32 Weeks: Our First NST

I can’t believe thirty-two weeks have gone by already. WHOA. There’s a maximum of six weeks to go. I’ve learned that the average gestational age of twins at birth is just 35 weeks, which is, well, not that far from now.


Thirty-two weeks is a pretty good milestone for the babies’ development. According to What to Expect, babies born around this time have an excellent chance of survival, but will need to spend some time in the NICU as they won’t have full lung maturity yet. Two more weeks to go until they’ll be mature enough to be born and cared for at our local hospital (which has a Special Care Nursery but no NICU). Looking forward to hitting that milestone.

The Babies are the Size of: Two Florida Pomelos, says my app. My husband and I had to do a google image search for that one. Huh. The animal comparison is an armadillo (thanks but no thanks) and the other app says, simply, “squash.” Hello, there are many types of squash!

How I’m Doing: Since last week I’ve been feeling markedly better in terms of my mood and my overall state. I’m still large and uncomfortable, but on the whole I am starting to feel like it’s really possible I will teach through the end of classes and keep these babies growing on the inside all the while. I hope that feeling is right!

Relatedly, my husband talked on the phone with his brother for a while tonight and my BIL asked if I had been “put on bed rest yet.” CW just laughed and said no, telling him I’m still working full time. I might seem crazy for still being at work these days, but 1) you can’t teach for just part of the semester, and 2) you can teach sitting down. I’m lucky I only have to be on campus three days a week and can read, research, prep, and grade from home the other two. Phew.

As far as “fun” pregnancy symptoms, I’ve got plenty. The only ones worth mentioning at the moment are itchiness all over my limbs when I try to fall asleep and numb/tingling hands when I wake up. My doctor recommended Benadryl at night as a sleep aid and to calm the itchiness, but if that doesn’t help or if the itching gets worse, we will have to see if it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. (Fingers crossed it’s not.) The numbness seems to be just from not having a good sleeping position that doesn’t impinge on the nerves in my shoulder (my OB and chiropractor agree on this) and it should resolve after the babies are born.

Doctor Visit: My weight and blood pressure are still looking good, and my doctor commented on my lack of noticeable swelling. From my perspective, I feel completely puffy — I can’t wear my wedding rings and my feet are definitely bigger, but she said it’s very minor in comparison to what others experience, so that’s good.

I went to the hospital for my first weekly Non-Stress Test (NST) afterward. They do this test in at the OB’s office for singletons, but in Labor & Delivery for twins and other multiples because it’s easier there for them to monitor more than one baby. The nurses got me all tucked into the bed and placed the monitors for each baby’s heartbeat and a third one to check for my contractions. Then, I just had to hold a counter device that I clicked every time I felt movement. Our very squirmy baby girl kept moving away from her monitor, so the poor nurse wound up standing beside me and holding it in place almost the entire time — which worked! They got all the data they needed and the babies are doing great. I’ll go back for more of this after every weekly appointment from here on.

Coming Up: The nursery is finally almost finished — We just have to hang up some art (tomorrow) and I am going to wash/prep and organize my cloth diaper stash soon as well. I’ll show some pictures once it’s complete.

Next week I have another growth ultrasound, which we only do every four weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing the babies again, getting an estimate of their weights, and finding out if they’re both still head down — if they are, it’s a good sign I might be able to avoid a C-section.

31 Weeks: Including Critical Belly Button Updates

31 Weeks! I say it every time, but each week that goes by is a cause to celebrate that the twins are still internal and still growing and thriving in there. One of my biggest fears through this pregnancy has been early labor or complications that necessitate early delivery. I’m so grateful to have gotten this far without either of those things happening.

  
The Babies are the Size of: Two heads of romaine lettuce, if you like your comparisons in the form of super-boring produce. BUT WHY WOULD YOU? Because this week, the animal size comparison is: TWO OTTERS! Minus the tails. But still. I’ve got a raft of babies in there!

How I’m Doing: Well, if you read my post from Monday you’ll know that I have been having hard days now and then. I don’t always or even often feel bad, but occasionally all those little discomforts, stresses, and annoyances rear their heads at the same time and I temporarily lose my shit. I’m okay now.

I really try not to complain because being pregnant with twins is such a wonderful thing to happen in my life — it’s even better than I dared to hope for during the time we were struggling to conceive. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m less than grateful for it. I know plenty of others out there who are in the midst of that TTC struggle right now and it feels awful to think of complaining about pregnancy discomforts in front of them. Completely insensitive of me. If that’s you out there reading this, I apologize for the bad attitude. Know also that I am holding on to hope for you.

I’m doing well. I’m feeling good, still able to work pretty comfortably, still getting decent sleep, and so on. I’ve hit the stage of swelling, stretching, and generally feeling huge and stuffed at all times, though. So there’s that. Not unusual or unexpected, but very keenly felt nevertheless.

Belly Button Status, et Cetera: I normally have a very deep belly button, probably in part because of the slightly loose, saggy skin around it from my weight gain & loss in my late 20s/early 30s. Normally my belly button is so deep you can’t see the bottom of it and the skin around it sags down to make a frown in the middle of my stomach. (It matches the one on my face when I catch sight of it in the mirror.) At the current time, my navel is still an “innie,” but it’s pushed out enough that you can actually see the bottom of it and the frown is nowhere to be seen. Very exciting. I wonder if it will pop out in the next few weeks? I still don’t have any new stretch marks, but the old ones from getting fat are really enjoying their chance to spread out and luxuriate in their full glory. It’s like a topographical river map or some shit.

Doctor Visit: I had a basic check-up today and my doctor reminded me it’ll be the last “short” appointment of this pregnancy. From here to the end, I’ll be going to weekly appointments that will all involve at the very least the usual checkup stuff (weight, BP, heartbeats, fundal height measurement, urine screening) AND a Non-Stress Test every week. For the NSTs, the twins and I will be monitored to measure any contractions and to see how their heart rates respond. (As far as I understand it.) That starts next week. In addition, I have at least one more growth ultrasound scheduled for 33 weeks.

At this visit, everything was looking good. I’ve officially gained 50 pounds (yay?) and my uterus is measuring the same size as that of a woman who is 40 weeks pregnant with only one baby, aka full term. It sure feels like it!

Since everything is going so well my doctor seems really pleased and said she thinks we won’t have any trouble making it to 34 weeks, which is a good health milestone for the babies and which also means they can be born and cared for at our local hospital. Just three weeks until we hit that mark! Next week, 32 weeks, is also a big milestone for their growth and development, so I am looking forward to hitting that as well.

So babies, please stay put for at least three more weeks, if not seven. Listen to your mother.

30 Weeks: THIRTY

Thirty weeks, y’all! THIRTY. This feels like a big milestone for me and the babies, I have to say. For some reason, the thought that it’s “just four more weeks” until the time that the babies will be mature enough to be born & cared for at my local hospital (instead of at a regional hospital with a more advanced NICU) is very comforting. And of course there’s a maximum of “just eight more weeks” until they’ll be born! That’s not even two whole months.

  
The Babies are the Size of: Two summer cantaloupes, according to my Ovia app. I checked the “weird-but-cute animal” option they have this week and saw that the animal is a duck-billed platypus. So far, the animal has always been something fairly creepy and rodent-like and therefore unworthy of mention, but the duck-billed platypus is a pretty darned awesome animal. So there you go. Two of them.

How I’m Doing: Oh, y’all. I am large. I have gotten to the point where it is a genuinely difficult task to turn over in bed from my left side to my right side (the only two options I have) and actually getting up out of bed is honestly a workout. My core muscles: they are taxed. In other woes, I have started having tingling and numbness in my hands when I’ve been lying down, so whenever I wake up to either turn over or to go to the bathroom or to get up for the day, I have the additional hurdle of trying to make my hands work for the first few minutes.

This is all I really have to complain about though. These problems are not such a big deal — they’re normal and expected discomforts of pregnancy, and much less than other women have to deal with. On the whole, I still say my pregnancy has been smooth and easy.

Braxton Hicks are still my only real complaint — my body doesn’t like being vertical or moving around too much. I look forward to returning to active life in January, but for now, if you need me, check the couch.

Movement: For quite a while the babies were both having a kicking party in my upper belly, both being head down, which made for some pretty impressive occasions where their movements could be seen from the outside. In the past day or two, though, I think at least one of them has changed position. Kicks today seem to be happening a lot lower down (ouch) and feel more internal rather than on the surface of my belly. I won’t find out exactly how they’ve moved until my next ultrasound, though, which is in three weeks. They could decide to change it up again before then, so this is really all just speculation. I wish they’d either both just stay head down or that Baby A would be breech, eliminating any questions about a vaginal birth vs a C-section.

Names: Not long after I posted about our name uncertainty, the topic came up again and CW and I both agreed that the names we’ve been talking about just feel like the right ones. We do have the other choices as possibilities, but neither of us feels that those are our babies’ names. So it seems like we’ve unofficially officially decided. I think. Whew.

Nursery & House Progress: We’ve gotten a lot done lately! All the clothes are washed and the furniture and gear assembled. The changing table is stocked up with supplies and the cribs are made. The bassinets are in our bedroom, ready for the first weeks/months. The hand-sewn birds for the mobiles are finished. All we still have left to do is install the car seats, hang the mobiles and other art, and touch up the changing table paint. I still have to wash some used cloth diapers and prep some new ones, but that doesn’t need to happen immediately (we’re starting with disposables until they’re big enough to fit the one-size cloth diapers). Phew.

It’s definitely started to feel like these babies are really coming, and relatively soon at that. BUT NOT FOR ANOTHER 4-8 WEEKS, KIDDOS. Okay.

29 Weeks: Don’t be Jealous of my Parking Space

Twenty-nine weeks down. A maximum of nine weeks remain until the babies will be evicted from their cozy home. We are officially in the single-digits part of the countdown now, y’all!

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Babies are the Size of: Two pineapples. I LOVE PINEAPPLES. I should go buy a pineapple today because I would eat the hell out of that pineapple. I should buy TWO.

How I’m Doing: Well, I officially have a temporary disability parking tag, so that’s how I’m doing. Walking for any distance is no bueno right now in terms of intense, angry Braxton Hicks contractions, so my doctor did the paperwork for me and now here we are. The reason we checked on the application form: “Unable to walk more than 200 yards without stopping to rest.” As someone who values my identity as a very fit, active, long-distance runner, well, you can imagine how I feel about this. More importantly, however, I am doing what I need to do to keep these babies cooking, so let’s focus on that.

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Baby B

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Baby A

Ultrasounds: What do you mean you can’t see what anything is in these pictures?! It’s clear as day! Heh. Yeah, I can’t see anything either. The twins are so big now and so crowded in there that their little bodies are all curled up and overlapping and it’s impossible to really get a sense of what you’re looking at, at least for a lay person like me. But there above is Baby B’s femur (overlapping his own torso and his sister’s) and Baby A’s foot, which is constantly kicking me right below my right ribs.

At this point the main purpose of our ultrasounds is to measure the babies’ growth. As far as I know, we want to make sure they’re both still growing (not restricted by space, for example) and that one isn’t outpacing the other. The latter is a bigger concern with twins who are sharing a placenta and ours aren’t because they’re fraternal twins, but they still like to check this. They also check amniotic fluid levels and heartbeats. All of that was looking great!

The babies are measuring a little ahead of schedule at 3lbs 4 oz for Baby A (our girl) and 3lbs 1oz for Baby B (our boy), which means they’re measuring at 30-31 weeks and in the 60s for percentile. Not too shabby, babies! The ultrasound tech also told me that Baby A has, apparently, a huge head. It’s measuring 33 weeks and in the 97th percentile. With twins and other multiples, Baby A is so named because he/she is the baby closest to the cervix, who therefore will be born first in a vaginal delivery. So. Big old head on Baby A. Fun.

The caveat here, of course, is that ultrasound measurements like these are notoriously unreliable. Basically every woman I know who has been pregnant has said that her baby’s weight/size estimates were waaaaay off from what the baby actually weighed at birth. In this particular case, with Baby A’s head being down, my tech had a difficult time and needed to maneuver around for quite a while to get the head measurement, which suggests to me it might not be all that accurate.

When you are over 35 and pregnant with twins, you get A LOT of ultrasounds.

Doctor’s Visit: My doctor’s first words when she saw me post-ultrasound: “You grow some big babies!” Okay then. She says it has to do with maternal height — I’m 5’9″ and the kiddos have a lot of room to grow in there, so they do.

We also talked about delivery. Right now, both babies are head down, which is ideal for trying a vaginal birth. If Baby A is breech or transverse on delivery day, a C-section will be necessary. If Baby A is head down but Baby B is breech or transverse, though, we are in a bit of a gray area. My doctor told me she wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable trying a breech extraction by herself (where they basically reach up in there and grab the baby’s foot!), but she would be if she had either of two other doctors in the practice to call for back-up (there are many doctors in the practice, but only two who are super experienced with breech extractions on a second twin). So. It looks like in that case, a C-section might be likely to happen as well. I am okay with it either way. But, much like everything else in life, I just wish I knew ahead of time!

Coming Up: We have Fall Break this week, which means a four-day weekend! Hopefully we will have time to get some progress made on the last few remaining baby things, most of which I can do sitting down:

  • Finish the bird mobile
  • Find a spot in our bedroom for the Pack-N-Play bassinet thingy
  • Learn how to properly install the car seats
  • Hang up art in the nursery
  • Touch up the paint on the changing table
  • Go on a date or something!

Realistically, we might get half of those things done. We’ll see!

28 Weeks: Hello, Third Trimester!

Twenty-Eight big ones! All my sources agree this week: we are officially in the third trimester! Also, at this point, I have no more than ten weeks to go until these babies are born. It’s starting to feel like it’s soon — though I know that these weeks will feel like they’re going by incredibly slowly.

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I’m officially big enough that when random people see me they think I’m about to have a baby any minute now, but when people find out I’m having twins they say I don’t look “big enough” for twins. I suppose the average person on the street has a fairly narrow view of what a pregnant woman’s body should look like at any given time — and I highly suspect the mental point of reference is someone with the lanky body of a model who appears to have a small pumpkin under her shirt. No idea where people would get that idea.

The Babies are the Size of: Two coconuts. Okay, is it just me or does a coconut seem smaller to you than a butternut squash, which is what they were two weeks ago? My other app claims they’re two eggplants, or about 13-14 inches long and 1.5-2.5 pounds. So there you go.

How I’m Doing: The swelling has begun, y’all. My rings are officially tight. It’s very difficult to remove them, but at this point I still can. I’m wondering if I should stop wearing them soon, though, before they start to get so tight they’re painful and/or completely stuck? I don’t trust any chains I have for wearing them around my neck — necklaces seem so flimsy I’m afraid I’d lose them! What to do?

In other news, I am experiencing some real trouble reaching and/or seeing certain of my body parts at this point. Self pedicures are impossible as is any pruning of the downstairs shrubbery. Leg shaving still works, but it seems it may only be possible for a limited time yet. I’m okay with just letting my southern territories go to seed, though, really. I’d appreciate it if the weather would at least cooperate — If I’m going to grow out my leg hair, at least let me have consistent jeans/trousers weather, am I right?!

Braxton Hicks contractions are still a thorn in my side, though I haven’t had any more days as bad as last Monday. I’m thankful for that. Just keeping my activity level minimal and trying to stay cool and hydrated.

Eating: I might be overdoing it on sweets, y’all. I ate so many petits fours at the baby shower that Baby A and Baby B were on a sugar-crazed dance party for the entire afternoon. I’ve also done away with a huge bag of fun-sized Snickers in the last week (though I may have had some help at home with those). I am in a mild state of fear over how hard it’s going to be to get off the white horse come January. Phew.

In other food news, I made pulled pork BBQ in the crock pot at home and it was SO EASY and SO GOOD and SO WEIRD. Pork BBQ is one of the only meats I have consistently missed in my vegetarian years, and now that I am eating some meat to help me meet my protein goals for this twin pregnancy, I figured I should certainly have some. It’s just…me? cooking meat? in my home? Ack. This is one indulgence I truly look forward to giving up after the birth. It’s tasty, but meat-eating on the whole is not really for me.

Doctor’s Appointment: I had a quick check-up yesterday that consisted just of listening to the heartbeats (which I love to hear!) and doing all the weigh-in, blood-pressure, urine-screening stuff they do every time. Everything looks good! I’ve gained 45 pounds so far, which, is pretty good — enough, but not terribly too much. But now that I’m definitely starting to retain more water, I expect the final tally to be even higher than I would have originally predicted. I’d been thinking it would be close to 50-55 lbs, but I think it’ll be more like 60+. I’m trying to see it as a good thing.

Coming Up: We have a growth ultrasound next week! I am trying to guess how much the babies will (be estimated to) weigh by then. I think between 2.5-3 lbs is my official guess. We shall see!

Freshly Showered

This past weekend we had our baby shower. One thing I read early in my pregnancy that stuck with me was this warning: women who are pregnant with twins should try to have their baby showers by the end of the second trimester, in case they get put on restricted activity or bed rest later in the pregnancy. Well, we barely squeaked it in under the wire at 27 weeks 6 days and even now I was happy to be able to sit down for most of the time. So glad we didn’t wait any longer!
me & Becky
My friend B. was one of the co-hosts — that’s us above. She’s also expecting a baby and is about two weeks ahead of me, which means if we both make it all the way, her to 40 weeks and me to 38, our babies might be born around the same time!

The weekend was extra fun because my BFF C. came to town for the weekend. She and her family had just visited us over Labor Day but she made the 5-hour drive again a month later to be here for the baby shower, because she is awesome like that.

Claire Gets Froggy
In the photo above, she’s working on making a onesie. My friend E., one of the other co-hosts, had set up an amazing custom onesie station with help from her mom, who has a machine that cuts out iron-on transfers in any shape. They had put together tons of cute images and designs and had gathered a collection of onesies in a range of sizes for shower guests to decorate. You can see some of the finished products below:

Onesie Station

They came out SO WELL. Please allow me to humbly suggest this activity for any baby showers you might be planning — it’s fun and creative but doesn’t require any drawing skills, and people can come and make things if they feel like it, but it’s low pressure for those who don’t necessarily want to get involved in an activity. MUCH better than those measure-the-belly or poopy-chocolate-diaper games you always hear about at baby showers, I think we can all agree. Bonus, now Baby A and Baby B have some fun additions to their wardrobe in every size from newborn to 6-12 months!

The one thing I sort of dreaded about the baby shower was the public opening of gifts. As narcissistic as I may appear online, in person I am a serious introvert and hate being the center of attention. My friends know this about me, though, so we made it pretty low key and waited until a lot of folks had left and it was a smaller crew remaining before we started the gifts.

Look, it wasn’t even so bad:

Opening Gifts

People were so generous with us, I’m a bit overwhelmed and misty just thinking about it. Even our far-away friends and family have been keeping our mail carrier busy for the past week delivering all sorts of gifts. We have basically everything we will need or want to get started now, thanks to our loving family and friends.

Some people even thoughtfully included a few items just for us, for coping during the crazy newborn days — one couple gave us a basket full of teas and fancy chocolate, and another gave us a set of unbreakable stemless wine glasses. You KNOW that stuff is going to get used!

Our Awesome Hosts!
Here we are with our awesome hosts E, CW, Me, B, and CB (plus an adorable cameo by our friend K’s daughter, who jumped in at the last second and is honestly just the cutest).

Big thank you to everybody near and far who made it such a fun and special occasion!

27 Weeks: Big Times

27 Weeks along, with just a maximum of 11 left to go. When the remaining weeks are down to the single digits, I’m probably going to start panicking. As of now, I’m cool. Staying cool. That’s right. Reeeeeeeeal coooool.

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Serious question, though: is it the second or the third trimester?! No one seems to know. My Ovia app says second, to my great dismay. I had been hoping to open it up Sunday morning and have it excitedly bleat “THIRD TRIMESTER” at me, but it did not. My secondary (and lesser) app (The Bump) says nothing on the subject. Amalah’s Alphamom pregnancy calendar says third trimester. I would like to go with Amalah on this one, but I am going to wait until next week to make it official. I sure feel like I’m in the third, though, boy howdy.

The Babies are the Size of: Two bunches of bananas. They’re nice and big, all righty, and getting bigger. Just the way we like it! I bought myself a big bunch of bananas this week, as a matter of fact, and have been eating one every morning. Should I, or should I not be eating the fruit/vegetable from the current week’s size comparison? Too creepy?

How I’m Doing: I had a really hard day Monday. I was having strong, more painful than usual Braxton Hicks contractions all day long, but they were especially bad anytime I was standing or walking, and they took a long time to calm down when I was resting. On the walk to my car from my office at the end of the day, which takes me about 10-12 minutes, I had at least three big ones, for example. It was pretty unsettling. When I got to the car, I called my OB’s office and they wanted me to come in, but couldn’t get me an appointment until much later in the afternoon, and it was with another doctor in the practice. I went home and lay down in bed and the BH slowed down, which was a relief, but when I got back up to get ready to head to the doctor’s office, they started back up again and stayed really regular at every 10 minutes. The doctor checked my cervix, found it wasn’t dilated, and basically sent me on my way. Some of the things he said: we could tell I wasn’t in pre-term labor right then, but couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t go into it later. Nothing has really been proven to prevent pre-term labor, even bed rest. I should be reasonable about my activity level. Okay then. I guess that’s as reassuring as he could be.

I spent the next day working from home (as usual on Tuesdays) and barely got up from the couch. I didn’t do any of the household stuff I had planned/needed to do, just stayed there with my laptop doing course prep and grading. I felt MUCH better and barely had any contractions all day (until after dinner when I was helping clean up and do dishes, which I won’t be doing again).

Today, I was back on campus and in the classroom. I really wanted to avoid another day like Monday, so I found out about the school’s campus shuttle for people who have mobility problems or accessibility issues, which I can take from the parking deck to my building and back every day. I also stayed seated for most of my class time and minimized walking around the building. On a normal teaching day, I have been getting 8-9K steps, but today I am only at 4K so far and I feel MUCH better. I still have BH when I’m up and walking around, but they’ve been minimal/infrequent and quick to settle down — basically just like how I was feeling last week.

I was relieved to feel so much better after a day of inactivity, but it’s also hard to deal with psychologically. I went from running, to not being able to run but still walking for exercise, to not being able to walk but still getting around at work, to taking the shuttle at work but still being able to teach. Let’s hope we don’t go to the next logical step in that progression.

WHEW. Sorry for the extensive exploration of the topic. I guess it’s just that I knew things would be really hard when November rolled around — and December, if we make it there–, but I wasn’t expecting October to be this hard. And, hey, it’s not even October yet.

Movement: The babies are going to TOWN all the time now. During class today, I could look down and see my belly moving super clearly. I wonder if my students noticed?

Eating: I feel like I am not eating nearly as much now as I was in the beginning. I’m still probably getting a lot of calories in but I just can’t eat a lot of volume at the moment. CW is making cheeseburgers for dinner tonight, though, so that should be pretty great. I may have to eat half of it now and half of it in an hour or two, though. Squashed stomach problems.

Coming Up: BFF Claire is coming to town this weekend and we are having the baby shower on Saturday! I never had a wedding shower and we didn’t use a wedding registry, so this whole idea of registering for things and then having people just…buy them for us is kind of novel. A little weird, a little fun, very wonderful. But more on that later!