Day 9: T-15

Friday, July 31, 2009

15 comments
Is it possible to have this many "good" days in a row? I think it is!

So, I had my second shower today!!! Yesterday's instructions were cleared up, as Dr B left for vacation. I get to shower daily and can use the potty chair for ALL bathroom visits. Talk about big steps! I feel sooo much better just from those things. I am drinking like a fish, too. I drank 5 pitchers yesterday and I am already about 3 into today. I'll hit 5 by tonight, I think. And, here's the best news, NO CONTRACTIONS. At all. None since Wednesday night.

Dr. M. came in today to say hi and that she'd be caring for us while Dr. B. is away for, gulp, 2.5w. By the time he comes back, I will be across that viability line... My line in the sand... THE line. Wow. He says he fully expects me to be pregnant when he returns. That means he thinks I will be pregnant into my 25th week... That gives me a boost of confidence. But what is better is that I think I will be pregnant, too. The babies are so active and I feel good. I know we are still living day to day and ultrasound to ultrasound... I realize that Tuesday's upcoming u/s might reverse all of these priviledges or that I may start to contract hardcore even with all my water consumption. These are possibles... I know that... But they arent permeating my thoughts. Instead, I feel light. Like "we can do this."

We talk to the babies. We tell them what day it is and how far it is until October and November. The reasons they dont want to be born in Aug or Sept. How Nov is best but that if they want their own birthstone, then the end of Oct will be okay. They just move under our hands as we talk... Listening, I like to think... Counting down the days until their birthdays, too... Understanding that they have to wait "a little bit longer..."

So, it is good day. I know that our sweet Nick, Sophie, and Alex are watching over and playing with Bobby and Maya... Keeping them safe... Living through them in a way... Telling the little bambinos to just "stay put". I thank them every day for that. I know they are with us, too...

Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes. Hopefully, we will continue to share good news!

If I am offline for the weekend, please dont worry. :) When Peter is here, I dont get on the computer. It is the precious little time we have together. So, I may post briefly or not at all. Dont worry! I know we are going to be okay. :)

Day 8: T-16

Thursday, July 30, 2009

26 comments
Up, down, and up again. It is rollercoaster isnt it? Or maybe one of those rides where they take you up 100 feet only to drop you cold... And then raise you again.
Peter came last night with a very special gift: my mother's ring. I wanted to cry when I saw it, it was so beautiful (I realize... I'm crying a lot more these days...) It's a white gold band with a raised claddaugh in the center (for those who arent sure what a claddaugh is, it is an Irish symbol of a heart (love) topped with a crown (fidelity/loyalty) and with a hand on either side (friendship).) On one side, it is flanked by a peridot (Peter's birthstone), amythest (Nicholas), and citrine (Alexander); the other has an alexandrite (me) and amythest (Sophia). We will have two more added when these babies are born and we know their birthstones. I tried to take a picture with my cell and it is rather blurry, but perhaps I can get my MIL to take one with her digital and post that.
Even though my blurry image doesnt do it justice, it is really beautiful. It's a constant reminder of the family I love so much. And now, it is at my fingertips. Literally.
But, all good things have to be balanced with the not so good. While Sarah was visiting yesterday (sorry, no crafts to report...), I started having contractions. Not regular, but enough that I felt them. At 9pm, I was having the TOCO (contraction monitor), so I didnt think much of it. But when my nurse came in at 40m instead of an hour, I knew it wasnt good. Every 4 minutes. :( I'd drank my 3 pitchers of water over the day, but after talking to the doctor, she told me to drink 2 more. Which I did. In half an hour. And I turned from my back to my side. And they stopped. I was free of the TOCO around 10:30, peed, and went to bed. And peed at 10:45. And at 11:10. Finally, I fell asleep until, you guessed it, another potty break, although at 2:30. Then I was good until 6. But no contractions. So, while they were a bummer, it looked up. So, now I need to drink at least 4 pitchers a day.
But then things really looked up. I took my first shower today! Peter helped me to the chair and it was WONDERFUL. Dont get me wrong. Sponge baths are great. But there is something about the cascading warm water... a soapy cloth... washing your own hair... It was a great five minutes. But it got better. Dr B came in for his consult and told me that he thinks I misunderstood. I can shower EVERY day, as long as I feel comfortable. EVERY DAY. A shower. Being clean. Really clean. That lifts your spirits. It may sound like a small thing but to me, it is a huge victory. But it gets better. :) He said that he was looking over my chart last night and thinking, and he thinks that it would be okay for me to use a potty chair to urinate. (A potty chair is like a portable toilet thing that can sit next to the bed.) I didnt expect to get to this point until next week! He said that he wants me to use it today forward and that I will have a scan on Tuesday. He said that he is almost positive that this wont change my cervix at all or put pressure on the stitch, since it is so brief a time. It is also a good practice to see what kind of movement is going to be phazed back in (like eventually sitting for meals and using the actual toilet). So, right now it's just urinating in the portapotty and showering for 5 minutes each day. But it is a HUGE step for me. Just the brief moments of sitting up today (yep, I've already peed unassisted once! YAY!) have been such a boost to my self esteem. A feeling like we are really, truly doing better if he is allowing me these two, big priviledges.
I am on the TOCO now for my monitoring. (After last night, they said that I can definitely lay on my side, since that gives me less contractions than an hour on my back). And, dont worry, I am drinking! I actually think the potty priviledges might increase my drinking, since part of the issue, subconsciously, may have been the fear of "bothering" nurses. They are all so kind and NEVER once made me feel that way. I just know me and I cant help but wonder if that wasnt part of it. Even though I was drinking.
It's another good day thus far. Dr. B. leaves for vacation tomorrow. He made sure I have his number if there is an emergency (how wonderful of a doctor is that? to give you a personal number while he is on freaking vacation!) and said that Dr M will be covering and that hopefully she will "only say good morning every day because you wont need her!". He also told me that he is very optimistic that I will still be pregnant when he returns in 2w and that my scan on Tuesday will be a positive one. That really does help to hear.
So, today, I am feeling optimistic. Babies are moving (a lot) and contractions are few and far between (at least the contractions I can feel are!). My friend, M, is coming to visit today and I am looking forward to seeing her. And, I didnt even cry when Peter left for work this morning! So, emotionally especially, I am doing better. Physically, laying down is rough, but I think the weeks at home really prepared me and it isnt as hard as it would be if I came from being very active to being flat on my back. But more than that, the babies help. They are so good. They move so much and are just a bundle of energy. That improves my mood more than anything.
Since perinatal is doing my scans from now on, I dont know if I will have pics. :( Sad for you and for me. I didnt see a printer attached to the portable unit they use, so... Perhaps I will be able to have my cell take a good picture? I dont know yet. We will see.
So... 16 more days! These days are getting less and less. Before you know it, we will have another goal to count down too! Thank you for riding this rollercoaster with me and for the constant support. It helps so much, both in attitude and in the pregnancy. Those prayers are working and we are seeing the impact. Less days to goals. Small victories. Little priviledges. Lack of drugs. Thank you.
I'll keep you updated! Hopefully with only good news!

Day 7: T-17

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

30 comments
Please forgive my crappy blogging schedule. I've had quite a few visitors which makes writing during the day impossible and, once Peter gets here, the computer is the farthest thing from my mind. And, I want to have news to share, other than my paranoia. So... Let me back up to Monday.

By far, Monday was my worst day. I spent the entire day convinced that my water had broken and that the twins were going to be born that day. The day started off poorly with Peter leaving for work extra early for a meeting. I cried like a baby. I just couldnt help it. And I know it just made it harder for him, which I feel really bad about. It isnt like he wants to leave; he has to go. He called me from the parking garage, and I was still sobbing as he talked to me the entire drive. I hadnt slept well the night before and then, with being so afraid, I just didnt want him to go.

I have had a watery discharge since my cerclage was placed in May. It's one of the side effects, as your body identifies the stitch as a foreign body and increases secretions to try and keep infection away. This is why Peter initially brought me the pH strips, to try and quell my concern about PROM. Since I have been in the hospital, it has increased, most likely a combo of the previous reason plus, on Thurs, I was dilated 1cm passed the stitch. Monday, I am acutely aware of the discharge; then, as I am rolling over to call the nurse for the bedpan, I have a discharge of liquid. (Now, mind you, it wasnt a lot... Not even enough to dampen the spot on the towel that was close to it, which I use to help with sweating). But I'm freaked. I pee and dont mention it to the nurse (since a side effect of PROM would be a removal of my cerclage and I wanted to pH test it first- yes, if it were a 7, I would have called the nurse for a formal check; I'm not crazy.) So, I check myself once she's gone. 5. Too low for amniotic fluid. So I wait for a bit and test again. 4.5. Still a nutcase, I call Peter, convinced the pH strips are lying. He calmly explains that they dont lie and that he uses ones just like them at work. If they are coming back acidic then that is what they are. All freaking day I tested. My discharge was more than what it was at home and I had all but convinced myself it was PROM and I just couldnt get the pH strips to register. (I know... Maybe I am nuts... Rational brain wasnt really working on Monday.)

I decided to take a nap, which was a bad idea. I had a nightmare that I went into labor that couldnt be stopped and the twins died. It was a "say goodbye now" type dream. I woke up in a cold sweat and panic. The rest of the afternoon passed slowly and, by the time Dr B arrived for evening rounds, I was ready to cry again. I told him about the discharge and the pH, and he said that it was most likely that I urinated when rolling over and that the discharge was the same as what I previously discussed, a combo of sweat and vaginal fluids. But the only way to know was to see via u/s and, since he was going to order a vag u/s to check my cervix, he'd ask them to do an ab one also to check fluid levels. So, he put in an order for perinatal testing to do an u/s on Tues. He also told the nurse to have him called so that he could come and see it live rather than view images later. In addition, he said that my bed could be moved out of Trendelenberg and put into a normal position, since the benefits of inversion would be present already.

I felt better after his visit. He basically told me to relax and that I'd probably know if my water had broke. That it would have saturated my towel and bed and that I would be constantly leaking, not just discharging. When Peter got here, I had a good cry, then fell asleep in his lap. I slept through most the night, waking at 2:30am, when the babies started playing. I just laid awake and felt them... The most beautiful feeling in the world.

Tuesday was a better day. I felt better with the outlook. I was still afraid but Dr B had reassured me that what I was feeling was quasi normal. I still cried when Peter went to work but only briefly. It was more my fear than anything else. Peter's mom came around 10am and we had a very nice visit. She would have been a wonderful nurse, and I feel really grateful to have her so close. She would be here every day I think if I said it was okay. She's sweet. At 2:30, they came for my u/s. I actually got to get out of bed to get into the wheelchair and they took me down the hall to a small room that is used for the in-patients. The same tech was there and he made conversation as we waited for Dr B and the MFM, who would be reading the u/s. I think the tech could see that I was nervous and was trying to be reassuring and comforting. He was nice. The doctors arrived and the show began.

To recap from Thurs, I remained at 2cm dilated above the stitch and 1cm dilated below the stitch, which is how the sliver of sac slipped through with pressure. This scan began with an ab scan, which showed two beautiful babies in full sacs. My water has not broke, nor did the few days of Indocin do anything. Then we moved on to the vag scan. My cervix is closed! There was about 1.2cm of closed cervix below the stitch! Above the stitch, I am still funneled to 2cm and hindwaters were present in the funneled area, but that is normal. Bobby's head was right on top of my cervix and the doctor noted that they are both big enough to prevent a slip through, like we had with Alexander. Dr B was very happy with the scan and, you guessed it, I cried (although not a lot!). He went back to the patients waiting in his office and was going to talk with us in the evening, but was called away to, I assume, a labor. When Peter got back, we just cuddled and, relieved, fell sound asleep.

Dr B dropped by this morning and said he was very happy with the stitch. That my cervix looks a lot like it did 2w ago. He still wants me in bed. No sitting to eat. Bedpan only. BUT he said that I can take a short shower, in a shower chair, every other day! This is a baby step but to me, it is a big step. He doesnt feel that those 1om will do much when I am in bed the other 47h50m. Next step, I assume, would be sitting to eat but for nothing else. But, right now, I dont need any of the priviledges. I'm just happy the babies are settling in.

I am feeling much, much better today. Relieved. The next 17 days look so much more possible. I am still having an irritable uterus and occasional hard contractions (for example, I had 4 in 2 hours). But, right now, they are not cervical changing and aren't painful, so we have opted to deal with them rather than medicate them. Drugs now might mean more drugs in the future. I am monitored twice a day and Dr B said that, depending on how things look, he may prescribe something, but as for this very second, I am drug free and IV free (came out on Monday). The babies are happy campers. Very active. :)

I have received numerous emails asking for my address to send letters. Thanks to Carrie and her daughter for making me a countdown calendar. Thanks to Sarah for coming up with more "bedrest crafts". Thanks to the numerous cards we've received and phone calls that have been made, just to cheer us up. You all are really wonderful. Many of you I have never met in real life, yet you are such an integral part of our lives. Thank you.

Most of all, thank you for the prayers. God hears them and is answering. And, for that, we are most grateful.

So, here we are... 17 more days til our line in the sand. And today, I feel like even November isnt that far away...

Day 3: T-21

Saturday, July 25, 2009

42 comments
For my hospital posts, I will post the day of my stay (i.e. "day 3") and a countdown to the next goal (in this case, 21 days until 24w). As the goals change, the T- will change.

First and foremost, thank you for the prayers, comments, and emails. I havent felt much like posting or emailing since my first night here, but the overwhelming support is extremely helpful. I am also grateful for the former hospital bedrest mommies who have shared their successes, some of whom had to go into the hospital way before me and delivered near full term babies. Mentally, those stories give me strength and hope.

I will back up to Thursday to give some details. We had an 8:15 appt and it took over an hour to fully scan both babies, The report was great. Both measured between 20w5d and 22w, depending on measurements and were nearly a pound each! This was awesome news. Then we did a vag u/s. The stitch looked great and we were just about finished when the peri pushed on my belly. A slender ribbon of amniotic fluid came just below the cerclage. Most of it receded when he released, but some remained. He called Dr B, who told him to send us down. We arrived to a full waiting room but were seen immediately, and Dr B told us that he was sending us to L&D, most likely for the remainder of the pregnancy. I didnt cry until we got to the waiting room where one of the kind nurses was waiting to take us into the hospital proper. Seeing all the "normal" pregnant women who were discussing inductions and how they cant wait to deliver left me cold and heartbroken.

The kind nurse tried to reassure us as she took us to Antepartum and got us checked in. I was changed from my clothes into a gown and put in the inverted, Trendelenberg position. I was told that while I could roll to my sides and back, I was not to get up for anything, including the bathroom or to eat. They hooked me up to a contraction monitor and said they'd monitor me for any changes. After helping me use the bedpan, Peter had to leave for work.

For hours, I just laid in bed and watched the clouds move. I couldnt really do anything except worry and think, no... Peter's mom came in the afternoon and stayed with me until Peter returned around 6:30pm. While he was gone, I began having contractions regularly, about 15m apart. Dr B was called and prescribed Indocin. That settled them down and, when he came to see me before leaving for the day, he said that he expected to keep me on it for about a week before taking me off and seeing what happens. So, every 6 hours I take 25mg.

The admitting doctor was kind and told me to think positively. He also explained that, prior to 24w, there isnt a lot they can do for the babies. That the neonatologists will work to save them but that the odds are bad... less than 1% for both of them. (At 24w, the odds for both are 30%.) It was sobering to say the least. He stressed that the most important thing is to try and keep stabile.

Dr B came in the p.m. and told me that he had seen the u/s and was concerned. Typically, when he sees this, patients are 30-32w along so the risk of a micropreemie is passed and admittance usually allows them to 36-37w to get the stitch out and deliver. But the twins are putting double the stress and since 21w is about 29-30w single... You see the issue. His concern is not with the stitch itself (and even the peri commented on what a nice stitch it is), but rather with an infection due to membrane exposure. He wants me inverted until Monday for a repeat scan, with the hopes that the tiny amount of exposed bag has receded and that, due to the Indocin lessening some of the amniotic fluid (hence no long term use), there is less pressure on my cervix. I asked him if he thought we'd make it to the 24w threshhold and he said that, barring an infection leading to PROM, yes, 24w and beyond is possible. But that we are in a critical time. He was off for Fri-Sun and explained that Dr M, who covers his patients, would be around for any questions and that he would give her the number of where he'd be in case of an emergency.

Yesterday, we listened to the babies and Bobby gave the nurse a hard time first by not staying still and then by kicking the doppler whenever he had the chance. Dr M came in and I liked her. I can see why Dr B has her cover his patients when he's away. She sat on the edge of the bed and flipped through my chart. Maybe it is just me, but with our history I like an honest doc who doesnt sugar coat stuff. When she said, "Shit! You had one helluva year," I knew we'd be okay with her. After chuckling that the resident wrote poor obstetrics history on the admittance ("That's an understatement."), we discussed the plan for the weekend and how I was feeling. Like Dr B, her concern right now is PROM because at the first sign of fluid or bleeding, the stitch has to come out. Her research and lecturing is in PTL and PROM, so she was a wealth of knowledge. We discussed the positives and negatives of an FFN with twins and cerclage. While a negative would hold the diagnostic value regardless, there is a higher value of false positives due to the stitch (a foreign body offsets thbe results). So, she isnt against it, but said that with a 50% false positive rate for a patient in my condition, she's not sure the emotional impact is worth the possible negative result. So, we backburnered it for now. But she was really informative and I didnt feel rushed with asking her questions.

Late morning, a NICU nurse came and gave me some basic info. A neonate will come down once we hit viability to discuss issues. Dr M asked them to come now, but they wouldnt. The risk of loss is too high. She was ticked. Maybe because I've been here before, it didnt hit me as hard. I dont know...

Best friend S came over in the afternoon and brought a craft project to make the room more homey. I will post pics. We made little figures from pipe cleaners and she hung them from the ceiling. The kicker is a mobile with each of the kid's initials. It's over the bed and I love it. The images are very colorful and cheery, and my nurses have gotten a kick out of them.

The day was going well... until my contractions returned with a vengence. They werent painful- but they wer 4-8m apart. Bad. Dr M ordered a sugar water IV, thinking I was dehydrated- and she was right. They moved to 15 then 2o minutes before spacing way out. I didnt realize how much I hadnt been drinking until S asked me how many times I'd peed. Since 1am (and it was then 5pm), only 6 times, compared with home, where it is once and sometimes twice an hour. So... my nurse gave me a stern talking to about drinking water. I'm happy to report that today, I'm peeing a lot more. :) The IV ran all night and now I just have the hep-lock in.

My contractions have eased. I have them mostly when I am on my back. My sides are contraction free. And, they arent painful or causing bleeding, just worrisome. My weekday nurse was a sweetheart and discussed what they will and wont do for PTL this early. After Indocin, if my contractions continue and are not a result of dehydration, they normally move on to Procardia. That can be used for a longer period without the same risks to the babies. She said that the hospital does not use Magnesium Sulfate except to buy 48h for steroid injections at 24w and beyond. This early, there are birth defects associated with long term exposure and the hospital feels that the evidence against MagSulf outweighs its potential benefits. Honestly, I'm torn. I know the benefits and the risks were explained after Nicholas was born and they were trying to stabalize me with Sophia. But when you are weighing options... It is still hard. We are going to discuss this with Dr B when he returns to get his take. We trust him and know that he has our best interests at heart.

For the most part, things are going really well. Only one nurse rubbed me the wrong way (I asked her if my contractions were normal and she told me that for most women they are but for me, there was no way to know. She could have ended it there but instead added, "Not all pregnancies are meant to be." REALLY??? Take a look at that chart, sweetheart- I'm well aware.). But she was the fleeting exception. My nurses and the docs I've seen have been wonderful and supportive. They are all vocal about me being here for awhile and the babies being well taken care of in the NICU, etc. It's comforting.

Today has been a good day. Sporadic contractions on my back, none on my side. Dr M just came to check in and met Peter. It was a good consult.

I will try to keep up to date. Mentally, I'm telling myself this is no different than the last 11w; it's just a different location with more restrictions. But it's safer for Bobby and Maya. And they are what matters.

20w5d

Thursday, July 23, 2009

49 comments
The good news is the babies are great. They are measuring 21 weeks and weighed 14oz (Bobby) and 15oz (Maya). Great news.

The bad news is that I have been admitted to the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy which, at this point, we are praying is a minimum of 3w and at least 7w. A sliver of amniotic fluid slipped below the cerclage. I am inverted in bed on strict bedrest (bedpan only) in the hopes of stabilizing the bag above the stitch. I was having contractions all afternoon and they are tapering off with indocin.

I will be lax in responding and viewing blogs for a bit. When I am up to it, I will post again, in detail.

Prayers are very appreciated.

Happy 8m birthday, Alexander

0 comments
Happy Birthday, my sweet baby boy. What happens, my little Alex, when I cant call you "baby boy" anymore? But you are... in a way you always will be...

Happy Birthday sweetie. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

Happy 200th!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

15 comments



It's official! I'm a big mouth and have hit my 200th post before my first blogoversary (which isnt until the end of August!) Sheesh! Why hasnt someone told me to be quiet? ;)

Last night, we had another "I cant sleep moment"... Well, Daddy had that moment, so Mommy stayed up and talked to him all night. It's really my fault anyway. I had to pee at 2:30, which woke him up, and then he couldnt fall back to sleep. And, I couldnt either. So we chatted and held until almost 5, when we both happened to doze off. Poor guy slept until 8:15 this morning then had to rush to shower and get to work. He'll be napping when he gets home, I'm sure!

Missed the kids a lot yesterday... Just sat and looked at their pictures and remembered. The remembering is the best part. I cant stay sad when thinking about laboring them or holding them or their pregnancies. It really helps to just hold their things and remember.

We started our Bradley "classes" last night. Class is a misnomer, since we are basically reviewing our workbook from Alexander's pregnancy and going through the 2 actual books on the Bradley Method. Obviously, I cant get out and go to class and our instructor is expecting in the next few weeks, so doing house calls isn't going to be possible! (She has 2 other little ones, too). So, we decided that, since we had the basics and are both good with self-paced learning, we would read (or in my case, reread) the 2 top books on the Method and rework the workbook. So, we started that last night. It was nice to just set aside that time for discussing labor and delivery and reiterating our desires, as well as refamiliarizing ourselves with statistics, etc.

Tomorrow is the "big" ultrasound. The detailed anatomy surverys and weight estimates. Fingers crossed for good results. It's a morning scan, so I will post when I get home. It's not with Dr. B., which sucks; it is done at perinatal testing with a tech. They've always been good to us, but I really like Dr. B. and prefer his bedside manner.

We have decided to pack our hospital bag now. I have a fear that I'm not going to stay out of the hospital and want to be ready. So, we're going to get our bag ready and keep it in the closet. We'll take it with us to our appointments so that, if I am admitted, we at least have a few nights worth of stuff. Since Peter would leave in the mornings to go to work, he'd be able to pick stuff up at home on his way back to the hospital. Hopefully, we wont need to use it for a WHILE, but just in case... Better safe than sorry. We've ended up at the hospital 3 times without provisions. Not ready to make it 4.

Thank you to all those who commented or emailed about my "Adoration" post and for the lovely suggestions for home Adoration. There is a great site that actually posts live images of the Eucharist for those who are unable to get to a chapel. What a neat idea! (And the Sisters who run it are in Philadelphia- even cooler!) So, thank you all. The suggestions I received were so kind and sweet.

Adoration

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

4 comments
Peter left an hour ago for Adoration. At 3am, he'll come home and get here by 3:15. I miss being with him. I know that the Divine is within and out, everywhere, and the chapel doesnt make God more real... But I do find that hour such a sacred time... I've decided to choose a daytime hour to have a private Adoration at home. It wont be the same, of course, but it will be a special time, outside of my normal daily prayers, to just "be still".

Belly Shots

Monday, July 20, 2009

13 comments
TMI Alert: My naked belly is presented in this post. While I've cropped as much nakedness as I could, my apologies if you see something you weren't expecting. This is in response to a few emails I've received asking about how I've grown with twins. Nine pounds sounds like a ninny amount of weight, but prepare yourself... It's scary!


Here we are in the early stage, when I had to pinch my belly to try and get something. Notice how close together my fingers are.


Then came the three month belly shot when I didnt need to pinch anything. My hands relaxed and all my fingers still touched.

Come the end of month 4, my hands could no longer touch, although I could still make the heart. And notice those newly formed stretchmarks that are mostly hidden. They represented the start of new stretchmarks. I guess these babies wanted their own mommy-scars. :)

And here we are on Friday, at 19w5d, ending the fifth month with a bag. My hands can no longer touch and create the heart. I made the statement to Peter that I wasnt really as big as I thought and he laughed. (There is a second picture, sans my hands, that I cant post... I really do look like a house, but there's some boobage that I cant crop out and maintain the good belly shot, so you can take my word for it.) So yes, bedrest has made me completely unselfaware. When I see my belly in the mirror or in pictures, it strikes me that there are two human beings in there. But laying down, I can still see my feet and dont "feel" big. Even though only one pair of maternity pants still fits (not that I'm wearing pants that often) and when I go out, my bra smushes me.
Well, my dear sweet love just made me stuffed grape leaves.... Mmmmm....

20w1d

Sunday, July 19, 2009

15 comments
If we were carrying a single, I'd be celebrating crossing the halfway mark of pregnancy. I know I'd be excited, but honestly, I'm more excited to know that I am actually less than 16w from a full term twin delivery. I'm not counting down, but it is nice to feel like I am over the hump as it is.

A note on sneezing: I have finally found a way to sneeze that lessens the uterine pain (thank goodness!) I sneeze 3 and 4 times in a pop, several times a day, and the pain was actually pretty nasty. But, if I bury my head in a pillow when I sneeze, the pain is highly mitigated. Yay! Some relief!

The stricter bedrest is going well. Just laying around, LOL. One of my knees has started bothering me; I think I slept on it in a funny way. I kept an ice pack on it last night which helped. I also had my 5th P17 shot yesterday morning and it hurt like hell. I think that the position I was in wasn't the greatest for less pain. But, on a positive note, it only hurt for the injection and the injection site was fine about 20 minutes later. So, perhaps it is a better position. Pain at the time but no soreness afterwards! (Or maybe my butt has just gotten used to it and wont be sore regardless, LOL.)

I looked over their baby books yesterday.... Read over the things we'd written after they were born... Remembered... There were tears and smiles. Peter looked over them with me and we shared some of our favorite moments of their labors and births. And we looked at Bobby and Maya's book and relived how much they have grown over the last 20w, from the opening shots of nonpregnant parents getting ready for ovulation to the recent pictures from last week of these perfect, long legged babies who like to spoon each other. Their book is so much thicker than Alexander's, whose book is thicker than Nicholas and Sophia's. When I first started their book, I had no idea what to do, so their book is so much plainer. I've wanted to redo it several times but havent been able to. Whenever I would start, I would find myself stalled... As though to change one thing would somehow diminish their book. But I plan on revisiting it after these babies are born. I dont plan on changing a lot, but putting their pictures on better pages and using scanned u/s pics instead of the real pictures, which I'd like to put in their box. So, we shall see...

Peter is getting ready for church... This will be my first missed one since the one right after the cerclage. I know that God isn't in a building and that we can worship the Divine wherever we are, so that mitigates the sadness of not going. It's more the socialization that I anticipate missing. But I know that Peter will do his best to socialize for the both of us, LOL! And, in the grand scheme of things, 4 months of not socializing isnt a big deal. We'll have years for that!

Peter opened the stroller. He was going to put it together but it was already together and wrapped in plastic, so he decided to leave it in the box. (I didnt even know he'd opened it until he told me.)

I've been sleeping a lot, which isn't great at night, since my sleep habits seem to be the same (a few hours and then some waking time, then more sleep). I think I may try to stay awake a little more during the day so that I can sleep a solid night (well, as solid as I can sleep with having to pee every 2-3 hours).

Perfect Peter is making breakfast, so I will go for now. Depending on where you are in the world, I hope you've either enjoyed your weekend or still are!

Rollercoaster Ride

Thursday, July 16, 2009

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First and foremost, THANK YOU. Thank you for all of the support that I've received through blog comments to my post last night and via email. When I logged into my email this morning and saw all of the comments to moderate, I opened each one and, honestly, the outpouring of love and support brought me to tears. As I clicked on each email and comment, I was so touched by your prayers and your kind words. Part of infertility and loss is the feeling of lonliness that imbeds itself into your core; reading your words took away some of that sorrow that I felt last night. I am so very grateful.

Things are better in the light of day. I'm still disappointed in my cervical measurements, but I am coming to understand where Dr. B. is coming from. We knew this would happen. And honestly, we all did. Peter and Dr B expected it, I think, where I really hoped the stitch would keep it at bay. But why else would we have the surgery if we thought I wouldnt need it? Exactly... We knew this would happen. We knew my cervix would shorten in spite of the cerclage and that the cerclage would be the closure holding the babies inside. It's still hard to accept, but it isnt out of left field.

I've gotten several questions about hospital bedrest. That is the next step. At this point, being at home is as safe as being in the hospital. I get the impression that once I'm full effaced, I will most likely move into the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy. At this point, we are hoping to get to 28w before my cervix is completely gone. That would mean about 8-10w in the hospital if we made it full term. So, at this point, the hospital isnt in the picture, but depending on how quickly my cervix decides to make its full exit, I will, possibly, be blogging from the hospital. Rest assured- I will keep you updated.

I've also gotten some questions about hospital beds. Right now, I'm using pillows to keep propped, but Peter and I discussed (very briefly) a hospital bed before he went to work. Right now, we have a Sleep Number bed that is so very much more comfy than a hospital bed. So, I'm hopeful that the pillows will help keep this bed working. I have nasty sciatica and back pain, so anything that works in lieu of a hospital bed is great. But if the pillows dont help slow down the /dilation by our 2w appt (7/29), then I think it is something we will look more into.

Finally, I've gotten some questions about the dilation itself. I'll try to explain this as best as I can. Honestly, I'm not all together sure. Imagine your middle finger and your pointer finger flush together. That's the cervix. The stitch is trying to hold it close. As it dilates, slightly open the top of your fingers, making almost a Y shape. This is currently what I look like. The upper part of the Y is about 2cm dilated (as in, open, ready to deliver type dilated). The lower part that is still flush together is together because of the stitch. The bottom part of the Y shape is still closed cervix, at this point, up to 2cm (closed), depending on the measurement (1.4 at the least). What will eventually happen is that I will have no cervix left, so it will look like an "O" shape (nothing on the bottom, completely dilated on top), and the stitch will be all that stops me from dilating completely. The hope is that I will be far enough along that the babies will be too big to just slip through and that the stitch will hold in place for them to get as far along as possible.

A birth certificate update... As long time readers know, Peter and I have been working on getting birth certificates for the kids for many months. It's been a rough journey. Since no medical personal were present when the kids were born, this has been a nightmare, but Peter has been working tirelessly on this. And finally, the first of our three battles is coming to an end. Nicholas's fetal death certificate has been invalidated by the county coroner. While this may sound bad, it is actually great news. What happened was our county coroner issued the death certificate because the hospital where Nick was taken (in Philadelphia Co) said that he died in Montgomery Co (which we disputed). As Peter has moved up and up with talking to people in Vital Records for the birth certificates, he was told the fetal death certificates would have to be recinded for them to process birth and death certificates. So, one at a time, they contacted our coroner regarding Nick's certificate. We received a letter from the coroner saying that their records show he died in MontCo. Peter contacted him and explained the situation, that he was born at home in MontCo but died in PhilaCo. The coroner said that they would have to open an investigation. This was last week. Well, Peter called me this afternoon, after the investigator called him. She contacted the local EMTs who said that, when they arrived at 7:50pm, Nicholas was alive, that they cut the cord, kept him warm and with oxygen, and contacted MedEvac for transport to CHOP. She contacted MedEvac and the EMT said that yes, he was alive when they lifted off from MontCo and that he scored him an APGAR of 2. He stated that the last movement and natural breath was detected at approximately 8:37 and that, when we landed in CHOP, he declared him dead at 8:42pm, after five minutes of no signs of life. The invegstigator told Peter that, based on this information, the fetal death certificate was improperly issued and that they are revoking it; this means that Vital Records will be told to issue a Certificate of Live Birth and a Death Certificate for our precious Nicholas.

Writing this last paragraph, I've had to stop several times to get my crying in check. We've been working on this for over a year. Trying to get someone, somewhere to listen... And no one would. Everyone was very sympathetic, but all said they "couldn't help". That a 15w6d baby couldnt possibly have breathed. That he couldnt have lived. That our grief must have clouded our views. That we were wrong. Even having EMTs who would attest to our son's movement and breathing.... Nothing. I honestly dont know how Peter was able to keep his cool in the face of this. But he did... He just pushed and pushed. And, because people probably got tired of being harrassed by him, he finally has moved up the chain to people who instigated an investigation. We never had an actual time of death. We assumed 8:45 because that is when I arrived into CHOP's ER and they told us that he was dead when they checked him at arrival... But we didn't know... And now we do. We didnt know that the MedEvac paramedic evaluated him and gave him an APGAR scar. A 2... I know it's low, but it's something we didnt have before... (My little brother was a 2 when we was born; 5 minutes later, he scored an 8, so he was fine, no worries.) Whoever knew that hearing that number would bring such an emotion. But we didnt have it before... We just didnt know... And now we do. It's something else to treasure and hold onto.

So, it's been an emotional rollercoaster of a day. I'm a little slow in reading blog entries today, but I will get to them, I promise. I'm taking it easy and we are treasuring today and praying for tomorrow. All we can do is pray and hope and think positively. And, if the journey ends today, I'm so happy we had these days with them... I wouldnt give back a moment with my sweet Maya and my precious Bobby. They've brought such sunlight into our world. I hope that we see 24w and 28w and 32w and that I go into the hospital at 36w and come home with 2 beautiful, heatlhy babies. But, no matter what, I'm thankful for today, and for all of you who have walked this journey with us. Your prayers are very appreciated. We'll get there. We will.

Happy 17m Birthday, Sophia!

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My sweet girl! My baby girl, my big girl! Happy Birthday. It's been 17 months since you entered this world with your grace and beauty and left it behind with a small kiss of your breath and a touch of your hand. Your daddy already made you a special cake for dinner tonight and I cant wait to remember the moments of your pregnancy, birth, and life tonight when he gets home from work.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Sophia!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

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The Good...

We saw Dr. Bailey tonight. The babies are, as always, beautiful and doing well. They were playing and are big enough that they are up in each other's business. At one point, it looked like they were spooning. Here's a cute head/face shot of their spoons. Very adorable.


Both babies are measuring on size for twins. We will have our 20w scan next Thursday, when we are 20w5d, and they will guestimate weight. But they are smaller than singles; however, that is normal. I have lost 2 pounds, which brings my total weight gain at nearly 20w to only 9 pounds. I asked if that was okay, especially since I eat enough for ten men. Dr B just chuckled and said it's fine. The babies are growing well and, let's face it, I'm not rail thin. Last Saturday's P17 injection wasn only 85% of a full dose. We discussed that and he said not to worry, that it is more than enough to get us to my next dose this Saturday. So that was good to hear also. Of course, the best news was that the babies look great!

Our beautiful Maya...

Our lovely Bobby...

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The Bad...
Well, my blood pressure was the least of the bad at today's visit, coming in at 154/92. But, the worst was, of course, my cervix. Last visit (7/1/09), my cervix had dropped from 4+ down to 2.8. And it was dilated up to the stitch. We were really hoping that it would stay that way. Unfortunately, that wasnt the case. My cervix measured between 1.4 and 2, depending on the angle.
Dr. B. explained as gently as he could (seeing as my disappointment was palpatable) that this was to be expected and he has no false expectations of me passing 30w with any cervix left below the stitch. He foresees my cervix being nonexistent and held closed only by the stitch. Eventually, I will start to dilate with the stitch in place, but hopefully, this wont occur until the mid-30s. He basically said that, while this was expected, we didnt know the "when" and we are now at the place where more restrictions will help keep cervix for as long as we can.
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The Ugly...
Dr B basically took away the few bedrest priviledges that I had, excluding the bathroom. I am no longer allowed to leave the house except for the hospital, so my church going and ocassional wheelchair rides around the block are no more. I am to lay down in bed and to avoid sitting (which still puts some weight on the cervix), although I can sit to eat. Basically, one step away from strict, bedpan only bedrest and 2 steps away from hospital bedrest.
Perhaps the ugliest restriction is no Tennessee trip. We made that decision. Dr B was willing to evaluate us in 4w, to see if anything has changed, but honestly, at this stage and knowing the best we can hope for is status quo... It's too risky. I talked to my mom and she, as upbeat as she could be, told us that we will have a "post baby shower" instead and not to worry at all.
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I couldnt be happier to know the babies are well. I am so grateful for each day. And I cant tell you how thankful I am for the stitch, which is the only reason my body hasnt labored. But I am so disappointed by my cervix. I just about choked when he gave the measurment; it's a hard pill to swallow. While we are all optimistically talking about cerclage removal at 36w, the discussion of "making it to 24w" has come into play. One more month... Aug. 15th... Viability. Dammit for having to think about a place where their chances are 50/50. Dammit.
I wont say how unfair this feels- we all know that. And I cant overemphasize how happy we are to be here, with our babies safe and sound. But tonight has been a rough night and I feel a chink in the armor... A fear that I cant shake...
Please, if you pray, say one for the babies tonight. They are doing so well and it's your prayers helping them on their journeys. Thank you for that...

It's Monday Already?

Monday, July 13, 2009

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The weeks tend to drag on sometimes, but the weekends... Never the weekends... It was yesterday that it was Friday night and Peter was walking in the door from work, and then, I woke up, and now it is Monday morning and he's about to get out of bed to get ready! But as it is, right now, he's adorable as he gently rests beside me, his back curled up to the side of my leg and his chest hair within arms reach.

The weekend was somewhat painful. My cervix has decided that it really needs to show me who's boss by randomly hurting like hell. It actually feels, from time to time, like some demon is scratching long fingernails down my insides. The best part, however, is that it only lasts a few minutes and then I think I'm crazy because I feel fine. I am still talking to my cervix, telling it off, but also giving it positive affirmations like "you are closed" and "you are long". (I know... I'm nuts.) If women can help themselves dilate in labor by talking to their bodies, why not the reverse? And, if it doesnt work, it's not like I wasted anything. Plus, it makes me feel better.

We had a little meltdown on Saturday morning at P17 times. In Peter's words, we had "85% of a dose". That's right. The bottle says it has 4 1ml doses in it. We took 3ml's over the last 3 weeks (and Peter swears he's been at the 1ml line every time on the needle and, being a scientist who deals every day with precise figures, I believe him) but come Saturday, when he was basically sucking the last drop from the bottle, there was only .85ml left. So, I cried. I mean, what else do you do when you are practically convinced that the shots are stopping you from contracting? You cry and, of course, contract your uterus with your sobs! I got a grip relatively quickly because, let's face it, crying isnt going to help the situation. We did the injection and discussed the possible outcomes. P17 has a shelf life in the body and degrades over time, so most likely, the best course of action is to have my 20w shot a day or two early, depending on the shelf life. I wont have my refill until Wednesday, which is also my appt with Dr Bailey, so we will discuss this then. He may say that the 15% isnt a huge deal because there is X amount of a window. Or he may say "inject tonight". We'll see. I dont know. We debated calling him today, but since I cant get the drug before Wednesday, I dont want to have yet another worry on the plate. And, I trust my husband, who has looked at the chemical comp and knows what he's talking about from a purely scientific standpoint. But, at the time, you would have thought someone died. Good old pregnancy hormones.

I talked to my mom on Saturday night, which was nice. We chatted about shower things and personal things. She took a little fall, so her knees werent feeling so well. I love talking to my mom. I miss her so much. Then, as night began to fall, my brother visited and I talked to him for about an hour. I have spoken to him on the phone in years, and I only spoke to him for about 15 minutes on our last visit. So, an hour was quite the change in scenery. We talked about things that our going on. I asked about their pregnancy, he asked about ours. (Yes, I made several plugs for stopping smoking, drinking, etc, and how things we do today impact our little ones... Deaf ears? I hope not.) After we hung up, I sent him an email, and just said it was nice to talk to him and that I hoped we could try to keep the channels of communication open. We'll see. I worry about my nephew and would like to know what is going on. On a funny note, what name does he like for the baby? Benjamin. How funny would it be if both of our sons, born within a few weeks of each other, were named Benjamin? I dont know if he liked the name when our mom told him Bobby's name or if he liked it before. We didnt get into it. An even funnier comment, though. His girlfriend wants to name the baby Noah. J's response: "That's a biblical name." To which I had to reply that Benjamin is a biblical name, too. A moment of silence. "Oh, yeah..."

We went to Mass on Saturday night because Peter was serving. Normally, Sunday mornings are my big day out, so it felt weird to stay in bed yesterday. But church was still nice and we got to chat with our younger priest, who is quite funny. The first words from his mouth: "Are you listening to the doctor?" He's really such a kind soul. Peter's mom told me that they were chatting and he told her he's counting down his calendar days until we are in the clear. To which she responded with a laugh "They wont be in the clear until the kids are in college." But it's nice to know we have so many thinking of the babies and praying for them.

This morning, I had my first "full term baby" dream. All my other baby dreams have included the horror of preterm labor, even "viable" preterm labor. But this one was going into Dr B's office to have the stitch removed and then dilating to 5cm. He advised us to walk over to the hospital since the labor was going to progress quickly. So, we did. And when I got there, I was 8cm dilated. We posted our "Natural Labor in Progress" signs on the door and went about our business and, before he could get over, Bobby was born. Peter put him on my chest and covered him with a blanket, before going into the hallway and telling a nurse, "You'd better call Dr Bailey and tell him he's already missed half the show. If he wants to catch the second act, he'd better hurry." Then, he came in (with nurses) and Maya's labor had started, so a nurse took Bobby and started cleaning him and weighing him, while Peter prepared to deliver our little girl. Then I woke up. But it was a nice thought. It was nice to have a "normal" dream and not one where either our baby died or our baby struggled to survive. Perhaps this is one aspect of the healing process taking over.

I cant believe that July is nearly half over... Peter's birthday is a month away and I've always considered his birthday (mid-August) as summer's last hurrah. The first harvest celebrations are on Aug 1st, which, to me always says "Fall is on it's way!" and since I love fall, this is a happy time! But his birthday kind of says "We're almost there." And this year, since Aug 15 is the 24w mark, his birthday will echo "We're almost there" in a different kind of way. It's strange to even think about fall when it feels like yesterday we began summer. But here we are and summer is almost half over. At a time when time feels like it goes so slow in some aspects, it speeds by in others...

For Your Tears

Friday, July 10, 2009

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Peter brought in the mail last night and there was a mailing for me. Opening it, I was blown away by the beautiful gift that arrived. Deborah Pucci, from For Your Tears, sent a beautiful handkerchief with the words "For Your Tears" embroidered in the center. Deborah began this outreach to mothers who have lost a child, and it is such a meaningful and unexpected jesture. I am so very touched.


If you would like to make a donation in memory of your baby or babies so that this beautiful outreach can continue, or if you would like to ask Deborah to make a handkerchief for you, please stop by her blog for more information.

In the Mail

Thursday, July 9, 2009

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So, this morning, I packed up a box... A baby bonnet... A toy... A time capsule for baby... Several baby outfits... A card... A gift card that I pray they will use for the necessessities they need after the baby is born... I wrapped the gifts and used the baby clothes as sort of packing to keep the box from shipping. I filled out the gift card (which Peter picked up yesterday and was very generous with, I was really impressed with my non-shopping husband who handled this for us) and put it in the card with a note to please wait and use it after their son arrives for things they find they need and dont have, and slipped it between gifts. The box is now taped and addressed to my mom, who will take it with her to the baby shower later this month. I hope that it is somewhat helpful to my brother and his girlfriend, but mostly for their son, who we have been remembering in our daily prayers. God, please watch over our nephew... Please let J & L step up to the plate to be better parents than they have been thus far... Please let this little boy be okay in spite of his in-utero situation... Please, please, please God- don't let this baby die.

I'm still angry about the situation. Mostly about how they continue to do nothing but think about themselves and not their son with their shoddy behavior during pregnancy. But, I'd be a liar if I said that it didnt burn me that with so many of us "good parents" who do everything right and suffering loss or multiple losses, that two immature, unthinking kids get knocked up, mistreat their bodies, and their pregnancy is going (I'm assuming from what I hear) A-OK. God willing, the baby WILL be okay in spite of that, but the situation burns me. And I'd be a bigger liar if I said that given our situation and my step-brother & sister-in-law's baby making struggles (they are a few years older than us, also happily married and settled), that the one who has no trouble at all is also the one who cant hold a job and doesnt take pregnancy seriously in the least. But none of that is the baby's fault. Not a cent of it. And, in my heart, I just want my nephew to be okay. And, as much as it hurt to pack the box together, it felt good to know that he will have some nice things and hope that those things will help him through his early times and let him know he has an aunt and uncle who love him very much.

The geneticist at the hospital lab just called with our final sequential screen results. Our risk of the babies having Downs Syndrome are 1 in 1200. Our risk of the babies having Spina Bifida or an open spinal cord is 1 in 2600. Our risk of the babies having Trisomy 18/Edwards Disease cannot be delivered because the blood test only works for singletons, however, using the results they do have and an educated guess, they have placed our risk at 1 in 3100. While we would love our babies no matter what those tests predicted, I am happy and prayerful that they came back as well as they did.

Sunshiney Day

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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The stroller is sitting pretty (still in the box) in my kitchen. Peter said that he's going to take it upstairs so it doesnt get knocked around at all. Hasn't decided whether or not to put it together. Other than the nursery furniture which is of course out and done, most stuff (like the pack-n-play) are still in the box. So, my guess is that it will stay there. After all, where would we really put it now? But it is cute. It's the Graco Duoglider in Brentwood. I love the color brown. :) Earthy colors, any and every one, actually. Brown is near the top... With green... But they didnt have a brown and green one, so brown and blue won!

I had a perfectly wonderful visit with my girlfriend, Katie, today. She is one of those friends that really "gets it", without needing to have a personal experience with it. I'm so lucky that our paths crossed. We have a lot in common and there is never a lull in the coversation. I can talk to her about anything and we can talk for hours. It was a great visit, and I was sad to see her leave. :( We aren't local to one another anymore, and only really see each other every few months. But she was sweet to take a day off from work to come and spend with me! It was lovely. (And I cant wait to enjoy the jambalaya and lemon bars!!! I am so excited!!!)

Peter is possibly going out with co-workers tonight to see Transformers 2. Several of his fellow scientists dig Transformers too (several of his fellow MALE coworkers) and they made arrangements. But one of them had to back out since it is his birthday and his wife wouldnt be so happy if he wasnt home, and the other one may have had an unexpected family visit tonight. So, if that is the case, they will reschedule. But, regardless, Sarah is coming over to hang out for the evening. So, while it is a busy visiting day for me, it's been really nice! Dont worry- I'm still in bed!

I'm trying to take a "screw you, cervix" approach today. It hurts and I'm ignoring it. I'm just letting it all relax, if that makes sense, and not focusing on the pain. I mean, let's face it, if it wants to fail and I am doing all that I can do to stop it, then it will either hold or fail. Obsessing- not going to help. At least giving it the middle finger makes me feel better. I focus on talking to the babies about how much we love them and how happy we are that they are with us today. That is the most important thing anyway, not this freaking pain. Why let that take my joy away? I've had enough worry for a lifetime- this isn't going to take away the joy I have today. As the sign in my high school gym used to read "It's mind over matter and if you dont mind, it dont matter." (I know, great grammer for high school...). So, I'm choosing not to mind. I tell myself every day that my cervix is closed and that the babies are fine. I hold my belly and vaginal area and send healing, warm thoughts. I pray that God will continue keeping me healthy for the sake of the babies and that my cervix will remain stitched together. Focusing on the negative possibilities wont help. That isnt to say the pain doesnt suck or hurt. And that, yes, I cry sometimes because it terrifies me. But, all in all, this isn't going to freaking win. It just wont. I wont let it...

Time On My Hands

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

5 comments
Yes, two posts in one day. I have a little bit of time on my hands, LOL.

The stroller arrived today. It is in the kitchen, just begging to be put together. It's still in the box and I've decided I'll leave it up to Peter as to when it gets put together or if it stays in the box for the next few months. (And I refuse to bow down to the nasty voice in my head that says "keep it in the box because it will be easier to return". To that, I say "Screw You Voice! You and my cervix!")

For the sake of posterity and for anyone looking up cerclages and finds my posts (yes, Google lists my blog under quite a few cerclage searches... kind of neat and freaky in a way), here's some TMI. Ever since my afternoon sneeze, I swear it feels like I have air in my vagina. Now, it could just be gas that "feels" like it is there when in reality it is ready to expel from where it is supposed to come from. My rational brain says that is it. But, it feels very strange, as though there is **something** in my vagina that is just waiting to come out. I've had this in the past in small doses, but after today's sneeze, it has been a constant (for like 4ish hours). Quite the annoyance. No bleeding and no increased discharge, so honestly, I dont think it is anything. But, I wanted to put it out there. I hate searching for something on google and finding nothing. It makes me feel like a freak.

Today, I played with my computer for the first time. I was trying to load my mp3 player music and the WMA files wouldnt play on WMP. It really ticked me off! So, I did some google searching and found out the (stupid) reason (this is why I miss my Mac). And I found a work around and did it! I downloaded a software and made them all mp3 files and there you go! Now my songs are all streaming from my laptop! Given, it took me a few hours to get them all converted and done, but I did it myself!

Talked to my mom on the phone. Man, I miss her. I miss being able to see her whenever I want. You'd think that 11+ years away from "home" and I'd be over this, but I miss her. We were close, and still are. It is so hard being so far away and knowing that, at best, I'll see her once a year. Until last year, it had been 4 years since I'd been back to TN (mostly for money and job reasons). I am really glad to have a trip planned to see them this year, even though I am afraid of the actual trip itself.

And, I promise I'm going to bed now, but I am so excited! My dear friend, Katie, is driving up tomorrow from a state away for a visit! We have a lot in common and see each other a few times a year. I wish we lived closer together because she is a blast. I can't wait to see her!!! (And because she is so awesome, she's bringing me homemade jambalaya (which I craved last night) and lemon bars!)

Waking Up In a Cold Sweat

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I really, really, REALLY miss the dreams about Daniel Craig. At this point, I would settle for anything other than nightmares. Last night, I woke up 2 times to 2 different nightmares.

The first one, which really shook me up, seems like a normal dream in the beginning. Peter and I are at some sort of Target/Walmart type store. We walk into an isle that has wedding and baby favors and nursery items. There are these weird things that are supposed to be bottle warmers and stuff like that... But they are strange. The tops fly off and all sorts of weird things happen. So, we figure out that two of them are not what they appear and this employee comes over and basically tells us that we need to leave the store since we are obviously not buying anything. But we actually had stuff in our hands to buy. So we go to the check out and buy our stuff. Then we leave. We came in one car, but somehow, we end up with both our cars. So Peter gets in his and I get in mine. I'm in front. When I leave the store lot, I make a right and realize, oops, should have gone straight. I see Peter go straight from my rearview and assume I'll just make a turn and get back to where I need to be. As I approach a bend in the road, I see this stone bridge and, for whatever reason, I am going too fast, there is no brake, and the steering wheel wont turn. I clip the side of the bridge and the car goes flying over the edge, towards the river below. I grab my stomach, say a prayer that God will protect the babies, and then, I wake up.

I was so upset as waking that I actually screamed and woke Peter up. My heart was pounding and I could barely breathe. The dream was so realistic that I actually thought I was drowning when I woke up. It was really horrific.

I finally go back to sleep and this time is even worse! Although I dont remember all of it, the gist of it was that my water broke and I was in labor. Worse yet, when I woke up, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom and was so petrified that I laid in bed until the pressure was unbearable. Of course, it was just pee, but I was freaked out.

I didn't go back to sleep after that one. I just laid in bed and hope that morning would come soon so that I would have a reason to be awake. Thank God, the night is over.

On another annoying note, I'd like to grab my cervix by its scrawny little neck and beat the ever living daylights out of it. It hurts like hell. I mean, hurts. Labor is one thing- there is a reason and it is a good one. Cervical pain- no... not good and no good reason, except to try and convince me that the stitch is pulling out. You wont win, nasty little cervix! I'm not listening! You can pull and hurt all you want, but I refuse to think you are going to win! (Call the guys in the white coats... she's talking to her cervix... again...)

My abdomen is also experiencing the joys of round ligament pain. I didn't have too much of this until now, but we are in full swing of it at present. Even though I've only gained 11 pounds with this pregnancy, based on the pictures of myself, I look like I've gained at least double that (at least!). Not that I mind one iota! I was a little heavy (okay, maybe more than "a little" but who is counting at this point...) so Dr B said that assuming a healthy diet, he didnt expect me to gain a ton of weight. And, for the most part, he's been right. Which is good for them and good for me too. (Although I cant help but wonder if this is just a tip of the iceberg and I really will be one of those women who gains 70 pounds or something).

So here we are... the unchartered territory of pregnancy... and counting down the 8 days until our next ultrasound so I can quell my nerves that they are okay and that the stitch is still giving me 2.8cm of closed cervix.

17w4d ultrasound pictures

Monday, July 6, 2009

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Here are the ultrasound pictures from our 17w4d doctor's appointment last Wednesday.

Our adorable baby boy, Robert Benjamin, who refused to sit still long enough for a "good" picture (although if you ask me, they cant possibly take bad pictures).

Our beautiful baby girl, Maya Eirene, who was relaxing on her back with her long legs and delicate little feet.



Beautiful Day

Sunday, July 5, 2009

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Today has been one of those days that I am dreading the end of. It's been such a lovely day. We went to the 7:30 am Mass, since Peter was the primary lector at that service. When we came home, he made homemade waffles (yes, my hubs makes food from scratch... he's such a package. I love cooking with him. He doesn't mind the work that goes into a good dish and, even though we cant cook together right now, he's still all about making it good.) and we had breakfast together. Then, we curled up for a movie (and I promptly fell asleep- he's just so darn comfortable!). After a dinner of yummy leftovers, we decided to enjoy some of the day. Peter pushed me in the wheelchair to the edge of our driveway (it's a pretty big drive) and I read from Ina May's Guide to Childbirth for a bit while Peter weeded, then, we just sat and talked. We talked about all sorts of things: babies, grief, our life together, a little bit of everything, really. We often sit and talk. It's one of the things I love most about our marriage and friendship. And to be able to just enjoy an hour and a half of sitting under my favorite trees, in the beautiful 78 degree day, with a warm breeze and the birds singing... It was wonderful. Just wonderful.

We're back inside and Peter is washing laundry and researching new computers (his was bought and put together in 1999 and has been upgraded until it cant be upgraded any longer, so this will be a new computer year for both of us!). But, other than the last half hour, we've been together and just enjoying one another today. He's offered to wheel me to the park or to the store to pick up some necessities, if I am up for it, or said he will go to the store and come back as quickly as he can. We will see how the evening progresses.

It has been such a wonderful holiday weekend, just being with Peter. Especially today. I wish we had another!

Hope everyone in the States has had a good Independence Day weekend, and that, elsewhere, your July is as lovely as it is here in PA!

Sorrows, Joys, and the things in between

Saturday, July 4, 2009

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Sorrows...
Today I learned that a blog friend who has already faced the loss of her beautiful daughter to stillbirth in her second trimester has recently given birth very prematurely to her son in the second trimester, due to an incompetent cervix. Her son was slightly younger than Nicholas gestationally, and this loss touches me and breaks my heart in a special way. Please send their family hugs and prayers as they mourn.

Joys...
Another blog friend has announced her pregnancy at 12w. This couple endured the loss of their son in the third trimester and are still in mourning. Please celebrate their sunflower with them.

And the things in between...
It's been a rough morning. My first jaunt into blogger this morning gave me the heartbreaking news from "Sorrows" and I spent the morning crying. It hurts so much to know the pain of losing a child to IC and knowing that there are no words that can truly bring comfort... Because nothing can bring comfort to any grieving parent. The world has crashed. Life stops. And, while you cant measure one parent's pain against another's, the pain that comes from having subsequent losses builds and builds. It's like a mountain of hurt that never goes away, and in the early days buries you beneath its weight.

Today is the day my precious Sophia was born... In less than 7 hours, Peter and I will be remembering the special little girl that was heralded by hardcore contractions and back labor and spent those beautiful five minutes in our outside world... lovingly held by her daddy... moving her little body as she aclimated to a world that couldnt keep her... couldnt sustain her... couldnt even try...

The bittersweet day that I have dreamed for in this pregnancy is here. As much as passing by each of the kids' gestational birthdates has been painful, it is what we need to have happen for Bobby and Maya... It gives me peace to know that these babies are alive and well as we move into week 19 and into a pregnancy that I've never had. Today is the last day of knowing... Of being able to say that "this is normal because it happened in X's pregnancy"... Of feeling like an old hat at this pregnancy game... Of being here before. I am not sure that anyone who hasnt experiences preterm labor and gone on to have a pregnancy last beyond it can fully comprehend the feelings it unleashes... the happiness and the sadness...
We are at the halfway part of our pregnancy, as a twin pregnancy is considered full term at 36w. Wow... It's crazy to think that this day has arrived. We are at the hump. The middle of the curve. Is it really all downhill from here?

Peter gave me my third P17 shot of this pregnancy. Fun times. He's a great nurse, honestly. He does his best to make sure the pain is minimized, and does an excellent job of doing so. As I write, I am laying in bed on my left side, with a heating pad against my bum.

I'll end on a high note. We've picked out our favors for the baby showers. We've decided on bookmarks, which pays homage to this librarian mama and is practical, which was important to both of us. After scouring the web, we found a site. I'm attaching a sample of the color and design example, as well as what the bookmark looks like. The wording will read "Celebrating New Life" instead of "Michele's Shower" and a date, since they will be for several showers. The sample colors of blue and pink and the peas in a pod fit b/g twins. Instead of the traditional verbiage, though, I dont like the focus of "Michele's Shower". And, perhaps this is the orphaned parent in me talking, but part of me wonders what will happen to them in the event something bad happens... I'd rather be able to give these out as momentos of our babies if something did happen rather than tossing them in the bin because I couldnt handle seeing "Michele's Shower" over and over again. They come from Favor Favor Baby and are relatively inexpensive. Peter thinks we should have something that denotes the shower, so we've agreed to get ribbons that have "Michele and Peter's Baby Shower" with the year or possibly the date on them, and to wrap those around the box. We'll see... I'm not sure yet...

Well, my bum is hurting and it's lunchtime...

Peter's Home For the Day!

Friday, July 3, 2009

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Happy July 4th to us! Because the fourth is on a Saturday, Peter's off today! Yay! It was so nice to wake up lazily and just enjoy his company for the morning. I love that man so much. Right now, he's mowing the backyard since we are due to have more rain, but I cant wait until he's back inside, cuddled up to me. I dont realize how much I miss him during the days until he's home and I realize it wont last. I look forward to retirement when we'll be stuck with each other endlessly, LOL. :)

Peter's parents came for dinner last night. His dad was able to hear the babies on our doppler and it was so cute to see his face. They've been very active, to the point that last night at bedtime, I could barely get comfy. It was awesome. I fell asleep just holding my belly and feeling them move here and there. Very reassuring. The cervical pain comes and goes. Sometimes it feels like fingers grating down my cervix, other times it is just a sharp pain here or there. It never lasts more than a bit and is more disturbing than really painful. I found one writing where a doctor noted that the pain is fairly normal since the cervix is dynamic and moves in normal pregnancies and, with the cerclage in, is unable to really move, hence the pulling and pain. Some minor back issues (but I cant imagine not having back issues when I'm in bed 95% of the time). All in all, still doing fine. Cant complain. Just happy to have them one more day.

Thinking a lot about Sophia this week, especially since Wednesday. My contractions with her began on this day in pregnancy, 17w6d, around dinnertime. They were minor in the beginning (to the point that I had no idea they were contractions) and then elevated to a red alert. By 10pm or so, I remember hurting so much that I cried and couldnt sleep. Peter would rub, I'd fall asleep, he'd stop, contraction would hit, I'd wake up, repeat. Did he sleep at all??? What a good man...

She's been on my mind so much that I've accidentally referred to Maya as "Sophia" a few times. Maya's on the same side as Sophie was and she moves very similarly. I think, on top of that, with the time of pregnancy, I have my princess on the brain and everyone is "Sophia". But I feel so horrible after it happens. I apologize to both of them. Peter tries to keep it light and says I've inherited my grandmother's habit of going through every child and grandchild to find your name when she's trying to get your attention. (It's cute when Mamaw does it... It's not cute (to me) when I do it.)

In normal pregnant woman conversation, Peter's mother wants me to think about favor ideas for the baby shower. I'm struggling. I like the idea of soap, a little pink foot and a little blue foot, wrapped in tulle and tied in a ribbon. I want something practical, that will be used and not thrown away. But I also dont want to spend $1 for each soap (which means $2 for 2 plus tulle/ribbon each) for 100 guests. Nor do I want her to spend that. So, I'm looking into other things. Peter suggested making the soap, that he'd get the stuff from the craft store and help me organize things from bed... Since I have 10w until the shower (the one for his family has been set for the weekend after my family's, so Sept 12, at 28w... wow, only 10w away...) perhaps that is a possibility. We'll see... I'm still finding it hard to think about things that far in advance. 8w til our 4D u/s and we leave for TN... 9w: my family's shower... 10w: his family's shower... It's almost like the countdown of viability and milestones... 6w to viability... 7w to steroid injections... 8w to goal 1... and so on. With focusing on today and right now, it's actually gotten harder looking ahead. I had to make my Sept appt's with Dr B to get good times and it was really hard to flip the calendar there. I'm in July now... I'm happy in July... Really, truly, I am. I am happy with today. With having them today. With remembering their siblings today. It's a good feeling. I almost feel like I will contaminate it if I allow myself to look forward too much, especially when I feel like I am where I should be, enjoying 17w6d.

Here's my complaint for the day: people who think that a subsequent pregnancy takes away the pain of losing a child (or children, in my case). I feel like just railing on the people who say things along the lines of "now you are all better..." or imply that the cerclage is a 100% failsafe against not bringing home baby so I should just forget and move on. My babies arent a class I failed in college and got to make up. And a new pregnancy could never "fix" anything. It isn't like babies are interchangible. The worst comment is where someone (and let me tell you, I've gotten several of these) implies that, because we are pregnant with twins again, somehow we are getting a do-over. Really? Is it that simple? Wow... Let me share that with all the other parents in the world who are grieving the loss of a child. If only we'd known, we could have saved ourself so much grief. THANK YOU for pointing that out to me. One day, I swear, I'll say something nasty. I usually just smile, say that every pregnancy and child is different and unique, and we are grateful for all five of the babies we've had a chance to get to know so far. Usually that shuts them up. A freaking do-over. Please.

Okay, so now that I've ranted for the day and I hear Peter coming in from his lawn work, I will go... Besides... It's time for another feeding... :)

It's Not Your Fault

Thursday, July 2, 2009

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Yesterday, as we were driving towards the highway from the hospital and I was having a good cry at realizing that, sans a piece of nylon in my whoohaa, I would have gone into labor with my two perfect babies, Peter said, "I know you still do, but I hope that this proves to you that it was nothing you did... That you did everything right... That this wasn't your fault."

I think that, whenever a pregnancy ends prior to full term or without a live, healthy baby, we mothers do feel like we failed. What if I'd done this... Not done that... Done this instead... If only I'd... I can't lie and say that thoughts dont haunt me still. Was it that? This? What didnt I do? God, what did I do?

It's hard when we see people mistreating their bodies and harming their unborn child(ren). (Have I mentioned my brother and his knocked up girlfriend, who smoke and drink? Who rarely get prenatal care and havent popped a prenatal vitamin?) Those of us who struggled to get pregnant (or even didnt struggle) and had losses... Who did "everything right"... Who never missed taking a vitamin or making a prenatal appointment... It has to be us. We have to blame ourselves. Who else is there to blame?

Truly, I try to remember that we did what we could with the knowledge that we had at the time. My cervix always looked good. Always. Heck, 2 weeks ago, it looked great! Little liar... I dont know why it is screwed up. I'm adopted and, although I dont think that I was exposed to DES in the womb, I suppose it is possible. I was born premature, so perhaps my cervix never strengthened as it should have even though it developed normally. I dont know. I'm not sure that focusing on the why it doesn't work right will ever be helpful. Something that this pregnancy proved is that bedrest wont work. Nothing but God's will and the stitch will stop my cervix from going from perfect to a disaster in moments. Thank God for letting our paths cross with Dr Bailey. I said a prayer yesterday for him. I cant express how grateful I am for his compassion and care.

In spite of having "goals" set of 26w, 32w, and 36w, I'm still not thinking of them like that. I know those are Dr B's goals for the safety of the babies. But, even today, I still have that feeling of, no matter when, they are safe... loved... okay. And, in spite of my pissed off-ness that my cervix is failing to cooperate and my sorrow at hitting this point much earlier than I had hoped, I am enjoying that we are here... Today... This day... With Bobby and Maya. Tomorrow will deal with itself. I have them today.

It was hard going to the doctor yesterday. At 17w4d in Nicholas & Sophia's pregnancy, also a Wednesday, we were going to the MFM doctors with only Sophia in utero. That appointment caused a lot of bleeding afterwards... Contractions began on Friday, my water broke Saturday afternoon, and she was born that night. I have no doubts (now) that the infection had already started and was running its course, even with no outside symptoms, and that the appointment did nothing to hasten Sophia's entrance into the world. But it wasnt that way for a while. And it was quite a bit unnerving to have another appointment on that same day. But it was also reassuring in a way. It was with Dr B and not a complete stranger. It was, overall, a really positive appointment, not one with the overtones of "we dont even know why you are still pregnant... are you sure you dont want to abort?" (We ended up at a different hospital because it was the one that we were transported to after Nicholas, so they scheduled Sophia's follow up there).

Sitting in Dr B's office yesterday, I heard two things that broke my heart. One was a woman who had just had her 10w ultrasound... And saw that her baby had died around 7w. She said to the woman at the desk, "I need to schedule a D & E." Which, perked my ears up and made me cry inside. As she continued talking and accepting the nurse's condolences, she shared that this was her 9th pregnancy and that she has 2 living children at home. Peter just clutched my hand. There werent words. It just hurt too much. The next was that I overheard Dr B on the phone, telling another patient how sorry he was. That sometimes we just dont know why a pregnancy looks good and ends in miscarriage. How, if she needed to talk, to not hesitate to call him. It reminded me of the notes he sent us after Nicholas & Sophia and Alexander were born, and the note of congratulations he sent us after we notified him of this pregnancy. He really does care about his patients. Why arent all doctors this compassionate?

In fun news... I am posting from my new laptop! Peter worked on getting it ready last night and this morning before work. (I slept after dinner last night and didnt get up except to go to the bathroom, so he worked on it for several hours then). I still have to update files from the iMac that are on my thumb drive, but so far, it works great!

What I Didn't Want To Hear

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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Before I post, overall, my doctor's appointment for 17w4d was a positive one. Please don't worry about that. Dr. Bailey was happy.

First, I had to do the second round of bloodwork for the sequential and some additional tests that Dr B had ordered. Since the last time I went to the hospital lab came with an hour plus wait, we decided to leave early and go several hours prior to my 4:15 appointment with Dr B. So, we got to the lab around 2:15. Well, apparently, I needed to go over to patient registration to register to have my blood taken. (who knew?) So, I walk over and it is full. I'm thinking "glad we came early" as I go up to the desk. The woman takes my papers and copies my insurance card and drivers license. Then, she hands them off to another woman who immediately takes me back. Less than 5 minutes and I'm registered and back to the lab where I proceeded to sit down before the phlebotomist called me back. In 15 minutes, I was in the lab, in registration, back in the lab, and in the elevator to Dr. B's office- almost 2 hours before my appointment. And it was damn near empty! The receptionist just chuckled, said it was no problem that we were early. I read a little in my book and Peter worked a sodoku, which gave the other patients time to get called back and the ultrasound room time to get free (about an hour). Went in and waited maybe 15 more minutes before Dr B came in. My BP was still higher than desired at 132/86. Better than previous pregnancies, but I was in the green light range and I'm moving into yellow. We chatted about things and talked about the discomfort I've been having. He said that his hope was that it was just round ligament pain but that the u/s would show if my cervix was changing, which could also account for the pain.

The abdominal u/s showed two healthy, happy babies. We saw Maya first. She was stretched out and has long legs, just like her daddy! We saw nothing but this long leg and delicate foot. He scaled back and we could see her resting on her back. Very cute. Downstairs, Bobby was kicking his sister, rolling on his back, standing on his head, and doing everything else he could do to avoid getting his picture taken, the little stinker. Both looked and sounded great. Very refreshing.

But then the vaginal u/s started and my cervix came on the screen. The words out of his mouth: "Well, you've dilated to the stitch." My cervix that measured well over 4 two weeks ago is now at 2.8. right at the top of the stitch. He said what I knew and really, really didnt want to hear. "Without the stitch, you would have gone into labor." I started to cry quietly, even though I tried not to. He was very reassuring and said that he fully expected this because I have, what he called, a "true incompetent cervix", something that bedrest wouldnt guard against and something that only a cerclage can help. He said that he was happy that the stitch was still holding tightly and that it looked so well, and to try to not let the fact that my cervix opened worry me, since I still have almost 3 left of a closed cervix. He was adamant that he believes the stitch will hold.

Once the lights came back on, we discussed the next few weeks. He wants to give us the steroid injections at 25w in the event we go into labor early. He said that his hope is still for 36w and that right now, his count downs are 26w, 32w, and then 36w. Those are the milestones he wants for us. He said that, also, assuming my July and August appointments are "still very good", he thinks going to TN is a great idea to try and relax and destress. Driving over flying (which we knew) because of the change in pressure and he was very happy that we'd be within 5 min of Vanderbilt Hospital, which is a premier children's hospital. (My mom and step-dad live very close.)

I am not cleared from bedrest and, after today, I dont anticipate that, even with being allowed our trip to TN (where I am still expected to be in bed). But he was still happy with the appointment. Peter was too, and said that he expected this as well, that it wasnt "if" but "when". I guess, I had just really hoped that the bedrest would prolong it a bit more. I cant tell you how many IC-ers have written that their doctors told them that bedrest and cerclages have a similar success rate, so just go home and wait it out. Heck, I was told that after Nicholas was born! This just proves how fatal that advice can be. Without the cerclage, even with the bedrest, my babies would have been born within the last 2 weeks. I am so grateful to Dr. Bailey for being willing to put a preventative in at 11w. I dont know where we would be without his constant care and concern. And, he was so sweet; as our appointment was ending, he said, "Dont hesitate to come in if you are worried. I'll fit you in." Knowing how busy that office always is (save today and one other day I've been there), that really touched me.

Had I not had the recent encounter with the kids, I know that I would be through the roof right now. Instead, I have that knowledge that they are okay and no matter when they are born, they will be. I'm not focused on getting to August and getting to "viability". I'm still on today... 17w4d... That's all them...

After our appointment, we stopped by and visited our friends who just had baby Lucy. They are now home. She's a doll. I held her and she just curled up and fell asleep on my chest. It was so lovely... And heartbreaking too. My first thought when I saw her was "Alexander would be this big..." But soon it was catching up with our friends and enjoying Lucy for being Lucy, not for a reminder of my son. Peter held her too and she just curled up in the curve of his torso and stomach, contented to being held. So cute. It was great to see our friends and talk about their labor and how life is now. They've suffered 2 losses and Lucy is their little miracle, so it was a very sweet visit indeed.

My laptop arrived today. Peter will work on it this week and I will be posting from it soon. Happy Birthday to me (and only a little late!). The jewelry store also called. They can get real, mined alexandrite.... a tiny sliver is $200-300. Suffice it to say, we'll be going with synthetic. I mean, it's still real alexandrite; it's just made in a lab instead of mined from the Urals. It was funny though to get the response. I mean, wow. It's a rock for pete's sake!

I'm back in bed, feet up, laying down, and my dear sweet love is making Nicholas's special dinner. My bottom is sore from sitting up today, so I think I'll nap...

Happy 17m Birthday, Nicholas

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Happy Birthday, sweet baby boy- sweet big brother! We love you, Nicholas! Mommy and Daddy are remembering your birth today and holding you close to our hearts.