More than halfway there! Goals for the second half of pregnancy.

I am now nearly 21 weeks along in my pregnancy and things are really picking up!  First of all, I can’t believe that I made it this far.  Getting into the 20s in terms of weeks seemed so far away, and now I’m here!  While I know that it does not mean things are safe, because there are no guarantees, it does give me some comfort to know that even if I deliver in a few weeks, my babies would have a chance at surviving.  Since everything still looks good every time I go to the doctor, I have every reason to assume that I will make it several more weeks, and that gives me hope.

Secondly, the appointments!  Oh my goodness, all the appointments.  Now that I am farther along, I visit the MFM every two weeks, as well as the regular OB every 4 weeks.  This week I managed to have 3 appointments, because I had my anatomy scan with the MFM, then an appointment with the regular OB two days later.  At the OB I mentioned that my left ankle and foot has been swelling (little to no swelling in the right side), which meant another emergency ultrasound a few hours later to rule out a blood clot.  Thankfully everything was okay, it appears to just be normal pregnancy swelling and this hot weather we’ve been having.  But suddenly I have gone from feeling like time stretches indefinitely in between appointments to having an appointment just about every week!  I also have a fetal echocardiogram scheduled at 23 weeks, which is in addition to all of the other appointments.  It seems like I’m always signing out of work early or showing up to work late now.  And soon there will be even more appointments, once the weekly MFM visits and then twice-weekly non-stress tests begin!  Oh boy.  At least I get to see my girls often.

It suddenly feels like I have so little time to get everything ready.  My goal is to have everything ready by 30 weeks, because after that it seems like I could go into labor any time.  The goal is to make it to 37 weeks (well, my personal, slightly selfish goal is 36 weeks…but still a long time from now), but so many women with twins go into labor at 31, 32, 33 weeks.  I want to at least have my hospital bag packed by then, as well as own and organize all the essentials that I will need by the time the babies come home from the hospital.  My husband also has several home improvement projects he wants to get done before the girls arrive, but he is so busy with work that I don’t know when they will all happen.  Things feel a bit rushed now.

Money concerns.  I feel a bit guilty every time I spend money on baby items, because I feel like maybe I should try harder to find things for free or cheap.  But honestly, many items it just seems easier and more sanitary and more convenient to buy online new rather than hunt down and clean used items.  I feel guilty because I am going to stay home once these babies are born, hopefully for a few years at least, and so my source of income will dry up within a few months.  I also have so many copays from doctors visits now, and the MFM copay is higher than my regular OB copay.  $50 instead of $20.  It’s all worth it, of course, but by the end of this pregnancy all those copays will add up!  This is another reason why I want to buy everything before 30 weeks, because then I will start to have more frequent appointments and all the money that I would spend on baby stuff should be spent on copays, instead.

Symptoms lately:

  • Occasional nausea, especially after breakfast.  It seems to be worse on weekends.  My theory is that it’s because I sleep later on weekends and my eating schedule gets off, which seems to influence how nauseous I feel all day.
  • Extreme stuffiness.  I try to make it through the day without medication, but decongestant spray is part of my nightly routine so I can breathe throughout the night.
  • Trouble falling asleep most nights.  I feel wired at bedtime!  I still take unisom, partly for nausea but also because at least it helps me fall asleep a little.  I don’t know how long it would take me to fall asleep if I didn’t take it.  Perhaps a sign that I should stop drinking caffeine at lunch…(this will be easier in the summer!)
  • Stomach is getting bigger by the day!  However, it doesn’t feel that uncomfortable.  I am using belly butter to hopefully prevent stretch marks.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions.  I haven’t had very many of these, but on two occasions I have woken up in the middle of the night and notice I am having a contraction.  It goes away with some water and lying down on my side and deep breathing.  I think I have started to feel some mild ones while I am walking in the past week, especially when it is hot out.
  • Swelling in left leg.  As I mentioned earlier, it seems to be normal and probably related to the heat wave we have been experiencing this week.  It doesn’t hurt, but it sure doesn’t look pretty!
  • Not a huge appetite.  I certainly eat regularly and a fair amount, but I don’t usually feel ravenous and by the end of the day my stomach feels like it has been packed full.  I’m trying to just eat healthy foods when I do eat and not worry about the amount, because I’m gaining a healthy amount of weight and so are the babies.
  • Weight gain.  Of course.  However, I was happy to see that it seems to be leveling off a bit.  Between my visits to the OB from March to April, I gained 13 pounds!  In the past month between OB visits, I only gained 6 pounds.  That makes a total weight gain of about 26 pounds so far at almost 21 weeks.  It doesn’t make me happy to think about, but it’s necessary and not outside the range of normal, so I just have to trust that my body knows what it’s doing.
  • The girls are starting to kick HARD!  Over the past few weeks, they’re movements have progressed from occasional flutters to rather frequent and pronounced kicks and jabs.  They don’t hurt me yet, but I am wondering how they will feel in a month or so!  I’m glad to have such strong and active girls, though 🙂

I am grateful that I have not experienced several symptoms that seem to plague many women pregnant with twins at this stage, such as extreme fatigue or back pain.  Or really much pain at all!  Except sometimes abdominal pain when walking, I think from the weight and the stretching.  I do believe that exercise has helped.  This pregnancy does not feel that unnatural on my body, even though it has changed so much and I have gained so much weight.

Goals for the next 9 weeks (until 30 weeks):

  • Acquire all baby necessities and have them organized by function
  • Set up the nursery furniture
  • Set up a “feeding station” and a “bathing station”
  • Wash newborn clothes
  • Pack hospital bag
  • Complete hospital tour and have a plan for when I go into labor
  • Continue to save as much money as possible from each paycheck to create a nest egg for later
  • Deep clean house

So!  If I felt like the first half of pregnancy was somewhat boring and dragged on without much to do, the second half feels more like a whirlwind and frenzy of activity.  It is stressful, but it is exciting.  This is really happening!  I am really having twin girls!  I can feel them moving around inside of me every day!  I have seen them several times on the ultrasound screen.  I am finally getting ready.

Advertisements

Second Trimester Relief

Well, I made it to the second trimester.  15 weeks today or 15 weeks last Saturday, depending on whether you measure from LMP or the estimated gestational age from the first ultrasound.

It is such a relief in many ways!  Of course, the risk of miscarriage goes down significantly now.  I live every day with the fear that something will happen to one or both of them still, but I also comfort myself with the knowledge that, most likely, both will be okay.  It is a relief to have had three positive ultrasounds at this point, including my NT scan.  It is a relief now that we have begun telling people about the pregnancy and I can talk freely about it.  And it is a relief to FINALLY have some relief from morning sickness!

How am I feeling?  Well, the morning sickness is mostly gone, which is most welcome.  (Wish I could say it was completely gone…it still comes in waves, particularly at night and when I’m not being careful about my vitamin b6 and Unisom regimen, but it is SO MUCH better than it was a few weeks ago when I was constantly dry-heaving and nothing sounded good.)  I want to eat most of the time!  I have been especially craving chips, fries, and salmon burgers lately.  These cravings seem to change from week to week, but I am adding more things to my diet again and I actually want to eat salad right now!  As long as it has goat cheese and a certain kind of dressing.  Oh well, at least I’m eating salad.

I do have more energy most days, and sometimes I actually have trouble sleeping now.  During the first trimester, I was basically asleep before my head hit the pillow.  Sleep is unfortunately interrupted a lot, particularly by my bladder.  I had read that constant urination is a problem during the 1st trimester that improves in the 2nd, but unfortunately I have to say that has not been the case for me.  It is actually quite insane how many times and how much I have to pee now, and it is frustrating because I know I’m not drinking enough water as it is!  I don’t really know what to do about this.  I do sleep when I’m exhausted enough, but getting comfortable has been tough and then I’m up several times before I fall asleep and several more times throughout the night emptying my bladder.

My stomach is visibly growing.  Most strangers don’t seem to notice that I’m pregnant, although I have had one or two knowing looks and smiles from people I’ve never met before.  A few coworkers and students have noticed without me telling them, but I’m not making a big deal about it and don’t really want to announce it to students, per se, until after I know the genders and have another positive ultrasound.  I am pretty much exclusively wearing maternity clothes because they are comfortable on my stomach/uterus area.  My husband says that I look basically the same except for my stomach, and actually worries that I don’t look more chubby and wonders if I’m gaining enough weight.  I feel like I definitely have gained weight in my hips and thighs and feel rather uncomfortable in my body right now.  I’m keeping myself from panicking about the weight gain by reading stories of all the women who gain 50+ pounds in their pregnancies because their bodies need it and lose it all in a few months because they breastfed.  Getting my body back to a semblance of its former shape will definitely be a project for the first year or so postpartum.

We announced it on Facebook and we are being open about it with coworkers and friends.  That is really nice!  I notice that people ask me how I’m feeling all the time.  I’m not sure how to answer this question because they probably don’t want or need to know all the various weird things going on in my body, so I just say, “Pretty good.”  Considering all that is happening in my body right now, I do think I’m feeling pretty good!

Our next appointment with the OB will be at approximately 17 weeks, and then at about 18 weeks I have my next appointment with the perinatologist.  I don’t think that I will get an ultrasound at the OB appointment, but definitely at the perinatologist!  I am very excited to see the twins again and, I hope, find out the genders!

IMG_0313IMG_0317

The twins at the 13 weeks ultrasound.  It’s amazing how much they already look like little people!

Bittersweet Beginnings

It has “only” been three months of trying to conceive a child after our loss.  I say “only” in quotations because anyone who has been on this “Trying To Conceive (TTC)” journey for even a single month knows that the Two Week Wait (TWW) is pretty much the definition of eternity and three months might as well be before the beginning of time.  Time has a way of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out indefinitely when you are hyper-analyzing every single twinge and fluid your body produces.

(BTW, The body is just as fickle a friend as time when you are TTC.  I don’t think that I’ve ever had nausea as a symptom of PMS.  The past three months have been practically nonstop feelings that I am about to vomit.  It’s truly…fascinating.)

The hardest thing about this endeavor, trying to have a child, is that it is absolutely out of your control.  Hardly anything else in life requires as much utter dependency and faith.  I mean, sure, in truth, everything is uncertain and nothing is in our control.  I do believe that God is absolutely sovereign and can make the best-laid plans fail and the most unsuspected miracles come to be.  He is GOD, after all.

And yet…it is a unique struggle.  When I wanted to get married, I kind of felt this way.  I mean, I couldn’t just make a man who wanted to marry me fall out of the sky, and moreover a man whom I wanted to marry, too.  It took faith, and I believe it was God’s providence that I did meet my husband, as faltering as our steps may have been and still are.  However, I had some degree of control over this kind of situation.  I COULD choose to give myself in marriage to anyone who would have me, just to get married, and I’m sure that if that were my intention I could have found myself married soon thereafter.  If I had gone to a singles group or used a dating app or hung out at enough bars or posted an ad on Craigslist or what have you, I have little doubt that I COULD have married SOMEONE just about as soon as I set my mind to do it.  (Not that that’s a good idea.)  And if I wanted to change jobs, I could apply to enough jobs to, sheerly by the force of numbers, get an interview and find myself in a new position.  Same for if I wanted to buy a house, move to a new city, make a million dollars, or any variety of challenging yet possible things for humans to do.  The means are already there.  I simply need to apply my will and enough force and diligence to make things happen, and EVENTUALLY, it is almost guaranteed to happen.

Things are different when trying to have a child.  In one way, the means are already there, quite obvious and simple.  Do…the things you do when you want to make a baby (and often when you don’t want to make a baby).  But can I, by my sheer willpower and force and frequency and endurance, create life?

That is something that I simply cannot do.

I do not have it in me.  Not in myself, anyway.  God creates life.  God uses us to create life.  But it is His to create.  (It is also His to take away.)  And this fact utterly humbles us, reducing us to beggars, really.  That is what makes it so hard.  If I beg enough people and do enough of the right money-making and saving and investing actions, earning a million dollars is fairly certain.  I can beg God for the rest of my life for Him to create the life of a child within me and He might never give it, and there is nothing that I can do.

That is not to say that I believe that that is what God will or wants to do.  I earnestly do believe that God will give us a child and that I will be a mother and my husband will be a father one day, and probably relatively soon.  But it still plagues me in the wake of God’s deafening silence on this matter.

“Why did You give us a child, surprising us and thrilling us, and then take it away so suddenly?”

(Silence.)

“Why do You command us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and then when we try to do just that, You make us wait and struggle to fulfill what You told us to do?”

(Silence.)

“Why did I conceive so effortlessly the first time when I was not trying at all and had no real knowledge of how my body worked, and now that I am tracking my cycles and actually have an idea of when to time things and trying to use God-given scientific knowledge to do things the right way, we have not been successful?”

(Silence.)

“Did you give us that glimmer of hope and joy earlier this year just to tease us?”

(Silence.)

“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?!?”

And the silence continues.

So, only three months since we have officially begun “trying.”  It’s incredible to think that even in the first cycle of “trying” I did not really even know what the signs of ovulation were.  Such an important thing when you are trying to make a baby.  I have learned so much in such a short time.  (And we have done quite a bit in such a short time, as well…if I were looking at myself from the outside I would probably tell myself that we were crazy for expecting to have a kid right now!  But of course it doesn’t feel that way once the desire is in your heart.)

My hope and prayer is that my story will encourage even one heavy heart, and that one day I will be sharing the news that God has been gracious to us and given us the child we so long for now.  This is the beginning of a journey that I suspect will bring so much more than a baby (or two or three) one day down the road.

Until then…we wait, we hope, we pray, we grow, we humble ourselves before God who alone gives life.