Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lots of Updates

It seems I've fallen behind on updating what's been happening to me lately.  When I left off, I had just had my 28 week ultrasound and found out that Baby A is still breech.

Since then, I've started seeing a chiropractor.  I have been to see her 3 times so far.  I love her.  I think I'm addicted to seeing her.  Seriously, is there such a thing as a live-in chiropractor?  She is optimistic that she can turn Baby A, and thinks I have plenty of time.  She has been correcting the problems with my hips, which has helped with my pain.  She has also been performing the Webster technique, which is basically just stretching/massaging the muscles and ligaments in my lower abdomen and pelvis.  The idea is that if they are properly aligned and relaxed, there is more room for Baby A to flip if he so chooses.  Since seeing her, I will say the babies' movement has increased a LOT.  I'm not exactly sure where they are at this point, because I don't feel a lot of actual kicks, more like a lot of rolling movements that make it hard for me to determine who is where and doing what.

In addition to stretching and adjusting me at appointments, she gave me a couple exercises to do at home to help open up my pelvis.  She also told me to keep doing the things on the spinningbabies website every day if possible.

Yesterday, my IPs came down for the 30 week OB appointment and hospital tour.  It was great to see them, as they hadn't been able to make it to St. Louis the last couple of appointments.  They are getting very excited about the impending arrival of their sons.  We did not have an ultrasound, just a meeting with the doctor.  Overall it went fine.  My weight gain and blood pressure are good, and doctor had no concerns about my health.  I asked him about the prospect of bed rest (since my manager was asking if I knew when I'd be going out).  He told me that I'm doing great, and as long as nothing with my health changes, he sees no reason why I can't work right up until the babies decide to come.  This makes me happy, since if I have to go out before the babies come I will have to use my short term disability (my time off after delivery comes out of a separate "Parental Leave" bank).  Plus, the less I need to be out of work, the better.

We also asked about a possible induction and when the doctor thought the babies would come.  He said that I am doing really well, so he doesn't think I will be going into labor soon (although you never know!).  But he said that if I go into labor anytime 34 weeks or later, they do not stop labor.  He also said we could pick a induction or c-section date for later on in the pregnancy.  He said normally he would not be willing to set a date before 38 weeks, since we have special circumstances with my IPs needing to drive 5 hours to get here, he is fine with us scheduling anytime after 37 weeks.  He also mentioned that the majority of women don't make it to 37 weeks with twins, so the chances of me going into labor spontaneously are high.  This idea really stressed out my IM, who was apparently under the impression that we would pick a day to have the babies and they would be born that day.  She asked if we could just go ahead and schedule an induction for 34 weeks so they could be there, and he told her that they would absolutely not do it before 37 weeks (full term).

We will be returning in another 2 weeks for THE ultrasound.  The one that determines our birth plan - whether we are going to attempt a vaginal delivery or do a c-section.  So I have two weeks to make sure I get Baby A head down and ready to go.  There is still a chance that he could flip head down after that and we could revise our plan, but I don't think that my IPs or doctor would be very open to changing their minds after that point. 

It also sounds like my pro-vaginal delivery doctor is not particularly pro-vaginal after all, when it comes down to it.  He said that we will talk more in detail after the ultrasound to talk about our birth plan, but he started listing off all sorts of reasons that I might have to have a c-section for Baby B even if I deliver Baby A vaginally.  He also said that because Baby B was bigger than Baby A, he would lean toward doing a c-section because a vaginal delivery is more risky if the second baby is bigger.  I was so flabbergasted about the c-section propaganda as a whole that I forgot to even ask why (maybe because the birth canal wouldn't be big enough?)  I know my IPs will want me to do whatever the doctor recommends, so I am trying to arm myself with research and prepare to go in fighting for my right to attempt a vaginal delivery.  Right now I'm thinking that as long as Baby A is head down and there is no risk to delivering him vaginally, that's what I will do.  If it becomes necessary to have a section for Baby B, I will cross that bridge when I get there.  I figure no matter how much my doctor and IPs try to push me, no one can force me to have a c-section against my will, and I deserve the right to at least try to avoid a major abdominal surgery because of things that could possibly go wrong once Baby A is out.  Of course, Baby A might never get into head down position at all, and we might not even have to worry about it.

As far as how I'm feeling in general, I think I am doing OK.  I definitely would not say I'm feeling good anymore, but I'm not miserable either.  My hands and feet have started to swell a bit, particularly if I spend any amount of time outside in the summer heat.  I have gained about 30 pounds so far, which I'm happy with.  Everyone keeps telling me how tiny I am for carrying twins, and although my belly really doesn't look that huge, the fact that I have baby parts in my ribs all the time makes it very difficult to bend over and pick up after my toddler or put on shoes.  The chiropractor has helped a lot with my hip pain, which is a huge relief.  Nevertheless, at this point I'm getting to be more generally achy and short tempered.  I've gotten angry at my poor husband a few times, mainly because he can't seem to read my mind and know what I want him to be doing.

Oh well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I can't believe I am 31 weeks tomorrow!  Just 3-7 weeks more to go. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

C-Section Worries

At my last appointment, I was disappointed but not surprised to find out that Baby A was still breech.  After all, I had been experiencing continued direct kicks to my cervix, so I knew his feet had to be down there.  However, I was only at 28 weeks along and I told myself there was still some time for him to turn back to being head down.

Then the more I thought about it, the more the fear started to creep in.

While I am measuring a couple weeks ahead, I am currently measuring about 6 weeks behind what I measured with my daughter when she was at the same weight.  Sure, I'm glad that I'm not measuring 8 weeks ahead, that would be very uncomfortable.  But it also means there is a lot less space in there for these two little guys to move than my daughter had.

Then there are their positions.  Not only is Baby B bigger, but he's taking up about 75% of the space in there, and Baby A is squashed up along my right side.  What if he wants to flip but literally cannot because his brother has him penned in the wrong direction?

I am putting a lot of hope in seeing the chiropractor.  I have my first appointment tomorrow morning, which I scheduled for after I take my glucose tolerance test.  After doing a lot of research online, and after talking to the chiropractor I will be seeing, I have learned that proper alignment is key to making sure the baby has enough space to turn, if it desires to do so.  The chiropractor I'm seeing specializes in pregnant women and children, and is certified in something called the Webster Technique.  Rather than being an invasive attempt to manually turn the babies (which is rarely recommended, especially in the case of twins), it is a method where the chiropractor makes sure your back, stomach, hips, and pelvis are properly aligned so that if the baby chooses to move, it has more room to do so.  This method is highly effective in singleton pregnancies.  It has been known to work for twins too, but from what I can tell it is not quite as much of a guarantee.  I'm really looking forward to my appointment tomorrow to see what the chiro can do for my situation.

Also, I have been doing a lot of exercises at home that I found on the Spinningbabies website (this is a website dedicated to helping people get their babies into optimal birthing position, both during pregnancy and labor).  These exercises are actually more like stretching while staying as relaxed as possible.  A couple of them require a helper to do most of the work.  After looking over the website, I said to my  husband: "I need you to jiggle my belly while I relax."  His first response was, "There will be no belly jiggling."  To which I replied, "Would you rather I have a c-section?"  Needless to say, he has helped me with all of the exercises I have asked him to, without a single complaint.  I have been doing them for almost a week now, and I can tell that they are causing the babies to move around a little more than they were before.  So hopefully that means that they have a little more space in there.  Unfortunately, most of the increased movement is coming from Baby B.  If that little stinker is laying claim to even MORE of the room and keeping his brother squashed up in there, he is going on my naughty list.

I also worry about how much time I have left for Baby A to turn.  If he were a singleton, I would be able to be fairly confident that he would be making it to at least 37 weeks.  With twins, there is no guarantee.  There are just so many more things that can go wrong that lead to an early delivery.  Plus sometimes they just need out earlier because there is simply no space left for them.  This past weekend was the point that I felt my body start to make it's downturn into the third trimester.  It is getting harder to walk or stand, and with the frequent kicks to the cervix, I am having a lot of discomfort and some contractions.  Just a trip to the grocery store on Saturday forced me to nap so I could function for the rest of the day.  In a way I'm happy to know that the end is nearing, but I just wish I had a crystal ball to know exactly how much time I had to get things in order and to get Baby A into the proper position.

Now, I realize that c-sections aren't the end of the world.  Women have them every day and end up just fine.  In fact, some women even prefer them to vaginal deliveries.  However, I have never had a surgery in my life, and would like to keep my record clean if at all possible.  I don't want to have to deal with the physical recovery that comes from having a c-section.  I don't want to make my husband pull my weight and his for even longer than he is already going to have to do it.  I want to be able to hug, hold, and carry my baby normally again without having to worry about pain or injury.  I want to be able to get back to my life and work as soon as possible after the babies are born.  I don't want to have to worry about waiting a certain amount of time before becoming pregnant again (hopefully with another of my own children), and eventually having to make sure I find a doctor/clinic/hospital that is truly VBAC-friendly.

About 6 months ago, I was posting about how much I did not want to carry twins, and here I am.  And really, aside from some annoying doctors and what I have felt to be some over-monitoring, the pregnancy has gone just fine.  If I end up with a dreaded c-section, it will probably be just fine as well.  But in the meantime, I worry.

Friday, June 14, 2013

28 Week Ultrasound/Appointment

I had the 28 week ultrasound and appointment on Wednesday.

The ultrasound was to check the babies' growth, and to make sure Baby B was not getting too much bigger than Baby A.  It was a  pretty quick scan, where they just measured sizes and checked positions.  Both babies are doing great, and had each gained about a pound from 3 weeks ago.  Baby A is currently 2lb, 13 oz (50th percentile) and Baby B is currently 3lb, 6oz (70th percentile).  Baby A is still breech, with his feet right on my cervix and his body squished up the right side of my uterus.  So when I told my husband I felt like someone was jumping right on my cervix, it's because there was!  Baby B is taking up all the other room in the uterus, jackknifed with his head down to the left side, his butt up under my right rib on top of his brother's head, and his feet under my left rib.  Both babies had plenty of amniotic fluid and were looking healthy as can be.

Then they did my last cervical length check - still nice and long at 4cm.  They will not do them after this point because they can irritate the cervix and do more harm than good.  Plus at some point it's going to have to start shortening anyway, or the babies will never be able to come out!

After the ultrasound, I talked with my doctor.  He said the disparity in size between the babies is holding steady at around 16%, so he is not worried that one is stealing nutrients from the other.  He said that he doesn't think any more ultrasounds will be necessary after this point, except for one at around 34 weeks to find out the babies' position so we can start on a birth plan.  That means Baby A has about 6 weeks to flip before I am condemned to a c-section.  He also measured my belly, and I am only measuring about 2 weeks ahead.  How I'm managing to fit over 6 pounds of baby, two placentas, and two amniotic sacs into a 31 week belly is beyond me.  My own daughter was only 6lb, 9oz at birth at 40 weeks - it's going to be interesting to see how much more this uterus can stretch!

I mentioned my hip/pelvic pain and asked about a chiropractor.  I was happy that he was very agreeable to the idea, and told me to go ahead and see a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist as necessary for pain management. 

From here on out I will have appointments every 2 weeks, and then every week starting at 34 weeks.  He also mentioned weekly non-stress tests starting at 4 weeks to make sure the babies are doing OK with the room they have in there, but made it sound like that was more of an option than a command.  So my next appointment is Wednesday, June 26.  I also signed my IPs and I up for the hospital tour again that evening - hopefully they will be able to make it this time because I feel like with twins 30.5 weeks is pushing it.  I'm also hopeful we can knock out a rough draft of our birth plan to give to the hospital.

Friday, June 7, 2013

28 Weeks!

Hooray, we made it to the third trimester!  I'm so happy to have hit this milestone.  At 28 weeks, a baby has about a 90% chance of survival...that's a huge jump from just a few weeks ago.  There are now 10 weeks or less until my IPs get to meet their sons for the first time!

The babies continue to do well.  Baby A is still moving all the time.  I think based on his kicks that last week he turned back to being head down, but now I feel like he is back to being breech again (I feel more kicks way down low).  I'm hoping he decides to flip one more time in the next couple of weeks and then stay that way!  Baby B has taken up permanent residence in my ribcage, which is very uncomfortable for me.  I get kicked in the ribs, and I think I have a butt pushing up against my other organs.  It is very difficult to bend over now, and I can't lay on my back anymore because it is hard to breathe.  But the plus side is that he is placed so it is very easy to see and feel him move from the outside...hopefully my IPs will get to feel him our appointment on Wednesday!
I am still feeling mostly good.  I haven't had to cut back on any of my regular activities yet, except my walks are shorter and slower.  I definitely feel like my energy is starting to decrease, and I have a feeling that in a couple more weeks my poor husband will be stuck doing more than his fair share of the work around the house.  I am also starting to have some pain in my hips.  I remember having this at about the same time last pregnancy.  I'm thinking of asking my doctor about it at the next appointment and seeing if he thinks seeing a chiropractor will help.  Last pregnancy I just suffered through the pain, but I remember some days it was hard to walk at all, and I have a feeling it will be even worse with twins.  I have never been to a chiropractor before, but I know there are a couple in my area that specialize in pregnancy.
The only other thing I have noticed lately is that I have an uncontrollable urge to bake.  This is very strange for me since normally I hate cooking anything at all.  But this week I've made cookies and peanut butter cups from scratch!  I wonder if this is my version of nesting, since I don't have any plans to make for the actual babies.
Here is my 28 week belly photo.  I'm guessing I probably have about 4.5 pounds of baby in there right now!