Friday, May 16, 2014

The Triplets' Birth Story

 It's time to get this story documented before I forget and before the babies are home and my life is pure chaos. So here goes...

First things first. A few months ago, I was going through my phone calendar. I scrolled to April to get an idea of how far along I would be at what week in April. I was setting goals and trying to get an idea of when my mom should come. I saw that there was an event on April 19th. I was confused what I would have planned that far in advance, so I opened it. All I saw were a bunch of jumbled letters and numbers. Eleanor had gotten to my phone at some point and put it there. In my weird mind, I decided that that was Eleanor's prediction of when the babies would come. So I erased her letters and wrote exactly that: "Eleanor's prediction of babies?"

My doctors had planned to deliver me at 34 weeks 6 days. At first I laughed in their faces and told them that would not be possible. There was no way I would make it that far! But then I thought about how far I had already made it, and I had never believed I'd ever be that far, so I agreed and took it day by day. Most of the time, I kept my eye on the prize. I looked at the big picture of how every day really does make a difference for the babies' growth and development. So most of the time, I was ok sitting in bed all day, getting bigger and bigger by the second.

But one day, I had a bad day. It was my 33 week milestone day(Wednesday). A day I should have been celebrating, but instead, I was a mess. I felt nauseous, I had absolutely no appetite, and I was so uncomfortable. By that time, I could only sleep on my left side or at in incline on my back. For some reason if I slept on my right side, all my insides would be killing me. I had a full cup of lemonade on my tray that got knocked to the ground and spilled all over the place. I was so frustrated, but then an idea popped in my head. What if I called the nurse, showed her the mess, and told her my water had broken? It was a very real thought for about 5 seconds before I realized how ridiculous I was being. So, in my time of crazy mindedness, I called my mom that morning to tell her she needed to convince me to stay pregnant so she could be here by the time they were born. I vented my frustrations, and by the time I hung up, I was a little emotional. Then my doctor walked right in unexpectedly. I didn't want him to see me crying. I didn't want him to give in to my complaining. I knew it was just a bad day. I also knew that he had triplets himself, and he probably knew exactly what I was going through. I didn't want him to deliver the babies because he felt bad for me. I did tell him that I wasn't feeling well, and he decided to order some blood and urine tests. Now fast forward to Thur.

Thursday I woke up feeling great. I knew all I needed was a good night's sleep, and the start of a new day. I found out that my blood work came back saying my blood platelet count was low. It was still in a safe zone, but needed to be monitored. It could be a sign of preeclampsia. Another sign of preeclampsia is high blood pressure. Mine had been slowly rising the last week or so, but it was still in a normal/safe zone. Thursday I also started a 24 hour urine collection. Not so fun, especially since we had to restart it twice. But whatever. That's what comes with hospital life I guess.

Friday I felt great again. I started getting more confident that I could definitely make it to 34 weeks. Just a weekend and a few days away. Spencer and Eleanor came to visit that night because some friends from church were bringing dinner to us. We visited and ate and had a nice time. After our friends left, a nurse came in and told me the protein in my urine was very high, and that after I finished eating dinner, I shouldn't eat or drink anything. When she said that, I was like "Wait, you mean don't eat because I could be delivering babies tonight!?" And she said yes. Wait, what? Not possible. I felt completely fine. Just another day being pregnant with triplets. I started freaking out. I didn't want to deliver that night! Surely it couldn't be that big of an emergency. It felt like forever before 2 nurses came in lugging their lab work and vital signs cart. I knew something was up. First thing the nurse said was "Now, you have a choice since this is your body. The doctors want us to draw some labs and have you go upstairs(to Labor and Delivery)". I told them I wanted to talk to a doctor before anything happened. I have fought to go upstairs before, I was not afraid to fight again. Not long after, my doctor came down and told me pretty much right away that she thought I needed to deliver tonight. She said her seniority had advised immediate delivery after seeing my lab work. She was calling it severe a-typical preeclampsia. A-typical because I wasn't showing a lot of normal signs like high blood pressure, swelling, headaches, etc. I was starting to regret ever complaining to the doctor on Wed, because had I not, the lab work wouldn't have been done, and I would have kept on being pregnant and growing babies for who knows how long. I really didn't see it as an emergency situation. She told me I could either deliver now, or wait 6 hours, and be on magnesium during that 6 hours. I wasn't mentally ready for delivery at that moment, but that magnesium is of the devil, so it was a tough choice. At this time, it was 8:00pm, and my doctor said if we do it now, she can ensure an entire NICU team that would be awake and rested(instead of waking them up in the middle of the night). I seriously considered waiting the 6 hours because then Eleanor's prediction would have been right! Am I crazy? Maybe. But I decided it wasn't worth it, so the 18th of April it would be. 33 weeks and 2 days. Also, my doctor(who I really really liked) really wanted to deliver my babies. So I accused her of trying to get me to deliver that night just because she was on the schedule for c sections that night. She claims that it was her seniority's decision, but yes, she was not wanting to give me up. She wanted this surgery.

When the doctor said 'delivery now', she really meant it. Like I said, at that point, it was 8:00. She said delivery would be at 8:30(but then to the side she said more like an hour later). So yes, of course I really started freaking out. They took my vitals, and my blood pressure had gone way up. We took some pictures of my 52 inch belly. I'm pretty sure every inch is equal to a week of being pregnant, so I was measuring 52 weeks pregnant with a singleton. Not sure if those pictures should be shown here. We also did some last minute family pictures. Spencer called his dad to get there right away to pick up Eleanor. I called my mom and texted my siblings to tell them it was 'Baby Time!'. After some blood work and a change into my gown, we made our way upstairs to Labor and Delivery. My nurse upstairs name was Stacy. Even spelled the right way. We both kept getting confused when people were saying our name because we didn't know who they were talking to. I told them I wanted to weigh myself to know how much I had gained - I hadn't been weighed since about 29 weeks. We go to the only scale available, and it didn't turn on!! So I have no idea how much weight I gained for this pregnancy!! The closer it got to delivery time, the more nervous I got. I started getting the shakes really bad. My anesthesiologist came in and started asking me a bunch of questions. I started meeting a bunch of people who would be in the room with us. They kept warning me just how many people would be in there, and that it would be extremely crowded. Spencer got dressed in his scrubs and we had a brief moment to talk about what was about to happen. They wheeled me into the OR and asked me to lay down on my left side on this really really skinny table. I really thought I was going to fall off because I didn't think I could keep my balance on it. They gave me my spinal(which I don't even remember much of. I don't think it hurt at all). They scooted me over to another skinny table and did the ice test to see if I could feel the coldness on my stomach. Everything happened pretty fast after that. I could kind of see in the reflection of the lights what was happening on the other side of the curtain. I actually wanted to see. At one point the reality and the emotions set in, and I just started crying. Spencer kept asking me if I was ok, and I assured him I was. I couldn't believe it was happening. After all those months of being in the hospital. All the things I had to give up. All for this moment. It was overwhelming, and beautiful, and so so scary. The doctors say "uterine" when they are about to cut the uterus open. That was Spencer's cue to get the camera out and stand up to take pictures. Baby A was out first. 10:21 pm.I remember seeing in the reflection a big gush of fluid when they broke his amniotic sac. All at the same time hearing it. He came out crying - and I couldn't have been happier about that. That just made me really start crying. Pretty sure I was a big mess of emotion while on that table. They handed Baby A over to his team of 3 doctors, then went to work on Baby B. I couldn't tell if he came out crying because I could still hear Baby A in the background. They were right in telling me the room would be crowded. Each baby had a team of 3 doctors. And I had at least 3 people working on me. And apparently there were more people behind me that I couldn't see. So it was kind of chaotic. Babies coming out, handing them over to wherever they go. All the babies stayed in the same room while they assessed them and gave them the proper immediate care that was needed. Baby B was born at 10:22pm. While Baby C was ready to come out, there was one group of doctors telling Spencer to come cut the chord behind him. At the same time, the doctors working on me were telling him to come back because Baby C was coming right then, at 10:23pm. So Spencer was rushing back and forth, all the while trying to take pictures. Chaos I say.

Apparently Spencer got really scared for Baby B. He said he didn't look good at all coming out, and his team of doctors seemed really concerned. Spencer says he heard the baby's alarm going off, but then heard from someone that it was going off because he wasn't hooked up to a certain monitor. And then another doctor said he couldn't hear the heartbeat. But that was because the alarm was too loud. So Spencer didn't really know how serious it was, and if he should be concerned or not. Now that we know more, it turns out Baby B scored a 2 on his first APGAR score. He was in fact blue and not breathing on his own. But his second score was a 7, so at least he recovered quickly.

At one point someone brought over Baby A all swaddled in a blanket and told me he was on room air and doing great. I was so happy. Then Baby C was brought over, and all I remember was seeing her face so close up, and thinking of how itty bitty it was. Such a tiny little thing!

Eventually people started leaving the room with the babies. All that was left was the doctors sewing me up, and the anesthesiologist. This guy was a talker. He never stopped talking. He asked me how I was feeling, and I told him that I couldn't breathe through my nose. It had gotten so congested just while laying on that table. He said "Let me see what I can do about that", then attached something to my IV. Literally within minutes I was breathing clear as day. That guy was a miracle worker.

I felt like I was lying there FOREVER while being sewn up. I asked if anyone at that end of the table was qualified to give me a quick tummy tuck. Wouldn't that be nice? I remember seeing my doctor put some strips on my incision, and she was talking about "from personal experience, these work really great", and I wondered if she had had a tummy tuck or something. She told me I had great skin that went back together very nicely. In my mind I was thinking how you could give that compliment to someone who had stretch marks covering almost every square inch of their stomach. But I decided to just be grateful for an incision scar that might not be so bad.

I also heard a guy behind me say that that was one of the heaviest placentas he's ever held. When I asked about it, my doctor said one of them was about as big as the baby, and that the placentas were actually kind of merging together. That seems confusing to me since I thought they were in different sacs, but oh well. What do I know?

So, to announce these babies and finally give them a name other than A, B, and C, let me introduce you to my triplets:

Baby A: Nash Emerson Christian. Weighed 5lb.,18 inches long.

Baby B: Desmond Grant Christian. Weighed 4lb 4oz., 18 inches long.

Baby C: Audrey Carol Christian. Weighed 4lb 3oz., 17 inches long.

I had to be wheeled to a room and put on magnesium for 24 hours. I felt like a little kid kicking and screaming to not go in that room. They told me it was to give my body a higher threshold if I were to have seizures caused by preeclampsia. The doctor told me a story scary enough that I agreed to do it. But still was not happy about being on it for a full day.

It actually wasn't bad for the first several hours. I wasn't getting super hot like I did in the past. Just kind of felt woozy. My speech was slightly slurred, and my vision got a bit blurry. But not terrible. I tried getting some sleep, but my nurse had to wake me every few hours to start pumping. The NICU doctor came in at one point to give me an update on the babies. He said Nash was his baby, and that he was winning. My first thought was how dare you take credit for all that work I put in to making him! But I went along with it. He had the highest birth weight and required no breathing assistance. Desmond and Audrey both had to be put on CPAP to keep their lungs expanded and help the flow of their oxygen. They were breathing on their own though, so required no additional oxygen. I was so happy to hear they were all doing so well.

A couple hours later, that same doctor came in and woke me up. I was so tired and amped up on mag that I really wasn't all the way with it. But when he said "We need to talk about Audrey" in a serious tone, I got really scared. He said that her platelet counts were low - but mine had been low for the week before, so it was expected. But hers were really low. They usually give blood transfusions for anything between 10-15(I think these numbers are in the thousands), and hers was a 7. I got so worried, especially since before I was going into my surgery, I had to sign a form saying I was ok with a blood transfusion for myself if needed. My doctor said she only does it as a last resort because she doesn't like mixing blood. So here I was presented with the though of giving my little 4lb daughter a blood transfusion. He had told me if her platelet count was that low, she is at a major risk for brain bleeds and many other things. I told the doctor I trusted his opinion, and sign that form. He told me they were going to do one more test to be sure, and that before he did anything he would let me know those results. He came back a little bit later and said "Good news. The second test showed her platelet count was 305. So no blood transfusion will be needed". So a 7 compared to a 305! That's quite a jump. Apparently, the blood sample in the first test had already started clotting, so they were joining together, which is why it tested as less. So that was our first(and only) scare that really turned out to be nothing.

I was pretty good that following morning. I still didn't have an appetite and was still in decent spirits. But once lunch time came around, I was feeling so terrible and frustrated that I let my nurse know exactly how I was feeling. Bless her heart, she was the sweetest girl ever. She came in and said "How are you doing?", and then I gave her an earful. "I'm frustrated! I feel terrible. I have no appetite, I am tired, and all I want to do is see my babies!!!" I had no cell phone service in that room. All I wanted to do was talk to my family and friends, send them updates of how everyone was, and just feel connected to the outside world. Physically, I really did feel terrible. I got the closest to throwing up middle school or something. Seriously, I haven't thrown up in at least 15 years. But every time I sat my bed up to pump, I was sure my record would be broken. It was terrible. In my mind, I was picturing Spencer seeing all the babies, holding them, etc., all without me. I didn't know what he was up to because I couldn't call him. It was driving me crazy. I wanted out of there. So, my sweet nurse said "We don't usually let patients on mag out in wheelchairs, but let's see if we can take a little field trip". I'm telling you, she was the sweetest.

Sure enough, she came in with a wheelchair and wheeled me down to the NICU. It was the best field trip ever. Spencer wasn't in there(apparently he went back to my old room to take a nap). I was a little sad to be seeing them without him there, but it wasn't going to stop me. I saw Audrey first. She had her CPAP mask on, so I couldn't really tell what her face looked like. She was so tiny and sweet. I reached my hand in her isolette to touch her and talk to her. I was scared to do anything more. I didn't know the rules here. Didn't know what I could and couldn't do. Then I went to meet Nash. Right when I got to his room, Spencer walked in, which was a relief to me. This was a moment I wanted to have together. His little face was perfect. I opened the window to his isolette, and started talking to him. Instantly, he opened his eyes and found me. He was so awake and alert. Like he knew me. I asked if I could hold him(it was less scary to ask knowing he didn't have anything attached to his face). The nurse took him out, and I unbuttoned my gown to put him up to my skin. Nash didn't take his eyes off of me. My heart melted. He stole my heart at that very moment. I thought he looked so much like Eleanor when she was first born. I passed him off to Spencer for a while. The whole time he followed our voices. Once we left his room, he went right back to sleep.

Lastly we visited Desmond. He, too, had the CPAP mask, so I couldn't really tell what he looked like. But he looked so tiny compared to what his brother looked like. He had the most hair, and also the darkest. I couldn't believe all three of these perfect little babies were mine. And bless that sweet nurse for taking my phone from me and photographing the meetings.

Seeing the babies made my day, and I didn't care anymore about sitting in my room on the mag. I had accepted that was what had to be done, so I just kept replaying those tiny little faces in my head, and looking at all the pictures I had of them. Since I had started the mag at 11:00pm the night of delivery, I was expecting to get off at 11pm that night. But at about 4:00, one of my doctors came in and said "So, do you want to get off the mag?" You don't have to ask me that twice! YES! Things just kept getting better. I felt better almost immediately. And by that night, I was able to (very slowly and awkwardly) walk to the bathroom. I am assuming that I wasn't in pain from the leftover IVs from delivery, because my incision wasn't hurting. I was only weak and wobbly from the delivery and magnesium.

The next morning I was able to go back to my old room. My home away from home for the previous 2 months. It was great to get back to that familiarity. Back to the nurses who have become friends. Spencer ended up going back home to be with Eleanor. I quickly realized that I would not be ok without him that night. Since I had walked to the bathroom the night before, they assumed I could walk on my own every time I needed to go. The bathroom was much further away in my room now, and my nurses seemed to be busy. I called for Spencer to come back and stay the night with me, and I'm glad I did.

Recovering from a c-section was so much more painful than I expected. I think I might have tried to do too much too soon. Plus, I didn't stay on top of my pain meds like I should have. I used a walking cane for the first few days after. I was discharged on Monday morning, which is really early for a c-section, but I think my doctor knew I was anxious to get out of there! Part of me thinks it would have been wiser to stay at the hospital and let the nurses take care of me a little longer, because once I got home, I was pretty pathetic. I couldn't change positions in bed or stand up from sitting position without feeling like I was being stabbed. I was sore and weak. I think part of the reason I had a harder recovery was because I was on bed rest for so long. My body had become weak in that time. And now I have a major surgery and think I can just jump right back to life. I wanted to get around mostly because I wanted to visit my babies. There was one time while visiting them that the nurse was taking Audrey's IV out, and Audrey was screaming bloody murder. I was there holding her hand and telling her it would be ok, but then I literally almost passed out. I got so faint. I fought and fought until the IV was out, then had to go as quickly as I could to my purse to get a painkiller. My advice: take those painkillers ON TIME.

Even though this might sound horrible, I have to say, it was kind of nice to be able to have time to recover and relax before the babies were home. I knew they were in good hands, and I knew that if they were home, I'd be so overwhelmed - maybe at an unhealthy level. But even in just a week, my hormones settled down, and I wasn't in nearly as much pain. My mind became more at ease, and I was more mentally prepared. That would have been so hard to bring them home with me. But now I get them home with me to love and kiss on any time I want. It will be challenging, yet so rewarding. How many people get to love on 3 babies at once? So here goes nothing. And here goes everything.

Sorry if stretch marks grosses you out. That's my reality. And look how lopsided I was.

Last family picture as a family of 3.

Me on Magnesium. No bueno.

He's cute. My mole isn't. I think it doubled in size during my pregnancy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

33 Weeks on This Roller Coaster Ride

For those of you who look to this blog for my updates, forgive me for the lack of posts the last few weeks. My hotspot ran out of data, and my husband took the computer home for a while to work on some things. But now we are back in business!

Today I am 33 weeks and 2 days. Everyday I am surprised that I am still pregnant. Even the doctors and nurses look at my belly and can't believe that I am still holding these babies in. But I'm just going to keep at it one day at a time until delivery day. The doctor decided that day would APRIL 29!! That will make me 34 weeks, 6 days. I kind of wanted to ask if we could do it on day later to make it an even 35 weeks, and a better date of the 30th, but apparently there are no openings in the OR that day. So as long as these babies don't come on their own beforehand, the 29th will be the big day. It is so nice to see an end to all of this. It has been quite an interesting pregnancy for me.

I've been in the hospital for 7 weeks now. Most of the time, I'm ok with it. I try to keep my eye on the big picture and understand that I am here for a reason - to let these kids grow. But there are days and moments when I just breakdown. The most recent was this past Wednesday. It should have been a happy day because I had made it to 33 weeks. Instead, I woke up from a rough night's sleep. I didn't have any appetite at all, and when I did eat, I felt nauseous. I was sick of the hospital food. Sick of doing NST's every day, sick of not being home with Eleanor, sick of knowing there are a million things at home I could be doing to get ready for the babies, but instead, I do nothing. I called my mom to tell her she needed to convince me to not beg the doctors to deliver me that day. After I hung up, I got my lunch tray brought in. When moving my table, my lemonade fell and completely spilled all over the place. For a second, I thought maybe I could call the nurses to tell them my water broke. I knew it wouldn't work, but that's where my mind was. One of my doctors came in unexpectedly after I cleaned up the mess. I was kind of on the verge of tears, so I had to toughen up and cover my emotions. He and his wife had triplets, and I didn't want him to see me cry and feel bad for me and deliver me. Even though I did, I knew it was smarter to keep the babies in. 

After telling him I wasn't feeling well, he decided to run some tests. Turns out my platelet count is low, which doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it COULD be a sign of preeclampsia. My blood pressure has also slowly been creeping up. They said if I did have it, they would move up the delivery date. So far, my labs have been stable, and they are not planning on moving my date.

I have to say, I am overwhelmed at how many people are emotionally invested in this pregnancy. One little comment about a bad day on Facebook, and I have an outpouring of messages of support and love from hundreds of people. It really does make a difference. I feel like I'm not only growing these babies for their health, or for my satisfaction, but I'm doing it for everybody who's supporting us and praying for us. I don't want to let them down! But mostly I do it for the babies.

Do you know what other date got moved up? Our moving date! We don't know exactly when it will be, but we did find out that Spencer will have to go to Virginia for 4 weeks sometime in July. That's all I'll say about that, because I really don't know how we are going to manage these babies, packing, moving, etc a month earlier than planned. I'm just not going to stress about it until the time comes.

My stomach is no longer round. It is completely morphed depending on where the babies are located.

Big Mama

32 weeks
32 weeks from behind

I have good friends who bring me acai bowls.

Keeping herself entertained during a visit.

I ask for kisses all day long just so I can see this face.

33 weeks