Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 3 and counting

Yep, it's day 3 and I am still on the mag pump. I didn't sleep very well last night, so I napped most of the morning and plan to nap some more this afternoon (one of the perks of being on bedrest!). Dr. S came in a few hours ago (for about 2 nanosececonds—I counted), and all he said was that my uterus seems to be calmer and we'll see how I do over the weekend. The nurse came in later to expand on that, saying that I'll definitely need to be on the mag for at least 24 hours after my last steroid injection (which I had at 11am today) and then, once they decide to take me off the mag, I'll need to stay an additional couple of days for observation. So according to my calculations, the best-case scenario has me going home Monday at the earliest (although I am not holding my breath for that to happen).

In fun news, I had an ultrasound yesterday afternoon to check the babies' heart tones (they say this will be a daily occurrence while I'm here). The resident who performed the scan was pleasantly surprised at how "big and beautiful" my 25-week quads are, and when I told her their 23-week weights, she was quite impressed (yay for my overachieving children!). She noted that the babies are very active and was glad to see that they are practicing their breathing as they should. I don't have any pictures to post, but at today's ultrasound I will try to remember to ask whether the hospital's machine has the capability to burn the images to a CD (I remembered today that I stashed one in my purse before leaving home, just in case).

The best thing that's happened so far today is that I have been granted bathroom privileges (no more bedside commode, woohoo!). And the nurse is hoping that I will be allowed to take a shower tomorrow (they let me get up to wash at the sink this morning, but it's just not the same). But now I need to lie back; the nurse just informed me that I've had six contractions in the last half-hour. RATS!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quick update

My doctor (Dr. S) came to see me this afternoon, just after I got my steroid shot, and asked, "You know why we're torturing you, don't you?" He stressed that once labor gets going, the momentum is very hard to stop, so we have to put the brakes on it now, while it's in its early stages. He also told me that we need to get my uterus completely quiet before I can go home—and he said that that might not happen for several more days (boo!). The time estimates for a discharge date seem to get longer and longer, but I am glad that I and my babies are being so well taken care of. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes you have been sending our way today!

In the hospital

Well, after 2 uneventful weeks of the doctor saying I was "doing awesome," I somehow ended up in the hospital all of a sudden yesterday. The trouble started in the morning when the nurse called to tell me that I'd registered 10 contractions in an hour. I gave myself an extra bolus of terbutaline and remonitored; doing that cut my contraction count in half, but I was still over my threshold of four. I remonitored again in the afternoon—same story: five contractions in an hour. That's when the nurse called to tell me that the doctor wanted me to come to the hospital.

Ted brought me to triage, where they put me on a contraction monitor for over an hour. When they saw that I was still contracting every 5 to 6 minutes, they decided to admit me for overnight observation. Once I got to my room, I found out that the doctor wanted to put me on a magnesium sulfate pump to "wipe out" my contractions. So they hooked me up and I prepared to be miserable. Fortunately, I tolerated the prescribed dose very well; the only side effect I experienced was that I felt very hot. We turned the air down and got a fan, and I was fine for the rest of the night (although Ted just about froze to death—sorry, honey!).

This morning I am having contractions every 10 minutes or so, which is better than yesterday but still not great. The resident told me that sometime today they will give me a steroid shot to accelerate development of the babies' lungs. They say it's just a precaution, but the nurse did mention that they give the shot to women who have a very good chance of delivering in the next few days. It's scary because I am not feeling any pain or anything different, yet they are telling me that these babies could come at 25 weeks and 3 days.

Please pray with us that I can keep these babies cooking for at least 3 more weeks. Thanks to a visit from my mom last weekend, the nursery is ready to go, but just about everything else (including those four little bodies) is not!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shrinking spaces and two sweet faces

Our little Fab Four have increasingly been making their presence known during the past couple of weeks, making it feel like an air popper is constantly running inside my belly. In fact, about a week ago Baby C kicked hard enough for Ted to feel baby movement for the first time, which was pretty exciting for both of us. And on Monday I was actually able to feel a body part (head? heel? elbow?) when I pressed on the top of my belly!

At Tuesday's 23-week ultrasound, I found out why I've been so much more aware of the babies lately. The tech determined that they now weigh 1 lb. 7 oz., 1 lb. 5 oz., 1 lb. 2 oz., and 1 lb. 3 oz. (A to D), which is just over 5 pounds combined (up from less than 3 pounds at my 20-week ultrasound). To further confirm the babies' significant growth, the nurse said that my belly has now surpassed full-term size (37 weeks) by nearly 2 weeks. It must be getting crowded in there!

I also got to see more 4-D images of two of the babies. Here is a video of Baby B, who let us have a good, long look at his cute little face:

video

And here's Baby C (she had her arms in a very dramatic pose and refused to move them so that we could get a better look at her):

video

Babies A and D acted bashful and turned around every time we trained the camera on them. The ultrasound tech said that we'd try to get 4-D images again next week (when Ted will be with me), so hopefully I'll have more videos (or at least stills) to share at that time. I am anxious to get my first look at Baby A, and I would like to see how much Baby D has changed since the 20-week mark.

Incidentally, the round-the-clock terbutaline hasn't entirely gotten rid of the contractions, but it's definitely helping: I haven't had more than four an hour since I began the therapy. And the initial side effects have subsided except for when I get a bolus; this extra-high dose is delivered every six hours and drives my pulse up to about 120 beats per minute, often making me feel weak, shaky, and short of breath for a half-hour or more. My doctor says that this spike is normal and I shouldn't worry unless my pulse reaches 125 or higher. Otherwise, things are looking good: I have no swelling, my blood pressure is staying nice and low, and I have no protein in my urine. My body's just gotta keep this up for at least 5 more weeks!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Contractions, be gone!

At yesterday's 22-week appointment, I unexpectedly got to hear the babies' heartbeats for the first time. When I reacted to the sound, the ultrasound tech laughed and said she always forgets that moms of multiples miss out on listening to the heartbeats. I got to hear only a couple of seconds' worth for each baby, but it was long enough for me to notice that each one has a distinct rhythm. Even after all this time, I still can't believe that there are five hearts beating inside of my body!

After the ultrasound, the nurse got out the measuring tape and determined that my belly is measuring at 36 weeks—that's 4 weeks larger than I was measuring just a week ago! This could explain why I suddenly started to experience so many contractions last week; with this huge uterus, my body thinks it's time to get these babies out of here. In fact, when the doctor saw how many contractions I'd registered over the weekend, he decided to take me off the Procardia and start me on something a little more hard core: a terbutaline pump. The pump is about the size of a beeper and delivers the terbutaline (an asthma medication that has been shown to prevent preterm labor by decreasing contractions) straight into my leg muscle via a thin, flexible tube. I get a low dose around the clock, with a big dose (called a "bolus") being delivered every six hours. It makes me really weak and shaky, but the nurse said that these side effects should abate after a couple of days.

The other big news to come out of yesterday's appointment is that the doctor told me that I needed to quit working, even from home. To help keep my uterus quiet, I am to lay on my side as much as possible and avoid any unnecessary stress (these babies make sure I have enough of that as it is). So as of today, I am a woman of leisure—ordered to stay off my feet and lacking the strength or mobility to do anything else anyway! We'll see how long it takes for me to go out of my mind.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Meet our virtual offspring

When Ted and I were first married, we saw one of those machines that morphs two faces together and just couldn't pass up the chance to see what our future kids would look like. Over the years, we've joked about the amusing results, and now, in a matter of weeks, we're finally going to see how accurate the machine's predictions were!

Allow me to introduce to you our kiddie composites (is it wrong to hope that the technology still has a ways to go?):

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good news

The lab results are in, and I don't have preeclampsia! The nurse said that my protein levels were around 250, and they don't start worrying until levels hit the 500 range. Whew!

As for the contractions, they seem to have quieted down. I had only one during my monitoring session this morning, but I did feel several throughout the day. Fortunately, the contractions do not hurt; it just feels like my belly is tightening up and shrinking in on itself for about a minute or so—a very odd sensation, indeed. We'll see how I do over the weekend.

In any case, thanks for all your words of encouragement, as well as your continued prayers for me, the babies, and Ted. They really do make a difference!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A roller-coaster week

My first week of bedrest ended on a high note, with a baby shower thrown by my mother-in-law's friends (don't worry, I had permission from my doctor to attend). I had met most of them only once or twice (several years ago, when I was but a blushing bride), and some I had never met before. The ladies immediately put me at ease, however, with their excitement about the quads, myriad questions about how things are going, and offers to help out when the babies arrive. Ted and I were so surprised by their generosity; it's clear that they must love his mother dearly and we are so thankful that they extended that love to us. The hostesses did a fantastic job and, as you can see, I got another cute cake out of the deal!

Unfortunately, the days following this final baby shower haven't been quite as much fun. At my doctor visit on Tuesday, they found a small amount of protein in my urine. Since this could indicate the onset of preeclampsia (click on the link if you aren't familiar with the condition), the doctor decided to run some additional tests (results should be available tomorrow afternoon). On top of this, I've had contraction monitoring sessions registering five, six, seven, and even eight contractions in the past few days. For this reason, my doctor has put me on Procardia, which is usually used to treat high blood pressure but is also effective at relaxing the uterus. I am not very happy about being on meds already, but I'd rather take a pill than be in the hospital or lose my babies. Hopefully this Procardia will do the trick, and my uterus will stay nice and calm for a few more weeks.

I should be used to the highs and lows by now, but I admit that it's been hard for both Ted and me to balance excitement about the quads and the realities of a high-risk pregnancy. Fortunately, we are a team and we are growing stronger every day. I haven't enjoyed losing my independence (even if I weren't on bedrest, I have no energy and I just plain can't move like I used to), but it's definitely given me a chance to appreciate how much Ted loves me and the babies. I couldn't do this without his help, and I try to let him know every day that I don't take his willing sacrifices of time and energy for granted. I am so blessed to have his support, both physically and emotionally. He is going to be a great dad!

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