One Month Old!

Today marks 4 weeks since Isaac, Edith and Clementine were born! Here are some pictures from the first month of their life!

 

Checked in to Labor and Delivery for monitoring

 

The next day our trio was born!

Getting up to see them was not easy! C-section pain is intense.

Isaac was the only one who needed to be under the bili lights, and it was luckily only for a day.

First day of tandem holding! You have to have a brave nurse who doesn’t mind trying to do this.

I came in one day to a wonderful surprise: Isaac and Edith were doing so well they got to be moved to open air cribs! Clementine followed the next day.

Tandem kangaroo care. Good thing I wore a really stretchy dress that day!

Isaac and Edith both got to wear people clothes! Newborn size was super big on them, so I went and bought preemie size one.

Daddy got to do tandem kangaroo care too!

And then Clementine got to wear people clothes!

Isaac and Edith came home together and did a super great job in their car seats. David rode in the back with them while I drove us home.

Our first morning together. We discovered in the middle of the night that they really like to sleep in bed with us, so to get some sleep ourselves we let them.

Isaac was such a good big brother and held in his paci and sisters!

Then it was Clementine’s turn to come home! Someone in the elevator commented about how little she was and I got to explain for the first time that she was a preemie because she has a brother and sister who grew at the same time.

“We all want to be held! Hold us!!”

Some nice triplet snuggles, except for the part where Isaac is punching Clementine…

When you have to feed three babies throughout the night, it really helps to be prepared. Bottles get prepped every evening so we don’t have to worry about it in the middle of the night, we can just grab and go.

I got to snuggle with all three of my wiggle worms! Having them sleep next to me helps all of us get at least an extra hour, so I don’t mind at all!

Sometimes when you’re the littlest you get squished between your brother and sister.

All my loves taking a nap on our downstairs bed. Peek-a-boo Clementine, I see you!

Tummy time is great for napping instead of working on our neck muscles.

And once again we all end up in bed together so mama and daddy can sleep in a bit!

 

 

One Week Old

Happy one week birthday babies!

 

It all started last Friday. I’d had a good non stress test that morning and everything was looking like I’d be going to 36ish weeks before having a c-section. I decided we should go out for dinner, because in reality the babies could have decided to come at any time. David got back from a run and I asked if he’d like to go out for a fancy dinner and he did, so he got ready to go while I hung out on the couch. I was wavering. I didn’t really want to get dressed, and certainly not in anything nice, but I convinced myself we’d be just 5 minutes from home, so it wasn’t a big deal. So we went to Blazing Noodles at Pechanga and had a wonderful dinner. I went to bed shortly after we got home as I was very tired.

I woke up on Saturday morning and knew something was off. I was having weird feelings and decided to wait for 30 minutes to see if they’d go away. Sure enough, they did not, so I called Labor and Delivery, explained what was going on and asked what I should do. They recommended that I immediately come in to get checked out. I thought maybe they were being a bit dramatic, so I decided to wait another 20 minutes and see if I felt any different. Nope, definitely still feeling weird. I went upstairs to wake David, which I felt bad about because he had only been asleep for about 3 hours. I told him they asked me to come in and wanted to find out if he wanted to come too. I assumed he’d say no, since it was too early for the babies to be coming, but he surprised me by saying yes and getting up. About 50 minutes later we were both ready to go, so no hurry or rushing around. I was still feeling weird, but okay to drive, so I drove us up to Riverside in case David wanted to get a bit more sleep in the car. On the drive, I asked David about the boy name I had picked out since we had yet to agree on one. We finally had a name for our little man. My mom called to find out what a good time to hang out would be, and I had to let her know that we were actually on our way to L&D.

When we got there I was admitted and asked to change into a lovely hospital gown. And nothing else. Oh boy was that going to be interesting! I got all the standard things done: temperature, blood pressure, and and IV. Just before the nurse was going to put in the IV, Davids mom called me. Of course I picked up because I welcome distractions from needles, especially giant IV ones. I let her know that I had been admitted and it was maybe going to be baby time, maybe not. The doctor then came to examine me and let me know that yup, I was leaking amniotic fluid. I definitely wasn’t going anywhere, but the babies might not be either. They were hopeful that I could be kept until 34 weeks, then deliver.

All Saturday was spent in the hospital being annoyed what seemed like every 15 minutes by a nurse, but it went by pretty quickly. I had 4 monitors hooked up to my tummy: one for each baby and one for contractions. I could watch the monitor and see when the contractions were happening, and every time a nurse or doctor came in they asked if I was feeling them. My answer was the same every time: no.

Then Sunday morning happened.

I woke up again at about 7am on Sunday, and immediately could feel contractions. They progressively got more painful and closer together, and got to the point where when they asked on a scale of 0-10 how painful they were, I said 8. And they weren’t regular contractions either. Oh no, that would be too convenient. Almost all of the pain from them was in my lower back. Awesome. I was given a magnesium pouch that went in over the course of 20 minutes. Normally a bag that size would take hours, so it was incredibly painful. Magnesium is supposed to slow or altogether stop contractions. Ha! That would be too easy. They slowed for about 10 minutes, then kept right on going. At this point it was time to call the parents to let them know that it was almost certainly birth day. My main nurse was so on top of things that about 30 minutes before the doc said “ok, c-section time” she’d already had me fill out the consent forms, which was good because magnesium also makes you a bit loopy, so I was going downhill fast. Once they decided it was time, everything happened pretty quickly (I think).

They got me ready to go, gave David his OR outfit, and started wheeling me toward my OR. I started to tear up a bit because I knew that this was for real happening. In just a few minutes my babies were going to be pulled out of me and welcomed into the outside world. Once we got to the OR it was the last time I’d move on my own for approximately 12 hours. I was able to move myself from the bed to the operating table, and when it was time to sit up and get the spinal, it was the last time I’d sit up on my own with a big pregnant belly.

Things happened pretty quickly after that. David came into the OR and the surgery was started. I could feel that they were doing something, but obviously not that it was painful. It was just strange. Then I heard my boy cry for the first time. It was 11:51am. After some more digging around, I heard my energetic, wild girl cry for the first time. It was 11:53. It started to get harder to breathe as getting out the first two had shoved the third up into my ribs even farther. But then I heard my quiet one take a few seconds to cry. It was 11:54. All three got a quick cleaning before being wrapped and brought around the curtain for me to see. One of them was placed in Davids arms and one was placed on me. Then all three were on me and we were taking a picture. David then left with the babies to go to the NICU while I got my tubes tied and got sewn up. I really don’t remember much after David left. One minute I was in the OR watching them leave, the next minute I was in recovery, wanting a warmer blanket. As soon as I was stable enough to leave recovery, I was pushed to the NICU, passing the baby birth button, which David got to push three times.

When we got the NICU I got to hold Isaac and Clementine for a few minutes while David got to hold Edith. At this point they were still labeled A, B and C, so we let the nurses know their names. They were all so beautiful, and doing remarkably well for being 33 weekers. None of them need breathing assistance, even in the OR, and all the nurses were impressed. Now it was time for me to get settled in my hospital room and wait. You have to stay laying down for 12 hours after the spinal, so it wasn’t until about 11:30 that night that I very very slowly got up. I had to walk a total of about 60 feet before I could be allowed to sit in the wheelchair and go see them, but I did it. It was hard and painful, and made me very tired, but I desperately wanted to see my babies.

Holding each of them again just reaffirmed that yes, I really did grow three people in my body, and I did a damn good job of it. The majority of 33 weekers need at least some breathing support, but my three didn’t need any at any time. Breathing can be one of the biggest hurdles for babies to get over, so not having to do that means that they’ll get to come home sooner.

And today they are officially one week old. It’s still hard to believe, especially once I was discharged and we went home alone, but I know that up in Riverside my three babies are growing and learning how to feed properly, which is what they need to come home with us. I’m very hopeful that they’ll be home by the end of the month, if not by my 36 week date.

32 Weeks

Today I am 32 weeks pregnant with our triplets. It’s hard to believe that 30 weeks ago we transferred 3 embryos with the assumption that none would take and we’d be doing a second round of IVF. And now we’re officially less than 5 weeks away from meeting our 3 babies. A lot has happened since my last post, so here is a brief summary:

  • We listed and sold our Los Angeles house
  • We purchased a new house in Temecula
  • We went on a babymoon to Lake Arrowhead
  • We switched over to our final doctors: an MFM in Riverside and an OB based in Wildomar
  • I had a super fun baby shower thrown by my awesome sister
  • I finally did a sleep study where they found that I’ve developed sleep apnea and I was given a CPAP to borrow until after the babies are born
  • I signed a consent form to have a tubal ligation done during my c-section
  • David’s dad came over and helped him build all of the baby furniture
  • David’s mom and sister made some freezer meals for us so I can take it a bit easier in the evening and not have to stand around and cook

32 weeks may seem like an odd time to be updating, but the typical triplet pregnancy goes to 32 weeks. So far I’ve been doing great. Apparently pregnancy agrees with me, even when it’s more than one baby! Every day I stay pregnant is one more day for them to develop, one less day in the NICU, one day closer to them being home with us.

I had two doctors appointments this week, and both of them said that things are looking great and it seems likely that I’ll be able to go to their expected due week of March 20th. I kinda can’t imagine being pregnant for another 4 weeks and 2-6 days, but I know that the discomfort I feel is temporary and right now these three are depending on only me to keep them alive.

Next week I start twice weekly non-stress tests. I haven’t had one yet, but from some quick internet research it seems that it’ll be 20 minutes of them being hooked up to a heart rate monitor and checking to see if they have two or more episodes of increased heart rate. If they do, they pass. If they don’t, they monitor for an additional 20 minutes. I’m not sure what happens if they fail then, but I don’t think it will come to that. The big downside to doing the NSTs is that they can only be done in Riverside, which means a long-ish drive to and from. I’m hoping that after next week I’ll be able to schedule one of the days for when I’m already up there for an appointment, but I won’t know if I can until Tuesday.

If everything goes according to plan, one day during the week of March 20th I’ll be pregnant, and the next we’ll have three babies that are pretty close to ready to take home!

17 weeks: Half Way Cooked!

You may be thinking to yourself “Now, wait a minute Ashley. I know a standard pregnancy is 40 weeks. I also know that half of 40 is not 17.” You would be correct. A standard pregnancy is usually 40 weeks, and half of 40 is universally recognized as 20. So why does the title of this post say that I’m halfway at 17 weeks? If you pull out your handy calculator, wouldn’t it tell you that 17 doubled is 34? It sure would!

So why am I halfway at just 17 weeks? You see, the standard 40 weeks is for a healthy lady who is pregnant with one baby. I am a healthy lady, but I am not pregnant with one baby.

If you remember waaaaay back to last November, we got 9 embryos that made it to day 5. 2 of those embryos were transferred, and the other 7 were frozen. Then, in December, we transferred 2 more. Then in March, we again transferred 2. That meant that we had just 3 remaining, and as they always thaw the “best looking” 2, we had our worst looking 3 left. Based on my transfer/failure history, we decided to transfer them all, which means we put 3, 5 day old embryos into my uterus. Normally, this is reserved for older women or ones with low quality, younger embryos. We were told the risks, and accepted them.

Flash forward to my second and third betas. They were scheduled for 5 days apart, one on a Tuesday and one on a Sunday. On Tuesday, my beta was 976. In the first few weeks, it generally doubles every 48-72 hours. By Sunday, it should have been around 4,000. When the nurse who called me told me the number, I actually said “I’m sorry, what” and had her repeat it. The number she told me? 7,841. Almost double what it needed to be at. So we prepared ourselves for twins. My clinic does your first ultrasound at 6 weeks, which I would be at the following Saturday, so we scheduled our first OB ultrasound for that coming Friday. What we saw shocked us, and I’m pretty sure my brain shut down for a few minutes to process the image on the screen.

8-16-16-5w6d-trip

If your ultrasound reading abilities aren’t great, I’ll just go ahead and point out that that says “1”, “2” and “3”. Sure, they just look like little black blobs in this picture, but there were 3 yolk sacs and 3 fetal poles. “Congratulations, you’re pregnant with triplets”… Uh, don’t you mean “Oh shit, what the hell happened!”?

Over the next 4 weeks, our RE monitored their growth, and they all made lovely progress. He also asked us about doing selective reduction. For those who don’t know, growing and having three babies isn’t exactly celebrated in the obstetrician world. They much prefer 1. Maybe 2. So we were given the option of waiting until we could see them better at about 12 weeks, and then deciding if we wanted to reduce. I personally, along with David, am very pro-choice. I see nothing wrong with abortions, and feel that it is up to each woman to decide what to do with her body and what she’s growing in it. Having said that, we decided that, for us, the right choice was to keep them all. Yes, it is going to be hard. Yes, I am 99.9% likely to have to do a c-section. Yes, I’m much more likely to get gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Yes, the babies have a guarantee of NICU time. But our family will be complete. David has dreamed of having 3 kids for as long as I can remember, and if less embryos than that had taken, he may feel that his family is incomplete, because I would not have done IVF again, unless only 1 had taken.

For a low risk, singleton pregnancy, women see either an OB or a midwife every 4 weeks until about 6 months. I don’t see an OB or a midwife. I saw an OB for my first appointment at Kaiser, but that was mainly to confirm that I wasn’t crazy and making up a story about being pregnant with triplets. Once she saw 3 babies with 3 strong heartbeats, I was handed off to a Perinatologist, or doctor of Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM). They deal with high risk pregnancies, which I am. I get to see him every 2 weeks for now, but I’m sure that as my birth window approaches, I’ll see him more often. In general, triplets pregnancies go to 32-34 weeks. I’ve read a few stories about women going to 35, but that is it. They just run out of room, and can’t grow properly past that point. I was told that, thanks to PCOS and the risk factors it involves, I can realistically expect to deliver any time after 28 weeks. By 28 weeks they are developed enough to survive, but would have a very lengthy NICU stay.

My MFM does an in depth scan of one baby at each appointment with a quick check of the other two. At our appointment last week it was discovered that baby A has velamentous cord insertion (VCI). At my appointment this past Monday it was discovered that baby C also has VCI. He is still not concerned about them having it because it isn’t generally a problem except during delivery. I’m pretty sure that them having this will guarantee a c-section, but we’ll find out more once I get closer to birth day.

I don’t think I ever posted about an estimated due date, but for a single baby it would have been April 15th. Alas, I will not make it anywhere near that date. We are currently aiming for March 10th, when I’ll be one day shy of 34 weeks. If it is possible to go until March 17th I’d be thrilled, but we can’t know that yet. The earliest they can come and be okay is January 28th, but we are super hoping that doesn’t happen because it will mean months in the NICU versus weeks.

Here are this weeks ultrasound pictures:

Baby A
10-31-16-16w2d-baby-a

Baby B
10-31-16-16w2d-baby-b

Baby C
10-31-16-16w2d-baby-c

We found out the sexes on October 24th, and if you look carefully at the photo that brought you to this post you should be able to find out too!

 

When Your Ultrasound Shows A Problem

David and I went in yesterday for a routine ultrasound (thanks Kaiser, you rock!) to check on baby growth and development. During this one, I did not get to see the screen, as it was facing the opposite direction, so I got to stare at the ceiling for a bit while measurements and such were being taken. When he was done with all he needed to do, he turned the screen so I could watch what he had been doing.

We got to see a cute little grainy, black and white baby shape having a party in my tummy! He then let us know that he had found a problem with baby’s cord. I was of course concerned, because how could he even tell! But then he changed something about what shows on the screen and we could see red and blue speckles traveling through the cord. I don’t really know how to describe it other than “speckles”, because it really did look like a collection of very small dots. Anyway, somehow they represented blood flowing into and out of baby. He then let us know that baby has a condition called velamentous cord insertion, which he said was more common in IVF babies. He also said that it wasn’t a huge concern, and I would just have to be monitored throughout the rest of my pregnancy via ultrasound to make sure it was still looking okay. Phew!

Of course, when we got back home, I had to google it to see what the deal with it is. It’s basically this: normally, the umbilical cord goes from baby into the placenta. With VCI, it goes from baby, into the membrane, then into the placenta. From the research I did, it seems like it pretty much only presents a problem if/when the membrane ruptures during labor/birth. Now that we know about it, we know that precautions are going to be taken when it is time for baby to be born, and hopefully it won’t be an issue. I also now have on my medical record “abnormal placenta”.

Being PGaL

This is me. I am PGaL, or pregnant after a loss.

I would guess that, for a lot of people, being pregnant is a time of joy, happiness and carefree ignorance. For someone who is pregnant after a previous miscarriage, pregnancy is scary, uncertain, nerve-racking and just plain un-fun. Not all the time, of course, but some to most of the time.

When I was pregnant last time, I had no idea what to expect or what any statistics about pregnancy are. I didn’t know that at least 25% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage. I didn’t know that after seeing and hearing your babys heart, you could still lose them. I didn’t know that your baby could stop growing, and your body would have no idea, so it would continue on like s/he was still alive.

This time around, I do know all of that. I know it all too well. And it is frightening. And un-fun. I am worried every single day about how our LO is doing. Is s/he still wiggling, growing, beating? Sitting in the waiting room before ultrasounds is hard. I get so nervous that it throws off my blood pressure readings. Sometimes I have to do them twice. I can’t help it. I remember what was supposed to be our final RE visit, and not seeing the flickering on the screen that was supposed to be there. I can’t help but worry that we’ll see that again.

I have had 7 ultrasounds this pregnancy. Yes, 7! And before each appointment at least one of the thoughts in my head was “I’ve definitely lost this one”. Even when I had just seen LO wiggling like crazy the day before. Because it never goes away. I will worry about this baby until the day I die. Even though I am fast approaching the second trimester, when most people feel it is safe to tell others because your miscarriage risk goes way down, I will still worry. Even when I get to the first viability milestone, I will still worry. Even when I get to the point where baby can survive with little to no machines outside my body, I will still worry. Nothing is guaranteed in life, and especially not in pregnancy. I have been taught this lesson, and I will not take a single day for granted.

 

On to happier things. We went in yesterday to try and do an NT scan, which measures fluid at the base of the neck and can help determine the risk of downs. Alas, baby was measuring a bit too small to do a proper scan, though the ultrasound tech said that it didn’t look like it was going to be too big. David did say that s/he was wiggling around a lot, only I didn’t get to see because the screen was facing away from me. 😦 I got to see at the very end, but was more focused on seeing that heart than watching him/her move around. I’ll go back in a few weeks to try again. I will now begin a normal person appointment schedule of going in once every four weeks until around the 6 month mark. It’ll be weird having such a long time in between appointments, but I can’t be pampered the whole time!

10 Weeks

 

shoe-pic

A tiny pair of shoes!

How cute.

The Story:

I haven’t posted an update in quite a while. During our last FET, I shared nearly everything in real time. It was hard to share news of a miscarriage, so this time around I wanted to not share as much as soon. Last time I wrote, we had done our transfer and were waiting for a blood test to see if it worked or not. I went in on August 7th, and got the call a few hours later that it had worked and I was pregnant. We were elated, but also scared. It didn’t work last time, so we had to keep our emotions in check, just in case it didn’t work again. I went in again two days later for a second draw, and it had just more than doubled, which is what they like to see. Unfortunately, my body had had a difficult time processing the progesterone injections, so I had to increase my dosage after a large drop. It had me worried, but I trusted that my doctor knew what he was doing. I went back in a week after my first beta, and my number had increased by a substantial amount, which eased my fears a bit.

We went in for our first ultrasound on August 19th, and got to see our lovely little embryo safe and sound in me. We did not see or hear a heartbeat, but at just shy of 6 weeks, that was to be expected. It was just too early to see much. We have been back every week since on either Thursday or Friday, and getting to see our little one (LO) continue to grow and develop properly was amazing. Last time around, our embryo consistently measured behind. This time, this LO is either measuring right on time, or a day or two ahead, which is so comforting.

We went to our new obstetrician for the first time on September 15th and she was wonderful. I got to pick who we saw, so I chose the doctor that did our D&C as she was so kind and helpful. I’m glad we waited the few extra days to see her, as she remembered us and was again so kind and helpful. We got to see LO again that day, and this time s/he was waving her/his little arm buds at us. It was amazing to watch! It was also the first time David got to hear the heartbeat, as he had been working for the previous two appointment and couldn’t come with. Yesterday was our last official appointment at SCRC. It was a little bittersweet, and I got a lovely graduation gift. While we are thankful that they were so wonderful in the two years we were with them, I’m glad that my insurance is finally kicking in and all our Kaiser appointments should be free or cheap.

The Pregnancy Symptoms:

I started out like most people: no idea I was pregnant. I thought for sure this cycle didn’t work because I didn’t feel any different. Then 5 weeks came, and I got symptoms. A lot of them. The two most prominent were fatigue and hunger. Then, at just after 6 weeks, they stopped. Completely. For 4 days in a row. I thought I had definitely had another missed miscarriage, but at my appointment that week, we saw LO had grown by the exact number of days s/he should have. Relief washed over me, and I again began to trust. And then suffer. Since about 7 weeks, I have had non stop symptoms, which on the one hand sucks, but on the other assures me that I am still pregnant. My most obvious symptoms now are: all day nausea, hunger like none other (I have to eat at least 7 times a day, and not always tiny snacks), fatigue and tenderness. I’d say that nowadays, most days I sleep for at least an hour and half, plus however much I sleep at night. I try to go to bed by about 10:15, and I am usually woken up by 6:30 by a hungry alien screaming “breakfast time”.

Why I am sharing now:

I’d say most people generally wait until after 12 weeks to share pregnancy news with the masses, yet I am only 10 today, so why share now? I felt that if both appointments this week went well, the likelihood of something bad happening was relatively slim. And both appointments went great this week, so I now feel comfortable sharing. Plus, now I can start posting about it a bit more, instead of only being able to tell a few people.

What’s next:

I’m going to have another appointment at Kaiser to measure some baby stuffs, which should be within the next three weeks, as this scan has to be done before week 13. If it goes well, we will choose to skip an amnio or CVS due to the miscarriage risks. If all does not go well, we’ll discuss with our doctor which test would be best to use. We can’t yet know at this point which test we’d do, though if we want to do the CVS we’d have to do it before 12 weeks, which is fast approaching. Though we used a lot of science and doctor to get us to this point, that doesn’t mean we have to continue to do so. If things progress normally, I’d say we have a good chance of having a normal number of doctors visits.

My conclusion:

Infertility has been a challenging, rocky, obstacle-filled road. I’m very thankful that I’ve had David to traverse it with, as he has been wonderful throughout this whole process. Sure, all he really had to do was one blood draw and give a few samples (okay, like 13ish), but I’ve read of some men who were/are unwilling to do that for as long as they can. David was on the ball right from the start and never hesitated when it was up to him alone to do something. I know we’re not fully out of the woods yet (you never really are, kids can die at any time, be it 20 weeks gestation, just before birth, or when they turn 5), but I have every confidence that raising a kid together is going to be a piece of cake after what we’ve been through to get one.