Saturday, November 29, 2008

What a difference a day makes

To everyone who prayed for my mom and me yesterday, thank you! I know that, without your intercession, I might not have been able to share with you today two pieces of great news:

First of all, my mom's surgery yesterday went perfectly. Not only that, but the sentinel node biopsy indicated that the cancer has not spread—HALLELUJAH! I was able to talk briefly with her this morning, and she sounded pretty good for someone pumped full of morphine. As I understand it, she should be going home later today to begin the healing process. Let's pray for a quick recovery so that she and Dad can fly up here when the babies come!

Secondly, the babies continue to cook ... despite giving us a big scare yesterday morning. It all started after I got another bolus in the middle of the night because I was once again having too many contractions. When Dr. E saw me in the morning, he told me that we were hitting a wall as far as boluses go and, since my contractions were becoming uncontrollable, he'd advised the nurses to get ready for some babies. Not long after he left my room, I began to feel very hot. The nurse turned on the fan and that helped, but I was still very uncomfortable. I started to feel like I was going to faint (which I never do) and no change in position provided relief. When I got up to use the commode, I thought I was going to pass out, so I called the nurse. Then I started having serious pain with my contractions. The doctor came back, they took away my food and drink, and the nurse drew blood to prepare for a possible C-section. I called Ted and told him that he needed to come now. The resident did an ultrasound to make sure the babies were okay (they were), but I was in so much pain that I didn't even open my eyes once to peek at them! The doctor then noted that I was a little dehydrated, so they increased my IV fluids. I think this must have been the problem because shortly thereafter my symptoms subsided and I began to feel more "normal." By the time Ted arrived, things didn't look so urgent, and he ended up sitting in my room all afternoon as I slept (I guess those big contractions really wore me out or something). By evening, my uterus had been quiet for several hours and it was clear that the crisis was over.

This morning I feel completely back to normal, which is good since the doctor just got done telling me that he really thought he was going to have to cut me open yesterday. He also told me that if I can hold out 2 more days (until the 30-week mark), he'll give me a B grade. If I can wait until 32 weeks, I'll get an A+. Those of you who know me well will know that this is exactly the type of motivation I need; I've always been a straight-A student and I certainly don't want to start breaking the pattern now! Plus, we still don't have names for the boys—I guess we'd better get on the stick, huh?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Uncertainty is the only certainty

Disappointingly, I believe that I am already approaching the limits of mag therapy. Why? Well, when I woke up this morning, my nurse informed me that I'd been administered yet another bolus in my sleep because the one I got last night just didn't do the trick. And then during my ultrasound this afternoon, the resident casually asked me what would be my "happy place" (weeks-wise) to deliver these babies, as if she were fishing to see how I would feel about going earlier than originally hoped. I answered that, although I've always wanted the babies to wait until at least the first of December, my mom's surgery and recovery time is pushing that wish back to mid-December now. It will be interesting to see if the doctor drops any more hints about an imminent delivery tomorrow. Regardless of whether the quads come next week or a month from now, I am quite anxious to see what their estimated weights are when they get scanned on Monday!

I am also very anxious about what tomorrow holds: My mother is going into the hospital early in the morning to get prepped for her double mastectomy, which is scheduled for around noon Eastern time. I wish so much that I could be there with her, and I am sick with worry about how her surgery will go (it's supposed to last 3 to 4 hours). Would you join me in praying for her tomorrow and also during the next couple of weeks as she recovers at home? We are hopeful that the mastectomy will get all the cancer and that she won't need further treatment; if all goes well, she should be well enough to travel here within a couple of weeks, if necessary. Whether we get good news or not so good, I am so thankful that she was able to fly out here last weekend to keep me company, help me feel a little pampered, and see in person how HUGE I really am—I absolutely dwarf her!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Four weeks down

I end my fourth week in the hospital as the nation prepares to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. And, although the past month certainly hasn't been an easy one, Ted and I have much to be thankful for, including the fact that the babies continue to stay put and grow (believe it or not, I gained 12 pounds last week!).

Unfortunately, my poor uterus is sick and tired of being stretched out, so it keeps contracting like crazy. As I type this, I am getting my second bolus of the week in an effort to calm down my relentless contractions. I guess that this Thanksgiving I'll just be substituting the traditional tryptophan coma for a magnesium sulfate brain fog. (Hmm, I'm pretty sure that I'd rather eat too much turkey ... )

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three weeks down

I think I'm finally emerging from my week 2 slump. Part of it is that I haven't had a mag bolus in several days (keep your fingers crossed for a quiet uterus!), part of it is that I've finally been granted shower privileges for every other day (much better than once a week!), and part of it is that I just found out my mom is flying in for the weekend! She wanted to see me before her surgery (which is scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving) and I am so thrilled—especially since she has promised to give me a little pedicure while she is here (I haven't been able to reach my toenails in a while and, well, let's just say that I could be considered armed and dangerous).

The babies continue to look strong on the daily ultrasounds—although my next measuring session isn't due for another week, it's clear that people are growing in there! This is reassuring in light of the fact that I haven't gained any weight since coming into the hospital (prior to my hospitalization, I'd been gaining 2 to 5 pounds a week). The doctor is considering ordering protein shakes for me and, since I expressed some boredom with the cafeteria offerings, he has advised me to acquire outside food as often as possible. I've taken to watching a lot of the Food Channel and dreaming about all the things I'll make once I'm outta here (or once the kids are out of the house!).

It's still hard to think about being here 2, 4, or 6 more weeks, but I am trying to just take it one day at a time. I couldn't do it without all of you, my faithful cheerleaders!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Third trimester, here we come!

Today marks the close of my 28th week, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief: If the babies were to be delivered now, they'd have an excellent chance of not just surviving, but doing so without major health issues. Praise God! That said, we are so thankful that the babies continue to stay put—there's a reason that it takes 40 weeks to grow a singleton, so we'd really like to get as close to that as possible (without endangering me or the Fab Four, of course). Dr. S now seems to think I will have no problem getting to 34 weeks; in fact, on Friday he joked about how he thinks he can take me to 38 weeks! (I laughed and told him that would be fine as long as I got to do some of that time at home.)

As much as I want the babies to do their maturing while still in utero, though, I must admit that I dread the aches and pains associated with them running out of room in my short-girl torso. The boys haven't given me too many problems yet, but the girls are already demanding more space. For a couple of weeks now, Baby D has been positioned so deep in my pelvis that when she kicks, it feels like she is in my leg! And for the past two days, Baby C's head has been directly under my right ribcage, making it impossible for me to find a comfortable position in my hospital bed (not that it was very comfortable to begin with). Poor squished babies! I am starting to think that Dr. E's repeated suggestion of putting me on the rack to stretch me out a bit might not be such a bad idea after all ...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two weeks down

I'll be frank: My second week in the hospital has not been easy. Most nights, Ted has had to work later than planned (which obviously eats into our precious time together), and neither of us has yet been able to sleep well here. The stress of separation and sleep deprivation have no doubt played a part in the sore throat and general feelings of malaise that we've both come down with in the past couple of days. Add to that my ever-increasing (and grog-inducing) doses of magnesium sulfate, plus some bad news we've recently gotten regarding my mother's health, and it's no wonder that I could sometimes cry at the drop of a hat.

Thankfully, the babies seem to be doing a lot better than their mommy. Their movements are more frequent and stronger than ever, and the daily ultrasounds to check their heart tones confirm that they are not in any distress, despite the continuing contractions. They are also growing well: As of Friday, they weighed approximately 2 lb. 7 oz., 2 lb. 1 oz., 1 lb. 11 oz., and 2 lb. 1 oz. (A to D). I asked the doctor whether we should be concerned that Baby C is so much smaller than her siblings, but he said that she is doing fine and will probably just be a little more "petite" than the others. (Since her femur measures second-longest, though, I am choosing to think of her as tall and slender—you know, like a supermodel!)

Most importantly, we are now just 5 days away from the 28-week milestone. In light of this, a neonatologist recently came in to talk to us about the prognosis for babies born at this stage. Although they would have a good chance of eventually making it, the immediate and long-term risks (including all sorts of breathing problems, bleeding on the brain that could result in cerebral palsy, and a fatal inability to digest food properly) are scary to think about. Knowing a little more about what the babies would have to go through if they were born right now really reinforces our hope that they don't come for several more weeks—no matter how stressful and uncomfortable a long hospital stay proves to be. We can endure anything if it means an ounce less of pain for our babies once they're born.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I've come to the conclusion that the words "hospital" and "bedrest" belong nowhere near each other. Sure, I am confined to the bed all day, but I would definitely never describe my time here as restful. For one, a nurse comes in every hour to check on me, day or night (at first, they were also taking my vitals every hour, but that's now been knocked down to every 4 hours, thank goodness). Plus, I have to use the commode every 90 minutes or so, due to the massive amounts of water I am drinking and all the IV fluids they're pumping into me. Add to that 5am visits from the residents, midmorning visits from the doctor, daily ultrasounds, twice-weekly physical therapy, twice-weekly massages, twice-weekly weigh-ins, and daily visits from chaplains, volunteers, patient relations, room service, and housekeeping, and it's hard to squeeze in a nap, let alone a full night's sleep!

I guess all this activity is good for me, though—it makes the time go by a little faster and helps to keep my mind off of home (have I mentioned that I miss Ted terribly during the day?). And yesterday I actually got to make a new friend; at the doctor's suggestion, a nurse put me in a wheelchair and took me down the hall to meet a girl who is 22 weeks pregnant with triplets. She was admitted on Monday and, like me, is probably here for the duration. I am hopeful that we will get to visit each other again soon so that we can keep each other encouraged during the long weeks ahead. Even though 28 weeks is the short-term goal (for an 80% survival rate versus 50% at 24 weeks), we would both love to gestate our babies much longer than that—the less time they have to spend hooked up to all sorts of stuff in the NICU, the better!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One week down

Things have quickly settled into a monotony around here, which is why I have not posted an update since moving into my sweet pad. My contractions seem to go through cycles, at times stopping almost entirely for hours on end, only to start picking up again the minute the doctor implies that he might take me off the magnesium sulfate. I am very fortunate, however, in that the dreaded mag has spared me its worst side effects; my only complaints so far have been a dry mouth and fatigue (Ted would add that I must also feel very hot because the room is "freezing" but I feel totally comfortable). In fact, I am feeling well enough that I wouldn't mind taking a few phone calls (hint, hint!). The prospect of being here for several more weeks is admittedly starting to bum me out, but I just keep reminding myself that anything I can do to keep my babies from being born too early is worth it. We're only 12 days away from the 28-week mark!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Movin' on up

I've just been moved to a (much nicer) room with a view, and this can only mean one thing: I'm in here for the long haul. I'm not too surprised, as I've been piecing together clues pointing in this direction for a couple of days now. First of all, every new nurse on duty has automatically assumed that I will be here until the babies come. Also, the chaplain who visited me yesterday mentioned that someone could teach me to knit or crochet while I am here (!). And this morning, a nurse suggested that Ted bring some of our own pillows and blankets to make things feel more homey.

Most telling, however, was this morning's exchange with my doctor's partner (Dr. E) who, after seeing my contraction patterns, ordered both an increase in my magnesium sulfate and a return to Indocin (a pill that relaxes the uterus):

Me: "Soooo ... I'm not leaving anytime soon, am I?"
Dr. E: "This is when you leave" (proceeds to write "HFO" [Hell Freezes Over] on the whiteboard in my room).

'Nuff said, no? I am not too unhappy about being here long-term, though; everyone here is wonderful and I feel increasingly reassured that I am getting the best care possible for these babies.

Incidentally, almost as soon as I got my bathroom privileges yesterday, they were revoked due to my sudden increase in contractions. So I'm back to the bedside commode (ugh) and who knows when I'll ever see a showerhead. I guess all the activity yesterday (getting out of bed so they could change my sheets, washing up at the sink, walking to the real toilet umpteen times, talking to nurses and getting somehow poked or prodded by them every half-hour or so, undergoing my daily ultrasound, etc.) was too much for my humongous uterus to handle.

All this is why I've asked people to please not visit or call for the time being—the slightest increase in activity (including any sort of extended conversation) drives up my pulse to as high as 145 (compare that to my pre-pregnancy resting heart rate of 60), which just totally wipes me out. And the last thing I need right now is to be using up my energy on anything other than growing these babies and keeping them from coming for at least 2 more weeks. I absolutely love hearing from everyone via the comments on this blog, Facebook, or just plain e-mail, though. Your words are a constant encouragement to me, so please keep them coming!


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