Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

This blog is to be a journal of my life as a mother, and although I am choosing to share it with all of you, there are some days I will post things that may not be as interesting to others. This is going to be one of those posts, but it will be meaningful to myself and my family for years to come. Feel free to read along as I recall my life two years ago, and I hope you are not bored by my ramblings.

This pregnancy has the exact same due date as my pregnancy with the twins, so I can compare exactly where I am now with where I was at each stage in my pregnancy with the twins. It is interesting to see the massive differences between this one and the last one, it has been a fun way to remember what it was like to be pregnant with twins. I am not sure I would be recalling everything if it were not for this new baby and the comparisons to the twins.

Before I had the twins, I worked as the Dog and Cat Department Manager for a high-end pet store in town. I started there right after I was married, worked full time till two weeks before Emma was born, took three months off and returned part time. I remained part time until Oct. 30, 2006. I have officially been a stay-at-home Mom for two years now! Anyway, my last day was Oct. 30, I enjoyed Halloween with Emma, and the next day, Nov. 1, I was put on bedrest by my doctor with my pregnancy. It is interesting to think back about how big I was and how incredibly uncomfortable. I could not draw in a full breath, my lungs were so compressed. I could no longer sleep in my bed, I was unable to roll over in bed by myself anymore, the weight of my belly was not something I could have on top of me for any length of time, and I did not have the strength to heave my belly up and over myself. I could not put on my own socks and shoes, since I could not reach my feet. Most of my maternity shirts were too small, I had bought some men's XL t-shirts to wear, since nothing else fit. I carried the babies pretty high, so I could wear comfy, cotton pants easily, but jeans and nicer pants were not possible. They just don't make that belly panel big enough for twin bellies.

I was on modified bedrest for the first couple of weeks, which was actually not too bad. I could get up to shower and get dressed, I could make myself and Emma lunch, I could get up occasionally and do things, but nothing strenuous. I just needed to spend more time lying down than being up. Emma and I had a lot of fun during my bedrest time. We painted her nails every day, and she would rest her hands on my belly while we watched a movie and the polish dried. She would feel the boys kick and get so excited, it was amazing to see the awe on her little face as my belly rolled with the movement of the boys. We played games, watched movies, read books, colored, and talked for hours on end since I was no longer busy with household chores. My time was to be spent resting, and Emma was the most amazing two year old in the world. She listened, she did what she was told, she sat patiently for long stretches of time with me on the couch, just snuggling together. She was the type of two year old that allowed me to leave her crayons and scissors out so she could do craft projects without me having to get up and get her things, and she would always ask before playing with them. She never got into anything she wasn't supposed to, if she was quiet, it was because she was concentrating, not because she was getting into trouble. She was potty training at the time, and although that took a backseat with my bedrest, she was wearing pull-ups and could change her own diaper. I truly believe that God knew what he was doing giving us a child like Emma first, we would not have made it any other way. She was, and still is, truly one-in-a-million.

I had a lot of doctors appointments and tests during that time. Emma always went with me, it was a way to get out of the house, and she loved the "big sister step" at the doctor's office where she could stand next to the exam table and watch. I had a lot of braxton-hicks contractions during that time, and a lot of backaches and pressure, just due to the sheer size and weight of my uterus. The day before Thanksgiving, I had a new backache that hadn't been there before. I had a regularly scheduled test at the hospital that afternoon, so I did not call the doctor right away, but I knew something was different. On a hunch, I called Wayne (my father-in-law) to come watch Emma during this test, thinking that I might be over-reacting, but just in case, I wanted her at home. We went in for a Non-Stress test, where they just hook me up to monitors and tested the babies' heart rates and movements as well as any contractions. My suspicions were correct, I was going into pre-term labor. I was thirty two weeks pregnant, the boys were not due for another eight weeks.

I was immediately admitted to the hospital and given an IV of Magnesium Sulfate, which is a muscle relaxant that is very successful in stopping contractions. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital, and was there for eight days. Mag Sulfate is very good at stopping labor, but since it is a muscle relaxant, it relaxes every muscle. I spent two days on this IV and I could not go to the bathroom by myself without a nurse there to make sure I did not fall. I would get back to the bed and not be able to lift my legs back up on the bed. I had no appetite, but was incredibly thirsty. However, the Mag made me retain water, my feet swelled and became unrecognizable. Since I was swelling, they stopped my water intake, I felt like I was dying of thirst and not allowed water. I was allowed one small cup of ice chips every two hours. After the two days of Magnesium Sulfate, I was put on Nifedipene which is another medication that helps stop labor, but since it is a pill, the goal was to find the right dosage and send me home. That took six days. In the middle of it all, I was given a day pass that let me go home for a few hours, but I was back in the hospital that evening with more contractions. Finally, the right dosage was found, and I went home. I had much stricter orders for bedrest and was no longer able to stay home with Emma alone. I could get up to pee, I could have a five minute shower, but I had to lay down again for two hours before I got up to brush my teeth. Those were the only reasons I was allowed up, I could not go to the kitchen and get myself lunch, I could not take care of Emma. We called in the troops and had to have someone babysit me every day that Marty was at work. Between Holly, Tracie, my Mom, my Mom-In-Law, and Emma returning to daycare two days a week, I was covered. I cannot stress enough how these people made a difference in our family, they all came willing to help out, bringing food, doing laundry, dishes, whatever needed to be done while I lay on the couch, trying to stay pregnant. Marty did what he could, but he needed to go to work every day, since we knew he would be taking time off when the boys came. At night, he would take charge of Emma's bathtime and bedtime routines and still do all the nightly household chores. It is amazing how tough times like these really show you how many people care, and how willing they are to go out of their way to help us out. I am forever grateful for all of our family and friends, and the time they spent taking care of us. Thank you all.

This was all happening between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt really slighted, it is my favorite time of year, and my only chances to get out of the house were for doctors appointments and tests. I did not have the chance to see Christmas lights, go Christmas shopping to see Santa and all the decorations at the mall, or hear the festive, yet annoying Christmas music. Our annual traditions were not something we participated in that year. I had not decorated the house, done Christmas cards, or completed my shopping, I could not even go pick out a Christmas tree. To add insult to injury, I had not done any setting up of the things we needed for the boys to arrive. I had left work two and a half months before my due date, and had one day off before being put on bedrest. I felt completely useless and unprepared, but knowing that I was doing what I needed to do to make sure these two little lives stayed healthy, I kept doing what I was supposed to do and tried to keep a smile on my face. It was, however, a very hard time for me.

I was told that I would be let off bedrest at thirty five weeks, which was two weeks before Christmas. I really looked forward to that time, knowing that the boys could arrive and be safe. I also knew that I would not be able to do much, my sheer size slowed me down considerably, plus my lack of energy did not allow me to do much. Even still, I really looked forward to the chance to get out of the house for a while, do some shopping, maybe even see family. Anything besides the sights of my living room or the doctors office was going to be fabulous. At about thirty four weeks, I started feeling sick and was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was a concern, so just before I was let off bedrest for pre-term labor, I was put on bedrest for pre-eclampsia. I was told that I would remain on bedrest until the boys were born, and I was devastated. Emma's school Christmas program was coming up, and I asked my doctor if it would be ok. She was completely understanding and told me to get a blood pressure monitor and keep checking my blood pressure, but it was Christmas, and this was something that she knew I could not miss. I was so excited to go, the program was wonderful, and afterwards we drove around for a while so I could see Christmas lights. Such a simple thing meant so much, but it was amazing. These were the last times we would have together with Emma as our only child, her world was about to turn upside-down and we wanted to have some great family time to share with her. I know she does not remember these times, but we do, and we did not want memories of her feeling slighted in the least. After all, she was two and a half, and it was Christmas. We made another trek out to get a tree, and Marty did most of the decorating. We did not get out most of the house decorations, just the stockings, since everything would need to be put away after the twins came home. Besides, this was mostly for Emma, and the tree and stockings were enough for her. One more trip out to take her to see Santa at the mall, I had to stop and rest at every bench along the way. She got to tell Santa that she wanted puzzles for Christmas, and I got to experience at least a little of Christmas cheer.

It was interesting to watch the bustle of shoppers scurrying about, a week and a half before Christmas, stressed out and yelling at each other. I sat on my bench, realizing that my perspective was changing. I have never really stressed out much before the holidays, some might disagree with me on that, but I think I do a good job of enjoying the season. That year, I really began to realize the importance of family and time spent together as we celebrate Christ's birth, how silly it is to worry about everything getting done, and to simply enjoy the sights, the smells, and the time and traditions that make Christmas what it is. I hope this is a perspective that will stay with me for a long time.

The twins were born six days before Christmas, 2006. This is not where the story ends, but the rest will have to wait for another day. It has been fun today to remember back to two years ago, it seems like it was just yesterday, but life has changed so much that is also seems so long ago. Thanks for joining me on this journey, we will go further another day.

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