Monday, November 26, 2012

The last few days before the delivery...

So my last weekend of pregnancy was not exactly the best ever, but the last few days before we delivered the boys were actually pretty good!  On that Monday morning, I went to my last non-stress test.  As always, the boys rocked it!  It never ceased to amaze me at how well the munchkins were doing in my tummy when I had those tests.  I guess I just expected to have complications at some point during the pregnancy and since I seemed to be doing alright physically, I frequently worried that something was going on with the boys in my tummy that I couldn't feel but that would show up on the non-stress tests.  Kind of like always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did...  thank God!  And since they had done so well on the other tests, I worried that the last one would be bad because it was karma's last opportunity to mess with my babies and me.  Neurotic of me, I realize, but it just felt too good to be true that things were still going well!  Before I left the testing area, I had to give a big hug to my nurse, Linda, who'd conducted most of my non-stress tests.  She promised to come up and visit the boys after we delivered- I was hoping that she would!

After the non-stress test, I walked over to the labor & delivery area to get the first of a series of two steroid shots.  Betamethasone, a steroid, is given as an intramuscular injection in some pregnancies to stimulate the maturation of the baby's lungs and decrease the risk of intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the head) for the baby when premature delivery is a possibility.  Now, our babes were pretty much past the point of being so premature that they'd be at major risk for those things (always a possibility for them, but the risk really decreased after 32-34 weeks of gestational age).  But as both Dr. McElvy and Dr. Pat had explained to me, there has been some research (not quite sure how much, but it was fascinating to me that both of them mentioned this) that has shown a connection with babies being more ready to eat after delivery if the mother received the steroid shots.  For that reason, I elected to the get the shots.

I'm not scared of needles, so the shots were not that big of a deal for me (I'm in the wrong profession if needles scare me!).  As I've thought all along throughout this pregnancy, getting the shots helped me to better understand what it's like to be a patient so that I'll be (hopefully!) more empathetic with my patients in the future.  I don't think I've been completely insensitive with them in the past, but I just feel like having gone through some of the same experiences as they have helps to forge a connection between nurse and patient.  I was excited to see one of Jason's friends working that day in the L&D unit.  She had actually put a note in my chart already saying that "Brittany and J-Bird" are her friends and to be nice to us.  It cracked me up when one of my nurses came in and asked who J-Bird was (unfortunately I don't remember the story of how Jason got that nickname).

I went back on Tuesday for the second steroid shot, and the nurses got a kick out of the fact that I had saved my blood pressure cuff from the previous day and brought it with me to reuse.  Before they could give me the injection, they had to check my blood pressure and other vital signs- it seemed like a total waste to me to have them have to rip open a new cuff each day, so I saved it.  Apparently patients don't do that too often!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I actually spent my days cleaning and tidying up around the house and running last minute errands.  People thought this was pretty unbelievable- shouldn't I have been resting?  I have to confess that even though I was exhausted, I was restless.  Even though in my head I knew that soon I was going to be getting even less sleep than "my normal" (which had been totally NOT normal for most of this pregnancy) and should have made a better try to lay down, I just couldn't.  My mind was going a mile a minute and I kept thinking about how many things I still hadn't accomplished over my maternity leave.  Arrggghhh!

So I ran to the library, the eye doctor's, and the grocery store (last minute free blood pressure check!).  I made sure Jason packed his bag for the hospital.  I completely organized my desk and got finished up packing my own bag for the hospital.  I dusted, cleaned bathrooms, and did laundry.  As a small concession, I didn't do any big vacuuming or floor cleaning- too much for me to handle physically.

I basically put myself on a self-imposed "contact black out" during those last few days.  I wanted things to be as peaceful as possible (or as much as my neurosis would allow it to be!), so I tried not to really answer the phone or email.  It may sound silly, but I think I was just in a total thinking phase and not as much in a communicating phase during those days.

And the last two nights were just strange for Jason and me.  I think a part of me wanted to live it up, to go out to dinner and totally have a last "married couple without children" night out on the town... but we were much too looking forward to our delivery day to do that.  Instead, we got take out from my favorite restaurant, Paesano's, on Tuesday night and relaxed at home with the puppies.  On Wednesday night, my friend Jen came over and sat down with Jason and me to discuss our wishes and plans for Thursday's delivery.

Months ago, I asked a group of my close friends (Jen included!) if they would be willing to be part of our support group at the hospital on the day of the delivery.  Because of the private hospital tour that Jason and I had gone on, we knew that I'd get to have two people in the operating room with me during the delivery.  Obviously one of those was going to be Jason- it was a tough call though!  :)  Because we weren't sure exactly when we'd deliver (delivering early was a much higher possibility with this pregnancy than I would have preferred), I wanted to make sure that we'd always be able to have someone to support both Jason and me during delivery.  Well, we totally lucked out- on the day of delivery, we had multiple support people with us all day!  But more on that next time...

Friday, November 23, 2012

That last weekend before the delivery...

The last five to six days leading up to the delivery were challenging to say the least.  Over that last weekend, I don't know if I could have been any more uncomfortable.  I really started to get congested and became a total mouth-breather.  Here I was already frequently getting short of breath whenever I did something that required simple physical movements, and now it felt like I was losing one of my airways!  :)  My ears were plugged, my nose was plugged, and I just couldn't seem to find any relief.  The congestion was due to (of course!!!) the hormones and the fact that I was retaining some serious water.

I was retaining so much water, in fact, that on Sunday evening I sprung a leak.  An actual leak I tell you!  Not everyone may be aware of this, but I was most comfortable throughout the pregnancy in as few clothes as possible when I was resting around the house, thanks to the hormones giving me hot flashes and it was purely just uncomfortable at times to have anything touching my skin.  Well, the only real challenge with that (other than the whole having to remember not to answer the doorbell as is!) was that the poor stretched & sensitive skin on my tummy would scratch and get little wounds on it so darn easily if I even happened to glance at a countertop or the edge of a table.  Anything touching my tummy skin was guaranteed to leave a mark.  On that Sunday evening, a tiny scratch on my tummy (probably the size of the tip of a pencil) actually opened up and started slowly weeping fluid.

I didn't put two and two together right away- I thought the drops of water on my tummy were just condensation dropping off of my water glass whenever I'd take a drink.  But as the time went by and I realized that it had been many minutes since I'd finished off the water and I was still having drips of water running down my tummy... it occurred to me that I needed a different explanation for why my belly was wet!  I panicked a little at first, thinking that my water had "broken" and I was going to be delivering babies out of my belly button... but then I remembered that the doctors had reassured me that no babies had ever actually done this a la the movie "Alien".  A quick call to my dad (an ER physician who just so happens to have 17 years of obstetrics experience) confirmed my second thought- that my tummy skin was so fragile and retaining so much water that it was literally just weeping retained water. Phew!

So an hour later with a compression dressing and some antibiotic ointment and the weeping had stopped... at least the weeping from my tummy.  The weeping from my eyes, however, took a little bit longer.  I'm not going to lie- that Sunday night was probably the lowest emotional point of the pregnancy for me.  The pain (my back, my hips, etc) combined with these little things were just getting to be too much for my emotional stamina.  On that Sunday night, for the first time ever, I'm ashamed to admit that I contemplated what would happen if I actually called the doctors and told them I wanted to get the babies out.  If ever I came close to wanting to deliver the babies before our scheduled time, that Sunday night was it.  So after some good crying and consoling by my husband and a stern talking to from myself, I think I finally just passed out from pure exhaustion and slept for a few hours.

I woke up frequently throughout the night, though, and continued to check to make sure that babies were still not coming out via my belly button.  And at some point, my resolve returned.  After all, the babes had been working their tiny little butts off for all of those months to grow and get big and be ready for their big day- how dare I be so weak as to contemplate giving up when we were so close?  I know it sounds stupid- that a little leak and some congestion could do me in after all that we'd been able to accomplish over the previous months, but it's the truth.

I awoke the next morning (Monday) and got ready like usual to drive to my non-stress test appointment, and I felt as if the previous night's emotional breakdown had never happened.  It's truly amazing what a few hours of sleep and giving yourself a mental pep talk can do for your psyche.  And I'm proud of myself for not totally giving in to my weakness and calling the doctors.  I came close, but a favorite quote of mine comes to mind...

In the midst of Winter, I learned there was in me an Invincible Summer.
-Albert Camus

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Misinformation... or why it is good to take a nap before you get in front of a camera.

Whew!  Another whirlwind of a week and I still have not been able to sit down and blog about the happenings of the last two weeks.  I so want to share (and to get everything down "on paper" before I forget it) with our family and friends about where the journey has taken us in that time.  But before I can feel comfortable doing that, I want to correct/add to the news reports about us of the past week.

First of all, we are doing the media "thing" for two reasons.  The first reason is that it was to serve as a platform to give credit where credit is due and to offer up our thanks and gratitude to the different people and organizations that have supported, educated, and loved our growing family since we announced that we were expecting triplets.  Because there's a lot of you!!

We absolutely could NOT have made it to this point without our loving (and lovingly chaotic) and involved families, without our supportive friends (who really helped us find the humor in the craziness of it all), or without our coworkers' patience/understanding/excitement.  There is NO way we would have been able to nurture these munchkins without the concerted efforts and attention of my doctors at the Perinatologists Group of Sacramento, the entire staff at the Sutter Moms of Multiples program, and the absolutely amazing doctors & nurses at Sutter Memorial Hospital.  I'm getting teary (and not just because of hormones anymore!) thinking of how much everyone has given of themselves to get these babies here.

And even though I firmly believe that is where the true story is in all of this-

that it not only takes a village to raise a child, but that it also takes a village to go through a multiples pregnancy prior to the birthing of the children

-it seems that not everyone agrees with me.  Sigh.  So I'll continue to talk about how thankful we are for  all of these people when I'm doing interviews, and I'll continue to know in my heart what the real story is.

The second reason for doing the interviews is to have something neat to share with the boys when they get older.  We're collecting copies of the papers, news stories online, and videos to someday share them with the munchkins.  I envision that my boys will someday have a pretty easy time finding something to take to school for "show n' tell" time...  :)

These little munchkins mean the world to Jason and me, so if someone else wants to share in the sheer joy that surrounds these little boys... I want to share our personal joy with others.

One of the biggest things, though, that is eating away at me (pun totally intended here!) are the different interpretations of my comments in regards to the meal plan I chose to follow for this pregnancy.  I have been very distressed to see some of the spinning of my words that have come out in the media (to be sure- I can understand how and why it happens.  Humans are humans, and my anxiety/exhaustion/ridiculousness have definitely been a contributing factor).  It worries me because I don't want to give false information or ideas to other moms of multiples.  I also worry about any negative feedback for the talented dietician that the Sutter MOMs program has if people were to attribute the info in the news reports as her exact words and ideas.

For the record, let me clear up a few things as best as I can.

-The "6,000 calories a day" thing...
I happened to randomly do a calorie count for myself one day during the pregnancy, and it came up to just over 6,000 calories.  I wasn't consistently hitting that number everyday (sometimes far more, sometimes less).  And to my recollection, the dietician NEVER gave me a true calorie goal to meet- mainly because to my understanding, there isn't enough research to be able to definitively say how much a pregnant mother of higher order multiples (three babies or more) should eat.  So the 6,000 calories thing?  Just a number that I had for one particular day... and people ran with that.  Totally understandable as to why they did.

What I was truly told was that it is almost physically impossible to consume the calories that a higher order multiples pregnancy requires for a few reasons (slowed digestion related to hormones, the physical challenges of a belly full of munchkins that leaves little room for gastric expansion, etc).  THAT statement was one of the biggest take-away messages that I got from my meeting with the dietician.  As for what transpired after that (how I chose to take that message and put it into action), good or bad, right or wrong... the responsibility for that rests solely with me and my grocery bill.

And the dietician worked with me to find healthy ways of slamming the calories into my body- she wasn't telling me to hit up the fast food drive-thru everyday (this would have been an easy way to get the calories in and I do love me some french fries... but without the solid nutrition that the munchkins needed).  In fact, she helped me to find great alternatives to the "easier" ways of packing in the calories- foods that still got calories into me without sacrificing nutrition (think whole fat dairy products and healthy nuts, whole grains and oatmeal, etc.).

-The "12 eggs a day" thing...
Now, this one is totally my fault.  The dietician never told me I had to eat a dozen eggs everyday.  What I was told during my meeting with her was that I needed to really increase my protein intake.  The growing munchkins needed all the protein they could get to be able to grow and develop.  What I thought I said in the interviews is what I've been saying all along- that I've been trying to eat THE EQUIVALENT of a dozen eggs a day.  But as Jason and my mom informed me- I actually said that I eat a dozen eggs a day...  oops.  Major oops.  So I have no one to blame except for myself on this.  The news reports have actually been reporting my incorrect words correctly, and for any misconceptions that this has caused, I take sole responsibility for that.

While I did eat just a ridiculous amount of eggs (quick, easy, tasty, great protein), I also got my protein in lots of other ways- meats, dairy, nuts, edamame (it was not unheard of for me to polish off an entire bag of edamame myself!).  I also ate a lot of protein bars as well- for whatever reason, I never really took to the protein shakes.

I'm sure not everyone agrees with the safety, efficacy, or tastiness of my pregnancy meals and snack plan and I definitely wouldn't recommend what I did to everybody.  But it was MY interpretation of the excellent information and education that was provided to me by the Sutter MOMs program.  Anything that is good about the plan came from them.  Anything that was not so good- I take full responsibility for.  I feel so badly about these things, and I have been losing a little bit of sleep over how my words and actions have contributed to any misinformation out there...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

They made it!!

The boys have made it!  They were delivered last Thursday, November 8th, by C-section at Sutter Memorial Hospital.

Jenson Joseph Deen, formally known as Baby A, made his arrival first at 12:42pm.  He weighed 5 pounds 5.6 ounces, and he was 16.9 ounces.

Elliott Jackson Deen, formally known as Baby B, arrived next at 12:43pm.  He weighed 7 pounds 3.1 ounces, and he was 18.9 inches long.

Sidney Miller Deen, formally known as Baby C, arrived last at 12:44pm.  He weighed 7 pounds 8.3 ounces, and he was 20.1 inches long.

Where to start?!?  I've been trying since Saturday to sit down at the computer/IPhone/IPad to write about the experiences of our last week, and needless to say, I've been completely unsuccessful.  Although, in my defense, I've had a few things to be preoccupied with.  :)  So my guess is that the next few blog posts are just going to be "stream of consciousness" blogs that will run from one into the other.  I started this blog entry almost eight hours ago and this is as far as I've gotten.  I guess we'll try again tomorrow...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lovely 36...

We've made it!  Happy, happy, happy 36 weeks to all!  I'm pretty sure that there aren't any doctors around that would argue with us having full term triplets in my tummy now!  It's so strange to think that  less than six months ago, Jason and I still thought we were having one sweet little baby.  How wrong we were.  And now... here we are less than FIVE DAYS from our scheduled C-section where we will get to meet our three sweet little boys!  And apparently the boys wanted to celebrate this fact by giving me an early gift- they actually let me sleep for 4 HOURS in a row last night!!  I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened more than once or twice since April...

The last few days have been a little bit tough for me physically.  The pain and discomfort in my back, hips, and pelvis has really started to increase, so no body position is comfortable for very long.  I can't be up on my feet for any real length of time.  A week or two ago, I could go for a slow walk around the block with Jason at night, but now even that seems to be too much without careful planning of how long I'll rest before and after!

I pretty much can only leave the house for short periods of time each day, if that.  On days where I don't have medical appointments, I try to plan for a quick errand or a meal out with a friend, just so I can get a change of scenery.  I basically only go to Target, the grocery store, or Costco now because they have the riding carts for me to use to get around the store!  I feel bad using the riding carts because I'm not a sick or disabled person normally (and if I'm using one, that means someone who is disabled may have to wait for a riding cart.  I feel very badly about this fact...), but I literally cannot make it around the grocery store without one anymore.  My only concession to not being totally feeble is to walk from my car into the stores.  One of the cashiers let me know that I could call the store from the parking lot and they'd actually drive a riding cart out to me- thanks, but no thanks!  How sad is it that my daily exercise right now is walking into the store... and this is after I drive around the lot for a while to make sure that I get a parking spot close to the door (before the pregnancy, I didn't care where I parked- I actually used to prefer to park farther back in the lot so I could force some exercise on myself!).

And I have yet to knock over any displays or
run into anything!

I think one of the things that I'm grateful for is the size of my ginormous belly.  Once people see how huge it is, they don't generally question my use of the riding carts.  They don't generally question my moving slowly and are usually very quick to help me.  Here's the usual behavior right now for the strangers that I come across- lots of smiles, lots of offers of help, and lots of offers to send positive thoughts our way.  I feel like I'm back in Minnesota again- everybody smiles at everybody back there!

So even though I struggle with feeling like a feeble burden to those around me, my doctors and nurses are pretty impressed that I've made it this far.  Dr. McElvey told me yesterday that she was fascinated by how well I'm still moving.  And the nurses that do my non-stress tests get so excited when I walk into my appointments ("Oh my goodness- you're still walking around!").  And I guess when I try to cut myself some slack, it does seem kind of neat (and makes me a little bit proud) that I'm still able to get this Humpty Dumpty-like body up and moving.

And that feeling of pride in my body is something that I haven't truly experienced in almost ten years.  In my early 20s, I worked for a couple of summers at a high adventure outdoor camp for teens and adults.  My first year there, I served as a wilderness guide, taking groups for a week at a time into the wilderness with no contact with civilization.  We'd canoe and camp, and I was responsible for everyone's well-being and creating "the best experience" possible for these people.  Prior to this pregnancy, it was the most intensely demanding physical/mental/emotional/spiritual thing that I had ever done.  I lost 30 pounds in less than a month and truly pushed my body to its limits because that is what the job required.  You try carrying an 80 pound canoe on your shoulders through the woods to get from one lake to the next- not exactly easy!!  But I did it.  Not only did I survive that first summer, I thrived there.

And one of the most important lessons that I learned that summer was to be proud of what my body could DO versus what it looked like.  There aren't many mirrors in the wilderness (thank goodness- if I looked anywhere close to what I smelled like after a week in the woods with no shower... yikes!), so my physical appearance became pretty insignificant compared with what my body could physically handle.

And carrying these munchkins has brought me back to that same feeling.  Obviously I'm not carrying 80 pounds of canoe right now (try 80 pounds of pregnancy weight instead!), but I'm pretty amazed that my body hasn't tried to run away from all of this yet...

Jason and I are trying to relish every last minute of this week.  Soon our lives are going to be totally and completely changed for forever more.  No longer will it be just "Jason and Brittany" (I know, I know, technically it hasn't been just the two of us since March, but it's different when the babes are still in the belly!).  No longer will we be able to get up on a weekend morning and spontaneously decide to go out for breakfast.  No longer will we be able to make last-minute decisions to go out without planning for whether the boys are coming with us or not.  No more picking up new hobbies without weighing the priority of time with our family vs. time alone.

We've been going out to the movies together, going out to dinners together, playing board games together at night... it's almost like we're dating again!  But it's slightly different now compared with when we first started our relationship over six years ago (and not just because I can no longer fit in booths at restaurants).  Now our conversations center around the days, months, and years to come and how they will be filled up with our boys.  How excited we are to finally meet them and hold them for the first time.  How scared we are to mess up as parents.  How worried we are about how we'll handle everything without losing our minds.  How cool it's going to be to watch our munchkins play with us and each other.  How going from two to five will be such an amazing journey.