't move the bath mat far enough away.

And yet they play on, giggling and splashing.  Octonauts, sea creatures, goggles, and dive toys.  Swim suit bottoms.  

Such an enormous treat, swimming in Momma's big tub.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Comparisons and Predictions

I am 36 weeks exactly.  My bump is big.  My shirts generally don't fit.  Because my shirts don't fit, I wear a lot more dresses which require me to shave more often.  Which, in turn, requires its own sort of creative physical contortions.

On the bright side, per yesterday's OB and MFM visits, all restrictions are lifted.  I show normal signs of labor for this stage:  baby is head down but not engaged (and no dilation).  I can do what I want comfortably.  Saturday's family mud run?  Bring it on!  Actually, I'll just be there on the sidelines - I'm not throwing all caution to the wind.  :-)

Yes, Violet, you were born after Momma jumped in a mud pit and couldn't get out.  After Herculean strength on Daddy's part, he hauled Momma out only to find her succumbing to intense contractions.  And a small crowd gathered as you were born in a muddy park one spring day, a far cry different from your siblings' 36 hour sterile hospital delivery.

Umm, no thanks.

Based on the picture below, I think I should henceforth be renamed "She Who Swallowed a Basketball":

For contrast, here's a picture of me pregnant with the twins at almost exactly the same point (36w6D).  My belly might protrude just as far, but I am carrying more of a watermelon shape, from hips all the way to chest.
Since I'm in the home stretch, I figure it's time to take gender and dating predictions.  And for the most accurate guess, I suppose I could come up with some sort of prize?  Maybe a gift card to be mailed?  I'll accept a vote either here on the blog or on facebook (I know I'll link to this on good ole FB).
To recap, Violet is now an estimated 6 lbs 10 oz and has consistently been well above the 50th percentile for size.  My official due date is May 27.  And so far my OB and I do not have an induction date in mind.
Old Wife's Tales
1.  I'm carrying low - this means BOY
2.  Heartbeat is often below 140 - this means BOY
3. Craving sweet or salty? - No cravings.  However, if we get technical, I like an occasional root beer float and love my dark chocolate (something that preceded this pregnancy) - this might mean GIRL
4.  Face breaking out? - Not really.  This means BOY (girls supposedly "steal your beauty" - weird!)
5. Queasiness levels - more queasy this pregnancy than with twins - this means GIRL.
6.  Belly is basketball or watermelon shaped? - basketball means BOY
End tally:  BOY - 4 votes               GIRL - 2 votes
So, tell me.  What do you think?  Boy or girl?  Birth date??

Friday, April 3, 2015

32 weeks and change

32 Weeks.

I've been mentally tabulating a list of things to say about this point in pregnancy but have rarely been close enough to the computer to actually transcribe anything.

I have gained about 25 pounds so far and am carrying Violet drastically differently than I carried the twins.  Two pieces of evidence on that:  1. My maternity tanks that I wore constantly at the end of my twin pregnancy don't even cover my belly.  2.  (Female note coming - males, consider yourselves warned) my bra size is completely different this time too.  Twin pregnancy - up one band size and one cup size.  This pregnancy - no band change but up two cup sizes.

All this goes to show that this baby is LOW.  Basically, you could shove a personal watermelon under the bottom of your shirt and do a good impression of me. Until next week, when we'd need to upsize the fruit to something larger.

Violet looks great via ultrasound!  If the perinatalogist's estimates are correct, then she might even be five pounds today.  She was 4lbs12oz Tuesday. Based on the last growth estimate three weeks prior, she appears to be gaining about a half a pound a week now.

This singleton pregnancy has been so much more painful than the twins.  I don't know if  it's the matter of swimming solo or if she just has extra bony knees and elbows, but this baby can take my breath away with her forceful judo chops and kicks.

I am officially a "normal" patient at my perinatologist again! After six weeks of weekly cervical checks, it appears I am now out of the danger zone. We're decreasing from weekly ultrasounds to periodic growth scans. I actually get a four week breather on perinatal appointments!

I may have done a little online shopping.  Or perhaps, a lot, considering what I actually needed to buy. I did realize that though I didn't need to fully replace crib bedding, I wanted to. And we could afford to do so (at least, I shopped online at much more frugal stores this time - no more Pottery Barn Kids).  Oh, the dangers of Amazon Prime!  And I got good deals so that counts for something, right? :-)

Overall, I have a lot of reasons to celebrate.  Violet is healthy and growing very well. My doctor visit schedule for April is one third of what it was in March.  And there's an amazing breeze blowing through the living room as I rest on the couch and type in solitude.  (Kids are outside somewhere with Bryan.)

Today is a blessing.

PS.  The first two pictures go to show that clothes do indeed make a difference.  I look less voluminous in the more fitted shirt even though that's the more recent picture.  Picture three shows a "new garment" I've been wearing frequently upon my OB's suggestion - a maternity support belt.  My amniotic fluid levels have been fluctuating a lot (causing me some pain).  OB figured the belt was worth a try.  It's ehhh.  Sort of helps, sort of is just really uncomfortable as we approach hot weather.  It is helpful when I stand though and helps me with transitioning from sitting to standing or reclining or whatever.  So, I keep trying...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Love

1.  Violet weighed in at an estimated 3 lbs 3 oz at my 29 week MFM appointment.  I'm 30 weeks now. It's amazing how the love one feels towards a child is not proportionate to the size of the child.  It just grows and grows and is seemingly limitless.

2.  Salsa love.  Bryan doesn't like the type of salsa I'd been buying. Since I'm grounded from grocery shopping (due to health, not poor behavior), Bryan's had the honor of buying groceries.  I wrote "salsa" on the list thinking he'd be pleased to finally buy a flavor he liked. Instead he came home with the exact same thing we had before (that he didn't like) because he knew I liked it.

3.  My friends threw a surprise little baby shower for me.  And I really was totally surprised!   Plus, I got to take home all the child-decorated onesies for Violet.  :-)

4.  Bryan folded the laundry on his day off. This was no meager feat.  While I'm keeping up with washing and drying clothes, we had a week's worth of clean clothes sitting in our room.  He folded all of it. And I didn't even notice at first!  Sometimes my powers of observation are a bit suspect.

5.  Kids are slightly more than half way through the March madness of doctor visits.  And they're troopers! We have a bag of special doctor office treats (coloring books, stickers, tootsie pops for rewards, etc.) and so far, it's helped tide off the boredom of waiting.

6.  Somehow the twins had never seen a puppet show until this past week. Their reactions to the library's production were absolutely priceless.

7.  Bryan voluntarily took the kids hiking last week.  They brought me back some large feathers. And graciously left behind the small mammal vetebrae.

8.  Since Monday I've been having a lot of contractions.  Per my Tuesday MFM appt, these are just Braxton Hicks contractions.  I am so thankful for all the people, family, friends, and especially Bryan, who have stepped up and offered even more help.  Or at least check in to make sure I'm resting and hydrating like I'm supposed to do.

Pictures will be coming soon, both of the bump and of Violet.  In the meanwhile, know we are both growing. :-)

Many thanks for the continued prayers!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

House Arrest

My plans for the month of March drastically changed last Wednesday.  We had an "ice day" here Tuesday and my scheduled MFM (maternal fetal medicine) appointment was moved to their home office on Wednesday.  I went into the appointment expecting that I'd be put on restricted activity. And I was right.

I officially have an "incompetent cervix", a broad term to describe any cervix that is being contrary.  And mine is being contrary. It should measure an average of 3.5 to 4 cm in length in the 24-28 week range of pregnancy.  At 25w6d, I measured a 2. And then at 27 weeks, I measured about a 1.6.  I had the same issues when I was pregnant with the twins and measured around a 1.5 at 28 weeks with them.  (Basically all this just means I'm at a higher risk factor for pre-term delivery.)

So, restricted activity aka house arrest.  Studies are not conclusive that bed rest will do anything to successfully delay labor.  However, perinatologists are a cautious sort by nature.  My current protocol is to limit standing and activity; the couch is to be my best friend.

The month of March now has nine doctor appointments lined up: five MFM, three OB, and one dentist. Can't neglect those pearly whites.  However, no more grocery shopping for me, no shopping really of any kind. Limited outings all together unless I can rest.  Housework is restricted to easy meal prep and occasionally throwing laundry in the direction of the washer.

Thanks to Christmas gift money, a cleaning service is starting this Friday. I am so excited about this! Well, other than the fact that the kids, dog, and I will have to hibernate in place during each biweekly cleaning session...

We're about a week into house arrest and already I am bored.  Pinterest is not really my friend.  Crafts are a great idea for the kids, except that involves prolonged sitting. And prep work.  And then clean up.   Or I find delicious recipes on Pinterest that demand more prep work than I can give. Or appeal only to me.  I seem to be pinning a lot of avocado recipes lately and you know Bryan could care less about those. I even pinned a Brussels sprouts recipe - what has happened to me?!  Must be delusional in my couch-ridden state.

On nice weather days, I can send the kids to the back yard and try to ignore the grass/dirt tracked in by them and the dog.  But even Texas has been having some less desirable weather lately and we're all stuck inside together. Legos and coloring books and and puzzles and Go Fish and Magic Treehouse books and blanket forts occupy our time. But that repertoire is becoming limited already.

I think we might just start doing a little bit more homeschooling. We need a bit more scripted activity during the day but it has to be things that can be accomplished with minimal physical output.  For me.    In the meanwhile, I've got to get these kids to burn off some more energy!  Hmm, maybe I'll take up old people chair aerobics? The kids can do those with me.

I don't want to come across as whining or griping. I really do have so much to be thankful for!

I am thankful my doctors are watching over me. I may think they are over cautious (for example, I already received the steroid shots that strengthen baby's lungs in the event of an early delivery), but they know the best  possible growing environment for Violet right now is on the inside.   And they'll do what they can to keep her womb-bound for as long as possible.

I am grateful my husband is in town and can do the grocery shopping (no online delivery service around here).

I am thrilled my doctors allow me to bring the kids in tow (other than the dentist).  Finding this much childcare would be not fun.

I am ecstatic about today's technology:  Facebook, Pinterest, kindle, blogger, amazon... I can take care of a lot of needs online, both physical and mental.

And I am truly blown away by Violet's growth.  She is beautiful and growing at or ahead of schedule.  She also currently has the hiccups.

Thank you all for your prayers.  I have felt comforted and calmed.  Please continue to pray that we have a good while longer before we meet Violet face to face and that we all survive the interim.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prayer request

I struggle with fear.  One particular fear of mine this pregnancy has been preterm delivery. I rejoiced when I hit viability at 24 weeks.

The news my cervix was prematurely shortening wasn't extremely alarming, in and of itself.  However, I had a friend just deliver at 27 weeks.  And then I overdid things on Thursday and had a lot of pelvic pressure Friday, a sign of preterm labor.

And my mind, which had been doing a decent job of keeping fear at bay, completely succumbed to it.

There is no local hospital that can handle micro-preemies.  My closest hospital, only five minutes away, only has a Level 1 nursery. They send all premature deliveries, regardless of gestational age, to Austin.  There are other hospitals nearby that have Level 2 NICU's but I don't know details.

I feel kind of helpless. I am not having preterm labor symptoms now.  But I am still on self-prescribed bed rest through the weekend. Unfortunately, this gives my hypersensitive brain ample time to analyze EVERYTHING.

The baby is moving like normal, alternating periods of high activity with sleeping. Of course, in my hypersensitive state, I don't like those periods of "sleeping baby" even though I know they are totally normal.

Can you please send up some prayers for me and Violet? For peace, health, and wisdom to know when to act, if needed?

St. Gerard, pray for us. St. Anne, pray for us.  St. Gianna, pray for us.

EDIT: I want to add that, should I deliver now (26w3d), I'd be sent to Austin as baby would need the Level 3 NICU.  My interest in a Level 2 NICU is what if  I deliver in the early-mid 30 weeks of gestation?  What's my best move then?

I have my follow up perinatal appt Tuesday and will be going in with a list of questions!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A little health update

I am 25w6d and am regularly bombarded by kicks, jabs, and an all round intense pummeling.  Mac got kicked in the face last night by "Violet" and was ever so pleased.  Literally, he was beaming!

Today was my regular once a month perinatologist visit and the baby looked great.  Estimated size of 1 pound 15 ounces, I think.

I asked the tech to check my cervix too while she was taking measurements.  It was around this point in my pregnancy with the twins that my cervix issues were noted. I just wanted to cross that issue (premature cervical shortening and funneling) off my list.

Apparently my cervix is acting up again. Sigh.  Guess I am glad I pushed to have the cervical checks done!

I did a little digging and found my cervical measurements from my twins: 2.1 at 24 weeks and 1.5 at 28 weeks.  I measured at about a 2 today at almost 26 weeks. A little online digging told me I should be anywhere from 3.5 to a 4.0 from weeks 24 to 28.

Cervical shortening and funneling is a sign of premature labor. It never amounted to anything with the twins, though I was put on "house arrest" for five or six weeks as a precaution and an attempt to slow the funneling.

Right now my protocol is a week of "take it easy" and progesterone suppositories at bedtime.  Between my minimal internet research and chat with the perinatologist, I can assume progesterone slows preterm labor symptoms.  And then I'll be remeasured next Tuesday.  I can realistically expect any of three scenarios next week: cervix is shorter (bad), cervix is the same (good), cervix is longer (best case scenario).  And so I'm in wait and see mode for a few days.

Bryan and I had a wonderful few days last week in St. Augustine, Florida on our "babymoon".  We did a lot of walking, so I can't help but wonder if that exacerbated my cervical shortening. Who knows?  In the meanwhile, the kids have been "pampering" me with fresh flowers aka flowering weeds picked from the backyard.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Third Child

The third living child sure gets the shaft.

Many of my embryo adoption friends are pregnant with their first baby(ies). I see them excitedly beginning to build their registeries and feel a little guilty that Violet's entrance into the world will have far less consumer fanfare.  My bank account thanks me, of course.

Granted, it doesn't help that Violet will be born in a comparable season as her older siblings (late May in Texas vs. July in Virginia).

I have saved almost everything from the twins:  clothes, cribs, bouncy seats, swing, pack n play with bassinet...  My list of things to buy is so short, I feel no rush to buy anything.

Before Violet is born, I will need to buy only a minimal number of items:

1.  Diapers (usually still have wipes on hand)

Actually, that's all I NEED to buy. :-)

I 'd like to also buy a few more items before she (or he!) makes a debut, but if we were in a bind, I could manage without:

1.  Bassinet sheets. The twins went straight into a shared crib when they were born so we didn't really use the bassinet feature of the pack n play much with them.  I plan on having Violet sleep there at my bedside for a while.
2.  Miracle swaddling blankets
3. Batteries for the swing and bouncy seat.
4.  Wubbanubs for pacifiers.  Actually, I think these may be Birth Day gifts from the twins to Violet.
5. Violet's gifts for the twins, whatever small items we decide upon

And, eventually, I'll need to buy a few more items:

1. A crib mattress and maybe new sheets
2. A single stroller.  We loved our Baby Jogger double stroller, so maybe a single from the same brand?
3.  An additional baby carrier.  I'm leaning towards a Lillebaby carrier as they can be less hot in Texas summers than other carriers, but we'll see.  I already have a Baby K'Tan for the first few weeks. Who knows if we'll even like babywearing!  Helpful hint:  You can use a 20% off coupon to a certain bedding and bath store and buy this carrier online.
4.  Maybe a water sling or some sort of water-safe baby wearing item for the pool.  Again, we'll see how things temperaments play out with babywearing.

Of course, there may be some frivolous purchases after the baby is born. Like when I walk through a certain red spot store and spy an adorable baby outfit on clearance...

I'm really gravitating towards elephants for a nursery theme. Not that I am decorating any time soon.   It's a rental and Violet won't even be in that bedroom right away.  And, depending on when we get orders for our next move, I may not decorate at all.  Anyway, Grandma quilts so I've been spending time on Pinterest looking at elephant baby quilts.  And daydreaming. You know how Pinterest can prompt that.

So that's that!  The ultra-simplified, pack rat, slightly more experienced parent wish list. 

The third child, surrounded by far fewer items than "first child" contemporaries.

The third child, surrounded by an increased number of arms waiting to envelope her in loving embraces.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gender Prediction

We have opted to find out Violet's gender at birth.

We have now had three MFM appointments and they've noted in our file that the gender is a "surprise".  That being said, at the December appointment, Bryan saw "female" written in our file. He spent the last month firmly convinced that "Violet" was indeed a girl and keeping everything a secret from me.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday was my January MFM appointment.  We had a pause in the appointment after the tech was done with her measurements but the doctor wasn't in the room yet.  Bryan told me his story and we viewed the computer screen together.  Sure enough, it said "female".  Right next to my name and birthdate.  That's right, I am female!

And the baby remains a surprise.

Out of curiosity, I've looked up the old wife's tales for gender prediction.  Some I won't do as they are just ridiculous. Dangle my wedding ring on a string above my belly to see how it rotates?? Please, just no.

I am eliminating the heart rate one. Cora and Mac had identical heart rates for most of my pregnancy with them (including labor which freaked out the nurses thinking they were missing a baby).

I haven't had any cravings.

My only food aversions have been texture related not taste related. Yogurt and I are still on questionable terms.

After an extensive five minute internet research, I can only really think of two remotely plausible gender predictors.

1.  Baby is low. This means boy.  Speaking of positioning, it is amazing how much force a 14 oz baby can exert on one's bladder...

2.  Baby was on the "girl" side during my first clinic ultrasound.  (There is a newer study done comparing gender in pregnancies with baby positioning in 6 or 7 week ultrasounds.  This study has been very reliable in my embryo adoption group, though not 100% reliable...)

For comparison, I can say Cora and Mac were on their respective girl/boy sides during my six week ultrasound with them.

Well, there you have it.  We are either having a girl or a boy!