Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I've just seen a face (or three)

So the reason my doctor appointment was so exciting was that Ted and I unexpectedly got to see 4-D images of three of the babies! They actually looked like morphing gobs of goo most of the time (the ultrasound tech had to fiddle with a bunch of settings in order to get the right angle), but once they were brought into focus, it was so cool to see their little faces.

Without further ado, here is a screencap of Baby B (apparently we were disturbing him so much that he had to cover his ears):

And here's Baby C (the poor thing was getting kicked in the head by her sister most of the time, which is probably why she's frowning):

And finally, here's Baby D (not a great picture, but funny because she's in the process of getting kicked in the face by Baby C—that'll teach her!):

Unfortunately, Baby A was left out because he was too deep in my pelvis to see him clearly. Hopefully we'll have better luck next time.

In case you were curious, the babies weighed in at 14, 11, 11, and 12 ounces (A to D). I won't tell you what the scales read when it was my turn to get weighed, but rest assured that the doctor was very happy with the amount I've gained so far. My 20-week belly is measuring at 30 weeks, and the nurse commented that I am "stretching nicely" (whatever that means). So far I am not having any swelling and my blood pressure remains low, both of which pleased my doctor greatly.

He did warn me, however, that at this stage I will be experiencing contractions on a regular basis. Since I can't feel them yet, I have started using a home contraction monitor for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. (The babies go wild when I wear the monitor; I don't think they are fond of it, but I love it when they move around so much!) If I would ever have four or more contractions within the space of an hour, I would need to go to the hospital for further evaluation.

So my job for the foreseeable future is to stay hydrated and restrict my activity as much as possible in order to keep contractions to a minimum. Although I hate not being able to do anything, it's getting to the point now where it's difficult for me to move much, anyway. I predict that my new 3-month Netflix membership (thanks, Johnny and Holly!) will be getting quite the workout!

Some last hurrahs before bedrest

Perhaps not surprisingly, the days leading up to the 20-week mark have been somewhat of a blur.

It all began on Thursday, when my wonderful coworkers threw me a baby shower pitch-in, complete with Beatles song-themed cupcakes! Despite being fully aware of what wonderful people I work with, I was truly astonished at their generosity and touched at the effort they made to celebrate the upcoming arrival of these babies. It was a perfect excuse to take a break from the daily grind and enjoy each others' company for a while—I mean, where else can you sample a dozen potluck dishes while recounting your favorite toddler bathroom horror stories? Good times.

On Friday, I pretty much cleaned out my cubicle in preparation for a couple of months of working from home—it's amazing to realize how much stuff you use on a daily basis! I said goodbye to some of my pals and extracted promises that they'd visit me while I am on bedrest. Leaving at the end of the day was a very strange experience, knowing that the next time I stepped in those doors I would be a mother of four!

Saturday, we drove to my Grandpa M's house to celebrate his 90th birthday—which my parents flew in for! My aunts had set up a tent in my grandpa's backyard, and he sat enthroned in his motorized chair as dozens of friends and family arrived to offer their birthday wishes. It was a beautiful day for an outdoor party, and I got to see several cousins that I rarely have a chance to spend time with. We'd hoped that all 11 of my grandpa's children would be able to make it, but 9 out of 11 ain't bad!

Unfortunately, all this activity proved to be too much for this pregnant lady, and on Sunday morning I woke up with a racing heart. I stayed in bed all morning, hoping that it would calm down before the afternoon, but no such luck. Despite the fact that I was feeling puny, I had another baby shower to go to! This time it was a family shower, hosted by my awesome cousins Tiffany and Charisa and their mom, Holly. The theme was "Four Peas in a Pod"—check out the adorable cake that Tiff's friend made! I loved it! The lovely hostesses even found favors with four peas in a pod; I was super-impressed by their creativity and resourcefulness. They and the other family members present at the shower blessed me with cute baby outfits and other needed items, and I was again so thankful for the ways people are helping us get ready for the quads.

My parents flew home yesterday after a much-too-short visit, and now that I am on light bedrest, things should be slowing way down for me. The only exception will be my doctor appointments, which will now be occurring weekly rather than every other week. And speaking of doctor visits, I had a rather exciting one this morning. But that post will have to wait until Ted has time to make some scans ... stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reality check

"Think you're big now? You'll start growing even more rapidly in the weeks to come."

This startling (and unintentionally hilarious) bit of information was featured in the latest BabyCenter newsletter to land in my inbox. Believe it or not, I occasionally forget that my pregnancy is not a "normal" one—after all, I've never been pregnant before, so I don't know any better! Fortunately, I have BabyCenter to remind me how freakishly big I already am ... and to terrify me as I contemplate what it will be like to grow even faster than I have been doing for the past 6 weeks or so.

Something else that got my attention this week? The illustration (at right) of what my body should look like at 19 weeks, according to Your Pregnancy Week by Week. Honestly, I don't think I looked much smaller than this lady before I became pregnant! Prepare to be astonished as you compare this drawing to my corresponding "19 weeks" belly shot:

You know, sometimes I just sit here and can't even believe that this is happening to me. I'm so glad that I can (usually) laugh about it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A week of firsts

In the past week, I've gotten to experience a lot of "fun" things about pregnancy for the first time. Lovely stretch marks have begun to appear, my right hip has decided to randomly give out on me when I stand up, and on Sunday I woke up in the middle of the night with one of the worst charley horses I've ever had!

More importantly, however, Ted and I also got to visit our hospital's NICU for the first time last week. It was a far cry from the brightly lit beehive of activity that I'd expected: The lights were dim, sounds were muted, and the nurses seemed relaxed and friendly. I'm sure it would have been a different picture if we'd walked in during an emergency, but it was nevertheless comforting to see in what a soothing environment our babies will spending the first days and perhaps weeks of their lives. The nurse in charge also took us into the little room off the C-section rooms, where the babies will be stabilized directly after birth, and she explained a little bit about all the things the nurses will be checking and administering to the babies during that critical time.

Hearing the nurse talk about preemies and the things they have to go through depending on how many weeks they're in the womb before being born was a great reminder to Ted and me about the importance of making it to 34 weeks. According to the nurse, babies born at that stage can usually breathe room air on their own, which means they don't need to be on ventilators or CPAP machines. They also have usually developed the suckling reflex by then, which means that they can feed from breast or bottle instead of via feeding tubes. And, of course, being born at 34 weeks generally means less time in the NICU before going home.

So let's keep praying for a December 29 birthday ... 15 more weeks to go!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Manpower and a baby shower

Bedrest is less than 2 weeks away, and the flurry of activity has begun! The busy-ness kicked off on Labor Day weekend, when my family (minus Dad) flew up from Texas to help us get some things in shape while I am still mobile. Although Johnny and Holly were only able to be here for a couple of days, they made a huge impact, helping Ted to transform the guest room into the babies' room within a matter of hours. It seriously would have taken ten times longer without their assistance! Here is the nursery in progress (notice how the cribs barely fit into one shot):

After Johnny and Holly left, my mom stayed on through the end of the week. Her most important accomplishment during this time was to keep me exceedingly well fed with her delicious cooking—not a small feat! Having a full belly definitely helped me sleep better and just feel better overall. Mom was also able to finish up a cross-stitch project to decorate the nursery with (I'll post pictures when we get around to hanging it), and on Wednesday she helped me celebrate the big 3-2 (thanks for sharing her on our birthday, Dad!).

At the tail end of Mom's visit, we attended my first baby shower, which was hosted by a group of my wonderful college friends: (left to right) Amy, Lisa, Becky, Andrea, and Kristen. The girls did an absolutely fantastic job, preparing a lovely spread, coming up with non-cheesy shower activities (thanks, guys!), playing Beatles lullabies, and even finding decorations with four baby faces on them! (The cake replicated the design; isn't it so cute?)

I can't tell you how blessed I felt by the girls' hard work and attention to detail (everything was perfect!), as well as by all the friends from different parts of my life who came together to celebrate the upcoming arrival of these four babies. All of your love and support, plus my family's visit during the past week, mean the world to us. Ted and I truly couldn't do this without you guys!



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