Thursday, June 28, 2007

False Alarms and Other Fun Adventures

This week has been a little out of the ordinary. For a woman who spends 90% of her waking hours laying on the couch, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

It started last week when I began to have more contractions than normal in my monitoring session. If there are 5 or less contractions in an hour, everything is considered good. If there are 6 or more contractions, I am required to get a drink, have a snack, etc. and re-monitor to see if the contractions go down. Until last week, I had not had to re-monitor in about a month and a half. But last week I started having to re-monitor almost every day. Fortunately the contractions always went down the second hour, but things were definitely changing for me. Over the weekend, the nurses at Matria (the company that does the monitoring), called the doctor on call and they decided to increase my anti-contraction medicine to see if that would help. It did seem to help for a day or two, but then I was back to re-monitoring at least once a day. Sunday evening I had 13 contractions in an hour during my monitoring session. When I re-monitored, the number only went down to 8, so the nurse told me that I needed to go to the hospital to get checked out.

I had been dreading this happening because I thought that the next time I walked through the hospital doors, they were not going to let me out until after the babies were born. Already my doctor had told me that I had managed to stay out of the hospital longer than any other quint patient he had had, so I figured I had already used up my "get out of jail free" cards. So, I hurried and packed my bags and prepared to stay for the long haul.

At this point, it was 10:00 pm on Sunday night. My aunt had been sick with the flu all day and didn't feel up to driving me to the hospital. My uncle had just left that afternoon for a business trip to Israel. Even my husband was on a plane to Germany, so I couldn't even call him for encouragement! So, I called my Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Kathy who live in Mesa, about 20 minutes from here and asked them to take me. Despite the fact that I woke them up, they agreed.

I arrived at the hospital at around 11:00 pm. After filling out all the paperwork (I actually have to fill out paperwork for me and each of the five babies every time I go to the hospital), they sent me to OB triage where I was hooked up to various monitors. They also brought in the ultrasound machine to make sure that all the babies were alright. As it turned out, I was still contracting, but the contractions were small and not doing anything. The nurse said that they were nothing to be concerned about. She gave me a shot of some anti-contraction medication, monitored me for another half hour and then came in to tell me I was being discharged. I was so excited!!! Being able to go home was totally unexpected. My aunt and uncle had graciously stayed with me the whole time, so they were there to take me back to my Aunt Jeanie's house.

When my doctor saw the report of my middle of the night adventure the next day, he ordered a terbutaline pump for me. The pump, and a nurse to show me how it all worked, showed up on Tuesday morning. Basically how it works is that a small needle (shaped somewhat like a tack) with attached tubing is placed into my leg and a small pump continuously injects a very small dose of the medicine into my body. Every 4 hours, I get an extra boost of the drug. Administering the drug this way, as opposed to the oral pills which I had been taking, makes it so that the level of medicine in the blood stream stays more stable over time. It also makes it so that overall, less of the drug has to be used. I have been using the pump for about 2.5 days now and it seems to be working much better than the pills did. So far, I have had about 2 contractions per hour, on average, and have not had to re-monitor at all.

Yesterday I had another doctors visit. All the babies look great and despite my adventures over the past week, the doctor used the words "fantastic" and "amazing" to describe how I was doing. I am so grateful for my excellent progress thus far, and I know that in large part it is because of the many of you who have included us in your prayers. THANK YOU!!!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Day in the Life....

I have had several people ask what a typical day is like for me. There are many things that are much more exciting than a day in the life of a pregnant woman on bedrest. Sitting in the backyard waiting for the grass to grow, listening to elevator music while being on hold for hours, and reading the dictionary---just to name a few. However, in order to satisfy inquiring minds, I have decided to share what I do in a normal day.

A Day in the Life of a Woman Pregnant With Quintuplets

7:30 am Wake up, take shower (I am allowed one a day), get dressed

8:00 am Head downstairs for the day

8:15 am Breakfast---usually eggs and cereal

8:45 am Park myself on the couch, turn on laptop and check email (Note: I also have bathroom privileges. I am supposed to drink about a gallon of fluid per day and the babies have reduced my bladder to the size of a prune, so this means I take a trip to the bathroom every 45 min – 1 hour throughout the day.)

10:15 am Morning snack---Carnation Instant Breakfast

10:30 am - 11:30 am Morning contraction monitoring. I strap on the monitor which collects data on uterine activity throughout the hour. During the session, I lie on the couch and usually watch a video. I have been working my way through several seasons of TV shows on DVD. I started with "Lost" seasons 1 and 2. I am now in the middle of season 2 of "Gilmore Girls". Next up is "Alias" or "24".

11:30 am Call in monitoring data. The data is sent through the phone lines to a group of nurses who analyze the data and call me back with the results. If I have 5 or fewer contractions, I am fine. If I have 6 or more contractions in the hour I have to monitor again to see if the contractions go down. (Don’t ask what happens if they don’t----I am hoping I never have to find out!)

12:00 pm Lunch---sandwich and chips, leftovers or fast food

12:30 pm Back to the couch where I surf the internet looking for baby names, watch TV, play sodoku, talk to every person that walks by, etc.

3:00 pm Afternoon snack----whatever I can find, sometimes a Zone bar or something sweet with something salty, cold cereal, etc.

4:30 pm Sit in the pool and/or cold tub (like a hot tub, but just bubbles, no heat—who needs heat when the temp outside is 112 degrees!) I have to convince someone to go out there with me, so I don’t do this every day, but I go as often as I can!

6:00 pm Dinner—typical dinner meal food

6:30 pm Back to the couch

7:30 pm – 8:30 pm Evening contraction monitoring session

9:00 pm Evening snack—usually ice cream

10:30 pm Bid farewell to the couch and head upstairs to bed

11:00 pm – 7:30 am Get as much sleep as I can, in between trips to the bathroom and attempts to roll over.

The Couch

The TV (much better than the one back home!)

The Views from the Couch


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Babies, Babies, Babies...

I am now 27 weeks, one week away from the next big milestone of 28 weeks and 7 weeks away from my goal of 34 weeks. Today I had another doctors appointment and he said that I am doing "remarkably well". This time I had a bigger ultrasound where they took more measurements on all the babies. They estimated the babies weights to be between 2 lbs 2 oz and 2 lbs 7 oz. If I add up all the babies weights, there is over 11 lbs of baby in there right now! Unfortunately, all the babies were facing towards my spine---not one of them wanted to turn and pose for a photo, so I don't have any to share. These babies are going to have to have to learn to cooperate for Kodak Moments, because their mom is definitely into taking pictures.

I also had another fibronectin test, but I don't know the results yet. I guess this was the week for tests because I also had blood drawn and did the one hour glucose test. For those not familiar with the glucose test, it basically entails drinking a really yucky orange drink, then waiting an hour and having blood drawn to determine your blood glucose level. If it is too high, the next step is to take a three-hour glucose test to determine if you have gestational diabetes. I technically failed the one-hour glucose test, but my level (143) was really close to the cutoff (140), so my doctor said he is not concerned and I do not have to take the three-hour test!!!! Hurray!!! With multiples it is very common to have elevated blood glucose levels, since the body is working harder to feed all those babies.

This week, on Monday, a set of sextuplets was born here in Phoenix. The mom, Jenny Masche, and all six of the babies are doing well so far. It was fascinating for me to watch the news reports on the birth, because I know that I will be there myself (minus one baby) in a few weeks. Jenny was 30.5 weeks when she delivered. Her babies weighed between 2 lbs 1 oz and 3 lbs. This means that, according to my ultrasound measurements, some of my babies are about the same size as some of her babies. It is interesting to look at the pictures of those tiny babies and think that that is what mine look like now. Here are a couple of links to the news stories about the sextuplet birth. The first one has a good article to read, and the second one has lots of links to videos of the birth and reactions to the birth (look on the right side of the page). Jenny and I have the same doctor, Dr. Elliott, who is also in some of the videos.

I also got a little press coverage myself this past week. The local paper did a follow-up story about me which was in Saturday's paper, before the big news of the sextuplets! Here is the link:

Thursday, June 7, 2007

26 Weeks Down.......8 More To Go!!!!

This week the doctor did something called the fetal fibernectin test (FFN). Fibernectin is a protein that acts like glue to bind the babies sacs to the uterine wall. Before delivery (usually around 39 weeks for a normal singleton pregnancy) the glue starts to "dissolve" and the sacks pull away from the uterine wall to prepare for delivery. The FFN test looks for the presence of fibernectin. If there is none (meaning the test would be negative), that is a good thing. The odds of delivering the babies in the next two weeks, if the test is negative, is around 5%. If the presence of FFN is detected (meaning the test would be positive), it doesn't necessarily mean that the babies will be delivered in the next two weeks, but it changes the odds significantly---to around 50%. The test is repeated every two weeks.

My test came back negative, which we were thrilled about. This means that the babies will most likely stay put for the next two weeks. In addition, my doctor said that in his practice, patients who had a negative test at 26 weeks, did not deliver until after 30 weeks. 30 weeks is a huge milestone and the babies have a much better chance for surviving and being intact once they hit 30 weeks.

At my ultrasound this week, the ultrasound tech also did some quick measurements on the babies to see how they are growing. She estimated their weights to be:

Baby A: 1 lb 8 oz
Baby B: 1 lb 10 oz
Baby C: 1 lb 11 oz
Baby D: 1 lb 12 oz
Baby E: 1 lb 13 oz

These weights are all very normal for any baby at this stage of pregnancy. Below is a recent picture of my growing belly:

This week was full of other exciting events as well. On the 31st, Jayson officially signed away the next 30 years of our life and closed on our new house! Because he had power of attorney for me, he had to do a lot of extra signing. But at the end of it all, he got the keys to a beautiful new house. I can't wait to see it in person in a few months.

Last Saturday my two aunts who live in the Phoenix area threw me a baby shower. It was so much fun! My aunts went overboard on the decorating and the food and it was great to sit and visit with people. The guests were mostly friends of my aunts. We ended up with many wonderful things for the babies. I was amazed at how generous people were---especially considering that most of them do not know me well, and some of them I had never even met before the shower. This is yet another example of how we have been blessed throughout this pregnancy. Pictured below is me with my fabulous aunts--Jeanie (whom I have been living with) on the right and Kathy on the left.