Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hearing Loss

This past monday we went back to have Stella's hearing tests repeated to try to get more accurate results and see if anything has changed. The first time we went she wasn't very cooperative for the test that she was supposed to be asleep for (ABR=Auditory Brainstem Response testing).  

This time she did sleep so we obtained more information, especially regarding her left ear. After the testing the audiologist shared the results with me. 

Once again, Stella had an absent response for the OAE. She had a flat tympanogram and high thresholds for the ABR, meaning things need to be fairly loud for her to hear them. Stella's hearing loss is currently classified as a mild-moderate conductive loss consistent with middle ear fluid. The audiologist referred us to see an ENT. 

One of the Drs he recommended had great availability and we were able to see him on Wednesday. He may have been one of the cutest Drs ever (bonus!) and our appointment was fairly quick and easy. He again repeated the tympanogram and said it's likely fluid that Stella has affecting her hearing. He said she will not likely need hearing aids once the fluid resolves, but time will tell. He wanted to wait 6 weeks before seeing Stella again. If she still has the failed tympanogram he wants to put her under anesthesia and bring her into an OR. At that time they will likely place tubes. He said they would also do a complete ABR as well to get specific results about her hearing abilities in both ears since she will be asleep. 

When I asked about the congestion and gagging he seemed to think a lot of it was related to reflux. He thought we should see a pediatric GI Dr as her reflux is a an "underlying issue" likely impacting the fluid in her ears. 

So, we have the next 6 weeks to try to get the reflux more under control. We tried switching to Prevacid which works differently and is supposed to be stronger, but it went horribly. It was like it didn't work at all and she went back to screaming most of the day. Currently she's on Zantac twice a day and while I feel like it takes the edge off (she's not screaming in pain all day) she still has quite a few reflux symptoms. We went through a few days last week where she didn't want to eat (likely from the pain of reflux) and was going 4-5 hrs between daytime feedings. She wakes up so congested most mornings I have to suction her, and she has the most sensitive gag reflex I've ever seen. Even though it's a ways off, I'm concerned it will affect her eating of solid foods if we don't get it under control. I'm reluctant to switch meds as it went so poorly last time, but don't feel like what's she's on is doing the trick. I did some reading yesterday and found that reflux is very common in these kiddos with fluid in their ears and that some of the fluid was found to be stomach acid when studied. 

If anyone has any experience with tubes in infants, feel free to share your experience. I'd love to hear more as I don't feel like this is hugely common. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Updates and Stella at 2 Months

Life is crazy with three kids aged two and under. Since I lasted posted it's has been a whirlwind. L & C are currently potty training. They go completely bottomless at home and just wear loose fitting pants  when we go places. We had been giving them peanut m&m's every time they went on the potty but quickly had to switch to mini m&m's. Good thing they like all things "baby" and get even more excited about their tiny treat. I have to laugh because that wouldn't be my reaction to the situation, haha. Both girls are taking a lot more. Lucy, or "You You You" as she refers to herself, is stringing two and three word sentences together regularly. She talks a lot and is pretty clear and easy to understand most times. Clara, or "Claka" as she calls herself is also using more words. Unfortunately, she still relies on whining quite a bit. W and are constantly reminding her to use her words, but she's a very emotional little girl. The girls copy each other constantly and if one does something the other has to as well. That's part of why the potty training is going so well. That are always encouraging each other and both want the reward of course. Lucy continues to process auditory information at an amazing speed and W and I joke that she's already smarter than us. It's tough for Clara because if you ask them both a question Lucy usually answers before Clara has time to fully process it. Clara is more like a typical two year old in that regard. She's usually happy to let Lucy take charge though. Lucy loves playing with her babies and is very helpful with Stella. We're always reminding her that some jobs are only for mommy and daddy. I swear she thinks she's the grown up in charge half the time. Clara continues to love her books. She'll sit and let pretty much anyone read her a book. She has her favorites, and she's also super into monkeys lately. We've been getting a lot of books from the library about monkeys and she loves any monkey stuffed animal. Clara also loves baby Stella and is always trying to talk to her and get her to smile or coo to her. Both girls love when Stella blows bubbles with her mouth and they get so excited about it. It's so cute. They are such good big sisters who are rarely jealous.
Stella turned 2 months old on the third
All my girls in matching outfits that my friend bought them. 
Helping daddy give Stella her first bottle.

Showing off their sweaters their Grandma knit for them. 

Getting their nails painted by Pop Pop.
Three across. 
Reading books with Grandpa Scott on Thanksgiving. 
Snuggles for baby Stella. 
That's an interesting use for breast pump pieces!

As for Stella, she's now 9 pounds 11 ounces and quickly growing out of clothes that L & C didn't fit in to for what feels like forever. The combination of being a full term baby and likely my last makes it feel like it's going by that much faster. Stella, or "Stella-Lella", and "Lellie" as I often call her sleeps about 6 hours at night. She's not a super easy or relaxed baby and I think her reflux has a lot to do with that. We tried increasing her Zantac and have just switched to Prevacid to see if it works better. Her crying and discomfort have definitely decreased, but she still sounds congested a lot. 

Relating to the congestion likely is her hearing abilities. Stella failed her newborn screening twice in the hospital and then again a week later when we followed up. This meant we got a referral to an audiologist for more involved testing. Initially I really didn't feel like she was hearing us or startling to sounds. She's improved there and will turn when she hears our voices, but she once again failed the same test (absent responses on the OAE and a flat tympanogram). The ABR testing showed that she is hearing and the nerve and cochlea are likely intact and functioning well. They weren't able to get a full reading of her hearing abilities on that test because she was supposed to sleep and really wouldn't for long. I even wore her for part of it but she kept rubbing off the electrodes or waking up during testing. The audiologist was very patient and we were there for over two hours. Her results on that test were consistent with fluid in her ears. The audiologist said he was able to visualize her eardrums and there were no signs of infection.  It's likely just fluid that hasn't resolved from her birth. That paired with the congestion from reflux encouraged me to increase her dose of the reflux medication. The tube that drains your ears is in the back of your throat and much flatter in children (making it harder to drain). It makes sense if she refluxing all the time it's either causing her ears to have a hard time draining or adding to the congestion in her ears. We go back in another month to retest and if the results are the same we will get a referral to an ENT. 

Prior to increasing her reflux meds I hired a lactation consultant. This person said her grassiness and fussiness was likely from an upper lip tie and her difficulty latching well because of it. She said she was likely swallowing a lot of air and not eating very efficiently. I knew the lip tie was there and was something we'd have to deal with at some point, but decided to take her to have it lasered since it was the end of the year and we've met our deductibles. Apparently, she was also a little tongue tied so that was also lasered. The dentist quickly did the procedures and I nursed immediately after. I was given stretches to do with her and sent on my way. Unfortunately, there wasn't a ton of follow up from the lactation consultant after that apart from telling me I needed to be patient with her and to try and relax. Unfortunately those things didn't help any and she's still clicking her tongue/smacking her lips a lot when she eats. This is discouraging and frustrating to me because it's uncomfortable. I guess breastfeeding will never be "easy" for me. I think I figured by this point we'd have that stuff ironed out. It makes me think if I can't help myself with nursing problems, how could I ever help others?

Apart from the reflux Stella really is a sweet baby. She started smiling and cooing shortly after we had her lip tie lasered. I think it did help some with her mood, but just not as much as I had hoped. I feel like the reflux is really one of our main underlying issues. She loves watching her sisters and when they talk to her she smiles at them frequently. She loves the ring sling I bought and almost immediately falls asleep in it every time. She's so snuggly and sweet in there and I absolutely love wearing her. It's something I feel like I missed out on a bit with the girls. You just can't wear twins like you can a single baby. She's so strong and stands up on her feet. This is one of our best burping techniques currently. She still likes her pacifier but has a crazy strong and unpredictable gag reflex. Sometimes she takes the pacifier like it's the best thing ever and other times she gags, wretches, and acts like it's poison. She found her hands and often has them in her mouth all covered with drool. Her eyes are really blue and she still has quite a bit of dark brown hair. I think he eyes will stay blue.

I tell the girls to put things at her feet (rather than on her face). Guess they got a little carried away. 

Stella's Thanksgiving outfit. 
Always with the tongue. 

Such a sweet and snuggly baby. 
As for me, life is crazy. We celebrated Thanksgiving at home with my dad and then went to my moms for a second meal for dinner. My c section incision became infected a few weeks after Stella's birth and I had to go back to my OB multiple times and take antibiotics. I had a tooth that needed a crown and then a root canal. I haven't had much time for myself and W is working on being able to take care of all three girls alone. I'm going out for the first night tonight and leaving him with all three. It's tough to feel like I always have someone with me or attached to me. I'm definitely in high demand. I love it and wouldn't change it for the world, but it can be exhausting at times. I'm hoping to find some time for yoga or some exercise for myself soon. Even though I've lost most of the weight I gained with Stella things really don't sit and look the same. The "shelf" above my c section incision looks worse having had two surgeries but I try not to focus on that. My body also gave birth to three children in two years. We get out of the house most days and L & C are currently doing soccer and gymnastics. We also go to story time at the library most weeks. We've signed up for music classes again starting in January and I'm really looking forward to that.

Life certainly is crazy and I'd love to make more time for writing and this blog. I do love that I have this space that I can come to and write whenever I want or need to though. It's nice to know it'll always be here waiting for me. Whether the people will still be waiting here to read is another story. I remind myself that I write for me and to document these days that would otherwise be forgotten in detail. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Mom of Multiples

Even from my pregnancies I can tell you that having twins and having a singleton is very different. I didn't get really big really fast this time. I went into labor naturally (without a car accident) and delivered my baby a day before her due date. 

I know I've said it before, but life with one baby is just so different from life with two. 

As proud of I am of exclusively breastfeeding my twins, I wasn't able to do this from the start with Stella. On our third day in the hospital she cried and cried and acted so hungry. I tried pumping, hand expressing, and nursing her as much as she wanted, but she was still screaming and acting hungry. In addition, she lost 9% of her body weight and the nurses said things get concerning at 10%. I know this is totally normal, but something had to give. My baby was hungry and my milk hadn't come in yet. After talking to my favorite lactation consultant from the NICU I made the decision to supplement a little with formula. I used a syringe and squirted little amounts into her mouth as she was latched. I don't think she got more than 20 ml's total, but it was so different from the girls. I really struggled with this at the time. How could I exclusively breastfeed twins but not a single baby? I think them being preemies gave me a little buffer as they didn't get any milk for a few days. This allowed me time for my milk to come in and to build up a little stash before they started eating. Luckily, my milk came in the night I supplemented Stella with formula, and I haven't given any formula since. It was hard for me to accept at the time, but I look back and don't regret any of it. 

When the girls were in the NICU everything I read and heard said to keep them on the NICU schedule once they came home. I took this advice to heart and we kept them on the same schedule. From day one at home they were on a schedule. I rarely fed them more often than every two hours and when one woke to eat I'd wake the other. I remember when Lucy wasn't gaining weight well I was told to feed her on demand. The person who told me that didn't understand life with twins. I couldn't feed one baby on demand and keep the other on a schedule or feed one baby while the other just cried. Well, I guess I could have but it would mean feeding babies all day long. I wasn't up for that. 

When Stella was born I thought I'd approach parenting differently. There was only one baby and I wanted to be more relaxed about having her on a schedule. 

The thing I'm realizing is, I'm still a mom of multiples. I learned to be a parent to twins as I didn't know anything else. Being their mom molded me into the type of mom I needed to be to best take care of them. 

On Monday I went to a tea time circle of moms and their babies hosted by the yoga instructor I loved and took prenatal and mama baby yoga with. I noticed all these other moms just feeding their babies whenever they cried. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one that looked at my watch first. 

When the girls were little we used the Babywise book to guide our daytime routine. We did an eat, play, sleep routine. It made life predictable to both them and me and it worked well for us. Even though Stella is only a month old, we've been thinking about this routine and trying to keep her awake some after feedings. I try to be sure when she eats that she gets a full feeding rather than snacking, since I can't be available to feed her all the time. I have two year old twins to take care of. Even though Stella is a singleton, I'm still a mom to multiples. 

As time goes on sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not able to be the kind of parent to her that I envisioned. The thing is, with her reflux I can't feed her all the time. Feeding her more just makes her more uncomfortable. Also, there are times in the day when it's just not feasible. 

I shared at the tea time my feelings about this and the overwhelming response was, just do what works for you and your family. It doesn't matter what kind of parenting you decide to do as long as it works for you. This made me feel so much better. 

I guess even though I only have one baby now I'll always be a mom of multiples. I learned to be a mama with my twins and that's the only kind I know how to be. And you know what? I realize that a mom who needs schedules and structure is just as great as a mom who doesn't.

We all approach parenting differently and I'm learning there's no right or wrong way to do it. It's all about what works. 

Stella at 1 Month

As hard as it is for me to believe, baby Stella turned a month old yesterday. The month has seriously flown by and I'm sure time won't slow down in order for me to savor these moments with my sweet little baby.

Having one baby has been such a different experience. I love bringing just the baby places and the moments I have where I'm only responsible for her. It's a nice break from the craziness of two year old twins. I've been loving being able to wear her and just ordered a ring sling. We go out and about a lot and it's so different from life with preemie twins. The girls love their baby sister and bring her so many things all day long. They love watching her to see if her eyes will open.

You are such a beautiful little baby. You remind me so much of your big sister Clara in looks. Your eyes are getting bluer every day so that may be the one thing that sets you two apart. When you were born you failed your hearing screening and then also failed the follow up. To be honest, I was pretty concerned you weren't hearing well for a while. In the past week or so you've really started to respond to my voice and startle to more loud sounds. You even turned and looked at your daddy one night when he was talking to you. You're starting to have more awake/alert time during the day and love looking at faces. We haven't done as much tummy time as we'd like because you have reflux and some of the only times you are awake is right after you eat. We tried different strategies for a few days, but ended up taking you to the pediatrician and starting a low dose of Zantac. It was so hard to listen to you cry and scream for hours a day. It's made a huge difference and you are so much more comfortable. You wouldn't take a pacifier at first but now will. It really helps you to be more comfortable when you're crying as you don't seem to like to nurse for comfort. The last time you were at the pediatrician you weighed 8.1 and you're starting to outgrow a lot of newborn clothes. It's so crazy to me how big you are already compared to your sisters at this age. Your cord took about two weeks to fall off but you've been in cloth since. You love the bath and get so relaxed when you're in the tub.

I feel so lucky to be able to snuggle with another squishy little baby. It's amazing to me how fast time is going and that Stella is a month old already. Life is crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Last night we brought the girls trick or treating in our neighborhood. W pulled them in a wagon while I wore Stella. As I watched my girls faces light up with excitement at the second or third house I turned to W and said, "if you told us four years ago we'd be doing this with three kids, we never would have believed it." I felt so lucky in that moment that I was enjoying this holiday with my beautiful little girls. I seriously feel like the luckiest person in the world most days!

We all had so much fun. It's so exciting to think that it'll be even more fun next year when Stella can join in. 

These are the moments I dreamt of when I was doing injections in public bathrooms or crying over another failed cycle or chemical pregnancy. I'm so grateful to be on the other side with my children, but I can't forget to look back and remember everything we went through to get here. Every appointment, ultrasound, injection, and tear feels 100% worth it. These girls are my everything!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Over the past week or so Stella has started to get more and more uncomfortable after eating. There were also a few days last week where she emptied her entire stomach contents spitting up. I've spoke to a few different lactation consultants trying to figure out what's going on. 

When she first came home I was offering her both breasts with each feeding. This whole breastfeeding a singleton is new to me. L & C always just ate on one side, but I was under the impression that when feeding a single baby you should let them finish on one side and then offer the other. I think as a result she was eating too much and that's what was causing the extreme spitting up. 

I started to think maybe I have an overactive letdown. I can tell when my milk lets down that she struggles. She sputters, gulps, pulls off sometimes, and milk pools out of the sides of her mouth. I've been trying to nurse her in a more reclined position so at least gravity is working against us. It just doesn't seem to be making much difference. She never eats more than 10 minutes and won't comfort nurse. I've been pumping in the mornings since I'm so full and get between 5 and 6 ounces in 10 minutes. It's reasonable to think she gets a lot of milk in a short amount of time. 

All of her signs and symptoms seem to point to reflux. There are times she spits up, but other times I hear it and then she cries (silent reflux). After eating she'll grunt, clear her throat repeatedly, arch, and she gets awful hiccups if you lay her flat. She also has a tendency to sound congested. She hates her carseat and will generally scream in the car as well. 

I've tried feeding her more frequently to ensure she gets less and isn't as full and uncomfortable. I've tried eliminating dairy from my diet, gas drops to no avail, wearing her, keeping her upright after eating, changing her diaper before feedings so we don't have to put her flat after, nursing in a reclined position, and even a Hyland's homeopathic product that's supposed to help neutralize stomach acid. Nothing seems to be making a huge difference and I'm feeling frustrated and discouraged. 

So, this afternoon I'm taking her to the pediatrician. I'm not jumping up and down to get her on any kind of medication, but I'm at a loss for what else to do. I'm not even sure the ped will want to put her on anything. When I talked to the nurse last week she told me she was too young and to give it time. Poor baby Stella is so uncomfortable and cries a LOT. I feel so helpless.

My experience with L & C tells me that medications do help and make a difference. I'd hate to reach that same point we did with Lucy where Stella starts to associate eating with pain and then refuses to eat. The thing is, L & C are still on Prevacid. We've tried a few times to stop but every time they wake up screaming in pain and stop eating well. I don't really want to get her on something thats so hard to get off of.   

So I guess we'll see what her dr has to say. I'm curious to see what her weight gain has been like and to get his input. I'm hoping that something will make a difference soon and that I'll have a baby that's content a least a little bit of the time when awake. This whole crying any time she's awake thing is not fun. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015


It's safe to say my family has gone through a huge transition with the birth of Stella. L & C had only ever spent 3 nights total away from us when they went to stay with my in laws while we were in the hospital. Bringing Stella home is one of the biggest changes we've all gone through. 

Our first few days home as a family of five were challenging to say the least. I think having a c section and being unprepared didn't help. I went from doing almost everything for the girls to being unable to do a lot of simple things. I couldn't lift them, change diapers very easily, help bathe them, or carry them. It was tough for everyone. Top that with post-partum hormones and feeling guilty for turning their lives upside down and it's safe to say there were a lot of tears from everyone. Clara in particular had a really tough first few days. There were a lot of tantrums, time outs, and tears.

W and I are trying to be as consistent as possible with the girls. Now that I'm feeling better and more able to help, they are doing much better. They really do love their baby sister and I often find them bringing her blankets, pacifiers, toys, and giving her kisses and fist bumps. They talk about her all the time and ask about her if they don't immediately see her. They also seem to have a lot more patience for her crying (especially in the car) than I do. When I put her in the car seat they'll come over and say "baby happy" in hopes that she doesn't scream her head off like usual.  

It seems at this point a lot of the issues we're seeing with the girls are just typical two year old things. They fight over things like good sisters and don't have enough language to fully communicate their wants and needs, especially when they get emotional. Sometimes I think life would be easier if we waited a little longer to have another baby, but I'm also excited for my girls to grow up together. I know before long the girls won't even remember a time without Stella in our family. The thing about infertility is you don't really get to plan your family and time things "perfectly". 

Tomorrow W goes back to work and I take back over. I have help lined up a few days a week (my FiL is taking the girls to gymnastics every wednesday and my MiL has agreed to help Tuesdays). My mom has also said she'd help but it really depends so much on her mood how much she's able to do. I'm super nervous about having to care for all three girls mostly alone, but I'm also somewhat looking forward it. Having him home has been amazing and great, but in some ways it makes life more difficult. Getting out the door always seems to take longer with him and I don't feel like he's as firm with the girls. I've noticed a lot more negotiating and whining/crying since he's been home. 

Wish me luck (and a TON of patience) tomorrow as I take over with my three amazing little girls. I can do this!

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Shift

I'm used to getting a lot of attention when we go places, I have twin girls. The thing is, I'm used to this attention generally being positive. I do get a lot of "you have your hands full" comments that sometimes bother me (especially when someone says that rather than helping hold the door for me), but generally people are very positive. I hear all the time how well behaved and cute my girls are. It feels good to have people comment on things I've worked so hard on like L & C's behavior. They are good girls because we've worked so hard on following directions and behaving in public. 

The thing is, since Stella joined our family there seems to have been a shift. Instead of the friendly smiles and comments I'm so used to, now it seems people aren't so friendly and supportive. People stare, give dirty looks, roll their eyes, and say negative things. We haven't been too many places, but those positive and nice comments seem to be a thing of the past. I know L & C are tiny and look younger than they are, but whose business is it other than our own how many children we have and how close in age they are? 

I'm struggling with this because I look at my children and feel so lucky and blessed. I'm trying to stay positive and smile back even when people are staring, but I'm nervous about taking all three places by myself. It's tough to feel judged rather than supported. 

I know the confidence and ability to disregard these looks and comments will come with time, but it really doesn't make going places all that enjoyable at the moment. 

On a related note, W goes back to work next week and I'll be trying to handle all three girls by myself. I'm nervous but also looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I know that the more I take them places and do things with them the easier it will get. It doesn't make me feel any less nervous about it though. 

Monday, October 19, 2015


Because of the way that I've been feeling lately, I thought it would good for me try to change my focus and mindset. I know a lot of my outlook depends my attitude, so I'm trying to shift that. 

I got together with a few of my fertility buddies this past weekend. One of them had the same dr for her son as I did for the delivery of L & C. She said she recently saw this dr for an annual visit and she mentioned something about my friend being one of her favorite patients. My friend then said it was because she wrote her an amazing thank you letter and sent her flowers after the birth of her son. 

This really got me thinking. To be honest, I never really thought about writing a thank you letter to my ob/gyn after either birth. I've thought about it for Dr. Braverman, but haven't ever actually done it. 

I've decided I'm going to write Dr. L a thank you note. I think doing this will be a good exercise for me in gratitude and gratefulness. It will help shift my focus to the positive surrounding Stella's birth. 

Definition of gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I've also started to try to focus on the things I can be grateful for every day. Yesterday as I sat inside and watched W playing outside with the girls in the snow (!!), I thought about how grateful I was for our warm home and a wonderful husband who is such an involved and amazing father. I appreciated that he gets three weeks off from work to help our family acclimate and assemble as a new unit of five. When one looks around and focuses on life in a positive way, they find there's so much to be grateful for. 

New Page

Just in case you're interested, I added a new page of pictures during my pregnancy with Stella. You can click on the link on the top of the page to check it out. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stella's Birth Story

The way my daughter entered the world wasnt how I pictured or envisioned it. She arrived safely and was screaming within a few seconds of her birth, but I can't say I was prepared for how everything would unfold.

It all started on Thursday October 1st. I woke up feeling similar to how I'd felt all week; super nauseous and exhausted. I planned to take the girls to story time at the library at 10:30 and my mom was going to join. Sometime during the morning I went to the bathroom and when I wiped I noticed I was losing my mucous plus. Since I was already feeling super nauseous it actually made me gag and throw up. 

Not feeling much different (maybe a little more crampy) I stil decided to go to the library. My FiL also met us there and my mom rode with me. When we arrived Clara wanted nothing but me. She was crying and carrying on so I carried her some. At 39+ weeks pregnant I was struggling with carrying her. 

After the library we headed to the bakery for donuts. Once again, Clara was just inconsolable unless I was carrying her. In pain, I carried her the four or so blocks it took to get there. I was seriously ready to cry it was so uncomfortable, but we made it. At that point I still hadn't had anything to eat so ordered a smoothie and managed to have about 2/3rds of it. I was still feeling really nauseous. 

After lunch Lucy refused her nap. She cried and carried on for nearly an hour as I begged her in my head to go to sleep so I could also get a little rest. I was exhausted and defeated and wasn't able to really take care of myself. I didn't eat much of a lunch and was feeling so stressed from my day with the girls. 

When W arrived home I was so grateful. I'd been feeling crampy and having lots of pressure and was glad he was home to take over with the girls. Around that time I texted our doula Jen to tell her I had lost my mucous plug and that I was feeling really crampy. 

Since the girls continued to be cranky we decided to take a walk. It was a beautiful day so it seemed like a good idea. As we walked I felt more and more contractions and started tracking them on my phone. They were about 10 minutes apart at that time. Clara ended up throwing another huge fit on our walk as she didn't want to be in the stroller and only wanted to be carried. It was exhausting to say the least. 

We got back and had dinner. I still wasn't hungry so didn't eat much. The contractions and cramping continued pretty consistently but we still did baths and put the girls down for the night. I again texted Jen to tell her things weren't really slowing down and to give her the heads up. 

As the evening progressed the contractions weren't stopping. I bounced on my ball, relaxed as much as possible on the couch, and then decided to take a shower. I made W come with me to keep track of contactions while I was in the shower and because for some reason I didn't want to be alone. 

Around 10:30 I called my drs office. I spoke with the one dr I hadn't met yet (Dr. B) and she suggested I go to the hospital to get checked. She also said I could skip my evening Heparin injection. It didn't feel like we really needed to go in at that time so I texted our doula. W made me a quesadilla and I was able to eat that. It was one of the few things I ate all day. At 11:30 we asked Jen to come to the house. A little earlier we had told my FiL to also come to stay with the girls.

The doula arrived about an hour later and I labored at home for quite some time. Since it was a VBAC Jen suggested that at around 1:45 am we leave for the hospital. My contractions were regular and I was unable to talk or rest much during them. Jen helped to get me situated in the car and suggested I lay down in the backseat rather than ride in the front. She followed behind us. 

The car ride felt really long. I tried to stay calm and relaxed, but it was difficult. It took us about 35 minutes to get there. The final turn to the hospital corresponded with a huge contraction and I remember that feeling like the hardest part. 

We arrived at the hospital around 2:00 AM and they took me to triage on the labor and delivery floor. The first contraction I felt I tried to get onto all fours, but the nurse yelled at me and told me I needed to lay back so she could get me hooked up to the monitors. I was a little shocked to say the least. A resident checked me and I was 4 cm dilated, -2 and 70% effaced. They said they'd call my Dr and come back to let me know the plan. My dr decided to admit me and at 4 AM they drew my blood. By 4:30 I was in a room and hooked up to monitors. I had no idea how awful those monitors would be. 

For the next few hours I labored in the room. I rested, bounced on the ball, labored on all fours, walked, and tried anything else our doula suggested. At 5:30 AM Dr. B checked in and told me there was no need to check my cervix again unless my water broke or I felt the urge to push.

At 7 am the nurses switched and somehow I got two nurses assigned to me. By 9:15 I found out the Drs also switched shifts and Dr. L came in to see me. She wanted to check me and I agreed. I was 5 cm dilated, still -2, and 80% effaced. Around that time my contractions slowed so we tried walking. I can honestly say that there wasn't a 10 minute timeframe during my whole labor where the nurses didn't come in to mess with and adjust my monitors. The most comfortable position I found was folded over, yet any time I'd get in any variation of this position the nurses would come in and insist on adjusting the monitor. I don't think there's anything more unpleasant than strangers touching, poking, pushing, and tightening two belts around your waist while you're contracting. I would beg them to let the contraction end before touching me and pushing on my belly, but they never listened. Even if I was sitting on the toilet they'd come in and insist on making their adjustments. I didn't want to really be touched at all in labor and to have strangers doing it every few minutes was really unpleasant. I really feel like this impacted my ability to relax. It's hard when there are tight belts around your waist and people constantly in your face messing with them. Not to mention, any comfortable position was out since the monitors couldn't pick up a signal when I was in them. Being upright, walking, or in bed were the only reliable positions to pick up the signal. As a result I did a lot of laboring leaning on W or Jen and  basically slow dancing. I didn't realize how great it would be to have a doula who was short like me because she was the perfect height to lean on during contractions.

Around 12:30 pm they suggested the whirpool tub and I agreed. Jen left to get herself some food and I labored in the tub. They really only let me stay in the tub for about 20 minutes before they asked me to go back to my room so they could get me back on the monitor. While I was in the tub we used wireless monitors. The tub was nice and seemed to help me relax, but once again the nurses were in the room every few minutes and I wasn't allowed to stay in very long.

Around 1:30 PM Dr. L wanted to check me again. At that point I was only 6 cm dilated and still -2 and 80% effaced. She wasn't very encouraging about my lack of progress so at 2:30 I tried walking again.

At 3:30 PM a hospital midwife came in to see me. I remembered her from Lucy and Clara's birth and also knew she delivered one of my friend's babies. She commented on how exhausted I seemed, how she could smell ketones on my breath, and how I seemed to need a little push to get things moving again. My contractions had started to space out and she said we needed to get them closer together to get things progressing. She was worried about my level of exhaustion and dehydration and suggested we start IV fluids and a bolus. I was so exhausted and didn't want to hear what the midwife had to say. She wasn't super optimistic about things and really focused on my level of exhaustion. The whole time I was in labor I was so afraid of feeling more nauseous and vomiting that I wasn't able to drink much water. I wasn't allowed to have any food. Jen offered me a drink after every contraction and I would take little sips, but my body needed more. It was obvious by the ketones on my breath.

At 4:30 PM I finally consented to start the lowest dose of Pitocin (2 mg) in order to help things progress. I really feel like this was a turning point and wish more than anything I would have made a different decision at that time. I was just that Dr. L and the midwife made valid points. I was so exhausted I started to fear I wouldn't have the energy to push my baby out. I remember talking with Jen and her saying pushing would feel different because I would be more active rather than passive like getting through the contractions.

Little to my knowledge, the pitcoin got turned up every half hour. No one asked, no one told me, and I had no idea. All I know is that I went from feeling like I could stay on top of and ahead of my contractions to feeling totally out of control. Jen had told me to picture each contraction as a wave and myself as surfing those waves. To picture myself staying just ahead of those waves in order to stay on top of them. Things got so intense so fast and I had been laboring for nearly 24 hours. It was amazing to me the difference between natural contractions and contractions on Pitocin. At 6:30 the Pitocin got increased to 6 mg and by 7:00 PM I was asking about pain relief. I debated the narcotic pain medications but after a few more contractions I asked about the epidural. When the dr told me the anesthesiologist could be there quickly, I told her that's what I wanted.

At 7:00 PM a new nurse also came on. At 7:30 my water broke in a huge gush as I stood up to lean on Jen during a contraction. It was a really weird sensation and felt like a huge water balloon came out of me and gushed onto the floor. Jen happened to be right in the line of fire and her pants and shoes got covered in my amniotic fluid. She said since my fluid levels had been high that was likely why there was so much fluid. The Dr checked me agin and I was 7 cm dilated, and still -2 and 80% effaced. By 8:00 PM the epidural was in place. I couldn't believe the difference. I went from feeling totally out of control of my contractions to not even being able to feel most of them. It was absolutely amazing and allowed me to rest for a bit.

At 9:30 Dr. L came in to tell me that the baby was experiencing decelerations with each contraction. She started to seem concerned, yet let me try different positions. I laid on my left side and they came in to tell me it was still happening. They tried oxygen and switching me to my other side but the baby wasn't tolerating things. With each contraction her heart rate would fall to around 100 and take a minute or so to recover. I started to watch the monitors and I saw her heart rate falling. It wasn't recovering after the contractions and I watched the door waiting for the dr to come back. The dr checked me again and I was 8 cm dilated. It was at that time that she also discovered meconium in the amniotic fluid. I knew at that point it was likely over. The dr let things continue with the decels until 10:45 PM when she came in and said she strongly suggested a c section. We asked for a few minutes to discuss things, but I knew it was over. At 11 PM I consented to the c section and I was wheeled into the room at 11:50 PM.

When I got into the OR they upped the epidural and I started to feel really numb. I was so cold and shivering like crazy. My teeth were chattering so hard it made my jaw hurt. They brought W in at about 12:10 and Stella was born at 12:25. I felt lots of tugging, pulling, and it smelled really bad when they cauterized things. They didn't lift Stella above the drape, and instead brought her right over to be suctioned. It took a few seconds and then we both heard her cry. They put a diaper on her and gave her to W to hold skin to skin. It was then that I was able to see her little face. Originally they said I could do skin to skin but at some point that changed. To be honest, I'm not sure I would have been able to hold her because I was shaking so much. The anesthesiologist had a heater that he was blowing on me. It helped to warm me up, but didn't make the shaking go away.

When they brought me to recovery (around 2:00 am) the Dr came and talked to me. She told me that my c section was "exceptionally difficult" and that there were a lot of adhesions and scar tissue, especially on my right side. Her scrubs were covered in blood and she said it was a good thing it hadn't been a true emergency because she may not have gotten the baby out on time. It took her 25 minutes to get to Stella.

Our doula Jen stayed with us in recovery for a while and helped me get Stella to nurse. She is also an IBCLC and was very helpful. It felt super awkward to be reclined, but Stella still latched and tried for a bit before falling asleep.

What wasn't shared with me immediately after surgery was shared the following days. Dr. L came in the following day and reiterated the difficulty of my surgery. She also said my incision was "paper thin". I honestly had no idea what that meant at the time.

At one week I had a follow up to look at my incision. I saw Dr. L and we discussed everything. I asked for clarification and she said that when she opened me up I had a "window" and that had she poked with her finger she could have opened my uterus. 

The next day I messaged one of the others Drs in the practice on Facebook. She is the one who is in our local mom's of multiples group and who got me into the practice. I asked her about the "paper thin" description and she explained things further. Apparently I had a "dehiscence" or "window", meaning the muscle layer of my previous incision had separated. The uterus has three layers; the endometrium which is what we shed every month, the myometrium which is the muscle layer, and an outer thin mucousal layer. My myometrium was no longer intact and that's why my incision was so thin. My uterus had started to rupture and Stella's decelerations were a result and signal of that. 

The days and weeks following her birth have been difficult for me. I'm still processing things and having all the post-partum hormones certainly don't help. Each day I feel a little better and I know I'll be fine, but talking to friends, W, and our doula has really helped. I'm so grateful we hired Jen and that she was there to support me in labor. I honestly don't know how anyone labors without a doula. 

  I know that the most important thing is that my daughter is safe and healthy, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed and sad about her birth. Even though I wrote a birth plan in case of a cesarean section, I honestly didn't have an open heart and mind to that possibility. I changed OB's at 20 weeks, hired a doula, and educated myself about vbac via documentaries and books. I truly thought if I wanted it and tried hard enough it would happen. I wanted this experience to be healing from my last birth. Throughout my pregnancy I said the most important thing to me was that I be able to hold my baby when she was born. I didn't get that experience of holding my daughter on my chest immediately after she was born and I think I'll always be sad about that. 

On the other hand, Stella's birth was a much better experience from Lucy and Clara's. I was conscious, we both got to hear her cry for the first time, and W was able to hold her skin to skin. I held her in recovery and was able to nurse her within the first hour of her birth and she never left our sides. I labored for 29 hours surrounded by the love and support of my husband and doula, and gave birth to my beautiful daughter. I know that the Dr gave me the best possible chance for the vbac and also let the decelerations continue for quite some time before insisting on a cesarean. For everyone's health and safety it's best I had a cesarean. 

I'm so grateful to have another beautiful daughter to love and snuggle. It's been a difficult recovery physically and emotionally, but my heart is so full!

My first time holding her.
Nursing in the recovery room. 

Lucy meets her baby sister for the first time. 
Kisses from Clara. 
First family photo. Perhaps not our best, but its our first one all together. 
All my girls. 
Kisses for baby Stella. 
Proud big sister. 
I think she loves her!
Ready to go home. 

Proud mama. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

She's Here

On October 3rd, 2015 Stella Kathryn was born. She weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce and was 21 inches long. Hopefully I'll be able to write down the details her birth story soon and share them. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I'm glad to say I've finally packed a hospital bag. It was making me anxious that it wasn't ready and that I'd be in labor trying to pack myself a bag and locate things. Last time around we did it around 32 weeks, but this time I was delaying doing it. It took me a little while to get everything together so I decided this time I'd document it a little better. I also packed more stuff for the baby this time because, more than likely, we'll leave the hospital with a baby this time!!

So, here's my stuff. W laughed at me that I labeled everything since some things are pretty obvious, but it didn't look right with only some things labeled to me. Feel free to laugh at me too : ) I know, I'm a dork. 
I forgot to include a copy of my birth plan even though I printed a copy for this purpose. I'll be adding that. If you notice, I have my own hospital gown. I bought the fabric and found a pattern on pinterest but chickened out on making it myself and asked our neighbor (who happens to be a seamstress) to sew it for me. It's kind of a silly thing to have, but I'm hoping it will make me more comfortable. 

And here is the stuff for baby girl. I probably packed too much for clothes, but they're so tiny they don't take up much space. I bought Wubbanub pacifiers for the girls to give to the baby and we've been talking about them and looking at them for weeks. I'm glad to finally have them packed in the bag so they aren't floating around the house anymore. The girls were also really into the swaddle blankets and would carry them around and ask us to wrap their babies up in them. I'm a little worried they'll be covered in dog hair despite being washed recently. 
We're unsure about whether we'll bring any cloth diapers for baby. Last time the girls didn't fit in the newborn cloth diapers for a few weeks so it wasn't an issue. We did notice that when we switched them from disposables to cloth they were fussy for a few days. I'm hoping to avoid that this time, so I may bring a few diapers and a wet bag to start. We certainly won't be exclusively cloth diapering in the hospital, but it might be nice to get her used to them early on. I'm thinking she'll go home in one if nothing else. 

So there you have it. My super exciting post about my hospital bag. I'm feeling much more ready for baby girl!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

36 Weeks

Two Years Old

I can't believe how fast the past two years of my life have flown by. I feel like Lucy and Clara were just born yesterday and we were spending all of our time with them in the NICU. They say your children grow up fast and it really is true. I've watched my little preemies grow into little girls with very different personalities and preferences. Being a mom is the toughest and best job I've ever had. There are days that I'm exhausted and feel like I can't take another minute of them. Then they go to bed and I immediately miss them like crazy.

Happy Second Birthday Sweet Girls. 
They love their hooded towels. 
Looking at baby sister's photo. 
Enjoying cookies with their buddy Jack. 
Hanging out at the playground. 
Fun in the neighbor's pool. 
A day at the beach with my girls. 
One of their preferred ways to ride in the wagon. Who knows. 
Feeding baby goats. 
Boat picnic
Loving our new shirts. Daddy got me these for my birthday. I think the girls will wear these when they meet their baby sister. 
Lounging with mama in bed. 
First ponytails. 
At the beach with Jack. 
Sister love. 
More sister love. We made a "DAD" picture collage for daddy for his birthday. 
First time trying chocolate milk. They didn't put the cups down until it was gone. 
They love their swaddled babies and mama is getting practice swaddling. Win-win
Exactly two years old on their birthday.  Unfortunately Clara was not very cooperative. It's so tough to get them both to cooperate for things like this. I guess that's what being two is all about!

Lucy- You're such an opinionated and spunky little thing. You tend to be the leader and show your sister all kinds of things to do and say. You're talking like crazy and really starting to combine words into simple phrases consistently. You have a huge vocabulary even though a lot of it can be difficult to understand. You have at least 100 different words you use regularly. You love reading books and can fill in so many words in them it amazes me. I had no idea how well you knew so many different books. You've really warmed up to Clara the past few months. You never used to tolerate her touching you or being in your space very well, but suddenly you're loving on her. You give her hugs and kisses spontaneously and will play "get you, get you" with her where you chase and then tickle/hug her. Usually she also falls down in this process, but you both think kidz pretty funny. You also love to help her when she successfully uses the potty. You'll carry a single M&M across three rooms to give to your sister and cheer for her every time you hear her pee. You also love to watch closely and hand out her toilet paper. Even though you've always loved her it's nice to see you being more affectionate towards her. You love your pop-pop more than anyone else. When he's around no one else matters. You love to be carried around by him and he lets you get away with pretty much anything. Your favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, applesauce, waffles, and pirates booty. I've been surprised by your willingness to try and eat different kinds of meats. You're pretty good about trying new things but never really eat a ton of anything. You've peed on the potty a few times and spend every other attempt trying so hard. You really just haven't figured it out yet but I know you will. You love anything having to do with babies and love talking about our baby that's coming. We talk all about the things you will do to help with her and I know you are going to be such a loving and great big sister. This month we got rid of pacifiers and it's been a tough transition for you. You're no longer asking for it or wanting it, but are having a tough time resettling yourself at night or if you wake early from a nap. Our sleep has definitely been reduced. You love running and playing outside. You like to swing high like "super Grover". We push you as high as possible and you giggle and giggle. You love running and have the funniest little run. Your butt wiggles from side to side and you often still keep your arms up in case you need to catch yourself. My MiL jokes that you run like a girl. You finally have enough hair to put into little pony tails and you love to get your hair done. You have quite the mullet, but it's mostly curls in the back. You love Sesame Street and watching T.V. We joke you are your father's daughter as you zone into the T.V any time it's on. You often try to sing along to familiar songs and your little voice is so cute. I can't believe my little girl is two years old. You have taught me how to love and be patient and I can't wait to see what the next year brings us.

With her hand rested on my belly/baby sister. 

Holding a kitten at Grandma Dukes' house. 

Morning cuteness. 

Feeding her baby. She loves the highchair she got for her birthday. She was insisting on using it only in the kitchen.

Clara- You are such a funny little girl. You love to carry around stuffed animals or little items and almost always have your hands full. If we leave the house you have to bring at least one thing every time. You love your stuffed dog, baby dolls, and Sesame Street dolls and often pick them. You love to copy everything your sister does and insist on many things being the same. Your speech has really exploded the past few months. You're saying a ton and starting to combine words like your sister.  You have at least 50-100 different words you use regularly. You love books and will befriend anyone willing to read to you. You have some favorites, but will honestly sit through a stack of ten book and then request more. You're always thinking of your sister and bringing her things. When she gets upset you'll bring her a blanket or favorite toy in an attempt to cheer her up. You love your Grandma Dukes so much and just want to sit on her lap when she comes over. You'll run to the door the second you hear her and are just so content to snuggle and sit with her. You aren't a very adventurous eater and often close your eyes in an attempt to make food disappear from your plate. You refuse to try new things most times. I think you're the type of kid that needs to see or try something twenty times before you're willing to really eat it. You love yogurt with maple syrup, watermelon, grapes, and applesauce. You're pretty hit or miss with food and never seem to eat well when we're out. You are using the potty about 2-3 times a day consistently but still aren't really initiating it consistently. You love the Elmo potty seat that goes on top of the big potty. You won't even sit on the little potty anymore because you think you're a big girl. You are so proud of yourself when you get your treat. You love to wear underwear but don't totally get it yet so we don't use it that often. You tend you get very upset when things aren't the way you want them or should be. If something is out of place or done wrong you are quick to note and complain about it. You love your "pop-pop shoes" (a pair of Keen water shoes that pop pop bought for you) and you insist on wearing them all the time. We have to hide them if we don't want you wearing them 24/7. It's so funny how you are so particular about so many things. You definitely have your preferences for things. You like to play and talk about babies with your sister. I think you are mostly copying her, but you also love to wrap up your baby in a blanket and pretend to feed it a bottle. I know you'll be super helpful with your baby sister. Whenever you see my belly lately you have to exclaim, "baby, baby!" and you snuggle and kiss my belly all the time unprompted. You have such a big heart. Getting rid of pacifiers hasn't been easy for you either. I think the sleep regression just corresponded with the pacifiers and it's more likely due to a language and cognitive burst. You're having a really hard time falling asleep, but last night I watched you do all the hand gestures to wheels on the bus while lying in your crib. I think you brain is just on overdrive and thats making it hard for you to settle at night. If only your chatting in your crib didn't prevent your sister from falling asleep. It would also be nice if you slept past 6:30. I can't deny that I'm missing my good sleeper. You still tend to trip and fall a bit. I think it's just typical toddler stuff, but when you're tired you're all over the place. It's not fun to see you fall and then cry because you're so tired. You're getting so much hair and love to have mama do it. You still don't have enough to do too much, but it's so dark and curly in the back. You definitely got your daddy's colored hair. You love stuffed animals but don't enjoy watching t.v as much as your sister. You lose interest pretty quickly and will find something else to do. I love watching the little girl that you are turning into. You are so smart and friendly with everyone you meet. You have such a big heart and are always thinking of others. You have taught me so much about how to be a good mama.