Monday, January 25, 2010

The Long Scary Version

So after a short walk and a long wheelchair ride through St. Luke's, and then back through St. Luke's the other way, I made it to the ultrasound area and started an hour-long—and very gloopy—series of pokes and prods and measurements, during which a dollop of ultrasound gel found its way onto the bottom of my sock, even though my feet were both hidden beneath a sheet and a small table during the whole procedure. I would not be shocked if an entire bottle of the stuff followed me home one day, only to spread its stickiness and stink onto every article of clothing I own.

There's bad news. Baby B doesn't appear to have much fluid at all. He's squished good and a bit crumpled, and his odds aren't fabulous for making it, even if I can keep these brothers in. But that's not the point.

There's good news. Because we've got twins in there, Baby A's fluid acts as a bit of leeway for Baby B to stretch his lungs. Baby B's odds are better than if he were alone. And happy news, we can decorate the nursery a little differently now that we've found that second set of man parts. As it turns out, Baby B is a boy.

I still hold great hopes for Baby B. If he's as strong as his father and as stubborn as his mother, his odds are better than expected. We can hope that with his brother's protection and the prayers of friends and family across the nation, he will live. We have faith for his safety, whatever the will of God is.

And we do have excellent care. Dr. P up at St. Luke's will see me in a week to keep an eye on my cervix (if you're cringing at the word, just stop reading now), to make sure it doesn't thin out. If it does, they'll do a cerclage. I looked up what that is, and frankly, the least disturbing way to say it is that they will sew my uterus shut. The whole thing sounds completely unpleasant. At least I'd be under anesthesia when they did it. But that's for next week, if I need it.

And if I make it a full four weeks, they'll measure the babies again and I'll talk with a neonatologist about what may be next. We'll have a lot more difficult questions to answer along with our difficult realities to face and difficult odds to swallow.

There is hope for our little struggling baby, and for his slightly larger brother. They'll both need strength and miracles to survive. We already know that's possible. What's left to us is the work of prayer—and the acceptance, on my part, of wheelchair rides and continued room service. And patience with the waiting and seeing that has already gone by faster than we can turn our heads.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hands of God

But I'm forgetting something important. Maybe there is some mystical point at which children become ours. And maybe it is simply God's providence that decides whether we get there or not. Or with everything in God's power, especially his precious babies, I imagine it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine he treats these things on a case-by-case basis.

In any event, it is up to me to trust that God will grant motherhood in his own time, in his own way. And however it happens, fairness and justice beyond my understanding will be perfect anyway.


In a high risk situation like mine, it's hard not to contemplate all of the options. And when you're a believer in a special kind of afterlife, like I am, it's easy for what seemed like a simple eternity to turn into a place full of questions—the type nobody claims to know the answers to. And the answers are suddenly the most important thing in the world.

When am I a mom? And I mean that in a literal sense: when do I have my daughter and son? It's a crucial part of my belief system that children born to my husband and I will be our children even after our deaths and into the eternities. And any child who dies young is innocent and goes to heaven. If I go there, that's where I can meet them. But what counts as born?

Am I just growing little bodies who will get spirits when they come out hearts beating? Or breathing? Or at what point do they get spirits to whom I am the earthly mother? They could come out of me alive but doomed to die at any point. Would they never have tiny spirits in those bodies? Or would they come just for those brief moments, even if they can't take a breath and won't receive medical attention? If they live only seconds?

And what if they die before they make the exit? Is that what decides if they were ever alive at all? And does it make a difference whether it happens at 20 weeks or 35? Or 12?

Or does it have more to do with what I do? Do I earn my motherhood badge? Or do I only get it if I somehow carry these babies to viability and deliver them alive? At what point do I earn the privilege of meeting them in heaven?

If I can't have children now, there will be opportunities for children in the next life, when God makes everything perfect and my body will conceive and bear children as easily as anyone else's. But it is these two whom I have loved. In all my vomiting spells and late nights up with the queasies and moments I have waited quietly for them to kick me and desperate times I have prayed for their safety, I have loved these children.

If they die before they're born, is it in the afterlife as if they never existed? Is it just the potential for souls that I have loved?

But then, what about the tiny bundles of cells that never stick, or die before they can? What happens when a new creature comes into being at the successful fertilization of an egg, but isn't even noticed before it leaves? Or the ones that do stick, but stay for only a few days before they die? So many of these go unnoticed—could they all be our children that we don't know we have? What sense does that make? And if they aren't our children when they're a hopeless bundle of cells, when do they become our children? It seems like it should be at the moment of conception (whenever you consider that to be) or at the moment baby takes a breath.

If I beg hard enough can it be sometime in between? Can heaven be neither full of children we never knew we had nor empty of those we tried so hard to deliver alive into the world? And if it can, when is that miracle moment when these bodies I carry become children I will love throughout eternity? And does it make any sense for a child to be or not be based on whether they will be mourned?

None of it makes sense to me. I trust that everything will be just and fair in heaven. And I suppose now I can know for sure that my understanding of just and fair falls as short of enough as Earth falls short of heaven. And where some women will always call their miscarried children their angels in heaven, I will walk feeling like that tiny bird in P.D. Eastman's iconic book, but asking a far stranger question: Am I your mother?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


They make my mouth taste like a tide pool at low tide on an unfortunately hot and sunny day. Except not quite as good. In fact, I imagine between the salt and the minerals in the rocks and the little creatures living in there, it probably has a decent sushi-ish taste that would be quite an improvement on the post-graham-cracker funk I've got going on in here.

It is Colorado's fundamental problem that there are no nearby tide pools for me to lick.

But I do appreciate the delightful concentrations of Adventists and Presbyterians who run hospitals here. All my doctors seem religious in a very friendly way, and I've really never enjoyed hospitals so much. The Adventist hospitals in Parker and Littleton have been unmatched in their medical services. I had to spend only five or so minutes at a Littleton Adventist shot clinic to get my H1N1 vaccine, and Parker Adventist has been fabulous through several ER visits.

And Monday, I get to go up to Presbyterian St. Luke's in Denver to see a high-risk pregnancy specialist who works at the best NICU at which you can deliver in the western US. So GO PROTESTANTS! My hat is off to you and the fabulous services you offer.

And what I'm hoping your finest can tell me is how my kiddos are faring in that regularly ultrasounded belly of mine. Seriously, I don't know that I'll ever get the residue of ultrasound gel off of me. The stuff dries on my skin while the ultrasound is still in progress, and by the time it's over all the napkins in the world can't scrub the stuff off. It peels itchily off of the parts of my abdomen I can no longer see without a flashlight and a mirror, and I just have to hope it's coming off in the reduced-soap showers I'm required to take. Apparently soap, like so many other things, is an infection risk.


But with Dr. G's office equipment, the visual has been tentatively encouraging. Goofuth is still low on juice, but it doesn't look too terrible. And while Gallant regularly flashes any interested doctor with his mini-man parts, Goofuth appears to be man-part free. Nothing is certain, especially in some of those grainy pictures, but all bets are on Gallant having a sister. Judging by their earlier ultrasound behavior (from when they had equal fluid surrounding them), they're essentially miniatures of Tim and me: one restless girl with a severe case of the wiggles, and one patient boy with a tendency toward quiet. Or so I'd assume based on Gallant's having stuck his head firmly in the placenta at the furthest end from his sister, and Goofuth's enthusiastic squishing of my guts.

We're two days away from three weeks past membrane rupture, and three days away from the 20-week mark at which doctors will administer labor-postponing drugs if I start contracting. It is very much a miracle that we've made it this far, and I can't thank you enough for your prayers and thoughts on our behalf. I really believe that it's because of your efforts that God has preserved our precious little babies so far. It has taken lots of power to keep the kids safe this long, and that's the power called down from heaven by prayer. So thank you, and thank God for the countless blessings that add up to two live fetuses still in the womb.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Video Games are Good

So I guess there is a portion of society that thinks video games are evil. And I'd also guess that they think so because of the way some people die from video game addictions, or how some kids have no real social lives and instead play VGs all the time, or it could be the school shootings that get blamed on VG violence. Okay, so these people might have a point.

But saying VGs is evil for these reasons is like saying food is evil because people get fat and die eating it. My giant, bacony Five Guys burger (I couldn't type that without salivating) could be compared to, say, World of Warcraft. I really enjoy it, but I don't have it all the time. If I had Five Guys or WOW all the time, I'd die from it eventually. And like WOW is designed by psychologists to be addictive, many fast food chains employ chemical flavorings designed to make you crave their food. The thing is, eating fast food every now and then can be a part of a healthy diet. I argue that video games of all types can be part of a healthy recreational diet.

Violence? Social lives? Yeah, we all know those kids were screwed up before their N64 showed up under the Christmas tree. People blame video games for being a drug-like "escape from reality." I doubt anyone has had a drug trip that pushed them into a fantasy that they were the muscle for a fascist-style dictator in a socialist community where their penultimate authority allows them to not only fully allocate all resources, but also destroy anything and salvage its every component for use in whatever other structure they see fit. Or that they can wield ancient weapons and ride exotic creatures as they hunt down the enemies that threaten whichever community hires them as mercenary.

In fact, those fantasies sound a lot more like those brought on by another media substance occasionally considered evil: books. For readers, who often sequester themselves to finish entire series they find exciting, the interactions they have with words on a page penetrate to affect the psyche as much as any video game, and for most readers, more. Of course there are massive differences between VG and book interactions, but none of those makes video games evil.

So if I've finally assuaged those of you with some religious anti-VG feelings, maybe I can get a little relief from those of you who look at me funny when I mention my xbox games or WOW toons. I'm going to go kick some more Keflings on my 360.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Drowing in Boredom (Also, Water)

There's nothing like lying in bed all day to get my mind off of how much danger my unborn children are in. It's a total distraction from how massively worried I am that (a) I will go into labor any second or (b) Baby B is being so squished his tiny body is failing under the pressure.

And if any of you can drink 120 ounces of water a day (during a day you spend almost constantly partially or fully reclined) without getting massive reflux, you're a better woman than me.

So to distract me from each day's 24 hours of possible insanity, I've decided to pick up a few new skills. First, I want to learn to crochet or knit. I want to make a couple of tiny baby hats to illustrate head sizes for each month I'm pregnant until they come out. Then, no matter when it happens, they will have hats.

I've always had a come-and-go fancy to learn the acoustic guitar. Heaven knows I'm a sucker for acoustic music, and how cool would it be if babies' first lullabies could reverberate right off my belly? So cool! Does anyone have an extra? Maybe send me your husband's from back when he was using it to try and pick up chicks.

I would use the time to write, but frankly my brain is on the fritz. And I mean the severe fritz. This must be what people just above the mental retardation IQ border feel like. I can still enjoy a good read and make sense of the same things—it just takes a lot longer. And my attention span is short. Ask anyone who's tried to converse with me in the last few months. Don't ask me. I won't be paying attention by the time we get to the question mark. I've put this blog entry down no less than five times already.

My current time-suck is losing game after game of spider solitaire on medium difficulty. I could really use a new sudoku book, but that stuff has melted my brain plenty already. So what I want from you is a mindless hobby you love. The busier it keeps my hands, the better. I have to be able to do it in bed, put it down at a moment's notice when I need to, and keep pressure or strain off of my stomach. Wacky arm movements are probably a bad idea, too.

In fact, this question might be better posed to the residents of a convalescence home. We share a few important traits: slow brains, an inability to exercise, and bodies that can't take a lot of pressure. Then again, they, like me, might have difficulty focusing long enough to give a coherent answer.

Still, I can't complain. Even a pregnancy with severe complications has turned out to be more fun than gainful employment!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Babygate Update

I just got back from seeing Dr. G (and eating soup and a sandwich), and the news is, uh, okay. It's pretty clear that Baby B (the upper baby) had the rupture. The bag is still pretty low on fluids, but there is at least a little in there, and we saw the little one lick his or her lips. What we have to worry about is lung development. Babies need to breathe amniotic fluid for their lungs to develop, so little Goofuth's sac needs to refill and stay full, at least enough for his lungs to mature. If the fluid is insufficient, he'll have Potter's Syndrome and won't survive the outside.

So the prayer is that the fluid can build up and stay in, at least as much as is necessary. They'll probably give me steroids at around 24 weeks to help his lungs, but they won't do any good without enough fluid—and there's nothing anyone can do about that. Dr. G says we just need to wait to see what happens and have faith.

Gallant is doing great in there. He's got plenty of fluid—enough to squish his twin so much we couldn't tell the gender. But we did see little boy parts on Baby A! He's wiggling away in there and looking very healthy. In other news, his placenta appears to be right on top of the exit, so it looks like a definite Cesarean (which will likely be bloody bloody bloody since the placenta is right where they make the emergency exit, too).

While preterm labor is still a concern, I've made it over four days since the rupture without going into labor. Dr. G says the reason it's so uncommon for women to break their water so early and still deliver at term is because it's extremely rare for a woman to break her water without contractions causing it or following right after (or for the cause to be an infection that makes it necessary to deliver immediately).

I guess our first miracle of 2010 is me not going into labor. Let's hope the second is for Goofuth to get enough fluid to have big strong lungs. Come May or so I want to hear two sets of tiny lungs screaming. Until then, I'll do my best to keep baby boy and mystery sibling in my big swelly belly.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What's Going On

Okay, so at midnight two nights ago my water broke. I thought I'd just completely lost urinary continence, threw my pants in the sink to rinse, and took another several minutes to realize I was not peeing. The insurance's nurse line told me to get to the ER, and call an ambulance if I couldn't get a ride. Naturally, I panicked a little before throwing on some fresh bottoms, grabbing Tim's wallet and keys, and screaming for him to take me to the hospital.

I read online that over 20% of women who go to the hospital thinking they're leaking amniotic fluid get sent home because they've actually just peed their pants. I was pretty sure that wasn't the case, but hey, a girl can dream!

I got wheeled into triage, and then up to the OB floor, where they could run a few tests to see exactly what it was I was leaking. The look on my nurse's face gave me sweaty palms when the second test showed positive for amniotic fluid where amniotic fluid should NOT be when you're 17 weeks pregnant.

A quick exam proved it—baby A's water bag had sprung a leak. Everyone knows that water breaking leads to labor, but the OB deck doc had to explain it to me very carefully. I was most likely to begin labor in the next 48 hours, and there was nothing the hospital would do to stop it this early, and nothing they could do to save the babies if they delivered before 23 weeks.

Then my OB called to tell me that since hospital intervention wouldn't happen (even to delay labor) until at least 20 weeks, I'd be best off sitting at home and hoping I don't go into labor. If they kept me at the hospital, I'd be on the GYN floor, since the pregnancy doesn't graduate to OB status until 20ish weeks.

Frankly, the chances of survival for the babies are not good at all. Everyone in the room decided to hang on to the slim chance that I wouldn't go into labor, and the fluid leak would seal. Both babies are healthy and big and have nice strong heartbeats, but my ability to keep them in is suddenly extremely questionable.

I went from about a 97% chance of carrying to term to odds so slim they won't tell me what they are—only that they know a woman who broke her water at 18 weeks and lasted to deliver at term. They gave me antibiotics and sent me home in the very early morning with instructions to stay on very strict bedrest and only get up to use the restroom. For the rest of the pregnancy.

I've done without a hitch almost 46 of the 48 hours during which I'm most likely to go into labor. There's no sign of infection. I still feel the babies move, and I'm not leaking a huge amount. There is still a chance I get to keep them. If I make it about three more weeks, they'll hospitalize me for the remainder of the pregnancy, likely at St. Luke's. Then they can give me medicine to put off labor if anything goes wrong. After 24 weeks, the hospital will perform lifesaving measures if I deliver the babies. Best case scenario is I end up in the hospital in three weeks and stay there for another four or five months before I deliver the babies. Worst case scenario is obvious.

I'm almost to the 48-hour milestone. Then 12 more days until the two-week milestone. Then another week before I see my doctor and he decides on hospitalization. If all goes well, I have a long stretch of sitting in bed all the time in front of me. It is already boring, but I hope to everything that's good I have to stay in bed until at least May.

So that's what happened. I skyrocketed to a super high-risk pregnancy overnight, and now all I can do is stay in bed and wait for something to not happen.