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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Just say NO to Stretch Marks!

13-14 weeks!

I admit it.  I'm lousy at knowing exactly where I am in this pregnancy!  I think I'm in-between 13 & 14 weeks, so we'll call that good.  I'm feeling great and getting really excited about having quads!

A month or so ago, when I was at work, co-workers and I were talking about how big my belly would get, and one mentioned I needed a good stretch-mark cream.  BOOM!  An idea was birthed.  My sister, Cindy, makes the most fabulous homemade soaps, creams, soaks, etc (called Cindy's Suds).  I LOVE her soaps and thick, creamy lotions.  Every night I liberally put her lotion on my hands before bedtime, and in the winter months my hands can get so dry!  It has been awesome for my hands, so I thought... Hey!  What if Cindy customized a belly butter specifically for stretch marks?
When I mentioned it to Cindy, she loved the idea and started immediately researching all the lovely creamy good stuff that makes an amazing belly butter/anti-stretch cream.  Considering my belly will stretch more than your average pregnancy, it's a good belly to try it out on!
So Cin made 2 prototypes for me:  "Lavender Lullaby" and "Chocolate Craving" (don't you love those names?  They smell as good as they sound!).  They are thick and rich and wonderful so far!  We are still "researching" this, so she hasn't made others yet, but I am so excited to be the first to try it!  I bet my belly this will definitely help reduce or minimize any stretch marks.  Genetics are in my favor... I thankfully didn't have any stretch marks from Jenna, but this is a whole new ball of wax.  Will keep you posted!  Have a good Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update, Keeping Busy

Thanks again for all your well wishes and prayers.  I did end up have more bleeding (fresh blood) Monday night, so Tuesday I went into the doctor's office for an ultrasound.
The babies are all doing fine, with good heartbeats and they're all moving around.  The doctor said the reason for the blood might be that "Baby A"'s placenta is right on my cervix, and so I might bleed a little because of this.  He said bleeding is more common with multiples, but it was very reassuring to see them looking healthy and safe.  I think this has made me even more tired than normal, but I am redefining "normal" every step of this journey!

Many of you have been wondering what I have been doing with all my time off.  Unfortunately, I get so tired so easily and need to rest often, the 20 things I want to do each day becomes only about 2-4 accomplishments each day-- if that!!

I have been trying to do a lot of prepping and planning for the babies arrival, and trying to get things done before I go on bedrest.  I have been craigslisting a lot... we sold our dining table (seats 4-6) and bought a bigger table for $100 more that seats 6-12.  I am also trying to sell things we don't need and buy things we do need.  Love craigslist!

I have been accumulating a lot of baby items and we already had a bunch from Jenna.  I think we are doing OK, and from talking to other mom's of multiples I have connected with, I am hesitant to get too much until they come and we know health-wise how they are doing, what they might need, etc.  For example, a mom of triplets I met with the other day said her boys had bad reflux and so instead of having them sleep in their cribs (they're 8 months old) they still sleep in Rock & Sleepers.  One of the boys is also still on oxygen, so that presents a lot of everyday challenges that could not have been predicted.  We know our babies will be in the NICU for at least a month after birth, maybe more, so we are also trying to be realistic about possible health issues.  This will not be like a single birth.

Lets see... I have been researching cloth vs disposables.  Still figuring out what will work best for us.  Need to research a van, too.  Haven't gotten there yet!

I also need to set up a care-calendar for help.  I know that when I go on bed-rest, we will start needing regular help with everyday things, and obviously when the babies are home we will need help (unless I suddenly grow another set or 2 of arms!).  Many of you have already graciously offered to help, and when I do set this up, I will add a link to this blog so you can volunteer for what suits you best.  Something to keep in mind, however, is that if you would like to volunteer with the babies, we will be asking people to get a flu shot (if you're deathly scared of shots, there's the nasal mist option!).

I know I am missing more things that are on my "To Do" list, but that's a big part of it.  Trust me, this keeps me very busy as does trying to entertain my beautiful daughter when I have lackluster energy!  Next blog entry I will add a belly picture.  Growing more & more each day!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

scary start to the day...

This morning we had a scare, but I think things are fine.  I woke up and went to the bathroom, only to realize I was bleeding.  I immediately started to cry!!!  Andy called the doctor's office and we waited 10 long minutes where I laid down and prayed, prayed, prayed.  The blood was not fresh, and I had no cramps (which is a good thing).  When the doctor called us back, he confirmed that between 11-13 weeks along it is very common to have this.  He told me to take it easy and call back if there is cramping or red blood, and praise Jesus, I have not had either in the hours since I woke.

I am doing fine and am so glad I have not had any bleeding since this morning.  Andy is at church with Jenna and I think I will venture into the shower now.  I feel at peace now, much better than the worry and fear of the unknown I had this morning.  I realize this will probably be the first of many times I will be legitimately concerned for my babies.  Shoot, I still have legitimate concern for my 3 1/2 year old, and I don't think that will ever go away, even when she's 63 1/2!  The key is not to let the worry consume me, though.  Easier said than done!  Maybe I need to read my previous blog post again! :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Latest Doctor Appt & Ultrasound!

OK.  For those of you who see a bunch of gray & black blobs above, no worries.  You are normal!!

For those of you who have a keen eye for ultrasounds and can read the letters A, B, C & D, yes, you are correctly looking at all 4 of our babies at once!

We started the appointment with the ultrasound which was relieving to see them all doing well, and just amazing looking at those 4 very real lives wiggling in me.  At 12 weeks along, they already have so many intricate features and wiggle around and move-- God is so Amazing! 
I know they are hard to see: let me help you make out our beautiful blobs:  they always count the first baby (A) at the cervix, and then go up from there.  We also have pictures of each individual baby that are a little more clear, but they still look more like ink stains than babies so I will try to describe them instead!
Our first guy, A, is at the bottom.  His head was up.  Our baby B was laying on its back and wiggling around.  Our babies C & D are the identical twins.  They were cutely facing each other, with C facing up and D facing down.  All four babies were moving around and amazingly we could see fingers, toes, facial features... breathtaking!!!  And NO, we don't know the sexes yet.  We will let you know when we know!  Each baby is measuring around 2 inches long and have healthy heartbeats.

We then met with the doctor, and he consulted with us for over an hour!  We really like him, and he was very informative and realistic about problems and complications that might arise, things to do, what to expect, etc.  There are a lot of things that could go wrong, and he stressed often that a lot of complications can arise.  It wasn't scary, but it was sobering to hear of what we might face.

He did clear up a few things for us.  First, although I will likely have no energy to do any more than the very basics this summer (i.e. use the bathroom), his goal is for me to avoid hospital bedrest as long as possible.  He said it is better for all if I stay at home as long as possible, unless complications arise.  He also said I do not need to eat 4,500 calories a day like it's recommended in my multiples book!  He respectfully disagrees with the author, and said instead to listen to my body-- eat when I am hungry, but to not feel like I have to stuff myself like a sausage.  I am not a calorie counting person (way too mathematical for me!) and essentially this has been what I have been doing, and I have been hungry a lot... however, maybe I don't need to ALWAYS end my days with ice cream!

My doctor also said it is very normal for me to get winded easily and to have a fast heart-beat when doing basic activities.  He was very glad I stopped working and again reminded me to just LISTEN TO MY BODY.  To sit when I need to sit, to lay down when I need to lay down, to say no when I need to say no and to ask for help when I need it.  Gotchya.

The coolest thing was that at the end of our consultation, he said he could tell we were Christians and would we mind if he prayed for us and our babies.  Andy and I were very touched by this.  What a cool way to end our first appointment!

Andy and I are trying to be realistic but optimistic.  We both feel wholeheartedly that God gave us this opportunity, and he indeed is the God that gives and takes away... but blessed be His name (one of my all-time favorite songs!).  There's a verse in 1 Chronicles 29 (15-17) where King David is praising God and giving him gifts in a temple, and basically is saying "Everything in heaven and earth is Yours, everything comes from You, I give You back only what has already come from Your hand."  I try to remind myself daily that these babies are not ours, they are gifts from God and we need to trust His plan for us.  I know it will not be easy and it's a matter of when, not if, difficulties will come.  All the same, when I went through my miscarriage, these were some of the thoughts and verses that helped me as I worked through the anger, pain & sadness.  Not that it's easy- I think its much harder to live by faith than without, but I also think it is a good place to land on when working through things like life, pain, joy, grief & hope.

Often people ask me about my upcoming quad-dum lifestyle, "Aren't you scared?"  I can honestly say right now, no, I am not.  Maybe I am a little delirious and still in some denial, but seriously I think it's because I try to remind myself all the time of these things and I really feel the calming effects of everyone's prayers!  I am convinced in the sustaining power of prayer, so thank you, thank you, THANK YOU everyone, for the prayers.  We definitely feel them at work!

I have a little rascal that is protesting bedtime, so I need to go for now but will keep you all updated!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ahhh, Summer in March!!

OK, I can't get this oriented the right way, but you get the idea!
Jenna and her beloved friend, Blake
How amazing has it been for those of us living in Michigan this past week to experience record-high warm temps in the 70's and dare I say 80's???!!!???

I, for one, LOVE it!  This picture makes me smile.  Jenna is starting to talk to & kiss my tummy.. she is very loving towards the "babies"!  On Friday I asked my mom if she wouldn't mind meeting us at a playground so Jenna could play with her..  The good sport that she was, my mom ran and slid and chased and climbed and explored for an hour and a half with Jenna while I laid down on a picnic table, soaking in the vitamin D!!!  So glad she can do those things that my body won't allow me to do right now!  And I think I have grown another inch since my last photo... taken 6 days previous!

We have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday so I will update this blog with that.  I also wanted to say a huge Praise God and Thank YOU to my friend Sydney and her hubby Joe, who will officially adopt our beloved pooches this summer... I have known Sydney for over 8 years and so she knows my dogs very well.  I know they will have good, loving parents!  And as sad as it is, I am OK with it!

Hopefully will share some good & reassuring news on Tuesday--- enjoy the sun!


Monday, March 12, 2012

12 weeks

Welcome, Second Trimester!

I may not look that big, but let me assure you... I seem to grow another inch or two each day!!

Thank you all, for your kind words and prayers!  I know many of you have been offering to help, and thank you so much!  I am writing most of those names down (or the ones I remember!!) on a list but I also wanted you to know that as I progress, my sister and I plan on setting up a care calendar and I will have a link to that on this blog, so if you would still like to help you can just sign up for whatever sounds good.  Some of you have also wondered what baby items we still need, and I am in the process of figuring out what all we have/will still need.  I will keep you posted.  Thank you in advance for everything!  We are going to truly live the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child"!!

As I slide into second trimester, I am thankfully feeling much less tired and less turned off by food.  I had a great pregnancy with Jenna, and this one seems to be following suit-- no morning sickness (the only sickness I get is when I don't!!) and I never threw up.  Praise Jesus!

However, some things are remarkably different!  Although I am less tired, I have NO endurance. Grocery shopping at Meijer the other day to get a few items took me 2 hours and I needed to stop and sit and rest twice due to shortness of breath and a racing heart!  I just need to rest a lot, and pace myself.  I can do things like dust and light cleaning, but I need to intersperse it with sitting or laying down.  My body must be working VERY HARD growing four babies!!!
I also find it so crazy that at night, when laying in bed, or when I rest, my heart beats SO intensely!  My doctor, P.A. sister, and also my friend Stacy, who's a nurse, tell me it's very normal and is because my blood volume has doubled and is working hard at pumping blood to all those placentas.  Isn't the human body just amazing?  I feel kind of like a science experiment!!

I have another doctor's appointment/ultrasound next week so I will definitely post what we find out.  We are getting more and more excited each day, and although thinking of everything we still need to do and plan can be overwhelming, we are trying to take it day by day and not forget to praise God daily for this opportunity!  We really appreciate your support...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Waah, Wow & Whew!

Thursday was my last day of work.  With all the hormones raging in me, it's no surprise I was a basket-case that day- WAAH!  I was sad for a couple reasons, first being I LOVE my job.  Ever since I graduated in 2003 from grad school, I have been working as a school OT in GRPS.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it!  Professionally, I anxiously wonder if this is "it" for me... will I be able to come back in a year and an half as a GRPS school OT?  Will I quit my beloved career after 7 years in college and 9 professional years behind me?  Will I loose all my skills?  Will I even want to come back with my new busy life?  There are a lot of unknowns as I move from one chapter to the next!

Second I was very sad because I LOVE my co-workers and schools.  For those of you familiar with the Grand Rapids Public Schools, you might know about it being the largest school district in GR and it serves a lot of families who live in poverty.  What you may not know, however, is how LOYAL and AMAZING these teachers and workers are.  And definitely the kids are the best- I love them!!!!!
I have been all around GR in my 9 years here, my first 5 years I worked diagnostic and so I have literally been in every public and private school in GR.  I have seen the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly, but make no mistake when I tell you GRPS is a heck of a lot better than some of the nay-sayers out there will tell you... there is far more good than bad, far more beautiful than ugly.

Let me first brag about my fellow itinerant K-12 OT and PT department.  We are small:  for a district as huge as us, we service a slice of the population:  there are 13 of us total, so we get all over the place!  As we move from school to school working with special education students on fine motor, gross motor, sensorimotor and visual perceptual skills, we often are blips on a school's radar.  But my colleagues are so wonderful at what they do.  They care about these students so much.  They make positive differences in lives.  They are great at what they do and they all have huge hearts.  And as colleagues, I always love it when we got a chance to get together as a department.  There are other wonderful OT and PT's in GRPS too that I don't want to miss, but our small little K-12 itinerant OT/PT group is like a tight knit, loving, sweet little family.  I will definitely keep in touch with them, because over the years they have grown to just that-- an extension of family.  So, WAAH for stepping away from those guys, even for a while!

Like I said above, our jobs often flit in and out of schools but I have had the amazing privilege of being able to service Harrison Park Elementary for 7 or 8 years now in GRPS.  When I started working there, this towering, castle-looking West Side school was an elementary & junior high.  The staff was wonderful, but it was pretty dingy.  It was renovated and then later merged with another school/staff, changed to a K/8 school, and today houses almost 1000 students in that GIGANTIC and BEAUTIFUL building.  With such a big school, I have a bigger caseload, so I was able to be there a few days out of the week.  Because of this, I got to be a bigger part of that school.

Let me brag about Harrison Park now:  If you hold a negative attitude about GRPS, I implore you to step foot at any time in Harrison Park.  If we lived in GR, I would, without hesitation, send my children there.  The teachers work SO HARD and are so amazing at what they do.  They have so many things they need to fit into the curriculum every day, tests they always are doing, and high and lofty expectations for student success... you would think they would all burn out!  But let me tell you, because I walk those halls and see what's going on in each and every classroom, they are some of the best teachers I have ever seen.  They love to teach students.  They love the students!  They care about each child's success.   And the staff is phenomenal.  I will definitely miss being a part of the "Harrison Park Family', and thank you all for making me feel so welcome and loved.  Which brings me to:

On my last day at HP, I went to lunch as I normally do and was surprised to see a beautiful and yummy cake for me, staff warmly wishing me well, and well-wishing cards from everyone.  I burst into tears right away!  But the biggest WOW factor, to which I am actually tearing up right now just thinking about, is that the staff pooled together a jaw-dropping amount of money for our increasing family.  I have cried over this so many times in the past few days.  I am SO BLESSED.  What an AMAZING staff of people.  Andy and I are still trying to figure out what we need right now, so it was the perfect gift.  I am filled with gratitude.  I love you guys so much!  I will miss you, Harrison Park...

and, WHEW!
So now I am officially done with work.  I will use up my accumulated sick time for the rest of the year, take all of next year off unpaid, and I will be guaranteed my position in the fall of 2013 if I want it.  Right now I would tell you without a doubt yes, I will be back.  But I know that my world will be rocked in a few short months and I would be naive to think all will be as it was.  As scared as it is closing one chapter and starting another, I do need to sigh a big WHEW.  Working was exhausting.   I normally have really good stamina, but this is uncharted territory for me!  Carrying 4 babies at once takes its toll in ways that even surprise me on a daily basis!  I look forward to taking it easy, taking care of the babies growing in me & the one beautiful girl I already have, and allowing myself some time to adequately prepare for when the quads come.  It feels good to allow myself this time.  It's a needed sabbatical, despite it also being surrounded by mixed emotions.  So that's where I'm at.  I will keep up with the pictures and posts, and try not to make them so lengthy in the future.  Whew!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Zombie Becky

No picture for this one! 
OK, yesterday was total confirmation for me that being done with work now is the right thing!!! 

Yesterday I was working at Harrison Park, and not even working with any kids.  All I did was finish up all the paperwork needed, and I walked slowly and deliberately around as needed to tell all my kids that I was done and another OT would work with them. 
Not too hard of work... even though the school is gigantic!! I mean, a typical "normal" day I would easily walk 3000-5000 steps- I know b/c years ago they gave away pedometers as a health incentive and I wore it at Harrison Park and typically would hit at least 3000, and sometimes as high as 5000 steps (and this was before they renovated and expanded!).  All you out there who work there, yeah!   You know how big it is!!!  But I digress...

I did not lay down horizontal during work yesterday, as the doctor recommends me to do several times a day.  I have a bean bag in my room and I have been in the habit the past few weeks to lay on it and balance my laptop on my belly and type away if I have computer stuff to do, but yesterday I had both typing and writing to do.  I thought I would be clever and make an L with my tables around me so I could just sit & do it all right there.  Well, sitting for long periods of time still exhausts me.  It's hard to explain, I just start to feel a lot of pressure on my abdomen and know I need to lay down.  But I just worked slowly...

I thought I was doing fine until I was on my drive home and having visions of pulling over on the highway so that I could curl up and sleep in the backseat.  Now, Jenna was up a few times the night before so we were too, but that's no reason to want to bum it in the back of my car on the highway!  As I drove up the driveway, I knew. I. needed. to. lay. down. at. all. costs.  We had a neighbor over watching Jenna and I vaguely said hi to both of them outside before walking past them, into the house, and laying down on the sofa.  Totally and utterly wiped out.

I rested with my eyes closed for a little bit, but did not move from that sofa unless I had too the rest of the night.  Sometimes I have this weird dream that I am trying to do things but I can't open my eyes because things are so bright, and I can't walk around well because I have this invisible, heavy weighted blanket over my body.  That was totally me yesterday.  To get up to use the restroom required an act of God and when I went downstairs to kiss Jenna goodnight, my heart was racing and I was heaving like I had just climbed Mt Everest.  As it was, all evening as I lay there (and as my amazing husband cooked dinner and took care of things & Jenna... What an outstanding man Andy is!!) my heart thumped in my chest like I had just completed a great kickboxing class (which until 3 months ago I did regularly and totally enjoyed!) ;-)

I really don't want this to be a whining bout.  I tolerate whiners almost as well as I tolerate lame excuses, and I feel like I am doing both... but I am over and over constantly amazed at how growing 4 children at the same time in my body just totally and utterly slaps me down.  It is very humbling and very frustrating.  I am normally a very active person and so my mind is my worst enemy right now.  I think, "I can do this!" and my body says, "no you can't, little lady!".

I was just reminded of that bible verse, "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5b) and I need to do this.  Whenever I have thoughts that seem to nag or peck away at me, I know they are NOT from my loving God, they are from the enemy who wants to cause me to doubt, fear, distrust, and even harm myself and others.  God, on the other hand, I know to be loving, truthful, faithful, kind, merciful, gracious, and wise.  He wants the best for me, and the enemy does not.  Period.  I think that is why I know it's best to be done for work.  For this season, as hard as it is, God is calling me to deliberately and wisely care for my body.  I need to learn to ask for help.  I need to learn to say "I can't do it".  I need to learn lots more... not that I really want to learn these lessons, but God loves me too much for me to stay who & where I am (I think that's a quote from my pastor Jeff Manion, something that smart usually doesn't come from me!!).

So even though this season may not be fun, I need to change my thoughts and make them align with God's plans for me.  I can't do this on my own-- heck no!  On my own I will whine and cry & become self-centered and push myself and doubt myself and try to please others and doubt God's best intentions for me.  It's only through His Holy Spirit that I can do this!  And I need to pray.  Lots.  This is such a wild, crazy, and exciting journey.  I just read that there are only about 500 quadruplet births per year in the USA!  How rare is this!!!  Thank you all for your support and prayers.  And for letting me lay my thoughts, random as they are, down in print.  God is so good.  Have a great day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

10 weeks, latest ultrasound findings!

Whew!  My body is getting bigger by the day, and is SO tired!  And I ain't seen nuthin, yet!
Andy and I had my 10 week ultrasound on Friday and the doctor confirmed that all 4 babies are healthy and doing great.  They all are good sized (around 2 cm each-- so tiny) but we saw each one moving around, moving arms & legs, and all have healthy heartbeats (around 170-180 BPM).
We also found out that we have a set of identical twins in there!  I have been told that they must have split in the first day, because although they share a sack, they also have their own in it which is ideal because then they won't take each other's nutrients from the other.  If you are a nurse and more knowledgeable in this area than I, feel free to make comments or corrections!
We are excited!!!  Of course, pretty overloaded with things to do, too.  I am officially done working after this week, as I get out of breath doing...well, anything.  I have been amazed at how tired I always am and how hungry I have been, too!
We have so much to do... finish projects, figure out what we will do with our set-up once the babies arrive, etc etc!  The doctor tells me to plan on going on bed-rest (most likely in the hospital) mid-to-late May.  YIKES!  Not only is there a ton to do and think about, but with Andy working third shift we also will need lots of help with our sweet Jenna Joy.  The babies will come around mid-August, so that is a stinking long time for me to be in bed!  Let me make a plea now for helpers and visitors!!!

But God is so good.  People have been donating baby items, and we are truly at peace.  We know this is part of His perfect plan, that God doesn't make mistakes.  We are trying to take it one day at a time...