28 Weeks…Deja Vu

It’s been a warm week in Alabama. Unseasonably for March but we’re not complaining. The neighbors are out, the trees in bloom, and time to brush out the winter cobwebs. Saturday we meandered down the block to partake in our first neighborhood crawfish boil. (I told you we hit the great neighbors jackpot!) Ah the smell of Zatarains, potato and corn filled the air and I couldn’t help but to be taken back. Flash to 28 years prior and an early memory of my first crawfish boil in sleepy little Mandeville, Louisiana. I was 4. We had just moved from Texas and these native Louisiana folk were breaking us in fast. Neighborhood coming together over a vats and vats of fresh crawfish, spice and beer. Kids running wild into the night until everyone walks back home, belly full and smiles-a-plenty. Good times.

And then it hit me. One of those Deja Vu moments. Nick and I stood gathered around the table covered in newspaper, fresh crawfish dumped, adults digging in. I glanced over my shoulder to see Kailey chasing new friends around the yard. *Flash* Wow, and there you have it. Circle of life all over again. Here we were…brand new town, Kailey (age 4), and crawfish. I couldn’t help but smile and hope we’re helping her create those special memories that stay with you for a lifetime.

The weekend came to a close and Tuesday ushered in a new Dr. appt. We go every 2 weeks now. I am no longer nervous but still cautiously optimistic. Everything went routine. YAY! Routine is great. No issues, no problems, see you again in 2 weeks. Baby A heartbeat= 157, Baby B = 138. I’m measuring the size of someone pregnant with one baby at 36 weeks. So, par for course, I look 2 months more pregnant than I am. As you can expect, we started receiving the “you look due any day now” glances this week. I can’t wait to see faces when I waddle past in 2 months. Smiles and nods will surely turn to grimace and shock as if I might explode at any moment. This is about to get fun.

28 Weeks

Sitting around last night, basking in the fact that we have indeed made it to 28 weeks and the babies look posed for staying in as long as possible, I began to reminisce again. Maybe it was the crawfish memory that got my brain going, maybe it’s the pregnanacy hormones but whatever…I was taken back to Kailey at 28 weeks. I had not looked at the photos in a long…long time but suddenly I wanted to see them. To SEE what our babies might look like at 28 weeks inside. Kailey was born at 26weeks + 2 days on Jan 12th, which meant Jan. 24th photos would be 28 weeks in utero. (We saved all our photos of her NICU stay by the day) I opened up the Jan. 24th-26th folder and this is what I saw…

Us holding Kailey for the first time in the NICU

Looking back, I remember when we took the photos, I kept thinking…the blanket makes her look twice as big as she really was. Now, all I see is a little tiny baby. Perspective and time change everything. And, in keeping this pregnancy in perspective, we are simply blessed all is going well. Stay in there babies. Grow big and strong. We love you but don’t want to see you in our arms for at least 8-10 weeks!

27 weeks with twins

Uneventful. That’s how I would describe the last week. And believe you me, boring is A-ok. Between the pregnancy, quitting work, the move, my mom’s health, the house, the never-ending unpacking, and then my dog passing away…to have one week where there was absolutely nothing much going on…ahh. God sent.

In honor of this breather of a week…may I present a short and sweet post. Recap a-la pictures.

17 weeks Twins

19 weeks

20 Weeks

21 Weeks

22 Weeks

23 Weeks

24 Weeks

25 Weeks

26 Weeks

27 Weeks

26 Weeks and Gluten Free Cupcakes

Wow…what a week. Isn’t life crazy that way? Such heartache transformed into a million smiles. On the heels of losing Tex, we packed up and drove back to Louisville for the weekend. Ashley flew in from Dallas and had an amazing baby shower planned for her big elder sis…

The day meant so much more to me than a regular ‘ol baby shower. It signified reaching a milestone we never achieved with the girls. A healthy pregnancy…no complications…reason to celebrate. Juxtaposed to where we were 4 years ago and everyone in that room had reason to smile.

I was blown away with the love and support from all my family and friends. Ashley knew we didn’t have a shower with the girls and she made sure we felt the love this go around. I was blown away by everyone that came together to make it happen. Pam, special mention to you for bringing the gluten free cupcakes. YUM. I’m not one to go after sweets but pregnant me has had the crave big time.

At the end of the day, I drove away with a car load of baby goods and an even fuller heart. It’s strange that something like a baby shower can mean SO much. But this shower meant just that. Love, hope, dreams fulfilled. Optimism about the future and the realization that these twins are coming. Alive and well. Both of them. 

25 weeks, panic attack(s) & saying goodbye

We often find life flying by. Hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into months and before you know it, you’re blowing out birthday candles you swear are still warm from the year before. But then come the moments that stop you in your tracks and slow time down to the length between your own heartbeats. This week we experienced such a day. Twenty four hours in time that changed our life as we knew it.

*Before you  have your own heart attack wondering if the babies are ok, I will assure you now, YES, they are great. Still in there growing strong.

Monday, February 20th we were at home wrapping up a very busy 3-day weekend. Nick had the day off for Presidents Day and we were running errands like mad people. Burgers on the grill..Nick playing fetch with Tex. It was a great night. Then, the contractions started. I didn’t think much at first as Braxton Hicks are common with Twins. That, and we had done a lot that day. After dinner, I sat on the couch, put my feet up and drank lots of gatorade/water. A few hours passed however I still noticed the pesky contractions. By midnight, I was still awake and starting to worry. They were actually coming every 20 minutes on cue. I tried to convince myself it was nothing but considering my past (pre-term labor and subsequent delivery at 26 weeks) I was starting to freak out. (I’m sure this didn’t help matters) I tried to lay down / calm down but by 3am, they were still there and I couldn’t stop thinking…If this is IT and I don’t get to the hospital to try and get them stopped, I’ll never forgive myself. I also knew delivery at 25 weeks was bad but it was even worse if the mother didn’t have time to get the series of steroid shots to help the babies lungs mature quicker. The shots have to be given a day apart and won’t help until 48 hours after administration. For any woman facing early delivery, steroids most certainly might be the difference between their baby living or passing away.

With all this running through my mind (like a freight train) I got up and told Nick I was driving myself to the hospital for monitoring. By 4am, I was admitted and hooked up to fetal monitors. And it was true, I was having mild contractions. The great news though, was that I was not in labor. Internal exam revealed no change in cervix. Store front bars still locked up. Yea. Two shots of terbutaline, uterus calmed down, and a warning from the nurse that I was dehydrated and doing too much…I was home by 7am. First panic attack of the day over. I laid down on the couch to catch an hour or two of sleep before Kailey needed breakfast.

About 10am, I noticed Tex was not in his usual “relaxing” spot outside. Glanced at the food bowl..still full. This was not normal. I called him inside and within 30 minutes, the first collapse came.   He couldn’t get up so I stayed on the floor and watched him for about an hour. I was sure it was a seizure, though he had never had an episode before. Panicked, for the second time today, I called Nick and we agreed to keep an eye on him and see if his condition would resolve itself. When he tried to stand again, the second collapse happened and I knew something was VERY wrong with our dog. I prayed he could make it into the car as I am in no condition to lift 90 pounds. It was a miracle in itself that he could but he did. Within minutes, we were on our way to the animal hospital.

By 4pm, and many tests later, we had the results. It was not his brain. Spleen. Ruptured. Never had I hoped for a mere seizure diagnosis as I did at that moment. A seizure we could treat with meds. This, we could not. In fact, it was a tumor on the spleen that caused the rupture. And, she believed other tumors were present. Cancer. He needed emergency surgery-splenectomy, and a blood transfusion just to make it through the night. His recovery though was in doubt as cancer seemed to be the bigger underlying problem. We had to decide quickly. He was in a lot of pain.

About 6:15pm, I held his paw as he passed from this world to doggie heaven. He held on long enough for Nick and Kailey to get there and say goodbye. We knew Kailey should not have to watch her dog die so Nick took her home and I stayed to the end. I wanted him to know I was with him and to not be scared. He lived a good life. Our life had been better because of him. Only 8 years but I guarantee he had the best 8 years a doggie could hope for. Adopted from the shelter at 6 months, he was my buddy long before I was married. We would go on trips to Texas together and run the trails of Louisville. Fiercely loyal. Always gentle. He would literally love you to death. And we loved him to his own.

Tex on his last hike. Green Mountain..Huntsville, AL

As you can imagine, I was spent. In less than 24 hours we had gone from enjoying the day and grilling burgers to a hospital scare for me and having our beloved dog pass away. I can tell you…that day felt like it lasted an eternity.

Of course, the day did come to an end. With a heavy heart we all drifted to bed only to wake again and see that life does in fact…go on. And in that, you also see the beauty of life. The good and the bad. For as bad as the day was before, it was now Wednesday. Which meant, I had made it to 25 weeks. The babies were doing fine. Still warm and safe, and growing. Contractions had stopped. Sipping some coffee (caffeine free), and missing the morning habits of Tex, I found a smile crept across my face. It was time to take the 25 week photo..which meant…all was still right with the pregnancy. Against all beliefs that I could find joy in the day, I had. And that is why we do this crazy thing called life.

24 weeks with Twins. Insert Happy Dance.

Wikipedia defines: Viable or viability is the ability of a thing (a living organism, an artificial system, an idea, etc.) to maintain itself or recover its potentialities. “viability is the ability to germination of the seed when provide it to all environmental condition.”

24 weeks. Reason for celebration. The babies have a solid chance at life outside the womb. Not that anyone would want them to be born now..no way. BUT, getting to 24 weeks is absolutely huge and the importance is not lost on this mother. From this point forward, every day spent in there is exponentially important to their survival and quality of life after birth. Being the mother of a surviving micro-preemie (born at 1.5 pounds) as well as a preemie who passed away, I have been looking forward to making it to 24 weeks from day 1. Those prayers have been answered. Now we’re looking towards the ultimate goal…38 weeks!

The Dr. thinks we’re on track for a great rest of the pregnancy. He said, “when I see twins, I only hope they look as good as yours do.” YEA! All my bodily stats are looking on point as well.

Blood pressure: Great 110/70

Weight: 151 lbs.  ( total weight gain= 26 pounds) Right on track for gaining the recommend 35-45 lbs for twins.

Uterus measuring: 33 weeks singleton pregnancy. Yes, my hoohas can now officially rest on top of the belly. OMG.

Cervix: Looking good. (long, closed)

Sorry for the “female details” but in the world of pregnancy, those are the most important in determining how the pregnancy is progressing and the chances of staving off pre-term labor. We did start another medication this week just to buy some insurance in keeping pre-term labor at bay. I’m not showing any signs of it but considering my past (labor at 26 weeks) the Dr. would rather be safe than sorry. This means…more injections. UGH. The BIG ones. Progesterone shots in the rear again. At least this time, it’s only once a week until week 32 instead of every night as we had to do for nights on end at the beginning of this pregnancy. Poor Nick had to break out his Nurse Stolte hat last night and do the deed. Nothing about long/ thick needles in the bum are fun but at least he knew what he was doing. What a trooper.

To Come: More belly updates. Next visit to Louisville…

Holy Batman House

So the closing FINALLY happened. A few days behind and many tears later, we were ready to move in. Seal the deal. Case closed. Or, so we thought. Because our closing was conveniently moved back (convenient for Bank of America, not us) the moving company couldn’t bring our stuff until 4 days later. None-the-less, we actually enjoyed those first few peaceful days with air mattress sleeping and paper plates dining. We Nick had packed our temp. apartment goods up and we spent a few blissful days unpacking those minuscule items, feeling pretty proud of ourselves for settling in, and meeting neighbors.

Speaking of neighbors, boy did we luck out. It’s Karma finally giving back for the two nut jobs we were previously sandwiched between. (Mind you, I miss ya Judy H…nothing but love for my neighbor across the street) But now, we have a couple our age to the left with a 4yr old girl and 2yr old boy. The little girl has already been over a few times and Kailey over there. It’s awesome. The husband said he “likes to cook” and on Superbowl Sunday we peered out the window to find him wheeling this gargantuan smoker from the garage. (think restaurant size) He proceeded to cook up about 20 pigs on it and invited us over for the party. Hell-o. Yes please. Did I mention he’s a cop? Yeah, really. We hit the neighbor jackpot. So far, Alabama has lived up to it’s Southern neighborly charm. A few others have brought over cookies or come by to introduce themselves and welcome us. I’ve learned the low down on just about everyone on the street and found out this neighborhood is brimming with German Shepherds. (yea for Tex) We attented not one but TWO Superbowl parties and ended the weekend with warm fuzzy feelings for our new surroundings.

Then the CRAP came. I mean, our stuff. All two semi trucks full of it. Why did it leave Louisville in one and arrive here in two? Hum. That’s right…our crap had crap babies between September and now. I woke Monday still glowing from the awesome Superbowl night before and was met with chaos and 6 burly men hell bent on unpacking all our stuff as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever had movers, you know EVERYTHING is inventoried. Every cup, broom, toilet paper roll…everything. I set up up my desk (huge cardboard box) in the driveway and proceeded to check in every last inventoried item.

Driveway Desk

Five hours later, the last crap box had been checked in. We stood back to assess the damage and couldn’t believe the sight. Go ahead and book us on the next season of Hoarders. This is a section of the three car garage…

Garage Junk

Needless to say…we have a lot of work ahead of us. I already have a large yard sale pile going. I also came within a few minutes of calling the doc and asking what the genders of these twins are when I counted 15+ boxes of girl preemie-3T clothes. Alas, I’ll hold onto the clothes until the two squirts get here. But man it was tempting…

Speaking of…we’ve hit WEEK 23 with Twins!

23 weeks with Twins

On that note, I’ll leave you with a picture of the real reason we pick this new “hood”. Close to town, yet far enough out to enjoy this…

Coming up: 24 week Dr. visit with weight and size stats (gasp)

Follow-up: Thank you all for your well wishes and concerns about mom. After the hospital stay, the pneumonia was reduced enough to transfer to assisted living short term. She basically hated that and returned home as quickly as she could manage. The next few months will be spent on regaining strength through physical therapy and following Dr.’s orders concerning her heart condition. (More tests, and maintenance with medication) For now, she is home and feeling much better.

22 Twin weeks = 31 Singleton weeks

Another week down, thank Goodness. In the beginning of this pregnancy, weeks flew by without so much as a blink. I was amazed how quickly we made it to 6 weeks (heartbeat week), next 12 (risk of miscarriage greatly reduced), then 19 (half-way with Twins). Really, the time flew by. But oh how the tables have turned. Weeks 19-22, I have witnessed the greatest expansion of the belly thus far as well as a surprise onslaught of “other” symptoms.

Other symptoms include, but not limited to:

-Labored breathing

-Red, itchy belly skin

-Restless legs every night after 8pm

-Hands and feet swelling if I so much as look at the salt shaker

-Waddling

-Difficultly walking up stairs or for more than a few minutes on flat land

-Blurred vision. Especially at night where I’m rendered practically blind.

-Mind numbing lower back pain.

-The need to pee 3 drops every 5 minutes.

I became a little concerned that all these “3rd trimester” symptoms came on so quick…while I’m still squarely in my 2nd trimester. So, I brought this up with the doc last Friday. My issues were met with a little chuckle as he matter-of-fact stated, “well Mrs. Stolte, you are measuring the same as someone pregnant with one baby at 31 weeks. These symptoms are perfectly normal.”

Ahh…ic. So basically my 2nd trimester “honeymoon/ feeling good before you get big” time is over. It lasted a few weeks. Grrrreat. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still over-the-moon grateful to be able to have these two kids. Years of trying and heartache has taught me to appreciate the gift of life and ability to bring life to children of our own. However, allow me a few moments of…

OH MY $*@(%# I HAVE 15 MORE WEEKS OF THIS + MORE EVIL PAINS AND SYMPTOMS TO COME. PLEASE DEAR LORD GIVE ME, AND MY BACK, THE STRENGTH.

And on that note…22 week pics.

Last week, my wonderful sister said the best words a pregnant woman can hear, “honey, you don’t look pregnant except for the belly.” Ahh, I could just hug her. So, for good measure, I am including a “front photo”. When I looked at it, I felt slightly normal. For about 2 minutes. And that was great.

Things we learned this past week:

Baby A is measuring 15oz. (So, 1oz shy of a pound) . Head down.

Baby B is measuring 1 pound exactly. Head up.

To come: THE NEW HOUSE! (We close tomorrow at 9am)

21 weeks and back in Dallas

I keep promising to write more but each week, life continues to steam roll. It’s true this is a busy time anyway with the move and new home and all but as soon as I come up for air, another wave crashes to shore and I’m underwater again.

As I write this, I’m back in Dallas. Mom’s usual bad health took a turn for the worst. Thankfully, my hubby was able to take a few days off and watch Kai as I dropped everything and flew out here.

The good: Mom is stable for now

The bad: Congestive Heart Failure compounded by pneumonia, excess fluids, overall weakness.

The plan: Hospital inpatient until the pneumonia is in check and IV antibiotics are over, then to rehabilitation center to gain strength and energy to undergo testing on the heart. Long term goal is to maintain heart with medicine and attempt independent living if possible.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Although I have to go back home tomorrow, mom has a good support system in place with my sister and brother-in-law living here and for that I am extremely thankful.

Now, even in the midst of this, there is still a very important part of my life going on..that is, the expanding belly.

Before I was able to hop on a plane to Dallas, my new doctor wanted me to get “cleared” to fly. A good precaution with twins and considering my history. Luckily, everything looked great and absolutely no signs of pre-term labor so he ok’d the flight. Lucky for you, this means I have a few pictures to share.

Baby A kept showing us the side profile with the mouth open…aww cute.

 Baby B was in a little better position. He/She gave us some awesome front pictures. The eyes and eyelids are there and in a few more weeks, they will be able to open. Amazing.

To come: Who knows. I give up guessing what life will bring.

20 Weeks

Well friends..I was complaining last week that perhaps I was not “growing” enough but I more than made up for it this week.

Per the new doctor…weight went up 4 pounds! Was it just the different scale, ya, I think so. However, we’re going to go by that scale now so let me fess up that the new Dr.’s scale read 144. This means weight gain to date is around 20 lbs. “Normal” for twins is 35-45 so I’m kinda on track. Hell, I’m a little ahead of track but that’s ok. I would rather gain a little more and know those babies are getting nice and fat than too little. Any family who has had a premie baby knows a higher birth weight is critical to better health and less time in the NICU. Twins almost always come early so my job is to fatten them up!

Speaking of Dr.’s…we met our new guy! Dr. Wheeler. He, and his nursing staff, seem great. Considering my history, I was looking for a “hand-holder” type doc and boy did I hit the jackpot. He sat in our room for almost an hour answering all our questions and never did we feel rushed. I was actually the one that had to “wrap up the conversation” because I  started to feel bad about the other patients waiting!

More on this to come. I’ve been pretty terrible at writing my blog entries lately and I apologize. Strange considering I’m not “working” now but I find my days completely booked with errands, house closing stuff, travel and catching up on everything else we let go to pot the last few months living out of boxes. We just returned from Texas (visiting my sister/bro-in-law, niece and mother). Kailey turned the big 4! And closing is still set for Jan 31st. Oh yea, AND we joined the Y, I attended my first meeting of HAMOM (Huntsville area mothers of multiples) and a fun coupon seminar.

COMING SOON: Texas recap, Kailey’s awesome birthday, Countdown to closing…

Half Way

My favorite kinds of races are the out-and-backs. The ones where your START and FINISH are in the same vicinity and half way is some clearly identifiable turn out there. One way the sun is in your face, the rest at your back. Half way gives me a natural high. In a marathon, it is marked by a mini celebration of sorts. People gather there. Music is blaring. A 13.1 mile marker is present, even though you just passed the 13 marker steps back. In other words, it’s a party people. Time to celebrate.

Well folks, dust off those boom boxes (if under 23, google boom box for definition) because  today was HALF WAY through this pregnancy. 19 weeks. I stand at the peak and feel renewed, ready to take this all the way to the Finish. Wait wait…I know 19 + 19 does not make a 40 but remember we have twins cooking in there. The usual full term for twins is 38 weeks so we are indeed half way. And man does this do wonders for me mentally. Just days ago I was getting a little down at the thought of how-long-we-had-to go and how-big-I-was-going-to-get. But the power of the half way point is strong. Today I was a little less weepy and slight more happy. And believe you me, this is huge.

Which leads me right into…

19 Week Photo.

Now this one has me perplexed. Look at it, then look at the 17 week photo again.

Is it just me or did I look bigger at 17 weeks? Perhaps I had just had a big lunch.

Well, I won’t complain. I know the extreme roundness is coming. The scale does not lie and I can feel enough moving around in there daily that I’m not worried.

Latest stats for week 19: Weight- 139.8 lbs, Waist – 36″, Rear- 40″. I had to include the rear stats. It’s unreal how fast it’s growing too…Nick says, “counterbalance to the belly.” What a dear.

Upcoming: Dallas recap, Kailey turns 4! and moving to the new house? (yes I meant a question mark there)