Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31, 2006

I have a very interesting "comment" on yesterday's post -- it seems that my good friend, Karen Blake, wants to see photos of me at this rather large state-of-the-game. Hah!

Actually, though, I think it might be funny to put a side-by-side comparison of photos of me up on this blog. I have a photo of myself the day I went in to have Devin at 38 weeks. I'll take another, similar photo of my belly now at 24 weeks with twins and let you all see the real comparison. The only real difference will be the amount of grey in my hair!

Stay tuned...the photo of me pregnant with Devin is actually a printed photo (something you rarely see these days!), so I'll have to get it scanned. Our scanner bit the dust years ago. I'll get Todd to take a photo of me this weekend and, with a little luck, I'll get the two pictures posted on Monday!

Have a great weekend. Stay safe.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 30, 2006

Yesterday was the day o' doctor's appointments: Dr. Higby at 8:15 and Dr. Harden at 10:15. Todd went with me to both and we ended up getting to spend half a day together -- ALONE! What a treat, even if I did spend a lot of it sitting on a table with the hubby in a chair next to me...

Both appointments went well. Dr. Higby appointments are always more exciting in that we get the details on both girls. We did a quick measurement of my belly and I am measuring at about 35 weeks. Remember: my 6 lb, 14 oz, 19 inch single-birth son was born at 38 weeks. That ought to give you an idea of my size. If the word "Whale" came to mind, you're right on target.

Again, the girls are looking great. Good movement (we got to see Grace yawn, which is no big deal in real life, but when you see it from inside your uterus, it's pretty cool!), good blood flow, good sizes and weights.

Faith: 1 lb, 7 oz, measuring at 24 weeks and 1 day
Grace: 1 lb, 8 oz, measuring at 24 weeks and 2 days

(At the time of the appointment, I was 24 weeks and 3 days)

We talked with Dr. Higby about the hospital and the probability of an "urgent" c-section (where they will do one quickly, but I'll have enough time to call Todd, have an epidural and be awake for the whole thing) vs. an "emergent" c-section (where I'll be knocked cold and Todd will get a phone call that says, "Congratulations, Dad!"). According to Dr. H, either can happen and it will more likely be one of the above vs. scheduled. There's just no way to know, but at least there is a chance that Todd will be there. It stresses me out to think he may not be there...

We left Dr. Higby's office and had some time to kill, so we decided to go over to the Lactation Place and buy the support girdle that Dr. Higby had been hounding me to wear.

Oh my Lord...I am actually wearing the thing pictured at the top of this page.

Todd and I were nearly in hysterics as I was tying it on! It's made from just about the strongest elastic you can imagine and I nearly sling-shot myself across the room trying to get it on. I managed to get it on backwards and inside out before I ever actually got it on correctly.

But, lo and behold, if the darn thing doesn't actually work! My back aches significantly less and I have a lot less strain on my hips! Thankfully, the thing is pretty well concealed beneath my clothing and if I weren't such a self-deprecating person, no one would ever know it was present. But since I can't keep my mouth shut, you all get the joys of knowing about my supportive undergarments.

After we bought "the contraption" (as it has come to be known in our house), we headed over to Dr. Harden's office. The last time I had an appointment, I saw the nurse practitioner, so we had four weeks of catching up to do.

We talked about the visit we had with the neonatologist at Methodist Hospital and told Dr. Harden that we'd decided on April 17 as our admit date.

We discussed the very bizarre Braxton-Hicks contractions I've been having (BH contractions are contractions that don't dilate your cervix, but that do cause a lot of pressure on your uterus from time to time. They are basically harmless.) that are localized to only one quadrant of my belly! She didn't seem alarmed by the whole thing, but did check my cervix to make sure I wasn't dilating. Nope -- I'm still as closed up as Fort Knox, which is good news.

I also had a Fetal Nectin test done. I had never heard this combination of words in my entire pregnancy (or last pregnancy), but apparently it's an indicator of whether or not you'll go into labor in the next two weeks. It's a pretty unreliable indicator, though. Check out the statistics...

If negative: 96% chance that you WON'T go into labor in the next 14 days
If positive: 50/50% chance that you WILL go into labor in the next 14 days

WHAT? Does this make sense to anyone? If it does, will you explain it to me? I realize that this is just something to rule out pre-term labor, but it seems that it's pretty ridiculous if it comes back positive. Anyway, it had me laughing, but I guess it means something to Dr. Harden...otherwise she wouldn't test for it. I guess. :)

We also talked about our 27-week decision. She asked, "Does this mean that if you go into pre-term labor or we sense some distress in the babies during one of your visits, you don't want to intervene?"

Boy, am I glad she asked that question, because she's got it all wrong.

"No," we told her, "We would want to intervene if there was any sort of indication of distress or pre-term labor. We just don't want to do intensive, 24/7 monitoring until we hit 27 weeks on April 17."

I am so glad we have that cleared up. I can't imagine sitting there in either Dr. Higby or Dr. Harden's offices and seeing my girls struggling to live, but not doing anything about it. It makes me shudder...

Anyway, that's the long and the short of my two appointments. I see Dr. Harden again next week, so I'll have more to say then, if not sooner.

Until then, thanks for reading.


Monday, March 20, 2006

March 20, 2006

Last week brought my usual every-two-weeks doctors' appointments, but I haven't been able to write about them until now.

Thankfully, there's nothing much to write! I saw Dr. Higby on Thursday and we had our marathon ultrasound (this one was the shortest of them all, though, at 45 minutes). The babies are both looking good, although they're moving an awful lot. More than I am comfortable with, really. The less they move, the less chance of one of them tugging too hard on an umbilical cord!

Baby A (Faith) is measuring 1 lb. 1 oz. and Baby B (Grace) is measuring 1 lb. even. Perfect -- the less discrepancy in their weight, the better our chances are for escaping TTTS.

Both girls are tracking along, too, in relation to gestation. Essentially, I have two regular-sized babies growing inside me. Scary. I'm huge. I'm easily as big as I was when I was 8.5 months pregnant with Devin. YIKES.

My appointment with Dr. Harden was on Friday. She was out, so I saw the nurse-practitioner. Just a quick ultrasound and an update on my weight (I'm finally gaining!) and stats. I was out of there in no time. No muss, no fuss.

My appointment with Dr. Higby did afford me the opportunity to ask a number of questions that have been weighing on my mind, especially since my "unfortunate incarceration" with the flu two weeks ago.

First, I wanted to know if I was going to have to be stuck with an IV in my hand the whole time I'm there. Now I understand why I needed it for the dehydration issue, but I couldn't imagine why I would need it if all I were there to do was be monitored.

Still, a few women on my Mo/Mo support group page mentioned that they had Hep-Locks (the port in your hand in which the IV plugs in) for the duration of their stays. Although it's not like being tethered to your bed with an actual IV, it's still no fun to have a two-inch needle in your hand.

Luckily, Dr. Higby assured me that unless I need an IV for something like fluids or IV drugs, they won't keep an IV or a Hep-Lock in me. Whew! That was my biggest concern. It's hard to even wash your face or brush your teeth with one of those in!

He also assured me that I would be able to wear my own clothes and not the hospital gowns (Old Navy here I come for a new set of cotton boxer shorts!) and that I can eat whatever I want, barring that I don't develop diabetes. There is no indication that I will develop gestational diabetes, so I'm looking forward to Todd sneaking some contraband in for me.

Additionally, during the times that I am not being monitored (I'll be given monitoring sessions three times a day at first), I can do whatever I want. Take a walk, take a long, hot shower, etc. He even mentioned that Dr. Harden may be willing to give me a pass or two giving me "temporary parole" to leave the hospital for an hour or two. You have no idea how excited that makes me. Sadly.

The monitoring sessions will be the most interesting part of my stay, though. Technically, each one should last an hour, should all go well. They will chart both babies' heart rates and monitor for any sort of contractions. If all goes well for 60 minutes, then I'm free to move about the cabin ... er ... hospital room.

But, if they start to see decelerations in one or both babies' heart rates, then they'll continue to monitor past the one hour mark. Some decelerations are normal, but if they happen consistently or the heartrates stay up or down for long periods of time, then it could be time for an emergency c-section.

Nurses come in, get the IV started and I'm out the door. Apparently, the record for my doctor is eight minutes. That's EIGHT minutes from the time they say, "We need to take the babies," to the time the girls are in their warmers. Eight minutes. That's pretty impressive, considering everything that has to happen to get me to the operating room.

1. IV and sedate me
2. Roll me down to the OR
3. Get me hooked up to all of the machines
4. Slice me open
5. Untangle all of the cords (one set of Mo/Mo twins took over 30 minutes to untangle!)
6. Get Faith out
7. Get Grace out

I'm no math genius, but that's about one step per minute. I could be that person being run down the hall with doctors yelling, "MOVE!" just like on my favorite TV show, "ER." And I am just positive that "ER" is just like real-life hospitals. :)

Now please don't get me wrong. I would prefer my children never go into distress and that this never happens to me. I'll be out cold, anyway, so I won't know the difference. But I would definitely prefer that May 21 rolls around and my doctors say, "Well, Erin, you've gotten to 32 weeks! Your husband is here and we're ready to go. What do you say we have these babies?"

So, I'm feeling a little better about my pending stay. I'm still not thrilled with the idea, but when Dr. Higby invited me to just "move on in" and make myself comfortable, I realized that no one thinks this is some sort of party. They all understand that this is incredibly hard on anyone -- especially a devoted mom and wife -- and they will do their best to make me feel comfortable.

I guess I can't ask for more than that.

Updates as I get 'em.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

March 9, 2006

Well here's a post I wasn't expecting to place. Guess where I just came from?

  • The beach? No...I wish!
  • An ultrasound appointment? No...believe it or not.
  • My front yard where I was talking over the hedges with my fellow "Desperate Houswives?", but a good guess.
  • The hospital?

    Ding! Ding! Ding! You win the prize.

    Ugh -- it's been a week.

    I woke up Monday morning feeling awful. I figured it was just the awful feeling I usually battle (you know, 21 weeks pregnant with twins) combined with a poor night's sleep. I got up, went to work and sat miserably at my desk.

    I went home to get some work done (I can't get anything done in my office - I have to go home to do it. But that's another story for another time...) and ended up on the couch, totally wiped out and feeling worse by the minute.

    Todd called me and said, "We're having computer issues and I have no desk, phone or machine. I'm coming home for lunch to kill some time. Want me to pick up Devin from school?"

    Oh yes, please. PLEASE. I promptly changed into my jammmies.

    Devin and Todd got home and I hugged them both briefly on my way to the bathroom to puke.

    And that kicked off a long chain of events. Puking. More puking. A little more puking. A nap. Puke. Moan quietly from the bedroom. Puke. Dry heave. Go to bed.

    I woke up on Tuesday morning and stood up. A mad dash to the bathroom resulted in more puking. Where was this stuff coming from? I hadn't eaten or had anything to drink in 24 hours.

    Then it hit me: I hadn't eaten or had anything to drink in 24 hours. Uh oh.

    The contractions started. This was not good. So I called my doctor and they said, "To the hospital with you!"

    So I called Todd (who was at work) and told him that I was going to Methodist. He suggested that he come home and get me but he works only blocks from the Medical Center where the hospital is. I told him to just meet me there in the Antepartum department -- I'd drive myself.

    So I did and we met right where we said we would. The orders were faxed over from Dr. Harden's office and I was placed in room 154 and immediately plucked with an IV. Monitors were slapped to my tummy to watch for heartrates and contractions.

    Now when I was pregnant with Devin, I got dehydrated and was in the hospital for an afternoon, so when the nurse started talking about what I'd like for dinner that night, I had to stop and say, "Wait a long will I be here?"

    "Well, at least tonight."


    By this time, Todd had to leave to pick up Devin so I called and said, "At some point tonight, I'm going to need you to bring me some things. I'm not coming home!"

    I spent the rest of the day being pumped full of fluids. When after two full bags of saline, I still hadn't peed, there became a little bit of concern and I was tested for a bladder infection. Aren't you all so glad to hear about this?

    Finally, I had to go to the bathroom. By my calculations, it had been more than 18 hours. Pretty severe, apparently.

    But it seemed to be working and I spent countless hours watching TV and napping. All in all, it was a pretty comfortable stay, save the darn IV. I hope to God I don't have one of those when I'm being monitored. You can't do anything with one of those in your hand! I barely got my face washed!

    Todd and Devin came in around 7:00 to visit and bring me my essentials -- contacts case and solution, toothbrush, toothpaste. Devin let me borrow one of his stuffed animals so I wouldn't miss the cat too much.

    They had to leave around 7:40 to get D to bed and I cried when they left. I felt so lonely and all I wanted to do was be at home in my own bed. I thought I'd never fall asleep. It wasn't the most relaxing night of my life, to say the least.

    The next morning Dr. Harden came in to see me. I was negative for a bladder infection and was free to go after I finished up the bag of saline. She also arranged for one of the on-call neonatologists to come in and talk with Todd and me about viability and lifelong morbidity.

    Dr. Molina (the neonatologist)arrived around 9:00 a.m. and Todd shortly thereafter. She gave us a lot of good information and we discussed what we thought was right for monitoring and possibly intervening for the twins. It wasn't easy. Todd and I got within a week of one another, but came to an impasse. He wanted 26 weeks, I wanted 27 weeks. We argued and cried and finally decided on 27 weeks. April 17 -- the day after Easter. It's set. I hope we're right.

    I was monitored a little more and given my discharge papers. A little old gentleman from the Blue Bird Society (candy stripers, from what I can gather) came to my room with a wheelchair to take me to my car. I took one look at him and thought, "I should be wheeling YOU around!" He was a kind and sweet man, though. And pretty strong to be pushing me and my two girls around.

    He wheeled me to the front desk where my parking was validated, to the garage, to the elevators and up to the 3rd floor. From there, he helped me from the wheelchair and held me by the crook of my arm while I walked to my car. He even waited to see that it started for me.

    Now that's service!

    And with that, I drove myself home! Todd's parents came to stay with Devin and I arrived home to lots of hugs from the three of them. Oh boy, did it feel good to be home.

    I'm at work today, feeling much better. Co-workers keep bringing me bottles of water, so I don't think dehydration will be a problem again for awhile.

    Ahhh...the life that is Erin.

    Much love to all...

  • Monday, March 06, 2006

    March 6, 2006

    Wow -- what a consistent number of posts from me. How exciting. I hope I can keep it up, but I'm not sure I will always have such a large amount of news to share. I'll try...

    A couple of weeks ago, Monsignor Fater - the Pastor and sole priest of our church -- called me at home. I was expecting a call from our Youth Minister, so I was surprised when I heard him say, "Erin -- it's Father Doug!"

    He got right to the point: He said that he was holding our family and our babies in prayer every day and asked if he could perform the Sacrament, the Anointing of the Sick, on me (and subsequently the girls) at one of the Teen Masses.

    I was blown away. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is a beautiful and powerful sacrament, but Todd and I never even thought to have it performed. It really touched both of our hearts that with the large parish Father Fater has to lead, he still remembered us specifically and asked if he could anoint me. We enthusiastically said yes, of course.

    So last night we attended 5:30 Mass where Deacon Jerry did a great Homily (sermon) on Lent. He likened it to a "time out" in sports -- a time to take a break, step back, regroup and reevaluate your strategy. It made a lot of sense, but, again, Deacon Jerry usually does. He's an excellent speaker.

    After the Homily, Monsignor stood up and talked about life: about the sanctity of it and how it is our job to always respect it. He spoke of three older parishioners who are currently battling cancer and of his young niece who is struggling to survive breast cancer.

    But then he went into how life extends past those we see every day and that we always need to include the unborn.

    He went on to introduce me, "Our beloved Erin," (oh boy, as if I need a bigger head) and talk about our situation. He didn't mention Mo/Mo twins specifically, rather he just said that our twins are in peril and that they need lots of prayers.

    He invited Todd and I up to the altar (oh the relief that Todd would go with me -- I was dreading going up there alone!) where he introduced the Sacrament with the Chrism, or holy oil.

    He asked the congregation to raise their hands over us in prayer as he anointed both my forehead and hands with the Chrism.

    Then he asked the congregation to extend their arms outward, like a hug, to embrace us as he spoke another prayer about combining our sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus.

    It was a most overwhelming experience. I never cried. I never even felt like crying. Instead, I stood in front of 500 people and let their love and support wash over me. I felt the healing power of prayer, faith, belief and community enter my heart and peace filled my soul. It was incredible.

    I still don't know if the babies will be okay (I have a good feeling they will be, though), but I do know that The Pruetz family will go on no matter what happens. We are so surrounded by love and support that no one will let us fall. We are going to be okay. I can say that without a doubt.

    The real miracle showed itself, though, after Mass. We couldn't even leave the pew -- dozens of people approached us to give us their prayers. A good 1/3 of those people were complete strangers. Others were friends, acquaintances and loved ones affirming their prayers and support for us.

    In one instance, a woman approached me and said, "I'm not sure if you remember me, but you were my prayer partner on my ACTS retreat," (ACTS it the retreat movement that Todd and I have been involved in for nearly four years). She went on to tell me that the prayer candle I gave her on her retreat sits in her living room and every night she lights it and prays for me.

    I couldn't help but just lose it. I was so overwhelmed by this gesture. I had not seen this woman since her retreat and yet she is taking the time not only to pray for our girls, but to lift my family and me up in one of the most special of ways. I told her over and over again that I loved her. What else could I have said?

    Another woman walked up to me and said, "I was on bed rest for four months with my first child and my second was born at 28 weeks. St. Gerard and St. Jude were my Saints during these times and they allowed me two beautiful and healthy kids. I am starting novenas (nine day prayers) to them for your twins tonight."

    Again, tears flowed. This woman as a perfect stranger (her name, I later asked, is Bertha) and yet she feels compelled to pray not one but two novenas for the Pruetz twins. I hugged and hugged and hugged her. I didn't know what else to say but "Thank you. No words can express my gratitude."

    Everyday miracles happen all around us. I've seen more and more of them since the Mo/Mo diagnosis. Maybe they're happening more often or maybe I'm just finally seeing them. Either way, my life is so full right now. The love of my friends, my family and my community have been nothing short of a miracle and the Pruetz family will feel, for the rest of our lives, as though we were truly lifted up in the hardest times of our lives.

    If you're reading this, you're a member of this group. Thank you. There are no other words, but please know that you are never far from our hearts and that our prayers of thanks go out each day for every single one of you.

    Peace -- so, so much of it.


    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    March 2, 2006

    This morning was our perinatologist appointment with Dr. Higby. Great news! The babies are doing very, very well.

    Faith (Baby A) is measuring 20 weeks and 4 days while Grace (Baby B) is also measuring 20 weeks and 4 days. We couldn't be more excited because, as of today, I am 20 weeks and 4 days! They're right on track! (Betcha didn't see THAT coming!)

    Faith weighs 13 oz and Grace weighs 14 oz. The discrepancy in weight isn't enough to worry about, but if they get more than 20% apart, then we start to look for other signs of TTTS. As of now, though, they're doing well. Good heartrates, good bloodflow, very little (if any) cord compression.

    We got a 3-D image of the tangled mess of umblical cords. I'm going to see if Todd can scan it. You won't be able to believe it until you see it. The only thing I can liken it to is that collection of rubber bands that you have balled up in your office drawer. Only with less organization.

    The cords are, of course, a cause for concern, but there is nothing we can do about them. We just have to wait and see. The girls could be alive and well until they are born or be gone in two hours. It's just the reality of the situation.

    Looks like we're sticking with the April 17 date for hospital entry. That's 27 weeks, 1 day (I'm getting a one day reprieve so I can spend Easter with the fam). Todd and I will meet with one of the hospital's on-call Neonatologists next Thursday to talk more about lifelong morbidity and other complications that come with each week before 32 weeks.

    *A note on the names. ZZ asked me this question and I thought it was worth posting.

    If Baby A is Faith and Baby B is Grace, what happens if they switch places (they measure them by who is closest to the cervix)?

    Well, here's what happens if they switch places: They switch names. If I can't tell these girls apart outside the womb, how the heck am I supposed to tell them apart INSIDE the womb? I doubt they will be suffer any long-term mental anguish if they switch places and Faith becomes Grace and Grace becomes Faith. Whomever is born Baby A will be Faith and whomever is born Baby B will be Grace.

    Can you believe we have to think about this stuff?

    Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, cards, well-wishes and positive energy. Every bit counts and every bit has helped.