Saturday, December 28, 2013

Breastfeeding Twins

**Warning: this post contains pictures of breastfeeding...all tastefully done and don't show anything, but a warning must be issued anyway**

All I can say is THANK GOD I had twins second. Because if my first pregnancy had been twins, I NEVER would have stuck it out and tried to breastfeed these girls. I'm so glad that I nursed Avery for 14 months and it was such a good experience because if trying to feed these hippos was my first go at nursing, I would have quit when they were 3 days old.

We had a rocky, rocky start. Kinley was in the NICU for 4 days and Caris was in the NICU for 8 days. It was a rough road, but in a nut shell, I was discharged from the hospital on friday afternoon (had the babies on wednesday afternoon) and left both my babes in the hospital IN THE NURSERY because they had both been discharged from the NICU. We spent friday night at home thinking that both kiddos were coming home the next day. When we woke up saturday morning, the NICU doc had called and told us they had done poorly overnight with their temps dropping and they weren't eating.

I ended up staying the next 2 nights by myself in a courtesy room. And it was awful. I had an alarm set on my phone for every 3 hours. The kids were eating at 2, 5, 8, and 11. I'd set my alarm, stumble into the NICU and pump. Take Kinley's temp, change her, feed her, tuck her back in. Same with Caris. The whole process took about an hour. Then I'd be back in my room about an hour later and pass out until the alarm went off 2 hours later. Troy stayed home with Avery and my mom and I would come home for dinner every night for about 2 hours and speed back to make the next feeding. Those hospital grade pumps were the BEST. It was a medela symphony. I looked it up online to purchase one...$1800?!?!?!? Forget it. I have a medela pump in style back pack from pumping after I went back to work from Avery and it's been working ok.

Anyway, we finally got both kids home and I was so frustrated with pumping and giving them bottles only. I was paranoid because they told us exactly how many milliliters the kids needs to drink per day and the average per feeding for them to gain weight. If they didn't drink their intake needed, I would FREAK OUT. And they weren't nursing for the following reasons:

1. With us monitoring every tiny drop they ate, nursing wasn't possible.
2. Caris was a HORRIBLE latch. Her mouth was so tiny and then when we mouth would open, it was like her chin would drop back and I couldn't get the right contact.
3. Kinley would latch but then was the laziest sucker and couldn't get enough before she fell asleep because nursing was too exhausting for her.
4. My milk didn't let down immediately and they weren't patient enough for it to come down and wouldn't stay latched on (if I could get them latched on at all). Let the screaming ensue and FRANTIC head shaking begin.
5. Both babies got lazy. The bottles are easier to drink out of than the breast.
6. The most infuriating of all: they preferred the taste of formula over breastmilk. We were doing half breastmilk and half formula in all the bottles and slowly weaned then down to full breast milk in the bottles.

So I was hooked up to a pump all the time for about a month (the good news is, my freezer supply is HUGE). If they were bigger and weighed more, I probably would have been like, "I'm starving you out. Eventually, you'll be so hungry that you'll breastfeed." I really wanted them to nurse because it would cut my "awake in the middle of the night time" down by almost 30 minutes without the pumping session. I finally said enough is enough and looked up the Las Vegas Le Leche League meet ups to get some advice and support.

I found a meeting within 2 days and headed over by myself (no babies with me). Oh. My. Lord. I was prepared for moms nursing their babies at the meeting, but not for 3-4 year olds tandem nursing with infants. It kinda freaked me out. I know that "breast is best" and I shouldn't judge people's breastfeeding choices, but when a 3.5 year old walks up to mom and PULLS DOWN HER SHIRT in front of everyone and then stands there in front of the chair to nurse, it's just too much. Anyway...

They had great advice for me. They told me to just toss the bottles completely and spend a few days at home, in bed with my babies. Feed them on demand and ignore the 3 hour schedule. Feed them before they are frantic and impatient because they will be harder to latch and fatigued from crying.

The next day started nursing boot camp. It was so hard NOT knowing exactly how much they were eating. But they were still peeing and pooping and sleeping the same so I just decided to let it go. And cut out all formula.

The thing that made the biggest difference was someone staying up to do the last feeding of the day. My mom did it the 5 weeks that she was here. I would nurse at the 8-9 feeding and then my mom would give them pumped milk at midnight. I went to bed every night about 9 and mom would swaddle them and put them in the twin bassinet in our room. They would wake up around 3 and I would nurse again. It made a HUGE difference for me when I was able to get a straight 5-6 hour stretch of sleep. AMAZING. Troy still stays up and does it on his days off to make life much better. When I have to do all the night time feedings, it's rough. Like really rough. Sometimes now they can stretch their feedings to 4 hours, but it's not quite consistent.

I am really terrible at nursing them both at the same time. The only way I can do it is if Caris is latched on first because she is SO difficult to latch. I nurse them both in "football" hold. But even then, if one starts coughing or spits up, it messes up the other one and it's just a mess because I have to attend to the coughing one and let go of the other. Their necks aren't quite strong enough to stay latched on without tons of support behind their necks. They both just get a more quality nurse if I nurse them separately.

It's been a little tough with Avery because she has become whiny since they were born. "Help me!!!" "Snuggle me!!!" "I can't do it." It's like she made the connection that they get attention when they cry, so she cries about everything. It's driving me crazy because when I'm in the middle of my 40 minute nursing block (20 minutes for each baby), Avery wants help with everything or is having a crisis or needs to be wiped on the potty. She's been really great about putting pacifiers in a baby's mouth if I'm sitting to nurse and seems like she wants to help and lets us know if she thinks there is something wrong. She also "nurses" her baby and even uses my nursing pillow which is pretty adorable.

I started back at work about 3 weeks ago (when the babies were about 6 weeks old) and that has been good so far. I pump halfway through my day and get about 5-6oz out of each breast. I am able to replace all of the milk use throughout a full work day from the freezer. Troy and Aurora (our nanny) use the frozen milk to feed them (so it doesn't go bad) and rotate all of the new milk in to be used after the old stuff is gone. It's working ok now and hopefully I'll never have to toss anything...

We haven't had to supplement since we did breast milk boot camp. We had their 2 month follow up appointments with the pediatrician on Christmas Eve. Caris's birth weight was 4lbs 14 oz and she was at 8lbs and 8oz. Kinley was born at 5lbs 4 oz and is up to 9lbs 1oz. The pediatrician told me that I was doing amazing (always feels good to be validated) and to keep it up. She also said that if I haven't had to supplement up until now, that hopefully I wouldn't have to. BIG SMILES ALL AROUND!

I have been taking fenugreek to keep up my supply just in case and I usually have to pump in the mornings because skipping the midnight feeding can make me engorged in the morning sometimes. But overall, no crazy leaking like I had with Avery. Maybe your boobs "just know" once you've done this once.

I'm really hoping to keep up for at least a year. People keep acting shocked that I am breastfeeding twins. Which is understandable because breastfeeding ONE baby is really difficult. But like I said at the beginning of this post, it is so much easier because I've already breastfed one. I am so thankful that it's been alright so far. I really do just LOVE breastfeeding. I love when my little loves stare up at me and I love snuggling them so close. I feel so differently about these two than I did about Avery. It's like I know that we are done and not having any more kids. My attitude is so different. I don't care if I'm tired. I don't care if I'm up all night nursing. It's so easy to look back on Avery as an infant and see how fast she grew up. I know that the sleepless nights are short lived and nursing these babies will go SO fast. It's so much easier to enjoy the night time snuggles knowing this is the last time I'll do it. I'm just so thankful that it's working and I don't want to quit. Yet.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Visiting Santa with all the Kiddos

I think we have found the REAL Santa. And he lives in Las Vegas. More specifically, at the Fashion Show Mall. He was here last year:

And he was here again this year with all our kids. He seriously is awesome. BEST looking Santa I have EVER seen.

We brought all of the kids to the mall in their comfy clothes and then when we got to the parking garage there, we changed Avery into her Christmas dress. We put the twins in their stroller and walked in front of Macy's, where Santa was set up with his elves. Troy was prepping Avery the whole time to "ask for a bicycle, ask for a bicycle, okay?"

We were TOTALLY that family who took forever because we changed Caris and Kinley's clothes when we got there. Lucky for us, there was only one family behind us and they were super patient. It's a funny thing. You have two infants and people are suddenly patient and inquisitive everywhere you go. And by "a funny thing," I mean a weird thing.

**side note: We went to Costco last week and Troy was pushing the twins and I was pushing the cart with the food and Avery. Troy got cornered for almost 10 minutes by an older woman (maybe late 60s) and her husband. The lady was CRYING when she saw them! "They are so beautiful! Are they real?!?!?" She was praying over them, crying, and asking all kinds of questions and Troy was seriously uncomfortable. BAHAHAHA! I just hid 2 aisles over and laughed. Poor guy. My friends with multiples were not joking when they told me that going out with them turns into a show and everyone stopping you and telling you about their sister's cousin who is a twin. It's a circus every time we go out. It's hilarious.

Anyway. Santa.

We made sure all of the kiddos were presentable and waited for Avery to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas. She told him she wanted The Little Mermaid. Not a doll. Like the actual mermaid Ariel as a friend for a visit. Bicycle completely forgotten in favor of Disney Princesses. Then we handed the twins over to Santa for our picture. How cute are they?

After we retrieved twins from Santa, Avery hopped down from the bench and ran over to us. Troy said, "so did you ask Santa for your bicycle?" And Avery goes, "OH NO!!!" And she runs back over to Santa (while he's saying hi to the next family) and yells, "I NEED A PINK BICYCLE!!!!!!!!!!!!"

We started laughing so hard. Everyone was super nice about it...probably because she's so cute.

So, all of our Las Vegas amigos, if you want to see a great Santa, head over to the Macy's at the Fashion Show mall on the strip.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Family Pictures and Our Christmas Card

Maybe you noticed some changes on the blog a few weeks ago? We asked a friend to come over and take some pictures for our "mail out" Christmas card this year. And we figured while she was over here, we'd get some "everyday" pictures too, so that any photos we sent out to family weren't holiday specific.

Anyone remember the last cover photo I had up on the blog?

Well, we had some changes! And if you look up, we have a new pretty photo with Kinley and Caris! We went with a kind of summer-y color motif and the cream and teal look great on all of us! WIN!

Here are a couple more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Caris looks mad:

Optimus looks like the happiest doggie in the world:

My favorite one of everyone...except Optimus :(

Best whole family photo. Optimus really is NOT fat or big...the camera angle is like a side view mirror: Objects may appear larger than real life:

Caris and Kinley dressed up as baby Santas:

In front of the Christmas tree:

Adorable Avery:

We also ordered all of our Christmas cards from Shutterfly again this year!

Here is our picture from last year that my cousin took for us over Thanksgiving:

It was super fun and silly. Well this year, I didn't have much time to troll pinterest for something cute and silly (read: creative) so we went for a theme of everyone being showered and wearing clean clothes. Having twins in the house is cutting down on my sleep. But that is a blog for another day. Coming soon.

Here is our card from this year:

So, Merry Christmas from our family to yours! I'm pretty sure that most of the people who read this blog are family trying to keep up with us, so you probably got mailed a card. To the other 5 people, MERRY VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS! I love you all and appreciate you reading so much!

This has been such a huge year for our family and all of the love and support poured out from our family and friends has been a blessing for us. I am have a bunch of blogs queued up, so hopefully, the next few days will be filled with updates and include an update on what it's like to have twins. And have no sleep. And breastfeed twins. And how Avery is adjusting. It's been interesting and we definitely owe you all an update on that.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Family Pictures

I am terrible about pictures. I take TONS of them, but never print anything out. I have grandparents who don't have smart phones or internet. Seriously. So they never see pictures of their great-grandkids. I am going to print off a mess of pictures the next time I go to Walmart and send the photos to them.

We have also NEVER had professional pictures taken. We always have friends take them who have nice cameras.

So eventually, we will have professional ones done, but in the meantime, we've gotten great results from friends.

Here's one from when Avery was born:

Here's one from a friend at White Sands:

And now we have new ones from the same friend who took our White Sand pictures:

We also took a mess of Christmas pictures, but I'm not sharing all of those until we get our Christmas cards in the mail!

But here are some outtakes. Avery making us laugh mostly. And Optimus reminding me of a t-rex.

Seriously y'all. Optimus's big, goofy face just makes me smile.

I threw a bear at Avery and Kristen took the shot while Avery was in mid-catch.

Avery's new favorite game is the "steal the nose" game and she started playing it in the middle of pictures. This is Avery stealing my nose.

Avery stealing Troy's nose. He's not super tolerant of the nose stealing game. She doesn't quite get the "be gentle" concept of the game. It's a TIGHT squeeze and pinch from her. Ouch.

We took some Christmas pictures in front of our stockings (we don't have a fireplace). We gave Avery a poinsettia flower to hold and she decided that it needed to go on Kinley's head.

Up close shot of the flower on her head.

Well, since we got our photos taken, we got our Christmas cards ordered today. So I just need to make sure I can get them addressed and in the mail BEFORE Christmas. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Twin Delivery - Caris and Kinley

So at last I left you, I was getting wheeled back to the OR to have the babies :)

My evil plan to start labor is here. And then part II (laboring at the hospital) can be seen here.

The nurses wheeled me back to the OR and I was SHOCKED how many people were in that room. I think it was about 11 or 12.

- Me
- Troy
- Dr. Adashek
- MY labor and delivery nurse
- An ultrasound technician to check and see the position of the babies during the delivery. There was a possibility that Caris (baby B) could flip either breech or head down because she was transverse and the position she went in after Kinley was born would decide the next step of the delivery
- The anesthesiologist
- The NICU neonatologist
- 2 nurses per baby (total of 4 people)

Since I had the epidural, they used a transfer board to get me on the table in the room. Once I was settled and covered up with a blanket (it was freeezing in there) they let Troy come in and stand by my head.

I couldn't believe how CALM that room was. It struck me because Avery's deliver was such a nightmare of craziness. Everyone was making small talk and taking their time getting everything prepped. Dr. Adashek came in and put his ipod in the Transformers music this time, haha. The anesthesiologist did a quick check to make sure I couldn't feel anything in the event that Dr. Adashek had to do an emergency c-section. Yep....nothing.

I couldn't believe how many people tried to talk me out of a vaginal delivery. They kept explaining to me everything that could go wrong. And asking me "are you sure you want to do this?" and "we could just take them right out and there wouldn't be a risk of a vaginal delivery and a c-section," but I stuck to my guns and was like "NO WAY. We are doing this and it's going to be fine." In the back of my mind, I was TERRIFIED of having a c-section but I figured if, in my mind, a c-section wasn't going to happen and I just kept positive in my mind, there was NO way that I couldn't do it.

Once Dr. Adashek was all prepped and ready, 2 nurses held my legs while Troy stood up by my head. He asked me if I could feel ANYTHING when I had a contraction. Nope. NOTHING. No pressure, no pain, nothing.

He told me that the nurses would watch my monitors and tell me when to push. I pushed maybe 2 times before Dr. Adashek told me that he would need to use the vacuum on Kinley, which I really, really did not want. The way she was positioned, she wasn't straight down. Her body was nestled inside my left hip, at an angle with her butt coming up towards the ribs on my left side. Whenever I pushed, her head was going down at an angle towards my right side. Troy said that the vacuum was more like a hand pump and not as scary as what you would picture when someone says "vacuum." He said that Dr. Adashek placed it on her head and "pumped it up a few times" to make a seal with the crown of her head and when I pushed again, the vacuum helped her come out straight down, rather than towards my right side. So it was more like a directional guide than a vacuum. Which made me happy to hear afterwards.

Dr. Adashek lifted Kinley up and showed her to us right when she came out screaming at 2:11pm. I couldn't believe how much hair she had. I looked right at Troy and said "SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE AVERY!!" I'm not sure he heard me. He started crying immediately. I love that man. He really is so much more emotional than I am. I don't think I registered emotion yet because I still had a baby to push out.

The ultrasound tech had the wand on my belly almost immediately to determine the position of Caris. Luckily, she had flipped head down after Kinley was born...YAY! To keep her head down, the tech put her hand on my stomach and pushed her into my right hip so she didn't try and flip breech and run my vaginal delivery plans.

Dr. Adashek told me that my cervix closed ALLLLLL the way up after Kinley came out. Uh oh. So my doctor grabbed the forceps and used them to open my cervix back up and put his right arm INSIDE ME to more than halfway up his forearm. Thank God for epidurals. I cannot IMAGINE how that would have felt without drugs. He had to grab Caris's head and pull her down so that I could push her out.

I just remember laying there and looking at Dr. Adashek. Kinley was screaming her head off, but it still seemed SO calm and quiet in there to me and all I could do was look at him. He was concentrating SO hard. He was (literally) elbow deep in my body with his eyes closed, feeling around for her head for about 3-4 minutes. I felt like we were the only people in the room, he was so close to me. His head was almost right over my stomach. He had his left hand on my stomach to help move her from the outside and use as a reference while his right hand pulled her down. At some point during this, the neonatologist called out Kinley's weight at 5lbs 4oz. She was 19 inches long.

He got Caris in position and told me to push again. Her head came out and he immediately told me to stop. I didn't know why at the time, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and he cut it off while her body was still inside me to make sure that nothing got too tight when I pushed her out. He lifted up Caris and showed her to us and handed her off to the neonatologist at 2:19pm.

And then I started freaking out. She didn't cry. And she didn't cry. And it was an eternity. I kept asked Dr. Adashek what was wrong with her and he kept saying "nothing, she's fine." I think that must've happened 5 times. She finally started crying and they told Troy he could go over with them. He basically ran.

The nurse and ultrasound tech immediately starting massaging my belly to help it start going down and get both placentas out. Hard. I could not believe how hard they were pushing on my stomach. Again, I'm glad I had the epidural, because that was like a dang deep tissue massage on my belly. Dr. Adashek told me I had a small tear and he started stitching me up. Caris's weight was called at 4lbs 14oz and she was 17 3/4 inches long.

While I was laying there, listening to my babies cry, Troy finally walked over holding Caris, all wrapped up so that I could see she was okay. He laid her on my chest and neck for a few minutes while I got stitched up. She was SO SMALL! I couldn't believe I had done it. I had both of my babies out and safe and sound. And I had a vaginal delivery. I was pretty proud. The neonatologist called for Troy and the NICU team entourage took my babies out in incubators to go get checked out in the NICU.

Not gonna lie, it really, really sucked laying there by myself in the OR as all the people dwindled down to just me, Dr. Adashek, and my labor and delivery nurse. I felt SO alone and my body started to totally freak out. I was violently shaking. Huge tremors. Voice shaking. Teeth chattering. Uncontrollable.

The labor and delivery nurse told me that it was "not an uncommon side effect" after delivery. She said it was a response to the combination of a sudden decrease in hormones, loss of the placenta, and the epidural wearing off after birth. And mine was amplified with 2 babies. I didn't feel cold, just completely overwhelmed.

The intense, constant shaking lasted about 3 hours. Troy was gone in the NICU for about an hour and came back in to check on me in recovery. He showed me a bunch of pictures he had taken during the delivery and in the NICU and then headed back down to the NICU to be with the girls. I was snuggled up in the blankets trying to calm down because the nurse said the more I tried to fight the shaking, the worse it would be and the longer it would last. I remember being super disoriented because the recovery room had no windows. And I'd been awake since about 6am the day before (up for almost 36 consecutive hours) so my body was exhausted but with no windows, I had no concept of time. I just wanted to sleep, but my body wouldn't stop shaking.

The nurse brought me in a tray because I kept saying that I was starving during the delivery and to "get these babies out so I can eat." The food was pretty good. Except I was having a seriously hard time feeding myself with all the shaking. I remember talking to Troy's dad and my teeth were chattering so hard, it was difficult to have a conversation.

I stayed in the dark watching re-runs of Friends on TBS, trying to eat, and wishing that I was with my family. The nurse came in and finally helped me out of bed to go to the bathroom. Once I was up, it was on. I'm pretty sure the nurse hated me. I was like, "YOU GET ME A WHEELCHAIR. RIGHT NOW!" Troy showed up in the middle of this and followed the nurse to bring back the wheelchair for me.

He wheeled me down to the NICU and I was pretty heart broken when I saw the nurses had them both propped up in the incubators, feeding them formula. I seriously started crying. I am a hardcore breastfeeder and Avery NEVER had formula and I nursed her for 14 months, when she decided she was done. Watching them hooked up to monitors and drinking formula from the nurses just made me so sad. They were so little I was afraid to ask to hold them. I felt like there was nothing I could do to take care of them.

This is Kinley. Her head was settled into the pelvic bowl THE WHOLE PREGNANCY. Her face was crazy crooked when she was born. The left side of her jaw was stretched and pushed to the right. All the muscle cords in her neck were really tight. We've been working on getting her to turn her head to look over her left shoulder and massaging her neck and jaw muscles to help straighten her out.

And this is Caris:

The neonatologist came over and talked to us immediately and said that Kinley was doing great and would be released to come to our room on the mommy baby floor in a few hours. Caris was still needing some support and needed to stay in the NICU at least for the night.

They moved our room from recovery to the mommy baby room and put us in a room that was right across from the door to the NICU. Kinley came over around 8pm that night and I immediately tried to nurse. I started bawling when she latched right on and started nursing. I was SO happy.

Avery came and visited the next day and held Kinley and went and visited Caris in the NICU.

I gotta tell you. Recovery after this birth was a DREAM compared to after Avery. I didn't think my recovery after Avery was bad or super painful, but this was nothing compared to that. Maybe it was easier because I had done it before and knew what to expect. Maybe it was because they were smaller. Maybe it was because I had 2 kids in the NICU (they both ended up back over there) for a few days after I was discharged and had no choice but to drive and be dressed and be back and forth from home and hospital for a week. I dunno. But holy cow, it was so much better.

They are amazing little babies. They are so good. And Avery is doing so well with them and being gentle. She has only picked Kinley up one time without adult supervision and she even supported her head! We feel so blessed.

We could not have made it this far without the help of a lot of people while I was on bedrest:

- Our church small group for meals and babysitting
- Our military family for meals and babysitting
- My Mom
- My Stepmom
- Troy's Aunt Kathy
- Troy's Mom
- Kristen
- Taylor

And all the prayers from everyone. You guys are awesome. This was a seriously HORRIBLE and WONDERFUL year at the same time. We went through so much to get these babies here and home. I cannot believe that almost our whole year was consumed by getting pregnant and trying to keep these babies safe.

Today is their due date and they are almost 5 weeks old. We are so blessed to have so much support from my mom, who has been here since the day they were born. She is making sure I get a 5 hour stretch of sleep at night and encouraging me to nurse. She's making sure I eat and that my house is clean. And doing laundry. Oh. My. Lord. The laundry is crazy.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We have so much to be thankful for this year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Real Labor? False Labor?

You can read part I here, where Troy left me in the shower to go to work at 1030pm.

I climbed in bed around 11 and attempted to get comfy. I guess I fell asleep. I woke up around 1230 and was having contractions. Normally, I'd ignore them and take my medication to stop contractions, but the day before, my doctor had taken me off those meds and taken out my cerclage. So I knew that any contractions could actually result in babies coming out.

I laid there for a few minutes and drank some water and positioned myself on my left to try and see if they would slow down. I had just downloaded the new Dan Brown book on my kindle and was having a hard time concentrating on the suspenseful nail biting book, so I knew that I should maybe pay closer attention to timing my contractions.

I grabbed my phone off the nightstand and went to the app store and typed "contraction tracker" into the search bar. I downloaded an app called "Full Term." You hit start when you feel a contraction begin and stop when it backs off and it tracks how long your contractions are, how far apart they are and gives stats and average times for everything so that when you call your doctor, you have actual data to give them. And I'm all about data.

Here's a screen shot of my data:

I tracked my contractions for about an hour and then looked at all my averages. I was having contractions about every 2 and a half minutes and they were lasting about 38 seconds. Eek. That's active labor.

For some reason, I really really didn't want to call my doctor. I was feeling guilty about calling him in the middle of the night. And I knew he would tell me to go get checked out at the hospital. And then I'd have to call Troy. And I really didn't want to do that in case we went to the hospital and they sent me home for false labor. And then his duty officer would be like, "your wife cried wolf" and then if I called again they'd be like, "oh great, she thinks she's in labor again." Just all the way around, I was afraid to call in case I wasn't actually in labor.

I mean, the contractions hurt, but I was still talking and breathing through them. It wasn't too bad. At all.

But considering the data my phone collected, I decided to call Dr. Adashek. At 130am. Ugh, I can barely type that.

So, I call and he doesn't pick up and I start leaving a message. Mid message, he is calling me back.

Dr: Hey Natalie, what's going on? (voice all growly, I can tell I woke him up)

I give him all my stats and ask him what he thinks because I really didn't want to call the office at Troy's squadron and have them send him home if I wasn't really in labor. It would be over an hour before he would be home and then we had to drop Avery at our friend's house and then go to the hospital, so we were looking at about 2 hours before we could even check in. I really didn't want the hassle if he didn't think I was in labor.

Dr: Natalie. You need to go in. Get checked in and they'll monitor you and call me with an update.

Me: Really? You think I should?

Dr: Go. They'll call and give me an update. This is your second delivery and you went CRAZY fast with your first. A lot can change in 2 hours. I don't want this to turn into a home birth because you didn't want to inconvenience your husband or your friend watching Avery. Good night.

Me: Okay, bye.

So then I called the squadron emergency number. My husband has a job where I don't talk to him during his whole shift. No phones allowed. There is a number we can call if we absolutely have to get them a message. Troy gave me a list of possible examples where calling this number is appropriate.

1. I am in labor
2. I am dying
3. Avery is dying

That's pretty much it.

So I was nervous about calling because technically, I thought I was calling under reason number 1, but it could have been a false alarm.

The duty officer picked up and I explained that I thought I was in labor and had already called my doctor, who directed me to go to the hospital. The DO said that he would go get Troy out of the seat and send him home for me as soon as possible.

Troy called me 10 minutes later. He had borrowed a car from a guy who lives in our neighborhood, you know, since he had taken the van pool to work that day and didn't have a car to get home. And his shift had JUST started so the earliest a van would be leaving to come back to the lot would be 6am. Thank goodness he could borrow a car :)

I woke Avery up and packed a bag for her. Avery was SO confused. I plopped her in our bed with her blanket and Bear Bear and a drink. I didn't want to slow my labor so I was pacing from our room to her room while she snuggled in our bed and kept asking me, "mommy, what doing, mommy what doing?" Well, I'm trying to make sure that this isn't a false alarm, so mommy is pacing.

Troy got home and packed a bag in about 2 minutes and loaded us all into the car. He had already called Nicole (a friend from church who was watching Avery for us) while he drove home and we headed over to her house. Nicole had set up the pack n play we gave her (in the event that I went into labor in the middle of the night) in her living room. Troy said "night night" and told Nicole that we would call or text with an update when he had one. Troy dropped me off at the emergency room entrance of the hospital and I started to walk in while he parked the car.

I stopped at the admissions desk and asked for directions to the elevator for labor and delivery. One of the dudes immediately insisted that I sit in a wheelchair and get pushed up. I refused. He insisted again. And I refused. Troy ran in to meet me then and the wheelchair dude informed me that 2 people had given birth in the elevator this year and requested again that I sit in a wheelchair. I said no.

We headed up to L&D with me standing in the elevator. I'm stubborn. They got us all checked in and in a triage type room with 4 beds basically shoved in a walk in closet. Troy and I were the only ones there. They got me all hooked up to the monitors and checked me. I was at 4cm. The nurse called and gave Dr. Adashek an update and he told them to let me labor for a couple hours, see if my contractions established a pattern and then check me again. I still hadn't called anyone. The only people who knew that I "could" be in labor were Nicole and all of Troy's co-workers. There was no way we were going to tell our parents unless it was the real thing.

So I labored from about 4am to 6am in the tiny triage closet. My contractions settled into a pattern, they checked me again and I had dilated to 6cm. I was so happy that I was progressing. I think I TOTALLY could have gone natural if my doctor would have let me. I was admitted to L&D officially (THANK GOD) so I could stop feeling guilty about waking up my doctor and pulling Troy out of work.

My official orders from the doctor were to be given an epidural and start pitocin AFTER the epidural to help speed things along. Which I was ok with because the epidural would have already kicked in so that I wouldn't feel that devil medicine doing it's work.

The anesthesiologist arrived and gave me the epidural. BUT it only worked on the left half of my body. He had me lay on my right to try and distribute the meds to my right side for about 30 minutes but that didn't work. He tested it by using a cold alcohol swab on my hip, stomach, and foot. Sure enough, I could feel it. So he had to redo my epidural. Have I mentioned how much I HATE HATE HATE needles? LOATHE. I really hate them. So he restuck me and it worked that time. Such a weird sensation. But not nearly as horrible as the spinal for the cerclage.

Dr Adashek arrived to see me around 1030. He broke my water. He asked me again if I wanted a c-section.

NO WAY DUDE. Medical emergency only. I will not opt for a c-section.

He sat down with us and told us how happy he was that I made it this far. That I had done so well and it was a miracle to make it to 35+ weeks considering everything we had been through. That made me smile. So then he went over all the possible things that could happen during the delivery in more detail than we had in his office. The big unknown was what Caris would do after Kinley was delivered. She was laying transverse and we didn't know if she would flip breech or head down. So we talked through every possible scenario and then he went back to his office and let me continue to labor pain free (epidurals are amazing...I didn't have one with Avery so this was craaaaaazy different).

My Dr. insisted that I have an epidural, even after I told him I didn't want one. But because of all the unknown variables that could occur during the delivery, he really insisted that I get one for the following reasons:

1. I need a c-section and then they have to actually put me under anesthesia and I'm asleep during the whole birth, which I really didn't want.

2. He has to reach into my uterus to turn the baby and is elbow deep inside me and the pain would be too horrible to tolerate.

So I agreed to the epidural. Best decision ever because I ended up dilating from 6 to 10 in about an hour AND variable 2 actually happened.

After he left, I finally got a little nap and then the nurse came back in to check me. FULLY dilated. And I couldn't feel a thing. She called Dr. Adashek and gave Troy all his delivery gear. I had to deliver in the operating room just in case something unexpected happened and I needed a c-section (I swear they were trying to scare me to death with all the c-section threats) so Troy had to wear all the contact precaution gown stuff just in case.

The told me Dr. Adashek would be there in a few minutes and wheeled me down to the OR around 130pm.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Costco = Labor

If you read my last post, from monday, October 21, I had JUST had my cerclage removed. You know, that stitch to keep the babies in?

Well, I saw the removal of the stitch as official "permission" from my doctor to have the babies. Especially since I wasn't on bedrest anymore. Muahahahaha.

When we got up on tuesday morning, I decided that we needed to go to Costco to shop and have lunch. Being on bed rest, I had not been to Costco since mid July and I was having serious withdrawal. Every time Troy and Avery went in those 3 months, I would sit home and dream about the very berry frozen yogurt, free samples, book aisle, holiday get the picture. I would sit home and pout.

So, we loaded in the car and drove to Costco while I sat in the passenger seat, evilly tapping my fingers together, getting ready to execute my plan.

Which Troy TOTALLY called me out on when we pulled into the parking lot.

Troy: Did you make a shopping list?

Natalie: Um...nope.

Troy: Did you even open the refrigerator or the pantry to see if we needed anything?

Natalie: Um...nope.

Troy: Do you want me to drop you at the door and you can get settled in a motorized scooter?

Natalie: Um...nope.

Troy: I know what you're doing.

Natalie: (avoiding eye contact) I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just excited about getting cheap fro-yo.

Troy: Did you bring a change of clothes or a towel in case your water breaks in Costco?

Natalie: Um...nope.

Troy: Alrighty then.

So we walked in and got lunch first. I got pizza and a very berry frozen yogurt. SO GOOD. And not healthy at all. But I was on a mission, and this could be my last meal. It had to be good.

Normally, we have a list and are in and out in about an hour. We don't really shop. It's easy to get in trouble in there, buying things that I am convinced we need. Normally, I go in with blinders on to EVERYTHING in the store and just zero in on the items on our shopping list for the sake of our bank account. I just love Costco. People who try and say that Sam's Club and Costco are the same thing are liars. LIARS I TELL YOU! It's just like comparing Target to Walmart. Costco is just better.

Well, this day was different. Not having a list, I totally walked up and down every aisle, browsing and touching everything, taking my time and making sure was enjoying myself. Looking at baby clothes, books and movies, all the small kitchen appliances, and beauty products. Things I NEVER allow myself to look at because then I buy stuff. The good news is, Troy didn't even say A WORD. He just let me browse and window shop and didn't try to hurry me.

Much to his shock and dismay, I even loaded some stuff onto the conveyer belt when we were checking out.

Troy: Seriously Natalie. I know what you're doing.

Natalie: Do I look like I care?

And then I grabbed some cash out of his wallet and got some chocolate fro-yo for the ride home while he loaded up the car and Avery in her car seat. Double fro-yo in one day? YES PLEASE! When I climbed in the car with my second serving, he just pinched his lips together and squinted his eyes at me, like, "really Natalie, is that necessary?" UM YES! Each baby needed one serving!

We went home and unloaded the car and put Avery down for a nap. And Troy went to bed. With him being on the midnight shift, he sleeps from 2pm to 10pm and then leaves for work. He stays up when he gets home around 9am so he can spend Avery's awake morning time with us before her nap.

I hung out downstairs and watched Ellen and stood up for a couple hours in the kitchen, cutting up all the fruit we had bought at Costco and putting everything in tupperware for breakfasts and snacks.

I got Avery up from her nap, we played Mr. Potato Head on the floor, and made macaroni and cheese for dinner. I gave her a bath and put her to bed.

I watched Project Runway on our DVR and headed upstairs at 10 to wake up Troy. He was already in the shower when I got up there. I got in the shower when he got out to started shaving his face. I was sitting on my shower chair feeling HUGELY pregnant. Seriously, my stomach covered more than half of my thighs. I had NO lap. It was not conducive to Avery snuggles. Or shaving. Or putting on shoes.

Troy opened the shower door and stared at me while I tried to wash my legs.

Troy: So I'm going to take the carpool to work tonight.

Natalie: Mkay.

Troy: Are you feeling any contractions....or anything to suggest you might go into labor tonight?

Natalie: Nope. Nothing.

Troy: Ok, because if you go into labor, I won't have a car to get home.

Natalie: I'm good. Seriously. Nothing is happening. I'll try again tomorrow.

Famous last words...I went into labor 2 hours later.

A Fairy Princess

SOOOOOOO sorry about that. I've been absent for about 3 weeks now. Radio silence. You all must know what that means...the babies are here!! I will be posting about that very very soon. As in, maybe tonight after Avery goes to bed and I can start writing. But in the meantime, I need to do a Halloween post, before it gets too far away.

Last year, Troy and Avery had coordinating outfits as Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat. You can read all about that here.

I looked back at that post and seriously, my heart was breaking. She is SO big and grown up now. And talking constantly, trying my patience. Thank you Jesus for making her cute because seriously, if she says "mommy" one more time I might kill her. This is my life right now:


For Christmas last year, her Aunt Taylor bought Avery a dress up box, but she wasn't really interested in it until about 2 months ago. Like, she lives in her Rapunzel dress. For us, it was a natural choice to let her pick things out of her dress up box to wear for Halloween. Oh yeah, and I was hugely pregnant and not really feeling like DIYing something cute or creative either. Pinterest mom of the year right here! And Caris came home from the hospital on oxygen 2 hours before Avery left to go trick or treating with Troy. We were ALLLLL about easy this year.

So Avery decided to wear her Rapunzel dress and fairy wings with her sparkly TOMs and be a fairy princess. And Troy wore his Uncle Si costume. He's getting good use out of that thing, huh? He said that more people were commenting on his costume while trick or treating and he felt a little guilty about stealing the spotlight from Her Royal Cuteness.

Here are the trick or treaters before they left. Avery was very excited because she got to wear makeup for the very first time! Grandma did a GREAT job with the eye shadow and blush :)

Here's a family photo (excuse the puffiness...I don't even look like myself...)

Here's a side view of Princess Avery's wings:

And here's one of Avery and me. Gosh, I love this girl. Even if she drives me nuts. Like I said...thank God she's cute.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cerclage Removal and 35 Weeks

**WARNING** This post contains a pretty gross picture of the stitch as well as a graphic explanation of the removal procedure. I'll put the pic at the bottom so you don't have to see it if you don't want to.

Here is a picture from today...35 weeks baby! I MADE IT! Also, I only have about 3 shirts that fit...

So last week, I did an update about all the upcoming dates for removing the cerclage, doing an amniocentesis and then getting induced if I hadn't gone into labor on my own yet.

Well, I was SUPPOSED to get the stitches from the cerclage removed NEXT monday on the 28th. BUT I went in for my appointment today will full intentions of begging to get them out today. I am SO uncomfortable now. My skin hurts, I'm swelling pretty bad...all over, my hips and my pubic bone are killing me. So, I was ready to beg. And plead.

But, as it turns out, my doctor is doing a stay-cation next week. Meaning, he's taking the week off, not doing office visits, but he'll be in town and available for deliveries. He gave me the choice of removing the stitch today or having a doctor I'd never met and had no idea about my case remove it next week. No thank you. So I opted for stitch removal today. I'm wild and crazy!

I had done some reading online about "what to expect" with the stitch removal and I expected a little discomfort, but in general, I have a pretty decent pain tolerance. I was feeling confident. The procedure is normally done in the office and takes about the same amount of time as a pap-smear. Which every girl knows, is more awkward and uncomfortable than anything. The biggest complaint from forums online was that sometimes the cervix can start to grow around the stitch and so removing it can be super uncomfortable. As a result, some people opt to leave it in until delivery and once they have the epidural, the stitch is removed with no pain at all.

So, I get in the room all naked from the waist down and put my feet up in the stirrups. He uses the speculum (or the duck thing, as Ross Gellar would say) to see in there. No local anesthetic or anything. The stitch is in my cervix in the same way that the string is in a coin purse. It weaves in and out of my cervix and is pulled shut and knotted on one side. To remove it, my doc has to grab the knot, pull it tighter (away from my cervix) and clip one of the strings to pull it out in one solid piece.

Well he settles down there on the stool and says, "Oh man Natalie. You are super swollen. It's totally normal to swell with multiples, but wow."

I knew I was swollen because I'm having a hard time breathing through my nose. When pregnant, all mucus membranes are MUCH more filled with blood and things can get swollen and huge. Thus my lady parts looking similar to an elephant. Awesome.

So he puts in the speculum and cranks it open (OUCH) and keeps apologizing because I started cursing. Which makes me apologize, which makes him apologize more, which makes the nurse laugh.

He had to root around in there with some clamps for about 2 minutes because everything was so swollen that he was having a hard time finding the knot. He finally locates it and starts tugging on it to pull the knot away from my cervix, which makes me curse more and the nurse came up to hold my hand so I would quit slapping the side of the exam table. He told me to count to 10 and said that by the time I was done counting, he would be done.

LIAR!! I got to 11 and cursed. Eeek. Sorry.

He gave me a minute break and said that because I was bleeding and so swollen, he was having a difficult time seeing everything and was being careful not to clip my cervix. Oh, good.

This went on 4 times until be came around up to my head and said, "so, I can tell this is causing a lot of discomfort and I hate that. You can come back in tomorrow afternoon and we can give you a local anesthetic to remove it so you're not so uncomfortable. Or I can try one more time."

Well, I really wanted it out, so I told him to try again. He ducked back down there and tugged some more while I cursed and tried not to break the nurses hand. He asked her to come down and hold the clamp so he could use 2 hands to cut. HE GOT IT! The second he finished, there was NO more pain. And to my shock and surprise, my water didn't break in his lap.

Here is a picture of the stitch:

The part where it is arched was attached to the knot on the right side and the two short ends are the parts that were loose in my vagina that he pulled on to make the stitch tighter so that he could cut the loop. It's gross right? Much smaller than I thought it would be. When the loop was closed, it was only about the size of a nickel.

So, here I am. I can go into labor anytime. I got my last shot of progesterone today (which prevents labor) and I'm not allowed to take oral medications anymore to prevent contractions. The countdown is on.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

34 Weeks Pregnant and OFFICIALLY off bed rest!

My doctor's goal was to get me to 32 weeks. On Monday, I reached my PERSONAL goal of getting to 34 weeks. YAY! I couldn't have done it without the help of all our family and friends. This pregnancy has been a nightmare overall. It didn't start off well and getting to the end with a healthy mom and 2 healthy babies feels amazing!!

I have lots of info to update and I'm excited to start getting this show on the road so that I can get my hands on these sweet girls. I LOVE newborn snuggles.

At my 33 week appointment on the 7th of October, I had a growth scan. Kinley was head down (she'll be the first one out), weighed in at approximately 4lbs 7oz, and RIGHT on my cervix. We are all convinced that she is going no where. Caris was also head down and weighing in at 4lbs and 10z. My doctor said it's great news all around for a vaginal delivery (which I desperately want) because the first baby out is head down AND she's bigger.

At my 34 week appointment, Caris had flipped to breech....again. I was so discouraged. My worst nightmare for delivery would be having a vaginal delivery for Kinley and then a caesarean for Caris. 2x the recovery for both areas. Yuck.

I expressed my concern about this and Dr. Adashek said that he actually prefers the first baby to be head down and the second to be breech. He said that if things take too long after Kinley would be born, he has more SAFE options to retrieve Caris without a c-section. He said that if she is in distress or things are taking too long, he can reach in an grab her legs and pull her out. But, if she's head down, he'd have to use the forceps (NO WAY) or do a c-section to avoid damage to her spinal cord to get her out. So, basically, as long as Kinley stays head down (which everyone thinks she will), my odds of a regular delivery are pretty good! Which makes me really happy.

A lot of people have been asking me what will happen if I go into labor now. Especially because of the cerclage, which is preventing my cervix from dilating.

1. My water breaks - if my water breaks, I call my doc on his cell and he calls ahead to labor and delivery to let them know I'm coming. Day or night. They remove my stitches right when I get there and labor can progress normally as long as my cervix is ok.

2. I start active labor and am having some spotting because of the cerclage. There would be no scary bleeding, but definitely some spotting from the cerclage. I would call my doc and he would call ahead to labor and delivery and let them know I'm on the way. They take the cerclage out and I can labor normally as long as my cervix is ok.

If I don't have these babies in the next week and a half, here is the plan. Troy, Dr. Adashek and I sat down with a calendar and here are all the important dates:

October 21st - I will be 35 weeks. NO MORE MEDS. I will NO longer be allowed to take all my medications to prevent contractions.

October 28th - I will be 36 weeks. My doc is taking out the cerclage. Troy is predicting that my water will break IN THE OFFICE when he removes the stitches. Very unlikely me thinks. I will be heading to the outlet malls/Target that day to shop and hopefully get things moving. If that doesn't work I am taking Avery trick or treating as well. All the walking should do something, I hope.

November 4th - I will be 37 weeks. At my appointment, they'll take a sample of amniotic fluid to test for lung development.

November 6th - INDUCTION DAY! We will definitely have 2 more babies by this day. I have an appointment to go in at 4am to start my induction. And by start my induction, I mean they are allowed to break my water. And that. Is. It. Pitocin is the devil's medicine and I told him that if he tries to make me take it, he's fired. I am not joking. I said they can give it to me after the babies are born to help shrink my uterus down faster, but it is absolutely forbidden (unless I ask for it) during active labor. FORBIDDEN. I have made this clear to him and to the nurses.

As of now, I am off bed rest. Kristen left this morning and my doctor said that when she leaves, I am allowed to resume all normal activities. Mostly. He still doesn't want me going to the grocery store or going shopping. But I can do laundry, cook, do light housework, go to play dates, and (GASP) even meet Troy in "funkytown" (gotta love Parenthood).

I'm still going to be taking it easy as much as I can, because even though now that I'm allowed to do things, it's uncomfortable to do things. I'm definitely getting uncomfortable. I was okay until about 2 weeks ago and now things are a little more difficult and sleeping is getting interesting. Normally, I HATE sleeping alone when Troy is on the graveyard/night shift, but the extra space the past few weeks has been a bit of a relief. Sorry babe...LOVE YOU!

Please leave me a comment or message on facebook if you want me to put you on our group email/text message chain when I actually go into labor for progress updates. We won't be updating facebook until after we have spoken to family, so if you want the inside track on labor updates, let one of us know.

The countdown is on! Especially now that I'm the only one chasing down Avery and Troy sleeps during the day...things are about to get crazy and I'm so excited :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Nursery

So my stepmom was here for almost two weeks and left on friday. One of the MAJOR things she did while she was here was completely finish the nursery. A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about how I wasn't ready for these baby girls for make their entrance. Well, now we are physically ready. She located all the parts of my breast pump, organized ALL of the clothes that we have and labeled everything, put all the pacifiers that were spread about the whole house in one spot, hung our new video monitors (courtesy of fun Aunt Tay-Tay, you're the best), cleaned bottles and made room for them in cabinets, and did TONS of laundry. Troy and I also took inventory of everything we still needed and Elaine went to Babies R Us and bought everything that we needed. We are OFFICIALLY ready for these sweet girls.

Here is the finished product.

This is the view standing in the doorway and looking into the left corner of the room. Yes, my hospital bag is the purple one on the changing table. It is packed with premie clothes...and that's it. The diaper bag is COMPLETELY clean and wiped out...but not packed. The black bag is my pump. Complete with clean parts and in working order. You can see the cameras mounted over the pictures and the wires hanging down out of reaching baby arms.

This is the crib right next to the door when you walk into the room. We decided to buy 2 new cribs a) so they would match and b) because Avery's crib was a drop side and didn't transition to a toddler bed so we had to put her into a twin bed. We used the bumpers my mother in law made on the head and footboards of each bed. Elaine sewed ribbons onto each corner so they could be tied to the posts on the ends. Elaine made crib skirts with the little caterpillars. You can't see them too well, but I assure you, they're adorable. LOVE them.

This is the changing table in between the cribs. It's Avery's changing table from her crib set. Can you see the labels Elaine put on all the drawers? She wanted to make sure I could find everything since I wasn't the one organizing the nursery. Isn't that cute?

And if you couldn't see, here's a close up:

Here is crib #2. All of the wall stickers came from a website called and this is the 3rd room that they have been used in. So definitely worth the money, as the stickiness is still intact. I highly recommend wall stickers. Elaine also made the 4 paneled quilt that is hanging on the side of the crib. I love how personalized everything is with the homemade gifts from these grandmas.

This is the wall right next to the door when you walk in. The quilt on the wall was the first thing that I bought when I found out I was pregnant with Avery and we built our nursery theme around that.

Here is the inside of her closet. Blankets stacked on top, with a hanging closet organizer. It holds socks, bibs, burp cloths, swaddle blankets, and extra crib sheets. The left side of the closet contains all their "next size up clothes" in big Rubbermaid bins. The rocking chair is blocking that side since we will only need to get in there every 3 months to change out clothing sizes.

So I *guess* these babies can come now. I'd prefer if they hang out in there for another couple weeks, but I've been having some heavy contractions and taking my max medication dosage. I have an appointment today, so we'll see what my doctor says. Keep you all updated! Thanks for your prayers! They're WORKING.