Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The day we made it to 24 weeks was huge. We had accomplished our first goal. We didn’t want to deliver yet, but we breathed a sigh of relief because we knew our babies could be viable and were developed at 24 weeks. If worse came to worse, 24 weeks is the minimum age for survival. However, if they were to deliver that early, they could possibly have some severe problems.
I also received my first steroid shot at this time. Around 24 weeks gestation, steroids help develop the lungs more quickly in preparation for a preterm delivery. I had to be monitored for an hour post-shot to be sure I didn’t start contracting. Everything was fine and I went home the same day.
I hadn’t allowed myself to shop or daydream about tiny clothes or baby items before then. I didn’t do any preparing until this landmark, and as I slowed down, I began to nest. I had decided that I wanted the kid’s room to be decorated with polka dots. I was really anxious to get their room ready. My mom came over and did most of it for me. I couldn’t do much at that time and it took us a few weeks to get it accomplished. We also managed to sort through many boxes of donated baby clothes. I can’t begin to list all the people who gave us baby clothes. In the end I had 30 tubs filled with clothes made to fit from preemie to 9 months. Painting the nursery was all we were able to do before the babies were born. I couldn’t bear the thought of a finished nursery and with no babies to bring home in the end. So, I didn’t prepare much more ahead of time. I knew if they were born that they would be in the NICU long enough for us to get things done at home.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Rob’s cousin Shelby gave birth to a little girl named Addison in October of 2006. I was about 10 weeks along at that point. When we went to see them in the hospital Addison was having her picture taken, and there were lots of smiling visitors popping in and out. I remember looking at the little bed she was laying in. It was so hard to hold back the tears. I knew that I was never going to have that experience. If I had the babies they would be so small and sick that they would have to be confined to the NICU. They would live in the hospital for a very long time, and visitors would be limited. Rather than deciding which pose was best for pictures, we would be faced with some very difficult medical decisions. I was never going to have people coming to my hospital room to see our new baby; or be wheeled out of the hospital with my baby in my arms ready to start our journey into the world. I felt like I was being robbed of an experience very precious for a new mother.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
My pelvis had transitioned so quickly that my body was prepared to deliver at 20 weeks, but the babies were far from ready to meet the world. I heeded my doctor’s orders and tried to take it easy. I haven’t talked to any other mom of HOM who wasn’t sick during the first trimester. The hormone levels reach such a height when you are carrying multiples that it is common to be sick – more grace for our journey.
From this point on, my pregnancy was strangely uneventful. I had to go in to the doctor’s office every Thursday starting at week 16 to receive a very painful injection to prevent preterm labor. I also had a few visits with a Nurse Nutritionist. She taught me about all the vitamins and foods that I needed to consume to help develop different parts of the babies. She also explained how important it was that I didn’t develop gestational diabetes.
Dr. Turnquest and her staff are great. Everyone there was exceptionally friendly and reassuring. Because we were such a high risk case ultrasounds were part of our weekly appointment and it was wonderful. I needed to see the babies with my own two eyes every week to ease my nerves and be sure that they were all still okay. If I could have chosen what number of which sex we would be having I would have picked 3 boys and 2 girls. I had always wanted more boys than girls. But I didn’t want any one child to be all alone. Courtney, the ultrasound technician, performed our ultrasounds most of the time, and at fifteen weeks gestation we went in so she could tell us how many blue blankets and how many pink blankets we would need. I forgot to bring a tape (VHS tapes were the least of my worries!) to record on so she went the extra mile and found a blank one for me. It was amazing to find out what we were having. Baby A was the first one up. A Boy! He was the biggest the entire time which was good because he was on the bottom of the tangle of arms and legs. Baby B was next. A Girl! She was always nestled on my right side, and the most painful at the end of my pregnancy. Baby C was on my left side. Another Boy! Baby D was always right in the middle. I never quite knew where that one was going to be. It was another Boy! I started to get a little concerned at that point because baby B was really outnumbered by the men in the family. Finally, Baby E. A Girl!! I had gotten exactly what I had hoped for. God knew I needed something at that moment to lift my spirits. Courtney froze the pictures and put an arrow to show the sex. She also typed the sex so everyone could see. We took the tape home and watched it over again. That night we took the tape to Rob’s sister’s house for everyone to see. I had everyone guess what they thought it would end up being. Not a single person guessed correctly. It was fun to see everyone’s reaction and share our joy. We repeated our game at Mom and Dad’s too.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
During this time Tanya ran into Dr. Spence and mentioned that she knew me. Dr. Spence then told Tanya to advise me to selectively reduce because it was not possible to have all of my babies. As I’m sure you can imagine, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. What happened to professionalism and patient confidentiality? I was officially done with Dr. Spence. In the end I had to do what I felt would be best for me and my babies, and I set up a consultation with Dr. Turnquest.
This turned out to be the best decision I made throughout my entire pregnancy (other than keeping all of my babies!). She was wonderful! She was as honest about the risks and possible complications as Dr. Spence, but with one minor exception that changed everything. She believed in me. After we told her that we were going to keep all of them she was on board with our decision 110%. She gave me hope that I could carry my babies and they could be normal. It took Rob meeting a different doctor to realize how unnecessarily negative Dr. Spence was, and he was completely supportive of our move to Dr. Turnquest.
The most helpful thing Tanya did for me was to explain the difference between Deaconess Women’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital. We had originally planned to have our babies at Deaconess Women’s Hospital. Although Deaconess Women’s hospital is an excellent facility, being a new hospital at that time, they did not have an “in-house intensive care unit” and would not be able to take care of me there if I would develop a life threatening complication. I would possibly have to be taken to a different hospital downtown. If that happened they would have to send nurses to monitor the babies, and then if I would deliver there, there was no NICU and the babies would have to be transported back to The Women’s Hospital. On the other hand, at St. Mary’s they would be able to take care of all of us in the same place. I believe God brought Tanya into my life to help with that decision. She never told me what I should do, but she talked to me from her own experience and her own near life and death situation and helped me understand that if I was to pull this off successfully …. The key would be great prenatal care and to be prepared for all scenario’s that could possibly arise.
After we were established at Dr. Turnquest’s office the smooth sailing began. We finally found out that we were absolutely having five babies. While I had been in turmoil, they had been busy growing and it was easier to see them on the ultrasound screen now.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I remember being somewhat frustrated because Dr. B was extremely nonchalant about our situation. I couldn’t believe my ears when he said that it was “about time” for another set of HOM (higher order multiples). It had been about 6 years since anything like this had happened. My frustration quickly faded when Dr. B told us that he didn’t expect all of these babies – my babies- to survive. He shared that until the 10th week any or all of the sacs could and probably would dissolve. Nature would run its course. Religiously, I walked into the doctor’s office every week wracked with nerves about Nature’s choice. As scared as I was, I wanted all of my babies to survive no matter the odds against us.
The very next week we saw only 4 little blips on the screen. The fifth wasn’t very visible the first ultrasound so we thought it had dissolved, or maybe we had imagined it in our initial state of shock.
Week 3 of our journey took us to see Dr. Spence. She was the high risk pregnancy doctor at Deaconess Women’s Hospital. Thankfully, Dr. B had prepared me for my first visit. We knew that she would be very forthcoming about the statistics and risk associated with this kind of pregnancy. It was her job to inform us of all the circumstances we might meet along the way. Dr. Spence also presented us with the option of selectively reducing our “little blips” to a more manageable number.
Baby C Baby D
Head and body shots (9 weeks gestation)
Selective reduction means directly injecting the heart of the fetus with a lethal dose of Potassium Chloride. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for all of the babies to die when this is done. My faith tells me that abortion is undeniably wrong, and I believe that wholeheartedly. However, this wasn’t a black and white decision. We were informed that one or two of the yolk sacs were larger than normal and that could represent problems later in the pregnancy. We had to make the best decision that would give the greatest number of them a chance at life. We didn’t want to hurt the others by keeping one that would eventually harm them all, and we knew there were extremely high risks for my own health. I knew from the very beginning that if my babies were going to survive, I had to be there with Rob to help raise them.
For some this might have been an easy decision, but it wasn’t for us. In the end, I didn’t feel that we had enough facts about what was going to happen to justify reducing any of them. We knew anything could happen, and none of them had any apparent problems. We took all five and put them in God’s hands. Ours were far too small for such a task. A mother only has two hands and as much as I wanted to keep hold of all my babies, I simply couldn’t control the situation. God had begun the miracle, and we knew He would be there.
During our first visit with Dr. Spence, she announced that we appeared to have twins in one sac and four other sacs as well. That brought our total up to six. Six babies. Could we handle any more? We left that visit very scared and unsure of what to do. Dr. Spence communicated abruptly and without providing any glimmer of hope, and that was something we desperately needed. I believe in being honest, and sometimes honesty is the most compassionate gift we can give someone. But I also believe in humility and respecting the choice of another. I was upset by the time I left and felt as though I were quickly running out of time and options. In my head, I knew it was her job to tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly. In my heart of hearts, I knew it couldn’t be all “ugly.” During the next few weeks I had a minor surgery which involved sewing two stitches into my cervix to keep it closed throughout the pregnancy.
Monday, September 15, 2008
We had to wait 2 weeks after the initial announcement, before we would be able to visualize our future child on an ultrasound screen. This was the day we were going to see our baby for the first time. Our hope of having a family was finally going to become a reality.
We walked into the ultrasound room and I climbed up on the table. Rob sat in the chair next to me as we waited for the nurse to come in. I wondered if I would know what I was looking at on the monitor. I could never make out the actual baby when other proud parents flashed their sonogram pictures. Would I be able to see my own baby? No one described what an embryo would look like, but I expected it to be a little round blob. I remember looking at the screen feeling like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. It was confusing because I thought I saw something little and round like I had always pictured in my head, but there were several similar little blobs. I looked back and forth from the nurse to the screen hoping that I could read her mind. I was already thinking and feeling that something was wrong.
Could a mother’s intuition really kick in so quickly? Finally, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I asked her if that speck was the baby. She reluctantly replied, “Yes.” So, naturally my next question was, “What are all those spots?” That was it. One tiny question with an answer 5-times more unbelievable than I had expected. Her answer to that question was the beginning of the scariest, toughest, happiest days of our lives. “It looks like there are at least four sacs, maybe five.” I vaguely remember stuttering and speaking half sentences, too stunned to put all the pieces together. Rob immediately dropped his head into his hands. When all of this started, the doctor indicated that we had a 25% chance of having twins and a 3% chance of having triplets. The percentages stopped there because there was no reason to go any higher – the chances of multiples after that were too miniscule and not worth mentioning. We went through the process hoping for just one baby. God had shown us his sense of humor, but we weren’t laughing just yet.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Don't forget Monday is the first blog of many that will be going back to the beginning of our journey.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Tonight was a very eventful night. Tanya Siekman came over with her triplets. They are 4 years old and very cute. Before they got into my house two of them had peed in my driveway. They went straight to the bathroom and went again, and again, and again, and again. I can't wait until mine get that big and I am doing that 5x. It took Sam, Jay, and Meg a while to warm up to the kids. It was so funny to see. Her kids and my kids just ignored each other. They played around each other and didn't mingle. Eventually Meg became my "babysitter." She helped keep the kids in line on the couch. Tanya's kids are so funny. They say all kinds of stuff, and are really smart. She brought my pictures to me. Anyone who comes over will get to see my wall revamped. I am going to get different frames before I hang the individual pictures.I am so proud of these two pictures. You can tell we are the moms of HOM (higher order multiples). Not even the best photographer (except Tanya) could get 8 kids to pose like that. Moms are amazing gifted people. We can do anything we want if we really set our minds to it. The funny thing is that it was a piece of cake getting them to pose like that. Isn't that neat!
I didn't think about it before we took the pictures, but I was not prepared to be in a picture. Oh well, this is one of those times where I can say, "I have quintuplets" and that is good enough. It is really sad. On Wednesday I got up early to get myself ready to take the kids to the doctor. The kids were a mess the entire morning. I never get ready unless I am going somewhere. The kids thought I was leaving them and were clinging to me like leaches all morning. They whined and cried and it was awful. That is sad when your 18 month kids can tell when you are leaving just because you got dressed and did your hair. Anyway, I am beat. Goodnight!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Oh yeah, everyone did a good job guessing the kids. The correct order is: A-Sydney, B-Ethan, C-Jenna, D-Landon, and E-Peyton.