Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Infertility - One Little Word, A World of Hurt

I start this post with a very heavy heart. I-N-F-E-R-T-I-L-I-T-Y. 11 little letters that stab the heart of any man or woman experiencing it and sparks memory of a long, hard-fought battle for anyone who has overcome it. If you've never battled infertility, I know it's hard to relate but as someone who struggled for years, I can't tell you the strong emotions this one little word evokes.

Since I've announced my quadruplet pregnancy, I've definitely been plagued with a number of insensitive questions and statements about my pregnancy. I know that most are not mean-spirited and are really just innocent questions on the part of someone not knowing better. However, in spite of all of the questions I receive on a daily basis now from friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike, perhaps the worst, were ones I got while quietly battling an all out internal war against this hurtful, painful disease.  

Unlike so many illnesses, because of it's nature, couples usually battle infertility quietly and alone.  Month after month of negative pregnancy tests, unanswered prayers, and ultimately, experiencing a monthly mourning process can wreck havoc on your life, your marriage, your finances, everything; because the topic isn't one you can really freely discuss with everyone you meet, or even close friends/family, you feel completely alone. If you're one of the lucky ones, you may have close friends/family to share your struggles with you. Unfortunately, well meaning friends' advice is sometimes misguided as even though they try hard to understand and be sympathetic, the truth is, if you've never been there, you'll never understand.  You will never understand the hurt every time another friend/family member announces the news that they are expecting. You will never understand how something as sweet and special as a baby shower, can become hours of all-out torture to someone who wants nothing more than to carry their own child. You'll never understand just how complicated the situation is and how advice to "just relax and it will happen" is possibly one of the most insensitive things you could ever say to someone battling infertility. 

Recently, a close family member made the comment that they couldn't believe Adam and I went straight to fertility drugs so soon after getting married. Naturally, this insensitive statement brought flashbacks of the years of internal struggles I fought quietly while I watched that same person create their own family one child at a time without a single issue. While I am fairly certain this family member probably didn't know the battle that I had fought alone for over a decade, it definitely didn't make it any less painful. You see, I battled (and continue to battle) with a condition known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). It is a hormonal issue which in the most basic terms, makes it to where I do not ovulate. Although I was not diagnosed until my twenties, I am convinced that this condition has affected me my entire life. I was the last of all my friends growing up to get my period (in fact, I even lied at one point and said I had gotten it when I hadn't because it took so long to come) and when it did come, it was completely irregular and often painful. Along with irregular periods, other symptoms of the condition are weight issues, acne, and facial hair. Looking back, it was easy to miss these symptoms as a teenager - they all seem like regular teenage hormonal issues. Unfortunately, the issues never worked themselves out. In fact, the only time in my life where I have ever had regular periods, was when I was on the birth-control pill (which isn't good for your health either). In my mid-twenties, I started having issues with some pain on my right side that eventually prompted me to go to the doctor. After seeing multiple specialists, I was finally diagnosed with a dermoid cyst on my right ovary and PCOS throughout. I had to undergo surgery to remove the dermoid cyst which was the size of a walnut. Along with the cyst, they were also forced to remove a portion of that ovary. At the time, I was told that only 20% of the ovary was needed in order to be function and I had about 70% remaining. 

When Adam and I first met, I made it very clear to him that I wanted a family and children. I also didn't hold back about the fertility issues  either because I wanted him to know up front what he was getting into. I'll never forget when Adam told me if it was a baby that I wanted, he would find a way to give me a baby. He's definitely held true to that promise! :)

While Adam and I were able to put an end to our battle with infertility and actually achieve pregnancy, many couples don't have the same outcome.  We know that we still aren't out of the woods yet and we have a long journey in front of us before actually becoming parents (and then it's an even longer journey)!

That said, I thought I'd close with a list of things to NEVER say to a person struggling with fertility:

  • "When are you going to have a baby?" - Maybe they can't! I know it seems like a very innocent question and of course you didn't mean anything by it, but to a couple struggling with infertility, this question stings!
  • "Just relax and when the time is right, it will happen." - This is so much easier said than done. While this may be the case for some couples, it's not for many. When there is a true medical issue that is keeping pregnancy from occurring, the person could be the most relaxed person on Earth and it wouldn't make a difference with them becoming pregnant. 
  • "Have you tried acupuncture/clomid/soy/IUI/IVF/standing on your head at a 60 degree angle for 20 minutes?"  - This is wrong for so many reasons. First of all, chances are, they probably HAVE tried it already. Best advice, unless you are a licensed medical provider, stay away from giving advice regarding reproductive health.
Finally, here are a few things that actually DO help:

  • Listen! Just be there for them. You don't have to talk; let them be the ones to talk (or cry). 
  • Don't offer up advice unless they specifically ask you for it.
  • Just let them know you care.
  • Pray - seriously, some of the best words we received were the prayers that our friends lifted up to the Lord for us. We brought this to our life group in early 2013 and spent much time praying on it with them. It's amazing as we wrap up this year to see all of the prayers that were answered. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

22 Week Update

(22 weeks pregnant)

I've been meaning to post an update but it seems like this week has just been crazy busy! Between beginning the process of wrapping things up at work, getting settled in our house, doctor's visits, Christmas parties and the overall fact that I'm really starting to slow down a bit, it's been tough to get the energy to open up the laptop. In fact, usually, when I hit the recliner, I'm out for the count! 

We had our 22-week doctor's visit on Monday. Overall, we are all doing really well. Everyone's fluids are doing well, heart beats are strong, and I'm hanging in there too. She told me it was time to start thinking about wrapping things up at the office and to really take it extra easy at home in the evenings and on the weekends.  I'll admit, when she told me that earlier this week, I felt like she was pushing it as I felt good; but as the week has gone on, I appreciate her saying those things. I'm really starting to feel this pregnancy. My carpal tunnel has moved more into my left hand meaning it too goes numb constantly and will wake me up in the middle of the night. My joints are also starting to hurt and as my "bump" develops more, it's pulling my back into an angle and causing pain there too! Did I mention how tired I am? I've started randomly passing out in the car and as I mentioned earlier, whenever I sit in the recliner to watch TV, I often pass out there too!

Other than that, things are going really well. We are excited to be taking maternity photos next week before Christmas and before they anticipate putting me in the hospital around the first of the year. Who knows, if I'm extra ambitious, I may even get a few Christmas cards out with maternity photos on them. 

Other than that, our plans are to enjoy the Christmas season for what it truly is about - Jesus' birth! As we prepare for the birth of our own four little miracles, it's amazing to think of what a TRUE miracle Jesus is and the wondrous story of His birth in a stable. It really does put things into perspective as so many people are caught up in the "commercialism" of Christmas, buying presents, spending money, etc. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends and look forward to a quiet, special Christmas this year.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Expectations vs Reality in the Life of a Christian Wife and Mother

(21 week photo - note the unpacked boxes in the background which just go to illustrate what I talk about in this post)

Thus far, I've really managed to have this blog echo the persona I hope that I project to others: lighthearted, upbeat and positive. The truth is, I've really struggled with this post. It's something that's been on my mind for quite some time but I've been afraid to address it in such a public way out of fear of offending some, fear of the feedback I'd get from others and probably most of all, fear of showing vulnerability. After much consideration, I realize that I truly am vulnerable and that without Christ, I am nothing. Therefore, there's nothing for me to lose here and perhaps this post will actually relate to other women (and maybe even some men) and together, we can encourage and inspire one another.  

I have been blessed. God has blessed me with a career in an amazing company. Not only that, I have been able to work my way up through the company into a position that I am passionate about. I love what I do as a Corporate Recruiter. I love the relationships and trust that I build with my hiring managers as well as the candidates that I hire. I love that the result of my hard work, usually has a positive outcome and that I am able to impact people's lives for the better. That said, I always knew that as a woman with a passion to become a mother, there would come a day when I would have to make a choice between my career and my family.  When Adam entered my life, for the first time, I began to seriously contemplate the choices that we would need to make together. 

When Adam and I decided to begin trying to become parents, our expectation was that IF we were able to conceive, there would only be one baby. I don't think anyone ever expects quadruplets or that it's something anyone sets out to "achieve".  Our intentions were that with one baby, I would go back to work after a regular maternity leave and we would be able find an amazing childcare provider as well as keep up our busy lifestyle.  I would be able to manage my career by keeping a strict schedule at the office and working diligently to separate work and home life. 

God quickly let me know that He had other plans when he chose us to parent four children all the same age. Nothing about this pregnancy, or our lives is "regular" anymore. With four babies, all expectations go out the window.  Seriously, for some (especially myself), it's hard to imagine not being able to plan even some of the most minor things we take for granted. You never know what tomorrow will bring when pregnant with quadruplets. Each night, I thank God for keeping me home and away from bed rest for one more day and I ask him for one more, knowing that eventually, my time will run out. You literally have to take it one day at a time, and sometimes, one hour at a time in such a high-risk pregnancy. I have no reason to think that will change once the babies are actually here. 

I also immediately knew that with four babies at once, there wasn't much of an option for me to quit working and become a stay-at-home Mom. Now, even more so, it is important for me to continue to work. Although Adam and I are both blessed with good jobs, he works in an independent sales position that does not offer benefits.  My position comes with an array of solid benefits that will help to support our family and are necessary for our family to prosper.

As a Christian woman in today's society, it can be really difficult to keep up with all of life's daily demands.  We want to follow the Bible and serve our husbands as well as take care of our family but economic situations often force us out of the home and into the work force. I've sat on the sidelines and watched female leaders in my industry work long-hours due to corporate/society expectations. Some are successful and are (at least on the outside) able to implement a system that works for them, their husband, and their children. Although I expect there are days when they want to do nothing more but pull their hair out and scream at the top of their lungs but I'm pretty sure that comes regardless of one's employment status.  Others are not so successful and end up putting in long hours at the office working to climb the corporate ladder to provide for their family only at the cost of watching their families fall apart as the cost for their corporate -success.  I've sat back and watched the stay-at-home moms not only struggle with staying on top of managing their households, but also struggle with managing expectations, acceptance, adult friendships, and the general feeling of lack of interaction with other adults. I've read the blogs of other women, glowing in their pregnancy, as they actually leave their careers behind and move on to their new career as a mom/wife. I also see tons of wonderful, creative, beautifully crafted Pinterest ideas (which is an entirely different subject).  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't envious of those women who are able to put their entire focus into their family and home. In my heart, I'd love to spend my days caring for my husband, my home, and my children, planning wonderful meals, creating fun, yet educational activities for my children all while caring for and decorating my beautiful home and spending evenings cuddled with my husband on the couch watching movies and lovingly gazing into each other's eyes. 

In reality, as I get closer and closer to the time that I go out on leave from my career, and as my pregnancy progresses, I  struggle with finding energy at the end of the day to cook a hot meal for my husband, keep up with the laundry, or just push the vacuum across the living room floor. I'm really struggling with trying to determine and prepare for how I will manage once the babies are here.  Let me be clear that God has been gracious and blessed me with a strong support system. My husband has picked up lots of my slack around the house, and can often be found running the vacuum, straightening up after me due to my lack of energy, or toting groceries into the house because I can't carry them. My Mom has been amazing and has helped me to keep up with some of my household responsibilities and I have no doubt will be a HUGE help with caring for the babies once they are born. My sweet mother-in-law from out of state has also volunteered her time once the babies are home as well to help us get started with our adventure into parenthood.  That said, I have a lifetime ahead of me of managing my career as well as my household. I struggle with wondering how I can find balance between my career and what I can do to serve my husband, take care of my household, financially support my family and still provide my children with a loving, Christian environment to grow up in as well as serve as a role model for my daughters. 

I pray every single day that God will go with me and show me the path He wants me to take. I know that God will not give me more than I can handle, but I can't help but think about what life will be like trying to manage a career and keep a strong marriage, all while spending sleepless nights with four crying, hungry babies. I know it won't be easy by any means, but anything worth having doesn't come easy. I just pray that God's grace alone will be enough to get me by.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Real 20 Weeks!

I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted, but it's been kind of a busy few weeks for us. We celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary on Sunday, November 24. While originally we have envisioned something big to celebrate, in the end, we decided that the best way to spend the day was focusing on us and reconnecting as all of the pressure and stress we've been dealing with lately, was starting to take a toll on us. We slept in, I made breakfast, and we slowly started moving. We made the short drive to Austin to eat at the yummy Melting Pot! I had been begging Adam to take me for months so I was thrilled when he told me that was where we were going. We also started a tradition. Every year, from now on, on our anniversary, we will purchase a Christmas Ornament that is commemorative of the year of our marriage. We are also going to take a picture of the two of us which we will frame and hopefully, eventually have a collection of photos spanning the years of our marriage.

That said, I hit the 20 week mark on Monday. You might be confused because I posted a 20 week update last week. I blame the pregnancy brain. I thought something was off for a minute, but somehow, all my days seemed to lead up to it being 21 weeks. Fortunately, when I went to the doctor on Tuesday, they confirmed that I was 20 weeks, 1 day! So I'm back on schedule now! :)

The visit went well but it was REALLY long. We started off with an appointment with our maternal fetal specialist in the morning. It was a pretty quick but short visit. She just checked me over, said overall, I am doing fantastic. She said she sees a lot of multiples mommies that are coming in to see her in a wheelchair by where I am at so she was super pleased with how well I am doing. She said my swelling, while definitely there, is okay because at this point, I can still get my feet in regular shoes and am not confined to flip flops only. We talked about some questions we have for her, specifically, regarding delivery and I did end up signing my release for the delivery (talk about some scary language, sheesh). She said that she expects me to be admitted to the hospital somewhere between 24-28 weeks and that the babies should be here no later than 32 weeks. We will see. Of course, I'm naturally pushing to make it longer.

(my biggest cheerleader and amazing husband being silly)

After that, we had lunch in the hospital cafeteria (if you can call it that). I was super impressed with the food options. We both had rotisserie chicken, sugar snap peas, and a rice blend with nuts in it. It came with a role and a drink! Overall, pretty tasty for hospital food.

We had some downtime so we both took a semi-nap in the waiting room until our 1:00 appointment for the longest ultrasound in history. I'm not kidding, they had us down for four hours. Four hours!!! I had to lay there while they pushed on my belly (and my full bladder) for what seemed like an eternity. Overall, all of the quads look good. Evelyn (baby A) weighs 14 oz and is in the 89th percentile size wise, Daniel (baby B) weights 14 oz and is in the 83rd percentile, Waylon (baby C) is also 14 oz and is in the 84th percentile, and rounding them out is Ellie (baby D) weighing 13 oz and in the 66th percentile. So all good size, even though Ellie is a little behind him.  The ultrasound doctor did identify two areas he wants to watch on the girls but overall, they said everyone is doing well. We will continue to do what we are doing and continue to pray for the safe delivery of four beautiful, healthy babies. And as always, we are forever grateful for all of your continued thoughts and prayers. 

Wishing you safe travels for this Thanksgiving season!

Monday, November 18, 2013

20 Weeks!

(Quick shot of the bump (20 weeks) at our family Thanksgiving yesterday)

Wow! Today we are officially 20 weeks into our quadruplet pregnancy. It really doesn't seem like that long ago when we found out there were four babies at just 7 weeks. At this stage, I'm still having the carpal tunnel pain (my brace is hidden here) and my feet are really continuing to swell. Other than that, constant heartburn (the hubby now hands me the big bottle of Tums every time we leave the house) and a few "growth" pains, I feel like I'm trucking along just fine.

I even got a burst of energy over the weekend and began scrubbing closets, doors, and bathroom walls yesterday as we are getting settled into my Aunt and Uncle's farmhouse. Adam hadn't seen me clean like that since before I went on fertility drugs so he was definitely shocked. He was even more shocked when I told him I wanted my KitchenAid Mixer, Crockpot, and Pyrex pans out of storage so that I could cook. (Clearly, my domestic skills have been lacking during this pregnancy and I've wanted to do nothing but sleep!)

My Dad has been in the oil and gas industry almost all his life. From the time I was a little girl to present day, he pretty much worked every holiday. We always plan our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals around his schedule, because that is what families do. Holidays aren't about having the day off; they are about families coming together to celebrate and give thanks for what we have, including our jobs, which make it possible to put that turkey on the table in the first place. So this Sunday we had Thanksgiving with my parents. Unfortunately, two of my siblings and their families were not able to make it so it didn't feel 100% complete, but it was a beautiful day to be thankful and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to sit down with my parents and enjoy a nice meal. (Let's be honest here, this super-pregnant lady definitely enjoyed some of Momma's home cooking!)

A week or two ago, after one of our ultrasounds, I became convinced that the babies were aware of one another and were already interacting. Adam's viewpoint was that they had no clue and the kicks and punches they were throwing were more likely just reflexes than them playing with each other. So I did what any good 30-something would do. I Googled! I came across the video National Geographic: In the Womb - Multiples. It was like $13 on Amazon so it was in my puffy little hands in a matter of days. Last night, Adam and I decided it would be a nice way to relax by watching the movie together in bed. The good news, it settled the debate. Our quads are completely aware of one another in the womb, they interact, they play, the even kiss, and yes, they also establish dominance. It was cool to see that some sets of multiples continue the games they play with one another in the womb, years into their childhood. The bad news, we are both now completely terrified of the birth of our babies. The video follows three expectant mothers (a set of twins, a set of triplets, and a set of quadruplets). It shows very graphic video of what we can expect in the delivery room. So next up, trying to find a way to prepare ourselves for what is to come with a c-section!

I'd love to hear birth stories from our readers, especially those who went through a c-section! Feel free to leave your comments below (remember, please be respectful and polite to everyone).

Friday, November 15, 2013

What's in a name?

When it comes to naming one baby, I imagine that parents agonize for sometimes months on what to call their little bundle of joy. I wouldn't know. We have to name FOUR! So much thought goes into naming a child. I mean, you're giving them the name they will go through life with. What if they become president of the United States or go on to do great things? They will be known by that name for generations to come. Not to mention, we surely don't want them to be picked on at the school playground! That's kind of a big deal!

From the start, Adam and I agreed that I would name any girls and he would name the boys. We never guessed that it would be broken down so evenly. When I tell people that I've let my husband have complete control over naming his sons, many people are surprised to say the least. I, however, feel that if I trusted this man enough to marry him, let alone have his babies, I can definitely trust him with naming our sons. Even though I have some suggestions, it ultimately is his decision. 

The girls names have been pretty much set for quite some time. They are named after my maternal grandmother, both Adam's and my moms, and me! Although, I've wavered a little bit on one of the first names, I think I have made a decision. 

(Adam choosing names, with Annie "helping".)

Adam, however, had a different strategy for naming the boys. We affectionately began calling them "Buck" and "Pepe" for a while because he wasn't throwing out any names. On the day we found out there were two little boys, we went to the bookstore and he picked a baby name book. He began  with A and went through every single boy name in the book. The end result, a list of 26 names for consideration. Last night, he played with his list eliminating some names and combining some. I'm happy to say that he thinks he has selected the names for our sons. I'm not 100% confident that they will stick. When do you really know for sure? 

I'd like to begin calling them by their names. Some people might think I'm silly and I know I throw Adam off when he hears me "talking to myself" sometimes but I find myself talking to them pretty often. 

So the question I pose to you with this blog is, how did you name your child/children? When did you know that was the name that would stick? (Okay, you got me! That's two questions; but who's counting?)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Moving Mishap

I'm sure anyone who's followed us for the last week knows we are moving. We are pretty much moved out and now working on moving in to my Uncle's farmhouse. 

I've been fortunate to be able to arrange a work schedule where I am in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I can work from a reclined state. I'm not sure that I have mentioned it but for work, I am a recruiter for a global commercial real estate company. So I focus on my phone interviews on days I work from home and live interviews and meetings on the days I am in the office. Eventually, I may have to flip flop to where I'm only in the office two days a week but we will cross that bridge when we get there. My goal
is to work as long as safely possible so that I can have as much time off as possible after the babies are here. 

So today, I worked out of my parents' house while Adam worked on changing out furniture. In the process of switching out washing machines to our extra-large capacity, high-efficiency washer, he smashed his finger in one of them. I've never known Adam to willingly go to the urgent care clinic but when it didn't take much urging on my part, I knew it hurt him pretty bad. So away we went to the closest urgent care clinic which is about 20 miles away. 

We did have quite the wait but they were extremely kind and helpful. We had a good time laughing with them, talking about our quads, and made the best of a not so fun situation. Adam certainly kept them entertained. He went to have it x-rayed and came back with the most awesome sticker ever:

In the end, the radiologist did not think it is broken so they splinted it and we will be icing it. If he is still in a lot of pain in a week, he's supposed to go back. 

All in all, we are fortunate it wasn't worse but glad we had it x-rayed. And I guess Adam is pretty happy to have a free pass from moving all my stuff for a few days! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fruit Bowl or Mommy to Be?

Today we reached 18 weeks! I have an app on my iPhone called “What to Expect” and it says that right now, the babies are about the size of a mango. Can you imagine? FOUR mangos in my belly right now?!?! CRAZY!!!! I definitely feel like a human fruit bowl!  It says that there was a recent growth spurt and right now the babies should weigh about a half pound and be about six inches long! That probably explains the sudden growth in my belly. It’s starting to really look like a pregnant belly and I’m starting to hit it trying to squeeze through places that I used to have no trouble getting through. (I'll post a pregnancy picture soon, once we get unpacked.)

At 18 weeks, it seems like I’m ALWAYS hungry. And when I'm hungry, I eat. As much as I can! You see, right now (and until they are born), the only thing I can do to minimize the amount of time we spend in the NICU is to feed them so they will gain weight. The bigger I can make them, the greater the chance of survival and the only way to make them bigger is through nutrition.  So what usually happens is I eat and eat until I either can’t eat anymore or I start to gag and can no longer down another bite.  Then I have to sit in a reclined position long enough for the food to partially digests or else, one of the four babies has stomped the food in my stomach into submission! I’m trying to make healthy food choices when I can, but sometimes, it’s more of what sounds good at the moment! The most important thing is to keep feeding them, but I’m trying to get as much fruit and vegetables into my diet as I can.

To be clear, I’ve received no incentive for this, but here’s a picture of what my lunch looked like today. White Oak Kitchen & Drinks in the Galleria – Houston is still within my walking distance and didn’t involve stairs so I made the journey in anticipation of their smoked chicken salad that comes with fruit, banana bread and pecans. I also ordered a cup of their soup of the day which was some kind of creamed corn that had peppers and other goodies in it as well. 

Everything I had today was with the intention of it's nutritional benefits for the babies and be assured, every bit of it was delicious. One of the problems I’m encountering is that in the middle of eating, no matter how delicious something is, sometimes, it just suddenly starts tasting terrible. I will gag, sometimes to the point I throw up and then the only options are to stop eating or else find something that has a different, better taste to it and my body accepts! Today was a perfect example. I’m enjoying my chicken salad, when it suddenly starts to taste like I’d imagine grass to taste based on the smell. But I’m particularly disheartened that this time, in the midst of my gagging fit, I knocked over all my fruit onto my office floor. Now don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to pick it all up and eat it anyways. But after considering my babies’ health, I decided it would probably be wise not to! 

I can tell my body is working overtime to get our boys and girls ready to meet the world in a few short months! At 18 weeks, I’m also noticing that I can't take a full deep breath anymore!! It feels like my lungs actually stop inhaling for lack of space.  It’s particularly challenging when I’m in the middle of interviewing a candidate over the phone or in person and have to struggle to get the words out because I can’t breathe.

Another thing that’s been bothering me recently is a tingling/numb feeling in my fingers. It’s been bad enough to wake me up for the last three nights and is now starting to exist during the day as well. I’ve emailed my doctor at Texas Children’s to see if this is normal or something I need to have checked out.

So that’s it. The plan is to cruise through the next two weeks, in anticipation of arriving at "the twenties" and getting ever-closer to that all important first landmark goal of 24 weeks. 24 Weeks is the first point of viability and I believe it's a 25% chance of survival with a 40% chance of premature complications from cerebral palsy to issues with the heart. Every week after that improves their chances and we are praying I can make it to 32-34 weeks. The more weight they can gain and the more their lungs can develop will certainly aid their efforts to survive once born.  Adam and I pray for this each and every day, and I'm trying very hard to provide them with as much nutrition as possible, while taking care of myself so that I can carry them as long as possible. As always, we appreciate your continued prayers and are taking this one day at a time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Stay Puft Marshmallow Feet

See the picture? That's how I feel today!

It's been a LONG week to say the least. Moving is never fun, but it's even less fun when you're pregnant. With quadruplets.  

I feel like this week has been constant on-the-go, which I know isn't good for me and the babies. I haven't had time to put my feet up, so shoes that would normally be a size too big are now fitting me tight. NOT pretty! In fact, my hubby is the one who termed my feet the "Stay Puft Marshmallow Feet"! He's accurate too. Check it out:

To say the least though, we are blessed. Most of our stuff is out of the smelly house but the smell isn't gone yet. Our entire wardrobes are currently airing out under fans at my Mom's house but I fear that the inevitable is me having to wash everything we own. 

Our first day of our new commute wasn't bad. It took us an hour and a half from door to door. We also got this great view as we were leaving this morning!

But now, it's the weekend. Time to put these marshmallows up, get settled a little bit in our new place, spend time with family, and get ready to do it all again on Monday! 

With that, I'm closing. It's time to rest and grow these babies! Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Baby Update - 17 week check-up

We had a quick check-up appointment with our nurse practitioner, Aimee, this morning. Everybody is doing great!! All four babies were super active. I have gained 21 pounds so far which is still less than where I was supposed to be at 14 weeks but all in all, they were happy about it since ultimately, my weight gain has an impact on the size/health of the babies. I told Adam that he has to have a talk with his first son. While A,B, & C were all three pushing and shoving, his "B" boy was head-butting my sweet, angel girl, Baby "A". My tiny little sweetheart sassy girl, Baby "D", is tucked up above the "bullpen" and playing on her own. 

Overall, we are right on target. For the first time, they mentioned the possibility of going to 34 weeks. Previously, it was always 32 weeks. She told me that I was making this look easy, which I'm pretty happy about! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Growing Patience (with a little blood and a little fame)

Lesson learned: God is definitely preparing me to roll with the punches!

You should know that I am writing this blog as I lay on our queen size air mattress which I'm sharing with Adam and Annie. In the smelly house. You'll understand why in a little bit! 

I woke up Wednesday morning full of excitement that it was my last morning in the moldy house with the smelly water. I even posted on Facebook that it would be my last morning of my gag routine. (And it was definitely a grand finale of the gag routine!)

Things went very smoothly. Adam had picked up my Dad's truck the night before and headed to north Houston early in the morning to pick up the trailer we rented. He hired a few guys to help him as we have way too much heavy furniture for him to do it himself. They got to the house and were loaded up by noon. He fed the guys lunch and they were headed to the country with our stuff. The first stop was at my Aunt & Uncle's farmhouse where we will be staying for the next couple months. He put the items we needed in one of the rooms there and then went to arrange for storage. We'd called ahead to a few places and thought it was lined up but Adam saw a place near the house and pulled in. Luckily, they had plenty of storage. He set everything up and upon talking to the owner, he learned that Mrs. Blake Shelton (aka Miranda Lambert) also stores her stuff there. (Yeah, I know it's a stretch for fame but seriously, I have to get you to read somehow. Plus, you never know, her stuff might be sitting right next door to mine!) Now, if you know us, or if you've been reading this blog carefully, or if you're a native Texan, you might know the small town where we are living. Anywho...the moving part took place without a hitch. 

Here's where it gets juicy. The plan was that Adam would come back to town to bring his guys home, we'd swing by the house, pick up Annie (our Yorkie) and our clothes and bathroom stuff, and head to the country to stay with my parents. My Dad even made homemade gumbo in anticipation! Unfortunately, another plan was to be had. 

I drove Adam's Honda to work as my car was at my parent's house. It's just a little old Civic but he's done a lot of work to it. It did fine but as I was leaving the office, I noticed there was something off about the brakes. I get on 610 (if you're unfamiliar with Houston, this is fondly known as "the loop" and in 5:00 traffic, it's brutal)! Guess what!!! I have no brakes!! So I'm pregnant with quadruplets, driving down 610 in bumper to bumper traffic with a ton of maniacs and I have no brakes. Implement panic mode. I called Adam and he tells me to pull over immediately and just wait. So I took the first exit I could (Bellaire Blvd) and find the Frost Bank building. I pull into the parking lot. It doesn't take me long to realize the crisis I am in: extra pregnant, no brakes, husband still a good hour away with traffic, and no one who lives on my side of town nearby. I text a coworker who I knew was still at the office and wait. While I'm waiting, the tears set in. And not the just a little drop or two; before I realize it, I'm full blown crying! Wiping my tears on my hands, I suddenly start to smell and taste blood. What could that be? I look down, the back of my hands are covered in blood. A look in the mirror confirms my suspicion: a nose bleed! Just great! I find a napkin in the glove compartment and work at stopping the bleeding. Just then, my coworker calls and she can tell I'm in a panic; she's on her way immediately. She picks me up equipped with a cold bottle of water and tissues. We go back to the office where I wash my face and hands and by that time, Adam is close. He picks me up in the Dillards parking lot. 

To cut to the chase, by the time we drop his guys off, park the truck and trailer, grab some dinner (babies gotta eat) and get back to the Honda, it's 10:00. Turns out, the hard brake line in it went out. Adam drives it back and we determine that since we have to return the trailer at 8 AM to make a 9:20 doctor appointment, we have no choice but sleeping in the smelly house. I am. Laying on a surpringly half way comfortable air mattress (ok, maybe the fact that I put 100 pillows underneath me has something to do with it) and typing out tomorrow's post on my phone. 

(A pic of our camp, minus me. Yes, those are all my pillows piled up on the side.)

With that, I close. It's time to say my prayers and thank God for keeping us safe and always giving solutions. I'm also going to ask for a good night's sleep too! It can't hurt, right? 

Moving Day!!

As we prepare to become parents, Adam and I have been faced with many life-changing decisions.  This summer, about a month and a half before we found out we were pregnant, we moved from our two bedroom apartment in Jersey Village into a lease home in Pearland, Texas.  Nothing fancy, it was a sweet little house on a quiet, dirt road, away from tons of people. Just what we wanted! The only problem was, soon after we moved in, we began noticing an awful smell in the water along with a major ant problem. Not only that, but I kept complaining to Adam of a musty smell in the house.  As my pregnancy came to fruition, my nose got stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, so did my gag reflex and on a number of occasions the two smells combined, made me ill. I began carrying a bottle of Febreeze in my car to spray down my clothes after I left the house or else I would smell it all day long. I began to get sick more often. I spent many nights awake with coughing fits and experienced my first three nosebleeds of my life.

As time went on, we slowly began to smell the mold smell more and more and eventually, we began to see it seeping from the crown molding around the ceiling. We finally were able to associate all of the symptoms that I’d been having with a mold allergy instead of pregnancy symptoms. Knowing the risks associated with both the high-risk pregnancy and having pre-mature babies in our home, we knew this wasn't a safe place for us to continue to call home.  We decided that we had to make other arrangements and find a way to get out of this lease.  We prayed for guidance in making our decision.

Eventually, we came up with a solution. We took a week off and went to visit Adam's side of the family in Roswell. This provided us with the clarity we so needed to make a decision. We would get out of our lease (preferably by being let out vs breaking a lease), move in temporarily with family, and then work on getting a place of our own where we would be putting our money into owning vs leasing. We set to work on our plan. My Aunt and Uncle graciously agreed to let us stay in their farmhouse for a few months while we get everything set up. We are ever so thankful for that blessing!! After a couple phone calls to our landlord, he agreed to come down and meet with us. We explained our situation, and surprisingly, he agreed to let us out of our lease without a penalty.

So, the tough part began! Packing!  Luckily, we never threw away our boxes from the moved this summer and in fact, I’m embarrassed to admit, several boxes were never even unpacked! As I mentioned in the previous post, I have battled a lot of exhaustion during pregnancy so that’s kept me from doing my fair share of packing. But last night, I spent the entire afternoon/evening packing up and getting ready. Today, Adam will hire a couple of guys to help him load everything into a trailer and we will be putting most of our belongings into storage. From there, we will continue to work on getting our living situation taken care of as quickly as possible. Hopefully, we will be able to be in our house by Christmas but I know that’s pretty ambitious. We’ll just see.

I’m so thankful that my husband is willing to carry the bulk of this load and do all of the heavy lifting. This summer, I was able to help out with some of it so it makes me feel bad that I can’t right now. I have to keep telling myself that I’m “lifting” our four precious babies on a daily basis and providing for every single need they have so maybe that makes up for a lot of it but I know he’s got a lot on his plate too! Your prayers are much appreciated for a smooth day and an easy move!

So with that, we close this chapter of our lives. Although our stay in this house was very brief, and a lot of it wasn't pleasant, it’s still just a tad bittersweet. This is the house where our babies were made and where we've spent so much of this journey. One day, we will look back on this house and all its issues and laugh – but we’ll also think fondly of it because it’s where we set out on this journey!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"The Story" - To Date

I am pregnant.  With QUADRUPLETS!  There! I said it. You’d think that after several months of breaking the news to friends, family, and strangers you’d get used to that phrase, but in reality, I’m not sure if that will ever happen.

We are approximately 17 weeks along, so we are well into our second trimester and doing well but with such a high risk pregnancy, things can change at a moment’s notice.

Undoubtedly, there’s a lot for me to catch you up on so I decided to give you a little bit of history here.

Here goes:

Adam and I were married on November 24, 2012. That’s right, our one-year anniversary is quickly approaching. It’s been one heck of a first year of marriage! There’s been both ups and downs, but perhaps the biggest thing to happen to us, is (1) getting pregnant and (2) finding out it is quadruplets.

If you read my section about our infertility story, you know I have PCOS.  That means I do not ovulate.  (If you are curious: If you read that post, you know that yes, we had some assistance getting pregnant. We took medications and had an IUI to get pregnant. It took a lot of medications: letrozole, gonal f, menopur, cetrotide, HCG-Chronic Gonadotropin, along with progesterone were all used as part of my treatment plan. You can read more of the specifics under “Our Infertility Story”.

August 20, 2013 was a HUGE day for us! It was our first ultrasound during which we were to confirm the heartbeat and “numbers”. We didn’t really think much about “numbers” going into it. As hard as it was for us to conceive, we thought surely there was only one baby!  Together, we entered the room both nervous to make sure our little “bean” was growing well. To our surprise, a concerned look quickly came over our doctor’s face. I couldn’t see the ultrasound screen from where I was so I began looking to Adam for comfort. He was trying to see the screen but couldn’t; immediately, we both were overcome with a sense of doom. That’s when our doctor shared the news with us! What we thought was him having trouble finding the heartbeat was in reality, him having trouble counting the number of heartbeats. In a matter of minutes, we got to hear all four of our precious babies’ heartbeats. To say we were shocked would be an understatement! 

Then came possibly the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life! I’m sharing this simply because never knowing anyone in this situation, I would have never guessed that this takes place. It goes against everything that Adam and I believe and I think it’s safe to say that I speak for both of us when I say we were hurt by it.  Immediately following hearing those first little beats of our babies’ hearts, we were advised to see a specialist about having a reduction. They wanted us to “choose” which two of our babies got a chance at life and which two would never take their first breaths! Adam put his hand on my back and I could tell we were on the same page. Immediately, we knew that was not something we would even consider. While we had definitely been put on the hot seat, we knew that God has a bigger plan and we would let His will be done. We are not so naive to think that there aren't risks involved with carrying four babies; but we feel confident that God has us in His hands and he will lead us down this path.

The months that followed brought many more doctors’ appointments. We continued to see our specialist up until 9 weeks gestation at which point, we knew we had to transfer to a maternal/fetal specialist. We chose Texas Children’s Hospital to be our primary care provider as well as to deliver the babies. Their NICU is one of the best in the world and knowing that our babies will probably spend a significant amount of time there, we wanted to choose wisely.

To date, we have received some of the best care imaginable there and are very satisfied with our choice. While I am technically assigned to one doctor, I have a team of 10 doctors who are all contributing to my treatment plan. Every member of the staff has been amazingly helpful to us as we have begun this journey.

Last week, on October 31, 2014, we went in for a 16 week growth scan to make sure all babies were developing as they should. It was a two hour ultrasound and we got a peak at each babies heart, kidneys, and bladder. But possibly the most exciting part was getting to find out that God is so GOOD to us he gave us 2 little boys and 2 little girls! We are extremely excited as this eases a lot of issues that arise when having multiples – splitting up bedrooms, if there’s an odd number, will one always be left out? You’d be amazed at how many things there are to consider! Plus, Adam is extremely excited to have a couple of sons to go hunting and fishing with (not saying that our girl’s won’t)!

So this brings us to today.  It’s crazy to think there are FOUR babies in my belly; two little girls and two little boys!!   The odds of quadruplets unassisted are 1 in 729,000. Assisted reproduction increases your odds to 1 in 142,000.  It’s kind of like we hit the lottery baby wise!  While the first trimester was really tough, thanks to extreme fatigue, it’s starting to ease up a little bit at this point. I am starting to get quite a few sharp pains from their growth and I’m starting to be able to feel them moving inside me. Adam is ready to be able to feel them too! We have a feeling that is right around the corner!

We sincerely appreciate all of your prayers and support! We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful family, friends and church family! You all mean the world to us!  The plan is that I will continue to update the blog throughout the pregnancy; but at some point, we know it will be that Adam will have to take over. While he may not post as many stories, he will definitely keep everyone aware of what’s going on!

Monday, November 4, 2013


Hi there! I'm glad you found your way here. There are so many reasons why I want to start (and continue) this blog. First and foremost, if you're here, you probably have some sort of interest in multiples - maybe you know me, maybe even you or someone you know is expecting! But regardless of what brought you here, YOU are the reason I want to write this blog.

When my husband and I first found out we were expecting quadruplets, there were a few days where we were caught like deer in headlights trying to feel our way around for what to do next. Had it not been for a few wonderful women from all over the world with blogs just like this one, I think I would have been even more lost. I have never had the chance to thank many of them personally, but if given the opportunity, I want to! So this blog is my way of giving back. By sharing our experiences, the successes, the failures, and all that we go through, I hope to help others in this situation. Of course, we've been blessed beyond belief with so many family and friends that we want them to be a part of this too, so this blog is for them also so that they can be a part of our experience. Finally, this experience is one that will be unforgettable, but I still want to create something that (hopefully) I can share with my four little miracles one day so that each of them can know how they got here (and what their first few years were like). 

So that's it! Put your feet up, settle in, and I hope to bring you exactly what you're looking for: hope, advice, a friend, a laugh, maybe even a cry or two (but not too many of those, I pray).  Let's get started!