Monday, February 27, 2006

February 27, 2006

My little boy spent is first night away from home without Mommy or Daddy this weekend.

The three of us met Todd's parents in Luling (you don't know where Luling is? Where have you been? It's about 60 miles east of San Antonio) where we gave them our little bear and all of his accoutrements on Saturday morning. We stood and watched as the green minivan drove off toward Yoakum, taking Devin off to a fun-filled weekend with Grandma and Grandpa.

It went well. Maybe a little too well. He didn't miss us at all! Now he talked a LOT on the phone with us on Saturday night and told us he loved us and missed us, but apparently, not even a tear was shed in missing dear ol' Mom or Dad. Bittersweet. He returned to us on Sunday, completely tired out. Apparently, he had lots and lots of fun!

It was a good trial, though. We know we'll need to rely a LOT on our family members once I check into Methodist Hospital and Resort (chort, chort...). So now we know that he'll do fine without us, whether we like it or not.

I had an appointment with my OB, Dr. Harden today. I mentioned to her that I have been having some contracts lately, although they are very mild and very sporadic.

YIKES! Don't tell your OB this kind of stuff unless you're ready for the wrath of God! Actually, she was very nice, but said in no uncertain terms that I have got to slow it down and take it easy. Easier said than done, there, Dr. H. But I'll see what I can do.

She did a cervix check (by the way, for those of you who don't have kids, you'll find when you or your wife does get pregnant, you'll be slinging around words like "cervix," "vagina," and "penis," like you are saying "meatball," or "dog") and found that I have not dialated any (thankfully), but that the cervix is softening (the pre-curser to dialting). Apparently, I'll be spending a lot more time on the couch. Well shucks...

I see Dr. Higby on Thursday for another marathon ultrasound. More updates then.

Love to all...

Monday, February 20, 2006

February 20, 2006

Okay -- let's talk names, shall we?

Originally, when we were only shocked by the fact that we were having one baby, we were going to have little Delaney Elizabeth or Maximillian (Max) Joseph as the latest addition to our family.

Then came December 9, 2005 when we saw the two heartbeats (recalling that moment still takes my breath away!) and that changed everything! Suddenly, we needed four names to fulfill our needs!

So they became Delaney Elizabeth and Tatum Marie or Liam Thomas and Connor Joseph. We dropped Maximillian because we didn't think it sounded right with any other boy name. How can you have one twin named Max and have any other name live up to it? Unless we named Baby B "Rex" or something of the like, we were going to have to give up on the name Max.

So there we were -- set with names! They were perfect, cute and gave just the sound we were looking for. And they all sounded pretty good with "Pruetz" -- not any easy task with such an unusual and highly mispronounced last name.

But then the bomb dropped: You have may have a really high-risk pregnancy on your hands.

And then the second bomb: You do have a really high-risk pregnancy on your hands.

Well this changed everything -- AGAIN. Suddenly we were staring down the barrel of a gun. By this time, we knew we were having girls and they were possibly slipping away without our ever knowing it.

Our community and our faith jumped more to the forefront of our lives than it had ever been. We began (and still are) praying fervently, without fail, and cherished those who did the same. Everyone we knew became a prayer warrior for us and we felt, and continue to feel, more blessed than we've ever felt before.

But that made us think about the names. Delaney and Tatum are adorable names -- we just loved them. But did they really speak to us? In light of the situation, should we consider something else -- something that really captured who these girls are?

So then it happened: Faith and Hope. It's what was going to be needed to get these girls here -- a lot of faith and hope on our parts and the parts of all of our community. They seemed perfect.

But they weren't. Something kept me from telling everyone that we had named our girls. Maybe it seemed too cliche or maybe it was because there is a TV show named, "Faith and Hope." Regardless, it just didn't seem right.

So one day, Todd and I were talking and I said, "I'm just not sold on Faith and Hope as names. I don't know why." He agreed and we talked about it.

Then it hit us: Grace. That's what we're missing! We need our faith and we need God's grace to get these girls here! Of course, we will always have hope, but hope isn't accomplished without faith and the grace of the Lord is what we're counting on!

So I'm happy to announce, with no apprehension at all, that our two little girls will proudly bear the names Faith Elizabeth and Grace Marie.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

February 16, 2006

I have two (count 'em TWO) appointments this week: Monday I saw my OB, Dr. Harden and on Tuesday I saw my perinatologist, Dr. Higby. Here's how it went (because I know you're all hanging on my every word, wondering anxiously just how each of my doctor's appointment went).

Dr. Harden
I was lucky that ZZ went with me when Todd couldn't. Remember, Dr. H delivered Z's twins, Kaelin and Brendan and she came very highly recommended by Z, among a number of others.

This time, I did not wait for an hour for her, but was brought in within minutes! Woo hoo!

Vitals were taken (I gained weight!) and I was plopped in a room. Dr. H walked in shortly after, took at look at my chart, rolled her little doctor chair over to me and said,

"I know Dr. Higby spoke to you about the situation, how critical it is and how little we can do. We need to talk about when you'll go into the hospital. I wouldn't go past 26 weeks."

This put a lump in my throat -- I was thinking more like 28 or 29 weeks, just because I'm not sure I believe the girls should be born that early. We discussed mortality and morbidity rates (NOT something you want to talk about regarding your children, by the way) and told us that the best course of action would be to talk to Dr. Ortiz, the chief neo-natologist at Methodist (where I'll deliver) so he could give us better insight into what to do and when to do it.

I was crying a little and she asked me, "Do you believe in a higher power?" I said, "Definitely" and ZZ quipped, "She's an ACTS sister." ACTS is the women's retreat movement that I've been a part of for nearly four years now. Apparently, Dr. Harden is a sister, too!

She started to quote scripture, telling me to walk with the Word, let my faith be my guide and to be stronger in Christ than I have ever been. I couldn't believe it -- it was one of the best doctor's appointments I've ever had. I just felt so good that she was not only worried about my physical health, but my mental and spiritual health as well. I couldn't be happier.

We did a Level I ultrasound (Z called it the machine that they used on Moses) and saw two heartbeats. That's about all we could see, so we were dismissed.

Dr. Higby
After my awesome appointment with Dr. Harden, I was excited to see the girls on a better, Level II machine.

Again, we were whisked into the room very quickly and the ultrasound was started immediately. There they were, face-to-feet, facing one another, beating the heck out of one another. I couldn't believe I couldn't feel all that movement. I feel a kick here or there, but nothing like what's REALLY happening inside me!

The ultrasound lasted for two hours! It was so long because every time they went to make a measurement, someone's foot would be in the way, an arm would cross into the photo etc.

We got to see Baby A a few times in 3-D. Amazing. I hope I make it to where we can do 3-D and you can really see faces and features. I can't wait!

Dr. Higby came in and we talked about growth (both girls are doing well -- Baby A measured at 17w, 4d and Baby B measured at 17w 5d. At the time of the sonogram, I was 18w, 2d, so they're right on track!), blood flow (all looked well), heart rates (again, everything seemed good) and a lot of other stuff.

Then we talked about the hospital. When to go in, what we'll do, etc. We're looking at 27 weeks, which would be on April 16 -- Easter Sunday. He told us he'd give us one day and let us go in on Monday, April 17. :)

It's not finalized yet - we still need to talk to Dr. Ortiz and Monsignor Fater to get a little more insight into 26 weeks vs. 27 weeks vs. 28 weeks, etc... But I'm guessing it will be around then.

So what does this mean to me? Well, a lot. If I go in at 27 weeks and everything goes well, I'll be there for five weeks, until 32, when Dr. Harden will deliver the babies. After 32 weeks, the risks inside the womb are greater than the risks outside the womb. Can you believe it?

So what do I do with my time in the hospital? Well, that's where you come in! Expect a lot of phone calls and emails (if I can get my hands on a good laptop -- mine ranks up there with Dr. Harden's ultrasound machine in age) from me. I don't know what I will do with all that time! Five weeks of sitting in bed. Now I like my relaxation, but I'm pretty sure doing nothing will get old in a matter of hours.

I'll take all sorts of suggestions on things to do to pass the time. Anything at all. Throw 'em out there. :)

All in all, life is good. I’m doing well (with some “moments” to speak of), the girls are doing well, Todd is doing well and Devin is a devil-in-disguise. I just love it.

I'll keep you posted. Any news can be found here!


Friday, February 10, 2006

February 10, 2006

Happy Birthday, Vanessa! You had one month of still being 29 while I was already 30, but it's all over now! Face it sister...we're old.

Well, it's been a week since the Mo/Mo diagnosis and I thought I should at least post something to let everyone know that I am still functioning.

I won't lie; it's been a hard week. Friday the 3rd was awful as I spent the whole day worrying about my two little girls. Todd took the day off and picked up Devin and I left work around 10:30, so at least I got some extra family time with my favorite boys.

Saturday was hard, too, as I didn't have work to keep my mind off of things and I had lots of time to think, think, think. Sunday was awful -- I knew it would be. Mass is always emotional for me for the zillion reasons I love being Catholic, but, of course, since God works in such a way that He's always talking to you, always giving you what you need when you need it, this Mass was especially hard because the first reading was from Job, talking all about his trials and tests and how his faith in the Lord never ceased.

It didn't take long for me to start crying. And once it started, it hardly stopped. By the time Communion rolled around (the high point of the Mass for just about every Catholic out there), I was a basket case. I was in such outward disrepair that a very nice man two rows behind me sent Kleenex up to me. What an angel.

It didn't help, either, that I had a large community of men and women who wanted to stop and hug me on their way back from the altar, giving me signs of blessings and whispers of prayers. I was overwhelmed by the love that I received, but it also just made me break down that much more.

As the week wore on, things got a little better. This week was our yearly church mission, where a visiting, Redemptorist priest (our pastor is a Redemptorist, so go figure) comes to speak each night for four nights on a number of different topics -- forgiveness, healing, faith, etc. Well, needless to say, each night spoke to me in a different way and by the time I got home, I was emotionally drained.

Now don't get me wrong -- all of these cathartic moments have led to a somewhat more stable Erin. I am seeing things more clearly now and am starting to get a hold of just what it is I need to do.

The truth is, between now and early May, there just isn't much that can be done. It's just a wait-and-see game. All we can do is pray that the girls don't twist and turn so much that they cause their already entwined umbilical cords to compress and cut off circulation to one another.

Of course, once we hit 26 weeks, then the hard part begins. If we make it that far, we have to make the decision as to when I am admitted into the hospital for 24/7 monitoring.

I grapple with this a lot. 26 weeks is just around the time that a baby can survive outside the mother. But it's not without its complications. A 26-weeker has a 60% chance of survival and a 30% chance of major life-long illnesses. So...the question of the week is, "Does just because a baby can be born at 26 weeks, mean he or she should be born at 26 weeks?"

I think my answer is, "No." I just don't think I can risk subjecting my children to lives of pain and suffering just because I said, "Well...I think they should be born.

Of course, there are inherent risks here. What if I wait until 30 weeks and they die at 29 weeks. Will I ever forgive myself? Can I live with my decision, if it results in death for both of the girls?

It's not an easy predicament to be in. But here is the good news: Statistically speaking, none of you will ever have this happen or ever know anyone else that this will happen to. Apparently, it's a one in 15.5 million chance of conceiving Mo/Mo twins.

As Sylvia put it, "Way to over-achieve, Erin!"

Your love, emails, prayers and support have been something that is just hard explain. I've never felt more guided, more touched or more blessed. It's true that when God closes a door, He opens a window. This window is a huge one for me, where I am being allowed to see the most beautiful of the blessings the Lord has to offer and these blessings are all coming in the form of friends and family. I just couldn't have a better life, despite the possibility of a huge loss.

Thank you to all of you. You are loved by the Pruetz family just as you are loving us. May He keep you and everyone you know in the palm of His hand the way He is holding us.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Februrary 3, 2006

Here is the post we've all been waiting for: What was the diagnosis of the Pruetz twins?

Well, I won't lie -- it's not good. The diagnosis is Mo/Mo, which means that the girls (yes, girls!) are in one amniotic sac, sharing one placenta. The risks are high -- about as high as you can get with a twin pregnancy. The only higher risk possible would be Mo/Mo triplets, quadruplets, etc...

So here is what Mo/Mo means:

1. Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS): Where one twin gets over-nourished from the shared placenta and the other twin gets undernourished. This is the lowest risk.
2. Cord Entanglement: Where their umbilical cords become entangled around one another and all it takes is one of them to make a sharp movement. As soon as they do, they compress the cord (there is already some cord compression) and cut off blood supplies to both of them. Death is imminent.

There is nothing we can do now, as even if we saw entanglement happening, the only cure is to do a c-section and they are too young to survive outside the womb. We have to wait until 26 weeks (I'm currently 16 weeks and gestation is 40 weeks). 26 weeks it the magic number, as that is when a baby is viable outside the womb. 26 weeks still only carries around a 30% chance of survival.

Then it becomes our call as to what we would like to do. As soon as we say we're ready, I'll be placed in the hospital for 24/7 monitoring and will remain there until one of two things happen: the twins show signs of distress or I reach 32 weeks.

Our doctor was honest with us (which I really appreciate -- this is not a time for sugar-coating) in telling us that this is "Not good - not good at all. If you are going to have twins, this is definitely the situation you want the least." Apparently, it's so rare that the average doctor won't see a set of Mo/Mo twins in his or her entire career. It's about 1 in 60,000 identical twin births. Identical twins are 1 in 258 births.

The truth is, all hope is not lost, but we stand a higher risk of losing both babies than keeping one or both. It's just that critical.

I'm doing okay. I cried a lot of tears upon our exit from the doctor's office and while I managed to keep it together at a meeting today, I lost it in my boss' office when I told her the news. Thankfully, she was warm, supportive and said all of the right things.

Todd is doing about the same. He's my rock, as he always has been, and is being so strong for all of us. But I know he's hurting inside, especially since he's always wanted girls. Please keep him in your prayers.

It's easier for me to type about this situation than it is for me to talk about it, so please, if you'd like to talk, email me. It's not that I wouldn't love to hear the sound of your voice and have a conversation with you, but I just can't cry anymore. I don't think I have any tears left!

If you pray, your prayers are appreciated. If you believe in cosmic energy, then good vibes are appreciated. Whatever you can spare, we'll take it.

Thank you all for your support and love. Todd and I are already (less than 24 hours post diagnosis!) overwhelmed by the incredible outpouring of friendship we've received. We're surrounded by angels and are so blessed.