Monday, July 28, 2008

It is scheduled

I will be undergoing the aforementioned transabdominal cerclage (TAC) procedure on Friday at 1:30pm. It actually wasn't that hard of a call to make after I decided that I just cannot ignore all the good outcomes that my doctor has had with dozens of triplet/quad pregnancies. Plus, I figure that if I didn't go through with it and the babies came too early to have a chance at a normal life (or even at life, period), I would always wonder whether things would have turned out differently if I'd had the TAC.

Something else that made my decision a little easier was the opportunity I had to talk with a wonderful triplet mom named Linda (thanks for the contact, Christine!). She had the procedure done a few years ago with the same doctor and was able to answer a lot of my questions (most of which seemed too trivial to ask the doctor himself). I am all about studying up and having all the information beforehand, so my chat with Linda really set my mind at ease. And hearing about her once-tiny babies and how well they're doing three years on was really encouraging. I hope that a couple of years from now I can share my successful quad pregnancy story with a newbie!

In other news, I had my 12-week appointment with the doctor this morning. I got a full first-trimester screening, which means I got to look at my babies for a whole half-hour! For those keeping track, they now range from 5.5 to 6 centimeters in length (crown to rump). The ultrasound tech was excited when she stumbled upon the view below, which shows all four of them in one shot. She says not to expect it to ever happen again:

Part of the screening involved measuring the skin folds on the back of the babies' necks. To do this, the tech had to get a profile shot of each baby. To my delight, while she was measuring the distance between the neck muscles and skin, I got to get a good look at the faces of each of my babies. I think that Baby A looks just like Ted:

And Baby B looks like my brother did when he was little:

Babies C and D were harder to pin down, looks-wise, but it will be interesting to see if my first impressions of the other two babies turn out to be accurate. It's so exciting to see them looking more and more like little individuals!

My next ultrasound will be right before they wheel me into surgery, and then I'll have another one a few minutes after the procedure to reassure me that they all made it through okay. I will probably be too out of it to post, but Ted assures me that he will take advantage of his contributor status in order to let everyone know how things went. If all goes as planned, I'll be back in posting form by early next week!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This is where it starts to get hard

I had my second visit with the maternal-fetal specialist a couple of days ago. As the first order of business, we got to see the babies again. No measurements this time; the tech was just looking for heart tones. She focused on each baby individually and showed us the flicker of the heartbeat. It was very clear that the kiddos have done some growing in the last couple of weeks; we could see them moving around and even waving at us! It's amazing to think that there's all that movement in my body, and yet I can't feel any of it. I am sure that I will long for this kind of oblivion once I have eight tiny feet (and eight tiny fists) vying for room in my torso!

Here are a couple of snapshots from the latest ultrasound (the babies are shown at 10 weeks gestation):

The second part of the visit was less fun, as it involved hearing a little more about transabdominal cerclage (TAC). The TAC is an optional procedure in which the uterus is temporarily removed (with babies in it!) via a C-section-type incision so that a band can be placed around the top of the cervix. The surgery has serious risks (including, rarely, the loss of one or more babies); however, it appears that outcomes for triplet pregnancies are encouraging (there is not much data on quad pregnancies, for obvious reasons). According to my doctor, women who have the surgery are less likely to experience the degree of preterm labor that results in a much-too-early delivery. The babies will come early regardless, of course, but this could lengthen their time in the womb (which, in turn, would mean less time in the NICU—always a good thing).

If I decide to have the procedure (and I'm pretty sure I will), my surgery will be August 1. My doctor says that I can expect to be in the hospital for two nights, and then at home for a week. Please pray for me as I face this scary prospect, that I may have peace about the decision I make. My main goal is to do whatever is best for the babies.

To end on an up note, Ted and I will celebrate our eighth anniversary on Tuesday. That's two years of marriage per baby—and you guys thought we were waiting too long to have kids!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I am full of babies

That's how my coworker Jon described me today, and it cracked me up! Of course, I can't feel any of the babies yet, but that doesn't mean I'm not constantly aware of their presence. Mostly, they make me tired and extremely hungry to the point that I cannot even sleep through the night without waking up for a hearty snack (okay, it's more like a meal). I hear that's pretty normal, but I can't help suspecting that four babies make you hungrier than just one.

In other news, at 9 weeks I can no longer button my jeans. I am using a hair band looped around my button and through my button hole to extend the reach of my waistband. It's working pretty well so far, but I have to admit that I had to unzip my pants on the car ride home from work today (I don't think the drivers around me noticed). Any day now, I won't even have to inform people that I am pregnant. Things are already happening so quickly!

What's not progressing quickly is the name selection. The truth is that we have been so overwhelmed by the thought of having quads that baby names are the last thing on our minds. We've kind of decided that the most efficient thing to do is to wait to make those decisions until we find out the sexes of John, Paul, George, and Ringo (yes, that's what I immediately dubbed them when we got the quad news), which won't happen for a few weeks yet. That way we don't waste a lot of time deciding on names that won't even be needed.

Nevertheless, we do have a number of helpful friends who are having fun coming up with names on our behalf. Here's the most complete (and the most inspired!) list I've received so far, courtesy of Jana (coworker and cat-sitter extraordinaire):

The basics (read: boring!)—these are the top four names for boys and girls in 2008-2009 (in order):

Girls: Madison, Hannah, Emily, and Alexia
Boys: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, and Matthew

In no particular order, here are the more—shall we say—colorful names!!

The 4 food groups: Ham, Broccoli, Milk, and Wheat
The Growing Pains kids (kinda appropriate): Mike, Carol, Ben, and Chrissy
I Love Lucy: Ricky, Lucy, Ethel, and Fred
The Scooby gang: Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy (I'd be remiss if I didn't include them)
Deck of cards: Heart, Club, Spade, and Diamond (although these do sound stripper-ish!)
70s disco: Earth, Wind, Fire (and Water)
The 4 elements in all living things: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen
4 really bad celebrity kids names: Pilot Inspektor, Prince Michael II (yes, because there's a Prince Michael I), Zahara, and Kal El
The 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
The 4 corner states: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico (the kid who gets the name New Mexico could definitely be shortened to "Mexi"—just a thought)
If you have 4 girls, how 'bout 4 flowers? Daisy, Rose, Lily, and Iris
Popular city names: Paris (of course, right!?), London, Brooklyn, and Dallas
And finally, what seems to be the most logical of all, The Fantastic Four: Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and Thing

Other interesting suggestions have included rock stars (Axl, Slash, Izzy, and Duff), comedians (Larry, Curly, Moe, and Shemp), and biblical characters (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Chuck—hey, sometimes it's hard to come up with that fourth name!). If you have any more name ideas for us, leave a comment—we just might use one of them!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We know the meaning of shock and awe

On June 3, 2008, Ted and I were elated to learn that I was 4 weeks pregnant. We spent the next couple of weeks making plans and smiling nonstop. When we went for my first ultrasound, at the 6-week mark, we were just praying to see a heartbeat. So imagine our utter surprise when we saw this:

Ted was speechless, and I just had to laugh. Even our doctor was stunned. Quadruplets!! Never in a million years did we imagine having more than two children total. In an instant, our entire life as we had planned it went out the window.
The doctor told us that it's not unusual for a multiple pregnancy to self-reduce this early in the game, so he warned us not to spread the news until we came back the next week for another ultrasound. When that day finally arrived, it was clear that they were all still there and growing (which is why they no longer fit into a single shot):

With this news, my doctor immediately referred me to a maternal-fetal specialist. We had our first visit with the new doctor a couple of days ago, and the ultrasound showed that the babies are all measuring approximately 1.5 to 2 centimeters. The ultrasonographer verified that none of them are identical, and she even named them for us: A, B, C, and D. Here is what they looked like at 8 weeks:

We are thrilled and feel so blessed to be having quads, but we are also terrified and very nervous! Not only do we have to worry about how we are going to afford to raise four kids, but we must also do everything in our power to keep these babies from coming too early. Quadruplet pregnancies are very risky, and preterm labor is the norm. Although my due date is February 9, the doctor says that these babies will almost certainly come before the end of the year (and spend several weeks in the NICU). He says that for them to have any real chance outside the womb, the first major milestone is 28 weeks (November 17). Ideally, however, they'll stay put until at least the 30-week mark (any time in December would be swell; the later, the better). To maximize my chances of carrying them that long, I will be going on bedrest around 20 weeks (September 22), at which time I should measure as large as a full-term singleton pregnancy!

As you can imagine, our minds are constantly racing with thoughts of everything that needs to get done before I go on bedrest, and then what needs to get done before the babies arrive, and then what needs to get done when they come home. Please pray for us as we make this big adjustment and figure out how to make it all work, pray for me as my body goes through changes that it was not really built for, and pray for our babies as they develop so that they may arrive healthy and strong. We plan to update this blog as often as possible to keep everyone posted on the status of the quads, so check back frequently for the latest news. I'm sure there won't be a dull moment!


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