Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fat and Tired

We're just arrived back from Rockford, IL to celebrate Dave's parent's 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a lot of fun and Conor nearly levitated with happiness to spend time with his 11 cousins (one cousin, his godmother, could not make it as she is currently deployed chasing pirates off the coast of Africa).  Honestly, Conor *loves* being around his cousins.  He always shows off their pictures to all our guests including  repairmen and, actually, my mother-in-law. They all kindly remark on how wonderful his cousins are.  

In other news, things are going well pregnancy-wise.  I am about 1/2 lb behind schedule on the weight gain, but considering that next week, we're going on a cruise to celebrate *my* parent's 50th wedding anniversary, I have no doubt that I'll be able to make up that 1/2 lb and the 2 additional ones I'm supposed to gain.  

The good news is that the nausea is almost completely gone.  The bad news is that the fatigue has increased exponentially.  Being the wonderful daughter/sister-in-law that I am, I spent pretty much all of the time on this trip either eating or napping.  BP (before pregnancy), a 2 1/2 hour nap meant a late bedtime.  Now it means I can stay up until 9:30.  I am so glad I am not teaching at this exact moment because I'm pretty sure I could slip into a coma during a pause in the class discussion.  

And my belly.  Folks, this is a picture of me at 11 weeks pregnant.  

Eleven weeks pregnant!  I'm huge!  And it's not my uterus.  That's still pretty low.  It's my guts getting moved all around from my growing belly at the bottom.  Besides the fact that this is my 5th pregnancy, so things have moved around before, the twins and the surgery have made things change a lot quicker.  Plus, I guess, those 10 lbs didn't just go straight to my massive, flabby upper arms.  

Ok, enough about me.  The next post is going to be about Conor and Christmas.  I have a picture of Conor just before he jumped up and down seeing presents from Santa Claus.  

Now I have to decide if I can take a nap, whether to work my syllabus for next semester, or take a shower.  All 3 have to happen today, but I'm not sure in which order.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Remodel

We've known since we moved into this house that we were going to need to remodel it at some point.  And although we've put a bathroom here, a home office there, we had decided to put off a full remodel.  Until now.  

We've been meeting with an architect for the last 5 months or so.  We had actually decided on a nice plan until the architect asked us where Conor was going to sleep once the twins were born.  (One  might note this was in the last 5 minutes of our 1 1/2 hour conversation)  We looked at each other and couldn't really figure out how three children would fit into our house.  We could see how we could cobble together a nursery for the twins, but actual bedrooms?  Not so obvious.  

So our architect went back to the drawing board and made a few more adjustments that 1) add another bedroom and bath and 2) will let us phase in the construction.  What that means is that they will frame it out and officially call it storage space and then Dave will take the next year to add the drywall and flooring and tile/toilet/shower to finish it up.  This will save us a boatload of money but allow us to actually have a big enough house.  

What is pretty funny is that it's not really going to be a BIG house.  But for us, it will seem enormous.  We think this is a good thing because it will still capture the spirit of our 1940's working class house but will let us feel a bit more spacious and modern.

So what are we doing?  We're taking over the back deck and making it a "real" room.  It will extend our family room and also give us a (grown up!) laundry and mud room!  The stairs to the second floor will also be there.  

On the second floor, we'll have a loft/landing area which we think could serve as an upstairs family room or make shift guest accommodations.  We'll also have a smallish bedroom (all of our bedrooms are small to smallish) with a closet and a bath.  Then we'll have the master suite, which will be huge to us and moderate to most suburban houses, with a gas fireplace and a sun room.  We'll also have a walk-in closet (quite unlike any other closet in the house...of which there are only two very small closets in our house), and the master bath.  Because of our old neighborhood, we're going to have several dormer windows and bay windows and most exciting of all, the 7 foot bathtub will be housed in a bay window off the bathroom.  (((sigh)))  I will be sure to wave to the neighbors when I take my baths.  (Window treatments are going to be important there!)

Of course, what that also means is that we're going to have to move out of the house for a few months while they "pop the top."  Perhaps we could stay in our home, but with all the lead paint and asbestos likely to be floating around, we think the best option for Conor and me would to be out.  Perhaps Dave can stay and breathe all the bad air while Conor and I are in a hotel.  :-)

Best of all, we currently believe that because of the economy, the remodel will cost about 20-30% less this year than if we had done it last year.  And with the current mortgage rates (and that we absolutely cannot and will not go near the amount for  a jumbo loan), when we refinance everything at the end, we may not actually be paying any more per month than we are paying now.  

So there.  We're doing quite a bit over the next couple of months.  I'll be growing a few new babies and we'll be growing a new house.  It should make for very interesting blogging times.  

And, of course, speaking of the babies, I am now 10 weeks along, and I am totally showing.  I honestly feel like I am getting bigger by the hour.  I can't believe that I'm already showing this early along.  

Time to finish grading my finals.  Yippee!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Waist Not, Rock Not

The pebble in Conor's ear was not too big of a deal.  He was very upset that he had done something wrong.  And quite scared when the doctor had to pull it out.  He said it hurt coming out, but I'm sure it was more of the loud sound of it moving around in his ear that was more frightening.  

There was a moment when the doc was having problems that she intimated that we might have to take it up a notch with a more specialized doctor if she couldn't get it out.  (Do pediatric ENTs specialize in rock removal?!)  Fortunately, she got it out, we put it in a specimen bottle, and she marked to visit with the code "Foreign Object Removal Ear."  I find that amusing.  It's obviously not even close to being a rare event in the pediatrician's office.  

As far as what once was my waist, at 9 1/2 weeks pregnant I am fully in maternity clothes.  I had lost about 10 lbs over the summer and so I was thinking that I could wear my fat clothes in the early pregnancy.  However, they are falling right off of me when I put them on.  (Even colleagues note that "Dude, those pants are way too big.") And I can't wear my regular clothes because I cannot button the tops of my pants.  

And I know that even though there are two in there, my uterus is still not big enough for me to be "showing."  What's up?

Apparently, my uterus, although still small and not visible, is pushing my internal organs around.  Thus, my waist is much bigger than it normally is at this weight.  Even worse, I think it's obvious that, because of this spring's surgery, my belly button is the weak part of my stomach.  Indeed, my belly button has almost already popped.  9 1/2 weeks!  And my belly button has almost popped!  Ugh.  I'm just not envisioning my belly to be the prettiest thing ever seen, what with the enormous scars from the surgery making a smiley face around my belly button and the black and blue track marks from the Lovenox. It causes my dear loving husband to shudder sometimes.  Anyone want to venture a guess on what the heck my scars are going to do as my belly expands with two babies?  I'm voting Not Pretty, whatever it turns out to be.  

Oddly, I look much thinner in the maternity clothes than I do in my regular clothes, so I'm psyched about that.  (Buttons not straining to reach and all that, I suppose)  So I guess there is a silver lining here anyway.  And Conor's rock is out of his ear. That could have ended up being a much worse story than it did.  Thank goodness.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I'm Surprised to Say

"Son, don't touch with your penis at the breakfast table."

"But it's itchy."

"Hmmmmm, it might be time to wash those pajamas."

And today....

"No, I'm not going to be able to grade this afternoon because I have to take my son to the doctor to get a pebble out of his ear."

Food and Fatigue

I've been trying to strictly follow the Dr. Luke Diet, but after gaining over 4 lbs in one week, I figured I could probably cut back a little bit.  It occurs to me that she may have written that diet for twenty-somethings and not for women, ahem, over 35.  My metabolism is not the same as it was in my 20's and since I'm still not allowed to exercise, I'm not really burning off that many calories.  So I'm going to try to keep the protein and dairy consumption up a high level, but I am not going to make myself sick trying to get to 3500 calories a day.

What's become more of a problem is the fatigue.  I am absolutely pooped a great deal of the time.  I took a 10 minute nap yesterday when I got home so I could cook dinner.  And then I was in bed by 9:00.  Ironically, Conor was still up by 9:00.  He's been going to sleep later (not to bed later, but to sleep later) and I've been going to bed earlier.  There has been overlap in our bedtimes and I'm just too tired to argue when he asks to come in bed with me.  Also, it's fun to read our magazines together and then go to sleep.  If Dave comes to bed late enough, he can take Conor in for his late night pee-pee and then put him back in his own bed.  It's a win-win for everyone.  

I'm hoping that I'm at the peak of both the fatigue and nausea part of my pregnancy.  I've forgotten what it's like to not feel gross around food.  Or what it's like to not want to take a nap every few hours of the day.  

A few more weeks.  I'll be glad to be back to normal.  Well, normal while pregnant with twins.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Still Looking Good

The ultrasound went really well yesterday. The subchorionic hemorrhage is gone (hooray!) and the babies had a bit of a growth spurt since Monday. I was 8w1d yesterday and Baby A measured at 8w0d and Baby B (the bruiser) measured at 8w3d. Heartrates were at 178 and 180 respectively.

I am *not* doing any cardio exercise though. I may do some walking and yoga, and I'd like to swim, but I'm going to wait until we've gotten past the 10 week Level I screen before I do any cardio. That's when we found out that Colleen (miscarrage #3) had too high of a heartbeat and I didn't stop exercising---which I should have.

In other eating news, I am switching from my regular diet of eating as much food with as few of calories to eating as little food with as much calories as possible. My first day following Dr. Luke was painful because I was just eating more of my "regular" food. I thought my stomach was going to explode. Then I got 2% milk, full fat yogurt, cheese, ice cream and some meat and was not in nearly as much pain the second day. By the way, cheese is my friend: 2 oz of cheese, which is not that much, has more calories than a chicken breast. That certainly explains why I don't lose weight when I'm eating cheese, but that counts for two servings of dairy and 240 very good, non bloating calories on this diet.

Oddly, I'm also finding that although I'm eating a substantial amount of food at each meal and snack---I am STILL getting hungry! I even had a double 1/4 lb cheeseburger for lunch at school on Thursday, and I was still quite hungry afterwards. Yikes!!

It is cognitively Very Weird to try to get fat. It's why Dave has to listen to me repetively cite the benefits of this early weight gain. He doesn't care, but I am still convincing myself.

It's 9 am on a Saturday. It might be time for another nap.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I Am Full

Everything is going well with the spotting, which means there is none.  I am taking it easy, although I'm no longer trying for full bed rest.  I'm just trying to not stand on my feet all that long at any one time.  

We go back Friday for another ultrasound and I'm really looking forward to it!  I am also imagining two little beans in my belly with two strong heartbeats as they start to grow their arm and leg buds.  

What is more on my mind, or more literally in my belly, is what I'm eating and going to be eating during this healthy pregnancy.  In the infertile world where more people than you would imagine end up with twins, I have constantly heard women sing the praises of Dr. Barbara Luke, a professor/researcher/epidemiologist/MPH/registered dietitian who runs a program to help women with their nutrition during twin pregnancies.  She is also a full professor at the University of Miami Medical school, which in my world means she's done significant research and is recognized by a prestigious university as an internationally known scholar.  

So, yeah, she has a few academic credentials.  

But because I am a critical scholar, I also checked out her academic publications through our school.  (We don't have a medical school, but we have a big school of nursing and have a ton of medical journals available to us)  The most impressive peer reviewed, academic study I found by her and her research team involves comparing 190 mothers of twins who've followed her nutritional program to  331 "regular" mothers of twins, all of whom gave birth over 6 years at the University of Michigan hospital.  These women were not randomly assigned to the program, it's one main drawback, but they are all using a university hospital, so they are not completely different populations.  

In any case, the mothers who followed her nutritional program reduced by *more* than half their chances of having preterm labor, preeclampsia and babies' time in the NICU.  They also increased their chances by more than half of giving birth after 36 weeks and increased by 2.5 times their chances of having a baby who was not low birth weight.  Those are impressive results.

I know from some of my criticisms of non-randomized research that you can often explain health outcomes by the "healthy" third variable.  For example, people who very strictly follow their doctor's advice on taking medications are more likely to have healthy outcomes.  And this doesn't matter if the medicine is real or a placebo!  So people who follow her nutritional plan may simply be part of this healthy third variable group--they are just naturally and conscientiously healthier people.  

Nonetheless, when one sees changes as big as these changes--reducing problems by one half and increasing positives by more than a half---one is more likely to believe that the results of the study are due to real program effects and not population differences.  

So yay--a way to improve the odds of us "going all the way" and taking the babies home with me when I leave the hospital.  Which just so happen to be my two main goals with this pregnancy.

What's the nutritional program?  Gaining a boatload of weight the first 20 weeks.  How much weight?  (((Gulp))) 25 pounds by 20 weeks.  She wants a total weight gain for someone my size (which I would like to point out is exactly in the middle of normal for my height.  Ha!  I keep thinking I'm really fat.  But after living in LA, maybe normal/average is fat) of between 40 and 55  lbs for the whole pregnancy.  Yes.  That *is* a lot of weight?  And how do I do it? By eating around 3500 calories a day.  

Holy. Shit.  Do you know how much food 3500 calories represents?  It is a LOT of food.  I thought that it was supposed to be just a lot of protein, but in all honesty, it's the same proportion of proteins to carbs to fats as the FDA food pyramid; it's just a boatload of food.  

Oh. My. God(dess).  I feel like Rene Zellweger gaining weight for Bridget Jones' Diary.  It is not fun at all.  It's one thing to go overboard and eat 2800 calories in one day.  It is quite another to eat 3500 calories every day and not be training for an ultra-marathon.  I am telling you right now that this is worse than any "diet" I've ever been on in my life.  

And yes, I can see why one would think this was bullshit and just eat a little bit more than normal.  But when I see that I have at least some control that is clearly within my own power to go to term with these babies, to not have them be in the NICU, and to take them home with me as fat and healthy as Conor was, I look at the clock and plan when I'm going to have that piece of whole wheat fiber toast with cashew butter and a banana for a "snack."  (That would have been a hardy breakfast a few weeks ago) 

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pelvic Rest

I have been spotting about once a day for the last week or so.  It's been brown, so I really haven't been that worried.  Also, I found this site which argues that spotting is quite common with IVF treatments because the estrogen and progesterone have made one's lining quite fluffy. It's, therefore, more likely to spot a bit.

Then yesterday morning, we went from spotting to bleeding.  It was a qualitatively different event.  I freaked out a lot and called my doctor, who then scheduled an ultrasound for yesterday afternoon. 

There is no bad news.  The good news is that the babies have grown (though not as much as I'd like) and their heartrates are perfect.  They also found a subchorionic bleed next to baby B. It was very small, but could explain why there was bleeding.  I wish it wasn't there and I can't understand why I have a clot when I'm on lovenox and baby aspirin.  It makes me more cautious than ever about going off the lovenox any time soon.

So now I'm on "pelvic rest."  I'm not supposed to lift anything heavy or to stand while I'm at work.  I contacted the CA clinic who said that 70% of their IVF patients have some bleeding in early pg (very much like the link above suggests).  In addition, the "vast majority" go on to deliver healthy babies.  They, however, hinted that they would have recommended full bedrest.

I do  think everything is going to be ok.  The babies look great.  I really think it's going to turn out ok. It just wasn't a lot of fun yesterday.