Archive of ‘Ultrasounds’ category

The Home Stretch

Ever since our scare a few weeks ago, both of my doctors have been monitoring the twins closely. I now go for a weekly fetal non stress test (NST), which measures the babies’ movements and heart rates for about 20 minutes using three monitors strapped to my belly. The pressure on my abdomen seems to bug Matt and Nate, because they start moving like crazy as soon the monitors are strapped on, thus knocking them all over the place and making the test unnecessarily difficult. But it sure is fun to watch!

I also go for a weekly biophysical profile (BPP), which involves a lengthy ultrasound that measures the babies’ breathing, movement, muscle tone, and heart rate, as well as my amniotic fluid. My latest BPP was on Monday, May 23. I was 32 weeks and 1 day into the pregnancy.

Matt, our little guy, now weighs 3 pounds, 8 ounces! It seems he is more eager to enter the world than his brother. His head is so far down in my pelvis that the ultrasound technician could not get an accurate measurement. She had to call in the perinatologist, who proceeded to manhandle my belly and slowly guide the baby up higher so she could do her thing. (Pregnant women, don’t try this at home—you can rupture your amniotic sac if you don’t do it properly!) We also could not get a good picture of Matt’s face, since he is facing backward.

Nate, our big boy, is tipping the scales at 4 pounds, 3 ounces! He has settled in behind and above his brother, and not quite head down—which means he will definitely be born second. It also means I will almost certainly get a C-section, since Matt won’t be able to make enough room for him to make his entrance. But, we were able to get a 3D scan of his face. The only problem was, he decided to play Peek-A-Boo and hide behind his little hand. I guess he doesn’t want to reveal himself until he makes his grand entrance.

Peek-A-Boo!

The doctor said that both boys have been growing well and their biophysicals look good. He is not as concerned about Matt’s smaller stomach because it has grown substantially over the past few weeks.

However, Matt’s breathing rate is slightly fast. While the doctor is not too concerned yet, he does want to check it again in two weeks. The appointment will be on June 8. If the breathing rate is still high enough to cause alarm, I will be hospitalized and given steroid injections to stimulate growth of the boys’ lungs … and then the twins will be delivered! If the breathing is slower, they will likely wait another two weeks before delivering the babies.

So, in two weeks’ time, Keith and I may be a mommy and daddy! While that would mean he’ll deploy a bit sooner than we’d hoped, it is overshadowed by the sheer joy and excitement we feel about welcoming our little boys into the world. We are beyond excited to meet them and to become a family … so excited, in fact, that in the two days since the BPP we got the car seats inspected (and learned that Keith installed them like a champ), threw the last few necessities into our hospital bags, and put the final touches on the nursery. Stay tuned for photos!

Baby Drama

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, which began with our first melodramatic pregnancy moments.

In mid April, my OB decided she wanted me to start having bi-weekly fetal fibronectin tests. The test is given to women who are at high risk for preterm labor. (Being pregnant with multiples automatically places me in that category.) It looks for a protein secreted by the cervix as it prepares for labor. If the test comes back negative, you are likely not going into labor in the next two weeks. If it comes back positive, that’s when things get tricky.

My first fetal fibronectin test came back negative. I had my second test on April 27.

Friday, April 29 began as a great day for me. My mom was flying in that night for a long weekend, and Keith and I were planning to go to a Rockies game while we waited for her to arrive. First, Keith had to go in to work for an important pre-deployment meeting with his brigade commander and a few others.

At 9:05 that morning—only five minutes into Keith’s meeting—my OB’s medical assistant called. “I have some news!” she announced. “Your fetal fibronectin test came back positive!” As my heart began to race, she informed me that I needed to get to my perinatologist’s office “as soon as possible” so he could start me on steroid injections. The steroids would help the twins’ lungs to develop in case they had to come early.

I flew into a complete panic. First, I called my mom, hysterical crying. “I can’t give birth this weekend!” I shrieked. “I’m only 28 1/2 weeks along!” Then, I began to think about all of the things I hadn’t yet done. I had not yet packed a single item into the hospital bag, or even purchased the cribs!

I called Keith right away, and he raced out of his meeting. We high-tailed it to the perinatologist’s office in a frenzy. We did not calm down until he walked into the room and we saw his face. “Relax,” he said. “This is likely nothing to worry about.”

He and an ultrasound technician ran a few tests to look for other markers of preterm labor. There were none present. “You’re fine,” he said. “Go home and relax.”

It turns out that a positive fetal fibronectin test result does not mean much. As the perinatologist explained, it could mean the expectant mom has a 30% chance of going into labor in the next two weeks, or a whopping 85% chance. Only the negative result is absolute. (It sure would have been nice for the medical assistant to share that tidbit with us.) Keith and I went home, collected ourselves, and went to the baseball game—business as usual.

The following Monday—May 2—I went back to the perinatologist’s office for my regular growth ultrasound. For the first time, Keith couldn’t get out of work to come with me. Luckily, my mom was still in town! The boys did not perform much for Grandma, but the doctor said they were looking great. Matthew weighed 2 lb. 8 oz., while Nathaniel was a whopping  2 lbs. 14 oz. (The little tubber!) Nate was also now in a breech position.

The doctor was, however, concerned about one thing: Matthew’s stomach was measuring small for his gestational age. To monitor it, he wanted me to return for another growth ultrasound in two weeks. If it still hadn’t caught up, he’d likely start me on the steroids in case the boys needed to come out early so that Matthew could get more nutrition.

Of course, this sent me into another bout of worry and obsession. Despite Mom’s and Keith’s reassurances, I couldn’t resist going home and doing Internet research to read about all of the horrible things a small stomach could indicate. (Lesson to all: Do NOT use the Internet to research symptoms, unless you want to believe you are dying when you really only have a stomach flu).

But my appointment with my regular OB the following week once again eased my fears. She said that many twins have small stomachs, and that they usually beef right up after birth and are fine. She also said that Matt’s body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, which is directing the nutrients he is getting to all of his vital organs—his heart, lungs, etc.

So, Keith and I have been feeling quite a bit better about things over the past week and a half. But the scares did spur us to action. My hospital bag is now packed, and the nursery is almost finished. I can’t wait to post photos of it! I am now 31 weeks along, and we are ready for anything. Stay tuned for more updates!

Big Boys!

My latest growth ultrasound was on April 4 at my perinatologist’s office. And boy, did these twins grow. Matthew weighed 1 pound, 7 ounces, while Nathaniel weighed in at 1 pound, 11 ounces! That means Matt gained 5 ounces and Nate gained a whopping 11 ounces since March 18. Little porkers!!! Still, the doctor said their weights are right on target and that it’s normal for twins to grow at different rates and weigh different amounts. They are, after all, two individual babies!

I can see why Nate gained more, though. Matt has certainly been the more active twin. He likes to move from one side of my belly to the other, while Nate stays firmly planted on the right side. For the ultrasound, Matt had decided to get all up in his brother’s business and squish up next to Nate, belly to belly. But Nate didn’t seem to mind: He was just chilling out, sucking his thumb. Here he is:

I can definitely tell who’s going to be the more independent twin!

We could not get a good photo of Matt because he was too busy moving around and being uncooperative (hehe). However, so as not to seem as though I am playing favorites, I just have to include the fuzzy scan of his profile:

My mom will be here for the next ultrasound. Maybe the twins will both cooperate for Grandma!

Movin’ on down!

This morning we had yet another ultrasound. Matthew—who’d been lying across the top of my belly for the first half of the pregnancy—is now head down and in perfect position to make his grand entrance into the world. I wasn’t surprised to see this. About a week ago, I felt some strange movements on my left side while lounging on the couch with Keith. When we looked down, my tummy was completely lopsided. The right side was still its perfect round shape, but the left was raised and kinda lumpy. When we pressed on it, it totally felt like baby.

“Wow!” I remember saying to Keith. “This is definitely Matthew! He’s moved!”

And sure enough, both twins are now head down, feet up. In fact, Matthew is now lower than Nathaniel. That means he technically should be labeled Baby A now … but for the sake of not mixing the twins up, he will remain Baby B.

The boys were playing footsie during the ultrasound! Nate is now one pound exactly, while Matt is one pound and two ounces. Unfortunately, this ultrasound was done at my regular OB/GYN’s office rather than at the perinatologist’s office, so the scans are not as clear. However, I do have a fetal growth ultrasound on April 4 at the perinatologist’s office, so I can post more photos of the growing boys then!

I also have an appointment on April 1 for my gestational diabetes test. Yes, I have tons of appointments, and Keith comes with me to every single one—even if he has to dash out of work between meetings and take me to the doctor in his uniform. That makes me realize that even though he won’t be here for the twins’ entire first year, I am extremely lucky to have such an involved and enthusiastic father for my twins. I love having Keith here to experience the pregnancy with me. He gets such joy out of seeing my belly grow, feeling the kicks, etc.

Keith is also so eager to put together all of the baby gear that our extremely generous relatives and friends have been sending to our house. This is wonderful, but it also means that the twins are already taking over our home! In the past few weeks alone, we’ve received car seats, a swing, booster seats, and lots more. Keith gets to work on them all right away—even though I remind him that the boxes take up less space than the assembled products!

To give you a sense of how just how much space these two little babies and all of their things will take up, here is a photo of our new double stroller (Thanks, Aunt Terry and Uncle Andy!) with one of the car seats in it (Thank you, Tianying and JC!).

I'm going to have to start lifting some serious weights!

It’s about double the size of me! How do I look pushing it?

Oh, BOY!

As soon as Keith and I told everyone we were expecting twins, the games of “guess the sexes” began. I’d say that “two boys” was neck-and-neck with “one boy and one girl.” Only one person—my Uncle Jerry—guessed “two girls.” It wasn’t looking good for him (although he had guessed before anyone else that I was having twins, so maybe he was on to something)!

I felt strongly in my gut (no pun intended) that we were having two boys. There were other things that led me to believe I was right. While we’d had two boy names picked out from the get-go, we pored over every last girl’s name in our 100,001 Best Baby Names book—and we still weren’t convinced of our choices. During every visit to Babies ‘R Us (I admit, there were many), we gravitated towards the boys’ bedding and decor and scoffed at the girls’. And, it seemed like everyone we knew was having boys.

Keith, on the other hand, was absolutely convinced we’d be welcoming a boy and a girl. After our ultrasound technician guessed at 13 weeks that Baby A (the one on the right) was a boy, Keith would put his mouth up to my belly and talk to the babies as such:

“Hey, Man!” he’d say to the right side. “You’re a cool dude! I can’t wait to play baseball with you!”

To the left side, he’d coo, “Hey there, pretty little girl! You’re such a sweet girl!”

The moment of truth came at our 16-week ultrasound, when we found out my maternal instinct was correct.

“Baby A is definitely a boy,” the ultrasound tech said, then moved the wand over to the left side of my belly. “And it looks like Baby B is … a girl!”

Then Baby B suddenly opened its legs spread-eagle. “No, wait!” said the technician. “Baby B is … a BOY!”

And there you have it. Just like that, we were the parents-to be of two little boys.

Our big 20-week anatomy scan confirmed that our little terrors are, in fact, males. And even though Keith and I had both been hoping for a baby girl, neither of us would trade our boys for the world. Here they are:

Nathaniel (Baby A)

Matthew (Baby B)

The boys are already moving around a ton, and the acrobatics really kick into high gear when I am at a show or a movie in which music is playing. They seem to be big Billy Joel fans. ;-) They also like to party when Mommy is trying to sleep. I hope this isn’t indicative of what’s to come!

The Surprise of Our Lives!

It was a chilly, early-December morning. My husband, Keith, and I were on our way to the doctor’s office to get our very first ultrasound. It had been several weeks since my positive pregnancy test, and I was about eight weeks along.

 

Me, right after finding out I was pregnant. Such an exciting day!

“Hey, can you imagine if we went in and found out we’re having TWINS???” asked Keith, chuckling.

“Don’t you even joke like that,” I scolded. I had just barely adjusted to impending motherhood. TWO babies would surely drive me over the edge.

Fast forward roughly 45 minutes. “Let’s see what we’ve got here,” the doctor—a warm, mild-mannered woman—said pleasantly as she switched on the ultrasound screen. And there, right in front of our eyes, were two little blobs.

Surprise! There are TWO in there!

The doctor looked up at us cautiously, no doubt trying to determine whether we saw what she did. “Well…” she began, glancing from me to Keith and back again. “I, uh … I see two babies in there!”

Everything grew silent. Then I looked over at Keith. The moment our eyes met, we just lost it. He burst into laughter, I burst into laughter, and we cackled and cackled, gasping for air.

“Well, that’s good! You’re laughing!” the doctor said brightly, before launching into her laundry list of “extras” that would go along with this pregnancy now that we were expecting two instead of one: frequent doctor visits, more ultrasounds, lots of unpleasant procedures to measure my cervical length, etc. Then she congratulated us and left the room. Almost as quickly as it had begun, our laughter ceased.

“What the hell are we gonna DO?” I asked Keith.

By evening, after we had called every family member and friend under the sun, our sheer terror had turned into elation. Then, the very next day, came the order from the Department of Defense: Keith’s brigade would be deploying to the Middle East. In late spring/early summer. Right when the babies were due.

My immediate reaction was that God was playing a cruel joke on me. My entire family lives 1,600 miles away in New York. Keith’s family lives in Ohio and Michigan. I knew that caring for one newborn was hard enough with two parents around. How on earth would I be able to care for two, while at the same time missing my husband and worrying about his safety? And wouldn’t it absolutely kill Keith to leave his babies?

But in true military fashion, we rallied quickly. Keith learned that he’d be allowed to stay behind for the birth of the babies, plus two weeks after—such a relief! I lined up relatives—my parents, my aunt, my cousin, Keith’s sister—to fly out to Colorado in shifts for a few months after the birth to help out. And then, we decided, I’ll return to New York and stay with my parents for much of the remainder of the deployment. I’ll have tons of help from my family, and Keith will deploy with the confidence that his babies—and his wife—are in good hands. And with technology like Skype and GChat and good old email, Keith will stay involved in the babies’ lives.

Sure, it won’t be easy, and life will be crazy for a bit. But Keith and I are ready for the ride—and we want you to come along with us! We will use this blog to keep you updated on our challenges and adventures as we prepare for twins AND for deployment, and then as we raise our two little miracles. Enjoy, and please feel free to leave comments!